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, Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency

C1/C2 Halloween Spooky Word Formation: The Family Legacy

Haunted Mansion Pictures | Download Free Images on Unsplash

This is a lesson plan for C1/C2 students who are preparing for an upcoming exam but still want to celebrate Halloween in some way. Students read a creepy story about an old family home, practice some word formation and then write their own continuation of the story. I wrote the story myself, let me know what you think! Download the handout and teacher’s notes below:

Pre-Reading

You’re going to read the first part of a horror story called “The Family Legacy”, it involves:

  • A father
  • A son
  • An old house

With your partner, make some predictions about what will happen in the story.

Reading

Read the story, ignore the gaps, see if your predictions were correct.

Roger trudged up the drive of the ancient hall, the seat of his family’s power for over two centuries. It stood on the top of the hill looking down over the land around, a 1. ………………(SYMBOL) effigy of the family’s grasp over the local 2. ……………. (POPULATE). Finally it was his, the jewel in the crown of his 3. ……………… (INHERIT) after his father’s passing the previous week. In the end, the death of the formidable patriarch of the family had been far from the 4. ……………… (PAIN) transition we all hope for, screaming night terrors, lashing out 5. ……………… (VIOLENT), catching his 6. ………………(SUSPECT) carers off-guard, until the final descent into silent 7. …………… (MAD) It was something that had befallen the last three generations of men in his family, a thought that he pushed to the back of his mind as a/an 8. ………………. (VOLUNTEER) shudder ran down his spine.

But it was over, and he could now envisage the 9. …………….. (REALISE) of all the 10. ……………… (BOY) hopes and dreams he had had for this 11. ……………….. (CRUMBLE) pile of stone and wood. As he approached the ancient 12. ………………..(WOOD) door, he took the old iron key from his pocket and unlocked it with a 13. ……………….. (SATISFY) thunk. As he stepped across the threshold his 14. ……………….. (FOOT) echoed throughout the house in a/an 15. ……………….. (SETTLE) way. What struck Roger immediately were the reminders of his father’s 16. ……………….. (QUESTION) taste in decorations; floor to ceiling oil paintings of 17. ……………….. (NOTE) ancestors and the heads of various animals mounted on the walls. He relished the thought of finally 18. ……………….. (CLUTTER) the whole place. No sooner had this thought crossed his mind than around the corner came an almost 19. ……………….. (PERCEIVE) breath of air, which flowed through the ground floor, as if the house itself was reacting to a/an 20. ……………….. (INVITATION) guest. The door slammed shut behind Roger, he heard a loud “clang” as the heavy old key hit the stone of the porch outside. Suddenly gripped by panic he grabbed the door handle and pulled with all his 21. ……………….. (STRONG) but to no avail. A sudden sense of 22. ……………….. (CONFINE) enveloped him, but what really set his nerves jangling and a creeping sense of 23. ……………….. (EXIST) dread curling up his back was the voice calling down the stairs from his father’s study….

Word Formation

Now look at the gaps, try to predict what type of word is needed, then attempt to transform the root words to fit the context.

Language Analysis

  1. How does the writer make the story creepy?
  2. Find two examples of onomatopoeia in the text. 
  3. Find and underline the sentence with “around the corner”
    1. What do you notice about the syntax?
  4. Look for impressive collocations with the following words:
Power…………………………………………Grasp…………………………………………Jewel…………………………………………Patriarch…………………………………………Catching…………………………………………Madness…………………………………………Mind…………………………………………Spine…………………………………………Hopes and dreams……………………………Footsteps…………………………………………Taste…………………………………………Relish…………………………………………Guest…………………………………………Door…………………………………………Panic…………………………………………Strength…………………………………………Sense…………………………………………Nerves …………………………………………

Production

Write the next paragraph of the story. Try to use:

  • Inversions: 
    • No sooner…. than….
    • Hardly/Barely/Scarcely….. when
  • An inversion of place:
    • Into the river jumped the boys.
    • At the top of the stairs sat a black cat.
  • Spooky language:
    • A shiver down the spine
    • unsettling/creepy/etc.
Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency, Reading Classes

