BFF

With my BFF 🙂
Image property of Karolina Wyrzykowska

Introduction:

This is a board game activity to talk about friends and friendships. It is a great way to help students practise speaking and develop fluency, and prepare for speaking exams.

Don’t forget to feed students new vocabulary throughout the activity, correct and/ or find opportunities to help them express themselves more precisely and accurately. Ask students to research the topic before the class and then teach others the vocabulary they have prepared.

As always encourage students to comment on each other’s responses and elaborate as much as possible.

Level: B1+

Objectives:

  1. To practise speaking about friends and friendships.
  2. To increase fluency and confidence.

Materials (Click on the worksheet below to download the PDF file):

A die (use an online dice roller) 

Procedure:

  1. Brainstorm relationship vocabulary. 
  2. Give students a copy of the board game or display it on the screen.
  3. The teacher (or one of the students) throws the dice twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the question.
  4. The player must then answer the question and provide their classmates with as much detail as possible. Encourage students to ask additional questions and ask for clarification and details. Whilst the student is speaking you could ask others to note down specific vocabulary related to friends and relationships in general that he/she used and that were mentioned in the brainstorming session at the beginning of the activity.
  5. At the end, ask students to give you three unexpected things they have learnt about their classmates.

Related posts:

How well do you know your folks?

Single and ready to mingle

Quite a conversation piece


Reaching for the light
(All images are property of Karolina Wyrzykowska)

Introduction:

This is a board game activity to talk about the weather. It is a great way to help students practise speaking and develop fluency, prepare for the FCE /CAE speaking exams and a great excuse to chat about, surely, everyone’s favourite topic.

Don’t forget to feed students new vocabulary throughout the activity and obviously draw their attention to any mistakes they might be making or find opportunities to help them express themselves more effectively and precisely. You could always prepare a thematic vocabulary list and send it to the students before the class or even ask them to research the topic themselves and then teach others the vocabulary they have prepared.

As always encourage students to comment on each other’s responses. 

Level: B1+

Objectives:

  1. To practise speaking about the weather.
  2. To increase fluency and confidence.

Materials (Click on the worksheet below to download the PDF file):

A die (use an online dice roller) 

Procedure:

  1. Brainstorm weather vocabulary. 
  2. Give students a copy of the board game or display it on the screen.
  3. The teacher (or one of the students) throws the dice twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the question.
  4. The player must then answer the question and provide their classmates with as much detail as possible. Encourage students to ask additional questions and ask for clarification and details. Whilst the student is speaking you could ask others to note down specific vocabulary related to the weather that he/she used and that were mentioned in the brainstorming session at the beginning of the activity.
  5. At the end, ask students to give you three unexpected things they have learnt about their classmates.

Related posts:

Triple Treat

Triple treat makes a comeback

BIG3

Cutting the first turf

Last days of summer… milking it for all it’s worth 😉

This is an activity for B1 students to review some of the most common mistakes they make and also to cut the first turf… or lay the first stone… or get their feet wet… or simply to break the ice. You get the picture 😉

September again. Back to school.

I have created this activity based on the mistakes my new Spanish students made in a recent speaking activity. It was our first class and I gave them a variety of topics they had to use to create questions for each other e.g. food, free time, travel, school or/and work etc. and it worked really well as they were very talkative from the word go. However, it is not always the case and sometimes students find it hard not only to start speaking without inhibitions on the first day but also to come up with questions to ask their classmates. For that reason I thought of having a list of questions they can use … but not without them having to do some work first 😉 

Students correct the mistakes in pairs, which is definitely less intimidating and then change pairs to interview their classmate(s) which gives them an opportunity to interact with someone new. 

It is a lovely error correction activity, a slightly different way to start a new class and an easy way to assess your students’ language level. Enjoy.

Level: B1

Time: 45 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To identify and correct common mistakes made by B1 students
  2. To interview classmates
  3. To cut the first turf

Materials (Click on the worksheet below to download the PDF file):

Procedure:

  1. Give each student a Cutting the first turf Worksheet and in pairs, or groups of three, ask them to correct the mistakes in questions 1 to 20
  2. When the students have finished, check together as a class
  3. In new pairs, or groups of three, students now interview each other using the corrected questions
  4. Set a timer (maybe 4 minutes) and ask students to write down as much as they can remember about the partner they have just interviewed
  5. If you still have time left students can interview another classmate

Related posts:

Correct me if I am wrong

Can you see the error of your ways?

Can you see the error of your ways? Sequel

Can you see the error of your ways?Threequel

To err is human

First things first

Introduction:

This is a creative speaking activity inspired by a great book by Edward de Bono called “Creativity Workout”. Students obtain random verbs and describe something they have done for the first time using the verbs from the board.

I have also included two audios for you to play to your students. Two of my friends kindly agreed to model the activity for you. My friend Adam talked about the first time he travelled abroad and my friend Claire spoke about the first time she visited Spain. Both of my friends are British English speakers and come from Norwich, UK. You could play the recordings to your students and they could tick the verbs they hear. This way your students get some great listening practice too.

Teacher tip/ reflection:

It is easy to get stuck in a rut and only do things we like or are good at. It happens to me in all areas of my life but particularly when it comes to physical exercise. When I finally manage to perfect a certain exercise routine I tend to do it over and over again simply because it makes me feel good to be able to do it well and also because I am able to switch off as the moves have become automatic through constant repetition.

Any attempt at changing the routine is met with a negative reaction from my body. It is natural. We want to go back to the old and familiar. So I gently steer myself in the direction of something new e.g. by choosing new exercises but sticking to the same time of day, selecting the same trainer (Yoga with Adriene) but a longer/shorter video or starting a new routine and “rewarding” myself with something “old and comforting” from time to time. In other words, I trick my brain to get out of my comfort zone.

The idea behind random words is exactly the same. It is to challenge your students to use the verbs in a new creative way and encourage them to come up with structures that they might otherwise avoid because it is uncomfortable and requires too much effort. The resistance to the unfamiliar is huge and I think that these types of exercises help to shake things up a little. And on that note, I would like to commit myself to doing some new yoga poses tonight. If I expect my students to try new ways of doing things, I might as well do the same 🙂

I am going to end this little reflection section with a quote:

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”- Brian Tracy

Objectives:

  1. To use irregular verbs in a new and memorable way
  2. To revise irregular verbs
  3. To get out of your comfort zone

Materials:  

  1. One die per pair or small group
  2. First things first board game
The first time I travelled abroad by Adam. Thank you.
The first time I visited Spain by Claire. Thank you.

Procedure:

  1. Hand out First things first to each team or simply display it on the screen.
  2. To obtain verbs for the activity students throw the die twice: the first throw indicates which column they are going to use and the second indicates which row they are going to use e.g. Obtain four random verbs and describe the first time you bought something really expensive. Below I have written down some ideas to get you started:

Describe the first time you: 

  1. Cooked something 
  2. Drove a car 
  3. Gave a presentation in English
  4. Got dressed up
  5. Got into trouble 
  6. Had to apologise to someone 
  7. Played truant 
  8. Slept in a tent 
  9. Stayed at a hotel 
  10. Swam in an ocean
  11. Told someone you loved them 
  12. Took a flight 
  13. Took a train
  14. Tried spicy food
  15. Was offered a job 
  16. Went abroad
  17. Went on a school trip 
  18. Went on holiday 
  19. Went to a club 
  20. Went to a live concert
  21. Went to a wedding 
  22. Went to school
  23. Went to the cinema 
  24. Were in a hospital
  25. Were late for work/school
  26. Wore makeup

Related posts:

Random words

Random words return

Random words (Getting personal)

Random words (Once upon a time…)

Tutti Frutti

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise fruit idioms. Students look at some fruit facts, complete the idioms with the missing fruit, match the expressions to their definitions, complete the sentences with the missing fruit and correct mistakes in the fruit idioms. I have deliberately come up with examples that are related to work, jobs etc. to be able to use this activity with my business students but feel free to use it with your general English classes also.

