Posted in Conversation Classes

Bucket List: Conversation Topic

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Before you use these materials, why not check out our new podcast for learners and teachers alike? It’s called 2Ts in a Pod, have a listen here:


This is a conversation topic, based around the idea of a bucket list, written with higher levels in mind (C1+). However, I have included a version for lower levels.

Download the lesson plan and student’s handout here:

Bucket List Conversation Class

Bucket List Student’s handout Advanced

Bucket List handout intermediate

Bucket List Conversation Class

Write on the board: My grandfather kicked the bucket last week.

Show the first part of the video:

to kick the bucket – to die How else can we say this?

  1. Pass ________
  2. Bite the _______
  3. Give up the ________
  4. ________ one’s last.

To pass away, bite the dust, perish (usually in an accident), give up the ghost, breathe one’s last.

  1. What is a bucket list?

A list of activities that people want to do before they die.

  1. What do you think of this idea?
  2. Have you seen the film?
  3. Who do you think invented this idea?
  4. Why has it become so widely-know?
  5. What is FOMO?

Fear of missing out – a modern phenomenon linked to social media. People tend to think theat they are missing an amazing experience.

Daily Mail Survey Guessing Game.


The Daily Mail newspaper conducted a survey to see what the British public most commonly put on their bucket lists.

Can you guess some activities people chose?

Give students a few minutes to jot down some ideas in pairs. Make it into a game, pairs read out their suggestions one at a time and you award them points depending on where it is in the top 40: 4 points for the top 10, 3 for top 20, 2 for top 30, 1 for top 40.

Language for talking about plans/hopes/dreams

Go over the language in the boxes below:

Positive Negative
I’ve always fancied…

I’m dying/itching to try…

… is a burning ambition of mine.

… would be right up my street.

… is one for the bucket list.

A pipe dream (an unrealistic/improbable dream)

I would jump at the chance to…

If you offered me the chance to…, I would bite your hand off.

I’d give it a go.

I have no desire to…

… doesn’t appeal to me (at all)

Whatever floats your boat.

To each their own

The idea of … doesn’t do anything for me.

You wouldn’t catch me …ing

… is not my thing.

… is not for me.

Daily Mail Top 10

  1. Have a holiday home abroad
  2. Learn a new language
  3. Go on holiday to the Maldives .
  4. Buy a house
  5. Swim with dolphins
  6. Drive Route 66
  7. Ride a hot air balloon
  8. See the Egyptian Pyramids
  9. Go to a casino in Las Vegas
  10. Visit Venice

Have students discuss the top ten and decide if they would be on their bucket list. You can then either show them the rest of the top 40 or go to for more ideas for students to create their own bucket lists. Daily Mail Top 40:

  1. Have a holiday home abroad
  2. Learn a new language
  3. Go on holiday to the Maldives
  4. Buy a house
  5. Swim with dolphins
  6. Drive Route 66
  7. Ride a hot air balloon
  8. See the Egyptian Pyramids
  9. Go to a casino in Las Vegas
  10. Visit Venice
  11. Go up the Empire State Building
  12. Go on a cruise
  13. Go whale watching
  14. Climb a mountain
  15. Go up the Eiffel tower
  16. Learn an instrument
  17. Work in a different country
  18. Float in the Dead Sea
  19. Write a novel
  20. Drive a racing car
  21. Change career
  22. Trek the Inca Trail
  23. Be a volunteer for a good cause
  24. Be an extra in a film
  25. Go scuba diving
  26. Try out surfing
  27. Hold a Koala
  28. Feed a penguin
  29. Get a tattoo
  30. Backpack Europe
  31. Own a designer watch
  32. Ride a gondola
  33. Run a big race
  34. Bungee jump
  35. Reach the top of my career ladder
  36. Own a Mulberry handbag
  37. Ride a camel
  38. Ride on a horse and cart
  39. Write a film
  40. Change hair colour

Daily Mail article:

Posted in Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class, Vocabulary Classes

CAE Speaking Phrases

This post was nominated for a British Council blog award!

