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

Gender Roles & the Colour Pink: C1/C2

54" Vinyl Hot Pink Fabric from $4.66/yd | Fabric.com - Fabric.com

This is another guest post by Soleil García Brito on the topic of gender roles and the colour pink but this time for higher level students (C1/C2). The lesson plan is made up of two video exercises, a gapped text reading exercise and a discussion on the topic. Download the student handout and teacher’s notes below:

Here are the links to the videos:

The colour pink:

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/12/health/colorscope-pink-boy-girl-gender/index.html

Ross’s Shirt:

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

2Ts in a Pod: Thursday Murder Club – Part 1

2Ts in a pod's stream on SoundCloud - Hear the world's sounds
Image credit Mark Wilding

New Episode! This is the first in a new series of book club episodes based around Richard Osman’s brilliant page-turner “The Thursday Murder Club”. Tim and Katy discuss the plot a few chapters at a time and highlight some useful language. Try it out with your high-level students!

https://cutt.ly/KgHpP9I

Posted in Advanced C1, Conversation Classes, Proficiency

Discussion Topics: Where do you stand?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Advanced C1, Proficiency, Writing Classes

C1/C2 Writing Task: Lockdown Report

New Covid lockdown rules for England: what you can and can't do from  Thursday

This is a writing task for students preparing for the C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency exam. Students are required to write a report on the effects that the initial coronavirus lockdown had on young people in their country and also give recommendations to improve the situation in the event of a second lockdown. Download the handout below:

Formal advanced language key:

  1. LONELINESS
  2. ISOLATION
  3. ANXIETY
  4. DESIRED
  5. COMPLAINT
  6. MINORITY, DISSATISFACTION
  7. STRONGLY
  8. MOTIVATION, PROCRASTINATION
  9. UNPRECEDENTED
  10. TEETHING, ADEQUATE

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

Collaborative Speaking Tasks – Halloween

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

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

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

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

Posted in Advanced C1, Grammar Classes, Proficiency

Halloween Horror Story: C1/C2 Inversions

This is a spooky grammar lesson for Halloween. Students listen to the first part of a horror story in the form of a dictogloss, then continue the story using inversions. Download the handout and teacher’s notes below:

Horror Story Dictogloss – Teacher’s Notes

Pre-Listening

Tell students you’re going to read them the introduction to a horror story. It features a haunted mansion and the first line is “It was a dark and stormy night…” Tell them to make predictions about what will happen.

Dictogloss

Explain the dictogloss to your students:

You will read the story to them several times. A note on delivery, read the text in a natural way, don’t pause mid-sentence, follow the punctuation. You may want to exaggerate the pauses after full stops and commas to give students a bit of extra processing time.

  1. The first time all they have to do is listen.
  2. Second time they can take notes of words and phrases, stress that it’s not a dictation and that they shouldn’t worry if their version is different.
  3. Students compare notes with a partner or in a three.
  4. Students listen for a third time, taking notes and then compare with their group again. You may want to read the text for a fourth time, gauge it with your own group.
  5. Students work to recreate the text. You could do this on a Google doc so you can see the versions taking shape. Assign each group a page of the doc so that they’re not tempted to copy each other.
  6. Show them the original text and copy/paste all their versions below. Have them compare their versions and looks for differences.

It was a dark and stormy night, the wind was whistling through the trees and the rain was pouring down. Not only was I completely soaking wet, but also my teeth were chattering because of the icy wind. I knocked on the door of the ancient run-down mansion as hard as I could; little did I know the horror that awaited me on the other side of the door. No sooner had I ceased my knocking than the door swung slowly open. The darkness on the other side was pitch-black but so desperate was I to get out of the storm that I jumped inside without a second thought. Hardly had I set foot inside the house when the door slammed shut behind me…

Language Focus

Ask students to complete the following language analysis task in pairs:

  • Meaning – substitute the phrases in bold for other, simpler words so that the meaning is the same.
  • Usage – why do you think the writer decided to use the phrases in bold instead of simpler language? What effect do these expressions have on the reader? More emphatic, more exciting, draws the reader in.
  • Form – Look at the word order after the inversion phrases:
    • Not only…
    • Little…
    • No sooner
    • So desperate…
    • Hardly…
  • Complete the formula: Inversion phrase + _______ + _______ + _______

(Inversion phrase + auxiliary verb + subject + verb)

Show students further examples of each inversion:

Not only: used with a wide range of tenses and auxiliary verbs:

  • Not only are vampires afraid of crosses, but also garlic.
  • Not only did the werewolf have sharp teeth, but also long claws.
  • Not only would I recommend calling the police, but also I would run away as fast as I could.

