You’ll never guess what

Introduction:

This is a You’ll never guess what  board game which is great for revising vocabulary or maybe filling up a slot if you are running out of materials at the end of the class. It is an extremely versatile game and can be used for any age group and different levels of students.

Level: A2+

Time: 30 minutes but it can vary depending on the number of students and the variations of the game

Objectives:

  1. To revise and/or expand vocabulary

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

  1. You’ll never guess what board game

Procedure:

  1. Hand out You’ll never guess what 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 category.
  3. Now teams/students must try to think of as many words as possible that fit that category. Give the teams a set amount of time to come up with their answers. Depending on the level of your group you can also choose a letter of the alphabet for them. I then asked my students to not just list their words but to DESCRIBE them to the other team(s) to encourage speaking, defining, explaining and interacting. I always try to use vocabulary in context and avoid simply listing words. What I also did, was to ask students to WAIT until the other team finished describing and awarded points for correct guesses BUT only allowed them to guess TWICE. It works beautifully as the students don’t just shout out the answers but actually pay attention to the descriptions and think before they answer. I have given you some other variations of the game which you will find at the top of the You’ll never guess what board game.
  4. Monitor and also use this opportunity to feed students some new vocabulary. One idea for introducing new vocab and maybe starting the game could be to come up with your own list of words from each category, that your groups are unlikely to know, (1 word is enough) and make it a race among individual students/teams to match the words to their categories. At the end of the class/ activity you could test them and see how many new words they remember or encourage them to use the words throughout the game.

 

P.S. Thank you for the new design Stu 😉

Keep calm and wash your hands ;)

Introduction:

This is a fun activity to review the most common collocations with break, come, keep and pay. Students divide the expressions into four groups and then play a board game where, if they manage to complete a sentence with the right verb correctly, they add either an O or an X to the board until they line up 6 symbols in a row. I currently use the stamps available in Zoom, stars and hearts, which actually makes the board look very pretty and if a student makes a mistake I stamp the square/ field with a cross ( I put the stamps in the bottom right hand corner).

Level: B2

Time: 45-60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To practise and review common collocations with break, come, keep and pay.
  2. To divide expressions into four categories: ones that collocate with break, come, keep and pay.
  3. To complete a sentence with the correct verb: break, come, keep or pay and line up 6 symbols (O or X) in a row.
  4. To answer a question containing the target language.

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

  1. Keep calm and wash your hands Worksheet
  2. Keep calm and wash your hands Board game

Procedure:

  1. Elicit some common collocations with break, come, keep and pay and write them on the board e.g. break a leg, come to an agreement, keep a secret or pay the price.
  2. Put students in small groups of 2 or 3 and give each group Keep calm and wash your hands Worksheet.
  3. To make the activity more competitive, tell students that the first group to complete the task correctly wins or you could give them a point for each correct answer. Much better.
  4. Monitor and check answers as a class. As an alternative you could do the exercise together with the class, depending on the level of your students. I went through all the phrases with my students making sure they were clear on what each expression meant.
  5. Divide the students into teams ( if you have a small group or just one student they can of course play individually) and hand out Keep calm and wash your hands board game  to each team or simply display it on the screen if you are using Zoom.
  6. To see who starts do rock, paper, scissors.  Whoever wins chooses the square they want to start with. Next the player(s) completes the sentence with the missing verb (break, come, keep or pay). I have put smiley faces where the verbs should be to make the board look nice and chirpy. If the player(s) manage to do it correctly, they add either an O or an X to the board. The first player to line up 6 of their symbols in a row wins. Since I have been using Zoom I have actually inserted predefined icons (a star and a heart) when I played with my students as it looked cleaner and much cuter on the screen than an O or an X . You can find the stamps in the annotation tools when you start screen sharing. Also as the students complete the sentences make sure they use the right form of the verb (they could get additional points for that) and of course answer the question. Encourage them to use the collocation in their answer and avoid a simple yes or a no.
  7. At home ask students to choose five questions from the board ( preferably with the expressions that were brand new to them) and answer them in writing.

Related posts:

Make or do? Have no clue 😦

Go Get ‘em tiger!

Do, make, have or take? An instant headache

P.S. A massive thank you to my friend Stu, a genius creator of my new templates. I love them and I love you too potato head.

