Posted in 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Advanced C1, B2 First, Listening Classes, Proficiency, Reading Classes

2Ts in a Pod: Book Club – The Thursday Murder Club – Episode 5

This is part 5 in our book club series on Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club. In this episode we look at chapters 18-23, discuss the things that happen and dig into some of the vocabulary.

Why not encourage your high level students to read and listen along with us? You’ll find the other 4 episodes on our SoundCloud page.

Posted in Advanced C1, Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

C1/C2: Review – Gadget, App, Software

Los 21 gadgets que te vas a comprar en 2020, según Business Insider |  Business Insider España

This is a lesson plan for C1-C2 students designed to develop their understanding of vocabulary to describe gadgets, apps and pieces of software. Candidates are often required to describe such things in writing tasks in the main suite of Cambridge exams. This lesson plan may also be useful for business English classes. Download the handout and key below:

Students start by discussing the most useful gadgets, apps and pieces of software they own. Then they read a text describing the new Thermomix cooking robot. After focusing on the language, they put it into practice by writing their own short product pitches and presenting them to the class.

Pre-reading

  1. What’s the most useful gadget you have in your house?
  2. What’s the most useful app you have on your phone?
  3. What’s the most useful piece of software you have on your computer?
  4. How do these things make your life easier?
  5. Why do you think these gadgets/apps/pieces of software have become popular?

Reading

  1. Does your family have a Thermomix? If so, is it useful? If not, would you like one?
  2. What things can it do?
  3. How does it compare to its competitors?

Read the text, does it contain any of the ideas you mentioned?

Theromix have been making waves in the world of kitchen gadgets for some time now. Ever since the advent of their first appliance way back in 1985, they’ve been at the cutting edge of the market lending a hand to hard-pressed families the world over.

The latest model, the TM6, really made a splash when it hit the shelves last month. This latest iteration really is lightyears ahead of its competitors. With its state-of-the-art design it truly is a sight to behold. That being said, what really makes it stand out from the crowd is how easy it is to use. It really is a piece of cake, and you’ll be savouring that cake sooner than you think.

Simply scroll through the different preset menus, select the one that catches your eye, add the ingredients and let thermomix take care of the rest. It’s touch-screen menus and ergonomic controls are so user-friendly that you’ll master them in no time at all. It enables you to make quick, mouth-watering meals at the touch of a button. Though its competitors may come with all sorts of bells and whistles, there’s a reason Thermomix has cornered the kitchen robot market: elegance, ease of use, and efficiency. It’s not rocket science!

Language Focus

Look at the expressions in bold, make notes on their meaning with your partner.

Can you remember the missing words?

Theromix have been _________ waves in the world of kitchen gadgets for some time now. Ever since the a______ of their first a_______ way back in 1985, they’ve been at the cutting ______ of the market lending a _______ to ______-pressed families the world _______.

The latest model, the TM6, really made a s_______ when it ______ the shelves last month. This latest iteration really is lightyears ________ of its competitors. With its ______-of-the-_____ design it truly is a ______ to behold. That being said, what really makes it stand ______ ______ the crowd is how easy it is to use. It really is a piece of _______, and you’ll be savouring that cake sooner than you think.

Simply scroll through the different preset menus, select the one that ________ your eye, add the ingredients and let thermomix take _____ _____ the rest. It’s ______-screen menus and e________ controls are so user-_________ that you’ll master them in no time at all. It enables you to make quick, ________-watering meals at the _______ of a ________. Though its competitors may come with all sorts of _______ and whistles, there’s a reason Thermomix has _________ the kitchen robot market: elegance, ease of use, and efficiency. It’s not _________ science!

Sell, sell, sell!

Choose one of these gadgets, write a short pitch to sell it to your classmates.

Posted in 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Advanced C1, B2 First, Listening Classes

2Ts in a Pod: Episode 45 – Shopping

After a bit of an unexpected hiatus, we are back with a new episode of 2Ts in a Pod on the topic of shopping!

