Now you’re talking!

:) Long time no see. Here is the topic for today!

There are usually lots of doubts about four English words concerning communication:

tell – told – told // say – said – said // speak – spoke – spoken // talk (talked)

On lower levels they cause considerable confusion. Here is an attempt to clarify some basic rules:


Talk and speak – often concern 2 or more speakers taking part  in the conversation,

we talk/ speak about something/ somebody

we talk/ speak with/ to somebody (“to” is slightly more formal)


We tell somebody about something (usually followed by personal pronoun)


Say something (to somebody)

Say that

There are also some fixed expressions which have to be learnt by heart, the rules cannot be applied there.


Complete the sentences using TELL, SAY, TALK and SPEAK. Remember to use the correct grammatical forms of the verbs:


1.    Gardeners sometimes ………………………………. with their plants.

2.    …………………………………..”Hello” to your neighbours is a very good habit.

3.    People  …………………………….. that winter this year is extraordinarily warm.

4.    Everybody ……………………………. lies from time to time.

5.    Sometimes women ………………………………… “No” when they think “Yes”.

6.    Don’t …………………………… with the strangers when you are alone in the street.

7.    Could you ……………………………. me the way to the town hall?

8.    Why don’t you ………………………….. to me?

9.    We are looking for a person who ………………………………. three European languages.

10.  Could you ……………………………. it again slowly?

11.  We will …………………………… about it when you come back home.

12.  If you want to ………………………………… something, please raise your hand.

13.  I must ………………………………… you about something.

14.  I would like to ………………………………….. to the manager of this shop.

15.  We ………………………………….. them to take a seat but they didn’t want to.

16.  Have you  ……………………………….. anybody about this incident?

17.  To ………………………….. you the truth, shopping is not my favourite pastime.

18.  Frankly ……………………………., I don’t care much about other people’s opinions.

19.  We need to ……………………………

20.  There’s nothing to ………………………….. about. It’s over.


Follow-up (speaking)

Discuss the statements from 1 – 6. Do you agree or disagree with them?

Who could have said the sentences from 6 – 20? In what situation could they have been used?



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Get down to your phrasal vocabulary!

Here is a new set of phrasals, there was an attempt to choose the most popular ones from this alphabetical group. This time KEEP, LET, LOOK and MAKE are in the limelight.

Complete the sentences using the phrasal verbs in bold. Remember to use the correct grammatical forms:


1. He bought her some flowers to ________________________ his rude behaviour the night before.

2. I can always rely on George. He has never ________________________.

3. I don’t believe a single word you are saying. I think you’ve _______________________ the whole story.

4. It’s made of wood and it should be _______________________ from fire.

5. I am ______________________ to hearing from you.

6. Rita is a babysitter and she ________________________ her neighbours’ children.

7. The professor _______________________ talking although some people fell asleep.

8. The way she ________________________ people makes you think she feels someone better.

9. If you don’t understand, _________________ it __________ in a dictionary.

10. I haven’t read it cover to cover. I’ve just ________________________ that magazine.

11. The police will have to _______________________ this case.

12.He tried hard to _________________________ with other contestants.

13. The traffic warden _______________ him ____________ with a warning.

14. ______________________________! A car is coming!

15. I couldn’t __________________________ anything of this book. It’s too difficult.

16. I’ve _____________________________ my glasses everywhere and i can’t find them.

ANSWERS: 1. make up for, 2. let me down, 3. made up, 4. kept away from, 5. looking forward to, 6. looks after, 7. kept on, 8. looks down on, 9. look … up, 10. looked through, 11. look into, 12. keep up with, 13. let … off, 14. Look out, 15. make out, 16. been looking for

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It’s high time you got on well with phrasal verbs!

I have decided to introduce a new series of exercises for practising the most basic phrasal verbs. As for a lot of people they are considered to be quite an invidious task to do, I hope that step by step we will manage to become familiarised with the topic and you will find this vocabulary useful. This time we are going to scrutinise DO, FALL, GET and GIVE. Off we go:)

Complete the sentences using the phrasal verbs in bold. Remember to use the correct grammatical forms:


1 . I wouldn’t be able to ______________________ chocolate.