 

 

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

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise idioms with the word HEART. Students first match the expressions to their definitions, divide them into 2 categories and then answer the questions and discuss their responses with their classmates.

Level: B2

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

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

Materials:

  1. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly Worksheet, one per student or display it on the screen for everyone to see.

Procedure:

  1. Hand out or display a copy of “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.” Worksheet and ask students to briefly discuss the quote from The Little Prince at the top of the page.
  2. Next go to Exercise 1 and ask students to go through the facts about a human heart and choose the one they were most surprised by and compare their opinions with their classmates. Mine were surprised that a woman’s heart beats faster. Any idea why?
  3. Tell them to, on the word GO, scan the expressions on the left in Exercise 2 and try to, as fast as they can, find the one body part that completes all expressions. At this stage it should be quite obvious what the word is so the students won’t take too long to guess the right answer.
  4. Next ask students to match the idioms on the left to the definitions on the right.
  5. Ask them to compare with their classmates before you check together as a class. I always encourage students to defend their choices and justify their answers and quite often I won’t give them correct answers until they all agree and provide me with identical answers. More often than not they manage to get the majority of their answers right. Just don’t give in too quickly when they start complaining that it is too hard (which they always initially do). Confidently explain that it is an opportunity for them to learn from their classmates or maybe to teach their classmates something. Also show them how much they can deduce and guess on their own before you spoon-feed them the answers.
  6. Next ask the students to divide the expressions into two categories: ones they associate with positive experiences and feelings and ones they have a negative association with. In class today I asked students to read out the idioms they put in the “positive” and “negative” section but only discussed the ones that they decided to put “in the middle” or the ones that they disagreed on with their classmates.
  7. When the students have finished, go to Exercise 4 and from memory try to correct the mistakes in red. I tried to think of words that have something in common with the words used in the actual idioms to give students some clues. You could try and turn it into a competition and ask students to do it individually or in small teams.
  8. When you are finished students answer the questions.
  9. If you have had no time to discuss all questions in class ask students to answer a couple of them in writing.

Food for thought:

Why not encourage your students to practise their listening skills with this great audio book:

P.S. This post is dedicated to my BIG prince:)

Related posts:

Home sweet home

I spy with my little eye

Cats & Dogs

What a zoo

There is no place like…school

Ups and downs

Somewhere over the rainbow 

Home sweet home

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise idioms with HOME & HOUSE. 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 ‘home’ and ‘house’.
  2. To match the idioms to their definitions.
  3. To complete questions with the missing words and then answer the questions in small groups or pairs.

Materials:

  1. Home sweet home worksheet, one per student or if you are currently using Zoom simply display it on the screen.

Procedure:

  1. Write the following questions on the board and ask the students to briefly discuss them in small groups or pairs. Do you like the place where you are living? Where do you feel most at home? What is your favourite room in your house? How have you changed your home since you started living here? How many different homes have you lived in? If you could change anything about your present home, what would it be? Idea: Since we are all currently teaching from home this could be a great opportunity to ask students to “show you around” their homes.
  2. Hand out or display a copy of Home sweet home Worksheet and ask students to complete the expressions with the words home or house. When they are finished ask them to compare with their classmate(s). 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. 
  3. Check together as a class.
  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 doing 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 complete the first two tasks you could ask them to mime the expressions they have learnt. The other students try to guess the correct expressions and receive 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 and have a laugh 🙂
  7. When the students have finished, ask them to complete the 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. If you are using Zoom simply display page 2 and go back to page 1 when students are finished.
  8. When they have finished, go back to Exercise 1 and ask them to self correct before you check as a class.
  9. Next students answer the questions in pairs or small groups.
  10. At the end of the class ask students to choose two questions and answer them in writing at home. Oops they are probably already home 🙂

Food for thought:

Award Winning Animated Short Film: “Home Sweet Home”

Related posts:

All talk and no cider

Cats & Dogs

4 elements

What a zoo

I spy with my little eye

All hands on deck, kids

Money Money Money

Half full or half empty?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

All rise please

Stop beating around the bush

All talk and no cider

Introduction: 

These are activities for upper intermediate students to introduce and practise idioms related to communication. Students unscramble the expressions, match them with the correct definitions and answer some questions in pairs.

