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 “.



Ask a Q board game


This is a free printable board game to practise adjectives followed by prepositions and improve fluency under time pressure.


The objective of the game is to reach the end by moving across the board whilst asking and answering questions.


Printable ASK a Q board game, a die, one checker per player and a countdown timer.

How to play:

  1. Ask a Q is played by 2 to 4 players.
  2. Players take it in turns to throw the die and move the number thrown.
  3. When a player lands on a square they ask the student on their right the question from that square. The student has to speak for at least 45 seconds without excessive repetition, and must answer the question using the adjective and the preposition in bold. If the player repeats or pauses for too long, the timer is restarted and they must start their answer again. After completing the task, they then roll the die and ask the question to the student on their right.
  4. The winner is the first player to land on the last square.


Note: The adjectives and prepositions are in bold to encourage noticing.



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

Interactive reading class


The following lesson plan works well with all levels and topics and students could be given as much autonomy as the teacher wishes them to have. Also there are plenty of opportunities for input and feedback. I love the fact this activity involves every single student. I encourage you all to give it a try.


  • Choose an exam text you want students to read. In my class last week I chose a text about a scientific approach to modern art (CAE 1 Use of English and Reading, part 7)
  • Ask students to read the text quietly and ignore the questions for the time being
  • Time students while they are reading, but not to put pressure on them but rather to give them an idea of how much time they need (give students 10 minutes to read the text, most students are ready after 8 minutes though)
  • Put students in pairs. Ask them to compare their view of modern art with the ideas expressed in the text
  • In the same pairs, ask students to tell each other which text they didn’t understand (students often choose different texts which results in them explaining the texts to each other)
  • In the same pairs students decide which out of four texts would be the easiest to summarize and consequently summarize it to each other
  • Get feedback
  • In their pairs, ask them to write 4 comprehension questions (one per text) for the other teams. Make sure the students come up with the questions together, which forces them to negotiate the meaning of the text yet again and facilitate understanding
  • Make sure they each have a copy of the questions as they will be moving around
  • The pairs now split and form new pairs
  • In their new pairs, they must answer/ask each other’s questions
  • Students return to their original pairs and now individually answer the questions in the text book
  • Students compare in pairs, in threes and then as a whole class
  • Do not provide correct answers until they are able to provide you with one set of answers. By this point the students are usually so involved in the text they are hardly ever willing to give up
  • Check answers and get feedback


HOMEWORK: students choose 8 verb phrases from the text that they would like to incorporate into their vocabulary and prepare questions for an interview with a modern artist of their choice (it forces them to use the words in a new context). Next class: journalist (student A) and an artist (student B) work together and both get an opportunity to recycle vocabulary from the previous class.

Lollypop debate


The following debate works well with most levels and offers plenty of opportunities for input and feedback. I have followed this structure with a business class, PET, FCE and CAE classes and it worked well. I love the fact that this activity involves every single student.

To develop debating skills, to use agreeing expressions, disagreeing expressions, expressions to interrupt politely and expressions to express an opinion.

NUMBER OF STUDENTS FOR THIS ACTIVITY: 6 or 8 (It could easily be adapted though)
➢ Divide the class into groups/pairs and hand out the lists of expressions you prepare before the class. Each group must choose six expressions from ONE of the categories: agreeing expressions, disagreeing expressions, expressions to interrupt politely and expressions to express an opinion. Encourage them to choose either new expressions or ones they know but require more practice to correctly incorporate them into their language. Then the students write the expression on each of the six lollipop sticks

➢ Put the students into pairs and ask them to choose two topics they want to debate

✓ TIP: prepare some topics in advance to save time and maintain the pace
✓ TIP: think of topics based on previous units to revise vocabulary

➢ Using the new expressions to agree and disagree, put two pairs together to eliminate two topics from their common list of four. It gives students an opportunity to practise the expressions before the actual debate starts
➢ As a whole class and using the given expressions, students reduce their list of topics to final two
➢ Pair students up for the debate. I made it more interactive by asking them to find their partner.I wrote down famous Spanish couples on individual pieces of paper and handed them out. The students had to ask each other three questions before they decided who their spouse is e.g. What do you do, Where do you live, are you Penelope Cruz? etc.

✓ TIP: make sure all students know the celebrities you chose.

➢ Students sit with their “spouses “
➢ The judge and their secretary (one couple) must come up with the rules and decide on the structure of the debate (monitor this and offer suggestions if necessary)
➢ The remaining two teams have 5 to 10 minutes to prepare three arguments

✓ TIP: ask fast finishers to anticipate the arguments of the other team

➢ Before the judge begins the debate take three expressions from each category and place them in front of each team on the table (now each team should have 12 expressions /lollypop sticks in front of them)

➢ As a team, each student introduces an argument which is passed to an opposing team member for discussion, who then introduces counter argument which is passed back to the first team for discussion, etc. Once the students have successfully introduced their expressions into an argument, the stick is taken away

✓ Make sure every expression is followed by a logical argument as often students will simply read the expression itself and consider that a contribution
✓ Students lose points if there are lollipop sticks left on the table at the end of the debate

➢ The final student provides a short summary of the main points. Allow up to 2 minutes for this part per team

✓ TIP: Encourage each team to provide each other with feedback
✓ TIP: Ask the judge to analyze the debate based on rules the teams were told to follow rather than the strength of the arguments, because if the students are friends with their classmates they often feel uncomfortable and put on the spot when they are asked to decide who the winner is

➢ Feedback and correction

➢ After the first debate the secretary switches with one of the members of team A and the judge replaces a member from team B. The remaining members of team A and B switch the expressions to make sure they use new expressions in the next debate
➢ Teams could get an extra point for each new/original argument
➢ The secretary makes notes during the debate which could later be used to write a formal letter to a boss (e.g. meetings are a waste of time) and students describe what was said at the “meeting”/debate
➢ The introduction of arguments should be short, to give students as much time as possible for the actual interaction which could be extended to 5 minutes. Depending on the length of the class and the number of debates you’ve planned, I would suggest shorter debates to make sure the judge and the secretary also get to participate)
➢ Maybe one student could be asked to introduce the arguments and another to close, in order to equally engage all students