2. It wasn’t easy but finally I _________________my parents ____________ to let me go to the concert.

3. We were disappointed when our holiday plans _______________________ and we had to stay at home.

4. I tried to phone him a few times but I couldn’t _____________________ .

5. Our Math teacher is really good at ___________________ the message  ______________. We understand everything.

6. The soldiers ____________________ after an exhausting fight.

7. She _____________________ the details of her love affair to the tabloids.

8. I keep ______________________ with my sister. We always have different opinions.

9. When he was small, he stole a chocolate bar from a shop but he ___________________________ it. Nobody saw him.

10. I __________________ my jacket and went out.

11. Sarah has tried to _____________________ smoking a few times.

12. Foggy weather always ____________ me ___________.

13. The only person I ______________________ is my cousin.

14. We’ve been married for six years. We ____________________________each other in secondary school.

15. How did you ____________________ on your holiday. Did you try hitch hiking?

16. Don’t ___________________ the train after the signal.

17. Does your tattoo have anything to _________________ your ex-boyfriend?

18. The terrified bird flew into the room but couldn’t ___________________.

19. The ill dog ______________________ only after two months of medical treatment.

20. We will _______________________ the money when we get the receipt.

Answers: 1. do without, 2. got … (a)round, 3. fell through, 4. get through, 5. getting … across, 6. gave in/ gave up, 7. gave away, 8. falling out with, 9. got away with, 10. did up, 11. give up, 12. gets … down, 13. get on with, 14. fell for, 15. get about, 16. get off, 17. do with, 18. get out, 19. got over, 20. give back.


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I keep myself to myself

A) Complete the sentences with correct reflexive pronouns:

1. myself                   1. ourselves
2. yourself
3. himself                 2. yourselves
    itself                     3. themselves

1. Look at _____________ ! What have you done with your clothes?

2. She is a lunatic – every time I see her she talks to _____________.

3. I sometimes realise that I don’t know ______________ very well. I can’t believe I have done it!

4. He forced _______________ to exercise every day even though he was a lazy person.

5. Child can’t look after _____________ and responsible parents know about it.

6.They chose the present by_____________ as they didn’t trust my good taste.

7. We wanted to do something for _____________ so we bought a trip to Greece.

8. I heard the house-warming party had been a success. Did  you enjoy ___________________, Steven?


B) Reflexive pronouns are often mistaken with “each other”, here is another exercise to practise the difference:

1. Nowadays people are egoists – they only love _______________________.

2. They have been friends for many years and they always help ______________________ in case of trouble.

3. I have made sandwiches. If you are hungry, go ahead and help ______________________ .

4. Kids, stop throwing toys at ________________________ !

5. These families hate _______________________ so much that they haven’t spoken since the funeral.

6. He threw _______________________ into work after she had broken his heart.

7. As a teenager she hated ______________________ for being fatter than her peers.

8. They are so in love that they can’t live without ________________________ .

9. It’s not true that lemmings kill ______________________ jumping from a rock.

10. The tigers almost killed ________________________ fighting for the territory.



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Christmas is coming!

Here is a small set of Christmas sentences connected mainly with British culture but not only.


Complete the sentences with the word in bold:

New Year’s Eve, mulled wine, merry, chimney, milk, cookies, gifts, fireworks, sleigh, nose, Christmas Eve, candy canes, champagne, toys, cracker, sack, reindeer, stocking, Christmas tree, mistletoe, holly, tinsels, turkey, Christmas pudding, Boxing Day, party, star, sales

1. Santa Claus has got a ________________ full of presents.

2. He gets inside the house through the __________________ .

3. He puts the ______________ in a special ____________________.

4. Children prepare for him ____________ and _________________.

5. ________________ ___________ is decorated with lights, balls, ___________ and

_________ ____________.

6. On the top of the tree there is usually a _____________.

7. Santa travels on his _____________ pulled by nine _______________.

8. The most famous reindeer is Rudolph, which has got a red _____________.

9. People decorate their houses with plants such as ____________ .

10. If you stand with somebody under _______________, you must kiss this person.

11. The British eat ______________ for traditional Christmas dinner.

12.  ______________ _____________ is a typical dessert. It is made a month before!

13. Children pull a ______________, which breaks with a loud sound.

14. Inside the cracker there are some small ___________, sweets or jokes.

15.  Adults like drinking ___________ ___________, a hot winter drink with spices.

16. Christmas in Britain includes 3 days: _____________ ___________ (24th  of December),

Christmas Day (25th of December) and __________ _________ (26th of December).

