Extending language

Now is the time! To teach our students more than we normally expect them to know how to say. There is no reason why we shouldn’t raise the game for them. And best of all, they will appreciate it 🙂

I have noticed that my A2 students stick to the same safe expressions they learnt at A1 level and almost never risk saying something they formulated in their heads and cannot translate. They shouldn’t have to. We should provide some options for them to choose from and let them express themselves more precisely and naturally. The most common area, where this seems to be the case, is expressing opinion/ likes/ dislikes/ preferences.

Why not give our students a repertoire of expressions to learn now and see how they become more confident in using this language throughout the year? Below you will find a file with my choice of ‘opinion’ language. Feel free to download and adapt to your students’ needs.


  1. Select the language you want your students to use more freely, fluently and naturally.
  2. ‘Train’ them to use it in many different activities.
  3. Have visual aids they/you can always refer to when it’s needed (e.g. posters).
  4. Incorporate activities that involve the use of this particular language in each class for a few weeks.
  5. Add new expressions to the repertoire as required.


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You can also play games using the language cards, e.g.:

  1. Have students make spidergrams on the board with a few categories (e.g. sports, food, TV programmes).
  2. Organise the cards into 3 types of answer: affirmative, undecided, negative (it helps if they are printed on different colour paper). On the table spread the reaction cards face down and stick the questions you want them to practise on the board.
  3. Students work in pairs. They take turns to ask their partner a question using the question prompt and an idea from the spidergrams. The other student decides what type of answers they want to give, pick a card from that group, flip it and answer with the expression on the card.

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To help students memorize the new language you could play ‘disappearing sentences’ on the board (write a few expressions in a list, ask SS to close their eyes, wipe off a few words, ask SS to take turns and say what the missing words are).

It’s important to recycle new language in other activities, so make sure you keep it on the walls in the classroom and encourage students to use it when appropriate.

Below is a PDF file with the language. You can also find it in the Chelsea Online Resources folder on our Google Drive.

language chunks

reacting language

by Kasia Kepka


Songs for children – good for first classes


Here are a few links to songs you may find useful in your first classes with young learner groups. Feel free to add your favourite songs in the comments below the post.

What’s your name?

How are you?



some TPR


Check out some useful YouTube channels:

Super Simple Songs, Dream English Kids, The Kiboomers, English Singsing, Fun Kids English

I’m sure you have your favourites. Please share your links!


by Kasia Kepka


Last-minute last-class activity

Got one or two students showing up to classes this week? Feeling a bit awkward about it? Here’s a ready-made activity you can use last-minute.

Following Ceri Jones’ interesting workshop we had last month on looking back I suggest doing some kind of questionnaire with your students to see how they feel about their English and their progress. You can find out interesting things about them and how they see their learning. No judgement, their evaluation can be completely different from the teacher’s – that’s why it’s often surprising and interesting to get to know their opinion. You can also find out where you could have pushed them a bit more and think about what to change in the future.

I did a few versions of this questionnaire with both my adults and teenagers (14-year-olds). It takes up about 20 minutes, depending on where the discussion takes you. I strongly suggest thinking beforehand about some tips for students on how to learn more effectively and what they can do at home (whether they will use your ideas is not in our power, but they will have been advised at least).

The procedure is very straightforward. Use the example to explain how they are supposed to complete the chart. Please emphasize that it’s the progress they are evaluating not their level (this means they need to think if their level in different skills and areas has improved over the year; don’t take it personally if it they feel it hasn’t – progress is rarely even and may depend on many factors). Give them some time to answer the questions. It’s essential that they tell you first how they are going to work on their English before you give them your suggestions. You can also have the group brainstorm without your help for a while and then join them in the discussion.

Feel free to adapt the questionnaire to your students’ needs.

Let me know how it went! And share your own questionnaires!

by Kasia Kepka

self-evaluation bar chart adults

The Island – a fun writing activity to practise linking words

Level:B1/B2, Age: Teenagers, Time: 45-55 minutes

This is a great activity from the old edition of Face2Face Intermediate for imaginative PET/FCE groups that enjoy writing stories but need help with linking words/expressions and narrative tenses. The students should have done some controlled work on these in previous classes before doing this freer activity.



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

2 Read through the introduction and 18 incomplete sentences with the students to clear up any vocabulary problems.

3 Put the students into pairs or small groups and tell them to complete the sentences using correct grammatical forms and interesting vocabulary.

4 When they finish the 18 sentences, ask them to write a 19th, describing what happened to the family and why they never arrived at their destination.

5 Tell the pairs/groups to exchange their stories and correct any errors they see.

6 Finally, they should give the stories back and each pair/group should read out their own story for general enjoyment and feedback.

Have fun with the activity!


by Judy Graham-Scott

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