Posted in Games, Grammar Classes

B1 Extra Materials – Link

I often receive emails from students’ parents asking for links to extra work their kids can do at home to boost their grades, so I’ve compiled this document to send to them. It only took a few minutes of Googling to put it together but it’s good for parents or students to have it all in one place for easy access. Download the doc below and if you know of any other useful sites for B1 teenage students, please mention them in the comments.

Grammar Exercises:

Reading Exercises:

Listening Exercises: 

Games

Quizlet*: https://quizlet.com/CIC-Teacher/folders/gateway-b1-blue-book?x=1xqt&i=gqpl1

Posted in Action Research, Pronunciation Classes

Action Research: Pronunciation Project #2

This is the second in a series of posts documenting a mini research project I’m doing with a group of C1/C2 students to see how effective explicit pronunciation instruction activities can be. If you haven’t already, please read the first post to get a better idea of the methods I’m using. Download the slides and handout for this second mini lesson plan below:

Full credit to Mark Hancock for the excellent -ed endings maze, you can get it and many more from this excellent website he runs together with Annie McDonald. You can also get loads more great materials from his Instagram page. If you get the chance to attend one of his seminars/webinars, go for it, loads of great ideas.

This particular lesson plan focuses on -ed endings of regular verbs and consonant to vowel linking in phrasal verbs. If you’re following along with the project with your students, please let me know how it’s going in the comments.

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

Word Formation Noughts & Crosses

This is a lesson plan for students preparing for the Cambridge main suite exams. I specifically created it with C1 or C2 students in mind but it could easily be adapted to B2. Students practice word formation while playing a game of noughts and crosses. Download the handout below:

Students play in pairs, they must choose a square on the board where they want to place their token, but they must first correctly complete the corresponding word formation question in order to do so. All of the words are based on the same root word.

If a student answers incorrectly, you could either have the opponent steal the square by answering correctly, or say that the square is now dead and nobody can place a token there.

An alternative game to play with the same 9 questions is this great, and very versatile, football game by https://tekhnologic.wordpress.com/

As a follow-up you could set your students the task of coming up with their own lists of nine sentences to use in future games. You could give them each a root word (use, communicate, etc.) and send them to the Longman Online Dictionary to look up all the derivatives in order to make their 9 questions: https://www.ldoceonline.com/

Posted in Action Research, Listening Classes, Pronunciation Classes

Action Research: Pronunciation Project

This is the first of a series of blog posts I plan to write on a little pronunciation project I’m going to run with a C1/C2 group of Catalan/Spanish speaking students. If you’d like to try to run the same experiment with your own groups, you can download the materials I’m going to use at the bottom of this post.

Question

How much can high-level students’ spoken pronunciation be improved by explicit focus on connected speech during class time? The plan is to use both reactive teaching/error correction and explicit, mini-lessons on specific elements of connected speech to work on students’ spoken output. Their progress will then be tracked through the use of submitted voice recordings.

Baseline Level

In order to gauge students current level of spoken pronunciation, I wrote a text, which you’ll find below, that contains many elements of connected speech:

Dusty Dreams

I have always wanted to play in a rock and roll band but I can’t seem to find the time to practice enough. If you don’t put in the hours, you’re always going to put off fulfilling an ambition. I want to do it, but the harder I try to pick up the guitar, the busier I get, and at the weekends I tend to go out most nights and those dreams are left back in the corner gathering dust with my guitar.

In class today I collected their baseline recordings. They completed a simple comprehension task on the text, then each recorded themselves reading the text on their own mobile phones and sent me the resulting audio file.

I will also have them record themselves completing a Cambridge “long turn” task during the next class in order to gather a non-scripted sample of their spoken output.

Pronunciation Development

The pronunciation work students will complete will take a number of forms:

  1. Explicit teaching of sentence stress, weak forms, and other elements of connected speech.
  2. Use of tubequizard.com in their free time as ear-training/decoding.
  3. Exposure to a “model” version of the target text, read by me, for students to compare/mimic.
  4. Activities and worksheets such as Mark Hancock and Annie McDonald’s mazes.
  5. Reactive hot and cold error correction.

