Tag Archives: speaking

Education: Enhancing Collaborative Listening in Class using QRCodes and Group Chat

Just like everyone else on this planet, I’m dealing with a pesky flu. The good news is that I’ve almost managed to defeat it. Now I just need to regain my voice.

These days, in class, all activities revolve around the topic of Education and the problems in our education system. The video shared in this post proves to be an excellent resource for engaging discussions on these issues.

This video is perfect as it hits several birds with one stone. In the video, we’ll find a brief introduction, followed by the presentation of six potential problems in our education system.

Wondering why I say it hits several birds with one stone? On the one hand, students enhance their listening skills and work collaboratively, and on the other hand, we get a starting point to discuss the challenges in our education system. Besides, it doesn’t obviously hurt to introduce beautiful QR codes in class, does it?

Note: before the class, ask students to bring their earbuds and ensure they have a QR Code reader installed in their mobile phones/devices

  1. Play the introduction (0:00-0:32) for the whole class.
  2. Explain that after the introduction, 6 problems related to our education system will follow.
  3. Form groups of up to 6 students and assign each student a problem.
  4. Direct the students’ attention to the walls of the class, where they will find a copy containing the QR readers for each student/problem.
  5. Students scan their assigned QR Code and listen, taking notes and jotting down as much information as possible.


After wrapping up the listening phase, everyone in the group takes a seat. Student 1 takes the lead by sharing what they’ve gathered about their assigned issue. Once their account is complete, they invite group members to contribute with comments regarding the discussed issue. Then, it is Student 2’s turn.

These are the instructions I wrote on the board

  • Clearly state the problem
  • Summarize the information you have heard in the video
  • Ask the group’s opinion. Is it a problem in our current education system?

Note: they talked so much that we didn’t have time to discuss all the issues. I guess this is a good thing!

Materials: here


New Year’s Resolutions Speaking Activity or the Perfect Excuse to Create Adorable Images with AI

First off, Happy New Year! Fresh starts and the time of the year when you start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions.
I always try and think of some New Year’s Resolutions to accomplish but, let’s face it, I don’t have enough fingers or toes to count the number of times I have broken them, and then I think why bother? Do you know anyone who keeps their New Year’s resolutions? Or even remembers them after January 15? I sure don’t.

Anyway, let’s begin this new year with a post on New Year’s resolutions.  To be honest, I just wanted an excuse to create some beautiful images using AI. They are so beautiful and so much fun to create!

In this post, aimed at B1- C2 students, you will find

  • Fun warm-ups including a small challenge playing against ChatGPT.
  • Some structures you might need to revise/learn when discussing New Year’s Resolutions.
  • Speaking practice with beautiful images created by AI.
  • A fun listening exercise with a song.
  • A written assignment created with AI based on one of the images above.
Warm-up (10 minutes)

Icebreaker 1: The video clip.

Start by writing on the board New Year’s Resolutions and ask students if they are familiar with the concept.

Ask students if they have made any New Year’s Resolutions, either this year or in the past. Some might say they have never bothered with resolutions, and that’s when you play this clip by the adorable little Charlotte A Tucker claiming” I don’t have any New Year’s Resolution, you don’t need one when you are perfect”. Share some laughs, and then get back to the original question:Have they ever made any resolutions in the past? If so, did they actually stick to them? What challenges did they face?

Icebreaker 2: ChatGPT Challenge: Have a fun activity! Invite students to jot down their thoughts on the most common New Year’s Resolution. Then, check with ChatGPT for its take. Give a round of applause to students whose responses coincide with ChatGPT’s answer.

Vocabulary building. (5-10 minutes)

1. Go through the list below, commenting on the expressions you can use to express your resolutions. Say the resolution is “to stop smoking”.  Ask students to write down, in their notebooks, two or maybe 3 of these expressions.

Ten expressions to use in speaking and writing
1. I guess I’d better stop smoking
2. I suppose I really ought to stop smoking
3. I really should stop smoking, but then again
4. I am determined to stop smoking
5. Never again will you catch me smoking.
6. No matter what happens, I’m going to stop smoking
7. Come hell or high water, I’ll stop smoking

Speaking: 20 minutes. Popular Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions by cristina.cabal

  • Ask students to work in pairs or groups of three.
  • Tell them you are going to show them some popular New Year’s Resolution. In their groups, they should talk about all or some of the following questions and try to use some of the expressions above, as well.

1. Have you ever considered making a similar resolution for yourself?
2. How might incorporating this resolution into your life positively influence you?
3. Are there any specific steps you would take to implement this resolution?
4. Can you share a personal story related to this type of resolution?

  • Display the first slide with a popular New Year’s Resolution ask them to comment on it, elaborating on the answer.
  • Tell students each slide will be on display for 4 minutes and then a new one will be shown. There are 8 slides containing New Year’s Resolutions. Feel free to use as many or as few of them as you like.

NOTE: the images have been created using AI (have I already told you how much I love creating them? hahaha! I know. I have)

A bit of fun with listening? 

Tell students they are going to listen to a funny song about resolutions. They will listen to it once. This is what they have to do:

1. Predict 5 New Year’s Resolutions they might hear in the song and write them down on a separate piece of paper
2.  Exchange papers with the student beside you.

