Alternative reading activities

I have recently come across a collection of reading activities I put together a few years ago and I thought I would share it here, hoping you will find them useful for your classes.

There are a few ideas on how to make reading a bit more exciting for the students and change the standard way of doing a reading class. You will find some ideas on how to approach exam reading tasks too. All of the activities can be successfully carried out in any group, both with adults and younger learners.

If you try any of them out or you have done before, or if you would like to share your own idea for a reading task please leave a comment below.

Here is the file:

Reading – alternative teachniques


by Kasia Kępka


Exam writing – preparation and assessment

When preparing students for exam writing we need to keep in mind that, as in other parts of the exam, students are aiming at getting a specific score, or actually getting the highest score possible. To help them achieve this aim we should focus on a few aspects:

  1. task analysis
  2. model texts analysis
  3. awareness of exam assessment criteria
  4. the ability to evaluate one’s own writing

Incorporating these aspects in writing lessons will ensure that students have the necessary knowledge to attempt higher scores in their writing and that they understand how they can get there. The only thing for them to do once they know all of this is to practise a lot.

This post suggests some materials that can help you prepare yourself to teach exam writing and some practical materials for classroom use.


Here are some materials to help you guide students through essay writing:

Essay – in class writing
FCE – Essay – writing guidelines

The suggested approach can be successfully adapted to other genres too.


Here are some materials focusing on email writing at B1 level:

general: PET email writing
teenagers: Email – in-class writing


For supplementary materials at C1 level check out the fantastic videos on CAE writing from Flo-Joe.

You can also watch a video by Kasia on how to help students write essays and how to raise their awareness of assessment criteria. Another video, by Gabriel, explains how exam writing is assessed, which may help you prepare your students and give them some tips on how to meet the assessment criteria.

Additionally, here are extracts from the FCE Handbook by Cambridgefce writing assessment, and from the PET HandbookPET writing assessment. The awarding of points is explained here: cambridge-english-scale-scores

It is also useful to look through various coursebooks and read the sections on writing as they offer very useful tips and information given in a student-friendly way. Here is a sample taken from Gold Preliminary (Pearson):

Gold Preliminary – writing reference

Finally, go to Chealsea teachers’ website to get marking sheets for both levels.

Please contact me if you would like to be sent Power Point formats of the materials.


by Kasia Kępka

Turn taking games

This post originally comes from my blog where you can find more ideas on how to use the material presented below. Here is a fragment taken from the post.


Level: B1-B2 / Age: teens, adults / Time: 20 mins

This material works very well with groups preparing for PET or FCE exams where students are assessed on using turn taking language as well as for discussions on general courses.



  1. Revise or pre-teach phrases for agreeing, disagreeing, expressing and asking for opinion. I normally project a slide with a collection of expressions and check with the students the meaning of unfamiliar phrases. You may also first practise them with your students using Quizlet.
  2. Go through the exam task (PET speaking part 2, FCE speaking part 3) and make sure students know what to do. Alternatively, you could have a list of questions/topic for students to discuss (I would give them one topic at a time).
  3. Put students into pairs or threes. Give each team a set of cards with the turn taking expressions written on the them (see the pdf file below), which they then spread face up on their table.
  4. Set a 3min limit for the discussion. Tell students to discuss the topic using the expressions on the cards. Every time they use one of the expressions they take away the card and keep it. The object of the game is to collect as many cards as possible in one round. (Some useful rules are: you cannot use two or more expressions one after the other, but you can use up to 3 expressions in one turn.)
  5. In the next rounds students continue collecting cards without returning them to the table. They keep playing until they use up all the cards (in this way you will ensure they have practised using all the expressions).


For more games with the turn taking cards and downloadable material visit my blog

by Kasia Kępka