Category: Listening

Pronunciation: Voiceless TH sound
Pronunciation: Voiceless TH sound

If you do not know a sound, your brain filters it out when you hear someone using it. That is why it is crucial to teach sounds that do not exist in students’ mother tongue. Moreover, Adrian Tennant at claims that you should learn to hear and say the new sounds at the same time as the fact that you can produce the given sound makes it simpler for you to hear it. Ideal for this is the book Ship or Sheep. But the book is rather expensive and so you can try out similar exercises here which are free.
[showmyads] The aim of this post is to teach the pronunciation of the sound /θ/ which is the voiceless realisation of th. You can find here a video, a mind map and two difficult exercises to practise the voiceless th sound /θ/. Are you ready? So, let’s start.

Voiceless th sound – video

At BBC learning English there are wonderful videos with pronunciation explanations and demonstrations. Here you can see the BBC video:

Source: BBC learning English

Voiceless th sound – mind map

Here is a simple mind map explaining the production of the voiceless th sound.
[showmyads] th voiceless sound_mind map
If you find the picture of the mouth showing the production of the TH sound too small here is the same picture again in a bigger size:
voiceless th sound

Voiceless th sound – games

Now that you understand the theory and you can at least partially produce the voiceless th sound, it is time to test your ears. There are two games here in which you should recognise the correct sounds /s/, /f/ and /θ/. It is not going to be easy 🙁
The first game is a bit easier. First listen to the demonstration of the different sounds and then listen and complete the sentences with the correct words. If you pass the test you can play the game called Math Pop. But you have to pass the test first :-).

Voiceless th sound – Math pop

The second game is slightly more difficult. You will hear five sentences each time and you have to decide which sequence you have heard. If you pass this test you can reward yourself with the game called Angry finches. Good luck.

Voiceless th sound – Angry Finches
The Kiss story by Kate Chopin
The Kiss story by Kate Chopin

Kate Chopin was an American author from the end of the 19th century and she wrote very interesting stories. I have taken one of the shorter ones and simplified it for pre-intermediate students.

The Kiss is a story about love and money. It is about a girl who has to choose between real love and a lot of money. What will she choose?

The Kiss – mind map

Even though the story has been simplified there are still some words that may cause problems. The words are listed in the following mind map which can (and should) serve as a worksheet. Print out the pdf worksheet file or the picture and translate the vocabulary into your MT.
The Kiss by Kate Chopin mind map extensive reading

The Kiss Kate Chopin mind map.pdf

The Kiss – story

Now, that there are no unknown words it is time to read and listen to the story. Take the mind map, listen and answer the comprehension questions. It would be best to listen to the story at least twice.

The Kiss – games

Now there are several games and activities to check your knowledge and understanding of the Kiss story.

First, you can try two dictation activities. Listen and click on the sentences you hear.
The Kiss – Dictation 1 The Kiss – Dictation 2

Now you can play several comprehension games. First, you could try the Hoopshoot game. (This game is in Flash and might not play on your mobile device).

The Kiss – Basketball game

The second game is called Penalty Shoot out. Answer the questions and score! (This game is in Flash and might not play on your mobile device).

The Kiss – Penalty game

The third game is the most difficult one. It is called Fling the teacher and you have to answer all 15 questions correctly to win the game. (This game is in Flash and might not play on your mobile device).

The Kiss – Fling the teacher game

The last activity is called Storyboard and your task is to reconstruct the original text. This one is really difficult!!! Are you up to the challenge???

The Kiss – Storyboard

Other stories

If you like the Kiss, you might like the following stories too:
Two dates chapter 1
Two dates chapter 2
Two dates chapter 3
Two dates chapter 4
There are several short articles and activities at
Amelia Earhart story
Prague story
There are two more stories with vocabulary at our sister site:
Flatmates vocabulary 1
Flatmates vocabulary 2
Sports vocabulary
Sports vocabulary

Some posts take quite a long time to produce, but this one was an extreme case. Four people participated on it and I think we have produced a great material to teach vocabulary connected with sports.

[showmyads] In my opinion there is everything. There is a video to help students with the pronunciation of the words. There are two mind maps to help you organise the new vocabulary in a way that will be easy to remember. And at the end of the post there are several activities to help the students learn all the words.

Sports vocabulary – VIDEO

Watch the video. Listen to the American pronunciation of the words and repeat.

Sports vocabulary – MIND MAP

In the following mind map you can see all the words and phrases clearly organised.
The second mind map can serve as a worksheet. Your task is to complete it with the right words.
[showmyads] sports-vocabulary-worksheet

Sports vocabulary – Games and quizzes

This time all the quizzes are in HTML5 so they will play on your mobile devices.

