Category Archives: Pictures

Revising Simple Past,Used to and Would with some Engaging Activities

This lesson has been designed as a next-day revision activity for B2 (Intermediate +) students.

Aim: to consolidate the use of Past Simple, Used to and Would for past habits and routines.

Level: B2 (Intermediate+)

In this lesson you will find.

  • Grammar and exercises
  • Speaking: Picture discussion in pairs
  • Speaking: an advert from a popular drink comparing past and present
  • Writing: a fun writing game
  • Speaking: bits of your childhood

STEP 1. Grammar.

The use of these three verb forms to express past habits and routines can be a bit confusing for students, so in this class I am aiming at some revision to clarify concepts. Assuming students have already studied formation rules, the focus is now on use.

PDF with exercises here.

STEP 2.Picture description. Speaking.

Display the picture of a family in the past and ask students, in pairs, to discuss the differences they can see and the differences they can guess exist between the family shown in the picture and their own family.  Encourage students to use the targeted grammar.

Get feedback

STEP3. The video. Speaking.

  • Tell students they are going to watch a video. Explain there will be no comprehension questions as there is no dialogue.
  • Ask students to give you a brief description of what they have seen.
  • Explain that the advert is called “Grandpa” and it tries to show that the lifestyle enjoyed by our grandparents — moving more, eating well, taking it easy — can be beneficial.
  • Students will see the video twice more and  their task is to write down any differences they can see between the man today and his grandfather.
  • Once students have completed this task, ask them to work in pairs commenting on the differences they have seen in the video encouraging them,once again,to use the targeted grammar point: the use of simple past, would and used to to talk about past habits and routines.
  • Encourage discussion of the following points
  1. healthy eating
  2. stress
  3. working conditions
  4. means of transport
  5. relationships
  6. habits

STEP 4. Writing game: I have retired

Target language: Used To, Would and Simple Past Tense to describe past habits, states and routines

Preparation: none


Set the context: tell students they have to imagine they are 70 and retired. They are happier in retirement than when they were working but there are some things that they still miss.

Students, in pairs or in threes, choose the job they used to have.

Students will need to produce four sentences using the targeted language, giving clues for the other groups to guess their job.

  • sentences can be positive or negative
  • the first sentence will contain the clue most difficult to guess
  • the last sentence will contain the easiest clue
  • The first sentence will be awarded 4 points and the last one 1 point

Each group will name a spokesperson who will read out the clues. It’s important, at this stage, to ask students to speak up and clearly. Some rules:

  • The spokesperson will read the first sentence and the other groups will raise a hand if they think they know the answer.
  • Only one guess is allowed for each clue
  • If the answer is correct, they will be awarded the four points, if it is not, the second clue will be read for three points.


  • 4 points. I would work with a lot of people
  • 3 points. I worked after “work”, mainly at home.
  • 2 points. I used my voice a lot
  • 1 point. I used to work with children

How many clues did you need to hear??  Yes, the answer is TEACHER

STEP 5. Bits of your childhood. Speaking in small groups.

Ask students to think about their life at the age of 10.

Give students a list of things they might want to talk about.

Ask students to think about what they will say and the language they will need. Allow some minutes for preparation.

  • Where did you use to live?
  • Did your life use to be very different to how it is now?
  • Where did you use to go to school? Do you remember any of your teachers? Did you have any favourite teachers?
  • Did you use to get good marks? Did you have a favourite subject?
  • What did you use to do after school?
  • Where did you use to play? Do you remember who your friends were? Did you have a best friend?
  • Can you remember your favourite game?
  • At lunchtime, did you use to like the food? Did you use to eat with your parents?
  • What was your greatest wish? Can you remember?

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Teaching Environment Vocabulary with Capzles

Today I want to share with you a new tool that could be quite useful when trying to add  a touch of something to your classes. It is called Capzles and it is a very popular site for creating interactive timelines. It is a great tool for several reasons but mainly because the timelines created with this tool  let you use images, videos , pdfs …etc and it can also be embedded into a blog or a website.

Today I have used it to display some images containing vocabulary about the Environment but just as I am writing these lines , I am already thinking of other ways to use it, as being able to embed videos is a great feature and  makes this tool highly recommendable.

