Lesson Plan: Lexicography (B2+)

Hmmmmm, what is lexicography, you ask?

‘the activity or occupation of compiling dictionaries.’ – Sounds like fun, right?!

This is a nice little Ted Talk lesson focused on vocabulary and how words are selected in our dictionaries, also focusing on a discussion on what words should/shouldn’t be put into the dictionary.

Here are some new words added to the Oxford English dictionary in 2018 you can share with your students. Why do you think they were selected? What do you think is the criteria for adding a word to the dictionary? Are these words useful?

slimeball (n) – A repulsive or despicable person.

‘My boss is a complete slimeball – he always hits on me and he’s married!’

sausage party (n) -An event or group in which the majority of participants are male.

‘this is a total sausage party, let’s leave’

munted (adj) -In a state of disastrous disintegration; broken or ruined.

‘with government departments buying overpriced rubbish, no wonder the budget is all munted’

chemsex, n. -Sexual activity engaged in while under the influence of stimulant drugs

‘the majority of interviewees had a history of recreational drug use prior to becoming involved in chemsex’

facepalm, v. – A gesture in which the palm of one’s hand is brought to one’s face as an expression of dismay, exasperation, embarrassment.

‘did anyone else facepalm during this scene?’

crowd-surfer, n. – A person who engages in crowd-surfing at a concert.

‘I was recording a video of my favorite band when a crowd-surfer kicked my phone out of my hand’

Get students to check the questions before watching the video. Watch the video and then go through the answers. Put students into groups to discuss the questions and then get some feedback. If you have any time left, use the extension task below (it’s hilariously fun).


Game: Balderdash

Play in groups. One student will be the leader of the group. The teacher will give the leader of each group and set of words and definitions. The leader will give the word to the group (but not the definition!). Everyone must invent a definition for the word. The leader should write correct definition and then mix with the other definitions. The group must then decide the correct definition. Whoever chooses the correct definition gets a point. The student with the most points wins.

Lesson Plan: Lying (B1-B2)

If you’re partner hasn’t been eating very healthily for the last few weeks and asks you ‘Do I look fat today?’, what do you say? If you tell the truth, you’ll ruin their day (and probably your sex life) or maybe they will appreciate the honesty – who knows.

You see your friend’s partner on the street kissing another person – What do you do? Most people would tell their friend immediately but should you? is it your business? could it jeopardise your friendship?

You’re gay and not ready to come out but people are asking you? Sure, you could tell the truth but can you wholeheartedly trust the people you love to accept you? What are the short-term/long-term consequences?

We are all taught from a child that lying is wrong but then why is it so easy? We all do it. We do it to protect ourselves, we do it to protect others and we do it because sometimes telling the truth feels like giving up the control in a situation.

and so, is lying inherently bad?

These are some questions and situations I like to discuss with my students at the beginning of the class before eliciting some good vocab – for example;

to tell a lie
to tell the truth
to tell a whopper/a tall tale
to fib / tell a fib (UK)
to detect a lie
a white lie
to get away with a lie
to get caught (in a lie)

After this, get them to discuss the questions with a partner and then pre-teach the vocabulary on the worksheet, get them to match to the definitions and maybe make some example sentences together if they are finding the vocab too difficult.

Next, tell them they are going to watch a talk about children lying – Ask them ‘Do you think children lie more than adults or adults lie more than children – why?’ – hold a little discussion with your class and then get them to take a look at the questions before watching the video.

After you have gone through the answers and checked their understanding of what was said in the talk – have them discuss the questions in groups and get some feedback.


If I have some time left, I usually play 3 truths and a lie. If you don’t know this game, it’s very fun! Do an example for your students. Write 4 things about yourself, 3 true and 1 lie. Ask them to try and detect the lie, hold a small discussion and then reveal who is right. Put your students in groups and ask them to do the same.

I have met JK Rowling. (t)

I have lived in Italy. (t)

I have been a teacher for 7 years. (f)

I have met Amy Winehouse. (t)

Past Simple vs. Present Perfect when talking about travel experiences

A: Did you ever go to Paris? Yes, I did
B: When you went to Paris?
A: I go to Paris last Summer with my family.
B: Was good? Yes.

If you think this conversation is an example of good grammar then you need stop taking drugs immediately. Unfortunately, this is often a typical conversation I hear in the classroom, outside the classroom and even sometimes on the grammar-less streets of London. However, if everybody spoke English perfectly, I wouldn’t have a job and I love my job so, I guess every cloud has a silver lining.*

What’s wrong with it? Well, I’m a total grammar nerd so, a lot to be honest </insert angry face>.

Take a look at the conversation above between two people. What are they talking about? Travel – right, simple enough I suppose. But, what grammar tenses do they use? Ok, I’ll be nice and give you a clue, there are two of them.

If you said Past Simple and Present Perfect then DING DING DING – winner winner, chicken dinner.

Ok, good but why do we use these tenses?

If this is you right now, don’t worry. Ok, maybe worry but continue reading anyway.

Read More »

Lesson Plan: Grammar Review and Conversation with a Twist

This is a useful little game I like to play with my class to review grammar and practice speaking. It’s also handy if you have to cover a lesson with 2 minutes notice or are incredibly hungover.

Important: You will need four packs of playing cards (a great investment for any teacher)

First, I start the class off by asking a few students four questions;

  • What do you usually do on Mondays?
  • What did you do on the weekend?
  • What will you do next weekend?
  • Have you been to Paris?

Next, I split the board in four squares and elicit the four questions, putting each question in one of the four squares. Elicit the name for each grammar tense. I usually give students 5 minutes to then discuss with each other why we use these grammar tenses and what is the form of a question.

Your board should now look something like this (knowing me, it will look a lot messier ;p). Now elicit some example questions and board them but remind your students you want conversation questions so ‘What is your name?’ is not an acceptable example.

Note: You can adapt the game by changing the grammar tenses to whatever suites your needs. I’ve also played this with reviewing conditionals and it worked just fine. You can even simplify these grammar points by just focusing on the auxiliary verbs ‘do/does’ and ‘did’.

After all this brainstorming from students and helpful ideas from the teacher (depending on the participation of the class) the student’s should now be ready to do some practice. Split the class into four groups and assign a grammar point to each group. Ask them now to copy the three questions on the board for their grammar point and write 10 more on one piece of paper (numbering each question 1-13).

Monitor students making sure they’re using the grammar correctly but most importantly writing interesting questions for discussion. In total, each group will have 13 questions so if my mathematical abilities are still up to scratch 13 x 4 = 52. Fifty two questions! Enough questions to make even the most timid student speak for a good 10 minutes.

Now if you haven’t already figured it out this is where the playing cards come in to play. Collect their questions draw ♠ ♥ ♦ ♣ on each set of questions, run to the photocopier, make four copies (double sided of course – we have to do our bit for the environment) and give a copy of all the questions to each group along with a pack of cards. One student should take a card, find the question, discuss the question in the group and continue the steps until all the questions have been exhausted. et voilà an engaging, productive and enjoyable lesson for all.