Level: B2

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To introduce communication idioms and expressions.
  2. To unscramble communication idioms and expressions.
  3. To match the expressions with their definitions.
  4. To practise the new expressions whilst interviewing their partners.

Materials:

  1. All talk and no cider, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Put students in pairs and ask them to briefly discuss the following questions: What makes it easy to talk to someone? Who is the best conversationalist you have ever met? What percentage of a conversation do you spend talking? What do people do that drives you crazy in a conversation? How can you improve your conversation skills?
  2. Hand students All talk and no cider Worksheet. In pairs, students try to order the idioms to discover what the correct expressions are (bring order to chaos). Bear in mind that they will not know the majority of the expressions, but resist the urge to give them the answers. My students usually work relentlessly to try and come up with the right answers until eventually they get the majority of them right.
  3. Check the answers as a class.
  4. Now the students, in pairs again, match the expressions with their definitions. Again students 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. I don’t want my students to ever become too dependent on me. I value autonomy greatly and try to help them develop tools to be as independent as possible.
  5. Check the answers as a class. I always ask EVERYONE to compare FIRST rather than list the right answers. 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.
  6. When the students have finished, ask them to look at the questions in Exercise 2 and first try and write down the idioms that match the definitions in bold. I encourage them to do it from memory first as it’s a great way to start recycling vocabulary and make them think and engage. I often turn these exercises into mini competitions to add some excitement. Last time I did this exercise the students thought I was insane and asked for the impossible, but as soon as they started, they saw that they remembered more than the thought and the majority managed to complete the task PERFECTLY and almost entirely from memory.
  7. Students now answer the questions in pairs or small groups using the communication idioms as often as possible.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to choose expressions that best describe them and in writing justify their answers.

Related posts:

You talkin’ to me?

Clothes do (not) make the man

Ups and downs

Stop beating around the bush

Nothing changes if nothing changes

P.S. This post pays homage to cider, cabrales, rich homemade almond turrón and of course Kompacho.

Taking the leap…

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise idioms related to success and failure. Students first answer some questions in pairs or small groups, divide the expressions into two categories, complete the questions in Exercise 3 with the missing idioms, and then answer the questions in pairs or small groups.

I would start this class with a story, something you initially struggled with and that you managed to turn into a great success. To create interest, first introduce the problem and then ask students to predict in pairs how you managed to overcome it. This way you will give students an opportunity to see you in a different light, someone more approachable and able to share your challenges and difficulties. 

My personal favourite for this type of class and the type of topic is the story of when I went to a bilingual secondary school at the age of 15 with no English to speak of. ZERO. I was in the bottom of my class. I worked my socks off for two years to get to the level of the other students. When I finally did, the momentum, my sheer determination and drive, together with my passion for English was already so strong that I became of one the best students in my class, graduated from an English university and years later became an English teacher, who the English themselves confuse with a native speaker from Ireland Impossible is nothing.

Side note: This post feels special to me and the time of its publication is not an accident. After working in a language school in the north of Madrid for a decade, yes a decade, I have decided to take the leap and go freelance. I am feeling a mixture of excitement, fear, and uncertainty but underpinning all this there is an unshakable belief that I have made the right decision. I loved working in the same school for such a long time, it gave me an amazing opportunity to work with wonderful students for years and years and a chance to get to know them really well. However, the time has come to leave my comfort zone and to take on a new challenge.

P.S. I have also made a Taking the leap conversation board game that I used with one of my students who recently created her own company. Well done! Feel free to download it and use it if it is appropriate for your students. 

P.S. I don’t really believe in failure myself. You either win or you learn. Here comes a book that inspired me in many ways.

John Maxwell “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn”.

Level: B2

Time: 50 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To introduce idioms related to success and failure.
  2. To answer questions about success and failure.
  3. To divide the idioms into two categories: one associated with success and one with failure.
  4. To complete questions with the missing idioms and then answer the questions in small groups or pairs.