Lesson Plan : Technology

Oh my God! can you believe we are already in May??? Three lessons left with my intermediate students and so much to teach them!

I have to admit that we are all tired. If last week felt long I wonder how is  this next week going to feel? I read somewhere that this feeling is called Short Timers Disease ( a disease, really?? ). Apparently , it is an ailment that prolongs time and saps your enthusiasm when a holiday is imminent.

So, being in May, are you suffering from this mythical Short Timers Disease?? Let’s hope not.

These are the Speaking Activities I am planning to do with Intermediate Students . There is a bit of everything in the hope that  they  enjoy my last lessons.

You can download the whole lesson plan here.

TASK 1. JUST FOR FUN . Ask one student to read the following poem aloud. ( good to introduce some new vocabulary). It is called BEFORE THE COMPUTER

An application was for employment
A program was a TV show
A cursor used profanity
A keyboard was a piano!

Memory was something that you lost with age
A CD was a bank account!
And if you had a broken disk,
It would hurt when you found out!

Compress was something you did to garbage
Not something you did to a file
And if you unzipped anything in public
You’d be in jail for awhile!

Log on was adding wood to a fire
Hard drive was a long trip on the road
A mouse pad was where a mouse lived
And a backup happened to your commode!

Cut–you did with a pocket knife
Paste you did with glue
A web was a spider’s home
And a virus was the flu!

I guess I’ll stick to my pad and paper
And the memory in my head
I hear nobody’s been killed in a computer crash
But when it happens they wish they were dead!

TASK 2. PICTURE DESCRIPTION. PREPARING FOR CERTIFICACION EXAM. Student describe  and comment on the following pictures. (useful vocabulary here)

TASK 3VIDEO Ask students if they know what the term Nomophobia means. Play the video I forgot my Phone and ask students to share their thoughts.


· What are some of the benefit and dangers of the Internet?

· What is your favourite piece of technology?

· Are there any new gadgets that you really want to get?

· What are the main ways in which technology has changed society?

· What do you think elderly people think of modern technology?

· How have technological advances affected your life?

· Do you think modern technology reduces or increases stress? Why?

· How has technology changed education?

· How do you think face to face communication differs from communication using computers?

· Are you connected to the Internet at home? What do you use your connection for?

· What’s your favourite website?

· Do you often buy things over the net?

· Do you use social network services such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn?

· If you do, How often do you use it/them?

Picture Description: Beaches

Kindly sent by Carmen Muñiz from the Elementary Level.

Both photos show a beach, but they are very different.
I suppose it’s summer, because the weather is nice and sunny and everyone is wearing summer clothes.
In the photo on the right, the beach is next to the city. There are a lot of people sunbathing. It’s really crowded. In the background I can see many high buildings. The sea is on the left and it’s full of bathers. The sand is on the right and there are a lots of colourful beach umbrellas. I think it’s a modern big city, it seems a lively place.
On the other hand, in the photo on the left, the beach is far from the city, and there are few people. At the back you can see green mountains and some little houses. The sea is on the right, there is no one bathing. On the right corner, there are two women next to rocks, they seem very relaxed, they are sunbathing in sun beds and they are reading a book. They look like friends, it looks as if they are having a great time.
The scene in the photo on the right looks very noisy and it’s packed with people, while in the photo on the left, it looks very peaceful and quiet.
Personally, I prefer the photo on the left, because it looks like a perfect place to spend a summer’s day. I love going to the beach and swimming in the sea, but I don’t like beaches which are close the city, and the crowds.

Picture Description: Elementary Level

I want to share a few pics that I am planning to use in today’s elementary classes to practise Picture Description. I published this activity last year and it worked so well that I guess I’ll be forever using it. So here it is again!

For this activity the students are sitting in pairs, one student facing the board and the other with his back to the board. Using the OHP, a picture of people performing something is displayed. Now, the person seeing the picture has to describe it in as much detail as possible and the other person has to draw the picture. Allow them four or five minutes and then choose the best picture. Below are some of the photos I’m going to use and some expressions they need to use. (note: we have just begun describing photos, so right now I am teaching the basics. Hopefully, I’ll be teaching the contents in this photocopy soon ( Click here to see it)

Introduce the photo: This photo shows…. I can see

Location: on the left/right , in the middle, at the front/back

The people (appearance and actions) She looks sad. He is reading

Your opinion: I think…. I like it because…

Easy Peasy! Have a nice weekend!