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

Just a quick note…

Before you use these materials… We’ve created a new podcast aimed at B2+ level English students and teachers alike. You can listen for free at our SoundCloud page below. You can download teacher’s notes to accompany them from our Facebook page or from this blog. All comments and feedback welcome! Give us a like and a share 😉

CAE Speaking Phrases

Here’s a phrase list for the CAE speaking exam. There are also some speech bubble powerpoints to drill the language in class, click on each phrase to make it disappear. Drill all the phrases repeatedly taking one out each time until the class can repeat all 5 expressions by heart.

I got the amazing speech bubble powerpoint template from thanks guys!

Download the handout and speech bubble powerpoints here:

CAE Speaking Phrases


CAE Speaking Phrases

Likes/dislikesI’m into…I’m a keen/avid (surfer)

I’m keen on/fond of (surfing)

I (go surfing) to unwind, to escape the stresses and strains of my day to day life.

I like nothing more than (to go surfing)

I’m itching to try/go…. (I really want to)

OpinionAs far as I’m concerned,As I see it,

From my point of view,

In my humble opinion,

I’d say that…

Comparing/contrastingBoth pictures show…In this picture they look as though they are…. Whereas/while in this picture…

In contrast

On the other hand

Describing picturesThe first thing that strikes me about this picture is…The thing that really jumps out of this picture is…

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

They could/might/may be…

They could/might/may have just…

I’m pretty sure that they’re feeling…

I’d guess that they are…

AgreeingWe see eye to eye.Yeah, I’d go along with that.


You took the words right out of my mouth.

I couldn’t agree more.

You have a point there.

I’m with you 100% on this one.

DisagreeingWe don’t see eye to eye.I take your point but…

I tend to disagree with you there.

That’s not always the case

I beg to differ

Isn’t it more a case of…

Starting to make a conclusionLet’s get down to the nitty gritty.The bottom line is we have to choose one…

It’s a tough one, I’m torn between … and ….

Shall we go with ….?

Asking for opinionWhat’s your take on….?Where do you stand on….?

In my opinion…., would you go along with that?

What are your thoughts on this?

PersonalisingSpeaking from personal experience,…For me personally,..

This is a topic that is particularly close to my heart…

It’s funny I was just thinking about this the other day.

My gut/initial reaction is…

If I were to choose one of these situations (part 2 pictures), I’d go with… because…

Impressive structuresAnother point I’d like to add about … is…It’s also worth bearing in mind that…

Coming back to what (Javi) was saying about …. I’d also like to point out that…

I think it’s important not to forget that…

The vast majority of people tend to think that…

At the end of the day…

When all’s said and done…

TipsEye-contactActive listening

Open body language

Speak up

Don’t dominate

Asking for repetitionI beg your pardon, I didn’t catch that.Sorry would you mind repeating that?

Could you repeat the question please?

Posted in Exam Preparation Class

CPE Study Guide

Here are some materials to help students prepare for the Cambridge CPE exam.

Cambridge CPE Handbook

Download the latest version of the CPE handbook here:

Click to access 168194-cambridge-english-proficiency-teachers-handbook.pdf

It contains explanations of each part of the exam and practice tests with answers.

Quizlet sets:

Here are loads of different quizlet sets on different parts of the exam:

Join this class for more:

Recommended websites:

These websites have great materials for self-study: – old exam format but still useful.

Writing Handouts

Here are a selection of documents to help prepare students for the writing paper:

CPE Writing part 1 (2)

CAE CPE Writing part 2 plan handout


CPE Report

CPE Review

CPE speaking writing phrases

CPE writing essay 2nd plan

CPE Writing Part 1 walkthrough

Letter of Complaint tim

Narrative Letter

Paragraph Structure

Writing Expressions


Here are links to various prezis on types of writing and grammar points:

Relative clauses:


Inversion 2:


Academic Writing:


Planning Writing:

Narrative/Descriptive writing:

Letter of Complaint:

Book review:



Letter of application:

Speaking Materials:

Agreeingand disagreeing

CPE Speaking part 1

CPE long turn examples

Speaking Long Turn (1)

CAE Speaking Part 2 speculation

CAE Speaking Part 2

Posted in Conversation Classes, Grammar Classes

The Perfect Date – So/Neither do I

This is an activity to practice short answers of agreement “So/neither do I”

Download the handout here:

so neither do I


We use the short answers “So do I/Neither do I” to express agreement or something in common that we have with another person.

We use “So do I” to respond to positive sentences and “Neither do I” for negative sentences.

A: I love Spanish wine. B: So do I!

A: I don’t like fast food. B: Neither do I.

Auxiliary Verbs

The auxiliary verb we use depends on the sentence we are responding to.

Present Simple: DO

A: I love Spanish wine. B: So do I!

A: I don’t like fast food. B: Neither do I.

Past Simple: DID

A: I went to the cinema last weekend. B: So did I.

A: I didn’t like the film though. B: Neither did I.

Or if another auxiliary verb is present we repeat it.

A: I can run the hundred metres in under 11 seconds. B: So ______ I.

A: I wouldn’t like to go there at night. B: ________ _________ __________.

Write the short answer responses in the first person for the following sentences:

  1. I’ve always wanted to visit Hong Kong. __________________________
  2. I’m not a big fan of basketball. _______________________
  3. I’d quite like to try to scuba diving. ___________________
  4. I shouldn’t smoke so much. _____________________
  5. I work in a bank. ______________________
  6. I can’t stand karaoke. _________________
  7. I had seen the film 3 times before. ____________________
  8. I couldn’t believe my eyes! _________________________

We can also use this structure with a possessive pronoun (mine/his/hers etc.)

A: My husband works in finance. B: So does mine.

A: My children go to St. Peter’s school. B: So do mine.

Role-play the perfect date

You go on date with someone you met on tinder. First, complete the following sentences about yourself, and then read them to your date. You discover that you are a match made in heaven!

Student 1:

I’ve always dreamed of_____________________

I’m crazy about_______________________

I can’t bear____________________________

I’m petrified of ___________________________

I will never forget___________________________

I really should _____________________________

Tomorrow I have to_________________________

When I was I child I used to_______________________

When I was little I couldn’t________________________

I’ve been ______ing ________________ for___________________.

My ex was a_______________________

My sister ________________________________

Student 2:

I will always remember________________________

If I wasn’t so ___________________, I would_________________

I must remember to_______________________

I can’t_____________________________

My grandparents__________________________

I should_____________________________

I’d love to________________________

When I was a student I used to_________________________

If I could go back in time, I would______________________

Before last week I had never___________________________

I couldn’t live without ___________________________

I’m a huge fan of__________________________

Disagreeing – A date from hell

If we disagree or don’t share the same taste or opinion as the person we can talk to we can simply repeat the auxiliary verb in affirmative/negative:

A: I love Woody Allen films. B: I don’t.

A: I wouldn’t like to try sky-diving. B: I would. – Repeat the date role play but disagree with everything!

Key 1st exercise:

  1. So have I
  2. Neither am I
  3. So would I
  4. Neither should I
  5. So do I
  6. Neither can I
  7. So had I
  8. Neither could I

Photo rights:

Posted in Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class

CAE/CPE Speaking Part 1: Talking About Yourself

This is a sheet of phrases for the CAE/CPE speaking part 1. In speaking part 1 you are required to answer some questions about yourself. These questions could be about a number of subjects. On the sheet there are nice phrases to use divided by category. Put students in pairs to go over the vocabulary, encourage them to choose their favourite expressions and then test each other on them. Tell students to come up with 1 question related to each category and ask them to their partner, then switch partners and repeat.

Download the handout here.

Phrase list:

Where you live

On the outskirts of the city

Just round the corner from…

A stone’s throw from…

Just off calle…

A ten-minute walk from…

A sleepy/peaceful neighbourhood…

An old apartment block where everyone knows everyone else.

A leafy street/avenue

Bang splat in the middle of…

It’s not much to write home about.

Our place can be a bit chaotic

Your aims for the future

I’ve got a burning ambition to…

It might sound silly but I’ve always wanted to…

I’ll probably follow in my Mum/Dad’s footsteps and become a…

Working in… kind of runs in our family.

With any luck/hopefully, in … year’s time I’ll be…

I haven’t got it all mapped out but I’d like to…

I have absolutely no clue what I wanna do, something to do with…

… is a field which interests me.

Provided I get the grades I’d like to be/study…

If all goes to plan I’m gonna…

… is on my bucket list.

Places you’ve travelled to

I’ve definitely got the travelling bug.