Materials:

  1. Taking the leap Worksheet, one per student.
  2. Taking the leap board game board game, one per student/ small group.

Procedure:

  1. Hand out a copy of Taking the leap Worksheet and ask students to discuss the questions in Exercise 1. Elicit some answers when they are finished.
  2. Ask the students to divide the expressions into two categories: success and failure. 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. 
  3. Check together as a class and ask students to try and come up with precise definitions of each expression. Help with the ones students were unable to figure out themselves. 
  4. When the students have finished, ask them to complete the questions in Exercise 2 with the missing idioms. 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.
  5. When they have finished, ask them to go back to Exercise 1 and self / peer correct before you check as a class.
  6. Next, students answer the questions in pairs or small groups and give examples.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to think of some inspiring stories they have read or heard about and write a short summary, using the expressions learnt, of how the character in their story overcame the challenges they faced.

Related posts:

The proof is in the pudding

It’s all a numbers game

Nothing changes if nothing changes

It’s game time

Somewhere over the rainbow 

You make my heart BEET 😉

There is no place like…school

Can’t stop dishing out idioms

Actions speak louder than words

Ups and downs

All rise please

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Half full or half empty?

P.S. Thank you Alex, Stu, Nat, Adam, Penny, Lorna and Kompacho for your support and encouragement.

 

 

Random words (Once upon a time…)

Introduction: 

This is a creative speaking/ writing activity inspired by a book called “Creativity Workout” by Edward de Bono. Students obtain random words and rewrite some of the most popular fairy tales. I have to say I absolutely love this activity since it takes me back to the times my dad used to read The Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Andersen stories to me. Enjoy.

Level: B1 +

Time: 45 minutes

Objective:

  1. To recycle recently studied vocabulary in a new and memorable context.

Materials:  

  1. One die per pair or small group.

Procedure:

  1. At the beginning of the class ask students to write down the titles of some of their favourite fairy tales and short stories, e.g. Cinderella, Emperor’s New Clothes, Frog-Prince, The Gingerbread Man, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Bean Stalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Pinocchio, Princess and the Pea, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs etc.
  2. Draw a 6 x 6 grid on the board.
  3. Ask the students to review recently studied vocabulary and provide a word for each square. Make sure the students know the meaning of all the words.
  4. When the grid is complete, put students in pairs or small groups. To obtain words for the activity students throw the die twice: the first throw indicates which column they are going to use and the second indicates which row they are going to use. Depending on the task, they must roll for the number of words and use them repetitively to complete the activity.

Examples:

  • Obtain four random words and choose one of the tales above or any other you would prefer to work on. It would be best if all groups worked on the same tale as they could later compare their stories and have a laugh. Using the random words create four discussion questions based on the tale of your choice.
  • Obtain four random words and create a different ending of the chosen story.
  • Obtain four random words and create a different beginning of the chosen story.
  • Obtain six random words and justify which character should be removed from your chosen story and why.
  • Obtain four random words and retell the story from the perspective of a different character, e.g. one of the Seven Dwarfs or the wolf’s perspective in Little Red Riding Hood. 
  • Obtain five random words and write a sequel to one of the stories, e.g. Cinderella 2.
  • Obtain four random words and write a contemporary version of one of the stories.
  • Obtain five random words and describe how you would act if you were one of the main characters in your chosen story.
  • Obtain five random words and present your chosen story as a TV news item.
  • Obtain five random words and write 5 quiz questions about the story for the other teams.

Related posts:

Random words (Getting personal)

Random words return

Random words

 

4 elements

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise idioms with the elements: air, earth, fire and water. Students first complete the expressions with the missing words, match the idioms to their definitions, complete the sentences in Exercise 2 and then decide if these sentences are true for me, the teacher. I came up with my own examples to personalise the activity. You could do the same or simply ask students to decide if the sentences are true for them.

Level: B2

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To increase familiarity and correct use of idioms with air, earth, fire and water.
  2. To match the idioms to their definitions.
  3. To complete the sentences with the missing idioms and then decide if the sentences are true for the teacher or the students themselves.

Materials:

  1. 4 elements Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Hand out a copy of 4 elements Worksheet and ask students to complete the expressions with the words air, earth, fire and water. When they are finished ask them to compare with their classmate(s).
  2. 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 answers, to try and convince others they are correct.
  3. 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.
  4. Check together as a class.
  5. When the students have finished, ask them to complete sentences in Exercise 2 with the missing idioms.
  6. When they have finished, ask them to swap their sheets with a partner and peer correct.
  7. Check together as a class.
  8. Next students look at the sentences and try to decide which of them are true for their teacher (you can obviously use my examples but I would encourage you to come up with your own to make it more personal). Encourage students to give reasons for their choices to keep the conversation going, e.g. I think number 3 is correct. Karolina is constantly talking about her sister and all the things they do together. I imagine they must have a great relationship and get on like a house on fire.
  9. When they are finished ask them to ask you questions to check if they were correct, using the new expressions, e.g. Are you still up in the air about where to go on holiday in July? This also gives you the chance to correct and for students to yet again recycle the idioms.