The first quiz is a way to learn the words. Listen and repeat the words. Then complete the quiz and go on. There will appear another set of words and a quiz. And so on.

Learn Sports vocabulary

The second game is called Kim’s game. You will see a set of pictures and then three of them will vanish. Your task is to write the words for the given missing words. However, you have just one minute to remember. And then three more pictures will vanish. Are you able to recall all the words?

Kims game – sports vocabulary

The third quiz is a dictation. In the first phase you will listen to several sentences and you have to click on the words you hear in the sentences. In the second phase you have to listen to the sentences and write them. Good luck.

Sport – dictation and listening
First news for learners of English
First news for learners of English

My students are online all the time. Through the internet they are flooded with information, but whenever I ask them about any current affairs they know nothing. They have no idea who or what I am talking about.
[showmyads] In my opinion, this “dementia” is caused by two factors. First, all the news on the internet has to be new and it must not get repeated. Thus the students see all the facts just once and therefore they do not remember them. Second, students choose only the news they are interested in and ignore the rest. The basic information never reaches them.

That is why I have decided to give my students a chance to meet all the news in my lessons. I have created a mind map and several games for the video First News TV. In this video all the most important news from the previous week gets summed up. Moreover, the news is read slowly and clearly and students can learn a lot.

First News – video

First News TV from Sky News (30 May 14) from First News on Vimeo.

First News – Mind map

Watch the video and complete the following mind map.
First news mind map

Complete the mind map with the information from the video

First News – games

Once you have filled in the mind map, it is time to check your understanding in the following games. The first game is called on Target and your task is to choose the correct answer and then shoot as many BAD ducks as possible. Do not forget that you can get an interesting bonus if you shoot one of the bottles.

The other game concentrates on the vocabulary. Your task is to complete the quiz and if you pass you will get a chance to play the game Indiara. As both of the games are in HTML5 you should be able to play it on your mobile phone too. Enjoy.

Future – will or going to
Future – will or going to

There are many ways to speak about future in English. We have already dealt with two ways here. In the first blog we tried to distinguish between Will and MAY and Might on the basis of certainty that an event will happen.
[showmyads] In this post I would like to demonstrate the difference between WILL and BE GOING TO. BE GOING TO is used when we speak about our plans while WILL is used for decisions made at the moment of speaking.

To give you a better chance to understand the difference between the two tenses there is an interactive video (based on BBC Grammar challenge), a mind map and two games.

Future tenses – interactive video

I have used the BBC Grammar challenge twice before (Definite Articles and in ED and ING Adjectives) and in both cases I turned the original radio recording into a video. This time I went one step further. The video is interactive and you have to react to the tasks.
Watch the video and answer the questions. If you answer correctly the video will continue. If you answer wrongly you will hear the part again. Give it a try.

WILL and BE GOING TO – interactive video

Future tenses – mind map

The following mind map shows the form of the two tenses and their usage. This mind map might not be suitable for everyone but the visual learners will profit a lot.
Will and be going to mind map

Future tenses – games

The first game is the easier one. Your task is to choose the correct form (WILL or GOING TO) and if your answer is correct you can shoot all the bad ducks. If you shoot one of the bottles you will get a bonus. Good luck.
WILL and BE GOING TO – On Target
In the second game you have to write the correct future form (WILL or GOING TO). If you get more than 60% of all the forms correct, you can play the game Hot Race. Enjoy.
WILL and BE GOING TO – Hot Race

Future tenses in English – share

If you do not have an internet connection at school, you can download the video and online quiz here. Unpack the files and find the index.html and play the quiz.

Future – all games and activities

Two Dates – Chapter 4
Two Dates – Chapter 4

Here we go at last! This is the last chapter of the story Two Dates. Are you curious what will happen to Alan, Martha and Bruce. I hope that the ending of the story will surprise you at least a bit and that you will like it.
So, what are you waiting for? Start with the mind map and revive what happened in the previous parts of the story Two Dates. Then translate the vocabulary on the vocabulary branch. This time some of the words are pretty challenging. And once you know the new words start the story video.
In the end answer the comprehension questions in the mind map and discuss your opinions with a partner. Good luck and enjoy the story.

Two Dates – story mind map

Here is the mind map which serves as a worksheet. Complete first the What happened and Vocabulary sections.

