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

C2: Proficiency Training – The Heist

Cartoon Safe Heist ⬇ Vector Image by © ronleishman | Vector Stock 13979890

In this lesson C2 students will develop their understanding of idiomatic expressions that often come up in the Cambridge C2 Proficiency exam. They will encounter the expressions in a text about a bank heist gone wrong. Download the student handout below:

Credit to: for the planning a bank robbery activity.

You may also wish to use this quizizz game for spaced repetition of the target language.


Students start by discussing common tropes of heist movies. They then skim the text to find out what went wrong in this case. (they were set up, someone ratted them out the police)

Students then answer the detail questions:

  1. How had they planned for the robbery? In great detail, taking note of intricacies while the narrator was working in the bank
  2. What was the first problem they encountered? The getaway driver was late
  3. How did the staff in the bank react? Only the bank manager put up any resistance
  4. What are the pros and cons of the way Tony behaves? he’s unpredictable but intimidating
  5. What happens to Tony and Barry? they are killed in the gunfight
  6. Where is the narrator at the end of the story? in prison

Language Focus

Students now focus on the expressions in bold. They discuss their meaning with their partner and try to paraphrase them, they then make a note of how familiar the expressions are to them.

Students now flip the paper over and look at version 2 of the same text. Now the expressions have been replaced with simpler language. Using the key words, they must recall the expressions. They then flip over their paper to check their answers.

Set the key word transformations testing the expressions for homework.

Plan a heist

Put students in small groups and have them plan a bank heist using the prompts on pages 2 and 3, which are adapted from

Students then present their different plans to the class.

Text Version 1

The Heist

  1. What heist/bank robbery films have you seen?
  2. Do you enjoy this type of movie? Why? Why not?
  3. How do people typically rob banks in films? What strategies do they use?
  4. How can heists go wrong?

Read the text about a bank heist, what went wrong?

The plan had been simple. I had been instrumental in drawing it up, I’d worked in that branch for over 5 years and had taken note of all the little intricacies and predicted all the problems we might have to contend with down to the last detail; I was nothing if not meticulous. I had done everything in my power to make sure everything went like clockwork. In the lead-up to the big day some doubts had been preying on my mind to such an extent that I hadn’t got a wink of sleep, but it was nothing out of the ordinary. 

We’d stuck to the plan to the letter. Aside from a rocky start, when the getaway driver had kept us waiting for the best part of an hour, everything had gone smoothly, almost too smoothly. The bank clerk had offered no resistance, the security guard had admitted defeat pretty quickly, clearly realising that facing off against armed robbers was above his pay grade. The manager made a bit of a fuss about handing over the combination to the vault but Tony soon made him see sense. A gun barrel pressed to your forehead can be very persuasive. I’m not 100% on board with how Tony conducts himself but you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. He had risen to fame as useful muscle for a tight spot but he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box.

Barry got to work on the vault without interference and before long we were stuffing the duffle bags with wads of cold, hard cash, it was a beautiful sight, which did wonders for everyone’s confidence. Maybe that was it, we got too cocky, little did we know what lay in store for us outside. Tony was the first to catch sight of the blue lights, I was loath to start shooting but, as always, there was no stopping Tony, they didn’t call him the loose cannon for nothing. All of a sudden it was like a warzone, Tony didn’t stand a chance, neither did Barry. It’s nothing short of a miracle that I got out alive. It was obvious that the game was up, it must have been a set-up but who had ratted us out? I guess that’s something I’ll be pondering for the next 25 years. It ain’t so bad, running water, 3 square meals a day and a roof over my head. I guess I should spare a thought for those who were not so lucky.

  1. How had they planned for the robbery?
  2. What was the first problem they encountered?
  3. How did the staff in the bank react?
  4. What are the pros and cons of the way Tony behaves?
  5. What happens to Tony and Barry?
  6. Where is the narrator at the end of the story?
Posted in Advanced C1, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

Save the Planet: C1/C2 Phrasal Verbs

This is a lesson plan for C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency students on the topic of non-profit organisations like the WWF. Students read a short text about the organisation then work on phrasal verbs associated with the topic. Download the handout and key below:

The procedure is pretty straightforward. First students answer the introductory questions designed to activate their schemata and encourage them to predict the content of the text. They then read the text briefly to see if their predictions were correct. They then focus on the meaning of the phrasal verbs, then recall the prepositions/particles and finally put them into practice in a speaking activity.

Save the Planet – Phrasal Verbs


Ask and answer the questions with a partner:

  1. Think of some national or international organisations dedicated to protecting the environment.
  2. What do these organisations do?
  3. How effective are they?
  4. What problems/difficulties do they encounter?
  5. What can people do to support these organisations more?


  1. Read the text quickly. Does it mention any of the things you discussed in the introduction?
  2. Look at the phrasal verbs and expressions in bold and match them with the definitions below.

The World Wide Fund for Nature

Every day more and more trees are being cut down in the rainforests of the world wiping out hundreds of species. The current deforestation rate amounts to 3 football pitches per minute. Precious water supplies are being used up meaning that still more animals and plants are dying out. If we step back and look at the bigger picture, it’s not just animals and plants that are affected. The rainforests are the Earth’s lungs and further damage will only lead to misery for all life on the planet.

Our organisation aims to put pressure on governments all over the world to make them step up and take responsibility for the environment. Governments need to crack down on bad practices such as illegal logging and mining in rainforests. Sadly, we’re coming up against a lot of resistance from big business but that won’t stop us standing up for the animal kingdom. We’re looking for volunteers to chip in in any way they can; handing out leaflets in the street or drumming up support online are just two ways we can get our message across. Join us today by clicking the link below!

1. Help/contribute money
2. Kill or cause to die on a large scale
3. Be faced with
4. Make people hear/understand information
5. Cause
6. Mentally withdraw from a situation
7. Try to increase/encourage support for something
8. Become extinct
9. Introduce strong restrictions
10. Give something to people
11. Cause to fall
12. Defend verbally or physically
13. Consume all of something
14. Total/add up to
15. Take action when it’s needed


Try to remember the missing prepositions in the questions below without looking at the text. Then ask and answer the questions.

  1. How effective do you think practices like handing _____ leaflets actually are?
  2. Have you ever done anything to drum ______ support for a charity or other organisation?
  3. What do you think governments should crack ____ ____ in your country?
  4. Think of some endangered animals. Which one would you be saddest about if it died _____ completely?
  5. What do you think is the most effective way for an organisation like the WWF to get its message _______? Online? In person?
  6. What do you think are the most difficult issues that charities like the WWF come ____ ______ when trying to help the environment?
  7. If you use ____ all the toilet paper, do you always replace it?
  8. Think of a time when a friend or family member stood ____ _____ you in a difficult situation.
  9. Now think of a time when nobody stood ____ _____ you. Or when you failed to stand _____ _____ a friend.
  10. Who has the biggest responsibility to step ____ and take responsibility for the environment? Governments? Businesses? The general public? Why?
  11. When it’s a friend’s birthday, is it better if they receive lots of little presents or if everyone chips ____ and gets them one big present. Which would you prefer on your birthday?
  12. If you added up all your screen time in one day, how much would it amount ____? Do you want to cut _____? Why? Why not?