Category Archives: Writing skill

Two Wonderful Sites to Practise Listening and other skills

So, you’ve done all the listening exercises in your textbook, workbook ¬†and on my website ūüėČ ¬†but still, you feel you ¬†really need to go the extra mile ?

Here you are two wonderful websites where you can find tons of Listening exercises to practise before the exam.

1. ESOL COURSES. Choose your level and then choose the skill you want to practise ; they are all great!

2. ESl Lounge Students: on this site you can also practise all skills . Scroll down the page and on the right sidebar, choose the skill you want to practise and your level.


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A Nice Way to Introduce Orders in Reported Speech

Sometimes I spend an awful lot of time writing the draft for an article which will never see the light of day. That happens mainly on those days when I begin to wonder ¬†whether a certain article I am about to publish will interest any of my readers and also on those days when I run out of inspiration and words don’t seem to flow. More often than not, these wannabe posts end up being deleted while some other times I save them in ¬†a folder and then forget about them until, like ¬†with my wardrobe, spring cleaning frenzy strikes and I decide to do some computer ¬†spring cleaning and bump into them. This is what happened with this article you are about to read.


Step 1. Draw some circles on the white board containing the following sentences or any others you fancy

Step 2. Ask students to choose one circle. They now need to write on a separate sheet of paper some orders/instructions they were given in these situations. (Encourage them to write positive and negative orders/instructions). Demonstrate, if necessary, by choosing one circle and writing down some examples. Allow 5 minutes for this step.

Step 3 and Step 4. Students in small groups. Now students need to swap situations with their partners and their partners need to report within their group some of the orders and instructions their partners were given.

For example:

When Carlos got his driving licence ,he was told to keep both hands on the steering wheel.

On the first day at school, Cecilia was told not to stand up without permission.

Step 4 and Step 3. Before students  start, demonstrate  with your own situation (hopefully still on the whiteboard), making sure they understand the task and asking them to infer the rule.

Step 5. Call out a situation and ask students to volunteer orders or instructions given to their classmates in the chosen  context.

Hope you find it useful!


In Exam Mode? Check Out These Two Sites for Listening and Reading

Yes, we are all in exam mode. Classes are finished and it’s time for a final effort.

In this post I want to ¬†… Hold on!!… Noo, it’s more like ¬†I need to share these two sites with you. You see, I say” I need” because I really want all of you to pass your exams. There is nothing less frustrating for a teacher than having to fail a student ¬†who has been attending classes all throughout the year.

And this ¬†is the reason ¬†why I am posting at 11.00 pm, after having just arrived from work. ( you can bring me flowers once you’ve passed with flying colours)

‚ô•LISTENING.The first link is for practising Listening and it was kindly shared with me by one of my students. Thanks a lot Maite!¬†offers different exercises to practise all ¬†four skills, though I especially recommend it to do Listening Comprehension. On the right you’ll need to choose your level.

Choose KET for A1/2

Choose PET for B1

Choose FCE fo B1+ /B2

Choose CAE for B2/B2+

♥READING. This second website  Easy Reading is run by the British Council and it offers articles to read at three levels A2, B1 and B2 and interactive exercises to check your comprehension.

If you like my blog , “LIKE ME” ¬†on Facebook ,too . Click here, please.

Students’ Corner: Two Opinion Essays

There is little that gives more satisfaction than publishing students’ work ;they are  the reason behind all the hard work that means keeping  this blog going.

Thank you very much to Raquel de Paz and Lucía Fernández, from the Intermediate Level (B1)  for sending their essays.

Education is the single most important factor in the development of a country.

By Raquel de Paz 

In my opinion, there is a very important thing in society which helps us to improve: education. A strong education system helps people to improve their knowledge and to be successful in their lives.
Education gives the keys to solve the problems. There is a famous saying which says: ‚ÄúIf you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, if you teach the man to fish you feed him for a lifetime‚ÄĚ. Firstly, education is essential to our life. Again and again we have to call on to our basic knowledge to understand basic daily information about life. We need it to do the shopping, to understand signs and signals, etc.
Secondly, a good education brings a long number of qualified people with a lot of knowledge on a wide range of subjects and, as a result, these people work in different areas improving technologies and techniques supporting the development of a country.
To sum up, education is a very important factor in the development of a country. Education provides experience, training and personal development and, as a result, more skills, better productivity and greater ability to improve living conditions.

