On November 8, Americans will cast their ballots and decide who is going to be their new president. I don’t know about your country but, in Spain, the “war” between H. Clinton and D. Trump is every day in the news and the “poisonous” debates are thoroughly discussed ad nauseam on TV current affairs programmes.
Being this an issue of so much interest, I thought my students would welcome a brief explanation of what the presidential election in the US entails.
Level: suitable for upper intermediate (B2) and advanced (C1) level English students.
In this lesson students will get listening practice, learn new vocabulary, improve their communicative skills by discussing some interesting quotes and also, their writing skills by choosing one of the quotes to write an opinion essay.
The lesson starts off with some questions about politics which will be discussed in pairs or small groups, followed by some vocabulary exercises extracted from the video in preparation for the listening task that follows. The video for the listening activity is from “The Telegraph” and lasts 2.16. It will be followed by group discussion of two controversial quotes.
I’m currently really tied up with checking exams, so I’m going to make the introduction to this blog post really brief. I’m sure you have enough on your plate, too. June is usually a hectic month for almost everybody, isn’t it?
So, how do you keep up with the latest news? Or maybe, are you one of those who, sick and tired of reading bad news, have decided to completely isolate yourself from the world? I wouldn’t blame you!
If you are one of those, I kindly suggest you make an exception for the sake of learning and improving your English. You won’t regret it! Reading is one of the best ways of acquiring vocabulary and learning grammar without studying.If you read and listen to one article every day, or two if you feel overzealous, your reading and listening skills will improve very quickly. Trust me on this!
This is my selection of the best audio/video news and current affairs websites to learn English.
I have looked at the following features in all the websites:
If the news is written in levels
If the same news is written/read at different levels
If it is audio news or video news
If the transcript is provided
If the site provides a ready-to-use lesson plan for the news
Any other relevant additional content
The image below is interactive. Click on the icon and read what each website has to offer.
How else can I use these sites in the classroom?
• Choose one news website from above and ask students, as homework, to read a piece of news they find interesting. Ask them to read the news several times until they feel confident they can retell it. In the next class, ask students to work in threes and share their news.
• The news. Same procedure as above but this time, at home, students will need to rewrite the piece of news in their own words. In class, and again working in threes, students will be asked to assume the role of newsreaders and present the news to the rest of the class.
The interactive image has been created with Genial.ly,a free online tool for creating visual interactive content.
“Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets”. Arthur Miller.
Hopefully! I surely have had my fair share of mistakes, and consequently a few regrets too although to be honest, I don’t really know if the are of the right kind. There are a couple of things, or maybe more, that I would probably have done differently if given the chance but…. this is now water over the bridge and it’s no use crying over spilt milk! What about you? Do you have any regrets?
Let’s talk about regrets today.
Aim: to teach students how to express regrets using the structures I wish/if only
Lead in: Play this 45-second audio clip and ask students to try to identify the next structure you are going to teach them.
1. I WISH (THAT)/IF ONLY+SIMPLE PAST
Introducing: display the picture below and draw students’ attention to the reflection of the man in the mirror. Ask: What does the old man see in the mirror? What is he thinking?
Listen to the students’ suggestions and use each of them to introduce
I wish (that)/if only + simple past
I wish/if only I was younger or I wish I was in my twenties.
I wish/if only I was handsome or I wish I was stronger… etc
Explaining the grammar: we use this structure to express a desire for a situation that does not exist right now in the present. A wish is a desire to change a real situation into an unreal one. This unreal situation is expressed in the simple past. In a wish sentence, the simple past does not indicate past time; it only indicates that the situation is unreal.
That is optional.
I wish/if only I lived in the countryside, but I don’t. I live in a city.
Were is used for both singular and plural subjects in a formal context
I wish/if only he were younger, but he’s not. He is old.
Practising. Guided practice.
Students look at the pictures and make a sentence using “wish”. Flip them to see a possible answer.
2. The power of music. A meditation activity.
Ask students to close their eyes. Turn off the lights, close windows and play some soft music to create the right atmosphere and help them relax. Tell them you are going to ask them some questions about themselves. Use a low, slow, soothing voice. They will need to imagine how they would answer the question using the structure I wish/if only + past tense. Read out the questions one by one, take your time and remember to keep your voice slow and calm.
