Posted in Advanced C1, Conversation Classes, Guest Posts, Proficiency, Reading Classes, Vocabulary Classes

Guest Post: C1/C2 – Collin’s Word of the Year by Suzy Ratcliff

This is a guest post by teacher, teacher trainer, director of studies and materials writer Suzy Ratcliff. The lesson plan is based around the Collin’s Dictionary’s annual blog post revealing the shortlist for the words of the year. It’s a great example of how to exploit a piece of authentic materials to the max!

Download the student’s handout and teacher’s notes below:

Blog post

A year of ‘permacrisis’

1st Nov 2022

The 2020s have certainly seen their fair share of upheaval – and we’re only two years in! Already this decade we’ve had to contend with a pandemic and its aftermath, a brutal new war in Europe, and in the UK an economic crisis that saw the Bank of England warning of a “material risk to financial stability”. We’ve also had three prime ministers – so far.

How fitting, then, that 2022’s Word of the Year is permacrisis, a term that perfectly embodies the dizzyingsense of lurching from one unprecedented event to another, as we wonder bleakly what new horrors might be around the corner. Collins defines it as “an extended period of instability and insecurity” and that certainly rings true. Much more of this and we might have forgotten what stability and security ever felt like.

The current permacrisis also happens to be responsible for some of the other words on this year’s shortlist – not surprising given its all-consuming nature. Partygate, of course, is one of the events that set off the period of political turbulence whoseramifications are still playing out. It proves that the “-gate” suffix – made famous by the discovery of secret recordings in Washington DC’s Watergate Hotel – still has some life in it.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine produced an energy shock to which warm banks – places where those too poor to heat their own homes can gather in the event of a cold snap –are one proposed solution. The lexical analogy here is with another grim indicator of economic crisis, the food bank. The invasion also meant that we all quickly learned the Ukrainian spelling and pronunciation of the city of Kyiv. And while warfare may be Russia’s preferred tactic, increased scrutiny of Russia’s super-rich has led to a crackdown on lawfare, the use (or abuse) of legal powers to silence opponents.

In the labour market, changes have been afoot too. There’s been a vibe shift away from the culture that defined the world of work pre-pandemic: now people are less concerned with climbing the greasy pole, and more with quality of life. This has led to an epidemic of so-called quiet quitting, which, as Collins puts it, involves “doing no more work than one is contractually obliged to do”. For burnt-out millennials, it’s a third way between making your job your life and quitting altogether. Work-life balance is important, so why not relax as the year draws to a close by watching some football? The FIFA World Cup is due to start this month in Qatar – but beware the spectre of sportswashing, which some have accused the Qatari authorities of doing, given concerns around human rights and the welfare of migrant workers. This follows the pattern that has given us “greenwashing“, and of course goes back ultimately to “whitewashing“– blotting out imperfections with a thin coat of paint.

All in all, it’s a difficult note on which to begin the Carolean era, which the new king, Charles III, will preside over (the medieval Latin for Charles is, of course, Carolus). Let’s hope this is just a shaky start, and things will improve soon, Your Majesty. In the meantime, we all could be forgiven for just wanting to join our furry friends in splooting – which, Collins explains, is the act of lying flat on the stomach with the legs stretched out – until all of these problems have gone away.

Written by David Shariatmadari, author of Don’t Believe A Word: From Myths to Misunderstandings – How Language Really Works

Ex 1. Complete the sentences with your own ideas, then compare and discuss with your partner.

  1. In 2023, I’d like to see a crackdown on…
  2. The way I see it, … is just around the corner.
  3. In my life, I’ve had my fair share of
  4. The idea that …. really rings true to me
  5. The word …. perfectly embodies 2022 for me, because…

Ex 2. Discuss these questions:

  1. To what extent do you agree that 2022 has been a year of upheaval? Is it fair to say that the future looks grim or bleak? Why (not)?
  2. Have you witnessed someone close to you or a public figure lurching from one crisis to another? Have you ever experienced this sensation yourself?
  3. How do you predict the aftermath of the World Cup controversy will play out? Could changes be afoot in the world of big sporting events?
  4. In which industries do you think it’s necessary to ‘climb the ‘so-called’ greasy pole’? Have you ever felt that way in your career? Why (not)?
Posted in Advanced C1, Conversation Classes, Current Affairs Classes, Exam Preparation Class, pragmatics, Proficiency

C1/C2: Expressing Opinion – Hot Button Topics

This is a quick activity I threw together to help higher level students with expressing opinions on a range of controversial or “hot button” topics. I got the list of opinion expressions from the excellent, they have some great lists of functional language exponents organised by level, check them out:

Download the handout and PowerPoint below:


Give out the handout and have students work together to try to complete the opinion expressions.

