Christmas Vocabulary: ESL Taboo Cards

Another set of popular vocabulary game based on Taboo. This time, Christmas vocabulary. You know the drill, download, print, cut, and let your students have some fun while learning.

Download here>>>>>christmas-forbidden-words1
While you plan your holiday activities, enjoy this timeless classic.



Other Forbidden Words card sets:

Travel/Holiday Vocabulary Cards

Media/Entertainment Vocabulary Card Game Based on Taboo.

Business English Vocabulary Card Game | Forbidden Words

Other resources:

Taboo Card Games

10 No-Prep and Low-Prep Fun ESL Christmas Activities

Storytelling Card Game

Last Days ESL Activities and Games : No-prep, Easy to Print

Negotiation Role-plays

Advent Calendar for ESL Students: 24 Ideas To Make Your Lesson Even More Fun!

Who doesn’t like Christmas?

This is my twist on a traditional advent calendar.

You will need a Christmas stocking, 24 slips of paper and your creativity!

Continue reading Advent Calendar for ESL Students: 24 Ideas To Make Your Lesson Even More Fun!

Fluent English: Effective Tips on How To Speak Fluently

One of the most common struggles of every English learner is the struggle to speak fluent English. We all strive to speak confidently and naturally and fluency plays a major role in achieving this. Many times learners of English even prefer fluency to accuracy. Students often don’t mind making a few errors while speaking as long as they can maintain a fluent flow of speech. Accuracy versus fluency have been fighting an eternal battle in ESL classrooms for a long time and we will deal with our take on this in another article. Today, we are going to talk about fluency and how to achieve it.

So what does it mean to be fluent in English?

According to English Teaching professional, fluency refers to the measurement of the ability one has to speak smoothly and freely without the need to pause and think about the grammar, vocabulary, or pronunciation one needs to communicate.

I would like to emphasize the ability to speak smoothly and freely without the need to pause. How important are grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation if we want to achieve this? One might argue that it is necessary.

But is it?

If the speaker constantly worries about the right grammar, colloquial expressions or pronunciation, or even accent, do they have time to maintain fluency? Of course, this might not be a problem for more advanced learners, but what about those who have yet to achieve that level of accuracy? Are they doomed to aim for accuracy before they can become fluent?

I disagree.

I believe fluency comes before accuracy. I think it gives the learners confidence to speak and express their ideas and opinions without worrying about grammatical errors. So how can you improve fluency and at the same time expand your vocabulary and improve grammar without even trying?

Let’s have a look at these tips on how speak fluent English.

Binge-watching favorite TV shows? Looking for a new recipe on Youtube? Watching news? Watch it in English with English subtitles. Make it a habit. Do it now. I can’t emphasize this enough. Even if you don’t do anything else from this list, do this. And #2 as well.

Practice, practice, practice. You can practice speaking best by speaking. Shocking, I know. The good news, you don’t need a native speaker for that. It can be your classmate, a friend, colleague. Nowadays, you can easily practice online. There are plenty of platforms where you can find English-speaking partners. Most of them are paid, but you can also find some that are free. For example, Speak Peak offers a free and a premium subscription. The free subscription limits the conversation time to 40 minutes, which I think is still enough. The premium version offers unlimited conversation time and some statistics and your partner’s feedback. The registration takes 10 seconds and you can choose your speaking partner’s level of English, from A1 to C2, which is a great feature. If you’re not sure what to talk about, try these conversation starters.

It may sound counterintuitive, but reading can help your speaking. How? By learning new vocabulary and getting certain phrases and expressions under your skin. After some time, you will use phrasal verbs, colloquial expressions, and certain grammar structures automatically. Of course, if you want to achieve this you have to read the right books. Contemporary fiction books with lots of dialogues are perfect. Books such as Elements of the Nature and Properties of Soils, not so much. Extra tip: Combine books with their audio versions. Read and listen at the same time, you don’t have to do it all the time, but doing so occasionally can benefit you immensely.

Around 50%-70% of the Internet is written in English. If you’re not looking for specific information that is only available in your native language, google it in English. From now on, whatever information you need, look it up in English.

While watching anything and everything in English helps, sometimes you have to work a bit harder to improve your fluency. Video lessons are great for this. Watch shorter clips on topics you like and then study vocabulary and even discuss the video with a partner. There are plenty of video lessons online, if you have Netflix, you can try this resource ESL Video Lesson Based on Netflix Docuseries “The Mind, Explained” or you can try lessons based on TedTalks.

While you will improve your vocabulary when watching and reading content in English, you will also need to supplement it with more targeted approach. This depends on your goals. Why are you learning English? What do you want to achieve? What subjects do you expect to be talking about? Choose your reading material and watching content accordingly. Do yu want to improve your presentation skills? Watch TedTalk videos. Do you want to be able to negotiate? Practice negotiating. If you are a visual learner, you could try Visuwords a visual dictionary which shows a visual map of connected words. If you prefer a more classical approach you could try vocabulary quizzes, for example Englishclub has quizzes on many different topics.

What do you think about these tips on how to speak fluent English? Have you tried any of them? Have you tried any other methods that worked for you? Let us know in the comments.

Motivational Posters

Posters for your classroom.                                                                                                        Motivational.                                                                                                                        Promoting critical thinking.                                                                                                      Promoting learning.                                                                                                                  Inspirational.




Group Activity For ESL/EFL Classes: Famous Stories With A Twist!

My students love creative activities, especially the younger kids and teenagers are always thrilled when we play a game or do some acting. I did this activity with students from 14 to 19 years. It was always a success. The best thing is, there is almost no prep and you can do it the whole lesson, or shorter versions as a warm-up.

This activity is a cross of telling a story, inventing your own and acting. I use famous stories with three or more characters so the kids can work in small groups. Then I assign the story and let them draw a card with a specific genre.

