Posted in Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class

CPE Speaking Long Turn Practice Class

speaking exam

This class will focus on ways to prepare students for the long turn part of the proficiency speaking exam.

Here you can download my class handout for the long turn:!330&authkey=!AAo9zXade0WcDyw

Here you can download a powerpoint of example long turn questions:!329&authkey=!ACkj6f61lAOrNls

In this part students are required to speak for 2 minutes about a given subject. They will be given a card with a question and 3 bullet points of suggested areas to focus on. Students are required to stay on topic for the 2 minutes but they DO NOT have to cover the bullet points, they are just a guide.

There are 10 examples of genuine long turn questions taken from various handbooks and passed papers on the powerpoint above. What I like to do is set “ambush” long turns; have the powerpoint set up and after finishing a different class activity suddenly put up a question and instruct students to begin talking immediately.

For these practices you should have students sit in pairs. Each pair should have a timer of some kind. Remind students that they need to talk for 2 minutes without interruptions. Ensure that the student who is not taking their long turn hides the timer from the view of the speaking student; in the exam they will not know how long they’ve been speaking for and they must get used to structuring their turn to last the allotted time.

Before starting the practices go through the class handout. The handout is just a guide with some ideas about how to structure a long turn. My main focus in writing the handout was to encourage my students to personalise the question and also to link it to current affairs. After each practice turn encourage students to share the ways in which they personalised each question and any links to current affairs they found.

Here is the handout:

Speaking Long Turn

Talk for 2 minutes without interruption about a subject with 3 pointers to guide you.

How important is sport in today’s society?

  • Entertainment
  • Health
  • Different stages of life


You will only have a few seconds to gather your thoughts before you start talking. Try to think of your turn as introduction, body, and conclusion.

Start with a time buyer:

  • It’s funny you should ask that…………..
  • That’s weird I was just talking about this the other day…………….
  • Hhhmmmm that’s a tough one………….
  • That’s an interesting question………………
  • Now let me see…………………..

Immediately personalise the topic

Generally people find it easiest to talk about themselves and their own experiences rather than speak objectively about something. Speaking about personal experience is also more engaging for the listener.

  • For me personally sport isn’t that important.
  • As far as I’m concerned sport is a big part of my life.
  • Speaking from personal experience I’d say

Using your experience as a starting point you can then link into more general discussion of the topic. Think of it like the exciting first paragraph of an article.

Link the topic to current affairs

Normally there’s a link between the topic and something happening in the world at the current time.

  • Take Barça for example, the loss to Madrid clearly affected the whole city.
  • We only have to look at the doping scandals involving Lance Armstrong……

Wrap up

Try and recap everything you’ve said and tie it all together

  • So as I was saying……
  • To sum up……..


Posted in Recommended Websites

Multilingual Chemical Catalan Manga-Infused Swing Dancing


Does that tickle your fancy? If so then why not check out my good friend oscarazal’s uniquely varied blog.

As a chemist, translator, English teacher and swing aficionado Oscar’s page offers an insight into each facet of his life. Including stories of crude cultural stereotyping, guides to Catalan culture and a series of comics based on Square’s Final Fantasy VII.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, why not check it out for yourself.

Happy weekend!

Posted in Recommended Websites

English Learning Dos and Don’ts


A quick post to draw your attention to a great idea from our friend’s at “A year in the Life”. The idea is to have the students come up with a list of dos and don’ts for learning English, then throughout the course they can be used as a reference and guide to studying. This gives the students more of a sense of ownership over their course and hopefully if they’ve made the rules, they’re more likely to stick to them.

Also, be sure to check out some of the beautiful photography, especially some beautiful shots of the Irish countryside.

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?