New household vocabulary page

I’m planning to write an article or two on the topic, but so far already have 16 PDFs on rooms and furniture vocabulary, plus links to five related picture books, four related songs, my architecture page, my (newly tidied up) describing places page, related grammar points like there is/ there are, etc.

Household vocabulary games, worksheets, stories and songs

Suggestions for more games, stories, songs, etc gratefully accepted.

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New ideas for coronavirus changes for EFL classes

Perhaps to justify teaching face to face when the infection numbers are as high as during lockdown, my schools have introduced and proposed some additional measures that you and your schools could also consider. They are also looking for more similar ideas, if you have any.

  • Provide tongs for teachers to use while handling photocopies for students
  • Get students to fetch their own copies from the photocopier (so the teacher doesn’t handle them first)
  • Use old (pre-COVID 19) photocopies from the scrap paper tray to make disposable covers for classroom chairs and/ or tables
  • Get the teachers to type out what they are saying as they are saying it (to make up for the noise of open doors and extractor fans, the teacher speaking through a mask, etc – but also something that many students would appreciate having normally anyway)
  • Draw a mouth on the teacher’s mask (as it’s more difficult to fake-smile with your eyes)
  • Print out a lifesize colour photo of each teacher’s smiling face (always on the wall to make up for masking the real constant smile, or to hold up to give particular encouragement)
  • Train teachers in using even more extreme body language and gestures (thumbs way up in the air, etc, to make up for facial expressions being hidden)
  • Spend as much time in different rooms as possible (roleplaying not wanting to let someone into the room or not wanting to come in, roleplaying phoning someone before you come over to check that it’s okay to visit, doing a listening comprehension as if you are overhearing shouting neighbours through your wall, etc)
  • Put masks over the CD player and computer speakers (to get students used to how they will hear the teacher and other people speaking English from now on)
  • Put a clear plastic screen across the classroom between the teacher and students (as my student’s high school does), then get teachers to write on it with mirror writing (to get past not being able to properly read what is on the whiteboard behind that screen)
  • Put a GoPro camera under the teacher’s mask (to help with pronunciation work, and for students who had subconsciously been semi-lipreading to help with comprehension)
  • Provide a plastic “tongue glove” that teachers can put on so that they can safely take off their masks briefly to show mouth position
  • Film the teacher’s face with a heat-sensitive infrared camera (so that students can see their mouth position through their mask, but also so there is instant notice of the teacher becoming feverish)
  • Ban speaking in the teacher’s room (to stop spreading germs through droplets, but also useful to stop the spread of dissatisfaction with the present teaching situation)
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New articles on telephoning page

With 10 articles on telephoning and teaching telephoning already up and about 10 more to add soon, thought it was worth tidying up my telephone English worksheets page by moving the articles to a page of their own:

Telephone English articles

Will be regularly updated, started with three new articles next month.

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New Teaching Telephoning e-book out now!

While the rest of you were taking up new hobbies and having Zoom parties (?), I used my lockdown to finally keep my promise to those who were kind enough to buy a copy of my one of my previous e-books by writing another. And here is the result:

Teaching Telephoning: Interactive Classroom Activities – NEW

It has over 300 pages of photocopiables on every aspect of using the phone for formal and friendly business and personal calls, including all your favourite TEFLtastic activities like jigsaw texts, coin and dice games, card games, and pairwork information gaps. There are also plenty of materials on language which is just as useful for other skills like small talk, checking/ clarifying and tense reviews.

Teaching Telephoning can be used for everything from a whole course for business students to just a one-off lesson for Elementary students who might use the phone in English someday, and I’ve hopefully kept it cheap enough that everyone can afford a copy, at less than a penny a page. Buying a copy will also help me continue the writing schedule that I started in lockdown and get some more useful worksheets, articles and e-books up. My latest project is finishing, polishing up and choosing the best of my hundreds of grammar worksheets for an e-book on teaching tenses, so I’m going to need some encouragement to get all the way through that!

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New TEFL PDFs and articles 2020 Q2

Loads on my new favourite topics reporting verbs, verb patterns and subject questions, but also business communication reviews, social English, tenses, inversion, there is/ are, crime vocabulary, clothes vocabulary, animal vocabulary, academic writing (specifically the neglected topic of writing academic bios), word formation, writing reports, language of opinions, time expressions, CPE, passive voice, numbers, conjunctions, etc. (See the index pages on all those topics for more PDFs and teaching tips on each).