Little: most commonly used with “know” and “realise”:

  • Little did I realise how much danger I was in.
  • Little did she know what had just happened in the other room.

No sooner…. than: Or Hardly…. when Most commonly used with past perfect to express that one action happened immediately after another:

  • No sooner had I closed the door than I heard a strange scratching sound.
  • No sooner had I fallen asleep than a strange light came in through the window.
  • Hardly had the sound stopped when the door burst open.
  • Hardly had I turned around when the beast appeared at the end of the corridor.

So + adjective + that…: Used with a range of adjectives to add emphasis and express consequences:

  • So cold was it that my hands were shaking.
  • So frightening was the beast that even the brave soldier screamed in fear.

Practice – Key

  1. I had just opened the door when the monster appeared.

HAD

Hardly had I opened the door when the monster appeared.

  • They had no idea that the beast was watching their every move.

REALISE

Little did they realise (that) the beast was watching their every move.

  • The enormous size of the beast’s tentacles stopped them from reaching the exit.

WERE

So enormous were the beast’s tentacles that they couldn’t reach the exit.

  • As soon as they were outside the house, she called the police.

HAD

No sooner had they got out of the house than she called the police.

  • The car wouldn’t start and the gun was jammed.

WOULD

Not only would the car not start but also the gun was jammed.

  • They didn’t know that the call was coming from inside the house until it was too late.

THAT

Little did they know/realise that the call was coming from inside the house until it was too late.

Production

Have students write another paragraph of the story either in class or for homework. Encourage them to use as many inversions as possible and other descriptive language.

Posted in Advanced C1, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

Save the Planet: C1/C2 Phrasal Verbs

This is a lesson plan for C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency students on the topic of non-profit organisations like the WWF. Students read a short text about the organisation then work on phrasal verbs associated with the topic. Download the handout and key below:

The procedure is pretty straightforward. First students answer the introductory questions designed to activate their schemata and encourage them to predict the content of the text. They then read the text briefly to see if their predictions were correct. They then focus on the meaning of the phrasal verbs, then recall the prepositions/particles and finally put them into practice in a speaking activity.

Save the Planet – Phrasal Verbs

Introduction

Ask and answer the questions with a partner:

  1. Think of some national or international organisations dedicated to protecting the environment.
  2. What do these organisations do?
  3. How effective are they?
  4. What problems/difficulties do they encounter?
  5. What can people do to support these organisations more?

The WWF

  1. Read the text quickly. Does it mention any of the things you discussed in the introduction?
  2. Look at the phrasal verbs and expressions in bold and match them with the definitions below.

The World Wide Fund for Nature

Every day more and more trees are being cut down in the rainforests of the world wiping out hundreds of species. The current deforestation rate amounts to 3 football pitches per minute. Precious water supplies are being used up meaning that still more animals and plants are dying out. If we step back and look at the bigger picture, it’s not just animals and plants that are affected. The rainforests are the Earth’s lungs and further damage will only lead to misery for all life on the planet.

Our organisation aims to put pressure on governments all over the world to make them step up and take responsibility for the environment. Governments need to crack down on bad practices such as illegal logging and mining in rainforests. Sadly, we’re coming up against a lot of resistance from big business but that won’t stop us standing up for the animal kingdom. We’re looking for volunteers to chip in in any way they can; handing out leaflets in the street or drumming up support online are just two ways we can get our message across. Join us today by clicking the link below!

1. Help/contribute money
2. Kill or cause to die on a large scale
3. Be faced with
4. Make people hear/understand information
5. Cause
6. Mentally withdraw from a situation
7. Try to increase/encourage support for something
8. Become extinct
9. Introduce strong restrictions
10. Give something to people
11. Cause to fall
12. Defend verbally or physically
13. Consume all of something
14. Total/add up to
15. Take action when it’s needed

Practice

Try to remember the missing prepositions in the questions below without looking at the text. Then ask and answer the questions.