Tracking Development

The idea is to spend 15-20 mins a week explicitly focusing on pronunciation and then have students rerecord the original “Dusty Dreams” text in 6-8 weeks and compare the second recording to their original. I will also periodically collect long turn attempts to track the progress of more spontaneous/authentic speech. I also plan to use other texts or dialogue transcripts for later recordings as well as tracking students’ scores on C2 Proficiency reading comprehension tasks.

This is my first real attempt at action research, I’m probably doing a bunch of stuff wrong, but it’s exciting and my students seem to be up to the challenge! I’ll keep you posted.

If you’d like to follow along with your own students, you can download the first lesson plan, with the baseline text and a micro-lesson on weak forms of “to” and “for”, below:

Feel free to comment or give advice!

Posted in Conversation Classes, pragmatics

Classroom Pragmatics: Arriving Late & Leaving Early

Five things you could be doing that are driving your professor crazy —  Vision Media

This is the first in a new series of classroom pragmatics lesson plans designed to help develop students’ pragmatic competence in specific social interactions that take place in the classroom. In this case, how to apologise for arriving late and how to request to leave early. Download the handout with key below:

First students rate a good and a bad apology/request. Then they must break the apology/request down into separate functions or speech acts, then practice making their own apologies and requests in a role-play. This should prepare them for the real-life interaction if/when it arises.

Late Arrival

  • What should you do if you arrive late to class?

Rate this late arrival:

Teacher: What time do you call this?

Student: Sorry I’m late, …. traffic ….., I was eating, lost the bus.”

Now this one:

Teacher:  What time do you call this?

Student: Hi Tim, I’m really sorry for being late. It’s my fault, you see, I was having lunch with my friends and I lost track of time. It won’t happen again.

Identify the different stages:

  1. Greeting
  2. Initial apology
  3. Accept responsibility/place blame
  4. Give explanation
  5. Promise action

Useful language

Initial apologyAccept responsibility
I’m really sorry for ….ingApologies for ….ingI apologise profusely for ….ingIt’s (all) my fault…I’m to blame…It’s on me…
Introduce explanation or excusePromise action
You see,…It’s just that…What happened was…It won’t happen again.I’ll try harder to …. next time.I promise I’ll/I won’t…

Role-play

https://rolladie.net/roll-a-d20-die – roll a 20-sided die to choose your excuse then role-play the situation with your partner.

Excuse Table

I overslept. My last class/meeting overran. I lost track of time. I missed the bus and had to wait for the next one. I got stuck in traffic. The metro line was down. I got distracted. I had a (dentist’s) appointment. My (pet/family member) was sick. I lost my (bag/phone/etc.)My bag got stolen. I fell over/tripped and hurt my (ankle/knee) I had a car/bike/motorbike accident. My car/bike/motorbike broke down. My house/flat got burgled/broken into. A water pipe burst in my house/flat. I got held up at the (doctor’s/dentist’s/bank) I got caught in the rain/snow. I got splashed by a puddle. There’s been a death in the family.

Leaving Early

  • How would you ask the teacher if you can leave early?

Rate this request:

Student: I have to leave early today. I have to go to the dentist. Here you have a note from my dad.

Now this one:

Student: Hi Tim, would it be ok if I left early today? I’ll only miss the last 20 minutes of class. The thing is, I have a dentist’s appointment at 3 o’clock, it’s the only slot they had. I’ll get the notes off María before next class and if you could let me know the homework, that’d be great.

Identify the different stages:

  • Greeting
  • Initial request
  • Softening
  • Introduce reason
  • Promise action/mitigation
Polite RequestsIntroducing explanations
Would it be of if + past simpleWould it be possible to + inf.Do you think I could + verb…?The thing is,…It’s just that,….You see,….