If there is one thing you could change something in your body, what would it be?
If you could change something about your personality, what would you change?
If you could change anything about your job, what would it be?
If you could change something about you partner, what would it be?
If you could change something about your life, what would it be?
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
Practising. Freer practice.
Students in pairs talk about their anwers to the questions above. Let them choose the ones they want to talk about as some answers could be a bit personal.
2. I WISH (THAT)/IF ONLY+ WOULD
Introducing: display the picture below and ask students to describe what they see.
Now, ask students to provide a sentence with “wish” about the picture. At this stage, students will probably suggest “She wishes he didn’t see so much TV”.
Draw students’ attention to the girl’s mood and offer this alternative sentence
She wishes/if only he wouldn’t watch so much football
Explaining grammar: the structure wish+ (that)/if only +would is used to talk about what other people do that annoys or irritates us and that we wish was different.
Practising. Guided practice.
Play the video and ask students to make sentences based on the pictures using I wish+would.
Practising. Freer Practice.
Students in pairs answer these questions:
What annoys you about living where you live now?
What annoys you most about living at home with your family?
What annoying habits does your best friend have?
What is the most annoying thing about your partner?
Is there anything about your teacher that annoys you? 🙂
3. I WISH/IF ONLY + (THAT) + PAST PERFECT
Introducing. Display the picture below and ask: do you think he has any regrets?
Elicit: He wishes he hadn’t drunk so much or he wishes he hadn’t danced so much
Photo by JeanJulien
Explaining the grammar:
We use ‘wish’ + past perfect to talk about regrets from the past. These are things that have already happened but we wish they had happened in a different way.
Practising. Guided Practice.
Introduce the activity by asking students to think back to the time when they were teenagers. Ask them if they have any regrets.
For example: I wish I hadn’t given up my studies.
Tell students they are going to watch a video of a song Mistakes of my Youth by the American rock band Eels. In this video, the singer thinks back on his childhood and all the things he did wrong. Ask them to watch the video and write down as many I wish/if only + past perfect sentences they can think of based on the video.
What are your regrets when you think back on your life? Make a list of three regrets and tell the story to your partner.
Writing a dialogue. Working in pairs, the students should write a conversation among two friends who are complaining about their boyfriends/girlfriends or bosses. Tell them to use as many I wish/if only sentences as possible. Ask students to act it out.
Writing about being the opposite gender. Ask students to write a compositions about how their lives would be different if they were the opposite sex. Ask them to use I wish/ if only sentences
Discussion about cultural customs. Lead a class discussion about what customs in their country wish were different.
When I was a kid in my hometown, a little village in the north of Spain, there used to be a cinema. Not any more and not for a long time. In fact, it seems to me there are very few towns or even cities which still have a cinema and I’m not talking about the outdoor cinemas, which are so popular in summer, I am talking about the real thing. Cinemas with endless rows of seats smelling oldish and where the usher always told you off before you even got to your seat and started cracking up. I remember we didn’t get to see the latest films until they were 4 or 5 years old and then, they were not new any more as our friends from the capital city kindly reminded us rolling their eyes in disbelief when they came on holiday, but all the same it brings back very good memories. I must be getting old!
So today I’m sharing with you an engaging lesson with lots of activities around the theme of films and the cinema. Hope you enjoy it!
This lesson is aimed at students with a language level of B2 (upper-intermediate) and focuses on revising, learning and using vocabulary related to films and the cinemathrough a variety of engaging activities which will help them improve listening, writing and speaking.
Activity 1. Warming-up. Learning and using vocabulary.
Display the word cloud and ask students to guess the topic. Click on the words you want to highlight and ask students to guess meanings and try to use them in a sentence. Alternatively, you can choose the latest box-office hit and ask students to give you a sentence about this film containing the targeted word.
Step 2. Mind mapping. Handout with vocabulary here
Ask students to work in pairs. Write on the board a mind map as the one below (give them only the words inside the circles) to help them revise vocabulary related to this thematic area. Allow them some minutes to complete their mind maps and get feedback from the whole class, completing the mind map on the board with their suggestions.
The class is divided into two groups. In turns, one member from each group sits on the Hot Chair facing away from the whiteboard. The members of their group have one minute to describe the film being displayed without mentioning the title ( that goes without saying, but just in case, I’m saying it). The aim is to guess as many films as possible in one minute. Then, it’s the other team’s turn.
