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

C1/C2 Review Writing Task: A Life of Crime

This is a writing task for C1/C2 students who are preparing to take the C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency exams and need to practise writing film/TV reviews. You could set it for homework after having used my vocabulary/use of English training activity The Heist. You may also find my lesson plan on incorporating engaging hooks into this type of writing task useful.

Download the handout below:


Your university’s film club is asking for reviews of films or TV shows on the topic of crime. Maybe you’ve seen a thrilling heist movie, a dark film noir or a TV show about the nefarious adventures of a mafia family. Your review should comment on the plot of the film/show, the quality of the script and acting and recommend the film/show to a specific demographic or warn a specific group against watching it. C1: 220-260 words C2: 280-320 words

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 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Listening Classes

2 Ts in a Pod: Episode 4 – Scams!


Image credit: Mark Wilding

Follow us on twitter @RobbioDobbio + @2tspod

Episode 4 of the podcast is now live on our Soundcloud page! Click the link below to listen, you can also download the teacher’s notes.

Teacher’s notes EP 4 Scams

SoundCloud Page

On this episode we were talking about crimes like pick pocketing and mugging as well as other types of scam. We interviewed several people about their experiences being the victims of crime in Barcelona and other parts of the world. Hope you enjoy the show!

2Ts in a Pod – Teacher’s Notes Episode 4: Scams

Running Order

  1. 00:00 – 03:14 – Intro chat
  2. 03:14 – 06:56 – Tim’s pickpocketing story
  3. 06:56 – 09:20 – Vox-pop with Vicky: Scams in Barcelona vs in Argentina
  4. 09:20 – 13:48 – Katy’s mugging story
  5. 13:48 – 17:06 – Five ways to say: Crime/scam expressions
  6. 17:06 – 20:54 – Vox-pop with Beranice: Barcelona robbery story
  7. 21:00 – 26:52 – I wanna be like you with Vicky
  8. 26:52 – 29:00 – Vox-pop with Lisa: Scam stories
  9. 29:00 – end – Thanks, credits, comment

Additional Materials

Five Ways to Say…

  • I totally fell for the scam. (I believed it, I was tricked)
  • I was taken in by the con man. (he convinced/tricked me)
  • This sandwich cost me €8! What a rip-off! (overpriced/too expensive)
  • I got ripped off by the mechanic when I took my car in for a service.
  • I felt like a right idiot/plonker/tit after they stole my bag. (feel stupid)

Discussion Questions

  • Have you ever been pickpocketed? Or even mugged?
    • What happened?
  • What advice would you give someone to help them avoid something similar happening to them?
  • Can you think of any other types of scam? Email scams? Phone scams? etc.
  • What do you think the punishment for these crimes should be?
  • Have you ever been ripped off when you bought something?
    • Where were you?
    • What did you buy?
  • When was the last time you felt like a right idiot/plonker/tit?
Posted in Conversation Classes

Crime and Punishment: Conversation Topic

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Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a conversation topic for adults and teenagers on the subject of crime and punishment. Students discuss how safe they feel in their city, discuss the attraction of crime films and decide the correct punishment for some heinous (and not so heinous) crimes. Download everything below:

Crime and Punishment Lesson Plan

Crime and Punishment

crime film posters



  1. Is your city a safe place to live? Why?
  2. Does your city have any dangerous areas? Where are they?
  3. Are you afraid to walk outside after dark? Why?
  4. Do you know anyone who has been robbed? If so, what happened?
  5. Have you ever been robbed? Have you ever had something stolen from you?
  6. Is it ever okay to break the law? If so, when?
  7. What are some things people can do to protect themselves from crime?
  8. What are some things that are legal but you personally think should be illegal?
  9. What are some things that are illegal but you personally think should be legal?
  10. What crimes have you heard about recently in the news?
  11. What do you think is the worst crime a person could commit? Why?
  12. What crimes do you think will increase in the future? Why?
  13. What crimes do you think will decrease in the future? Why?
  14. Does your country have the death penalty? If so, for what crimes can people receive the death penalty?
  15. Do you think the death penalty is a fair punishment? Why?
  16. Are there any reasonable alternatives to the death penalty? What?
  17. Why do people steal things?
  18. Have you ever had anything stolen from you?
  19. Have you ever stolen anything?

Brainstorm Crimes and punishments

Glamourising Crime

Show pictures of crime films/books.

  • What happens in these films?
  • Why do we sympathise with the criminals?
  • What crimes are glamorous?
  • Can criminals be heroes?
  • What makes a villain a villain?

The punishment fits the crime

Students debate what punishments are appropriate for the crimes in the powerpoint.