Children watch too much television   by Lucía Fernández

Nowadays children spend an excessive amount of time watching  television wherever they are, helped by the Internet and mobile phones instead of enjoying other kinds of activities healthier and more educative .
Although many people believe that watching ¬†television is a good way of learning new things and an ¬†innocent distraction for children, from my point of view,you waste a lot of time doing something unproductive. It’s more like something parents use ¬†so as not to be ¬†bothered by their children in some situations; for example,when a child is nervous, the parents play cartoons on his mobile and the child then¬† stares at the ¬†mobile screen ¬†for hours as if ¬†he were in another world.
Children should play with each other and develop their imagination in a healthy mood ,but also  their parents should help them to achieve it.
To sum up,I think television is necessary and  complements  other activities, but it should be used with care.


Today is on me- Let’s Go to a Musical Show !

Who doesn’t like music? Today I am inviting you to take a glimpse at the Top Ten Musicals in London. Tough ¬†job to choose one ! A video-based lesson you’ll positively enjoy!

Level: B1/B2

Skills :listening, writing and vocabulary

Step 1. WARM UP. In pairs, talk about the questions below

♥How important is  music in your life?

‚ô•Have you ever been to a musical show? Why(not)?

♥Do you know  any famous musicals?

‚ô•There are lots of things to do in London, would you consider going to a musical?


Step 2. Look at the following collage containing pictures of different musicals. In pairs, can you identify any?

Get feedback. Most possibly students won’t be able to come up with the names for all the musicals. If this is the case, show them the options below.

A. The Lion King

B. The Phantom of the Opera

C. Wicked

D. Mamma Mia

E. Thriller

F. Billy Elliot

G. Les Miserables

H. The Book of Mormon

I. The Commitments

J. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Step 3. Play the video  for the first time without giving students any task.After watching it , ask them whether they  would fancy watching any of these musicals. Students watch the video a second time  and fill in the gaps in the exercise below


Number 10. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Grab your won golden ticket and step inside the ____ (1) and wonderful Wonka Chocolate factory

Number 9. The Commitments.Originally a novel, then a hit movie, this musical is jam ____ (2) with classic soul hits

Number 8. The Book of Mormon.From the ____  (3)of South Park, this outrageously funny musical is not for the faint -hearted

Number 7. Les Miserables.An epic tale of broken dreams, passion, ____ (4) and redemption

Number 6. Billy Elliot.The ____ (5) story of a boy’s struggle against the odds ¬†to become a ballet star

¬†Number 5. Thriller Live.The spectacular show takes you on an electrifying journey through Michael Jackson’s musical ____ (6).

¬†Number 4.Mamma Mia.¬†Abba’s ¬†timeless songs create the ultimate feel-good tale of love , laughter and ____ (7)

 Number 3. Wicked.The untold story of the witches of Oz has won 90 international awards and is loved by ____ (8) and critics.

¬†Number 2.The Phantom of the Opera.Andrew Lloyd Webber’s¬† musical ____ (9) continues to captivate audiences

 Number 1. The Lion King.Set in the Serengeti, this epic show explodes with glorious colours, stunning effects and  ____ (10) music

 Step 4. Vocabulary. Find a synonym for the following words in the video








¬†Step 5. Writing . You’ve been asked to create a poster to advertise your high school end-of-the-term musical.Use¬†¬†to create the poster and think of something to say about the musical to attract an audience . Use some of the adjective+noun combinatios below

Mapa Mental creado con ExamTime por cristina.cabal


Confusing Words

Can you tell the difference between¬† farther and further or especially and specially? Do you know for certain when to use arrive in or arrive at? ¬†Which one is American English at the weekend or on the weekend, math or maths? Is it think of, about, in or on?? Do you have problems using and/or pronouncing weigh, weighed and weight? You are pretty certain you know how to use boring and bored, but¬† does it work the same for stressed and stressing?¬†¬†If these questions have raised serious doubts, then this post is for you. ūüôā

Click on the picture if you want to go straight to the section

I sometimes have to remind my students ¬†I’m not a walking dictionary !!¬† I honestly believe what makes a good teacher is not how many words¬† he knows in the dictionary or whether he knows a¬† given idiomatic expression. I don’t¬† think knowing what “stuck in a rut” means makes you a good¬† or a bad teacher. I firmly believe a good teacher is the one who loves his work and is able to transmit his love for what he does to¬† his students¬† and ¬†is able to keep them motivated¬† whenever ¬†they want to give up. I¬†¬†have learned that being a good teacher is not teaching to those who want but to those who don‚Äôt.

