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

C1/C2: Animal Idioms

How the Cat Gets Its Stripes: It's Genetics, Not a Folk Tale - The New York  Times

This is a vocabulary and conversation lesson for C1/C2 students. Students look at 18 animal idioms and put them into practice in conversation and an optional writing exercise. Download the handouts below:

Students first recall the names of some animals, then have a chance to share animal idioms they already know.

Then they must use the 16 animals from exercise 1 to complete the different animal expressions.

Keep the conversation questions hidden from students until after they’ve completed the first gap-fill.

Then have them recall the expressions by filling in the gaps in the questions. They can then ask and answer the questions in pairs or small groups.

I designed this task for use with a C2 Proficiency preparation group so I added on a writing task, an article, for them to do as homework.

Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

C2 Proficiency/CPE: 99 Key Word Transformation Expressions

I found this document with 99 expressions from CPE key word transformations lost in the depths of my onedrive account, I could have sworn I’d already posted it but couldn’t find it anywhere, so here goes. Download it below:

CPE Key Word Transformation Expressions

  1. John needs to step up to the plate and start doing his share of the work.
  2. There’s nothing I’d like more than to spend the rest of the day on the beach.
  3. The kids took absolutely no notice of what the teacher was saying.
  4. Only as a last resort will the company employ inexperienced workers.
  5. When darkness falls the animals come out to hunt.
  6. A great deal of care and effort went into preparing the wedding.
  7. There was a lack of clarity in the teacher’s explanation.
  8. The wind and rain made it difficult to see where we were going.
  9. But for the GPS on my iPhone, we would have got completely lost.
  10. Prompt action in putting out the fire saved hundreds of lives.
  11. There’s every likelihood/chance/possibility that it will rain tomorrow. (it’s likely)
  12. We were left with no choice but to pitch our tent and wait for the storm to pass.
  13. When I lived in England I got into/developed/acquired the habit of drinking tea.
  14. Hundreds of people were taken in by the email scam.
  15. The last thing I want is for her to feel uncomfortable when she comes to visit.
  16. The company has sustained heavy losses this month.
  17. Maybe it would have been better if I hadn’t invited him.
  18. My friend lives in Australia but we keep in touch/contact via Skype and Whatsapp.
  19. There’s no change to/in his condition so he’ll have to stay in hospital for now.
  20. She’s very reliable; I’ve no reason to suppose that she will let me down.
  21. At no time were there fewer than 3 teachers looking after the children.
  22. On no account are passengers to stand up during take-off.
  23. We were at a loss to understand/know how the burglars got into the house.
  24. She has no intention of giving up her independence.
  25. I will do everything in my power to ensure that everyone is safe and happy.
  26. It’s nothing short of a miracle that nobody was hurt in the bus crash.
  27. I don’t think you were justified in speaking to the boss in that way.
  28. The kids made such a fuss when we told them we couldn’t go to Disneyland.
  29. We have a lot of problems to contend with at the moment.
  30. All of a sudden, a band appeared and started singing happy birthday to me.
  31. Messi was instrumental in Barça winning the match.
  32. As long as we stick to a plan/agreement, everything will work out fine.
  33. Had I known it was going to take this long, I would have gone a different way.
  34. Spare a thought for people who are less fortunate than you.
  35. After trying to open the jar for ages he admitted defeat and asked his Dad for help.
  36. My spirits rose/were lifted when I saw my parents waiting for me at the school gate.
  37. The ship’s crew finally caught sight of land after 10 weeks at sea.
  38. The fans waited outside the concert hoping to catch a glimpse of the band.
  39. A week’s holiday would do wonders for your health.
  40. The project is going really smoothly.
  41. Someone should take a note of everyone’s feedback so the same mistakes are not repeated.
  42. The company was deluged with calls the day after their advert was broadcast.
  43. The way he conducted himself in the meeting was very unprofessional.