Two Dates story Chapter 4 mind map

Two Dates – the story

Once you have check up all the new vocabulary, it is time to watch the final chapter of the story Two Dates:

Two Dates – games

Now that you know the ending of the story it is time to concentrate on the language. There are two games here to practise the new words. The first one is a Hot Spot quiz and your task is to click on the word whose definition you can see at the top of the page. As the game is in HTML5 it should be viewable on all devices. Enjoy and I hope you will score 100%.

Two Dates – hot spot Html5 quiz

If you are using a mobile phone or an iPad you might be interested in another HTML5 game, you can go to Two Dates Chapter 3 where there is the memory game in HTML5.
The last game is in Flash and it is called Half a minute. Your task is to unjumble the words in 30 seconds. Good luck 🙂

Click Here to play the game – Two Dates – Half a minute

If you prefer reading the story, here is the text of the fourth chapter:

Two Dates – chapter 4 story

Alan decided to hide out in the library where it was quiet, and he knew most people would not be able to find him. He knew he was not a bad kid. True, he might not have the best qualities, or he might not be the best student, but he knew he was a pretty nice guy. He loved animals, and he loved helping people out. He did not deserve such a cruel treatment, so why were they so mean to him?

The sound of footsteps coming up towards him made Alan look up. Susan stood in front of him, with her arms across her chest.

Alan frowned. “What do you want from me?” he said rudely. “Haven’t you guys had enough?”

The look on Susan’s face softened. “I did not laugh at you Alan. That was mean of Martha.” She smiled gently at him and asked him if she could sit next to him. Alan grudgingly agreed. He was wary. Susan could pretend to be nice and then humiliate him again in front of the whole class just like Martha had.

“Why did she do that?” Alan asked Susan. “What did I do wrong?”

Susan shrugged. “Kids do stupid things. Kids can be mean. Martha is just being immature. Forget about her.”

Alan groaned and hid his face into his hands. “I’ll just switch schools. I can never go back to class again.”

Susan hit Alan lightly on the hand. “You can’t give up just like that!”

Alan sighed. “You don’t understand! Everyone laughs at me. I’ll never be able to go to the dance. I’ll be at home alone again, this year.”

Susan smiled, a little shyly. “Guess what,” she said. Alan looked at her. Susan was beautiful too, in a different way. She had a kind face, and a very sweet smile. “I could be your date for the dance.”

Alan stared at her in shock. After a while, he started laughing. “I won’t fall for that again. You’ll humiliate me too, like Martha did.”

Susan rolled her eyes. “Sure Alan. I skipped class, argued with Bruce in front of the whole class, let Martha yell at me too, defended you and looked for you all over the school, just so that I could humiliate you.”

Susan smiled at him. “C’mon, you can’t let bullies ruin your day. Chin up! The day isn’t over. So will you come to the dance with me?”

Alan hesitated for just a moment, enough for Susan to say, “What? Do you think Martha is prettier than me? Is that why you don’t want to come with me?”

“No!” Alan protested, and before he could even think, he grabbed Susan’s hand tightly. “I will come with you,” Susan smiled and kissed him lightly on his lips.

“See you in the class,” she said and walked away.

Alan smiled.

It was going to be a very different year indeed.

Two dates – chapter 2
Two dates – chapter 2

The first chapter of the story Two Dates proved to be quite popular. The story will have 4 chapters in all. Here is the second one.

Two Dates – Mind map

Here is a mind map for the second chapter of the story Two Dates. In my opinion the ideal way to proceed with this post is to learn the vocabulary first. Print out the mind map and then complete the Vocabulary branch.
[showmyads] Two Dates a mind map for the story

Two Dates – games

Once you have studied the vocabulary from the mind map, it is useful to practise the words in the following games. The first one is called simply Memory Game and your task is to remember the words that appear in the center of the screen and then click on them. This game is in HTML 5 so it will play on your mobile phone too. I have managed to get to level 14. Will you be better?

Click Here to play the game – Two Dates – Memory game

The second game is called Half a minute and your task is to put the words into the correct order in half a minute. By playing these games you should learn the vocabulary from the story Two Dates. Enjoy:

Click Here to play the game – Two Dates – Half a minute

Two Dates – video

Once you know the vocabulary watch the video here and try to undestand it. Once you finish the video answer the questions in the mind map.

Two Dates – story

If you prefer reading the story as a text, you can read it here:

“Y…yes of course!” He smiled shyly at Martha.

“Great!” Martha flashed another one of her perfect smiles and turned around, returning back to her seat beside Susan. Susan looked back at Alan and smiled, waving at him.

He waved back. He could not believe his luck!

