Posted in Vocabulary Classes

Online Dating: Compound Adjectives

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This is the lesson plan I designed for my DELTA vocabulary assignment. It is designed for B2 students. Students read online dating profiles and decide if the people are compatible and then learn compound adjectives and put them to use in a discussion. Download the students’ materials, powerpoint and lesson plans below:

My Lesson Plan for assessed class +procedure – Teacher’s procedure

Online Dating powerpoint

Dating Profiles materials – Students’ handout

Teacher’s notes

Activity Time
1.     First slide –Title, ask: “What do people put their dating profiles?”

2.     Give out handouts, what are the titles? Teach turn ons and offs

3.     Sts read, are they compatible?

4.     Task check across class: Why? Why not?

5.     Any doubts? Deal with compounds after.

6.     Students underline compound adjectives – show slide 2, underline them as task check

7.     Meaning matchdo first one as an example: 1-C

Answers: 1-c, 2-e, 3-f, 4-L, 5-g, 6-k, 7-a, 8-b, 9-d, 10-h, 11-I, 12-j

Task check with powerpoint.

8.     Form match in pairs

Task check on powerpoint

9.     Sts check which ones end in an extra syllable. Do first two as an example. Identify stressed syllable: First in second word. Fun and loving stressed.

10.                        Mumble drill first two. “Practice saying the first two to yourself quietly. Then say them to your partner.”

11.                        Controlled practice questions. In pairs, ask first question to your partner, they remember the compound. Example with strong pair (Aris and whoever)

12.                        New questions, new compounds.  Do top up in OC:

·        Opposite of dark-haired – light/fair-haired.

·        Someone with dark skin – dark-skinned

·        Someone with green eyes – green-eyed (jealous/envious)


Work with a partner, try to guess the compound. Do first one as an example. Ask to class. MAN-EATING CROCODILE

13.                        Practice: Discussion. What are your preferences for appearance? Do you like brown or blonde-haired men and women? “I like brown-eyed women because their eyes are very mysterious.”

14.                        Wrap-up/top-up. Look at boarded vocabulary. Work on pronunciation. Maybe do opposites etc: badly-paid, badly-educated. Dark/light-skinned etc.






































Stage Time Focus Procedure Aim
Pre-reading 5 mins pairs Sts discuss the typical information people put on dating profiles. To engage students top-down knowledge of relationships and online dating
Reading 10 mins Pairs









Sts read Jon and Sally’s dating profiles. Then decide if the two are compatible in pairs.






Feed back in open class, T encourages discussion.

To introduce compound adjectives in context. To develop students receptive understanding of compounds



To check sts understanding of the text

Language Focus: Meaning 2 mins




5 mins










Sts underline all the compound adjectives in the two texts.



Sts match compound adjectives to their definitions on handout.


Task check across class and using powerpoint to confirm

To check sts ability to identify compound adjectives.


To develop sts understanding of the meaning of the target language.

Language Focus: Form 5 mins Pairs





Sts group compound adjectives based on their form



Task check using powerpoint.

To develop sts understanding of the different compound adjective patterns.
Language Focus: Pronunciation 2 mins












5 mins














Sts contrast the “-ed” compounds that end with /ɪd/ with those that end /d/ and the stress patterns in the different forms.

T highlights rules on powerpoint:

·         ends in “t” or “d” –ed = /id/ extra syllable

·         others –ed = /d/

·         noun is stressed in noun + present participle compounds (fun-loving)


Sts use phonemic script from handout to mumble drill target language individually then practice in pairs. T monitors and corrects.

To highlight different forms of pronouncing “-ed” endings and stress patterns in compound adjectives.








To practice the pronunciation of compounds.

Vocabulary practice 10 mins Pairs






Sts ask and answer first set of questions on handout which elicit the target language. T monitors, reactively helping with pron.


T tops up:

·         Opposite of dark-haired – light/fair-haired.

·         Someone with dark skin – dark-skinned

·         Someone with green eyes – green-eyed (jealous/envious)


Sts answer 2nd set of questions to attempt to identify new compound adjectives by applying the rules of form they have just learned.

To consolidate meaning of target language, practice pronunciation and increase chances of retention.

To encourage autonomous application of the rules of compounding.

Personalised practice 10 mins Pairs








Sts discuss their hair and eye colour preferences in pairs. Then decide on the 2 best and worst personality characteristics for a partner.

T monitors and boards emergent language.


Feed back to open class looking for agreement/disagreement and discussion.

To encourage creative use of the target language and make sts process it at a deeper cognitive level.
Wrap-up/topping-up 5 mins pairs T draws students’ attention to boarded emergent language and tidies up doubts and pronunciation errors. To exploit learning opportunities with emergent language.


