TEFLtastic Classics update

My last post was mostly of a promise of things to come, so I thought I’d prove that it was worth coming back with an update on how many links my other TEFLtastic Classics posts have accumulated over the years. Most numerous top:

85 EFL drawing games

64 EFL board games

60 simplest responses games

54 EFL bluffing games/ lying games

50 snap and pelmanism in EFL classes links

47 coin games for EFL classes

46 EFL dice games

46 alternative error correction techniques and materials

45 learning grammar through body language and gestures links

44 EFL finding things in common games

39 The Same or Different games

33 EFL jigsaw games

31 extended speaking PDFs

30 giving advice activites to practise other language PDFs

30 EFL sentence completion games

25 TEFL reversi/ TEFL Othello PDFs

24 rotating revision board games

24 prepositions and determiners pairwork guessing games

21 longer phrases card games

21 key words card games

20 tips and useful phrases PDFs

19 small talk for specific language points PDFs

19 politeness competition games

19 functions card games

19 discussing your week(end) to practise particular language worksheets

15 ask and tell personalised questions coin game

14 make me say yes game PDFs

14 cultural differences and useful phrases PDFs

13 TEFL dominoes PDFs

13 numbers pairwork guessing game PDFs

10 good and bad responses PDFs

10 disappearing text memory game PDFs

8 accusations game PDFs

8 meeting criteria game PDFs

8 list dictation guessing game PDFs

8 discuss and agree PDFs

It strikes me that some of those near the bottom like Discuss and Agree have the potential to be as horribly over-exploited as the ones near the top, so expect many more updates soon.

Posted in Photocopiable worksheets, TEFL games | Tagged | 1 Comment

Mix and match (TEFLtastic Classics Part 43)

Updated 5 April 2021

This has been by far the most popular activity in my young learner classes recently.

I’ve often used the classic picture book (Do You Like) Ketchup on Your Cornflakes?, in which the top and bottom halves of the page are turned to make silly matches like “Do you like custard on your head?” and sensible matches like “Do you like a rubber duck in your bath?” I’ve also used similar picture books that are more like the drawing game consequences, with the top, middle and bottom flaps being the top, middle and bottom of a person, animal or monster, sometimes with text describing the combination of the three things. However, it only recently occurred to me how adaptable the idea of turning parts of the page to make silly and sensible matches can be, especially if you do it with few or no pictures. And if you also do it cut up into cards and/ or as a table of possible phrases, you could probably do Mix and Match activities with at least four different language points before students get bored.

Here are some photocopiable Mix and Match games I prepared earlier, most of which are given as a book, cards and single-page table:

Prepositions of position mix and match– NEW

Can you eat your house? abilities mix and match

Xmas mix and match (third person S, Present Simple and Xmas vocabulary)

Jobs mix and match (with “is” and “have”)

Is a Diamond Cuter than your Mother? comparative adjectives mix and match

Can a Kangaroo Drink Your Blood? animal abilities mix and match

Don’t Listen to Your Chair! classroom instructions imperative mix and match

Is a cockroach pretty? adjectives and animals mix and match

Is a rainbow brown? colours mix and match

Does this room have twelve toes? – have with numbers mix and match

Is there/ Are there plus prepositions mix and match (“Are there four socks in the zoo?”)

Present Simple for daily routines (“Do you eat your homework in the middle of the night?” etc)

Months and colours (“Are the fireworks in summer grey?” etc)

Questions with colour words (“Do you want black teeth?” etc)

Weather, clothes, times and Present Continuous (“It’s winter. I’m wearing nothing and I’m going to school” etc, originally made to supplement a particular YL textbook)

In a slight variation, I’ve also done one where the top part must be used in order to tell a story but the other parts can be changed to make the story sensible or silly:

Fairy tales colours mix and match

Other Mix and Match PDFs which I’ve made, used and put in the queue to go up include:

Adjectives and animals (“Is a hippo thin?” etc)

Prepositions (“Is your nose in your pants?” etc)

Present Continuous and prepositions (“A spider is swimming in the library” etc)