Go over their answers in open class.

Drill natural pronunciation of the expressions. Point out to students that we often emphasise or stress the part that identifies the stated opinion as our own:

In MY opinion,…

As far as I’M concerned,…

You know what *I* think?

For the hot-button topics you could either brainstorm some with your students by asking:

What issues are people debating fiercely these days?

What was the last heated argument/debate you had about?

Or, you could use the ones in the PowerPoint. Show a slide and have students express their opinions in small groups.

If you have an exam preparation group, the activity would work well as a warm-up to tackling some of the collaborative tasks such as Advanced speaking parts 3&4.

Posted in Advanced C1, Exam Preparation Class

Key Word Transformations: Exam Technique

This is a lesson plan to help students tackle part 4 of the use of English in the main suit Cambridge exams, the key word transformations. I use this PowerPoint in conjunction with the C1 Advanced Key Word Transformation Mega Test handout but it can also be adapted for B2 First and C2 Proficiency students. Download the PowerPoint below:

Lead students through the techniques outlined in the PowerPoint then have them do page 1 of the mega test individually as practice. Then have students compare their answers before correcting in open class. You can then work through the rest of the mega test over the next few classes and for homework. You can also share the original quizlet set with them for self-study.

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

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:

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.


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

C2 Expressions: Brain, Face, Head, Wits, Mind

Free Businessman banging his head against the wall Image - Stock by Pixlr

This is a vocab lesson plan based on an exercise from the Expert Proficiency Course book. It expands a short exercise from the book out into a full activity with exam practice and a speaking task. Students learn expressions with the words brain, face, head and wits and put them into practice in a key word transformation exercise and a discussion activity. Download the handout with key below:

Expert Proficiency Coursebook page 74

Sentence Completion

Complete the expressions in the sentences with brain, face, head, or mind.

  1. I couldn’t tell you the exact figure off the top of my …… but I think we sold about 10,000 units last year.
  2. The neighbour just called to say they’ve found our cat, that’s a load off my ……
  3. She was at her …… end trying to figure out how to control her 14 year-old son.
  4. He presented the new model to the shareholders but she’s the real …… behind it.
  5. We were lucky enough to come …… to …… with a Bengal tiger.
  6. I have to admit, it never crossed my …… to ask Brian for help with the artwork, but it turns out he’s brilliant!
  7. If they don’t turn that music down, I’m going to go over there and give them a piece of my ……
  8. He’s insufferable these days, all the money and praise has clearly gone to his ……
  9. My laptop has a …… of its own, it shuts down whenever it wants.
  10. The students struggled to keep a straight …… while the teacher was having difficulty playing the video.
  11. That part of town is a bit dodgy, you need to keep your …… about you if you go there.
  12. Trying to get the boys to tidy their bedrooms I always feel like I’m banging my …… against a brick wall.
  13. The boss had to think of a way to break his promise without losing ……
  14. In order to save …… the company recalled all the faulty products and gave their customers full refunds.
  15. I’ve been racking my …… all night trying to remember my PIN number but I just can’t.
Become arrogant after success
From memory
A relief
Thinking really hard
Very stressed, not know what to do
Be within touching distance
Suffer damage to one’s reputation/social standing
Tell sb off/reprimand
Wasting my time, actions have no effect
Maintain one’s reputation
Occurred to me
The person who thought of an idea
Seem capable of thought and independent action
Not laugh/show signs of amusement
Be alert/keep an eye out


Complete the sentences with one of the expressions.

  1. I’ve been trying really hard to remember where I left my keys.


I’ve …………………..………….. to remember where I left my keys.

  1. Being embarrassed in front of other teenagers of the same age can be devastating for teenagers.


It can be devastating for teenagers ……………………..……………..….. Group.