  1. How effective do you think practices like handing _____ leaflets actually are?
  2. Have you ever done anything to drum ______ support for a charity or other organisation?
  3. What do you think governments should crack ____ ____ in your country?
  4. Think of some endangered animals. Which one would you be saddest about if it died _____ completely?
  5. What do you think is the most effective way for an organisation like the WWF to get its message _______? Online? In person?
  6. What do you think are the most difficult issues that charities like the WWF come ____ ______ when trying to help the environment?
  7. If you use ____ all the toilet paper, do you always replace it?
  8. Think of a time when a friend or family member stood ____ _____ you in a difficult situation.
  9. Now think of a time when nobody stood ____ _____ you. Or when you failed to stand _____ _____ a friend.
  10. Who has the biggest responsibility to step ____ and take responsibility for the environment? Governments? Businesses? The general public? Why?
  11. When it’s a friend’s birthday, is it better if they receive lots of little presents or if everyone chips ____ and gets them one big present. Which would you prefer on your birthday?
  12. If you added up all your screen time in one day, how much would it amount ____? Do you want to cut _____? Why? Why not?
Posted in Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

C2 Proficiency: Dependent Preps & Music Idioms

Plusnet corrects 'Blowing our own trumpet' ad after trumpet turns out to be  cornet

This is a quick, communicative activity for C2 students in which they practice some expressions with dependent prepositions and some idioms related to music. I’m currently working with a coursebook which is packed with great C2 language but a little lacking in communicative production activities so I thought I’d share some I’ve been using. Download the handout and key below:

When creating your own gap-fill exercises, why not make them questions? That way you’ve got a speaking activity ready to go immediately.

Have students work in pairs to fill in the missing words in the expressions, then have them underline the dependent preposition in the first set of sentences and the complete idiom in the second. Then have them ask and answer the questions.

Dependent Prepositions

  • Are you someone who t________ on pressure or do you tend to go to pieces?
  • If you’re h_____-p_______ to come up with new ideas in your job/studies where do you turn for inspiration?
  • Think of a time when you worked towards a c_______ g_______ with a group of people. What was the experience like? Did everybody pull their weight?
  • Do your parents or grandparents tend to h_______ back to the good old days? What sort of comments or comparisons do they make?
  • Think of a time when you t_______ to a new activity/hobby like a d______ to water. Did you expect it to be that easy? Why do you think you adapted so quickly?

Music Idioms

  • Are you someone who tends to blow their own t_________? Do you think it’s an attractive quality? Where is the line between confidence and arrogance?
  • Have you ever bought or sold something for a s_______ (very cheaply) on ebay/wallapop etc.?
  • Are you good at playing it by e_______? Or do you struggle to adapt to developing situations?
  • Have you or any of your friends or family ever changed your/their t_______ about a key issue/topic? What made you rethink your position?
  • When was the last time you had to pull out all the s________ to finish a big project?

Key

Dependent Prepositions

  • Are you someone who THRIVES on pressure or do you tend to go to pieces?
  • If you’re HARD-PRESSED to come up with new ideas in your job/studies where do you turn for inspiration?
  • Think of a time when you worked towards a COMMON GOAL with a group of people. What was the experience like? Did everybody pull their weight?
  • Do your parents or grandparents tend to HARK back to the good old days? What sort of comments or comparisons do they make?
  • Think of a time when you TOOK to a new activity/hobby like a DUCK to water. Did you expect it to be that easy? Why do you think you adapted so quickly?

Music Idioms

  • Are you someone who tends to blow their own TRUMPET? Do you think it’s an attractive quality? Where is the line between confidence and arrogance?
  • Have you ever bought or sold something for a SONG (very cheaply) on ebay/wallapop etc.?
  • Are you good at playing it by EAR? Or do you struggle to adapt to developing situations?
  • Have you or any of your friends or family ever changed your/their TUNE about a key issue/topic? What made you rethink your position?
  • When was the last time you had to pull out all the STOPS to finish a big project?
Posted in Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes, Writing Classes

C2 Proficiency: Review of a West End Musical

This is a lesson plan for C2 students based around a review of a West End Musical. Students will learn vocabulary related to the theatre and performing arts that can then be recycled in their own reviews of live performances as practice for writing part 2 in the Proficiency exam.

