Halloween English – The Vampire Lesson

Here’s another lesson for your ESOL, ESL or EFL students tapping the now mainstream interest in Vampires. Get the worksheet straight away by clicking here – https://chrisspeck.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/the-vampire-lesson.doc

Whether your students enjoyed the seminal video game Vampire: The Masquerade – bloodlines a few years ago or they enjoy The Twilight series of films or the TV shows True Blood or The Vampire Diaries, this lesson might be up their street.

Not everyone likes vampires, so I’d suggest you be careful with this one. Don’t use it with kids or those that are easily offended. Culturally, these kind of vampires are very ‘western’ and so if your students are not familiar with modern, American mythology then this probably won’t work. The Chinese have their own versions of vampires and so do a lot of other cultures…

There’s no special way to run the lesson, just follow the activities on the worksheet. There are broken lines around the worksheet so you can cut the sections up with a pair of scissors if you don’t want students to do it all at once.

Here’s the worksheet again – https://chrisspeck.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/the-vampire-lesson.doc

IELTS Reading – Multiple Choice Questions


Selecting the right option from a list of possible answers is probably the most common assessment method in the world. Such questions are easy to set and mark and are a common feature of exams and test across the globe, including the IELTS reading examination.

Advantages of this method of assessment

This type of question is quick to administer and to check, and, provided they are carefully written, can also be a good indication of whether a candidate understands a particular theory or text. These types of questions can assess a range of different types of information from individual words to comprehension. Modern technology has taken advantage of this form of assessment and even paper based multiple choice exams can be marked very quickly by machines, students shade in a box on an exam paper and these can be scanned by a computer at a fantastic speed. This makes a test both cheap to administer and cheap to mark.

Drawbacks of multiple choice questions

There are quite a few criticisms of multiple choice questions. For a start they can’t check deep knowledge of a subject in the way that a question with even a very short answer can. Indeed, a candidate can guess the answers and get a question correct without having any knowledge at all. Statistically, someone randomly choosing an answer would have a one in four chance of getting it right depending on how many answers there were to choose from.

How multiple choice questions are used in the IELTS exam

On academic IELTS papers, multiple choice questions are used fairly sparingly and often in a more complex way than traditional multi-choice answer questions. Candidates are sometimes given a series of answers in a box, they are then given a number of questions and asked to match the questions with the answers. Another trick is to ask candidates to choose two answers from a list after having chosen just one in a previous multiple choice question.

How to tackle multiple choice questions

Firstly, don’t assume that the answer will be simple, read the question and make sure you understand what the task is. Look for negatives such as ‘which of the following is NOT…’. Attempt to eliminate the answers that are incorrect and by doing this you should be left with the correct one.

Also, try not to spend a long time on just one question. If you really can’t figure out the answer it’s best just to use your judgement, choose one and then move on.  You won’t lose any marks on the IELTS reading exam for making an educated guess.



Online reading tasks – How e-learning can save paper – no kidding

My English language students need to read a lot – fact, and I often want them to read something quickly which they can discard when they finish. What I don’t want to do however is photocopy the same thing for each student only to have them read it once and then file it away neatly never to be seen again.(or more likely, thrown it in the bin.)

Here’s where technology can help.

Armed with their smartphones that can access the internet students can read a wide range of material quickly and without wasting resources. (except maybe their monthly bandwith allowance)

Online Reading Tasks
I put my students into pairs and gave them the urls below. I then told them to go away and use their smartphones or any device that could access the internet to read the three stories and come up with three endings …each ending being a single sentence or even just a word.

Story 1 – Joe and the tigers


Write your ending to the story in one sentence here:


Story 2 – Joe and the hairdresser


Write your ending to the story in one sentence here:


Story 3 – The workman and the beggar


Write your ending to the story in one sentence here:


Suggested answers

A good ending for story one – ‘I know, it works really well.”

A good ending for story two – ‘I’m the one who has to look at it all day.’

A good ending for story three – ‘No’.

Further thoughts

When are we going to see ‘electronic paper’? By this I mean a cheap, simple device that can use either a wi-fi or USB connection to show written content to students. I don’t mean a set of expenisve laptops (or even a computer) or a trendy handheld device,I mean a cheap bit of plastic that will show words and pictures, that can be thrown around and used over and over and over again to show documents. Think of the amount of money that could be saved on paper. You’d never need to print exams, worksheets or home made books, or stories, or timetables

…actually, if students already have a smartphone then they’ve got this already.

