Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

C2 Proficiency: Key Word Transformation Training #5

This is another training worksheet to introduce some of the expressions that typically come up in part 4 of the proficiency use of English paper. Students work together to guess the meaning of the expressions from the context, then attempt to recall them to complete version 2. Download the handout below:

Then put students in pairs and have them first complete then ask and answer the discussion questions to put the language into more creative practice.

You could then use this quizizz game for future spaced recall/repetition of the expressions.

Version 1

  1. He bears a close resemblance to his uncle.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. The little boy was green with envy to see his cousin riding his new bike.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. She’s been a bit down in the mouth for the last few days.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Look on the bright side, at least it isn’t raining.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. The film is a far cry from the book.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. In his autobiography, he finally set the record straight about the infamous argument with his manager.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Listen, I’ll get straight to the point, we love the house and we want to make an offer.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Keep me posted on the progress with the order, you can call or text anytime.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. The England supporters put their team’s failure to qualify down to bad luck.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. The waiters at the restaurant couldn’t have been more attentive.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Listen, I think we got off on the wrong foot yesterday, can we start over?

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. The police think Julia had something to do with the robbery but I think they’re barking up the wrong tree.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. We can go and have a look but there’s no guarantee that there will be space to park.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. He prides himself on his ability to remember names and dates.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. She’s definitely at home, I caught a glimpse of her when she walked past the window.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. There were no rooms left in the hotel whatsoever.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. At the height of his success, he could get a table at any restaurant he wanted.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. There’s no telling how she’s going to react when you tell her.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. We need to face up to the fact that the money’s gone and we can’t get it back.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. I’m not averse to going to the cinema by myself.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. You’ll have to work your socks off if you want to impress the boss, she’s very demanding.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. I was really nervous when I met my girlfriend’s parents for the first time but they soon put me at ease.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Listen, I’ve said my piece, this matter is no longer open to discussion. Goodbye.

Meaning…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Version 2

  1. He looks very similar to his uncle. (BEARS)

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

  1. The little boy was very jealous to see his cousin riding his new bike. (GREEN)

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

  1. She’s been a bit sad for the last few days. (MOUTH)

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

  1. Be optimistic, at least it isn’t raining. (BRIGHT)

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

  1. The film is very different from the book. (CRY)

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

  1. In his autobiography, he finally told the truth about the infamous argument with his manager. (RECORD)

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

  1. Listen, I’ll talk about the most important thing first, we love the house and we want to make an offer. (POINT)

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

  1. Give me updates about the progress with the order, you can call or text anytime. (POSTED)

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

  1. The England supporters said that bad luck was the reason for their team’s failure to qualify. (PUT)

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

  1. The waiters at the restaurant were extremely attentive. (COULD)

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

  1. Listen, I think we didn’t start our relationship well yesterday, can we begin again? (FOOT/START)

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

  1. The police think Julia had something to do with the robbery but I think they’re choosing the wrong course of action. (TREE)

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

  1. We can go and have a look but we can’t be sure that there will be space to park. (GUARANTEE)

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

  1. He takes great satisfaction in his ability to remember names and dates. (PRIDES)

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

  1. She’s definitely at home, I saw her briefly when she walked past the window. (CAUGHT)

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

  1. There wasn’t a single room left at the hotel. (WHATSOEVER)

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

  1. When he was most successful, he could get a table at any restaurant he wanted. (HEIGHT)

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

  1. Who knows how she’s going to react when you tell her? (TELLING)

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

  1. We need to accept the fact that the money’s gone and we can’t get it back. (FACE)

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

  1. I don’t mind going to the cinema by myself. (AVERSE)

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

  1. You’ll have to work very hard if you want to impress the boss, she’s very demanding. (SOCKS)

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

  1. I was really nervous when I met my girlfriend’s parents for the first time but they soon made me feel comfortable. (EASE)

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

  1. Listen, I’ve said what I want to say, I don’t want to discuss this matter anymore. Goodbye. (PIECE/OPEN)

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

Conversation

Complete the questions, then ask and answer them with a partner.

