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:

Pre-Reading

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.

Reading

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 …………………………………………

Production

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.
Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency, Reading Classes

C2 Proficiency: Exam Technique – Reading Part 7

C2 Proficiency de Inglés (CPE) del Cambridge: Cómo Aprobarlo | TURBOLANGS

This is a lesson plan for C2 students preparing to take the Cambridge Proficiency exam. Students will learn exam techniques to tackle part 7 of paper 1, the multiple matching exercise. The example task is taken from CUP test book 1. Download the PowerPoint and task below:

Procedure

Lead students through the steps in the PowerPoint. Students should focus on the list of questions first, underlining key words and trying to paraphrase the questions into simpler language where possible. The PowerPoint contains some examples of paraphrasing. Students should then tackle the reading texts in order while referring back to their notes. Encourage them to underline the parts of the text that they think answer each question.

Students should complete the first paraphrasing exercise in pairs. Then for the reading, they should work individually, set a time limit of 15 minutes for them to complete the exercise. Students should then compare their answers and show their partner the sections of the text that they have underlined for each question.

You will find the answer key and annotated copy of the texts on the final slides of the PowerPoint. You should set students another part 7 for homework so that they can put the technique into practice.

Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency

C2 Proficiency: Key Word Transformation Training #4

C2 Proficiency de Inglés (CPE) del Cambridge: Cómo Aprobarlo | TURBOLANGS

This is another worksheet designed to help introduce students to typical expressions that are tested in part 4 of the reading and use of English paper. Download the handout below:

Use this Quizizz game for spaced repetition:

https://quizizz.com/admin/quiz/616ed9e698bf27001fbb1265

Version 1

Discuss the meaning of the expressions in bold with your partner.

Write a synonym/definition on the line underneath.

  1. Don’t get your hopes up just yet, a lot of other people are interested in the flat.

…………get excited, feel hopeful ………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Rumour has it that John is in line for promotion when Sally leaves at the end of the year.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Please fill out this form in accordance with the rules set out on our website.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. The new restrictions will come into effect this evening at midnight.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. We booked a minibreak to Venice on the spur of the moment.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Allowing a criminal to go free is the lesser of two evils compared to locking up an innocent person.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. My uncle is still struggling to get over being made redundant from his job.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. The government has come in for a lot of criticism for its handling of the pandemic.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. I had to take the whole laptop apart to find out what was wrong with it.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. There has been a sharp rise in homelessness in my neighbourhood.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. To the best of my knowledge, the last person to leave the building was Nigel.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. My boss kept me in the dark about the merger until the last minute.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. She’s intent on studying abroad next year and she’s going to pull out all the stops to make it happen.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. I struggled to keep pace with the amount of work my uni professors were giving me.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. I have to admit I was taken in by the salesman’s sob story and I bought one of his dodgy products.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Out of the blue my company offered me a job in Australia and I jumped at the chance.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. He’s set his heart on being a singer-songwriter, he practices every waking minute.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. If what really happened here ever comes to light, you’re going to be in deep trouble.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Version 2

Discuss the meaning of the expressions in bold with your partner.

Write a synonym/definition on the line underneath.

  1. Don’t feel hopeful (GET) just yet, a lot of other people are interested in the flat.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. There are rumours that (IT) that John is going to get promoted (LINE) when Sally leaves at the end of the year.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Please complete (FILL) this form following (ACCORDANCE) the rules set out on our website.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. The new restrictions will become law (EFFECT) this evening at midnight.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. We booked a short trip to Venice on a whim (SPUR).