Although initially English is not such a difficult ¬†language to learn, it cannot be argued that for some students it is easier than for others. Take for example , a native speaker of Dutch or German¬† and a native speaker of Japanese or Russian. Obviously, German and Russian are closely related to English whereas ¬†Japanese or Russian are completely unrelated so I’m sure ¬† you can draw your ¬†own conclusions in this matter.

Very often students tend to systematically makes mistakes with a given word either in its pronunciation or in the way it collocates with certain prepositions, adjectives …etc and we cannot forget here the issue of false friends which causes so many problems and, trust me, ¬†sometimes funny misunderstandings, like in Spanish, the false friend “embarrassed ” and “pregnant”.

To help my students and readers of this blog overcome ¬†these difficulties, I have created a new section in this bog called CONFUSING WORDS. I hope it’s helpful!

Six Wonderful Sites to Help you Write, Speak and Sound Better

I’m not a native speaker. Even though I read, write, work and I would almost dare say live ¬†and dream in¬† English, I haven’t learned the language from birth and sometimes have moments of self-doubt. These websites I am going to share in this post have been an invaluable help.

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‚ô•Howjsay ¬†and Forvo: The world’s largest dictionaries of English Pronunciation

How often have you come across a proper name you had no clue how to pronounce and you desperately needed to know the ¬†correct standard ¬†pronunciation of or perhaps¬† a variant pronunciation of this word? ¬†Let’s say you want to know the pronunciation of the word “selion”. You go to the most important online dictionaries offering pronunciation, but the word you‚Äôre looking up is not there and you suddenly begin to panic. At this stage you can do three things: panic, pretend you know how to pronounce it ( you just know how to sound British, no problem there) or look up the word in any of these two amazing sites that have saved my skin countless times.


We all know how difficult it is to write, even more in a foreign language. More often than not we look up words in dictionaries only to find that it offers so many possibilities for the translation of the word that  we don’t know which one to choose for the context we need. In fact, sometimes it doesn’t help us at all but makes things more complicated as we don’t know which word to use to mean what we want to express and we end up completely frustrated. Here, Linguee can help us as it is a bilingual dictionary but  in context


Sometimes we know what we want to write, the sentence is phrased in our mind, but we can’t figure out some of the words we need. This is where phraseup*comes in. It assists you with writing, by suggesting possible combinations to fill-in the words you can’t remember. Each suggestion is accompanied by definitions, synonyms and translations to other languages.
Imagine you know there is an expression containing the words¬†‚ÄĚ take‚Ä̬†and¬†‚Äúgranted‚Ä̬†but you have forgotten what goes in the middle, PhraseUp can help you here, too. Just type the words that you remember and put an asterisk * where¬†you want the application to insert something.¬†Very useful, isn‚Äôt it?

Or maybe ¬†you want to use the verb+preposition combination ‚Äúcope with‚ÄĚ but you are just not sure which words it collocates with, just type it in PhraseUp and options will be provided.


I have been using for years and this is a dictionary I cannot live without. It is not any dictionary, it also help you to sound more natural when speaking or writing in English. Let’s¬† say you don’t know the preposition that collocates with the verb “insist”, or which adverbs sound ¬†more natural with this verb; let’s imagine you need to use the word “idea” but you have no clue what adjective to use¬† apart from the overused “good “. Go to the dictionary now, this is just a sample of what you’ll find : bright, brilliant, clever, excellent,, marvellous | valuable, worthwhile | exciting, inspirational, interesting, stimulating | constructive, positive | absurd, bad, mistaken, ridiculous | , crazy, mad, outlandish, wild | half-baked | ambitious, big, grand.

The dictionary contains over 150,000 collocations for nearly 9,000 headwords and it is based on the 100 million word British National Corpus.


It is a wonderful tool that can save a lot of time if you need to transcribe something. I have tried it with small texts (two or three lines) and it’s incredible! You will be able to ¬†pronounce a whole text perfectly .
Just paste the text you want to transcribe and click the Transcribe Button to get the transcription.

Both, None, Either and Neither and a New Presentation Tool

You know how it is. Once I start surfing the net I need to remind myself that I need to get some sleep. So, just last night I was about to call it a night when blog hopping, I “bumped into” this new tool which, though still in their beta version, has a lot of potential. Slidebean is a cloud based platform that lets you create presentations for free, you only need to register and explore a bit.

And as I was preparing a lesson for the Intermediate level about Conjunctions I decided to give it a go and¬† I don’t regret it. I think it has created a beautiful presentation out of a boring point of grammar. What do you think?