  1. Which member(s) of your family do you …….. the closest resemblance to?
  2. Are you the kind of person that often feels green with …….. about your friends’ achievements or possessions? Do you think it’s normal to have these feelings? What can we do about them?
  3. If you’re feeling …….. in the mouth, how do you cheer yourself up? Are you someone who tends to look on the bright ……..? Or do you have a more gloomy outlook on life?
  4. Think of a place you’ve visited that was a far …….. from the place where you grew up. How was it different? Was it a good different or a bad different?
  5. If you have to talk to someone about a difficult subject, do you tend to get ……… to the point, beat around the bush or avoid confrontation altogether? What are the pros and cons of each approach?
  6. Think of a celebrity who has recently ……… the record straight about something they did or said in the past. What happened? Do you think they were right to speak out?
  7. When a person becomes extremely successful or famous, how much of their success do you think can be ……… down to luck and how much is about real talent?
  8. What’s the best customer service you’ve ever received? A place where the staff couldn’t ……… been more attentive. How did it make you feel? Does your country generally have good customer service?
  9. Have you ever ……… off on the wrong foot with someone and had to start ………? Did you then go on to become good friends with that person?
  10. Which of your skills/abilities do you pride yourself ………? Why do you think people tend to be overly modest or hide their best talents and abilities?
  11. Have you ever ……… a glimpse of a really famous celebrity? Where were you? What was the celebrity doing? If you could live that moment again, would you do anything differently?
  12. Think of an example of a famous person who is no longer at the height ……… their success. What are they doing now? Do you feel sorry for them?
  13. Are you someone who tends to ……… up to facts when they’re staring you in the face? Or are you sometimes in denial?
  14. “I’m not averse ……… going to the cinema by myself.” – Is this true for you? What are the pros and cons of going to see a film alone?
  15. Did/do you work your ……… off at school or uni? Or just coast along doing the bare minimum?
  16. How can the parents of a new girl/boyfriend ……… you at ease the first time you meet them? Have you ever been in this situation? How did it feel?
Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

C2 Proficiency: Key Word Transformation Training #3

This is another training worksheet to introduce some of the expressions that typically come up in part 4 of the proficiency use of English paper. Students work together to guess the meaning of the expressions from the context, then attempt to recall them to complete version 2. Download the handout below:

Then put students in pairs and have them ask and answer the discussion questions to put the language into more creative practice.

You could then use this quizziz game for spaced recall of the expressions.

Look at the expressions in bold and try to guess their meaning with a partner.

  1. Young women are often discouraged from pursuing careers in engineering due to sexist preconceptions.

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

  1. People who earn under €10,000 a year are exempt from paying income tax.

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

  1. I am behind with my rent payments, I owe my landlord €1000.

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

  1. Whether he’s hot or not is beside the point, he’s my ex-boyfriend so you can’t date him.

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

  1. There is no question of him staying the night with us, he can get a hotel.

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

  1. New restrictions will come into force on Friday night.

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

  1. Going camping in the mountains does not appeal to me at all.

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

  1. The police ruled out the obvious suspect because he had an alibi for the night in question.

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

  1. They made the decision to get married on the spur of the moment.

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

  1. He has set his heart on going to LA to be an actor.

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

  1. When what really happened comes to light, you’re going to be in big trouble.

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

  1. I’m not nearly as good-looking as him, it’s not fair!

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

  1. It is a foregone conclusion that Man City will win the league now.

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

  1. I just took it as read that anyone who applied for the course would have the necessary qualifications.

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

  1. Sadly, he’s just not cut out to be a professional basketball player.

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

  1. I have no idea whatsoever who’s going to win this match.

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

  1. He came in for a lot of criticism after his comments to the press.

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

  1. My horse couldn’t keep pace with the rest of the riders and we soon fell behind.

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

Version 2

Try to recall the expressions using the key words.

