Posted in Uncategorized

Recycling Language in a Dogme Classroom


I have often have teachers asking me, ‘If language just emerges, how do you ensure learning takes place? How do you recycle the langauge?’

Many of you have read, or written blogposts on the same subject, but I thought I’d share my favourite ways of recycling language (which I’ve, of course, stolen and adapted from all the wonderful teachers and colleagues around me).

First things first, I find a retrospective record of my Dogme lessons useful in helping me keep track of what has gone on, so as to revise the language covered, and also to enable me to provide the appropriate scaffolding for subsequent lessons. To do this, I simply take a photo of my boardwork (with my mobile phone) at the end of each lesson. (The other advantage of taking photos is that when students tell you that they have no recollection of a language item being clarified, mainly because they…

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Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Uncategorized

Formal Writing: CAE Essay

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Image credit: LitReactor

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a lesson plan designed to help students tackle the CAE writing part 1 formal essay task. It walks students through structuring their essays correctly. Download the handout and Powerpoint below:



Student Handout


In this day and age a worrying percentage of children are showing signs of obesity. The past few years have seen a steep decline in the number of school-aged children taking part in team sports or getting regular exercise. What is the most effective way to tackle this problem and encourage children to be more active?

In this essay I am going to talk about the problem of children not getting enough exercise. I will start by talking about parental influence and then I will discuss the role schools can play.

Hardly a week goes by without another article on the topic of childhood obesity appearing in the media. This is clearly a growing issue which must be addressed urgently. There are a number of ways in which this problem could be tackled.

Language for introductions

  • In this day and age…
  • … is a hotly-debated topic that often divides opinion.
  • … is a growing issue in today’s society
  • We live in an age when many of us are…
  • More and more families are choosing to have only one child.
  • The trend nowadays is towards having smaller families.
  • Over the past ten years or so the media have frequently carried reports of ……………
  • Recent research indicates that the number of teenagers who smoke is increasing.
  • Hardly a week goes by without another report of …………….. appearing in the media.
  • Although most people would generally agree that …………… few would deny that ……..

Language for topic sentences

First Paragraph

  • …. clearly/undoubtedly has an impact on…
  • It is common knowledge that… plays a crucial role in…
  • It is undoubtedly the case that…
  • There is little doubt that…
  • … is widely believed to contribute to…
  • It is generally considered that…
  • Recent research suggests that…
  • Studies have shown that… has an impact/influence on…
  • Few people would contest/dispute the fact that…

Second Paragraph

  • Another factor to consider is…
  • On the other hand/In contrast…
  • It is often claimed that…
  • All the evidence suggests that…

Language for supporting ideas

Language for introducing supporting ideas:

  • For example,
  • For instance,
  • An obvious example of this is…
  • A clear example of this is…
  • This is illustrated by…
  • As a case in point…

Paragraph Skeleton

It goes without saying that ______________________________________ A clear example of this is ___________________________________________ In addition,________________________________________ Nevertheless,_____________________________________________________________

Language for conclusions:

  • In light of the above, / Taking all this into consideration/account,…
  • As far as I am concerned, / in my opinion, / as I see it, etc.
  • … is the most effective way to… due to the fact that…


  • In light of the above, / Taking all this into consideration/account,…
  • Despite the fact that… undoubtedly plays a role in… I firmly believe that… is more effective due to the fact that…

Credit to Cork English Teacher for some of the language from the handout.

Posted in Uncategorized

Shop Till You Drop!

Resultat d'imatges de shopping

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This is a lesson plan designed to be used with a range of levels and ages. The different slides of the powerpoint indicate the level and age group.

shop-till-you-drop-lp – Lesson plan

shopping-conversation – Powerpoint

Quizlet set – shopping vocab



Use the quizlet set to introduce the different shopping vocabulary and then have students play the “match” game in teams to practice it.


Put students in small groups (2 or 3) and show them the first slide from the powerpoint, have them ask and answer the questions in their groups. Repeat for slide 2. Note: Questions are slightly different for teenagers.

Corner shop role-play

There are three different dialogues for use with different levels:

  • ELM – elementary, very basic, using “do you want?” not “would you like?”
  • ELM+ – slightly higher, using “do you want?” and other phrases like “here you are”
  • Pre-int – slightly higher again, using “would you like?”

