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

Posted in Photocopiable worksheets | Leave a comment

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

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

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

Grammar practice drawing games

Have just rearranged my list of 80 drawing game PDFs to be more organised by individual topic, and there were enough grammar ones for enough different language points to be worth a post all of their own. Will also expand this as new ones go up.

Updated 6 August 2020

Present tenses drawing games

Present Continuous drawing games

Present Continuous and prepositions of position drawing game – NEW

Who is …ing Present Continuous subject questions dice drawing games

Present Continuous and prepositions of position drawing dice game

Clothes and Present Continuous drawing game

Good and bad boys, girls and superheros Present Continuous project

Good and bad behaviour Present Continuous pictionary/ mimes

Food Present Continuous pictionary

Present Continuous and prepositions of position drawing dice game

Third person S drawing games

Does he/ she like pick and draw game

Other Present Simple drawing games

Is it a/ an with adjectives pick and draw – NEW

It is and they are with adjectives pick and draw game

It is and they are plus colours drawing game

Is and are drawing game

Are they… or…? drawing games

Days of the week pick and draw

Present Simple reading, speaking and drawing game

There is/ there are drawing games

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

How many are there pick and draw drawing games

What’s in the… there is there are pick and draw

Possessives drawing games

Whose…? possessive adjectives drawing games

Possessive, body and adjectives pick and draw

Animals and body possessive S pictionary advanced version

Possessives and adjectives pick and draw drawing game

Possessives coin drawing game

Whose is this?/ Whose are these? possessives drawing game

Possessive adjectives and personal pronouns drawing game

Possessive adjectives drawing game

It is/ They are + my/ your/ his/ her pick cards and draw game (with optional adjectives)

Clothes and possessive s drawing game

Animals and body parts drawing (possessive S)

Articles/ determiners drawing games

Is it a/ an with adjectives pick and draw – NEW

Is it…? Is it a…? nouns and adjectives with be games (including drawing and guessing) – NEW

A and an drawing game

Feelings drawing games (with a/ an practice)

Comparative and superlative drawing games

Comparative pick and draw

Which is plus comparative drawing game

Comparative adjectives drawing games

Superlatives pictionary challenge game

Question formation drawing games

Subject questions drawing game (with animals and clothes vocabulary)

Asking for details and drawing game (question formation, directions, describing places, appearance and family vocabulary)

Prepositions drawing games

Present Continuous and prepositions of position drawing game – NEW

House, family and prepositions (bluffing and drawing games)

Pronouns and prepositions pick and draw drawing game

Want to plus prepositions of position personalised drawing and speaking game

Strange body positions pictionary (prepositions on position and body)

Body parts and prepositions monsters project

Our topsy turvy school prepositions project (classroom and school vocabulary)

Adjectives and prepositions pick and draw drawing game

This that these those drawing games

This that these those pick and draw drawing game

This that these those pictionary

Modals verbs drawing games

Can & can’t drawing coin game

Prohibitions pictionary (modal verbs)

Rules and regulations pictionary (modals verbs and similar)

Have and have got drawing games

Does he/ she/ it have drawing and coin games 

Have and don’t have coin drawing

Other photocopiable grammar drawing games

Countable and uncountable pick and draw drawing game

Posted in Grammar, Grammar games, TEFL games | Tagged | 3 Comments

Drawing games on Zoom

As I’m (hopefully) only doing Zoom classes temporarily, number one in my criteria for planning lessons is to do things which are better done online than face to face. As I said in my last post, the things which I’ve found gain something from being on a screen are giving instructions, checking/ clarifying, telephoning, and drawing games. The last of those is obviously the most fun and something I have 75 pdfs for, but does need some setting up. Here are some tips:

Zoom settings for drawing games

Firstly you need to make sure annotation is enabled in your Zoom setttings. It seems that if it’s turned on for the person hosting the meeting then it’s turned on for everyone, so if you can do it in a practice Zoom session, then it’s probably already okay. However, if you want students to be able to open the whiteboard function themselves (as recommended below), then you’ll also need to enable screen sharing for participants in your settings.

Choosing drawing games for Zoom

At least the first time that you do drawing games on Zoom, it’s best to stick to Pictionary, which is simply one person choosing something from a list and drawing something for others to guess. Luckily, this can be used for all kinds of vocabulary, business skills such as presentations, grammar like Present Continuous, etc, etc, etc. Particularly if you’ve run through useful language for giving instructions on Zoom, the second best option is probably a drawing dictation, in which one person gives instructions on what another person should draw. Another option which seems good but I’ve never tried face to face is students just working together to make the best drawing that they can to match the target language, e.g. all working on a picture to contrast “He’s cutting his hair” and “He’s having his hair cut”.

Other drawing games like Pick and Draw are also possible, but need a bit more organisation and/ or training of students on using Zoom.

