New teaching material pages winter 2016/17

As part of the big reorganisation mentioned below, created a fair few new index pages full of lots of lovely worksheets. Here they are, A to Z:

Auxiliary verbs page

Cambridge Proficiency Speaking page

ed and ing adjectives page

ESP page

Extended speaking page

Financial English page

Future desires page

Gradable and extreme adjectives page

History page

HR vocabulary page

IELTS Writing Part One line graph tasks page

IELTS Academic Writing Part One map tasks page

Keynote Intermediate page

Listening page

Offers page

PC language page

Relationships vocab page

Requests page

Shopping language page

Speaking page

Storytelling page

Topics page

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TEFLtastic teaching materials now much easier to find

Updated 14 February 2017

Thanks to the kind (and hopefully satisfied) people who bought a copy of my book, I’ve been able to turn down some particularly undesirable cover lessons and instead finally spend some serious time on sorting out TEFLtastic, starting with the naming and location of the index pages.

All pages now have the standard naming format “… games/ worksheets”, so Googling your chosen topic followed by that (e.g. “Business idioms games/ worksheets”) plus maybe the name “TEFLtastic” should hopefully bring a relevant page up (Google usually being preferable to the actual TEFLtastic search function).

If that doesn’t work, I’ve also sorted out the index pages so that they are in more logical locations and simplified the top worksheets page so that it only includes the main pages, which are now:

Classroom materials main index pages, in alphabetical order

Academic English (EAP) games/ worksheets

Business English games/ worksheets

Cultural training games/ worksheets for EFL classes

Cutting Edge games/ worksheets

EFL exams games, worksheets, videos and teaching tips

English File 1 games/ worksheets

English for architects games/ worksheets

English for artists games/ worksheets

English for designers games/ worksheets

English for landscape designers and gardeners games/ worksheets

English for Specific Purposes games/ worksheets

Functional language games/ worksheets

Grammar games/ worksheets

Inside Out games/ worksheets

Japanese learners of English games/ worksheets

Korean learners of English games/ worksheets

Landmark Advanced games/ worksheets

Learner training games/ worksheets for EFL learners

Legal English games/ worksheets

Listening games/ worksheets

Medical English games/ worksheets

Natural English Intermediate games/ worksheets

New Headway Pre-Intermediate games/ worksheets

Numbers games, worksheets, stories and songs for EFL learners

Presentations games/ worksheets for EFL learners

Pronunciation games/ worksheets

Reading games/ worksheets

Songs and music games/ worksheets for EFL learners

Speaking games/ worksheets

Teacher training games/ worksheets for TEFL teachers

Technical English/ English for engineers games/ worksheets

Topic-based games/ worksheets

Teleconferencing and video conferencing games/ worksheets page

Telephoning games, worksheets, articles and e-book

Time expressions games, worksheets, stories and songs

Travel and tourism games/ worksheets

Trends games/ worksheets for EFL learners

Video games/ worksheets for EFL learners

Vocabulary games/ worksheets

Writing games/ worksheets for EFL learners

Young learner games, worksheets, flashcards, stories and songs for EFL learner

Clicking on those categories and then the subcategories on them (e.g. “EFL exam games/ worksheets” then “FCE games/ worksheets” then “FCE writing games/ worksheets”) should quickly bring you to a page full of the kind of stuff you need. Alternatively, you can use the dropdown menus under the photo above in the same way. These also now work slightly better given the better organisation and the fact that after 10 years I finally worked out how to list all the pages alphabetically…

If there’s anything you can’t find, please leave a comment here. And if you’d like to help me find time to do some more work on the site, please support TEFLtastic.

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How to really teach interrupting – don’t!

Teaching business meetings and academic discussions to Japanese learners means sooner or later having to deal with their real weak point – turn taking. I’ve therefore slowly built up what could well be the most comprehensive selection of teaching turn taking materials on the web, with loads of nice phrases, a mix of controlled and freer speaking activities, and even quite a few games.

Just one problem with all that – none of it has ever actually worked.

Over the years I’ve consoled myself with that classic thought after every failed PPP or TTT lesson, that by raising awareness I could perhaps be planting a seed that will sprout long after they have left my class. However, recently I’d come to the conclusion that the best approach was avoiding lessons on the topic turn taking until teaching technology includes personality transplants for students. Until, that was, a bizarre confluence of different influences all came together to make this lesson:

Things to do when you interrupt

I went in thinking it might be worth one last try, and like some Hollywood movie that final desperate roll of the dice only went and worked… My Japanese students happily interrupted each other all through the class, and some of it even lasted to the following class too.