Choose two strong students to demonstrate the dialogue to the class or 1 strong student to perform it with you.

Then, put students in pairs and have them practice the dialogue. Monitor and correct pronunciation: weak forms in questions, vowel sounds etc. When students have finished have them swap characters and repeat.

Memory: Flash up the memory slide and have students fill in the blanks in open class.

Your shopping list: Students write their own shopping lists and then repeat the dialogue with the items they have listed. Note: limit students to countable items to avoid opening a can of worms with countable/uncountable nouns many/much etc. unless they’re ready for it, in which case introduce it here.

From memory: Now switch off the projector and challenge them to perform the dialogue by heart helping where needed, then ask if any confident students would like to come to the front and perform it for the class.


This one is only really suitable for higher levels (B1+). Split the class into two groups, flip a coin to decide which group is for/against. Give them 5-10mins to think of as many arguments to support their position as they can and then hold a debate. Allow each team to present one of their arguments uninterrupted, then give the other team the chance to counter the argument, repeat until both teams have exhausted their list. Award a winner at the end. Focus on encouraging the use of the expressions of opinion, agreeing and disagreeing.

Posted in Conversation Classes, songs

Song: Bob Dylan – It’s All Over Now Baby Blue

Resultat d'imatges de bob dylan

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bob-dylan-baby-blue – Handout

I’ve been quiet for a few weeks due to my exciting and terrifying new job in teacher training! However, I’ve made a resolution to work on more posts for the blog over the coming weeks.

Some of my C2 adults expressed an interest in listening to some Bob Dylan songs after reading about his recent Nobel Prize win. So I’ve prepared this short lesson plan with that in mind. Students start by reading and analysing the lyrics to the song as if it were a poem and not knowing the author or that it is in fact a folk song.


Students read the lyrics as if it were a poem and answer the 3 questions with their partner:

  1. What do you think the poem is about?
  2. Who do you think the poet is talking to?
  3. What might have happened to the person?

Encourage use of language of speculation (could/might/may have etc.)

My DELTA tutor told me that removing words from song lyrics was a horrible crime, “butchering the text” is how he described it, so I’ve decided to keep the text whole. However, feel free to remove some words and have students complete them while listening. One idea would be to remove a part of each rhyming couplet and have students guess at words that would fit, before listening to confirm.

Have students discuss and share their interpretation of the song and then show them the three comments which contain different ways in which the song could be interpreted. Have them compare their own thoughts with those from the comments.



Read the poem and answer the questions with your partner:

  1. What do you think the poem is about?
  2. Who do you think the poet is talking to?
  3. What might have happened to the person?

You must leave now
Take what you need you think will last
But whatever you wish to keep
You’d better grab it fast

Yonder stands your orphan with his gun
Crying like a fire in the sun
Look out, the saints are coming through
And it’s all over now, baby blue

The highway is for gamblers
Better use your sense
Take what you have gathered
From coincidence

The empty handed painter from your streets
Is drawing crazy patterns on your sheets
The sky, too, is folding over you
And it’s all over now, baby blue

All your seasick sailors
They’re all rowing home
All your reindeer armies
They’re all going home

The lover, who just walked out your door
Has taken all his blankets from the floor
The carpet too, is moving under you
And it’s all over now, baby blue

Leave your stepping stones behind
Now, something calls for you
Forget the dead you’ve left
They will not follow you

The vagabond who’s rapping at your door
Is standing in the clothes that you once wore
Strike another match, go start anew
And it’s all over now, baby blue


Comment 1

“I think there is one line here that is misunderstood, and it is pretty nifty.

When Dylan is wrapping up the song, and he’s telling the woman to leave the dead and to start over, he says the line “strike another match girl, start anew” I really think it’s “girl” and not “go”– if you listen to the song it could go either way, but just here me out.

I think this line reference to Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl,” in which a vagabond child selling matches sees visions of warm, safe places she will never be a part of, and each time she lights a match she sees a new scene, a new life. At the end of the fairy-tale, she lights her final match and dies… but in Dylan’s case, when he says to “light another match, girl” he’s not talking about a REAL death, he’s talking about a change. Like the girl in the story, the subject of this song is down-and-out, she thought she was in a safe place, but she’s not– the carpet’s being pulled right out from under her. She needs to figuratively “light a match” and see the possibilities for a new life, and she needs to accept, even embrace this change and join the vagabond outside to start a new journey.”