We understand how important it is to release podcast episodes on a regular basis and following a more regular timetable so we’re endeavouring to turn over a new leaf! You can expect more episodes soon! We’ve got 3 more in the can already!

Posted in Advanced C1, Exam Preparation Class, Vocabulary Classes

C1 Advanced: Key Word Transformation Training #3

2. Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) Preparation

This is another training exercise for students taking the C1 Advanced exam. Students learn some typical fixed expressions that come up in part 4 of the reading and use of English paper. Download the handout below:

Students work together to paraphrase the fixed expressions, then flip the paper over and try to recall them using a key word as a prompt. You’ll find the 17 expressions in this set of 82 different key word transformation questions from quizlet.com

Student Handout

Version 1

Work with a partner, read the sentences, then paraphrase the expression in bold.

  1. Sorry I’m late, I completely lost track of time.

Meaning …………………………………………………………………………

  1. Leaving this door open may result in the monkeys escaping.

Meaning …………………………………………………………………………

  1. He stands every chance of winning the championship this year.

Meaning …………………………………………………………………………

  1. She stands a slim chance of beating her rival to the trophy.

Meaning …………………………………………………………………………

  1. This evening’s performance will be followed by a question and answer session with the director.

Meaning …………………………………………………………………………

  1. No fewer than seventeen people were seen breaking into the building.

Meaning …………………………………………………………………………

  1. Her main problem is that she is weak at spelling.

Meaning …………………………………………………………………………

  1. The project failed due to a lack of funding from the local government.

Meaning …………………………………………………………………………

  1. The project is going ahead according to plan.

Meaning …………………………………………………………………………

  1. She is highly spoken of in the local area. We should hire her.

Meaning …………………………………………………………………………

  1. I am in no doubt that the show will be a resounding success.

Meaning …………………………………………………………………………

  1. I didn’t have any recollection of seeing Julia on Saturday night until I saw her at work on Monday morning.

Meaning …………………………………………………………………………

  1. The teenagers took no notice of me and carried on smoking and playing loud music.

Meaning …………………………………………………………………………

  1. I left my handbag on the train, I’ve given up hope of finding it again.

Meaning …………………………………………………………………………

  1. He really made a name for himself when he moved to LA in 2006.

Meaning …………………………………………………………………………

  1. It’s official, I handed in my notice to my boss yesterday and I’m starting my own business next week!

Meaning …………………………………………………………………………

  1. She can’t even boil an egg, let alone cook a full meal for ten people.

Meaning …………………………………………………………………………

Version 2

Read the sentences, can you remember the expressions from version 1? Use the key word in brackets to help you.