Arranged more or less with the newest top (possibly meaning with the most useful for you bottom):

New TEFL articles 2020 Q2

How to teach question formation (basic object questions, subject questions, indirect questions/ embedded questions, etc)

How to teach verb plus gerund and infinitive

How to teach conversational reactions (“That’s a shame”, “No way!”, etc – often the missing step in student conversations)

How to teach reporting verbs (by far the most important and useful part of reported speech)

How to teach starting and ending conversations


New TEFL PDFs 2020 Q2

Present Progressive for the present and future simplest responses game

Small talk questions with how roleplays

Is there…? Are there any…? coin drawing game

It is/ They are with adjectives pick and draw

Cambridge Proficiency (CPE) Use of English practice of inversion (mainly for sentence transformations, but including other parts too)

Inversion presentation and practice

Language learning materials reviews (learner training and useful vocabulary for reviews)

Whose…? possessive adjectives drawing games

Meeting people and small talk yes/no questions games (a nice warmer for social English and yes/ no questions)

Present Perfect and countable/ uncountable competition game

Ranking weak and strong opinion phrases

Reporting on reports (useful language for talking about and writing reports, including hedging/ generalising)

Meeting for the first time and again needs analysis and questions review (a nice first lesson for social English, question formation, or indeed any course where students are meeting you or each other for the first time)

Unreal past sentence completion games

Times discuss and agree (discussion to practise time expressions)

First contact brainstorming and jigsaw (email, telephone and face to face)

First contact functions card game (good practice after the activities above)

Cambridge Proficiency (CPE) Use of English Part 4 Sentence Transformations on verb patterns

Describing social issues with the passive voice

Life events vocabulary speaking (ask and tell coin game and storytelling, with collocations and word formation practice)

Different ways of saying numbers reversi memory game

Animals guessing game and discussion

Subject questions discussion activities

Subject questions trivia quizzes

Dictating longer and longer checking/ clarifying games – UPDATED

Classroom language for Zoom classes activities

How questions simplest responses game

How questions and answers the same or different

Reporting verbs the same or different

Names of jobs subject questions quiz

Suffixes for describing people subject questions quiz

Advice on academic bios for different situations

People related to crime subject questions quiz

Subject questions about this class

Subject questions personalised quizzes

Subject questions drawing game (with animal vocabulary and clothes vocabulary)

Prepositions with reporting verbs activitie

Academic bios tips and connecting expressions practice

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Linking learner training and specific language points

I was wondering recently why my learner training page isn’t more popular, because what could be better than getting students to discuss how to learn a language while also practising the language point of the day? Then when I actually went on that page to add a new link, realised that it wasn’t really set up to make that double purpose clear. Have therefore now re-arranged it to make it easy to find worksheets for both the vocab, grammar or functions of the day and to get students sharing ideas for boosting their progress more generally. And have also put it all here:

Worksheets linking grammar and learner training

Comparative and superlative learner training worksheets

Self-study tips discussion comparative adjectives practice

The best ways to learn English (self-study discussion and superlatives presentation and practice)

Modal verbs learner training worksheets

Language learning advice modal verbs practice

Needs analysis and language learning rules (modals)

Adverbs learner training worksheets

Discussion about language learning with adverbs of frequency

Adverbs of manner language learning discussion

New Year resolutions adverbs of frequency (going to for plans and learner training)

Other grammar practice learner training worksheets

Countable and uncountable nouns language learning discussion

Language learning problems and solutions verb patterns practice and presentation

Different ways of learning English relative clauses practice

Learning and using English monologues (with subject questions presentation)

Top language learning tips articles practice

Language problems with so, such, too and enough


Worksheets linking vocabulary and learner training

Language learning materials reviews (useful vocabulary for reviews and learner training discussion) – NEW

Movies vocabulary and self-study discussion


Worksheets linking functional language and learner training

Language learning preferences and desires

Learning and using English monologues active listening practice

Language learning likes and preferences (with self-study discussion and like and would like presentation)

Advice for language learning problems

Language learning opinions

Language learning advice modal verbs practice


Worksheets linking learner training and EFL exams

Self-study for FCE discussion (set up like a Speaking Part Three task)

FCE Speaking Part Three language learning tasks and useful phrases

FCE Speaking Part Four on communication and language learning

IELTS Speaking Part Three on the topic of language learning (self-study skills and opinions language, with typical question stems


42 more infinitely adaptable TEFL ideas here.