  44. Failure to pay on time will result in your booking being cancelled.
  45. You must conform to the standards laid out in the course handbook.
  46. Such was the confusion caused by the accident that no one knew what to do.
  47. Little did he know what lay in store for him just around the corner.
  48. The problem with my girlfriend has been preying on my mind all week.
  49. Michael Jackson rose to fame/stardom in the early 1980s.
  50. The pursuit of profits often comes at the expense of the environment.
  51. Could you do me a favour?
  52. John kept me waiting for over two hours.
  53. I was waiting for the best part of an hour.
  54. She didn’t agree immediately as she wanted to keep her options open.
  55. He’s so indecisive and finds it hard to make his mind up.
  56. What sets our hotel apart are the breath-taking views.
  57. The crisis had serious repercussions for people’s quality of life.
  58. He was determined to succeed and let nothing stand in his way.
  59. The meeting was meant to finish at 15.00 but to all intents and purposes it was over by 14.00.
  60. To my mind the biggest threat to the planet is global warming.
  61. He regretted treating her badly and went to great lengths to make it up to her.
  62. She was on the point of going to bed when the phone rang
  63. His reaction came as no surprise to me
  64. It makes no difference whether we go out to dinner or stay in
  65. His interview was a success and he made an impression on the interviewer.
  66. After thinking about it we came to the conclusion that it was best to cancel the meeting.
  67. He found her impossible to put up with
  68. His son is a source of great pride for him
  69. It took him a long time to come to terms with the reality of his illness
  70. Had it not been for his behaviour, they wouldn’t have been asked to leave.
  71. It was bought to my attention that some of the employees were not happy.
  72. Provided that nobody has any objections, the meeting is postponed until Monday.
  73. There was no reoccurrence of the phenomenon, to everyone’s relief.
  74. How can we account for the drop in sales?
  75. There has been a marked rise in violence since last year.
  76. They decided not to say anything for fear of insulting him.
  77. It was raining so we had no choice but to cancel the picnic.
  78. He didn’t want to but we talked him into coming with us.
  79. It never crossed my mind to ask for help.
  80. He was on the verge of giving up when suddenly help arrived.
  81. It’s up to you to decide what we have for dinner tonight.
  82. The chances of Jane succeeding are slim
  83. The lecturer drew a clear distinction between external and internal motivation.
  84. George wasn’t alone in thinking that her excuse didn’t sound plausible.
  85. It’s high time we went home.
  86. Entrance to the VIP area is restricted to those is possession of a bracelet.
  87. George never tires of hearing the story of how his parents met.
  88. The company is rumoured to be bankrupt.
  89. Sara looked everywhere but the keys were nowhere to be seen
  90. He’s quite tolerant but he draws the line at letting his children go out during the week.
  91. The couple put their success down to hard work
  92. He bought her flowers to make up for forgetting her birthday
  93. Contrary to popular belief pigeons are quite intelligent.
  94. There’s little prospect of Greece recovering from the financial crisis.
  95. The museum is well worth a visit
  96. Customers are under no obligation to make a purchase
  97. It goes without saying that you can stay as long as you want
  98. Complaints are taken seriously at our company.
  99. Entrance is restricted to visitors with special authorisation.
Posted in Advanced C1, Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency

C1/C2 Halloween Spooky Word Formation: The Family Legacy

Haunted Mansion Pictures | Download Free Images on Unsplash

This is a lesson plan for C1/C2 students who are preparing for an upcoming exam but still want to celebrate Halloween in some way. Students read a creepy story about an old family home, practice some word formation and then write their own continuation of the story. I wrote the story myself, let me know what you think! Download the handout and teacher’s notes below:

Pre-Reading

You’re going to read the first part of a horror story called “The Family Legacy”, it involves:

  • A father
  • A son
  • An old house

With your partner, make some predictions about what will happen in the story.

Reading

Read the story, ignore the gaps, see if your predictions were correct.

