Monthly Archives: July 2014

Videos for Business English: How to use videos when teaching ESP.

Here are some videos that can come in handy in your (and my) Business English ESP class.

The following 3 videos are from the DVDs that accompany Business Result  textbooks.  I am not a huge pundit of textbooks but they have done really great job making the DVDs and even if you don’t like the book so much,  you can obtain a DVD separately.

The first video contains great vocabulary one needs when choosing a location for office. The main character is looking for an office space to rent and  is offered two options with completely different characteristics.

The next video is great for introducing the vocabulary and the topic of teleconferencing.

As a post-listening task to this video students may role-play a teleconference using the vocabulary from the recording:

The third one is my personal favorite and it is on cultural differences. It covers the hamburger method of constructive criticism and how it varies from one culture to another. It also touches upon the low-and high-power distance countries and other things one needs to consider when negotiating with a potential partner from another culture.

The last video is a story of Berghaus company. It is  from a DVD that accompanies International Express courbook by Oxford University Press, it is aimed at Elementary learners, but if you ask me, it could work for pre-intermediate students as well.

The next video, which is suitable for the upper-intermediate level, covers the story of the creation of a British car Mini and gives a glimpse into its present:

The next video focuses on the current issues the city  of Venice faces and is aimed at pre-intermediate students:

As a post-listening activities for the last two videos you can suggest your students to:

do a  SWOT analysis of the Mini and the city of Venice;

research if there are any successful businesses or NGOs in Venice, choose one business and write a report on its activity over the last month. If students have hard time finding successful businesses or companies in Venice, they can choose any company and write up a short report of its activity over the last year, indicating the company’s decline or growth and the underlying reasons for it.

– research how the producers managed to turn the Mini into a commercial success. Students will need to use their findings to write a performance report.

The last video I want to mention is by Harvard Business School. It includes great tips and phrases for conflict resolution and assertive communication. The one tip that I particularly like in this video is “don’t SHOULD on people”.

When working with videos in your classroom, you may choose to follow the trusted framework:

1. Pre-listening :

lead-in – introduce your students to the theme, try to connect the video you are about to show to the previous lesson.

Introduce blocking vocabulary using the  MPF (meaning-pronunciation-form model).

Ask Content Check Questions to make sure that  students have grasped the meaning of the blocking vocabulary.

2.While listening:

Before letting the students watch the video ask them the question that captures the gist of the video. They will need to answer this question  at the end of the video.

Hand out graphic organizers before showing them the video and instruct the students which details they need to get from the recording to fill in their graphic organizers.

For example, for the video on cultural differences the students may note down how the hamburger method of constructive criticism varies from one country to another and what does it look like in each of the countries. Students can also  note down the countries with high and low power distance. The graphic organizer for this video may also zoom in on more general details such as what advice would you give to a person who is going to negotiate with a potential partner from Germany/China/Japan and so on.

3. Post-listening

Use a post-listening activity to encourage students to create something of their own based on the vocabulary and the information in the video. A videos showing a teleconference or a meeting may be followed by a roleplay or another simulation activity. Try to design post-listening activities in which students need to work collaboratively, to resolve a problem or to come to an agreement. Here are also some of the post-listening activities that can be used in your Business English classroom. All of these ideas are based on the activities your Business English students are very likely to perform in real life:

– Writing a report of the results of a meeting showed in the video

– Taking minutes of the meeting shown in the video.

– Drafting a proposal for a project, based on the information presented in the video.

– Asking for funding for the realization of the project mentioned in the video.

– Writing an email to prospective investors for the project mentioned in the video.

– Doing a SWOT analysis..

– Writing a performance report.

Are there any pre-/while- and post-listening activities that you successfully use in your classroom and could kindly share with the blog readers and me?  : )


Which vocabulary do my students need to know at each level?

Today a friend of mine sighed and told me with a sad face: “I wish there was a list of vocabulary items that my students need to know at each level.”

And I decided to make this post. Because, actually, there is a tool that does just this. It is called English Vocabulary Profile. And it is absolutely free for the time being.

English Vocabulary Profile (EVP) is a joint project of Cambridge English, Cambridge University Press, British Council, University of Cambridge, University of Bedforshire and EnglishUK (talk about an authoritative tool).

Vocabulary lists for each level - What words do my students need to know

The name of the project speaks for itself – it is a list of vocabulary items that learners at each level  know and it covers all six levels of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).)

Without registration you can navigate only through a part of the database (only several letters) . But for the time being you can get a free acceess to the complete database by just filling in a short form. You will recieve an email with the password to access the full database.