  1. It’s vital that you be careful, don’t reveal any unnecessary information in the meeting.


It’s vital that you ……………………..……………..….. any information slip in the meeting.

  1. I can’t think of any examples right now from memory but I’m sure there are loads.


I can’t recall any examples off ……………………..……………..….. in no doubt that there are loads.

  1. Steve Jobs was the one who came up with the idea of the Ipod. 


Steve Jobs ……………………..……………..….. the Ipod.

  1. “Don’t let money change you!” said the old rapper to the newbies.


The old rapper advised the newbies …………………………………………………..

  1. My car stereo does whatever it likes, there’s no controlling it.


My car stereo ……………………………………………….., there’s no controlling it.


Complete the questions with one of the expressions, then answer the questions with a partner.

  1. What sort of things do politicians and celebrities tend to do to …… face after a scandal? Does it usually work?
  2. If your neighbours are keeping you up, do you tend to ……. them a piece of your mind? Or grin and bear it?
  3. Think of a time when you struggled to ……. a straight face in a serious situation. Did you manage it?
  4. Can you think of a time when you lost ……. in front of your peers when you were a teenager? Can you laugh about it now?
  5. Are you good at remembering names, figures and dates ……. the top of your head? Or do you often need to look them up? 
  6. Do you need to ……. your brain to put names to faces? Are there any things you struggle to remember?
  7. Do the brains ……. the biggest inventions always get the credit? Can you think of any examples of people who didn’t get the credit they deserved?
  8. What are you most stressed about at the moment? If you could wave a magic wand and make one of your problems disappear, what would be the biggest ……. off your mind?
  9. Are you someone who tends to have your wits ……. you when you’re walking down the street? Or do you have your head in the clouds?
  10. Do any of your electronic devices/appliances have minds of their …….? What sort of things do they do?
  11. Do people tend to do what you ask them to? Or is it sometimes like ……. your head against a brick wall? Give some examples?
  12. Have your parents ever been ….. their wits end with your, or one of your sibling’s behaviour? Why? What did they do?
  13. What’s the best way to stop praise or money ……. to a person’s head? Do you think it’s inevitable?
  14. Have you ever received help or advice from an unexpected source? Had it ever ……. your mind to turn to that particular person?


  1. HEAD – B
  2. MIND – C
  3. WITS – E
  4. BRAINS – L
  6. MIND – K
  7. MIND – H
  8. HEAD – A
  9. MIND – M
  10. FACE – N
  11. WITS – O
  12. HEAD – I
  13. FACE – G
  14. FACE – J
  15. BRAIN – D




  1. SAVE
  2. GIVE
  3. KEEP
  4. FACE
  5. OFF
  6. RACK
  8. LOAD
  9. ABOUT
  10. OWN
  12. AT
  13. GOING
Posted in Advanced C1, Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

C1/C2: The Life of a Celeb – Fame Vocabulary

Where are the next Tom Cruises?': how the internet changed celebrity |  Culture | The Guardian

This is a vocabulary lesson plan for C1/C2 students on the topic of fame and celebrities. Students read a text on the pros and cons of fame, examine some advanced expressions on the topic, then put them into practice in a Cambridge-style exercise, a discussion and a debate. Download the handout below, you’ll find the key for the key word transformations on page 3:

Part 1: Pre-reading

  1. What type of people do you think want to be famous?
  2. What do you think are some of the most common pros and cons of fame?
  3. What is the stereotypical story of the life of a child star?
  4. What advice would you give to someone who still wants to be famous despite the cons?

Part 2: Reading

Read the text.

Does it mention anything you discussed in part 1?

The life of a celeb isn’t all a bed of roses, you know. It really is a double-edged sword and it’s difficult to know if the pros outweigh the cons. Being in the limelight 24/7 can’t be good for your mental health. Being under constant scrutiny, having every aspect of your life dissected by the tabloids, it’s enough to drive you round the bend. It’s no wonder so many child stars go off the rails in such a spectacular fashion. They get their big breaks and rise to fame at such a young age then burn out in a blaze of glory for all to see. Keeping your feet on the ground is no mean feat when you’re surrounded by so many hangers-on blowing smoke up your backside. It must be so easy to let the fame go to your head and start thinking you’re the best thing since sliced bread. Then, if things take a turn for the worse, the fall from grace can be precipitous. 

