martedì 6 dicembre 2016

Have you ever...? Christmassy Questions

Hi Teachers!

At the moment I'm teaching present perfect simple in order to express personal experiences. Since Christmas is coming I thought that my students could practise the target language focusing on their own experiences about the best time of the year!

I made up a set of cards with "Have you ever...?" questions about Christmas.


Just cut out the cards and put them face down on the desk.

Each student turns a card and read the question. Then decide who they want to ask the question to.

Or you can give each student 3 cards (I played with 5 students) and if the person they ask the question answers "Yes, I have" they can get rid of their card by putting it on the desk. But if the person they ask the question, answers "No, I haven't", they have to keep the card. The person who gives away all their cards first, wins! Of course students need to give explanation for their answers if they don't want to pick up their classmates' cards!

I hope you will have fun with your students!

sabato 12 novembre 2016

Teaching for Exams? Have Fun! UNO Card Game

UPDATE: This blog post has been shortlisted for the 'Blog Award for Innovative Teaching Ideas' by Teaching English British Council.

Hello EFL teachers,

I am back with a new post for the "Teaching for Exams? Have Fun!" series!

I wanted my students to revise the following target language for their Cambridge First for Schools exam:
- phrasal verbs,
- collocations,
- grammar,
- idioms.
I didn't want to make them feel bored, though.

What did I come up with, then?

A card game, yes a card game!

Do you know UNO? If you don't, have a look here .

If you do, keep reading!

The rules of the game are the same as those of UNO except for the following additional rule: students need to make up a sentence using the target language on the card they are about to place.

If your students are training for the Cambridge First for Schools you can download my own deck of cards from this link or if you wish, edit them according to your needs (link)!

P.S. I played this game with a class of 6 students, if your class is larger you can divide them into small groups.  For example, for a 20 student class you can make up 2 groups of 10 so you only need to print out two decks of cards.

domenica 11 settembre 2016

Make it visual, make it personal: PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE

It's difficult to remember all the uses of PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE especially for Italian students. That's why I decided to create this map which sums up the main uses. I hope it will be useful for you and your students.

Bye for now,


domenica 19 giugno 2016

domenica 1 maggio 2016

Cambridge FCE/FCE for Schools: Speaking Paper Tips

Some of my students are going to take the Cambridge FCE exam at the end of the month so I created for them this handy visual graphic with some tips to follow during the exam. I hope you and your students will find it useful!

You can also find a PDF printable version here.

giovedì 17 marzo 2016

Household stuff: Great tools for teaching... grammar! Part 3

Hi everyone!
Welcome back to my series about using household stuff for teaching English as a foreign language!

Today's item is

 DRINKING STRAWS €1 (100 pcs)

PURPOSE: I used drinking straws to check my students' comprehension of COUNTABLE and UNCOUNTABLE "FOOD & DRINKS" NOUNS.

WHAT I DID BEFORE CLASS: - I printed out this template and I wrote down a food noun in each glass, then I cut each glass out. 
- I stuck two sheets of paper on the desk: 


WHAT I DID IN CLASS: After teaching a bunch of  COUNTABLE and UNCOUNTABLE "FOOD & DRINKS" NOUNS I told my students they were going to play a game and I showed them the drinking straws. I placed the "paper" glasses at a certain distance from the sheets. 

WHAT MY STUDENTS DID: All students stood up around the table and I told them the rules of the game.
Students took turns to blow into their drinking straw in order to make the "paper" glasses move towards/onto the right sheet.
They got one point for each right word and lost one point for each wrong one.

It was a very funny game and I felt especially satisfied with their positive results.
Watch the video: Drinking Straws - EFL game
Until the next item ;-)

mercoledì 9 marzo 2016

Household stuff: Great tools for teaching... exam classes! Part 2

Hi everyone!

Today's item is... 
€1,50 (100 pcs)

PURPOSE: I used ice cream sticks to teach an exam-focused class. Students were trained to practise Cambridge FCE Reading and Use of English PART 4.   
[This part of the exam is called KEY WORD TRANSFORMATION. Each question consists of a sentence followed by a ‘key’ word and a second sentence with a gap in the middle. You have to use this key word to complete the second sentence so that it has a similar meaning to the first sentence.]

