30 topic cards for IELTS / CPE Speaking

Robbio Dobbio:

Great resource for CPE/IELTS speaking practice.

Originally posted on teflgeek:

I don’t think this needs much in the way of explanation!  If you click the pdf link below, I’ve put together 30 different topic cards for IELTS speaking part 2 / CPE speaking part 3.

I wrote most of these over seven years ago when I was teaching IELTS on a more regular basis (though it looks like I might be again soon – looking forward to it!).  So I’m not sure how up to date the topic cards are and they might also be a little “low” for CPE learners – though if that turns out to be the case, think how much fun your CPE learners can have “upgrading” the vocabulary, question types and topic areas!

Also, they were written with a view to not only giving learners a chance to practice a two-minute-talk, but also to develop topic awareness and general knowledge a little bit.  Some of…

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Used to/would – Past habit and states

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Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a lesson plan for intermediate students to practice “used to” and “would” to talk about past habits and states using videos and conversation.

Download the lesson plan and student’s worksheet here:

Used to would lesson plan

Used to would students sheet

Used to

Warmer: 2 truths and a lie, write three sentences about yourself using “used to”, 2 true and 1 lie. Try to write 2 with state verbs and 1 with an action verb like this:

  1. I used to have shoulder length hair.
  2. I used to dance ballet when I was a child.
  3. I used to be a builder before I was a teacher.

What does used to mean here?

A past state or habit which is not true now.

What are the negative and interrogative forms?

I used to dance ballet.

I didn’t use to dance ballet.

Did you use to dance ballet?

Drill pronunciation: weak “to” in “used to” and the “ed” in “used” is not pronounced.

Remember: Used to only exists in the past, to talk about present habit we use the present simple with adverbs of frequency.

I usually/normally/tend to go to the gym twice a week.

Would

“Would” can replace “used to” in one of the three sentences at the top of the page with exactly the same meaning. In which sentence is would possible?

  1. I would/used to dance ballet when I was a child.

We can use “would” with the same meaning as “used to” only when we’re talking about past actions or habits not when we’re talking about states.

When I was at uni I would/used to get up at 11am. (get up = action/habit)

When I was a child I would/used to have blonde hair. (have = state)

Look at the following sentences, decide if we can only use “used to” or if “would” is also possible.

  1. When I lived in Japan I would/used to eat sushi every day.
  2. When I was at school we used to/would play hopscotch in the playground.
  3. When I was a kid I didn’t use to/wouldn’t like olives.
  4. My dad used to/would have a big green land rover.
  5. He used to/would drive it through the forest on bumpy tracks.
  6. When I was a teenager I used to/would love heavy metal music, now it’s too loud for me.

Videos

Watch the video and make sentences about it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEZUQxQ51Ak

Arnold used to be a bodybuilder. He would lift weights all day. He used to be the governor of California.

Discussion

  1. What games did you use to play when you were a child?
  2. Where did you use to go on holiday?
  3. Are there any foods or drinks that you used to hate when you were young that you like now?
  4. What did you use to look like when you were a teenager?
  5. What hairstyle did you use to have?
  6. What clothes did you use to have?
  7. Were you badly behaved at school? What bad things did you use to do?
  8. What did you use to do at the weekends?
  9. What did you use to do at Christmas?
  10. How has the place where you grew up changed in your lifetime?

There used to be a (park/playground etc.)

Follow up:

Students write a composition detailing all of the things that they used to do when they were younger and explaining why they don’t do them anymore.

Quantifiers Worksheet

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This is a worksheet for intermediate students to practice quantifiers. It’s written with Catalan students from Barcelona in mind so you might want to edit some of the discussion questions.

Download the handout here:

Quantifiers Worksheet

All of

Most of

Some of

A few of         + A determiner + noun

None of        (my/your/his/the/etc.)

Neither of

Both of

All

Most

Some

A few       + a noun

Neither

Both

All (of) my siblings are married.*

Both (of) my siblings are married.*

Most of his family have left the country.

A few of the people I went to school with are coming to visit.

None of her friends live in the village now.

Neither of her parents can drive.

 

*With all and both the “of” is optional.

All vegetables are good for you.

Most people prefer summer to winter.

Some people don’t like cheese.

A few places still let you smoke inside.

Neither hat was big enough for her.

Both men were extremely drunk.

Which of these sentences is incorrect?