It’s not all doom and gloom however, being in the public eye does have its perks. For one thing you get to lead a glamorous lifestyle; on the guestlist for every event, endorsed by all the biggest brands, it’s ironic that some of the richest people in the world hardly have to pay for anything. Designers and companies bend over backwards to get those publicity shots of you decked out in their latest products. But brands and products aren’t the only ones that can benefit by association with a megastar; some A-listers choose to use their platforms to raise awareness of various issues and campaigns, drawing their followers’ attention to the plights of various disenfranchised groups around the world.

So, have you still got your heart set on making a name for yourself in the world of show business? If so, be warned, you’ve got to learn to take the rough with the smooth. And should you happen to make it to the top, against all odds, enjoy your time in the sun, make the most of your 15 minutes of fame, because they might be over in the blink of an eye. 

Read the text again.

Answer the questions. 

  1. What drawbacks of fame does it mention?
  2. What effect can becoming famous have on your psyche/character?
  3. What are some of the perks of fame?
  4. What advice does the writer give to wannabe celebs?

Part 3 – Language Focus

Look at the underlined expressions. 

Discuss the meaning with your partner. 

  1. How familiar are the expressions to you? Mark them with:
    1. A tick if you’ve heard them before.
    2. A wavy line if they ring a bell.
    3. A cross if they’re completely new to you.

Memory test:

The life of a celeb isn’t all a …… of roses, you know. It really is a double-…….. sword and it’s difficult to know if the pros ……… the cons. Being in the l……… 24/7 can’t be good for your mental health. Being …….. constant scrutiny, having every aspect of your life dissected by the t………, it’s enough to drive you r…….. the b…….. It’s no …….. so many child stars go off the …….. in such a spectacular fashion. They get their big …….. and r……. to fame at such a young age then burn ……. in a blaze of glory for all to see. Keeping your feet on the …….. is no m……. feat when you’re surrounded by so many h……..-on blowing s……… up your b……… It must be so easy to let the fame go to your ……. and start thinking you’re the best thing since s…….. b…….. Then, if things take a ……. for the worse, the fall from ……… can be p……….. 

It’s not all d…… and g……. however, being in the …….. eye does have its perks. For one thing you get to ……. a glamorous lifestyle; …… the guestlist for every event, endorsed by all the biggest brands, it’s ironic that some of the richest people in the world hardly have to pay for anything. Designers and companies bend over b……… to get those publicity shots of you d……. out in their latest products. But brands and products aren’t the only ones that can benefit by association with a m……..; some A-l……… choose to use their p…….. to …….. awareness of various issues and campaigns, ……… their followers’ attention to the p…….. of various dis………….. groups around the world.

So, have you still got your …….. set on making a ……. for yourself in the world of …… If so, be w…….., you’ve got to learn to take the r…….. with the s………. And should you happen to make it to the ……, against all o……., enjoy your time in the sun, make the most of your ……. minutes of fame, because they might be over in the …….. of an eye. 

Key Word Transformations

  1. My agent showed me some of the articles that had appeared in the papers.


My agent…………………………………………. some of the articles that had appeared in the papers.

  1. It’s hard for newly famous celebrities to continue to act in a sensible and practical way.


Newly famous celebrities struggle ……………………………………………………………..

  1. The life of a famous dancer isn’t always good.


The life of a famous dancer………………………………………………………………….

  1. He moved to New York to become famous in the art world.


He moved to New York with the intention ………………………………………………… the art world.

  1. She wants to be an actress more than anything else in the world.


She …………………………………………………………………………… an actress.

  1. He aims to make more people aware of the difficulties the indigenous population are facing.


His objective is ………………………………………………………….. of the indigenous population.

Part 4 – Discussion

  1. Would you like to be famous?
  2. How well do you think you would cope with being famous?
  3. Do you think that the pros of fame outweigh the cons?
  4. Overall, do you think celebrities have a positive or a negative impact on society?
  5. Why do you think so many celebrities tend to suffer from addiction problems or poor mental health?
  6. If you had to choose images of celebrities to illustrate the pros and cons of fame, whose image would you choose and why?
  7. How do you think fame and show business have changed in your lifetime? How do you think it will change in the future?

