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.
Time: 45 minutes
- To complete sentences with students’ own ideas.
- To match their classmates’ sentence halves.
- To discuss the responses that caught students’ attention using the underlined expressions.
- A match made in heaven Worksheet, one per student.
- 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.
- 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.
- Monitor throughout the activity.
- Now ask the students to swap the papers and check if their classmates matched the responses correctly.
- 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.
- Elicit some answers from the students and ask if any of their responses were identical to their partners’.
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.
- To discuss quotes and questions related with age.
- To listen and come up with three possible endings to a short fairy story by the Grimm Brothers.
- To put the sentences from the story in the correct order.
Materials (Click on the worksheet below to download the PDF file):
- The old man and his grandson Worksheet, one per student.
- Give students a copy of The old man and his grandson Worksheet.
- In pairs, ask students to discuss quotes and questions in Exercise 1.
- When the students have finished, ask them to share their opinions with the rest of the class.
- 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.
- 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).
- Ask the students to first summarize the story to each other and if necessary play the first part of the recording again.
- In pairs, ask the students to try and predict how the story ends and BRIEFLY write down their ideas (Exercise 2).
- 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.
- 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.
- Then play the recording again for students to check.
- 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
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.
Time: 60 minutes
- To increase familiarity and correct use of idioms and expressions related to sleep.
- To complete the questions in Exercise 2 with the missing expressions.
- To develop fluency and answer questions containing the target language in pairs.
- Zzz Worksheet, one per student.
- 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?
- Hand out a copy of Zzz Worksheet and ask students to individually complete the table in Exercise 1.
- 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.
- Check together as a class.
- When the students have finished, ask them to complete Exercise 2 individually.
- When they have finished, ask them to compare with a partner before checking together as a class.
- 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.
- When the students have finished, ask them to share the most surprising answers they have heard.
- 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?
Nothing changes if nothing changes
It’s all a numbers game
The proof is in the pudding
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.
Time: 45 minutes
- To review the most common mistakes made by Spanish FCE students in an entertaining way.
- Bid it 2 Win it FCE Sentence Auction, one worksheet for the teacher.
- Put students in small groups of 2 or 3.
- Each group will have £2000 to spend.
- Bids begin at £50 and each subsequent bid is increased by £100.
- The teacher writes the first sentence on the board and sells it to the highest bidder.
- 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.
- The winner of the game is the group which has ended up with the most correct sentences.
Bid it 2 Win it Sentence Auction
My favourite mistakes card game
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.
Time: 45 minutes
- 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.
- 48 printable cards, one per group of 3 or 4.
- 1 board, 1 die and 3 or 4 checkers per group of 3 or 4.
How to play:
- 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.
- The players take it in turns to throw the die and move the number thrown.
- 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.
- Play continues in a circle going left.
- 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.
- The winner is the player with the highest number of points for correct sentences.
P.S. Thank you for your helpful feedback Kate. I really appreciate it.
Best birthday ever
Summary of past or recent events
This is a speaking activity which allows students to describe the most important things that happened to them in 2016, over the holidays, the last school year etc.
- To describe past events using past tenses or recent events using present perfect tenses.
- To practise asking wh-questions in authentic communication.
- Ask students to write down ten important or memorable things that happened to them in the chosen time period. Make sure they know the events will be discussed in class and are not too personal. You can decrease or increase that number depending on how talkative your class is (I found teenagers usually struggle with ten).
- Put students in pairs (student A and student B) or groups of three.
- Student A briefly describes the first event on the list. Once student A has finished student B asks additional questions starting with who, whose, what, when, where, why, which, how, how long and how many.
- Encourage students to show pictures of the events, if they have any on their phones, to make the activity more relevant.
- Students continue until they have each described all the events from their lists.
- You could also ask students to come up with a recent summary of events in politics, art, science, etc.
- You could use it as a getting- to- know- you activity with students writing a list of “Ten things to know about me “.
Best birthday ever
Time to keep up with the times
This is a free printable board game to practise adjectives followed by prepositions and improve fluency under time pressure.
The objective of the game is to reach the end by moving across the board whilst asking and answering questions.
Printable ASK a Q board game, a die, one checker per player and a countdown timer.
How to play:
- Ask a Q is played by 2 to 4 players.
- Players take it in turns to throw the die and move the number thrown.
- When a player lands on a square they ask the student on their right the question from that square. The student has to speak for at least 45 seconds without excessive repetition, and must answer the question using the adjective and the preposition in bold. If the player repeats or pauses for too long, the timer is restarted and they must start their answer again. After completing the task, they then roll the die and ask the question to the student on their right.
- The winner is the first player to land on the last square.
Note: The adjectives and prepositions are in bold to encourage noticing.
When & where board game
Compare & contrast board game
Time to keep up with the times