Fruit and Nut Problem Solving


MAIN AIMS Speaking to describe processes, noticing and looking up vocabulary, improving group dynamics and motivation

SUITABLE FOR Younger learners, teens and adults, Intermediate (B1) and above

TEACHER’S NOTES (Click here for a pdf of the Teacher’s Notes)

1.  Ask your learners to form small groups. They tell each other whether they think they are good at solving problems. They can interpret problems however they want e.g at home, at work, practical, mathematical etc.

2.  Elicit some examples and reasons from people who said yes.

3.  Show them this screenshot and present them with the problem: they have to get the peanut out of the long test tube without using any tools, turning it upside-down or breaking it. Tell them that the test tube is attached to the base and the base is attached to the table. Give them three minutes to come up with suggestions while you circulate and help with vocabulary.

4.  Elicit suggestions from the groups.

5.  Play this video so that they can compare their suggestions with the solution.

6.  Now tell them that they’re going to have a small creativity competition. Display these pictures of fruit and elicit the name of each one.

7.  Divide the class into two halves, A and B, and then subdivide each half into smaller groups of three or four. Group A gets kiwi, mango and watermelon and group B gets pomegranate, orange and strawberry.

8.  Tell them that they have to describe the best way to eat the fruit with minimum waste and maximum ease. They can use tools. Let them use mobiles or dictionaries to look up vocabulary while you circulate helping them to express what they want to say.

9.  Now have all the A groups compare their suggestions with each other on one side of the room while all the B groups do the same on the other side.

10.  Put individual As and Bs together in pairs and ask them to explain the techniques for their three fruits to each other.

11.  Now play this video. Did anyone come up with something similar? Which one surprised them the most?

12. As a follow-up, tell them to eat one of the six types of fruit using the method suggested and either video or photograph the result to show in the following class.


Introducing Carrot

Image made using photos taken from by @thornburyscott, @ALiCe__M and @purple_steph used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial license,

Image made using photos taken from by @purple_steph, @ALiCe_M, @thornburyscott and @thornburyscott used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial license,

MAIN AIMS Speaking to negotiate and persuade, vocabulary expansion, listening for detail

SUITABLE FOR Teens and adults, Upper-intermediate (B2), except the last step, Advanced (C1).

TEACHER’S NOTES  (Click here for a pdf of the Teacher’s Notes)

1. Ask your students to form four small groups (or eight for a larger class).

2. Show them the mosaic above (or use this one). Tell them to use their mobiles to find out the names of the fruit and vegetables shown (from top left to bottom right: red cabbage, Brussels sprout, quince, artichoke).

3. Ask them to tell each other whether they they like these foods and how often they eat them.

4. Assign one of the photos to each group. Tell them that they work for an advertising agency which has been given the job of marketing these unglamorous products to teenagers. They have to come up with an idea for a one-minute commercial that will change the way the target market sees their fruit or vegetable. Set a time limit of ten minutes.

5. Each team presents their idea to the rest of the class, who then vote for the one they like best.

6. Now tell students that they are going to see a video promoting another common vegetable.

7. Play the video. After watching, in their groups students note down all the words they heard that they would normally associate with a touchscreen device.

8. Display this word cloud containing vocabulary from the clip and tell students to look up any new words.

9. Form new groups and play the video again. With their new partners, they have to use the vocabulary from the word cloud to describe the features of “carrot”.

10. Display or hand out the full text so learners can compare what they said with the original version.

11. They will probably ask about the reference to integration with Beats by Dre. Play the video again from 00:38 to 00:40 and pause it. Explain that Beats by Dre is a company that produces audio equipment, mainly headphones and speakers., which was acquired by Apple in 2014. Tell students to look at the image on the screen. Does anyone know the name of the brownish vegetable? It’s a beet (in American English) or beetroot (in British English).

12. Students look at the word cloud again. Do they know any other meanings of the words? Once they’ve had a chance to discuss / check in dictionaries, ask them to do this exercise. (Here are the answers.)



Unusual Sports

Image made using photos taken from by Efi Tzour, Christina Martidou, @sandymillin, @ij64, @senicko, Mr_Schenk, @SerraRoseli, @vickyloras and @mamalarut used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial license,

Image made using photos taken from by Efi Tzour, Christina Martidou, @sandymillin, @ij64, @senicko, Mr_Schenk, @SerraRoseli, @vickyloras and @mamalarut used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial license,


MAIN AIMS  Sports vocabulary and talking about sport

SUITABLE FOR Teens and adults, Intermediate (B1) and above

TEACHER’S NOTES (Click here for a pdf of the Teacher’s Notes)

1. Display the mosaic above (or use this one). Put students in pairs and get them to talk about the sports: which have they done / watched / would like to do? Where    are they played? What equipment do you need? What are the rules, if any? What vocabulary do students need to talk about them?