Debate topic: Celebrities have a positive effect on society


Key Word Transformations

  1. My agent showed me some of the articles that had appeared in the papers.


My agent DREW MY ATTENTION // TO some of the articles that had appeared in the papers.

  1. It’s hard for newly famous celebrities to continue to act in a sensible and practical way.


Newly famous celebrities struggle TO KEEP THEIR FEET // ON THE GROUND.

  1. The life of a famous dancer isn’t always good.


The life of a famous dancer ISN’T ALL A BED // OF ROSES.

  1. He moved to New York to become famous in the art world.


He moved to New York with the intention OF MAKING A NAME FOR HIMSELF IN the art world.

  1. She wants to be an actress more than anything else in the world.



  1. He aims to make more people aware of the difficulties the indigenous population are facing.


His objective is TO RAISE AWARENESS // OF THE PLIGHT of the indigenous population.

Posted in Advanced C1, Exam Preparation Class, Vocabulary Classes

117 C1 Phrasal Verbs: Study Sheet

This is a self-study resource for C1 students. Full credit to for the list of phrasal verbs:

All I’ve done is put each one in context with a sentence or two, then made a quizlet set with the prepositions removed. Download the handout below:

At the end of the handout I’ve added a QR code to the quizlet set so that students can access it easily.

117 C1 Phrasal Verbs

  1. They’ve made their demands and they’re not going to back down. – stop demanding something
  2. My car always breaks down when I don’t have enough money to get it repaired. – stop working
  3. They broke/split up last year but then they got back together. – to end; to separate (a marriage / a relationship / etc.)
  4. My parents died when I was very young so my grandma brought me up. – raise/educate/care for (a child)
  5. I bumped/ran into an old friend from uni in the street. – to meet someone unexpectedly
  6. The situation calls for  calm negotiations and cool heads from everyone involved. – demand / request
  7. They’ve had to call off  the match due to bad weather. – cancel (an event)
  8. I’m just going to carry on working on my presentation, but let me know if you need anything.  – continue
  9. The new hairstyle has really caught on with teenagers in my town. catch on – to become popular (an idea or a style); 
  10. I kept dropping hints about what I wanted for my birthday but my wife didn’t catch on. – to understand/realise after a long time
  11. I bought him a pint to try to cheer him up – make happier
  12. I came across my old school books while I was clearing out the attic. – find by chance
  13. He came into quite a lot of money when his grandparents passed away. come into (money) – inherit
  14. Come round after school and we’ll work on the science project together. – come to your house
  15. I’ve come up with a great idea for our Halloween costumes. – think of and suggest an idea
  16. The topic of a pay rise came up in my meeting with the boss. – be mentioned, arise or appear (in class / an exam / a meeting)
  17. Don’t be late! Everyone is counting on you. – to rely on
  18. My New Year’s resolution is to cut down on fast food.– reduce the amount you consume
  19. Sorry, the call got cut off when we went through a tunnel. – separate / isolate / interrupt
  20. My doctor has told me I need to cut out all processed meats from my diet. – stop doing / eating something
  21. The child was struggling to do up his shoelaces. We’re doing up our house this summer. – fasten, button up clothes; repair, redecorate or modernize a building or room
  22. We all dressed up as monsters for Halloween.– put on different clothes in order to disguise yourself
  23. My Dad dropped by on his way home to work to say hello. – to visit informally or unexpectedly
  24. He also came to drop off my Christmas presents. The taxi dropped us off outside the airport. – to take something (or someone) to a place and leave it there
  25. He didn’t enjoy the economics degree course and dropped out after 6 months. – stop taking part in (a competition, a university, etc.)
  26. We got lost and ended up in a completely different town. We were supposed to go out clubbing but we ended up staying in. – an end result of something planned or unplanned
  27. She fell for him the moment she met him. – fall in love with
  28. She fell out with her younger sister over who was going to look after grandma at Christmas. – argue and stop being friendly with someone
  29. Yesterday she found out that she passed her law degree. – discover
  30. I wrote them an email to follow up my complaint from the previous day. – find out more about something; take further action