…(The Taj Mahal) blew me away.

I’ve never seen anything like it.



I couldn’t believe my eyes/ears.

The first place that springs to mind is…

I had the time of my life/a whale of a time.

I’ll never get bored of…

Soaking up the culture/atmosphere/sun

Catching some rays

Going for a dip in the pool/sea

Towering skyscrapers

Mind-blowing skyline

Snowy peaks

Rolling hills

Scorching heat

Miles of golden sands

Little secluded coves

Crystal clear water

Golden sands as far as the eye can see

Sleepy villages

Bustling towns/cities/marketplaces

Your occupation

I’m in the middle of my (2nd) year of batxillerat.

I’m in the (2nd) year of a 3-year (psychology) degree.

I’m juggling my studies at… with working at…

I’m completely snowed under with coursework.

I’m up to my eyeballs in assignments.

It’s nonstop at the moment.

It’s a steep learning curve.

I’m getting a lot out of the course.

It’s not really living up to my expectations.

I’m gonna take the selectividad in… I’m hoping to get into… to study..

I’m finding it pretty challenging but definitely worthwhile.

I take several extra-curricular subjects such as… and.. on top of my studies.

At the start it was tough but I’m getting the hang of it now.

I’m working every hour of the day.

Learning languages

I’ve been studying English for as long as I can remember.

I’ve always had a knack for learning languages.

I try to really immerse myself in the language.

Learning languages comes quite easily to me.

I’ve always had a curiosity for other cultures and languages.

I spent (a year) living in (England)

Preference in the arts

I’m squeamish so I don’t like horror films.

I’m easily (scared) so I don’t like…

I make an effort to see …’s films as soon as they come out.

I’m into big blockbusters/more obscure art-house films.

One artist I really look up to is…

I do my best to see (art/films) by … whenever I get the chance.

Spare time activities

I’m a keen/avid + personal noun (skier/surfer/skater/reader/swimmer etc.)

I dabble in…

I’m an amateur + personal noun

I like nothing more than to…

I’m really in to…

I’ve hardly got a spare minute these days but when I get the time I like to…

I can be a bit of a party animal…

I sometimes burn the candle at both ends.

I live for the weekend.

I like to go for a stroll around…

I hang out with friends.

My guilty pleasure is…

I’m a little ashamed to admit it but I’m a big fan of…

I’m doing evening classes in…

I’m a bit of a

·         film buff

·         geek

·         bookworm

·         foody

·         tech-head

·         rocker/metal head

·         culture vulture

Your Personality

I’m not the (superlative most sociable/tidiest) person in the world.

I’m easy-going/happy-go-lucky

I can be a bit (negative adjective)

My friends/family would probably say I was…

At times I can be the typical moody teenager.

Were you to ask my Mum, she’s probably say I was…

I’ve got a short attention span.

I procrastinate a lot.

I’m a bit of perfectionist/motor mouth

I’m a bit of a daydreamer.

I sometimes drift off into my own little world.

I tend to (worry about things)


























Chalk and cheese

Two peas in a pod

… runs in my family

I take after my Mum/Dad

We’re a close-knit family

We’re always having family get-togethers/gatherings

I’m the baby of the family/the middle child.

I’m the eldest so I get to boss my siblings around.

I’m the eldest so I was the guinea pig.

I’ve got a sprawling extended family.

I’ve got a kid brother/sister who really gets on my nerves/drives me up the wall at times.

I don’t know how my parents with us.

I really look up to my…

My family’s originally from… but my great-granddad settled her in …

We’re (Catalan) through and through.

My siblings are pretty competitive; we’re always trying to outdo each other.

My sister’s the brainy one, I’m the artistic one, my little brother is the sporty one.

Friends and social life

I prefer to keep myself to myself.

I’ve got a really close circle of friends.

I’ve got a great support network.

My social life is non-existent at the moment; I’m up to my eyeballs/here in coursework.

Me and my best friend are real kindred spirits.

I can really count on my friends; they’re always there for me.

If I’m feeling blue/down, they always know how to cheer me up/lift my spirits

We’ve been through a lot together.

We met in (primary school/kindergarten) and we’ve been inseparable ever since.

I confide in my best friend.

We hangout all the time.

We’re always taking the mickey out of each other.

Sometimes people drift apart.

I do my best to stay in touch with old friends.

If I’m not with them, I’m glued to my phone texting them most of the time.

I know he/she/they have got my back.


I’m completely hooked on (series name) at the moment.

I can watch a whole boxed set in a weekend.

I don’t watch a lot of tele, I stream everything online nowadays.

I like to keep up-to-date with the news.

I have to admit I watch a lot of trashy tele, shows like… and… are my guilty pleasures.

I’m completely hooked on/addicted to facebook/twitter/instagram.

I can’t do anything without tweeting/posting it.

I’m trying to get into (video) blogging/photography.

I can waste hours bingeing on funny cat videos on you-tube.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Current Affairs Classes

Conversation Topic: Mars One


This is a conversation activity in which students discuss human achievements and the Mars One colonisation project. Either split the class into small groups (3-4) or for smaller groups have a class discussion. You can download the handout here.


  • How many amazing physical achievements (climbing Everest, walking to the South Pole etc.) can you think of?
  • Which achievement was the most impressive?
  • What’s the most physically difficult thing you’ve ever done? (climb a mountain, run a marathon etc.)
  • Are there any you would like to try in the future?
  • Are there any you wish you had tried in the past?
  • Are the world’s best athletes present at the Olympic Games?
  • What type of athletes or sportsmen/women do you think deserve the most respect?
  • What do you think of ‘extreme’ sports (bungee jumping, tightrope walking…)?
  • What do you think is the most impressive human achievement? (not necessarily physical, could be scientific/technological/medical for example the moon landings)

Mars One

  • How much do you know about Mars? Share your knowledge with your group.
  • Are you interested in astronomy and the science of space travel?
  • Do you have any memories of important achievements in space travel?
  • Have you heard of the Mars One project? Share your knowledge with your group BEFORE READING THE DESCRIPTION BELOW.

Mars One is a privately funded project which intends to establish a human colony on Mars by 2025. They plan to send an unmanned spacecraft to the planet in 2018 followed by equipment and supplies over the following 6 years. They are currently accepting applications to be part of the first 4-man crew that will take off in 2024 on a one-way 7 month trip to the red planet. Once the colony is established 4 people will be sent every 2 years.

  • What do you think of the project? Is it realistic?
  • The project is currently accepting applicants to be part of the 4 man crew that will leave in 2024. What kind of people do you think they are looking for?
  • Would you be interested in participating? Why? Why not?
  • What kind of people do you think would apply for the project?
  • If you were running the project what tests would you do on the applicants to check if they are suitable?
  • What are the biggest problems the people could encounter on the 7 month journey to Mars? And when they land?
  • How would you feel if a member of your family wanted to apply for the project?
  • Do you know anyone who you think would like to apply?
  • Why do you think people would apply to be part of the project?
  • Imagine you have been selected to be part of the first crew. You are allowed to take 1 item of hand luggage (standard budget airline size) of personal belongings. What would you take and why?
Posted in Warmers

Warmer: Knock knock jokes


This is a warmer to start the class to introduce knock knock jokes and get students talking, interacting and hopefully laughing.

Here is the handout:knock-knock-jokes

First use the 2 examples to teach students the structure of the jokes. Be sure to teach students the phrases:

“I get it.”/”I don’t get it.” – I understood the joke.

Then give out the jokes (some are duplicated so give them out to students on different sides of the class) have students circulate and tell each other their jokes. Students discuss which one is their favourite.


Posted in Conversation Classes, Current Affairs Classes, Reading Classes

The Spanish Timetable: Reading and Speaking Activity



This is a reading and speaking activity based around an article from the New York Times about possible changes to the Spanish working say timetable. The original article is quite long so I have edited it down a bit, it should be suitable for B2/FCE upwards. Here is a link to the edited version and the discussion questions:

Spain time article

Start by asking students to tell the class about their average day with specific focus on the times at which they get up, eat, go to work, go to bed etc. Ask them if they follow the typical Spanish timetable outlined in the introduction to the article. Do they eat late? Do they have a siesta?

