Posted in Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class

CAE/CPE Speaking Part 1: Talking About Yourself

This is a sheet of phrases for the CAE/CPE speaking part 1. In speaking part 1 you are required to answer some questions about yourself. These questions could be about a number of subjects. On the sheet there are nice phrases to use divided by category. Put students in pairs to go over the vocabulary, encourage them to choose their favourite expressions and then test each other on them. Tell students to come up with 1 question related to each category and ask them to their partner, then switch partners and repeat.

Download the handout here.

Phrase list:

Where you live

On the outskirts of the city

Just round the corner from…

A stone’s throw from…

Just off calle…

A ten-minute walk from…

A sleepy/peaceful neighbourhood…

An old apartment block where everyone knows everyone else.

A leafy street/avenue

Bang splat in the middle of…

It’s not much to write home about.

Our place can be a bit chaotic

Your aims for the future

I’ve got a burning ambition to…

It might sound silly but I’ve always wanted to…

I’ll probably follow in my Mum/Dad’s footsteps and become a…

Working in… kind of runs in our family.

With any luck/hopefully, in … year’s time I’ll be…

I haven’t got it all mapped out but I’d like to…

I have absolutely no clue what I wanna do, something to do with…

… is a field which interests me.

Provided I get the grades I’d like to be/study…

If all goes to plan I’m gonna…

… is on my bucket list.

Places you’ve travelled to

I’ve definitely got the travelling bug.

…(The Taj Mahal) blew me away.

I’ve never seen anything like it.



I couldn’t believe my eyes/ears.

The first place that springs to mind is…

I had the time of my life/a whale of a time.

I’ll never get bored of…

Soaking up the culture/atmosphere/sun

Catching some rays

Going for a dip in the pool/sea

Towering skyscrapers

Mind-blowing skyline

Snowy peaks

Rolling hills

Scorching heat

Miles of golden sands

Little secluded coves

Crystal clear water

Golden sands as far as the eye can see

Sleepy villages

Bustling towns/cities/marketplaces

Your occupation

I’m in the middle of my (2nd) year of batxillerat.

I’m in the (2nd) year of a 3-year (psychology) degree.

I’m juggling my studies at… with working at…

I’m completely snowed under with coursework.

I’m up to my eyeballs in assignments.

It’s nonstop at the moment.

It’s a steep learning curve.

I’m getting a lot out of the course.

It’s not really living up to my expectations.

I’m gonna take the selectividad in… I’m hoping to get into… to study..

I’m finding it pretty challenging but definitely worthwhile.

I take several extra-curricular subjects such as… and.. on top of my studies.

At the start it was tough but I’m getting the hang of it now.

I’m working every hour of the day.

Learning languages

I’ve been studying English for as long as I can remember.

I’ve always had a knack for learning languages.

I try to really immerse myself in the language.

Learning languages comes quite easily to me.

I’ve always had a curiosity for other cultures and languages.

I spent (a year) living in (England)

Preference in the arts

I’m squeamish so I don’t like horror films.

I’m easily (scared) so I don’t like…

I make an effort to see …’s films as soon as they come out.

I’m into big blockbusters/more obscure art-house films.

One artist I really look up to is…

I do my best to see (art/films) by … whenever I get the chance.

Spare time activities

I’m a keen/avid + personal noun (skier/surfer/skater/reader/swimmer etc.)

I dabble in…

I’m an amateur + personal noun

I like nothing more than to…

I’m really in to…

I’ve hardly got a spare minute these days but when I get the time I like to…

I can be a bit of a party animal…

I sometimes burn the candle at both ends.

I live for the weekend.

I like to go for a stroll around…

I hang out with friends.

My guilty pleasure is…

I’m a little ashamed to admit it but I’m a big fan of…

I’m doing evening classes in…

I’m a bit of a

·         film buff

·         geek

·         bookworm

·         foody

·         tech-head

·         rocker/metal head

·         culture vulture

Your Personality

I’m not the (superlative most sociable/tidiest) person in the world.

I’m easy-going/happy-go-lucky

I can be a bit (negative adjective)

My friends/family would probably say I was…

At times I can be the typical moody teenager.

Were you to ask my Mum, she’s probably say I was…

I’ve got a short attention span.

I procrastinate a lot.

I’m a bit of perfectionist/motor mouth

I’m a bit of a daydreamer.

I sometimes drift off into my own little world.

I tend to (worry about things)


























Chalk and cheese

Two peas in a pod

… runs in my family

I take after my Mum/Dad

We’re a close-knit family

We’re always having family get-togethers/gatherings

I’m the baby of the family/the middle child.