They will need to talk about:
Kind of film/ Nationality of the film/ director/ plot/
♥The film ‘_______’ is a(n) _______ film which takes place in _______.
♥The film is set in __(ancient Greece)__.
♥The story is based on __(a popular novel)__.
♥The film is directed by _______.
♥The main character(s) in the film is/are _______.
♥_______ is a character who _______.
♥__(Johnny Depp)__ stars as __(Captain Sparks)__.
♥In the film, __(Jack Black)__ plays __(a rock guitarist). The story is about _______
♥The best scene of the film is_____
Activity 3. A listening : interview with Hitchcock talking about his film Psycho.
Ask students: What kind of films do you like? Do you have a favourite director?
Write on the board Alfred Hitchcock and Psycho and ask students if they know who he is and if they know any of his films. Students most probably will have heard about Hitchcock and seen some of his films, but in case they haven’t, tell them Hitchcock is considered “the master of suspense” and “Psycho”(1960) s is arguably Hitchcock’s best-known film.
Play the video and ask students to answer the questions. (Find the answers at the end of this post).
What’s Hitchcock’s opinion of films such as Frankenstein
What’s his idea of a horror film?
When he made Psycho, did he have a mind a horror film or an amusing film?
Was the film “Psycho” a very violent film? If not, why did it make people scream? Explain in your own words.
Activity 4. Speaking.
Ask students to work in pairs or in small groups and answer the following questions.
Activity 5. Writing a film review.
Handout with the task and useful vocabulary and expressions to use in your review.
What’s Hitchcock’s opinion of films such as Frankenstein?He thinks they are very easy to make and that they are props
What’s his idea of a horror film?
He believes in putting the horror in the mind of the audience and not necessarily on the screen.
When he made Psycho, did he have a mind a horror film or an amusing film?</li>
An amusing film
Was the film “Psycho” a very violent film? If not, why did it make people scream? Explain in your own words.
There is only one violent scene in the film, which is at the beginning when the girl is violently murdered in the shower. As the film developed, there is less and less violence. The horror and the tension are transferred to the mind of the viewers, which are the end of the film are screaming.
Tagul, Hot Potatoes, Picture Trail, Thematic
Funny thing! Every single year, no matter the level I’m teaching one of my lessons is dedicated, without fail, to mobile phones.
This year, in November, I published a lesson for my B2 (upper-intermediate) students (lesson here) and now, it seems to be the turn of my B1 (intermediate) students.
This year my lessons about this topic seem to revolve around Adele’s hit “Hello”. Hey! What else did you expect? It’s not like every single year we have a song with
so many scenes where the leading actor is the mighty mobile phone. We certainly need to take advantage of this. Besides, I love Adele.
This lesson is aimed at students with a language level of B1 and focuses on discussing, reading and writing about mobile phones.There is also some general phone vocabulary and a song.
Warm-up: Speaking. Ask students as a whole class some of these questions.
What do you use your mobile phone for?
Have you ever lost your mobile phone?
How many text messages do you send every day?
Would you say you’re addicted to your mobile or the Internet?
Have you ever…?
lost you phone?
sent a message to the wrong person?
forgotten to turn your phone off/set to silent or vibrate mode (with embarrassing consequences)?
Teaching Vocabulary. You might want to show the slides twice to consolidate vocabulary. I would suggest doing it a third time at the end of the lesson.
The song. Warm-up. Students are going to listen to a song, so it may be a good idea to get them into the right mood by introducing the activity in a lively way.
Don’t tell students just yet we are going to listen to a song. After revising the vocabulary from the previous exercise, make a long pause until you have all the students staring at you, and say “hello”; I assume everybody should say “hello”. Pause again. Say “Adele”. I bet half the class would add “It’s me”. There you are! The perfect introduction!
(you might want to remind students that to introduce yourself over the phone “ It’s “ or “this is” are used ie. It’s Adele (speaking)/ this is Adele (speaking))
Task 1. Give students a list of words or expressions from the song. Give them some time to read them. If necessary, review how to pronounce the most difficult words. Depending on your class, you might want to keep the words in the order they are going to hear them or if you want a bigger challenge you can shuffle them and/or add some words that are not in the lyrics. Play the song and ask students to cross off the words as they hear them. Play the song once or twice depending on how challenging you want the activity to be. Handout here
Task 2. Give students a photocopy with the lyrics of the song and ask them to sing/read along focusing on pronunciation.
