Posted in Advanced C1, Conversation Classes, Proficiency

Where do you Stand? Entertainment & Culture

Entertainment And Culture Icon Set High-Res Vector Graphic - Getty Images

This is another edition of my “Where do you Stand?” conversation series. Students debate different topics related to entertainment and culture but must rate the opinion on a scale from 1-6 before they begin the discussion.

The PowerPoint contains examples of language of opinion, agreement and disagreement designed with C1 students in mind. If you are teaching lower level students, you could just use the student handout. You can download a B2 phrase sheet here.

Here are the topics students discuss:

The book is always better than the film.

There are too many sequels and spin-off films these days. There aren’t many original stories.

The original version of a song is always the best.

Celebrities shouldn’t complain about being in the public eye. It’s part of the jobNetflix will kill the cinema.

You shouldn’t watch films on your phone. It ruins the experience.

Watching a film at the cinema is always better than at home.

Violent films and videogames should be banned.

Music, art and drama should be compulsory subjects at school.

Social media companies should be responsible for the content that users post on their platforms.

Children shouldn’t play with “violent” toys like guns and weapons.

Something is always lost when a text is translated.

Physical books will disappear one day.

Governments should be allowed to censor some elements of the media including books and films.

The benefits of social media platforms outweigh the negative aspects.

Sports involving animals (hunting, horse riding, bullfighting, etc.) are an important part of my culture and must be protected.

Watching too much television makes you stupid.

Posted in Conversation Classes

Conversation Topic: Kids & Parenthood

Preparing your finances for parenthood | Vanguard

A simple conversation activity I designed as a follow-up to my previous post entitled “A Weekend Off”. It can be used with B1+ students. Students discuss various topics related to parenthood, kids and growing up. Download the handout below:

Put students in pairs or small groups and have them discuss the questions. Pause regularly to feedback in open class. The activity should generate a lot of emergent language.

Student Handout

  • How does life change when you have kids?
  • How can other family members help with childcare?
  • What things do you think new parents miss about their old life?

What do you think are the biggest challenges for new parents?

  • Feeling unprepared for parenthood
  • Suffering from sleep deprivation
  • A loss/lack of intimacy
  • Changing dirty nappies/diapers
  • Picking kids up from kindergarten/nursery
  • Financial struggles

How is growing up different for:

  • The first child?
  • The middle child?
  • The baby?

What position were you in your family?

What are some stereotypes associated with the different positions among siblings?

What are the pros and cons of being an only child?

What do children learn from having siblings?

What do you think is the perfect number of children to have?

  • 1?
  • 2?
  • 3?
  • 4?
  • More?

What are the pros and cons of these stages of children’s lives?

  • Babies (0-1)
  • Toddlers (1-3)
  • Kids (3-10)
  • Pre-teens (10-12)
  • Teenagers (13-18)
  • Young adults (18-22)

What’s the most rewarding and most challenging aspect of each stage?

Posted in Advanced C1, Grammar Classes, Proficiency

C1/C2: Inversions – A Weekend Off!

Stressed and tired new parents with screaming newborn baby por Rob and  Julia Campbell - Stocksy United

This is a grammar lesson focusing on inversions based around the topic of the stresses of parenthood. Students read a text about new parents who get a weekend off, then transform the text using inversions. Download the handout and teacher’s notes below.

Teacher’s Notes

This lesson plan is designed to be used in several ways depending on your students’ level. The grammar focus is inversions, a structure that typically comes up at C1.

Lead-in

Write these questions on the board and have students discuss them in groups:

  • How does life change when you have kids?
  • How can other family members help with childcare?
  • What things do you think new parents miss about their old life?

Feedback in open class and top up language. Somethings that came up with my students were:

  • Suffer from sleep deprivation
  • loss/lack of intimacy
  • Changing dirty nappies/diapers
  • Pick kids up from kindergarten/nursery
  • Grandparents help out, lend/give you a hand
  • Financial struggles
  • Look after/take care of kids
  • Babysit – babysitter/nanny

Reading

Give out the text, fold the page so that they can’t see the grammar focus part yet, or just share the text if you’re teaching online.

