Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Guest Posts, Writing Classes

Guest Post – Chasing the Cheese: Writing an FCE Article

Image result for cheese chasing uk

Image credit: Daily Mail

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is the third in a series of guest posts by my friend and colleague Josh Widdows, an English teacher and teacher trainer at International House Barcelona.

Getting FCE students to write an informative and descriptive article can be challenging. This entertaining 2.5/3-hour writing lesson encourages learners to source expressions from authentic texts, be inspired by video input and to annotate a model in order to effectively plan and draft their own article based around the idea of festivals.

Download the Lesson Procedure, PowerPoint and Handouts below:

And check out this video of crazy cheese chasers!

Lesson Procedure: FCE – Writing an article (2.5/3-hour class)

Go straight to No. 6 if you have less time and/or do not have authentic material.
1. (Optional Warmer)- source some authentic magazines, [Metropolitan is a great one for Barcelona], and board ‘Grab a mag’ and have students flick through and find an article that appeals to them. Tell them they will have to summarise the article to their partners.
2. Give Ss a minute to flick and find an article they find appealing. Make sure Ss don’t choose a review or an advert.
3. Ss have a further 2 minutes to scan read the text. Board prompts for them to think about.
a. What attracted you to this article?
b. Why does it have that title?
c. What did you like/ not like about the article?
d. Circle 5 new expressions.
e. Were you entertained? How?
4. Have Ss summarise articles in their own words. In 2s or 3s they ‘present and explain’ their article, using the prompts above.
5. Board up the article titles and have Ss think about why they have these ‘catchy’ titles. These examples are from Metropolitan Barcelona October 2017.
‘ACTUAL’ TITLES ‘BORING TITLES’
eg; – The writing on the wall – Graffiti again
– Clowning around – Theatre group in town
– The Brink of Extinction – The end of the world
Then get Ss to think up the ‘boring’ title for each one and think why that is less appealing. Obviously, these will depend on what material you bring to class.
6. (Warmer) – Show slide 1- ‘Chasing the cheese’ and ask Ss to guess what they think the article is about.
7. Gather ideas and then show slide 2: steep hill/ record crowds/ superhero costumes/ injured racers/ perilous event and predict article’s content.
8. Watch YouTube clip: Gloucester Cheese Rolling 2012 Official;
to see if predictions were correct. Simultaneously think about these questions?

a. What’s the aim of the event?
b. How do the participants achieve this objective?
c. Would you like to get involved in this event? Why/ why not?
9. Compare notes.
10. Read the article handout, (not filling the gaps yet!), and tell each other what else they found out about the event.
11. Ask students whether they’d like to go.
12. Ask Ss what the purpose of the text is- (to entertain and inform).
13. Individually complete open-cloze activity and check in pairs and then with original text.
14. Discuss gaps and reasons for some language items, (ie, fixed expression- you’ll never forget! /linker of contrast- although, etc.)
15. Invite Ss to underline all the synonyms used to mean participant. (4 – Why? As to not repeat and show a range of vocabulary). See handout for answers.
16. Ss underline useful expressions-(What do you get if….?) and strong adverbial phrases- (perilous event).
17. Dictate all the ‘normal adjectives’ (tired through to interested) from the Useful Language and Strong Expressions handout.
18. Ss compare spelling and then board to double check spelling.
19. Get Ss to think of the strong adjective for each, (ie. tired – exhausted/ knackered).
20. Give handout and replace the words in italics.
ANSWERS: 1. Exhausted, 2. Furious, 3. Freezing, 4. Fantastic, 5. Terrified, 6. Enormous, 7. Filthy, 8. Awful, 9. Essential, 10. Fascinated.
21. Show the penultimate slide and have Ss think about the purpose of each paragraph and top tips they would give a fellow student writing an Article for the first time.
22. Check ideas with slide.
23. Ss now complete Writing Articles: Top Tips! handout.
ANSWERS: informative, attractive, title, topic, reader, question, clearly, clearly, consistent, rhetorical, descriptive, consistent.
24. Brainstorm local and/or national events, ie. in Spain: La Merce, La Tomatina, San Fermin, Sant Joan.
25. Get ss to think of ‘catchy’ titles for each one. Examples could be: Run for your life, Las Ketchupped, Burnt to a cinder, Going crackers.
26. Give Ss Article Task and Plan Sheet handout and have Ss plan and draft their articles.

27. Ss complete their articles at home.

28. FOLLOW-UP TASK- having marked their texts, at the start of next class, board their titles and have Ss guess what the events are from the titles. Then Ss read each other’s texts and decide whose is the best. Then they read and edit according to the teacher’s comments.

Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Writing Classes

CAE/CPE Writing: Formal Letter of Complaint – Task + Phrase Sheet

Resultat d'imatges de complaint

Image credit: Durham Constabulary

Before you use these materials… We’ve created a new podcast aimed at B2+ level English students and teachers alike. You can listen for free at our SoundCloud page below. You can download teacher’s notes to accompany them from our Facebook page or from this blog. All comments and feedback welcome! Give us a like and a share 😉
https://www.facebook.com/2tspodcast/

This is a phrase sheet and writing task for CAE/CPE students designed to help them tackle formal letter of complaint tasks. Download the handout below:

Letter of complaint phrase sheet

CAE/CPE – Letter of Complaint

Task – CPE Testbuilder pg 91

You recently stayed at one of a chain of large hotels and encountered a number of problems during your stay. Write a letter to the company’s head office detailing the problems you had, describing what happened when you complained to the hotel staff and suggesting ways the company could improve its service. (CAE 220-260 words – CPE 280-320 words)

Opening

  • Dear Sir or Madam, / To whom it may concern,
  • I am writing to express my disappointment with/dissatisfaction with the service I received in…
  • I would like to lodge a formal complaint against your company for the reasons outlined below:
  • I feel compelled to write to you in order to describe the

Listing Problems

  • First of all,
  • Not only was there a hair in my wife’s soup, but the main course also arrived cold.
  • On top of that…
  • As if that was not enough…
  • To top it all off…
  • The straw that broke the camel’s back was…

Complaining Expressions

  • The standard of the… was not up to scratch.
  • The… was not up to the expected standard.
  • The… left a lot to be desired.
  • The… failed to live up to our expectations.
  • We were left bitterly disappointed by…
  • The quality of the customer service we received was woefully inadequate.
  • The… was an absolute disgrace. (v.strong)
  • Overall, our visit to your (restaurant) was an unmitigated disaster from start to finish.

Requesting Action

  • It seems only fair that you should… (offer a full refund)
  • I would appreciate it if you…
  • I would be grateful if you…
  • Should these demands not be met, you will be hearing from my lawyers.
  • I expect to receive compensation to the tune of (€2000) for the…

Making Recommendations

  • I strongly recommend that your organisation…
  • It would be advisable to…
  • I suggest re-evaluating your procedures regarding…

Sign off

  • I look forward to receiving your reply.
  • I expect to receive a prompt reply to this letter.
  • Yours faithfully,
Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Uncategorized, Writing Classes

CPE/Proficiency Writing Part 1: Phrase Sheet

Imatge relacionada

Image credit: qvictorias.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

I’ve recently started teaching CPE again so I decided to make a phrase sheet for my students to help them tackle part 1 of the writing paper, the formal essay. Download it below:

CPE Writing Part 1 Phrase Sheet

Summarising Texts

  • The first text/passage/extract outlines the benefits/drawbacks of…
  • The second text argues/claims that…
  • The first text advocates… +…ing (supports)
  • The second text puts forward the idea that…
  • It then goes on to espouse the viewpoint that… (say)
  • The text sheds light on the issue/topic of…
  • The text brings the topic of… to light.
  • The writer of the first text is a firm believer in…
  • The writer/author of the second text is highly critical of…
  • Both writers seem to agree that…, where their ideas deviate however is on the topic of…
  • The second text makes bold statements in support of…
  • Not only does the first text state that…, but it also claims that…
  • In addition to the aforementioned point, it also claims that…

Critical Examination

  • One thing the writer fails to mention is…
  • A glaring omission from the first text is…
  • While the writer makes some valid arguments in favour of…, she ignores the fact that…
  • One area which the writer seems to have overlooked is…
  • While I am generally in agreement with the majority of the first writer’s points the obvious hole in their argument is…
  • Were I to pick holes in the writer’s arguments, I would start by pointing out that…
  • I feel it must also be pointed out that…
  • When it comes to the topic of…, the text seems to be lacking somewhat
  • One major weakness in the writer’s argument is that…
  • The text neglects to mention that fact that…
  • The writer seems to have gone overboard in their praise/criticism of…

Expressing Opinion

  • I am of the opinion that…
  • In my humble opinion…
  • My thoughts on the matter are that…
  • As far as I am concerned,
  • As far as my opinions on the matter are concerned,…
  • My initial reaction to the opinions outlined in the text was…
  • I am a firm believer in…
  • On the whole, I tend to agree with… due to the fact that…
Posted in Conversation Classes, Video Classes, Writing Classes, Young Learners

