This was something that popped into my head the other day as a way to change the dynamic of a CPE lesson based around summary tasks – and which will also be useful for the 2013 revised exam (writing part one).

Frame the summary question (the last question on the exam paper, usually question 44) in more contentious, combative terms and write it on the board.

Set the class up in two groups and give each group one of the texts from the CPE part 5 task – so group a gets text a and group b gets text b.  Give the learners some time to process the input and to prepare their arguments, discussing what they found in the texts, developing any elaborations and predicting and preparing ripostes to any counter-arguments.

Usually with an opposition debate, I like to seat the learners in two lines down the middle of the room, so that learners are (a) facing each other and (b) up close and personal.

Begin the debate!

At the end of the debate, and before focusing on any language feedback, do some content feedback.  In particular ask the learners what the main areas of discussion were and get these listed on the board.  Point out that these are the (probably – obviously you’ll need to check with the task key) content points they need to identify for the summary task.

Make sure learners have a copy of both texts (a and b) and then with their debate partner, they can formulate a written answer to the summary task.