Arguing…Who doesn’t?

This turned out to be a great topic for an upper-intermediate adult class 🙂 : Men vs women stereotypical behaviour when arguing.

Flickr Photo by Niko Kahkonen under CC BY NC-SA- 2.0

Flickr Photo by Niko Kahkonen under CC BY NC-SA- 2.0

Outline of the lesson:

Lead in

  • Describe a scenario to the Ss where a couple (man and a woman) are having an argument, for example at a restaurant, at a bus stop, in the supermarket, etc.
  • Ask Ss to discuss in pairs: Stereotypically, how are they behaving differently?
  • Open class feedback


  • Provide your students with a vocabulary list on behavioural tendencies which they must categorise in a Venn diagram, whether it is more likely of a man, a woman or both.  Examples : withdraw, beat around the bush, be straightforward, cry, raise the tone of voice, be sarcastic, roll your eyes, etc.
  • Work on the vocabulary with the Ss – meaning and pronunciation – and have them work in small groups to contrast their opinions. This is more interesting if you can mix men and women within the same group.
  • Open class feedback


  • Ss will watch the following video : Weird things all couples fight about.
  • Before they do so, ask them to predict what they arguments will be about. Let them know they are everyday minor arguments a couple would have.
  • Play the video. Ss check for their predictions.
  • If want and have time, play it twice, the second time with the captions so that they can focus on language for further work on colloquial speech.

Role play

  • Ideally, pair up male and female students and ask them to switch roles for the task. (The man should play the woman and viceversa)
  • Give them time to prepare a 30 second role play of an argument similar to the ones in the video. Ask them to try and include as much stereotypical behaviour as possible.
  • Each pair will perform in front of the whole class. After each performance, the audience must:

(a) Describe what the argument was about

(b) Point out any stereotypical behaviour

(c) Rate the performance from 1-10 based on: creativity and humour, language use and dramatisation skills.

Could you whisper that again, please?

Photo from Flickr by Ricky Thakrar under CC BY -NC-ND 2.0

Photo from Flickr by Ricky Thakrar under CC BY -NC-ND 2.0

Here is an exciting and dynamic game I used in class the other day to review vocabulary. It is similar to the Chinese Whispers classic but with a competitive twist to it. 🙂


– Divide your students into two teams and your board into two halves. The teams will line up facing the board perpendicularly.

– Shout out a vocabulary topic you’d like to review.

– Starting from the last student in line, they will whisper a word along the team members and the first student in line will write it on the board. Once he/she has finished writing it, they must move to the end of the line and keep it going to write as many words as possible.

– If a member of the group considers there is a spelling error, they are allowed to correct it when it’s their turn to be at the board.

– To increase the excitement, after a couple of minutes, change the vocabulary topic. 🙂


– This game could also be used as a warm up task to brainstorm vocabulary on a topic that is about to be covered.

Pronunciation focus: Ask students to come up with vocabulary that includes certain phonemes.

Grammar focus: Shout out a prepositions and students will write down matching verbs. HAVE FUN 🙂


A classic vocabulary game that suits any day 🙂


Photo from Flickr by Daniel Kulinski under CC BY NC-SA 2.O

Today I had to substitute in a 2nd grade primary class, last hour on Friday … you can imagine 😉

As I entered the class, I knew exactly what we were going to do. I asked, “Have you ever played STOP??” 🙂

I remember playing this game when I was younger myself, not in the classroom though but on a rainy day, during long flights or on Christmas Eve with the whole family.

  1. Draw the table on the board so that students can copy it on a sheet of paper.
  2. Decide the categories for each column. ( I use 2 different sets like the ones below depending on my aims).
  3. When everyone is ready, choose a letter and at the count of 1… 2 … 3… write it on the board.
  4. Students have to fill in the table with words that start by that letter. (like the example below)
  5. As soon as someone completes ALL the categories they must shout STOP! and everyone must put their pens down.
  6. Ask students randomly for their answers. They must listen to everyone else’s answers to keep track of their points.
  7. Points for each answer :

1 = if two or more Ss have the same word

2 = if no one else has the same word

3 = if he/she is the only one to have filled that column




I specially enjoy the fantastic answers given for books and films as students tend to translate the names literally when they can’t come up with one that fits for sure 🙂 🙂 🙂




As a teacher, I have used this activity with all my students, regardless the age and the language level. It always works out to be a great revision game and an exciting brain teaser. 🙂




                   image from Flickr by Aaron Lanrdy 
                 used under CC Attribution Non-Comercial license 


I’m quite sure most of you are familiar with this wonderful game. Just in case, I will briefly describe how it is played under its usual rules and later, how I have upgraded it to get the most out of it.

