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 Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

C2 Proficiency: Key Word Transformation Training #2

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

This is an exam preparation activity for students taking the C2 Proficiency exam. Students learn some fixed expressions that may come up in part 4 of the reading and use of English paper and also practice their paraphrasing skills. Download the handout below:

I recommend using my first key word transformation training exercise first.

Use the first 12 slides of this quizlet set to test students’ memories of the fixed expressions from the first training activity. You could then give them this doc of 15 of the key word transformations as homework or spaced repetition at a later date:

Then hand out the new worksheet. First students work in pairs to paraphrase the expressions in bold and come up with notes to help them remember the expressions; this could involve taking a note of a dependent preposition or a verb pattern (gerund/infinitive). Monitor and check students’ understanding of the expressions. Then students turn the paper over and attempt to recall the expressions with the help of the key words. Finally, students recall prepositions from the expressions as these can often trip students up. Also, the second point in a key word transformation question can often come down to a dependent preposition.

You could use this quizziz game to test their memory of the prepositions at a later date.

Student Handout

Version 1

Look at the expressions in bold. Discuss the meaning with your partner and make notes to help you remember them.

  1. The film fell short of my expectations I’m afraid.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

  1. Tickets are probably sold out but there’s no harm in calling to check.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

  1. My son took absolutely no notice of my advice and spent all his birthday money on video games.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

  1. It seems that there’s little prospect that they will be able to win the championship now.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

  1. It was a really interesting lecture that gave us food for thought.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

  1. His injury had a serious effect on his ability to earn a living.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

  1. Giles can be relied on to help out if you’re in a spot of bother.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

  1. It never occurred to me to ask Jenny for help with the car, I didn’t know she was an engineer.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

  1. He was given a life sentence for murder.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

  1. Sadly, her career has always taken priority over her family.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

  1. The printer is apt to disconnect from the wifi network, it has a mind of its own.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

  1. The specials menu is subject to change on a daily basis.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

  1. Julia’s command of German is extraordinary, she nailed the presentation.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

  1. For the first month of membership you will be exempt from paying delivery fees.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

  1. In the winter months it’s cold beyond belief so bring warm clothes.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

  1. Let’s go out! I’m in the mood for dancing tonight.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

  1. The audience showed their disapproval of the comedian’s routine by booing loudly.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

  1. Martin has his hands full now that his wife has given birth to twins.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

  1. Thank you so much for the loan. I have every intention of paying you back ASAP.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

  1. You’re putting your life in jeopardy every time you drink and drive.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

  1. By the look of his facial expression, I’d say that he didn’t take your criticism well.

Meaning………………………………………………………………………………. Notes ………………………….

Version 2

Now look at version 2. Work with a partner, try to recall the expressions using the key words to help you.

  1. The film wasn’t as good as I thought it would be (SHORT) I’m afraid.

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

  1. Tickets are probably sold out but we might as well call (HARM) to check.

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

  1. My son completely ignored (NOTICE) my advice and spent all his birthday money on video games.

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

  1. It seems that there’s not much chance that (PROSPECT) they will be able to win the championship now.

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

  1. It was a really interesting lecture that made us think (FOOD).

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

  1. His injury seriously affected (EFFECT) his ability to earn a living.

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

  1. Giles will always (RELIED) help out if you’re in a spot of bother.

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

  1. I never thought of asking (OCCURRED) Jenny for help with the car, I didn’t know she was an engineer.

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

  1. He was sent to prison for the rest of his life for (SENTENCE) murder.

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

  1. Sadly, her career has always been more important to her than (PRIORITY) her family.

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

  1. The printer has a tendency to (APT) disconnect from the wifi network, it has a mind of its own.

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

  1. The specials menu can sometimes change (SUBJECT) on a daily basis.

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

  1. Julia speaks German extraordinarily well (COMMAND), she did the presentation very well. (N…)

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

  1. For the first month of membership you won’t have to pay (EXEMPT) delivery fees.

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

  1. In the winter months it’s so cold you wouldn’t believe it (BEYOND) so bring warm clothes.

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

  1. Let’s go out! I feel like dancing (MOOD) tonight.

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

  1. The audience complained about (DISAPPROVAL) the comedian’s routine by booing loudly.

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

  1. Martin is very busy (HANDS) now that his wife had the (BIRTH) twins.

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

  1. Thank you so much for the loan. I will definitely pay (EVERY) you back ASAP.

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

  1. You’re endangering your life (JEOPARDY) every time you drink and drive.

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

  1. If you look at (BY) his facial expression, I’d say that he didn’t take your criticism well.

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….

