Posted in Advanced C1, Exam Preparation Class, Vocabulary Classes

C1: Advanced Training: Water Cooler Gossip

Cartoon Characters People Around Water Cooler Gossip Concept.. Royalty Free  Cliparts, Vectors, And Stock Illustration. Image 124635636.

This is a lesson plan designed to develop students’ understanding of common idiomatic expressions that can come up in the C1 Advanced exam. Students discuss the topic of problems in the workplace and look at fixed expressions in the context of a dialogue. Download the student handout and exam practice activity below:

I made this lesson plan by taking a bunch of the expressions that are tested in this quizlet set of key word transformations and shoehorning them into a dialogue. You may also wish to use this quizizz game for spaced repetition of the expressions.


Give out the handout and have students discuss the pre-reading topic in small groups. Clear up any vocab doubts and briefly recap in open class.

Have students read the text and answer the gist question: Read the text, which workplace problems does it describe? The text describes a case of nepotism.

Have students answer the detail questions:

  1. Who are the two people? co-workers/colleagues
  2. What are they annoyed about? being overlooked for a promotion
  3. Why did James get the job? he’s the boss’s son-in-law
  4. What is their plan? to wait for James to make a mistake then “throw him under the bus”
  5. Why do they need to be careful? because if anyone finds out they’re plotting, they might lose their jobs

Students look at the language focus section. 2 expressions of surprise: come as a surprise to someone + be taken aback

Have them discuss the other expressions and come up with a simpler paraphrasing for the expression. What they’re doing essentially is writing the first sentence in a key word transformation exercise.

Have students flip the paper over and look at version 2. Now they must use the key words to recall the expressions from the original version from memory. They can then flip back over and check their answers, encourage them to focus on small details like prepositions and verb patterns (gerund/infinitive after the expression) as these can often be worth a mark in the exam.

Students then work in groups to write a new dialogue using as many expressions as possible. Set the key word transformation worksheet, which tests the same structures, as homework. Alternatively you could space it slightly more and have them complete the worksheet in the following class.

Posted in Conversation Classes

Micro Presentations/Elevator Pitches

Image result for elevator pitch

This is a lesson plan designed for higher levels (B2+) to help students develop their presentation skills. Download the phrase sheet and topic cards below:

Micro Presentations


Prepare a 2-minute example presentation on a topic close to your heart using as much of the language from the handout as you can.


Tell students that you’re going to give a presentation, tell them that they need to make notes on: the main idea, supporting ideas and impressive language.

Give your presentation and then give students a minute to compare their notes and share in open class.

Give out the handout and have students look for the expressions that they heard, clear up any doubts students may have about the language.

Students then choose presentation topics for each other. Give them 2-3 minutes to prepare their presentations. Pairs then join together to make groups of 4. Each member gives their presentation, teacher monitors and takes notes for feedback. Other members of the group note how many expressions their classmates use in their presentations and give them constructive feedback.

Homework: Students prep another micro-presentation for the next class. Topics could include: a hobby, a product sales pitch, a persuasive argument.




The thing about… is…

What I find most interesting about… is…


In a nutshell,

To cut a long story short…


First of all,

To begin with,

First and foremost,



Last but not least,

And to top it all off,


What’s more,

On top of that,

Besides that,

Apart from that,

Another thing to consider is…

We shouldn’t forget that…

It’s also worth bearing in mind that…

Adding Emphasis

(I don’t agree with him) at all.

Without a shadow of a doubt.

By far the best/worst/biggest etc. is…

The park near my house is especially/particularly beautiful


You know?


I mean,

In other words

How can I put this?


On the one hand, on the other hand,

But actually…

But in actual fact…




So to sum up,

So in summary,

So to wrap up,

So as I was saying,

All in all,


Choose a topic for your partner from the list below, you have two minutes to make notes before giving a two minute micro-presentation.

Tourism in your city How we can save the planet Modern cinema The worst thing about being a teenager The best thing about being a teenager
The most important invention ever Ways to live a healthier life Consumerism The effect the internet is having on society The world in 20 years’ time
The importance of fashion nowadays Sexism in the media Differences between your life and your parents The ideal holiday The most useful subjects at school
Modern music Different pressures that girls and boys face Dating nowadays The most useful thing you own The best way to study for exams
The best place to go on a first date The perfect weekend Smartphone addiction Zoos and pets The best thing to study at uni


Posted in Conversation Classes, Vocabulary Classes

Working 9 to 5

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This is a vocabulary activity for adults intermediate students. Students will learn some vocabulary related to the world of work and put it to use in a discussion. Download the handout and teacher’s notes below:

Working 9 to 5


Question completion

  1. What is the minimum hourly ______ in your country? Do you think it is enough?
  2. What is the average ________ for a politician in your country? Do you think it is enough?
  3. How long is your normal working day? Do you get paid for ________ (working extra hours)?
  4. Do you get a Christmas or Summer _________ in your job? If so, how much do you get?
  5. How much __________ do you get at Christmas, Easter and in the summer?
  6. Have you ever worked a night ________? What was it like? Do you know anyone who does it often?
  7. What are the most common ___________ jobs for people with children in your country?
  8. If you have to travel for your job, does your company pay your _________? Or do you have to pay them yourself?
  9. When was the last time you got a _________ from a carpenter/plumber/builder etc.? How much was it?
  10. How much does a teacher _________ in your country? Is it enough? Who do you think doesn’t _______ enough? Who do you think ________ too much?


Different Trades

What are the names of these jobs?

  1. How do people train for these jobs in your country?
  2. Do you have any skills in these areas?
  3. What are the advantages of these jobs compared to an office job?



Give out the handout and have students complete the questions with one word from the box. Check their answers, students then ask and answer the questions in pairs or groups of three. Feed back in open class.

Students then try to name the different tradespeople then ask and answer the discussion questions.


  1. Wage (normally refers to hourly or weekly pay from a job)
  2. Salary (often refers to annual amount)
  3. Overtime
  4. Bonus
  5. Time off
  6. Shift
  7. Part-time
  8. Expenses
  9. Quote
  10. Earn, earn, earns


  1. Plumber
  2. Electrician
  3. Builder
  4. Carpenter
  5. Painter and decorator
  6. Gardener
Posted in Conversation Classes, Video Classes

TED Talk: Ricardo Semler, How to run a company with (almost) no rules

This is a lesson plan based on Ricardo Semler’s TED talk: How to run a company with (almost) no rules

Have students watch the talk for homework or alternatively you can watch it in class. Give them copies of the annotated transcript. Basically I’ve just underlined interesting points he makes or vocabulary he uses. Use the underlined sections to generate discussion or mine them for vocabulary.

Ricard Semler TED annotated transcript

Posted in Conversation Classes

Role play: Making Polite Requests


Just a quick note…

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 😉

Role play: Making Polite Requests

This is a fun conversation class to help students with language for making, accepting and rejecting polite requests in work or home situations. Here is the link to the handout.

Start by asking students the following:

Have you ever asked for a pay rise?

Have you ever asked for time off?

When was the last time you asked for permission for something? What was it? How did you ask?

First have students brainstorm language of polite requests, then go over the language in the handout.

Making Requests

I was wondering if it would be possible to…….

Is there any chance that I could…….

Would it be alright if I……..

I believe I’m entitled to/I deserve…… (a pay rise/a day off)

Giving Reasons

You see the thing is……………

The problem is that………….

Accepting Requests

Ok, I don’t see why not.

Of course.

No problem at all

Adding Conditions

As long as/provided that/on condition that you……..

Rejecting Requests

I’m afraid that’s just not possible at the moment.

That’s out of the question.

I’m afraid I have to turn your request down.

Once you have gone through the language, put students in pairs and give out the role play cards. Tell students that it is important that they keep their role cards secret as some characters are required to keep certain information secret.

Run the same role play simultaneously and after 4-5 minutes have students report back what happened to the rest of class (a good opportunity to practice reported speech).

Role plays


You are an employee in a company. Next weekend your best friend is having his/her stag/hen party (despedida de soltero). You have to ask your boss for the Monday and Tuesday after off work. Your boss will probably reject the request if he/she knows you are going to a stag/hen party.


You are the boss of the company. An employee comes to ask you something. This particular employee has seemed distracted recently and keeps forgetting important things.


You are and sales person in a company. You are very stressed and you need a rest, you have decided that you want to take a sabbatical to go and volunteer in an elephant sanctuary in Africa for a year. You need to speak to the boss. You are very hard-working and the company is doing very well because of your hard work.


You are the boss of a company. One of your employees comes to ask you something. You have heard a rumour that this employee wants to take a sabbatical. He/she is your best sales person and the company really needs him/her. You can offer him/her a pay rise, a promotion and a 1 month holiday.


You are a strict parent. Your son/daughter comes to you with a request about the weekend.


You are a teenager. Your best friend is having a massive party at his/her house this weekend because his/her parents are away, the boy/girl of your dreams is also going to be there. You need to get your parent’s permission to go but they are very strict and will not give you permission if they know it’s going to be a crazy party.


You are a teacher. Your best student comes to you with a request.


You are a student. You are very intelligent and you work very hard. You want to be a journalist. You have been offered a part time job in a national newspaper. If you take the job you will have to work from 9am-12am on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays but you have classes on these days. Speak to your teacher and see if you can find a solution.