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

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

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

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

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

C1/C2: Review – Gadget, App, Software

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

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

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

Pre-reading

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

Reading

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

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

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

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

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

Language Focus

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

Can you remember the missing words?

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

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

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

Sell, sell, sell!

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

Posted in 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, Conversation Classes, Proficiency

Where do you Stand? Entertainment & Culture

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

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

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

Here are the topics students discuss:

The book is always better than the film.

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

The original version of a song is always the best.

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

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

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

Violent films and videogames should be banned.

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

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

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

Something is always lost when a text is translated.

Physical books will disappear one day.

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

The benefits of social media platforms outweigh the negative aspects.

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

Watching too much television makes you stupid.

Posted in Advanced C1, Grammar Classes, Proficiency

C1/C2: Inversions – A Weekend Off!

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

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

Teacher’s Notes

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

Lead-in

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

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

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

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

Reading

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

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

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

Feedback in open class.

Language Focus + Controlled Practice

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

C1 – Introduction to inversions

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

C1 – Inversion Revision

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

C2 – Inversion Revision Super Challenge

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

Task Check

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

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

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

Freer Production

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

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

Guest Post: Personality Traits – B2+

Big Five personality traits - Wikipedia

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

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

Procedure

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

Homework:

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

Possible follow-up ideas:

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