17. ___________ in many British shops start on 26th of December.

18. On 31st of December people celebrate ________ ___________ __________ .

19. They go to the ____________, drink _____________ and watch ______________ show.

20. _______________ Christmas and Happy New Year!


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Prepositions – a basic set

Complete the sentences with a correct preposition from the following list:

in, on, at, about, with, without, from, to, by, for, of, before, after, against.

1. Tomatoes are the most delicious ______ August.
2. This article is  _______ bank robbery.
3. I am going to hairdresser ______ Wednesday.
4. I think we will finish this project ______ two weeks.
5. She got the necklace ______ her husband.
6. Most students go to school ______ bus.
7. He had no idea ______ our intentions.
8. Why is it so cold ______ the morning?
9. Don’t call me ______ night.
10. This film is not ______ children. Only adults can watch it.
11. The patient shouldn’t eat anything 8 hours ______ blood examination.
12. My parents’ wedding anniversary is ______ spring.
13. She went ______ the shopping centre ______ 5 p.m. and hasn’t come back yet.
14. They spend most of their free time ______ their closest friends.
15. It would be difficult to live ______ love.
16. The person ______ the picture is my uncle when he was at school.
17. I am extremely sorry but I totally forgot ______ our meeting.
18. Don’t wait ______ them. They won’t come.
19. What do you think ______ the president’s decision?
20. She is ______ her parents’ this week but you can phone her.
21. My grandpa usually has a nap ______ dinner.
22. Our clients visit the fitness centre mainly ______ weekends.
23. Could you make me a cup ______ tea?
24. If you are scared, I can go to the doctor ______ you.
25. He is not my candidate. I am ______ his party’s views.
26. They were sitting ______the table having a quiet conversation.
27. I really enjoy family time ______ Christmas.
28.We came there ______ Saturday night.
29. Susan is good ______ everything except ______ cooking.
30. There are some other attractions apart ______ aquapark.

ANSWERS:1. in, 2. about, 3. on, 4. in, 5. from, 6. by, 7. about, 8. in, 9. at, 10. for, 11. before,12. in, 13. to, at, 14. with, 15. without, 16. in/ from, 17. about, 18. for, 19. about, 20. at, 21. after/ before, 22. at, 23. of, 24. with, 25. against, 26. at, 27. at, 28. on, 29. at, for, 30.  from

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Could you tell me what this is about? Indirect questions

Indirect questions are frequently used when one wants to sound more polite and formal. However, the word order can cause problems even on higher levels as students keep mixing direct and indirect structures putting inversion where it is unnecessary and other way round. Here is a simple set of questions to practise.

Change the following direct questions into their indirect form. Use the words given at the beginning:

What time is it?  –> Could you tell me what time it is?
Did he find the money? —> Do you know if he found the money?

1. Where is the nearest supermarket?
Do you know ________________________________________________?

2. What is the best way to the airport?
Could you tell me _____________________________________________?

3. When was his birthday?
Do you remember ____________________________________________?

4. How much was this dress?
I’d like to know ______________________________________________

5. Were they insured?
Could you tell me ____________________________________________?

6. Did you notice anything suspicious?
I’d like to know ______________________________________________

7. Does she often come late?
Could you tell me ____________________________________________?

8. Will they inform us about the changes?
Do you know _______________________________________________?

9. Has he ever cheated before?
Do you remember ___________________________________________?

10. What equipment should we take ?
Could you advise us__________________________________________?

11. How old are they?
Do you know _______________________________________________?

12. Did she drive too fast?
Could you tell me ___________________________________________?

The follow-up of this simple exercise could be speculating about people who may have asked these questions and in what circumstances. Speaking is always a good idea.


1. … where the nearest supermarket is?
2. … what the best way to the airport is?
3. … when his birthday was?
4. … how much this dress was.
5. … if they were insured?
6. … if you noticed anything suspicious.
7. … if she often comes late?
8. … if they will inform us about the changes?
9. … if he has ever cheated before?
10. … what equipment we should take?
11. … how old they are?
12. … if she drove too fast?

