Category Archives: General

Learning Chocolate: a Free Website to Learn Vocabulary and How to Pronounce it.

It is not the first time I have written something about this great site to learn vocabulary but, it was such a long time ago, that I think it deserves to be brought to your attention again.

Learning Chocolate that’s the name of the website. Hey!! I even like the name. I wonder why they’ve chosen this name for a website that helps students improve vocabulary but it certainly does so and in a very efficient way.

What do I like best about this site? It teaches vocabulary in a visual way but also, and this of the utmost importance to me, is that it teaches students how to pronounce the words they are learning.

How does it work?

The vocabulary is organized into categories, ranging from the easy  Numbers or the Seasons to the more sophisticated Insect Life Cycle.

How do you learn with this page?

First, on top of the page, you will need to choose your language and also, the language you want to learn.

Now, you are ready to start.

  1. Choose a category. The main categories are: beginning, around you, daily life, your society, your world and special series.

2. You will see words related to this category with the corresponding image and pronunciation.

3. The website also offers exercises to consolidate the vocabulary. For each category, you will find 3 match-up exercises, a fill-in the gaps and a dictation.

There are three different kinds of match up exercises:

  • Match up 1: you will find a list of words and below the words, a list of sound icons. Click on a sound icon and drag it and drop it to the corresponding word. When you finish, click Complete.
  • Match up 2: you will see the pictures and below the words to drag and drop.
  • Match up 3: same as match up 1, but in this exercise, you will see the pictures and not the words.


  • Fill in: you will see several gaps and you will have to type the words that correspond to each image.
  • Dictation: you will find a list of sound icons. Click each of them and write the word you hear.

What I especially like about this site is that it uses visual aid to help students learn better and faster and, at the same time, teaches them how to pronounce the words.

The Climbers’ Challenge: a Game to Energize the First 10 Minutes of your Class

Back to the grind!!! First days are not first days without a game, are they?

Err scratch that, first days are not first days…  without a game that allows students to brush up their English and have some fun.

Well  I guess a game where they play in teams, gently competing against each other in an attempt to brush up the English learned before the summer, is a step in the right direction, right?

I have invented this game inspired by one I saw on TV called El  Picu (TPA) but, after all the variations I have introduced, I think I have earned the right to rebaptize it as  The Climbers’ Challenge.  As the name suggests,  teams will need to climb a mountain. How does it sound???


Tell students they will need to climb a steep mountain and be the first to reach the summit to plant their flag. On the slope of the mountain, there are “camps” where they can rest. To hike from “camp” to “camp”, they need to win the “round”. You will need something to monitor 60 seconds, which is the time limit for each round.

Here’s how you go about it.

Step 1:

Ask students to form teams of 5ish and name a secretary in charge of writing. On the board, draw as many mountains as teams you have in the class. Ask teams to give themselves a winning name. Assign a mountain to every team.

On the slope of the mountains, decide and draw as many “camps”  – I would go for just 2 or 3 camps -where teams can rest.  To climb to the next camp, teams will need to win the round; the more camps you draw, the longer it will take teams to reach the summit, which is how they win the game.

Step 2.

Deal the first card and explain that teams will have 60 seconds to write at least 4 items of what is featured in the card. The minimum to start playing is 4 items but teams collaboratively can write as many as they know. Remind them that only the designed secretary writes the words.

This is the game we are going to play.

Step 3.

Decide which team starts the game: say it’s Team A. Digitally display the first card. When the time is up, ask Team A to shout how many items they have. Let’s imagine they say 6 items. Now, ask teams: Who can beat 6? Say Team C raises hands and says “we’ve got 9“. Ask: who can beat 9?

Step 4

Ask the secretary of the team who has the most items to say them aloud. If correct, on the board,  choose their mountain and move them upwards to the next “camp”. If for some reason, they make a mistake, they will climb down a “camp”: this will ensure that teams don’t rush and write things randomly.

Part 2. Extension. Speaking.

At the end of each round, write on the board some of the words they have written, work on their pronunciation and then, ask a conversation question asking students to answer it in pairs or in 3’s, using as many words as possible from the board.

For example, for the card Things you can turn on and off, they have probably come up with the words heating, TV, mobile phone, radio, modems and routers, chargers.. etc., I would ask a question like

Are people these days too wound up in technology?

It’s great to be back! I hope you have liked the game!!!

Summer Break Is Here

Ohh this year. I am not going to deny it’s been a hard one.

There was a period in my life when I could easily multitask and take care of my family and home, work as a full-time teacher, run webinars, travel the country training teachers and even managed to keep fit and go shopping. This year, I have to confess, I have concentrated on running webinars ( 68 and counting – thanks for your trust) to the neglect of some other duties and hobbies.

