Posted in Conversation Classes, Grammar Classes

Giving Advice

advice

This is a conversation class to practice different forms of giving advice for B1 – B2 students.

Put on the board:

You should quit smoking

You ought to quit smoking

You had better quit smoking

Put students in small groups and tell them to think about the difference between the 3 sentences. Then have them share their ideas.

should and ought to are basically synonyms although ought to is generally more formal, they are used for giving advice: It would be a good idea if you quit smoking.

had better has a slightly different meaning; it implies that if the advice is not followed something bad could happen. In this context maybe the speaker could be a doctor warning a patient about the results of a recent test.

In this way had better can also be used to threaten:

1: Hey! Where’s that money you owe me?

2: I’ll pay you on Monday.

1: You had better.

Here had better contains the implication of violence.

The grammatical form is as follows:

subject + should / ought to / had better + bare infinitive (infinitive without to)

The negatives are as follows:

You shouldn’t smoke.

You ought not to smoke.

You had better not smoke.

To warm the students up present them with a simple problem that you have, for example: I want to get fit / It’s my partner’s birthday, what should I buy them?

Have the students give advice for these situations.

Then tell students that there are other ways of giving advice, try and elicit the following conditionals:

If I were you, I would / n’t………….

If I were in your shoes, I would / n’t…………

Then give out the following situations for advise, have the first student read out the situation as if it was a genuine personal problem, other students then give them advice. After each situations ask the discussion questions listed below the situations.

  1. I have a friend who is really tight-fisted. Every time that we go out for a drink or a meal he says he hasn’t got any money or he mysteriously disappears to the toilet when the bill arrives. At first we thought “poor John he never has any money”, but he works 6 days a week so he must have some money. What should we do?
  2. My best friend is always flirting with my girlfriend. He always pays her lots of compliments like “Wow! You look fantastic tonight!” Also when we go to parties he often asks her to dance. It’s making me really angry. What should I do?
  3. I share a flat with a friend and she keeps borrowing my things without asking. At first it was just little things like books and DVDs but now she’s started borrowing my clothes and when I want to wear my favourite dress for example, I find it on her bedroom floor unwashed! What should I do?
  4. I have invited 20 people over for a big dinner party, they are arriving in 20 minutes. I was going to cook a big roast turkey but I put the oven temperature too high and it burned! The dinner is ruined! What should I do?

Discussion Questions

Discussion questions for first situation:

  • Do you have any tight-fisted friends?
  • What do they do?
  • What is the custom when it comes to paying the bill in your country?
  • Have you ever had an argument over a restaurant bill?

Second

  • Who has a problem in this situation?
  • Is the speaker right to feel angry?
  • Who is to blame for the anger?
  • Have you or any of your friends ever been in this situation?
  • Are you a jealous person?

Third

  • Have you ever been in a situation like this?
  • Do you lend things to friends? Why? Why not?
  • Do you borrow things from friends? Why? Why not?
  • Have you ever lived in a shared house? What problems did you encounter?

Fourth

  • Have you ever been in this situation?
  • What did you do?
  • What was the worst meal you ever cooked?

Another game to practice this is the following:

Send one student out of the classroom. All the other students have to think of an imaginary problem that he / she has. Invite the student to come back in and sit at the front of the class. The student must guess what their problem is based on the advice they receive from their classmates.

If your students aren’t very imaginative you can use these situations:

  1. I have two VIP tickets to see Barcelona vs Real Madrid on the same night as my mother in law’s 50th birthday party.
  2. I found a wallet in the street with €2000 in it.
  3. I am a great chef, I want to open 300 restaurants and get rich but I have no money.
  4. I got very drunk at the office Christmas party and kissed my boss.
  5. My best friend’s ex girlfriend wants to go on a date with me.
  6. I am the manager of a big company. I have a vacancy for a salesman and my son wants the job, but he has no experience.
  7. I saw my best friend’s girlfriend kiss another man.

Class discussion about advice

Afterwards discuss the following questions about advice as a class:

  1. Who do you go to for advice?
  2. Do they give good advice? Why? Why not?
  3. Who comes to you for advice?
  4. Do you give good advice?
  5. Do you follow your friend’s advice?
  6. What’s the best / worst advice you’ve ever received?
  7. Does advice help? Or do most people ignore it?
  8. Sometimes advice can make you less decisive. Do you agree?
  9. Do you think some people are too proud to ask for advice?
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Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Proficiency Book Club: A Widow’s Quilt by Sylvia Townsend Warner

short stories

This is a series of lesson plans for proficiency level students based around stories from “The Oxford Book of English Short Stories” edited by A. S. Byatt. Set the story as homework the week before, encourage students to bring any vocabulary questions to class.

Vocabulary

Here is some vocab that your students might have trouble with:

page 243

  • the box – the television
  • parlour – a room in a kitchen where food is stored and prepared
  • applique quilts – patchwork quilts

page 244

  • rook – black bird and chess piece
  • blacking out curtains – heavy curtains used during world war two to block light from the windows of the houses
  • taffeta – material made from silk

245

  • to snatch – to take something from another person aggressively
  • jolt – a sudden violent movement

248

  • drudgery – a boring, difficult job
  • fidgeting / to fidget – to move comfortably and nervously
  • to thwart – to prevent the completion of something
  • a harlot – a whore / prostitute
  • to grimace – to make an angry / annoyed face

Discussion

Have your students discuss these questions in small groups or as a class:

  1. What happens in the story?
  2. Can you describe the characters?
  3. What do you think of Charlotte?
  4. How do you think she feels in her marriage? Trapped?
  5. What do her actions say about the position of women in the time the story was written?
  6. What do you think of Everard?
  7. How do you feel for him at the end?
  8. How do you feel for Charlotte?
  9. How can you explain the ending?
  10. Charlotte takes on the challenge of making the quilt, how important is it to have challenges and things to focus your attention on in life? Different stages of life. Things to look forward to etc.
Posted in Listening Classes, Recommended Websites

Amazing website for songs in the classroom

karaoke

Big thanks to my colleague Ana for introducing me to this amazing website:

http://lyricstraining.com/

It has a huge database of different songs in loads of different languages. Students listen to the songs and try to fill in the gaps in the lyrics. There are 3 different difficulty levels ranging from filling in 10% of the lyrics to all of them. It really is a greta resource for filling those last ten minutes of a class or to use as a treat if students behave themselves. Also, students can use it at home to listen to their favourite songs.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Proficiency Book Club: An Englishman’s Home by Evelyn Waugh

short stories

This is the latest in a series of lesson plans for proficiency level students based around short stories from “The Oxford Book of English Short Stories edited by A. S. Byatt. This one is based on “An Englishman’s Home” by Evelyn Waugh, you can read the story for free here:

http://novel.tingroom.com/html/29/149.html

As with the other plans in this series, students read the story for homework and then bring any vocabulary queries or new words they discover to class. Start by asking for these queries. Here are some pieces of vocabulary that might come up in class:

I opened the class by teaching the following 2 expressions: “An Englishman’s home is his castle” and “NIMBY” (Not In My Back Yard) two expressions which neatly sum up the various themes in the story.

aphorisms (page 295)  = sayings / idioms

to wreak stark havoc (296) = to cause chaos

ha-ha (296) = a type of fence built at the bottom of a ditch so that it’s not visible from the house’s windows

Crown Derby (297) = A type of expensive ceramic, plates etc.

impecunious (297) = poor, no money

to pull your weight (298) = to do your share of communal work

to eschew (298) = to avoid

The Peace Ballot (298) = a national survey carried out in 1934-35

jerry builders (302) = cheap unskilled builders

to put / pull a fast one over on somebody (309) = to trick / cheat somebody

to mope (309) = to complain and be worried about something

to fret (309) = to be worried and nervous

Discussion Questions:

  1. What happens in the story?
  2. What do you think of the characters?
  3. What does the story say about people?
  4. Does anybody come out of it looking good?
  5. The story talks a lot about manners and maintaining appearances, do you think these things are as important in your country?
  6. We see Mr. Metcalf trying to follow the instructions on how to live as a country gentleman should. Do you think lots of people act like this in real life? Do they try to act as society expects them to act? Can you think of any examples?
  7. The story reflects English village life very accurately, can you see parallels with villages in your country?
  8. What does the expression NIMBY mean? Do you see examples of NIMBY attitudes in your country? Can you think of any examples?
  9. In the book we see the residents of the village cheated out of their money, what other similar confidence scams and tricks can you think of?

Students may be interested to read about the life of the writer Evelyn Waugh, here is his wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evelyn_Waugh

His most famous book “Brideshead Revisited” has been adapted for the screen twice, the 1981 small screen mini series garnered an excellent response from critics.

 

Posted in Conversation Classes, Games

The Interpreter: Game to practice direct / indirect questions and reported speech.

interpreter

This is a game for upper intermediate students and upwards. The main focus is the differences in structure between direct and indirect questions, something even the highest level English speakers struggle with.

Arrange students into groups of 3. In each group you have 1 interviewer, 1 celebrity and 1 interpreter. Tell students that the interviewer and the celebrity don’t speak the same language (in fact they do, everyone must speak English during the exercise). The interviewer asks a question to the celebrity but for the celebrity to understand the question it must be “translated” into an indirect question by the interpreter. The celebrity can then answer the question but the interpreter must report his / her answer back to the interviewer in reported speech. It can get a little complicated, and careful monitoring is required but students tend to enjoy focusing on the specific grammar point in use. Here is an example of a typical exchange:

Interviewer: Where did you go to school?

Interpreter: He would like to know where you went to school.

Celebrity: I went to school in a big boarding school in the English countryside.

Interpreter: He says that he went to a big boarding school in the English countryside. OR He said that he had been to a big boarding school in the English countryside.

For lower levels encourage the interpreters to report in the present tense to make it easier. There is a lot of pressure on the interpreter, they’re basically doing all the hard grammar work, so make sure you switch roles often.

Other indirect question beginnings could be:

Could you tell us…………….

He /she is interested to know……………..

He / she was wondering……………

Remember the form for yes / no questions:

Direct: Did you like your school?

Indirect: She was wondering if you liked your school.

If students need subjects to ask and answer questions about you can use some of the following:

  1. your favourite film
  2. your first day at school
  3. what you did last weekend
  4. your favourite place in the whole world
  5. the best / worst thing about living where you live

The celebrity students can give true answers about themselves or they can invent fantastical lives for their celebrity persona.

Let me know how it goes in the comments.

Posted in Conversation Classes

Jobs and Career Conversation Class

careerpath

This lesson plan is a conversation class where adult students talk about their childhood, career path and work history. It is suitable for levels B1-C1.

I stole the the first film clip idea from http://www.film-english.com but the second part is all my own.

Lesson plan:

Brainstorm jobs, put students in pairs or small groups and give them 5 minutes to write as many different jobs as they can. Tell them that you’ll award them 1 point for each job that another group has also come up with but 2 points for a unique job that nobody else thought of.

Go through jobs and put them on the board.

Tell students they are going to watch a film called “when I grow up”. They have to make predictions about what’s going to happen in the film. Go through predictions and put them on the board.

Tell them to watch the film and try and note as many jobs as they can from it. (there are a lot!)

Show the film:

Film discussion

Put students in small groups to discuss the following questions:

What’s the film about?

What’s the message of the film?

Do you think it accurately represents the pressures on children nowadays?

Feedback to whole class

Career path discussion

Download the question handout from here:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!323&authkey=!AHaWX3an3ocpNVw

Students discuss the following questions in small groups:

How did you decide which job you wanted to do?

How did you get your job?

What did you want to be when you were a child? Did you get that job?

Who influenced your career choices the most?

Did you have a careers advisor at school?

If so, what did they tell you?

Was your career choice influenced by the grades you got at school?

Have you made any big career changes in your life? Would you like to?

What was your position when you joined your current company / workplace?

Have you ever been promoted?

Have you ever been headhunted?

Do you work in a management role? Would you like to work in one?

What’s more important for your job, your experience or your qualifications?

If you have children would you ever dissuade them from choosing a particular career?

  • Musician
  • Actor
  • Journalist
  • Dancer
  • Doctor

All groups feedback to the class.

Interview Roleplay

What’s more important work experience or life experience?

Students are going to do a job interview roleplay. This works best with groups of 4, 2 interviewers and 2 candidates.

Give out role cards and give interviewers a minute to think of the job that the interview is for. When they have decided give the candidates a minute to invent some relative experience. Interviewers should also come up with some typical difficult interview questions:

Examples:

  • What can you offer the company?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Think of a time when you solved a problem using your own initiative.
  • Think of a time when youmade a mistake at work, what did you learn from it?

Download the role cards from here:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!325&authkey=!AJiYHkz8VOfyYrc

Candidate 1:

You are 35 years old, you have had the same job in the same company since you were 18. You have to change job because your company has gone bankrupt. You have 17 years of experience doing the job you are going for.

Candidate 2:

You are 35 years old. You have had 12 different jobs over the last 17 years. You only worked to save money to go travelling. Now you want to settle down and start a family. Convince the managers that you are the one for the job.

Interviewers:

You have 2 candidates for a role in your company (you decide the role) one candidate has a lot of work experience and the other has a lot of life experience. Interview them both and make a decision.

Feedback, which candidate got the job and why?

freeenglishlessonplans.com

Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Proficiency book club, lesson 3: The Toys of Peace by Saki

toyspeace

This lesson is a short discussion based around “The Toys of Peace” by Saki, a short satirical story about two parents attempts to influence their young boy’s playing habits. For this series of classes I am using short stories from “The Oxford Book of English Short Stories” edited by A. S. Byatt. If you don’t have a copy of the book most of the short stories are available for free online. This particular short story is available here:

http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/ToysPeac.shtml

As with the other lessons in this series the story is set of homework the previous week. The first 5-10 minutes of the class are spent going over any vocabulary issues. This is then followed by a discussion based on the themes and issues which arise in the story.

The author Hector Hugh Munro is considered to be one of the masters of the short story. Many of his works were published posthumously following his death in World War 1. His wikipedia page may prove useful for the class discussion:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saki

After going through any vocabulary problems (there shouldn’t be many as the story only runs to 5 pages) have the students discuss the following questions, either in small groups or as a whole class:

Discussion: Toys of Peace

  1. What happens in the story?
  2. What was your initial reaction to it?
  3. Describe the characters.
  4. What do you think of the parents attempt to influence their children?
  5. Do you think they are well-meaning? Or deluded?
  6. What toys did you play with as a child?
  7. Did your parents ban anything they thought would have a bad influence on you? Toys? TV shows? Etc.
  8. Do you agree with the expression “boys will be boys”?
  9. Do you think children should play with toy weapons?
  10. Should girls be given typically girly toys? Dolls, makeup etc.
  11. Are there any toys / games / other things that you think are a bad influence on children or young people
  12. Should these things be banned?
  13. The story is an example of satire. What do you think it is satirising?
  14. What satirical programs / writers / magazines etc. do you have in your country?

Next week: Nuns at Luncheon by Aldous Huxley

freeenglishlessonplans.com