Tag Archives: C1

Catwalk Controversies: Questions about Fashion to Spark off Debate

Favourite tools to create a lesson plan, in order:

  • Spark Page
  • Spark Page
  • Spark Page

In my professional life, I give bonus points to any tool that is super easy to navigate and gives me, in a matter of minutes, a very visual professional-looking design.¬† And more bonus points if it is free, easily shared and reliable. And that’s Spark Adobe Page. I have been using it since 2017 and no other tool has been able to supersede it. I really cannot say enough how much I love this tool. Well, I think I just have!! ūüėÜ

This time, I have created a beautiful speaking lesson for my C1 students. These food-for-thought questions are likely to spark off some controversy and heavily engage your students- in fact, my students spent an hour talking about the first two questions.

Hope you enjoy the lesson and starting today, it also becomes a must-go tool for you, too.

Note: this is not a sponsored post. I only write about what I like and works for me.

Catwalk Controversies

The Future with Be: the Visuals, the Grammar, and the Exercise

After over a decade of running this site, if I have developed one signature post, I would say it’s ideas to bring to life content from the course books.¬† That’s, at least, the posts I enjoy writing the most.

But, in this post, the star of the show is grammar and the featured tool is one of my favourites, for its versatility and visual impact. I am sure you all know and tried and fallen in love with Genial.ly, so I am not going to waste your time or mine talking about it.

Whether explaining grammar or doing a speaking activity, visuals play a very important role in my teaching. Is it the same for you?

Finding the right visuals to accompany a point of grammar is not a task you do in the blink of an eye; it takes time and it is never entirely fulfilling as you are left with the feeling “there should be a better picture to represent this if only I kept looking”. Unfortunately, time is tight and sometimes you just have to make do with what you have.

Without further ado, let me introduce to you the visuals.

The Visuals:

After writing on the board the point of grammar we are addressing –the future with the verb “to be”– and eliciting some structures they might already know, I display the first picture.

  1. Students, in pairs, try to come up with a sentence that describes the picture.
  2. Listen to their sentences. In most cases, they will give you a “be going to” sentence, but someone is likely to give you the “right” one. If not, don’t despair; this will only happen the first time you show the pictures. The second time -yes, there is a second time and even a third- they will do better and quickly come up with your same sentence or a similar one.
  3. Click to show your sentence, explain without getting into much detail, move to the next picture and repeat procedure.
  4. Once, you have shown them all the pictures; start again, this time a little bit faster.


The Grammar

Now that students are familiar with the structures, let’s jump right into the grammar. Rules should be very easy to understand now.


The Exercise

This grammar exercise is from their textbooks and yes, I know you can do this same exercise in their books, but it is not the same, is it? The exercise in their textbooks can be set for homework to reinforce this point of grammar.

You can even divide the class into two teams. Display the first sentence, give them a minute to rewrite the sentence using the future with the verb to be and then ask Team A to challenge a student from Team B to say the sentence. If the student from Team B gives a correct answer, he will score a point for his/her team; if incorrect, the point will be awarded to Team A. Display the second sentence and repeat procedure with Team B.

7 Activities and Ideas to Practise B and V sounds

Let’s not beat about the bush.

Some of us are probably spending lots of time and energy teaching how to pronounce the schwa /…ô/ or helping our students’ /√į/ sound just right, and while this is not a bad idea and something we obviously need to do, we might be overlooking a very subtle yet essential pronunciation distinction: the difference between the /b/ and /v/ sound.

If you are Spanish, it might be even more difficult for you as there’s no difference in the pronunciation of b¬†and¬†v. ¬†In Spanish, despite differentiating in writing between “vaca” and “baca”, when it comes to pronouncing them,¬† the “v” sound is miraculously transformed into a /b/ sound.¬†

So, it is imperative that we teach our students that the “v” sound exists much like Teruel) and here are some exercises we can do to help our students with this elusive sound.

One. The obvious. Practise the sounds in isolation.  

Demonstrate how to pronounce the sounds /b/ and /v/ and ask students to imitate you. I can guarantee they will have no problem pronouncing the bilabial plosive /b/ sound but some fun and a bit of reluctance on their part are bound to happen when they attempt to pronounce the labiodental fricative /v/. 