Read Jon and Sally’s dating profiles below. Do you think they are compatible? Why? Why not?

 Jon, 26 years old, Edinburgh.

I’m a hard-working medical student from Aberdeen in Scotland. I go to the gym four times a week so I’m quite well-built. I do a lot of voluntary work and I’m training to be a doctor.


I’m crazy about blonde-haired, blue-eyed women, I find them really attractive. I like women who are open-minded because I love travelling and trying new experiences.


I really don’t like selfish people, with some people it’s all “me, me, me” and I can’t stand that. Another big turn-off for me is narrow-minded people, there are so many wonderful places to visit and people to meet in the world and I can’t wait to get started.


Sally, 25 years old, York.

I’m a fun-loving advertising executive from York in northern England. My job is well-paid but quite stressful so I like to have a good time at the weekends. I also like to do sport and help out at the local children’s hospital once a month.


I’m into dark-haired mysterious men, but the most important thing for me is that they are kind-hearted, adventurous and have a good sense of humour. I read a lot and like having a good debate so I’m looking for someone who is well-educated.


The biggest turn-off for me is big-headed guys, I can’t bear people who think they are better than others. I also don’t like bad-tempered people, I’m an optimist and I always try to see things in a positive way.


Read the texts and underline all the compound adjectives you can find.


Language focus

Match the compound adjective (1-12) to its definition (A-L)

1.      I’m a hard-working medical student. A.     Someone who often gets angry.
2.      I’m crazy about blonde-haired, blue-eyed women. B.      Someone who is strong and has muscles.
3.      I’m a fun-loving PhD student.


C.      Someone who works hard.
4.      I’m looking for someone who is well-educated. D.     Someone who is nice and generous.
5.      I don’t like big-headed people. E.      Someone who has blonde hair. Someone who has blue eyes.
6.      My job is well-paid but stressful. F.      Someone who likes to socialise and have a good time.
7.      I also don’t like bad-tempered people. G.     An arrogant person who thinks they are better than others.
8.      I go to the gym four times a week so I’m quite well-built. H.     Someone with brown or black hair.
9.      The most important thing for me is that they are kind-hearted. I.        Someone who is open to different opinions and activities.
10.  I’m into dark-haired mysterious men. J.        An intolerant person who doesn’t listen to other people’s opinions.
11.  I like women who are open-minded because I love travelling. K.      Something you earn a good salary for.
12.  Another big turn-off for me is narrow-minded people. L.       An intelligent person with a good education.


Put the different compound adjectives in the correct box:

A.     Adjective + noun + -ed

1.      Narrow-minded

2.      _________________________

3.      _________________________

4.      _________________________

5.      _________________________

6.      _________________________

7.      _________________________

8.      _________________________

B.     Adverb + past participle

1.      Well-built

2.      __________________________

3.      __________________________


C.     Adjective/noun + …ing

1.      _________________________

2.      _________________________





Look at the phonemic script of the compound adjectives:

  • In which adjective is the “-ed” pronounced as an extra syllable?
  • Which syllable is stressed in the compound adjectives?
  1. Blue-eyed – | bluːˈaɪd |
  2. Well-educated – | welˈedʒʊkeɪtɪd |
  3. Blonde-haired – | blɒndˈheəd |
  4. Big-headed – | bɪɡˈhedɪd |

What’s different about the stress in this one?

  1. Fun-loving |ˈfʌnˈlʌvɪŋ |


Take turns to ask these questions to your partner to test your memory.

  1. What do you call someone with blue eyes?
  2. What do you call someone with blonde hair?
  3. What do you call someone who has dark hair?
  4. What do you call someone who has a good education?
  5. What do you call a job with a good salary?
  6. What do you call an arrogant person?
  7. What do you call a person who is often angry?
  8. What do you call someone who is open to new experiences and opinions?
  9. What do you call someone who isn’t open to new experiences and opinions?
  10. What do you call someone with muscles?
  11. What do you call a nice, generous person?
  12. What do you call someone who isn’t lazy?
  13. What do you call an active, sociable person?

Use the different forms of compounding to make more compound adjectives to answer the questions.

  1. What do you call a crocodile that eats men?
  2. What do you call someone who writes with their left hand?
  3. What do you call a job with a bad salary?
  4. What do you call a child that behaves well?
  5. What do you call someone who looks good?


Discuss these questions with your partner using the compound adjectives.