C2 Proficiency: Exam Technique – Reading Part 7

C2 Proficiency de Inglés (CPE) del Cambridge: Cómo Aprobarlo | TURBOLANGS

This is a lesson plan for C2 students preparing to take the Cambridge Proficiency exam. Students will learn exam techniques to tackle part 7 of paper 1, the multiple matching exercise. The example task is taken from CUP test book 1. Download the PowerPoint and task below:

Procedure

Lead students through the steps in the PowerPoint. Students should focus on the list of questions first, underlining key words and trying to paraphrase the questions into simpler language where possible. The PowerPoint contains some examples of paraphrasing. Students should then tackle the reading texts in order while referring back to their notes. Encourage them to underline the parts of the text that they think answer each question.

Students should complete the first paraphrasing exercise in pairs. Then for the reading, they should work individually, set a time limit of 15 minutes for them to complete the exercise. Students should then compare their answers and show their partner the sections of the text that they have underlined for each question.

You will find the answer key and annotated copy of the texts on the final slides of the PowerPoint. You should set students another part 7 for homework so that they can put the technique into practice.

Posted in Advanced C1, Exam Preparation Class, Guest Posts, Listening Classes, Reading Classes

C1: Halloween Special – Spoopy Season

This is a guest post by Soleil García Brito just in time for Halloween. This lesson plan is for C1 students. They will discover the spooky origins of the jack-o-lantern and then learn about the new phenomenon of “spoopy” by doing a gapped text reading exercise. Download the handout and teacher’s notes below:

  1. What are the similarities and differences between these two images?
  • Which of these images do you find the spookiest?
  1. Listening (Part 2) VIDEO – The Messed Up Origins™ of Jack-o’-Lanterns

Watch the video (x2) until 5:17 and fill the gaps (1 to 3 words):

  1. Once you think about the name “Jack-o’-lantern”, it becomes evident that this tradition comes from ____________.
  2. Stingy Jack’s personal qualities made the devil ____________.
  3. On his way home Jack saw _______________ on the ground.
  4. The mutilated corpse’s voice was _____________ Satan himself.
  5. The devil was surprised by Jack’s ______________.
  6. Jack prevented the devil from climbing down the tree by surrounding it with ___________.
  7. The devil gave Jack a glowing ember as a _____________.
  8. According to the legend, Jack walks around _____________________ on October 31st.
  • Reading and Use of English (Part 7)

Read the text and choose the correct paragraph from [A]-[G] to fill in the gaps [1]-[6]. There is one extra paragraph, which you do not need to use.

ADAPTED FROM CULTURE DESK – San Francisco Chronicle

What is spoopy? Your guide to the Internet’s favorite Halloween aesthetic

For the past few years, October has not only heralded the return of Halloween and pumpkin spice lattes, it has also marked the dawning of spoopy season. For a small group of people who belong in the center of a Venn diagram of mellowed-out goths and the “extremely online,” the spoopy aesthetic has become a source of joy and comfort in turbulent times.

[1]

“Spookiness is campy, but spoopiness is campy in a very specific way,” says John Paul Brammer, a New York City writer and advice columnist whose popular memes about the demonic goat from the movie “The Witch” are more of the former. “Spoopy’s whole thing is that it is not frightening. It’s not threatening, not arcane, but uses the trappings of the threatening and the arcane to make the joke: OoOoOooOo!!! SpoooOOoooOOooky!!”

[2]

Its origin is much more straightforward than its meaning. In 2009, the word was spotted on a skeleton-theme sign displayed at a Ross Dress For Less store. Though its ascent took some time, the term gained popularity on niche social media communities like Tumblr until it finally reached escape velocity to spread even further.

[3]

Though it might seem random, the delight of this sort of banal creepiness stems from the desire to look an object of fear in the eye — and laugh.

