Posted in Advanced C1, Conversation Classes, Guest Posts, Proficiency, Reading Classes, Vocabulary Classes

Guest Post: C1/C2 – Collin’s Word of the Year by Suzy Ratcliff

This is a guest post by teacher, teacher trainer, director of studies and materials writer Suzy Ratcliff. The lesson plan is based around the Collin’s Dictionary’s annual blog post revealing the shortlist for the words of the year. It’s a great example of how to exploit a piece of authentic materials to the max!

Download the student’s handout and teacher’s notes below:

Blog post

A year of ‘permacrisis’

1st Nov 2022

The 2020s have certainly seen their fair share of upheaval – and we’re only two years in! Already this decade we’ve had to contend with a pandemic and its aftermath, a brutal new war in Europe, and in the UK an economic crisis that saw the Bank of England warning of a “material risk to financial stability”. We’ve also had three prime ministers – so far.

How fitting, then, that 2022’s Word of the Year is permacrisis, a term that perfectly embodies the dizzyingsense of lurching from one unprecedented event to another, as we wonder bleakly what new horrors might be around the corner. Collins defines it as “an extended period of instability and insecurity” and that certainly rings true. Much more of this and we might have forgotten what stability and security ever felt like.

The current permacrisis also happens to be responsible for some of the other words on this year’s shortlist – not surprising given its all-consuming nature. Partygate, of course, is one of the events that set off the period of political turbulence whoseramifications are still playing out. It proves that the “-gate” suffix – made famous by the discovery of secret recordings in Washington DC’s Watergate Hotel – still has some life in it.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine produced an energy shock to which warm banks – places where those too poor to heat their own homes can gather in the event of a cold snap –are one proposed solution. The lexical analogy here is with another grim indicator of economic crisis, the food bank. The invasion also meant that we all quickly learned the Ukrainian spelling and pronunciation of the city of Kyiv. And while warfare may be Russia’s preferred tactic, increased scrutiny of Russia’s super-rich has led to a crackdown on lawfare, the use (or abuse) of legal powers to silence opponents.

In the labour market, changes have been afoot too. There’s been a vibe shift away from the culture that defined the world of work pre-pandemic: now people are less concerned with climbing the greasy pole, and more with quality of life. This has led to an epidemic of so-called quiet quitting, which, as Collins puts it, involves “doing no more work than one is contractually obliged to do”. For burnt-out millennials, it’s a third way between making your job your life and quitting altogether. Work-life balance is important, so why not relax as the year draws to a close by watching some football? The FIFA World Cup is due to start this month in Qatar – but beware the spectre of sportswashing, which some have accused the Qatari authorities of doing, given concerns around human rights and the welfare of migrant workers. This follows the pattern that has given us “greenwashing“, and of course goes back ultimately to “whitewashing“– blotting out imperfections with a thin coat of paint.

All in all, it’s a difficult note on which to begin the Carolean era, which the new king, Charles III, will preside over (the medieval Latin for Charles is, of course, Carolus). Let’s hope this is just a shaky start, and things will improve soon, Your Majesty. In the meantime, we all could be forgiven for just wanting to join our furry friends in splooting – which, Collins explains, is the act of lying flat on the stomach with the legs stretched out – until all of these problems have gone away.

Written by David Shariatmadari, author of Don’t Believe A Word: From Myths to Misunderstandings – How Language Really Works

Ex 1. Complete the sentences with your own ideas, then compare and discuss with your partner.

  1. In 2023, I’d like to see a crackdown on…
  2. The way I see it, … is just around the corner.
  3. In my life, I’ve had my fair share of
  4. The idea that …. really rings true to me
  5. The word …. perfectly embodies 2022 for me, because…

Ex 2. Discuss these questions:

  1. To what extent do you agree that 2022 has been a year of upheaval? Is it fair to say that the future looks grim or bleak? Why (not)?
  2. Have you witnessed someone close to you or a public figure lurching from one crisis to another? Have you ever experienced this sensation yourself?
  3. How do you predict the aftermath of the World Cup controversy will play out? Could changes be afoot in the world of big sporting events?
  4. In which industries do you think it’s necessary to ‘climb the ‘so-called’ greasy pole’? Have you ever felt that way in your career? Why (not)?
Posted in Proficiency, Writing Classes

