Archive for the ‘pairwork’ Category

So I’ve just decided to start a series of articles on $4MT dedicated to the classics.  No, not Homer or Aristotle or none of them cats–I’m referring to classic English teaching activities that every teacher has probably used (or could probably use) and which in my own experience I’ve made use of time and time again.

The first one is in this series is that oldie but goodie: “I saw you…”

I first came across this activity in the classic 700 Classroom Activities by David Seymour and Maria Popova (MacMillan English).   Its purpose is mainly to practice using narrative tenses. (more…)


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Wow!  Look!  There’s a new post on $4MT that doesn’t make reference to any sort of controversial subject matter whatsoever!  My lord!

No, nothing too revolutionary, but this was just something that occurred to me out of the blue in the middle of a First Certificate class I do.

I had on hand my bag of phrasal verb cards which I use to play phrasal verb reversi, and I realized that, out of luck, a few of the sentences I’d pulled from the bag could conceivably be part of the same story.

” It turned out that Bill and Mary had met before…”

“…She offered to drop him off at the station…”

“…He was so tired that he dropped off for half an hour on the train.”

So, on a lark, I gave the students the sentences, spaced out so as to imply “gaps” in the story.  Then I told them to complete the story, working together to fill in the gaps in the narrative.

In addition to providing a context to review and reinforce the meanings and forms of the phrasal verbs in question, it’s also decent practice of narrative tenses, etc.

All told, a quite easy collaborative speaking exercise that allows for review of phrasal verbs and can be extended with a writing exercise for homework.

Other possibilities for the phrasal verb story outlines:

“I came across an interesting article on the internet the other day…”

“…The police are looking into the matter…”

“…The president has promised to bring about a change…” (good ones for “newsy”, “current-events” type lessons)


“Some people find it difficult to face up to their fears in life…”

“…He came up with a solution to the problem…”

“…They carried on with the meeting as usual.”


“I bumped into Jill the other day at random in the street.”

“…I didn’t want to bring up such a sensitive subject…”

“…but he didn’t let the bad news get him down.

If you get the notion, you can suggest some other possibilities in the ol’ Comments section.  (It helps to have maybe a proper name (ie “Tina”, “James”) and then some loose pronouns in the others.)

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Nothing really special to comment on here.

A couple of pairwork activities which may or may not be useful for certain classes of an elementary or pre-intermediate level.

One is a dice-game for making sentences with comparative adverbs.  I’d suggest filling in the boxes for people, verbs, and adverbs as a group and then distribute the dice and what not.  Click on the link below for the worksheet.


The other is for practicing superlatives.  Students fill in a chart and discuss their opinions on who is the most famous football player, which is the most beautiful city, etc. etc.  Then they create their own chart based on the first one and play a sort of “secret choice” game.


Gotta get back to work, hope this comes in handy for some of you.  Peace!

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In a previous post concerning using the story of the Titanic to teach past continuous, I mentioned an activity at the end that used cards and pictures of little stickmen doing various activities and actions and things.

The idea was to provide visual input for students to develop sentences and mini-stories and in so doing so practice the past continuous / past simple distinction: by giving them one hand pictures showing actions which can clearly be done over a period of time, and on the other hand actions or events that clearly happen in an instantaneous fashion, students will practice and to some degree begin to internalize the distinction.

And since, in some other classes, I’ve been having to work at this distinction with various groups of various ages, I’ve made some pictures for this very purpose.  I thought I would be a good idea to share so, here goes:


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Seems like my lag time between posts is getting longer and longer…I suppose I’ve been busier than usual, cooking up some really hyperspecialized material for my students none of which I imagine would be of any use to anyone else out there.  But now that I’ve got a minute I figured I’d share something that’ s been pretty useful in a variety of settings. (more…)

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So, I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions much.

However this year I’ve got several students preparing for First Certificate, and my goal is that they all pass.  So, if that counts as a New Year’s resolution, so be it, though I reckon it probably just falls under the rubric of “bare minimum of professionalism”.  It’s what they’re payin’ me for, right?

Anyhow, part of the whole deal of preparing intermediate learners for this exam is beating them over the head with phrasal verbs.

The classic “reversi” game as presented in M. Rinvolucri and Paul Davis’s More Grammar Games gives us a way of making the process of learning phrasal verbs at least a bit more fun.

Works great with groups, yes sir.  I encountered a problem, however, in my one-to-one classes.  Since I knew all the answers (obviously, I was the one who designed the cards and made the sentences…), there was no challenge and no real motivation.  Until I struck upon a solution… (more…)

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In the interest of getting the ball rolling here a little bit, here’s a quick little thing which is basically an idea ripped off from the TEFLtastic website, which is in fact fantastic (hence the name, I suppose). It came to me yesterday while I was preparing a one-on-one with an low intermediate student (New English File Intermediate, Unit 4C, p. 62-63, if you must know).

If your students are like mine, they may hold a serious grudge against the verb get. “English speakers use get for everything,” they grumble. That’s right, I say, and so can you! (more…)

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