Comment 2

“I think this song is about accepting changes in life. this was the last song Dylan played at the infamous Newport concert (where he was booed for going electric) and the last song on Bringing It All Back Home (his last album that was mostly acoustic) I think he is just saying it is time for him to move on creatively”

Comment 3

“Could it be that Dylan is Baby Blue? He has to stop listening to everyone’s expectations as to where he should go. He must leave those stepping stones and go his own way even though there may be a price to pay.”

Posted in Uncategorized

CAE Ice-Breaker UPDATE

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This is an updated version of my CAE/C1 ice-breaking activity for the first class of a course. Click this link to the prezi (you’ll only need the first 5 slides).

Obviously it’s tailored to my interests but you’ll get the idea and be able to adapt to your own.

First I flash up the sentences with the adjective/verb + preposition combination (petrified of) etc. and tell them that some are true and some are false. They have to decide which are true and which are false in pairs. Award points to the pairs who guess correctly.
Then test them on the prepositions by flashing up the slide with them omitted. Then they have to write 4 sentences using the same combinations, some true some false and read them to their partner, who has to guess which are T/F.
Then the next bit is 6 sentences with some nice phrases about personal interests etc. “I’m into….” etc. I show them my examples (they’re all true) and let them ask me some questions. Then they have to complete the sentences so they’re true for them.
Then they have to mingle around the class reading their sentences to each other, flash up the expressions for showing interest: Uh-huh, mm-hmmm etc. and encourage them to use them. Tell them that they should try to remember as much information as they can about their classmates. While they do this, monitor and board any emergent language to look at later.
After 10 mins or so have them sit down and split them into two teams. Select one member from the first team, the other team then has to remember as much as they can about that person:
“He’s into football and rugby.”
“He has a burning ambition to meet Messi.” etc.
Award 1 point for each correct bit of info. The idea is that they’re recycling the 6 expressions over and over and getting to know each other at the same time.
Posted in Conversation Classes, Ice-breakers, Warmers

Back to School: My Summer Holidays (A1-B1)

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This is a warmer/short conversation activity for use with lower-level students (A1-B1) to refresh past simple question formation. Download the handout below:


Scrambled Questions

Unscramble the questions, and then ask them to your teacher:

  1. summer your how holidays were?
  2. did where go you?
  3. there you did do what?
  4. it did like you?

Ask and answer the questions in pairs.

Questions Words

Complete the questions with a question word:

Where    What (x2)    How (x2)    Who


  1. ___________ was the weather like?
  2. ___________ did you stay?
  3. ___________ did you get there?
  4. ___________ did you go on holiday with?
  5. ___________ long did you go for?
  6. ___________ was the best thing you did there?

Answer Match

Match the questions (1-6) with the answers (a-f)

  1. We went surfing, it was so much fun!
  2. In a nice little hotel next to the beach.
  3. We took a plane to the island and then we rented a car.
  4. We went for 6 days.
  5. It was lovely, it only rained once.
  6. I went with my Mum, Dad and little brother.


Ask the questions to your teacher, then to your partner.

Then write 2 new questions for your partner:













Verb in base form









What Was The best thing You Verb in past simple






Scrambled questions

  1. How were your summer holidays?
  2. Where did you go?
  3. What did you do there?
  4. Did you like it?

Question Words

  1. What
  2. Where
  3. How
  4. Who
  5. How
  6. What

Answer Match

  1. E
  2. B
  3. C
  4. F
  5. D
  6. A

Teacher’s Notes


While students are performing the speaking task, be sure to help them with pronunciation of the questions, focusing specifically on weak forms and sentence stress:

Where did you go?

| weə dɪdjə ɡəʊ | – Connected speech and weak form “you”

What was the weather like?

| ˈwɒt wəz ðə ˈweðə ˈlaɪk | – weak forms of “was” and “the”. Sentence stress on “what” “weather” and “like”

Smartphones, photos

If students have photos of their holiday readily available (on a smartphone or tablet) let them show their partner while they describe their holiday.

