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

C2 Proficiency: Christmas Speaking Practice

Want to do Christmas activities but your students have an exam coming up? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here’s some Christmassy proficiency speaking part 2 tasks. Students work in pairs on a timed collaborative task. Download the PowerPoint below:

You could also give them this speaking phrase sheet:

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

C1/C2: Animal Idioms

How the Cat Gets Its Stripes: It's Genetics, Not a Folk Tale - The New York  Times

This is a vocabulary and conversation lesson for C1/C2 students. Students look at 18 animal idioms and put them into practice in conversation and an optional writing exercise. Download the handouts below:

Students first recall the names of some animals, then have a chance to share animal idioms they already know.

Then they must use the 16 animals from exercise 1 to complete the different animal expressions.

Keep the conversation questions hidden from students until after they’ve completed the first gap-fill.

Then have them recall the expressions by filling in the gaps in the questions. They can then ask and answer the questions in pairs or small groups.

I designed this task for use with a C2 Proficiency preparation group so I added on a writing task, an article, for them to do as homework.

Posted in Advanced C1, B2 First, Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class

B2+ Goat vs Bear – Exam Practice & Discussion

This is a lesson plan for B2+ students. It is based on a text from https://www.iflscience.com/ on the subject of wild animals. It will serve as good exam practice for students preparing to take Cambridge exams and should also be an engaging topic of conversation for teenagers and adults. Download the handouts and slides below:

Link to original article: https://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/badass-goat-killed-grizzly-bear-by-skewering-it-on-its-horns-necropsy-reveals/

Procedure

  1. Show students the second slide of the PowerPoint, encourage them to guess which animal would win.
  2. Show them the second and have them speculate about how a goat would beat a bear.
  3. Give out handout and have students read to confirm their speculations, check in open class.
  4. Have students complete the open cloze, they could work in pairs or individually and then check with their partner. Good practice for Cambridge exams use of English.
  5. Lead students through the vocabulary exercises.
  6. Discussion: Which animal could you beat in a fight? Show students the fourth slide and explain the statistics to them. Put students in groups and have them discuss which animals they think they could beat and how they would do it. 
  7. Lead a discussion on the best way to tackle certain large, dangerous animals. Have students speculate on the best thing to do in each encounter, then check on the internet to see whether or not they would have survived. Board any emergent language and exploit it for recall later.

Open Cloze Key

Apex predators make (1) IT to the top (2) BY being the most efficient hunters in their domain, but every now and (3) THEN an underdog crops up to disrupt the food chain. (4) SUCH an example played out on the mountains of Burgess Pass in Yoho National Park, where Parks Canada retrieved the body of a female grizzly bear. Such a creature would usually (5) BE  the slayer rather than the slain, and most surprisingly of all the assailant turned (6) OUT to be a goat.

The battle (7) TOOK place sometime before September 4 after which Parks Canada was made aware (8) OF the presence of a carcass. Bodies such (9) AS these need to be removed as they can otherwise lure in wildlife that could put visitors to the pass (10) AT risk.

The discovery of a slain bear merits a forensic investigation to determine the (11) CAUSE of death, and so a necropsy (12) WAS conducted on the animal. During the examination, staff noticed that the fatal wounds were at the base of the bear’s neck and in (13) ITS armpits. The attack sites might sound random to the uninitiated, but to experienced park rangers, this was the work (14) OF one extremely lucky mountain goat.

“When grizzly bears attack, they tend (15) TO focus (16) ON the head, neck, and shoulders of the prey, usually (17) FROM above,” Alison Biles, Public Relations and Communications Officer for Parks Canada, told IFLScience. “In turn, the defensive response of mountain goats would (18) BE  to protect themselves using (19) THEIR sharp horns.”

