Posted in Conversation Classes, Video Classes, Writing Classes, Young Learners

Christmas Video: Buster the Boxer

Image result for buster the boxer john lewis

Image credit: ITV.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is another Christmas themed lesson based around the latest John Lewis Christmas advert about Buster the boxer. Download the lesson plan and powerpoint below:

buster-the-boxer – Powerpoint

buster-the-boxer – Lesson Plan

Procedure

Put students in pairs, depending on their level show them either the first slide with 4 photos or the second slide with the word cloud. Give them 10 minutes to invent a Christmas story using all of the words or pictures, monitor while they work and feed in any language that is needed.

Students then read out their stories to the class, discuss any language issues that come up. Students can then vote on which story they liked best.

Then show students the John Lewis advert:

Ask students the following questions:

  • Whose story was the most similar to the advert?
  • How different was your story?
  • Did you like the video? If so, what did you like about it?

Show the word cloud again, have students write out the story of the advert again from memory using the words as prompts. Students then read out their different versions.

Follow up

For homework, students write the next part of the story, what did the girl do next? How did the foxes and the badger spend Christmas day?

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Posted in Conversation Classes

Plan a Magical Christmas

Image result for christmas markets berlin

Image credit: Party Earth

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is another Christmas themed lesson plan for intermediate (B1+) teenagers and adults. Students will be required to use smartphones, tablets or laptops as part of the activity. Download the lesson plan below:

plan-a-magical-christmas

Warmer

Tell your partner about your most memorable Christmas ever.

Report back in open class.

Planning the perfect Christmas

Put students in pairs or groups of 3. Write a range of amounts of money on small pieces of paper, for example: €100, €1000, €10,000, €100,000. Put the pieces of paper in a hat, each team picks a piece of paper.

The amount of money that they have picked is their budget for the magical Christmas they are going to plan. They should plan a week of activities, from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve. Students can use the internet to research what they are going to do with their money: book flights to or a hotel in an exotic destination, book tables in fancy restaurants, organise interesting activities etc. The only rule is that they can’t go over budget AND they must speak in English the whole time, project the language for making and responding to suggestions below onto the board.

To be nice to the group that drew the €100 you could let them come up with a money making scheme such as baking and selling cookies in order to get more money. Encourage them to use their imagination, be creative and also, decide what the most important thing about Christmas is to them. Students have 20-30 minutes to plan.

Language

Making suggestions Accepting suggestions Rejecting suggestions
How/what about …ing…?

Why don’t we…?

We could….

Shall we…?

I reckon/think we should/ought to….

What do you think about …ing?

Let’s…

That’s a great idea!

Good idea!

I was thinking the same thing.

You took the words right out my mouth.

That’s a terrible idea.

Are you joking?

Don’t be silly.

I’m not sure about that.

It’ll be too cold/expensive etc.

Presentations

After 20-30 minutes students present their plans to the rest of the class and explain their reasons:

“We’ve decided to spend Christmas in Germany because we want to visit the famous Christmas markets”

After all the presentations, students vote on the plan that they like best.

Posted in Conversation Classes, songs

Song: Bob Dylan – It’s All Over Now Baby Blue

Resultat d'imatges de bob dylan

Image credit: http://thebluesmobile.com/c-c-rider-venerates-bob-dylan/

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bob-dylan-baby-blue – Handout

I’ve been quiet for a few weeks due to my exciting and terrifying new job in teacher training! However, I’ve made a resolution to work on more posts for the blog over the coming weeks.

Some of my C2 adults expressed an interest in listening to some Bob Dylan songs after reading about his recent Nobel Prize win. So I’ve prepared this short lesson plan with that in mind. Students start by reading and analysing the lyrics to the song as if it were a poem and not knowing the author or that it is in fact a folk song.

Procedure

Students read the lyrics as if it were a poem and answer the 3 questions with their partner:

  1. What do you think the poem is about?
  2. Who do you think the poet is talking to?
  3. What might have happened to the person?

Encourage use of language of speculation (could/might/may have etc.)

My DELTA tutor told me that removing words from song lyrics was a horrible crime, “butchering the text” is how he described it, so I’ve decided to keep the text whole. However, feel free to remove some words and have students complete them while listening. One idea would be to remove a part of each rhyming couplet and have students guess at words that would fit, before listening to confirm.

Have students discuss and share their interpretation of the song and then show them the three comments which contain different ways in which the song could be interpreted. Have them compare their own thoughts with those from the comments.

Song

Handout

Read the poem and answer the questions with your partner:

  1. What do you think the poem is about?
  2. Who do you think the poet is talking to?
  3. What might have happened to the person?

