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

C1/C2: Complaining & Criticising

Criticising vs Critiquing – Thesislink

This is a lesson plan in which high level students get to grips with functional language and expressions used for complaining and criticising. Download the handout below:

Procedure

I recommend having your students complete the excellent lesson plan from the Macmillan Pragmatics page before using this lesson plan as it gives a great insight into language used for introducing and couching criticism.

Once you’ve done that, give out the handout and have students start to tackle the dialogue between Bob and his boss. Students should try to paraphrase the expressions and discuss their use.

Further idiomatic expressions and structures are then listed, have students discuss them in pairs and field any questions and doubts they may have.

Students then complete a controlled practice activity:

Complete the sentences with one word:

  1. You could at least call to let us know you’re running late.
  2. If you will keep leaving the heating on, you can’t complain about the gas bill.
  3. Your work has not been up to scratch for some time now and you really need to pull your finger out.
  4. I resent having to listen to your complaints every morning.
  5. The onus is on you to apologise to her, you were way out of line.
  6. You could/might/should have told me you were sick this morning, now there’s no time to organise a substitution.
  7. You had better knuckle down and start making an effort in this relationship, otherwise I’m gone.
  8. I don’t mean to throw Dave under the bus but it was his responsibility to lock up after the show.

Now have students roleplay the scenarios and write up a dialogue for their favourite.

Set the writing task for homework, point out that the tone should be firm but friendly and informal. Encourage the use of as many expressions as possible.

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

C2: Proficiency Training – The Heist

Cartoon Safe Heist ⬇ Vector Image by © ronleishman | Vector Stock 13979890

In this lesson C2 students will develop their understanding of idiomatic expressions that often come up in the Cambridge C2 Proficiency exam. They will encounter the expressions in a text about a bank heist gone wrong. Download the student handout below:

Credit to: http://www.waze.net/oea/activities/24 for the planning a bank robbery activity.

You may also wish to use this quizizz game for spaced repetition of the target language.

Procedure

Students start by discussing common tropes of heist movies. They then skim the text to find out what went wrong in this case. (they were set up, someone ratted them out the police)

Students then answer the detail questions:

  1. How had they planned for the robbery? In great detail, taking note of intricacies while the narrator was working in the bank
  2. What was the first problem they encountered? The getaway driver was late
  3. How did the staff in the bank react? Only the bank manager put up any resistance
  4. What are the pros and cons of the way Tony behaves? he’s unpredictable but intimidating
  5. What happens to Tony and Barry? they are killed in the gunfight
  6. Where is the narrator at the end of the story? in prison

Language Focus

Students now focus on the expressions in bold. They discuss their meaning with their partner and try to paraphrase them, they then make a note of how familiar the expressions are to them.

Students now flip the paper over and look at version 2 of the same text. Now the expressions have been replaced with simpler language. Using the key words, they must recall the expressions. They then flip over their paper to check their answers.

Set the key word transformations testing the expressions for homework.

Plan a heist

Put students in small groups and have them plan a bank heist using the prompts on pages 2 and 3, which are adapted from http://www.waze.net/oea/activities/24

Students then present their different plans to the class.

Text Version 1

The Heist

  1. What heist/bank robbery films have you seen?
  2. Do you enjoy this type of movie? Why? Why not?
  3. How do people typically rob banks in films? What strategies do they use?
  4. How can heists go wrong?

Read the text about a bank heist, what went wrong?

The plan had been simple. I had been instrumental in drawing it up, I’d worked in that branch for over 5 years and had taken note of all the little intricacies and predicted all the problems we might have to contend with down to the last detail; I was nothing if not meticulous. I had done everything in my power to make sure everything went like clockwork. In the lead-up to the big day some doubts had been preying on my mind to such an extent that I hadn’t got a wink of sleep, but it was nothing out of the ordinary. 

We’d stuck to the plan to the letter. Aside from a rocky start, when the getaway driver had kept us waiting for the best part of an hour, everything had gone smoothly, almost too smoothly. The bank clerk had offered no resistance, the security guard had admitted defeat pretty quickly, clearly realising that facing off against armed robbers was above his pay grade. The manager made a bit of a fuss about handing over the combination to the vault but Tony soon made him see sense. A gun barrel pressed to your forehead can be very persuasive. I’m not 100% on board with how Tony conducts himself but you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. He had risen to fame as useful muscle for a tight spot but he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box.

