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 englishclub.com, they have some great lists of functional language exponents organised by level, check them out:

https://www.englishclub.com/vocabulary/fl-giving-opinions.htm

Download the handout and PowerPoint below:

Procedure

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, Conversation Classes, Proficiency

1st Class Back After Easter – Speaking Tasks

Some quick speaking activities combining chatting about Easter holidays with some practice for exam speaking tasks. Download the PowerPoints and handout below:

The long turn task is modelled on the C2 Proficiency speaking part 3 in which students have to speak for 2 minutes about a given topic with 3 bullet points to guide them. Give out the speaking phrases and go over the “cheat sheet” of useful expressions on the first slide. Then put students in pairs and have them take it in turns to complete the task seeing who can use the most expressions, they need to speak on their own for 2 minutes. Once they have finished they should find 5 similarities between their Easter holiday experiences and share them with the class.

Alternatively, if you want something more collaborative, I’ve added a C1 Advanced part 3 style task in a separate PowerPoint. Students should first look at the cheat sheet, clear up any doubts, then have them answer the central question in pairs. You could then give them a further question: “which of these 5 types of activities do you appreciate doing most in your holidays.”

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 ……..business? 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.

ATTENTION

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.

FEET 

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

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

BED

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

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

NAME

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.

HEART

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

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

RAISE

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

Key Word Transformations

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

ATTENTION

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.

FEET 

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

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

BED

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.

NAME

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.

HEART

She HAS (GOT) HER HEART SET // ON BECOMING an actress.

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

RAISE

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

Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

C2 Proficiency: Use of English Worksheet & Conversation

C2 Proficiency: Exam Technique – Reading Part 7 – Tim's Free English Lesson  Plans

This is a lesson plan for students preparing to take the C2 Proficiency exam. Students look at some typical phrasal verbs, collocations and dependent prepositions that often come up in the exam and put them into practice in conversation. Download the handout, key and accompanying slides below:

Procedure

First of all students have to choose from two prepositions to complete the phrasal verbs so that it fits the context of the sentence. Then have them match the phrasal verbs to the definitions in the box below. You could then have students test each other, one says a definition, the other has to recall the phrasal verb.

Show students slide 2 of the presentation and instruct them to turn their handouts over and attempt to recall the missing words in the questions from memory. In this exercise they are required to recall the verb, rather than the preposition. Once they have completed the exercise, have them ask and answer the questions in pairs or small groups and then share any funny/interesting discoveries in open class.

Students then repeat the process for the dependent prepositions. However, in this case, rather than matching definitions, they match synonyms of the collocations to transform the sentence. I most cases they are direct synonyms that fit the same grammatical pattern but in a couple of cases they will need to make changes to the sentence, instruct them to check carefully if the synonym fits.

Slide 4-5 have a similar gapped questions task to the first one for students to complete in pairs. The final exercise contains more expressions and phrasal verbs with prepositions. Have students complete the exercise in pairs, then after checking in open class, have students come up with gapped questions for their classmates to complete. Tell them that their questions must be open-ended and designed to spark conversation, for example:

Are there any things that you’ve done so many times that you can now do ….. auto-pilot?

Feel free to post any of your students’ questions in the comments! Let me know how it goes!

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

C2 Proficiency: Christmas Speaking Practice

Want to do Christmas activities but your students have an exam coming up? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here’s some Christmassy proficiency speaking part 2 tasks. Students work in pairs on a timed collaborative task. Download the PowerPoint below:

You could also give them this speaking phrase sheet:

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, B2 First, Conversation Classes, Proficiency

Where do you stand? Summer Edition

Is SUMMER about to truly start? - The Church Irish Bar Albir

This is a special summer edition of my “Where do you stand?” conversation series. Students decide to what extent they agree with different statements on the topic of summer activities and holidays and then share their views with their classmates. Download the PowerPoint and student handout below:

The PowerPoint has some quite advanced language for discussion on it. You may want to use this phrase sheet, designed with B2 students in mind, for lower levels.

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