Posted in Games

Last Day of Term: Top 5 Quiz

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The last day of term is fast approaching so I’ve made a fun quiz to keep students entertained. I recommend bringing sweets as a prize for the winning team. Credit to my friend Dan for the inspiration and some of the questions. Download the questions and instructions below:



Spilt the class into groups of 2 or 3, give each group a piece of paper and encourage them to come up with an interesting team name. Explain that you are going to give the teams a category and they have 3 minutes to come up with the top 5 items in that category. For example: the top 5 largest countries in the world by area. Students are awarded 1 point for every answer that they guess that appears in the top 5, and an additional bonus ½ point for every answer that is in the correct place in the list, meaning that there is a total of 7.5 points on offer for each round. The different categories are listed below:

(Note: this was designed with Spanish students in Barcelona in mind so some categories may not be suitable for all groups)

Largest countries in the world by area

1.       Russia

2.       Canada

3.       China

4.       USA

5.       Brazil

Most popular pets in the USA

1.       Cat

2.       Dog

3.       Fish

4.       Small mammal (hamster, gerbil, rabbit etc.)

5.       Bird

Most viewed artists on

1.       Justin Beiber

2.       Rihanna

3.       Taylor Swift

4.       Katy Perry

5.       Eminem

Highest grossing films of all time

1.       Avatar

2.       Titanic

3.       Star Wars: The Force Awakens

4.       Jurassic World

5.       The Avengers

Best-selling books of all time

1.       The Lord of the Rings

2.       The Hobbit

3.       The Little Prince

4.       Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone

5.       And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Largest oceans in the world

1.       Pacific

2.       Atlantic

3.       Indian

4.       Southern

5.       Arctic

Richest people in the world

1.       Bill Gates

2.       Amancio Ortega

3.       Warren Buffett

4.       Carlos Slim

5.       Jeff Bezos

First 5 Pixar films in the order they were released

1.       Toy Story

2.       A Bug’s Life

3.       Toy Story 2

4.       Monsters’ Inc

5.       Finding Nemo

Largest cities in Europe (inc Russia)

1.       Istanbul

2.       Moscow

3.       London

4.       St. Petersburg

5.       Berlin

Countries in Europe by population

1.       Russia

2.       Germany

3.       Turkey

4.       France

5.       UK


Male tennis players with most grand slams

1.       Roger Federer

2.       Pete Sampras

3.       Rafa Nadal

4.       Novak Djokovic

5.       Bjorn Borg

Female tennis players with most grand slams

1.       Steffi Graf

2.       Serena Williams

3.       Chris Evert

4.       Martina Navaratilova

5.       Margaret Court

Most popular ice-cream flavours in the world

1.       Vanilla

2.       Chocolate

3.       Cookies and cream

4.       Strawberry

5.       Mint choc-chip

Best-paid football (soccer) players (2016)

1.       Cristiano Ronaldo

2.       Lionel Messi

3.       Wayne Rooney

4.       Zlatan Ibrahimovic

5.       Yaya Toure

Most popular football clubs in the world

1.       Man Utd

2.       Real Madrid

3.       Barcelona

4.       Chelsea

5.       Arsenal

Autonomous regions in Spain by area.

1.       Castile-Leon

2.       Andalusia

3.       Castile-La Mancha

4.       Aragon

5.       Extremadura

Barcelona FC’s most expensive signings

1.       Neymar Jr.

2.       Luis Suarez

3.       Zlatan Ibrahimovic

4.       David Villa

5.       Marc Overmars

5 elements in the periodic table from which the letters in the symbol do not appear in the name of the element in Spanish or in English. (award 1 point for name of element and ½ for correct symbol:

1.       K – Potassium

2.       Na – Sodium

3.       Hg – Mercury

4.       Au – Gold

5.       W – Tungsten

Most popular boys names in UK

1.       Muhammed

2.       Oliver

3.       Jack

4.       Noah

5.       Jacob

Most popular girls names in UK

1.       Sophia

2.       Emily

3.       Lily

4.       Olivia

5.       Amelia

Most popular boys names in Spain

1.       Alejandro

2.       Daniel

3.       David

4.       Pablo

5.       Adrián

Most popular girls names in Spain

1.       Maria

2.       Lucia

3.       Paula

4.       Laura

5.       Andrea