Instruct students to read the text and find the answers to the lead in questions for the couple the text describes:

  • How has their life changed?
  • How do their family members help with childcare?
  • What things do they miss about their old lives?

Feedback in open class.

Language Focus + Controlled Practice

Here is where you can choose a different path depending on how familiar your students are with inversions.

C1 – Introduction to inversions

  • Lead them through the different types of inversions listed below the text.
  • Compare and contrast inverted sentences with uninverted ones:
    • This phone can take photos and videos.
    • Not only can this phone take photos, but also videos.
    • Add emphasis, more formal.
  • Highlight what we mean by “inversion”
    • Position of subject and auxiliary verb is inverted/switched
    • This phone (subject) can (auxiliary verb) take photos….
    • Not only can (aux verb) this phone (subject) take photos….
  • Tell students that the first paragraph contains 10 sentences that can be changed to use inversions and challenge them to change them.
  • There are 6 more in the second paragraph.

C1 – Inversion Revision

  • Challenge them to change the 10 sentences in the first paragraph (or all 16 in the whole text) using the language focus boxes as reference. Monitor and help out as needed.
  • The sentence stems at the bottom will help them identify which sentences they need to change.

C2 – Inversion Revision Super Challenge

  • Just give them the text, don’t give them language focus boxes for reference or the sentence stems! Tell them there are 16 sentences that can be changed to inversions and see how they get on.
  • Give out the language focus boxes if needed, monitor specific groups, maybe not everyone needs it.

Task Check

Show them the second version of the text with all the inversions.

Rarely do we have much time to ourselves. So busy is our schedule that we just can’t find the time to get out of the house. Not only do my husband and I both work full time, but we also have two small kids to look after. Little did I know that my parents were planning a special surprise for me this weekend. Only when I walked in the front door on Friday night did I discover what they had planned. No sooner had I opened the door than they appeared with a bottle of wine and the news that they were taking the kids to the local theme park for the weekend. Obviously the kids were ecstatic, not since they were four years old have they been to the theme park and that was just for 1 day, now they were going for a whole weekend! So grateful were we that we gave my mum and dad a massive hug. However, there had to be some ground rules for the kids. We told them that under no circumstances should they annoy grandma and grandad and on no account must they eat too many sweets before going on the roller coasters.

Hardly had my parents left the house when we opened the bottle of wine and sat on the sofa enjoying the sudden peace and quiet. Not until we sat down did we realise how tired we were. Hardly ever do we get a chance to watch a movie together over a glass of wine. However, barely had we chosen a movie and started watching it when we both fell asleep. Not until the next morning when we woke up did we appreciate how quiet the house was. Not since our second daughter was born had we had the house to ourselves. We didn’t know what to do with ourselves!

Freer Production

Challenge students to work in groups to continue the story. How did the couple spend the rest of their weekend off? Set them a time limit of ten minutes and encourage them to use as many inversions as they can.

Posted in Advanced C1, Exam Preparation Class, Vocabulary Classes

C1: Collocation Jigsaw Story

Thanks to https://tefltastic.wordpress.com/ for the inspiration for this activity.

In this lesson plan students reform a jumbled story using dependent prepositions and other collocations as clues. Download the handout below:

Procedure

  1. Print enough copies for each group of students. 
  2. Cut the text up and give a set to each group.
  3. If you’re working online, show the jumbled version below instead.
  4. Students work together to reform the story with the help of the dependent prepositions and collocations.
My wife and I had been planning our trip to Japan for ages. Endless nights fantasising 
about spending our honeymoon in one of the most spectacular countries on earth. We opted
for a small apartment in downtown Tokyo to get the authentic experience. When you’re weighing
up the different options, it’s worth bearing
in mind just how small the apartments in Japan are and the proximity to the other people around you can really catch you
off guard. We spent the first 5 days seeing the sights and experiencing everything the city had 
to offer. However, we soon realised that we were running low
on funds and that we couldn’t afford
to spend any more time in such a pricey place. So we decided to head
for the hills and experience rural Japan. This turned out to be the by far the best decision we
made. We went on one hike to a hidden temple, it was so tranquil and was an unforgettable experience.