3. While the song plays, indicate on the exchanged paper which Resolutions correspond to the ones mentioned in the song.

To check the answers, enable the captions on YouTube

Writing Assignment using AI

Writing assignments are a fantastic opportunity for students to hone their creative writing abilities and writing skills, both of which are vital for learning. However, students are essentially cheating themselves if they just use AI to accomplish their homework. One way to prevent cheating is to assign writing prompts that are open-ended and require critical thinking and creativity, but clearly, the most effective way to stop cheating would be to create a culture of academic integrity in the classroom. Easy, as we all have beautiful students!

On the other hand, AI can help us a lot as teachers and reduce our workload.  In this case, I have used Bingchat, uploaded one of my slides and asked to create a writing prompt based on the picture. Have a look!

Here’s one of them

As the clock struck midnight, ringing in the New Year, Alex made a resolution to step out of his comfort zone and travel more. With a world map spread out on the table, he closed his eyes and pointed to a random location - that would be his first destination. The next morning, with bags packed and passport in hand, Alex found himself at the airport for the first time in years. A mix of anxiety and excitement surged through him as he boarded the plane. Little did he know, this journey would not only take him to uncharted territories on the map but also within himself.

Some tips for writing a good narrative are:

  • Use descriptive language to create vivid images in the reader’s mind.
  • Use dialogue to show the character’s personality and interactions with others.
  • Use a clear structure with a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Use transitions to connect the events and show the passage of time.
  • Use varied sentence structures and vocabulary to avoid repetition and monotony.
  • Use feedback and revision to improve your writing.

I hope you enjoy this writing prompt and have fun with your creative writing.

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Tic Tac TALK with a Fun Twist

Today, I am sharing  with you an activity that’s as fun, as it is effective. Drumroll, please… introducing Tic Tac Talk with a Fun Twist!

Picture this: the traditional Tic Tac Toe grid is on the board and each square contains a conversation question related to the lesson or topic at hand; in my case, it was questions related to personal identity. If you pay attention to the picture  of my board, you will see another difference; instead of the traditional 9-square grid, I designed a 12-square grid. More questions. More talk. More fun.

Another difference? They play in teams. Two teams: Xs and Os. And everybody talks here.


How to go about it. Let’s pretend Os start.
  • Pair up students; let’s say Student A chooses O and Student B,  X. From now on, they will be called Os and Xs
  • Display the grid with the overhead projector. Less paper, more trees.
  • Ask a representative of Os to choose a square and read the question aloud.
  • Tell Os they have 90 seconds to talk to their buddy X answering the question. Encourage students to use target vocabulary. What do Xs do? They listen. Not for long. Soon, it will be their turn to speak.
  • Monitor the time and signal when the time’s up.
How  Os win the Square

  • The teacher chooses a random O as representative of their team. (a different one each time, of course)
  • To win the square containing the question they have just answered, this representative will have to speak for 45 seconds, trying to deliver a continuous articulate monologue without repeating himself. If they manage to do so, their team, ie, Os, will have their icon written on the square but if they make pauses, repeat information or talk nonsense then the teacher, will a lot of drama and an apologetic face, will not grant them the desired square.
Now, it is Xs’ turn.
Who wins?

The rules for the traditional Tic Tac Toe apply here, too.  Players take turns placing their “X” or “O”. The goal is to be the first to make a row of three of your marks, either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. If all the boxes are filled up and no one has three in a row, it’s a tie. Needless to say, players can strategize to prevent the other players from getting three in a row, which adds to the fun.

How did I mark the Xs and the Os?

Remember that the grid is displayed on the board. I played the game with two different classes. In one of them, I had a digital board, so it was fun to draw the Os and Xs in different colours. In the other one, I used different coloured sticky notes. It was a colourful display and brightened up the whole board.

Here’s the grid with the questions I displayed in class

Tic Tac Talk by cristina.cabal

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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

Game: Team Crossword Challenge

My favourite way to start a lesson is by involving all my students in an activity that helps them revise previous content.

I usually like to engage my students in a fun activity, most of the time teacher-guided, and that will require their attention and active participation. It can be quite challenging, though, because my classes start at 3 pm, right after lunch, and most of them are feeling pretty full and sluggish. (Side note: I live in Spain.)

For this activity, we will complete a crossword using clues related to work vocabulary, but this game can be easily tailored to any vocabulary or level of difficulty. So, if you are looking for a fun and engaging way to test your students’ vocabulary and teamwork skills, you’ll love this game.

As expected, being a technology enthusiast, I have used a digital tool to design a crossword that is completely adapted to the vocabulary I have taught my students.

  • Crossword game
  • Teacher-paced
  • Topic: Work
  • Level: B2+
How to play

The rules of the game are:

  • Divide the class into two groups, with each group choosing a representative.
  • A coin flip will determine which team starts the game.
  • The active team will select a number, and the corresponding definition will be read out loud.
  • The active team has 10 seconds to provide an answer, which will be given by their representative. If the answer is correct, the team can keep playing. Yes, they keep on playing.
  • If the team cannot provide an answer or makes a mistake within the time limit, the other team will take their turn.
  • The game is won by the team that correctly answers the final question.

Note:Click on the red arrows in the top right corner to enlarge the crossword.

Tool used: Learningapps