Sharing lists of things to draw on Zoom

If you want students to draw things from a list, you need to make sure that they all get and can see that list by doing at least two of these things:

  • emailing it out
  • using the “file” button in the chat function to share the document
  • pasting the list into the chat box
  • opening the list on your computer and sharing it with the “Share screen” function

It’s more complicated if you only want the person who is drawing to see the list, but you can copy and paste and send as a private message to just that person from the chat box. Just giving them one option for what to draw is likely to lead to problems if they don’t understand that thing (and any explanation will also have to be done through private messages in the chat function so everyone else can’t hear). However, if you send them everything then they’ll have an unfair advantage when the next person draws. I would therefore copy and paste 5 to 10 options for each student to choose from, with different options for each student. After finishing the game, you can share the whole list with everyone in the ways suggested above.

The other possibility is to split the worksheet into Student A, Student B, Student C, etc and email just one part to each student, but you’d need to be pretty confident about the number of students who will take part when you are preparing it that way.

Spaces to draw on Zoom

If you want everyone to be able to see the list while they are drawing, guessing, etc, you need to have both that and a blank space for drawing on the screen at the same time. The easiest way that I’ve found is to make the list as a Word document, open that document in Word as usual, open the Word “search” function, then share that document with the screen sharing function . You and the students can then use the mostly blank grey search box space on the left-hand side of the screen for drawing on, as well as being able to underline things etc in the list on the right-hand side. You could also of course do the same by making a blank space on one side of the Powerpoint slide etc that you create.

If only the student who is drawing should look at the options, then you just need to open a blank page for them to draw on. The easiest way is probably by clicking on the “Whiteboard” function after you click on “Share screen”, but you can all do exactly the same things on top of any blank document.

Making sure that students can draw on Zoom

Whatever document you share, students can draw on top of it by clicking on the drop-down “options” button at the top of the screen, choosing “annotate” (“comments” on the Japanese version that I’m using), then choose the symbol that looks like someone has drawn a squiggly line (called “draw a picture” in my Japanese version). As well as using a pen, they can draw straight lines, draw arrows and draw shapes. They can also draw in different colours (e.g. one colour for each student to know who has drawn what) and change the thickness of the line, all by clicking on the “format” button.

The easiest way to set this up is to start with a few minutes or even a whole lesson on instructions on Zoom (e.g. with this worksheet). Alternatively, I guess it must be possible to show them how you are doing it while you draw a few examples by using “Share desktop” when you “Share screen”.

If you have students who can’t work out how to annotate on top of documents that other people open, you can just close the document that you are sharing and get the student whose turn it is to share their screen and open “whiteboard” or another document to draw on. This is easier to explain than how to draw on top of your documents, as there is a big “share screen” button in the middle of the main menu that is easy to find and use if you put them in charge of that. If they can’t find that share screen button, they probably just need to open Zoom up to the full size of their screen.

Posted in Teaching English as a Foreign Language | 6 Comments

Useful language for Zoom lessons

After my first week of Zoom lessons, I’m more convinced than ever that students need to be specifically taught Social English (especially small talk and conversational reactions) to be able to communicate smoothly at the beginning and end of lessons on video conferencing platforms like Zoom (even more so than in face to face lessons).

During the lesson, the language that is most likely to come up and need teaching to make communication go smoothly is asking people to wait and checking/ clarifying. Both of these points are presented and practised at lot in telephoning materials. In fact, telephoning is probably easier to teach through Zoom etc than teleconferencing/ video conferencing would be. This is because it’s difficult to be in a real video conference and roleplay a pretend video conference at the same time, but you can turn the video off while practising telephone calls to clearly mark where the roleplay starts and ends, and to provide more realistic practice than you would get in a face-to-face classroom.

Finally, you can do a whole or part of a lesson specifically on instructions for Zoom lessons, teaching both language that they will need to understand and use in future lessons, and how to use the app, as in this brand new PDF of mine:

Classroom language for Zoom lessons activities

This goes well with the language of giving instructions (perhaps as requests or with the imperative). However, I did the worksheet before and after drawing games, as drawing on the whiteboard and annotating other documents is a fair chunk of most possible Zoom class instructions. Note that the instructions which students can follow and give each other will depend a lot on what you’ve done with your Zoom settings, and this worksheet will need to be substantially rewritten if you are using different software for video lessons.

This are just my initial ideas one week into reluctantly agreeing to do online lessons, so feedback on the worksheet, more suggested classroom language, etc, etc gratefully accepted.

Posted in Distance learning, online games, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Technology | Leave a comment

New Social English articles page

Teaching my first two Zoom lessons yesterday showed me that, as I suspected, students need even more help online than face to face when it comes to smoothly starting and ending conversations, small talk, conversational reactions, etc. Luckily, I’ve written eight articles (including one new one) and two lists of useful language on the topic, and have lots more coming soon, all here:

Social English articles– NEW


Posted in Social English | 1 Comment