The old man and his grandson

Introduction:

This is a listening activity for advanced students to practise listening skills. Students discuss quotes and questions related with age and growing old, listen to a short fairy story by the Grimm Brothers, try to predict the ending and put the sentences from the story in the correct order.

Level: C1

Objectives:

  1. To discuss quotes and questions related with age.
  2. To listen and come up with three possible endings to a short fairy story by the Grimm Brothers.
  3. To put the sentences from the story in the correct order.

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

  1. The old man and his grandson Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Give students a copy of The old man and his grandson Worksheet.
  2. In pairs, ask students to discuss quotes and questions in Exercise 1.
  3. When the students have finished, ask them to share their opinions with the rest of the class.
  4. Tell students they are going to listen to a short fairy story by the Grimm Brothers. At this stage you could pre teach the vocabulary if you think your students might struggle with the text. I found the words my students struggled with were: dim, broth, stove, earthenware, to scold, to sigh, thus, trough, henceforth.
  5. Play the story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fdq8kZE62oQ and stop the recording at 1:25 (‘What are you doing there?’ asked the father).
  6. Ask the students to first summarize the story to each other and if necessary play the first part of the recording again.
  7. In pairs, ask the students to try and predict how the story ends and BRIEFLY write down their ideas (Exercise 2).
  8. Play the rest of the story and ask students to compare their ideas with the original ending. Elicit some answers from students and ask for their reactions to the ending. My students were both emotional and surprised when they heard the ending.
  9. In pairs again ask the students to order the sentences in Exercise 3. You can find the story here http://www.authorama.com/grimms-fairy-tales-27.html.
  10. Then play the recording again for students to check.

Fast finishers:

  1. I asked my students to translate the story into their own language (Spanish) and some pairs turned the story into a modern, updated version of the original text. It was a wonderful class.

P.S. “Seek the wisdom of the ages, but look at the world through the eyes of a child.” Ron Wild

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Actions speak louder than words

Introduction:

This is a high level activity to introduce and practise idioms related to words. Students first complete the idioms with the missing verbs, match the idioms with their definitions and interview their classmates.

Level: C1

Time: 45 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To increase familiarity and correct use of word idioms.
  2. To complete the idioms with the missing verbs.
  3. To match the idioms to their definitions.
  4. To interview a classmate using questions containing the target language.

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

  1. Actions speak louder than words Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Write the following verbs on the board: break, eat, get, hang, have, put, twist, waste, weigh and in pairs ask students to brainstorm any idioms and expressions containing the word ‘WORD(S)’ and the verbs above.
  2. Elicit answers from students and write them on the board.
  3. Hand out a copy of Actions speak louder than words Worksheet and ask students to individually complete the idioms on the left hand side with the verbs given.
  4. When the students have finished, put them in pairs and ask them to compare their answers with their classmate.
  5. Check together as a class.
  6. Individually again ask students to match the idioms on the left to their definitions on the right.
  7. When the students have finished, ask them to compare their answers with their partner – they must discuss and agree on their answer.
  8. Check together as a class.
  9. When the students have finished, put them in pairs or groups of 3 and ask them to interview each other (Exercise 2).
  10. At the end, take the sheets away and divide students into small teams. Give them 4 minutes to write down as many idioms as they can remember. The team with the highest number of correct idioms wins.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to try and find equivalent idiomatic expressions to the ones studied in class in their own language.

P.S. You will have to eat your words Stu when I beat you at pool. You will be grannied. 🙂

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Can’t stop dishing out idioms

Introduction: 

These are activities for students to introduce and practise furniture & fixture idioms. Students complete the sentences with the missing words, decide if the definitions of the idioms are correct and do a Find someone who activity with their classmates.

Level: C1

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To introduce furniture & fixture idioms.
  2. To complete the sentences with the missing words.
  3. To decide if the definitions of the idioms are correct or incorrect.
  4. To interview other students and try to get answers to as many questions as possible.