Letter to Editor: Friendship – Worksheet

I’ve been crazy busy doing three jobs recently so not had a chance to post. Got a lot of recently made materials that I just haven’t had a chance to post, but hopefully that’ll change soon. Anyway, here goes:

This is a writing task for C2 Proficiency students. The task is taken from Proficiency test book one and the friendship expressions come from my old BFFs lesson plan. Download the handout with answer key below:

Posted in Advanced C1, Conversation Classes, Current Affairs Classes, Exam Preparation Class, pragmatics, Proficiency

C1/C2: Expressing Opinion – Hot Button Topics

This is a quick activity I threw together to help higher level students with expressing opinions on a range of controversial or “hot button” topics. I got the list of opinion expressions from the excellent englishclub.com, they have some great lists of functional language exponents organised by level, check them out:

https://www.englishclub.com/vocabulary/fl-giving-opinions.htm

Download the handout and PowerPoint below:

Procedure

Give out the handout and have students work together to try to complete the opinion expressions.

Go over their answers in open class.

Drill natural pronunciation of the expressions. Point out to students that we often emphasise or stress the part that identifies the stated opinion as our own:

In MY opinion,…

As far as I’M concerned,…

You know what *I* think?

For the hot-button topics you could either brainstorm some with your students by asking:

What issues are people debating fiercely these days?

What was the last heated argument/debate you had about?

Or, you could use the ones in the PowerPoint. Show a slide and have students express their opinions in small groups.

If you have an exam preparation group, the activity would work well as a warm-up to tackling some of the collaborative tasks such as Advanced speaking parts 3&4.

Posted in 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Listening Classes

2Ts in a Pod Episode 57: Jamie Keddie – Images & Stories in the Classroom

Image credit: Mark Wilding

This time on the pod Katy & Tim talk to teacher, materials developer, teacher trainer and master storyteller Jamie Keddie about how to use images and stories in the English classroom.

Check out Lessonstream, Jamie’s online community below:
lessonstream.com/

Also, check out Jamie’s video class based on the streaker photo here:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hH6rCbd9RI

Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

C2 Proficiency Key Word Transformation Training #6

Here’s another training worksheet for C2 students preparing to take the C2 Proficiency exam. Students guess the meaning of some common idioms and expressions, attempt to recall them, then put them into practice in conversation. Download the handout below:

Here’s a quizizz game for spaced repetition.

Posted in Advanced C1, Conversation Classes, Proficiency

1st Class Back After Easter – Speaking Tasks

Some quick speaking activities combining chatting about Easter holidays with some practice for exam speaking tasks. Download the PowerPoints and handout below:

The long turn task is modelled on the C2 Proficiency speaking part 3 in which students have to speak for 2 minutes about a given topic with 3 bullet points to guide them. Give out the speaking phrases and go over the “cheat sheet” of useful expressions on the first slide. Then put students in pairs and have them take it in turns to complete the task seeing who can use the most expressions, they need to speak on their own for 2 minutes. Once they have finished they should find 5 similarities between their Easter holiday experiences and share them with the class.

Alternatively, if you want something more collaborative, I’ve added a C1 Advanced part 3 style task in a separate PowerPoint. Students should first look at the cheat sheet, clear up any doubts, then have them answer the central question in pairs. You could then give them a further question: “which of these 5 types of activities do you appreciate doing most in your holidays.”

Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency, Reading Classes

C2 Reading & Vocabulary: Football Dreams

This is a reading and vocabulary lesson plan for C2 students who are preparing to take the Cambridge C2 Proficiency exam. Students read a text about a boy, his grandad and football then look at expressions and collocations from the text. Download the handout and key below:

You may also want to use this quizziz game to review the language at a later date.

The class procedure is pretty self-explanatory and should take the best part of 90 minutes. Follow the instructions on the student handout.

Posted in 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Advanced C1, Proficiency

No Word is an Island – Advanced English Podcast

Last week I had the pleasure of appearing on Sean Hutchman’s brilliant podcast No Word is an Island. The show is aimed at advanced English learners (and their teachers). We discussed James Clear’s brilliant book Atomic Habits and my experiences trying to put some of the techniques and strategies into practice. We also explored ways to apply some of Clear’s ideas to our classes and students to help them become more effective learners, as well as touching on many other interesting topics. Check out the episode and video below:

https://betterlanguagelearning.com/episode-15/