Say or Tell: FCE Common mistakes

Complete the sentences using say or tell.

  1. She said to me that she’d just been made redundant. 
  2. Why don’t they …….. something, instead of sitting there in silence? 
  3. Carl is always ………. me how hard he works, but I don’t believe him.
  4. Don’t take his word for it, he never ……. the truth!
  5. I overheard Emily ………… her mother was ill.
  6. If you’d wanted to go out, you should have ………..  me. 
  7. She ……….. she doesn’t gossip but she …………. her friends everything. 
  8. What’s the point of giving your son a watch if he can’t …………… the time yet?

Views answers here

Taken by Common mistakes at First Certificate. . .  and how to avoid them, Cambridge University Press, 2004 


Working with Phrasal verbs 2: Teenagers

When it comes to teenagers I have to admit that my ideas are more creative than my first posts ‘Working with Phrasal verbs 1’.


  • I get them to use the phrasal verbs in shapes and graphics. Like this they have all gather in a handout with a definition and an example. They find that useful and memorable. It also works really well with visual learners.

This is an example a student of mine did last week. 


  • I  ask them to use the phrasal verbs in comics. You will be amazed how much they enjoy that and how fast they learn to make comics online by themselves. For the first time I suggest doing one comic together so they can see how to go about it.


You can make your own comics online in these websites:

Make beliefs comix


Play Games: Mystery Reward Game!!!!

  • Teenagers are incredibly competitive. Games and competitions work really well with phrasal verbs and students love it!

One game that we usually play to revise vocabulary is the ‘Choose a symbol’. Each symbol means something else. Students however, don’t know what each symbol means and I think it what makes it fun and engaging.

Step 1: Divide students into two teams and give each team a copy.
Step 2: Ask the first team to choose a symbol. Then you could ask them to give you an ‘example sentence’ or a ‘definition’ of the phrasal verb. (Alternatively you could prepare some sentences and ask them to guess the missing word in the gap)
Step 3: Once they have answer tell them the prize of the symbol.
Step 4: Repeat steps 2-3.

Some ideas are:

  10+ points
-10 points

  Double points

Swap points

     No points

5+ points

Play again (no points)

3+ points

Swap points.

Hope you enjoyed this post, feel free to comment and share more ideas about teaching phrasal verbs to teens 🙂

Fluency: Working with Phrasal verbs

This year I set a challenge to make my students aware of the fact that English is packed with Phrasal verbs and it is what keeps them away from sounding more natural or fluent. Most of them have seen Phrasal Verbs before but have not really paid that much attention or went through the 'noticing stage'.

How I teach phrasal verbs?


  • Present them ALWAYS in context, short dialogues or sentences with clear meaning.
  • Get them to think of the meaning individually and then share their thoughts in pairs. 
  • Get them to look up for more examples or prepare some yourself beforehand. 
  • Analyze the examples and the phrasal verbs. Is it possible to insert a word between a verb and a particle?
  • Ask your students to create a small dialogue or a situation using the phrasal verb.
  • Students take turns to act it out.  
  • Next lesson: Students read out their dialogue again without saying the phrasal verb. The rest of the class listens to the dialogue and guesses the phrasal verb. OR get them to act it out using body language and words.




Gaming: Clash Royale


Quite recently I've realised that the only way to get my students enjoy learning English outside the classroom is through gaming. Games like Minecraft, Clash Royale can get your students to learn and improve their vocabulary outside classroom. There are so many advantages to Gaming. When I first thought of this post I wanted to list so many benefits but I'm going to stick to the most important ones: 

Benefits of Virtual Gaming

  • Vocabulary learning can be significantly improved.
  • Writing skills can also increased significantly.
  • Gaming can help in motivating students to engaged in activities relating to the learning of a second language 

In this posts I have also included an activity on Clash Royale. STEP 1: I think that you should first download the game yourself, just to get a general idea what is it like and you never know,  you just might like it 🙂 . If not you could also check this Youtuber playing instead.


STEP 2:  Get your students to change the game's language to English.
Step 3: Let them know that soon you'll have an activity on Clash Royale and they should learn the names of their cards (in English of course!)


 Activity 1:
Before: Divide students into pairs. Ask them, to come up with as many cards as possible. Go through the cards and help them with pronunciation.
Activity 1: Give Ss two minutes to complete Activity 1 individually and then check in pairs.

Activity 2: 
Before: Check the meaning of the underlined words.

Activity 2: Allow 3-4 for students to complete the sentences and then ask them to check in pairs.

Activity 3: 
Before: Tell students that now they should think of their strategy and write few sentences about it. Then, they're going to present their strategy in the class. *if you are allowed to use mobiles you can get them to demonstrate their strategy. 
Activity 3: Allow 6-7 minutes and help students with vocabulary. Encourage them to use words and expression from Activity 2. 
After: Students take turns to present their strategy and vote for the best one at the end of the presentations.


Hope you enjoy this post 🙂


So let’s be honest! We can’t just throw away our coursebooks and adapt authentic materials. Students pay for these coursebooks and we’re expected to cover the most. So this blog-posts will give you some ideas how to implement your coursebook and make it more interesting and fun.

  • Create your own Start and End of the lesson: Warmers: I usually start with a game and brainstorm vocabulary related to our lesson.  
  • My favorite activity:  Students work in pairs. In two minutes they’ve to come up with any words related to the topic you’re focusing on (let’s say an example: holidays). Then we go through the list together and discuss the meaning. The list is recorded and share (google drive).  We use the ‘recorded list’ in lots of activities such as ‘talk about your last holiday using words from your lists’, ‘tick the words you’ve seen in the lesson today’, ‘write a short paragraph about your ideal holiday using words from your list’ or ‘add a word from the list to the reading text’. 
  • Students favorite activity (teens): YouTube. You will be amazed to find out that there is a YouTube video for almost everything. Of course, first, you have to go through it and make sure is appropriate and can be used in the classroom.   
  • Example: Before reading a text on New York I asked my teens to watch this short video and write down the sightseeing these YouTube went to:

  • Taboo cards: Most of the coursebook have a word-list for each Unit right at the end. So I usually take words from each Unit and make Taboo cards. The objective is for the player to have his partner to find out the word on the card without using the forbidden words listed on the card.
  • Grammar-based activities (gap-fills): I find that the coursebooks I’m using this year’s got lots and lots of gap-fills.  I usually turn some of these activities into games. The first game you could play with them when revising more than one tense is Auction and the game is on 🙂
    • Write down the sentences in a piece of paper and cut it out. Make sure you have enough sentences for everyone.
    • Put Students into pairs or small groups and give them some money.
    • Students are then given time to think of their sentences and fill in the gaps. *You can even encourage them to write the rule.
    • Start the Auction! Encourage students to bid for sentences they feel confident about and remind them that the winner is the one with the most correct sentences.
    • After everything is sold, go through the answers together.  

    ** Alternative: change some sentences so that they are incorrect and then students only have to bid for the ones that are correct.