Once they have shared their different schedules set the class a time limit depending on their level to quickly read the article and underline any unfamiliar vocabulary. This could include:

To hunker down – to meet up/get together

a boon – a bonus

a lag – a delay

Go over the new vocabulary on the board, then either split the class into small groups and give out the discussion questions or hold a whole-class discussion. Below are the discussion questions from the hand out:

What’s your initial reaction to the article?

Do you agree with any of the opinions stated? Which ones?

Describe your daily routine; does it follow the “Spanish” timetable?

What are the advantages/disadvantages of both the Spanish and the “European” timetable?

How difficult would you find it to adjust to a new timetable?

Do you think changing the timetable would affect the country’s culture?

Do you think most people would find it easy of difficult to adjust to a new timetable?

Do you think the current system helps people be efficient?


When you have finished the questions you could organise a class debate for/against the idea of changing the Spanish timetable to be more in line with the rest of Europe. Sometimes when organising debate teams it’s a good idea to force your students to argue for a point that they don’t actually agree with. Debate structure should be as follows:

  • Each team presents their argument (3 uninterrupted minutes per team)  – the other team must remain silent but can take notes for the rebuttals later
  • Rebuttals (10 minutes) – Teams can attack the opposition’s arguments based on statements made in the presentation of their argument.
  • Result – Teacher can decide which team has the most coherent argument.

You may find my activity on language of agreement/disagreement useful for the debate.

Posted in Conversation Classes

Role play: Making Polite Requests


Just a quick note…

Before you use these materials… We’ve created a new podcast aimed at B2+ level English students and teachers alike. You can listen for free at our SoundCloud page below. You can download teacher’s notes to accompany them from our Facebook page or from this blog. All comments and feedback welcome! Give us a like and a share 😉

Role play: Making Polite Requests

This is a fun conversation class to help students with language for making, accepting and rejecting polite requests in work or home situations. Here is the link to the handout.

Start by asking students the following:

Have you ever asked for a pay rise?

Have you ever asked for time off?

When was the last time you asked for permission for something? What was it? How did you ask?

First have students brainstorm language of polite requests, then go over the language in the handout.

Making Requests

I was wondering if it would be possible to…….

Is there any chance that I could…….

Would it be alright if I……..

I believe I’m entitled to/I deserve…… (a pay rise/a day off)

Giving Reasons

You see the thing is……………

The problem is that………….

Accepting Requests

Ok, I don’t see why not.

Of course.

No problem at all

Adding Conditions

As long as/provided that/on condition that you……..

Rejecting Requests

I’m afraid that’s just not possible at the moment.

That’s out of the question.

I’m afraid I have to turn your request down.

Once you have gone through the language, put students in pairs and give out the role play cards. Tell students that it is important that they keep their role cards secret as some characters are required to keep certain information secret.

Run the same role play simultaneously and after 4-5 minutes have students report back what happened to the rest of class (a good opportunity to practice reported speech).

Role plays


You are an employee in a company. Next weekend your best friend is having his/her stag/hen party (despedida de soltero). You have to ask your boss for the Monday and Tuesday after off work. Your boss will probably reject the request if he/she knows you are going to a stag/hen party.


You are the boss of the company. An employee comes to ask you something. This particular employee has seemed distracted recently and keeps forgetting important things.


You are and sales person in a company. You are very stressed and you need a rest, you have decided that you want to take a sabbatical to go and volunteer in an elephant sanctuary in Africa for a year. You need to speak to the boss. You are very hard-working and the company is doing very well because of your hard work.


You are the boss of a company. One of your employees comes to ask you something. You have heard a rumour that this employee wants to take a sabbatical. He/she is your best sales person and the company really needs him/her. You can offer him/her a pay rise, a promotion and a 1 month holiday.


You are a strict parent. Your son/daughter comes to you with a request about the weekend.


You are a teenager. Your best friend is having a massive party at his/her house this weekend because his/her parents are away, the boy/girl of your dreams is also going to be there. You need to get your parent’s permission to go but they are very strict and will not give you permission if they know it’s going to be a crazy party.


You are a teacher. Your best student comes to you with a request.


You are a student. You are very intelligent and you work very hard. You want to be a journalist. You have been offered a part time job in a national newspaper. If you take the job you will have to work from 9am-12am on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays but you have classes on these days. Speak to your teacher and see if you can find a solution.