Cats & Dogs

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise idioms with cats & dogs. Students first complete the expressions with the missing words, match the idioms to their definitions, complete the questions in Exercise 2 and answer the questions in pairs or small groups. 

Level: B2

Time: 50 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To introduce idioms with the words cat and dog.
  2. To match the idioms to their definitions.
  3. To complete Would you rather questions with the missing words and then answer the questions in small groups or pairs.

Materials:

  1. Cats and dogs Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Write the following statements on the board and ask students to decide if they are true or false: Cats have 32 muscles in each ear. Cats have no collarbone, which is one reason they are so flexible. Cats have 100 vocal sounds, while dogs have about 10. A dog’s sense of smell is 1000 times greater than a human’s. Every dog has a unique nose print with no two alike. Dogs sweat through their foot pads to keep them cool. All the statements are true Source : http://www.animalmedical.org
  2. Hand out a copy of Cats & Dogs Worksheet and ask students to complete the expressions with the words cat (meow, meow) or dog (woof, woof). When they are finished ask them to compare with their classmate(s).
  3. Check together as a class, but before you give students the answers make sure they compare as a whole class. Always encourage them to justify their answers to each other and if they are sure of their answer, to try and convince others they are correct. 
  4. Ask the students to match the expressions to their definitions. The students could first work individually and then compare with their partners, but once they get into groups or pairs they must agree on the answers. It encourages discussions and forces students to engage and defend their answers rather than mindlessly/distractedly do the task before moving on to the next one. 
  5. Check together as a class.
  6. After the first exercise and depending on how quickly the students completed the first two tasks, I divided them into groups and asked them to first draw and then mime the expressions they have learnt. The other teams tried to guess the correct expressions and received a point for each correct guess. You can skip this stage if you are pressed for time, but I find that students love this stage and are always eager to compete against each other and move around a bit, especially if you ask them to draw on the whiteboard.
  7. When the students have finished, ask them to complete Would you rather questions in Exercise 2 with the missing words. I usually ask students to fold the paper in half at this stage to try and encourage them to do it from memory which makes the task more challenging.
  8. When they have finished, ask them to go back to Exercise 1 and self correct before you check as a class.
  9. Next students answer the questions in pairs or small groups and justify each choice they made, e.g. I would rather be as sick as a dog every time I eat vegetables as I very rarely eat vegetables anyway, so I don’t think it would affect me.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to come up with sentences that are true for them using the expressions they have learnt. Always encourage them to write down what is TRUE for them. It makes the activities much more personal and memorable.

P.S. This post is dedicated to Mateo and Nero.

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Correct me if I am wrong

Introduction:

This is an activity for B1 students to review some of the most common mistakes they make. The students correct the mistakes individually and in pairs try to guess if the sentences are true or false for the teacher. I have used examples that are true and false for me but feel free to modify and personalise the sentences to make it more relevant for you and your group. I have created this activity based on the mistakes my Spanish students made in one of their speaking activities.

Level: B1

Time: 45 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To identify and correct common mistakes made by B1 students.
  2. To guess if the sentences are true or false for the teacher (Karolina), which makes the activity more engaging and personal both for the students and the teacher.

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

  1. Correct me if I am wrong Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Give each student a Correct me if I am wrong worksheet and in pairs, or groups of three, ask them to correct the mistakes in sentences 1 to 16.
  2. When the students have finished, check together as a class.
  3. In pairs, or group of three, again students must decide if the sentences are true or false for the teacher and write their answers in full sentences in their notebooks, e.g. We think Karolina has lived in Madrid since 2011’ or ‘We don’t think she has lived in Madrid since 2011. We think she has lived here since 2009 because she has been teaching here for the last 10 years.’ Encourage students to come up with reasons for their answers to maximize speaking/writing time.
  4. Check together as a class and give each pair / group one point for each correct answer.
  5. In the same pairs, or groups of three, ask students to write a mix of true and false sentences about themselves using the structures / expressions from sentences 1-16 and then ask their partners to guess which are true / false and justify their answers.

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A match made in heaven

Introduction:

This is a short writing/speaking activity for CAE students to practise some expressions I have found in Part 4 of the Reading and Use of English CAE exam and that my students struggled with. The students complete the sentences individually in random order, read and match their classmate’s answers and further discuss the responses that caught their attention. Make sure the students complete the sentences TRUTHFULLY which makes the activity more personal. Ask them to think of examples that produce an emotional response which will hopefully help with memorising the words.

Level: C1

Time: 45 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To complete sentences with students’ own ideas.
  2. To match their classmates’ sentence halves.
  3. To discuss the responses that caught students’ attention using the underlined expressions.

