My ex, my neighbour and my friend

Hi everyone!

Today I’m going to be sharing an activity which I have designed this week. Right now I’m up to some private classes with Elementary students and their English leaves much to be desired (bearing in mind the language barrier that does exist and a real shyness which prevents from breaking the ice). My collaboration with one of my students have just started and all she knows is limited to verb to be and simple constructions of Present Tenses. That’s why in order to provide her with more communicative activities, I’ve designed this activity. Here’s its description.

Aim: during this activity students talk about people they know (acquaintances, friends, neighbours, etc.) This is achieved by using a range of words and expressions, forms of Present Simple and verb to be.

Time: around 1o minutes (it’s my firm conviction, this activity is the best to have in the beginning of the lesson as a warmer).

Level: Elementary. Can be adapted to stronger levels.

Outline: Handout small slips of paper where there’s a table with 6 squares, see below. Students write names of people (you might need to preteach ‘acquaintance’, ‘neighbour’ or ‘classmate’. Then they speak about one of them they like, or they might roll a dice to find out who to talk about. My student Darya who’s from Italy agreed to present her own table with names.

It’s my acquaintance


It’s my friend


It’s my neighbour 


It’s my classmate


It’s my boyfriend 


It’s my ex


It’s an activity which can be held perfectly at one-to-one classes when you don’t ask only about a friend (to drill verbs and form of the third person). As a result, students have more opportunities to talk about different people and drill grammar. If it is a class with more than one person, students can ask follow-up questions and have more natural conversation.

It’s all up to now.

Thanks for stopping by!



Giving feedback using voice recording service

Hello everyone!

Today I’m going to be blogging about a trick which one of my fellow-teachers Viacheslav Kushnir from St. Pete has recently recommended to me, and this compelling and heartfelt ‘thank you’ goes to him, he really deserves it. I do believe, his tip is worth sharing.

I’ve been away for some not very convincing reasons, however one of them still remains the best escape from explaining the real state of things which is obviously lack of quality time for anything. Let alone blogging or reading something for continuing professional development. And one brief professional chat about my groups with Slava has changed everything.

In order to boost my students’ fluency and accuracy both in writing and speaking I’m bombing them with a lot of tasks. Writing emails, reports and ‘making-up questions for further discussion’, letting them record themselves in order to give them more opportunities for speaking activities, and, no doubt, so on and so forth. Since I’ve got three groups, it should not be a big problem for me, should it? But it is a big problem. So I was wondering if there’s anything that can be considered as a way to get out of all of this.

Slava recommended that I recorded my feedback for my students. I know, I know, a lot of teachers recommend peer correction first and then teacher’s correction. However, when you need to give ‘short and sweet’ feedback, that’s the way to do it. I usually use for it. It’s pretty straightforward and does not need any registration. My students use the site for recording themselves (there’s an option to save a link to the recording and then to share); I use the site for recording feedback for my students, then I save the link and send to them.

What’s my take on that? First and foremost, it’s a really time-saving activity. Given it’s related to using technology which is really valuable for my IT students and can’t be overestimated. Secondly, the feedback from my students is surprisingly positive, they find it useful and helpful. And, what’s more, it gives them one more listening activity. What I always do is I never forget to thank my students for the piece of work they’ve done, be it writing or speaking. Whatever.

That’s all what I wanted to blog about today.

Thanks for stopping by!

What are you doing right now?

Imagine a picture. My Pre-Intermediate students are entering the classroom at 09-30 in the morning for a 1,5-hour lesson and in just 5 minutes they all are leaving the classroom with only a pen and a small sheet of paper in their hands. The whole office is surprised, let alone, even shocked, but no one is trying to predict what is happening. The whole office is silent watching my pre-intermediate students walk around the office and write something in their small sheets of paper. They are walking slowly and watching other people do something in the office. In 3 minutes they’re coming back to the classroom. It’s time to put the cards on the table. My Pre-Intermediate students are focusing on Present Continuous. Today I asked them to leave the room, watch and take notes on what other people were doing at the very moment. They came up with something like that:

Marianna is checking email; Alice and Dima are playing ping-pong. The small fish in the aquarium are swimming and enjoying themselves.

At first sight, it might seem a bit strange, let alone, vague and uninteresting, however, they shared their feelings with me just after the activity. They liked it very much. They wanted to try it out again. They wanted to make a difference the following day and suggesting producing sentences without revealing the names of people in order to let their partners guess them.

What I personally liked about the activity is that they left the classroom. Yep, exactly, this point. They left classroom to know how it feels to work (to speak) outside the classroom. I always tell my students they their English is not limited by the size of the room. Leave it and feel it.

That’s what I wanted to share today.

Thank you for stopping by!

Guess the topic

Today I´m sharing an idea which I came up with last week.

If you asked me to describe myself during my first teaching years, I´d probably say ´spidergram addicted’. Or ‘associagram addicted’. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? 🙂 Hand on heart, my favourite activity to brainstorm students’ associations with a topic was a so called ‘spidergram’: a topic in a circle and words or phrases framing the circle. Frankly, my students took a shine in the activity, however, I believe, they always wanted me to introduce something more involving and engaging one day.

Last week I did not start one of the lessons with Intermediate students with a spidergram. Instead I had prepared a set of cards and asked them to play a guessing game in pairs. Take a card, don’t show it to you partner, explain the meaning, take turns.

The words were the following: Skype for business, social networks, message, post office, conference call, wireless connection, misunderstanding.

After each pair finished, I put all the cards on the table in front of my students’ eyes. Obviously, I asked them to guess the topic. Can you guess a topic?