Colours and numbers (“Do you have eight colourless legs?” etc)

And it should also work for:

Past Simple (“Did you wake up just before this class?” etc)

Future (“Are you going to do your next homework the year after next?” etc)

Comparative (“Are you taller than this building?” etc)

Conditionals (“Will you quit your job if it rains?” etc)

Past Continuous (“I was taking a bath when a bird pooed on my shoulder” etc)

The best activity is for students to take turns making their partner’s silly sentence into a sensible one and then making a silly one for the next person to fix. However, some classes just like making more and more silly sentences until they get totally hysterical, while others seem to almost disapprove of the silly sentences but take great pleasure in making the “correct” matches, so I tend to go with the flow.

Making your own version is more of a challenge. I’ve never managed Nick Sharratt’s amazing feat of every match but one being silly, so my aim is usually simply to have at least one silly match and one sensible one for each flap, with more matches usually coming up naturally without the need to specifically plan it. Even with that reasonable aim, Mix and Match turned out not to work for some I tried such as days of the week and “Are there…?” with numbers. If you do manage to make your own versions, would be very happy to link to them from here.

42 other super-adaptable games and activities here.

Posted in pre-school/ kindergarten/ very young learners, Teaching young learners, Using storybooks | Tagged | Leave a comment

New Teaching Presentations Skills e-book

Like all my e-books for teachers, this new one has over 300 pages of photocopiable worksheets for just three quid, with a mix of polished up classics and totally new materials, and with detailed indexes and instructions to help find and use that stack of useful stuff. Teaching Presentation Skills: Interactive Classroom Activities also works particularly well as a book, as it leads teachers and students through the steps of choosing a presentation topic, planning it, rehearsing and getting feedback, with plenty of different activities for each stage. So, well worth a penny a page, I think you’ll agree, even for those who already have my free presentations materials. And if you haven’t bought anything of mine recently, perhaps you could consider it your TEFLtastic subscription for the 2020/2021 academic year?

Teaching Presentation Skills: Interactive Classroom Activities – NEW

Posted in Business English and ESP, English for Academic Purposes, Photocopiable worksheets, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, TEFL e books | Leave a comment

New TEFL stuff summer 2020

This is usually the time of year when I prove how busy I’ve been while the rest of you have been dossing off on the beach or getting paid to herd around kids in identical backpacks, and also make sure you don’t miss stuff that’s appeared while you’ve had better things to think about and which could be useful when you get back to the usual routine. Looking at the weird fluctuations of my blog stats (not that I often do that, of course), I’m guessing there is not yet a new normal in TEFL, so who knows how useful this could be this year… Anyway, here are the 32 new PDFs, five new articles (and kind of articles), and five new index pages, with the newest top of each section.

New TEFL e-books summer 2020

Teaching Presentation Skills: Interactive Classroom Activities


New TEFL articles summer 2020

How to teach silent letters to EFL learners

How to teach English greetings

41 ways to say goodbye in English

35 ways to say hello in English


New lists of useful language for EFL students and teachers

400 words with silent letters, arranged by level

and see the greetings stuff above


New TEFL photocopiables summer 2020

Words with silent letters hangman – NEW

Verbs with ‘back’problems and solutions

Verbs with ‘back’roleplays

Words with silent letters the same or different

Verb plus gerund and infinitive sentence completion games

Silent letters and homophones

Feelings adjectives sounds game (with gradable and extreme adjectives)

Silent letters storytelling activity

Silent letters odd one out game

Do you want…? phonics games

How many… are there? spelling games

Is it a/ an…? with adjectives pick and draw

Present Continuous and prepositions of position drawing game

Verb patterns with reporting verbs activities

Describing festivals and celebrations subject questions practice

Design an aquarium (with lots of sea life vocabulary)