Joe and the Hairdresser – read the story and write the last line.

Joe’s wife was an ugly woman. She had horrible eyes a big nose and fat lips. One day she decided that if she had a nice haircut it would make her more beautiful. So Joe took her to the hairdresser.

When the hairdresser had finished he held up a mirror so that Joe’s wife could look at herself. She looked in the mirror and saw her ugly face. She saw her big nose and horrible eyes. She started to cry. Joe started crying as well. The hairdresser tried to calm them both down. He said he would give them a refund for the hair cut, but Joe would not stop crying.
Then Joe’s wife became angry.
“Will you shut up?” she said. “I’m the one with an ugly face”
“I know,” said Joe, “ _______________________________ .”

Joe and the tigers – read the story and write the last line

One day one of Joe’s neighbours visited him.
Joe was standing outside his house with a bag of salt. He was throwing the salt over the front of his garden.

“What are you doing Joe?” asked the neighbour.

“I’m trying to keep the tigers away.”

The neighbour looked shocked.
“But there are no tigers near here?”


The zombie lesson – reading and discussion lesson for Halloween

Thanks to the unofficial Stanford Blog for this image

Can’t be bothered to read the blog?  I wouldn’t bother either, here’s the worksheet:  https://chrisspeck.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/the-zombie-lesson.doc

I quite like zombie films and most of my pre-intermediate and intermediate students do as well. Here is a three part Zombie lesson to get them talking and reading about the most popular undead monster in modern culture.

Pre- reading. – You can dictate these questions or cut them up and ask students to read them together

Reading – You could dictate a few comprehension questions about this or blank out a few of the words to make it a gap fill exercise.

Discussion – ask students in pairs to make their own zombie apocalypse plan outlining what they and their partner would do to survive the zombies. I put a few sentences students could finish but they could write anything. Help them out by giving them some ideas. What would they do if there really was a zombie threat? Would they go to the supermarket to get food, the DIY store to get weapons? Where would they go long term? How would they really survive?

****WARNING**** I wouldn’t do this lesson with students who aren’t familiar with the Zombie genre, younger students or students who wouldn’t like this kind of thing.

Here’s the worksheet again https://chrisspeck.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/the-zombie-lesson.doc

Let me know if this lesson worked or not.

More of the same from: www.englishlanguagespacestation.com

Internet Research for ESOL / ESL / IELTS Part 2- Clothes Shopping

Despite the dot com boom and bust and the fear of criminals using ones credit card number, internet shopping continues to be big business reducing shopping streets across the world to ghost towns.  Next, www.marksandspencer.comTopman and even Ebay have bright, engaging websites to sell their clothes. As always, there is opportunity to exploit these well designed resources with your English language students.


Download the lesson here. Clothes Shopping on the Net: https://chrisspeck.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/clothes-shopping-on-the-net1.doc

Materials Needed: 1 copy of the worksheet per student /One computer with the internet for each pair of students/ Interactive Whiteboard (optional)

Level: Entry 3+ / B1 + / Pre Intermediate +

What it’s good for: Scanning, pair work, discussion, clothes, shopping

How long will it take: 40 minutes including introduction and feedback

Lesson Notes

**Note** The key to this lesson is making the introduction and the feedback after the worksheet meaningful. The task in itself is very straight forward scan reading from the internet but to make it more communicative you can use the front and back end of the lesson. It could also be intergrated into a section of your course on shopping and clothes.

1. Introduction. You might like to start by showing some pictures of clothes on the interactive whiteboard. The Leo Network has some nice images here here: http://www.learnenglish.de/vocabulary/clothes.htm

2.  Ask students where they buy their clothes. Do they ever use the internet to buy clothes? What websites do they use? Show a glossy website like M and S and ask students what they’d like to buy. Search for the item using the search box and choose the item together.

2. Have students complete the worksheet  by searching on the internet for the items they want. It might be better to put girls together Circulate round the room loking at what students are doing offering comments, suggestions or help. Don’t just leave them to it.

3. Feedback. Ask pairs to tell you how much they spent, also ask them to say what they liked and why. This might also lead onto a discussion on fashion or men and women’s clothing, download my powerpoint for this here: Shopping Discussion for Interactive Whiteboard: https://chrisspeck.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/clothes-discussion.ppt