Posted in Conversation Classes

Ice breaking activity: My life star


Thanks to my Spanish teacher Montse for this activity.

This is a good activity for the first class of a course to break the ice. The students learn a bit about their teacher and then about each other.

It is suitable for levels A2 – C2.

You will need this handout:!297&authkey=!AOyUfMWbXMGz2Uw


Draw or project the star from the handout on to the board. Write a different word or phrase related to your life at each point of the star. For example, you could write your partner’s name, your pet’s name, your favourite band etc.

Lesson plan:

Tell the students that each point represents something important from your life. Put them in small groups, they then have to discuss what each word or phrase represents. Encourage them to use modal verbs of deduction:

“Fido” could / might be his dog’s name. It can’t be his wife’s name.

When they have finish have them put forward their ideas, tell them if they are right or wrong and explain a little about each subject.

Put the students in pairs or threes and give out the handout. Give them 5 minutes to write something at each point. Students then ask and answer questions about each others lives and share information to get to know each other. Tell them to try and remember as much information as possible.

Students change partners or groups. They must then tell their new group as much information about their old groups as the can remember. This is a good way for the students (and the teacher) to use and remember all the other students names.

Wrap up:

At the end of the class have the students recall as much of the information they learned about you as possible. Put them in groups, give them a star they have to remember all your points.

Posted in Exam Preparation Class

CAE Study Guide


This post will give students who are about to sit the CAE exam a rough guide of what to study and links to helpful online tools.

Vocabulary sets for CIC 607 CAE students:

Here you have a link to sets of flashcards I have made on the website There are 39 different sets focusing on various different parts of the use of English section:

Here are individual links to different quizlet sets that will help you prepare for the use of English paper, use the flashcards to study then try clicking on “learn” or “test” at the top, you can also play the games “scatter” and “gravity”: – verbs with prepositions. – Inversions – Letter of complaint – Gerund or infinitive – 82 different key word transformations – more key word transformations – even more key word transformations – use of English revision – word formation – reporting verb patterns – phrasal verbs – more phrasal verbs – word formation


Other useful websites include:

You can also download the CAE handbook here, it contains 2 test papers with the answers.

Where there are online tests and loads of other useful features.

Use of English

There are Use of English papers you can use to practice here:

There are 3 different papers, do 1 a day, make notes on your mistakes and redo the same paper, it helps to make the information stick.

Part 1: Multiple choice cloze

Study Quizlet sets on Collocations, verbs / adjectives with prepositions etc. Then try a practice paper from flo-joe.

Part 2: Open Cloze

Past papers on flo-joe or go back over your notes. Quizlet sets on verbs / adjectives with prepositions and collocations also help.

Part 3: Word formation

There are lots of sets on quizlet for word formation. Also you can download a word formation list here:!190&authkey=!ACS0L7Fi2v-suyo

Then do past papers on flo-joe.

Part 4: Key word transformations

There are lots of key word transformation sets and phrasal verb sets on quizlet and past papers on flo-joe.

Also check flo-joe’s daily word bank for new vocabulary:

Here is a link to quizlet set of 82 Key Word Transformations:

Extra resources:

Collocations practice:!194&authkey=!AIDza1OWzb6yBCc

Or lexical phrase list from here:!197&authkey=!AH-GLrI0X_c_wGs

Exam practice collocations:


Here is an exhaustive collection of useful phrases for writing tasks:

CAE Writing (useful language) (1)

Download the examples of each different writing task and check out the page on the my wiki called CAE writing text types explained.

Examples of each task type:

Explanation of task types:

Remember part 1 is compulsory and it will be a formal essay. In part 2 you can choose from 3 different options. The possible options are: a letter (formal or informal), a report, a proposal and a review.

Also check out flo-joe’s writing class:

There are lots of activities for linking words and expressions, formal / informal language etc.


There’s only 1 Reading paper on flo-joe but it’s better than nothing.


If you want to practice listening you can use this website:

There are a lot of different listening exercises with comprehension questions and vocabulary questions. Try some.

