Posted in Conversation Classes, Games

Game: Articulate

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This is a great end of year game to play with all ages and levels. It’s based around the popular board game “Articulate” which is a staple in my household at Christmas.

You will need a die and the handouts listed below printed and cut up.

articulate objects

articulate nature

articulate places

articulate famous ppl

For action cards you need to print out the MES flashcards below and write the verb next to the picture:

Click to access can_cards.pdf

Click to access verbs2_cards.pdf

Click to access verbs1_cards.pdf

The Game

Split your class into groups of 3. Have each group come up with a team name and write them on the board. Decide which team goes first. The first player comes to the front of the class and rolls the dice; the numbers correspond to the different categories:

  1. Objects
  2. Nature
  3. People
  4. Places
  5. Actions
  6. You choose

If students roll a 6 they can choose whichever category they like. The player than has 1 minute to describe as many of the words on the cards to their team-mates  as they can. Teams score 1 point for each word correctly guessed. If the describer doesn’t know the word or their team are struggling to identify it, they can pass but they can only pass 3 times. Play then passes to the next team. Play at least 3 rounds so that each member of each team has a go at describing.

The rules to describing are:

  1. You can only pass 3 times.
  2. No miming.
  3. Strictly English only.
  4. No spelling words out.
  5. Silence from other teams while one team is playing.

The game is a perfect opportunity to practice different structures such as relative clauses, adjective order and many more. Below are photos of the prompts I put on the board for my pre-intermediate teenagers class:

Make sure you drill the frames with the students beforehand and do a few yourself to demonstrate. I always carry the (rather battered) card packs in my folder in case I’m ever stuck for an activity for the last 10 minutes of class. Alternatively, play it as an end of term treat and bring sweets for the winning team. Let me know how it goes.


Posted in Games, Vocabulary Classes

Who wants to be a phrasal verb millionaire?

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

I’ve made this set of phrasal verb questions for CAE (C1) students using Adam Simpson’s amazing Who wants to be a millionaire template.

Download the template here to make your own.

Or download my phrasal verb version here:


Or my B1/B2 version that covers verb/noun collocations, prepositions and phrasal verbs:


Posted in Games, Grammar Classes, Warmers

Advanced Relative Clause Pictionary

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

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This is a revision lesson plan for CAE students studying advanced relative clause phrases such as: all of whom, some of which etc.

Here’s the handout:

Advanced Relative Clause Pictionary

Step 1

I use this game as a revision/warmer after we’ve already studied advanced relative clause phrases with which and whom.

Draw two columns on the board with the titles which (objects/things) and whom (people) and have students recall as many relative clause phrases as they can:

Which (objects/things) Whom (people)
In which (where)

All of which

Some of which

None of which

Both of which

Neither of which

(1,2,3) of which

All of whom

Some of whom

None of whom

Both of whom

Neither of whom

(1,2,3) of whom

Students may struggle with the difference between neither of whom/which and none of whom/which.

Neither refers to just two people/things where as none refers to a group of at least three:

Two students came to class, neither of whom had done their homework.

Ten students came to class, none of whom had done their homework.

There were two buses waiting to take people to the city centre, neither of which had enough space for us.

There were three buses waiting to take people to the city centre, none of which had enough space for us.

Cut out the hand out and divide the class into teams, one volunteer must attempt to draw the situation described in the picture, the team that calls out the corresponding sentence gets 1 point. Continue until all the situations have been used.

Draw the following sentences:

A group of children, some of whom are wearing hats, are waiting for the bus. Four houses, two of which are on fire.
A group of men, all of whom are wearing glasses, are watching TV. Two dogs, both of which are eating bones, are at the beach.
Two men, neither of whom has hair, are playing tennis. Two pizzas, both of which have mushrooms, are on the table.
Two snakes, both of which are green, are sleeping on the carpet. Ten bottles, all of which are full, are sitting on the wall.
Five babies, two of whom are sleeping, are lying on the bed. Five cats, some of which are black, are playing with a ball.
Posted in Conversation Classes, Games, Young Learners

Christmas Trivia Quiz

This is a fun Christmas trivia quiz for the last day of term. Bring prizes for the winning team.

Split the class into small groups and get them to come up with a festive team name. There are two rounds, the first is the picture round. Show the pictures in the picture round handout, students have to name the items they see.

The second round is the trivia round. Read out the questions below one at a time, students write their answers on a piece of paper. You can download the list of questions here. Christmas Trivia Quiz