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Allowing a criminal to go free is the better of two bad options (EVILS) compared to locking up an innocent person.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. My uncle is still struggling to recover from (GET) losing his job (MADE) from his job.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. The government has taken a lot of flack (COME) for its handling of the pandemic.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. I had to disassemble the whole laptop (TAKE) to find out what was wrong with it.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. There has been a sudden increase in (RISE) homelessness in my neighbourhood.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. As far as we know, (KNOWLEDGE) the last person to leave the building was Nigel.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. My boss didn’t tell me about (DARK) the merger until the last minute.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. She’s determined to study (INTENT) abroad next year and she’s going to make a big effort to (PULL) to make it happen.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. I struggled to keep up with (PACE) the amount of work my uni professors were giving me.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. I have to admit I was tricked (TAKEN) the salesman’s manipulative tale (STORY) and I bought one of his dodgy products.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Suddenly and unexpectedly (BLUE) my company offered me a job in Australia and I accepted the opportunity immediately. (JUMPED)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. He’s determined to become (HEART) a singer-songwriter, he practices every waking minute.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. If what really happened here is ever revealed (LIGHT), you’re going to be in deep trouble.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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

C1/C2: A Priceless Family Heirloom

Turning Heirloom Jewelry Into a New Design | Jewelry Wise

This is a short text I wrote for C2 students who had to to a proficiency writing on a possession with sentimental value. I haven’t designed a full lesson plan around it yet but it might be useful for other teachers of high levels:

Do you have any possessions that you have inherited from other family members?

Do they have sentimental value to you?

If your house caught fire and you had enough time to save one thing, what would you choose?
My great grandpa’s old stamp collection is a priceless family heirloom that has been handed down from generation to generation. It was his prized possession and he held onto it through thick and thin, travelling the world to collect over 2000 different stamps. Leafing through the pages gives a fascinating insight intoa bygone era. Smelling the pages evokes memories of a seemingly simpler time before all the noise and stress of life in the 21st century. Some would call it a dusty old knick knack but the collection has huge sentimental value to me and has been a source of endless hours of pleasure. It seems that my dad really was a chip off the old block because he has his own collection. This geeky fascination with stamps really seems to run in the family because now my son is crazy about stamps too, I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Apparently a rival collector once offered my dad €200,000 for the collection but he turned it down out of hand. You can’t put a price on that slice of history. Blood really is thicker than water.

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

C1/C2: Killer Expressions Grouped by Topic

PsBattle: An Impressed Footballer's face : photoshopbattles

Thanks to my colleague Natascha Wallace for this idea. Basically it’s a list of advanced expressions, grouped by topic, for C1/C2 students and sets of conversation questions on those same topics. The idea being that they can drop them into their writings or use them in the speaking exam in order to score more points. Alternatively, beyond the world of exams, they will undoubtedly be useful IRL! Download the handouts below:

Procedure:

Have students read the expressions in the first category and try to guess the meaning in pairs. Clear up any doubts in open class.

Ping-pong

Tell students they have 1 minute to try to memorise as many of the expressions in the category as they can. After 1 minute tell them to turn their papers over. Students then play “ping-pong” in pairs one person says one expression and the other must say another back and forth until one can’t remember any more expressions. After they’ve played a couple of rounds tell them to look at the expressions again and refresh their memories of the ones they struggled to remember.

Then hand out the conversation questions and have students discuss them in groups of 3. One member of the group should act as the examiner, asking the questions and also counting the number of killer expressions each person uses. Encourage students to have fun with it and use as many as they can.

Then move onto the next category, rinse and repeat.

There are a lot of categories so you may want to split it over several classes.

You can then use this quizziz quiz for space repetition.

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

Where do you stand? Education

aswar akka consultancy | How Important is Educational Management and  Organization?

This is another edition of my “Where do you Stand?” conversation series. Students debate different topics related to education but must rate their opinion on a scale from 1-6 before they begin the discussion. Download the PowerPoint and student handout below:

If you want to use it with B2 students you could use this phrase sheet.

Credit to Owlcation for some of the debate topics:

https://owlcation.com/academia/100-Debate-Topics

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

Where do you stand? Science & Technology

Technology and Science | Study Abroad Life

This is another edition of my “Where do you Stand?” conversation series. Students debate different topics related to science and technology but must rate their opinion on a scale from 1-6 before they begin the discussion. Download the PowerPoint and student handout below:

If you want to use it with B2 students you could use this phrase sheet.