Jumbled Version

My wife and I had been planning our trip to Japan for ages. Endless nights fantasising 
on funds and that we couldn’t afford
about spending our honeymoon in one of the most spectacular countries on earth. We opted
for the hills and experience rural Japan. This turned out to be the by far the best decision we
to offer. However, we soon realised that we were running low
off guard. We spent the first 5 days seeing the sights and experiencing everything the city had 
for a small apartment in downtown Tokyo to get the authentic experience. When you’re weighing
in mind just how small the apartments in Japan are and the proximity to the other people around you can really catch you
to spend any more time in such a pricey place. So we decided to head
made. We went on one hike to a hidden temple, it was so tranquil and was an unforgettable experience.
up the different options, it’s worth bearing

Recall Exercises

Use version 1 as immediate follow-up practice, then use version 2 in the next class or a week later to see how much they have retained.

Version 1

My wife and I had been planning our trip to Japan ….. ages. Endless nights fantasising ……. spending our honeymoon in one of the most spectacular countries on earth. We opted ….. a small apartment in downtown Tokyo to get the authentic experience. When you’re weighing ….. the different options, it’s worth bearing ….. mind just how small the apartments in Japan are and the proximity ……. the other people around you can really catch you …… guard. We spent the first 5 days seeing the sights and experiencing everything the city had …… offer. However, we soon realised that we were running low …… funds and that we couldn’t afford ….. spend any more time in such a pricey place. So we decided to head …… the hills and experience rural Japan. This turned …… to be the by far the best decision we …….. We went on one hike to a hidden temple, it was so tranquil and was an unforgettable experience.

Version 2

My wife and I had been planning our trip to Japan for …… Endless nights ………… about spending our honeymoon in one of the most spectacular countries on earth. We …… for a small apartment in downtown Tokyo to get the authentic experience. When you’re ……… up the different options, it’s worth ……… in mind just how small the apartments in Japan are and the ………. to the other people around you can really catch you off …….. We spent the first 5 days seeing the sights and experiencing everything the city …… to offer. However, we soon realised that we were running …… on funds and that we couldn’t ……. to spend any more time in such a pricey place. So we decided to ……. for the hills and experience rural Japan. This ……. out to be the by far the best ……… we made. We went on one hike to a hidden temple, it was so tranquil and was an unforgettable experience.

Posted in Advanced C1, Exam Preparation Class, Vocabulary Classes

C1 Advanced: Key Word Transformation Training #2

C1 Advanced (CAE) | The Lleida Cambridge Exams Centre

In this lesson plan students preparing for the C1 Advanced exam develop their understanding of some key fixed expressions that often come up in part 4 of the use of English. Download the handout and homework exercise below:

These particular expressions are taken from this quizlet set of 82 different key word transformation expressions, you may want to use it for spaced repetition.

Procedure

Students read the expressions in bold and discuss the meaning with their partner. Encourage them to paraphrase the expression and make any notes on the grammar that might be relevant: specific prepositions, verb patterns that may follow it (gerund/infinitive etc.)

Students then flip the paper over and attempt to remember the expressions using the key words as prompts. They can check their answers by looking back at page 1. Ask students which expressions they struggled the most to recall.

Set the key word transformation worksheet for homework.

Posted in Advanced C1, Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

C1/C2: Complaining & Criticising

Criticising vs Critiquing – Thesislink

This is a lesson plan in which high level students get to grips with functional language and expressions used for complaining and criticising. Download the handout below:

Procedure

I recommend having your students complete the excellent lesson plan from the Macmillan Pragmatics page before using this lesson plan as it gives a great insight into language used for introducing and couching criticism.

Once you’ve done that, give out the handout and have students start to tackle the dialogue between Bob and his boss. Students should try to paraphrase the expressions and discuss their use.

Further idiomatic expressions and structures are then listed, have students discuss them in pairs and field any questions and doubts they may have.

