Posted in Conversation Classes, Grammar Classes

Giving Advice

advice

This is a conversation class to practice different forms of giving advice for B1 – B2 students.

Put on the board:

You should quit smoking

You ought to quit smoking

You had better quit smoking

Put students in small groups and tell them to think about the difference between the 3 sentences. Then have them share their ideas.

should and ought to are basically synonyms although ought to is generally more formal, they are used for giving advice: It would be a good idea if you quit smoking.

had better has a slightly different meaning; it implies that if the advice is not followed something bad could happen. In this context maybe the speaker could be a doctor warning a patient about the results of a recent test.

In this way had better can also be used to threaten:

1: Hey! Where’s that money you owe me?

2: I’ll pay you on Monday.

1: You had better.

Here had better contains the implication of violence.

The grammatical form is as follows:

subject + should / ought to / had better + bare infinitive (infinitive without to)

The negatives are as follows:

You shouldn’t smoke.

You ought not to smoke.

You had better not smoke.

To warm the students up present them with a simple problem that you have, for example: I want to get fit / It’s my partner’s birthday, what should I buy them?

Have the students give advice for these situations.

Then tell students that there are other ways of giving advice, try and elicit the following conditionals:

If I were you, I would / n’t………….

If I were in your shoes, I would / n’t…………

Then give out the following situations for advise, have the first student read out the situation as if it was a genuine personal problem, other students then give them advice. After each situations ask the discussion questions listed below the situations.

  1. I have a friend who is really tight-fisted. Every time that we go out for a drink or a meal he says he hasn’t got any money or he mysteriously disappears to the toilet when the bill arrives. At first we thought “poor John he never has any money”, but he works 6 days a week so he must have some money. What should we do?
  2. My best friend is always flirting with my girlfriend. He always pays her lots of compliments like “Wow! You look fantastic tonight!” Also when we go to parties he often asks her to dance. It’s making me really angry. What should I do?
  3. I share a flat with a friend and she keeps borrowing my things without asking. At first it was just little things like books and DVDs but now she’s started borrowing my clothes and when I want to wear my favourite dress for example, I find it on her bedroom floor unwashed! What should I do?
  4. I have invited 20 people over for a big dinner party, they are arriving in 20 minutes. I was going to cook a big roast turkey but I put the oven temperature too high and it burned! The dinner is ruined! What should I do?

Discussion Questions

Discussion questions for first situation:

  • Do you have any tight-fisted friends?
  • What do they do?
  • What is the custom when it comes to paying the bill in your country?
  • Have you ever had an argument over a restaurant bill?

Second

  • Who has a problem in this situation?
  • Is the speaker right to feel angry?
  • Who is to blame for the anger?
  • Have you or any of your friends ever been in this situation?
  • Are you a jealous person?

Third

  • Have you ever been in a situation like this?
  • Do you lend things to friends? Why? Why not?
  • Do you borrow things from friends? Why? Why not?
  • Have you ever lived in a shared house? What problems did you encounter?

Fourth

  • Have you ever been in this situation?
  • What did you do?
  • What was the worst meal you ever cooked?

Another game to practice this is the following:

Send one student out of the classroom. All the other students have to think of an imaginary problem that he / she has. Invite the student to come back in and sit at the front of the class. The student must guess what their problem is based on the advice they receive from their classmates.

If your students aren’t very imaginative you can use these situations:

  1. I have two VIP tickets to see Barcelona vs Real Madrid on the same night as my mother in law’s 50th birthday party.
  2. I found a wallet in the street with €2000 in it.
  3. I am a great chef, I want to open 300 restaurants and get rich but I have no money.
  4. I got very drunk at the office Christmas party and kissed my boss.
  5. My best friend’s ex girlfriend wants to go on a date with me.
  6. I am the manager of a big company. I have a vacancy for a salesman and my son wants the job, but he has no experience.
  7. I saw my best friend’s girlfriend kiss another man.

Class discussion about advice

Afterwards discuss the following questions about advice as a class:

  1. Who do you go to for advice?
  2. Do they give good advice? Why? Why not?
  3. Who comes to you for advice?
  4. Do you give good advice?
  5. Do you follow your friend’s advice?
  6. What’s the best / worst advice you’ve ever received?
  7. Does advice help? Or do most people ignore it?
  8. Sometimes advice can make you less decisive. Do you agree?
  9. Do you think some people are too proud to ask for advice?
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Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Proficiency Book Club: A Widow’s Quilt by Sylvia Townsend Warner

short stories

This is a series of lesson plans for proficiency level students based around stories from “The Oxford Book of English Short Stories” edited by A. S. Byatt. Set the story as homework the week before, encourage students to bring any vocabulary questions to class.