Roger trudged up the drive of the ancient hall, the seat of his family’s power for over two centuries. It stood on the top of the hill looking down over the land around, a 1. ………………(SYMBOL) effigy of the family’s grasp over the local 2. ……………. (POPULATE). Finally it was his, the jewel in the crown of his 3. ……………… (INHERIT) after his father’s passing the previous week. In the end, the death of the formidable patriarch of the family had been far from the 4. ……………… (PAIN) transition we all hope for, screaming night terrors, lashing out 5. ……………… (VIOLENT), catching his 6. ………………(SUSPECT) carers off-guard, until the final descent into silent 7. …………… (MAD) It was something that had befallen the last three generations of men in his family, a thought that he pushed to the back of his mind as a/an 8. ………………. (VOLUNTEER) shudder ran down his spine.

But it was over, and he could now envisage the 9. …………….. (REALISE) of all the 10. ……………… (BOY) hopes and dreams he had had for this 11. ……………….. (CRUMBLE) pile of stone and wood. As he approached the ancient 12. ………………..(WOOD) door, he took the old iron key from his pocket and unlocked it with a 13. ……………….. (SATISFY) thunk. As he stepped across the threshold his 14. ……………….. (FOOT) echoed throughout the house in a/an 15. ……………….. (SETTLE) way. What struck Roger immediately were the reminders of his father’s 16. ……………….. (QUESTION) taste in decorations; floor to ceiling oil paintings of 17. ……………….. (NOTE) ancestors and the heads of various animals mounted on the walls. He relished the thought of finally 18. ……………….. (CLUTTER) the whole place. No sooner had this thought crossed his mind than around the corner came an almost 19. ……………….. (PERCEIVE) breath of air, which flowed through the ground floor, as if the house itself was reacting to a/an 20. ……………….. (INVITATION) guest. The door slammed shut behind Roger, he heard a loud “clang” as the heavy old key hit the stone of the porch outside. Suddenly gripped by panic he grabbed the door handle and pulled with all his 21. ……………….. (STRONG) but to no avail. A sudden sense of 22. ……………….. (CONFINE) enveloped him, but what really set his nerves jangling and a creeping sense of 23. ……………….. (EXIST) dread curling up his back was the voice calling down the stairs from his father’s study….

Word Formation

Now look at the gaps, try to predict what type of word is needed, then attempt to transform the root words to fit the context.

Language Analysis

  1. How does the writer make the story creepy?
  2. Find two examples of onomatopoeia in the text. 
  3. Find and underline the sentence with “around the corner”
    1. What do you notice about the syntax?
  4. Look for impressive collocations with the following words:
Power…………………………………………Grasp…………………………………………Jewel…………………………………………Patriarch…………………………………………Catching…………………………………………Madness…………………………………………Mind…………………………………………Spine…………………………………………Hopes and dreams……………………………Footsteps…………………………………………Taste…………………………………………Relish…………………………………………Guest…………………………………………Door…………………………………………Panic…………………………………………Strength…………………………………………Sense…………………………………………Nerves …………………………………………

Production

Write the next paragraph of the story. Try to use:

  • Inversions: 
    • No sooner…. than….
    • Hardly/Barely/Scarcely….. when
  • An inversion of place:
    • Into the river jumped the boys.
    • At the top of the stairs sat a black cat.
  • Spooky language:
    • A shiver down the spine
    • unsettling/creepy/etc.
Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency, Reading Classes

C2 Proficiency: Exam Technique – Reading Part 7

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

This is a lesson plan for C2 students preparing to take the Cambridge Proficiency exam. Students will learn exam techniques to tackle part 7 of paper 1, the multiple matching exercise. The example task is taken from CUP test book 1. Download the PowerPoint and task below:

Procedure

Lead students through the steps in the PowerPoint. Students should focus on the list of questions first, underlining key words and trying to paraphrase the questions into simpler language where possible. The PowerPoint contains some examples of paraphrasing. Students should then tackle the reading texts in order while referring back to their notes. Encourage them to underline the parts of the text that they think answer each question.

