On top of the world

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise idioms with the word TOP. Students first complete the idioms with the missing word, complete the sentences in Exercise 2 with their own ideas and then complete and answer questions (Exercise 3) in pairs or small groups.

Level: B2+

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To introduce idioms with the word TOP.
  2. To increase familiarity and correct use of idioms with the word TOP.
  3. To develop fluency and answer questions containing the target language in pairs.

Materials:

Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Hand out a copy of On top of the world Worksheet and ask students to place the sheets of paper in front of them FACE DOWN.
  2. Tell them to, on the word GO, turn over the worksheet, scan the expressions in Exercise 1 and find ONE word that completes ALL expressions. Tell students the SAME word is missing from all the expressions.
  3. Check together as a class.
  4. Ask students to complete sentences in Exercise 2 with their own ideas. They will now have the opportunity to see the expressions in context.
  5. When they have finished, ask them to discuss their answers with their classmates and provide more detail.
  6. Next students complete the expressions with the missing words (Exercise 3) and answer the questions in pairs or small groups.
  7. When the students have finished, ask them to share what they have learnt about their classmates.

Fast finishers: 

Ask students to draw, define, describe and write a sentence with 4 chosen expressions.

Related posts:

I spy with my little eye

From head to toe

What a zoo

Somewhere over the rainbow 

Cats & Dogs

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

From head to toe

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise body part idioms. Students complete the idioms with the missing body parts, match the expressions to their definitions, complete the questions with body parts and then the sentences with the idioms.

Teacher tips: 

  1. Ask students to define what the expressions mean before you give them your definitions. I found that they were able to define the majority of the expressions if not all of them. Here are the examples of some definitions my students gave in class (in brackets): To be off your head (crazy), To find your feet (to get to know something, to settle down, to adapt to smth), To get out of hand (to lose control), To get a slap on the wrist (to be warned, to be threatened, to be punished), To give someone the cold shoulder (to stand someone up, to ignore someone), To keep your nose clean (to do things correctly, to do what is expected of you, not to draw attention to yourself, to avoid making a mistake), To keep someone on their toes (to control, to keep track of), To play it by ear (to improvise, let’s see how it goes), To stick one’s neck out (to be brave, to have courage). Well done you guys 😉
  2. Make sure students understand the difference between to keep sb on their toes and to keep your nose clean as some of my students got a bit confused.
  3. When introducing new vocabulary and embedding it in a sentence, think of examples that make the meaning of the new word/ expression very clear. This is not the time to be subtle. I have often made a mistake of providing students with examples that were either too vague or contained more new vocabulary which confused them further. Exercise 4 example 3 He had only been out of prison for a month, so he was trying to keep his nose clean caused some confusion and students thought to find your feet also made sense.
  4. Research the origin of each idiom before the class. It is not only fun but also helpful for students to know the story behind the expressions and it is so much easier to memorise something you can associate with an image, an anecdote, a joke etc. My favorite idiom in this lesson is to find one’s feet which is believed to refer to babies standing up and learning to walk (Source: http://www.theidioms.com)

Level: B2+

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To introduce idioms with body parts.
  2. To complete the idioms with different body parts.
  3. To match the idioms to their definitions.
  4. To complete the questions with the missing body parts.
  5. To answer the questions containing the target language.
  6. To complete the sentences with the missing idioms.

Materials:

Procedure:

  1. Hand out a copy of From head to toe to each student or display it on the screen.
  2. In pairs, ask students to unscramble the letters in each sentence to form the names of body parts. Even if the students don’t know any of the expressions they will still be able to complete the task with the letters provided which sets them up for success from the start. 
  3. Check together as a class.
  4. Ask students to come up with their own definitions of the idioms using the context provided. Many of my students were able to do it really well and it motivated them even more which was very satisfying to watch.
  5. Now ask 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 classmates and justify their answers. In most cases they will be able to see how similar their definitions were to the actual definitions of the idioms, which builds students’ confidence and shows them how much they can get from context and without the teacher’s help.
  7. Go to Exercise 3 and ask students to complete the questions with the missing body parts. Encourage them to do the exercise from memory. When they have finished, ask them to compare with their partner and then check together as a class. In pairs or small groups students now answer the questions.
  8. Last but not least go to Exercise 4 and ask students to complete the sentences with the missing idioms and again try to do it from memory. 
  9. Check together as a class.

Fast finisher ideas:

  1. Ask students to choose 4 or 5 idioms and draw their literal and figurative meaning.
  2. Research the origin of a chosen idiom and later share your findings with the rest of the class.

Related posts:

I spy with my little eye

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

Click!Click!Click!

Introduction:

This is a fun activity you can do with students to practise describing photographs using speculative language. The activity could be used simply as general speaking practice or to help students prepare for Cambridge speaking exams. Students look at a photo and answer questions using language of speculation. All the photos are of me (Please don’t laugh) but feel free to replace them with your own photos to make it more personal.