Credit to Owlcation for some of the debate topics:

https://owlcation.com/academia/80-Science-Debate-Topics-for-Students

Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

C2 Proficiency: Use of English Revision Worksheet

C2 Proficiency de Inglés (CPE) del Cambridge: Cómo Aprobarlo | TURBOLANGS

This is a worksheet for students preparing for the Cambridge C2 Proficiency exam. It’s designed as a revision activity for a lot of the expressions, collocations and phrasal verbs that come up in the use of English paper. Download the handout and answer key below:

Verb Phrases & Collocations

Complete the sentences with the correct form of the verbs in the box, you will need to use some verbs more than once:

bring    give    take    buy    make    do    place    get    have    put
  1. Could you please ……… me up-to-date with the latest news about the project?
  2. We’ve …….. our plan into action, now we just have to wait for the results.
  3. When is the wedding ……… place?
  4. She ……. exception to his comments about her lateness and got quite offended.
  5. The release of the chemicals ……… a detrimental effect on wildlife in the surrounding area.
  6. He ……… the impression that he doesn’t care but really, underneath he’s completely committed to the relationship.
  7. A few days off would ……… wonders for my mental health.
  8. Some people in this business ………. no scruples about stabbing their rivals in the back to get what they want.
  9. The council has ……….. steps to bring the situation under control.
  10. Where can I ……… hold of a good bottle of French red wine?
  11. How long do you think they’re going to ………. to finish the refurbishment?
  12. This school ………. a lot of importance on punctuality and respect.
  13. They failed to ………. into consideration just how expensive organising the festival would be.
  14. After ………. your suggestions a lot of thought, I’ve decided to make the changes you recommended.
  15. Most bars ……….. all their food and drink in bulk in order to save money.
  16. I’ve ………… an order for a new TV on the website, it should arrive next week.
  17. Don’t worry if your cat ate one of the leaves of the plant, it won’t …….. it any harm.
  18. The company ………. a pre-tax profit of €10,000 last year.
  19. Calm down, I’ve managed to ………. us some more time to get the presentation finished, I told the boss I had food poisoning.
  20. The sight of my brother and his fiancé finally tying the knot ………. tears to my eyes.

Missing Prepositions

  1. ……… all likelihood, the new store will be opening at the end of next month.
  2. ………. and large, the school play was well received by the audience.
  3. ………. the whole, the product launch was a success despite a few hitches.
  4. He broke his mum’s favourite salad bowl …….. accident.
  5. The instructor gave the group a safety demonstration to put them …….. ease before their first dive.
  6. Sadly bees seem to be ……. decline across Europe.
  7. They gave her the job ……. the strength of the excellent answers she gave to the interview questions.
  8. You can’t expect me to work the Saturday shift ……. such short notice, I can’t do it I’m afraid.
  9. He handed …….. his final project at 12:00 ……. the dot, just in time.
  10. I’m sorry but I’m ……. the end of my tether, I can’t handle this group anymore, they’re driving me ……. the wall!

Phrasal Verbs & Fixed Expressions

  1. More …….. than not, we go out for dinner on Friday night. (usually)
  2. For ……. we know, there might be aliens living underground on Mars.
  3. I had to put ……. with a screaming baby right next to me for the whole return flight.
  4. I didn’t know what to say so I just blurted out the first thing that …….. into my head.
  5. We can’t give up, there’s ………. he would love more than to see us fail!
  6. I’ve put a lot of effort …….. organising this evening so I hope everything goes …….. plan.
  7. Darkness ……. while we were still on the mountain so we had to walk the last part in the pitch black.
  8. His work didn’t see the …….. of day until years after his death.
  9. The last bus had already gone so we were …….. with no choice but to walk back.
  10. We’ve ……. into the habit of eating dinner in front of the TV, it’s so bad.
  11. The fog and rain made …….. difficult to make …… what was written on the signpost.
  12. The fire brigade arrived and managed to …….. out the fire in 20 minutes.
  13. We need to come ……. with a way to raise enough money for the trip to Paris.
  14. The renovations to the old church have given it a new lease of …….. as a community centre.
  15. The financial crash in 2008 gave …….. to a huge jump in the number of families in poverty.
  16. We need your help to organise the ad campaign, we’re giving you ……. rein, you can do whatever you want.
  17. My friends always ……… up for me in tricky situations.
  18. What were you doing on the night …….. question?
  19. I ……. in touch with my family via Skype or Whatsapp.
  20. Don’t worry sir, your order is …….. hand and will be ready soon.

