Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Vocabulary Classes, Writing Classes

CAE Writing Phrases

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. We have released 5 episodes so far and 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 😉

I stumbled across this amazing and exhaustive list of phrases for advanced writing. I don’t know who made it but a big thank you to whoever it was! It’s gold dust!

You can download it here:!439&authkey=!AHr7Ja0Lshhl2Y0


1)  FORMAL WRITING (Reports and proposals)


Introduction-The main purpose/aim of (this report) is to outline/

present / discuss / examine / evaluate…

-This report (outlines/looks at)…

-This report is based on…


  Generalising-On the whole,…

-In general,…


Making recommendations and concluding

-It is clear from customer feedback that…-With regard to…, the general view seems to be…

-In the light of (this year’s experience),…

-Perhaps the most effective way of…

-If the (centre) is to attract more customers, it is

vital that…

-It would be a good idea to…

-It is (therefore) believed / obvious that…would be

ideal for…

-It would (not) be advisable / practical to…

-We suggest/propose that…

-We suggest/propose + ing

-A (more spacious area) would be the solution…/

an effective way of…


-In light of the above, we believe the followingmeasures should be adopted…

-In the short/long term, we suggest you should


-My recommendations are as follows:…

-In my view, in future, we should…

-To improve the situation, we recommend…

-It is recommended that…

-To sum up,…To conclude,…

-I hope that the plan outlined/presented in this

report meets with your approval…

-I hope that the recommendations outlined/

presented in this report will receive your serious




Do not use contractions.

-Use passive forms whenever possible.

-Use relative clauses to join ideas: The period during which he lived was full of uncertainty.

-Use these formal words:  like à such as   /   kids à children

a lot (of)à many / a large number of  + countable noun

a lot (of)à much / a great amount of / a great deal of + uncountable

a lot (intensity)à very much / significantly / dramatically

– Avoid using the word things / something,  etc. Use a more specific word (problems, situation, solutions,

  subjects, and so on).


Adressing  the reader

-Have you ever wondered (what the college would be like if)…? If the answer is (yes)…, you…

–If you want a different kind of experience,… / As you know,…

-Doesn’t it just make everyone feel (positive about…)?

-If you have a few hours to spare,…is worth seeing.

Describing location-Located / Situated (just a few miles away from…), X


-Built (just next to…), X is…

-Some minutes from…, X is…

Giving information

-Throughout it history, X…

-X is by far the oldest…

-Y is the best known…

-What is particular spectacular is…

-Recent additions/changes include…

   Giving your opinion-X is intended for youn(ger) people…

-X is popular with (children)…


-It’s clearly been a good idea to…


  Giving practical information

-Anyone wishing to (apply)…can/should…

-(We) participate in…/organise…/run…

-(The club) offers/provides a range of (competitive

matches for)…

-One of the most popular (features of our club is)…

-Members have the opportunity to…/…are able to


-Never omit the subject pronoun: Many people

believe IT is important to…    I believe IT is a good  idea


– Do not use unnecessary subject pronouns: This is a problem which  it  is essential to solve.

-Make sure the subject and the verb agree: Attracting tourists involves improving local facilities.

  (SINGULAR SUBJECTà attracting tourists + SINGULAR VERBà involves)

Attitude clauses and phrases

Generally speaking,…

Annoyingly,…  Naturally,…  Strangely,… Surprisingly,… Evidently,…

Indeed,… In fact,… Admittedly,… Presumably,…

.  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  .



-A great number of people share the view that tourism will have a negative impact on the island.

-Today there is general / widespread agreement that pollution from cars and planes is threatening the

future of our planet.

-It is now widely accepted that the universe began with the so-called ‘big bang’.


Opinions differ about the proper relationship between the mass media and society.

There is considerable disagreement among experts about the usefulness of these tests.

There has been a great deal of controversy over abortion in the US.


Advantages and disadvantages

-Regular exercise has many benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease.

-Despite a few problems with the design, the car’s advantages clearly outweigh its disadvantages.

The major drawback of this method is that it can be very time-consuming.

