Compare and contrast, answer and explain!
Are you thinking big to thrive in the Cambridge B2 First Speaking exam? Find out how to successfully perform in the Speaking Part 2 task.
Let’s recap what we know about its timing, structure and main focus.
B2 First Speaking Part 2 at a glance
A 1-minute ‘long turn’ for each candidate, plus a 30-second response from the second candidate. The total time for Part 2 is 4 minutes (It also includes the interlocutor’s presentation of the task)
An individual ‘long turn’ for each candidate with a response from the second candidate. In turn, the candidates are given a pair of photographs to talk about (compare the two photographs and answer a question)
Organising a larger unit of discourse; comparing, describing and expressing opinions.
This individual long turn is a real showcase for your ability to organize a one-minute monologue and link your ideas together.
Without the right preparation, there are some possible scenarios to underperform in this task. One of these happens when one minute seems too short. In a blink of an eye, the minute is over, and you are being interrupted by the kind “Thank you”. Another one occurs when you speak way too quickly and finish your long turn too soon. Do these ring a bell to you? You give a detailed description of each picture without managing to answer the question, string together simple statements, or have a disjointed, full of repetition long turn?
How can you avoid such cases? The best and only way to do well in the B2 First Speaking Part 2 is the sum of:
- Controlling the comparatives,
- Knowing the linkers of contrast,
- Knowing the language of speculation, and
- Following a definite pattern or frame.
Let’s start work!
Why have the people decided to do these things on holiday?
B2 First Speaking Part 2 Language Focus
- Both pictures show …
Both pictures show people spending quality time with their loved ones, whether it’s a group of friends or a family with children.
- just as + adjective / adverb + as
The group of friends in the first picture look just as happy and excited as the family in the second picture, despite being in a different location and season.
- a bit / a little / slightly + comparative form of the adjective or adverb
In the first picture, the group of friends seems to be a little more carefree, walking along the beach on a sunny day with a sense of adventure and excitement. In contrast, the family in the second picture appears to be slightly more reserved, taking in the winter sights and sounds of the city square with a more reflective and contemplative mood.
- not quite so + adjective or adverb + as
While both pictures depict enjoyable holiday experiences, the settings and moods are not quite so similar.
- In the first picture …, whereas / while in the second one … . …, however, …
The family in the second picture is dressed in warm clothes to keep themselves cosy, whereas the group of friends in the first picture are wearing shorts and t-shirts to beat the heat.
In the first picture, the group of friends are out in the sun, enjoying a day at the beach, while in the second picture, the family is enjoying a winter holiday in the city.
- (quite) a lot / much + comparative form of the adjective or adverb
In the second photograph, the atmosphere is much more festive given the lights and decorations in the background.
- not nearly as + adjective or adverb + as …
The winter scene in the city square is not nearly as sunny and warm as the beach in the first picture.
- There is (not) a lot of / a great deal of / much / little / no difference between …
There is no difference between the two photos, as both show people taking a break from their normal routine and experiencing something enjoyable, which makes them feel happy and relaxed.
There is a great deal of difference between the way the people are dressed, since the family in the second picture is bundled up in warm clothes, while the group of friends in the first picture are dressed in shorts and t-shirts.
- might / may / could
The family in the second picture could be on a holiday abroad.
- It looks as if …
The friends look as if they have just broken up for their holiday.
- seem / appear + adjective / to + infinitive
They seem to be enjoying their holiday to the fullest.
- It appears as if /as though …
It appears as if the group of friends have discovered something new or interesting that they are pointing at.
- It’s quite likely that …
It’s quite likely that the group of friends in the first picture are on a summer holiday, enjoying the warm weather and the beach atmosphere.
- I’m sure that …
I’m sure that both the friends and the family are spending unforgettable moments.
Be First Speaking Part 2 Kit
Let’s look at two possible frames for you to follow when doing this part in the B2 First Speaking paper. It is indispensable to keep either one in mind because it will help you built a logical spoken piece, making sure you have made the most of your one-minute-long turn.
- Describe the first photo and answer the question. Then, move on to the second photo, compare it to the first one, and answer the question.
B2 First Speaking part 2 sample answer:
In the first photo, we see a group of five friends walking on the beach on a sunny day. It’s quite likely that it’s in late spring or summer, as they are dressed in light summer clothes. They look happy and excited, pointing towards something in the distance.
They could have decided to spend their time by the beach, soaking up the sun and enjoying their free time. Likewise, they probably want to take a break from their daily routines, have some fun with their friends in a beautiful and relaxing setting or celebrate something as well, like a birthday or the end of the school year. They might have thought of having a picnic there, as one seems to be carrying a blanket, another one a basket.
Moving on to the second photo, we see a family with two children in the winter city square. The square is decorated with festive lights, and the family is dressed in warm clothing to protect themselves from the cold weather. The weather here is not nearly as warm as in the other one. The parents are carrying their children, who seem to be enjoying the sights and sounds of the holiday season.
It’s possible that the family has decided to take a winter holiday, perhaps to experience a different kind of holiday atmosphere and make some special memories together, like buying some presents or looking at the Christmas tree. They may have wanted to see the festive lights and decorations, try some new winter activities, and spend quality time with each other.
2. First, point out similarities as well as differences between the photos. Then, switch between the photos answering the question.
B2 First Speaking part 2 sample answer:
Both photos depict people on holiday, but they show very different experiences. In the first photo, we see a group of friends on the beach on a sunny day. They are dressed in casual summer clothing and appear to be having fun and enjoying each other’s company. The second photo, however, shows a family in a winter city square, dressed in warm clothes and enjoying the festive atmosphere.
Looking at the first photo, it appears that the group of friends has decided to go on holiday to enjoy the warm weather by the sea. They might have wanted to escape their daily routines and relax in a beautiful setting. In contrast, the family in the second photo seems to have chosen a winter holiday to experience a different kind of atmosphere and make some special memories together.
Switching back to the first photo, we can see that the group of friends might have planned their holiday to include outdoor activities like having a picnic and sunbathing. They probably wanted to have some fun with their friends and enjoy the natural beauty of the beach. In contrast, the family in the second photo is likely enjoying some winter activities like visiting holiday markets and enjoying some hot chocolate later.
Overall, while both groups of people are on holiday, their experiences are quite different. The first group is enjoying the warm weather, while the second group is embracing the winter atmosphere and making special holiday memories together.
Try both strategies, either talk about one photo first, then the other one, or both at the same time. Choose the one you are doing better and create your own singular pattern, like this one:
- Both pictures show …. This is the most obvious similarity between the two photos. (Mention 1-2 other similar things: “as … as“)
- The most striking difference, however, is … . (Add 1-2 other differences: “slightly” / “much” / “not nearly as … as”)
- In response to the question/ As for … I believe /I’d say that … whereas … (give 1-2 reasons to back up your opinion: “I’m sure that …”, “It’s quite likely that …“)
I am sure after having practised on various exam tasks like the one above, you will feel way more confident and your long-turn performance is going to be just great.
Check this out for a detailed explanation of do’s and don’ts in the Cambridge B2 First Speaking paper – Common Mistakes in the Speaking paper.
Stay tuned for more words of advice and handy material!