Role-play

https://rolladie.net/roll-a-d10-die – roll a 10-sided die to choose your excuse then role-play the situation with your partner. Think of ways to soften the request (I’ll only miss 20 minutes of class)

Excuse Table

It’s your (family member’s) birthday. You have a big sporting event. You have an important exam tomorrow morning. You have a flight/train to catch. You have a dentist’s appointment. You have a doctor’s appointment. You have an appointment at the hairdresser’s. You have an important business meeting. You have to go home to look after your kids/younger siblings. You have an important family dinner.

KEY – ARRIVING LATE

Teacher:  What time do you call this?

Student: Hi Tim, I’m really sorry for being late. It’s my fault, you see, I was having lunch with my friends and I lost track of time. It won’t happen again.

Identify the different stages:

  1. Greeting
  2. Initial apology
  3. Accept responsibility/place blame
  4. Give explanation
  5. Promise action

LEAVING EARLY

Student: Hi Tim, would it be ok if I left early today? I’ll only miss the last 20 minutes of class. The thing is, I have a dentist’s appointment at 3 o’clock, it’s the only slot they had. I’ll get the notes off María before next class and if you could let me know the homework, that’d be great.

Identify the different stages:

  • Greeting
  • Initial request
  • Softening
  • Introduce reason
  • Promise action/mitigation
Posted in Advanced C1, B2 First, Conversation Classes, pragmatics

Pragmatics: Everyday Interactions – Contrastive Analysis

See you in a bit. - Post by camillissima on Boldomatic

This is a lesson plan designed to help Spanish speaking students sound more natural in lots of common, everyday interactions. Download the handout and PowerPoint below:

Students do some contrastive analysis of some high frequency expressions in English and Spanish in order to identify some common errors and put the more natural English expressions into practice.

Everyday English: Contrastive Analysis

Contrastive Analysis

Work with a partner.

Complete the second column with direct translations or common mistakes that Spanish speakers make with these expressions.

SpanishDirect Translation/Common MistakeEnglish Equivalent
¡Hasta ahora! ¡Igualmente! ¿Cuánto tiempo? ¿Qué tal? ¡Que vaya bien! ¡Que te lo pases bien! ¡Aquí lo tienes! No te escucho. ¿Qué pasa? No pasa nada ¿Puedes repetir? ¿Cuánto falta para…? Estoy de acuerdo Una cosa/una preguntaUntil now! …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… ………………………………………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… ……………………………

Now complete the third column with  the more natural English equivalent.

Buzzer Game

Cut out the situation cards below. Put the cards face down in a pile. Turn over one card, the first person to say the appropriate expression for that card takes the card and scores one point. Keep playing until all the cards have been used.

Your housemate is going to the shop, they will be back in 5 minutes. What do you say to them?Your co-worker says “have a good weekend!” as they leave the office. What do you say to them?
Your partner is leaving to go to an important job interview. What do you say to them?You work in a coffee shop. You hand a customer their cup of coffee. What do you say to them?
You put your hand up in English class, you want to ask the teacher a question. What do you say to them?You see an old friend from school you haven’t seen for a long time. What do you say to them?
You’re speaking on the phone but there is loud music playing. You don’t understand what they’re saying because of the noise. What do you say to them?You get home and see that one of your children is crying. What do you say to them?
Your friend tells you that they’re going to Disneyland this weekend. What do you say to them?Your friend says sorry for arriving late to meet you for lunch. You don’t mind that they’re late. What do you say to them?
Your teacher says something very quickly and you don’t understand. What do you say to them?You’re having a debate at work and you have the same opinion as your co-worker. What do you say to them?
You see your friend in the morning and you want to know how they are. What do you say to them?You’re bored at school and you want to know when you will be allowed to go to the playground. What do you say to the teacher?