I have also included a written task sample courtesy of one of my younger learners to show you how they handled the task and a recording of a description of Image 1, courtesy of my lovely friend Adam. Feel free to use it to model the task to your students or turn it into a listening task 😉

Level: A2+

Time: 35 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To describe a photo using the questions provided 
  2. To make predictions about the photo
  3. To practise using speculative and deductive language  

Materials:

A description of Image 1 (by Adam). Thank you 😉

Procedure:

  1. Before you start the activity ask students to give you some examples of language of speculation e.g I suppose…, I expect…, It is possible…, It is probable that…, I can’t see… etc. 
  2. Display one of the images on the screen ( I have prepared 5 photos of myself that you are free to use but you could use your own photos too) if you are teaching online.
  3. Put students in pairs or small groups and ask them to describe the photos to each other using the questions provided (ask students to answer ALL the questions AND in order) using speculative language displayed next to the photos. Monitor and offer help whenever necessary.
  4. Next, still in the same groups, ask students to try and agree on the answers especially when the more speculative questions are concerned. Once they have come up with one version per group/per pair, ask them to choose a spokesperson who is going to present their answers to the rest of the class.
  5. When all the groups or pairs have finished presenting their versions, you can give them the REAL story behind the image. BOOM. Of course you can skip this stage if you are using my photos. This is actually the most enjoyable part of the activity as students get to see if their predictions about the snippets from my/your/their life are accurate or not. So often we ask students to describe random images that are completely irrelevant to their lives instead of using our own images which makes it so much more exciting. 
  6. The group with the highest number of correct answers wins. I deliberately choose photos with interesting background stories.
  7. You can continue the activity with my photos or ask students to use their own images. Make sure students are still using speculative language throughout the activity.
  8. Enjoy 😉

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If my memory serves me right…

What a zoo sequel

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise animal idioms. Students first answer a few questions, complete the idioms with the missing animals, match them to their definitions and answer some questions using the target language. 

To my mum and Nero

Teacher tip/ reflection:

I would suggest getting some images of animals for this class especially of a moth, a weasel and a herring as those three were problematic in the groups I’ve done the activity with. At the beginning you can ask students to quickly match the images to the names of the animals. It seems like a simple task, but it engages students more than a mere list of words, and we can often forget how powerful images can be. I know that I often forget 🙂 and could definitely do with using more visuals in my own classes. The images can then be used throughout the activity to give students clues as they go through the tasks. I strongly resist the urge to feed my students the answers and usually come up with a series of clues to gently 😉 GUIDE them towards the answers instead. It’s more empowering, they are more engaged, proactive and take responsibility for their own learning and it also helps them create new associations. I also often ask other students to give clues to their classmates after I’ve checked they completed the tasks correctly of course.

Here are some examples of clues I’ve given my students for the following idioms in today’s activity:

  1. Till the cows come home: Asturiana, Pascual (two major dairy brands in Spain, where the majority of my students are from. If not, Milka should do the trick 😉
  2. The lion’s share: A famous Broadway musical, Hakuna Matata, the king of the jungle
  3. Black sheep: Wales is famous for them; we make hats and scarves out of their beautiful warm wool
  4. A sitting duck: Donald, a famous story in which this animal turns into a beautiful swan

Reinforce the clues with the images if necessary and have fun;)

Level: B2

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

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

Materials:

Procedure:

  1. Hand out copies of What a zoo sequel Worksheet 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 animals. Check if they know the meaning of moth, weasel and herring.
  4. Check together as a class. I always ask EVERYONE to compare FIRST rather than list the right answers. At this stage people are unsure and doubtful but there is usually someone in the classroom who is able to peer correct. It makes students so much more confident when you show them they can do it without your help but you are always present to provide the support and guidance if they are at a loss.
  5. Ask the students to match the idioms to their definitions. Students first work in pairs to encourage cooperation and show them how much they can learn from each other and that the teacher is NOT the only source of knowledge in the classroom. 
  6. Check together as a class.
  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 animal idioms as often as possible.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to draw four expressions they have learnt in class in their notebooks.

Related posts:

What a zoo

MEOW!

Cats & Dogs

Cat got your tongue? Speak up

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

Can you see the error of your ways?Threequel

Introduction:

This is an activity for (lower) intermediate students to review some of the most common mistakes they make. The students correct the mistakes individually, write sentences that are true for them and interview their partners. The mistakes in the exercise are genuine  mistakes made regularly ;( by my own students.

Level: A2/B1

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To identify and correct common mistakes made by (lower) intermediate students.
  2. To practise changing statements into questions.
  3. To develop fluency and confidence in speaking.

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

Procedure:

  1. Write I have 2 childrens on the board and in pairs, or groups, ask students to highlight the error and correct it.
  2. When they have finished, ask them what the error was and underline it on the board. To the right of the sentence, ask them to write gramatically correct sentences that are TRUE for them. e.g. I don’t have any children, I have one child, I have two children etc. Go through them together and clear up any doubts.
  3. Then, in their pairs or individually, ask students to change the statement into a question, e.g. Do you have any children? How many children do you have? Write their examples on the board.
  4. Clarify understanding and explain any incorrect suggestions.
  5. Give each student Can you see the error of your ways threequel… or display it on the screen if you are using Zoom and individually ask students to circle the mistakes in sentences 1 to 30.
  6. When they have finished, check together as a class.
  7. Individually, students then write correct sentences in the second column, making each statement true for them, as per the example ( if you are using Zoom ask students to make notes on a piece of paper and when they are finished copy the examples on the board).
  8. Check together as a class.
  9. Individually, ask students to change the statements from the first column into questions and write them down in the third column, as per the example.
  10. Monitor closely. When they have finished, they check the answers with a partner.
  11. Explain any mistakes on the board.
  12. Then, put students into pairs, or groups of three, and ask them to interview each other using the questions.
  13. If students need more practice, ask them to switch pairs / groups and repeat the process.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to write down 4 things they have learned about their classmates.

Related posts:

Can you see the error of your ways? Sequel

Can you see the error of your ways?

My favourite mistakes card game

Make no mistake

Correct me if I am wrong

Bid it 2 Win it FCE Sentence Auction

Bid it 2 Win it Sentence Auction

To err is human