  1. I love the rock music.
  2. I loved the music that they were playing last night.
  3. Most of the English people drink too much.
  4. Most of the people I know drink too much.

REMEMBER: When we’re speaking in general we don’t use “the”:

Most English people drink too much.

I like rock music.

Choose the correct option to complete the sentences:

  1. A few of/A few the people who came to the party didn’t bring presents.
  2. Neither/Neither of my pens worked so I couldn’t take notes.
  3. Most of/Most Spanish people support either Barça or Madrid.
  4. All of/all children should play outside 3 times a week.
  5. All of/all the children in my school come from the same area.
  6. Most/Most of restaurants close at midnight.
  7. Most/Most of the restaurants on my street are Turkish.

Discussion

  1. How many of your friends did you meet at school?
  2. How many of your friends speak English?
  3. How many of your friends speak Mandarin Chinese?
  4. Do your classmates do sports?
  5. Do any of your siblings smoke?
  6. How many people take a siesta in Catalonia?
  7. How many people take a siesta in the rest of Spain?
  8. How many people like bullfighting in Catalonia?
  9. How many people like bullfighting in the rest of Spain?
  10. Did your parents let you play in the street when you were little?
  11. Did your parents let you smoke when you were at school?
  12. Where did your parents grow up?
  13. Where did your siblings go to school?
  14. How many people support Barça in Barcelona?
  15. How many people support Espanyol?

3rd Conditional: Balloon Debate

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This is a conversation lesson plan to practise past (3rd) conditional structures whilst debating the value of specific professions to society. Credit to the university of Kent for the inspiration for the activity. I have changed the wording of the task slightly so that students must imagine a world without the achievements and inventions of some famous names from history.

You will need the handout, I have made 4 versions:

Intermediate teens:

Balloon Debate intermediate teenagers

Intermediate adults:

Balloon Debate Intermediate adults

Advanced teens:

Balloon Debate Adv teenagers

Advanced adults:

Balloon Debate Adv adults

I planned this as an activity to practise uses of advanced 3rd conditional structures such as:

But for + noun phrase, would/could/might have….

But for Thomas Edison, the lightbulb would have been invented much later.

Or inverted past conditionals:

Had it not been for Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have such a rich vocabulary.

You may want to preteach these structures using my other materials which you can find here and here.

Below you will find they advanced adults version of the activity.

Balloon Debate

You are in a hot air balloon which is losing height rapidly and will soon crash because it is overweight. You are travelling with a group of school children who will grow up to be very famous. You have to decide which 7 to throw over the side; if the balloon crashes you will all die. The passengers are:

  • Mother Teresa
  • Mao Tse-tung
  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • Florence Nightingale
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Mikael Gorbachev
  • Charles Darwin
  • William Shakespeare
  • Diego Maradona
  • Albert Einstein
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Beethoven
  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • Jane Austen
  • Steve Jobs

 

Language

Conditionals Making Decisions
If_____ hadn’t invented_____, _____ wouldn’t have happened. There’s no way we’re throwing ______ overboard because______
But for ________ we wouldn’t have________. Throwing _______ is out of the question because________
If it hadn’t been for ______, we wouldn’t have _______ now I think ________ is expendable.
Had it not been for _______, we wouldn’t have________. What did _______ really do for us?

Examples:

If Charles Darwin hadn’t discovered evolution, society wouldn’t have developed like it has.

If it hadn’t been for Gandhi, India would still be a British colony.

But for Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have such a rich language.

Had it not been for Abraham Lincoln, the slaves wouldn’t have been freed.

Homework Activity:

Students write an essay examining two of the people from the balloon and deciding which one has contributed most to society. They must compare and contrast the achievements of the two and reach a conclusion as to which should be crowned as the most inspiring person in history.

CAE Review – Phrase Sheet

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This is essentially the same as my CPE sheet but with the title and word limit changed. Download it here:

cae-review

CAE Review

Register: Informal/neutralUse: all your colourful vocabulary:

Phrasal verbs/idioms/impressive collocations.

Forms and conventions:Title: for films/books/restaurants use the name/title or if think up an imaginative title using an idiom/expression.
Planning, 6 step system:1.        Read task, underline content points.

2.        Divide content points into paragraphs: Intro, décor, ambiance, service, food, recommendation.

3.        WHAT do you want to say? Add your notes to each paragraph in simple form.

4.        HOW are you going to say that? Brainstorm advanced grammar and vocabulary for each note.

5.        Forms and conventions: Title paragraph titles, fixed introduction.

6.        Write! Remember word limit is: 220-260

Introduction:Personal anecdote to grab attention. Introduce name of book/film, restaurant + location, course, TV show etc.