Trivia Round

  1. What are the names of these dates? 24th + 25th, 31st of December, 1st of January. Christmas eve, Christmas day, New Year’s eve, New year’s day.
  2. What do people traditionally do under the mistletoe plant? Kiss
  3. Where do children hang their stockings on Christmas Eve? Next to the fireplace.
  4. Which English author wrote the book ‘A Christmas Carol’? Charles Dickens
  5. In Charles Dickens’ novel A Christmas Carol, how many ghosts visited Ebeneezer Scrooge? Extra points for their names. 4 Jacob Marley, Ghosts of Xmas past, present and yet to come.
  6. Name 2 of Father Christmas’ reindeer apart from Rudolph. Comet, Cupid, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Donner, Blitzen, Alternative question: Which of these names is NOT one of Father Christmas’ Reindeer? Comet, Cupid, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Chaser, Vixen, Donner, Blitzen
  7. The character Jack Skellington appears in which 1993 Tim Burton film? The Nightmare before Christmas
  8. What are the names of the three wise men said to have brought gifts to the baby Jesus? Balthasar, Melchior, Caspar (or Gaspar – Interestingly the Bible does not states state their names, nor even the number of wise men: “…there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem… and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh…” from Matthew 2:1 and 2:11. Thanks A Russell.)
  9. What is New Year’s Eve called in Scotland? Christenmouse, Hogmanay, pigmany
  10. In which modern country is St Nicholas’s birthplace and hometown? Turkey (St Nicholas, bishop ‘Nikolaos of Myra’, 270-343AD, was born a Greek, i.e., of Greek parents in Patara, Lycia. He lived in and was bishop of Myra, Lycia. Patara and nearby Myra, in Lycia, or fully Lycia et Pamphylia, were then technically provincial territory of the Roman Empire with no specific country name. Patara became ruins centuries ago. Where the ancient town of Myra stood, now stands the Turkish town/district of Demre, Antalya Province, Turkey)
  11. From which country does the poinsettia plant originate? Mexico
  12. How many points does a snowflake have? Six
  13. What is the name of the cake traditionally eaten in Italy at Christmas? Panettone
  14. Which country does the tradition of Christmas trees come from? Germany
  15. What do people in England do at 3pm on Christmas day? Listen to the Queen’s speech.
  16. Name 3/5 traditional English Xmas dinner ingredients. Turkey, potatoes, carrots, brussels sprouts, sweet potato, parsnip, broccoli, cauliflower, sausages with bacon.
  17. What 3 things do children leave next to the chimney for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve? A drink, some food, carrots for the reindeer.

Thanks to Business Balls for some of the questions.

Posted in Games, Warmers

Warmer: Cannibals and Missionaries

This is a warmer to get students focused and working together. Use the game “Cannibals and Missionaries”.

Explain the rules to the students:

There are 3 cannibals and 3 missionaries who want to cross a river. There is a small boat which can carry 2 people, 1 person must remain in the boat to row it across the river. If the number of cannibals on any side is greater than the number of missionaries, the cannibals will eat the missionaries. Students need to find a solution to the problem.


We should/ought to…

If we leave the cannibals here, they’ll eat the missionary.

Great idea!

Hold on a minute!

What if we…..?

How about +ing…

Have students work as a class to solve the puzzle.


Posted in Games, Grammar Classes

Inversions of Prohibition – Pictionary

This is an update of my modals of obligation/prohibition lesson plan. This is a fun way to practice the following inversions:

Under no circumstances must you talk in the exam.

On no account should you put your head out the window.

Part 1 – Introduce the structures

Write the following sentences on a piece of paper, cut them up and jumble the words, then give a copy to the students to rearrange in pairs or groups of 3.

You must not speak in the exam.

You must not smoke in school.

The winner is the team who makes the sentences first.

Now elicit what the two sentences express: Prohibition. Now explain that there are two inversion structures we can use to express prohibition in a more formal way.

Model the sentences on the board with the inversion structures, paying particular attention to the way in which the aux verb and subject are inverted and the “not” is removed.

Under no circumstance must/should you speak in the exam.

On no account must/should you smoke in school.

Part 2 – Pictionary

Now split the class into two groups. Tell each group that they need to come up with 10 prohibitions using the two structures as a group and write them on strips of paper, emcourage them to be imaginative and think of crazy prohibitions: Under no circumtances must you sing to the dolphins. To them to work quietly so that the other group doesn’t hear their sentences.

While they work monitor them and correct mistakes.

Now collect in the sentences making sure to keep the two group’s sentences seperate. Now the students play pictionary: 1 volunteer from the first group comes to the board and has 2 minutes to draw as many of the prohibitions written by the other group for their own group to guess. They musn’t speak or write letters. Award 1 point for each sentences they guess correctly.

Let both teams have 2 turns each, the winning team is the one with the most points.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class, Games

CAE First Class – Ice Breakers

Here are some ice breaking activities for a first class with a CAE group.The idea is to get students talking and also to recycle and refresh some grammar and vocabulary that they should have covered in the FCE.

You’ll need this prezi:

Part 1

For the first activity you need to come up with 10 sentences using adjective + preposition combinations. My example is the first slide of the prezi:

1. I’m petrified of heights.
2. I’m brilliant at football.
3. I’m interested in studying German.
4. I’m proud of English cuisine.
5. I’m dreadful at cooking.
6. I’m pessimistic about my football team’s chances.
7. I’m famous for making a delicious Spanish omelet.
8. I’m fond of basketball and rugby.
9. I’m dissatisfied with my team’s 1-1 draw at the weekend.
10. I’m allergic to walnuts.

