First Certificate Practice Reading Skills and Use of English 6

FCE First Certificate course Lesson 24

Dialogue lesson 24

Dialogue 24: Article about Planking

‘Planking’ is the latest internet sensation to take the web by storm. It is the action of lying down somewhere, literally mimicking a plank of wood. People outdo others by ‘planking’ in the most unusual locations possible. Photographs of their attempts are then taken, uploaded and shared with the world on social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter. But, after the tragic death of an Australian 26-year old man last week, we have to stop and ask ourselves, Is ‘planking’ a fun Internet craze, or is it just the latest in a string of ridiculous trends which are reflecting the dangerous influence of social media?

Locations which have been used for the activity include trees, mountains and wings of aeroplanes. Although it started off as a harmless Internet game, investigations into Chris Kelly’s death have revealed that he fell from a hotel balcony when trying to lie down across a set of railings. With spaces high off the ground being the most common location to ‘plank’, many more injuries have been sustained by people falling and seriously hurting themselves. In addition to this, people have been suspended and fired from their jobs after photographs of them ‘planking’ in work have gone viral on the Internet and have been seen by their bosses who have decided they are not taking their work seriously.

Bearing all this in mind, we have to wonder if the latest Internet phenomenon has gone too far. We have to ask ourselves if the society we live in is healthy and functional if something like this has happened. Sometimes an Internet trend can be a way of connecting different communities in the world, but more often than not they result in completely unnecessary tragedy.

Vocabulary lesson 24




to take (the world) by storm

to be a sudden and huge success


to mimic

to imitate


a plank of wood

a wooden board



not normal, extraordinary


a craze

something very popular



that does no harm


a railing

a metal fence, a steel bar


to go viral

to get everybody talking about something


to go too far

to take something past acceptable limits





Exam tips 24

Exam tip for lesson 24

Reading and Use of English 3: Word Formation

Word Formation Activity

Reading and Use of English part 3 is called Word Formation. Here the primary emphasis is on vocabulary. You are given 8 stem words in capital letters. From this stem word candidates are expected to form the most appropriate word from given stem word, to fill each gap. So in a column to the right of the reading passage, you will see the stem words (also called “roots”) in CAPITAL LETTERS (“Majuscules”).

The purpose of this activity is to test the knowledge of students of vocabulary and understanding of structure.

Unlike part 1 (Multiple-Choice Cloze) you are not given any options or sets of words to choose from. You have to come up with the word by yourself. 

Extensive knowledge of prefixes, suffixes, spelling changes, and compounds, is required for this task, as well as a good understanding of word classes (what type of word is required? A noun? An adjective? A verb?). Understanding of the general context, that of the text beyond structure level, is also required.


  1. When you revise, try and list the range of words that can be formed from the same stem word. Some examples:
  • compete > competition > competitor(s) > competitive > competitiveness > competitively > uncompetitive…
  • earn > earning(s) > earner > earn-out…
  • loyal > loyalty > disloyal > loyalist > loyalism…
  1. Don’t forget that some stem words given to you in this exercise will require as many as 2 changes: a suffix and a prefix, or a prefix and an inflexion (other change to the ending of the word such as plural or verbal forms for instance). i.e. follow: unfollowed (prefix: = UN, suffix/inflexion = ED)…
  2. Do also bear in mind that other changes may be required such as spelling, where the stem word given to you is amended when a suffix is added. i.e. strong > strength, wide > width, long > length…  

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Exercises FCE 24

Vocabulary Exercise

Use of English Exercise

Grammar Exercise