Now, give them a minimal pair they can easily recognise like “boat/vote” to do some practice and help them while they struggle with the “v” sound.

Two. Guess the words. Lady Gaga and Beyonce's  video "Telephone"

Nope. We are not going to sing.

For this exercise -not necessarily done after¬† One above-, we are going to use a short clip (4:30-4.55)¬† from Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s video “Telephone”.

Play the video once without sound. Tell students they will need to guess Beyonce’s words. You might want to stop the video to elicit that Gaga is leaving prison. I can already warn you the first time you play it, students will look at you and tell you: “It’s impossible to guess“. Do not give up. Tell them it is a very short sentence containing “v” and “b” words. Play it a couple more times and listen to what they think Beyonce says. Play it with sound now. The important thing here is that they realize how the “v” sound is pronounced when emphasized.

Write the sentence on the board and play the video once again to pronounce along with Beyonce. If only Gaga was called Vivien, it would be perfect!!!!!!

You’ve been a very bad girl. A very very bad bad girl, Gaga!

Three. The Clever Parrot.

 1. On the board, write some minimal pairs and drill pronunciation.  If possible, listen to all the students individually pronouncing a set of minimal pairs.

 2.  Tell students you are going to point to one of the words on the board and pronounce it. They should only repeat after you only if they think the pronunciation is correct. If they think you are mispronouncing the word, i.e. pronouncing a /b/ when it should be a /v/, they should remain silent. Repeat and reinforce the correct pronunciation of all the words on the board.

Four. On their own now. Minimal Pairs Pyramids.

Lovely exercise from www.myhappyenglish.com/.¬† ¬†The instructions for the activity are on the second page. I have demonstrated the activity twice before asking them to pair up and do the activity. They liked it so much that most of them did it more than once. Then, ask some students to volunteer to do it for the rest of the class. A great success. They didn’t want to stop.

Five.  Fun. Tongue twisters.

Tongue twisters are a fun and challenging way to encourage confidence.

Tip: the only way, if there is one, to get your tongue twisters straight is to do it very slowly at the beginning and then increase the rhythm. And to be honest, it is very hard to get it right but this is not the point, is it?

Write tongue twister 1 and tongue twister 2 on the board and ask students to practice them in pairs. After a couple of minutes, write tongue twister 3 and ask for volunteers to read it.

Six. Getting Creative.Creating your own tongue twisters.

Ask students to write a list of 10 words containing either “b” or “v”. Encourage them to write nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs… etc.¬† Give them about 2 minutes for this task.

Now, you can do this activity in two ways: you can write their words on the board- I find this very time-consuming- or you can ask them to use  Wooclap or Mentimeter and effortlessly you will get a very nice word cloud in under 1 minute.

Once their words are displayed, ask students to write their own tongue twisters with some of the words on the word cloud. Give them 2-3 minutes and then ask them to write their sentence on a slip of paper. Collect all the slips and put them on the walls of the class; ask students to stand up and gallery walk in pairs trying to read their partner’s tongue twisters. Lots of fun guaranteed!

Ex: Bob’s beautiful vase has been visited by visitors vaccinated with available vaccines.

Seven. Speaking Activity with the same Word Cloud

Ask students to write a question to ask someone in the class using at least a word containing a “b” sound and a “v” sound. Needless to say, I encouraged them to be creative and, as long as the sentence had sense and could be answered, use as many words as possible containing /b/ or /v/.

The sentence should start with… When did you last…?

Allow 2-3 minutes for this task.

Whole class: ask a student to ask his/her question to another student. The answer should start with the same words used in the question to further practise these two sounds?


A: Peter, when did you last watch a beautiful music video? Peter: I last watched a beautiful video last month. It was Telephone by Lady Gaga and Beyonce.

I hope you have enjoyed the activities. If you have, please share this article!


2 Activities to Activate Health Vocabulary in a C1 Class

Are you teaching vocabulary? Silly question. Who isn’t?

On the flip side, perhaps the chunk “teaching vocabulary” might sound a bit weird to you; and yes, controversial opinion alert… can vocabulary be taught? I don’t know. I think you can teach form, pronunciation and meaning but arguably, this is not teaching vocabulary; this is more like presenting vocabulary. Vocabulary needs to be used to be learned and that’s my ambitious aim in every single lesson.