2. Feedback – let students ask about vocabulary and write it on the board. Challenge them, collectively, to come up with at least ten vocabulary questions.

3. Regroup the students so that they are working with a different partner. They repeat step 1, this time including the vocabulary that came up in the previous step.

4. Feedback – which sport generated the most conversation?

5. Now divide the class into two groups. Tell them that you’re going to give each group the name of a sport and they should decide / make up how it’s played, rules, referee or not, team or individual etc.

6. Give one group a card with chess boxing written on it and the other a card with dog boarding on it.. Give groups a few minutes to talk about their sport and make some notes.

7. Pair a Dogboarder with a Chess Boxer. The Chess Boxer tells the Dogboarder about their sport. The Dogboarder can ask questions. If the Chess Boxer doesn’t know the answer, they should make one up.

8. Now play this video from the beginning to 01:11 and see how close the Chess Boxers’ descriptions came to the actual sport.

9. Repeat step 7 with the Dogboarders explaining their sport to the Chess Boxers and then play this video:

10. Tell students that no dogs were harmed in the making of the video and ask which sport they’d prefer to do. Do they know any other unusual sports? Send them home to research one and tell a partner about it in the next class, preferably with photos or a video on their mobile or tablet.


Wonderful World

Vivid Color by ccmerino is licensed under CCBY2.0

Vivid Color by ccmerino is licensed under CCBY2.0

MAIN ACTIVITIES Listening, discussion, vocabulary of animals and geographical features.

SUITABLE FOR Teens and adults, Intermediate (B1) and above

TEACHER’S NOTES  (Click here for a pdf of the Teacher’s Notes.)


Display this word cloud or make your own at Tell students that it contains the lyrics of a well-known song. Give them a minute to try and identify the song.


Display the second word cloud, which contains the song title. Did they get it right?


Tell them to draw a grid four squares by four squares. They choose sixteen words from the cloud and write one word in each square of their grid.


Play the video – sound only, with the screen blank. Students cross out each word they hear in their grid and afterwards compare what they heard / didn’t hear with a partner.


Display or hand out a copy of the lyrics so that students can see where their words appear in the song and check new vocabulary if necessary.


Put students in pairs and assign each pair two lines of the song. Tell them that they are going to think about images to include in a video for the song. What images will they include to illustrate their two lines? Encourage them to use the lines as a starting point. It isn’t enough to say “Some green trees and red roses.” (Describe the trees. Where are they? Any people? Who are they? What are they doing? etc.)


Give them a few minutes to come up with some ideas and then ask each pair to tell the rest of the class what images they agreed on.


Now play the video so that students can compare their images with the ones used in the video. How many can they remember? You could do this as a competition: put students in groups and get them to write down as many animals / geographical features as they can. Award two points for words they know in English and one point for words in their own language.


Finish off by choosing some questions for students to discuss from these teflpedia pages: Animals, Animal Rights, The Environment.

Giraffe Fight


MAIN ACTIVITIES Visualization, speaking, gap fill, vocabulary acquisition, prediction.

SUITABLE FOR Teens and adults, Pre-Advanced (B2.2) and above

TEACHER’S NOTES  (Click here for a pdf of the Teacher’s Notes.)


Tell students that they are going to listen to something with their eyes closed. After listening, they tell a partner about the images they visualized. Who did they see? Where? What were they doing? Why? etc. Play from 00:25 to 01:02 (sound only).

Students tell each other what they visualized in as much detail as possible. Ask a couple of students to tell the rest of the class what they talked about. Did most people have similar ideas?

Play the clip again, this time with both sound and images. Students (in pairs) answer the questions in step 1 based on what they saw. (Two male giraffes are going to fight over a female in the African desert.)

Tell students that they are going to read a description of the fight. Display or give them a copy of the script. They read it quickly and say which word which is out of place.

Now they work together to replace the word banana** with another word (a different one for each banana).

Play the video from 01:05 to 03:23 so that students can compare what they wrote with the words used in the documentary. (rival, chance, blows, desert, fight, legs, reign)

Students vote on which giraffe will win – the old bull or the young rival. Play the clip until 04:35 and ask how the the old giraffe won (He ducked and aimed a blow at his rival’s underbelly). Tell students that the young giraffe didn’t die; he was just knocked out.


Say that the clip comes from the first episode of the BBC series Africa, and encourage those who like nature programmes to look for more David Attenborough documentaries and watch them in English. If you have a class wiki, students can look for nature clips on YouTube, upload them and comment on each other’s choices.
** The banana idea comes from this post about different ways to do a gap fill / cloze on David Petrie’s blog.