Speaking: Fashion and Trends

I’m really stressed now. Internet has been down for three days and I only had it serviced this morning after  countless phone calls to the company.

Preparing exams, marking exams, preparing classes, publishing…. this is all part of who I am and what I do for a living …. but listen!, catching up on  my email has been nothing short of a nightmare. Christmas is coming and it seems all the companies have got hold of my email address ’cause there were like 500 emails waiting for me. Most of them junk! Really, if I get one more email informing me that I can get a 40% discount in ( insert shop here) I am going to go postal.

Anyway, I am sure my students have been checking my site to see if I have published their last oral test as promised. Here it is guys! Sorry to keep you waiting !

The topic: Fashion and Trends

First of all, three nice pictures you need to use as an excuse to talk  about the given topic

and now some questions to talk about. Time to show off, guys!

Copyright Free Images to Use

Are you looking for free images to use? Then, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve put together, using  Symbaloo, lots of sites that offer links to free stock images and copyright free images. In some of these sites there are some guidelines you need to follow. In most cases, photographers have retained the rights to these photos but they have allowed their use. Needless to say , you need to give  credit to its creator if you use them.

When I Grow Up

“When I grow up I’m going to be a flight attendant” I used to tell my parents when I was in primary school. That was really my dream!  I used to dream of going to far away countries, meeting amazing people and learning to speak different languages. I dreamed of holidaying in Indonesia and swimming in the Pacific Ocean … but my parents never liked it and very soon tried to put me off the idea by telling me flight attendants were just waitresses in a plane, but still… I dreamed!

Even now, if someone should ask me  if I ever wanted to be a teacher, my brain automatically associates ” wanting to be” with “being a flight attendant”. For better or for worse, I’ve got a friend who is a flight attendant and when she tells us about her travels I always turn green with envy. I cannot help it but that’s called rubbing salt into wounds, isn’t it?

Anyway, this is the question I asked my students and these were their answers. I thought it could be fun to take their picture now so that, in the future, they can look back and see if their dreams came true.I hope so!

Created with

Tag Galaxy: Flikr Images to create a 3D photo-sphere

Do you know anyone, especially students, who would not rather have a lesson spiced up with pictures?   Now, this  is  an amazing tool to work  with and  just plain fun! Tag Galaxy appeals to all visual students and it helps spice up a boring lesson. Have I  just said” boring lessons”??? Sorry! a slip of the tongue!!

How does it work? Easy peasy! You enter a tag  – I wrote Hobbies-  and as soon as you click GO , you will see a 3D galaxy with lots of planets of different sizes. The biggest one is for my Tag ( in this case Hobbies) and the smaller  planets will be words related to the keyword orbiting around my keyword

At this point you might click on another planet to combine words ( Hobbies+ books) and form a new galaxy.

Click on the big planet and see your picture collection , straight from Flikr  assembling.

Spin the globe  with the mouse. Click to select a picture and get a close -up. Cool!

Tag Galaxy in the classroom: I’m sure my students will be delighted to watch the whole process but leaving aside the cool part, I think using this wonderful tool can be highly motivating for my students.

♥ At the moment I’m teaching  Simple Past tense to my Elementary students and  I’m planning to use it  to do some speaking with the structure:

When did you last….? (play football)

I last( played football )( three weeks ago) +  the follow up questions.

♥It could also work  for Picture Description

♥Writing Skills: Students are given the beginning of a story such as: it was a stormy night … Students write “storm” as the keyword and the picures will help them spark their creativity.

PictureTrail: Customizable Slide Show Maker

I have discovered this amazing site to work with slides that I cannot wait to share with you. It is just amazing the variety it offers to create slides, choosing from a variety of skins, borders, glitters, backgrounds…etc. The only thing you need to do is upload your pictures and have fun. It is also possible, as you have probably noticed 😉 to embed your slides.

How am I going to use it in my classes? Nothing to write home about really; my students are working with TV programmes so I thought to find images from different Spanish programmes and do some speaking. The instructions are in the form of a slide too, so that they can do this exercise at home again and do some more practice before exams.

By the way, the site is called PictureTrail.