Students should complete the first paraphrasing exercise in pairs. Then for the reading, they should work individually, set a time limit of 15 minutes for them to complete the exercise. Students should then compare their answers and show their partner the sections of the text that they have underlined for each question.

You will find the answer key and annotated copy of the texts on the final slides of the PowerPoint. You should set students another part 7 for homework so that they can put the technique into practice.

Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency

C2 Proficiency: Key Word Transformation Training #4

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

This is another worksheet designed to help introduce students to typical expressions that are tested in part 4 of the reading and use of English paper. Download the handout below:

Use this Quizizz game for spaced repetition:

https://quizizz.com/admin/quiz/616ed9e698bf27001fbb1265

Version 1

Discuss the meaning of the expressions in bold with your partner.

Write a synonym/definition on the line underneath.

  1. Don’t get your hopes up just yet, a lot of other people are interested in the flat.

…………get excited, feel hopeful ………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Rumour has it that John is in line for promotion when Sally leaves at the end of the year.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Please fill out this form in accordance with the rules set out on our website.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. The new restrictions will come into effect this evening at midnight.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. We booked a minibreak to Venice on the spur of the moment.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Allowing a criminal to go free is the lesser of two evils compared to locking up an innocent person.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. My uncle is still struggling to get over being made redundant from his job.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. The government has come in for a lot of criticism for its handling of the pandemic.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. I had to take the whole laptop apart to find out what was wrong with it.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. There has been a sharp rise in homelessness in my neighbourhood.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. To the best of my knowledge, the last person to leave the building was Nigel.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. My boss kept me in the dark about the merger until the last minute.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. She’s intent on studying abroad next year and she’s going to pull out all the stops to make it happen.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. I struggled to keep pace with the amount of work my uni professors were giving me.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. I have to admit I was taken in by the salesman’s sob story and I bought one of his dodgy products.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Out of the blue my company offered me a job in Australia and I jumped at the chance.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. He’s set his heart on being a singer-songwriter, he practices every waking minute.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. If what really happened here ever comes to light, you’re going to be in deep trouble.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Version 2

Discuss the meaning of the expressions in bold with your partner.

Write a synonym/definition on the line underneath.

  1. Don’t feel hopeful (GET) just yet, a lot of other people are interested in the flat.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. There are rumours that (IT) that John is going to get promoted (LINE) when Sally leaves at the end of the year.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Please complete (FILL) this form following (ACCORDANCE) the rules set out on our website.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. The new restrictions will become law (EFFECT) this evening at midnight.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. We booked a short trip to Venice on a whim (SPUR).

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Allowing a criminal to go free is the better of two bad options (EVILS) compared to locking up an innocent person.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. My uncle is still struggling to recover from (GET) losing his job (MADE) from his job.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. The government has taken a lot of flack (COME) for its handling of the pandemic.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. I had to disassemble the whole laptop (TAKE) to find out what was wrong with it.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. There has been a sudden increase in (RISE) homelessness in my neighbourhood.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. As far as we know, (KNOWLEDGE) the last person to leave the building was Nigel.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. My boss didn’t tell me about (DARK) the merger until the last minute.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. She’s determined to study (INTENT) abroad next year and she’s going to make a big effort to (PULL) to make it happen.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. I struggled to keep up with (PACE) the amount of work my uni professors were giving me.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. I have to admit I was tricked (TAKEN) the salesman’s manipulative tale (STORY) and I bought one of his dodgy products.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Suddenly and unexpectedly (BLUE) my company offered me a job in Australia and I accepted the opportunity immediately. (JUMPED)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. He’s determined to become (HEART) a singer-songwriter, he practices every waking minute.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. If what really happened here is ever revealed (LIGHT), you’re going to be in deep trouble.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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

C1/C2: A Priceless Family Heirloom

Turning Heirloom Jewelry Into a New Design | Jewelry Wise

This is a short text I wrote for C2 students who had to to a proficiency writing on a possession with sentimental value. I haven’t designed a full lesson plan around it yet but it might be useful for other teachers of high levels:

Do you have any possessions that you have inherited from other family members?

