September 20

None of us have…

It’s been one of those weeks, settling into a familiar environment, but with a number of kinks along the way. The school I work at has smartboards in every classroom – but as these hadn’t been used since February, there were some coming-out-of-hibernation issues this week. So, I was looking for paper-light activities as I had a two-hour class with no photocopying facilities and, at the point of planning the lesson, no projector.

Onestopenglish came to the rescue and I found a great activity from Scott Thornbury. Here’s how I adapted his One of us activity:

Before the class, I prepped a sheet for each group of 4/5 students, so that there would be four groups working in the classroom. I divided the page into four and wrote:

  • None of us have…
  • Only one of us has…
  • Most of us have…
  • Everybody has…

Then, on the right-hand side of the page, I cut each section into four strips.

As a warmer, we did a bit of hangman with the questions:

Have you ever…?

  • broken a bone?
  • met someone famous?
  • done something dangerous?
  • lived abroad?

After they had worked out the questions, they had a couple of minutes to discuss the questions in pairs and then feedback to the class – at which point I found out one of them had broken one of his vertebra during a parachute jump and spent two months in bed!

Setting up the activity, I divided the class into four groups and gave each one a piece of paper. I told them they had ten minutes to complete the sentences, using the present perfect. Whilst they were completing their sentences, I monitored and helped with vocabulary, and corrected participles and other errors.

When groups had finished their sentences, I told them to tear off the sentence ends, so each group had 16 slips of paper.

In the next stage, groups swapped slips and tried to put the other group’s sentences in the correct section. This was quite a fun part as they started using their detective skills; for example one phrase was ‘got married’ and as there was one older learner in that group, they thought he might be married and put it in the Only one of us has… section.

Whilst they were doing this, I wrote some phrases on the board to support them in the final stage:

  • We think none of you have…
  • We think only one of you has…
  • etc.

Finally, when students had placed the sentences in each section, they shared their ideas with the other groups. This was also fun, as one group had written quite a random phrase, ‘made cheese’, and the group which had their slips thought it was Only one of us has… because it was such an abscure thing to write. This was a great opportunity to teach the phrase a red herring!

In all, the warmer and the activity took about 55 minutes and was also a great opportunity for new vocabulary to come out as well as a chance to review participles. Also, it was a wonderful way to learn more about the students, which is always a bonus!

September 16

Prep-free speaking activities

I had a great time Thursday morning, sharing some ideas for prep-free speaking activities with the fab team of teachers at ELI in Sevilla. Below the presentation you can find links to the activities I presented and if anything is missing, I’ll write about it soon!

Prep-free speaking activities from verybouncyperson

Definitely, maybe

A cloudy day

Picture dictations

Guess the question

Character builds

Spot the difference


Keep talking

I’ll be doing a session on Guided Visualisations at the ACEIA conference in November, so if you enjoyed the one we did in the session, come along for more ideas!








May 30

The together teacher

I’ll admit, I’m definitely a bit of a list-geek and I like to think I’m generally well-organised though will happily admit things fall through the net (and it really annoys me when they do).

Since September, I had been using one of the Additio weekly planners which are hugely popular here with mainstream teachers. It was a gift from my friend Amy, as she knows how much I love notebooks and being organised. To be honest, it worked really well for a long time – there’s plenty of space to plan lessons, plus room to write down meetings and things to do, plus it has a monthly planner at the front…all in all, it’s a great planner.

However, my colleague Carmen recently gave a talk at TEFL del Sur which has made me even more organised and much happier about the way I set up my to do lists. Her talk was based on a Coursera course which she’d taken called Get Organized: How to be a Together Teacher. During her talk, Carmen showcased some planner templates which had been presented during the course and inspired me to change from my stylish planner to homemade bits of paper.

So why the change?

Firstly, I’m now teaching a lot less than I was earlier in the year and doing a lot more work on the computer. I found that the planner only really stayed open in an upright position next to me if it was pegged up and it wasn’t easy then to turn to different weeks or to the monthly planner. Unforunately, my second-hand desk isn’t wide enough for my laptop and an open A4 planner!

Secondly, teaching less meant that I didn’t need so much space to plan lessons, but definitely need more space for my to do lists! So creating my own planner meant that I could have clear spaces for my different ‘hats’.

Having separate weekly and monthly planners means I can easily flip between the two and colour-coding activities makes me happy: meetings, deadlines, birthdays, essential-don’t-forget-to-do-this items – each has its own colour.

You can see it hasn’t made me a perfectly oiled organisation machine, as I’d originally intended to write this post on Monday, so I’ve simply delayed the pleasure of scratching it through with my red pen!

May 28

A birthday present

This is another of the guided visualisations which I did at the InnovateELT conference a couple of weeks ago. It’s especially suitable for learners who are preparing for the Cambridge PET and works well in a group of six or more.

Here’s a rough script for the guided visualisation:

Imagine you’re going shopping. Are you in a shopping centre or the town centre?

What can you see around you? Is it busy or quiet?

What can you hear? Are there people talking? Can you hear music playing or the sounds of cars going by?

Imagine you’re going to buy a birthday present for a friend. Look around and choose which shop you’re going to go into.

Now you’re inside the shop. How does the space feel? Is it big or small? Is it crowded or empty?

Is there any music playing?

Does the shop have a particular smell?

Wander around and look at the different things you could buy your friend. Pick things up. Feel the texture. Feel the weight. Check the price.

Decide on the present you’re going to buy and when you’re ready, open your eyes and tell your partner about the present.

One thing I like about this task is that the guided visualisation takes the learners on a journey, but what we’re really interested in is the end product, so they don’t need to share the process of getting to the present, just the object they finally decided on.

As learners are sharing with their partner, use the time to monitor and collect errors or new language you’d like to share with the class. As the topic is very open, learners might have decied to buy clothes, furniture or decorative household items, plants, jewellery…so a wide variety of language can come up whilst they’re sharing.

Feedback as a group on the different items learners chose for their present. Then write a six or so of them on the board, along with the price of each. This then leads onto a PET-style discussion activity.

Say to the group:

You want to buy a birthday present for a friend. Talk together about the different things you could buy and then decide which would be best.

Learners work in pairs to do the task, whilst you monitor and collect errors.

Do some feedback on the task, asking pairs which present they chose and why.



May 18

Visualise This!

Thanks to everyone who came along to my session on Saturday at InnovateELT. Below are the slides and links to the activities we did. If there are any doubts, just leave a comment, send me an email or message me on Twitter. Happy visualising!

Visualise this! from verybouncyperson

The Rock


An explanation of SPRE in more detail

Spot the difference

Guided visualisation leading on to an agreement-reaching discussion (similar to FCE and PET speaking exams)