Posted in Recommended Websites, Writing Classes

Zombie Apocalypse Training 101, with Steven Seagal


Need help getting teenage students to produce compositions? Why not try this great warm up game from my friend Magistra Monson. The idea is you take clippings from real news stories and use them as a jumping off point for creative or argumentative writing. The class works as a team adding a paragraph each to the story with hilarious consequences. Definitely an idea I’m gonna use in my next teen class, or even with adults. You can download different introductory paragraphs from Magistra’s blog.

This has actually helped inspire a pipe dream I have for a new blog based around crowd sourced short stories. The working title at the moment is “Crowd Shorts” watch this space………………………. and pay attention to big Steve, that guys knows his onions.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes, Uncategorized

Persepolis Journal: Chapter 2, The Bicycle

persepolis pic

This is the second part in a series of posts based around the graphic novel “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi. I’m currently working through the book with three separate groups of adults with a level ranging from A2 – C1 and one teenage individual with a C1 level. Each week I set the next chapter of the book as homework and we dedicate the first 15-20 minutes of each class to vocabulary and grammar issues that arise and a discussion of the various issues that come up.

Chapter 2, The Bicycle

Here is some of vocabulary that came up in class:

to awake

a synonym of “to wake up” but used for more poetic writing, or in older texts. Note that there are irregular conjugations of the verb = awake, awoke, awoken but also regular ones: awake, awakened.

To blame something ON somebody.

The shah blames the fire on the fanatics.

pronunciation of Iran and use of different regional adjectives: Iranian, Middle-Eastern, Western etc.


The collocation unshakeable faith, an indestructible faith. Also verb “to shake” – shake shook shaken. (James Bond Reference)

forbid forbade forbidden

In reference to the police stopping people from rescuing the people trapped in the burning cinema.


a good adjective to teach students to describe Marji, in the last chapter she wanted to be a prophet and was obsessed with religion and now in this one she wants to be a revolutionary like Fidel Castro or Che Guevara. Fickle describes a person who changes their loyalties and tastes very easily and often.

Discussion questions

  • What happens in this chapter?
  • How does Marji’s attitude change?
  • Who does she idolise? Is she fickle?
  • How does the novel portray the Rex cinema fire? (one of the worst terrorist attacks of modern times, read the wiki here:
  • What do you think of the way Marji’s parents are raising / educating her? (with Descartes, Marx etc.)
  • Do you think that children today study reliable history of these events?
  • If you are old enough to remember the Iranian revolution, what do you remember? How was it perceived in your country?
  • Do you remember where you were and what you were doing at the time of a big atrocity? (in reference to the Rex fire, possiblities could be 9/11, the London bombing, the Madrid bombing etc.)


Set chapter 3 entitled “The Water Cell” for students to read for next class.

For each class I am making a set of vocabulary flashcards on the website so that at the start of each class we can briefly revise vocab from the week before.

Posted in Uncategorized

Calling all my lovely followers!

Hi guys, I have a proposition for you. I will write a post mentioning all your lovely blogs with a brief description thus giving you more hits and views and helping to push you up the search engines. In return all I ask is that you do the same for my blog. Even better, you can explore each other’s blogs through my post and then include links to all of the blogs in your own post. This way we’d all end up with loads of new links all over the interweb. Does that make sense? Hopefully it will result in a big interlinked web of shared brilliant blogs that will see us shooting up google in no time.

Let me know what you think in the comments.


Posted in Conversation Classes

Jobs and Career Conversation Class


Before you use these materials, why not check out our new podcast for learners and teachers alike? It’s called 2Ts in a Pod, have a listen here:


This lesson plan is a conversation class where adult students talk about their childhood, career path and work history. It is suitable for levels B1-C1.

I stole the the first film clip idea from but the second part is all my own.

Lesson plan:

Brainstorm jobs, put students in pairs or small groups and give them 5 minutes to write as many different jobs as they can. Tell them that you’ll award them 1 point for each job that another group has also come up with but 2 points for a unique job that nobody else thought of.

Go through jobs and put them on the board.