Preposition Check

The second point in a key word transformation can often come down to the preposition. Can you remember the prepositions in these expressions?

  1. The film fell short ….. my expectations I’m afraid.
  2. Tickets are probably sold out but there’s no harm ….. calling to check.
  3. My son took absolutely no notice ….. my advice and spent all his birthday money on video games.
  4. It was a really interesting lecture that gave us food ….. thought.
  5. His injury had a serious effect ….. his ability to earn a living.
  6. Giles can be relied ….. to help out if you’re in a spot of bother.
  7. It never occurred ….. me to ask Jenny for help with the car, I didn’t know she was an engineer.
  8. He was given a life sentence ….. murder.
  9. Sadly, her career has always taken priority ….. her family.
  10. The printer is apt ….. disconnect from the wifi network, it has a mind of its own.
  11. The specials menu is subject ….. change on a daily basis.
  12. Julia’s command ….. German is extraordinary, she nailed the presentation.
  13. For the first month of membership you will be exempt ….. paying delivery fees.
  14. In the winter months it’s cold ……… belief so bring warm clothes.
  15. Let’s go out! I’m ….. the mood ….. dancing tonight.
  16. The audience showed their disapproval ….. the comedian’s routine by booing loudly.
  17. Martin has his hands full now that his wife has given birth ….. twins.
  18. Thank you so much for the loan. I have every intention ….. paying you back ASAP.
  19. You’re putting your life ….. jeopardy every time you drink and drive.
  20. ….. the look of his facial expression, I’d say that he didn’t take your criticism well.
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 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Exam Preparation Class, Guest Posts, Reading Classes, Vocabulary Classes

Guest Post: B2 First – A Forgotten Dream

This is a guest post by my friend, colleague and co-host of the podcast 2Ts in a pod, Katy Wright. It’s designed to help students preparing for the B2 first exam get to grips with some of the phrasal verbs and fixed expressions they might encounter in the exam. Students read a text about Jim’s forgotten dream, then try to recreate the text using key words. Download the student handout below:

A FORGOTTEN DREAM

  1. Look at the pictures. What is the story about?
  • Read the story. Were your predictions correct?

Jim couldn’t stand his job. All he did all day was sit at his desk and pretended to work while watching the heavy rain outside his window. He was meant to be selling insurance on the phone, but he wasn’t very good at it. In fact, he had sold very few contracts. This was because all he had ever wanted to do was be an actor in Hollywood. He had loved acting when he was a teenager, but instead of going to America he studied Business and he put off looking for fame. “I’ll look into that when I have finished Uni” he said to himself. This was his biggest regret in life. On his way into work that day, his 15-year-old car broke down. Standing in the rain trying to change the tire he made up his mind. He wasn’t going to carry on like this. He was going to make a big change…

  • Answer the questions in groups.
  • What is Jim’s big dream?
  • Why do you think Jim didn’t decide to become an actor after Uni?
  • What do you think makes him change his mind?
  • What big change do you think he is going to make?
  • What will happen at the end of the story?
  • What do you the expressions in yellow mean?
  • Can you translate them to Catalan/Spanish?
  • Do you have similar expression in Catalan/Spanish?
  • Try to remember the original expression used in the story. The words in brackets are to help you.

Jim hated (STAND) his job. All he did all say was sit at his desk and pretended to work while watching as it rained heavily (HEAVY) outside his window. He should have been (MEANT) selling insurance on the phone, but he wasn’t very good at it. In fact, he didn’t sell many (FEW) contracts. This was because all he had ever wanted to do was be an actor in Hollywood. He had loved acting when he was a teenager, but rather than go (OF) to America he studied Business and he postponed looking (PUT) for fame. “I’ll investigate (INTO) that when I have finished Uni” he said to himself. This was his biggest regret in life. On his way into work that day his 15-year-old car stopped working (DOWN). Standing in the rain trying to change the tire he made a decision (UP). He wasn’t going to continue like this any longer (ON). He was going to make a big change…

  • Write the original expressions here:
  • STAND…………………………………………………………………………
  • HEAVY…………………………………………………………………………
  • MEANT …………………………………………………………………………
  • FEW …………………………………………………………………………
  • OF …………………………………………………………………………
  • PUT …………………………………………………………………………
  • INTO …………………………………………………………………………
  • DOWN …………………………………………………………………………
  • UP …………………………………………………………………………
  • ON …………………………………………………………………………
  • Write the rest of the story. Use the questions to help you.