You must leave now
Take what you need you think will last
But whatever you wish to keep
You’d better grab it fast

Yonder stands your orphan with his gun
Crying like a fire in the sun
Look out, the saints are coming through
And it’s all over now, baby blue

The highway is for gamblers
Better use your sense
Take what you have gathered
From coincidence

The empty handed painter from your streets
Is drawing crazy patterns on your sheets
The sky, too, is folding over you
And it’s all over now, baby blue

All your seasick sailors
They’re all rowing home
All your reindeer armies
They’re all going home

The lover, who just walked out your door
Has taken all his blankets from the floor
The carpet too, is moving under you
And it’s all over now, baby blue

Leave your stepping stones behind
Now, something calls for you
Forget the dead you’ve left
They will not follow you

The vagabond who’s rapping at your door
Is standing in the clothes that you once wore
Strike another match, go start anew
And it’s all over now, baby blue

 

Comment 1

“I think there is one line here that is misunderstood, and it is pretty nifty.

When Dylan is wrapping up the song, and he’s telling the woman to leave the dead and to start over, he says the line “strike another match girl, start anew” I really think it’s “girl” and not “go”– if you listen to the song it could go either way, but just here me out.

I think this line reference to Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl,” in which a vagabond child selling matches sees visions of warm, safe places she will never be a part of, and each time she lights a match she sees a new scene, a new life. At the end of the fairy-tale, she lights her final match and dies… but in Dylan’s case, when he says to “light another match, girl” he’s not talking about a REAL death, he’s talking about a change. Like the girl in the story, the subject of this song is down-and-out, she thought she was in a safe place, but she’s not– the carpet’s being pulled right out from under her. She needs to figuratively “light a match” and see the possibilities for a new life, and she needs to accept, even embrace this change and join the vagabond outside to start a new journey.”

Comment 2

“I think this song is about accepting changes in life. this was the last song Dylan played at the infamous Newport concert (where he was booed for going electric) and the last song on Bringing It All Back Home (his last album that was mostly acoustic) I think he is just saying it is time for him to move on creatively”

Comment 3

“Could it be that Dylan is Baby Blue? He has to stop listening to everyone’s expectations as to where he should go. He must leave those stepping stones and go his own way even though there may be a price to pay.”

Posted in Conversation Classes, Ice-breakers, Warmers

Back to School: My Summer Holidays (A1-B1)

Image result for summer holidays

Image credit: coar56ar.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a warmer/short conversation activity for use with lower-level students (A1-B1) to refresh past simple question formation. Download the handout below:

back-to-school-handout

Scrambled Questions

Unscramble the questions, and then ask them to your teacher:

  1. summer your how holidays were?
  2. did where go you?
  3. there you did do what?
  4. it did like you?

Ask and answer the questions in pairs.

Questions Words

Complete the questions with a question word:

Where    What (x2)    How (x2)    Who

 

  1. ___________ was the weather like?
  2. ___________ did you stay?
  3. ___________ did you get there?
  4. ___________ did you go on holiday with?
  5. ___________ long did you go for?
  6. ___________ was the best thing you did there?

Answer Match

Match the questions (1-6) with the answers (a-f)

  1. We went surfing, it was so much fun!
  2. In a nice little hotel next to the beach.
  3. We took a plane to the island and then we rented a car.
  4. We went for 6 days.
  5. It was lovely, it only rained once.
  6. I went with my Mum, Dad and little brother.

Speaking

Ask the questions to your teacher, then to your partner.

Then write 2 new questions for your partner:

Where

Who

When

What

Why

How

 

 

Did

 

 

You

Verb in base form

Do

Eat

Buy

See

Etc.

 

 

There?

What Was The best thing You Verb in past simple

Ate?

Saw?

Bought?

Etc.

Key

Scrambled questions

  1. How were your summer holidays?
  2. Where did you go?
  3. What did you do there?
  4. Did you like it?

Question Words

  1. What
  2. Where
  3. How
  4. Who
  5. How
  6. What

Answer Match

  1. E
  2. B
  3. C
  4. F
  5. D
  6. A

Teacher’s Notes

Pronunciation

While students are performing the speaking task, be sure to help them with pronunciation of the questions, focusing specifically on weak forms and sentence stress:

Where did you go?

| weə dɪdjə ɡəʊ | – Connected speech and weak form “you”

What was the weather like?

| ˈwɒt wəz ðə ˈweðə ˈlaɪk | – weak forms of “was” and “the”. Sentence stress on “what” “weather” and “like”

Smartphones, photos

If students have photos of their holiday readily available (on a smartphone or tablet) let them show their partner while they describe their holiday.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Listening Classes, TED Talk Lesson Plans

TED Talk, Paul Root Wolpe: Bio-engineering

Image credit: www.ted.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a new TED talk lesson plan for higher levels (C1+) on the subject of bio-engineering and cloning. Thanks to my colleague Cliff Grossman for recommending this fascinating talk. You can download the materials below:

TED Bio-engineering – Student handout

TED Bio-engineering TEACHER NOTES

Procedure

You can either give students the handout and have them watch the talk and answer the comprehension questions for homework, or do it in class.

