Big list of antonyms for academic English : IELTS, TOEFL and TOIEC



Here’s a great list of academic antonyms to help you with your IELTS speaking and writing.

Lists are great, but how can you use them? Do you learn them? Do you just read them? What do you do? Read the advice below.

  1. Read through this list and circle 10-15 antonym pairs that you don’t know and learn them. Test yourself on them.
  2. Read through the list. Choose ten hard pairs you don’t know, print them off and stick them on your wall / toilet wall / fridge door – anywhere you will look, often
  3. Play a game with them like the awesome word frog game
  4. Play pelmanism. Choose ten you think are useful. Write them on small pieces of paper. Put them face down on a table. Now turn each one over and try to match the pairs.



The top ten idioms in English – IELTS /TOEFL / TOIEC speaking!




I’ve done no research on this and so, there is no way  I can be sure that these are the top ten idioms used in English.

Adding idioms to your spoken language will make you sound more natural and more like a native speaker. But PLEASE DON’T use them all the time!

Choose two or three idioms that you like and remember them. Use them at the right time and don’t try to force them into every sentence.

idioms chris speck3



1.g 2.j 3.a 4.i 5.b 6.h 7.c 8.d 9. f 10.e

Check out Richard King’s book for more help with your IELTS exams!


Improve your pronunciation, again – record an interview on your phone


It’s hard to listen to your own voice when you are speaking. Use your mobile phone to record your voice while you interview yourself.

a)  Download or print out the worksheet below. Interview and record yourself on your mobile phone


b) Read through the questions and practise what you are going to say. Add a couple more questions at the end.

c) Record your interview yourself on your mobile phone.

d) As you listen back to the recording, think about these things:

  • Was your pronunciation good. Were there any words you said badly or that didn’t sound correct?
  • Did you answer the questions completely?
  • Were you happy with the grammar you used?
  • Do you think you spoke too quickly or slowly?
  • What areas in your spoken English could you improve?


Pronunciation: recording your own voice – for EFL / ESOL and IELTS


It’s very hard to listen to your own voice when you are speaking. So why not use your mobile phone to record yourself speaking in English? Here is a sample task for you to improve your pronunciation.

You’ll need something that will record your voice. Use the ‘audio recorder’ on your mobile phone.

Read the text below three or four times. Then, read it again and record yourself on your mobile phone.

“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity Kitai. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice. We are all telling ourselves a story and that day mine changed.”

Now listen to it again. Are you happy with your pronunciation? What things did you say wrong? Could you have said any of the words better?

Now listen to the same speech by Will Smith here.

Compare your pronunciation with the ‘correct’ version.


  • You DON’T HAVE TO sound  EXACTLY THE SAME as the recording!
  • There are many different accents and sounds in English and they are all ‘correct’.

Try this again with any other speech in English that you like!

Learn English with Muhammad Ali – a quotes worksheet for your English class


A brilliant athlete, entertainer and role-model, Muhammad Ali used his language skill to attack, humiliate and make fun of his opponents even before they stepped into the ring.

Here’s a warmer/ filler/ cooler lesson on his quotes and life. This should take about half and hour and would be good for intermediate EFL / ESOL or ESL students and above.


1. Click the picture below to download the worksheet. Feel free to change it anyway you like.

mohammed thumb.png

2. Have students look at the picture and quote about Ali. Ask them to explain what it means? Students should come up with something like – ‘it means he’s fast’. If that’s what Ali wanted to say, then why didn’t he just say ‘I’m really fast’? The quote is funny and contains lots of images, it shows you that Ali is intelligent and witty. Elicit from student the idea that the way you say something is often as, if not more, important than what is said.

3. Now get students to tell each other what they know about Ali’s life (if anything) before you play the short bio on him. I’ve pasted this below but the URL is here

4. Now get students to read through the quotes in pair or small groups. Get them to match them to the more simple explanations.  Here are the answers – 1.c 2.f 3.a 4.d 5.h 6.b 7.e 8.g

5. Follow up. Have students look for more quotes from famous sportsmen or famous people that they like. Get students to share their quotes with their partners of the whole class. You could even print them off and stick them on the wall.





Famous Paintings Class Discussion Slideshow – with Banksy


Here’s a famous painting discussion class you can use as a warmer, cooler, filler or a springboard for art/ research projects with your EFL or ESOL class.

Download the PowerPoint show here Famous paintings or click the picture.

famous paintings

There are lots of ways to run the lesson and it will work with almost all levels. You’ll differentiate by student response.

1.Straightforward PowerPoint show.

Pair your students and have them read the first two questions. They should ask and answer the same questions for every slide. Walk round and listen to them as they chat.

2. Art Gallery Lesson.

Print off the pictures and stick them up around the classroom. Pair students and get them to walk round the pictures together, asking and answering the same questions from the first slide. Ask them to rank the pictures from the ones they like least to the ones they like most

3. The Research project

After doing the PowerPoint presentation, give students, in pairs, a copy of one of the paintings. Get them to find out as much as they can about both the artist and the picture using the internet. There are stories behind all of these famous pictures that are as important as the pictures themselves. Why is Andy Warhol’s picture of soup cans so important? So what about the Mona Lisa’s smile? Knowing more about these pictures will help your students appreciate them.

Please leave us a comment if you use the lesson.





IELTS Study Partners. Why you need one.


Why do I need a study partner, I like working alone.

For lots of people studying should be done alone in a quiet room with a book, at a desk and with a pen and paper. This view is fine, but in order to maximise your study time, sometimes working with a partner or group will allow you to remember and focus on a much wider range of material and be exposed to a different vocabulary and techniques.

Why should I choose to work with someone else?

We bounce our ideas off other people, we live and work with other people and we share our ideas with other people. They look at things in different ways and can often show us ways of doing things that we didn’t realise. It might just be that your study partner shows you something you need on your IELTS exam, this could be how to answer an essay in a certain way or a language structure to use.

Who should I choose to work with?

Anyone who you get on well with do just fine, even if their English isn’t as good as yours. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you won’t learn English properly if you work with someone who doesn’t speak perfect English. Lots and lots of English learners spend all of their time listening to ‘perfect’ English and they still make lots of mistakes. A word of warning however, don’t study with your friends, these are the people who make you laugh and you enjoy being with, if you try to use them as a study partner the chance are that you’ll just do what you always do with them – have a good time.

What tasks could we do together?

  • Take one section of a reading exam (like one from the back of this book) and do it together in 20 minutes. Then compare and discuss your answers before you check the answers together.
  • Both (or all of you) do the same reading exam on your own then meet up to discuss it. Make sure you talk about what you thought was right and wrong before you check them.
  • Do different exam papers and get your study partner or partners to correct it for you using the answers, while you do the same for them. Don’t forget to talk about why the answers are right or wrong.

Any more tips?

Yes. Set a regular time and day to study together. Study in a place where you feel comfortable and can talk without distractions. If this is a café or a bar then that’s fine, remember that libraries are good places to study on your own, they don’t always allow you to have conversations. Make sure you both have clear goals about what you want to achieve. Be supportive and remind others to be supportive as well. Explain what parts of the exam you are worried about.

I still don’t think it’s a good idea…

Working with other people will make you more motivated because you won’t want to let them (or yourself) down. Hopefully this will help you study faster and with a greater focus which should result in a better result in your IELTS reading test – which is what you wanted in the first place.