The downside of running your own business is that you are responsible if anything goes wrong.


lead to: The research could lead to a cure for many serious illnesses.

result in: The fire resulted in damage to their property.

be responsible for: He was responsible for the accident.

bring about:The war brought about enormous social change.

give rise to: Poor performance in exams can give rise to depression and even thoughts of suicide.

trigger:to make something suddenly start to happen, especially a bad situation such as a crisis or a war, or

a medical condition: Certain foods can trigger allergies.

contribute to: Passive smoking could contribute to the development of respiratory diseases among


factor: Cost is often the deciding factor when choosing any product.


impact on: His work has had an enormous impact on the study of genetics.

influence on:  In his book, he examines the influence of the media on our society.

affect: (v) The disease affects women more than men.

influence: (v) She has influenced him a lot.

implications:  The results of the study could have important implications for future educational policy.



-I would like to stress that the research is still at an early stage.

It should be noted that there are a number of alternative methods available.

It is worth bearing in mind that 90% of the scientists researching herbicides in the US are employed by

  chemical companies.

-Factors such as temperature and acidity play a crucial role in determining how well the process works.

-These insects play a vital part in the food chain.

It is essential that the work is carried out as soon as possible.

-The climate is much colder, especially in the far north.



issue: Issue is used especially about problems that affect a lot of people in society:  International terrorism

  is the biggest issue (=the most important issue) facing the world today. Previous governments failed to

  address (=try to deal with) social issues such as unemployment and homelessness.

challenge: something difficult that you must do or deal with, which needs a lot of skill, effort, and

  determination: She said she was looking forward to the challenge of starting up a new business on her


difficulty:  The company has managed to overcome (=deal with) its recent financial difficulties.

  Many people experience difficulty in sleeping at some time in their lives.

trouble:  a problem or several problems that make something difficult, spoil your plans etc:  Students of

  English often have trouble with phrasal verbs.  The company ran into trouble (=started to have problems)

  when it tried to expand too quickly.

setback:  something that happens which stops you making progress or which makes things worse than

  they were before:  Despite some early setbacks, his campaign for the presidency was successful.

obstacle:  Criminal gangs are the biggest obstacle to democratic reform.

dilemma:  The doctors were faced with a moral dilemma.

vicious circle:  Some developing countries get caught in a vicious circle. They cannot afford to pay their

  debt repayments, and so the debts get even bigger.




increase by (percent):  Last year, the number of burglaries increased by 15 percent.

go up: Last month unemployment went up from 1.6 million to just over 1.7 million.

grow:  The volume of traffic on our roads continues to grow.

expand:  After two years of no growth, the economy started to expand again in 2003.

double/triple/quadruple: Since 1950, the number of people dying from cancer has almost doubled.

-growth: (n) There has been a huge growth in sales of big 4-wheel-drive vehicles.



decrease by (percent):  The average rainfall has decreased by around 30 percent.

go down: The percentage of fat in our diets has gone down.

fall: The number of tigers in the wild has fallen to just over 10,000.

drop:  At night, the temperature drops to minus 20 degrees.

decline: decline is used about numbers or amounts, and also about the level or standard of something:

In rural areas, the standard of living continued to decline.


respect / look up to

look up to: The children need someone they can look up to.

think highly of:  Most of the students and staff think very highly of Dr. Smith.

think highly of

have a high opinion of

have a high opinion of

highly regarded/respected

highly regarded/respected: a highly respected surgeon

be an admirer of


sophisticated / high-tech (equipment) / state-of-the-art (technology)


SURPRISING  (Avoid using “colourful” vocabulary in formal writing!)

amazing / unbelievable / incredible / astonishing / staggering

come as a surprise / come as a shock / amaze / astonish



SURPRISED  (Avoid using “colourful” vocabulary in formal writing!)

amazed / astonished / speechless / be taken aback (He was taken aback by the news)


EXCITING  (Avoid using “colourful” vocabulary in formal writing!)

thrilling / gripping / exhilarating / action-packed



dull / tedious / monotonous / uninspiring

BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE     (Avoid using “colourful” vocabulary in formal writing!)

attractive / good-looking / gorgeous / striking / stunning


BEAUTIFUL PLACES     (Avoid using “colourful” vocabulary in formal writing!)

breathtaking / stunning / awe-inspiring / striking / spectacular

spotless: very clean

UGLY PLACES / PEOPLE      (Avoid using “colourful” vocabulary in formal writing!)

unattractive / unpleasant / unsightly / hideous (=extremely ugly)

filthy: very dirty


-in bad condition / dilapidated / run-down


latest / brand-new / innovative (idea or system)



old-fashioned / outdated / obsolete



absolutely  / extremely / highly / incredibly / remarkably


excellent / outstanding / impressive / exceptional




suitable / right / proper / appropriate / be suited to


incorrect / inaccurate / misleading



unjustified / unreasonable / without good reason



unwind / wind down: Set in spectacular countryside, the Shiga Hotel is the perfect place to unwind.

make someone feel at ease

relaxed / feel at ease / laid-back (not easily worried or annoyed) /



tense / uneasy / anxious / be under stress



facilities: The facilities at the hotel were excellent — tennis courts, swimming pool, several bars and a good


amenities: things such as shops, parks, or restaurants that make living or working in a place more pleasant

I prefer this part of the city because there are plenty of good amenities.


a great deal / far / much + comparative (cheaper / more economical than)

a bit / slightly / barely + comparative (cheaper / more economical than)

by far / easily the + superlative (This is easily the best solution we can think of)


dramatically / significantly / slightly


As well (as) / in addition to:   Over 600 people will lose their jobs, in addition to the 400 people who left

the company last year.

In addition: A fifth of the world’s population lives on less than $1 a day. In addition, over 100 million

children are living on the streets.

Furthermore / Moreover:  used at the beginning of a sentence when adding an important fact that is

connected with what you have just said:  The drug has strong side effects. Furthermore, it can be



as long as / on condition that / provided that


alternatively: You can go up into the mountains. Alternatively, you can stroll around one of Switzerland’s

delightful cities where the old mixes with the new.

on THE one hand … on the other (hand)


As  / since:  As it was a hot day, they decided to leave all the windows open.  Since it is difficult to predict

how the climate will change, it is not possible to say which countries will suffer the most.

thanks to

due to/owing to + NOUN   

The delay was due to a problem with the ship’s engines.

due to/owing to + THE FACT THAT + subject + verb

The men did most of the work in the fields. This was partly due to the fact that the men were stronger.


While / whereas / by contrast

However:  However is usually used in the middle of a sentence, separated from the rest of the sentence by

commas: Jack and his family managed to escape before the soldiers arrived. Other families in the village,

however, were less lucky. Or it comes at the beginning of a sentence: He began his academic career as a

mathematician. However, his main achievements were in the field of nuclear physics.

Nevertheless: Nevertheless is usually used at the beginning of a sentence, or at the end.

in spite of/despite + NOUN   

Despite his lack of formal education, he became one of the world’s leading mathematicians.

in spite of/despite + verb + ING  

This was a dinosaur that weighed only 10 tons, in spite of being some 28 metres long.

in spite of/despite + THE FACT THAT + subject + verb

Many people are worried that cellphones may be dangerous to health, despite the fact that most of the

research suggests that there is little risk.

Posted in Recommended Websites

Great site for teaching resources



Here is a link to some great resources from our friends at

Here you can find everything from class resources to job opportunities:

Whereas this section of the site is a particular favourite of mine as it contains loads of great lesson plans based around short video clips:

Hope you like it!

Posted in Conversation Classes, Listening Classes

Speaking on the phone in English



This is a fun lesson plan for A2+ students. It can be adapted for different levels.

Here are the handouts you will need:

Discussion questions:!431&authkey=!AAlHxxKilDRy890

Role cards:!430&authkey=!AMxbkbpkHybUhS8

Part 1 – discussion

Start by telling students to get there mobiles out. Encourage each student to talk about their phone. When they got it, what they use it for, if they like it or not.

You can either go through the following conversation questions as a class or split the class into groups of 2 or 3.


What phone have you got?

How many different things can your phone do?

Do you know how to use all of the functions on your phone?

How often do you speak on the phone?

When do you switch off your phone?

When do you think phones should be switched off?

What annoys you about mobile phones?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of mobiles?

At what age should a child have a mobile?

What effect do you think they have had on society?

Have you ever spoken in English on the phone? Where? Why? How was it?


Have students report back their opinions and ideas to the class. Focus especially on the last question. Encourage students to share their experiences of speaking English on the phone.


Part 2 – phone role plays

Put students in pairs and tell them to swap phone numbers with their partners in English.

Assign letters A/B to to the students.

Tell all As to imagine that they have just arrived in the UK, they have moved to the country to live in and work. They are looking for a flat / house. They have seen an advert on the internet for accommodation, they are going to call the landlord / lady to ask for information.

Tell all Bs that they are landlords/ladies, they are expecting calls from potential tenants. Give all Bs one of the role cards from the handout.

Tell A’s that they will need a pen and paper. They have to call B and take down the following information:

  • Landlord / lady’s personal details – Full name, address, telephone number and email address. Correct spelling!
  • Information about the house they are letting.
  • The price of the rent and whether or not it includes bills.
  • Any rules that the house has.

On the board go over the following:

  • How to read phone numbers (o not zero, 77=double 7 etc.)
  • How to read email addresses (@-at, .-dot, _-underscore etc.)
  • Vocabulary – bills included, fully furnished, €300 a month, deposit, no pets allowed etc.
  • Polite phrases – could you repeat that please? Could you spell that please? Could you speak slower please? etc.

Now send the landlords / ladies out of the classroom. Encourage the tenants (As) to think of some extra questions to ask about the house.

Tenants call landlords / ladies and take details.

When they have finished ask Bs to come back in and check the details for spelling the winning pair is the one who made the least mistakes. Now rotate the role cards to the left and As and Bs swap roles and repeat.

Afterwards students feed back to class. Was it difficult? Which bits were most difficult? etc.

Here are the role cards:

Mr Smith

Address: 13 Waterloo road, Exeter, Devon EX2 9DT



House information:

Small flat sharing with two other people. Small bedroom with a single bed.


€400 a month bills included

House rules:

No pets, no smoking, no parties.

Mrs. Davis

Address: 17 Park view, Swansea, Wales, SW1 4FG

Tel: 07655423152


House Information:

Large private apartment next to the park. 2 bedrooms with double beds.


€700 a month bills not included

House rules:

No pets, no students,

Miss Johnson

Address: 15 winterbrook park, Bradford, Yorkshire, YO4 4RC

Tel: 01566 344987

House information:

1 bedroom flat on the 8th floor. No furniture included.


€500 a month bills not included

House rules:

Maximum 2 people living in flat, no smoking, pets allowed.

Mr. Brown

Address: 16 Clinton avenue, Exeter, Devon EX1 5GG

Tel: 01392 211345


House information:

Large bedroom in shared student house. Sharing with 3 19 year old students.

Price: €250 a month bills included.

House rules:

There are no rules!!!

Mrs. Folkstone

Address: 1 Green avenue, Newcastle, NW3 9RG

Tel: 01298 600999


House information:

Small room in a family home. Sharing with a family of four.

Price: €500 a month bills and meals included.


No parties, no partners sleeping in the house, no pets, no noise after 9pm.

Posted in Writing Classes

CAE Letter of application template


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. We have released 5 episodes so far and 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 😉

CAE Letter of Application

This is a lesson plan to set up a CAE letter of application for students who are just starting to study for the CAE. I encourage students to use set frames and learn impressive sentences by heart to use again and again. Let me know what you think of this strategy in the comments.

I’ve just started using Prezi instead of powerpoint and I love it, mainly for the fact that it seems to have a hypnotic effect on my teenage students which makes them actually pay attention.

Here is the link to my prezi:

Here are the frames from the prezi which you can print out and give to the students.

Paragraph 1:

I am writing in response to your advertisement in ______________ (name of publication from task). I am interested in applying for the role of ________________ (name of job)

Paragraph 2:

As you will see from my attached CV, I have spent the last _______ (number) years at ____________(workplace). During this period I was promoted from _____________(crap job) to the position of ____________ (great job). I was responsible for ____________ (verb in gerund) and ____________, as well as _____________ and _____________. I had the privilege / opportunity to learn / improve / develop ___________ and ____________.

Paragraph 3:

Given the experience I have acquired at __________________ (workplace), I consider myself well-equipped to respond to the challenge of working in your _____________. I feel I have the necessary personal qualities to deal with the demands of the post. For instance, I see myself as a ____________ (adjective) person who works well under pressure. My experience working with ______________ (people / animal / computers etc.) at ___________________ (workplace) has helped me to be more ____________ (adj) and _______________ (adj).

Paragraph 4:

I would therefore be grateful if you could consider my application. I am available for interview between the ________ and the ________ of _________. I look forward to hearing from you.

Taking all this into account, I hope that you will consider my application.  I am available for interview between the ________ and the ________ of _________. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read my application, I hope you will consider me for the post.  I am available for interview between the ________ and the ________ of _________. I look forward to hearing from you.

Note: Students are likely to love this homework assignment because you’ve basically written the composition for them. Therefore, it’s important to work on the fixed impressive phrases in future classes. You can do that using this scrambled sentence quizlet set:

Posted in Conversation Classes

Child’s Play – Conversation plan for older adults


This is a conversation plan for older adults, more specifically adults who have children.

Start by writing this sentence on the board.

The exam was child’s play.

Have students try and guess what the expression “child’s play” means. (very easy)

Then bring up the following document on the projector or print it and hand it out:!410&authkey=!ANbQUt3tf7NITy4

It is a selection of classic children’s games. Go over them and see if they exist in the country where you are teaching.

Then give out the first page of the following handout:!413&authkey=!AHywlmzFiuZEhW0

Split the class into group of 3 -4 and have them discuss the questions.

While they are discussing encourage them to use the following handout for language of agreeing and disagreeing:!247&authkey=!ANBIbEVteXyYHnY


Agreeing Disagreeing Ending an argument:
  • We see eye to eye
  • I couldn’t agree with you more.
  • That’s exactly how I feel.
  • You have a point there.
  • I was just going to say that.
  • Absolutely.
  • We don’t see eye to eye
  • I take your point but
  • I tend to disagree with you there
  • I’m afraid I have to disagree with you there
  • I beg to differ
  • That’s not always the case.
  • Let’s just move on shall we?
  • I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

Your childhood

What games did you use to play as a child?

Where did you use to play?

Who did you use to play with?

Which one of your friends had the best toys or best place to play?

Did you have a garden as a child?

Were there any games or activities that you weren’t allowed to play at school or at home?

What was your parent’s view on children watching TV?

Did you have lots of toys? Did you have to share with brothers and sisters?

What did you get for your birthday / Christmas?


Your children

(If you don’t have children think of other children in your family nephews / nieces or friend’s children)

What games do / did your children play? Do / did they play any of the games you used to?

Where do / did the play? Who do / did the play with?

Are there any games / activities that you don’t  / didn’t let your children play?

Are there any activities / games that you think should be banned?

Do you have rules about watching TV or using computers in your house?

How much time do you think a child should spend watching TV? On the computer? Outside playing?

Do / did your children have lots of toys? Do / did they have to share with brothers and sisters?

What do you give your children for birthdays / Christmas?


Get feedback from the class about their responses to the questions.


Then give out the 2nd page and have the students discuss them and decide if they agree or disagree and explain their reasons.

Discuss the following statements in your groups, do you agree or disagree?

  • Forget toys. Let children go outside and play in the garden, with nothing but their imagination to guide them!
  • Children are given too many toys that they never play with. Books are more important.
  • Toys are important educational tools for pre-school children.
  • Carefully chosen toys can help a child develop.
  • Children today have less imagination than children in the past.
  • A child learns more from 2 hours in the countryside than 20 hours in the classroom.
  • Adverts should not be shown during children’s TV shows.
  • Some people use children as a fashion accessory.
  • Children today should be given more free time to play and be children.

Students report back to the class to recycle vocabulary.