Drawing games for teaching English – 35 articles and worksheets

A mix of things for adults and kids – hopefully obvious which are which.


Drawing on drawing games Part One – Pictionary (article of mine published in Modern English Teacher magazine)

Drawing on drawing games Part Two – Picture dictation (ditto)

Drawing on drawing games Part Three – Competition, challenges and cooperation

15 best drawing games (a much shorter summary of some of those games, on TEFL.net)

Drawing and crafts for prepositions of position

The first idea in Three Nice New Simple Third Person S activities (blog post)


NB. worksheets mentioned in more than one section below if they cover more than one point.

Drawing games for grammar

Possessive adjectives drawing game (new)

Present Simple reading, speaking and drawing game

Good and bad boys, girls and superheros Present Continuous project

Animals and body parts drawing (possessive S)

Strange body positions pictionary (prepositions on position and body)

Body parts and prepositions monsters project

Our topsy turvy school prepositions project (classroom and school vocabulary)

This that these those pictionary

Superlatives pictionary challenge game

Prohibitions pictionary (modal verbs)

Good and bad behaviour Present Continuous pictionary/ mimes

Food Present Continuous pictionary

Rules and regulations pictionary (modals verbs and similar)

Drawing games for phonics

oa phonics drawing race

ai phonics drawing race game

Drawing games for vocabulary

Crazy food and drink pictionary

Crazy appearances pictionary

Animal idioms pictionary

Draw a monster body parts practice (colours, numbers and shapes)

Basic nouns and adjectives pictionary

Pick the body part and adjective drawing game

Animals and body parts drawing (possessive S)

Feelings and animals pictionary

Describing art drawing games

Describing architecture drawing games

Homes and architecture vocabulary pictionary

Big and small classroom objects pictionary

Pick cards to draw a Xmas picture

Pick numbers, shapes, feelings and face words to make crazy pictures

Pick words to make an underwater picture (including colours and numbers)

Food Present Continuous pictionary

Strange body positions pictionary (prepositions on position and body)

Body parts and prepositions monsters project

Our topsy turvy school prepositions project (classroom and school vocabulary)

Teacher training worksheets

Classroom language miming/ pictionary

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Teaching trends language

Should you wish to considerably improve the way you teach language like “considerably improve” or substantially increase the number of expressions like “substantially increase” that you introduce to IELTS, EAP, business and ESP students, I’ve finally got around to writing an article on what has always been one of my favourite topics:

How to teach the language of trends

That article also now a link on my page of worksheets on the topic, along with these two new ones where I actually teach language in context for once:

Describing places The language of trends

Social issues trends

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New teaching English articles and worksheets March 2014

I’m off to the UK on Sunday to take part in Occupy IATEFL*, so here are lots of worksheets and not lots of articles to keep you busy until I get back. Recent stuff I haven’t mentioned yet top:


Meeting people and meeting people again review

Verb patterns classification and speaking

Giving directions in British and American English

Meeting people cultural differences and useful phrases

Eiken Level 1 speaking practice

Classify and rank the formal and informal emailing phrases

Give advice on emailing and other business communication (including good advice and function language for them to give each more such tips)

Your week countable and uncountable (the best way I’ve found yet of personalising countable and uncountable nouns)

Surveying the audience in presentations (a great way of making presentations more interactive and hooking the audience)

Connecting with the audience in presentations (ditto)

Making arrangements by telephone game

Using rhetorical questions in presentations

Use the starting and ending emails phrases

Telephoning in English discussion and personalised practice

Presentations Q&A Roleplays

Analyse and write IELTS Speaking Part Two Tasks

The stages of planning a presentation

IELTS Speaking Part One functional language practice game

The last time…  narrative tense review and guessing game

Countable & uncountable travel vocabulary and speaking

English greetings functional language review

Giving directions make it clearer

Starting and ending emails game

Remembering and forgetting board game

Checking your understanding or their understanding game

Trends and comparing contrasting

Opening and closing presentations

Compare and contrast your writing

Comparing and contrasting academic writing tasks

Brainstorm and rank the comparing and contrasting phrases

Comparing phrases the same or different

Present Simple cultural customs bluffing game

Present Simple guess the country

Present Simple reading, speaking and drawing game

Present Simple work and leisure discussion questions

Common Business English verbs Present Simple

Academic emails more and more errors game

Comparing useful language to talk about academic writing

Classify and rank the First Certificate email and letter phrases

FCE (First Certificate in English) Use of English Part Two brainstorming games

FCE (First Certificate in English) Open Cloze card games

First Certificate emails and letters prepositions pairwork

Language for First Certificate reviews open cloze and brainstorming

First Certificate open cloze for relative clauses

Open cloze practice of language for First Certificate stories


How to teach FCE Use of English Part Two open cloze

How to teach comparing and contrasting

Eiken is a completely new one for me, but loads more articles and photocopiables on all the other topics via the dropdown menus above.

*Partly true.

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How to cash in on Scottish independence – a guide for TEFLers

I have no idea what it might be like for an independent Scotland or the remaining “rump UK”, but the Scotch going it alone could be a real boon for people in TEFL like us. Here are some ideas how to make some cash from it:

  • Redesigning the logos of the hundreds of schools that have the (present) Union Jack in it
  • Recruiting teachers from the rump UK to replace Scottish teachers who are fired from centric schools like the British Council
  • Re-writing materials with now outdated mentions of “Britain”, “British English” and “the UK”
  • Writing Scottish editions of textbooks
  • Write “rump UK” editions of textbooks
  • Doing the conference circuit claiming that RP can now regain its rightful place as UK standard now the Scots are gone
  • Becoming the manager of a Scottish branch of a chain of UK language schools by staging a revolution and/ or campaigning to have your school nationalised
  • Setting up the first chain of Scottish English schools
  • Coming up with and copyrighting a better term than “Scottish English”
  • Getting copyright on more Scottish spellings of the word English in the country you are in

Any more ideas?

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New UK/ USA EFL materials page

Not the largest page, but some good uns. Including at least two which come up as Google instant results, which I imagine is some kind of sign that they are popular:

British and American language and culture page

Use them quick while “British” and “UK” still mean something!

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How has being a parent changed your teaching?

I’ve been a parenting TEFLer/ TEFLing parent for four and half years now, but due to that fact have only now found the time to ponder on and write about the experience…

The main effect for me was deciding to give up teaching kids as much as possible so that I actually spend a sensible proportion of my week with adults, so perhaps the only effect I can see on what I actually do in the classroom is dropping songs in YL classes at random to present and reinforce vocab as well as the song or two which is on the plan. I do also try to remind students when they’ve seen language before in books etc as I do with my daughter, but my students rarely have enough class time or English at home to make that often the case.

The biggest change for me has been psychological, because teaching English suddenly became no longer either the most important or the most rewarding thing I do in a day, giving me much more a sense of perspective. More practically, for the first time I often simply don’t have the time to plan lessons as I’d like to, making “That’ll have to do” and rushing planning of one lesson to leave time for the one I actually spend serious time on a part of almost every day.

Other than that, I’ve probably been more affected by changing schools, entering my 40s and having over a decade of teaching experience.

And you?

Posted in Teaching English as a Foreign Language | 2 Comments

Alternative error correction techniques and materials

The first alternative error correction technique I was introduced to – an error auction – was also one of the biggest wastes of class time I have ever (repeatedly) forced upon my students. Improvements on that idea and many other which hopefully don’t need as much work to make them work below:

Articles with different ways of doing error correction

Alternatives to spoken error correction

15 error correction games

A well-balanced use of error correction

15 variations on a grammar auction

Worksheets with alternative ways of doing error correction

The Trouble with Mr Bean False friends and typical confusions (get in there before they actually make the errors, then try to make them make them while they watch a video)

Academic emails more and more errors game (getting more and more challenging and revising the errors that they’ve already corrected each time)

Typical IELTS mistakes for Korean pairwork (students work out which version they think is right from Student A and Student B sheets without showing them to each other)

Common mistakes in English for Korean speakers pairwork (ditto)

Emailing errors arrangement pairwork (ditto)

Emailing errors team game (one error per entire email to find as quickly as possible)

IELTS Speaking Add error game Version 2 (no errors – students add them to useful phrases to test other groups with)

Film and song titles correct the mistakes (using and improving their cultural knowledge to teach determiners)

Discuss the importance of typical job application mistakes (they already know they are all wrong, so they discuss how and how much)

FCE Use of English Part Two discuss the wrong answers (similar, but just discussing why they are wrong and correcting them)

Worksheets with slightly different ways of doing error correction

Opinions language find the mistakes (one grammar mistake and one in the wrong section, so moving as well as correcting)

White Christmas song error correction (using logic as well as grammar to correct, then listen to check)

IELTS process tasks error correction and discussion (analyse the model answer after basic error correction is out of the way)

Second conditional supernatural error correction and discussion (correct discussion questions and then discuss them)

IELTS Listening find the error (using error correction to stop mistakes in listening gapfilling tasks)

Functional language for emailing correction and brainstorming (used to present the language, thinking of more phrases after correcting the mistakes to make some very useful ones)

Correct, simplify and brainstorm sharing experiences phrases (similar, but with some which are fine but can be simplified and so made more natural)

Emailing Informal or error? (half of them are correct, but are so informal that students might not think so)

Making arrangements Okay or one error

Me – error correction and writing (correct a text then make a similar one about yourself)

Typical errors with cohesive devices (either a grammar mistake or wrong meaning, never both)

More traditional error correction worksheets

Email paired sentences error correction

IELTS map task error correction

Correct the emails to academic staff

Short emails error correction (written for BULATS Writing Part One but useable with other classes)

IELTS Speaking Part One typical errors and questions by topic

Teacher training worksheets

Pronunciation peer correction

Classroom language Add errors game

Blog posts

Scrap the marking code

Getting away with little error correction

Why we really do what we do Part One – error correction

An even quicker way of marking student marking (attempt at humour)

Posted in Error correction, Teaching English as a Foreign Language | 2 Comments

Teaching Cambridge First Certificate Use of English Part Two

New article with tips on how to teach and practise the gap filling task in FCE, almost all also useful for CAE:

How to teach FCE open cloze

Worksheets page also expanded and reorganised, especially to include lots which introduce other language for writing, speaking, etc:

Cambridge First Use of English Part Two games/ photocopiables

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Vietnam bans teaching of English in regular pre-school classes

Actually, it’s all foreign languages, but I’d already made the title of this post too long trying to avoid the inaccurate title of the original piece:

Ban on teaching English to pre-school children raises controversy

Actually the policy seems quite sensible – until there is enough research on the topic and proper training of teachers in techniques specific to pre-school kids, the government won’t fund it and so parents have to pay for extra classes after the regular school day if they want them.

As for the controversy, there should be none – the idea that young children learn foreign languages better than older ones and adults is complete crap, especially when it comes to classes a couple times a week. For many articles on doing so the best that is possible (none of which using words like “crap”), see here.

Posted in pre-school/ kindergarten/ very young learners, Teaching English in Vietnam | Tagged | 1 Comment

Would functional language by any other name smell as unsweet?

The stats on my functional language classroom materials page have taken a brief blip upwards in the last few days. Perhaps because I’m a glass half empty kinda guy (when I’m not an “Are you looking at my pint?” kinda guy), my main reaction was “Why aren’t those worksheets more popular usually?”

If Google on my computer isn’t flattering me even more than usual, searches for functional language worksheets bring my pages up fairly high on the list, so does that mean people aren’t searching for functional language materials, and if not why not? And a bit less self-centredly and more importantly, why isn’t there an English Functional Language in Use book to go with Academic Vocabulary in Use and other even more specialised Murphy clones from CUP? I’ve recently come to the conclusion that the main problem is the name.

Even if you weren’t to confuse English functional language with the programming languages of the same name, the term still gives off a scarily technical feeling, and even I wouldn’t buy a book called “Functional Japanese in Use”. And there aren’t any adequate replacement terms that I could think of. “Social English in Use” and “Everyday English in Use” would seem too limited to worth 35 dollars of my money, and “Interactional English” sounds like a torture-based North Korean language school chain. Surely there must be a sweeter way to talk about requests, apologies and all their ilk!

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