Then depending on class size students can ask and answer the discussion questions in small groups or in open class. The topic also lends itself well to debates on GM food, cloning and bioengineering.

Student Handout

Comprehension Questions

  1. What have been the three great stages of evolution?
  2. What are some of the animal hybrids he presents?
  3. What have scientists done with bioluminescent cells from jellyfish?
  4. What does he say about the differences in regulations on genetic modifications between the US and Europe?
  5. Name a few of the animals that have been successfully cloned.
  6. What have scientists managed to do with cockroaches and goliath beetles?
  7. What was so special about the monkey with the prosthetic arm?
  8. What was grown on a mouse’s back?
  9. What is Paul’s view on bio-engineering?
  10. What changes does he predict in the future?

Discussion Questions

  1. What did you think of the talk?
  2. Did you like his presenting style?
  3. What’s your opinion in the different experiments?
  4. Which ones do you find interesting?
  5. Which ones do you think go too far?
  6. What uses can you see for the different bio-engineered animals?
  7. How far do you think we should go?
  8. Should we clone humans?
  9. What problems do you foresee if we were to start cloning humans?
  10. Who should decide the limits of where science can go?
  11. Should people be able to design their own pets/children/bodies?

Language

Look at the language in bold. What do you think it means?

  1. By changing our environment, we put new pressures on our bodies to evolve. Whether it was through settling down in agricultural communities…
  2. So I want to take you through a kind of whirlwind tour of that
  3. Someday, perhaps pretty soon, you will have beefalo patties in your local supermarket.
  4. Dogs are the result of selectively breeding traits that we like.
  5. The scientists that made this cute little creature ended up slaughtering it and eating it afterwards.
  6. We had to do it the hard way in the old days by choosing offspring that looked a particular way and then breeding them.
  7. What are the ethical guidelines that we will use then?

Key

Comprehension Questions

    1. What have been the three great stages of evolution? 1st: Darwinian evolution 2nd: humans changing their environment by forming civilisation 3rd: Evolution by design (bio-engineering)
    2. What are some of the animal hybrids he presents? Liger, geep, zorse, beefalo, cama,
  • What have scientists done with bioluminescent cells from jellyfish? Made animals that glow in the dark

 

  1. What does he say about the differences in regulations on genetic modifications between the US and Europe? Regulations are much stricter in Europe
  2. Name a few of the animals that have been successfully cloned. Sheep, pigs, rats, cats, dogs, horses, wolves, cows.
  3. What have scientists managed to do with cockroaches and goliath beetles? Made them remoted-controlled
  4. What was so special about the monkey with the prosthetic arm? It learned to move its new prosthetic arm using just its brain signals meaning that it effectively has three independent arms.
  5. What was grown on a mouse’s back? A human ear
  6. What is Paul’s view on bio-engineering? He is worried about its implications and thinks we have to be very careful.
  7. What changes does he predict in the future? Human cloning and designer pets or even babies.

Discussion Questions

  1. What did you think of the talk?
  2. Did you like his presenting style?
  3. What’s your opinion in the different experiments?
  4. Which ones do you find interesting?
  5. Which ones do you think go too far?
  6. What uses can you see for the different bio-engineered animals?
  7. How far do you think we should go?
  8. Should we clone humans?
  9. What problems do you foresee if we were to start cloning humans?
  10. Who should decide the limits of where science can go?
  11. Should people be able to design their own pets/children/bodies?

Language

Look at the language in bold. What do you think it means?

  1. By changing our environment, we put new pressures on our bodies to evolve. Whether it was through settling down in agricultural communities… (to stop travelling and stay in one place to live)
  2. So I want to take you through a kind of whirlwind tour of that (a very quick tour seeing the most important places)
  3. Someday, perhaps pretty soon, you will have beefalo patties in your local supermarket. (hamburgers)
  4. Dogs are the result of selectively breeding traits that we like. (characteristics)
  5. The scientists that made this cute little creature ended up slaughtering it and eating it afterwards. (kill an animal for food)
  6. We had to do it the hard way in the old days by choosing offspring that looked a particular way and then breeding them. (biological term for children)
  7. What are the ethical guidelines that we will use then? (moral rules)
Posted in Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class, Vocabulary Classes

CAE Expressions Sheet

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a phrase sheet for my CAE students to help them with some nice informal expressions for the speaking assessment. The expressions are collected from various other worksheets but they idea was to have them all in one place for ease of studying. Download the sheet below.

cae-expression-sheet

 

Family

1.       I definitely take after my Mum.

2.       My sister and I get on like a house on fire.

3.       My Dad is the breadwinner in our family.

4.       My brother and I are like two peas in a pod.

5.       My cousin and I are like chalk and cheese.

6.       Curly hair runs in my family

7.       They say that blood is thicker than water.

8.       I want to follow in my parents’ footsteps and become a doctor.

9.       I’m always falling out with my sister, she’s so annoying.

10.   My uncle is the black sheep of the family.

11.   My little brother is the spitting image of my Dad.

12.   I’m named after my great-grandfather.

 

Friendship

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.  We were best friends at primary school but now we 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.