Students then complete a controlled practice activity:

Complete the sentences with one word:

  1. You could at least call to let us know you’re running late.
  2. If you will keep leaving the heating on, you can’t complain about the gas bill.
  3. Your work has not been up to scratch for some time now and you really need to pull your finger out.
  4. I resent having to listen to your complaints every morning.
  5. The onus is on you to apologise to her, you were way out of line.
  6. You could/might/should have told me you were sick this morning, now there’s no time to organise a substitution.
  7. You had better knuckle down and start making an effort in this relationship, otherwise I’m gone.
  8. I don’t mean to throw Dave under the bus but it was his responsibility to lock up after the show.

Now have students roleplay the scenarios and write up a dialogue for their favourite.

Set the writing task for homework, point out that the tone should be firm but friendly and informal. Encourage the use of as many expressions as possible.

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.

Procedure

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 Advanced C1, Writing Classes

C1 Advanced: Writing Part 1 Formal Essay

C1 Advanced (CAE) | The Lleida Cambridge Exams Centre
Image credit: Cambridge Assessment English

This is yet another designed to help students prepare for part one of the C1 Cambridge Advanced (CAE) writing exam. Some of the content has been rehashed from old posts but the approach is slightly different. Download the student handout below:

Give out the handout and draw students’ attention to the task on page one and the first version at the bottom of the page. Have them read the task, then the model answer, then answer questions 1-3 with their partner:

  1. Which of the three areas (convenience, cost & enjoyment) does the writer focus on? cost and convenience
  2. Which one do they decide has the biggest impact on where people choose to shop? cost
  3. Give the essay a score out of 5 for:
    • Content (have they answered the question?) 4.5 – 5 – yes, question is fully answered
    • Range of language 2.5 – reads more like a B2 First essay
    • Appropriate style (formal/informal) 1.5 – too informal, not the right style: contractions, words like “stuff”, too personal (too much “I” and “we”), “first let’s look at”

Now have students look at question 4. If you’re pressed for time, you could skip this part. Have students brainstorm more formal and advanced ways of expressing the parts in bold in pairs or groups. Perhaps you could assign one paragraph to each group and have them report back in open class. Board their ideas.

Now have students flip the paper over. Version 2 essential expresses the same ideas but with more advanced language and a more appropriate register. Direct students to find the “fancy” equivalents of the underlined phrases from version 1 in version 2.

Set students the homework task by first encouraging them to discuss the topic:

Factors when deciding where to go on holiday:

  • Weather
  • Price
  • Cultural activities

Encourage them to use the language from version 2 and the language on pages 2 and 3 in their compositions.

Version 1

Read version 1 and answer the questions:

  1. Which of the three areas (convenience, cost & enjoyment) does the writer focus on?
  2. Which one do they decide has the biggest impact on where people choose to shop?
  3. Give the essay a score out of 5 for:
    • Content (have they answered the question?)
    • Range of language
    • Appropriate style (formal/informal)
  4. Look at the sections in bold, how could you express the same ideas in a more impressive/formal way?

We’re always hearing in the news about how more and more people are buying things on the internet. It’s a big problem that fewer people are going shopping in physical shops nowadays. But, what makes people decide where to shop?

First, let’s look at convenience. It’s true that shopping online is much easier than shopping in physical shops. You can buy stuff on your computer and you can sit on your sofa, you don’t need to leave your house. Also, the stuff gets sent to your house. When you go to the physical shop you have to take it home yourself.

Now I’ll talk about cost. Some people think that cost is the most important thing people think about when they decide where to shop. For example, when the sales are on people buy things in shops they don’t normally go to. But some people don’t care about the price. It doesn’t matter if it’s expensive or not.

In conclusion, looking at the facts, I think that cost is the most important thing for most people because if you don’t have enough money, you can’t buy it.

Version 2

Find and underline the ways that the same ideas are expressed in this version.

Hardly a week goes by without another news report about the recent dramatic increase in online shopping. The decline of the high street shop is undoubtedly a major issue in this day and age. However, which aspect of shopping has the biggest influence on where people shop?

The first area to take into account is convenience. It is undoubtedly the case that shopping online is much more convenient than shopping on the high street. Not only can you make a purchase with the click of a button, but also you can do it from the comfort of your sofa without setting foot outside your door.  In addition, the goods are delivered directly to your door whereas when you shop in physical shops you have to carry it home yourself.

