Posted in Recommended Websites

English Central

Here are some great class “hooks” from English Central:

There’s also a great piece on 50 pieces of best practice for teachers:

Posted in Recommended Websites

English with a twist

Check out this other great ESL blog:

English Skills: 7 ways of saying “I don’t know”

Posted in Conversation Classes, Current Affairs Classes

Conversation Topic: Mars One


This is a conversation activity in which students discuss human achievements and the Mars One colonisation project. Either split the class into small groups (3-4) or for smaller groups have a class discussion. You can download the handout here.


  • How many amazing physical achievements (climbing Everest, walking to the South Pole etc.) can you think of?
  • Which achievement was the most impressive?
  • What’s the most physically difficult thing you’ve ever done? (climb a mountain, run a marathon etc.)
  • Are there any you would like to try in the future?
  • Are there any you wish you had tried in the past?
  • Are the world’s best athletes present at the Olympic Games?
  • What type of athletes or sportsmen/women do you think deserve the most respect?
  • What do you think of ‘extreme’ sports (bungee jumping, tightrope walking…)?
  • What do you think is the most impressive human achievement? (not necessarily physical, could be scientific/technological/medical for example the moon landings)

Mars One

  • How much do you know about Mars? Share your knowledge with your group.
  • Are you interested in astronomy and the science of space travel?
  • Do you have any memories of important achievements in space travel?
  • Have you heard of the Mars One project? Share your knowledge with your group BEFORE READING THE DESCRIPTION BELOW.

Mars One is a privately funded project which intends to establish a human colony on Mars by 2025. They plan to send an unmanned spacecraft to the planet in 2018 followed by equipment and supplies over the following 6 years. They are currently accepting applications to be part of the first 4-man crew that will take off in 2024 on a one-way 7 month trip to the red planet. Once the colony is established 4 people will be sent every 2 years.

  • What do you think of the project? Is it realistic?
  • The project is currently accepting applicants to be part of the 4 man crew that will leave in 2024. What kind of people do you think they are looking for?
  • Would you be interested in participating? Why? Why not?
  • What kind of people do you think would apply for the project?
  • If you were running the project what tests would you do on the applicants to check if they are suitable?
  • What are the biggest problems the people could encounter on the 7 month journey to Mars? And when they land?
  • How would you feel if a member of your family wanted to apply for the project?
  • Do you know anyone who you think would like to apply?
  • Why do you think people would apply to be part of the project?
  • Imagine you have been selected to be part of the first crew. You are allowed to take 1 item of hand luggage (standard budget airline size) of personal belongings. What would you take and why?
Posted in Conversation Classes

The €100,000 question, conversation topic


Put your students in groups of 3 and ask them the following question:

What would you do with €100,000?

Give them 2 minutes to share their ideas, then have them report each other’s answers to the class. (each person reports someone else from their group’s answer)

Did anyone give it to charity?

Give out the following handout:!452&authkey=!AB2H6x3IinOC6wE

In their groups students discuss the problem and then present their ideas to the class.

As a wrap up ask the students which suggestions they thought were the best, see if they can come to an agreement as a class on how to give the money away.


A long lost aunt that you didn’t know you had has recently passed away. In her will she left your group €100,000 with a note saying it should be given away to “make the world a better place.” Decide in your groups who you are going to give it to.

Making Suggestions

I think we should……………….

I reckon we ought to…………………

Why don’t we………………………..

How about / what about + gerund………………………….

Agreeing / Disagreeing

Agreeing Disagreeing Ending an argument:
  • We see eye to eye
  • I couldn’t agree with you more.
  • That’s exactly how I feel.
  • You have a point there.
  • I was just going to say that.
  • Absolutely.
  • We don’t see eye to eye
  • I take your point but
  • I tend to disagree with you there
  • I’m afraid I have to disagree with you there
  • I beg to differ
  • That’s not always the case.
  • Let’s just move on shall we?
  • I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree.
  • We’ll come back to that later.
Posted in Conversation Classes, Listening Classes

Speaking on the phone in English



This is a fun lesson plan for A2+ students. It can be adapted for different levels.