Not sure yet what lessons to draw from that, but will share any musings or conclusions here as they pop into my head.

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New year, new name – (just) TEFLtastic

Although TEFLtastic was started up simply to help the owner/ editor of try out his (now long gone) blogging platform for teachers, I slowly worked out that I could host a whole site with the help of WordPress, and that worksheets were a lot more useful and welcome than navel gazing and attempts at humour. I therefore haven’t actually blogged for a while and was only keeping the name “TEFLtastic blog” out of habit and maybe the idea that I could dismiss all complaints about no answer keys etc with “What do you expect? It’s just a blog!”

Well, with thousands of pages of classroom materials and other publications and no actual blogging, it’s not just a blog, nor even a blog at all… So, from now on I will respond to all criticism with “Well, you get what you pay for!” and the name of the “site” is just:


Not having the word “blog” will hopefully also make it less embarrassing to look at in the teachers’ room.

If you’d like to take away my final excuse for less than perfect service, please Support TEFLtastic.

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The best of 2016 – TEFL worksheets

Photocopiable classroom activities that I’d definitely use again, in no particular order:

Good & Bad Travel English Responses (like TOEIC listening with typical, and often amusing, mistakes and confusions)

Reported Speech Extended Speaking

Reported Speech Memory Challenge

Idioms Reversi Game

Vocabulary for describing British life list dictation

Fast food vocabulary roleplays

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie First Conditional stories

Travel English Telephone, Email and Face-to-Face Dice Game

Explaining food vocabulary defining relative clauses practice

Countable and Uncountable compare your days and weeks

Clothes and accessories random pelmanism

Concession and addition coin game 

Strong and weak opinions coin game 

Prepositions of position dice games

Giving opinions on music (with music vocabulary)

Opinions on architecture (with architecture vocabulary)

Opinions on art (with art vocabulary)

Environment generalisations and recommendations (with useful language for writing reports)

Health and exercise generalisations (with useful language for writing reports)

Prepositions Stacking Game

“Like” and “Be Like” Games

Family Extended Speaking & Active Listening Practice

Defining Relative Clauses Personalised Speaking Practice

Improving your English Discussion Verb Patterns practice

Describing Common Objects Passive Voice game

Country and Nationality Statements Bluffing Games

Like & Would Like Food Roleplay Dialogue

Different Ways of Learning English Relative Clause Practice

Newspapers and News Opinions and Vocabulary

Cambridge Proficiency sentence transformations reversi game

Country and nationality words reversi

Movies Vocabulary and Self-Study Discussion

Do You Like Animals Personalised Random Pelmanism Card Game

Be and Have for Describing Appearances games

Basic Personal Questions Coin Bluffing Game

Subject Questions Free Speaking

Reported Questions Games

Learning and Using English Extended Speaking with Subject Questions

Recommending arts and media

Body Idioms problems and solutions presentation and speaking

Third Person Statements Bluffing Coin Game

Will for Spontaneous Decisions getting reactions speaking game

Opposites Hangman Spelling and Guessing Game

Cambridge First Certificate (FCE) Use of English Part 4 Sentence Transformation Hangman

Dealing with problems and complaints- step by step roleplays

Travel English Simplest Responses and Key Words Games

Future tenses in telephoning roleplays and grammar presentation

Small talk after not meeting for a while


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The best of 2016 – TEFL articles

No actual blogging in 2016, so instead two posts on my favourite stuff I’ve published this year. My own highlight was actually finally finishing a book, but I also have fond memories of these articles:

25 stupid things about Cambridge First Certificate

20 things wrong with most self-study materials

Activities that match the questions in students’ heads

50 ways to answer the phone (in English and other languages)

Cultural differences in telephoning

80 British gestures

British body language (on topics other than gestures such as bodily contact and proximity)

Rude gestures in the UK (divided off to make the ones above family friendly U certificate articles)

How to end phone calls smoothly and politely

The most useful can/ can’t for ability activities

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More new stuff in 2016


Updated 27 December 2016

On top of loads of new stuff on Xmas, telephoning, Cambridge Proficiency, etc that I’ve already mentioned, have put up these new articles and photocopiable materials in the rest of this year:


How to teach shopping language

Differences between British and American emails


Gradable and extreme adjectives discuss and agree – NEW

Concession and addition coin game – NEW

Strong and weak opinions coin game – NEW

Prepositions of position dice games

Vocabulary for describing British life list dictation

26 Making Arrangements Roleplays

Giving opinions on music (with music vocabulary)

Brainstorming music vocabulary

Describing your job extended speaking

Fast food vocabulary roleplays

ed and ing adjectives discuss and agree

Environment generalisations and recommendations (with useful language for writing reports)

Health and exercise generalisations (with useful language for writing reports)

Prepositions Stacking Game

Word Formation Brainstorming games

Gradable and Extreme Adjectives- Anecdotes Game

“Like” and “Be Like” Games

Learning and Using English Monologues- Active Listening Practice

Describing Jobs with -ed and -ing Adjectives

Describing hobbies with -ed and -ing adjectives

Cambridge First Certificate (FCE) Speaking the Same or Different?

Reported Speech Memory Challenge

Months and Dates Vocabulary

Colour Word Jigsaws

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie First Conditional stories

Family Extended Speaking & Active Listening Practice

Describing Appearances with ‘be’ and ‘have’

Defining Relative Clauses Personalised Speaking Practice

Opinions on architecture (with architecture vocabulary)

Opinions on art (with art vocabulary)

Improving your English Verb Patterns

Describing Common Objects using the Passive Voice

Country and Nationality Statements- Bluffing Games

Like & Would Like- Food Roleplay Dialogue

Cambridge First Certificate (FCE) Comparing Different Writing Tasks

Different Ways of Learning English Relative Clause Practice

Newspapers and News- Opinions and Vocabulary

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New Xmas worksheets

Updated 12 January 2017

More seasonal cheer for specific language points:

Xmas and New Year negotiations – NEW

Describing Japanese and British Xmas and New Year – NEW

Seasonal trends meetings practice (language of trends tied in with festivals and celebrations, starting with Xmas) – NEW

Xmas shopping roleplays (with typical phrases for shoppers and shop staff and lots of Xmas vocab)

Xmas food restaurant roleplays (with typical phrases for diners and servers)

Festivals and celebrations rules (discussing how a company should deal with seasonal events, starting with Xmas, for modal verbs)

Telephoning on festivals and celebrations (starting with ones about Xmas)

Business meetings on festivals and celebrations (starting with discussion of office rules around Xmas)

For older Xmas worksheets on future tenses, conditionals, passive, numbers, trends, past tenses, present tenses, etc, etc, see here:

Xmas and New Year games, worksheets, flashcards, videos, songs and teaching ideas


Posted in Cultural differences/ cultural training, Modals, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Telephoning | 1 Comment

Seasonal pages just updated

Just in case 43 articles and worksheets on the topic of Xmas and New Year wasn’t enough for you, have added one more plus a link to my festivals and celebrations page in case you want to mention the time of year without overdoing it:

Xmas and New Year games, worksheets and songs

And have a few more up my sleeve which should go on there soon.

Posted in Cultural differences/ cultural training | 2 Comments

TEFL reversi/ TEFL Othello (TEFLtastic classics part 26)

Updated 12 January 2017

This is a revival of a long-running series of posts on TEFL activities that are so good and so adaptable that you have to stop yourself from using them too much. For the 25 other instalments, see here.

Like so many of the ideas on this site, this one was borrowed from Mario Rinvolucri and then adapted so many times over the years that I’ve probably managed to convince some young whippersnappers that I made it up myself. It’s a particularly good game for practising sentence transformations from FCE, CAE and CPE, but is also great for any language that students might want to learn two versions of, e.g. phrasal verbs and equivalent non-phrasal verb expressions.

The original game was simply TEFL Othello, with the same board and two-sided pieces in black and white. The TEFL addition is having words, phrases, sentences etc on either side of the card that can be converted to the other side of the card (in both directions), e.g. direct speech like “I said ‘I have too many bananas’” on one side and “I said that I had too many bananas” on the other. Students place their cards on the board like normal Othello pieces, but to be allowed to turn over pieces which are the other colour they need to say (exactly) what is written on the other side.

