Summary of past or recent events


This is a speaking activity which allows students to describe the most important things that happened to them in 2016, over the holidays, the last school year etc.


  1. To describe past events using past tenses or recent events using present perfect tenses.
  2. To practise asking wh-questions in authentic communication.


  1. Ask students to write down ten important or memorable things that happened to them in the chosen time period. Make sure they know the events will be discussed in class and are not too personal. You can decrease or increase that number depending on how talkative your class is (I found teenagers usually struggle with ten).
  2. Put students in pairs (student A and student B) or groups of three.
  3. Student A briefly describes the first event on the list. Once student A has finished student B asks additional questions starting with who, whose, what, when, where, why, which, how, how long and how many.
  4. Encourage students to show pictures of the events, if they have any on their phones, to make the activity more relevant.
  5. Students continue until they have each described all the events from their lists.

Alternative ideas:

  1. You could also ask students to come up with a recent summary of events in politics, art, science, etc.
  2. You could use it as a getting- to- know- you activity with students writing a list of “Ten things to know about me “.



Compare & contrast board game

Introduction: This is a free communicative printable board game (Bubblegum) to review compare and contrast expressions.

Objective: The objective of the game is to be the first player to reach the end by moving across the pink board from square 1 to the final square.

Materials: printable board game, dice and some checkers.


1. Bubblegum is played by 2 to 4 players. You could print one board game per pair or use one board game only.

2. The board consists of 36 squares alternating between 12 outside squares and 24 pink squares.

3. To decide who starts, each player should roll the die once to see who gets the highest number. Whoever rolls the highest number gets to take the first turn. Play continues in a circle going left.

4. First player rolls the die. The number indicates the number of spaces on the pink board. If the player lands on a square with an even number they have to compare two things using one of the expressions from the outside squares. To determine which expression the player has to use, the player rolls the die again. The number corresponds to the number on the outside board. For example, if the player rolls a 4 and then a 4 again, they move to square 4 on the pink board and square 4 on the left and compare two courses they’ve taken using the expressions indicated: The two language courses I’ve taken recently have quite a lot in common, The two language courses I’ve taken recently are very similar. If they land on one of the squares with an odd number they have to contrast two things using one of the expression(s) indicated on the right hand side.

5. If the player makes a mistake they go back one space.

6. Other players can move up one space if they correct the other player’s mistake.

7. You win by rolling the exact number needed to land on the last square.


Ir(regular) Xmas


This is a fun activity which allows students to recycle regular and irregular verbs and practise writing short summaries . The video reminds me of my dad, who like the main character in the advert is also called Robert, and whose level of English is quite basic but he keeps learning and trying his best.


1. To practise regular and irregular verbs in context
2. To encourage pair work
3. To correctly use linking expressions


1. In pairs, the students discuss what activities they do at Christmas, e.g. I spend a lot of time with my family , I eat out a lot with my friends etc. Ask if they ever spent Christmas separated from their family and, if not, how do they think it might make them feel.

2. Tell students you are going to show them a short Christmas advert.

3. Play the video (A Christmas advertisement for Polish auction website Allegro):

4. Ask students what they thought of the advert and what emotions it evoked in them.

5. Put students in pairs or groups of three; give them 2 minutes to brainstorm verbs from the advert, and as they call them out, write them on the board. You don’t need to write all their suggestions, but ensure you have the verbs below. If you are introducing the verbs, make sure the students know their meaning.

• Arrive
• Greet
• Hug
• Improve
• Introduce
• Learn
• Leave
• Listen
• Memorise
• Pack
• Practise
• Read
• Receive
• Remember
• Repeat
• See
• Speak
• Spend
• Study
• Take
• Try
• Visit
• Watch
• Write

6. Ask the students to brainstorm, and then one from each group to write the past simple form of each verb on the board next to its infinitive. Make any corrections as necessary.

7. Students write affirmative sentences about what happened in the story using the verbs in past simple e.g. The man in the advert practised his English every single day. He watched TV in English every night. When the students are finished they put the sentences in chronological order.

Alternative idea for the production of sentences: ask the students to write the verbs on Post It notes. Put students into pairs, or groups of three, and give each student 12 Post It notes if they work in a pair, or 8 if they work in a group of three. The students’ task is to get rid of their Post It notes as soon as possible by producing correct sentences. Once the group is finished, they put the sentences they produced in chronological order.