  1. Young women are often put off pursuing careers in engineering due to sexist preconceptions. (DISCOURAGED)

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

  1. People who earn under €10,000 a year don’t have to pay income tax. (EXEMPT)

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

  1. I have missed a few of my rent payments, I owe my landlord €1000. (BEHIND)

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

  1. Whether he’s hot or not doesn’t matter, he’s my ex-boyfriend so you can’t date him. (BESIDE)

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

  1. There’s no way he is staying the night with us, he can get a hotel. (QUESTION)

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

  1. New restrictions will become law on Friday night. (FORCE)

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

  1. Going camping in the mountains does not interest me at all. (APPEAL)

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

  1. The police eliminated the obvious suspect because he had an alibi for the night in question. (RULED)

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

  1. They made the decision to get married on a whim. (SPUR)

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

  1. He is determined to go to LA to be an actor. (HEART)

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

  1. When what really happened is revealed, you’re going to be in big trouble. (LIGHT)

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

  1. He’s much better looking than me, it’s not fair! (NEARLY)

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

  1. Man City will definitely win the league now. (FOREGONE)

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

  1. I just assumed that anyone who applied for the course would have the necessary qualifications. (READ)

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

  1. Sadly, he just doesn’t have what it takes to be a professional basketball player. (CUT)

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

  1. I haven’t the foggiest idea who’s going to win this match. (WHATSOEVER)

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

  1. He received a lot of criticism after his comments to the press. (CAME)

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

  1. My horse couldn’t go at the same speed as the rest of the riders and we soon fell behind. (PACE)

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

Discussion

Young women are often discouraged from pursuing careers in engineering due to sexist preconceptions.

  1. Is this true? If so, what can be done to change the situation?

People who earn under €10,000 a year are exempt from paying income tax.

  1. Should anyone else be exempt from paying tax? What can we do to cut down on tax avoidance?

Whether he’s hot or not is beside the point, he’s my ex-boyfriend so you can’t date him.

  1. Is it ever ok to date a friend’s ex? Why? Why not?

New restrictions will come into force on Friday night.

  1. What will you do if new coronavirus restrictions do come into force?

Going camping in the mountains does not appeal to me at all.

  1. Does it appeal to you? Why? Why not?

They made the decision to get married on the spur of the moment.

  1. Have you ever made a big decision on the spur of the moment?

He has set his heart on going to LA to be an actor.

  1. What do you have your heart set on? What will you do to achieve it?

Sadly, he’s just not cut out to be a professional basketball player.

  1. Do you think you’re cut out to be a professional sportsperson? Why? Why not? What skills/traits do you think you’re lacking?

He came in for a lot of criticism after his comments to the press.

  1. Think of a celebrity who has come in for a lot of criticism recently. What did they do? Do you think the criticism was deserved? What’s your opinion of cancel culture?
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 https://tekhnologic.wordpress.com/

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: https://www.ldoceonline.com/

Posted in Advanced C1, B2 First, Conversation Classes, pragmatics

Pragmatics: Everyday Interactions – Contrastive Analysis

See you in a bit. - Post by camillissima on Boldomatic

This is a lesson plan designed to help Spanish speaking students sound more natural in lots of common, everyday interactions. Download the handout and PowerPoint below:

Students do some contrastive analysis of some high frequency expressions in English and Spanish in order to identify some common errors and put the more natural English expressions into practice.

Everyday English: Contrastive Analysis

Contrastive Analysis

Work with a partner.

Complete the second column with direct translations or common mistakes that Spanish speakers make with these expressions.

SpanishDirect Translation/Common MistakeEnglish Equivalent
¡Hasta ahora! ¡Igualmente! ¿Cuánto tiempo? ¿Qué tal? ¡Que vaya bien! ¡Que te lo pases bien! ¡Aquí lo tienes! No te escucho. ¿Qué pasa? No pasa nada ¿Puedes repetir? ¿Cuánto falta para…? Estoy de acuerdo Una cosa/una preguntaUntil now! …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… ………………………………………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… …………………………… ……………………………

Now complete the third column with  the more natural English equivalent.

Buzzer Game

Cut out the situation cards below. Put the cards face down in a pile. Turn over one card, the first person to say the appropriate expression for that card takes the card and scores one point. Keep playing until all the cards have been used.