Do they have sentimental value to you?

If your house caught fire and you had enough time to save one thing, what would you choose?
My great grandpa’s old stamp collection is a priceless family heirloom that has been handed down from generation to generation. It was his prized possession and he held onto it through thick and thin, travelling the world to collect over 2000 different stamps. Leafing through the pages gives a fascinating insight intoa bygone era. Smelling the pages evokes memories of a seemingly simpler time before all the noise and stress of life in the 21st century. Some would call it a dusty old knick knack but the collection has huge sentimental value to me and has been a source of endless hours of pleasure. It seems that my dad really was a chip off the old block because he has his own collection. This geeky fascination with stamps really seems to run in the family because now my son is crazy about stamps too, I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Apparently a rival collector once offered my dad €200,000 for the collection but he turned it down out of hand. You can’t put a price on that slice of history. Blood really is thicker than water.

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

2Ts in a Pod: Episode 51 – Book Club – Thursday Murder Club Part 7

Don’t you just love a 2 episode week? We’re back with episode 51 continuing our book club series on Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club.

In this episode we talk about chapters 32-40; we discuss the things that happen, our favourite parts and examine some interesting vocabulary that comes up.

Why not read and listen along? Or, if you’re a teacher, encourage your students to do so.

Listen on SoundCloud:

Or, alternatively, listen on Spotify:

Posted in Advanced C1, B2 First, Conversation Classes, Proficiency

Where do you stand? Summer Edition

Is SUMMER about to truly start? - The Church Irish Bar Albir

This is a special summer edition of my “Where do you stand?” conversation series. Students decide to what extent they agree with different statements on the topic of summer activities and holidays and then share their views with their classmates. Download the PowerPoint and student handout below:

The PowerPoint has some quite advanced language for discussion on it. You may want to use this phrase sheet, designed with B2 students in mind, for lower levels.

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

C1/C2: Killer Expressions Grouped by Topic

PsBattle: An Impressed Footballer's face : photoshopbattles

Thanks to my colleague Natascha Wallace for this idea. Basically it’s a list of advanced expressions, grouped by topic, for C1/C2 students and sets of conversation questions on those same topics. The idea being that they can drop them into their writings or use them in the speaking exam in order to score more points. Alternatively, beyond the world of exams, they will undoubtedly be useful IRL! Download the handouts below:

Procedure:

Have students read the expressions in the first category and try to guess the meaning in pairs. Clear up any doubts in open class.

Ping-pong

Tell students they have 1 minute to try to memorise as many of the expressions in the category as they can. After 1 minute tell them to turn their papers over. Students then play “ping-pong” in pairs one person says one expression and the other must say another back and forth until one can’t remember any more expressions. After they’ve played a couple of rounds tell them to look at the expressions again and refresh their memories of the ones they struggled to remember.

Then hand out the conversation questions and have students discuss them in groups of 3. One member of the group should act as the examiner, asking the questions and also counting the number of killer expressions each person uses. Encourage students to have fun with it and use as many as they can.

Then move onto the next category, rinse and repeat.

There are a lot of categories so you may want to split it over several classes.

You can then use this quizziz quiz for space repetition.

Posted in Advanced C1, B2 First, Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency

Where do you stand? Education

aswar akka consultancy | How Important is Educational Management and  Organization?

This is another edition of my “Where do you Stand?” conversation series. Students debate different topics related to education but must rate their opinion on a scale from 1-6 before they begin the discussion. Download the PowerPoint and student handout below:

If you want to use it with B2 students you could use this phrase sheet.

Credit to Owlcation for some of the debate topics:

https://owlcation.com/academia/100-Debate-Topics