  1. Sorry I’m late, I didn’t realise what time it was. (TRACK)

…………………………………………………………………………

  1. Leaving this door open may lead to (IN) the monkeys escaping. 

…………………………………………………………………………

  1. He is almost definitely going to win (CHANCE) the championship this year.

…………………………………………………………………………

  1. There’s a low probability that she will beat (CHANCE) her rival to the trophy.

…………………………………………………………………………

  1. After this evening’s performance there will be (FOLLOWED) a question and answer session with the director.

…………………………………………………………………………

  1. As many as (THAN) seventeen people were seen breaking into the building.

…………………………………………………………………………

  1. Her main problem is that her spelling is bad. (WEAK)

…………………………………………………………………………

  1. The project failed because there wasn’t enough (DUE) funding from the local government.

…………………………………………………………………………

  1. The project is continuing as planned (AHEAD)

…………………………………………………………………………

  1. She has a great reputation (HIGHLY) in the local area. We should hire her.

…………………………………………………………………………

  1. I am sure that (DOUBT) the show will be a resounding success.

…………………………………………………………………………

  1. I didn’t remember seeing (RECOLLECTION) Julia on Saturday night until I saw her at work on Monday morning.

…………………………………………………………………………

  1. The teenagers ignored (NOTICE) me and carried on smoking and playing loud music.

…………………………………………………………………………

  1. I left my handbag on the train, I don’t think I will find (UP) it again.

…………………………………………………………………………

  1. He really became famous (NAME) when he moved to LA in 2006.

…………………………………………………………………………

  1. It’s official, I officially told my boss I was leaving (NOTICE) yesterday and I’m starting my own business next week!

…………………………………………………………………………

  1. She can’t even boil an egg, so she definitely can’t (ALONE) cook a full meal for ten people.

…………………………………………………………………………

Posted in Advanced C1, Guest Posts, Vocabulary Classes

Guest Post: Information Gap C1

7 Fun Information Gap Activities for the ESL Classroom

This is a guest post by Katy Wright. Students take part in an information gap activity in pairs in order to develop their understanding of phrasal verbs and other fixed expressions. Download the handout below:

Teacher’s notes

  1. Split students into pairs
  2. Give them either Student A or Student B worksheet
  3. Ask them to look at the top exercises by themselves for a few minutes
  4. Tell students that the second paragraph contains their partners answers
  5. Each pair “teaches” the other by helping the find the answer (ideally not just giving the answer ie “it sounds like….” or “the first letter is…”
  6. Once both pairs have corrected their work they could turn over their worksheets and test each other’s memory

Follow up: You could encourage students to write a text or a story containing these expressions

Student Worksheet

Student A worksheet

  • She has _______ her books in order of colour =
  • I’ve completely _________ out dairy from my diet =
  • My love of jazz _________ back to my days as a school trumpet player =
  • Her imagination is amazing, she __________ up with the most bizarre ideas =
  • When I heard the noise from upstairs the hairs ___________ up on the back of my neck =
  • You are still so angry about what he said to you, you need to ______ over it =
  • The little boy always felt ______ out of games in the playground =

Student B’s Answers

  • Society needs to cut back on using single-use plastics (reduce)
  • ●       My mum hates it when I leave my things lying around and don’t put them away for days (don’t tidy up)
  • He puts up with a lot of trouble from his younger sister (tolerate)
  • I have really come to like electronic music though I thought it sounded like garbage a few years ago (enjoy now though you didn’t originally)
  • My alarm goes off at 7:30 everything morning (makes a noise/rings)
  • I love animals but the sound of my neighbours dog barking all night long gets to me (irritate)
  • Don’t let the bullies call you horrible names, you need to stand up for yourself (speak/act in support of)

Student B worksheet

  • Society needs to _______ back on using single-use plastics =
  • My mum hates it when I _______ my things lying around and don’t put them away for days =
  • He ________up with a lot of trouble from his younger sister =
  • I have really ________ to like electronic music though I thought it sounded like garbage a few years ago =
  • My alarm ________ off at 7:30 everything morning =
  • I love animals but the sound of my neighbours dog barking all night long ___________ to me =
  • Don’t let the bullies call you horrible names, you need to ___________ up for yourself =

Students A’s Answers

  • She has put her books in order of colour (alphabetise/organise)
  • I’ve completely cut out dairy from my diet (stopped/blocked)
  • My love of jazz goes back to my days as a school trumpet player (originate)
  • Her imagination is amazing, she comes up with the most bizarre ideas (imagines/thinks of)
  • When I heard the noise from upstairs the hairs stand up on the back of my neck (makes me scared/reaction to music)
  • You are still so angry about what he said to you, you need to get over it (accept something and move on)
  • The little boy always felt left out of games in the playground (excluded)
Posted in 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Advanced C1, B2 First

2Ts in a Pod Lesson Plan: Dream Menu

This is a lesson plan by Katy Wright based around a clip from episode 24 of our podcast 2Ts in a Pod. In the episode we pay homage to the excellent Off Menu podcast by talking about our dream meals.