 

 

 

Travelling

1.       Get itchy feet

2.       Get the travel bug

3.       Culture vulture

4.       Catch some rays

5.       Sit and watch the world go by

6.       Pack a lot in/Have a full plate

7.       See how the mood takes me

8.       Travel on a shoe string

9.       Live it up

10.   A culture shock

11.   Feel right at home

12.   Watch your back

13.   Travel light

14.   At the crack of dawn

 

The Future

With any luck, I will probably…

I have a burning ambition to…

I’ve always dreamed of… so I expect I will…

I haven’t made up my mind yet but I’m leaning towards studying…

I’m torn between studying… and ….

In all likelihood I’ll study…/work in…

I see myself working in the field of…

If everything goes to plan in 5 years, I’ll be…

I’ve got it all mapped out first I’m going to… then…

I have absolutely no clue what I’m going to do tomorrow let alone in 5 years.

I have always had aspirations to go into the field of…

I expect I’ll follow in my Mum/Dad’s footsteps.

 

Likes/Dislikes

·         I’m keen on / fond of……………

·         I’m a keen / avid + noun

·         I’m a keen swimmer.

·         I’m an avid guitarist.

·         I’m an avid traveller.

·         I’m a (bit of a) bookworm.

·         I’m an avid reader

·         I’m a (bit of a) film / music / history / art buff.

·         I’m a (bit of a) computer geek.

·         I’m a (bit of a) shopaholic.

·         I’m a (bit of a) workaholic.

·         I’m a bit of a risk taker / adrenalin junky / daredevil.

·         I like to recharge my batteries at the weekend.

·         I like to get away from the hustle and bustle of my job / school / the city.

·         The word is on the tip of my tongue

·         The word escapes me at the moment but….

·         I’m hooked on (Game of Thrones)

·         I’m a (bit of a) girly girl.

·         (Boys) I like sport, beer, and women.

·         I’m a (bit of a) man’s man.

·         I’m in tip top condition.

English/Education

·         I am / was a teacher’s pet / top of my class at school.

·         English is a requirement of my course / job.

·         If you want to get ahead in life you need English.

·         I’ve been studying English for ages.

·         I’ve been studying English for as long as I can remember.

·         English is an essential / key part of my everyday life.

 

 

Typical Speaking Part 1 Questions

  • What are you particular likes and dislikes?
  • What do you look for in a friend?
  • Describe your best friend.
  • What type of holidays do you enjoy?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
  • How important will English be in your future?
  • Tell me about your family.
  • What type of family do you have?
Posted in Conversation Classes

Crime and Punishment: Conversation Topic

Image credit: www.theguardian.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a conversation topic for adults and teenagers on the subject of crime and punishment. Students discuss how safe they feel in their city, discuss the attraction of crime films and decide the correct punishment for some heinous (and not so heinous) crimes. Download everything below:

Crime and Punishment Lesson Plan

Crime and Punishment

crime film posters

Handout

Discussion

  1. Is your city a safe place to live? Why?
  2. Does your city have any dangerous areas? Where are they?
  3. Are you afraid to walk outside after dark? Why?
  4. Do you know anyone who has been robbed? If so, what happened?
  5. Have you ever been robbed? Have you ever had something stolen from you?
  6. Is it ever okay to break the law? If so, when?
  7. What are some things people can do to protect themselves from crime?
  8. What are some things that are legal but you personally think should be illegal?
  9. What are some things that are illegal but you personally think should be legal?
  10. What crimes have you heard about recently in the news?
  11. What do you think is the worst crime a person could commit? Why?
  12. What crimes do you think will increase in the future? Why?
  13. What crimes do you think will decrease in the future? Why?
  14. Does your country have the death penalty? If so, for what crimes can people receive the death penalty?
  15. Do you think the death penalty is a fair punishment? Why?
  16. Are there any reasonable alternatives to the death penalty? What?
  17. Why do people steal things?
  18. Have you ever had anything stolen from you?
  19. Have you ever stolen anything?

Brainstorm Crimes and punishments

https://www.englishclub.com/english-for-work/police-crime.htm

Glamourising Crime

Show pictures of crime films/books.

  • What happens in these films?
  • Why do we sympathise with the criminals?
  • What crimes are glamorous?
  • Can criminals be heroes?
  • What makes a villain a villain?

The punishment fits the crime

Students debate what punishments are appropriate for the crimes in the powerpoint.