New teaching English ideas and materials summer 2016

A comparatively small supply by my standards due to spending some time polishing up and trying to sell a few more copies of my book, but I guess 200 phrases, four articles and 27 worksheets isn’t bad for a summer’s work. I’m particularly fond of the article on the idiocies of FCE myself…

New lists of useful language

The 100 most useful phrases for business meetings

The 100 most useful emailing phrases

New TEFL articles

25 stupid things about Cambridge First Certificate

How to complain and deal with complaints on the phone

How to leave and take telephone messages

How to end phone calls smoothly and politely

New TEFL photocopiable classroom materials

Newspapers and News Opinions and Vocabulary

Making FCE Speaking Part Three Tasks

Language Learning Likes and Preferences

Comparing & Contrasting phrases sentence transformations

Cambridge Proficiency (CPE) Speaking Part Three on language learning

How Many Are There? Speaking Games

Movies Vocabulary and Self-Study Discussion

Do You Like Animals Personalised Random Pelmanism Card Game

Be and Have for Describing Appearances games

IELTS Academic Writing Part Two Longer Phrases

Describing Places Adjective Word Order

Basic Personal Questions Coin Bluffing Game

Subject Questions Guess The Person Game

Subject Questions Free Speaking

Nationality Words Bluffing Game

Reported Questions Games

Food and Drink Comparatives Discussion and Presentation

Basic Questions about Animals

Learning and Using English Extended Speaking with Subject Questions

Key Word Sentence Transformations The Same or Different Pairwork

Brainstorming travel vocabulary

Language learning problems with so, such, too and enough

Comparing and contrasting reviews vocabulary

Recommending arts and media

Comparing Places Comparative Adjectives Practice

Word Stress Maze Game

Modals of Deduction Guess the Sport

See posts below for more.

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New teaching like and would like page

A year or so after publishing an article on comparing and practising like for preferences and would like for desires, I’ve finally got enough worksheets up to make it worth its own page on TEFLtastic:

Like and would like games/ worksheets page

That also means that I’ve been able to sort out my also expanding likes for preferences page:

Likes and dislikes games, worksheets, stories and songs page

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What does Brexit mean for TEFL?

The answer is, of course, that nobody knows because it all depends on various negotiations and maybe individual policies of the countries involved on working visas, but here are some possibilities:

  • Americans finally have equal opportunities with Brits when it comes to jobs in the EU
  • Thousands of British TEFLers have to explain away years of cash in hand payments and other lack of paperwork as they rush to become citizens of the EU countries where they are working
  • The lack of Brits teaching TEFL in Europe boosts working conditions for those who can legally remain
  • A flow of British TEFLers out of Europe and into Asia drags the working conditions over here even further down
  • The difficulty of getting visas to take TEFL courses in Europe means even more TEFL training in Thailand (of all places)
  • The downgrading of British TEFLers in Europe spells the end for Trinity Cert TESOL courses
  • EFL students in Europe get even more unwanted romantic attention from desperate English teachers, this time from ones who are desperate for a spouse visa
  • Schools in Europe finally stop using textbooks with useless Britishisms like “a flat” and “the lift”
  • For tax and trade reasons, EFL publishers in Greece finally have to stop pretending that they are really based in someone’s granny’s flat in the suburbs of London
  • The EU makes British publishers pay for their continual misuse of the word “CEFR” on all their textbooks
  • British TEFLers join British footballers and 81% of all Americans in trying to find any reason they can to pretend they are Irish
  • There are stampedes in import food shops across Europe and the world as British TEFLers fight for the last jars of Marmite and packets of PG Tips before the import/ export rules change
  • Europeans realise that as stupid as TOEIC is, it’s no more stupid than being asked to “compare and contrast the two photos” etc in Cambridge exams
  • When an outflow of Polish plumbers is replaced by an inflow of feckless and skill-free returning TEFLers, the British realise a terrible mistake they’ve made and beg to be allowed to be let back in the EU

Earlier posts on the topic back when the whole idea seemed completely silly:

Hiberno English to become official language of EU after Brexit

Bulgaria and Romania fret over possible flood of UK TEFLers


Posted in Teaching English in Europe | Tagged | 3 Comments

New supplementary materials for Cambridge FCE textbooks pages

One whole new section created, one much expanded due to a reader motivating me to find and put up about 20 worksheets I’d forgotten about, and one just renamed to make it easier to find:

Objective First page – NEW

Complete First games/ worksheets

FCE Result games/ worksheets page (not updated for 2015 exam)

Also just created new pages for the last two parts of FCE Speaking:

FCE Speaking Part Three pdf classroom activities index page (with worksheets, article and teaching tips) – NEW

FCE Speaking Part Four pdf classroom activities index page (with worksheets and teaching tips) – NEW

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10 years of TEFLtastic!

10 years, 1700 blog posts, over 500 actual articles, nearly 2000 worksheets, over 6000 comments, about 10,000,000 page views – and it’s all happened very much by accident.

TEFLtastic started in June 2006 back when I was writing regular articles and reviews for The owner decided to start a blog platform for teachers on the site and asked me if I wanted to help him try it out by having one of the first blogs, and I said “Sure, why not?”, despite having little idea what a blog actually was.

We then nearly scrapped the idea for lack of a name. However, my first attempt at a blog post said I wanted the blog to be “TEFLtastic” (a word stolen from a colleague in Spain meaning “works really well in class, but so much like what you learnt on your CELTA you kind of feel embarrassed about it”), and the site owner said “How about that for a name?” The plan was just for a kind of online CV with links to my stuff elsewhere, but I quickly got hooked on actual blogging and for a very short while you could probably say TEFLtastic was right at the centre of the (then very small) TEFL blogging world.