There are two versions of the lesson plan, one for B2 students and one for C1 based on two different clips from the episode. Download the handouts below:

Students listen to the clips, focus on some of the language used and then record themselves describing their own dream meals. They can then upload their videos/audio to Flipgrid.

Posted in Advanced C1, Conversation Classes, Proficiency

Where do you Stand? Entertainment & Culture

Entertainment And Culture Icon Set High-Res Vector Graphic - Getty Images

This is another edition of my “Where do you Stand?” conversation series. Students debate different topics related to entertainment and culture but must rate the opinion on a scale from 1-6 before they begin the discussion.

The PowerPoint contains examples of language of opinion, agreement and disagreement designed with C1 students in mind. If you are teaching lower level students, you could just use the student handout. You can download a B2 phrase sheet here.

Here are the topics students discuss:

The book is always better than the film.

There are too many sequels and spin-off films these days. There aren’t many original stories.

The original version of a song is always the best.

Celebrities shouldn’t complain about being in the public eye. It’s part of the jobNetflix will kill the cinema.

You shouldn’t watch films on your phone. It ruins the experience.

Watching a film at the cinema is always better than at home.

Violent films and videogames should be banned.

Music, art and drama should be compulsory subjects at school.

Social media companies should be responsible for the content that users post on their platforms.

Children shouldn’t play with “violent” toys like guns and weapons.

Something is always lost when a text is translated.

Physical books will disappear one day.

Governments should be allowed to censor some elements of the media including books and films.

The benefits of social media platforms outweigh the negative aspects.

Sports involving animals (hunting, horse riding, bullfighting, etc.) are an important part of my culture and must be protected.

Watching too much television makes you stupid.

Posted in Advanced C1, Grammar Classes, Proficiency

C1/C2: Inversions – A Weekend Off!

Stressed and tired new parents with screaming newborn baby por Rob and  Julia Campbell - Stocksy United

This is a grammar lesson focusing on inversions based around the topic of the stresses of parenthood. Students read a text about new parents who get a weekend off, then transform the text using inversions. Download the handout and teacher’s notes below.

Teacher’s Notes

This lesson plan is designed to be used in several ways depending on your students’ level. The grammar focus is inversions, a structure that typically comes up at C1.

Lead-in

Write these questions on the board and have students discuss them in groups:

  • How does life change when you have kids?
  • How can other family members help with childcare?
  • What things do you think new parents miss about their old life?

Feedback in open class and top up language. Somethings that came up with my students were:

  • Suffer from sleep deprivation
  • loss/lack of intimacy
  • Changing dirty nappies/diapers
  • Pick kids up from kindergarten/nursery
  • Grandparents help out, lend/give you a hand
  • Financial struggles
  • Look after/take care of kids
  • Babysit – babysitter/nanny

Reading

Give out the text, fold the page so that they can’t see the grammar focus part yet, or just share the text if you’re teaching online.

Instruct students to read the text and find the answers to the lead in questions for the couple the text describes:

  • How has their life changed?
  • How do their family members help with childcare?
  • What things do they miss about their old lives?

Feedback in open class.

Language Focus + Controlled Practice

Here is where you can choose a different path depending on how familiar your students are with inversions.

C1 – Introduction to inversions

  • Lead them through the different types of inversions listed below the text.
  • Compare and contrast inverted sentences with uninverted ones:
    • This phone can take photos and videos.
    • Not only can this phone take photos, but also videos.
    • Add emphasis, more formal.
  • Highlight what we mean by “inversion”
    • Position of subject and auxiliary verb is inverted/switched
    • This phone (subject) can (auxiliary verb) take photos….
    • Not only can (aux verb) this phone (subject) take photos….
  • Tell students that the first paragraph contains 10 sentences that can be changed to use inversions and challenge them to change them.
  • There are 6 more in the second paragraph.

C1 – Inversion Revision

  • Challenge them to change the 10 sentences in the first paragraph (or all 16 in the whole text) using the language focus boxes as reference. Monitor and help out as needed.
  • The sentence stems at the bottom will help them identify which sentences they need to change.