Posted in Recommended Websites

Support the English Disco Lovers!

disco balls

The English Disco Lovers (EDL) is a campaign set up by some open-minded Londoners in retaliation to the rise of the English Defence League (EDL) a racist far right organisation in the UK.

The idea is to replace the English Defence League with the English Disco Lovers at the top of all Google / facebook / twitter searches.

All you have to do is share the English Disco Lovers website on your blog to help fight back against racism and bigotry.

Here is the website:

The more times the link appears on other websites (blogs for example) the further up the google listings it goes.

Posted in Conversation Classes

Christmas conversation lesson


This is a topical lesson plan for the festive season based on comparisons between a traditional British Christmas and Christmas celebrations in the student’s countries.

You will need:

The lesson plan:!278&authkey=!AOWfTUkqHy7AtDc

The discussion questions handout:!279&authkey=!ACygXSBVrDDA5H4

The Christmas in England powerpoint:!127&authkey=!APSM9pHn8j56pvg

The cracker jokes handout:!130&authkey=!AN8mCLV6wHxpSuQ

Brainstorm Xmas traditions in (the country you’re teaching in) in small groups.

Feedback traditions and put on board.

In pairs or small groups students discuss the following:

How many of these traditions do you follow?

Describe and compare your normal Christmas with your partner.

What do you do on Christmas eve? Christmas day? Boxing day? Kings Day?

If you have children what traditions do you follow? Father Christmas? Caga Tio (a Catalan Xmas tradition)?

When do you give presents?

What do you give?

What did you used to do when you were a child?

Do you still follow the same traditions your parents did?

Who in your family is the most difficult to buy presents for? Who is the easiest?

How have other cultures influenced Christmas celebrations in your country?


Christmas is too commercial.

But the statement above on the board, split the class into two teams and assign “for” or “against” to each team. They then have 5 minutes to brainstorm their arguments. Then give them 5-10 minutes to debate the topic. Debate structure should be:

  • 2 minutes for each team to present their argument, the other team mustn’t interrupt, they should make notes ready for the 2nd phase.
  • 2nd phase 5 minutes open debate. Students attack the oppositions arguments and try to defend their own.
  • 1 minute each for a closing statement. Why each team thinks they have won the debate.

Teacher decides which team wins, but as it’s Christmas a draw is probably the fairest result!


British Christmas

Ask students to brainstorm a British Christmas.

Tell students that they are going to watch a presentation about Christmas in England. They have to watch and try to memorise as much as possible.

Show presentation “Christmas in England”

In groups students try to remember as much as they can, in the correct order.

Cracker Jokes

If students hadn’t heard of them before the presentation will have introduced them to Christmas Crackers. Hand out copies of the cracker jokes and have the students tell them to each other. They will get some fairly easily but some might need a little explaining.

Posted in Games

Adventure Game 2

Game board

This is an adventure game that works best with kids or low level adults.

Download the game board and instructions here you will also need 2 dice:

Game board:!275&authkey=!ANCVAjV4J-oSn9g

Game instructions:!276&authkey=!AFCw3ws1u4W1-Zk

The game is a simple problem solving task using a board based on the cult game “Angband”. Letters and other symbols represent different monsters and characters that the students encounter. For example, a “V” is a vampire, whereas a “D” is a dragon. These boards are easy to make, just use Microsoft paint and children really enjoy the adventures. Most importantly they learn new vocabulary and practice it thoroughly.

In each room students are presented with a different scenario and must work out the solution in order to continue the adventure.

Here is the solution to the adventure:

Dungeon game instructions

Students start game in room one (top left corner), they each have 10 hit points.

Room 1

Question monster – What is the capital of Germany?

1st chest contains special soft shoes for sneaking.

2nd chest contains a delicious hamburger.

Room 2

Contains 4 sleeping vampires and a closed window, it is sunny outside.

Solution: Put on special shoes and sneak past vampires to open window which lets the sunlight in and kills them all. Students must roll higher on the dice than the teacher. If they roll lower the vampires wake up and bite them -1 hit point

Room 3

Contains a very fat man and a locked door.

Solution: Give hamburger to Fat man, fat man gives you a gold key, unlock door.

Room 4

Contains a pit full of snakes and a rope.

Chest contains 2 gold coins.

Solution: Use rope to swing over pit of snakes, students must beat the teachers roll on a dice. If they roll lower snake bites them -1 hit point.

Room 5

Contains 2 question monsters and a shop. Shop keeper has a gun with 6 silver bullets and a big block of ice, they cost 1 gold coin each.


Who is the fastest man in the world? Usain Bolt

What is 24 X 4?   96

Solution: Answer questions and buy gun and ice with coins.

Room 6

Contains a huge fire breathing dragon! There are lots of bones on the floor.

Solution: Give the dragon the block of ice to cool his fire. SS must roll higher than teacher.

Room 7

Contains 3 Werewolves!

Solution: Shoot the werewolves with the silver bullets. Students must roll higher than teacher three times. If they run out of bullets they must go and ask the shop keeper for more.

Room 8

Contains lots of small hungry dogs, If students try to enter the dogs bite them, and a big treasure chest.

Solution: Go back to room 6 and collect the bones, give them to the dogs. Stusents open the treasure chest and get lots of treasure, congratulations.

Teaching ideas:

Depending on the level of the class you can present the adventure in different ways. For example you can start by teaching the vocabulary the students are going to need in the adventure:

verbs: sneak, open, shoot, put on, give, buy, etc.

nouns: bones, treasure chest, gun, bullet, rope, window, shoes, coins, bones, ice, snakes, etc.

For higher level students I also had them retell the adventure in the past once they had completed it. “In this room we sneaked past the vampires and opened the window.”

Follow up:

Children make their own adventure games in small groups. They can draw the easily on paper with letters representing different monsters. Alternatively if you have access to computers they could create them on MS paint. Then they swap maps and complete each others, or the whole class plays each group’s map.

Posted in Writing Classes

Future Composition


This is a simple homework exercise for teenagers to practice some future tenses.

Download the handout here:!273&authkey=!APnXkGeFZZa4pPk


Title: Me at 30

Write 120 words about how your life will be when you are 30 years old.


  • The future continuous for activities in progress at a specific time in the future:
  •  I will be living in a small flat in Madrid. I will be working in a music shop.
  • The future perfect for actions completed between now and your 30th birthday:
  •  I will have finished university. I will have married a nice man / woman.
Posted in Vocabulary Classes

British slang activity

New British Pub In Falls Church, VA

This is a short fun activity to teach higher level students some British slang.

Here is the handout:!270&authkey=!AMuzyf2uZLvmlkE

There are several ways you can introduce the vocabulary:

  • For small classes of 2-4 people you can print out a copy of the table below, then leave the slang words in one block but cut out the definitions individually, the students then try to piece the table back together.
  • For a larger group without a computer and projector you could write them all on the board and have students try to come up with definitions in small groups. If they have trouble you could then write up the definitions in a different order and they have to match them.
  • If you have a computer, projector and smart board you can use a fun game on to pre-teach the vocabulary. If you click the link below you can access a flashcard set I have made with the terms. Scroll down to the games section and select the game “scatter”. This is a great game for introducing new vocabulary, I’ll let you explore it for yourself.

Here is the target language:

Gutted Very Disappointed
Dodgy Untrustworthy / dangerous.
The Bee’s Knees Really good.
The Dog’s Bollocks Excellent / the best
Alright How are you?
Nosh / Grub Food
Taking the piss out of Making funny insults about a person.
Knackered Tired
Jammy Lucky / Flukey
Fit Attractive
A fiver / a Tenner 5 pounds / 10 pounds
Ta Thank you
Two sandwiches short of a picnic. Stupid.

After teaching the target language split the students into pairs and give each pair a section of the story below. The students now have to translate the story into slang.

Once they have done this have them read it out to class.

Below you will find the story translated.

The story in normal English, hand this out for the students to translate into slang.

  1. I went to my friend’s house to watch the England game the other day. I walked in and said “how are you?” he gave me a beer and I said “thank you.” England lost 4-1 to Germany. My friend and I were very disappointed. We decided to go for some food. The closest pub was selling burgers for £5. When we got to the pub there were some other friends there “How are you?” I asked and they said “Good thank you.”
  1. The pub was in a slightly dangerous part of the city but the burgers were really good. My friend John is very lucky, he always wins money on the gambling machine but tonight he put £10 in the machine and didn’t win. I put £1 in and won £10, “you lucky bastard” said John.
  1. Then a really attractive man / woman walked in, I decided to buy him / her a drink. He / She was really attractive but stupid. I spent £10 on drinks for him/ her but then she got very tired and decided to go home, I didn’t get his / her phone number and I was very disappointed because he / she was very attractive.
  1. Then my friend Pete arrived, he is stupid and he was very drunk. We all said “hello Pete, how are you?” John and my other friends started making funny insults about Pete. He didn’t understand because he’s stupid so he said thank you! I didn’t have any more money so I asked Pete if I could borrow ten pounds, but he only had five pounds. I had one more drink and started to feel tired. We went to the kebab shop next door, there were some dangerous men in there, they started making funny insults about us and we almost had a fight.

The story translated:

 1. I went to my friend’s house to watch the England game the other day. I walked in and said “alright?” he gave me a beer and I said “ta.” England lost 4-1 to Germany. My friend and I were gutted. We decided to go for some grub/nosh. The closest pub was selling burgers for a fiver. When we got to the pub there were some other friends there “alright?” I asked and they said “Good ta.

2. The pub was in a slightly dodgy part of the city but the burgers were the bee’s knees. My friend John is very jammy, he always wins money on the gambling machine but tonight he put a tenner in the machine and didn’t win. I put £1 in and won a tenner, “you jammy bastard” said John.

3. Then a really fit man / woman walked in, I decided to buy him / her a drink. He / She was really fit but two sandwiches short of a picnic. I spent a tenner on drinks for him/ her but then she got knackered and decided to go home, I didn’t get his / her phone number and I was gutted because he / she was very fit.

4. Then my friend Pete arrived, he is two sandwiches short of a picnic and he was very drunk. We all said “hello Pete, alright?” John and my other friends started taking the piss out of Pete. He didn’t understand because he’s two sandwiches short of a picnic so he said ta! I didn’t have any more money so I asked Pete if I could borrow a tenner, but he only had a fiver. I had one more drink and started to feel knackered. We went to the kebab shop next door, there were some dodgy men in there, they started taking the piss out of us and we almost had a fight.

Follow up:

Students write a story for homework using as many of the words as they can. The one whose compositions included the most correctly used slang words wins.

Also for the following class quickly recap the slang words and then award points to students who use them correctly in class.

Posted in Games

Call my bluff game

Game – Red Herrings / Call my bluff – you will need big English dictionaries.


Here is the handout with examples of strange English words and the correct definition, students have to invent fake definitions.!267&authkey=!AIvDEVoJg4J4mVo

Use the sheet Red Herrings to introduce the game. Choose one of the examples from the sheet and put it on the board.

There are strange words with 3 possible definitions, put SS in teams, pairs or threes depending on numbers. SS have to decide which is the correct definition, encourage them to explain why they think it is correct, they should use modal verbs of deduction:

  • It can’t be number 1 because
  • It could be number 2 because
  • It must be number 3 because

Each team gets 1 point for each correct guess.

Do 2 examples if necessary. Then you can either give the students the strange English words with the correct definition (on the handout) and they have to invent to fake ones, or you give them the dictionaries and they find strange words themselves.

Students must prepare 3 definitions (1 real, 2 fake) with a sentence example. Teacher must check definitions and sentences for accuracy before they’re used in the game, if there are mistakes it is obvious which ones have been invented.