So, for example, we can have the story of Shrek and the genre is a documentary. We have three main characters: Shrek, Fiona, Donkey. If needed we could add one extra character: Gingerbread Man, or Puss in Boots. Then I give the students some time to prepare, usually  10 minutes. After that, they take turns in acting their stories, as a theatre troupe :).

You can download the activity with my stories here or prepare your own, using stories well known in your culture.

Download >>>>>>>>  Stories with a Twist

Extra activity: if your students don’t know the stories or the characters in the stories, don’t tell them. Let them use their phones or school computers to do their own research.

Binge-Watch and Improve Your English: 5 Great TV Shows Available On Netflix

I love movies and TV shows and I always recommend my students to watch as much in the original language they can, to use English subtitles, to watch YouTube videos, TED talks, to immerse themselves in the language as much as they can.

Nowadays, hundreds of movies and TV shows are available online and there isn’t an easier way to broaden vocabulary, improve listening skills and pick up some grammar without actually learning it.

My list of TV shows available on Netflix for convenient watching:

1. The Crown: I love the Queen’s accent, the costumes and I love Churchill. Season 1 is available for binge-watching and the good news is that Season 2 will be available sooon, on 8th of December! Yay! Now I can’t decide if I want to watch it right away or save it for Christmas, so I could savor it properly.


2. House of Cards: All 5 Seasons are available so that’s a lot of episodes. And a lot of fun. We may have lost Kevin Spacey but Frank Underwood will stay with us forever. If he doesn’t destroy us first of course. He and his beautiful wife will suck you into the world of politics and intrigues. Great for vocabulary.


3. Chef’s Table: Don’t watch this hungry. Actually, it doesn’t matter.  Every time I watched this I ended up raiding the fridge. It is a 3 Season documentary focusing on renowned chefs around the world. The colours are unbelievable and I love the music as well. It is great when learning food-related vocabulary.


4. IT Crowd: The British original, not the American spin-off. It’s a bit older, but all 5 Seasons are available for your viewing pleasure. This show is pure gold. The episodes are short, around 20 minutes and hilarious. You will pee yourself. And learn some English on the go.


5.Dexter: This TV show ended in 2013, it has 8 Seasons, each with 12 episodes so you will have some serious watching to do. The main hero is a forensic specialist working for Miami Police and oh wait, he is a serial killer as well. It is sarcastic, messy, violent and very entertaining. Good for crime vocabulary.



The Importance Of Being a Relaxed Teacher.

Work-life balance has been a buzzword for quite some time now, and I can’t stress enough how important in the teaching profession it is not to work.

If you want to be healthy, efficient, good at your job and happy at the same time, you have to learn to let go. To stop and take a breath.

It is essential for your personal and professional life that you find joy in the work you do. And you can’t enjoy our job if you are permanently stressed and overworked. Your personal life will suffer and afterward, it’s a downward spiral.

How to find the time? Here’s a short list of tips.

1] Prioritise. You can never do all the tasks in one afternoon or evening, you’d be overwhelmed. Chose the most important ones, plan your work, and after you’ve finished them, don’t work.

2] Plan and prepare. Whatever it is, a lesson, a game, your lunch, paperwork, be ready. Prepare before so that you can finish your task effectively. Otherwise, you will improvise too much, panic and lose precious time.

3] Share. If you share your lesson plans and activities with colleagues it is likely they will also share their resources with you. You don’t have to do everything alone.

4] Don’t try to invent the wheel. There are tons of textbooks, grammar books, resource packs, pdfs, lesson plans, videos, apps, podcasts. You don’t have to prepare all your materials from scratch.

5] Delegate. I know many female teachers with families who after they come home from work: cook, clean the house, do the laundry, do the dishes, walk the dog, do the shopping, do homework with their children, etc. I’m sure those of you with older kids could delegate some of these responsibilities to them and be strict about it. Also, I’ve noticed how teachers are considered to have more free time and they are often expected by their partners to do all the housework. Talk to your partner about their expectations and try to find a mutually satisfying solution.

6] Don’t waste your time. Learn to say no and don’t spend time with people who you don’t like. Don’t do things that aren’t important or necessary and which don’t make you feel happy.

Let me know in the comments if you have any other tips how to effectively manage your time.



Photo by Joe Pizzio on Unsplash



Holiday Is Over, Back To Work ESL Teacher!

It’s been a while since I posted an article, created a worksheet or did anything even resembling work. Why?

I needed a reboot. I love my work, the creativity of it, the relationships with my students that it brings, BUT, in order to enjoy it all and to be able to create, invent and teach and to be all enthusiastic about it – I need, from time to time – a complete cleansing.

In my case, it means not to work at all and to completely forget that I am a teacher. Not for a weekend, not for a week or even a month. I am lucky that I can relax for 7 weeks.

I read all those mystery novels I’d been putting aside for months, went hiking, rafting, walked around my city, enjoyed coffee in my favorite cafes, went on a couple of day trips with my friend, traveled a bit: Greece, France, Italy. In those countries I explored the seaside, the medieval little villages, galleries, I sampled their delicious food and wines. I had a great time and I didn’t work.

I never work in summer,  I don’t think about work in summer and I don’t talk about work in summer. It is me time and in the end of my little sabbatical, I can’t wait to go back to work!

It is essential for teachers and any other helping professions to find ways how to relax, recharge mentally and physically. You can’t do this job properly unless you learn how to let go. Burnout is a real threat and I believe that only a happy teacher can be an inspirational teacher.

Long break such as I’ve just had is not always an option and finding personal time during the school year is as important as good lesson planning.  I will write more about how to find that time and how to use that time to recharge in my next article.


Photo by Leio McLaren on Unsplash.

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