I’m the eldest so I get to boss my siblings around.

I’m the eldest so I was the guinea pig.

I’ve got a sprawling extended family.

I’ve got a kid brother/sister who really gets on my nerves/drives me up the wall at times.

I don’t know how my parents with us.

I really look up to my…

My family’s originally from… but my great-granddad settled her in …

We’re (Catalan) through and through.

My siblings are pretty competitive; we’re always trying to outdo each other.

My sister’s the brainy one, I’m the artistic one, my little brother is the sporty one.

Friends and social life

I prefer to keep myself to myself.

I’ve got a really close circle of friends.

I’ve got a great support network.

My social life is non-existent at the moment; I’m up to my eyeballs/here in coursework.

Me and my best friend are real kindred spirits.

I can really count on my friends; they’re always there for me.

If I’m feeling blue/down, they always know how to cheer me up/lift my spirits

We’ve been through a lot together.

We met in (primary school/kindergarten) and we’ve been inseparable ever since.

I confide in my best friend.

We hangout all the time.

We’re always taking the mickey out of each other.

Sometimes people drift apart.

I do my best to stay in touch with old friends.

If I’m not with them, I’m glued to my phone texting them most of the time.

I know he/she/they have got my back.


I’m completely hooked on (series name) at the moment.

I can watch a whole boxed set in a weekend.

I don’t watch a lot of tele, I stream everything online nowadays.

I like to keep up-to-date with the news.

I have to admit I watch a lot of trashy tele, shows like… and… are my guilty pleasures.

I’m completely hooked on/addicted to facebook/twitter/instagram.

I can’t do anything without tweeting/posting it.

I’m trying to get into (video) blogging/photography.

I can waste hours bingeing on funny cat videos on you-tube.

Posted in Writing Classes

CPE Review

This is a handout with as much language and advice possible for approaching the CPE writing part 2 review tasks. I made it for my December candidates, fingers crossed they actually read it! I only had time to add language for film, book and restaurant reviews, in return for using my lesson plan please be so kind as to answer me the following question:

What other types or review have you come across in CPE exams? Let me know and I’ll endeavour to add language for them to this phrase list.

You can download the handout here: CPE Review (formatting looks better in word than on wordpress!)

CPE Review

Register: Informal/neutral

Use: all your colourful vocabulary:

Phrasal verbs/idioms/impressive collocations.

Forms and conventions:

Title: for films/books/restaurants use the name/title or if think up an imaginative title using an idiom/expression.

Planning, 6 step system:

1.        Read task, underline content points.

2.        Divide content points into paragraphs: Intro, décor, ambiance, service, food, recommendation.

3.        WHAT do you want to say? Add your notes to each paragraph in simple form.

4.        HOW are you going to say that? Brainstorm advanced grammar and vocabulary for each note.

5.        Forms and conventions: Title paragraph titles, fixed introduction.

6.        Write! Remember word limit is: 280-320


Personal anecdote to grab attention. Introduce name of book/film, restaurant + location, course, TV show etc.

Seldom do I find the time to…, however when I do take time out of my hectic schedule, I like nothing more than…

Being a bit of a film buff/book worm/foody, the news that … had opened a new restaurant/released a new film/book had me itching to try/see/read it. So last week I popped down with a friend to check it out.

Having never seen/read/tried… before I approached … with a sense of trepidation, not knowing what to expect. Soon however, all my fears were allayed.

Book reviews:

Vocab to describe the book in general:

a page-turner / a white-knuckle ride / a tearjerker / a laugh a minute / I couldn’t put it down.

Vocab to describe specific parts:

a slow start / a gentle introduction /gripping climax / nail-biting conclusion / cliff-hanger ending/ a shocking twist in the tail


The book is set in _______(place/time)

The action takes place in ______ (place/time)

the present day (now)

an alternate reality where vampires / wizards walk the earth

a sleepy village in the USA

the bustling city of New York


The plot centres around / focuses on (the adventures / lives of _________)

The plot follows the adventures of _________(character name)


Villain / hero / heroine / anti-hero / main character / protagonist

The characters are believable / well-crafted / a bit 2 dimensional.

Film/TV reviews:


An all-star cast

heavily influenced by the films of..

glowing reviews

startling originality

suspense builds up

a polished performance

a bold experiment

an accomplished actor

an unmitigated disaster (bad film)

a dazzling display of his/her talents

made a lasting impression on me.

