Angela's English classes

Exercises, resources, tips, ideas and a dose of fun

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Advanced 5 – unit 11: speaking

Compare/Contrast Vocabulary

Language of comparison and contrast

Comparisons with Nouns


CAE tips


Featured imaged:

Trillium erectum comparing red and white color varieties.jpg

wikimedia commons

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Exploring English – Free MOOC

Futurelearn is offering a free MOOC (massive open online course)  from British Council (“UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities”) for people interested in learning more about the  British culture and improving their English language skills. The date hasn’t been announced yet, but I will inform you through my blog or you can register in Futurelearn and register you interest so they can  send you an email when the course opens.

This course is suggested for people with an intermediate or higher level of English. You will be able to watch videos and download them. Moreover, you will find quizzes and discussions to evaluate your understanding. The course also involves writing about your feelings and experiences about each week’s topic. However, it’s up to you to participate actively or to take the course and just watch and read other people’s comments.

The course lasts 6 weeks and it takes about 2 hours per week to cover each week’s tasks. You can get a cerftificate from Futuelearn at the end of the course or buy a Statement of Participation.

Don’t miss the chance to learn more!

Read more here:


union-jack-flat-isolated picture by Karen Arnold, retrieved from

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CAE Writing samples

Made with Angela Sato

Made with

No matter how you feel about your writing skills, reading samples will help you have a clearer understanding of how to fulfill the expectations of the task. Even though we proofread, we tend to  overlook mistakes or we are unable to recognize that the language we have used is does not suit the purpose. Consequently, comparing your drafts with the following examples will result in obtaining better writing skills.

“Get advice from exam writing expert Fiona Joseph with her weekly CAE writing task. See corrected answers submitted by students in our ‘Makeover’ page. Plus: vocabulary and grammar exercises to help you develop your writing skills!”
Flo-Joe CAE Writing Class

Writing Tasks from the CAE Handbook – Cambridge ESOL Russia


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Levels of formality in writing -AD4

What is formality?

Formality is is a strict following of established rules or customs.

Despite the arrival of the Internet and its repercussions, letter writing is still a significant tool in written commmunication.


BBC’s Bitesize: Formal and informal writing revision

Oxford University Press Resources:

levels of formality

Esspresso English – Levels of formality

Unilearning – Checklist of language to avoid in academic writing

Target Training – Writing Emails: 20 phrases for closing an email

Avoiding clichés


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Writing: Express an opinion on animal treatment – Intermediate 7

The pre-writing task was done in class. In order to convince or persuade people it’s essential to include facts, evidence and expert’s opinions. Do some research when you have made up your mind about the issue you will deal with.

Writing Strategies:

Using Evidence to Strengthen Your Arguments (from Prof. Allison Pease’s Writing Center workshop)

Extra Writing Skills Practice


Reuters: zoos

National Geographic: interview – San Diego zoo

Arguments for and against zoos

Zoos and conservation

A mother’s view on zoos and an alternatives


BBC: using animals in entertainment

 PETA animals in entertainment factsheets

ASPCA animals in entertainmente

Pros and cons of animals in circuses

Animal conservation organizations in Peru:

These organizations provide alternatives to get in touch with wild animals

Fundación Ballena Azul – Peru

ORCA – Peru

Mundo Azul

Amazon Shelter

 Next remember to follow these steps when writing:

  1.  Think about the introduction. State what the situation is in an impersonal way.
  2. Think of at two or three reasons to support your opinion.
  3. Reflect on the possible arguments against them.
  4. Work on your conclusion. You final statement expresses your personal opinion.
  5. Write a draft. Use the ideas you wrote in your plan. Make sure you include the grammar and vocabulary from the unit.
  6. Use a formal style: no contractions or colloquial expressions. Formal style – Yale University
  7. Check for grammar, punctuation or spelling mistakes.

Featured image:

“Animal Rights Memorial – Sherborn, Massachusetts – DSC02932 (cropped 2)” by Daderot – Daderot. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons –,_Massachusetts_-_DSC02932_(cropped_2).jpg#/media/File:Animal_Rights_Memorial_-_Sherborn,_Massachusetts_-_DSC02932_(cropped_2).jpg

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Boost your language with Magoosh!

Magoosh is a play on the Old Persian word, “magush”, one who is highly learned, wise and generous.

Are you a sedulous student? Learning new language successfully implies being assiduous and those who commit are more likely to study with alacrity.

App time again! “Magoosh is an online education company with a focus on teaching through vidaeos and personalized customer support.” They offer  resources for test preparation  for people intending to take the GRE, GMAT,SAT and TOEFEL. Tons of contented customer write reviews lauding their services.