  31. I get along/on really well with all my teachers. – have a good relationship with
  32. We just want to get away for the weekend and have some peace and quiet. – go on a short holiday/break 
  33. He stole €10 from his mum’s purse and got away with it, she blamed his brother. – not be punished for doing something
  34. I don’t earn much but it’s enough to get by. – manage to survive / live
  35. Stop chatting and get on with your work! – start or continue doing something (especially work)
  36. It took him a long time to get over her, I think he still loves her. – recover after the end of a relationship with someone
  37. I’m still getting over a nasty cold but I should be fine in a couple of days. – recover from
  38. I get together with my old uni friends every 6 months or so. – meet (usually for social reasons)
  39. I’m cleaning out my garage this weekend, I’m going to get rid of so much old stuff. – eliminate/discard
  40. He accidently gave away the surprise birthday party to the birthday girl, what an idiot! – reveal
  41. Hey! That’s my bag! Give it back – return
  42. Don’t forget to give/hand in your essays at the end of the class.  – submit (homework, etc.)
  43. The kids wouldn’t stop asking for an ice cream so I finally gave in and let them have one. – agree to something you do not want to
  44. The rotting fruit was giving off a nasty smell. (a smell) – produce and send into the air
  45. The receptionist gave out all the most important information to the guests. – announce or broadcast information
  46. They’re giving/handing out free samples of delicious cheese at the supermarket. – distribute to a group of people
  47. The sudoku puzzle was too difficult so I gave up and read a book instead. – to stop trying to do something (often because it is too difficult)
  48. A: We should decorate the kitchen. B: Yeah, I’d go along with that. – support an idea or agree with someone’s opinion
  49. The milk has gone off, we’ll have to buy some more. A bomb went off outside the airport, luckily nobody was hurt. – explode; become bad (food)
  50. The poker game went on for hours and hours. – to continue
  51. Have you heard? Charlie is going out with Kathy.  – have a romantic relationship with someone
  52. My Dad’s threatening to take away my car keys if I don’t tidy my room but I don’t think he will go through with it. – complete a promise or plan
  53. My best friend from primary school and I grew apart over the years and now we hardly speak. – get distant from someone, like a friend
  54. When I grow up, I want to be a firefighter.  – slowly become an adult
  55. We hung around outside the concert hall for 2 hours after the show trying to get an autograph. – to wait or spend time somewhere, doing nothing
  56. I’m just going to hang out with my friends tonight. – spend time relaxing (informal)
  57. Don’t leave your shirts on the floor, you need to hang them up. She finished the call and then hung up. – to hang clothes or an object on a hook or line; to end a phone call
  58. Go down this street and then head for the big church, your hotel is right next door to it. – go towards
  59. My shyness always holds me back in social situations. – prevent someone from making progress
  60. We need to hurry up! Our train leaves in five minutes.  – do something more quickly
  61. Just keep on walking this way and you’ll get to the station in no time. – to continue
  62. Where were you on Saturday? I really needed your help and you let me down. – disappoint
  63. The police decided to let the kids off with a warning because it was their first offence. – give someone a lighter punishment than they expected (or not punish at all)
  64. I can’t come out, I need to look after my baby brother. – take care of
  65. I hate it when people look down on those who are less fortunate than them. – feel superior to
  66. I’ve been looking for a flat for 2 months but haven’t found one I like yet. – try to find
  67. I’m really looking forward to Christmas this year. – feel happy about something that is going to happen
  68. The police are looking into the case of the missing dog. – investigate
  69. I had never heard of my Dad’s favorite footballer, I had to look him up on wikipedia.  – find information about (e.g. a word in a dictionary)
  70. I’ve always looked up to my mum, she’s very resilient. – admire and respect
  71. They gave us free tickets to a different show to make up for the cancellation. – compensate for
  72. They fell out over something stupid but now they’ve made up. – become friends again
  73. He’s always making up ridiculous stories and excuses for why he’s late. (something) – invent (stories, excuses)