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

  1. Can_t stop dishing out idioms Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Write down the missing words from Exercise 1 on the board and in pairs ask students to tell each other if they know any idioms containing those words.
  2. Elicit some answers from the students.
  3. Hand the students Can’t stop dishing out idioms Worksheet.
  4. Individually, students try to complete the sentences in Exercise 1 with the missing words.
  5. When the students have finished, they compare their answers with a partner.
  6. Check the answers as a class.
  7. Now, individually again, the students decide if the definitions of the idioms in Exercise 1 are correct or incorrect (T = true, F= false).
  8. When they have finished, ask them to compare with their partner.
  9. Check the answers as a class.
  10. Next, using the bottom half of the worksheet (Exercise 2), students mingle asking questions and trying to get affirmative answers from their classmates, e.g. Is your sister a couch potato? If the other student says ‘yes’ they have to justify their answer to the interviewer and give an example or two, e.g. She spends 23 hours out of 24 on the sofa. She never does any exercise. Allow no more than 3 minutes for each interview. When the time is up ask students to switch partners.
  11. When the students have had a chance to ask everyone’s opinion, ask them how many affirmative answers they managed to get and which answers surprised them the most.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to describe their ideal partner using at least 5 of the idioms studied, e.g. My ideal partner would have a memory like a sieve and quickly forget if I did or said something he didn’t like.

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Triple treat makes a comeback

Introduction:

These are three board game activities to talk about health, students’ hometowns and fashion. They can be used together or separately, and are a great way to help students practise speaking and develop fluency, as well as prepare for Part 1 of the FCE /CAE speaking exam.

Level: B2+

Objectives:

  1. To practise speaking about health, students’ hometowns and fashion.

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

  1. Triple treat makes a comeback, one PDF board game per pair or group of 3; a die and a timer per pair or group of 3.

Procedure:

  1. Put the students in pairs or groups of 3 and give them a copy of one of the board games and a die, they can use their phones for the timer. Aim to have all three board games in use at the same time.
  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 player must then speak for at least 1 minute on that topic and provide their partner, or other two group members, with as much detail as possible.
  4. The game continues in a circle going left.
  5. Swap the board games after sufficient time to allow all three games to be played by each pair or group.
  6. At the end, ask the students to name three new things they have learnt about their classmates.

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There is no place like…school

Introduction: 

These are activities for advanced students to introduce and practise idioms and phrases relating to school. Students match the sentence halves; complete the sentences with the missing expressions, decide if the statements are true for them and discuss the statements with their classmates.

Level: C1

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To match idiom halves to make idioms and phrases relating to school.
  2. To complete the sentences with the missing idioms.
  3. To decide if the sentences are true/ not true for the students themselves.
  4. To discuss the statements with a classmate.

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

  1. There is no place like…school Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Write the following questions on the board and ask students to briefly answer them in pairs: What’s your first memory of school? Do you think your school days are the best days of your life? What do you think students should be taught at school but aren’t?
  2. Hand students ‘There is no place like…school’ Worksheet.
  3. Individually, students match the idiom halves and then compare their answers with a classmate.
  4. Check the answers as a class – you can make this more competitive by asking each pair for their answer and awarding a point for the correct answer.
  5. Now, individually ask students to complete the sentences with the missing idioms before they compare them with their partner.
  6. Check the answers as a class.
  7. Ask students to read the sentences again and decide if there are or aren’t true for them.
  8. Put the students into pairs and ask them to compare how many things they have in common and to discuss the statements in more detail.
  9. At the end ask the students to describe one experience they have in common with their classmate and one that was different.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to come up with some ideas of what an ideal school should look like and write them down in bullet points using the expressions studied e.g. In a ideal school students should be allowed to skip class if they are bored out of their minds.

P.S. Encourage students to watch a great Ted talk about education: https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity

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It’s game time

Introduction: 

These are activities for upper intermediate students to introduce and practise sports idioms. Students unscramble the expressions, match them with the correct definitions and play a game.

Level: C1

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To introduce sports idioms and expressions.
  2. To unscramble sports idioms and expressions.
  3. To match the expressions with their definitions.
  4. To practise the new expressions whilst playing a game.

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

  1. It’s game time Worksheet, one per student.
  2. 24 It’s game time Cards, printed, cut out and laminated for future use.

Procedure:

  1. Put students in pairs and ask them to briefly discuss the following questions: What are the most important events in the sporting calendar in your country?Which is more important in sport –winning or taking part? Who are your sporting heroes? What are the qualities of a true champion?
  2. Hand students It’s game time Worksheet.
  3. Individually, students try to order the underlined words in sentences 1 to 12 to discover what the correct expressions are.
  4. When the students have finished, they compare their answers with a partner.
  5. Check the answers as a class.
  6. Now the students match the expressions with their definitions and compare their answers with their partner.
  7. Check the answers as a class.
  8. Divide the students into two or three small teams of 2 or 3 and place the cards face down on the table in front of the students.
  9. The first student from the first team draws a card and performs the action written in red on the card, e.g. they define what a safe bet is.
  10. The first team to guess the correct answer keeps the card.
  11. Then a player from another team draws the next card. The game continues until the cards have run out. The winner is the team with the most cards.

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