Your housemate is going to the shop, they will be back in 5 minutes. What do you say to them?Your co-worker says “have a good weekend!” as they leave the office. What do you say to them?
Your partner is leaving to go to an important job interview. What do you say to them?You work in a coffee shop. You hand a customer their cup of coffee. What do you say to them?
You put your hand up in English class, you want to ask the teacher a question. What do you say to them?You see an old friend from school you haven’t seen for a long time. What do you say to them?
You’re speaking on the phone but there is loud music playing. You don’t understand what they’re saying because of the noise. What do you say to them?You get home and see that one of your children is crying. What do you say to them?
Your friend tells you that they’re going to Disneyland this weekend. What do you say to them?Your friend says sorry for arriving late to meet you for lunch. You don’t mind that they’re late. What do you say to them?
Your teacher says something very quickly and you don’t understand. What do you say to them?You’re having a debate at work and you have the same opinion as your co-worker. What do you say to them?
You see your friend in the morning and you want to know how they are. What do you say to them?You’re bored at school and you want to know when you will be allowed to go to the playground. What do you say to the teacher?

Key

SpanishDirect Translation/Common MistakeEnglish Equivalent
¡Hasta ahora! ¡Igualmente!
¿Cuánto tiempo? ¿Qué tal?
¡Que vaya bien! ¡Que te lo pases bien!
¡Aquí lo tienes! No te escucho. ¿Qué pasa?
No pasa nada ¿Puedes repetir? ¿Cuánto falta para…?
Estoy de acuerdo
Una cosa/una pregunta
Until now!/See you now!
Equally!
How much time?
What such?
That it go well.
That you pass it well.
Here you have.
I don’t listen you.
What happens?
Happens nothing
Can you repeat?
How much is left for…?
I am agree
One thing/one question
See you in a bit/sec
Same to you!
Long time, no see!
How’s it going?
Hope it goes well.
Have fun!
Here you go/Here’s….
I can’t hear you.
What’s up? What’s wrong?
No worries/problem.
Sorry, I didn’t catch that.
How much longer until…?
I agree.
I have a question/doubt

Buzzer Game

Your housemate is going to the shop, they will be back in 5 minutes. What do you say to them? See you in a bit/secYour co-worker says “have a good weekend!” as they leave the office. What do you say to them? You too!
Your partner is leaving to go to an important job interview. What do you say to them? Hope it goes wellYou work in a coffee shop. You hand a customer their cup of coffee. What do you say to them? Here you go/Here’s your coffee
You put your hand up in English class, you want to ask the teacher a question. What do you say to them? I have a question/doubtYou see an old friend from school you haven’t seen for a long time. What do you say to them? Long time, no see!
You’re speaking on the phone but there is loud music playing. You don’t understand what they’re saying because of the noise. What do you say to them? I can’t hear youYou get home and see that one of your children is crying. What do you say to them? What’s wrong?
Your friend tells you that they’re going to Disneyland this weekend. What do you say to them? Have fun!Your friend says sorry for arriving late to meet you for lunch. You don’t mind that they’re late. What do you say to them? No worries/problem
Your teacher says something very quickly and you don’t understand. What do you say to them? Sorry, I didn’t catch thatYou’re having a debate at work and you have the same opinion as your co-worker. What do you say to them? I agree
You see your friend in the morning and you want to know how they are. What do you say to them? How’s it going?You’re bored at school and you want to know when you will be allowed to go to the playground. What do you say to the teacher? How long / How much longer until play time?
Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

C2 Proficiency: Inverted Open Cloze

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

This is a lesson plan for C2 proficiency students designed to more fully exploit a use of English part 2 open cloze text. Download the handout below:

The part 2 exercise is taken from the Expert Proficiency Coursebook published by Pearson.

Students first complete the exercise from their books, compare answers with a partner and correct the task in open class. The teacher then instructs them to close their books/fold the handout over and try to complete the second “inverted” version. In this version, different words have been removed from the fixed expressions tested in the original text. Other changes have been made in order to fully exploit the text for more high level lexis such as phrasal verbs and fixed expressions. Students can then refer back to the original in order to check their answers.

You can create your own inverted cloze exercises from any text in your course book. Happy inverting!

Inverted Version

Cover the original exercise.

Complete this version.

The relationship between the modern consumer and their rubbish is a complex one. Getting (1) ……. of rubbish has come to mean a great (2) ……. more than simply consigning breakfast leftovers (3) ……. a plastic bag. With the advent (4)……. recycling, rubbish has now invaded many people’s personal lives to an unprecedented (5) ……. There was a time, (6) ……. living memory, when rubbish collection was a simple matter – but today’s household rubbish, before being (7) ……., has to be filed and sorted (8) ……. colour-coded containers (9) ……. to its recycling category.

