Posted in Conversation Classes, Games

Taboo Card Set

Classic ESL classroom game.

Students have to describe the word in bold at the top of the card without using the two words printed beneath.





Lots of fun as a warm up game or to have in your back pocket for emergencies.

Click here to download:!243&authkey=!AOyCO5hEe-Hh7UQ

Posted in Conversation Classes

Holidays and Travelling Conversation Class


Just a quick note…

Before you use these materials… We’ve created a new podcast aimed at B2+ level English students and teachers alike. You can listen for free at our SoundCloud page below. You can download teacher’s notes to accompany them from our Facebook page or from this blog. All comments and feedback welcome! Give us a like and a share 😉

Holidays and Travelling Conversation Class

This lesson works well with a range of levels, from A2- C1. It can be used to practice for the FCE or CAE speaking exam collaborative task section. Everybody loves talking about travelling and holidays.

You will need these pictures:!239&authkey=!ADvu5kRUUPylICk

And this handout:!240&authkey=!ABZL5DMHal7REDA

First put students in groups to discuss the following questions:

When was your last holiday?

Where did you go?

Who did you go with?

How did you get there?

Then brainstorm different types of holidays and different ways to travel on the board.

Project the pictures from the file above and elicit the vocabulary. This can be fun with lower levels, going from backpack to backpacking to backpacker. Hitchhiking – hitchhiker etc.

Once you have pre-taught all the vocabulary put the students in groups to discuss the questions on the handout.

Wrap up:

Students report back to the class about other group members responses. A chance to practice reported speech for higher levels.

Posted in Conversation Classes

National Identity Lesson Plan


Note: This lesson plan was written for the unique socio-political environment of Barcelona in Catalonia in Spain. However, the questions can be adapted for any nationality.

Do you think of yourself as Catalan or Spanish?

Do you feel a strong connection with the rest of Europe?

What does it mean to be Catalan? Or Spanish?

Can you be Catalan if you weren’t born in Cataluña?

OR if you don´t speak Catalan?

Can you become Catalan by living in Cataluña and absorbing the culture?

In groups SS discuss next question in English and write a list with reasons.

What are your strongest symbols of national identity?

If they need help give them some examples of your own symbols, for example:

England: Tea, the Royal Family, fish and chips, bad weather, self deprecation, Shakespeare, dark humour, The Battle of Hastings in 1066, Henry VIII.

Write Catalan symbols on the board.

Why are these so important? What do they symbolise? Which are most important?

Citizenship Test

What happens if a person from outside the EU comes to Spain and wants to get citizenship?

What do they have to do? Do they have to take a citizenship exam?

Because in the United Kingdom they do. Here are some example questions from the old citizenship test (it has now been updated):

Put the questions on the board or copy and paste them and hand them out. Correct answer are in bold.

In which year did married women get the right to divorce their husband?

1837, 1857, 1875, 1882

Which of the following statements is true?

The governing body of the EU is the Council of the European Union

The governing body of the EU is the Council of Europe

How many parliamentary constituencies are there?

464, 564, 650, 664

Ask student’s to guess the score Tim (me, a 29-year-old British native) got when he did the test, out of 24.

I scored 13 out of 24 so I failed and if I were an immigrant from a country outside the EU I would not be given citizenship.

Do you think these are the most relevant (pertinent) questions?

What should people know about a country to be a citizen?

Tell students that the citizenship test has been changed because of complaints about the relevance of the questions. Here is a link to download a section of the new UK citizenship test.!229&authkey=!AFcpZe_NcbPS4Mc

Depending on the level you can actually have the students answer the questions, or do it as a whole class quiz in teams. The test includes some interesting historical information (if your students are into that sort of thing) if not you can just ask a few of the questions to give the students an idea of what they’re like.

Here is the link to the guardian website where you can find the answers:

Students write their own citizenship tests for the teacher.

What I want you to do in your groups is write a short Catalan or Spanish citizenship test. 5 questions which you think are the most important and which would help with integration. Cultural, political, history, economic questions etc.