Another aspect to consider is cost. There are those who argue that cost has the biggest impact on where people decide to shop. This is illustrated by the fact that during the sales many people buy things in shops they would not normally enter. Nevertheless, for some people the cost is not an issue, they buy what they want to buy no matter the price.

In light of the above, weighing up all the evidence, it is probably true to say that cost does indeed have the biggest influence on where people decide to shop due to the fact that most of the time, if you cannot afford something then you will not be able to buy it.

(247 words)

Homework Task

Your class has had a class debate on the most important factors when it comes to deciding on a holiday destination.

Factors when deciding where to go on holiday:

  • Weather
  • Price
  • Cultural activities

Some opinions expressed in the debate:

  • “If it’s not a sunny place, then I’m not going. Why would I visit a cold, rainy city?”
  • “I want my money to go further. For the price of a weekend in Paris, I could spend 2 weeks in Morocco.”
  • “I can’t stand just lying on a beach, I need to get out and learn something about the places I’m visiting.”

Write an essay for your tutor, discussing two of the factors in your notes. You should explain which factor is the most important for most people, giving reasons to support your argument.

You may, if you wish, make use of the opinions expressed in the debate but you should use your own words as far as possible. Write your essay in 220-260 words in an appropriate style.

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

Second 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…

Third 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, …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Overall/in summary ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

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…

OR

  • 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…
Posted in Advanced C1, Conversation Classes, Proficiency

Discussion: Where do you Stand? Animal Rights

Animal Rights Advocates | LinkedIn

This is a discussion topic for B2+ students on the topic of animal rights. Download the student handout and PowerPoint below:

The PowerPoint contains advanced language for expressing opinion, personalising the topic, agreeing and disagreeing. It was made with C1/C2 students in mind. If you’re teaching lower levels, the student handout may be more suitable, although I recommend supplementing it with a phrase sheet, perhaps try my FCE Speaking Phrases post.

Put students into small groups (3/4) or conduct the activity as an open class discussion. Before engaging in discussion on the topics, students must decide individually to what extent they agree or disagree with the given statement by circling one of the numbers from 1-6. The idea is that students will be more likely to take a stand and defend their point of view and less able to go along with the crowd if they’ve assigned their opinion a numerical value.

You could also introduce the phrase “to play devil’s advocate” and encourage students do it during the discussion. Another idea could be to assign a specific student from each group as the devil’s advocate for each topic, thus forcing them to come up with counter arguments to what their classmates are saying.

Here are the discussion topics:

  • Zoos have a positive impact on society.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • Big game hunting should be allowed the money from hunting licences should go towards conservation.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • Humans shouldn’t step in to save endangered species; nature should be allowed to take its course.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I see no problem with testing cosmetics on animals.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I see no problem with testing medicines on animals.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • People in the future will view the way we treat animals today as barbaric.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • It’s not a square meal without some meat.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I could go vegetarian.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I could go vegan.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I’m willing to cut down on meat for environmental reasons.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • Eating animals like dogs and cats shouldn’t be viewed as strange; we eat pigs, sheep and cows.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I would be able to tell the difference between real and synthetic meat.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • One day, all meat will be synthetic meat, grown in a laboratory.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • Factory farming is necessary in order to feed the populations.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • Eating meat is an important part of my culture.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • Sports involving animals (hunting, horse riding, bullfighting, etc.) are an important part of my culture and must be protected.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I could kill and butcher and animal for food.
Posted in Advanced C1, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

C1/C2: Up/Down Phrasal Verbs

A simple worksheet and discussion activity in which students look at 21 different phrasal verbs featuring either up or down. Download the student handout and answer key below, follow the link at the bottom of the post for a Kahoot game based on the target language:

Procedure

Put students into pairs or small groups and have them try to guess the preposition required to complete the sentence. It could be up or down.

Check answers in open class, then have students match the phrasal verbs with the definitions.

Have students test each other, one says a definition, the other recalls the phrasal verb.

Have students ask and answer the discussion questions in their groups

Kahoot

Use this Kahoot game for spaced repetition: