IELTS: Pre-speaking Test Review.

30th September 2020

Kill Bill: Volume 1 Review. “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”… | by  Dillon McCarty | incluvie | Medium
revenge is a dish best served cold- -The Godfather-Don vito Corleone |  Godfather quotes, Revenge quotes, Gangster quotes

Indeed … next week is the speaking test, so I get to interview the students, one-to-one, to see how much they have listened to me and retained the information.

For some students, the biggest test will be NOT using their phones for ten minutes. Be that as it may … No time for learning anything new, tonight will just be as many activities as reasonable, and then practice.

I shall offer my help to those that request it.

So, let’s kick off with the first game:

Two teams … on the board, single words. Teams have to complete the idiom and give the definition.

mouth // candle // cats // piece // arm // grindstone // sky // blue //.

Next, one team selects a word, then asks one member of the other team to use it in a sentence.

Moving on up: Complex sentences. I shall give the names of some famous companies and the teams have to compose a complex sentence using relative pronouns and discourse markers.

For example:

I have my heart set on buying a pair of Converse, which is an American company with a star logo, who make very fashionable, not to mention very cool, footwear.

The teams have to choose from:

The rare vintage Rolls-Royce that once carried the Lord Mayor of Manchester  and royalty - Manchester Evening News
Rolls Royce
McDonald's joins the plant revolution - New Food Magazine
Oppo mobile A9 2020 (Space Purple, 4GB RAM, 128GB Storage):  Electronics
Oppo Chinese phone company
Ikea sells on external platform for the first time | RetailDetail
Ikea Swedish furniture

Keep the ball rolling with a pronunciation game. I’ll play two clips of native speakers. The teams, one by one, have to copy using correct intonation and stress.

First write down what they say. Then … say it.

For the young gentlemen:

For the young ladies: (from 6:24 – 6:34)

Keeping things truckin’ next activity is:

‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Word ?’

The following is a list of words and expression I’ve used, and blogged, over the course of this course. How many do the teams know … I want definition and an example in a sentence:

without further ado // tricks up your sleeve //inevitably // ace the test // pass with flying colours // pertinent // do yourself proud // you are in the driver seat // occur

Think on your feet

The dog ate my homework - Family and Fertility Law

A classic excuse for British schoolchildren, when they haven’t done their homework, is to tell the teacher that their dog ate their homework.

I will give the teams some scenarios and they have to come up with a creative response:

You are late to class … why ?

You have been using your mobile phone the whole lesson, despite knowing the centre rules … why ?

You have been riding a motorbike with three people on it … why ?

You only got a 3.5 in your IELTS test … why ?

And now, it just remains to wish the teams all the luck they deserve.

See you next week … revenge is a dish best served cold

BBC Two - Mastermind - The history of Mastermind

Phrasal Verbs exercises

16th June 2020

img_uugs_seishun_namida_049 | Japanese kawaii idol music culture ...

To make the lesson come alive, have the students act out scenes or give them a set time to make up sentences containing as many phrasal verbs as possible.

Same as Shakespeare … English is meant to be USED and SPOKEN … not just studied in a dry text book.

So, without further ado:

COME ON, MAN! GET WITH THE PROGRAM! - Mad Samuel L Jackson | Meme ...

Phrasal Verbs


the cat out / the fire out / up with it (something unpleasant) / on a happy face

it in your own words / up or shut up ! / it away / it another way


well soon / over it ! / on with it / away with murder / on the bus

stuffed ! (impolite) / with the program (US) / some fresh air


a career move / your move a pig’s ear of something / a wish /

up for lost time / the best of something / fun of someone /


the right thing / away with that old technology / your best /

a funny walk / the dishes / your hair


it on ! / it to me / “my bow of burning gold” (poem) / about change

it up at the next meeting / a smile to my face / up children well


turns speaking / it up with the manager / up my trousers a little /

a good look at yourself / a hike ! / medicine / a deep breathe

Spike Lee Do the right Thing – Analysis of the riot scene – Au cas ...

phrasal verbs:

look after/ think about / wear out / give up / grow up / takes after 

tell off / look up to / hang up / go for / passed away

Phrasal verbs work like normal verbs, so they can be used in the infinite (look,think), the past tense (I wore out, I looked up to ..) and in continuous (I am hanging up now).

Make sentences using phrasal verbs in:

present tense 

past tense

present continuous


I need to think about that for a while. (present)

He gave up smoking ten years ago (past)

We are looking after our niece today (present continuous)

Phrasal verbs

verb + particle e.g. find + out = find out (learn something)

The verb can be present, past, future or continuous:

I give up

I gave up

I’m finding out about HCM City.

I will (I’ll) find out about the cost.

buy out / up

call off

carry out

give up / away

CLUE: first identify what tense is being used

They were __________ free samples

The computers are down; we have to ________ the meeting

A soldier has to _______ orders

The company was ______ by a Japanese company

The stocks are very low, we should ________ as many as we can

Don’t ________ on your dream 🙂

Make sentences with these phrasal verbs:

take care of // hold on // move on // take over // think it over 

Phrasal verbs:

look after // think about // give up // grow up // takes after // tell off // look up to 

Which phrasal verbs fits here ?

She really …………. her father, they are so alike.

I can’t go out, I have to ……….. my nephew.

Mandarin is too hard, I just …………. (past tense verb)

Many Vietnamese ………………. Uncle Ho

I’m not sure which bank is best. Let me ………. it and get back to you.

I had to ………….. my son because he ate all the cakes.

My manager is very immature. He needs to ………… and quickly !

Phrasal verbs

give up / go for / grow up / hang out with / hang up / look after / look up to / tell off / passed away / takes after /think about / wears out

Izzy is talking to Kate on Skype. Izzy can’t go out on Saturday because she has to

____________ (take care of, be responsible for) her little sister, Georgie. Izzy says she’ll __________ (consider) bringing Georgie too. Georgie interrupts, and Izzy has to

_____________ (end the phone/Skype conversation). Georgie’s hamster has ________

(died) and she’s upset. Izzy says she loves her little sister but she __________

(makes her tired).

Meanwhile, Sam is wondering why Izzy doesn’t want to _____________ (spend time with) them. He thinks Izzy should bring Georgie to the cinema, but maybe Izzy won’t ________

(like, agree to) the idea.

Izzy is annoyed because her sister is trying to look like her, but Kate says it’s sweet that Georgie _____________ (respects and admires) her big sister. Izzy disagrees that they are similar; Georgie ______________(is similar to an older relative) her dad, whereas Izzy is more like her mum.

When Georgie asks Izzy to get her a hamster, Izzy gets angry. She tells her sister 

to ________ (become an adult). Georgie says their dad will _______(Izzy)_______

(speak angrily to Izzy because she’s done something wrong). In frustration, Izzy says 

“I __________ (admit defeat)!”. Fred and Sam take Georgie to look at some kittens, then they all go to the cinema. Georgie is the only one who isn’t scared by the film.

Now – let’s get down

(have a dance and a great time)

What songs can you find that use phrasal verbs ?

Lighten up, it’s the laid-back sound of 70s California

Young Learners, Level 1: Let’s get them speaking !

24th April 2019

This is the plan for my early morning class on Saturday. To set the scene, there are about 19 students, aged around 7 or 8. It’s a standard classroom; chairs with built-in desktops, and there’s not a lot of space for movement or activities. The students, therefore, are mostly confined to their seats for the two-hour session, not conducive to a productive lesson. Add to that loud students, slow students and the (seemingly obligatory) special-needs student(s), and we have a potential catastrophe … but there are ways to mitigate these issues …

Firstly, the assignment of a class captain. I choose the loudest, toughest boy and he becomes proxy teacher. Usually, they love the responsibility, while I’ve turned a problem into an asset.

Secondly, the ‘montage of attractions’, lots of different but related activities to prevent boredom as well as promoting as much participation as possible. To this end, I try to vary the lesson plan (the first hour is activities, the second, devoted to book work where I can also check students individually).

Thirdly, I really want to break the teacher – student dynamic; I want the students talking to each other in English. Sometimes I have the top students act as teacher, ‘Thay’, and address the class, but today I want everyone speaking to their partner in English. To do this, I’ve prepared a short series of questions they have to ask and answer. But first, a review about ‘what can you see ?’ and prepositions.

I’ll show this landscape and then attach various animal flashcards, asking ‘Can you see a frog ? Where is it ?’ and so on …

Now for the speaking interaction: with all speaking exercises, it’s good to model first. The questions I’ve chosen represent language they have already learnt and should be able to use. I’ll show the following questions, then drill an appropriate reply:

To prepare, I just need to stick some flashcards around the room (food, animals).

Can you see a tiger ? IF there is a tiger picture the answer is Yes, I can, if there is no picture then No, I can’t.

Do you like pizza ? / Yes, I do or No, I don’t.

What are these ? (showing flash card of toes) These are my toes.

How many marbles are there ? (showing picture of marbles) There are seven marbles.

How old are you ? / I’m …..

What can an elephant do ? An elephant can walk and swim and run.

I will then hand out a short questionnaire and, with the invaluable aid of my TA, monitor the class, making note of those who will not or are not taking part. The questions will be:

Can you see a zebra ?

Do you like cake ?

How many puzzles are there ?

How old are you ?

What can a bear do ?

When the first partner has finished, the second will have these questions:

Can you see an ant ?

Do you like rice ?

How old are you ?

How many games are there ?

What can a zebra do ?

The next activity is a ‘run ‘n’ write’. The class is split into teams and have to run to the board and write a word that has appeared in a previous lesson:

penguin / kangaroo / giraffe / science / animals / flower

We also get to review the plural form of nouns (games, marbles) plus the ‘an’ article before a vowel noun (an elephant). Next up … music time; an old favourite:

When the band… This could be used as a background to a musical statues game, but the names of the instruments will be highlighted. They then have to identify them:

Louis ‘Satchmo’ Armstrong … the one and only.
Kid Ory on jazz trombone
Johnny Dodds on clarinet
David Carradine as Bill playing Japanese flute.

Again, Thay Student time: a top student will ask the class:

Can you play …. trumpet ? … piano ? … guitar ?

Now a miming game. I will tell a student an instrument, and they will mime playing it. The opposite team has to guess, getting points for correct answers. Any kind of game or competition can really raise energy and motivation levels.

I want to move the lesson closer towards today’s subject (science, specifically parts of the body), so will select six students, giving each a flashcard from last week’s class. Very quickly, they will show their card to the class. Then I will ask ask which student has which card, but using the verb ‘to have’, i.e. “He has toe”, “She has arm.”

Finally, and if time allows because this already could be too long (no problem with that … a plan should be overlong in case any activity falls flat and a Plan B, C & D is needed), more ‘Thay Students’. They will review questions from last week, namely:

What are these ? These are my arms

What are these ? These are my toes

What are these ? These are my fingers

But, to stop them getting too complacent, some good old British irregularities:

What are these ? These are my feet.