Las Ventas, Madrid
Las Ventas, Madrid

I’m going to post a sample answer to a dialogue construction on Saturday afternoon (June 14th 2014). A copy of the (blank) dialogue is below and this link should bring you to the full exam where you’ll find the one I’ll be sharing (2002). Give it a go yourself before coming back and checking it against my sample. Remember that there are many different ways of answering the dialogue, because you can phrase your sentences differently each time. I won’t be adding anything extra eg hola/qué bien etc. They can be nice to add, but they’re not necessary or essential to get full marks. Good luck with it and as always, if you have any questions leave a comment. 

In the dialogue, you really want to be highly aware of your verb tenses, and try to be very focused as you sit down and work through each verb. Work out what tense you’re required to use, then apply the rules correctly. There are many aspects of grammar you can expect to be tested on here: gustar and other verbs like it (turns 1, 4 & 5), singular nouns like la gente which can be plural in English but in Spanish must take verbs in the singular (none to worry about here), whether to choose the preterite or the imperfect (turn 2 & 3), easily confused verbs (turn 3 – which verb will you use for to look at?). There will probably be a subjunctive (turn 3) [but often only one or two – do NOT get panicked about it].

Some of the language points are tricky, some less so. Unfortunately, very often students actually get the tricky ones right only to trip over the really simple constructions and make mistakes with straightforward future tenses (turn 2), words that you learned in first year (turn 2 again and turn 5), words that look feminine but are masculine (turn 1 & 3 – same word).

So really, my advice with the dialogue is to go about it in as controlled a manner as possible (bearing in mind that you are in an exam). It’s worth 30 marks, divided equally between the five turns. Do not leave blanks – try to get the message across, even when you know it’s wrongly phrased. Sometimes the sentences set are quite long or run-on in a slightly unnatural way, or a way that makes it more difficult to translate. Pause to think about how you can break these sentences up in a natural way, then do so. It is not an exercise in word-for-word translation, though you want to stick very closely to transmitting the message you have been asked to convey.


(a)You and your friend, Susana, discuss the Spanish television show Gran Hermano. (Contestants live together in a house and two are voted out each week. The last person left wins 8 million euros.)

I love the above intro – it seems so retro now but was cutting edge when this exam was set! I was living in Toledo in Spain when Gran Hermano started and my flatmates and I were glued to the programme. I still remember the characters (though some names were changed for the exam)! Spanish TV was pretty poor at that time, to be honest! It was my first (and only) experience of watching Big Brother religiously. I used to lie on the floor of the apartment with my flatmates to watch it. Toledo summers average about 40 degrees during the day, and we had no air conditioning. The sensation of the cold marble floor on our backs and legs was heaven, and we washed it down with mouthfuls of ice-cold Nestea. Simple pleasures! 

Complete IN SPANISH your side of the following DIALOGUE.

Susana:¿Qué opinas del concurso Gran Hermano?

Tú:Say you like it a lot and you never miss a programme, although since Mario and

Silvia left it hasn’t been as interesting as it was before.

______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________

Susana:¿Quién va a ganar el premio?

Tú:You think that Felipe will win because he’s nice, good-looking, gets on with everyone and is very clever. He was very upset when they threw out Mario.

______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________

Susana:¿Sabes que Mario y Silvia ya son novios?

Tú:Apparently they both come from Madrid. You hope that Silvia will be happy with Mario because on the programme she was always alone.It used to surprise you when she’d go out into the garden at night to look at the stars.

______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________

Susana:¿Te gustaría participar en Gran Hermano?

Tú:It would be a very interesting experience but you would hate to become so well-

known. Besides you wouldn’t like to be without your family for such a long time.

______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________

Susana:¿Vas a ver el programa la semana que viene?.

Tú:Of course! You want to know what’s going to happen to Marina. Nobody likes her because she never helps the others in the house. You think that she is very selfish.

______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________


  1. hi susan , i have my leaving cert next week and im quite a good student around a B1. My oralwent very well and im good at the writing but im struggling to do well in the listening, it keeps pulling me back fromgetting the A! Do you have any advice in improving in the next week? ive done the listening exams but i just done improve from it!

    1. Michelle, I’m sorry, I only saw this comment now. The listening is tough for many students, as you say. Vocabulary revision is excellent. Maybe take some time tonight to do a listening (if there are any left that you haven’t!) or if you have done them all, to take one and to really look at it with the marking scheme beside you. Look at what the exam questions ask and more importantly what they don’t ask as with many of my students, that idea has worked. Often, when we’re answering those listening questions, there’s a little twist or trick in them that we don’t see. Or worse, we imagine one that isn’t there. I hope that proves helpful. Also, in the 10 minutes between the written and the listening, maybe have some Spanish that you can listen to on your phone (give it to someone to mind during the exams obviously!) just to tune your ear in quickly before you go in. ¡Suerte!

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