You can discuss them, in English and obviously you have to write them in English. You then have to explain why they are important and we will try and make a Catalan Citizenship test. The teacher can help with the question structures but can’t know the answers because at the end he / she will try to complete the test and get over 75%.

Do you agree with the idea of citizenship tests?

Do you think it´s easy to integrate into a new country or culture?

1 minute to think of the biggest challenges 

Put challenges on board and students discuss them.

Wrap up:

Do you think Cataluña is well integrated? If not how can we change this?

Posted in Writing Classes

Informal letter to practice to be used to and to get used to.

The aim of this composition is to practice the following structures:

  1. To be used to + a noun / the gerund (being accustomed to something)

At first it was difficult but now I am used to living in a big city.

  1. To get used to + a noun / the gerund (the process of becoming accustomed to something)

It took me a while to get used to the cold weather / living in such a cold country.


You are an Erasmus student. You have been living in Edinburgh in Scotland for 3 months. Your best friend has written you a letter. He / She is also interested in doing an Erasmus in the UK. Write her a letter containing the following:

  • A brief description of your course.
  • Different things you have had to adapt to.
  • Would you recommend an Erasmus in the UK or not? Explain why / why not.

Write 150 – 180 words.

Posted in Recommended Websites

Other recommended blogs.

Hitch-Hikers Handbook

A great site full of excellent travel writing, photography and top tips for travelling on a budget.

A blog comprised of short stories and articles.

Posted in Conversation Classes

Adventure Game

Murphys Gesetz 9 - Fantasy Adventure

This lesson plan is good for young children and low level adults. Some teens really get into it, with others it has been known to die on its arse. You will need a dice and the powerpoint below.

Here is the powerpoint:!234&authkey=!ADjqXTKxe4d-QPA

It is a beautiful demonstration of my skill on Microsoft paint.

Game Instructions:

This is a problem solving game. Students must use items they find during their adventure to solve problems and overcome obstacles that are in their path.

Tell the students that one night they all go to sleep and suddenly wake up in a strange place. In front of them are 4 mysterious doors (slide 3). They can choose which door to go through. Behind each door there is a different scene:

  1. Behind door 2 (red) there is a small orchard with some apple trees, flowers and a mysterious X on the floor  (slide 4).
  2. Behind door 4 (yellow) there is a crying princess in a room with two axes on the wall (slide 9)
  3. Behind door 3 (blue) there is a man lying in bed ill with hamburgers under his bed. (slide 12)
  4. Behind door 5 (orange) there is a cold, hungry guard guarding a big locked gate, he has a spade. (slide 14)

The students have to complete the quest, here is the solution, try and let the students think through all their options, useful questions to ask are: What can you do? What do you have?

On entering door 2 (red) the students see the orchard, the flowers and the X. If they want they can pick flowers and apples (slide 5 shows the picked flowers and apples).

On entering door 4 (yellow) they see the princess. If they speak to the princess she will tell them that she is very sad because nobody loves her and nobody every gives her any presents. If they give her the flowers from the orchard (door 2) she will stop crying and give them an axe (slide 10 shows this)

On entering door 3 (blue) students will see the ill man who will tell them that his stomach aches because he has eaten too many hamburgers and that he needs healthy food to feel better. If they give him apples from the orchard (door 2) he will feel better and fall asleep (slide 13 shows this) the students can then take hamburgers.

On entering door 5 (orange) students will meet the cold hungry guard. He doesn’t like apples. However, if they give him a hamburger from (door 3) he will be happier (slide 15) But he won’t give them his spade unless they make him a fire by chopping down a tree in the orchard (door 2) with the axe they got from the princess (door 4) (slide 6 shows the chopped down tree, slide 7 shows the tree chopped into firewood). If they make him a fire the guard will be warm and happy (slide 16) He will then give them his spade.

