Posted in Grammar Classes

Regrets, I’ve had a few…

Image result for spiderman

Image credit: marvel.com

This a lesson plan for B2+ students to teach language of regret. It uses a clip from The Amazing Spiderman and texts about historic regrettable decisions. Download the teacher’s notes and student handout below:

Regrets teachers notes

Regrets student handout

Lead-in

Show students a picture of Spiderman and ask them: Why did Peter Parker decide to become Spiderman? They will probably say “because he was bitten by a radioactive spider”, but that’s not why, that’s how. Show them the video clip: Uncle Ben’s Death until 2:25: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qp5m4g7pZ9s

So he became Spiderman because it was his responsibility to stop innocent people like Uncle Ben from getting hurt. Ask students these questions:

  1. What happened?
  2. How does Peter Parker feel?
  3. What could have been different?

Check students’ answers, they will probably try to express Peter’s regret at not saving Uncle Ben. Give out the hand-out and draw their attention to the language of regret at the top.

Language of Regret

Look at the example sentences, what are the formulas for each structure?

  • Peter regrets not stopping the robber.
  • He should have done
  • Uncle Ben shouldn’t have tried to pick up the gun.
  • If Peter had stopped the guy, he wouldn’t have killed Uncle Ben.
  • If Uncle Ben hadn’t tried to pick up the gun, the guy wouldn’t have shot him.

Historical Regrets

Read the texts about regrettable events from the past and make sentences using the structures.

Image result for lance armstrong Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong took performance enhancing drugs before winning seven Tour de France titles. A whistle-blower revealed information about his doping to the press but he denied it for years. Eventually the evidence was too much and he confessed to his crimes live on Oprah Winfrey’s chat show.

Image result for the beatles Decca Records & The Beatles

In 1962, Dick Rowe, an executive at Decca Records, thought guitar groups were falling out of favour. On New Year’s Day that year, The Beatles auditioned to be signed to the record label. Rowe rejected their audition and decided not to sign them. The Beatles went on to become the biggest selling band in history.

Image result for napoleon Napoleon

In 1812 Napoleon invaded Russia with his grand army of 680,000 soldiers. Instead of fighting the French, the Russian army retreated further into Russia burning the farms and supplies as they went. After winning some minor victories the French were forced to retreat because of the freezing Russian winter. Only 27,000 soldiers from the original army survived.

Possible Answers:

  1. Lance Armstrong regrets taking banned substances. He shouldn’t have taken performance enhancing drugs. If he hadn’t taken the drugs, he wouldn’t have won 7 titles.
  2. Dick Rowe regrets not signing the Beatles. He should have signed them. If he had signed them, he would have been rich.
  3. Napoleon regretted invading Russia. He shouldn’t have invaded Russia in winter. If he hadn’t invaded Russia, he might have conquered the whole of Europe.

My Biggest Regret

Students might be reticent to discuss this topic, if so try to encourage them to talk about a friend or family member’s regrets, often a bit of distance can help students open up and express themselves. It could also help if you shared some of your regrets with the class first.

  • Do you have any regrets? What about your family and friends?
  • Have you ever had an accident that was your fault? What happened?
  • If you could relive any part of your life, what would you change?
  • How would your life be different?
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Posted in Grammar Classes

Narrative Tenses: Where were you when…?

Image result for michael jackson dancing

Image credit: www.biography.com

This is a lesson plan designed to help students practice past narrative tenses. The topic is remembering where you were when big events happened. Download the teacher’s notes and student handout below:

Where were you when student handout

Where were you when Teachers notes

Lead-in

Show image of MJ. Sts in pairs: Where were you when you heard that Michael Jackson had died? T makes note of language sts use: use of narrative tenses, errors etc.

Dictogloss

Procedure:

  1. Ask sts: How did Michael Jackson die? (aim: to preteach “take an overdose”)
  2. Tell sts you are going to tell them someone’s story of them finding out MJ had died. Tell them that after you’ve finished you want them to make a note of key words or phrases from the story. While you are reading they should just focus on listening and not write anything.
  3. Read the text at a normal speed pausing at punctuation in a natural way.
  4. Give sts 30 secs to write down key words, then compare and share with a partner.
  5. Tell sts that you’re going to read the text again and you want them to write down any more key words and phrases they hear.
  6. Now instruct sts to try to recreate the text in pairs, tell them not to worry if their version is different.

I was at a festival when I heard that Michael Jackson had died. It was about 3 in the morning and we were sitting in one of the big tents listening to music, drinking and chatting. Suddenly we overheard a guy sitting next to us saying that Michael Jackson had taken an overdose and had died. We thought it couldn’t possibly be true and carried on as before, but then the DJ played Beat it by Michael Jackson, then Billy Jean and then more and more of his songs, we all looked at each other, everyone in the tent realised that it must be true and we all stood up and danced.

Guided Questions:

  1. There are three different past tenses in the text, can you identify them?
  2. Which tense do we use to give a description of a scenario or scene at a specific time?
  3. Which tense do we use to say that an action happened before another action?
  4. Which tense do we use to describe short actions often in sequence?
  5. How do we form the past continuous? Subject + __________ + ___________
  6. How do we form the past perfect? Subject + __________ + ___________
  7. This is a contracted sentence: “Michael Jackson’d taken an overdose.” What is the complete version?

 

  1. Project/hand out the original text and ask sts to compare their version to it. They MUSTN’T CHANGE their version but just make a note of the differences.
  2. In open class go over some of the differences, do their versions still make sense? Are their versions grammatically correct?
  3. Have sts complete the guided questions. Clear up any doubts in open class.
  4. Give out the gapped text about 9/11 and have sts complete it in pairs.
  5. Check their answers using the complete text.

The Day the Towers Came Down.

I was at school when I ______(hear) that terrorists __________(attack) the World Trade Centre. I _________ (stand) outside the school gates ________ (wait) for the school bus and ________(chat) to my friends when suddenly one of the teachers __________(run) out of the school and ________(tell) us that something terrible ____________(happen) in New York. Two planes _________(crash) into the twin towers in New York, when I _________(get) home I __________(watch) the towers collapse on the news with my parents. I’ll never forget where I was that day.

I was at school when I heard that terrorists had attacked the World Trade Centre. I was standing outside the school gates waiting for the school bus and chatting to my friends when suddenly one of the teachers ran out of the school and told us that something terrible had happened/was happening in New York. Two planes had crashed into the twin towers in New York, when I got home I watched the towers collapse on the news with my parents. I’ll never forget where I was that day.

  1. Show sts the pictures of important world events, have them choose one and write a short text about what they were doing when they heard about the news.
  2. Have sts read out their texts and share their own experiences in open class.
Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Guest Posts, Writing Classes

Guest Post – Chasing the Cheese: Writing an FCE Article

Image result for cheese chasing uk

Image credit: Daily Mail

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is the third in a series of guest posts by my friend and colleague Josh Widdows, an English teacher and teacher trainer at International House Barcelona.

Getting FCE students to write an informative and descriptive article can be challenging. This entertaining 2.5/3-hour writing lesson encourages learners to source expressions from authentic texts, be inspired by video input and to annotate a model in order to effectively plan and draft their own article based around the idea of festivals.

Download the Lesson Procedure, PowerPoint and Handouts below:

And check out this video of crazy cheese chasers!

Lesson Procedure: FCE – Writing an article (2.5/3-hour class)

Go straight to No. 6 if you have less time and/or do not have authentic material.
1. (Optional Warmer)- source some authentic magazines, [Metropolitan is a great one for Barcelona], and board ‘Grab a mag’ and have students flick through and find an article that appeals to them. Tell them they will have to summarise the article to their partners.
2. Give Ss a minute to flick and find an article they find appealing. Make sure Ss don’t choose a review or an advert.
3. Ss have a further 2 minutes to scan read the text. Board prompts for them to think about.
a. What attracted you to this article?
b. Why does it have that title?
c. What did you like/ not like about the article?
d. Circle 5 new expressions.
e. Were you entertained? How?
4. Have Ss summarise articles in their own words. In 2s or 3s they ‘present and explain’ their article, using the prompts above.
5. Board up the article titles and have Ss think about why they have these ‘catchy’ titles. These examples are from Metropolitan Barcelona October 2017.
‘ACTUAL’ TITLES ‘BORING TITLES’
eg; – The writing on the wall – Graffiti again
– Clowning around – Theatre group in town
– The Brink of Extinction – The end of the world
Then get Ss to think up the ‘boring’ title for each one and think why that is less appealing. Obviously, these will depend on what material you bring to class.
6. (Warmer) – Show slide 1- ‘Chasing the cheese’ and ask Ss to guess what they think the article is about.
7. Gather ideas and then show slide 2: steep hill/ record crowds/ superhero costumes/ injured racers/ perilous event and predict article’s content.
8. Watch YouTube clip: Gloucester Cheese Rolling 2012 Official;
to see if predictions were correct. Simultaneously think about these questions?

a. What’s the aim of the event?
b. How do the participants achieve this objective?
c. Would you like to get involved in this event? Why/ why not?
9. Compare notes.
10. Read the article handout, (not filling the gaps yet!), and tell each other what else they found out about the event.
11. Ask students whether they’d like to go.
12. Ask Ss what the purpose of the text is- (to entertain and inform).
13. Individually complete open-cloze activity and check in pairs and then with original text.
14. Discuss gaps and reasons for some language items, (ie, fixed expression- you’ll never forget! /linker of contrast- although, etc.)
15. Invite Ss to underline all the synonyms used to mean participant. (4 – Why? As to not repeat and show a range of vocabulary). See handout for answers.
16. Ss underline useful expressions-(What do you get if….?) and strong adverbial phrases- (perilous event).
17. Dictate all the ‘normal adjectives’ (tired through to interested) from the Useful Language and Strong Expressions handout.
18. Ss compare spelling and then board to double check spelling.
19. Get Ss to think of the strong adjective for each, (ie. tired – exhausted/ knackered).
20. Give handout and replace the words in italics.
ANSWERS: 1. Exhausted, 2. Furious, 3. Freezing, 4. Fantastic, 5. Terrified, 6. Enormous, 7. Filthy, 8. Awful, 9. Essential, 10. Fascinated.
21. Show the penultimate slide and have Ss think about the purpose of each paragraph and top tips they would give a fellow student writing an Article for the first time.
22. Check ideas with slide.
23. Ss now complete Writing Articles: Top Tips! handout.
ANSWERS: informative, attractive, title, topic, reader, question, clearly, clearly, consistent, rhetorical, descriptive, consistent.
24. Brainstorm local and/or national events, ie. in Spain: La Merce, La Tomatina, San Fermin, Sant Joan.
25. Get ss to think of ‘catchy’ titles for each one. Examples could be: Run for your life, Las Ketchupped, Burnt to a cinder, Going crackers.
26. Give Ss Article Task and Plan Sheet handout and have Ss plan and draft their articles.

27. Ss complete their articles at home.

28. FOLLOW-UP TASK- having marked their texts, at the start of next class, board their titles and have Ss guess what the events are from the titles. Then Ss read each other’s texts and decide whose is the best. Then they read and edit according to the teacher’s comments.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class

Language for Pair-work

Image result for pairwork

Image credit: Belle Languages

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a powerpoint designed for use with exam classes to encourage students to complete pair-work in English and thus develop the language of negotiating, agreeing and collaborating. Download it below:

pair-work-language

You can use this resource in a number of ways; you can project the slide onto the board for students to refer to while completing pair-work. Alternatively, you could print the main slide out, laminate it and distribute one copy to each pair for the duration of the class. Each pair could then be given a board pen in order to keep track of how many of the expressions they have used during the class, the pair who use the most could then be awarded a prize at the end of the class.

Language

Asking for Opinion Giving opinion Agreeing Disagreeing
•What do you think about number X?

•What about number X?

•Let’s move on to number X.

•Shall we do number X now?

 

•I think /reckon…

•It could / might / may be…

•It can’t be…

•It must be…

•Number (2) is (A), isn’t it?

•It’s definitely not (B).

•I’m absolutely certain it’s (C)

•I have no idea

•I haven’t got a clue.

•I agree.

•Sounds good to me.

•I think you’re right.

•Good idea/point.

•I’m with you on this one.

•I couldn’t agree more.

•You’re absolutely right.

•You’ve hit the nail on the head!

•I’m not so sure.

•That doesn’t sound right to me.

•Are you sure??

•Are you kidding?

•You must be joking!

•You can’t be serious!

•I take your point but…

•No way!

•Don’t be silly!

Posted in Conversation Classes, Grammar Classes

Reported Whatsapps

Image result for whatsapp

Image credit: www.whatsapp.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a new lesson plan for B2+ learners in which students practice reported speech by interpreting emojis and text messages from the popular messaging app Whatsapp. Everything you need is in the powerpoint below:

reported-whatsapps

Students start by reporting the meaning behind various emojis then build up to reporting a section of a text message conversation and then move on to translating and reporting their own text conversations from their phone. It provides great practice of the grammar point as well as opportunities for the emergence of real, useful language in an everyday setting.

Posted in Uncategorized

Teacher Training Workshops in Collaboration with Useful Languages

useful-languages-logo

Image credit: http://www.uflbarcelona.com/#

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

Calling Barcelona-based English teachers! Eleanor Walker, DoS of Useful Languages, and I are going to be setting up weekly teacher training workshops to help teachers tackle exam classes for the main suite of Cambridge exams (FCE, CAE, CPE) starting on Friday February 24th.

  • Venue: Useful Languages – Carrer de Pelai, 44, Primera, 08001 Barcelona
  • Date of first session: February 24th 2017
  • Time: TBA: please complete the survey below
  • Price: €10 per person per 90 minute session, special offer: 6 sessions for €50
  • Contact: If you are interested in attending please contact Useful Languages: sylvie@uflbarcelona.com

We want to base the sessions on your needs so if you’re interested in attending it would be great if you could complete the surveymonkey below so we can get an idea of what to focus on and also the time-slot that suits you best.

Click here to complete the survey

Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Uncategorized

FCE Speaking Phrases

Image credit: www.examensgirona.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

First post in a while as I’ve been tied up with DELTA module 1 exams. Modules 1 and 2 are done! It’s been a fantastic but extremely taxing experience.

So it’s back to the bread and butter of exam prep classes and two long-standing private students have their FCE next week, so I’ve made this handy FCE speaking phrase sheet. Download it below:

FCE Speaking phrases

FCE Speaking Phrases

Likes/dislikes

I’m into…

I’m a keen/avid (surfer)

I’m keen on/fond of (surfing)

I’m a fan of…

Opinion

In my opinion…

I think/reckon…

From my point of view…

 

Comparing/contrasting

Both pictures show…

In this picture we can see… whereas/while in the other picture…

In contrast

On the other hand

Describing pictures

He/she/they seem to be…

He/she is probably…

In this picture it looks as if/though they are…

They could/might/may be…

They could/might/may have just…

In the background there is/are…

At the top/bottom…

In the corner…

Agreeing

You’re absolutely right.

I feel the same.

I couldn’t agree more.

I think so too.

Absolutely/totally.

Disagreeing

I don’t think so…

I take your point but…

Hhhmmm, I’m not so sure…

I see what you mean but…

Starting

Shall I start?

Shall we start with….?

Would you like to start?

Do you mind if I start?

That’s a difficult/interesting question.

Now let me see…

Asking for opinion

What’s your opinion on….?

What do you think about….?

How do you feel about…?

Would you agree with that?

Personalising

Speaking from personal experience,…

For me personally,..

I’d prefer to be in this situation because….

 

Impressive structures

Another point I’d like to add about … is…

Coming back to what… was saying about…

It’s also important to remember that…

Another idea which has just occurred to me is…

Repairing and Rescuing

I can’t remember the word at the moment but…

It’s the thing you use to…

The person who…

I have the word on the tip of my tongue.

The word has slipped my mind.

What I’m trying to say is…

What I mean is…

Asking for repetition

I beg your pardon, I didn’t catch that.

Sorry would you mind repeating that?

Could you repeat the question please?