Key

SpanishDirect Translation/Common MistakeEnglish Equivalent
¡Hasta ahora! ¡Igualmente!
¿Cuánto tiempo? ¿Qué tal?
¡Que vaya bien! ¡Que te lo pases bien!
¡Aquí lo tienes! No te escucho. ¿Qué pasa?
No pasa nada ¿Puedes repetir? ¿Cuánto falta para…?
Estoy de acuerdo
Una cosa/una pregunta
Until now!/See you now!
Equally!
How much time?
What such?
That it go well.
That you pass it well.
Here you have.
I don’t listen you.
What happens?
Happens nothing
Can you repeat?
How much is left for…?
I am agree
One thing/one question
See you in a bit/sec
Same to you!
Long time, no see!
How’s it going?
Hope it goes well.
Have fun!
Here you go/Here’s….
I can’t hear you.
What’s up? What’s wrong?
No worries/problem.
Sorry, I didn’t catch that.
How much longer until…?
I agree.
I have a question/doubt

Buzzer Game

Your housemate is going to the shop, they will be back in 5 minutes. What do you say to them? See you in a bit/secYour co-worker says “have a good weekend!” as they leave the office. What do you say to them? You too!
Your partner is leaving to go to an important job interview. What do you say to them? Hope it goes wellYou work in a coffee shop. You hand a customer their cup of coffee. What do you say to them? Here you go/Here’s your coffee
You put your hand up in English class, you want to ask the teacher a question. What do you say to them? I have a question/doubtYou see an old friend from school you haven’t seen for a long time. What do you say to them? Long time, no see!
You’re speaking on the phone but there is loud music playing. You don’t understand what they’re saying because of the noise. What do you say to them? I can’t hear youYou get home and see that one of your children is crying. What do you say to them? What’s wrong?
Your friend tells you that they’re going to Disneyland this weekend. What do you say to them? Have fun!Your friend says sorry for arriving late to meet you for lunch. You don’t mind that they’re late. What do you say to them? No worries/problem
Your teacher says something very quickly and you don’t understand. What do you say to them? Sorry, I didn’t catch thatYou’re having a debate at work and you have the same opinion as your co-worker. What do you say to them? I agree
You see your friend in the morning and you want to know how they are. What do you say to them? How’s it going?You’re bored at school and you want to know when you will be allowed to go to the playground. What do you say to the teacher? How long / How much longer until play time?
Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

C2 Proficiency: Inverted Open Cloze

C2 Proficiency: Exam Technique – Reading Part 7 – Tim's Free English Lesson  Plans

This is a lesson plan for C2 proficiency students designed to more fully exploit a use of English part 2 open cloze text. Download the handout below:

The part 2 exercise is taken from the Expert Proficiency Coursebook published by Pearson.

Students first complete the exercise from their books, compare answers with a partner and correct the task in open class. The teacher then instructs them to close their books/fold the handout over and try to complete the second “inverted” version. In this version, different words have been removed from the fixed expressions tested in the original text. Other changes have been made in order to fully exploit the text for more high level lexis such as phrasal verbs and fixed expressions. Students can then refer back to the original in order to check their answers.

You can create your own inverted cloze exercises from any text in your course book. Happy inverting!

Inverted Version

Cover the original exercise.

Complete this version.

The relationship between the modern consumer and their rubbish is a complex one. Getting (1) ……. of rubbish has come to mean a great (2) ……. more than simply consigning breakfast leftovers (3) ……. a plastic bag. With the advent (4)……. recycling, rubbish has now invaded many people’s personal lives to an unprecedented (5) ……. There was a time, (6) ……. living memory, when rubbish collection was a simple matter – but today’s household rubbish, before being (7) ……., has to be filed and sorted (8) ……. colour-coded containers (9) ……. to its recycling category.

What is (10) ……., we are brought (11) ……. in a rash of irritation by the suggestion that, if rubbish collections were to become more infrequent, people would then make the effort to (12) ……. down on shopping and recycle more. We might be excused for wondering (13) ……. this would be possible. Can people realistically buy fewer eggs or (14) ……. of toothpaste than their lives require?

Recycling is supposed to be good for us. But for some, it’s just a (15) ……. of rubbish.

