CPE student - Andrien De Korne

We managed to have a chat with Andrien De Korne, who scored an 'A' in the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) exam after studying at British Council Singapore. 

How do you feel about English? Are you a natural linguist or has it been a lot of hard work to get to your level?

For a long time, I felt absolutely not comfortable communicating in English. Being set apart at secondary school as someone who ‘would have to work really, really hard to ever get good grades’ wasn’t very encouraging. But good teachers can change your feeling toward a language. In Singapore I started at the British Council with FCE and came through CAE to the CPE course. 

You recently received CPE certification, which means that you are recognised as ‘proficient’ in English by Cambridge ESOL. How did you celebrate?

With good food and good company. About 2 weeks after finding out that I had passed, I celebrated it with a couple of students from CPE at Tiong Bahru Bakery. Everybody had passed, so a very joyful occasion indeed!

How has having the certification affected your confidence when using English?

Being a bit of a perfectionist, I specially appreciated the stress on using ‘native speakers English'. I feel more confident since I know the reasons for earlier mistakes and it’s just wonderful to be able to correct yourself.

Why did you want to get the CPE certification?

During secondary school I had only three years of English class and no diploma. While in the United States for 6 months my English teacher there made me enthusiastic to study this language. It opened a new world for me and I decided that one day, I would like to speak English in a natural way and work in an English speaking environment. I felt I needed the highest level possible for not missing an opportunity to work at my own level.

What did you enjoy most in the course? Why?

Handwritten essays, reports and letters. I discovered that writing a piece by hand asks different organisation skills than typing it on a computer. The last weeks before the exam I studied the structure of the different writings which helped me in the exam task.

What did you find most difficult in the course? How did you overcome it?

Handwritten essays, reports and letters. I discovered that writing a piece by hand asks different organisation skills than typing it on a computer. The last weeks before the exam I studied the structure of the different writings which helped me in the exam task.

What advice would you give to other students studying high level courses like CPE Preparation?

Don’t only focus on the content of the exam, but be sure to become excellent in exam skills. Practise as much as you can and think about techniques which help you for all exam parts.

What advice would you give to teachers of high level courses like CPE Preparation?

Don’t make your students too easy. Homework really helps to prepare for the exam and some of us just need deadlines.

For the school in general: be sure that the library provides accurate books for CPE-students. For example, I couldn’t find a book that could help me with writing skills at CPE level.

How long have you been in Singapore? What advice would you give to non-native English speakers moving to Singapore?

I’ve been living in Singapore for 2 years now and would advise other non-native English speakers to find a way to practice your English. If you take courses, be sure to have a ‘practice environment’ outside school, either in your social life or in your voluntary work / job.

What do you wish to study next? Another language? Another skill?

Living in Singapore means for me living among Chinese Singaporeans. So I’m looking forward to face the challenge of studying Mandarin!

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