Download the handout below:

Here is a possible part 2 task you could set as follow up to the lesson plan:

Review of a live performance

An online entertainment website is asking for reviews of live performances. They want reviews of any type of performing arts including plays, dance, musicals or concerts. You should explain why you decided to go to the performance, describe the highlights and point out any weak points that you think it had. You should also recommend the show to a specific audience or demographic.

280-320 Words

Quizlet Set

Here’s a quizlet set of the vocabulary to use for recall.

Pre-reading

  • Are you a fan of musical theatre? Why/why not?
  • Read the title to this review and predict:
    • Will it be a positive review?
    • What was the audience’s reaction?
    • What is the rehearsal process like for a big west end musical?
    • What is the experience like for the actors?
  • Read the review. Were your predictions correct?

Mamma Mia! Opens to Rave Reviews

A new adaptation of the jukebox musical Mamma Mia! opened to a packed house in London’s Theatre Royal last Friday night. The popular show, co-written by playwright Catherine Johnson and lyricists Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, will run for the next 6 months after a series of successful preview showings over the last week.

The audience gave the cast a unanimous thumbs-up by giving them a 10-minute standing ovation at the curtain call. The classic Abba songs such as Dancing Queen and the title-track Mamma Mia really brought the house down with hoards of backing dancers filling the stage right on cue for the final chorus.

In spite of leading lady Betty Harris’s dazzling performance, she admitted backstage after the show that it hadn’t all been plain sailing during rehearsals. “The dress rehearsal last week was an absolute disaster, one stagehand was nearly hit when a light fell from the rig and the leading man came down with a migraine half-way through the show. His understudy had to stand in at very short notice.” Harris, who has admitted to suffering from crippling stage fright in the past, explained how she had used the emotional recall of her own troubled relationship with her late mother to conjure up the necessary feelings for the nail-biting finale. Despite the emotional rollercoaster of the last few weeks, she said that seeing the beaming smiles of audience at the end had made it all worthwhile! She really is an accomplished actor and I have to admit that the poignant final scenes really brought a tear to my eye.

The show has received glowing reviews across the board and tickets are selling like hot cakes so get yours while you can!

Post Reading

  • Would you like to see this show? Why/why not?
  • Have you ever acted in a play/show/film? Or performed in front of an audience?
  • Look at the expressions in bold, use the context to guess the meaning.
  • Test your partner on the language and expressions

Recall

Can you remember the expressions?

Mamma Mia! Opens to _______ Reviews

A new adaptation of the ________ musical Mamma Mia! opened to a _______ house in London’s Theatre Royal last Friday night. The popular show, co-written by _______ Catherine Johnson and _______ Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, will run for the next 6 months after a series of successful _______ showings over the last week.

The audience gave the cast a u__________ thumbs-up by giving them a 10-minute standing ______ at the c_________ call. The classic Abba songs such as Dancing Queen and the title-track Mamma Mia really brought the _________ down with hoards of _________ dancers filling the stage right on ______ for the final chorus.

In spite of ________ lady Betty Harris’s d________ performance, she admitted b________ after the show that it hadn’t all been ________ sailing during rehearsals. “The ________ rehearsal last week was an absolute disaster, one stage_______ was nearly hit when a light fell from the rig and the leading man c______ d_______ with a migraine half-way through the show. His under________ had to _______ in at very short ________.” Harris, who has admitted to suffering from c________ stage _______ in the past, explained how she had used the emotional ________ of her own troubled relationship with her late mother to _________ up the necessary feelings for the n_____-b_______ finale. Despite the e_________ r___________ of the last few weeks, she said that seeing the ___________ smiles of audience at the end had ________ it all worthwhile! She really is an a___________ actor and I have to admit that the p__________ final scenes really brought a ______ to my ________.

The show has received g__________ reviews across the ________ and tickets are selling like ______ _______ so get yours while you can!

  • Which ones were easy to remember?
  • Which ones were difficult to remember?
  • Which are your favourite expressions?