Anyway, I hope next year I will be able to publish more regularly, mainly because it makes me really happy to share with you all my ideas and experiments and read your feedback, but for now, the blog is taking its usual summer break.

Thanks for reading me. Thanks for your supporting comments and feedback. See you again in September/October. I’ll be taking attendance!!!

The Golden Minute: a 1-Minute Revision Game

It’s a gorgeous spring day here, in Asturias. My classes end tomorrow, and before I find it impossible to resist the siren call of a full shift to summer mode, I wanted to tell you about one last fun, fast-paced pandemic-era game I have adapted from one game I heard on the radio.

Does it happen to you? Every time I see a  new game in a TV show or listen to a game on the radio, I am like a dog on alert, ears pricked, bodyweight rolled forward and tail lifted, eager to see if it’s possible to adapt and use it to teach English. Yes. That’s how my mind is wired!

So, I came up with this game while listening to the Spanish radio station, KISS FM. The game the presenters (Xabi and María)  were playing with their listeners was called “El Milnuto”, but since I have adapted it, I will officially rename it “The Golden Minute”. I know, not so good!

Why this game?

First of all, because it can be used as a warm-up for the first 5-10 minutes of the lesson and you know, how important these 5 minutes are.

Secondly, because you can never go wrong with a game. Learning is a serious business,  but this doesn’t mean they cannot have fun while doing it.

Thirdly, because it helps them revise and reinforce content.

Ready? Here we go:

Preparation: prepare a set of 10 questions to revise vocabulary or grammar. They need to be short and to the point. If you add a funny question in between some more academic ones, that would be a blast.

Materials: a stopwatch to monitor 1 minute.


  • Tell students you are going to ask them 10 questions in  60 seconds ( to be honest, I give them a minute and a half, but I don’t tell them)
  • Ask them to write down numbers 1 to 10 (see picture below) in their notebooks. This is an important step for 2 reasons:
  1. They won’t waste time writing down the numbers.
  2. You will use up the whole minute and this means you will have time to repeat some of the questions but always beginning with question number one and then number 2… etc. Writing down the numbers will facilitate identifying the ones they haven’t answered.
  • When the time is up, ask students who have managed to answer all the questions to raise their hands and ask the students sitting next to them to check their answers.

The prize? a big round of applause or perhaps a free homework pass.

TIP: There should be a variety of questions: difficult, easy, translation of one or two words, a surprise funny question not content-related… etc

So, this is the game… creating the right atmosphere to play the game is kind of up to you.

Example of questions:

  1. Preposition that collocates with “depend”
  2. What’s the past of “forecast”?
  3. Phrasal verb beginning with “look” meaning ” to admire someone”
  4. Write the word pronounced /prəˈsiː.dʒər/
  5. Finish this proverb ” An apple a day keeps the doctor..”
  6. Elisabeth II’s grandson: Harry or Larry?
  7. How do you say in English? sotenible
  8. Which is correct: people is or people are?
  9. Which is correct: despite of or despite?
  10. Phrasal verb beginning with “look” meaning ” to despise”

Have fun teaching.  Have fun learning!

My Go-To Websites when Correcting Students’ Essays

And again, it is the month of the year that I hate the most. I love my job. I love teaching but I hate marking exams, especially essays.

I guess it is easy to just cross out mistakes  but if you want to do a decent job and offer feedback and provide alternatives to what they have written, then it can be a hard job and even become a daunting task , especially if you are hard pressed for time, you are not a native speaker and we are talking about C1 exams.

You might think that after 30 years doing the same, one gets used to it. Well, not me.

For those of you who are, like me,  struggling with this task, the only way to make it more palatable is to take long coffee breaks and  have fun while doing your job. And by fun, I mean revising, and  learning by looking up “things”, and contemplating different  alternatives  to offer valuable feedback.

These are my fave go-to websites when correcting essays. What are yours?

  1.  Cambridge Dictionary: to look up the different spellings of a word.
  2. WordHippo: in the same dictionary, you have lots of features, but I use it mainly for synonyms and antonyms. I have blogged about it here.
  3. WordReference: invaluable dictionary for translation.
  4. Ozdic: the best collocations dictionary ever.
  5. Sentence Dict: to see how words or expressions are used in context.
  6. HiNative: a free app where native speakers answer all your questions. I have blogged about it here.
  7. GrammarBook: lots of tips on grammar and vocabulary. Type your question in the search box.
  8. Linguee: It is like a bilingual dictionary but for sentences. I have blogged about it here.