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.

Related posts:

Clothes do (not) make the man

Zzz

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

There is no place like…school

Somewhere over the rainbow 

P.S. “Some women are lost in the fire. Some women are built from it.” ― Michelle K.

I spy with my little eye

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise idioms with the word EYE. Students first divide the expressions into 3 categories and then answer the questions and discuss their responses with their classmates.

Level: B2

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

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

Materials:

  1. I spy with my little eye Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Hand out a copy of I spy with my little eye 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 try to, as fast as the can, find the one body part that completes all expressions. My students all loved this mini competition at the start of the class and instantly became very engaged.
  3. Next ask students to complete the idioms with the word EYE or EYES.
  4. Check together as a class.
  5. Ask the students to divide the expressions into three categories, into those that they know well (I could define it with my eyes shut), those they have heard of but have never used (There is more to it than meets the eye), and those they have never come across before (Please open my eyes to it).
  6. When the students have finished, ask them to answer questions in Exercise 2 out of order on a separate piece of paper or in their notebooks and in as LITTLE detail as possible. Tell students to avoid writing just a YES or NO.
  7. When they have finished, ask them to swap their sheets with a partner.
  8. Students now try to identify which answers correspond to which questions.
  9. When the students have finished, ask them to swap the sheets again and check if their classmates were correct.
  10. Next students discuss their answers; with the same classmates they swapped their sheets with, in GREATER detail.
  11. When the students have finished, ask them to share 2 answers that they had in common and 2 that were different.

Fast finishers:

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

Related posts:

All hands on deck, kids

Can’t stop dishing out idioms

Zzz

There is no place like…school

Somewhere over the rainbow 

You make my heart BEET 😉

Actions speak louder than words

Ups and downs

All rise please

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Half full or half empty?

 

All hands on deck, kids

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise transport idioms. Students complete the idioms with the missing words, match the idioms to their definitions, do a few vocabulary games and later interview their classmates.

Level: B2+

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To present students with transport idioms.
  2. To complete the idioms in Exercise 1 with the missing transport words.
  3. To match the idioms to their definitions.
  4. To answer questions containing the target vocabulary in pairs or small groups.

Materials:

  1. All hands on deck, kids Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Ask students to briefly discuss their favourite/ least favourite means of transport.
  2. Hand out a copy of All hands on deck, kids Worksheet and ask students to individually complete the idioms in Exercise 1 with the missing transport words. There are two extra words to make the activity slightly more challenging.
  3. When the students have finished, ask them to compare in small groups and then check together as a class.
  4. Next students match the idioms to their definitions on the right. When the students have finished, ask them to compare in small groups again and then check together as a class.
  5. Clarify meaning if necessary.
  6. Divide the students in small groups (2 or 3 students in each group).
  7. One student from each group draws one of the expressions on the board and the players from the other teams try to guess what the expression is. Each team only has two opportunities to guess. Ensure ALL the students have had an opportunity to draw an idiom (you might have to do 2 or 3 rounds depending on the number of students on each team). Each team receives 1 point for a correctly identified expression.
  8. Next, the students take it in turns to act out the expressions silently, with the players from other teams trying to guess the idiom.
  9. Then, the students describe the expressions using THREE WORDS only (thank you Alex) but must not use any of the words that are in the expressions.
  10. Finally, in their teams of two or three, ask the students to complete the idioms in Exercise 2. Tell them to fold the paper so they do the exercise from memory. I gave one point to the team who finished first and one point to the team who completed all the idioms correctly.
  11. When the students have finished, ask them to discuss the questions 1-12, Exercise 2 in pairs.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to write down as many expressions as they can remember without looking at the paper.

Related posts:

There is no place like…school

Actions speak louder than words

Ups and downs

All rise please

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Half full or half empty?