Bruce saw the whole exchange and left Alan alone.

Alan waited nervously for Martha after school, by the gates. He kept a look out for her, and scanned the crowd for a pretty girl in a yellow floral dress. To his surprise, Martha met him in a completely different outfit. She must have changed before meeting him. Yet again, she showed off her perfect figure in skin-tight jeans and a white t-shirt.

“Ready?” Martha held out her hand, waiting for Alan to take it.

He took it without a moment’s hesitation.

They spent the afternoon at the ice cream shop in town. Martha wanted Alan to buy her ice cream, which he did. He did not have much money on him that day, only enough for a single ice cream cone, so he let Martha have it. He watched her polishing off the chocolate-flavored ice cream.

“Alan, how can you not have money with you?” Martha asked surprised and shocked. She rolled her eyes as she took another lick off her ice cream.

Alan blushed. He was not expecting to go out at all, so of course he did not have much money on him.

“That’s okay, I’m not hungry,” he told Martha, watching her eat.

“Okay,” said Martha.

After their ice cream date, Alan walked her home. She did not bother saying goodbye as she walked into the driveway of her house, but Alan waved anyway. He was in love.

He could not stop thinking about her even at home. Alan decided to write Martha a poem. Running eagerly to his computer, he started the word processor and typed.

I never knew about happiness;
I didn’t think dreams
came true;
I couldn’t believe in love,
Until I finally met you.

Alan decided to send it to Martha’s email.

He fell asleep with a bright smile on his face, feeling certain that his fortune had changed at last…

Alan woke up the next morning, happy and cheery that that morning would be the first day to a whole new different Alan. He wondered if Martha had seen his email yet.

When he turned on his computer, he had the biggest shock of his life.

Two dates – a story about and for teenagers
Two dates – a story about and for teenagers

I don’t know whether anyone will be interested in this mini series called Two Dates. However, as all the research shows that extensive reading helps students improve their English I put it here. There is a short story cut into four parts and a mind map which can serve as a comprehension worksheet.
Moreover, you can learn the vocabulary from the worksheet and there are two games to practise the new vocabulary.

Two Dates – video story – part 1

Watch the video and try to understand the story. If you want to make this exercise slightly more challenging, switch off the picture and just listen.

Two Dates – mind map

Try to complete the mind map with the information from the story. Use your dictionary and translate the vocabulary. Once you finish the worksheet (mind map) watch the video again and check your answers.
Two Dates chapter 1 mind map

Two Dates – games

In the first game you should write the jumbled word in the correct way. You have always 30 seconds to manage this.

Click Here to play the game – Two Dates – Chapter 1 – Hoop Shoot

In the second game you should complete each sentence with the correct word.

Click Here to play the game – Two Dates – Chapter 1 – Hoop Shoot

Two Dates – story

Here is the whole story if you do not want to listen to it and just read it.

Two Dates – Chapter 1

Alan was the wallflower in his class. He was always a little shy and he had no real friends when he was younger, but he always thought that this would change by the time he went to secondary school.

It had not happened.

Alan did not know why he had such a hard time talking to people, especially girls. He had no problem talking to his mother or sisters at home, but when a girl asked him a simple question in school, he would get nervous, and his whole face would become as red as a tomato as he tried to get the words out.

There were two beautiful girls in his class, Susan and Martha. Not only were they beautiful, they were smart and popular too. Susan excelled in English, whereas Martha was better at numbers and was usually the one with her hands up in the air for every question asked during Maths class.

Alan was not popular, neither was he particularly handsome. He was neither the tallest boy in class nor the most athletic one. He did not excel in any subject, and his grades were average at best. This did not help his confidence, and it got weaker year by year.

But that year, Alan wanted to make a difference. He wanted to be noticed, and he wanted to make friends for once. Their school was organizing a dance, and boys usually asked girls out to be their dates.

In the past, Alan usually chose to stay home, watch some television with his parents or play video games. He did not have the courage to ask any girl out, and he certainly did not want to go to the dances alone. He always felt left out when he returned to school the day after, listening to all the fun and good times that his classmates had at the dance. He no longer wanted to be that guy that stayed at home, miserable and alone, without a date.

Alan wanted to be different that year.

He tried by making small talk with the boys. He offered to help Bruce with his homework. Bruce, was a bully, but was also the best looking boy in class. He sneered at him and stood above him. Alan tried to look smaller in his seat. “You? Help me with my homework? Do you think I am stupid and I need some help?”

“No, I just wanted to help,” Alan’s voice sounded strange.