WHAT I DID BEFORE CLASS: I wrote some sentences on the ice cream sticks using present perfect simple/continuous and past simple. I wrote some sentences with the same meaning - using different tenses - and some "distractors'" which were wrong. 
E.g. Stick 1 --> My nephew began to play tennis in 2010.
Stick 2--> My nephew has been playing tennis since 2010.
Stick 3 --> My nephew has been played tennis since 2010.
The first two sentences have a similar meaning while the third one is wrong.

STUDENTS: (4-6) Teenagers

WHAT I DID IN CLASS: I told my students we were going to play a game to revise the use of PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE/CONTINUOUS and PAST SIMPLE and I showed them the ice cream sticks in a clear plastic bag.
Afterwards, much to their surprise, I dumped the sticks on the desk. I said they had to pick up two sticks with the same meaning without moving the others. (See the rules of the game MIKADO)

When they picked up two right sentences without moving the other sticks, they got 2 points.
When they picked up two right sentences moving one or more sticks, they got 1 point.
When they picked up a wrong sentence, they got no points.
They had a lot of fun!

Until the next item ;-)

mercoledì 2 marzo 2016

Household stuff: Great tools for teaching! Part 1

LOOK OUT! Even though this blogpost seems to be addressed to women only I'm sure male teachers will find it useful! 

WARNING: This is a very personal blogpost.

As you know (or if it's the first time you drop by, let me introduce myself) I teach English as a Foreign Language to children, teenagers and adults in a small seaside town (between Rome and Naples) where I was born. I'm in my early thirties (everyone says I look younger, though) and I'm not married.  "You should get married soon, or you'll be too old to have children" (Apparently everyone has watched/read Bridget Jones' Diary!)
Being unmarried at my age, especially in a small town, makes me feel like a suspicious person.
I spend most time teaching and when I'm off I love planning lessons and finding new teaching methods. This seems to be my greatest fault.  Ok... I plead guilty, Sir. 
"Well, what should I do?" I wondered. Showing more interest in household chores and cooking may help, I thought. So, a few weeks ago I tiptoed into a Houseware&Household shop near my language studio and I explored it. Unfortunately, once again I couldn't help but thinking of my lessons... 
I hope my ideas will appeal to you!

1) FLY SWATTER (€0,80 each) --> a plastic tool with a handle, used to swat (= hit) insects (

1.1 Right or Wrong?
Materials: 2 fly swatters 
                 right/wrong sentences on sheets of paper
                (about) 8 magnets

Procedure: - I sticked on the board two sentences, one right and the other wrong.
                  - In pairs students came to the board and swatted the wrong sentence.
Comment: My teenager students practised the use of Contrasting Linkers (even though, despite, however, etc.)

1.2 Say... Swat it right!
Materials: 2 fly swatters
                 words about "the house" (any topic you want)
                 (about) 20 magnets
Procedure: - I sticked on the board five words about "the house".
                   - In pairs students came to the board.
              - I said a word in Italian (my students' native language") and students swatted the right word.              
Comments: It was a great way to revise vocabulary for lower-levels.

P.S. Be careful! Students might swat each other. Warn them beforehand that if they do so you will stop the game!
Until the next household item ;-)

domenica 14 febbraio 2016

Valentine's Day: LOVE collocations and QR codes

Here it comes Valentine's Day, the day we celebrate all types of love! Why don't teach/learn some LOVE collocations?

1) Print out the worksheet with the collocations.

2) Print and cut out the QR codes and stick them up around the classroom.

3) Students use a QR scanner app to read the definitions and then they copy them below the collocation (on the envelopes). 

4) Have fun and lots of love ;)

lunedì 1 febbraio 2016

Teaching for exam? Touch your students' hearts

Lately this video has gone viral on social networks. I was so moved when I watched it for the first time that I decided to introduce it in my exam-oriented classes. Today I'd like to share with you the lesson plan I used for my Cambridge FCE (B2 level) which focuses mainly on developing speaking skills.