Dictate the 10 sentences, have your students write them down, then project them or write them on the board. Tell students that five of the sentences are true and five are false. Put the student in pairs and have them discuss the sentences, they can ask you questions to try and catch you in a lie. After about 5 minutes tell students to come to a decision about which are true/false and explain their reasons: “We don’t reckon you’re interested in studying German because….” the team with the most correct answers wins. Use the opportunity to share some information about yourself with your students.

Now tell students that you want them to do the same. Show the second slide of the prezi with other adjective preposition combinations:

accustomed to
addicted to
annoyed with/at sb
annoyed about st
anxious about
ashamed of
awful/dreadful/rubbish at
brilliant/amazing/excellent at
capable of
crazy about
content with
curious about
dissatisfied with
delighted about
experienced in
fed up with
envious of
furious about
fond of
puzzled by
suspicious of

terrified/petrified of
upset about
worried about

Students can use any of these or the ones you used in your 10. Clear up any of the vocabulary and then give students 5 minutes to come up with their 10.

Students read out their 10 sentences to their partner and discuss them trying to guess which are true and which are false. Focus should be on repetition of the adjective + prep but also allow them to chat freely to get to know each other. Change partners and repeat as many times as you like.

Go round the class and have students share any surprising things they discovered, or any of their false sentences that fooled their classmates.

The next slide can be used at the end of the class as a recap of the prepositions from your original ten sentences.

1. I’m petrified __ heights.
2. I’m brilliant __ football.
3. I’m interested __ studying German.
4. I’m proud __ English cuisine.
5. I’m dreadful __ cooking.
6. I’m pessimistic __ my football team’s chances.
7. I’m famous __ making a delicious Spanish omelet.
8. I’m fond __ basketball and rugby.
9. I’m dissatisfied __ my team’s 1-1 draw at the weekend.
10. I’m allergic __ walnuts.

Part 2

This is my take on another classic ice breaker. Project the next slide onto the board:

1. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why? (I’d choose….)
2. Make 2 wishes, 1 present wish and 1 past.
I wish I had brown hair.
I wish I was shorter.
I wish I had studied Spanish at school.
I wish I hadn’t stayed up so late last night.
Explain your wishes
3. Where would you rather go on holiday, the beach or the mountains? Why? (I’d rather go to…)
4. What’s your earliest memory?
5. If you could relive one day in your life which day would you choose and why? (I’d…..)
6. If the weather had been better at the weekend, what would you have done? (I would have…)

Again you might need to tailor the questions a bit. Put students in pairs and have them ask and answer all 6 questions, but first tell them that they have to remember all of the information that their partner tells them. The idea is to get students using the complete grammatical structures so remind them that they have to ask each other the complete questions (not just say “what about number 2”) and give complete answers (I have included the sentence stems). Tell students that they have 10 minutes to ask and answer all of the questions to every person in the class and that they need to remember all the information.

When the 10 minutes is up, split the class into two teams. Ask for a volunteer from team 1 to come to the front of the class and sit in the hot seat, team 2 then have to remember all of that volunteer’s answers to the 6 questions, they receive 1 point for each answer they remember correctly. Remind them to use the complete grammatical structures, this way they are recycled multiple times. Then team 1 has to remember a member of team 2’s answers. Repeat until everyone has been in the hot seat.

By the end of the class you will have hopefully learned all your student’s names, a bit about them and refreshed some grammar and vocabulary.

Posted in Games, Vocabulary Classes, Young Learners

MES flashcards: Games for young learners

This is a post in a series of 30  minute classes for young learners. They have been made for groups I teach which range from 4th to 6th of primary.

This is post is simply a list of games to use with the amazing free resources from:

They have a fantastic selection of downloadable flashcards divided into loads of categories. Each week I have been picking a new category, printing the flashcards and they game cards and playing one of the following games with my groups, it’s a great and fun way to quickly expand students vocabulary.

First stick the set of flashcards to the board and elicit the vocabulary and drill pronunciation.


Bingo – Students draw a 3×3 grid on a piece of paper and fill each box with a piece of vocabulary. You then read out sentences about each character, for example: “I breath fire and fly over the castle.” (Dragon) “I do magic and mix magic potions” (wizard) they cross off the characters they have as you describe them until they get a line or bingo (when they have crossed off all 9 squares).

Mimic – Print out the set of fantasy game cards from MES as well. Split the class into groups of 3-4, encourage the groups to think of an English name for their team. Then they take it in turns to send one member up to the board, this member then has 1 minute to mimic as many of the different characters using the game cards. Their team receives one point for each correctly guessed character. The team with the most points wins.

Board Games – Print out this great pirate gameboard:

Put students in groups of 3-4. Number the flashcards on the board 1-33 (cards will have more than 1 number) students then play the board game but every time they land on a square they have to make a sentence with the corresponding piece of vocabulary: EG “I brush my teeth with a toothbrush.”

Memory/Go fish – Print out multiple sets of the MES game cards, split students into groups of 3-4. Give them two sets of game cards, they spread the cards out face down on the table and play pairs/memory/go fish/whatever you call it where you’re from. Every time they turn over a card they have to say the vocab word and when they find a pair they have to make a complete sentence.

I welcome any more suggestions you might have for other flashcard games.