The most TEFLtastic photocopiables of 2019

To go with my list of the best articles in 2019, here is a careful selection of last year’s prime crop of PDFs, in approximate order of how likely I am to use them again soon. If you really like this (or get so far down that you get past the good stuff), a similar list for 2018 is here.

Giving directions free and controlled speaking

Business communication prepositions and determiners pairwork speaking game

Business communication pairwork correction game

Social issues discuss and agree determiners practice

Direct, indirect and taboo Xmas questions

Countable and uncountable nouns in IELTS speaking and writing

Phrasal verbs storytelling game

Personality words bluffing game

Positive and negative business vocabulary storytelling game

Word formation list dictation game

Xmas vocabulary speculating games

Opinions on current affairs and media

Describing music things in common game

Good and bad body language roleplay game

Recommendations with movie vocabulary

Xmas going to games

Make your own conditionals discussion questions

Job applications line by line brainstorming

Present continuous small talk

Present Continuous plasticine shapes

Reporting verbs sentence completion games

Adverbs in CAE and CPE Use of English Part One

Adverbs in CPE Use of English Part Three game

First letter phonics miming game

Meeting people and indirect clarifying questions

Describing your company and job longer speaking games

Clothes and appearance recommendations

Reported speech discussion questions

Positive and negative language for reviews

Singular, plural and uncountable in IELTS Listening

Jobs drawing game

Phrasal verbs dice game

Likes and dislikes and countable/ uncountable practice

Present and past ability sentence completion games

Like and don’t like things in common sentence completion

Feelings drawing games

CPE Reported Speech key word sentence transformations

Gradable and extreme adjectives speaking card games

Please plus verb for offers and commands in emails

Present Continuous and like with -ing Xmas questions

Generalising about Xmas and the New Year

Abilities of animals can/ can’t games

Prefixes with opposite meanings jigsaw games

Quoting sources good and bad connotations

Small talk on the news

Travel English imperatives and requests practice

Likes and dislikes guessing game

The future in IELTS writing

Needs analysis and brainstorming

Needs analysis and Aptis Speaking Part One practice

Expanding Aptis Speaking Part One answers activities

Future forms in IELTS Speaking and Writing

Gradable and extreme adjectives practice discussion questions

Should have for past regrets and advice speaking

Possessives, body and adjectives pick and draw

Present Simple questions with be speaking

House and home likes and recommendations

Countable and uncountable pick & draw

Past, present and future in IELTS Writing Part One

Adverbs of frequency and times dice bluff

Travel plans bluffing game

Aptis Speaking Part One functional language games

Comparing places comparatives random pelmanism card game

Weather adverbs of frequency practice

Feelings and nouns pick and draw game

CPE Speaking Part Three on the future

CPE Speaking Part One on the future

Requests and future forms review

Describing people and things bluff

Like and be like Xmas questions

It is They are and adjectives Xmas pick and draw

Xmas vocabulary categories

Recommendations and embedded questions

News and media countable and uncountable

Experiences in your job extended speaking

Negotiating insurance roleplays

Insurance trends speaking

Communication trends and practice

Aptis Speaking Part Three longer phrases

Positive and negative education vocabulary

An Escape from Poverty TED talk numbers practice worksheet

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The most TEFLtastic articles of 2019

Happy New Year!

Last year was a super-motivating year for one, due to a rebound in blog stats and a huge jump in sales of my e-books, so many thanks to my generous (and hopefully happy) readers/ customers! That meant I was driven to polish up every TEFLtastic index page and add loads of new useful links, and I hope it is also obvious in my articles and worksheets. You can judge for yourselves, as here are all last year’s articles, in approximate order of how original, interesting and/ or useful I felt I managed to make them:

52 TPR grammar games

32 bad IELTS tips

Using body language and gestures to teach grammar

How to teach small talk

The 100 best small talk questions

The top six grammar points for IELTS

Teaching pronunciation through body language and gestures

How to teach international body language and gestures

How to teach advice, recommendations and suggestions

How to teach making and responding to invitations

How to teach restaurant language

How to teach positive and negative connotations

How to teach British and American English

How to teach small talk questions with how

The 100 most useful social English phrases

The 100 most useful socialising phrases

How to use body language and gestures in EFL classes

A guide to rude, offensive, insulting and taboo gestures for EFL learners

How to teach British and American vocabulary

CPE Use of English Part Three tips

CPE Use of English Part One tips

Aptis Speaking Part One preparation tips

Aptis Speaking Part Two preparation tips

How to teach British and American times, dates and numbers

If you’ve got all the way down here, you might also be wanting to look at the similar list of the best articles of 2018 and/ or 2019’s blog posts on classic TEFL activities. A similar list of the best worksheets of the year coming soon(ish).

May we all have a TEFLtastic 2020 too!