What is (10) ……., we are brought (11) ……. in a rash of irritation by the suggestion that, if rubbish collections were to become more infrequent, people would then make the effort to (12) ……. down on shopping and recycle more. We might be excused for wondering (13) ……. this would be possible. Can people realistically buy fewer eggs or (14) ……. of toothpaste than their lives require?

Recycling is supposed to be good for us. But for some, it’s just a (15) ……. of rubbish.

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.

Questions:

  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 Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency, Writing Classes

C2 Proficiency: Hooks for Articles & Reviews

Fishing Hook Stock Photo - Download Image Now - iStock

My C2 proficiency students have just taken a full mock exam and one of the issues their writings had in common was the lack of “hooks” in their articles and reviews to draw the reader in an encourage them to keep reading. So, I put together this lesson plan, based heavily on this great article by Suzanne Davis.

The final task I set my students is on the topic of fame, so you might want to use my “The Life of a Celeb” vocabulary lesson before setting it. Download the handout below:

Procedure

Have students read the opening paragraphs by Gary Provost to each other out loud and ask them to reflect on the message. Encourage them to attempt a similar range of sentence lengths in their own articles.

Have students refer to the 7 steps to success while writing their article for homework.

Lead students through the different types of hook and field questions.

Draw students’ attention to the need to use an engaging title.

Have students read the writing task and underline the content points. Then put them in pairs and have them discuss which hook would work best for this particular task. Then have them choose an expression about fame for their title.

Some possible answers could be:

Story hook: Imagine the scene, you just want to nip to the shops for a pint of milk but no sooner have you stepped out the door than a mob of paparazzi are hassling you. The constant click, click, click of the shutters, the blinding flashes fill your eyes, it’s enough to make you question if it’s all worth it.

Metaphor hook: Fame is, undoubtedly, a double-edged sword; while it bestows upon you all the riches your heart could desire, it slices away such basic comforts as privacy and anonymity.

Quotation hook: As Clive James once said “a life without fame can be a good life, but fame without a life is no life at all”

Writing Part 2 – 7 Steps to Success

  1. Read the task, underline content points.
  2. Organise content points into paragraphs.
  3. WHAT are you going to say? Add notes to paragraphs. STAY ON TOPIC!
  4. HOW are you going to say it?
    1. Register? Formal/informal?
    2. Range of structures: What impressive grammar are you going to use?
      1. Inversions (not only/no sooner/not until/seldom)
      2. Inverted conditionals (Were I to…./Had they known…)
      3. Cleft sentences (What impressed me most was…)
      4. Participle clauses (Having visited the city before, I know what to expect. Being a massive fan of cheese, I had a whale of a time in France)
      5. Double comparatives (The more cheese I ate, the fatter I became. The more I studied the more I understood about French culture.)
    3. Range of vocabulary:
      1. Phrasal verbs. (switch over, zone out, sit back)
      2. Idioms/similes (like watching paint dry/to be on the edge of one’s seat)
      3. Relevant vocabulary to the topic (chat show, current affairs, couch potato, remote control)
      4. Other expressions (Something for everyone, a smorgasbord of options, kill time, etc.)
  5. Forms and conventions: Report/proposal – paragraph titles, letter conventions.
  6. Write!
  7. Check
    1. Repetition
    2. Spelling
    3. Punctuation

An Article “Hook”

Capture the reader’s attention with your introduction, draw them in and make them want to read more.

The Story Hook

Throw the reader straight into a narrative or story related to the topic. The story should be in the 1st person, be descriptive and intriguing:

I got off the train and pulled my luggage behind me.  A cab pulled up to the curb, and the driver got out.  He lifted my luggage and said, “Miss, I’m just going to put your stuff in the boot.”  I didn’t know what he meant until I saw him open the car’s trunk.  Then I realized the boot means car trunk.  I got in the cab, wondering how many other words would be different in England.

Start in the middle of the most exciting part, then go back later:

“Boom, boom, boom,” The sound of my heart beating faster and faster echoed in my ears. How on earth had I got myself into this situation? You might ask. Twenty feet underwater with nothing but a thin metal cage between me and perhaps the most terrifying apex predator on the planet, the great white shark….