Reading and writing. Ask students to read online “7 strange stories of lost cell phones” from the website mentalfloss.com and write a similar short story about something strange, funny or unusual that happened to them using their mobile phones.
“How far away the stars seem, and how far is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart”. William Butler Yeats
I was once kissed by a marquis, or maybe he was a count, but it was in a palace. I cannot remember his rank, but he was old and ugly, at least for me! Nothing to daydream about, believe me, but the fact remains that I was kissed by a nobleman. He was a long way from Prince Charming, but that was ok for me. He was selling. I was buying. That was it!
But the kiss… yes…back to the kiss. First time ever I had been kissed on the hand. I was ready for a handshake so I extended my hand. Instead the marquis suddenly, and in a very quick gesture took my hand, bowed and made the gesture, and I have yet to decide whether he actually kissed my hand or just the air. Now that I know a bit more about the etiquette of hand-kissing I realize he probably never kissed me.
Photo by Tim Rooke/Rex/REX USA
♥DISCUSS:It is not very often that a woman has her hand kissed nowadays. But let’s reflect a bit on how we greet each other in our different countries. Discuss these questions with your partner:
What are the rules for social kissing in your country? Do you always know how you are supposed to greet someone? Have you ever experimented any awkward moments where you didn’t know what you were supposed to do?
When kissing as a form of greeting, do you kiss on one cheek or on both cheeks?
Is it the right or the left cheek you kiss first? Know that you should kiss the right cheek first to avoid awkward situations.
If you don’t like the kissing business, how do you cope with people who want to kiss you as a greeting?
Is it appropriate to kiss in a business setting?
Do you ever hug?
Apart from the handshakes, cheek kissing and hand kissing which are quite common for us, do you know any unusual ways of greeting people ?
♥WRITE: Imagine a foreign student is coming to your school/house on an exchange visit. What advise would you give about your customs. Use the ideas below and the modal verbs should/shouldn’t , could, must/mustn’t.
STEP 1. VOCABULARY. You can download the pdf here.
To talk, you need words. These are the words I think my intermediate students will probably need.
low-fat /high fat cheese
delicious /nice taste
it’s nice/ it’s disgusting
to eat out
to eat sensibly
to cut down on sugar
to cut out sugar
to be on a diet
to lose weight
to put on weight
to order food
to take vitamins
to take food supplements
to try new food
to contain vitamins and minerals
to have a balanced diet
(food that is high/low in) carbohydrates “carbs”
(rich/high – low/poor in) proteins
(high in ) sugar
STEP 2. LISTENING COMPREHENSION
At this level, students know what a “vegetarian” is. So write the word VEGETARIAN on the whiteboard and ask students if they know any vegetarians and if they do, what it is like for them when they eat out. Write the word “veggie” and explain that it is another term for vegetarian. Play the listening below, just for fun! It only lasts 36 seconds and it is worth every second of it!
The word “vegetarian” is a blanket term used to describe somebody who does not eat meat, poultry, fish or seafood. But then, within this term there exist different sub-groups. Ask students if they know any of these sub-groups and if they think a diet without meat is better than a diet with it.
Tell students they are going to do a listening comprehension about the different types of vegetarians.
Introducing, Understanding and Using Question Tags
I don’t know about you, but I have like 15-20 students per class. This number suits me fine as it allows me to do plenty of activities which require group work without students feeling the class is too crowded to interfere with academic success. At the same time, this number of students also gives me the chance to get to know my students quite well, even know some personal details about them, which are going to prove useful to introduce question tags in an easy way.
Aim: Introducing , Understanding and Using Questions Tags with a Falling Intonation
Level : B2
STEP1.Introducing. Surprise your students by producing some statements about their lives. Make sure your intonation is falling as we are just checking something we already know.
Esther, you are a nurse, aren’t you?
Felix, you have been to France several times, haven’t you?
Isabel, you spent your childhood in France, didn’t you?
Laura, you aren’t married, are you?
Carlos, you don’t work in a bank, do you?