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New how questions PDFs and teaching tips

If your students, like mine, are likely to reply to “How was your Xmas/ New Year/ winter break/ vacation/ trip?” with “(Yes), I went to….”, then you’ll be wanting to look at this brand new page with an article and classroom materials to help change that into a learning opportunity:

How questions games, worksheets and teaching tips

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57 Xmas and New Year links for TEFL teachers

Just put up a new worksheet with games linking Xmas to going to for future plans and predictions, adding to a surprising number of seasonal grammar activities. Also Xmas vocab, songs, videos, roleplays, discussions, and practice of business skills like negotiating (a particular favourite that I’ll be using again this year), saying numbers, meetings and telephoning. All here:

Xmas and New year games, worksheets, flashcards, videos and songs for EFL classes

Posted in Cultural differences/ cultural training | 2 Comments

New positive and negative connotations PDFs and teaching tips

Not much more to say about this, it’s all in the title and in the article and worksheets, here:

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Meeting criteria games (TEFLtastic Classics Part 39)

Another instalment in my series on posts on the most useful and adaptable TEFL activities, for once for an activity that I (probably) invented. This is one of the board games I wrote about here, but is worth another mention as it is one of best ways of making students listen to each other and pay attention to their own production, and I’ve come up with a card game version that works really well too.

In the original Meeting Criteria Board Game, a student does a speaking task written on the square that they are on, e.g. “Start chatting to someone in the lift”. Their partners decide how many of the criteria in the middle of the board game they meet with their speaking, and therefore how many squares they can move on. For example, if the other students decide that they started smoothly and showed interest (but didn’t end smoothly, etc), they get two points and can move on two squares. Examples:

Meeting people criteria board game

Dealing with foreign guests meeting criteria board game

Different kinds of business communication meeting criteria board game

Negotiating language meeting criteria board game

Small talk meeting criteria board game in this e-book

Social English meeting criteria board game in this e-book

It also works well for (chairing/ taking part in) meetings, travel English, phone calls, emailing, etc, all due in future e-books.

I like this game so much that I often want to use it more than once with a class, so I’ve also come up with a card game version. Create a pack of cards with roleplays/ challenges on each one, possibly just by cutting up or reformatting a Meeting Criteria Board Game above. Also make a different worksheet with the criteria on (“Right level of formality”, etc). Deal out the same number of cards to each student, e.g. five cards each. The first student chooses one of the situations on their cards, e.g. “Email back a customer who complained”, and roleplays it with someone else in the group (just saying what they will write if it is email communication). Their partners give them a number of points by how many criteria they met, then they can take that many cards from the pack, to give them more options next time (and to represent points if they will benefit from more competition). Example:

Small talk meeting criteria card game in this e-book

and, as I said, you can easily cut up the board games above into cards.


38 more highly flexible activities with hundreds of PDF versions here.

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New TEFL stuff autumn 2019

Not a lot of new PDFs and tips, as I’ve been concentrating on polishing up the TEFLtastic index pages, but still hopefully at least one useful thing for almost everyone. Newest of each kind top of each section.

New TEFL articles

How to teach making and responding to invitations

How to teach small talk

How to teach small talk questions with how

CPE Use of English Part Three tips


New lists of useful language for EFL learners

The 100 most useful socialising phrases

The 100 most useful social English phrases

The 100 best small talk questions


New TEFL photocopiables

CPE Reported speech key word sentence transformations – NEW

Reported speech discussion questions – NEW

Quoting sources good and bad connotations

Phrasal verbs dice game

Feelings drawing games

Good and bad body language roleplay game

Aptis Speaking Part Three longer phrases

Positive and negative business vocabulary storytelling game

Opinions on current affairs and media

Describing music things in common game


These also all on the relevant index pages (on invitations, small talk, socialising, social English, Aptis, feelings vocabulary, CPE, reported speech, body language, phrasal verbs, and positive and negative connotations) and in the relevant TEFLtastic classics blog posts (on dice games, longer phrases, drawing games, and things in common).

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The (mildly) autistic TEFL teacher

While adding two new articles and a list of useful phrases to my rapidly expanding small talk for EFL learners page, it suddenly struck me how ironic people who know me would find it that I’m teaching small talk, let alone trying to tell people how to teach it. I’ve always been happier memorising lines of dialogue from obscure TV shows and answering questions in pub quizzes than I’ve been with actual conversations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, my physics degree course was full of people who were like or much worse than me. Perhaps more surprisingly, I’ve also found the same to be true of TEFL. I was initially surprised that us social-skills-free teachers seem to do okay in the TEFL classroom, but come to think of it the (mildly) autistic teacher has some distinct advantages:

  • Had to consciously learn the rules of social interactions and so perhaps better at teaching them than someone who just naturally picked them up
  • Loves the clear rules of classroom communication (despite, or perhaps because of, finding interactions outside the classroom more uncomfortable)
  • Can learn grammar rules and the phonemic alphabet as easily as learning Star Trek trivia
  • Can understand our top students, who often share the same characteristics

I’m not sure there are any huge implications to what I’m saying, seeing as such people are probably as happy with the clear rules of engagement in job interviews as they are in the classroom. Maybe this is just another reason not to confuse the ability to chat in the teacher’s room and down the pub with ability in the classroom. In fact, knowing hundreds of Monty Python routines off by heart could be a good sign for someone’s future TEFL career!