[4]

In political discourse, Prevas points to anti-transgender activists using the image of Frankenstein’s monster to demonize transgender people. Historically, monsters have often stood in for types of people who were undesirable: racial minorities, immigrants, queer people, anyone outside the “normal.” “I love the unsettling part of (spoopiness),” Prevas says, “that disconnect between seeing the creatures which we expect to see in a horror scenario in a perfectly quotidian scene.”

[5]

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it resonates so well right now, at a time when marginalized people’s status feels extremely fraught and political rhetoric insists on estranging us from polite society. This aesthetic defies the imperative to be afraid: Instead, we embrace the monsters as part of ourselves, as neighbours. To let the monster out is, in a sense, letting oneself out. 

[6]

When we look at the skeleton riding a bike, it almost feels aspirational: This is what life could look like if our cloistered selves were set free. As it turns out, spoopiness might be just what we need right now.

[A] Because I’m a restaurant critic, my gauge of whether or not something has hit the mainstream is “The Great British Bake-Off.” In the 10th season, currently airing on the British Channel 4 and Netflix, Spanish contestant Helena Garcia has emerged as a fan favourite thanks to her memorably macabre but cute creations like a chocolate orange tarantula flanked by macadamia nut spider eggs, eldritch horror pies and bloody green “witch finger” biscuits.

[B] What is “spoopy”? It’s the coupling of wildly absurdist humour with terror — an aesthetic unto itself that, like camp, can be hard to articulate.

[C] Spoopy is a reclamation and reframing of these monsters, a mind-set that boasts, “You say I should be scared of this? Hilarious!”

[D] In fables and literary fiction, monsters are the embodiments of everything that society represses: a “warning system” of sorts, says Christine Prevas, a Columbia University Ph.D. candidate whose research focuses on applying queer theory to contemporary horror. The monster is a taboo made flesh: A prepubescent girl turned foul-mouthed, vomiting demon in “The Exorcist”; a bad sexual encounter run amok in “It Follows.”

[E] When I look at this stuff, it reminds me of how I like to “watch” horror movies by reading their plot summaries on Wikipedia: a digital version of peeking at Medusa’s face by holding up a mirror.

[F] This disruption of the narrative of otherness mirrors the way people actually want to be seen. For instance, queer people can be queer outside of designated contexts like gay bars and the privacy of one’s bedroom, Prevas says. “We’re also queer in the grocery store. We’re also queer on a bicycle.”

[G] Much easier than defining it is sorting through what is and isn’t spoopy. As a start, think of it as friendly and somewhat sarcastic horror: A skeleton isn’t, but a skeleton riding a bike? Definitely spoopy. The Babadook isn’t, but the memes that claim that the monster is a proud gay man? Super spoopy.

  • Language focus (15 min)
  1. Vocabulary

Look at the words in bold in the text and discuss the meaning with a partner:

Former 
Somewhat 
Spotted 
Gauge 
Embodiments 
Unsettling 
Mirrors 

Next, fill in the gaps with the vocabulary words in the correct form to fit the context:

  • Jack saw a mutilated corpse with a(n) _____________  look on its face.
  • His mood ___________ the gloomy weather on that Halloween night.
  • Between risking being tricked and facing Jack’s grumbling stomach for the rest of the trip, the devil chose the _________.
  • Some consider him the very _____________ of evil.
  • The devil was ____________ confused by Jack’s request to pay the bill at the bar.
  • Jack ___________ a mutilated corpse on the ground on his way home from the bar.
USEFUL CHUNKSUse the trappings of (sth) Stem from Run amok In a sense
  • After Jack __________ the level of danger he was in, he decided to trap the devil by using crosses.
Posted in Advanced C1, B2 First, Grammar Classes, Writing Classes

B2+ Formal Linkers

Fine 3d Image Of Metal Ring Chain Cartoon Style Stock Photo, Picture And  Royalty Free Image. Image 9852810.

A new worksheet for B2+ students to help them add more cohesion to their writing through the use of formal linkers and connectors. Download the handout and key below:

Lead students through the worksheet. Encourage creativity in the final activity. Set students an FCE or CAE part 1 essay for homework.