Word Formation

  1. Watching the video about immigrants crossing the Mediterrean made me realise that my problems pale into …………………… compared to what they have to go through. SIGNIFY
  2. We need to see a drastic cut in carbon …………………………… if we’re going to meet our green targets. EMIT
  3. The economic effect of the pandemic could be ………………………….. for some families. DISASTER
  4. One of the …………………………….. of living in a city is the relentless noise pollution. SIDE
  5. I spent many …………………………… nights listening to my neighbours’ parties. SLEEP
  6. Life ……………………………. in the western world has increased considerably in the last century. EXPECT
  7. Scientists’ theories on what will be found beneath the surface of Mars remain ………………………. SPECULATE
  8. Green ………………………….. such as carpooling or cycling schemes can only do so much to mitigate climate change. INITIATE
  9. The city centre has ………………………… a marked change in the last few years. GO
  10. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the public have been ………………………….. about the true state of our planet. LEAD
  11. I think it’s fair to say that the current ecological crisis in the arctic is an ……………………………. complex issue that presents many problems. CREDIBLE
  12. One of the problems is that people make …………………………… about the situation without knowing all the details. ASSUME
  13. The school has opened a special unit for students with …………………………… hearing. PAIR
  14. I have complained to the council …………………………… but nothing has been done about the problem. REPEAT
  15. We need to protect the area by …………………………… tourists from taking rocks and plants home as souvenirs. COURAGE
Posted in Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency

C2 Proficiency: DIY Speaking Long Turn Topics

C2 Proficiency de Inglés (CPE) del Cambridge: Cómo Aprobarlo | TURBOLANGS

This is a lesson plan for students preparing to take the Cambridge C2 Proficiency exam. Students create their own topic cards for part 3 of the speaking exam; the dreaded long turn! Download the handout and examples below:

Procedure

You could use this lesson plan to introduce the long turn, give students a chance to practice and go over some useful language before they make their own topic cards.

Print and cut out the example cards, these examples were created by my C2 group. As you can see they came up with some thought provoking topics that are definitely more engaging than some of the run-of-the-mill topics from most text books.

Put students in pairs and have them complete a timed long turn each to get them warmed up to the task.

Then give them a set of blank cards each (candidate A & B) and have them work together to create two topic cards with a main question and three bullet points. Tell them that their classmates are going to use their topic cards so they should choose engaging, open topics. Give them 3-5 minutes to do this. In the exam, after candidate A has finished their long turn, candidate B is asked a shorter question in response to what candidate A has just said, so you could have your students write a question for candidate B on the back of A’s card and vice versa for candidate B.

Have them pass their newly created cards to another pair so that everyone has a set created by another group. Instruct them to keep practicing two-minute long turns using the new cards. Then encourage students to give feedback to the group who wrote the topic card; was it easy to talk about for two minutes? Did the bullet points help? Could anything be clarified?

Students then pass the cards to another group, rinse and repeat. Students will get lots of practice for this part of the exam on topics chosen by their peers.

I was really impressed by the questions my group came up with, there weren’t too many softballs in there. Comment below with some of the topics and bullet points your students come up with and I’ll add them to the example doc, that we can create a big list of topic cards for future use.