Seldom do I find the time to…, however when I do take time out of my hectic schedule, I like nothing more than…

Being a bit of a film buff/book worm/foody, the news that … had opened a new restaurant/released a new film/book had me itching to try/see/read it. So last week I popped down with a friend to check it out.

Having never seen/read/tried… before I approached … with a sense of trepidation, not knowing what to expect. Soon however, all my fears were allayed.

Book reviews:Vocab to describe the book in general:

a page-turner / a white-knuckle ride / a tearjerker / a laugh a minute / I couldn’t put it down.

Vocab to describe specific parts:

a slow start / a gentle introduction /gripping climax / nail-biting conclusion / cliff-hanger ending/ a shocking twist in the tail

Setting:

The book is set in _______(place/time)

The action takes place in ______ (place/time)

the present day (now)

an alternate reality where vampires / wizards walk the earth

a sleepy village in the USA

the bustling city of New York

Plot:

The plot centres around / focuses on (the adventures / lives of _________)

The plot follows the adventures of _________(character name)

Characters:

Villain / hero / heroine / anti-hero / main character / protagonist

The characters are believable / well-crafted / a bit 2 dimensional.

Film/TV reviews:General:

An all-star cast

heavily influenced by the films of..

glowing reviews

startling originality

suspense builds up

a polished performance

a bold experiment

an accomplished actor

an unmitigated disaster (bad film)

a dazzling display of his/her talents

made a lasting impression on me.

Brought a tear to my eye

Like watching paint dry (boring)

I was on the edge of my seat (exciting)

A blockbuster (big commercial film eg Superman)

… sets off an amazing chain of events

Gripping film (exciting)

The director/author evoked a magical atmosphere

… awakened my interest in…

Hold my attention

Capture the audience’s imagination.

Spectacular set-pieces (main action scenes)

… is cast in the role of…

… is miscast in the role of…

…gives a(n) (un)convincing performance as…

The film is let down by a clichéd script.

Restaurant review:

Hearty mealWholesome food

Piping-hot

Succulent/juicy (meat)

Creamy

With a kick (spicy)

Crunchy/crispy

Well-seasoned

Packed with flavour

A steaming plate of..

Hungry/starving/ravenous/famished

Bustling eatery(restaurant)

Lively atmosphere

Service with a smile

A plate piled high with..Mouth-watering

To die for

Heavenly

To lick your lips in anticipation

Roast

Pan-fried

Grilled

Steamed

Freshly-baked

Restaurants cont.Make a pig of one’s self

To feast/gorge on (eat a lot of)

To eat/drink to your heart’s content

Devour/gobble up

Savour

Nibble

Bite

Lick

Aromas wafting from the kitchen

Cheap – economical/reasonably-priced

Expensive – pricey/costs an arm and a leg

€20 a head (per person)

Killer Lines:Were I to sum up … in one word, it would be…

… left a lot to be desired (wasn’t good enough)

…more than lives up to the hype (is as good as everyone says it is)

… is by far and away the best … you’re likely to … this year

… really raises the bar (sets a higher standard)

… sets the benchmark for other (others will be judges against how good it is)

… ticks all the right boxes

… holds up well in comparison with …

…comes off badly in comparison with …

Grammar check listHave you included?

·         An inversion (not only/no sooner/seldom)

·         An inverted conditional (Were we to…)

·         A participle clause (Being…/Having gone…)

·         A double comparative (The more we… the more)

·         A cleft sentence (What is most crucial is…)

·         Idioms

·         Phrasal verbs

Great Link for Debate Tasks

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

I’ve just come  across this link from the university of Kent that features some great conversation activities including a balloon debate.

http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/interviews/balloonDebate.htm#air

Here’s the sinking ship one in a word document to download:

Sinking Ship

Who wants to be a phrasal verb millionaire?

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I’ve made this set of phrasal verb questions for CAE (C1) students using Adam Simpson’s amazing Who wants to be a millionaire template.

Download the template here to make your own.

Or download my phrasal verb version here:

who-wants-to-be-a-millionaire-phrasal-verbs

Or my B1/B2 version that covers verb/noun collocations, prepositions and phrasal verbs:

who-wants-to-be-a-millionaire-intermediate-fce