Label the groups of linkers (A, B, C, D) with the titles in the box based on their function.

REASON       ADDITION      CONTRAST/CONCESSION      CONDITIONALS
  1. ____________________
  2. One of the main benefits of research into green energy is the impact it can have on the environment. Furthermore, by switching to renewable energy sources, we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels such as oil.
  3. The project failed to live up to the expectations of the management team. What is more, it was €100,000 over budget.
  4. Construction of the solar farm was finished on time. Moreover, workers were able to increase power output by 15% in the first month.
  5. ____________________
  6. Many parts of the world are being ravaged by extreme weather conditions due to/owing to the impact of climate change.
  7. Emissions of harmful greenhouse gases have increased owing to/due to the fact that the world’s population keeps growing.
  8. Further research is needed in order to push the boundaries of our scientific knowledge.
  9. Governments should provide more funding for green energy projects so as to increase their efficiency.
  10. More charging stations for electric cars should be installed so that there are enough to meet demand.
  11. ____________________
  12. Space exploration is undoubtedly an exciting area of research. Even so, is it really the most pressing issue humankind is facing right now?
  13. In spite of/Despite recent technological advancements we have seen, we still know very little about the universe.
  14. In spite of/Despite the fact that time is running out, we must not give up and accept our fate.
  15. Much progress has been made in this field. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to be done.
  16. ____________________
  17. Unless we take steps to combat climate change now, we may be too late.
  18. Even if we manage to reduce emissions considerably, there is no guarantee that it will be enough.
  19. We are still not sure whether or not we are alone in the universe.

Sentence Structure Rules

Group A:

  • What do you notice about the way all 4 linkers are used?

Group B:

Look at the sentences and choose the correct alternative:

  1. Due to/owing to + a noun // a clause (subject + verb + object)
  2. Due to/owing to the fact that + a noun // a clause (subject + verb + object)
  3. In order to + a verb // a clause
  4. So as to + a verb // a clause
  5. So that + a verb // a clause

Group C

  • What do “even so” and “nevertheless” have in common?

Look at the sentences and choose the correct alternative:

  1. In spite of/Despite + a noun // a clause (subject + verb + object)
  2. In spite of/Despite the fact that + a noun // a clause (subject + verb + object)

Group D

Look at the linkers in group D and match them to their meaning

  1. “it doesn’t matter if”
  2. “If we don’t”
  3. “If or not”

Practice

Complete the sentences with a linker from the previous exercise, more than one answer might be possible.

  1. They brought in extra seats …………. everyone could sit down.
  2. ………… you were the only man in the world, I still wouldn’t go out with you.
  3. They planted trees in the garden …………… attract more wildlife.
  4. His CV is impressive. ………….., I’m still not sure if he’s the right candidate.
  5. …………. all their hard work, they weren’t able to complete the project on time.
  6. I was unable to attend the meeting ……………. the heavy snowfall.
  7. Many people have chosen to move out of the city ……………….. house prices have fallen in the countryside.
  8. One benefit of city life is the superior health facilities. ……………….., there are many more job opportunities.
  9. It seems like a very tempting offer. ……………….., I feel I must reject it.
  10. ……………….. we run, we’re going to miss the last train.
  11. I’m still not sure ……………….. we made the right decision.
  12. He cancelled all his morning appointments ……………….. spend time with his family.

Creative Practice

Use linkers to upgrade these sentences for use in a C1 essay. You can also upgrade the language in the sentences.

  1. Shopping in shops is good, but shopping online is better.
  2. We should build more parks because they’re good for people.
  3. People got sad because the pandemic was bad.
  4. It doesn’t matter if you recycle, big companies are bad for the planet.
  5. There are too many cars, that’s why there’s lots of pollution.
  6. We should make drivers pay more to make them take the bus.
  7. Veganism is good but I don’t think I could do it.
  8. Books are good because they help you learn words and you imagine things.
Posted in Advanced C1, B2 First, Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class

B2+ Goat vs Bear – Exam Practice & Discussion

This is a lesson plan for B2+ students. It is based on a text from https://www.iflscience.com/ on the subject of wild animals. It will serve as good exam practice for students preparing to take Cambridge exams and should also be an engaging topic of conversation for teenagers and adults. Download the handouts and slides below:

Link to original article: https://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/badass-goat-killed-grizzly-bear-by-skewering-it-on-its-horns-necropsy-reveals/

Procedure

  1. Show students the second slide of the PowerPoint, encourage them to guess which animal would win.
  2. Show them the second and have them speculate about how a goat would beat a bear.
  3. Give out handout and have students read to confirm their speculations, check in open class.
  4. Have students complete the open cloze, they could work in pairs or individually and then check with their partner. Good practice for Cambridge exams use of English.
  5. Lead students through the vocabulary exercises.
  6. Discussion: Which animal could you beat in a fight? Show students the fourth slide and explain the statistics to them. Put students in groups and have them discuss which animals they think they could beat and how they would do it. 
  7. Lead a discussion on the best way to tackle certain large, dangerous animals. Have students speculate on the best thing to do in each encounter, then check on the internet to see whether or not they would have survived. Board any emergent language and exploit it for recall later.

Open Cloze Key

Apex predators make (1) IT to the top (2) BY being the most efficient hunters in their domain, but every now and (3) THEN an underdog crops up to disrupt the food chain. (4) SUCH an example played out on the mountains of Burgess Pass in Yoho National Park, where Parks Canada retrieved the body of a female grizzly bear. Such a creature would usually (5) BE  the slayer rather than the slain, and most surprisingly of all the assailant turned (6) OUT to be a goat.

The battle (7) TOOK place sometime before September 4 after which Parks Canada was made aware (8) OF the presence of a carcass. Bodies such (9) AS these need to be removed as they can otherwise lure in wildlife that could put visitors to the pass (10) AT risk.

The discovery of a slain bear merits a forensic investigation to determine the (11) CAUSE of death, and so a necropsy (12) WAS conducted on the animal. During the examination, staff noticed that the fatal wounds were at the base of the bear’s neck and in (13) ITS armpits. The attack sites might sound random to the uninitiated, but to experienced park rangers, this was the work (14) OF one extremely lucky mountain goat.

“When grizzly bears attack, they tend (15) TO focus (16) ON the head, neck, and shoulders of the prey, usually (17) FROM above,” Alison Biles, Public Relations and Communications Officer for Parks Canada, told IFLScience. “In turn, the defensive response of mountain goats would (18) BE  to protect themselves using (19) THEIR sharp horns.”

“Grizzly bear predation of mountain goats is relatively common and significant goat activity was observed (20) IN the immediate area. (21) IN this case, it appears that the mountain goat was (22) TRYING/ABLE to defend itself. While rare, other cases of mountain goats defensively killing bears have (23) BEEN reported in the past, (24) WHICH is not completely surprising since mountain goats are strong animals that are well-equipped to defend (25) THEMSELVES” 

Adapted from: https://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/badass-goat-killed-grizzly-bear-by-skewering-it-on-its-horns-necropsy-reveals/ 

Find words or phrases in the text to match these definitions:

  1. Animals at the top of the local food chain. – APEX PREDATORS
  2. Someone in a game or fight who has little chance of winning. – AN UNDERDOG
  3. A killer. – SLAYER – assailant – an attacker
  4. The dead body of an animal. – CARCASS
  5. Attract. – LURE IN
  6. Where your arm meets your chest. – ARMPITS
  7. People without experience. – THE UNINITIATED 
  8. A person who patrols and maintains a national park. – PARK RANGER
  9. To have the tools to do something. – BE WELL-EQUIPPED

Complete the collocations from the text:

  1. MAKE it to the top
  2. Every NOW and then
  3. Such AN example
  4. The assailant TURNED out to be a goat
  5. The battle took PLACE sometime before September 4
  6. Parks Canada was MADE aware of the presence of a carcass.
  7. Put visitors at RISK
  8. An investigation to determine the cause of DEATH

Complete the sentences with one of the collocations:

  1. The police still aren’t sure of the CAUSE OF DEATH
  2. I don’t go out often but EVERY NOW AND THEN I like to meet up with friends and let my hair down.
  3. His carelessness PUT everyone on board the ship AT RISK, it can’t happen again.
  4. I have been MADE AWARE OF some complaints that customers have made and I would like to address them.
  5. The match will TAKE PLACE tonight at the usual address.
  6. To MAKE IT TO THE TOP in this industry you have to work very hard and get lucky.
  7. We thought it was a shark under the boat but TURNED OUT TO BE a piece of rubbish.
Posted in Advanced C1, Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

C1/C2: A Priceless Family Heirloom

Turning Heirloom Jewelry Into a New Design | Jewelry Wise

This is a short text I wrote for C2 students who had to to a proficiency writing on a possession with sentimental value. I haven’t designed a full lesson plan around it yet but it might be useful for other teachers of high levels:

Do you have any possessions that you have inherited from other family members?

Do they have sentimental value to you?

If your house caught fire and you had enough time to save one thing, what would you choose?
My great grandpa’s old stamp collection is a priceless family heirloom that has been handed down from generation to generation. It was his prized possession and he held onto it through thick and thin, travelling the world to collect over 2000 different stamps. Leafing through the pages gives a fascinating insight intoa bygone era. Smelling the pages evokes memories of a seemingly simpler time before all the noise and stress of life in the 21st century. Some would call it a dusty old knick knack but the collection has huge sentimental value to me and has been a source of endless hours of pleasure. It seems that my dad really was a chip off the old block because he has his own collection. This geeky fascination with stamps really seems to run in the family because now my son is crazy about stamps too, I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Apparently a rival collector once offered my dad €200,000 for the collection but he turned it down out of hand. You can’t put a price on that slice of history. Blood really is thicker than water.

Posted in 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Listening Classes

2 Ts in a Pod: Episode 5 – Pet Hates

2ts banner with social media

The fifth episode of our new podcast for B2+ English students and teachers alike is now live! In this episode we’re talking about our pet hates or things that really annoy us. Go to our SoundCloud page and download the teacher’s notes below:

Teacher’s notes EP5 Pet Hates

2Ts in a Pod – Teacher’s Notes Episode 5: Pet Hates

Running Order

  1. Intro convo 00:00-7:40
  2. Vox pop – Nicole – 07:46-09:55
  3. Vox pops – Abbi – 10:00-12:30
  4. Be like you – Berenece – 12:45 – 16:38
  5. 5 Ways to say – 16:50 – 21:00
  6. Knock knock jokes 21:13 – 25:49

Additional Materials

5 Ways to Say

Pet hates/Annoying things

  • People get on my nerves when they walk down the street really slowly. (annoys me)
  • People who sit on the outside seat on the bus when the inside seat is free drive me insane/drive me up the wall! (annoys me)
  • Annoying people get on my tits. (annoys me *informal/rude*)
  • Inconsiderate people really piss me off. (annoys me *informal/rude*)
  • My pet hate/bugbear is inconsiderate people. (a thing that annoys me specifically)

Making polite requests

  • Would you mind turning the volume down? (remember to use …ing!)
  • I wish you wouldn’t leave your socks on the floor. (use wish + would to express annoyance)
  • I’d rather you didn’t smoke in here. (use past simple when changing subject)

Discussion Questions

  • What’s your pet hate/bugbear?
  • What things really get on your nerves when you’re on public transport?
  • What things really get on your nerves at work?
  • What things really get on your nerves at home?
  • What things really drive you up the wall in the street?
  • What things do you wish your parents/partner/kids/siblings wouldn’t do?
  • Role-play: one person is smoking on the metro, the other wants them to stop.
  • Role-play: Parent and teenager arguing about the things each one does that annoys the other.