STUDENTS: Teenagers (b2)
TIME: 1h30
AIM: Learning vocabulary about free time activities
Developing speaking skills for the exam.

1) WARM-UP ACTIVITY: Write on the board The Present and ask your students:
What’s the best present you have ever received?
(Spice-it-up version: Show a present box and tell your students you just got a present. Let them predict what's in the box)
Tell your students you are going to watch a video whose title is The Present

Start watching the video. Stop it at 00:50, ask them:
What do you think is in the box?

Start the video again up to 1:10, ask them:
Why doesn’t he like the dog?

Continue up to 1:25, ask them:
What does the dog want to do?
How does the boy react?

Continue up to 2:00, ask them:
Does the dog find it easy to play with the ball?
Does it give up or keep on trying to catch it?

Continue up to 2:40, ask them:
Choose three adjectives to describe the dog in the video.

Continue up to 3:00, ask them:
What does the boy decide to do?

Watch the video again and answer the following questions:

What language function do these statements express?
“Hey sweety, sorry I got home so late.”

“Why don’t you stop playing and open the present I got for you?”

“Mom, we’ll be outside.”


- Pair/group up students and give them the set of paper strips below. (Cut them out before giving them)
- Give them two labelled plastic bags 1) indoor activities 2) outdoor activities and ask them to put the strips into the right bag. The activities which can be done in either places will be left outside the bags.

- Have feedback and explain new vocabulary.


Show these two pictures and ask students to do the task above.

or SPICE IT UP: Put students in pairs and make them sitting back to back. Give each one of them a picture and this grid. Students take turn to speak about their picture and tick off the words/phrases from the grid used by their partner. In this way they will practise the skills mentioned above.


- Get a tennis ball or a small ball.
- Make the students sit in a circle.
- Tell them you are going to ask them some questions.
- Pass the ball to the first student and ask one of the questions below. The student, then, will choose another student to pass the ball to. The second student will say if they agree or disagree with the previous student and why.
- Let 4-5 students express their opinion for each question.

People say “ A trouble shared is a trouble halved”. Do you agree?
Have you ever helped a friend in trouble? What did you do?
Are dogs really man’s best friends?
In what ways are dogs helpful to humans?
Do you think some owners care too much for their dogs and not enough for other people?

6) Homework is fun!
There are some people who become unfriendly because they have a physical disability or a problem. Prepare an encouragement quote using (WEB)
InstaQuote (iOS) - Kwote (Android)

martedì 5 gennaio 2016

Teaching for exams? Have fun! Give a pep talk to yourself and your mates!

A new year has just started and most of my students have their resolutions made: take an English language exam.
Studying for an exam is always considered boring and tiring, but let's spice up this hard-working task with a pep talk!

What is a pep talk?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary a pep talk is "a short speech that is given to encourage someone to work harder, to feel more confident and enthusiastic, etc."

Everyone needs a pep talk not only students who are taking an exam so this lesson plan can be useful for any type of class!

Time: 1h30minutes
Linguistic skills: LISTENING & SPEAKING

1) I started my class by writing the phrase PEP TALK on the board and asked my learners if they knew what it meant.
They brainstormed some ideas I reported on the whiteboard without saying whether they were right or wrong.
2) After a few minutes I told them I was going to show them a video about a pep talk so they could check their predictions.

This is the link to the video: A Pep Talk from Kid President to You
3) After watching the video I collected some feedback and I gave my students some information about Kid President.

4) Listening activity: I cut out the following sentences and paired up students. They watched the video again and put in order the sections as they heard them. (To check if they were right we watched the video with subtitles).

5) It's time to take action! Students have to prepare their own pep talks. I gave my learners the following instructions and tips:

My students' talks lasted about 60-90 seconds. They filmed each other and it took them about 30 minutes to write their speech.

6) Finally, students listened to each other's pep talk.

I found this class both heart-warming and encouraging. I hope you get the chance to try something similar with your learners and if you do, please let me know!