Teacher tip/reflection: 

I love researching the origins of idioms. I have found that students find it easier to memorise the expressions if there is a colourful story behind them that they can visualise. My favorite idiom in today’s activity is to go pear-shaped. Allegedly the phrase comes from the Royal Air Force and is used to describe pilots’ bad execution of loops in the air, ending up with pear shapes instead of round shapes (Source: grammarist.com). I also love the idiom to be the apple of one’s eye which originally referred to the pupil of the human eye which was believed to be a round object. As sight was a precious commodity at the time, the idiom soon became a metaphor for something precious as well (Source: grammarist.com).

Level: B2+

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To increase familiarity and correct use of idioms with fruit.
  2. To complete the idioms with the missing fruit.
  3. To match the idioms to their definitions.
  4. To complete the sentences with the missing fruit.
  5. To correct the mistakes in the fruit idioms.

Materials:

Procedure:

  1. Put students in pairs or small groups and ask them to discuss the 3 fruit facts below and decide which ones they are most surprised by. 1. A banana is not a fruit, it is a herb! Being easy to digest and highly nutritious, these are the first fruits offered to babies. 2. Strawberries are the only fruit with seeds on the outside. There are 200 seeds in an average strawberry. 3. Tomatoes are not a veggie but a fruit. They are regarded as the world’s most popular fruit and have more genes than humans. Source: https://www.befitandfine.com/facts-of-fruits/
  2. Hand out a copy of Tutti Frutti to each student or display it on the screen.
  3. Individually ask students to complete the expressions with the missing fruit. I have come up with some clues (on the right) to help students out and to make it more fun. Vocabulary activities can be quite discouraging if the students are not familiar with any of the expressions, so I try to give students boosts of confidence as often as possible and giving them clues is a fun way to guide them towards finding the answers by themselves and engaging them from the start. 
  4. When they are finished ask them to compare with their classmate(s).
  5. Check together as a class.
  6. Ask the students to match the idioms to their definitions (Exercise 2).
  7. Check together as a class but again ask students to first compare their answers with their partners and justify their answers.
  8. When the students have finished, ask them to look at the sentences in Exercise 3 and complete the sentences with the missing fruit. Ask them to try and do the exercise without looking at the expressions. Turn this into a mini competition, provide students with new clues or ask them to give clues to each other if they know the answers but their classmates don’t. Always try to make it as active and engaging as possible. Encourage effort and collaboration, praise effort and willingness to keep trying rather than speed, efficiency and getting things right the first time. Encourage students to make mistakes and have fun.
  9. When they have finished, ask them to compare with their partner and then check together as a class.
  10. Last but not least go to Exercise 4 and ask students to replace the incorrect fruit with the correct one. Again have some fun with it and maybe do it in teams, pairs etc.
  11. Check together as a class.

Fast finisher ideas:

  1. Ask students to choose 4 or 5 idioms and draw their literal and figurative meaning. This activity is just begging for something artsy 😉 and some baking.
  2. Ask students to get into small groups or pairs to act out the idioms.
  3. Choose an idiom and use it as a writing prompt, the first line of a story, a theme behind a story etc. 
  4. Research the origin of a chosen idiom.

And before you go. What do you get when you put an iPhone in a blender? Apple juice! Feel free to cringe 😉

Related posts:

A piece of cake or a hard nut to crack?

You make my heart BEET 😉

The proof is in the pudding

Yummy Yummy I’ve got food in my tummy

Stative noughts and dynamic crosses

This is a free board game to practise/revise stative and dynamic verbs in an entertaining way. Students create sentences using stative and dynamic verbs and if their sentence is correct, they add either an O or an X to the board until they line up 6 symbols in a row.

Level: A2+

Time: 30 – 45 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To define what stative and dynamic verbs are 
  2. To identify stative and dynamic verbs
  3. To practise by creating sentences with stative and dynamic verbs 
  4.  To line up 6 symbols (O or X) in a row

 Materials (Click on the worksheets below to download the PDF files):

 

Procedure:

  1. Elicit some examples of stative verbs vs. dynamic verbs and write them on the board. Ask students to also identify verbs that could be both stative and dynamic.
  2. Divide the students into teams and hand out Stative noughts & dynamic crosses board game to each team or simply display it on the screen for everyone to see.
  3. To see who starts, do rock, paper, scissors.  Whoever wins chooses the square they want to start with. Next the player(s) identifies if the verb is stative, dynamic or both and comes up with a sentence using that verb e.g. expect (both dynamic and stative): I am expecting a baby. I expect you will be on time tomorrow. If the player(s) manage to do it correctly, they add either an O or an X to the board. The first player to line up 6 of their symbols in a row wins. 
  4. Monitor at all times and go through some of the most problematic sentences together at the end of the class. At home, ask students to write example sentences with all the verbs that they did not get to use in the game or the ones that they are still unsure about.

Related posts:

Active noughts & passive crosses

A blast from the past

This is A blast from the past board game to practise/revise past simple and past continuous. Students create sentence endings in the past simple and past continuous tense using appropriate conjunctions e.g. while and when and adverbs e.g. just. 

Level: A2+

Time: 50 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To revise the past simple and past continuous tense.
  2. To use appropriate conjunctions e.g. while, as and when and adverbs e.g. just with the past simple and past continuous tense.
  3. To complete sentences using the correct form of the past simple or past continuous tense.

Materials (Click on the worksheet below to download the PDF file):

Procedure:

  1. Hand out A blast from the past to each team or simply display it on the screen.
  2. The teacher or a student throws the die twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the sentence half. 
  3. The player now tries to come up with an appropriate ending for the sentence half they have landed on e.g. He was playing a computer game … while I was playing with the cat. He was playing a computer game … when someone knocked on the door. He broke his leg … when he was playing pool (a dangerous sport). To make it more entertaining I would turn this game into a mini competition and maybe award points for the most ridiculous, crazy and creative sentences.
  4. Monitor at all times and go through some of the most problematic sentences together. 

Related posts:

Before and after

Simply perfect

A trip down memory lane

Summary of past or recent events

Double Decker

Best birthday ever

How to…

Introduction:

How to board game is a great speaking/writing activity to describe a process and/or procedure using the appropriate linking words. The activity can be easily adapted to different levels and ages.

I have also included three assignments completed by my students who kindly allowed me to share them online. Thank you.

Level: A2+

Time: 30 minutes +

Objectives:

  1. To describe a process/procedure
  2. To revise/practise linking words used to describe a process

Materials (Click on the worksheets below to download the PDF files):

Procedure:

  1. Hand out How to board game to each team/pair or simply display it on the screen if you are working online.
  2. Before you start the game go through expressions to describe a process e.g. first, once, having, the next step is, next, then, finally etc. 
  3. The teacher or a student throws the die twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the question.
  4. Now student(s) describe a process using the expressions provided. Encourage students to use passive voice and especially the Present Simple Passive. It will instantly make them sound more capable and in control.
  5. Monitor and make sure students use linking expressions throughout their description. I would also encourage them to use the linking words in the middle of the sentence as well as at the beginning to avoid sounding repetitive. You want your students to sound fluent and natural rather than robotic so discourage them from peppering the entire description with linking words. I have some students who love doing that and it doesn’t always elevate their speech 😉
  6. Monitor students throughout the activity, correct mistakes and feed them new vocabulary.
  7. At home ask students to choose one example from the board and do a piece of writing. I have asked my students to do the same and they very kindly allowed me to share their creations on my blog. Feel free to have a look and use the pieces as sources of inspiration because that’s what they are…inspiring 😉

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How do you …?

Click!Click!Click!

The art of conversation…

Name three

Soap Opera

The art of conversation…

Introduction:

The art of conversation is an activity to practise functional language and discuss a variety of topics. The expressions I have used in this activity have been “extracted” from a variety of podcasts I listen to daily. I actually found the task of fishing for these expressions quite fascinating as I don’t normally pay much attention to functional language when I am not working. I have come to realise just how rich some people’s functional language is and how helpful it is (especially) for language learners to know how to use it with ease. One of my students told me that these expressions, once assimilated and automated, served as stepping stones or mini pauses, that gave him more time to think and formulate his next idea. Thank you for your feedback J.

I have also asked two students to record a short conversation where they used the expressions provided to give you an idea of how to do it with great flair and passion 😉 A massive thank you to C&G for sharing the recording. You are a dream team.

Level: B1+

Time: 30 minutes, but it can vary depending on the number of students and of course on how talkative they are

Objectives:

  1. To revise and practise using expressions to: start a conversation, express your opinion, agree and disagree, get back to the point and round it all off 
  2. To practise fluency by discussing a variety of topics

Materials (Click on the worksheet below to download the PDF file):

The art of conversation, C&G radio show. Thank you guys 😉

Procedure:

  1. In pairs ask students to brainstorm expressions to: start a conversation, express your opinion, agree and disagree, get back to the point and round off a conversation.
  2. Go through the expressions together and when the students run out of ideas, hand out The art of conversation to each team/pair or display it on the screen.
  3. Write a debate topic on the board and give students a few minutes to prepare. The expressions are color coded and each colour corresponds to a different category (the ones listed in point 1). During the conversation/debate students should use at least ONE expression from each category. Encourage them to use NEW expressions or ones that they like or are likely to incorporate into their existing vocabulary.
  4. For a list of debate topics feel free to use my Yay or Nay board game. You will find the link in Related posts section at the bottom of the page.
  5. Switch to the new topic if the students have lost momentum or once they have each used at least 6 expressions. Ask students to tick off the expressions as they go.
  6. Of course as always, correct mistakes and feed students new vocabulary.
  7. At home, you could ask students to record a similar dialogue to the one my students have recorded for you. It was a great opportunity for them to use the expressions again and by the looks of it… they had a whale of a time. Thank you again C&G.

Related posts:

Yay or Nay

Compare & contrast board game

Agony Aunt with a twist

Click!Click!Click!

Never have I ever…

Introduction:

Never have I ever … board game is a great game that incites stories with players sharing what they’ve done and haven’t done which helps classmates get to know each other better. The activity can be easily adapted to different levels and I am sure you have played this game yourself more than once, although I would guess you played it in an entirely different setting 😉

I have also included a Never have I ever … Travelling edition board game if you fancy doing something related to summer holidays. Perfect timing.

Level: A2+

Time: 30 minutes, but it can vary depending on the number of students and of course on how talkative and engaged they are or how engaged you make them 😉

Objectives:

  1. To answer Never have I ever questions…
  2. To recount stories from the classmates’ lives 
  3. To get to know other better 

Materials (Click on the worksheets below to download the PDF files):

Procedure:

  1. Hand out Never have I ever… board game to each team/pair or simply display it on the screen.
  2. Before you start the game, ask students to take two pieces of paper and write Yes, I have on one and No, I have never on the other and tell them you are going to ask them ALL a question which they have to answer by raising one of the pieces of paper they have prepared.
  3. The teacher then throws the dice twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the phrase/question e.g. Never have I ever cut my own hair. 
  4. Ask students to explain their answers. I deliberately chose not to take score or drink (like you would in a traditional version of this game) as I wanted to concentrate on speaking more than anything else, but if you think it could work with your younger learners (not the shots of course but playing with points) go for it. Depending on the group I do this activity with, I choose whether to join in or just manage the game instead which allows me to monitor more effectively. This too depends on the relationship you have with your students.
  5. Of course as always, correct mistakes and feed students new vocabulary. 
  6. At home, ask students to choose 3 things from the board they haven’t done but would love to try and ask them to briefly explain their reasons in writing.