Over the last decade B2 First for Schools has become a household name in Greece amongst ambitious secondary-school students and parents alike. It’s the most popular Cambridge English Qualification in the country, as it’s set at B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), the level that thousands of Greek teenagers aspire to and for many this is the first step on the road to higher level qualifications.
By Niki Nika, Cambridge Assessment English
Although the last twelve months have been like no other for the sector, the enthusiasm and motivation from Greek teenagers taking B2 First for Schools has not dropped. A question I’m often asked is: what does taking a B2 First for Schools actually mean in practice for teenagers?
The qualification gives teenagers, or more specifically in Greece 13-16-year-old students, the English language skills they need to communicate in an English-speaking environment. To understand what this means in more detail, it’s important to look at the values that go into the development of the Cambridge English Qualifications. Our experts in Cambridge have a focus on developing qualifications and other learning solutions that cover the English language skills that people need for the real world. They’re backed by world-class research from a team of experts who have developed rigorous validation and quality systems to ensure the exams are truly fit for purpose.
We also believe that learning English should be an enjoyable and rewarding experience and we instil these values into B2 First for Schools and every other qualification we develop. With this in mind, people taking B2 First for Schools gain the skills they need to confidently follow a conversation, write emails and talk about a range of subjects. It also gives students the skills to confidently express themselves and justify their own views and opinions.
What does this mean for teens in practice?
Understanding what this actually means for teenagers in practice, is something we did last year for a successful campaign across Greece. The message was that with a good level of English such as B2, teenagers will be in a position to get even more enjoyment out of their favourite past-times and hobbies. We drew up a list of popular activities that teenagers could relate to and highlight that they would be able to do these more confidently with B2 First for Schools skills. The list included being able to watch movies without the English subtitles. Also on the list was being able to listen to popular songs with English lyrics, without needing to go away and research what the words actually mean. We also included the ability to enjoy gaming, the ability to use the right hashtags in social media posts and last but not least – the ability to have a good old fashioned chat in English without having to research the meaning of the words! We came up with the following straplines for the social media campaign which sum this up nicely: Enjoy Movies - no need to read the subtitles; Enjoy songs - no need to find the lyrics; Enjoy chatting - no need to get lost in translation; Enjoy moments - #useyourownquotes and Enjoy Gaming - no need to lose connection. Game on. You can find out more about the campaign visiting the page we set up for learners here www.b2first.gr.
A healthy challenge!
B2 First for Schools also means a healthy challenge for teens! Preparing and taking any exam is never an easy task and good teaching and preparation is key. That is why we develop a range of practice materials and official preparation books from Cambridge University Press to really help ensure that students are ready for exam day. We also offer a raft of support for school owners and teachers preparing students for the qualification, along with resources for parents and teenagers. This includes social media support, apps, additional sample papers, videos, posters and other guidance and resources. For example our ‘B2 First for Schools Top Tips’ seminars for learners have also been really popular and for the last three years have been offered online to reach candidates from different areas around the country.
It gives teens opportunity
B2 First also gives teenagers opportunities. There are lots of universities and employers that ask for B2 First as a minimum requirement including National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, University of Piraeus, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, BCA, Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, Unilever and many more organisations. More widely the Cambridge English exams are recognised by more than 25,000 organisations around the world. B2 First for Schools also acts as a stepping stone to higher level Cambridge English Qualifications such as C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency.
To come back to my first question of what B2 First for Schools means for teens? I think there are four parts to this answer which are skills, confidence, challenges and opportunities.