The students can then use the spade to dig for treasure on the X in the orchard (slide 8 shows the treasure dug up) The treasure is a small golden box, but it is locked, it cannot be opened by force. If they show it to the princess she will unlock it because she has the key in a locket around her neck. Inside the box is an enormous key which unlocks the gate in door 5.

The boss room (slide 17) On entering the boss room students will see a hydra and the handsome prisoner held captive in a cage. Students must attack the hydra with the axe and must roll higher with the dice than the teacher to be successful. Each student has 2 lives, if they roll less than the teacher they lose a life. When the student rolls higher than the teacher for the first time show slide 18, and explain that the student has cut of the hydras head but 2 more have grown back in its place. The prince will then shout that you need fire to burn the stumps after you cut them. The students must return to the guard room and get a flaming piece of wood. When the students have beaten the hydra by rolling higher than the teacher 4 times (slides 19 and 20) (one for each head) then the prince’s cage will magically spring open. The prince and princess will be reunited (slide 21) and will live happily ever after. They will also give the students lots of treasure!


I wrote this lesson plan for children, specifically a small group. I have since gone on to use it with larger groups of children and found it to be successful. Then one day I tried it out on a group of lower level adults and they got really into it.

Target Language:

Loads of good stuff comes up and the higher the level the more vocabulary you can introduce. Examples include:

Verbs: chop, cut, give, ask, burn, dig, pick (flowers)

Nouns: spade, axe, fire, gate, key, lock, orchard etc.

It can be used to practice a range of structures depending on the level. For example for intermediates you can have them discuss their options in the 1st conditional: “Maybe if we give him a hamburger he will give us the spade.”

Enjoy, let me know if the instructions make sense or not.

Posted in Grammar Classes, Vocabulary Classes

Phrasal verbs with take

Not a fantastically exciting class but the powerpoint took me ages to make, here’s the link:!205&authkey=!APrLtO3nrFOAPc0

Instructions are pretty straight forward.

  1. Show students first slide of phrasal verbs with take. They try to guess the meanings in pairs.
  2. Show them slide 3 with all the definitions. They match the definitions to the phrasal verb.
  3. Slide 4 is the answers. Students check their answers.
  4. Remaining slides contain sentences examples.

Follow this link to a flashcard set of the sentences examples on

What you do after with the phrasal verbs is up to you, maybe a composition using as many as possible or games using the flashcard set.

Posted in Grammar Classes, Vocabulary Classes

Travel Phrasal Verbs Activity


Activity using some phrasal verbs to plan a weekend.

Target language:

Pick somebody up

Can you pick me up from the train station at 6 o’clock?

Drop somebody off

Ok, no problem I will drop you off at your hotel.

Check in / out

I’ll check in at the hotel.

Freshen up

After travelling all day I will need to freshen up.

Meet up with

Then I want to meet up with some old friends.

Eat out

We will eat out in a posh restaurant.

Show somebody around

On Saturday I will show you around the city.

Look around

We want to look around the old town.

Pre teach phrasal verbs then students make a plan for my Mum’s visit (see below), best plan and one with most phrasal verbs wins. Depending on time make a plan for my brother, or set this as homework.

Copy and distribute the following to the students:

My Mum is coming to visit for the weekend but due to an emergency I can’t spend time with her. I need you to meet her at the airport and entertain her for the weekend. Here are the details of her trip:

  • Her flight lands at 18:00 on Friday night.
  • She’s staying at the Hotel Colon.
  • She wants to try local specialities.
  • She loves opera.
  • She loves history.
  • She wants to buy some presents for her friends back home.
  • She wants to get a tan.
  • Her flight back to England leaves at 21:00 on Sunday night.

Make a plan for the weekend using the phrasal verbs we have studied.

Details for my brother’s trip:

My brother has recently split up with his girlfriend. He wants to come to the city for a good time and forget all his troubles. However, because of an emergency I cant spend the weekend with him. I need you to meet him at the airport and entertain him for the weekend.