8. When the students are finished, elicit the following connecting words e.g. afterwards, as soon as, at first, at last, before long, in the meantime, later, next, soon, then, etc.

9. Students write a short summary (140 words ) of the advert using the sentences they wrote previously as a guide. For example, An older man received a dictionary. At last he was able to start learning. Before long his house was covered in post-it notes he used to memorise and study new vocabulary.

P.S. Merry Christmas


Introduction : this is a fun activity which allows students to recycle and learn new vocabulary related to clothes and appearance


1. To increase speaking fluency and accuracy
2. To practise descriptions of appearance and / or clothes
3. To develop writing skills


1. Put students into groups and ask them to brainstorm adjectives describing appearance.

2. Feedback: add new adjectives to students’ lists e.g. chubby, curvy, muscular , plump, presentable , scruffy, etc.

3. Introduce the idea of reliable memory.Ask students if they think memory is reliable, if they remember what they were wearing last week, what someone new they had recently been introduced to looked like. Tell them to shut their eyes and ask them questions about other people in the class: what colour is Sara’s coat, what is the pattern on Jacob’s jumper, etc.

4. Divide the class into two groups – police officers (A) and witnesses (B).

5. Give the witnesses a picture of a person in a detailed background location. For example, a picture of a woman in a bank. It could be a picture cut out from a magazine or a picture of a family member or even the teacher. They have 1 minute to look at the picture and memorise it.

6. Put police officers and witnesses into pairs and tell the witnesses they have witnessed a crime and they saw the suspect. They must try and describe the suspect as accurately as possible to the police officer in front of them. The police officers’ job is to write down the details given by the witnesses.

7. Allow three to four minutes for the interview and then ask the witnesses to move to another police officer and repeat the statement. Once the police officers are finished they compare their notes on the suspect’s appearance with the original photo. If there are few differences the suspect will be brought to justice.

8. The students swap roles and repeat with a different image.


• Students design ‘Wanted’ posters and write a detailed description of the suspect based on the notes they made during the interview.They bring their descriptions to class and ask the “witness” to read the statement and confirm that the information is true and correct ( it allows students to recycle the vocabulary yet again whilst role playing )

• Students could also compare the two suspects and write sentences e.g. Suspect 1 is not as chubby as suspect 2

• Encourage students to watch a fascinating Ted talk about the fiction of memory

P.S. A quick thank you note to my friend Alex. Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to offer feedback and share your ideas.

The search is on (preposition game)


This game works well if you have a big place available to you. I have done it in a TV company I work in and the summer school I go to every year. This also works within the classroom if you are not able to use a larger space.


1. To revise / introduce prepositions of place
2. To provide students with an opportunity to practise a grammar point in an entertaining way
3. To encourage pair and group work
4. To encourage peer correction


• Preparation: Before the class put various objects in different areas of the building or classroom where they can be easily seen e.g. a pen on the sofa in the reception area, a folder under the chair next to the main door. To make it more obvious, you could choose items which are all the same colour, or begin with the same letter, or are related to a certain topic.

• In the class, revise prepositions of place e.g. in, at, on, under, above, next to, in front of, behind, opposite.

• Explain to the students that as a group they will be doing a ‘treasure hunt’ of objects around the school and that they must find and correctly describe the location of the object in order to win a point. You can offer guidance by taking them to the vicinity of the items. You could take pictures of the objects you want students to find and show them before you all leave the classroom.

• After you have found all the objects and their locations have been correctly described , return to the classroom and put students in small groups.

• Give each group ( maximum 3 students per group) 10 post- it notes on which they write their team name and number them 1-10.

• Students go and stick the post –it notes in various places throughout the building writing down the exact position of the note on a sheet of paper e.g. Post-it note1 is under the small blue table on the first floor (I encourage the weaker students to write and the stronger to correct and supervise).

• When the groups come back correct any errors in spelling or grammar and the groups swap sheets.

• Now the groups have to find the other teams’ post-it notes as quickly as possible following the instructions written by the other team.


Identify why/if some of the post-it notes couldn’t be located, and correct the sentences with the students.

I find the students become very competitive, engaged, active and on their feet which is a nice change from the typical lesson. They also receive immediate feedback on their work – if their instructions are unclear, the other teams are unable to find the post-it notes.