Baseball Pitches


MAIN ACTIVITIES Vocabulary expansion, prediction, sports idioms

SUITABLE FOR  Upper Intermediate (B2) and above

TEACHER’S NOTES    (Click here for a pdf of the Teacher’s Notes.)


Show the class the word cloud below and ask them to name the sport.

Baseball tagxedo


Divide the class into four groups – A, B, C and D – and organise the groups in a rough circle around the room. There must be at least one person in each group who has a mobile phone or tablet with an internet connection. If you have a big class, you can make eight groups. Display this image and ask them to tell each other what they know about baseball – its vocabulary and its rules. They can use mobiles or dictionaries to look things up.


Ask each group to nominate one member, who must then go and “visit” the next group in a clockwise direction. The visitor and the group compare ideas. Afterwards, the visitors return to their respective groups and give some feedback.


Display this page from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary so that groups can check their predictions.


Tell students that it’s traditional in baseball to have a ceremonial opening pitch, usually performed by someone famous or to celebrate some special event. Tell them that they are going to watch a different YouTube video each showing ceremonial pitches which are famous for being unusual in some way. Each group has to watch their video and work out how to describe exactly what happened in English.

Get each group to watch one of the videos below. In class, you can do this by getting students to look for the video on YouTube using the descriptions in italics as follows:

Group A      cirque du soleil baseball pitch

Group B     Max Ashton baseball pitch

Group C     Shin Soo-Ji baseball pitch

Group D     Zombies baseball pitch


Give students time (and some help!) to come up with accurate descriptions of the scene.


Once they’re ready, reorganise the class into four new groups where there is a representative of each original group in each new one, i.e. the new groups are made up of at least one person each from A, B, C and D. There must be a mobile phone or tablet with an internet connection in each new group.


Each person now takes it in turns to show the opening scene of their original video, being careful to stop it before the ball is thrown. The others have to guess what happens next. The person who showed the video then gives a point to the person who was closest before describing verbally what happens in the video without showing it.


Once all the opening scenes have been seen, they then watch each full video to see what actually happens. Now the group have to decide who gets a point for having given the most accurate verbal description.


Ask students which video they liked best and why. To round off the lesson, ask students to use their mobiles or a dictionary to first figure out the meanings of these questions – all containing sporting idioms – and then answer them.





Look Up


Main Activities Poetry (reading and pronunciation), speaking about social media, vocabulary (words with more than one meaning)

Suitable for Pre-Advanced (B2.2) teens and adults

TEACHER’S NOTES  (Click here for a pdf of the Teacher’s Notes.)


Write the word poem on the board. Ask your students, in small groups, to define it.


Write up their suggestions around the word. Hopefully someone will have mentioned rhyme and metre, both features of more “traditional” or “older” poetry.


Display or hand out copies of this verse from Jonathan Swift. Ask students to decide how it should be read and then ask for some performances.


If students need some help, explain that there are four beats/stresses per line which should fall on the syllables in blue shown here. Point out the rhyming pattern of AA, BB i.e. the first line rhymes with the second, and the third line rhymes with the fourth.


Tell students that they’re going to work with another poem which has the same metre and rhyming pattern. If you have a larger class, divide them into nine groups and make them responsible for a verse each. If your class is smaller, three groups responsible for three verses each. However, all students should have all nine verses even though they may be working on one (or three) at the moment. Give out the poem.


Tell them that their task is to fill in the missing words so that the poem follows the AABB rhyming pattern. They can try to guess the missing word, but the most important thing is to find a word that rhymes even if it doesn’t make sense! Write up their suggestions, one for each gap.


Now tell them to focus again on their section of the poem. They should underline or highlight the four beats in each line and practise reading it – one line per person for a group of four, for example. They can use their mobiles or a dictionary for any problems with meaning or pronunciation.


Get the class to read out the poem in order (verse A to I) and then have a vote on which verse was best in two different categories – the best words in the gaps and the one that was read the best.


Ask them to agree on what the message of the poem is and then show them the video.

Tell them that they have to watch without taking notes. They’ll hear their verses at the end and they should listen out for the missing words. (You can find the whole poem here.)


Ask them to compare his delivery of the lines to their own. Better? Just different?


Now tell them that you’re going to ask them for their reactions. Display these questions and discuss them, either as a whole group or in smaller groups, who then feed back to the class.


In the next class, tell students that they’re going to revisit some of the vocabulary from Look Up, but they’re going to look at second meanings or different collocations. Display these questions for students to discuss.





Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,020 other followers