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:
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:
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:
Write the rest of the story. Use the questions to help you.
What does he decide to do next?
How will he change his life?
What does he do to help him realize his dreams?
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
This is a guest post by Alice from Hot Take English on the topic of superstitions and bad luck. Students discuss common superstitions in English speaking cultures and their own, then read an article about some seriously bad luck. The main grammar focus of the lesson is the 3rd conditional to talk about hypothetical past events. Download the handout and teacher’s notes below:
Below is a list of good and bad superstitions that are particularly popular in the UK and Ireland. Discuss them with a partner. From where do you think they originate? Do you believe they bring bad/good luck?
Things that bring bad luck:
Walking under a ladder
Seeing one magpie
Putting new shoes on a table
Opening an umbrella inside
Things that bring good luck:
Getting pooed on by a bird
Coming across a black cat
Finding a four-leafed clover
What superstitions are there in your culture or country?
Match the words on the left with their meanings on the right.
a) extremely shocked
b) the sale was not successful/the money was not taken out of the person’s bank account
c) not enough
d) the most valuable prize in a game or contest
5. the payment didn’t go through
e) very very happy
f) stopped a ticket from being legally or officially acceptable
7. on top of the world
g) the act of selecting numbers or names randomly to decide the winners of a competition
3) Comprehension check
Read the article. Are these statements true or false?
Rachel Kenny lost the winning ticket.
The 19-year old student was aghast at what had happened.
Rachel and Liam chose different numbers each time they played the lottery.
The money for the lottery tickets was usually taken directly from Rachel’s bank account.
The problem was that Rachel didn’t have enough money in her bank account to pay for the ticket.
Rachel and Liam refuse to play the lottery any more.
4) Grammar practice
With a partner, write down as many third conditional sentences about the article as you can.
E.g. “If the payment had gone through, they would have won the lottery”.
Writing: My Biggest Regret
Write 100-500 words about your “biggest regret”. Include some third conditional sentences.
EuroMillions Player ‘Heartbroken’ After Finding Error Cost Her £182m Lottery Jackpot
The 19-year-old was in shock when her numbers came up – until she noticed a critical problem
Originally published 2 March 2021
A 19-year-old student who thought she had won a £182m lottery jackpot has been left “absolutely heartbroken” after realising an error invalidated the ticket.
Rachel Kennedy, 19, and her boyfriend Liam McCrohan, 21, were stunned when their regular numbers of 6, 12, 22, 29, 33, 6 and 11 came up in the EuroMillions mega jackpot.
Kennedy had played the same numbers for five weeks in a row and had a direct debit set up to automatically play the numbers each week.
The teen was greeted with a message saying she had a ‘winning match’ after last Friday’s draw, according to The Sun.
However, the business student’s hopes of being one of the richest women in Britain were crushed when she found the ticket sale had not gone through due to insufficient funds in her account.
Rachel, of Brighton University, said: “I called my boyfriend Liam and my mum into the room and they couldn’t believe it either so I was like, ‘Oh! My God! I need to call them’.
“I called the number thinking that I had won £182m and they said ‘yeah you’ve got the right numbers but you didn’t have the funds in your account for the payment of the ticket so it didn’t actually go through’.
“I was on top of the world when I thought I had won, but when I found out I hadn’t, Liam was actually more upset than me.”
Rachel said they were “absolutely heartbroken” – and now thinks of her usual weekly numbers as “unlucky” and has decided to change them.
This is a guest post by Soleil García Brito. It is a lesson plan on the topic of gender roles. Students complete a First-Certificate-style multiple choice cloze exercise, a listening comprehension based on a clip from Friends and finally, a discussion on the topic. Download the student handout and teacher’s notes below:
This is a Halloween-themed speaking lesson plan. It was designed with C2 proficiency students in mind as preparation for speaking part 2. However, it can be used with a wide range of levels. Download the powerpoint below:
This is a grammar lesson for B2 students. Students will be introduced to the language for expressing wishes through a short dialogue from a therapy session. The subject of therapy and mental health may be a sensitive subject with some students so gauge your group carefully. Download all the materials below:
Show the first slide of the presentation, you could either have students come up with their own warmer questions about the topic or use the questions on slide 2.
