How to make the most of English File

Here are a few practical ideas on how to exploit all materials that go with the English File series.

Do less but more thoroughly

Take advantage of how skills sections (reading, listening, and writing) are designed in the book. Make sure you have a good lead-in to skills practice and an engaging follow-up activity that will give students an opportunity to discuss the content and express themselves in speaking. Check that when introducing vocabulary or grammar you are going through controlled and freer practice stages. Don’t try to use all the materials in one class, save additional resources from the Teacher’s Book for revisions in the following class.

Use the workbook more

The workbook does not have to be reserved for homework. You can pick materials that can be useful to you when revising grammar and vocabulary or use an extra listening or reading. Turn homework check into a revision activity – make sure students compare answers in pairs and negotiate them. When covering grammar ask them to explain their choices referring to specific rules learnt in class. Shift the responsibilities – let the students feel they need to know the answers and that they can depend on each other before they ask you to confirm the correct answers.

Use digital and online resources

Have you ever used the iTutor and iChecker CDs? Have your students used them? Why not try them out in class together? What about the OUP website for students of English File? Use some of the activities in class in a fun game or a competition. Also, try the extra activities marked with a star on the iTools materials. You can use all of these options for revisions.

Additionally, you can check older editions of the series to find extra activities to use in class. Quite a lot of the content has been changed over the years and you may find some useful materials in the older resources. Check our libraries for other editions of the series.

If you have other ideas on using English File resources to the maximum please share in the comments below.


by Kasia Kepka



Mad Lib Theatre

Have you ever watched Mad Lib Theatre?


Fancy trying it with your students? It’s pretty easy. Google it or visit this page for scripts of some popular stories. Get students to fill in the missing words and then act out the scene.

Best not rehearsed and with exaggerated acting 🙂

Word formation cards

Level: B2 upwards / Age: teenagers and adults

Let’s get creative! What would you do with the word formation cards posted below? How would you use them to practise language? Would you give students the cards or display them? What game would you play?

Here are my two ideas:

  1. Hot potato – Put the cards on the table face down. A student picks up a card with a suffix or a prefix. Students take turns to say a word including the suffix/prefix. To add an element of competition use an interval timer that generates various intervals (example). You can play it in teams or as a whole class.
  2. Make up a story – Ask students to tell a story. First brainstorm characters / places / problems that will have to be included in the story and put them on the board. Start the story by picking up a card and making a sentence and using the suffix/prefix from the card. Nominate the student who has to continue the story. If a card is used correctly the student gets to keep it as their point. If they cannot think of a word they must put away the card and they do not get a point for their sentence. Set a time limit or a card limit for the activity.
  3. ‘Jeopardy’ – Put students in teams. Stick the cards on the board in three columns according to their category. A team chooses a category and the number of points. Once the card is revealed they must say 3 words that contain the suffix/prefix. If they answer correctly they are awarded the points. If not, that card cannot be used any more.

word formation jeopardy

What are your ideas? Please write in the comments below.

word formation cards

‘Good news’ cards

We have recently talked about how important it is to keep parents informed about what is happening in class. We have also said that we should remember to deliver good news to keep a good balance.

I have been experimenting with simple ‘congratulations’ cards where I write something positive about a student and their progress in class. I find it especially useful and important in the following situations:

  • after I completed the ‘incident form’ and would like to tell the parents that there has been a positive change since then
  • for parents of new students who have recently joined a group
  • for students who never misbehave and always get good results (because I have realised I never contact the parents about them and there’s plently to tell them!)
  • to give a gentle nudge to students whose work seems to have deteriorated a bit but they have not given me a reason to complete the ‘incident form’

I would like to invite you to comment on this idea, maybe try it out yourself and see how it works for your students. Remember that young learners never seem to ‘forget’ to deliver good news to their parents or ‘lose’ the note 😉

Here’s a template if you would like to use it: good news cards


by Kasia Kepka

good news card

Encouraging listening practice

We have all heard our students complaining about their listening skills, which tend to be  lower than their other language skills. Teachers often suggests that students should listen more at home and provide links to websites where they can find listening texts and tasks.

Below is an interesting guide for students on how to practice listening skills with some detailed instructions on what to do. You may want to have a look to see how else you can help your students.

It’s important to realise that we actually need to train our students on how to practice skills at home. It would be a good idea to try some of the tips mentioned in the link with students in class. It will help them understand how it’s done and motivate them to work at home.