C2 – Inversion Revision Super Challenge

  • Just give them the text, don’t give them language focus boxes for reference or the sentence stems! Tell them there are 16 sentences that can be changed to inversions and see how they get on.
  • Give out the language focus boxes if needed, monitor specific groups, maybe not everyone needs it.

Task Check

Show them the second version of the text with all the inversions.

Rarely do we have much time to ourselves. So busy is our schedule that we just can’t find the time to get out of the house. Not only do my husband and I both work full time, but we also have two small kids to look after. Little did I know that my parents were planning a special surprise for me this weekend. Only when I walked in the front door on Friday night did I discover what they had planned. No sooner had I opened the door than they appeared with a bottle of wine and the news that they were taking the kids to the local theme park for the weekend. Obviously the kids were ecstatic, not since they were four years old have they been to the theme park and that was just for 1 day, now they were going for a whole weekend! So grateful were we that we gave my mum and dad a massive hug. However, there had to be some ground rules for the kids. We told them that under no circumstances should they annoy grandma and grandad and on no account must they eat too many sweets before going on the roller coasters.

Hardly had my parents left the house when we opened the bottle of wine and sat on the sofa enjoying the sudden peace and quiet. Not until we sat down did we realise how tired we were. Hardly ever do we get a chance to watch a movie together over a glass of wine. However, barely had we chosen a movie and started watching it when we both fell asleep. Not until the next morning when we woke up did we appreciate how quiet the house was. Not since our second daughter was born had we had the house to ourselves. We didn’t know what to do with ourselves!

Freer Production

Challenge students to work in groups to continue the story. How did the couple spend the rest of their weekend off? Set them a time limit of ten minutes and encourage them to use as many inversions as they can.

Posted in Advanced C1, Conversation Classes, Guest Posts, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

Guest Post: Personality Traits – B2+

Big Five personality traits - Wikipedia

This is a guest post by Darren Wynne-Jones on the topic of personality traits. It was designed with one-to-one adult classes in mind but could also be used for group classes. Download the handout below:

This is a flipped 1 hour(ish) lesson for strong upper-int / advanced students focussing on adjectives to describe personality traits. This lesson uses an online personality quiz, a worksheet from Onestopenglish, and a heavy focus on emergent language. I have created a Quizlet set including all the terms on the worksheet for students to use for self-study after the lesson. I created this lesson for one-to-one classes but it is easily adaptable for groups.

Procedure

  1. Before the class, ask the student to complete the personality quiz at 16personalities.com and Complete the quiz yourself
  2. Tell students to only read the introduction page for the personality type assigned to them at the end of the quiz (although it doesn’t really matter if they read more as they will be doing this for homework anyway)
  • Begin by discussing the introductions and how they relate to your own perceptions of your personalities. Focus on emergent language by extending vocabulary and grammatical structures as they arise in the conversation. This is also a good time to note errors to look at later. (During online classes, I use a Word document to note errors, emergent language, and homework, which I then email to the student. I’ll include the template at the end of this document should you wish to use / adapt it for your own classes. It is based on another teacher’s template but I CAN’T REMEMBER WHO IT WAS TO CREDIT THEM!)
  • Open the personality traits worksheet and share your screen
  • Ask the student to select two adjectives from each of the 6 categories that they would use to describe themselves. You will need to help students with the meaning of unfamiliar adjectives so make sure you check the meanings yourself before the class (do you know the difference between diligent, conscientious, and industrious?? I certainly didn’t!)
  • Discuss similarities and differences between the adjectives selected and the information from the quiz with further focus on emergent language.
  • Error correction

Homework:

  • Students read the rest of ‘their’ personality description from the website, find more similarities / differences to their own self-perceptions, and write a short text summarising these.
  • Use the Quizlet to review and revise the adjectives (there are a lot of these so perhaps just focus on a few at a time)

Possible follow-up ideas:

  • Look at some of the figurative language from the personality descriptions, e.g. using others as a sounding board; their minds buzz; appear to drift about; a bedrock of emotional support
  • Read another introduction section and describe a friend or family member that would fit the description
  • Read two other introductions and decide if the people with these traits would be compatible as friends, lovers, business partners, etc.
Posted in Advanced C1, Exam Preparation Class, Vocabulary Classes

C1: Collocation Jigsaw Story

Thanks to https://tefltastic.wordpress.com/ for the inspiration for this activity.

