Archive for the ‘Grammar’ Category

Would you know what to do if the photocopier broke? And I mean REALLY broke… You’ve unjammed it, kicked it, sworn at it, turn it on and off but it just. won’t. work. What’s your next step? Panic? Scream? Cry?

Fear thee not. Here are some ideas that could help ease those panic-stricken moments when you have to deliver a material free lesson, or when you need a warmer/cooler/filler. No photocopies, not high-tech gadgetry, just a teacher, some students, and a few scraps of paper.


Dictate 8 or so infinitives (regular and irregular) and get the students to write down the past participle of the verbs.

Elicit the answers, and put them in the middle of the board. Then elicit a complement for the verb and write that to the right of the participle.

For example: You say “ride”, and the students write down “ridden” (which you put in the middle of the board). Then get the students to suggest things you can ride (bike, camel, horse, unicycle). Choose the most interesting one and write it next to the verb.

When you’ve finished with all the participles, on the left hand side, write “Have you ever”.

So you should have something that looks like this:

Have you ever             ridden               a camel?

                                          met                      a celebrity?

                                          flown                  in a helicopter?

                                         eaten                    sushi?

                                          swum                  with dolphins?

There you have a “Find someone who” activity which required no photocopying or preparation. It can be adapted for any level and grammar point. Future Perfect (Find someone who will have bought a house/ got married/ had children/ travelled to Australia by 2020).


This next activity works better with higher levels and focusses on speaking and fluency. It can last up to an hour if you collect some errors and do some feedback.

Give each student 3 bits of scrap paper. One each paper, they should write one sentence that describes an important event in their life (that they are happy to talk to the class about). When they have 3 events, they should write the year it happened in the top right corner, and the approximate month in the left, so it should look a bit like this:

Put the students into group of 3 or 4. They put all their papers together, then line them up in a ladder on the table in chronological order. It might be an idea to cellotape the ladder to the table at this point.

Give each group one dice and one counter. They roll the dice and move the counter up the ladder for the correct number. The owner of the paper then has to talk about this event for 2 minutes (less for lower levels) and the other students must be ready to ask one questions each when the time is up.

Fold the paper over when it’s done so it isn’t repeated then continue until they have all been spoken about.

Part 2 to follow! Enjoy and let me know how it goes!


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Oops! I haven’t posted in aaaages! Will hopefully make up for that in the next few weeks.

Someone in the staff room today showed everyone a video for a new Flemmish TV channel – you may have heard of it, it’s a bit of a sensation… It’s called “A Dramatic Surprise on A Quiet Square”. Have a watch… it’s brilliant!

So how could you use this video in the classroom? It could be a more interesting, visual way to practise using narrative tenses (or present continous for lower levels).

Any other ideas? Please let me know!


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I find this is a good way to revise grammar and get the students to teat each other.

Photocopy a basic snakes and ladders board game (Cutting edge teachers book at starter/elementary and pre-int) has a copy in the back of it, or use a real board if you like.

one of the square should have a question mark on them (or all of them if you like!). When a person lands on a question mark, they must take a card which has a question on it.

you can either use a real board, or find one in the Cutting Edge resources packs

It’s a good idea to get the students to make the question cards which revise all of that week’s/month’s/course’s vocabulary and grammar. Jumbled sentences, gap fills, collocation and conjugations also make good questions. The students grade the questions as they are focusing on the topics covered in their class and it also provide a fun way to revise on a Friday rather than a normal gap-fill exercise!

I’ve done this with a variety of levels and ages and it has always worked well – the students feel challenged as they spend the first part of the lesson writing questions but spend the second half in a more fun frame of mind “playing a game” and learning.

Let me know how it goes!

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I made a class newspaper with my teenage students today and it was absolutely fab!

I gave them some sections of the paper, but you could do anything you wanted.

I had: Teacher interviews, Group leader interviews, City profile, things to do, excursion and activities, class profile.

You could make it more serious depending on the age and ability of the class.

I assigned two people to be the editors, they had to assign the pages to the other students and one person needed to be a photographer. I gave them a disposable camera and had it developed at lunchtime.

I’m going to bind the original copy to show to other classes as an exmaple, but I photocopied each student a copy to take home with them so they have a permanent reminder of their time here.

Maybe this would be a good creative project for your class to work on?

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This is a twist on the running dictation activity you commonly find in the classroom.

For those who don’t use running dictations, here is the cliff notes version:

Have a text stuck to a wall on one side of the classroom (or cut strips up and stick them around the classroom). One student runs to the text, remembers as much as possible, then runs to their partner who is a scribe and dictates the text to them.

This twist was suggested to me today:

In key places, such as obvious verbs or prepositions, take out the word in the text and leave either a —– or the word BANANA. eg. My name BANANA India. I BANANA in England.

Once the student have completed the dication, they then have to go through the text and decide what word goes in place of BANANA.


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There are always money based sections in coursebooks, but I like to find something to pad it out and broaden the lesson around the subject, so I have a few money based speaking and vocabulary activites I’d like to share.

I have previsouly made worksheets for these lessons, which you can download further down the post.

1. Phrasal Verbs

Let’s face it, the majority of students (and teachers) hate phrasal verbs. But when it comes to money, we use a lot of phrasal verbs (splash out, cough up etc.) and they are quite commonly used in colloquial English, so they shouldn’t be ignored.

My first sheet is a verb matching exercise. The phrasal verb is written on one side in the infinitive, with an contextual example underneath. The definitions are mixed up on the right and the students have to match them up.

Have a look: Money phrasal verb1

2. Speaking

This activity can take up to 45 minutes if you allow it to. Download the worksheet and cut up the questions.

Hand out one question to each student. Tell them to mingle and ask as many people as possible their question. Encourage them to ask follow up questions and get a conversation going out of it.

Sit the students back down, and ask a few of them to read out their questions, ask them for their answer, along with a few others. Try to get some debating going on if the question allows it.

There are, of course, loads of ways you could use these cards… Split them up into groups and get small discussion groups going on.

You can download the questions here: money questions

I hope you can use these in your lessons! Let me know hoe it goes and if you have any suggestions. Have fun!

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Just a quick post about some activities I have come across when teaching adverbs of manner (ie, quickly, loudly, sexily, angrily, gingerly etc…)

1. Short Dialouges

Write on the board:

Give me the letter



-I love you


Then brainstorm/revise the adverbs of manner you have done in lessons. Write them on the board,

Put the students in pairs. Choose an adverb. They must now act out the short dialouges in the manner of the adverbs you have written on the board.

This activity will check and reinforce understanding, and will also get them out of the textbooks and having a bit of fun. The better the class know each other, the better the activity will be.

2. Cigarette Smoking

Brainstorm/revise the adverbs as above and write them on small slips of paper and put them in a hat.

Ask a student to come the front. Give him/her a pen and tell them it is a cigarette. They must choose an adverb and smoke the cigarette in that manner. The class must guess which adverb is it.

Silly fun for everyone.

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