Monthly Archives: October 2023

Exploring Cities: 3 Classroom Activities to Supercharge Speaking Skills

I am not saying these three activities are great, but I am saying they are

  • visual
  • engaging
  • effective
  • dynamic
  • collaborative
  • thought-provoking
  • challenging
  • Interactive
  • … shall I continue?

So, they are the perfect answer to introduce and end a lesson about our cities and future cities.


Ask students to discuss the following question in pairs or small groups:

When you think about the concept of a futuristic city, what kind of city comes to mind?


  • Sustainable development
  • Megacity
  • Vertical farming
  • Urban sprawl
  • Green architecture
  • High-speed rail
  • Smart city
  • Zero-emission autonomous vehicles
  • Renewable Energy
  • Sustainable Transportation
  • Eco-City
  • Drone Deliver

Display the pictures and allow students time to comment in pairs and then,  have a whole class discussion. These images are unique and, as I am sure you have guessed, created with AI.

HOUSING by cristina.cabal


This activity is designed to engage students in debates and discussions based on their chosen statements.

Before the class

  • In each corner of the classroom, hang a clothesline by using a rope and some adhesive hooks. You will need to assign a corner to each group of 4-5 students
  • Depending on the number of students you have, you will need to print as many sets of cards (one set for each corner) as groups in your class.
  • If you make groups of 5 students, you will need to come up with 5 controversial statements. You can read mine below. You will also need clothes pins to hang the cards on the clothesline. Assign a clothesline to each group.

During the class

  • Give the students a photocopy with some functional language to express opinion, agree and disagree with someone else’s opinion. Ask them to choose 3 or 4 expressions from each list and encourage them to use these expressions in this activity.
  • Divide the class into 4 groups and assign each group to one of the four corners of the classroom.
  • Tell the students to stand up, go to their assigned corner, and choose the statement (phrase) they like the most or believe they can argue for or against effectively from the cards hanging on their group’s clothesline.
  • Have the students sit down and give them 5 minutes to prepare their arguments.
  • Start the debate within each group. Student A should begin by showing their card, stating whether they are in favour of or against the statement, and presenting their reasons.
  • Encourage other group members to listen carefully, take notes, and contribute their opinions to the discussion.
  • After Student A has finished, it’s Student B’s turn to present their card and arguments.

These are the controversial statements I have used for this activity

AGREE OR DISAGREE by cristina.cabal

3. THE HOUSING CRISIS. ORAL MEDIATION: retelling in groups

Lead-in activity

Give each student a piece of paper and ask them to write down one idea for addressing the housing crisis. It could be an affordable housing initiative, a zoning policy, or a rent control measure. Collect the papers and randomly distribute them to different students. Put the students in groups of three and ask them to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the idea on their piece of paper with their group.

The activity

I have used AI to turn text into speech to enhance students’ pronunciation. You will find the QR Code with the audio on page 2  (below).

  • The handout below, Housing Crisis in Cities, is divided into three parts: causes, consequences and solutions
  • Divide the class in groups of 3 students and assign each student in the group a part ( causes. …). Ask them to individually read their part once, underlining any new vocabulary. Divide the whiteboard into three columns( causes, consequences and solutions)  and ask students to contribute with the vocabulary they have underlined. Explain meanings.

  • Once all vocabulary issues have been solved, give students about 5-10 minutes to read their part several times. If they want to improve pronunciation, instruct them to listen to their part  (audio provided by the QRCode). PDF here. 
  • Ask the students that have been assigned Causes of the Housing Crisis to retell the information they have read in as much detail as possible, and then ask the students in their group to contribute with their own ideas by asking :  Can you list more reasons behind/ consequences of /solutions for the housing crisis?
  • Repeat procedure for Consequences and Solutions, with students contributing with their own ideas.
  • Finally, engage students in a whole-class discussion.

Housing crisis by cristina.cabal

Follow-up: Give your students this quote: “Housing is a basic human right, and it is the responsibility of governments to ensure that everyone has access to safe, affordable, and stable housing.” Ask them to express their opinion about it.

More activities revolving around Cities

Fixing Common Mistakes: 3 Activities with End Up or Finish?

I don’t know about other languages, but these two verbs, Finish and End Up, can be easily confused in Spanish. Is it also true in your language?