And yes… I feel you dear fellow teacher, whose life is as crazy as mine right now, who has a hard time finding the time to prepare the lesson, who knows his students are beginning to feel tired after so many months struggling to understand their classmates when talking through their facemasks and who stares at the book thinking‚Ķ what can I do today that will bring a spark to my lessons and engage my students?

I see you. I feel you.

So since I see you and understand you because I am just like you in these feelings, today I am sharing with you two ideas to activate vocabulary. I hope it helps you and makes tomorrow’s lesson planning easier.

Vocabulary. First things first: the vocabulary we are going to work with. Get the PDF here

Activity one: Choose a quote

In this activity, which has two parts, students are presented with 4 quotes and asked to choose one.


  1. Health is the greatest possession” Lao Tzu
  2. “A human can be healthy without killing animals for food. Therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite” Leo Tolstoy.
  3. “Your body hears everything your mind says” Naomi Judd
  4. ” Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory” Albert Schweitzer.
Part 1: students in pairs
  • Put students in pairs and ask them to make sure they do not talk about the same quote.
  • Give students 4 minutes to prepare a 2-minute speech sharing what the quote means and whether or not they agree with it. In their speeches, they should include at least 10 of the words in the vocabulary list.
  • Students get into their pairs and listen to each other. While Student B listens to Student A, he needs to mentally keep track of the number of expressions/ collocations used.
Part 2: whole class
  • Divide the class into two teams. Team A chooses a representative to give his speech to the rest of the class. While Student A is talking, members of Team B listen and write down the words from the list Student A has used. Then, it’s Team B’s turn to choose a representative to try to beat Team A.
Activity Two:  Chain Talking

In this activity, we are going to use a random wheel, which is fed with the target vocabulary. My absolute favourite is random wheel is wheeldecide.com.

  • Pair students up.¬† Explain you are going to pose some questions related to health and each student in the pair, and in turns, will have 45 seconds to talk about the question. For each question, students will have two opportunities to speak.¬†This means student A talks for about 45 seconds, then Student B for 45 seconds, then back to Student A and then, Student B again.
  • Tell them you are going to use a stopwatch and every 45 seconds, you will ring a bell.
  • Display the wheel using the OHP and tell students that, in their conversations, they will have to use the word on display in the wheel. Every time a student talks, a new word will be displayed.
  • On the board, write controversial statements or questions and let’s the show begin!
  1. ” Modern lifestyles can seriously endanger our health”
  2.  Countries should make vaccination compulsory
  3. Do you think the numbers of vegetarians and vegans will continue to grow? If so, what explains their continued popularity?
  4. How do you feel about surgery? Would you consider having surgery that isn’t completely necessary, like plastic surgery?
  5. Lifespans are getting longer. How long do you think the Millennials Generation (1980-1994) will live on average?

Name 4: a Game to Energize the first 10 Minutes of your Class

I write a lot about games on this blog but the truth is that there are many days when all we do in class is course book related. It is easy to fall prey to the monotonous rhythm of the book and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it; but I never get a kick out of doing the exercises the book suggests and I might be wrong, but I don’t think the students do either. And I, for a start, need this kick to keep me going.

So, from time to time, I like to give them games that will not only engage them but also help them fix previously studied content in an attractive way.

The game I am sharing with you today is called NAME 4, and the aim is to revise content studied in this course and mix it with some easy bits and bobs from previous courses.

I have created the game in Genial.ly. If you don’t want to create your own, you can easily edit mine and write your own categories. Also, in each slide I have placed a countdown timer. The time allotted for each category varies. If you need to modify the time, you can¬† find numerous countdown timers on YouTube; you just need to write “X seconds countdown”in the search box.

I have used the same template for C1 and B2, slightly varying the categories.

All the instructions to play the game are on the second slide. We had great fun so I really encourage you to give it a go.

GAME FOR C1 STUDENTS. Click on the three dots … to enlarge the presentation

GAME FOR B2 STUDENTS.Click on the three dots … to enlarge the presentation