We can get  their apps for free –  Vocabulary builders, vocabulary flashcards and video lessons (5 hours of video and audio). I have downloaded GMAT idioms (collocations) and GRE Vocabulary Builder. On this post I have focused on the ones for English vocabulary only.

GRE Vocabulary Builder: Multiple choice questions. In terms of grading there aren’t any numerical scores. There is a score bar that is filled as you answer correctly. If you get a wrong answer, you will be shown the answer with an example with the lexical item, thus you will be shown the word again until you answer correctly. Enough repetition will reinforce  the acquisition. Try creating your own examples. According to Magoosh, their apps use  “a spaced repetition system. Words you are learning will reappear frequently (occurring less frequently the better you know them) and words you already know won’t be repeated.”


On the other hand, TOEFL Vocabulary Flascards presents vocabulary items whose meaning the learner has to remember and then tap to screen to confirm the definition. An example sentence is provided, too. Progress tracking is carried out as with the following app.

GMAT idiom flashcards: Two examples are shown and you must decide (by thinking not marking) which one is correct then tap and get feedback. Next, select the option ‘I knew this idiom’ or ‘I didn’t know this idiom’. Three bars will be filled according to your progress: you have mastered this idiom, you are reviewing this idiom or you are learning this idiom. SAT Vocabulary Flashcards and GRE Vocabulary Flashcards work the same way.

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GRE Vocabulary Flashcards

As you must have already notice I am fond of cats. Therefore, I simply couldn’t ignore Magoosh’s blog post : SAT VoCATulary: Learn Vocabulary with Cats. Check out their other highly recommended blogs, too.

Other products from Magoosh: Magoosh GRE Prep (200 animated lessons ; math, verbal, and writing preparation), Magoosh Calculus Lessons (135 animated lessons), Magoosh GMAT Prep (video lessons for math, verbal, writing and integrated reasoning.), Magoosh SAT Prep (160 animated lessons; covers math, reading, and writing)

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.

Magoosh apps on Google Play

 Magoosh apps on Itunes

The use of the images and logos on this post is intended for noncommercial and educational purposes. The images were taken from

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Art -why do we have to talk about it?

Art is everywhere. It can be anything or everything, something or nothing for some. Art is also a topic in many books we have to deal with. It can become thrilling or dull depending on how we present it to the class. I recall sharing experiences with colleagues and we thought the artists and pieces of art introduced in the unit weren’t very motivating for people who don’t adore art. By the time, you read this you must think there DO exist ways to stimulate your students. The aim today is only to show you some findings that will interest you and your students as well. In addition, I am sharing a simple lesson plan for a Speaking lesson. I hope you find it useful.


Interesting ad image by brewbooks retrieved from Flickr licensed underdescarga

Guido Daniele-  Handimals

CC image courtesy of Sébastien Barré on Flickr

Another Flexible Paper Sculpture by Li Hongbo  (at Klein Sun Gallery, NYC) #lihongbo All paper, stretching.  by Sébastien Barré on Flickr licensed under creative_commons_license_logo

Li Hongbo video

“Storker metro”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikipedia –

Clear Tape art by Mark Jenkins 

AIM: students will be able to talk about art by using descriptive adjectives and by expressing their opinion on pieces of art.

Level: Upper Basic,Intermediate /Contents: Art / Skills: Speaking/ Interaction patterns: pairs,groups

Teaching aids: realis- handicrafts, pictures, drawings (made by the teacher), pictures, video, questions worksheet

I)ANTICIPATORY SET: students some drawings and handicrafts you have made (don’t make them perfect!). Have sstudents looks at them, touch them. In pairs discuss which they like.

Honeycomb technique – DIY tutorial

2.Ask students : In your opinion, can my artwork be presented in a museum? Why (not)?

provide some input:



List of Descriptive Words to Critique Art


  1. Do you visit art galleries? why(not)?
  2. What type of art do you know? ideas on board
  3. Which artists know do you? elict information.
  4. What about the following artists? Show pictures.

In pairs discuss the materials and the procedures to make the artwork. Students share ideas with class, clarify if necessary. present comprehension questions. Then have students watch and discuss their answers in pairs.

Worksheet with answers

  • What do people think when they first see Li Hongbo’s sculptures?
  • What can his sculptures do?
  • When did his interest in paper begin?
  • What inspired him to create his sculptures?
  • How many sheets of paper did his man sculpture need?
  • Which aspect is important for a sculpture’s balance – depth, width, mass or  center?
  • What could happen if this aspect isn’t right?

5. Vocabulary: look at the pictures and match with the verbs.


1.Critical Thinking questions:

  • Do you believe art is only in art galleries?
  • In your opinion, can anybody do art?
  • To your mind, what makes someone an artist?
  • Do you believe  today’s modern artists better than the artists in the past?
  • What have the artists we have talked about obtained through their work?
  • What have the spectators obtained?


