New English File Intermediate – Reverse Reading

In my original article on my other blog, Simple English, outlining the Reverse Reading approach to conversation classes, I said:

Preparing the materials is the work of ten minutes once you get used to doing it. Simply go through the text and see if you can pick out enough language or points of conversational interest. If not, it wasn’t going to make an interesting lesson in the first place.

RR_Painting2I know from experience that ten minutes is about the prep time needed but I’ve always wanted to test the latter supposition properly. Could I use a dull text and get anything out of it?

What better experiment than a text from the most popular course book according to sales at The Bournemouth Book Company, Continue reading


Treat me nice – Elvis Presley

imagesAlthough this song is dated and might sound sexist to some ears, there are plenty of countries where it wouldn’t sound as problematic so that’s not reason enough to shy away from using something controversial. Besides which it is a good conversation starter about sexism if the class is thus inclined. And, it’s Elvis so who can complain? Continue reading

Inciting Conditionals

imagesThird and mixed conditionals are a pain in the neck for most students. Too many damn words in the sentence. But it’s a bit easier to deal with when it’s an “I wish” statement which is a sort of third conditional. You could extend this guessing game activity as a written/drill summary exercise for the torture of the full structure, but your students will stop using it the minute you stop listening so it’s up to you. Continue reading

A Family Nightmare

I’ve often looked, fruitlessly, for alternative fluency lessons than the regular conversation style class. Problem solving activities generate a genuine need to communicate and can rope in students who otherwise stay quiet.

This activity uses the topic of difficult relationships between people and family members, but without demanding anyone gives any personal information about theirs. For B1 or higher. Continue reading

Annie’s Song by John Denver

This song might not be the latest One Direction but I’ve never known it not evoke some mush in students of any age and then prompt some nice creative writing and student generated language.  It works with Pre Int and higher and practises speaking, listening and creative writing without much emphasis on vocab and grammar. Deliberately. Songs are about message and story. Continue reading