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A Formal Email

I know it might be a tiny bit too late to be posting this but I’ve¬† just come across it and given that we are having the test on Monday/Tuesday I sort of hope the idea of visiting the blog crossed your mind and you are one of the lucky¬† who will be reading and doing the interactive exercises on the website where these snapshots have been taken from:¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

Scroll down their  page and make sure you do the following exercises

  • ‚ô•Check your writing: indirect questions
  • ‚ô•Check your writing . gap fill: Useful Phrases

Writing : A Narrative

I am sorry dear students. I know this post is long due, but as the saying goes ” better late than never”.

This is an activity I did with my intermediate classes¬† to do some writing practice in class. The activity was a tad demanding¬† because students needed to do some collaborative work, something they don’t very often do, and they also needed to include quite a few of the connectors displayed on the board ( picture below) and as many as possible of the pictures in the collage , also below, and all these ingredients put together¬† were supposed to produce a beautiful story to be¬† later displayed on the walls of the classroom for the students to read and vote for the best. The exercise was not an easy thing to do but they came up with some very funny stories, some of which¬† you’ll also find below.



You are going to write a story beginning with sentence It was three o’clock in the morning when the phone rang. Look at the word cloud below and try to use most of the words in it. Then look at the collage of thirty pictures and include, at least, half the pictures in the collage

and these are some of their stories.


It was three o’clock in the morning when the phone rang. Immediately I got up and went to the police station because I work as a police officer.

Unfortunately, a young man dressed as a priest, with a large black cotton cassock had robbed a bank where two stunning tattooed punky girls had put the money they had obtained from a blackmail. On the other hand, the same fake priest had stolen a gold and diamond one-million-dollar ring. Fortunately, although he had a gun, nobody was injured.

The thief escaped in a cheap white Italian car. Yet, while he was in the runaway the car broke down so it was our opportunity to catch him. He was taken to the police station and he confessed he wanted the money to take a plane to a paradise island .Despite his confession, he was sentenced to do community service helping the elderly.

Finally it was 10 a.m. when I arrived home. In spite of the robbery it was a funny situation.

by Eloy, Paula and Estibaliz


It was three o’clock in the morning when the phone rang. My brother was calling me to tell me that his car had broken down and he was very nervous because the night was getting very dark and there was a heavy storm. Immediately, I woke up and dressed quickly. When I left the garage with my car, the street was very foggy and I had to drive very slowly, but fortunately soon the fog dissipated in the air and then I could drive calmly. Half an hour later l saw my brother’s car and the storm. He was inside the car and I asked him If he had called the police and in spite of the fact that his car had stopped one hour and a half before he hadn’t called the police yet. While my brother was talking with them I heard a strange sound but I did not worry about this yet.

Suddenly a few excited dogs appeared in the middle of the road. I managed to get into the car. On the contrary, my brother didn’t and he was bitten by one of the dogs. In this moment, the police¬īs car arrived and when they saw the condition my brother was in , they decided to carry him to hospital. When I arrived there and my brother was being treated. A few hours later I took him to his house and I went to mine. Nevertheless, the drama had not finished yet, because the door was open and there was a light on the second floor. I was scared and called the police‚Ķ again. ‚ÄúIt¬īs going to be a long night‚ÄĚ. I thought.

By Sonia and Laura

and finally


It was three o’ clock in the morning when the phone rang. It was my brother. He looked very worried. I asked him what was wrong and he answered that our father was in hospital and I had to come as fast as possible, so I called a taxi and when I arrived the doctor told me that, fortunately, he wasn’t injured at all, so he was OK.

Immediately, I met my brother and I asked him what had happened.

‚ÄúI was having dinner with my fianc√©e, in fact, we were making plans about our wedding trip. However, the restaurant was very busy, so we decided to go for a walk. It was a warm night, yet it was cloudy and a bit rainy. Suddenly, we heard a gunshot, and dogs barking in front of the cinema. In spite of the fact that we were scared, we went to see what was wrong and we saw one person with an object (I don‚Äôt know what it was, I think it was a knife) in his hand and another person who was lying down in the street: daddy! Although the mugger could hear us, we called the police. We couldn‚Äôt see the criminal very well, but I believe he looked like a punk. Even though the police and the ambulance came very fast, the mugger disappeared and at the moment, he‚Äôs being sought. We carried our father to the ambulance. On the one hand, the ambulance was quick; on the other hand, there was a big traffic jam. And that‚Äôs all.‚ÄĚ

At the end, our father stayed in hospital two days and now he’s like he was before the mugging… What a night!

By Alba and Noelia.

Thank you guys. Nice stories!

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