First certificate exams Reading Skills and Use of English 4

Lesson 22 FCE First Certificate course

Dialogue lesson 22

Dialogue 22: A short story about the circus

Mary sprang out of her bed like she had never done before. Today was the day, the day she had been waiting for ever since she saw the first billboard. The circus was coming to town. She skipped to her parents’ room to shake them to life “Today’s the day” she screamed, climbing up onto the bed and jumping up and down wildly.

Once confident that her parents were awake and about to get up from their bed, Mary ran back to her bedroom to get dressed. She was changed in a flash and had finished tying her shoelaces and zipping up her jacket all before her parents sat down for breakfast. “Oh you are excited, little one!” her father exclaimed. “Come on, sit down and have some toast. The circus doesn’t open for another hour”. Mary couldn’t eat a thing, there were too many butterflies in her stomach.

She sat on the sofa and stared at the big clock in the living room as the hands of the clock went round and round. “Tic toc, tic toc” she heard. She wanted to cry she was so excited and eager to leave and time was going so slowly. “Right” whispered her mum as she popped her head around the door. “Let’s go then, shall we?”. Mary squealed, jumped up and ran out of the front door onto the bustling street in New Orleans.

The year was 1924, it was a dark time in America, the era of the great depression was dwindling hopes and crushing dreams. On every street corner there was a jazz musician busking away, trying to bring home some money to put bread on the table. Mary loved the sound of a saxophone playing, she felt at peace and at home. The musicians told stories with the tunes they played. They could play happy songs to bring your spirits up and sad songs to let you know it was ok to cry. Mary and her parents skipped along the street, past the market stalls and crowds of laughing neighbours on this busy Saturday morning.

When they arrived at the train station they heard a deafening whistle and saw big clouds of steam. “Hurry!” they yelled at each other as Mary’s dad gathered his giggling daughter in his arms and ran up the ramp, just as the train was pulling away. “Darn-it!” Mary’s mum said. “We missed it by a few seconds”. The family decided to walk instead of waiting for the next train as it was only 2 stops away and the sun was shining.

Mary couldn’t believe her eyes when they arrived 25 minutes later. She could see all of the animals’ enclosures and tried to guess which animal belonged to which. She was looking once more at the posters at the entrance whilst her father bought their tickets. She could see that the show would involve lions, lion tamers, elephants, monkeys, dancers, acrobats and fire dancing. She was in a world of her own when her father’s voice snapped her out of it “Mary”, he said softly. “Are you ready to go inside?”. They all walked through the doors and what Mary saw inside took her breath away

Vocabulary lesson 22

to spring
to jump or leap suddenly
a billboarda large sign
to skip
to hop, to jump lightly
in an uncontrolled way
in a flash
very quickly, in an instant
avid, earnest, desirous
to whisperto talk softly
with many people
diminishing, thinning
to busk
to play music in public for money
extremely loud
an enclosure
an enclosed area, a fence
to snap out of something
to abruptly stop thinking pleasant thoughts, to return quickly to normal

Exam tips 22

Exam tip for FCE Lesson 22

Multiple-Choice Cloze is an exercise that aims to help students test their vocabulary, verb forms and other grammatical patterns, as well as commonly confused words and set phrases or fixed expressions.

What does this exercise look like? You have a statement with a gap and 4 options to choose from. You will have 8 statements to complete in this activity, plus 1 statement given as an example.  Here are 3 examples of this question type you will find in the reading and use of English exercise.

Example 1 of a question:

Do you think she will wear the same dress _____ the other bridesmaids?

A: like              B: as                 C: with                D: than

The answer is B. 

Example 2 of a question: 

It rained so heavily last night that the roof started to _____ again.

A: drain              B: pour                 C: spill                D: leak

The answer is D.

Example 3 of a question:

I am very eager _____ start my new job.

A: on              B: for                 C: to                D: at

The answer is C.

Some general advice for this exam part:

  1. There are 12 questions in this exercise. Try and read the entire text quickly before looking through the questions. You have time to do this.
  2. This activity type focuses more on vocabulary than grammar. Part 2 (open cloze) will focus more on grammar. So here, to revise the multiple-choice cloze, please go over collocations (words that usually work together) like phrasal verbs (i.e. “to look up to” someone) or linking words (i.e. “even if”), set phrases (idioms) with “make” or “do”, adjectives + preposition etc.  
  3. If you do not know what the answer is, read the 4 options (in your head) and choose the one that “sounds” right. This tip applies to questions testing the meaning at sentence level. To do this properly, you must read the words before and after the gap. 
  4. If you have no idea which of the 4 answers is correct, then start by deleting the options that you are sure can’t be correct. Then guess the answer from the remaining options. Don’t forget that you can only select 1 answer per question.
  5. A good way to practise this exercise at home is to complete a multiple-choice cloze, then select the right answers from the answer sheet, then ask yourself why the wrong answers are wrong. Then why the right answer is right. You are trying to draw on the knowledge that you have of vocabulary as well as on the understanding that you have of the text. Does that make sense?
  6. Do not forget to transfer your answers to the Answer Sheet, firmly and clearly marked in pencil.

Grammar and Vocabulary recommended Videos

Exercises FCE 22

Vocabulary Exercise

Use of english Exercise

Grammar Exercise