The whole class laughed at him. Alan sank deeper into his seat and pretended not to care. His ears were burning with shame.

He looked down on his homework and tried to ignore the students around him.

From the edge of his vision, Alan saw a pair of pretty shoes. He looked up in surprise at Martha’s face.

Beautiful, popular Martha.

“Hi Alan,” she smiled.

“H…Hi,” he said shyly.

She looked very pretty indeed, showing off her beautiful figure in a lovely yellow floral dress. Her long blond hair was in perfect curls around her sweet face.

“Maybe you could help me. Do you want to go out after school?” Martha asked Alan.

Alan nearly choked. He could not believe what he was hearing. Martha? Beautiful popular Martha was asking him out on a date! What should he say?

Battle of Hastings
Battle of Hastings

This material is a demonstration of the approach called CLIL. In CLIL You learn the content and thus you learn the language. However, experimenting a bit with the approach I like to do this a bit differently. First, I introduce the vocabulary through the mind map, then I present the text (this time in a video) and then we assess the understanding and play the games to practise the vocabulary.

Battle of Hastings – video

Watch the video and try to understand it.

Battle of Hastings – mind map


Battle of Hastings Mind map

Battle of Hastings – games

Once you have watched the video you should try the comprehension questions in the game. Your task is to shoot only the evil figures.

Battle of Hastings – On Target game

Vocabulary games: In the first game you should read the definition and guess the word. Then click the arrow and you will see the correct words

Flashcards – vocabulary

Now that you know the words it is time to see whether you know the words:

Quiz – vocabulary

Fill in the blank – vocabulary

Crosswords – vocabulary

Battle of Hastings – For teachers

As many of the readers of this blog are teachers here is a brief section for them. When I teach this section I display the second slide of the Powerpoint presentation and I teach the vocabulary there. Then I play the video and play the comprehension game On Target with the students (divide the students into two teams to make the game more enjoyable.) Then I display the last slide and the students have to retell the story of Harold, Harald and William. Moreover, there is a pdf file with the mind map and a presentation which is easy to display on the IWB as it is in Powerpoint.

1066_Battle of Hastings

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Take a rain check – BBC programme
Take a rain check – BBC programme

BBC site offers a lot of interesting and really useful materials for learners and teachers of English. However, they just present something and they do not give you much chance to learn what they teach. That is why I prepared this short post.

Take a rain check – video

Some time ago a researcher proved that students can learn a lot if they just read and listen to a text. Therefore I turned the BBC recording into the following video which follows this principle.

Take a rain check – mind map

Once you have read and listened to the recording it is time to identify the most difficult parts which you should learn. Here is a mind map with all the important language from the recording:
take a rain check - mind map

Take a rain check – games

And to remember all the key words and concepts from the recording it is best to practise them in games. Here are two games:



Christmas – vocabulary and listening
Christmas – vocabulary and listening

Christmas is nearly over, but when the holiday ends I would like my students to tell me about their Christmas. To be able to do this properly they will need a lot of Christmas vocabulary. Here is a mind map introducing all the key words and concepts connected with Christmas in Great Britain and the USA. Go through all the words and content and then play the game to practise the Christmas vocabulary.

[showmyads] Christmas vocabulary mind map

Christmas Vocabulary game

Once you know the vocabulary it is time to practise it. Here is a simple quiz where you should fill in the names of the things you see in the pictures. If you get more than 80% of all the answers correct you can play a game called Indiara. Good luck.

Christmas Vocabulary quiz

Christmas Traditions – listening

I come from the Czech Republic and I have prepared a short text describing the unusual traditions connected with Christmas here. You can listen to the recording and then play a comprehension game. To make the listening easier for you, you can listen and read the text at the same time. This kind of listening is very good for your pronunciation too, as you can read along.

Listen and read
Comprehension game – Hoopshoot.

If you feel that you need more listening practice, try the following dictation exercises. Listen to the recording and then fill in the missing words. You can stop the recording whenever you like and play different parts again. In this way your listening comprehension will improve.

Czech Christmas Customs Dictation – elementary
Czech Christmas Customs Dictation – pre-intermediate
Czech Christmas Customs Dictation – intermediate

I hope you will find all these resources useful.
Merry Christmas.

More Games to learn English

If you like these exercises there are many more games to learn English at this site. We recommend the following ones:
Past tense of the irregular verbs – this post contains a mind map and several highly addictive games to learn the English irregular verbs in the past tense.
And what about present perfect tense? Is it still a mystery for you? Try the following post on Present perfect tense.