Posted in Social English, Speaking, Teaching English as a Foreign Language | 1 Comment

Disappearing text memory games (TEFLtastic Classics Part 38)

This is another activity that I’ve used regularly as long as I can remember and I’ve finally got around to writing about, inspired by its appearance in my new e-book. This is perhaps the best game of all for memorising things which are comparatively fixed like beginnings of phone calls and shopping conversations.

I first started play the Disappearing Text Game without worksheets, and that simple variation can still sometimes work. The teacher puts a short text such as a presentation introduction or a meeting someone for the first time dialogue up on the board. One student reads out the whole thing and then asks for one word to be deleted. The next student reads out the whole thing, including the missing word, then asks for a second word to be deleted. This continues around the class, with another word deleted each time, until nobody can remember the missing words or the whole text has gone. If you want to score, everyone else gets a point if someone guesses wrongly. The teacher should praise any guesses which can go in the gaps, but only accept exactly the words that were originally there.

The good points of the up on the board version of Disappearing Text Game include being able to improvise (somewhat) and the teacher being able to give lots of feedback, but in all but very small groups it can be so long before someone’s next turn that they don’t really concentrate and so are not able to fill enough of the gaps when their turn comes to make the activity worthwhile. I therefore prefer to play the game in small groups. This can be done by making worksheets with the dialogue in a table with one word per gap, and making cards the same size as the boxes in the table to cover the words with one by one. You obviously need to make sure that students can’t see through the covering cards, by using coloured paper, printing “XXXXX” on each card, etc. The students can then play exactly the same Disappearing Text game in groups, with the added advantages that they can look under the cards to check their guesses of the missing words if they need to, and that they can keep the worksheets afterwards for reference.

Here are some worksheet-based Disappearing Text Games that I prepared earlier:

First Certificate Speaking Part Two disappearing text memory game

Shopping dialogues jigsaw text

Meeting people disappearing text game (in this e-book)


Other things which work well with this game and will be in future e-books include:

Telephoning disappearing text memory game (with variations for taking messages, etc)

Ending presentations disappearing text memory game

Starting presentations disappearing text memory game

Starting meetings disappearing text memory game

Ending meetings disappearing text memory game

IELTS Writing introductions disappearing text memory game

IELTS Speaking Part Two disappearing text memory games


The third variation that I’ve used is with the same cards as jigsaw text activities, before or after putting the cards together as a jigsaw. For example, if students have just put a phone conversation with one line on each card into order, they can then turn their choice of cards over one by one, saying the whole conversation each time. However, in this variation it is impossible for students to remember every word perfectly, so you’ll also have to allow other guesses which fit the gaps.

For many other jigsaw activities, many of which are suitable for this activity as well or instead, see:

TEFLtastic classics: Jigsaw games for EFL learners

and for the other 37 most adaptable games in TEFL, see:

TEFLtastic classics parts 1 to 37




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New songs and music worksheets pages

Halfway through my big reorganisation of TEFLtastic, found that I had, for some strange reason, combined music and song worksheets on one page. Have therefore split it into two updated and expanded pages, one on music (describing and discussing music, including linking to topics like giving opinions, making recommendations, articles/ determiners and IELTS), and another with my actual song worksheets (for second conditional, collocations, prepositions, tense review, adjectives, word order, narrative tenses, etc).

Music page (new page)

Songs page (repurposed, renamed and expanded)

There are also links to songs for particular language points on many of my pages for specific topics such as Present Continuous and possessives. New list here:

Pages with suggestions for songs for specific language points for EFL learners

Action word songs

Adjectives songs

Animal vocabulary songs

Articles songs

Body vocabulary songs

Can/ Can’t songs

Clothes vocabulary songs

Colour vocabulary songs

Comparative adjectives songs

Comparative and superlative songs

Conditionals songs

Dates songs

Days of the week songs

Determiners songs

ed and ing adjectives songs

Family vocabulary songs

Feelings songs

First conditional songs

Food vocabulary songs

Imperative songs

Likes and dislikes songs

Modals songs

Months songs

Numbers songs

Opposites songs

Ordinal songs

Past continuous songs

Past Simple songs

Past tenses songs

Phonics songs

Plurals songs

Possessive adjectives songs

Possessive S songs

Possessives songs

Prepositions songs

Prepositions of movement songs

Prepositions of position songs

Prepositions of time songs

Present Continuous for future arrangements songs

Present Continuous songs

Present Perfect Continuous songs

Present Perfect songs

Present Simple and Continuous songs

Present Simple songs

Requests songs

Second conditional songs

Shapes songs

Short answers songs

Superlative songs

Telling the time songs

Tense review songs

There is/ There are songs

Third person S songs

Time expressions songs

Toys vocabulary songs

Transport vocabulary songs

Used to songs

Want/ Want to songs

Weather vocabulary songs

Will songs

Yes/ No questions songs

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