EFL Takeaways: Materials for EFL classes

Welcome to EFL Takeaways!

Eng 2

Image credit: http://www.etc-institute.com.ar/

Over the years I’ve written, used and accumulated a lot of classroom materials, some of which I thought other teachers might find useful. Hence this blog!

A little bit about me. I’ve been teaching since 1991, most of that time in Barcelona. I work at the Escola d’Idiomes Moderns of the University of Barcelona as an EFL teacher and head of Continuing Professional Development (CPD). To find out more, please visit the About section.

All the materials on this site are tried-and-tested, but bear in mind that they have been produced to use in a general adult EFL context in Spain. Please feel free to adapt the activities to use with learners of different L1s and different age groups. I’d love to hear your feedback, so please leave a comment.

Thank you for visiting.




Advert worksheet: We are what we do…


Video worksheet


To round off the year, and kick off the new one: An activity based on a short (1 min,) advert by NatWest Bank, entitled ‘We are what we do’. Aimed at marketing this bank as an ethical company, the advert portrays images of social issues and uses lexical opposites (or near-opposites) to illustrate its theme.


I’ve used this worksheet with levels from A2-C1, as the images are very clear and powerful, and the vocabulary is relatively simple. Students brainstorm opposites of adjectives and nouns related to social problems, then watch to check their answers. Works well to supplement classes based around vocabulary of personality, or as a springboard for discussion on social issues. Personally, I’m going to use it in my first classes of 2019 to introduce the topic of new year’s resolutions.

The link below takes you to the vídeo with subtitles, which I use with lower levels. There are versions online without subtitles, which are easy to find.


Video worksheet We are what we do – student

Video worksheet We are what we do – teacher

Link to video

Iceland Palm Oil ad, Christmas 2018

iceland ad

Christmas activity – vídeo worksheet


The latest in a succession of worksheets and activities based on TV Christmas ads, this one might be interesting for those of you who like a dash of polítics with your Christmas cheers. The theme has made the news recently, largely due to shocking vídeos like this one:


This lesson is based on the 2018 Iceland Christmas ad which was banned for being too political. The lesson plan introduces the controversy surrounding palm oil with a T/F activity. The worksheet for the ad itself focuses on pronunciation (rhyming) and vocabulary to guide learners towards understanding the message. Finally, a follow-up discussion invites students to share their opinions and suggest ways of reducing the problem.


Iceland 2018 Christmas Ad ‘Rang-Tan’ – student

Iceland 2018 Christmas Ad ‘Rang-Tan’ – Teacher

Iceland 2018 Palm Oil (ppt)

Link to video



John Lewis Christmas Ad, 2018

boy and piano

Christmas activity – vídeo worksheet


The latest in a collection of a collection of (predominantly John Lewis) Christmas adverts. This is the latest, featuring ‘Your Song’ by Elton John accompanied by images of his life and career.


The song can be used for intense listening practice (focusing on individual words). As it says in the song, it’s quite simple, so could be used at any level. The ordering activity in part B lends itself to practice of comparative forms and modal verbs of speculation. As usual, any Christmas ad can be used to lead in to discussions on presents, gift-giving, Christmas values, etc.


John Lewis ad 2018 -student

John Lewis ad 2018 – teacher

Link to the video


John Lewis Christmas Ad, 2013


The bear and the hare

Christmas activity – worksheet


Nothing says Christmas like a John Lewis Christmas advert – and this is one of the best! Because it’s such a simple story it can be used at any level from beginner to advanced. It can also be used as a spingboard for discussion on the commercialization of Christmas, but you might want to just watch and enjoy the story. Be warned, I’ve had students cry while watching this, (happy tears!) so bring tissues!


This worksheet first focuses on the language in the song (Somewhere only we know), which provides a language focus: somewhere, someone, etc. (this fits in very nicely with English File Pre-Intermediate unit 4C, if you happen to be using it). Secondly, as the students watch the video itself, the focus is on vocabulary related to nature and wild animals, as well as an opportunity to anticipate, summarise and/or re-tell the story.


John Lewis ad 2013 -student

John Lewis ad 2013 – teacher

Link to the video


My Ideal English class

classroom memory

First day activity


This is an activity inspired by some research done by my colleague, Marilisa Birello, (which you can download here). We used drawing as a way of revealing core beliefs in a teacher development exercise. When you draw spontaneously the first thing that comes into your mind on a given topic it can be very revealing of the thoughts you might not express given time to prepare and conscious of how others will perceive you.

I wondered if this activity would work equally well at encouraging learners to discuss their attitudes and expectations. I tried it with groups from A2 to C1 level and the results were very interesting! I’ve included some examples of my students’ pictures as examples, which could be used as a discussion point: which ones de your students identify with most?


Borg, S., Birello, M., Civera, I, Zanatta, T. The impact of teacher education on pre-service primary English language teachers. ELT Research papers 14.03 British Council


In this activity, learners draw pictures of their ideal English class, then compare and discuss their expectations and preferences. A further writing homework task can be used as the basis for class discussion in a follow-up class. This can help to raise learners’ awareness of the variety of different attitudes and wishes that can be found within the same group. Explaining their own preferences can help learners to undertand their own thought processes and lead to enhanced metacognition.


learner pictures

Learner pictures – teacher’s notes

learner pictures – examples

English for beginners

Polish Grandpa

Christmas advert – worksheet


It’s that time of year again!

Over the next couple of days, I’ll be adding a few vídeo worksheets to use as Christmas activities. Most of them are based on adverts, which is itself a discussion point – is that what the spirit of Christmas is all about now?


Activity based on a short (3-minute) Polish advert for an online auction site. It provides listening practice for English in a non-native accent and acts as a springboard for discussion on themes such as language learning and living in other countries.

I’ve used this worksheet with levels from A2 upwards. The language is simple and easy to understand and the themes (family in other countries, emigration, learning languages, etc.) are fairly universal.


Polish Grandpa – student

Polish Grandpa – teacher

Link to video


The Secret Millionaire

Secret Millionaire

Video Worksheet


This activity is based on a short (3-minute) clip from the UK Channel 4 documentary ‘Secret Millionaire’, which can be found on YouTube. This complements the text ‘The Secret Billionaire’ in Unit 3 of Headway Advanced. but can be used independently as a springboard for a discussion on the importance of ambitions, money, drive and social environment.

The worksheet also focuses on the use of prepositions in a biography (Wikipedia extract) and introduces some idiomatic, spoken language and cultural references.


Secret Millionaire intro

Video worksheet Secret millionaire – student

Video worksheet Secret millionaire – teacher