May 182018
travel phrasal verbs

Our dear friend Kathy came round the other day and helped us make a video. It’s a story for teaching phrasal verbs and other expressions and it has the sort of plot line I love: Jay has something he wants to do. Vicki stops him and gets him into trouble with the boss.

Here are some of the phrasal verbs and expressions you’ll see in action: stop by, stop off, pick someone up, drop someone off, give someone a ride/lift, touch down, check in, set off, hurry up and take off.

 Posted by at 8:11 pm
Dec 172017

There are lots of things I love about the holiday season and getting together with friends is definitely a highlight.

This year I was able to get together with friends on line as well to make a holiday season video. Jennifer of JenniferESL is based in New England in the US, I’m originally English of course, and Emma of MmmEnglish is based in Australia.

We thought if we get together we can tell everyone about the different customs we follow at this time of year. So here’s a holiday season vocabulary lesson and on the way you’ll learn about Christmas trees in America, English Christmas turkey dinners and Australian New Year’s celebrations.

Make sure you follow Jennifer and Emma if you don’t already! I’ll put all our contact details below.

You can see the transcript for this post here, and if you have holiday traditions to share, please do.

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 Posted by at 11:41 am
Jul 222017

This video tells a story that I’ve found really useful over the years because it illustrates some key ways our memories work. It’s great when you’re looking at ways to learn vocabulary and my students have always enjoyed it and found it helpful. Hopefully yours will too!

 Posted by at 8:30 pm
Mar 132014

Journey2MarsAtama-ii-Books have just published their first multiple path story books, where kids get to choose their own adventures. These adorable illustrated books are suitable for English beginners who love a good story. (Is there anyone who doesn’t love a good story?)

And you can win one free! This weekend Simple English Videos is giving away 10 Kindle versions of ‘Journey to Mars’. Readers get to be astronauts on the first space mission to the red planet.

How to win a copy

Just visit our Facebook page and leave a comment here. You can just say ‘hi’, or if you have time, tell us what you’d like the next video we make to be about. (Some tricky vocabulary perhaps, or how to greet people in English? Or maybe you’d like to see a video where we go on an adventure to Mars?)

We’ll select ten winners at random from people who comment on our ‘Win a free Journey to Mars’ Facebook post. Winners will need either a Kindle or an Amazon account and a (free) Amazon app and then – wow! – they can ‘Journey to Mars’ on their computer or mobile device.

Bravo Marcos Benevides and the Atama-ii-Books team for the terrific new book series. And to see what kids think of them – watch this video…. I adore the little boy!

Many congratulatons to the 17 winners! (Yes, we couldn’t limit ourselves to just 10 when so many adventurous folks wanted to hop on that space ship!) Hope you all have a great trip!

 Posted by at 2:33 pm
Oct 172013

In the run up to the forthcoming ELT Blog Carnival on video, here’s another terrific guest post – this time from Rosa Perez Parapar. Rosa describes how she sets up a very successful speaking activity. Thank you Rosa!

STEP 1: I divide my class into 2 groups; each one of them watches one of the following videos in class while the other waits in the corridor.STEP 2: In order to keep them busy while they are in the corridor, they are asked to do the following:

    • GROUP 1 / VIDEO 1: they must find out how to say the following words in English: swing, wedding, bride and groom. I tell them the words in Spanish and I let them use a dictionary.

    • GROUP 2 / VIDEO 2: I make sure they have understood the story answering the 5 w-questions: who / what/ where / when /why

STEP 3: after both groups have watched their videos a couple of times and they have practised telling the stories in their videos out loud ( in their groups) I pair them (one student from each group) and they tell each other the story they have seen

STEP 4: To make sure they have understood the story correctly, they retell each other´s stories in their pairs

STEP 5: The whole class watches both videos

STEP 6: Homework assignment: Each student must imagine an ending to his/ her video at home. 2 volunteers tell the story to the whole class the next day. They must:

  • – narrate the story in 1st person (as if they were one of the characters )
  • – explain what happened afterwards

What a gem of a lesson! Thank you Rosa!

 Posted by at 8:03 pm
Sep 142012

The pay off is a crucial bit of a story, especially in business English. It reinforces your message. It might convey values you want to get across,  deliver a point you want to teach, or simply suggest why you’re a decent, dependable or cool sort of person to work with.

And handily, one story can be used to deliver different pay offs. This means that if you can learn to tell one story really well, with a few minor changes, you can probably use it in lots of different situations, just changing the ending slightly to suit the circumstances.

doorbellI illustrate this in class by telling a short anecdote myself. Any short story would probably do it, but for example, this one has worked well for me.


An old lady was walking down the street when she noticed three young boys. They weren’t very tall and were struggling to reach a doorbell. Thinking they must be locked out, she asked if they’d like some help. ‘Oh, yes please’ they said, so she pressed the doorbell for them. ‘That’s great’, shouted the boys. ‘Now run!’.

Then I provide the phrase ‘So it just goes to show….’ and ask my students to come up some morals or pay offs for the story. All sorts of different ones are possible so they should be able to generate quite a few. And you can give them some of your own as well, such as:

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

First appearances can be deceiving.

So I think  it just goes to show that learning to tell one story really well is class time well spent.

Do you have any tips for storytelling lessons?


 Posted by at 2:14 pm