  • His flight lands at 17:00 on Friday afternoon.
  • He is staying at Hostel de Raval.
  • He wants to get a taste of the city’s night-life.
  • He wants to meet new people, maybe even a lady!
  • He likes partying!
  • He also likes architecture.
  • He doesn’t like foreign food.
  • His flight leaves at 20:00 on Sunday night.

Write a plan for his weekend for homework using as many of the phrasal verbs as you can.

Posted in Conversation Classes

New Year’s Resolutions Lesson Plan.

Topical lesson plan for early January.

Warm-up 20 questions Christmas present game.

Teacher demonstrates the game. Say “I’m thinking of one of my Xmas presents, you have 20 questions to guess what it is.”

Practice and drill question formation:

Can you wear it? Is it big / small? Did your Mum give it to you? etc.

In 2 groups, 1 person thinks of a Christmas present they got and the others have 20 Yes / No questions to try and guess it.

In groups students play, do 2 or 3 people.

New Year’s Resolutions:

In groups students discuss questions on handout part 1:

Link to handout:!214&authkey=!APcwP8lKWjDTlQM

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions this year? What? Do you think you will keep it or break it?

Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution? What was it? Did you keep it or break it?

Do you have friends / family who make resolutions? What resolutions? Did they keep them or break them?

Do you think it’s a good idea to make resolutions? Why? Why not?

What are the origins of New Year’s resolutions?

The ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.[1]

The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.[2]

In the Medieval era, the knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.[1]

At watchnight services, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions.[3]

What percentage of people who make a resolution keep it? (guess)

A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail,[6] despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, (a system where small measurable goals are being set; such as, a pound a week, instead of saying “lose weight”), while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends.

In groups try and think of the top ten most common resolutions.

  1. Lose weight / get fit
  2. Quit smoking
  3. Learn something new
  4. Eat healthier / diet
  5. Get out of debt / save money
  6. Spend more time with your family
  7. Travel to new places
  8. Be less stressed
  9. Do volunteer work
  10. Drink less

Discussion questions about the top ten:

Have you ever made any of these resolutions? Have any of your friends or family?

Have you ever tried to do any of these things at other times of the year? Were you successful? Why? Why not?

If you have tried to do any of these things can you give any tips (advice) to your classmates? For example: How can you reduce stress in life?


If you have never tried to do any of these things try to think of ways to keep these resolutions.

In your group try and put the resolutions in order of difficulty.

Posted in Conversation Classes

Role Models

Topic discussion based on the idea of role models and setting good or bad examples.

Target language:

Role Model (good / bad)

To admire / look up to someone

To set an example (good / bad)

To be a good / bad influence


Put this picture of Paris Hilton on the board.

What do you think of Paris Hilton?

Is she a good role model? Why? Why not?

Does she set a good example for teenagers / children?

Democratic Convention

Put the picture of Michelle Obama on the board and ask the same questions.

Brainstorm language for good / bad role models.

Here are some examples, give out dictionaries if the students have trouble.

Bad Role Models Good Role Models 
Selfish / tight-fisted Unselfish,
Greedy generous
Arrogant / self centred / full of himself Modest / humble
untrustworthy trustworthy
Bad-tempered / moody Easy going
dishonest honest
Lazy Hard-working

In Groups of 3-4 discuss these questions.

Who was your most important role model when you were a child? Who did you look up to / admire?

Who is your most important role model now?

Do you think you are a good role model?

Who do you think was a good / bad influence on you when you were a child?

Were you a good / bad influence on your friends?

Students report back to teacher.

Print a set of the following pictures for each group:!231&authkey=!AFCzgQzYumAa1Ng

In groups students answer the following questions referring to each picture:

Do people admire or look up to this person?

Is he or she a good role model? Why? Why not?

Does he / she set a good example? Why? How?

Is he / she a good influence on society?

Wrap up

Open the discussion up to the class and see if there are any differences of opinion. Get students to justify their opinions.