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Social distancing variations on TEFLtastic classics

I was planning to do a whole blog post or article on how to play classic TEFL games online and/ or with maximum distancing in the classroom. However, with 42 activities to both work out how to use in my classes and write about, it became obvious that I’d never finish such a grand plan. So instead I’ve started leaving comments on my TEFLtastic Classics posts with ideas for how to change or replace TEFL games and activities in the new normal. Comments on my comments, requests for more ideas and other suggestions gratefully accepted. 42 of the most adaptable activities in TEFL plus numerous variations are here:

TEFLtastic Classics Parts 1 to 42

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Teaching Social English Second Edition out now!

Before using my lockdown time to finish off some new books, I thought I’d fix some typos, add some newer worksheets and fix the so-called “invitations roleplays” that turned out to be nothing of the sort in my first book for teachers. One month later and I’d also polished up every page with clearer instructions and/ or more useful language, cut out a few of the less useful worksheets and added over 50 extra pages. And here it is:

Teaching Social English: Interactive Classroom Activities 2nd Ed.

As well as getting a book packed full of useful language and stimulating practice for topics which are vital for both face-to-face and online communication like first contact and small talk, buying a copy will help me be able to spend more time on writing when things go back to normal, starting with books on teaching telephoning, presentations and IELTS Writing, then my half-finished books on teaching FCE, tenses, functional language, Technical English, etc, etc, etc…

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New index pages April and May 2020

Some of these are quite small at the moment, but I’m presently writing worksheets and articles for all those which are short at the moment, and will be updating them and/ or this list as often as I can:

Starting and ending presentations page– NEW 15 May 2020

Prefixes games/ worksheets

CPE Use of English games/ worksheets

Gerund and infinitive games/ worksheets

Reporting verbs games/ worksheets

Consonant clusters games/ worksheets

Minimal pairs games/ worksheets

Rhyming words games/ worksheets

Word stress games/ worksheets

Pronunciation lists

Functional language lists

100 useful phrases lists

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Teaching checking/ clarifying on and for Zoom

Even more than face to face, the classroom language most needed for online classes is definitely checking/ clarifying phrases like “Can you say that one more time (more slowly)?”, “Can you say that another way?”, “Did you say… (or…)?” and “How do you spell…?” It’s also vital for things which are particularly good on Zoom etc such as telephoning and drawing dictations. However, there are (as I’ve been writing quite a lot recently) complications. Here are a few:

  • Students and even the teacher can easily get mixed up between the real communication problems that are inevitable in online classes and whatever communication problems are included in the practice activities for checking/ clarifying phrases. Therefore at least the beginning of the activity will need to be easy and/ or quite artificial.
  • Giving something to just one person to say so other people genuinely need to check/ clarify what they are saying can be quite complicated online. Therefore, you might want to start with quite a fake situation such as someone deliberately making mistakes with things on a list that everyone can see for other people to correct. Alternatively, you could start by asking students to make up their own things to say for the other people to check so that there’s no need to share lists. (See my post on drawing games for how to share stuff with individual students if you do want to do it that way).
  • If you want students to make up their own things to say/ dictate for other people to check, you’ll need to set it up carefully so that students aren’t saying things that are too easy to need clarification but that they are avoiding things which are too difficult to understand even with clarification, and also that they aren’t saying things that they aren’t clear about themselves (which can cause more and more confusion as the other students try to check what is being said).
  • If you want students to do it in groups in breakout rooms, you’ll need to set up a very structured activity and/ or give them lots of language that they’ll need. For example, to practise numbers and checking/ clarifying in pairs or groups online, you’ll probably need Student A and Student B worksheets with figures and at least two ways to pronounce each figure so that they can explain another way
  • If you’re not splitting into groups , you’ll need to keep every involved. For example, you could have one person say something, the other people take turns asking as many checking/ clarifying questions as they can, and finally anyone who can’t think of any more suitable questions writes down what was said

Although I’ve written and shared an article, 222 phrases and 17 photocopiables on checking/ clarifying over the years, nothing quite seemed right for my Zoom classes. After a night of restless tossing and turning in thought, I eventually came up with a lesson where students get each other to say numbers and words that get longer and longer by one figure/ letter each time, with a bit of pretending to have communication problems for more intensive practice of the functional language. It also involves them working together collaboratively on the same screen, which is a good real-life skill (especially nowadays) and as a lead-in to or further practice of other classroom language for Zoom lessons.

And here it is:

Dictating longer and longer checking/ clarifying games

I’m planning to follow this with something on understanding and pronouncing numbers, then to practise it with a bit more context as part of leaving messages on the phone. Will let you know how that goes…

Posted in clarifying, Functional language | 3 Comments