This is a great game for memorising because the students are motivated to repeat the same transformations again and again, but it takes forever to explain the rules, especially if they don’t know the original game of Othello. Then some groups can be so slow they don’t finish a game by the end of the class. I therefore have simplified it in two different ways.

A variation which is simpler to explain but even more challenging on their memories is for each pair/ group to put the cards on the table in a column, which is meant to represent a ladder. To win the game, a student has to go all the way from the bottom of the ladder to the top, saying what is on the other side of each card without making any mistakes. If they are correct about what is on the other side of a card, the card stays turned over so that the next person has to do the transformation the other way round. If the student whose turn it is makes a mistake on one card, e.g. the fourth one from the bottom, that card stays the same way round, they slip all the way down to the bottom of the ladder, and play passes to the next person. Everyone has to try to go all the way from the bottom of the ladder to the top in one go without mistakes, including when they try again (and again..)

Students tend to get tired well before the end of this game, in which case I allow them two minutes to memorise both sides of the cards and/ or ask them to work together to get all the way up with no mistakes (still slipping to the bottom and trying again if they make any kind of error).

If the ladder game is likely to be too challenging, students can play an easier one where they spread the cards at random across the table and are allowed to choose which one they want to guess the opposite side of each time. Similar to the ladder game, each student continues until they make a mistake, but in this game they have a choice next time if they want to do the same cards again or try different ones. There are two ways of scoring this game. One is for the longest string of correct guesses during the whole game, e.g. one person who managed six cards before making a mistake, winning the game. For bigger scores and so maybe more motivation, you can just give one point for each correct guess of what is on the other side of the cards during the whole game (likely to lead to at least 20 points each).

Any of the three variations on the game can be played with any of these language points (in approximate order of how often I would the use the game with that point):

–       A mix of typical language points for exam sentence transformations (e.g. unreal past, reported speech, etc for FCE)

–       Passive and active

–       Reported speech and direct speech

–       Formal and informal (e.g. formal and informal emailing phrases)

–       Words and phrases meaning the same thing (e.g. different equally important alternative presentations phrases like “Yes, please go ahead” and “Yes, what’s your question, please?”, to stop them repeating the same phrases all the time)

–       Phrasal verbs and non-phrasal verb equivalents (e.g. “look after” and “take care of”)

–       Slang and more standard equivalents (e.g. “knackered” and “tired”)

–       Other idioms and non-idiomatic equivalents (e.g. “out of the blue” and “unexpectedly”)

–       Country and nationality words

–       British and American English

–       Opposites (e.g. “hot” and “cold”, or “cheaper” and “more expensive”)

–       Gradable and extreme adjectives (e.g. “hot” and “boiling”)

–       Different parts of speech, e.g. “type” and “typist”

–       Countable and uncountable equivalents (e.g. “advice” and “recommendations”)

–       Direct and indirect questions (e.g. “What’s your mobile number?” and “Can you tell me what your mobile number is?”)

–       Infinitive and Past Simple forms

–       Positive and negative sentences (e.g. “I have some time” and “I don’t have any time”)

–       Question form and statement form (e.g. “Does he like cheese?” and “He likes cheese”)

–       Unreal past and more basic tenses to describe the real situation (e.g. “I wish I hadn’t bumped into him that morning” and “I bumped into him that morning”)

–       Male and female forms (“waiter” and “waitress”, “lion” and “lioness”, etc)

The formal and informal phrases and phrases with the same meaning versions can be useful for:

–       Emailing language

–       Telephoning language

–       Meetings language

–       Meeting people (and meeting people again) language

–       Academic language

More explanation in an article of mine on the topic:

15 variations on TEFL reversi

And here are some I made earlier:

Affixes with opposite meanings reversi –  NEW

Cambridge Proficiency sentence transformations reversi game

Country and nationality words reversi

FCE key word transformations reversi

Phrasal verbs reversi game

 Classroom language reversi

Key word transformation reversi – Version from one exam, so includes more obscure points

Key word transformations for modals of speculation/ deduction (on Sandy Millin’s blog)

Reported Speech key word sentence transformations

First Certificate emailing phrases sentence transformations game

Idioms reversi game

Email and letter phrases key word sentence transformations

Meetings language reversi

Academic English synoyms reversi

More coming soonish.


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