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Have you ever…? Present Perfect in speaking

There are lots of grammatical exercises but I often miss speaking activities in which students could implement their knowledge. They are a perfect summarising task at the end of the lesson. I have made a list of questions which are meant to exercise Present Perfect but they are also intended to trigger furher conversation, preferably in Past Simple. If you have a talkative group, it can take you 30-60 minutes. It is crucial that the students’ answer is longer than one sentence. “Yes I have”, “No I haven’t” is just not sufficient.

These are just my ideas, some of them are a little provocative but, I suppose, every teacher knows what to use with his/her students:

  • Have you ever jumped with a parachute?
  • Have you ever eaten too much?
  • Have you ever been drunk?
  • Have you ever slept rough?
  • Have you ever worn two different socks?
  • Have you ever been in the forest at night?
  • Have you ever eaten an insect?
  • Have you ever caused an accident?
  • Have you ever been scared to death?
  • Have you ever forgotten about a serious meeting/ an important test?
  • Have you ever mistaken a stranger for your friend?
  • Have you ever haggled a price?
  • Have you ever behaved impolitely in a public place?
  • Have you ever experienced extreme weather conditions?
  • Have you ever been chased by an animal?
  • Have you ever been in a hospital?
  • Have you ever got an electric shock?
  • Have you ever organised a trip/ party yourself?
  • Have you ever dressed up (in a costume)?
  • Have you ever got lost?
  • Have you ever asked a foreigner the way/ told a foreigner the way?
  • Have you ever given a speech?
  • Have you ever burnt yourself?
  • Have you ever played a trick on somebody?
  • Have you ever misplaced an object? (e.g. put scissors in a fridge;))

suggested answers:

  • Have you ever left your property in a bus?
  • Yes, I have. I forgot to take my bag full of important books. I only realised on the train. I had to come back, quickly contacted the driver and managed to get my luggage back. I couldn’t believe my luck! (true story;))
  • No, I haven’t. I always keep my things on my lap so that I remember about them. But I know people often lose gloves, umbrellas and phones in the buses. I even heard about people who left there musical instruments.



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Memes in teaching languages

It is essential that teachers keep abreast of the times. Old-fashioned methods, like a piece of paper and a recording, may be efficient but dull at times. During one of the conferences I’ve attended the teachers were encouraged to use modern means in order to attract pupils. If they want to keep their students interested, they ought to find common ground with them. This concerns mainly teenagers, who, let’s face it, spend loads of time surfing the net.

One of my favourite internet creations are memes, which started to be popular not so long ago and are capable of expressing a lot. Why not ask your students to create the cartoon with those emotional faces, using English comments? They already do it anonymously on some humorous pages. Hopefully, it will their best homework ever;)

My suggestion is to choose the most popular memes, divide the students into groups and ask them to create a story or a cartoon strip using the selected characters. At the end the teacher has the privilege to assess their work. This is so much more entertaining than checking compositions:)

selected memes:



The source of memes is –>

This material is also excellent for teaching vocabulary concerning emotions.


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In somebody else’s shoes

How to teach and learn vocabulary so that it doesn’t go in one ear and out the other? Most people have photographic memory, there are also the ones who need to write in order to remember anything. I am a supporter of the theory that we need to experience something actively to store it in our long-term memory. The harder we work and the more effort we put in this process, the more we will benefit from it. The best way is not to repeat or rewrite thoughtlessly but to create in one’s head images of situations in which particular words and expressions can be used. How to do it? My idea is to revise vocabulary using the role-play.

1) Let’s say we have the following word list in a pile of cards:

disappoint, regret, seaside, rescue, bravery

2) In the second pile of cards there are some characters:

a doctor, a tired mother of four, a mean classmate, a journalist, a dog


Each person has to draw two cards and create a sentence typical of a given character:

e.g. rescue & a journalist: Ten people were rescued from the sinking ship yesterday evening.

seaside & a mean classmate: Miss! I saw Jim playing truant at the seaside!

regret & a tired mother of four: You have a ban on computer as you show no regrets!


If some words are exceptionally hard, they can be used by different characters, e.g. disappoint:

A doctor: If you don’t stop smoking, you can be soon disappointed with your poor state of health.

A tired mother of four (to her naughty son): I am disappointed with your behaviour at the table, young man.

A mean classmate: I hate to disappoint you but you got F in the final exam.

A journalist: Our newspaper will never disappoint you. We always have the freshest news.

A dog: I was really disappointed when my master let the cat sleep in his bed.



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