Brought a tear to my eye

Like watching paint dry (boring)

I was on the edge of my seat (exciting)

A blockbuster (big commercial film eg Superman)

… sets off an amazing chain of events

Gripping film (exciting)

The director/author evoked a magical atmosphere

… awakened my interest in…

Hold my attention

Capture the audience’s imagination.

Spectacular set-pieces (main action scenes)

… is cast in the role of…

… is miscast in the role of…

…gives a(n) (un)convincing performance as…

The film is let down by a clichéd script.

Restaurant review:

Hearty meal

Wholesome food


Succulent/juicy (meat)


With a kick (spicy)



Packed with flavour

A steaming plate of..


Bustling eatery(restaurant)

Lively atmosphere

Service with a smile

A plate piled high with..


To die for


To lick your lips in anticipation






Restaurants cont.

Make a pig of one’s self

To feast/gorge on (eat a lot of)

To eat/drink to your heart’s content

Devour/gobble up





Aromas wafting from the kitchen

Cheap – economical/reasonably-priced

Expensive – pricey/costs an arm and a leg

€20 a head (per person)

Killer Lines:

Were I to sum up … in one word, it would be…

… left a lot to be desired (wasn’t good enough)

…more than lives up to the hype (is as good as everyone says it is)

… is by far and away the best … you’re likely to … this year

… really raises the bar (sets a higher standard)

… sets the benchmark for other (others will be judges against how good it is)

… ticks all the right boxes

… holds up well in comparison with …

…comes off badly in comparison with …

Grammar check list

Have you included?

·         An inversion (not only/no sooner/seldom)

·         An inverted conditional (Were we to…)

·         A participle clause (Being…/Having gone…)

·         A double comparative (The more we… the more)

·         A cleft sentence (What is most crucial is…)

·         Idioms

·         Phrasal verbs

Posted in Conversation Classes

Role Play: Haggling


Before you use these materials, why not check out our new podcast for learners and teachers alike? It’s called 2Ts in a Pod, have a listen here:

This is a fun lesson based around informal negotiations.

Level A2 – C2 Language can be adapted depending on levels.


Put the verb “to haggle” on the board.

Play “call my bluff” with the word. (you give them 3 possible definitions of the word, they have to guess which is the correct one)

3 definitions could be:

1. To laugh in an evil way like a witch.

2. To negotiate the price of something.

3. To curl up into a ball because you’re cold.

Students have to guess the correct definition. Award points for correct answers.

Depending on the students level you can now show them examples of haggling:

Monty Python The Life of Brian haggling scene:

TIP: When showing youtube clips in class have them loaded up before to avoid awkward buffering moments.

Alternatively with a younger or American English class you can use this clip from The Big Bang Theory (stolen from another haggling lesson plan, thanks guys):

This clip can be mined for some useful language:

What do you want for it?

Can you do any better?

Steep = expensive

For my friends let’s say………

It’s a limited edition.

To give a discount.

We’ll take it.

My final offer.

You’re killing me here.

You throw in (something extra)

Class Discussion Questions:

(depending on class size either put students in small groups 3-4 or as a whole class)

  • Have you ever haggled?
  • If so where?
  • What did you buy?
  • Did you get a good price?
  • What strategies did you use?
  • Do people often haggle in your country?
  • What other negotiating do you do in your everyday life?

Haggling Role-plays.

Tell the students that they are now going to role-play some haggling situations. Before you start you can go over some vocabulary and structures:

Target language:

Here there is a link to a vocabulary handout:!237&authkey=!ABIJf3pM5-L4cDA

Haggle, Compromise, worth, expensive (too expensive, way / far too expensive), overpriced, a rip-off, cheap (too cheap, way / far too cheap), bargain, good value, cheap as chips, to cost an arm and a leg.

Other synonyms of expensive: Pricey, steep, dear.

Other synonyms of cheap: Affordable, reasonable, economical.

For higher levels you can ban the use of “expensive” and “cheap”.

Put the students into pairs (3’s are also ok, 2 customers and 1 shopkeeper) and hand out role-cards (see below)

Link to printable role-cards:

Here you have a link to the role cards for several different role-plays. These were written specifically for classes in Barcelona so they have a Catalan theme. However, the objects for sale can easily be changed for ones related to the target audience.!136&authkey=!AIFFG0Wkh2MkSSw

Give the students plenty of time to haggle, negotiations sometimes drag on for a long time!

Wrap up:

Once everyone has had a go at both roles get the groups to feedback about their experiences.

Who was the best haggler?

What strategies did you use?

Which role is easier, customer or salesman?