Barry got to work on the vault without interference and before long we were stuffing the duffle bags with wads of cold, hard cash, it was a beautiful sight, which did wonders for everyone’s confidence. Maybe that was it, we got too cocky, little did we know what lay in store for us outside. Tony was the first to catch sight of the blue lights, I was loath to start shooting but, as always, there was no stopping Tony, they didn’t call him the loose cannon for nothing. All of a sudden it was like a warzone, Tony didn’t stand a chance, neither did Barry. It’s nothing short of a miracle that I got out alive. It was obvious that the game was up, it must have been a set-up but who had ratted us out? I guess that’s something I’ll be pondering for the next 25 years. It ain’t so bad, running water, 3 square meals a day and a roof over my head. I guess I should spare a thought for those who were not so lucky.

  1. How had they planned for the robbery?
  2. What was the first problem they encountered?
  3. How did the staff in the bank react?
  4. What are the pros and cons of the way Tony behaves?
  5. What happens to Tony and Barry?
  6. Where is the narrator at the end of the story?
Posted in Advanced C1, Conversation Classes, Proficiency

Discussion: Where do you Stand? Animal Rights

Animal Rights Advocates | LinkedIn

This is a discussion topic for B2+ students on the topic of animal rights. Download the student handout and PowerPoint below:

The PowerPoint contains advanced language for expressing opinion, personalising the topic, agreeing and disagreeing. It was made with C1/C2 students in mind. If you’re teaching lower levels, the student handout may be more suitable, although I recommend supplementing it with a phrase sheet, perhaps try my FCE Speaking Phrases post.

Put students into small groups (3/4) or conduct the activity as an open class discussion. Before engaging in discussion on the topics, students must decide individually to what extent they agree or disagree with the given statement by circling one of the numbers from 1-6. The idea is that students will be more likely to take a stand and defend their point of view and less able to go along with the crowd if they’ve assigned their opinion a numerical value.

You could also introduce the phrase “to play devil’s advocate” and encourage students do it during the discussion. Another idea could be to assign a specific student from each group as the devil’s advocate for each topic, thus forcing them to come up with counter arguments to what their classmates are saying.

Here are the discussion topics:

  • Zoos have a positive impact on society.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • Big game hunting should be allowed the money from hunting licences should go towards conservation.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • Humans shouldn’t step in to save endangered species; nature should be allowed to take its course.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I see no problem with testing cosmetics on animals.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I see no problem with testing medicines on animals.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • People in the future will view the way we treat animals today as barbaric.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • It’s not a square meal without some meat.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I could go vegetarian.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I could go vegan.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I’m willing to cut down on meat for environmental reasons.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • Eating animals like dogs and cats shouldn’t be viewed as strange; we eat pigs, sheep and cows.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I would be able to tell the difference between real and synthetic meat.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • One day, all meat will be synthetic meat, grown in a laboratory.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • Factory farming is necessary in order to feed the populations.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • Eating meat is an important part of my culture.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • Sports involving animals (hunting, horse riding, bullfighting, etc.) are an important part of my culture and must be protected.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I could kill and butcher and animal for food.
Posted in Conversation Classes, Guest Posts, Reading Classes, Vocabulary Classes

B1/B2: First Class 2021



*unsplash.com

This is a guest post by online language tutor and ELT writer Ned Widdows. Ideal for the first class back after Christmas, it is a B1-B2 lesson with reading, vocabulary and speaking, asking learners to reflect on their experiences of 2020 and to look forward to the year ahead.

Download the teacher’s notes and student handout below:

Warmer

Write New Year’s Eve on the board / in the chat and ask students to share:

  1. 5 words connected with New Year (in general)
  2. 5 words connected with New Year 2021

Optional: share this image and ask students to describe what they see.

Briefly discuss how Christmas and New Year this year have been affected by the pandemic.

Procedure:

A – D on Student’s Handout is self-explanatory.

Optional ideas:

  1. Dictate the questions in A.
  2. Check the pronunciation of some of the trickier vocabulary in B, e.g. /ˌpɪktʃəˈresk/ /pəˈreɪd/
  3. Get learners to write new sentences with the verb patterns in C, e.g. I’m trying to learn how to play chess at the moment; She misses spending time with her cousins; etc.
  4. Share a link for a padlet and ask learners to post their texts on it. They can read each other’s and see what they have in common.
Posted in 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Advanced C1, Conversation Classes, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

B2+ Conversation Topic: Pet Peeves & Bugbears

Pet Peeves - RunEatSnap

This is a conversation topic for B2+ students in which they discuss things that annoy them. First they study some expressions related to annoyance and anger, then put them to use in a discussion about different annoying habits. Download the student handout, key and Powerpoint below:

Warmer

Start by writing “Pet hates/peeves & Bugbears” on the board and give examples of some of your personal pet peeves using some of the expressions from the student handout.

Vocabulary Focus

Give out the handout and have students complete the expressions. Check answers in open class.