I believe art is something only very skilled people can do. I can do something innovative but it might not look so nice. Besides, if I wanted create something similar to what we saw I would need a lot of practice.

I liked the artwork we saw. Thanks to it I was entertained and it motivated me to continue with my hobbies. Perhaps I create something interesting and I can sell it!


where: streets, houses, parks, people’s bodies,buildings,stadiums, hospitals,restaurnts,salons, etc

what we can get from it :

recognition,fame,money, satisfaction,personal growth, motivation,inspiration, entertainment

it can help :

  • learn about yourself,other cultures, other ways of thinking
  • your children to eat (food art)
  • people to express themselves
  • deliver political/social/ecological messages
  • teach a subject
  • develop skills


We have talked about art. Now think and reflect with your partners: Why is art important?

Extra reading for you or your students:


Groups: Together choose one artist and create a similar piece of art with a personal message. They could also innovate and use their own ideas or mix ideas,too.

Bring it to class or bring the materials and explain:

  • your reasons to choose the artist
  • the process to create you art
  • the message you want to deliver

This lesson plan is simple as you can see. Adapting and improving it depends on you and I am sure there are tons of creative people out there.

I have to thank my students (again) for insipiring me!

Featured image: Brush


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Which words should I use? – Collocations

Student: Teacher, how do I know which are the correct word combinations? I always use prepositions at random or according to what I think sounds better.

Teacher: It’s a matter of practice. You have to read more and you will remember little by little.

Do you feel identified? Learners often use the language without knowing the rules or the right collocations (group of two or more words that usually go together). More than grammar, using them pertinently is key to express yourself more naturally.




(My first Wordle wordcloud!)

Why should we learn collocations? If you do so, your language will be richer. In other words, you will avoid constant repetition of words, your ideas will flow easily and you will get the listeners  more interested in your ideas. Moreover, you will be easily understood. In addition, learning the language in chunks or blocks of language is easier, faster and more entertaining.

Oxford Online Collocation Dictionary is an advantageous resource you can use when unsure about some expressions and especially when writing. The search results show an explanation of the term and the collocations of the word with nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions as well as common phrases. The layout is not the most eye-catching but it is simple and straightforward.

Try a collocations quiz if to test your knowledge


Do or Make



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Why should I write a summary?

A: Hi, How are you? Yesterday you told me you had finished reading a page-turner. What is it about? I’m going to the bookstore and I might buy it if you recommend it.

B: Sure, I’ll tell you about it. “Gillian was sitting under a cherry blossom tree, when suddenly a hissing sound drew her attention to the …….blah, blah, blah.”

A: Hey,listen!  Could you summarize it for me, please? I just want to know what it is about not the whole story….I don’t have time. What’s more I already got lost. What happened after …?(…)





Summarizing is a skill that we can develop through practice.  The aim of summarizing is to capture the essence of a piece of work in order to make the main ideas available and understandable for someone who doesn’t have ready access to the original book, article, movie, etc. Writing a summary also demonstrates your understanding and capacity of synthesis.


Some points to consider when summarizing a reading:

1. Skimgive a quick and superficial reading. Ask yourself what have I understood? Answer the following questions with the information from the original piece of work:

Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

2. Read again carefully. Look at words or phrases in bold letters, headings, subheadings, diagrams other any other visually attractive clue.Ask yourself, do I understand it better? Which information is clearer? Underline or circle the key information.

3.Read again to make sure you interpret the author’s conclusion. Why did he/she write the text?

4. Write  your summary. Start with a clear introduction stating the type of work(e.g: article), title, and main point in the present tense – The article (written by Hans Rome, a Maths professor at PUCP) is about …..

5.Read your summary as many times as necessary and compare it with the original. Remember to avoid COPY & PASTE, specific details, personal opinions or personal interpretations.

6. Ask someone else to read it. Anyone who hasn’t read the original text must be able to understand it.


More information on writing a summary:

Practice and examples:


Ways to Say “Say”







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INTERMEDIATE 4 – Pros and cons of a controversial issue, writing

Being authentic is important. Giving your own opinion it, too. However, in order to support your views first you need to have information, experience and knowledge of other views. This will let us take part in richer debates. For this reason I have looked for online material you can use for inspiration.


Parole is the provisional release of a prisoner who agrees to certain conditions
Restitution: the act of returning something that was lost or stolen to its owner


I found an interesting and visual PPT on the following blog. Google thiis:
Ms. Arndt’s Learning Blog     Censorship in TV Programs and Films

All images used in this post are CC0