  1. Do you prefer a specific hair or eye colour for a man/woman?
  2. Do you find muscles attractive?

Personality and lifestyle

  1. Is it important that your partner has a good salary? Why/why not?
  2. What are the two best personality characteristics for a partner? Why?
  3. What are the two worst? Why?
Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Vocabulary Classes

We’re BFFs! Friendship Expressions

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This is a worksheet on expressions related to friendship for higher level learners. I designed it with CAE students in mind. Download the worksheet and key below:

bffs-4-eva update

Have students complete the worksheet in pairs and then personalise the expressions so that they are true for them.


Match the expressions on the left with the simple definition on the right.

1.       My best friend and I have been through thick and thin together.

2.       My best friend is such a good laugh.

3.       My best friend and I are like brothers/sisters from another mother.

4.       I can always turn to my friend for advice or help.

5.       My best friend always stands up for me in an argument or fight.

6.       I know that my best friend has got my back if there’s any trouble.

7.       If I tell my friend a secret, I know that their lips are sealed. They would never spill the beans.

8.       My best friend is definitely not a fair-weather friend.

9.       My best friend and I are lifelong friends.

10.   My best friend from primary school and I have drifted apart.

11.   My best friend and I are joined at the hip.

12.   I often crash at my friend’s house at the weekend.

a.       My best friend isn’t a person who is only around for the good times.

b.      My best friend from primary and I have slowly lost contact.

c.       My best friend is very trustworthy and good at keeping secrets.

d.      My best friend and I spend almost all our time together.

e.       My best friend is very funny.

f.        I often sleep over at my friend’s house.

g.       My best friend and I have experienced both good and bad times together.

h.      I know my best friend will defend me if anything bad happens.

i.         My best friend always defends me in a fight or argument.

j.        My best friend and I are very similar.

k.       If I have a problem, I can always talk about it with my friend.

l.         My best friend and I have been friends for a very long time.


Complete the sentences

Try to complete the sentences from memory

  1. I won’t tell anyone, my lips ________ _________.
  2. You’re such a ________________, as soon as there are any problems you disappear!
  3. I always see those two together, they’re practically joined _____ ______ _______.
  4. Jenifer spilt ______ ________ to everyone at the party about Sarah and Johnny.
  5. Don’t worry, if they start a fight I’ve _____ ______ ______. I’ll definitely stand _____ _____ ______.
  6. Freddy was there for me when my dog died but also when I got my dream job, we’ve been __________ ______________ ____________ _______________ _____________.
  7. I don’t know what happened, we were best friends at uni but I guess we just _________ __________.
  8. It’s getting late and I can’t be bothered to walk home can I ___________ _________ yours tonight?
  9. I always have so much fun with Tony, he’s such a __________ __________.
  10. We’re so similar it’s ridiculous we’re like _________ ____________ ___________ _______________.

Describe a close friend to your partner using as many expressions as you can.


  1. G
  2. E
  3. J
  4. K
  5. I
  6. H
  7. C
  8. A
  9. L
  10. B
  11. D
  12. F

Sentence completion

  1. Are sealed
  2. Fair-weather friend
  3. At the hip
  4. The beans
  5. Got your back, up for you
  6. Through thick and thin together
  7. Drifted apart
  8. Crash at
  9. Good laugh
  10. Brothers/sisters from another mother
Posted in Vocabulary Classes


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Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a lesson plan for higher level learners (C1+) in which students learn some common English proverbs. Download the worksheet and key below:



Match the different sentence halves to form English proverbs.

1.       Where there’s a will

2.       Don’t look a gift horse

3.       If it ain’t broke,

4.       Beggars can’t

5.       Too many cooks

6.       There’s no such thing

7.       People who live in glass houses

8.       Two wrongs

9.       The squeaky wheel

10.   Don’t put all your eggs

11.   Two heads

12.   Don’t count your chickens

a.       Be choosers

b.      Before they hatch

c.       Spoil the broth

d.      There’s a way

e.      Are better than one

f.        As a free lunch

g.       In the mouth

h.      In one basket

i.         Shouldn’t throw stones

j.        Gets the grease

k.       Don’t fix it

l.         Don’t make a right


Now match the proverb to its definition:

  1. Getting revenge will only make things worse.
  2. Don’t criticise people if you’ve got imperfections too.
  3. If something is working well, why change it?
  4. If you’re desperate you’re not in a position to be picky.
  5. If you complain about a situation you’re more likely to get better service.
  6. Have a backup plan. Don’t risk all of your money and time on one plan.
  7. If there are too many people involved in making a decision, it won’t turn out well.
  8. If someone gives you a present, don’t question it.
  9. Two people will probably solve a problem faster than one.
  10. Your plan might not work out. Don’t assume they are going to work out and start celebrating or planning the next step too early.
  11. If something is free, there’s normally a catch or hidden cost.
  12. If you really want something, you’ll find a way to achieve it.