Posted in Advanced C1, Exam Preparation Class, Guest Posts, Proficiency, Reading Classes

Guest Post: C1/C2 Reading – Procrastination

Students and faculty examine procrastination cures - The Pitt News

This is a guest post by Soleil García Brito. It’s a Cambridge exam style multiple choice reading activity based on an article from the New York Times by Charlotte Lieberman on the topic of procrastination. Watch this space for another activity on the topic coming soon… Download the handout and teacher’s notes below:

Reading and Use of English – Part 5

Read the text below and answer the following questions:

Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self-Control)

By Charlotte Lieberman

If you’ve ever put off an important task by, say, alphabetizing your spice drawer, you know it wouldn’t be fair to describe yourself as lazy. After all, alphabetizing requires focus and effort — and hey, maybe you even went the extra mile to wipe down each bottle before putting it back. And it’s not like you’re hanging out with friends or watching Netflix. You’re cleaning — something your parents would be proud of! This isn’t laziness or bad time management. This is procrastination.

When we procrastinate, we’re not only aware that we’re avoiding the task in question, but also that doing so is probably going to have a detrimental effect on our morale. And yet, we do it anyway.

“This is why we say that procrastination is essentially irrational,” said Dr. Fuschia Sirois, professor of psychology at the University of Sheffield. “It doesn’t make sense to do something you know is going to have negative consequences.” She added: “People engage in this pointless cycle of chronic procrastination because of an inability to manage negative moods associated with a task.”

The particular nature of our aversion depends on the given task or situation. It may be due to something inherently unpleasant about the task itself — having to clean a dirty bathroom or organizing a long, boring spreadsheet for your boss. But it might also stem from deeper feelings related to the task, such as self-doubt, low self-esteem, anxiety or insecurity. Staring at a blank document, you might be thinking, I’m not smart enough to write this. Even if I am, what will people think of it? What if I do a bad job?

There’s an entire body of research dedicated to the ruminative, self-blaming thoughts many of us tend to have in the wake of procrastination, which are known as “procrastinatory cognitions.” According to Dr. Sirois, the thoughts we have about procrastination typically exacerbate our distress and stress, which contribute to further procrastination.

Although procrastination offers momentary relief, Dr. Sirois argues that it is what makes the cycle especially vicious. In the immediate present, shelving a task provides relief — “you’ve been rewarded for procrastinating,” Dr. Sirois said. This is precisely why procrastination tends not to be a one-off behavior, but a cycle, one that easily becomes a chronic habit. Over time, chronic procrastination has not only productivity costs, but measurably destructive effects on our mental and physical health, including chronic stress, general psychological distress and low life satisfaction, symptoms of depression and anxiety, unhealthy behavior, chronic illness and even hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

If it seems ironic that we procrastinate to avoid negative feelings, but end up feeling even worse, that’s because it is. And once again, we have evolution to thank. Procrastination is a perfect example of present bias, our hard-wired tendency to prioritize short-term needs ahead of long-term ones.

“We really weren’t designed to think ahead into the further future because we needed to focus on providing for ourselves in the here and now,” said psychologist Dr. Hal Hershfield, a professor of marketing at the U.C.L.A. Anderson School of Management.

His research has shown that, on a neural level, we perceive our “future selves” more like strangers than as parts of ourselves. When we procrastinate, parts of our brains actually think that the tasks we’re putting off — and the accompanying negative feelings that await us on the other side — are somebody else’s problem.

The human ability to procrastinate is deeply existential, as it raises questions about individual agency and how we want to spend our time as opposed to how we actually do. But it’s also a reminder of our commonality — we’re all vulnerable to painful feelings, and most of us just want to be happy with the choices we make. In the end, we have to find a better reward than avoidance — one that can relieve our challenging feelings in the present moment without causing harm to our future selves.