Middle:

  • What does he decide to do next?
  • How will he change his life?
  • What does he do to help him realize his dreams?

End:

  • Does he finally reach his goals?
  • How does he feel about his situation?
  • Does he ever think about his old life?
  • Read all of the paragraphs and vote on the you think is the best
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.

Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

C2 Proficiency: Key Word Transformation Training

In this lesson plan students preparing for the C2 Proficiency exam develop their understanding of some key fixed expressions that often come up in part 4 of the use of English. Download the handout and homework exercise below:

You may want to use this quizlet set for spaced repetition of the expressions.

Procedure

Students read the expressions in bold and discuss the meaning with their partner. Encourage them to paraphrase the expression and make any notes on the grammar that might be relevant: specific prepositions, verb patterns that may follow it (gerund/infinitive etc.)

Students then flip the paper over and attempt to remember the expressions using the key words as prompts. They can check their answers by looking back at page 1. Ask students which expressions they struggled the most to recall.

Have students ask and answer the discussion questions in small groups.

Set the key word transformation worksheet for homework. You’ll find the answers in the quizlet set.

Posted in Advanced C1, Exam Preparation Class, Vocabulary Classes

C1 Advanced: Key Word Transformation Training #2

C1 Advanced (CAE) | The Lleida Cambridge Exams Centre

In this lesson plan students preparing for the C1 Advanced exam develop their understanding of some key fixed expressions that often come up in part 4 of the use of English. Download the handout and homework exercise below:

These particular expressions are taken from this quizlet set of 82 different key word transformation expressions, you may want to use it for spaced repetition.

Procedure

Students read the expressions in bold and discuss the meaning with their partner. Encourage them to paraphrase the expression and make any notes on the grammar that might be relevant: specific prepositions, verb patterns that may follow it (gerund/infinitive etc.)

Students then flip the paper over and attempt to remember the expressions using the key words as prompts. They can check their answers by looking back at page 1. Ask students which expressions they struggled the most to recall.

Set the key word transformation worksheet for homework.

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, Exam Preparation Class, Vocabulary Classes

C1: Advanced Training: Water Cooler Gossip

Cartoon Characters People Around Water Cooler Gossip Concept.. Royalty Free  Cliparts, Vectors, And Stock Illustration. Image 124635636.

This is a lesson plan designed to develop students’ understanding of common idiomatic expressions that can come up in the C1 Advanced exam. Students discuss the topic of problems in the workplace and look at fixed expressions in the context of a dialogue. Download the student handout and exam practice activity below:

I made this lesson plan by taking a bunch of the expressions that are tested in this quizlet set of key word transformations and shoehorning them into a dialogue. You may also wish to use this quizizz game for spaced repetition of the expressions.

Procedure

Give out the handout and have students discuss the pre-reading topic in small groups. Clear up any vocab doubts and briefly recap in open class.

Have students read the text and answer the gist question: Read the text, which workplace problems does it describe? The text describes a case of nepotism.

Have students answer the detail questions:

  1. Who are the two people? co-workers/colleagues
  2. What are they annoyed about? being overlooked for a promotion
  3. Why did James get the job? he’s the boss’s son-in-law
  4. What is their plan? to wait for James to make a mistake then “throw him under the bus”
  5. Why do they need to be careful? because if anyone finds out they’re plotting, they might lose their jobs

Students look at the language focus section. 2 expressions of surprise: come as a surprise to someone + be taken aback

Have them discuss the other expressions and come up with a simpler paraphrasing for the expression. What they’re doing essentially is writing the first sentence in a key word transformation exercise.

Have students flip the paper over and look at version 2. Now they must use the key words to recall the expressions from the original version from memory. They can then flip back over and check their answers, encourage them to focus on small details like prepositions and verb patterns (gerund/infinitive after the expression) as these can often be worth a mark in the exam.

Students then work in groups to write a new dialogue using as many expressions as possible. Set the key word transformation worksheet, which tests the same structures, as homework. Alternatively you could space it slightly more and have them complete the worksheet in the following class.