  74. Ok, thanks for that report Jon, now let’s move on to Sarah’s presentation. – change to a different job, activity or place
  75. I moved out of my parents house when I was 18. – stop living in a house or flat
  76. He was so dehydrated that he passed out and woke up in the back of an ambulance. – lose consciousness
  77. When are you going to pay back the money you owe me? – return money
  78. Don’t worry, my parents are going to pay for dinner. – purchase
  79. They’ve finally managed to pay off the mortgage on the house. She got into Oxford University, all of her hard work has paid off! – finish paying for something; have a positive result from hard work
  80. Mum, it’s raining really hard, can you come and pick me up from the train station? – meet / collect someone (e.g. at the station / from school)
  81. At the end of the presentation our boss pointed out several obvious mistakes we had made. – to draw attention to something or someone
  82. Vicky! Come and put away your toys before you have dinner. – put something back in the correct place
  83. I’m going to the dentist tomorrow, I’ve been putting it off for months. – postpone
  84. They put on a big show to raise money for charity. (an event/a show) – organize an event
  85. Put your coat on, it’s cold outside. (clothes /make up) – place something on your body
  86. I put on quite a lot of weight during lockdown. (weight) – increase (weight)
  87. The firefighters were finally able to put the fire out. – extinguish (e.g. fire)
  88. My uncle can put us up for a couple of nights while we’re in London. (for the night) – accommodate
  89. Put your hand up if you have any questions. (your hand) – lift into the air
  90. I’m not going to put up with anymore lateness from those kids. – tolerate
  91. The car rental company tried to rip us off but I was having none of it. – charge someone too much for something
  92. We ran out of petrol in the middle of nowhere, it was terrifying. – use up (e.g. money, petrol, time)
  93. We had to set off at 4am, it was horrible. – start a journey
  94. We set up the company in 1995 and it’s still going strong to this day. – establish / start (e.g. a company)
  95. Dan! Stop showing off and pass us the ball, we’re losing 4-0. – try to impress people by telling or showing them what you are capable of
  96. They’ve had to shut down 5 stores in the area because sales have dropped. – to close
  97. We need to sort out accommodation for our trip to Paris. – arrange or order by classes or categories; find a solution
  98. BBC stands for the British Broadcasting Corporation. – to represent
  99. His ginger hair really makes him stand out from the rest of the boys in his class. – be easy to see because of being different
  100. I’d say I take after my Dad in my looks and my Mum in my personality. (someone) – resemble a member of your family in appearance, behaviour or character
  101. Please take your feet off the seat, your shoes are very dirty. – to remove from a surface or your body (clothes)
  102. Our plane takes off at 9pm. – leave the ground (e.g. a plane)
  103. She’s taken on a lot of extra responsibilities in her new job. – attempt something new; employ
  104. A new manager has taken over the department.  – take control of
  105. I took to ice-skating really quickly and now I’ve signed up for weekly classes.– start to like, especially after only a short time
  106. I first took up volleyball when I was in secondary school. – start doing (a hobby)
  107. The teacher told us off for being late. – speak angrily to someone who has done something wrong
  108. I’ve decided to throw away my old sofa, unless you want it. – get rid of something you do not need any more
  109. The weather on the mountain got really bad so we had to turn back. – return towards the place you started from
  110. They’ve turned down our offer for the house, they want more money. – reject or refuse
  111. On a full moon he turns into a werewolf! They’ve turned my favourite restaurant into a Burger King! – to transform
  112. Don’t forget to turn/switch off the lights when you leave. – to disconnect (e.g. a computer)
  113. He switched/turned on the TV and sat down to watch the match. – to connect (e.g. the TV)
  114. Our bus didn’t turn up for 2 hours. – arrive, usually unexpectedly, early or late
  115. He always uses up all the toilet roll and doesn’t replace it. – finish a supply of something
  116. I’ve completely worn out my old football boots, I need to get some new ones. – to use something until it becomes unusable
  117. I work out 3 times a week at the gym. The students struggled to work out the complicated equations. The police couldn’t work out how the burglars got into the house. – think about and find a solution; do exercise