Weather, clothes, times and Present Continuous mix and match

Gerunds and infinitives storytelling activity

Past, present and future weekends storytelling

Good and bad subject questions speaking game

Adverbs of frequency and likes/ dislikes

Indirect questions extended speaking

House, family and prepositions games

Be with nouns and adjectives games

Stronger and weaker hedging language

CPE Use of English sentence transformations on speculating language

Does he/ she/ it have…? drawing and coin games

Colours, numbers and shapes collaborative drawing game

Present Perfect and the future sentence completion games

Present Continuous and like with -ing sounds and questions

Should and should have things in common

Life events vocabulary speaking

How questions practice roleplays


New index pages summer 2020

Daily routines page

Silent letters page

Household vocabulary page

Business communication reviews page

Inversion page

Posted in Photocopiable worksheets | 1 Comment

New silent letters lists, article, PDFs and links

Although you can argue about the usefulness of teaching intonation, using minimal pairs, etc, I don’t think anyone can fail to appreciate the usefulness and instant impact of learning which letters in words are written but not pronounced. For example, this is also the only pronunciation point I’d teach to IELTS students who are taking the exam quite soon.

Unlike my last two new pages, this one is almost all new content, with a new list of 400 words with silent letter by level (for Elementary learners, Pre-Int learners, etc), a new article on how to present and practise silent letters, a few brand new PDFs, and links to the least bad of the related songs and picture books which I could find:

Silent letters games, worksheets, stories and songs – NEW

More PDFs and a silent letters poem also coming soon.

Posted in Photocopiable worksheets, Pronunciation | 1 Comment

New daily routines vocabulary page

Yet another vital page that I somehow forgot to make for 13 years, in this case on “get up”, “have a shower”, “eat breakfast”, etc. Finishing an article and more worksheets on the topic at the moment, but in the meantime there are four PDFs, one song, six stories/ picture books, and links to related language points:

Daily routines games, worksheets, stories and songs – NEW

Posted in Present simple for routines etc., Vocabulary games | Leave a comment

How I accidentally became a TEFL scab

Getting back to work has been a very mixed bag for me here in Japan. On my regular Sundays I was down for the youngest and lowest level students who couldn’t really study online, so that was cancelled. Almost all my corporate classes were in one manufacturing company that reduced the number of classes as part of an emergency cost-cutting scheme, so that has been cancelled too. However, there has been a surprisingly high number of lessons for a school which I often do cover days for.

I say surprisingly high because that school paid all their regular teachers in full during lockdown but said that they needed to make the lost lessons up when things got back to normal. I therefore thought that they’d be covering everything and there wouldn’t be anything left for freelancers like me. However, it turns out that the regular teachers weren’t so happy about that plan.

About one month into an almost full-time schedule of cover days for that school, someone asked me “So, how have you been affected by the strike?” I couldn’t answer that question then, not having heard of the strike at all, but it turns out that how I was affected was that the strike was keeping me in work. Like a great depression strike-breaker or 1980s miners’ strike scab, I was at least partly being bussed in to reduce the effect of the strike, and so presumably was helping the management’s hand in negotiations and reducing the power of the union.

It was a bit of a shock for me to be in this situation. As a teenager, I was the only person in our district (and perhaps the only person ever?) to join the Young Enterprise Scheme for budding capitalists and then end up appointing myself “workers’ representative” in opposition to my classmates in the management.

However, maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised that I was now hindering rather than helping workers’ rights. Since then, collective action (and indeed collective anything) hasn’t really been my strong point. Instead of organising or even joining teachers’ action, I’ve usually just emailed management saying everything that is wrong, like some kind of TEFL Jerry Maguire. However, quitting in a huff and hoping that might somehow help the teachers who are left has probably been as successful as Jerry Maguire was, especially as I usually have to say “There is no way that I can work under conditions like… I quit! But if you have any part-time classes or cover lessons…”

So, the moral of all of this is – don’t be like me. Collective action is the only way. The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Freelancer might be better for some, but for the industry to improve it must instead be one for all and all for one.

Posted in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, TEFL strikes, TEFL unions, TEFL working conditions | 4 Comments

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.

Posted in Household vocabulary, Photocopiable worksheets | Leave a comment

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)
Posted in Teaching English as a Foreign Language | Tagged | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in Telephoning | Leave a comment