Christmas Video: Buster the Boxer

Image result for buster the boxer john lewis

Image credit: ITV.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

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

buster-the-boxer – Powerpoint

buster-the-boxer – Lesson Plan

Procedure

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

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

Then show students the John Lewis advert:

Ask students the following questions:

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

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

Follow up

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

Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Writing Classes

CAE Informal Letter of Recommendation

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Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is phrase sheet for CAE students to help them tackle informal letters of recommendation, which sometimes come up in part 2 of the writing paper. Download the handout below:

Informal Recommendation Letter

Handout

A possible letter task in the CAE is an informal letter to a friend recommending (or not) a course/activity/holiday you have been on. Below is an example:

You have recently been on a two week adventure holiday in a foreign country. A good friend writes to you because they are thinking about booking a holiday with the same company. You should describe the highlights of the holiday and any problems you encountered and state if you would recommend the experience to your friend.

Informal greetings

Hello mate! How’s it going?
What’re you up to nowadays? Lovely to hear from you.
It’s been ages since we last saw each other. I hope all’s well.

Mixing good with bad

In the task you have to tell your friend about both the positive and negative sides of the activity. What I don’t want you to do is write one paragraph of good points and one of bad because who writes a letter like that? I want you to mix the good with the bad.

Despite/In spite of + noun Despite/In spite of + the fact that + clause
In spite of the dreadful weather (bad), we had a wonderful time. (good) Despite the fact that it poured with rain all week (bad), we had a wonderful time. (good)
Although/Even though + clause Apart from + noun + relative clause
Even though the instructor didn’t speak English (bad), we still managed to pick up the basics. (good) Apart from the first day when it poured, we had clear blue skies every day.

 

Apart from the taxi driver who tried to rip us off, all the people were lovely.

2nd Conditionals

If you did decide to go, I could lend you…../I might come with you. If I were you, I’d………..
If I were in your shoes, I’d………………  

3rd Conditionals

It would have been better if there had been………… I would have been better if I had/hadn’t………………
If I had/hadn’t……………., we could have………….  

Not only

Not only did we ….(do 1 activity), but also …….(another activity) Not only did we learn how to ……….., but also ……………
Not only did we see lions and elephants, but also giraffes and monkeys.  

 

Phrasal verbs

To take up a hobby – to start doing a hobby

I have just taken up snowboarding.

To make up for – to compensate

The excellent food more than made up for the awful weather.

To pick up new skills – to acquire

I picked up some useful skills, such as……..

To get a lot out of something – to take benefit from something. (enjoyment, knowledge, etc.)

I got a lot out of the training sessions.

To catch up with someone – to share the latest news about your life with someone.

We should meet for a coffee and catch up.

To come across – to find unexpectedly (not people)

We were walking through the jungle when we came across some old ruined buildings.

To get on/along with someone – to like and be friendly with someone.

We got along with everyone in our group.

To keep/carry on doing something – to continue

We kept on walking all night.

Look/watch out for – be vigilant for

Look out for pickpockets on the metro system.

Sort out a problem – resolve a problem

The manager came and sorted out the problem.

Posted in Games, Writing Classes

Circle Stories

Image credit: www.thekettle.ca

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This is a lesson plan designed for lower-level (A2-B1) teenagers. It is designed to help students write short stories using different narrative tenses, sequences and discourse markers.

Preparation

All you need is plenty of paper and a pen for each student.

Procedure

Sit students in a circle and give them each a pen and piece of paper. Tell them that they are going to write stories together; if you have 8 student, at the end of the class they will have written 8 stories.

Write on the board:

Once, there was a man/woman called ……. who….

Tell students to copy the sentence onto their piece of paper, decide if the character is a man or a woman and give them a name.

Students then pass the piece of paper to the left; they must then complete the first sentence, for example:

Once, there was a man called Jimmy who lived under a bridge.

Students then pass the paper again, and copy down and complete the following:

One day ….. was …..ing….

For example:

One day Jimmy was walking down the street

Students pass again and complete the following:

when…+ past simple

One day Jimmy was walking down the street when he saw a police car driving towards him.

Continue the process but now start to introduce different words to begin the sentences, the whole writing process will look like this:

 

  1. Once there was a man/woman called …who…
  2. Complete sentence 1.
  3. One day …. was….ing
  4. Complete sentence 3: when…..
  5. Suddenly….
  6. Fortunately….
  7. Unfortunately….
  8. And in the end….
  9. And the moral of the story is….

While students are writing try to monitor and help them with vocab and narrative tenses. When they have all finished have them read out their stories one by one and then vote on their favourite one.

Follow up

Students write another story using the same basic structure for homework.