Give SS time to write their definitions and correct them, then play the game as a class, each team reads out a word and the 3 definitions and the others must guess which one and explain their decisions. SS get 1 point for a correct guess and the team whose word it is gets 1 point for each team they tricked the others into guessing a fake definition.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Vocabulary Classes

Vocabulary upgrade for impressing examiners

speaking exam

Here are some different ways to talk about your hobbies and interests to slip into conversation in speaking exams to earn extra points.

Here is a link to download the handout:!249&authkey=!AIM8OXlG3ratQOc



I like ………………………….. I’m keen on / fond of……………………….
I like / enjoy + action

I like swimming.

I enjoy playing the guitar.

I like travelling.

I’m a keen / avid + noun

I’m a keen swimmer.

I’m an avid guitarist.

I’m an avid traveller.

I like reading. I’m a (bit of a) bookworm.

I’m an avid reader

I like / am interested in  cinema / music / history / art / etc. I’m a (bit of a) film / music / history / art buff.
I like computers. I’m a (bit of a) computer geek.
I like shopping. I’m a (bit of a) shopaholic.
I work a lot. I’m a (bit of a) workaholic.
I like dangerous sports I’m a bit of a risk taker / adrenalin junky / daredevil.
I like relaxing at the weekend. I like to recharge my batteries at the weekend.

I like to get away from the hustle and bustle of my job / school / the city.

I can’t remember the word for….. The word is on the tip of my tongue

The word escapes me at the moment but….

I’m addicted to (chocolate, a television series) I’m hooked on
(Girls) I like shopping, make-up, fashion and romantic comedies. I’m a (bit of a) girly girl.
(Boys) I like sport, beer, and women. I’m a (bit of a) man’s man.
I’m very fit. I’m in tip top condition.
I don’t drink alcohol I’m teetotal.
I am / was very good at school. I am / was a teacher’s pet / top of my class at school.
I need English for my course / job. English is a requirement of my course / job.
I need English for my career If you want to get ahead in life you need English.
I’ve been studying English for a long time. I’ve been studying English for ages.

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

I speak English every day at Uni / work. English is an essential / key part of my everyday life.
Posted in Conversation Classes, Vocabulary Classes

Language of agreement and disagreement


Here students practice different phrases to express agreement and disagreement. Useful for developing speaking for FCE, CAE, CPE.

Here you have a downloadable copy of the handout:!247&authkey=!ANBIbEVteXyYHnY

Pre-teach the different vocabulary. The students then complete the exercise underneath in pairs. Taking it in turns to make one of the statements. In the first section the other student HAS TO disagree with their partner, even though some of the statements are difficult to disagree with. They must also justify their disagreement. In the second section they HAVE TO agree.

For higher levels ban the use of “I agree” or “I disagree” force them to use the new expressions.

Agreeing Disagreeing Ending an argument:
  • We see eye to eye
  • I couldn’t agree with you more.
  • That’s exactly how I feel.
  • You have a point there.
  • I was just going to say that.
  • Absolutely.
  • We don’t see eye to eye
  • I take your point but
  • I tend to disagree with you there
  • I’m afraid I have to disagree with you there
  • I beg to differ
  • That’s not always the case.
  • Let’s just move on shall we?
  • I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

Listen to you partner and then disagree with everything he / she says, give reasons.

  • I think everybody should have access to free healthcare.
  • War should never be used to resolve international disputes.
  • The best way to study is on your own first thing in the morning.
  • Footballers earn too much money.
  • Celebrities shouldn’t complain about being in the public eye all the time.
  • The best place for animals to live is in their natural habitat.

Listen to you partner and then agree with everything he / she says, give reasons.

  • Making mistakes in English is ok as long as other people understand you.
  • The government should pay for everybody’s education.
  • Smoking should be completely illegal.
  • All drugs should be legal.
  • Catalonia should be independent.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo is the best football player in the world.