Boosting Students Confidence for Excellent Performance at a State Exam : Иностранные языки

Students’ confidence has a great influence on the way they perform in class or during the test. It becomes of even more value now when many of them take a State Exam. A good thing about the written part of the exam is that it has been around for long enough to have both teachers and their students get used to the format and avoid too much stress because they know what to expect. As for the speaking part, it is relatively new and the format has been undergoing changes bringing anxiety and uncertainty. This makes the teacher look for ways to help students succeed.
In this work I would like to share my experience of helping my students prepare for the Speaking parts 3 and 4, i.e. describing and comparing photos. Further come the templates that build a firm ground for picture descriptions according to the plan provided but at the same time leave enough space for improvisation and spontaneity.

Use the plan to speak about

  • where and when you took the photo
  • what/who is in the photo
  • what is happening
  • why you keep the photo in your album
  • why you decided to show the picture to your friend

(The underlined words show the recent alterations in the format)
I’ve chosen photo № ____
Look, I’d like to show you a photo.
1. (Linking word),

  • took … ago/ last …
  • season
  • That was in … (the village, in Moscow) (when … (e.g. I was visiting my aunt. Or when I was travelling. …))

2. In the photo there is/ are, you can see … (a man, a boy, children, etc.)
… look(s) +adj (happy, pleased, excited, focused)
On the left/ on the right, in the background/ in the foreground, next to, beside, behind, in front of
3. (Linking word), right now/ at this moment                       is/are Ving
(is/ are wearing, playing, having fun, smiling, looking at …, etc)      
4. (Linking word), I keep this photo in my album because I keep all the photos of …
Besides, it was such a … moment. (memorable/ unforgettable/ special)
I want to remember …
5. Now I’d like to show this photo to you because I know you like pictures of …, too.
Also, I want you to see …
Finally, it’s my best/ favourite photo.
Well, I hope next time you’ll share your best photos with me. / That’s all I wanted to say.


  • give a brief description of the photos (action, location)
  • say what the pictures have in common
  • say in what way the pictures are different
  • say which of the concerts presented in the pictures you’d prefer
  • explain why

(Linking word), I’m going to compare two photos.
(Linking word), in the first/ the second (the other) photo you can see…/ there is/ are …
It could be/ might be (Probably/ Maybe, it is) somewhere  in Europe/ Russia/ a foreign country/ …
(Linking word), the photos have some things in common. For example, both pictures show …
Another common thing/ similarity is that … look …
In the first picture … as well as in the second one. / In the second photo … also ….
Of course/ But, there are some differences, too.
In the first photo …, while (but) in the other one …
Unlike … in the first photo, … in the second one …
In the first photo  … is/ are more/less + adj than in the other one
In the first photo  … is/ are not as +adj +  as in the other one
Well, I’d prefer … . It would be nice to …
The reason why I have such preferences (why I think so) is because … / I’d love that because … . Besides, … .
To sum up, I’d like to say that it’s really interesting/ curious to compare photos because you can learn … (e.g. to pay attention to details)
Linking words to use – Well, You know, You see, etc.

To make practicing more entertaining, you may want to use communicative tasks and games. One of them is good for talking about preferences.


watch tv
walk in the park?

give presents
receive gifts?

read a book
play a computer game?

watch sports
do sports?

spend time on your own
be the centre of attention?

go on a hot air balloon
take a ride in a royal carriage?

grow vegetables
buy them?

watch the night sky
observe the underwater world?

spend holidays in a luxury hotel
in an old castle?

keep a common
an exotic animal as a pet?

learn to dance
play a (new) musical instrument?

visit a museum
go to the swimming pool?

go to school every day
study at home?

meet new people
spend all the time with old friends?

always do what you are good at
try new things?

take care of the house yourself
hire a housekeeper?

eat home-made food
eat out?

travel to new places
stay home?

Confidence is something that tends to be shaky. It is especially important for teenagers as they often lack it. So, it is great when we can find ways to encourage our students to express the best of themselves at exams and in life.
The plans for the speaking tasks (part 3, 4) are taken from a demo version at
Планы к заданиям части 3,4 говорения взяты из демоверсии на сайте
Шаблоны составлены автором статьи.

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