Questions:

  1. In the first paragraph, the author thinks that procrastinating:
    1. doesn’t include activities like cleaning and organizing, because they are productive.
    2. involves focusing on very detailed tasks that require a lot of effort.
    3. should not be equated to laziness.
    4. consists of activities like watching Netflix and spending time with friends.
  2. Why does the author say that procrastination is irrational?
    1. We are not conscious of the fact that we are about to avoid a task.
    2. We put off the task despite knowing it will affect us negatively.
    3. People repeat the same behaviour for no reason.
    4. Particular tasks evoke strong negative emotions.
  3. According to the text, where does our reluctance to get on with tasks come from?
    1. Deep negative feelings that were once associated with the task.
    2. Some tasks are gruesome and we want to avoid them.
    3. The dullness of some tasks makes us bored and unmotivated.
    4. It is probably not contingent on one specific origin.
  4. What does the article say about the vicious cycle of procrastination?
    1. Procrastinating provides an immediate and prolonged sense of relief.
    2. The behaviour only takes place once because it has negative consequences.
    3. It is a consequence of the negative effects on our physical and mental health.
    4. Putting off a task can reinforce the procrastinating behaviour.
  5. What is the relationship between evolution and procrastination, according to Dr. Hershfield?
    1. Brains have evolved to place current demands above future consequences.
    2. Procrastination is a product of recent evolution.
    3. It is ironic that we evolved to be procrastinators.
    4. We evolved to avoid negative feelings that may arise in the future.
  6. What is the neural justification for procrastination, according to Dr. Hershfield’s research?
    1. We avoid thinking about the future, even if it affects us in the present.
    2. Putting off a task provides relief from stress and anxiety.
    3. Our brains assign the responsibility for the task to a different entity. 
    4. The pursuit of happiness is the most important goal for our brains.

Language focus:

Phrasal verbs and vocabularyIdioms and collocations
Put off a task/doing somethingTo go the extra mile
Detrimental effect on/toTo stem from
Inherently (+adjective)In the wake of
Shelving (as a verb)A one-off (behavior)
Hard-wired (as an adjective)To have (something) to thank for
Await (vs wait?)To raise questions
Agency (as an abstract noun)Prioritize X ahead of Y
CommonalityIn the here and now
Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency, Writing Classes

C2 Proficiency: Hooks for Articles & Reviews

Fishing Hook Stock Photo - Download Image Now - iStock

My C2 proficiency students have just taken a full mock exam and one of the issues their writings had in common was the lack of “hooks” in their articles and reviews to draw the reader in an encourage them to keep reading. So, I put together this lesson plan, based heavily on this great article by Suzanne Davis.

The final task I set my students is on the topic of fame, so you might want to use my “The Life of a Celeb” vocabulary lesson before setting it. Download the handout below:

Procedure

Have students read the opening paragraphs by Gary Provost to each other out loud and ask them to reflect on the message. Encourage them to attempt a similar range of sentence lengths in their own articles.

Have students refer to the 7 steps to success while writing their article for homework.

Lead students through the different types of hook and field questions.

Draw students’ attention to the need to use an engaging title.

Have students read the writing task and underline the content points. Then put them in pairs and have them discuss which hook would work best for this particular task. Then have them choose an expression about fame for their title.

Some possible answers could be:

Story hook: Imagine the scene, you just want to nip to the shops for a pint of milk but no sooner have you stepped out the door than a mob of paparazzi are hassling you. The constant click, click, click of the shutters, the blinding flashes fill your eyes, it’s enough to make you question if it’s all worth it.

Metaphor hook: Fame is, undoubtedly, a double-edged sword; while it bestows upon you all the riches your heart could desire, it slices away such basic comforts as privacy and anonymity.

Quotation hook: As Clive James once said “a life without fame can be a good life, but fame without a life is no life at all”

Writing Part 2 – 7 Steps to Success

  1. Read the task, underline content points.
  2. Organise content points into paragraphs.
  3. WHAT are you going to say? Add notes to paragraphs. STAY ON TOPIC!
  4. HOW are you going to say it?
    1. Register? Formal/informal?
    2. Range of structures: What impressive grammar are you going to use?
      1. Inversions (not only/no sooner/not until/seldom)
      2. Inverted conditionals (Were I to…./Had they known…)
      3. Cleft sentences (What impressed me most was…)
      4. Participle clauses (Having visited the city before, I know what to expect. Being a massive fan of cheese, I had a whale of a time in France)
      5. Double comparatives (The more cheese I ate, the fatter I became. The more I studied the more I understood about French culture.)
    3. Range of vocabulary:
      1. Phrasal verbs. (switch over, zone out, sit back)
      2. Idioms/similes (like watching paint dry/to be on the edge of one’s seat)
      3. Relevant vocabulary to the topic (chat show, current affairs, couch potato, remote control)
      4. Other expressions (Something for everyone, a smorgasbord of options, kill time, etc.)
  5. Forms and conventions: Report/proposal – paragraph titles, letter conventions.
  6. Write!
  7. Check
    1. Repetition
    2. Spelling
    3. Punctuation

An Article “Hook”

Capture the reader’s attention with your introduction, draw them in and make them want to read more.