Taboo is a classic board game which I love to use with my students to revise vocabulary. From the very start of each school year, I start creating a new set of taboo cards with the vocabulary that derives from the syllabus and many of those other words that naturally come up during a class.

You can find printable sets online, but I prefer creating them myself to make sure it does cover the vocabulary we have worked on as a class.


This game can be played with the whole class and whoever guesses the word is up next, or even more exciting, create teams so they can compete against each other.

Teams of 2 or 3 students each is ideal, this way different members of the opposing team can watch over to make sure the rules aren’t broken and keep track of the time limit.


  • Explain to your team the word at the top of the card, without mentioning any of the taboo words below, within a certain time.
  • No miming or making gestures/sounds related to the word.


Keeping to the game element  and excitng energy of competing against fellow classmates, one thing about this version is that the pace is slowed down a bit, which gives students the time to reflect more on each of the words that come up.

This is because more information about each word will be demanded from students.

Points are awarded for:

  1. Guessing the word
  2. Marking the stress in the word
  3. Guessing the/some taboo words ( they can be asked to say a maximum of 2 or 3 related words that come to mind)
  4. Use it in a sentence.

They won’t need any help for the first three since all the information will be on the card. I usually mark the stress placing a little green box below the syllable or typing it in bold. (Whatever you normally use to mark the stress when you write words on the board).

As for the sentences, they must write them down and wait for feedback once they have finished playing. Go over them with the whole class. Give the students the opportunity to correct each other. Only once it has been corrected will they be able to assign a point for it. This keeps the possible winners in suspense until the end of the lesson. 🙂

A record sheet is given to each team so they can keep track of all this.

Answer Where is the stress? Taboo words Example sentence

Have fun!



I’ll start off by admitting I expected this to work well, taking into account its game form, but it wasn’t just good, it was WONDERFUL to see one group after another wanting to start playing and wanting to communicate in English !!!

At the moment, I am working with very young learners, but I believe it could be used up until 12 years old easily. Using it with teenagers or adults would probably work as well, although I’d imagine it would be more of a warm up or end of lesson review activity. I am a firm believer that adults and teenagers like these kind of simple children’s games as long as they are not treated like children and proves useful for their learning process. Like I said, the amount of time designated to the activity is a decisive variable.

I have used this activity with the 5 year old students on the topic of food in order to review the vocabulary and do some controlled practice for : Do you like….? /  Yes I do / No I don’t

Each student was given a template to make a fortune teller. It had the numbers 1-8, 4 colours and the food items they had learnt during the unit. I downloaded a blank template and drew in the specific vocabulary I wanted them to use.







So, we did various things with it:

1. Playing in closed pairs, taking turns while sitting down at their usual spot in the classroom.

2. Lining up in two rows, facing each other, playing on and off as the teacher says  Ready…Steady…Go! or  STOP!

They really enjoyed it and tried to ask as many times as possible in one go, competing with other pairs and showing off how many turns they had taken within the same time limit.

3. A kind of  “musical statues”: The music starts to play and they are meant to move around the room randomly. When the music stops, they have to use their fortune teller to ask whoever is the nearest to them and try to keep the rest of their body as still as possible. We had a good laugh here too.


Such an effective outcome made me think of other topics or functional language to use it with

  • Feelings : Are you ….?  (happy, sad, angry, tired, bored, etc.)
  • Ability : Can you …..? (swim, ride a bike, play the piano, etc.)
  • Telling the time and routines : What time do you ….?  (wake up, have breakfast, go to school, etc.)
  • Possessions: Have you got …? (any pets, a bike, a computer, etc.)
  • Favourites: What is your favourite ….? (sport, food, book, day of the week, etc.)
  • Occupations: What does a/an  ______ do?  (dentist, tailor, zoo keeper, etc.)

You can probably come up with many more of these.


A slight variation on the form might make this a classroom tool which could be used once in a while to revise vocabulary.

  • Instead of using 4 colours use  verb, noun, adjective and adverb and on the inside write letters of the alphabet. They must think of a word that suits that part of speech which either starts or contains that letter.
  • Another twist to it would be, write phonemic symbols on the inside and keep the parts of speech on the outside. They must come up with vocabulary which includes that phoneme.

You can restrict it to a recent unit you have been doing or give them absolute freedom to dig into their background knowledge.