– Quizlet set

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

C1/C2: Animal Idioms

How the Cat Gets Its Stripes: It's Genetics, Not a Folk Tale - The New York  Times

This is a vocabulary and conversation lesson for C1/C2 students. Students look at 18 animal idioms and put them into practice in conversation and an optional writing exercise. Download the handouts below:

Students first recall the names of some animals, then have a chance to share animal idioms they already know.

Then they must use the 16 animals from exercise 1 to complete the different animal expressions.

Keep the conversation questions hidden from students until after they’ve completed the first gap-fill.

Then have them recall the expressions by filling in the gaps in the questions. They can then ask and answer the questions in pairs or small groups.

I designed this task for use with a C2 Proficiency preparation group so I added on a writing task, an article, for them to do as homework.

Posted in Advanced C1, Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency

C1/C2 Halloween Spooky Word Formation: The Family Legacy

Haunted Mansion Pictures | Download Free Images on Unsplash

This is a lesson plan for C1/C2 students who are preparing for an upcoming exam but still want to celebrate Halloween in some way. Students read a creepy story about an old family home, practice some word formation and then write their own continuation of the story. I wrote the story myself, let me know what you think! Download the handout and teacher’s notes below:


You’re going to read the first part of a horror story called “The Family Legacy”, it involves:

  • A father
  • A son
  • An old house

With your partner, make some predictions about what will happen in the story.


Read the story, ignore the gaps, see if your predictions were correct.

Roger trudged up the drive of the ancient hall, the seat of his family’s power for over two centuries. It stood on the top of the hill looking down over the land around, a 1. ………………(SYMBOL) effigy of the family’s grasp over the local 2. ……………. (POPULATE). Finally it was his, the jewel in the crown of his 3. ……………… (INHERIT) after his father’s passing the previous week. In the end, the death of the formidable patriarch of the family had been far from the 4. ……………… (PAIN) transition we all hope for, screaming night terrors, lashing out 5. ……………… (VIOLENT), catching his 6. ………………(SUSPECT) carers off-guard, until the final descent into silent 7. …………… (MAD) It was something that had befallen the last three generations of men in his family, a thought that he pushed to the back of his mind as a/an 8. ………………. (VOLUNTEER) shudder ran down his spine.

But it was over, and he could now envisage the 9. …………….. (REALISE) of all the 10. ……………… (BOY) hopes and dreams he had had for this 11. ……………….. (CRUMBLE) pile of stone and wood. As he approached the ancient 12. ………………..(WOOD) door, he took the old iron key from his pocket and unlocked it with a 13. ……………….. (SATISFY) thunk. As he stepped across the threshold his 14. ……………….. (FOOT) echoed throughout the house in a/an 15. ……………….. (SETTLE) way. What struck Roger immediately were the reminders of his father’s 16. ……………….. (QUESTION) taste in decorations; floor to ceiling oil paintings of 17. ……………….. (NOTE) ancestors and the heads of various animals mounted on the walls. He relished the thought of finally 18. ……………….. (CLUTTER) the whole place. No sooner had this thought crossed his mind than around the corner came an almost 19. ……………….. (PERCEIVE) breath of air, which flowed through the ground floor, as if the house itself was reacting to a/an 20. ……………….. (INVITATION) guest. The door slammed shut behind Roger, he heard a loud “clang” as the heavy old key hit the stone of the porch outside. Suddenly gripped by panic he grabbed the door handle and pulled with all his 21. ……………….. (STRONG) but to no avail. A sudden sense of 22. ……………….. (CONFINE) enveloped him, but what really set his nerves jangling and a creeping sense of 23. ……………….. (EXIST) dread curling up his back was the voice calling down the stairs from his father’s study….

Word Formation

Now look at the gaps, try to predict what type of word is needed, then attempt to transform the root words to fit the context.

Language Analysis

  1. How does the writer make the story creepy?
  2. Find two examples of onomatopoeia in the text. 
  3. Find and underline the sentence with “around the corner”
    1. What do you notice about the syntax?
  4. Look for impressive collocations with the following words:
Power…………………………………………Grasp…………………………………………Jewel…………………………………………Patriarch…………………………………………Catching…………………………………………Madness…………………………………………Mind…………………………………………Spine…………………………………………Hopes and dreams……………………………Footsteps…………………………………………Taste…………………………………………Relish…………………………………………Guest…………………………………………Door…………………………………………Panic…………………………………………Strength…………………………………………Sense…………………………………………Nerves …………………………………………


Write the next paragraph of the story. Try to use:

  • Inversions: 
    • No sooner…. than….
    • Hardly/Barely/Scarcely….. when
  • An inversion of place:
    • Into the river jumped the boys.
    • At the top of the stairs sat a black cat.
  • Spooky language:
    • A shiver down the spine
    • unsettling/creepy/etc.