You can get a list of vocabulary a student acquires at each particular level separately or you can choose to see a list of all vocabulary items a learner at level B2 knows (for example, option A1-B2).

Vocabulary lists for each level - What words do my students need to know 2

If you choose  the second option, next to each word you will see a level to which it corresponds.

vocabulary learner should know at each level search example english profile

You can also click on each word to see real leaner examples.

vocabulary students should know at each level with eample englishprofile

You can also search by topics, such as Body, Travelling, Health and so on. You can alo search by separate words to identify at which level learners should know this or that particular vocabulary item.

What I really love is that EVP not only lists the words but also the meanings and uses of each word that students need to know at different levels. For example, the noun “activity” meaning “an event” should be familiar to an A2 student, but “activity” meaning “movement” is listed in B2 level. This can help teachers in guiding their students as to which meaning of each word their students need to learn at each level.

I am definately in love with EVP a brilliant idea, a brilliant project. A huge thank you to all who have been putting their hearts and minds to give it life.

If you ask me it is the best thing after sliced bread, one of the greatest tools for teachers, examiners, researchers and learners.

And here is a short video about the EVP.



Relative Clauses – Games and Activities

In a previous post I covered the use of relative pronouns and the difference between each of them (Relative Pronouns with comics and jokes)

Here are some activities  for you (or your students) to play around and to hone the skills.

If you (or your students) need a quick review, start with watching a video tutorial and answering the embedded questions.

Interactive EdPuzzle Video Tutorial Relative Clauses

Click on the image to open the interactive EdPuzzle tutorial

Aim: To practice the use of relative clauses (who, which, that, when and where)
Interaction: Individually or in groups
Exercise type: Filling in the gaps
Language: B1
Time: 10-15 minutes
Materials: Slideshow, 5 pieces of paper for each student, markers
  1. Give each student 5 pieces of paper.
  2. Instruct the students to write down a different relative pronoun (that, who, which, when or where) on each of the 5 pieces of paper that they have.  Recommend the students to use colorful markers and write in big letters that are visible from a distance.
  3. You will be showing your students slides with sentences on them. Each sentence is missing a relative pronoun.
  4. Display the slide with the first sentence on it. Allow some time for your students to read the sentence and to come up with a missing relative pronoun. The students need to raise the paper with a suitable relative pronoun up in the air as soon as possible.
  5. In some cases two variants are possible. If this is the case, the students need to raise two pieces of paper.
  6. The first three students to raise correct papers get an extra point.
  7. The person with the top score at the end of the game wins!


You can also download a PDF Version of the questions slides here: Relative Pronouns Game with instructions

In the next  activity you will see a relative pronoun in the middle of the screen.  You need to select 4 sentences in which this relative pronoun can be used.

Play Relative Clauses Game

relative clauses interactive game

Click on the image to enlarge and read the instructions.

Each time you play the game, you are given a different relative pronoun (when, where, which or who), so you may want to play  several times to practice the use of various relative pronouns.

The next game is a collection of activities. It includes 10 exercises in which you need to join two sentences with a suitable relative pronoun.

Relative clauses interactive practice game

Click to enlarge the image and read the instructions

Play The Collection of Activities

Have fun learning and teaching!


Body Image – Vocabulary Activities

Aim: To practice words related to body image and appearance
Interaction: Individually or in groups
Exercise type: Filling in the gaps, constructing sentences
Language: B2 or C1
Time: 15-20  minutes
Materials: Handouts, an electronic device to reproduce a youtube video

Previously, I posted an activity based on the Illusionist trailer (Kick Me Vocabulary Game – Words to talk about body image and appearance). No need to mention that  I like the trailer and the movie a lot, so much actually that I have developed two more activities based on it. One of them foocuses on collocations and another one on the sentence structure and word order.

1. Start by showing your student the first 90 seconds of the teaser of The Illusionists film and  ask them to complete the collocations in their handout.

You may choose to do an introductory activity to encourage your students to brainstorm the topic and the related vocabulary. Some ideas for the introductory activities for this trailer can be found in the post Kick Me Vocabulary Game – Words to talk about body image and appearance (will open in a new tab/window).