If you have more ideas on how to improve listening skills please comment below.


by Kasia Kepka


We are about half-way through the term and it’s probably time to check what our students have learned so far. Here are a few ideas on how to test your students on recently covered material quickly and time-efficiently and how to make testing more fun and interactive.


  1. Choose 10 words to be tested.
  2. Give students small pieces of paper. They make a list of 10 numbers.
  3. Students may not speak during the test and have to keep their answers secret.
  4. Say a definition of the first word. Students listen and write the word that you defined. If needed, repeat the definition.
  5. Repeat the procedure for all the words.
  6. Once you finish students pass on their answers to the person on their right.
  7. Ask individual students to read out the answers and tell them to give points adequately and count up the total. Collect the scores.

To make it more student-centred you could put students in 2 teams (A and B) and tell them to choose 10 words from a topic to be tested and write definitions. Then you would check the definitions, put students in pairs (A and B) and they could test each other in the same way as described above. The preparation of the task allows them to revise the vocabulary and the whole set up makes it more of an interactive activity rather than a test.

Another way of testing could be through a game. Here’s an example of a game with fly swatters.

  1. Project a vocabulary page from Incredible English (make sure the list of words is covered)
  2. Put students into 2 teams. Have 1 player from each team at the board holding a fly swatter and another student on the side as a referee to keep scores. Revise rules of the game (you can hit only once, no pushing, etc.)
  3. Say a word from the vocabulary set. Players have to quickly hit the right picture on the board. The referee awards points accordingly and you keep a score for individual children (a point for each correct answer, no matter who was first).
  4. You can either have players change after one word or do 3 words in a row and then change.
  5. Note down the scores for each child.



To test grammar you can choose an exercise from the workbook (e.g. a gap fill, sentence conversion, multiple choice) and project it on the board.

  1. Give students a small piece of paper to write on and tell them to only write down the answers. Set a time limit.
  2. Have students swap their answers in pairs.
  3. Have a whole group feedback. Students correct each other’s tests and award points accordingly.

To make it more interactive and reinforce their understanding of the grammar point taught before feedback you can ask students to compare their answers and explain their choices (quote rules, explain why another answer would be wrong, etc.).

You can also have students write tests for each other. For example, they could write 5 grammatically incorrect sentences to be corrected by their partner, jumbled sentences to be ordered (on little pieces of paper), sentence halves on cut up pieces of paper (to test sentence structure), or multiple choice gapped sentences. You would have to monitor the preparation and okay all the student-created tasks before they are given to their partners.

This method is obviously more time-consuming than traditional tests but also more interactive and does not feel like testing. In most cases I would advise against using ready-made two-page hour-long tests that you can find in teacher’s resources that go with coursebooks (unless you are testing skills). They do not often meet our students’ needs and test what we have not taught, or do not test what we would like to assess. I find I often have to select or cross out certain points or whole tasks for that matter. For this reason, giving students quick tests seems to be a better option. They can be delivered in a relaxed way, they can involve some form of revision, language practice and interaction, they are easy to mark and you can quickly give feedback to the students and plan or deliver further revisions as necessary. Ready-made tests can obviously be a great and a useful resource for teachers if they are used critically and selectively.  In any case there are a few rules about testing we should remember:

  1. Only test what you have taught.
  2. Make the test fair to all students.
  3. Make the task relevant to what you intend to assess (‘test validity’).
  4. Make the test reliable (producing consistent results, not dependent on external conditions).

Finally, in the context of highly exam-oriented Spanish education let’s remember we would like our students to have a different classroom experience from what they know from school and not to focus on tests so much. At the same time, collecting test results is a useful tool for the teacher and can help the student progress in the long run.

by Kasia Kepka

Unfinished sentences

Unfinished Sentences

This is a nice communication activity from Keep Talking that can be done at any time of the academic year. There are several ways of doing it, but I tried the following procedure last week and it worked very well.

Level: B1/B2         Age: Teens/Adults         Time: 15 to 30 minutes


1 Print/ Photocopy the activity sheet and give one to each student.

2 Tell the students to read all 20 sentences, choose 10 and complete them with something true/interesting.

3 When everyone has finished, ask one student to read out his/her completed answer to one sentence.

4 Then, looking at the rest of the class, he/she says, “How about you?”

5 Other students who have completed the same sentence read out their answers and the class votes for the ‘best’ one.

6 Continue until all the finished sentences have been heard and voted on.

Stem Sentences

This is a similar but shorter activity, also from Keep Talking.

Enjoy the activities!

Unfinished sentences

by Judy Graham-Scott