In this lesson plan students reform a jumbled story using dependent prepositions and other collocations as clues. Download the handout below:

Procedure

  1. Print enough copies for each group of students. 
  2. Cut the text up and give a set to each group.
  3. If you’re working online, show the jumbled version below instead.
  4. Students work together to reform the story with the help of the dependent prepositions and collocations.
My wife and I had been planning our trip to Japan for ages. Endless nights fantasising 
about spending our honeymoon in one of the most spectacular countries on earth. We opted
for a small apartment in downtown Tokyo to get the authentic experience. When you’re weighing
up the different options, it’s worth bearing
in mind just how small the apartments in Japan are and the proximity to the other people around you can really catch you
off guard. We spent the first 5 days seeing the sights and experiencing everything the city had 
to offer. However, we soon realised that we were running low
on funds and that we couldn’t afford
to spend any more time in such a pricey place. So we decided to head
for the hills and experience rural Japan. This turned out to be the by far the best decision we
made. We went on one hike to a hidden temple, it was so tranquil and was an unforgettable experience.

Jumbled Version

My wife and I had been planning our trip to Japan for ages. Endless nights fantasising 
on funds and that we couldn’t afford
about spending our honeymoon in one of the most spectacular countries on earth. We opted
for the hills and experience rural Japan. This turned out to be the by far the best decision we
to offer. However, we soon realised that we were running low
off guard. We spent the first 5 days seeing the sights and experiencing everything the city had 
for a small apartment in downtown Tokyo to get the authentic experience. When you’re weighing
in mind just how small the apartments in Japan are and the proximity to the other people around you can really catch you
to spend any more time in such a pricey place. So we decided to head
made. We went on one hike to a hidden temple, it was so tranquil and was an unforgettable experience.
up the different options, it’s worth bearing

Recall Exercises

Use version 1 as immediate follow-up practice, then use version 2 in the next class or a week later to see how much they have retained.

Version 1

My wife and I had been planning our trip to Japan ….. ages. Endless nights fantasising ……. spending our honeymoon in one of the most spectacular countries on earth. We opted ….. a small apartment in downtown Tokyo to get the authentic experience. When you’re weighing ….. the different options, it’s worth bearing ….. mind just how small the apartments in Japan are and the proximity ……. the other people around you can really catch you …… guard. We spent the first 5 days seeing the sights and experiencing everything the city had …… offer. However, we soon realised that we were running low …… funds and that we couldn’t afford ….. spend any more time in such a pricey place. So we decided to head …… the hills and experience rural Japan. This turned …… to be the by far the best decision we …….. We went on one hike to a hidden temple, it was so tranquil and was an unforgettable experience.

Version 2

My wife and I had been planning our trip to Japan for …… Endless nights ………… about spending our honeymoon in one of the most spectacular countries on earth. We …… for a small apartment in downtown Tokyo to get the authentic experience. When you’re ……… up the different options, it’s worth ……… in mind just how small the apartments in Japan are and the ………. to the other people around you can really catch you off …….. We spent the first 5 days seeing the sights and experiencing everything the city …… to offer. However, we soon realised that we were running …… on funds and that we couldn’t ……. to spend any more time in such a pricey place. So we decided to ……. for the hills and experience rural Japan. This ……. out to be the by far the best ……… we made. We went on one hike to a hidden temple, it was so tranquil and was an unforgettable experience.