  1. Which proverbs are the same in your language?
  2. In which ones is the meaning obvious?
  3. Which ones will you remember?
  4. Which ones will you forget?
  5. Which one is your favourite?
  6. What image do you associate with each proverb?


Picture Match

Match the picture to the proverb (only show up on the handout 😦 )




Match the scenario to proverb.

  1. Just because he cheated on you doesn’t mean you should cheat on him.
  2. The Christmas play is going to be awful because there are 5 different directors!
  3. I gave him my old bike for free and now he’s complaining about the tyres.
  4. I know they said we only have to go to the timeshare presentation to get the free camera but I smell a rat.
  5. I’ll ask Julia for what she thinks; we’ll work on it together.
  6. He’s desperate to go travelling in the summer but he’ll have to save up a lot of money first.
  7. Is your soup cold too? We should say something.
  8. You can talk Martin! You drink just as much as Tony does!
  9. I just think we should have something else up our sleeve if they don’t like the first idea.
  10. Hold your horses, we haven’t won the competition yet so stop planning how you’re going to spend the prize money.
  11. It’s the only room you can afford, so it’s take it or leave it I’m afraid.
  12. The new accounts system is working really well but I hear they’re thinking of changing it again.


In pairs, take it in turns to read out the first half of a proverb to your partner, they must complete it.

A: Too many cooks…

B: Spoil the broth.


Choose 3 proverbs and try to relate them to a time in your life. Write three sentences.



1.       D

2.       G

3.       K

4.       A

5.       C

6.       F

7.       I

8.       L

9.       J

10.   H

11.   E

12.   B


1.       Two wrongs don’t make a right

2.       People who live in glass houses…

3.       If it ain’t broke…

4.       Beggars can’t be choosers

5.       The squeaky wheel

6.       Don’t put all your eggs in…

7.       Too many cooks…

8.       Don’t look a gift horse…

9.       Two heads are better than one

10.   Don’t count your chickens…

11.   There’s no such thing as a…

12.   Where there’s a will…

Picture Match

1.       Too many cooks…

2.       Don’t put all your eggs…

3.       Don’t count your chickens…

4.       Don’t look a gift horse in…

5.       People who live in…

6.       2 wrongs don’t make a right

7.       2 heads are better than 1

8.       There’s no such thing as a free lunch


1.       2 wrongs don’t make a right

2.       Too many cooks…

3.       Don’t look a gift horse…

4.       There’s no such thing as…

5.       2 heads are better than one

6.       Where there’s a will there’s a way

7.       The squeaky wheel…

8.       People in glass houses…

9.       Don’t put all your eggs in one…

10.   Don’t count your chickens…

11.   Beggars can’t be choosers

12.   If it ain’t broke…

Posted in Vocabulary Classes, Young Learners

Vocabulary Memory Game

memory game photo

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a fun memory game for young learners similar to my “there was/there were” activity.

Stage one

Put students in teams of 2-3. Project the image above onto the board and give students 1 minute to memorise as many of the things as they can. Then give students a pen and paper, they have to write as many of the things as they can in complete sentences:

There was a pen on the table.

There were some coins next to the ping pong ball.

The winning team is the one who remembers the most things. Award extra points for correct use of there was/were and prepositions of place: next to, between, on the right/left of…

Stage two

Give each group a sheet of blank paper, give them two minutes to fill the paper with little drawings of objects. The objects must be easy to identify and they have to know the name of the object in English.

Groups then swap their pieces of paper and they have 1 minute to memorise all the things the other group have drawn on their paper. They then write out the sentences like before and the team with the most correct is the winner.

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Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

A few weeks ago a friend introduced me to this amazing app designed to boost personal productivity. It’s kind of a cross between a role-playing game, a tamagotchi and a to-do list. It’s pretty damn geeky but it works a treat!

Want to go to the gym or write a blog post every day? Habitica can help.You simply put all the good habits you’d like to start doing (and all the bad ones you’d like to stop) into the app and then every time you do them your avatar receives experience points or gold. As you level up you can equip yourself with better weapons, armour and pets that you can ride into battle against the bad habit monsters. You can team up with friends to do battle together and earn more rewards. As I said, it’s pretty geeky and probably not to everyone’s taste but in the week I’ve been using it I’ve flossed every day, written 5 blog posts and taken up a new sport!

Obviously you have to be honest about what you have and haven’t done but it has definitely given me a push to do things I would often put off or simply not do.

Applying it to language learning

It could be the push you or your students need to study some vocabulary or read for pleasure in their L2 outside class. Advise your students to set a target of 10 minutes reading or studying a day and see how they get on. I’ve done it myself and I’m currently on a 7-day streak of reading for pleasure in Spanish!

Check it out at: