Posted in B2 First, Exam Preparation Class, Guest Posts, Listening Classes

B2: Halloween Special – Spoopy Season

This is a guest post by Soleil García Brito just in time for Halloween! Students learn about the concert of spoopy vs spooky things and the history of the jack-o-lantern. Download the handouts below:

  1. Describe the images and discuss:
  2. What are the similarities and differences between these two images?
  • Which of these images do you find the spookiest?
  • Reading and Use of English (Part 2)

Adapted from Merriam Webster – Words We’re Watching

The Inside Poop On ‘Spoopy’

Spoopy might startle people, especially around Halloween season. Perhaps it’s the resemblance (1) ______ spooky, which could lead you to believe the formation is nothing more (2) ______ a jaw-dropping typo. Or it could also be that it has poopy in it, which makes the spelling amusing to people (3) ______ enjoy bodily humour. This Internet sensation’s origin was a comical misspelling of the adjective spooky spotted on a department store’s Halloween sign written in a “skeletal” font and photographed. The image was (4) ______ uploaded to the Internet; in short order, spoopy (5) ______ viral. Essentially, the word is used to describe something that typically would be spooky, (6) ______ an image of a skeleton or ghost, but is actually rather comical. The word has other connotations (7) ______ well: it is sometimes used for things that are intended to be spooky but simply fail to scare, or it could describe something that blends cuteness (8) ______ spookiness in a grotesque way.

Watch the video (x2) until 5:17 and answer the following questions:

  1. According to the Youtuber’s previous views, why did people carve pumpkins?
    1. Because they wanted to scare others
    1. Because they didn’t like the taste of pumpkins
    1. Because there were too many pumpkins
  2. Why did the devil go to see Stingy Jack?
    1. To take him to hell
    1. So that he could have some drinks with him
    1. Because he admired him
  3. How did Stingy Jack avoid going to hell the first time?
    1. He trapped the devil in a silver cross
    1. He trapped the devil in his pocket
    1. He left the bar while the devil was paying
  4. Why did the devil climb up a tree?
    1. Because Jack was hungry
    1. Because he was hungry
    1. Because Jack threatened him with crosses
  5. The reason Jack wasn’t allowed in hell was…
    1. He wasn’t evil
    1. He made a deal with the devil
    1. God prohibited him from entering
  6. What does the legend say?
    1. That Jack is happy because he escaped hell
    1. Jack wanders through purgatory with a pumpkin
    1. Jack’s spirit appears in marshes on October 31st
  • Language focus

Watch the video again, complete the sentences below and match the words to their meanings:

  1. Well, it ___________ I was wrong about two things.
  2. A voice comes out ___________ to be Satan himself.
  3. Just ________ yourself ________ a silver coin.
  4. Jack’s soul was sent down to hell where the devil was _________ waiting.
  5. Was cursed to spend eternity __________ through the darkness or purgatory.
  6. Wandering aimlessly through the forests and ____________
Turns outWalking around slowly with no clear purpose or direction
ClaimingIn a way that shows a strong desire to do or have something
Turn (sth/sb) intoSaying that something is true or a fact
EagerlyTo be known or discovered finally and surprisingly
WanderingGround near a lake, a river, or the sea that is always wet
MarshesTo change, transform or develop from one thing to another
USEFUL IDIOMSTo be taken off guard The lesser of two evils
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 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Listening Classes

2Ts in a Pod Episode 52: Pride Month Special – The Wonderful World of Drag

Image credit: Mark Wilding

For episode 52 we spoke to Oscar/Lana Vuli a drag performer based in Barcelona. We spoke about his/her route into drag performance and experiences performing live and on the Youtube Channel “Science Queers”. You’ll find a link to the channel below.

It was a great episode and a really enjoyable interview, we hope you like it!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWR22076Osunb7hiTHfhr1Q

Posted in 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Advanced C1, B2 First, Listening Classes, Proficiency, Reading Classes

2Ts in a Pod: Episode 51 – Book Club – Thursday Murder Club Part 7

Don’t you just love a 2 episode week? We’re back with episode 51 continuing our book club series on Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club.

In this episode we talk about chapters 32-40; we discuss the things that happen, our favourite parts and examine some interesting vocabulary that comes up.

Why not read and listen along? Or, if you’re a teacher, encourage your students to do so.

Listen on SoundCloud:

Or, alternatively, listen on Spotify:

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

Where do you stand? Summer Edition

Is SUMMER about to truly start? - The Church Irish Bar Albir

This is a special summer edition of my “Where do you stand?” conversation series. Students decide to what extent they agree with different statements on the topic of summer activities and holidays and then share their views with their classmates. Download the PowerPoint and student handout below:

The PowerPoint has some quite advanced language for discussion on it. You may want to use this phrase sheet, designed with B2 students in mind, for lower levels.

Posted in Advanced C1, B2 First, Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency

Where do you stand? Education

aswar akka consultancy | How Important is Educational Management and  Organization?

This is another edition of my “Where do you Stand?” conversation series. Students debate different topics related to education but must rate their opinion on a scale from 1-6 before they begin the discussion. Download the PowerPoint and student handout below:

If you want to use it with B2 students you could use this phrase sheet.

Credit to Owlcation for some of the debate topics:

https://owlcation.com/academia/100-Debate-Topics

Posted in Advanced C1, B2 First, Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class, Proficiency

Where do you stand? Science & Technology

Technology and Science | Study Abroad Life

This is another edition of my “Where do you Stand?” conversation series. Students debate different topics related to science and technology but must rate their opinion on a scale from 1-6 before they begin the discussion. Download the PowerPoint and student handout below:

If you want to use it with B2 students you could use this phrase sheet.

Credit to Owlcation for some of the debate topics:

https://owlcation.com/academia/80-Science-Debate-Topics-for-Students

Posted in 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Advanced C1, B2 First, Listening Classes, Proficiency

2Ts in a Pod: Episode 47 – The Unluckiest People in the World

NEW EPISODE! In Episode 47 Tim & Katy tell stories of some of the unluckiest people to have ever lived! Which one do you think is the unluckiest?

This great lesson plan by Alice at Hot Take English is based around one of the hard luck stories from this episode; why not set the podcast for homework and then use the lesson plan in the following class?

Posted in 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Exam Preparation Class, Guest Posts, Reading Classes, Vocabulary Classes

Guest Post: B2 First – A Forgotten Dream

This is a guest post by my friend, colleague and co-host of the podcast 2Ts in a pod, Katy Wright. It’s designed to help students preparing for the B2 first exam get to grips with some of the phrasal verbs and fixed expressions they might encounter in the exam. Students read a text about Jim’s forgotten dream, then try to recreate the text using key words. Download the student handout below:

A FORGOTTEN DREAM

  1. Look at the pictures. What is the story about?
  • Read the story. Were your predictions correct?

Jim couldn’t stand his job. All he did all day was sit at his desk and pretended to work while watching the heavy rain outside his window. He was meant to be selling insurance on the phone, but he wasn’t very good at it. In fact, he had sold very few contracts. This was because all he had ever wanted to do was be an actor in Hollywood. He had loved acting when he was a teenager, but instead of going to America he studied Business and he put off looking for fame. “I’ll look into that when I have finished Uni” he said to himself. This was his biggest regret in life. On his way into work that day, his 15-year-old car broke down. Standing in the rain trying to change the tire he made up his mind. He wasn’t going to carry on like this. He was going to make a big change…

  • Answer the questions in groups.
  • What is Jim’s big dream?
  • Why do you think Jim didn’t decide to become an actor after Uni?
  • What do you think makes him change his mind?
  • What big change do you think he is going to make?
  • What will happen at the end of the story?
  • What do you the expressions in yellow mean?
  • Can you translate them to Catalan/Spanish?
  • Do you have similar expression in Catalan/Spanish?
  • Try to remember the original expression used in the story. The words in brackets are to help you.

Jim hated (STAND) his job. All he did all say was sit at his desk and pretended to work while watching as it rained heavily (HEAVY) outside his window. He should have been (MEANT) selling insurance on the phone, but he wasn’t very good at it. In fact, he didn’t sell many (FEW) contracts. This was because all he had ever wanted to do was be an actor in Hollywood. He had loved acting when he was a teenager, but rather than go (OF) to America he studied Business and he postponed looking (PUT) for fame. “I’ll investigate (INTO) that when I have finished Uni” he said to himself. This was his biggest regret in life. On his way into work that day his 15-year-old car stopped working (DOWN). Standing in the rain trying to change the tire he made a decision (UP). He wasn’t going to continue like this any longer (ON). He was going to make a big change…

  • Write the original expressions here:
  • STAND…………………………………………………………………………
  • HEAVY…………………………………………………………………………
  • MEANT …………………………………………………………………………
  • FEW …………………………………………………………………………
  • OF …………………………………………………………………………
  • PUT …………………………………………………………………………
  • INTO …………………………………………………………………………
  • DOWN …………………………………………………………………………
  • UP …………………………………………………………………………
  • ON …………………………………………………………………………
  • Write the rest of the story. Use the questions to help you.

Middle:

  • What does he decide to do next?
  • How will he change his life?
  • What does he do to help him realize his dreams?

End:

  • Does he finally reach his goals?
  • How does he feel about his situation?
  • Does he ever think about his old life?
  • Read all of the paragraphs and vote on the you think is the best