Let it snow…

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise winter idioms. Students first answer a few questions, complete the idioms with the missing ‘chilly’ words, match them to their definitions and answer some questions using the target language. I think this activity is quite appropriate not only because it is actually winter but also because we have recently enjoyed the biggest snowfall in decades here in Madrid. I have seen people put on their skis and snowshoes as well as sledding down the slopes all over the city. I hope your students are going to enjoy this activity as much as I am trying to enjoy the snow ;). Also don’t forget to check out my thematic fast finisher ideas at the end.

Teacher tip/reflection: 

One of the things I love doing when teaching idioms is to tell my students about the origin of the idiomatic expressions we study. It is not always clear where these expressions come from and not all sources can be trusted, but it hasn’t stopped me from trying. I have found that students find it easier to memorise the expressions if there is a story to go with it and it also often gives them the opportunity to learn more about the culture that speaks the language they are studying. My favorite idiom in today’s activity is to go cold turkey. Allegedly the phrase comes from the similarities between a drug addict in withdrawal, who is cold to the touch and covered in goosebumps and looks like a refrigerated turkey. Who knows?

Level: B2+

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To increase familiarity and correct use of chilly winter idioms.
  2. To match the idioms to their definitions.
  3. To answer questions containing the target language.

Materials:

Procedure:

  1. Hand out a copy of Let it snow to each student or display it on the screen.
  2. Tell students to, in pairs, answer questions in Exercise 1.
  3. Next ask students to complete the idioms with the missing chilly winter words. 
  4. Check together as a class but ask students to first compare their answers with their partners. Always 😉
  5. Ask the students to match the idioms to their definitions. 
  6. Check together as a class but again ask students to first compare their answers with their partners. 
  7. When the students have finished, ask them to look at the questions in Exercise 3 and first try to complete the sentences with the missing words. The first letters have been provided to make this memory workout slightly less daunting. You can turn this task into a mini competition to add some excitement.
  8. When they have finished, ask them to compare with their partner and then check together as a class.
  9. Students now answer the questions in pairs or small groups using the chilly idioms as often as possible.

Fast finisher ideas:

  1. Ask students to write a brief weather report describing what the weather has been like recently where they live, what it is like at the moment and what it will be like for a period in the future. 
  2. Write a list of 5 things to do to get your car out of a snow drift e.g. travel with a bag of kitty litter. You can tell I have been inspired by the current weather conditions.
  3. Come up with a dish using the following ingredients: Buckwheat, tuna, two tomatoes, mayo, half a pepper, three avocados, curry sauce, almond milk and pumpkin seeds. Make sure the food lasts for at least two days (Note: the supermarkets were closed for two days in my area and there were no deliveries so I was quite limited as far as cooking was concerned and these were the only things I had in my fridge 😉
  4. Come up with a list of simple pleasure to savour in winter e.g. cosy blankets, hot chocolate, drinks beside the fire etc.
  5. List as many winter sports as you can e.g. ice dancing, ice skating, Nordic walking ski bobbing etc. 

Related posts:

Lovely day, innit?

2020 Round-up

Introduction:

This is a board game activity to reflect on the past year. Students answer questions about the challenges they faced, things they learnt, things they would have done differently, etc. This time I have decided to add what I myself learnt in 2020. Scroll down to keep reading 😉

Level: B1 +

Objectives:

  1. To reflect on the past year.

Materials:

PDF board game and one die per pair or group of 3.

Procedure:

  1. Put the students in pairs, or groups of 3, and give them a copy of the board game and a die or display the game on the screen.
  2. Players take it in turns to throw the die twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the question.
  3. All three players must then answer the question in as much detail as possible.
  4. At the end, ask the students to name three new things they agreed on with other classmates.

Lessons I learnt in 2020:

Life is unpredictable;) We try and put things in place to fool ourselves into thinking we have everything under control, yet we do not control anything other than our own reactions to what happens. Before 2020 we might have been under the illusion that life bent to our will, but I am sure that with the arrival of the pandemic those illusions were quickly shattered. What I learnt, faced with unpredictability and uncertainty on a daily basis, is to let go, accept and to drop resistance. I know now that the more I resist reality and the present moment the more painful it is to move forward.

The power of positive habits and routines. I have been meditating now for a long time and I can not even begin to explain the power of meditation and how key it has been in moments of both happiness and pain. It helped me relax, stay grounded, realise the impermanence of things and allowed me to detach from what I strongly identified with e.g. my life story, people, material possessions, places etc. As I have realised, we fall back on our habits in the times of crisis, so I wanted to make sure my routines in 2020 were solid and definitely supportive of my health and well-being. I established a strict routine of yoga, meditation and walks in nature which helped keep me calm and reduced anxiety. Bringing myself back to centre also helped me control my negative emotions. I was acutely aware I did not want to project my fear and anxiety on others and did everything I could to manage and process my emotions in solitude and avoid taking things on other people. I apologise to anyone I took my anger out on last year. I am sorry;) 

Being surrounded by the right tribe. Energy is contagious and surrounding yourself with people who will lift you up and support you is key, but letting go of relationships that are no longer serving us is hard. In 2020, I had to let some relationships go. No hard feelings. It is what it is. We meet others to learn and grow but not everybody is meant to stay in your life. I have learnt not to force, push and try to fix things that maybe, at this moment in time, are not meant to be. The people that are meant to stay in your life, will stay or if they have only momentarily left, will return 😉

Authenticity. A year like 2020 certainly brings you to your knees. It has forced me to be more authentic, to be less of a people pleaser in search of validation and approval, to finally face certain things I’ve been avoiding or distracting myself from. I am no longer able to look away. I feel like the masks I have been wearing are coming off. Although I am still far from living in alignment, I am definitely striving daily to only keep things in my life that align with my values and goals. Lockdown helped/ forced 😉 me to turn even more inward by eliminating every distraction I surrounded myself with before the pandemic.

Responsibility. I have seen how much of what we do, we do unconsciously, automatically, without taking into account how it might affect others. We are quick to blame, judge, point fingers and criticise without pausing to examine how we might have contributed to problems we are now facing. We all want great things in our lives, but everything comes with its own set of positive and negative characteristics that we have to take responsibility for. I have tried to stop, not to react so quickly, to create a gap between the stimulus and my reaction and then if necessary respond. I am slowly trying to become more intentional, deliberate and responsible in my choices. More conscious.

There are more lessons I am sure but that’s all I have been inspired to share today 😉

Thank you to all my lovely students for making 2020, despite everything, beautiful and enriching. I love you 😉

Thank you for my new template Stu 😉

Thank you for inspiring me to write what I learnt in 2020 Vanesa E. 😉 and for sharing the podcast below.

Food for thought:

Somewhere over the rainbow Part 2

These are activities for students to introduce and practise colour idioms. Students complete the idioms with the missing colours, then complete the sentences with the missing expressions and in pairs answer questions containing the idioms.

Level: B2+

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To introduce colour idioms.
  2. To complete the idioms with the missing colours.
  3. To complete the sentences with the missing idioms.
  4. To practise the new expressions whilst asking and answering questions.

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

Procedure:

  1. Put students in pairs and ask them to briefly discuss questions in Exercise 1.
  2. Hand students Somewhere over the rainbow Part 2 Worksheet or display it on the screen for everyone to see.
  3. Individually, students first try to complete the idioms with the missing colours (Exercise 2).
  4. When the students have finished, they compare their answers with a partner.
  5. Check the answers and elicit meaning. Clarify the expressions that are new or not quite clear.
  6. Now, students complete the sentences 1 to 12 with the missing idioms (Exercise 2). When the students have finished, they compare their answers with a partner.
  7. Check the answers as a class.
  8. Go to exercise 3 and from memory ask students to correct the mistakes highlighted in different colours. You could turn it into a mini competition and maybe even time the students 😉
  9. Now students answer questions 1 to 12 in pairs. Encourage them to ask their classmates additional questions to obtain more details.
  10. If you have had no time to discuss all questions in class ask students to answer a couple of them in writing at home.

Fast finishers:

Ask students to rate the expressions from the most to the least useful, according to them.

Related posts:

Home sweet home

Cats & Dogs

Ups and downs

What a zoo

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.” Little Prince

I spy with my little eye

Somewhere over the rainbow 

P. S. This post is dedicated to my lovely student Raquel, who was tickled pink about learning new colour idioms today. Thank you for a wonderful class my dear 🙂

Who are you? Sequel

Introduction:

This is a fun activity for students to talk about personality. Students match the expressions to their antonyms, decide which expressions apply most to them and look for classmates whose answers are either identical to theirs or very different.

Level: C1

Time: 50 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To revise/ introduce adjectives and idioms describing personality.
  2. To decide which adjectives and idioms apply most to students and give examples.
  3. To compare students’ choices with other classmates.

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

Procedure:

  1. In pairs ask students to tell each other what personality types they get on with best and what personality types they just can’t stand.
  2. Elicit some answers from students.
  3. Hand each student a copy of Who are you? Sequel (or display it on the screen) and tell them to cover up the words at the bottom.
  4. Individually ask students to provide definitions of the expressions in the first column.
  5. When the students have finished ask them to compare with their partner.
  6. Check together as a class.
  7. Next students look at the antonyms provided at the bottom of the page and complete the table.
  8. Check as a class.
  9. Individually now ask students to consider each pair of adjectives/ idioms and choose the number (1 to 5) closest to the expression they feel applies most to them. Number 1 applies to the adjectives and idioms in the first column and 5 to its antonym in the third column.
  10. Once the students have finished, put them into pairs and ask them to compare their choices with their classmates and provide specific examples where their numbers are identical or very different.
  11. Change pairs two or three times to give students a chance to compare their answers with as many classmates as possible.
  12. Ask students to give examples of unexpected answers they received whilst interviewing their classmates.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to pick three positive and three negative expressions from the table that best describe them and justify their answers to their classmates.

Related posts:

Who are you?

Mirror Mirror on the wall…

MEOW!

Wanted

Know thyself

Job interview

Introduction:

These are two board game activities (one prim and proper and the other a bit on the cheeky side) to practise answering common job interview questions. They can be used together or separately, and are a great way to help students practise speaking, develop fluency and of course prepare for a potential job interview.

Level: B2+

Objectives:

  1. To practise answering common as well as bizzare job interview questions

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

A die and a timer if needed or wanted

Procedure:

  1. Divide the students into “interviewer(s)” and “interviewee(s)”and give them a copy of one of the board games and a die or simply share it on the screen if you are teaching online.
  2. Players take it in turns to throw the die twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the question.
  3. The “interviewees” must then answer the question with as much detail as possible. Encourage “interviewers” to ask additional questions and make notes to be able to offer some constructive feedback at the end and also to help them decide who to “hire”.
  4. Allow 10/ 12 minutes for each interview and then ask students to either switch roles or interview a different applicant. Make sure however that all students get to play both roles and do a practice job interview at least once.
  5. At the end, ask students to say which answers they were impressed by and also to give others some constructive feedback to improve their next performance.

P.S. This post is dedicated to Javier. Best wishes for the interview(s).

Related posts:

BIG3

Triple Treat

Triple treat makes a comeback

Zooming it

So, what brings you here?

You’ll never guess what

Would you rather…?

Let’s Get Better Acquainted 🙂

When & where board game

Ask a Q board game

Making small talk

Introduction:

These are two board games to practise the art of making small talk.  I have created two games with questions on the same topics but version A is for lower level students and version B for higher level students. Different font colours on the board correspond to different topics: work, sport, family, travelling, food and entertainment. This activity is a great way to help students practise speaking, develop fluency and prepare for exciting conversations with English speakers in the future.

Also I find these games extremely useful since most of us are now teaching online. You simply display a board game on the screen and that’s a speaking activity sorted for you. Do not forget to feed students new vocabulary and obviously draw their attention to mistakes. 

As always encourage students to ask each other additional questions and comment on each other’s responses. Do not let it be a monologue. I often tell students that if I asked them the same questions in a bar or outside the classroom, the conversation would flow much more naturally so aim towards that and have fun.

Level: A2

Objectives:

  1. To practise speaking about work, sport, family, travelling, food and entertainment.
  2. To master the elusive art of small talk. Sorry, the weather is not one of the options;)

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

  1. Making small talk A
  2. Making small talk B
  3. A die ( use an online dice roller) and a timer ( or no timer, play around and see what works for your group)

Procedure:

  1. Give students a copy of one of the board games or display it on the screen if you are using Zoom or any other platform. Choose the board game depending on the level of your students. 
  2. Tell students that they have just arrived at a party and they are about to start mingling. Of course all of them are trying to make a great impression on others, network or even find the love of their life 😉 so being a boring conversationalist simply will not do this time.
  3. The teacher now 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(s)/ partygoers must then answer the question and provide their ¨classmates¨ with as much detail as possible. If you have a bigger group, split your students into pairs or small groups at this stage. Encourage students to ask additional questions and try to make sure the conversations don’t run dry too quickly. 
  5. When the teacher throws the dice again and moves on to the next question, the students could speak to someone else this time.  You don’t want them to be “stuck” in a corner for the rest of the “party” speaking to the same person.
  6. At the end, ask students to name people they would like to have another conversation with based on how well the previous one(s) went and how interestING and interestED the speaker(s) seemed to them.

Related posts:

BIG3

Zooming it

Do you believe in ghosts?

A good old chin wag

So, what brings you here?

Triple Treat

Triple treat makes a comeback

 

Yay or Nay

Introduction:

This is a fun debating board game that can be adapted to both bigger and smaller classes. Students practise the language used in debates and get a chance to discuss and explore a variety of interesting topics.

Level: B2+

Time: Till the cows come home

Objectives:

  1. To revise and practise using agreeing and disagreeing expressions.
  2. To practise fluency by discussing a variety of topics.

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

  1. Yay or Nay board game, one per team or class

Procedure:

  1. Hand out Yay or Nay board game to each team or simply display it on the screen if you are using Zoom or any other online platform.
  2. Split the class into two small teams ( of course this will all depend on the size of your class). 
  3. The teacher throws the dice twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the topic.
  4. Tell each team to think of arguments FOR and AGAINST the particular topic. Give the class about five minutes to brainstorm some ideas. Monitor and help if necessary. 
  5. Before you begin the actual debates, go through some agreeing and disagreeing expressions. I have written a few expressions in a box above the board game so they are easily accessible for both the students and the teacher.
  6. Next, tell one group they are FOR the topic and one group that they are AGAINST the topic unless you want students to freely discuss the topics which often works better. I found that when I tell my students that they are for or against a certain statement, they often run out of steam quite quickly and feel they can no longer participate and contribute. You know your students best so decide on the course of action based on what encourages them and makes them come alive.
  7. Discuss the topic for as long as you see fit or as long as the students find it interesting and keep coming up with new arguments. Avoid setting a timer and interrupting your students if they are engaged, since it could potentially lead to loss of interest and motivation. It is not always about achieving objectives and getting to the end of an activity as fast as possible but actually enjoying the process and having fun.
  8. Monitor and take advantage of this speaking activity to feed students some new expressions. 

Related posts:

BIG3

Triple Treat

Triple treat makes a comeback

Soap Opera

Lollypop debate

 

Before and after

Introduction:

This is a Before and After board game to practise/revise past perfect and past simple in an entertaining way. Students create sentences in the past perfect and past simple tense depending on the sentence they start with. The idea is to create a character and relate the sentences to each other which can later be used as a foundation for a short writing task.

Level: B2+

Time: 50 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To revise the past perfect and past simple tense.
  2. To come up with sentences related to each other which can be used as an inspiration for a writing task.

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

  1. Before and after board game, one per team.

Procedure:

  1. Hand out Before and after board game to each team or simply display it on the screen if you are using Zoom or any other online platform.
  2. The teacher or a student throws the dice twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the sentence. 
  3. If a player lands on a square with a sentence in the past simple tense they have to try and predict what happened BEFORE e.g. After he had managed to finally save some money, he bought a new car.  If they land on a square with a sentence in the past perfect tense, they predict what happened AFTER e.g. He had set up a successful company by the time he was 20. Since the students are working together or in small groups they discuss their ideas first, make their predictions and later write down their examples. Before the activity tell students that all these sentences are about one character and they should try and connect the sentences. This way it is more engaging and the students get more invested in the task. 
  4. Monitor at all times and go through some of the most problematic sentences together. At home ask students to write a short story about the character they have created in class, using some of the sentences they came up with.

Related posts:

Simply perfect

A trip down memory lane

Summary of past or recent events

Double Decker

Best birthday ever

Ir(regular) Xmas

A trip down memory lane

Introduction:

This is a fun board game to practise asking and answering questions in the past simple tense. Students ask and answer questions about a variety of topics and get points for each correct question.

Level: B1+

Time: 45 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To practise asking questions.
  2. To answer other students’ questions.

Materials:

  1. A trip down memory lane board game and an online dice roller if you are teaching online 😉

Procedure:

  1. Display the game on the screen and put students in pairs or small groups of 3 or 4.
  2. Students take it in turns to throw the dice and move the numbers thrown.
  3. To obtain a verb for the speaking activity students throw the dice twice. The first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw which row they should use to obtain the verb.
  4. Next students write down as many questions as possible related to the expression in the square making sure they use the actual verb in some of the questions. You can set the time limit and tell students they will be racing against other teams/students. If the students land on 2:1 (To argue with a friend) they could think of the following questions: When was the last time you argued with a friend? What did you argue about? Did you reach an agreement? Did you cry/get upset/ shout at each other etc.? How long did you argue for? Who started it? etc. Encourage them to start with Who, What, Where, When, Why and How and not just an auxiliary verb. You could take this opportunity to also revise subject and object questions.  A quick reminder: Subject questions (Question word + verb in simple past in this case +object e.g. Who started the argument?). Object questions (Question word +auxiliary verb + subject + main verb e.g. What did you argue about?).
  5. Go through the questions together and award a point for each correct question.
  6. In their groups, the students then answer the questions in as much detail as possible.
  7. The game continues until you run out of steam or are saved by the bell 😉 Just kidding.
  8. At the end, ask students to write down 4 additional questions for their classmates about a topic that sparked their interest the most.

Related posts:

Simply perfect

Double Decker

Best birthday ever

Summary of past or recent events

Ir(regular) Xmas

Soap Opera

What’s with all the questions?

How well do you really know your place of work?

Also have a look at one of my activities that has been published on onestopenglish where students practise forming questions and affirmative or negative sentences whilst using the time expressions typically used with the past simple and present perfect tenses:

http://www.onestopenglish.com/community/lesson-share/winning-lessons/grammar-and-vocabulary/time-expressions/556365.article

P.S. Happy birthday dad 😉

 

BIG3

Introduction:

These are three board game activities to talk about culture, the unexplained phenomena and sports. They can be used together or separately, and are a great way to help students practise speaking and develop fluency, as well as prepare FCE /CAE speaking exams.

Also I find these games extremely useful since most of us are now teaching online. You simply display a board game on the screen and that’s a speaking activity sorted for you. Do not forget to feed students new vocabulary throughout the activity and obviously draw their attention to any mistakes they might be making.  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 some new words they have learnt.

As always encourage students to ask each other questions and comment on each other’s responses. Do not let it be a monologue. I often tell students that if I asked them the same questions in a bar or outside the classroom, the conversation would flow much more naturally so aim towards that and have fun 😉

Level: B2+

Objectives:

  1. To practise speaking about culture, the unexplained phenomena and sports.

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

  1. Culture Schmulture board game
  2. One, two, three, BUNGEE! board game
  3. The unexplained board game
  4. A die ( use an online dice roller) and a timer ( or no timer, play around and see what works for your group)

Procedure:

  1. Give students a copy of one of the board games or display it on the screen if you are using Zoom or any other platform.
  2. The teacher throws the dice twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the question.
  3. 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 further explanation. As I said in the introduction, do not let it be a monologue but a starting point for a great conversation.  Last week, in a 90 minute session my students answered only 2 questions, as they got so involved in the topic I didn’t dare interrupt their flow. I simply provided necessary vocabulary and correction and of course enjoyed listening to their ideas and opinions.
  4. At the end, ask students to give you three new things they have learnt about their classmates.

Related posts:

Triple Treat

Triple treat makes a comeback