Vocabulary

Here is some vocab that your students might have trouble with:

page 243

  • the box – the television
  • parlour – a room in a kitchen where food is stored and prepared
  • applique quilts – patchwork quilts

page 244

  • rook – black bird and chess piece
  • blacking out curtains – heavy curtains used during world war two to block light from the windows of the houses
  • taffeta – material made from silk

245

  • to snatch – to take something from another person aggressively
  • jolt – a sudden violent movement

248

  • drudgery – a boring, difficult job
  • fidgeting / to fidget – to move comfortably and nervously
  • to thwart – to prevent the completion of something
  • a harlot – a whore / prostitute
  • to grimace – to make an angry / annoyed face

Discussion

Have your students discuss these questions in small groups or as a class:

  1. What happens in the story?
  2. Can you describe the characters?
  3. What do you think of Charlotte?
  4. How do you think she feels in her marriage? Trapped?
  5. What do her actions say about the position of women in the time the story was written?
  6. What do you think of Everard?
  7. How do you feel for him at the end?
  8. How do you feel for Charlotte?
  9. How can you explain the ending?
  10. Charlotte takes on the challenge of making the quilt, how important is it to have challenges and things to focus your attention on in life? Different stages of life. Things to look forward to etc.
Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Proficiency Book Club: The Troll by T. H. White

short stories

This is a series of lesson plans for proficiency level students based around stories from “The Oxford Book of English Short Stories” edited by A. S. Byatt. Set the story as homework the week before, encourage students to bring any vocabulary questions to class.

Vocabulary

Here is a matching exercise for some of the more difficult vocabulary in the story. Have the students complete the exercise in pairs.

a. Ungainly 1. the back of a boat
b. Blurry 2. A mental institute
c. Beside the point 3. clumsy / moving without grace
d. A bog 4. to squeeze material to extract water
e. To ford 5. to begin to deal with a problem in a sensible way
f. Bow 6. dry and wrinkled
g. To wring out 7. irrelevant
h. Stern 8. the front of a boat
i. To come / get to grips with something 9. To designate for a specific purpose
j. Wizened 10. To cross a river
k. To earmark st 11. unfocused
l. Loony-bin 12. a wet, muddy area of ground

Here you can download the table to print:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!358&authkey=!AOgTwYv1J95mH4E

Here are the answers:

  • a – 3
  • b – 11
  • c – 7
  • d – 12
  • e – 10
  • f – 8
  • g – 4
  • h – 1
  • i – 5
  • j – 6
  • k – 9
  • l – 2

Here are the locations of the words in the text and some sentence examples:

  • ungainly – bottom of pg 346
  • blurry – actual reference is blurring at the bottom of pg 347
  • beside the point – middle of pg 348, other sentences example: “He is a nice man, but that’s beside the point; he’s rubbish at his job.”
  • bog – bottom of 348
  • to ford – bottom of 348
  • bow – bottom of 348 in relation to a “bow wave”
  • stern – isn’t in the text but is a counterpoint to “bow”
  • to wring out – top of 349, wring is irregular – wring wrung wrung.
  • come to grips with something – middle of 351, other sentence examples: “We must all get to grips with this tragedy” “If you are going to be an executive you need to get to grips with your fear of public speaking.”
  • wizened – middle of 351
  • to earmark st – bottom of 351, other sentence example: “this money is earmarked for the Christmas party”

Ask students for any other vocab issues they have.

Discussion Questions

Discuss these questions in groups or as a class:

  1. What happens in the story?
  2. What does the troll represent?
  3. Why does the story have a framing device? (a story within a story) What does it add to the story?
  4. Some analysts say the story is religious, the character’s latent Christianity defeating the Troll, do you agree?
  5. What do you think of the gory imagery of the troll?
  6. How do you explain the ending?
  7. What other mythical creatures can you think of? (vampires, werewolves, zombies etc.)
  8. Why do you think these monsters are so popular? Why do people keep writing stories about them?
  9. Which ones frightened you most as a child? Which ones still scare you now?
  10. What do you think are the origins of these creatures?
Posted in Conversation Classes, Listening Classes, Writing Classes

Reality TV Conversation Class

reality-tv

This is a conversation class for higher levels (high B2 +) the main reason for the level specification is that uses clips from the UK version of the reality show “Wife Swap” which lower levels might find difficult to follow. Then again, you never know, it might be a good challenge.

Brainstorm reality TV shows

Have your students brainstorm all the reality TV shows they have in their country. Encourage students to describe the formats of the shows. If you have a mixed nationality group encourage the students to compare reality shows from their different respective countries.

