Monday, 23 December 2013

The Weather - Pre-Intermediate Lesson

Stormy Weather

The winter has finally arrived!  Last week we had a very bad storm, with heavy snow in some areas. In my village, we had 320 mm of rain in 4 days.  I have been telling my students about the storm and I have noticed that most students don't have the vocabulary to describe the weather.  It is a common topic of conversation and English people love talking about it.  So today's post is all about the weather.

What is stormy weather? 

Look at the amazing stormy weather pictures from the National Geographic website:

Photo by Jim Reed National Geographic

* Discuss the pictures and the vocabulary in the captions:     

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Top 10 Confusing Adjectives - Intermediate level

Top 10 Confusing Adjectives

Adjectives often sound similar and mean similar things, but are used differently in English.  This can be very confusing for students.  Here are my 'Top 10'with explanations and examples:

Number 1 : Much and Many

Many: Means a lot of, it is used with countable nouns (people/women/meetings/books), positive sentences, negative sentences and questions.

I have to attend many meetings this week.
There are many free books on eBay.
How many times have you seen that movie?
Do you have many friends in Paris?
I don't have many meetings today.

Much: Means a lot of, it is used with collective nouns (army, group, team, class, company) and singular uncountable nouns (money/coffee), in negative sentences and questions.

How much does that cost?
He doesn't have much luck in life.
He doesn't have much money?

He has too much money.
She talks so much.
I love you very much.
They are in so much trouble.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Say and Tell - Intermediate Level

In many languages 'say' and 'tell' mean the same and are used in the same way.  In English, both verbs mean to communicate verbally, but they are used differently:     

Say: You say something.        

Tell: You tell someone something.

SAY: Is used to express something in words, to report, to make a statement or to repeat.

TELL: Is used to give a detailed account, to inform, to give instructions.

We can say:  "She said to me to go."  

We cannot say: "She said me to go". 

SAY structure

1. Say + direct object (something/the thing you said).
    e.g I said sorry. 

2. Say + direct object +to + indirect object(someone, the person to whom you said it).
    e.g I said sorry to Mike.

3. Say + noun

    e.g. Say a prayer.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Success and the importance of failure - Advanced lesson

Success and the importance of failure 

Do we need to fail in order to succeed?  Is 'failure' a fundamental element of success? Could teaching our children, students, and employees, the importance of failure, increase their ability to succeed?

5 famous people that failed, before they succeeded:

1. Bill Gates' first company, was a failure.

2. Steven Spielberg was rejected three times from film school.

3. Walt Disney was fired for 'lacking ideas and creativity'.

4. Winston Churchill, failed miserably at school?

5. Oprah Winfrey got fired from her job as a TV reporter because she was 'unfit for TV'.

In this TED talk, Richard St John talks about his personal experience of success and failure:

Key expressions

  • Comfort zone: A situation or position in which a person feels secure.
  • To go downhill: To decline and grow worse and worse. 
  • Hot shot: A person who is highly successful and self-assured.
  • Living under a black cloud: Depressed or having a run of bad luck.
  • Floating along: To move or act without purpose.

Click to view video

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Future with Going To - Intermediate lesson

Picture by Over the big moon

The Future Tense with Going To 

Intermediate lesson 

In spoken English we often use going to + the infinitive to talk about the future.  We use it to talk about our future plans, to make predictions and to give our opinion about what will happen in the future:

Look at the dark clouds in the sky; I think it's going to rain.
I think you're right. Are you going to take an umbrella, when you go out?
No, but I am going to wear my rain coat.
Where are you going?
I'm going to meet friends for lunch?
When and where are you going to meet them?
We're going to meet at 1.00 pm, at the new Italian restaurant in town.  Are you going to come with me?
I'm not sure yet, it depends on the weather.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

The world's 'English Mania' TED talk by Jay Walker: High intermediate video lesson

English crazy!

Why are so many people trying to learn English? Is it mania or is it a necessity?  Is the world obsessed with learning to speak English?


(noun) Extreme enthusiasm for something that is usually shared by many people.
(noun) Wild and noisy disorder or confusion.
(noun) A feeling of intense pleasure or joy.
(noun) A fit of crying.

This interesting TED talk by Jay Walker explores this issue:

Comprehension questions:

  1. What are the three types of mania that Jay Walker talks about at the beginning of the video?
  2. What are the three adjectives Jay Walker uses to describe Mania?
  3. What method is often used in China to learn English?
  4. According to Jay Walker, how many people are trying to learn English in the world?
  5. According to Jay Walker, what are some of the reasons that so many people are trying to learn English?
  6. What does Jay say, that you can do with English?
  7. Give two examples of global problems.
  8. According to Jay Walker, what is the language of science?
  9. According to Jay Walker, what is the language of emotions?
  10. According to Jay Walker, what is the language of problem solving?
  11. In conclusion, what does Jay Walker believe that English represents?
* Answers below

I agree with Jay Walker, I believe that a common language is the key to global communication.  Better communication will lead to improved problem solving and a better future for us all.  What do you think?

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Wishes and Regrets: Intermediate lesson

photo by girly-girl-graphics

Do you wish that you could speak better English?
With a little practice, that dream can become a reality.
"Never let go of your dreams"