My students did it quite quickly. In the end of the lesson they mentioned that the activity was probably the most involving they had ever had in their lives. I believe, the activity gave them an opportunity to interact with each other and increase their fluency. Indisputably, they also became interested in the topic and this brought them a lot of fun and new impressions.

Thanks for stopping by!


Celebrities at your service

Starting from the 16th of November, I’m participating in EPAM Online Teachers’ Forum. The blog has been quiet for a while for some reason, though now I’m happy to be back.
Today I’m going to be blogging about an activity that I had a chance to share with the whole team of EPAM language instructors yesterday. Also my fellow-teachers were sharing their activities and one day I would be happy to share them too. Some are just amazing and worth trying out just after reading. Here we go now.

Yours truly is starting the overview with the activity she shared.

It was a lesson with my Upper-Intermediates, and we were focusing on speaking about social plans with key expressions like ‘Have you got anything planned for the weekend? Or what are you gonna do tonight? Anything nice planned for the weekend? And things like that.

Firstly, I asked students to work with a partner and share their plans. Secondly, I handed out cards with celebrities, some of the them you can see on the slide, and asked them to play a role of a person on the card and perform on behalf of this celebrity. My students had to talk about plans for the weekend for Angelina Jolie and Homer Simpson and this activity turned out to be extremely engaging. Students had to imagine things they  had never had a chance to talk about in the classroom before.

The next time I tried this activity out with my Pre-Intermediate students and asked them to share how they spent their weekend. Again, they had to play a role of a person from the card. It was fun!

Could you share in comments, have you ever used such an idea to use cards with celebrities in your English classroom? Thank you 🙂

Thanks for stopping by!

Present Perfect vs Past Simple. An activity.

Hello everyone!

It´s a pleasure to be back, and I´m about to be bombing you with new blog-posts. Here comes one more. And it’s going to be practical with description of an activity for finding out (and analyzing) the difference between Present Perfect and Past Simple.

My Intermediate students are currently studying topic “Leisure Time’, which obviously goes hand in hand with hobbies and interests. Moreover, from the grammar point of you, the coursebook suggests doing some exercise to find the difference between the above mentioned tenses. I did not find them engaging, so I accidentally came across a nice activity in the net (here), changed it a bit, then gave it to my students.

Here comes the outline.
First up, I wrote “Our Favourites” on the board after a short warmer (discussing interests and hobbies). Then I elicited a couple of things people consider their favourite ones (food, music, movies, countries / cities, holidays, sports, etc). In doing so I put ‘Food’ as a first favourite thing into the first column of the chart (which was about to consist of 3 columns). Then I elicited verbs which are likely to be used to help to talk about favourite food. Have, try, eat, enjoy – my students came up with quite a few, and we added buy and taste. I put all of them into the second column. Having elicited verbs, I asked to think about two forms of irregular verbs ‘eat – ate – eaten’. I wrote them down here, in the second column. The next step was to ask a question and put it into the third column.

Have you ever eaten really spicy food?

I wasn’t lucky the first time, the student answered ‘No’. I asked another student, he answered ‘Yes’ and then I asked

What did you eat? – I ate sushi. – When did you eat it? – Two days ago.

I tried out a couple of questions from ‘Food’ with different students (everyone had a chance to answer; if the answer was no, then I moved on the another student) and then we moved on to ‘Country’.

Have you ever visited Italy? – Yes, I have.
When did you go there? – I went there last summer.

Next I asked a couple of questions from ‘Country’. I put all my questions into the chart.
Later on I asked to analyze why Present Perfect was used the first time and why Past Simple with the second question. They were analyzing it in pairs and then we were discussing with the whole group.

The follow-up task was to come up with two more categories (Favourites), among which were Sports, Movie, Holiday. And the students were supposed to make up their own questions in Present Perfect with a follow-up one with Past Simple.

Here comes the snapshot of my whiteboard.

My overall impression is as follows. Everyone was involved; we were having a lot of fun. It’s a nice idea to come up with something new apart from a boring coursebook.

Thanks for stopping by!

Have a wonderful day!

Passives for getting updates

Hi everyone! This blog has been quite for a while, it´s high time I continued blogging about my teaching practice. I was off for my vacation and it was really amazing to spend a fortnight in the forest with no Internet, no social networks, no ridiculous messages from strangers… I´m absolutely delighted to be here with my fellow-teachers.

My idea of a blog-post today is to tell you about the idea I’ve recently come up with. I was looking for warmers or lessons starters with a grammar flavor and I hit the mark, I managed to come across some teachers who constantly use Grammar warmers to make their classes more engaging, on the one hand, and useful, on the other hand. I should admit, I don’t spend a lot of time with my Upper-Intermediate students getting them to revise Grammar. So how could I do it? Provide them with Grammar warmer.

The first idea I came up with was using Passives to get updates.
I was off for two weeks, and it was quite awkward to come back after a long time of silence from the office, and I wanted to get updates about the current situation. So I asked my students to make up sentences with:

It is said that…
It is discussed… It is believed that…

In giving this short exercise to my students, I’m killing two birds with one stone. Firstly, I’m becoming more aware of the current situation in the office. For instance, today I had a chance to know, our office is gonna participate in Summer Party and we all are invited! That means, we´ll be lucky enough to be entertained in a country-based hotel with lots of fun! Yikes! Secondly, while using these particular structures, students are becoming more aware of the Passive Voice, and what´s more is that the task is personalized.

Tomorrow I´m gonna try a bunch of new Grammar warmers, namely, ask students about their typical working week and this particular week (making use of Present Simple and Present Continuous correspondingly).

I’m happy to be back. Thanks for stopping by!