Do you often see this mistake? I do.  We missed the bus and finished taking a taxi. I do. Even when teaching C1 levels. Well, this is about to change.


So what is the difference between these two verbs? How can we use them?

  •  if you end up somewhere, you eventually arrive there, even though you did not originally intend to go there.

           Many of his friends ended up in prison for different crimes

  •  if you end up doing something or end up in a particular state, you do it or get to that state even though you did not originally intend to.

         We missed the bus and ended up taking a taxi

                         If the crisis continues, we will end up with millions and millions of unemployed

In Spanish, it can easily translate as “terminar por”

  • If you finish, or finish something you are doing, producing or dealing with, you reach the end of it, so there is no more for you to do, produce or deal with.

            I’ve just finished doing the ironing

When we finished eating, we left

  • When a course, film, sale, etc finishes, especially at a planned time, it ends

            The course starts in September and finishes in May

In Spanish, it can easily translate as “terminar de”

NOTE: The good news is that both verbs are followed by gerund so, you see, here you can not make a mistake.


  1. A QUIZ . We start with a beautiful exercise I have created on Wordwall.  I am teaching C1  students about Cities and City Life so, all the sentences revolve around this topic.I have tried to use in the sentences some of the vocabulary taught in this lesson.

2. TRANSLATION.  I love, and I know for certain that they like, doing small translation exercises. They claim it helps them fix the structures better. So, here it goes, a small translation activity, using flip cards.  Much easier sentences than in the previous exercise.

How to go about it

  • Divide the class into pairs or groups of three students. Pair A, Pair B… etc
  • Display the first sentence to be translated and give them some time to complete the task. (you decide how much time they have, but the key is to give them neither too much time nor too little.
  • Ring a little bell to indicate time’s up and ask pairs to raise hands if they know how to translate the sentence. You will listen to the translated sentence of the pair who raised their hand first. If it is OK, they score 1 point. If incorrect, with a lot of drama, shout NOOOO!!! Pairs need to be ready to raise their hand quickly if they think they have managed to write the correct translation. If, say Pair D, raises their hand and the sentence is OK, they score 1 point; if incorrect repeat procedure shouting NOOOO!!! until a pair gets the correct translation. Flip the card and comment on any errors other pairs might have made.
  • Continue in this fashion with the rest of the sentences.

3. SPEAKING. Have a look at these quotes and pay attention to how these two verbs are being used. Which quote do you like best ? Why?

Create a GIF-like “Meet-your-Teachers” Interactive Photo with

Hello, hello!

Do you know this classic end-of-the-course photo we used to take when studying primary education?  I am sure you do and keep some in old photo albums. Ahh I miss the time when we printed photos!

Now, picture this: the annual staff photo or students photo transformed from a static image into a dynamic mosaic of interactive moving photos welcoming the students to the new course. How, you ask?  Thanks to GIFs and the incredible free templates in It is very easy to create and a lot of fun: you only need a little bit of tech and a dash of inspiration.

Below these lines is an example of what we are aiming for. If you hover over the image, you can read the names of the teachers, the language they teach and the position they hold in the school.


Steps to Follow

  • Tell the teachers (students) what you want to do and then, using your mobile phone, record a quick 2-3 second video asking the teacher to make a move. It is important that they don’t talk, just make a movement.  See my own video here

Great! Now that you have the video, we go to the free tool to create a GIF from the video. We might need to optimize the resulting GIF to reduce file size, but don’t worry, you can do it on, too. To optimize the GIF, look below the GIF (it says” optimize GIF”). I also use this other GIF optimizer when I need t further reduce the GIF; also free.


3. Awesome! Now you have all the GIFs for all the teachers (students) in your school. Time to go to and sign up for free.

  • Click on Create and in the search box, write school photograph ( in Spanish “orla”). There are two free templates. This is the one I have chosen but you can customize it as much as you want.
  • Click on Use this Template and modify the texts.

  • Now we need to upload the GIFs. Watch this video, and you’ll see how easy it is to create it. Sometimes, it is easier to see it than to explain it.

Creating a by cristina.cabal

Can’t wait to see your own Dynamic School Photos!!!  Or are you considering, perhaps, an end-of-the-course photo with your students, too? Or maybe first-day presentations???

Thanks for reading! Love you!