Well, it had all started two weeks previously when….

The Descriptive Hook

Similar to the story hook but focus more on describing one moment/thing in great detail. Leave the reader wanting to know more about it.

The dog howled in pain and limped along the side of the road.  His leg was cut and blood streamed down his leg.

Doesn’t this scene make you curious about what will happen to the dog?

The leather strap of the ancient watch was creased and faded from long years in the sunlight. Down the glass of the face ran a long, roughly vertical crack, recalling the blunt impact which had stopped the hands of the timepiece dead all those years ago.

Don’t you want to hear the story of the watch?

The Metaphor/Simile Hook

The metaphor/simile hook engages your readers because it makes them think about a topic in a different way. 

A metaphor is a figure of speech that directly compares one thing to another, but these two things seem unrelated.  An example of a metaphor is: Her boyfriend is a rat.

The boyfriend is not really a rat, but he behaves like one.

A simile is like a metaphor.  Both compare two unrelated things to each other, but a simile uses the words like or as to connect them. For example:  Writing a research paper is like running a marathon when it’s 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your article topic is on business blogging you could write the metaphor hook:

A business blog is a magnet pulling clients to a company.

Or the simile hook:

A business blog is like a magnet that pulls clients to a company.

Metaphor hooks: Marriage is a journey, with its ups and downs.
They say that silence is golden.
Laughter is the best medicine.
Simile hooks: Love is like a fine wine, it matures with age.
My grandmother has always been as tough as an old boot.
The dress fit her like a glove, there was no denying it

The Quotation Hook

This is a hook where you begin your article with a quotation.  The quotation could be from a famous person, but it doesn’t have to be. You can quote anyone if it connects to what you’re writing about.

If you are writing about the topic of education you could begin with: Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”

If you want to use a quotation for a hook, make sure you quote the words exactly.  Choose quotations where the words are striking, powerful, and/ or memorable.

Famous quotes:

  • “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu
  • “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
  • “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon
  • “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” – Joe Kennedy
  • “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
  • “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” – Mae West
  • “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” – Wayne Gretzky
  • “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” – Albert Einstein
  • “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” – Forrest Gump

Article Titles – Keep it Catchy

Most proficiency articles require a catchy title, try to include:

  • An expression/idiom/proverb:
    • Taking the rough with the smooth
    • Life in the limelight
    • Coming face-to-face with a man-eater!
    • The long arm of the law

Task

You recently read an article from an online youth magazine on the pressures of fame for young celebrities. The magazine has invited readers to respond to the topic with a short article of their own, which answers the following questions…

  • Is becoming famous worth it?
  • Do male and female celebrities experience the same pressures?
  • What can be done to shield young celebrities from the drawbacks of fame?
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

Practice

Complete the sentences with one of the expressions.

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

BRAIN

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.

FACE

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

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

WITS

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.

TOP

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. 

BRAINS

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

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

HEADS

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

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

MIND

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

Conversation

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?

KEY – SENTENCE COMPLETION +  DEFINITION MATCH

  1. HEAD – B
  2. MIND – C
  3. WITS – E
  4. BRAINS – L
  5. FACE TO FACE – F
  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

KEY – KEY WORD TRANSFORMATIONS

  1. BEEN RACKING MY BRAIN // TRYING
  2. TO LOSE FACE IN FRONT OF THEIR // PEER
  3. HAVE YOUR WITS ABOUT YOU, // DO NOT LET
  4. THE TOP OF MY HEAD // BUT I AM
  5. WAS THE BRAINS // BEHIND
  6. NOT TO LET MONEY // GO TO THEIR HEADS
  7. HAS A MIND // OF ITS OWN

KEY – CONVERSATION QUESTIONS

  1. SAVE
  2. GIVE
  3. KEEP
  4. FACE
  5. OFF
  6. RACK
  7. BEHIND
  8. LOAD
  9. ABOUT
  10. OWN
  11. BANGING
  12. AT
  13. GOING
  14. CROSSED
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:

Here is a link to a quizziz game you can use for spaced repetition:

https://quizizz.com/admin/quiz/635960fbd051f0001d04ea21?source=quiz_share

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!