The Story Hook

Throw the reader straight into a narrative or story related to the topic. The story should be in the 1st person, be descriptive and intriguing:

I got off the train and pulled my luggage behind me.  A cab pulled up to the curb, and the driver got out.  He lifted my luggage and said, “Miss, I’m just going to put your stuff in the boot.”  I didn’t know what he meant until I saw him open the car’s trunk.  Then I realized the boot means car trunk.  I got in the cab, wondering how many other words would be different in England.

Start in the middle of the most exciting part, then go back later:

“Boom, boom, boom,” The sound of my heart beating faster and faster echoed in my ears. How on earth had I got myself into this situation? You might ask. Twenty feet underwater with nothing but a thin metal cage between me and perhaps the most terrifying apex predator on the planet, the great white shark….

Well, it had all started two weeks previously when….

The Descriptive Hook

Similar to the story hook but focus more on describing one moment/thing in great detail. Leave the reader wanting to know more about it.

The dog howled in pain and limped along the side of the road.  His leg was cut and blood streamed down his leg.

Doesn’t this scene make you curious about what will happen to the dog?

The leather strap of the ancient watch was creased and faded from long years in the sunlight. Down the glass of the face ran a long, roughly vertical crack, recalling the blunt impact which had stopped the hands of the timepiece dead all those years ago.

Don’t you want to hear the story of the watch?

The Metaphor/Simile Hook

The metaphor/simile hook engages your readers because it makes them think about a topic in a different way. 

A metaphor is a figure of speech that directly compares one thing to another, but these two things seem unrelated.  An example of a metaphor is: Her boyfriend is a rat.

The boyfriend is not really a rat, but he behaves like one.

A simile is like a metaphor.  Both compare two unrelated things to each other, but a simile uses the words like or as to connect them. For example:  Writing a research paper is like running a marathon when it’s 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your article topic is on business blogging you could write the metaphor hook:

A business blog is a magnet pulling clients to a company.

Or the simile hook:

A business blog is like a magnet that pulls clients to a company.

Metaphor hooks: Marriage is a journey, with its ups and downs.
They say that silence is golden.
Laughter is the best medicine.
Simile hooks: Love is like a fine wine, it matures with age.
My grandmother has always been as tough as an old boot.
The dress fit her like a glove, there was no denying it

The Quotation Hook

This is a hook where you begin your article with a quotation.  The quotation could be from a famous person, but it doesn’t have to be. You can quote anyone if it connects to what you’re writing about.

If you are writing about the topic of education you could begin with: Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”

If you want to use a quotation for a hook, make sure you quote the words exactly.  Choose quotations where the words are striking, powerful, and/ or memorable.

Famous quotes:

  • “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu
  • “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
  • “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon
  • “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” – Joe Kennedy
  • “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
  • “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” – Mae West
  • “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” – Wayne Gretzky
  • “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” – Albert Einstein
  • “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” – Forrest Gump

Article Titles – Keep it Catchy

Most proficiency articles require a catchy title, try to include:

  • An expression/idiom/proverb:
    • Taking the rough with the smooth
    • Life in the limelight
    • Coming face-to-face with a man-eater!
    • The long arm of the law

Task

You recently read an article from an online youth magazine on the pressures of fame for young celebrities. The magazine has invited readers to respond to the topic with a short article of their own, which answers the following questions…

  • Is becoming famous worth it?
  • Do male and female celebrities experience the same pressures?
  • What can be done to shield young celebrities from the drawbacks of fame?