Tell students they are going to watch a film called “when I grow up”. They have to make predictions about what’s going to happen in the film. Go through predictions and put them on the board.

Tell them to watch the film and try and note as many jobs as they can from it. (there are a lot!)

Show the film:

Film discussion

Put students in small groups to discuss the following questions:

What’s the film about?

What’s the message of the film?

Do you think it accurately represents the pressures on children nowadays?

Feedback to whole class

Career path discussion

Download the question handout from here:!323&authkey=!AHaWX3an3ocpNVw

Students discuss the following questions in small groups:

How did you decide which job you wanted to do?

How did you get your job?

What did you want to be when you were a child? Did you get that job?

Who influenced your career choices the most?

Did you have a careers advisor at school?

If so, what did they tell you?

Was your career choice influenced by the grades you got at school?

Have you made any big career changes in your life? Would you like to?

What was your position when you joined your current company / workplace?

Have you ever been promoted?

Have you ever been headhunted?

Do you work in a management role? Would you like to work in one?

What’s more important for your job, your experience or your qualifications?

If you have children would you ever dissuade them from choosing a particular career?

  • Musician
  • Actor
  • Journalist
  • Dancer
  • Doctor

All groups feedback to the class.

Interview Roleplay

What’s more important work experience or life experience?

Students are going to do a job interview roleplay. This works best with groups of 4, 2 interviewers and 2 candidates.

Give out role cards and give interviewers a minute to think of the job that the interview is for. When they have decided give the candidates a minute to invent some relative experience. Interviewers should also come up with some typical difficult interview questions:


  • What can you offer the company?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Think of a time when you solved a problem using your own initiative.
  • Think of a time when youmade a mistake at work, what did you learn from it?

Download the role cards from here:!325&authkey=!AJiYHkz8VOfyYrc

Candidate 1:

You are 35 years old, you have had the same job in the same company since you were 18. You have to change job because your company has gone bankrupt. You have 17 years of experience doing the job you are going for.

Candidate 2:

You are 35 years old. You have had 12 different jobs over the last 17 years. You only worked to save money to go travelling. Now you want to settle down and start a family. Convince the managers that you are the one for the job.


You have 2 candidates for a role in your company (you decide the role) one candidate has a lot of work experience and the other has a lot of life experience. Interview them both and make a decision.

Feedback, which candidate got the job and why?

Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Proficiency book club, lesson 3: The Toys of Peace by Saki


This lesson is a short discussion based around “The Toys of Peace” by Saki, a short satirical story about two parents attempts to influence their young boy’s playing habits. For this series of classes I am using short stories from “The Oxford Book of English Short Stories” edited by A. S. Byatt. If you don’t have a copy of the book most of the short stories are available for free online. This particular short story is available here:

As with the other lessons in this series the story is set of homework the previous week. The first 5-10 minutes of the class are spent going over any vocabulary issues. This is then followed by a discussion based on the themes and issues which arise in the story.

The author Hector Hugh Munro is considered to be one of the masters of the short story. Many of his works were published posthumously following his death in World War 1. His wikipedia page may prove useful for the class discussion:

After going through any vocabulary problems (there shouldn’t be many as the story only runs to 5 pages) have the students discuss the following questions, either in small groups or as a whole class:

Discussion: Toys of Peace

  1. What happens in the story?
  2. What was your initial reaction to it?
  3. Describe the characters.
  4. What do you think of the parents attempt to influence their children?
  5. Do you think they are well-meaning? Or deluded?
  6. What toys did you play with as a child?
  7. Did your parents ban anything they thought would have a bad influence on you? Toys? TV shows? Etc.
  8. Do you agree with the expression “boys will be boys”?
  9. Do you think children should play with toy weapons?
  10. Should girls be given typically girly toys? Dolls, makeup etc.
  11. Are there any toys / games / other things that you think are a bad influence on children or young people
  12. Should these things be banned?
  13. The story is an example of satire. What do you think it is satirising?
  14. What satirical programs / writers / magazines etc. do you have in your country?

Next week: Nuns at Luncheon by Aldous Huxley