Instruct students to cover the handout, then show the first slide from the Powerpoint, students now need to remember the expressions using the words from the exercises on the handout:

STAND – I can’t stand it when…

The sentences are animated on the Powerpoint so you can reveal them one at a time.

Repeat for the expressions about anger.

Discussion

Put students in pairs or groups of three.

Go through the slides on the Powerpoint showing different annoying habits and behaviours.

For each slide encourage students to discuss their feelings about the topic and also think of a specific time in their lives when they’ve witnessed such behaviour, and how they reacted. If they can’t think of a specific time, encourage them to speculate about how they would react: “If I saw someone throwing litter out of a car window, I would lose my rag!”

Encourage students to share their opinions and experiences in open class.

Wrap up the activity by having students write a definitive list of 3 pet peeves/bugbears that they have.

For adult students or groups that you know well, you may want to teach slightly more explicit versions of the expressions:

Lose one’s shit

It fucks me off

Homework

Have students listen to our episode of 2Ts in a Pod on the topic of Pet Hates:

Posted in Advanced C1, Conversation Classes, Current Affairs Classes, Guest Posts, Listening Classes, Proficiency, Reading Classes, Video Classes

C1/C2: Face Recognition

Elijah Cummings & John Lewis

This is a lesson plan for C1/C2 students by Soleil García Brito on the topic of face recognition based around a video and a gapped text exercise. The warmer could also be used with lower levels (B1/B2). At the end of the lesson students can take an online test to see if they are “super recognisers”; you’ll find the link below.

Download the student’s handout and teacher’s notes below.

Here is the video:

Face Recognition Test from Greenwich University.

Posted in Conversation Classes

“I could eat a horse!” – Food Conversation Topic

Super simple conversation activity based around the topic of food. Suitable for a range of levels from A2 upwards. It was written for students based in Barcelona so a couple of questions won’t make sense outside Catalonia, but you can skip/adapt those ones. Credit to my DELTA tutor Neil Forrest for the dressing a salad question and nationalfoods.org for the weird national dishes questions.

Introduce the topic of food debates using the first slide about the Devon vs Cornwall cream tea debate. Cream teas are scones topped with jam and clotted cream but there is a heated debate regarding which should be put on the scone first. Cornish heathens think that the jam should go first, followed by the cream, which is just preposterous. Righteous Devonians know that the correct order is cream first, then jam. (can you guess where I’m from?) Then ask students to discuss any food debates that exist in their country.

Download the powerpoint below:

Posted in Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class, Listening Classes, Video Classes

Gender Roles: B1-B2

The Arbitrary Division of Gender Roles | by Seth Buesing | Medium

This is a guest post by Soleil García Brito. It is a lesson plan on the topic of gender roles. Students complete a First-Certificate-style multiple choice cloze exercise, a listening comprehension based on a clip from Friends and finally, a discussion on the topic. Download the student handout and teacher’s notes below:

Video clip:

Some questions in the discussion have been adapted from: http://www.englishwithjo.com/english-conversation-gender-roles/

Multiple-choice cloze text adapted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/

Posted in Advanced C1, Conversation Classes, Proficiency

Discussion Topics: Where do you stand?

Life Begins at 40: Imágenes, fotos de stock y vectores | Shutterstock

This is a conversation lesson plan designed with higher level adults in mind (C1/C2). It could also be adapted for lower levels. Download the handouts below:

The advanced discussion phrases handout is a truncated version of my C2 speaking phrase sheet, other phrase sheets could be used for lower levels.

Give out the phrase sheet. Have students peruse it and ask questions about unfamiliar expressions. You may also want to model pronunciation of some of the exponents, although this could also be done reactively. You could also ask students to choose their favourite expressions from the list to encourage ownership of the exponents.

Give out the discussion topics. Explain the system: students must read the topic and first individually circle one of the numbers between one and six to determine how much they agree with the statement. Students are then free to discuss the topic in groups or as a class. They must decide their level of agreement before discussing the topic to avoid following the crowd. This system should lead to more in-depth discussion and hopefully more disagreements!

Encourage the use of the expressions on the phrases sheet; you could award points for the number of expressions used. Some of the discussion topics are common proverbs or phrases so be ready to give definitions and examples to illustrate meaning.

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

Collaborative Speaking Tasks – Halloween

This is a Halloween-themed speaking lesson plan. It was designed with C2 proficiency students in mind as preparation for speaking part 2. However, it can be used with a wide range of levels. Download the powerpoint below:

I recommend giving out one of my phrase sheets before doing the task. Find them using the search function.

If you’re teaching C1 or C2 students you could also use my “Scared Stiff” lesson plan to look at language to describe feeling scared or to talk about horror films.

Put students in pairs and go through the powerpoint. Students will have to discuss and make decisions about different elements of horror films and other topics related to fears and phobias.