Here are the handouts you will need:

Discussion questions:!431&authkey=!AAlHxxKilDRy890

Role cards:!430&authkey=!AMxbkbpkHybUhS8

Part 1 – discussion

Start by telling students to get there mobiles out. Encourage each student to talk about their phone. When they got it, what they use it for, if they like it or not.

You can either go through the following conversation questions as a class or split the class into groups of 2 or 3.


What phone have you got?

How many different things can your phone do?

Do you know how to use all of the functions on your phone?

How often do you speak on the phone?

When do you switch off your phone?

When do you think phones should be switched off?

What annoys you about mobile phones?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of mobiles?

At what age should a child have a mobile?

What effect do you think they have had on society?

Have you ever spoken in English on the phone? Where? Why? How was it?


Have students report back their opinions and ideas to the class. Focus especially on the last question. Encourage students to share their experiences of speaking English on the phone.


Part 2 – phone role plays

Put students in pairs and tell them to swap phone numbers with their partners in English.

Assign letters A/B to to the students.

Tell all As to imagine that they have just arrived in the UK, they have moved to the country to live in and work. They are looking for a flat / house. They have seen an advert on the internet for accommodation, they are going to call the landlord / lady to ask for information.

Tell all Bs that they are landlords/ladies, they are expecting calls from potential tenants. Give all Bs one of the role cards from the handout.

Tell A’s that they will need a pen and paper. They have to call B and take down the following information:

  • Landlord / lady’s personal details – Full name, address, telephone number and email address. Correct spelling!
  • Information about the house they are letting.
  • The price of the rent and whether or not it includes bills.
  • Any rules that the house has.

On the board go over the following:

  • How to read phone numbers (o not zero, 77=double 7 etc.)
  • How to read email addresses (@-at, .-dot, _-underscore etc.)
  • Vocabulary – bills included, fully furnished, €300 a month, deposit, no pets allowed etc.
  • Polite phrases – could you repeat that please? Could you spell that please? Could you speak slower please? etc.

Now send the landlords / ladies out of the classroom. Encourage the tenants (As) to think of some extra questions to ask about the house.

Tenants call landlords / ladies and take details.

When they have finished ask Bs to come back in and check the details for spelling the winning pair is the one who made the least mistakes. Now rotate the role cards to the left and As and Bs swap roles and repeat.

Afterwards students feed back to class. Was it difficult? Which bits were most difficult? etc.

Here are the role cards:

Mr Smith

Address: 13 Waterloo road, Exeter, Devon EX2 9DT



House information:

Small flat sharing with two other people. Small bedroom with a single bed.


€400 a month bills included

House rules:

No pets, no smoking, no parties.

Mrs. Davis

Address: 17 Park view, Swansea, Wales, SW1 4FG

Tel: 07655423152


House Information:

Large private apartment next to the park. 2 bedrooms with double beds.


€700 a month bills not included

House rules:

No pets, no students,

Miss Johnson

Address: 15 winterbrook park, Bradford, Yorkshire, YO4 4RC

Tel: 01566 344987

House information:

1 bedroom flat on the 8th floor. No furniture included.


€500 a month bills not included

House rules:

Maximum 2 people living in flat, no smoking, pets allowed.

Mr. Brown

Address: 16 Clinton avenue, Exeter, Devon EX1 5GG

Tel: 01392 211345


House information:

Large bedroom in shared student house. Sharing with 3 19 year old students.

Price: €250 a month bills included.

House rules:

There are no rules!!!

Mrs. Folkstone

Address: 1 Green avenue, Newcastle, NW3 9RG

Tel: 01298 600999


House information:

Small room in a family home. Sharing with a family of four.

Price: €500 a month bills and meals included.


No parties, no partners sleeping in the house, no pets, no noise after 9pm.