The _____________________ of the body

The ____________ of _______ beauty

The_________ that corporations have on our ________ of ourselves

To ____________ people’s insecurities about their bodies for profit

The ________ with  __________________ beauty is as old as time

The ________ of the ________ body has _______ the central role

75% of “normal” weight women think they are __________

The ________ of body dissatisfaction around the world

90% of women ________ their body size

Our culture’s ___________ ________ physical appearance

The _________ impact our __________________ culture has on women

An interactive online activity is available here Vocabulary – Body Image

Vocabulary workshop body image and appearance

Vocabulary workshop body image and appearance


Here are the answers: 

  1. the commodification of the human body
  2. the marketing of unattainable beauty around the world
  3. the influence that corporations have on our perception of ourselves
  4. to manipulate people’s insecurities about their bodies for profit
  5. the pursuit of the perfect beauty has taken the central role
  6. 75% of “normal” weight women think they are overweight
  7. The epidemic of body dissatisfaction around the world 
  8. 90% of women overestimate their body size
  9. Our culture’s obsession with physical appearance 
  10. The alarming impact our celebrity-obsessed culture has on women.

Make sure that everybody understands all the vocabulary from the previous activity. Provide clarification if one or more of your students are not sure about the meaning of some words or phrases.

Distribute the handout with a chart below.  The students can work individually or in groups.

Instruct the students that they need to arrange the words in each of the lines to make sentences. Remind your students about the word order in an English sentence [the subject always goes before the verb and adjectives go before the nouns that they describe (we say Happy Birthday not Birthday Happy J )]

Tell the students that there is a hint for them:  a capitalized word in each line is the first word of a sentence.

The students need to write their sentences in the space provided in each line.

1.    as  property    Commodification    body   human   treating   means   of   the   a person

2.     models      Runway     set     standards      beauty    unattainable

3.     beauty    perceptions   of    our    Magazines    influence  TV    and

4.     about    Many   bodies   teenagers   insecurities   have  their

5.     new   nothing   is   A preoccupation    beauty physical  with

6.     price    The pursuit   has    of   a  high  price   the   body   perfect

7.     develop    problems   people   Overweight   can  health  various

Both handouts with instructions for the students can be downloaded here: Body image and appearance vocabulary activities

Previously,  I also shared several ideas for speaking activities on fashion and appearance which can be found here and two activities and a matching game on adjectives to describe personality and appearance which can be found here.

Have fun learning and leading in the classroom!

Kick Me Vocabulary Game – Words to talk about body image and appearance

Aim: To practice words related to body image and appearance
Interaction: Whole class (any, preferably at least 3)
Exercise type: Matching, filling in the gaps
Language: B2 or C1
Time: 15-20  minutes
Materials: Post-it notes or strips of paper with tape; a handout  with a chart for each of the students

Since the majority of the words that are used in the exercise can be found in the first 90 seconds of the Illusionists trailer, you may choose to do an introductory activity to familiarize your students with the vocabulary.

An Introductory Activity

Show your students the first 90 seconds of a very short teaser of the Illusionists film:

Ask the students the following questions before starting the activity:

  • What do you think the film is about?
  • Do you think the film approves of cosmetic surgery for vanity?
  • What alarming statistics are mentioned in the teaser?
  • numbers
  • What do these numbers refer to: 
  • Would you consider undergoing a plastic surgery just to change your appearance? 
  • Do you know someone who has undergone a cosmetic surgery? 
  • Could you name some arguments in favor and against plastic surgeries? 

Preparing for the Activity

1. Take 12 post-it notes and write the following words on them. Write each word on a separate post-it note:












To take the central role

You can also use strips of paper and tape instead of post-it notes.

2. Stick a post-it note to the back of each of the students without telling your students which word they have. If you have less than 12 students, some students may end up with two post-it notes on their backs.

Alternatively, if you have very few students  (3 or 4),  you can choose to hide words around the classroom (under the chairs, under the desks) or stick them on the walls around the classroom. If you choose this option, then in the third column of the handout the students will need to write down the name of the object on which they found the word and its location in the classroom.

If you have more than 12 students, then repeat some of the words, so that each of the students has a post-it note on their backs.

3. Give each student a handout with a chart.

If you have a very large classroom, you may choose to give one handout for two or three students and allow them to work in a group.


1. Each of the students needs to walk around the classroom, looking at the backs of other students and the words that they have.

Remind the students that they are allowed to communicate only in English.

2. Once a student finds on someone’s back a word that fits one of the gaps in the chart, the student writes down this word and the name of the student who is wearing this word.

3. The first student to complete the chart correctly wins and gets an extra point.

4. If you have several students filling in one handout, then the group that fills in their handout first wins.

The handout and the explanation can be downloaded here: Body image and appearance Kick Me Vocabulary Game



Previously,  I also shared several ideas for speaking activities on fashion and appearance which can be found here and two activities and a matching game on adjectives to describe personality and appearance which can be found here.

Adjective to Describe Personality and Appearance – Two Activities and a Matching Game

Previously I shared several ideas for speaking activities on fashion and appearance which can be found here.