“Grizzly bear predation of mountain goats is relatively common and significant goat activity was observed (20) IN the immediate area. (21) IN this case, it appears that the mountain goat was (22) TRYING/ABLE to defend itself. While rare, other cases of mountain goats defensively killing bears have (23) BEEN reported in the past, (24) WHICH is not completely surprising since mountain goats are strong animals that are well-equipped to defend (25) THEMSELVES” 

Adapted from: https://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/badass-goat-killed-grizzly-bear-by-skewering-it-on-its-horns-necropsy-reveals/ 

Find words or phrases in the text to match these definitions:

  1. Animals at the top of the local food chain. – APEX PREDATORS
  2. Someone in a game or fight who has little chance of winning. – AN UNDERDOG
  3. A killer. – SLAYER – assailant – an attacker
  4. The dead body of an animal. – CARCASS
  5. Attract. – LURE IN
  6. Where your arm meets your chest. – ARMPITS
  7. People without experience. – THE UNINITIATED 
  8. A person who patrols and maintains a national park. – PARK RANGER
  9. To have the tools to do something. – BE WELL-EQUIPPED

Complete the collocations from the text:

  1. MAKE it to the top
  2. Every NOW and then
  3. Such AN example
  4. The assailant TURNED out to be a goat
  5. The battle took PLACE sometime before September 4
  6. Parks Canada was MADE aware of the presence of a carcass.
  7. Put visitors at RISK
  8. An investigation to determine the cause of DEATH

Complete the sentences with one of the collocations:

  1. The police still aren’t sure of the CAUSE OF DEATH
  2. I don’t go out often but EVERY NOW AND THEN I like to meet up with friends and let my hair down.
  3. His carelessness PUT everyone on board the ship AT RISK, it can’t happen again.
  4. I have been MADE AWARE OF some complaints that customers have made and I would like to address them.
  5. The match will TAKE PLACE tonight at the usual address.
  6. To MAKE IT TO THE TOP in this industry you have to work very hard and get lucky.
  7. We thought it was a shark under the boat but TURNED OUT TO BE a piece of rubbish.
Posted in Advanced C1, B2 First, Conversation Classes, Proficiency

Where do you stand? Summer Edition

Is SUMMER about to truly start? - The Church Irish Bar Albir

This is a special summer edition of my “Where do you stand?” conversation series. Students decide to what extent they agree with different statements on the topic of summer activities and holidays and then share their views with their classmates. Download the PowerPoint and student handout below:

The PowerPoint has some quite advanced language for discussion on it. You may want to use this phrase sheet, designed with B2 students in mind, for lower levels.

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

C1/C2: Killer Expressions Grouped by Topic

PsBattle: An Impressed Footballer's face : photoshopbattles

Thanks to my colleague Natascha Wallace for this idea. Basically it’s a list of advanced expressions, grouped by topic, for C1/C2 students and sets of conversation questions on those same topics. The idea being that they can drop them into their writings or use them in the speaking exam in order to score more points. Alternatively, beyond the world of exams, they will undoubtedly be useful IRL! Download the handouts below:

Procedure:

Have students read the expressions in the first category and try to guess the meaning in pairs. Clear up any doubts in open class.

Ping-pong

Tell students they have 1 minute to try to memorise as many of the expressions in the category as they can. After 1 minute tell them to turn their papers over. Students then play “ping-pong” in pairs one person says one expression and the other must say another back and forth until one can’t remember any more expressions. After they’ve played a couple of rounds tell them to look at the expressions again and refresh their memories of the ones they struggled to remember.

Then hand out the conversation questions and have students discuss them in groups of 3. One member of the group should act as the examiner, asking the questions and also counting the number of killer expressions each person uses. Encourage students to have fun with it and use as many as they can.

Then move onto the next category, rinse and repeat.

There are a lot of categories so you may want to split it over several classes.

You can then use this quizziz quiz for space repetition.

Posted in Advanced C1, B2 First, Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency

Where do you stand? Education

aswar akka consultancy | How Important is Educational Management and  Organization?