Discussion

Either put students in small groups (3-4) or discuss the following questions as a class:

  1. How long do you spend in front of the TV on an average day?
  2. What shows do you watch?
  3. What your favourite / least favourite shows?
  4. What are the most popular shows on TV at the moment? Are any of them reality shows?
  5. Do you watch any reality shows? Which ones?
  6. Why are they entertaining?
  7. Would you ever go on a reality show? Why? Why not? If so which one?
  8. What about talent shows like “The X Factor” or “American Idol”?

Have students report back to the rest of class.

Write “Wife Swap” on the board. Tell students that it is the name of a reality show in the UK and the US. Have them guess the format of the show from the name (two wives swap families for a week, each has to live the others life; do their job, look after their kids etc), then ask them the following:

  • Do you have this show in your country?
  • Do / Did you watch it? If you did would you watch it?
  • What do you think would be some entertaining swaps? Brainstorm entertaining swaps with reasons.

Tell students that they are going to watch part of an episode of wife swap, first you need to pre-teach some expressions that will help them understand the clip. Put the following expressions and vocab on the board and have students try to guess the meanings.

  1. a country pile – a big country house / mansion
  2. to go to the dogs – to deteriorate / get into a bad state. Old people in England often say: “This country has gone to the dogs.”
  3. I can’t hack it – I can’t bear it / I can’t cope with it / I can’t tolerate it
  4. council house – a government owned house rented by low-income families
  5. to do jackshit – to do nothing
  6. to be on benefits – to be receiving financial help from the state; unemployment money for example
  7. to be stuck in a rut – expression meaning to be in a boring lifestyle that never changes
  8. to roam – to walk / move with no fixed objective
  9. a hoover – a vacuum cleaner
  10. a man / woman of leisure – a person who spends all their time doing things they enjoy, usually a rich person.
  11. a hooker – a prostitute
  12. to see eye to eye – to agree
  13. slack / slovenly – lazy
  14. give him an inch and he’ll take a mile – expression meaning that someone will exploit you / take advantage of you if you give them the opportunity

Show students video of part 1 of wife swap UK until 00:38 (this is just the introduction of the two participating families)

Put them in groups and have them make predictions about what sort of problems and conflicts the two families are going to have and also to make comparisons between the two families. Students report back to class.

Now show students the whole of part 1, it’s about 10 minutes. Before showing them tell them to listen out for the expressions you have pre-taught then go through them afterwards. Students report back the context of each one of the pieces of vocabulary.

Ask students what they thought of the show:

  1. Was it entertaining?
  2. Do you want to know what happens next?
  3. Which family did you prefer?
  4. Which family would you prefer to spend a week living with?

Homework

Students watch the rest of the episode for homework and make notes on what problems the two wives encountered. In the next class students can report and discuss this. If you are preparing your students for a Cambridge exam (FCE, CAE, CPE) you can have them write a review of the show as this format often comes up in part 2 of the writing paper of these exams. A review task type idea could be:

An English language television magazine has asked for readers to send in their reviews of the first episode of wife swap. Reviews should:

  • Give a brief description of the show
  • Comment on the shows entertainment value
  • Say if the writer would recommend the show to other viewers.
  • If they would recommend it, who would they recommend it to?

FCE word limit – 120-180

CAE – 220-260

CPE – 280-320

Let me know how it goes in the comment, especially if you try it with FCE levels.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Persepolis Journal: Chapter 5, The Letter

persepolis pic

This is a series of lesson plans based around “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi. Each plan deals with the next chapter of the book, students read a chapter a week and bring any vocabulary questions they have to class.

Vocabulary

Here are some things that may cause problems from chapter 5.

a porter – a person who carries bags in a hotel or hospital

weave – wove – woven = in relation to the weaving of carpets on the first page.

maid – a cleaner / person who helps maintain a house or cleans a hotel room.

to get along with somebody – to have a friendly relationship

to lace a shoe – to tie a bow to keep a shoe on

to slap – to hit with an open hand

Discussion Questions

  1. What happens in this chapter?
  2. What new characters do we meet?
  3. What does Marji learn in this chapter?
  4. Are there distinct social classes in your country?
  5. Can people marry people from other social classes?
  6. Have you ever sent love letters?
  7. Did you have a crush / infatuation when you were growing up?
  8. We see Mehri telling Marji scary stories about jackals, what scary stories do you remember from you childhood?
Posted in Listening Classes, Recommended Websites

Amazing website for songs in the classroom

karaoke

Big thanks to my colleague Ana for introducing me to this amazing website:

http://lyricstraining.com/

It has a huge database of different songs in loads of different languages. Students listen to the songs and try to fill in the gaps in the lyrics. There are 3 different difficulty levels ranging from filling in 10% of the lyrics to all of them. It really is a greta resource for filling those last ten minutes of a class or to use as a treat if students behave themselves. Also, students can use it at home to listen to their favourite songs.