Language in Context
Give out the handout, have students read the text and then answer the question “how much do you have in common with Natalia?” in pairs. Feedback in open class.
Have students answer the detail questions. These questions are designed to guide students to the examples of the target structures on the text.
Lead students through the next slides. Encourage students to work in pairs to examine the patterns that follow the the target structures. Try to get students to tell you how the structures work rather than vice versa.
Have students complete the practice activity individually and then have them compare their answers with a partner. Encourage them to explain the reasoning behind their choices.
I wish I were/was rich.*
If only I had green eyes.
I wish I had studied more for the exam yesterday.
If only my brother wouldn’t annoy me so much.
I wish I looked like Ariana Grande.
If only my teacher wouldn’t give me so much homework. (hadn’t given me also possible)
This is a lesson plan designed for students on preparation courses for the Cambridge B2 First (FCE) exam. In particular I think it would be good for students who are close to taking the exam. It works as a diagnostic test of a range of the grammar points that are tested, particularly in part 4 of the reading and use of English exam. Download the handout below:
Give out copies of the handout, have students individually assess their grasp of each of the structures. They should fill in the box on the end with either a tick (I know this very well) a cross (I’ve got no idea about this) or a wiggly line (I more or less get this).
Have students compare with their partner. Ask them to look for differences, there should be opportunities for peer teaching here, have one student attempt to explain a grammar point to another.
Project the quizlet set of key word transformations. Put students in pairs. First students need to identify the structure that is being tested. This is a very important step, getting them to put themselves in the examiner’s shoes and not just jump straight in and answer. Check that they’ve identified the structure, then have them work together to try to complete the sentence. Encourage reflection and comparison between their initial self-assessment and then their scores and performance in the exam task.
The checklist is not exhaustive, have I missed any common structures that come up in part 4?
Past simple/Present perfect
I haven’t seen John for 5 years.
The last time I saw John was 5 years ago.
If I won the lottery, I would buy a mansion.
If I didn’t work in construction, I would be an actor.
If I hadn’t slipped on that banana, I wouldn’t have broken my arm.
If I had known you were coming, I would have baked a cake.
The passive voice
Active: The police arrested the man.
Passive: The man was arrested by the police.
Other example: It is said that cigarettes give you cancer.
Cigarettes are said to give you cancer
I regret eating so much -> I wish I hadn’t eaten so much.
It was a bad idea to drink that wine -> If only I hadn’t drunk that wine.
Linkers: Despite/in spite of -> Although/even though
Despite the rain, the party was great -> The party was great even though it was raining.
Although he felt ill, he still went to school. -> He still went to school in spite of his illness.
“I went there last year.” -> He said that he had gone there last year.
“I will call himtomorrow.” -> She said that she would call him the following day.
“Have you been to Paris?” -> He asked me if I had been to Paris.
“Where is the train station?” -> He asked me where the train station was.
He wants to cancel the meeting -> he wants to call off the meeting.
He won’t tolerate bad behaviour -> he won’t put up with bad behaviour.
Causative have/get: have/get something done
I need to get my hair cut.
I need to have my computer repaired.
This restaurant is better than that one -> That restaurant isn’t as good as this one.
He’s not nearly as tall as me.
My brother is slightly younger than me.
No one is as good at football as Messi -> Messi is the best football player.
Past modal verbs:
Should have etc.
The butler must have murdered him, there’s blood on his shirt.
It can’t have been Sarah you saw at the mall, she’s on holiday in Dubai.
I shouldn’t have drunk so much last night.
It was so hot that we couldn’t leave the hotel -> It was such a hot day that we had to stay in the hotel.
It rained so much that the house flooded. ->It was such a rainy day that the house flooded.
I haven’t even had time to keep up with the posts about each episode of our podcast. Terribly neglectful of me. Towards the end of last year we did a little mini series on the Cambridge B2 First or whatever it’s called these days (Cambridge keep changing the name). We looked at most parts of the exam; have a listen by following the links below:
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:
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:
How does Peter Parker feel?
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.
Read the texts about regrettable events from the past and make sentences using the structures.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dick Rowe regrets not signing the Beatles. He should have signed them. If he had signed them, he would have been rich.
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?