This is another edition of my “Where do you Stand?” conversation series. Students debate different topics related to education but must rate their opinion on a scale from 1-6 before they begin the discussion. Download the PowerPoint and student handout below:

If you want to use it with B2 students you could use this phrase sheet.

Credit to Owlcation for some of the debate topics:

https://owlcation.com/academia/100-Debate-Topics

Posted in Advanced C1, B2 First, Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency

Where do you stand? Science & Technology

Technology and Science | Study Abroad Life

This is another edition of my “Where do you Stand?” conversation series. Students debate different topics related to science and technology but must rate their opinion on a scale from 1-6 before they begin the discussion. Download the PowerPoint and student handout below:

If you want to use it with B2 students you could use this phrase sheet.

Credit to Owlcation for some of the debate topics:

https://owlcation.com/academia/80-Science-Debate-Topics-for-Students

Posted in Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency

C2 Proficiency: DIY Speaking Long Turn Topics

C2 Proficiency de Inglés (CPE) del Cambridge: Cómo Aprobarlo | TURBOLANGS

This is a lesson plan for students preparing to take the Cambridge C2 Proficiency exam. Students create their own topic cards for part 3 of the speaking exam; the dreaded long turn! Download the handout and examples below:

Procedure

You could use this lesson plan to introduce the long turn, give students a chance to practice and go over some useful language before they make their own topic cards.

Print and cut out the example cards, these examples were created by my C2 group. As you can see they came up with some thought provoking topics that are definitely more engaging than some of the run-of-the-mill topics from most text books.

Put students in pairs and have them complete a timed long turn each to get them warmed up to the task.

Then give them a set of blank cards each (candidate A & B) and have them work together to create two topic cards with a main question and three bullet points. Tell them that their classmates are going to use their topic cards so they should choose engaging, open topics. Give them 3-5 minutes to do this. In the exam, after candidate A has finished their long turn, candidate B is asked a shorter question in response to what candidate A has just said, so you could have your students write a question for candidate B on the back of A’s card and vice versa for candidate B.

Have them pass their newly created cards to another pair so that everyone has a set created by another group. Instruct them to keep practicing two-minute long turns using the new cards. Then encourage students to give feedback to the group who wrote the topic card; was it easy to talk about for two minutes? Did the bullet points help? Could anything be clarified?

Students then pass the cards to another group, rinse and repeat. Students will get lots of practice for this part of the exam on topics chosen by their peers.

I was really impressed by the questions my group came up with, there weren’t too many softballs in there. Comment below with some of the topics and bullet points your students come up with and I’ll add them to the example doc, that we can create a big list of topic cards for future use.

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 Conversation Classes

Conversation Topic: Kids & Parenthood

Preparing your finances for parenthood | Vanguard

A simple conversation activity I designed as a follow-up to my previous post entitled “A Weekend Off”. It can be used with B1+ students. Students discuss various topics related to parenthood, kids and growing up. Download the handout below:

Put students in pairs or small groups and have them discuss the questions. Pause regularly to feedback in open class. The activity should generate a lot of emergent language.

Student Handout

  • 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?

What do you think are the biggest challenges for new parents?

  • Feeling unprepared for parenthood
  • Suffering from sleep deprivation
  • A loss/lack of intimacy
  • Changing dirty nappies/diapers
  • Picking kids up from kindergarten/nursery
  • Financial struggles

How is growing up different for:

  • The first child?
  • The middle child?
  • The baby?

What position were you in your family?

What are some stereotypes associated with the different positions among siblings?

What are the pros and cons of being an only child?

What do children learn from having siblings?

What do you think is the perfect number of children to have?

  • 1?
  • 2?
  • 3?
  • 4?
  • More?

What are the pros and cons of these stages of children’s lives?

  • Babies (0-1)
  • Toddlers (1-3)
  • Kids (3-10)
  • Pre-teens (10-12)
  • Teenagers (13-18)
  • Young adults (18-22)

What’s the most rewarding and most challenging aspect of each stage?