At this stage, students are on tenterhooks waiting for you to say something about each of them so you have all their undivided attention. While I would say the first sentences containing the tags in a normal way, for the last ones I would emphasize the question tag so that they realise something is going on.
Step 2. Understanding. Focus on meaning/form/pronunciation. At this point , some students would have probably asked the question “When do you use them? “Tell them you use question tags with a falling intonation when we are sure of the answer, so the question tag here is not a real question (meaning). With the students‘ help , write some of the previous sentences on the board for students to infer the rules (form). Focus on intonation now, making sure all the students have had a chance to do enough practice before we move on to the next step (pronunciation).
Step 3. Using Question Tags
♥Controlled Practice.Now ask students how much they know about you and ask them, in pairs, to write some facts they think they know about you. Students tend to write positive sentences, so encourage them to write negative ones, too. Once they have written their sentences about you, point to the board where hopefully the rules will still be displayed and ask them to write the question tag .
Stundents take it in turns to read their sentences aloud asking for confirmation (gently correct if necessary) and the teacher answers accordingly.
Cristina, you worked in EOI La Felguera some years ago, didn’t you? Yes, I did.
Cristina, you don’t eat meat, do you? No, I don’t. I’m a pescatarian.
At this stage, it is important to teach students how you answer to a question Tag.
If you answer Yes, do not use contracted forms.
If you use No, contracted forms are possible.
Yes, he is.
No, he isnot./ No, heisn’t/ No, he‘snot
♥Freer Practice. Students, individually now, write five facts they think they know about their partner using question tags. Allow 5 minutes for this step helping students with vocabulary and questions tags. Students carry out the speaking task in pairs. The teacher monitors, promts and corrects gently.
Question Tags Grammar Handout here. (black and white version here)
My beloved father was a chauvinist doctor and my mother was an undercover feminist. I am sure you’ve heard the saying “opposites attract” and that appeared to be the case with my parents. It was not an easy combination to live with. My father was the main breadwinner and my mother was the housewife. These were their roles in the house and to be honest , I don’t think my mother had an issue with that arrangement. The problem was he expected us (three sisters) to fully cooperate doing housework while my only brother did nothing but smile when we complained it was unfair . My father , on the other hand, and contradictorily, expected us to get the best marks at school ’cause we were expected to go to university and get a degree so as not be the housewife my mother was . Who understands men? 😉
Today I want to share with you a lesson I did with my Intermediate students about Gender Stereotypes. This is a lesson where common general stereotypes about men and women are challenged.
Aim: Get students to discuss general stereotypes about men and women using different expressions to give opinion.
1. Give handouts containing expressions used to give opinion. Here. Encourage students to use a variety of expressions when they give opinion.
2. Ask Do you know any stereotypes about men and women? Instruct students to talk for about five minutes and then ask them to give feedback.
3. Play the video The Top Ten Differences between Boys and Girls to get students into the mood. It’s a funny little video. I hope nobody takes offence.
4.Using Blue-tack, stick the posters containing the statements they need to discuss on the walls of the classroom.Posters here
5. Ask students to, working in twos or threes, wander around the classroom and randomly choose the posters they want to discuss.
Sticking posters on the walls of the classroom enables students to get out of their seats and talk to different people. As always it is important to make sure they understand the importance of using English and only English.
A: Students watch the video. Unless they beg for more, I would just play the first 15 seconds, enough for students to focus on the pronunciation of the word “money” which they tend to mispronounce, and on the chorus Money makes the World Go Round, which students will later need to discuss.
B: This second warm up is a great one. I got it straight from George Chilton‘s blog Designer Lessons – I copy/paste from him- , which I highly recommend.
Ask your students how they would spend a day in their city/town/village without spending any money. What activities could they do? They’re not allowed to stay at home, they have to be out of the house for the whole day.
Put them in small groups and get them to come up with a plan of the day – from 10am until 8pm. Conditions – They are allowed to drink water from city water fountains and any food that they find. They should present their plans at the end of this activity.
Step 2. A Bit of Fun with Translation.
Previous to this exercise students have studied Vocabulary related to money, so now it’s their time to show what they have learned.
Students work in pairs or in threes. To make things easier for me, I’ll provide them with slips of paper so that when the time’s up they can raise it up and I can have a quick check. Sentences with mistakes will be automatically discarded and the correct translations will get one point. Time limit: 90 seconds.