Category Archives: Vocabulary

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.



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.

82 words and phrases to use instead of “good”, “great” and “interesting”. 

Last week I was grading speaking and writing exams of B2 level students and I was appalled at how many times a student can use the words “interesting”, “good” and “great” in a two minute speech or in a several lines of text no matter what they are talking or writing about. Everything seems to be either interesting or good or great: the film is interesting, the cast is great, the special effects are really good. These three adjectives are multi-purpose words and are used to describe pretty much everything, and while they might save some memory resources, I believe that our studends need to learn to tap into the richness of the language and be able to describe things more precisely, because, without a doubt, it is one of the skills they will need in the future.

So I’ve gathered together 82 words and phrases that can be used instead of good, great and interesting. Each word or  phrase is accompanied with a definition, collocations and picture examples of its use in the news, online publications and words of famous and outstanding people.

Wacky stories – Comminucative ESL Game to practise vocabulary and tenses.

Wacky Stories
Aim: To practice vocabulary, all 12 tenses and conditional sentences (adjustable). To practice storytelling techniques (building suspense, flash-backs, flash-forwards, etc.)
Interaction: Groups of three or four
Exercise type: Speaking, storytelling
Time: 15 minutes
Language: Depends on the level of Students
Level: A2 – C2
Materials: 1 set, cut up per group (the set can include as many cards as you decide and may vary depending on the level of the students).
Procedure: In this activity the students make a chain story, using the words and images on the cards, as well as the tenses or grammar structures indicated on them. With a little imagination and sense of humor from your students this game can get hilarious. If you want to emphasize the use of tenses and grammar structures, there is an extra tense component on each card, this component instructs the students not only to use a noun, a verb or an adjective on the card but to construct the sentence in a certain tense. This can bring into the story flash-backs and flash-forwards (so you may need to pre-teach these storytelling techniques first).

  1. At the beginning of the game each of the students has 6 cards. The rest of the cards are placed on a desk in a pile face down.
  2. The students have a couple of seconds to look at their cards. To determine the order in which the students will play the game, they will draw from a bag that contains pieces of paper with numbers on them (see the chart below), the student who draws number 1 from the bag, goes first. Alternatively, they can play a hand game of rock-paper-scissors or roll a dice or toss a coin.
  3. The fist student starts telling an imaginary story using the vocabulary on the cards that s/he has and also putting the sentences in the tense indicated on these cards. Every time the student uses a word or an image on the card, s/he places the card face up in front of her/him and on a piece of paper writes down the points earned for playing each card. If the student manages to use the word on the card, the student earns one point, for using the indicated grammar structure, the student gets additional 2 points. Each student can play as many cards as they can in each turn, but they cannot be speaking for more than 2 minutes in one turn.
  4. The student who goes next has to continue the story that the first student started but use the words that s/he has on her/his cards.
  5. The third student continues the story.
  6. When the students are out of cards, then at the next turn each of them can pick up three cards from the pile. If they cannot continue the story, they miss their turn. If a student picks up three cards, but can play only one or two, the student gets to keep the unused cards and can play them at the next turn.  
  7. The game ends when there are no more cards left in a pile or when the time set for the activity is over.
  8. Each of the students counts the points on the cards they have played   during the game. The student with the top score wins.

The printable handout can be downloaded here >> Wacky Stories – Comminucative ESL Game
The game is also available for download on slideshare:

Phrasal verbs with TAKE and GIVE + exercise

The slideshow covers 6 phrasal verbs with TAKE and GIVE and includes exercises to practice them.

The presentation covers the following phrasal verbs:

take over

take up

take back

give back

give in

give up

The phrasal verbs are introduced with the help of comics and the built-in exercises will get the students thinking and applying these phrasal verbs in real context.

Screenshot_5 Screenshot_6 Screenshot_7 Screenshot_8 Screenshot_9


Learning vocabulary with songs – Activity + Teacher’s notes

This activity helps to learn at least 20 words and expressions to talk about appearance. The activity is based on the song “Freckles” by Natasha Bedingfield. The slideshow includes teacher’s notes, introduction of the vocabulary and a ready-to-use handout.

Vocabulary: appearance
Level: B1 – B2

Teacher’s Notes

1. Pre-teach the vocabulary on appearance (included in the slideshow).
2. Print out the slides with the lyrics and cut them up along the dotted lines.
3. Give each student a cut-up copy of the lyrics.
4. Play the song once (if you play it on YouTube, make sure the video doesn’t have lyrics displayed).
5. As the students listen to the song for the first time, they arrange the lyrics in order and fill in the gaps with missing words/phrases.
6. Play the song for the second time to allow the students to check their answers and to complete the gaps they have missed during the first listening.
7. As a follow-up activity, you can have a quiz on the words and phrases that the students had to use in order to fill in the gaps.




Tools for Teaching Vocabulary – Using text posters in the classroom

When I teach new vocabulary it seems more meaningful to me to introduce it in a though-provoking quote than in a general unspecific sentence that doesn’t strike a vibrant chord in a student. So I usually mine for quotes containing the vocabulary I want to teach and then I use quote generators to quickly create images like you can see in these slides. This is all done automatically and takes you less than 10 second to create a text poster.

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