Materials:

  1. A match made in heaven Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Give each student ‘A match made in heaven’ Worksheet and ask them to complete the sentences in random order, e.g. write the answer to question 2 next to letter d etc. I am often in the mood for a glass of champagne and a slice of carrot cake.
  2. Put students in pairs, or groups of 3, and ask them to swap papers. The students now read each other’s answers and match the sentence halves. Ask students to underline the responses that catch their attention.
  3. Monitor throughout the activity.
  4. Now ask the students to swap the papers and check if their classmates matched the responses correctly.
  5. In the same pairs or groups of 3, now ask the students to explain in detail the underlined answers using the underlined expressions from the first column.
  6. Elicit some answers from the students and ask if any of their responses were identical to their partners’.

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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Zzz

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise idioms and expressions related to sleep. Students first divide the expressions into 3 categories, then complete the questions with the missing idioms and expressions and answer the questions with their classmates.

Level: B2

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To increase familiarity and correct use of idioms and expressions related to sleep.
  2. To complete the questions in Exercise 2 with the missing expressions.
  3. To develop fluency and answer questions containing the target language in pairs.

Materials:

  1. Zzz Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Write down the following questions on the board and ask students to discuss them in pairs:

How many hours of sleep do you need per night? Are you a light sleeper or a heavy sleeper? Do you talk in your sleep? Do you remember your dreams? Do you need an alarm clock to wake up?

  1. Hand out a copy of Zzz Worksheet and ask students to individually complete the table in Exercise 1.
  2. When the students have finished, ask them to mingle with other students and find those who can define for them the idioms they are unsure of or do not know.
  3. Check together as a class.
  4. When the students have finished, ask them to complete Exercise 2 individually.
  5. When they have finished, ask them to compare with a partner before checking together as a class.
  6. When the students have finished, put them into pairs or small groups of 3 and ask them to answer the questions in Exercise 2. Encourage the students to use the target language when they answer the questions.
  7. When the students have finished, ask them to share the most surprising answers they have heard.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to choose 3 expressions that caught their attention and briefly answer the following question e.g. What would the world be like if…everyone woke up at the crack of dawn? What would the world be like if… everyone suddenly became a night owl?

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Bid it 2 Win it FCE Sentence Auction


Introduction:

This is a sentence auction activity for Spanish FCE students. Students work in groups and bid on the sentences they think they can correct. This activity could also be used with lower CAE groups.

Level: B2

Time: 45 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To review the most common mistakes made by Spanish FCE students in an entertaining way.

Materials:

  1. Bid it 2 Win it FCE Sentence Auction, one worksheet for the teacher.
  2. Bid it 2 Win it FCE Sentence Auction Answers.

Procedure:

  1. Put students in small groups of 2 or 3.
  2. Each group will have £2000 to spend.
  3. Bids begin at £50 and each subsequent bid is increased by £100.
  4. The teacher writes the first sentence on the board and sells it to the highest bidder.
  5. Once the students have bought the sentence they have to rewrite it. If their answer is correct they keep the sentence. If they are wrong the sentence goes back on sale and the students can bid on it again at the end.
  6. The winner of the game is the group which has ended up with the most correct sentences.

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Time to keep up with the times

Introduction:

This is a fun, competitive board game for small groups of 3 or 4 players to review the time expressions used with past simple and present perfect tenses.

Level: B1

Time: 45 minutes

 Objectives:

  1. To reach the end of the board with the highest number of points by forming questions or affirmative and negative sentences whilst using the time expressions written on the cards.

Materials:

  1. 48 printable cards, one per group of 3 or 4.
  2. 1 board, 1 die and 3 or 4 checkers per group of 3 or 4.

How to play:

  1. Print and cut out the cards, one set per group of 3 or 4, and place in three piles (Qs, As & Ns) face down on the table.
  2. The players take it in turns to throw the die and move the number thrown.
  3. When a player lands on a Q, A or N square they take the top card from the corresponding pile and create a Question or Affirmative or Negative sentence using the time expression on that card. For example, Q: Have you ever ridden an elephant before?  A: I’ve ridden a donkey twice. N: I haven’t ridden a camel this week. If the player uses the correct tense with the expression given they receive a point. The card is then placed at the bottom of the pile.
  4. Play continues in a circle going left.
  5. Monitor and write down the mistakes the players make and offer them an opportunity at the end of the game to correct them. They receive additional points for each mistake they correct.
  6. The winner is the player with the highest number of points for correct sentences.

time-to-keep-up-with-the-times-board-game-cards

P.S.  Thank you for your helpful feedback Kate. I really appreciate it.

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