In this post I want to concetrate on the vocabulary to describe appearance and personality. All three activities have been desined for B2 students and have been successfully used in my classroom.

Adjectives to describe clothes activity

Adjectives to describe clothes activity

Adjectives to describe appearance activity

Adjectives to describe appearance activity

The first activity is picture based and is aimed at introducing or reviewing adjectives to describe clothes. Check it out in a slideshow below.

Students need to choose the correct adjectives to describe the clothes in each of the pictures. Sometimes more than one adjective can be used to describe a picture.

The next activity is aimed at reviewing the adjectives to describe appearance, the task of the students is to complete the sentences with the correct adjective from the box.

And finally a matching game with compound adjectives.

You can read the description below or download it here together with the cards: Compound Adjectives To Describe personality and Appearance – Matching Game

Cmpound Adjectives To Describe personality and Appearance  – Matching Game
Aim: To practice compound adjectives related to personality and appearance
Interaction: Individually or in groups of up to 3 students
Exercise type: Matching
Language: B2
Time: 7-12 minutes
Materials: A set of cut up cards for a person or for a group
  1. Cut up the cards along the dotted lines.
  2. Give each student a set of cards (for an individual activity) or hand out one set of cards for a group of students (for a group activity).
  3. Set a time limit for the students to match the cards to make compound adjectives (see the answers). An online stopwatch can be of help to keep track of the time:
  4. Award extra points to the student or the group of students who are the first to complete the puzzle.

Have Fun!

Have fun learning and leading in the classroom! 🙂

Film Reviews – Vocabulary Workshop and Lesson Plan.

Film reviews are one of the most popular topics in TEFL and this is exactly what we were dealing with over the last week. Coursebooks don’t always do a great job in engaging students especially when it comes to reading and vocabulary exercises, so to assist my students, struggling with vocabulay aquisition, I developed the following vocabulary workshop.

The activity is based on a film review by Movieline and presents new words in context and with other words that they go with (i.e. horizontally). The visuals in the clip add a powerful element and help students to memorize the vocabulary easier and faster.

The activity could also be used to introduse a possible rhetorical structure of an oral film review (possible because there are other ways to structure a review).

Level: B2
Target skill: vocabulary
Other skills involved: reading, listening, rhetorical structure of an oral film review.

1.  As a lead-in activity quickly go through some vocabulary that students will need to know in order to understand the ideas and opinions expressed in the film review.



2. Hand out the graphic organizers and allow your students a couple of minutes to look at them.

*Students can be working individually or in groups of up to four.* 

Ask the students to figure out what information they need to get from the trailer in order to fill in the graphic organizers (the aspects of the movie mentioned in the review; the strengths and weakenesses of the film).

Ask the students to predict possible answers.
An editable graphic organizer can be downloaded here: Graphic Organizer for a film review vocabulary workshop

3. Let the students watch the Amazing Spiderman 2 review by Movieline.

4. Let the students watch the review in parts filling in the gaps with the appropriate word(s). Rewind the video if your students need to listen to the except again in order to fill in the gaps. The questions embedded in the video are multiple choice questions.

Click on the image below to open the EdPuzzle.

Film Review - Vocabulary Workshop and Lesson Plan

Film Review – Vocabulary Workshop and Lesson Plan

If you think it will be too easy for your students, download the paper-based handout with gaps and no options.

5. Let the students read the transcript of the film review.

Ask your students the following questions:
What information is included in this review? 
How this information is structured? 

Give the students the rhetorical structure of an oral film review handout. Working individually or in groups, students need to write the number of the paragraph (1, 2 or 3) in which they can find the information about each of the aspects of the movie and the parts of a review (the cast, the plot, recommendation, etc.)

Draw the students’ attention to the phrases in bold. Encourage them to use these phrases in their post-activity.
6. Allow some time for the students to complete online vocabulary exercise. They can use tablets, phones, laptops or desktop computers if you have an access to a computer lab.
Crossword Puzzle Film Review Vocabulary

Crossword Puzzle Film Review Vocabulary

Alternatively, you can assign this activity for independent study at home or use the paper-based version of the vocabulary exercises that can be downloaded here as a crossword puzzle (Crossword Puzzle – Film Review Vocabulary Workshop) or as a matching exercise.

 Film Review Vocabulary Matching Exercise

7. As a post-activity ask the students to prepare a film review at home and either to record themselves or to be ready to present their film  review next class. Once again students can work alone or in groups. Encourage the students to use the new vocabulary and phrases in their own fim review (assign extra points for each of the new words used or a lump-sum extra point).

Hope you enjoyed it and will find it of you.

Please, share your comments, ideas and suggestions. As always, they are always highly appreciated.

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