Tag Archives: conversation

Lesson Plan: Are you a Risk Taker?

In this engaging series of activities students will discuss different actions that involve taking risks. It aims at developing students’ communicative, listening and writing skills through the acquisition of new vocabulary.

Level: advanced

Time required: 60 minutes

Materials: handout 1 and handout 2

Warming up: The video

  • Do a quick survey asking students: Do you enjoy taking risks?
  • Play the first 55 seconds of the video and pause it. Ask students in pairs to discuss what they would do in this situation. Get feedback. Ask the class as a whole to predict what might happen to the people who decide to run the risk and take the two empty seats.
  • Play the video until the end.

Step 1. Speaking based on visual prompts

  • Class as a whole. Ask students: What’s the most dangerous thing you’ve ever done?
  • Put students in pairs. Tell them you are going to show them different activities that involve taking risks. Ask students to discuss whether they would be willing to try them or not, giving reasons for their choice.

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Step 2. Working with vocabulary .

  • Put students in pairs and ask them to write, in two minutes, words related to taking risks. On the board, write their suggestions.
  • Give them handout 1. Focus on any new words/expressions.
  • Prepare slips of papers with the new vocabulary and follow the steps given for activity number 4 in the article “Nine ways to revise vocabulary using slips of paper”.


Step 3. Speaking. Using new vocabulary.

We all know how difficult it is for students to introduce  new vocabulary when they speak. This activity aims at encouraging students to use new words.

Step 4. Listening Comprehension

Tell students they are going to see a video about parkour. Hopefully, students will remember what parkour is, as they came across this word at the beginning of the lesson.

  • Link to the activity here.
  • Direct link to the video here


If you are running short of time, you can always set this activity as homework.

Step 5: Writing

Ask students to write a “for and against essay” on one of these quotes

  • “To know what life is worth you have to risk it once in a while” Jean- Paul Sartre
  • “The biggest risk is not taking any risk”-Mark Zukerberg

Tips on how to write a for and against essay” in the Writing Section of Blog de Cristina.


Conversation Starters: An Interesting Site to Help you with the Speaking Test.

“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy – I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” Art Williams

Of all the parts in the English exam  my students, without a single doubt, fear the speaking test  the most.

Oral exams require lots of study and preparation. Don’t dream for a minute of taking this exam without putting  some real elbow grease into it. It’s only the very skilled ones who feel at ease while facing a board of two or three teachers asking questions and taking notes.

Very often my students feel frustrated by their inability to react to questions; they mention things such as their mind going blank, panicking, having absolutely nothing to say on the issue, words not coming etc. While it is true that in an oral test you have to think on your feet  and some students don’t have this ability, it is also true  that, very often,  you know  or can guess what  topics you can expect  in the exam (  they are quite a few, yes, I know 🙂 ) so before the test, why don’t you  practise  how you would  answer some questions and see what vocabulary you need to study ?. If you do it, you’ll be absolutely fine!

So, my nothing-to-write-home-about tips

♥ Write a list of all the topics in the exam

♥Think of some questions you might be asked for each topic

♥ Study relevant vocabulary to talk about these topics. If you are talking about Technology, you might want to use the expression” keep in touch” or the word “gadget”

♥ Practise how you would answer these questions

♥ Record yourself

♥ Concentration during the speaking test is essential.

♥ Be positive. “Believe you can, and you’re halfway there”

To help you prepare for this part of the exam, I am going to share with you a nice site to practise your responses to questions you might be asked in the test. The site is called Conversationstarters .com  and it generates random questions for different topics. So, click the button and start practising!!


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Conversation Fillers: Give Yourself Some Time to Think!

In class, my students do a lot of mock speaking exams.

Picture description is fairly easy for the student to control as he is on his own, with no interference from the teacher and he can, to a certain extent,  know in advance how he is going to structure his description. No worries here!

(See some useful guidelines and techniques for Picture Description here)

The Interaction between the teacher and the student is the part of the exam that causes more stress and anxiety. The student doesn’t know what he’s going to be asked about and sometimes students find it difficult to get started and gather their thoughts. Some students are very clever and very quick at  organising  the answer in their minds; I would say it comes naturally to them, while other students need more time to think of a coherent argument. Unfortunately, most students fall into the second category and they need all the advice we can offer them.

There are some  techniques you can use to give yourself some time to think about what you are going to say, but I would advise you to use them in a sensible way and make sure you don’t answer  every question with a filler, as you will certainly run the risk of sounding  very unnatural.

♥Use the typical filler sounds:

-ah, mm, um, uh,

Repeat the question:

-” Umm … What would be my ideal job??? Well…”

Pretend you haven’t understood the question:

-” Could you repeat the question, please?”

-“Sorry, I didn’t hear what you said. Could you repeat the question?”

Express a lack of opinion:

“I’m afraid I don’t know much about it!”

-“It’s difficult to say!”

-“I have never really thought about it!”

-“Well, I don’t know, but I think /people say…”

Hope it helps you!! And remember USE WITH CAUTION!

If you are studying, yes, “studying ” for the oral test, you might be interested in this other post. Tips to Score High in the Oral Test