Since then TEFL blogging has moved on, blogs have disappeared, TEFLtastic was moved onto, and it’s become less of a blog and more of that list of links that I originally planned, but I’m still around! If you’d like to help me to be able to spend a bit more time on the blog in the next ten years (posting the improved versions of worksheets and new stuff waiting on my hard disk, writing those answer keys that people always ask for, etc),  please support TEFLtastic.

Posted in Teaching English as a Foreign Language | 4 Comments

New TEFL stuff April and May 2016

Had a little burst of activity while I was between jobs and so briefly almost back to the good old days in terms of quantity. If you’d like to help me have more time to post such stuff, please support TEFLtastic.

New ones that I haven’t mentioned yet top of each section:


Really Learn the Most Useful Telephoning phrases e-book


How to teach ‘can’ and ‘can’t’ for ability

The most useful can/ can’t for ability activities

20 things wrong with most self-study materials

Activities that match the questions in students’ heads

How to start phone calls in English

Lists of useful language

The 100 most useful telephoning phrases

Index pages

Invitations games/ worksheets page

Objective First (FCE) games/ worksheets page

Question formation games/ worksheets page

Photocopiable classroom activities

Reported Speech Extended Speaking

Learning and Using English extended speaking (with subject questions presentation and practice)

Food from different countries bluffing game (nationality words and reported speech)

Compare the IELTS Academic Writing Part One answers (with lots of lovely language for comparing)

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

Clothes and accessories random pelmanism

Recommendations with Superlative Adjectives

Explaining food vocabulary defining relative clauses practice

Want Plus Prepositions of Position Personalised Drawing Game

Country and Nationality Words discussion questions

Cambridge First Certificate (FCE) Sentence Transformations The Same or Different (with holding up cards warmer game and typical confusions)

Countable and Uncountable compare your days and weeks

Weather Vocabulary and Making & Responding to Invitations

Comparing the different Cambridge First Certificate (FCE) Writing Tasks

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

Describing Japanese things used to practice (easily adaptable for other nationalities)

Want to and places make me say yes game

Find similarities and differences with your partner (for FCE Speaking Parts 1 and 2, but useful for other classes, especially for comparing and contrasting language)

False friends in Japanese and English contrasting practice (easily adaptable for other languages)

Comparing language Sentence Transformations

Cambridge First Certificate (FCE) Use of English Part Four Idioms Reversi Game

Explaining Japanese festivals and celebrations

Body Language and Phrases for Managing Classes (teacher training worksheet, with miming game)

Typical Cambridge First Certificate (FCE) Use of English Transformation Mistakes

Guess the Country from the Weather

FCE Speaking Part One questions on clothes and fashion

Checking/ clarifying language error correction

Brainstorming language for 0Cambridge First Certificate of English (FCE) Use of English Part Four Sentence Transformations

Health vocabulary brainstorming

FCE email and letter tasks on the topic of clothes

FCE Writing Part One essay on festivals and celebrations

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Better self-study materials

Just published two articles on the topic of improving self-study books, homework materials, etc.

20 things wrong with most self-study materials

Activities that match the questions in students’ heads

After reading them, you can check out my attempt at making better self-study, and then comment below on anything I said you should be doing and I didn’t, or anything even more important I missed:

Really Learn the Most Useful Telephoning phrases e-book

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New telephoning in English resources for students

On top of my new book on English phone calls, have just put up a list of the most important language and an article on the most important part of the call:

The 100 most useful telephoning phrases (for students, but also useful for planning classes/ writing materials)

How to start phone calls in English (ditto)

How to end phone calls smoothly and politely (ditto)

How to leave and take messages on the phone

How to make and deal with complaints on the phone – NEW

Really Learn the Most Useful Emailing Phrases e-book

More telephoning articles for students coming up in June and am also planning similar lists of useful language, articles for students and e-books on other vital areas like emailing and presentations (in the unlikely event that my masterplan works out and gives me the time…)

Posted in Telephoning | 3 Comments

The first TEFLtastic e-book – Really Learn the Most Useful Telephoning Phrases

After 20 years in TEFL and more than ten publishing my ideas and worksheets, I’ve finally put together a whole book of materials – and one that goes against almost everything I’ve done so far. First of all, it’s a self-study book that learners can use (completely) on their own. More importantly, I’ve really concentrated on giving students throrough practice of only the language they most need (rather than rushing through everything that might possibly be useful like many of my previous worksheets and most other self-study books) . To achieve that, I’ve included lots of realistic and achievable self-study speaking activities, preparation for their own real-life speaking, and training in the most efficient ways to study on their own.

If you’ve got students who this might be useful for or are just intrigued to see if the rather grand claims above are really true, it’s just $1.99 for a single student copy or $3.99 for the edition to photocopy for your whole class, available at

If the blurb above and ridiculously cheap price aren’t enough to persuade you to give it a try, I promise that if I can sell enough copies to turn down some teaching work I’ll spend the time on producing as much useful material as I can, including updating and expanding this rather sadly neglected site… Spread the word!

Posted in Self-study materials, Telephoning | 4 Comments

New question formation classroom activities pages

New pages on question formation just created, with a specific one for subject questions. That also makes the tense review page where they used to live much more manageable.

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