IH Bydgoszcz and IH Toruń Cambridge Day 2017

Each year IH Bydgoszcz holds a Cambridge Day to give ideas to teachers in the local area to help them teach Main Suite exams. Recently, our sister school, IH Toruń, has become an exam centre too, so to celebrate, we held events in both cities this year. My session was designed to share some (perhaps) less well-known online resources which can be used by teachers who are preparing students for both exams. These are the sites which I shared:

Cambridge Phrasal Verbs apps

Amusing cartoons and a matching game designed to help students remember 100 phrasal verbs. As far as I know they’re a different hundred in each!

The Phrasal Verbs Machine (cartoons in a historic style)

Phrasalstein (cartoons with a comedy horror inflection)

Alex Case

A one-man activity-writing/worksheet-producing machine, and everything I’ve tried so far has been good quality!

Key word sentence transformations advice and activities (including TEFL Reversi, which you can try by printing this Quizlet set: click ‘more’>’print’>’small’ and ‘double-sided printing’ and you’ll get cards you just need to cut up

All of Alex’s FCE worksheets

My blog

A collection of FCE resources for students and teachers which I recommend, including among other things a link to FCE: The Musical!, a 60-minute webinar by Andy Scott with lots more ideas of ways to make exam preparation interesting.

Various FCE activities I’ve shared on my blog, many of which could be adapted to other exams.

Richer Speaking cover

Richer Speaking is my ebook, which includes a section with activities for extending speaking, aimed at encouraging students to produce longer stretches of language. This is especially useful for the picture tasks in Cambridge exams.

A Hive of Activities

Emma Gore-Lloyd has a range of Cambridge exam activities on her blog.  One of my favourites uses pictures as a prompt to remember pairs of sentence transformations.


One of my all-time favourite resources, which is great for vocabulary learning in general, and which can be exploited for Use of English practice too.

How to use Quizlet, including links to classes/groups organised by CEFR level.

FCE/Upper Intermediate sets

CAE/Advanced sets

A good set to play Quizlet Live with is ‘Making your writing more interesting

Cambridge Exams: The Writing Paper (IH Bydgoszcz Cambridge methodology day 2016)

Today I had the pleasure of taking parting in the IH Bydgoszcz Cambridge methodology day. I presented a range of activities to help teachers prepare students for the Cambridge First and Cambridge Advanced writing exams.

The slides from the presentation and all of the resources can be found below. You can download everything from slideshare, for which you will need to create a free account. The links in the presentation are clickable. You’ll find full details of all of the activities in the notes which accompany each slide, which you’ll be able to see when you download the presentation.

Potato talks was taken from Thinking in the EFL Class by Tessa Woodward (published by Heibling Languages – affiliate link)

FCE essay to put in order (via Pavla Milerski):

For more on linking words of contrast, please see my Contrast Linkers post.

Telescopic Text is a way to get your students to play with language and experiment with writing longer stretches of text. Here’s the example I shared.

The other links I shared were my Useful FCE websites page, flo-joe, Cambridge Write and Improve and my student’s guide to Quizlet, including the link to my B2/FCE Quizlet group. While the last link may not seem so connected to writing, a) it’s amazing, and b) it’s great for practising spelling as well as expanding the range of vocabulary students know.

Cambridge exam writing IH Bydgoszcz Sandy Millin 13th February 2016 (presentation title slide)

I’d like to thank David Petrie and Pavla Milerski for activities which they allowed me to incorporate into the presentation, and Anna Ermolenko and Tim Julian for other ideas which didn’t make it in in the end. If you’d like more ideas, you can watch David’s webinar on writing skills for exam practice. Being connected to a network of such helpful teachers is so useful. Thank you!

Authentic Listening with British Accents

Both of the CAE courses I teach have recently encountered the Listening Part 4 tasks for the first time. For those of you who don’t know how this works, they have to listen to five speakers doing short monologues on a related theme, for example holidays, jobs or sport. While listening they have to do TWO multiple matching tasks, and they only listen twice. Some students do both simultaneously, others do them consecutively. Here is an online example.

For all of my students, the hardest part of the task is not the fact that they have to do so much at the same time; rather it is the difficult (mostly British) accents that many of them are encountering for the first time. Having previously only really heard neutral accents, with the occasional local one thrown in for an authentic feel to coursebooks, along with the American English they’re exposed to in films and on TV, they were in shock when they heard fast native speakers with accents including Somerset, Scouse, Welsh, Brummie and Irish, among others.

As a result, we’ve been adding youtube videos and other links to our Edmodo group every time we find an interesting accent. I thought it might be useful to share these with the wider world, and I’m hoping you might be able to add to the collection. We’re focussing on British accents because in Part 4 this is what they are most likely to encounter, although American ones do appear in other parts of the CAE Listening exam. I’ve tried to group them loosely by accent, but please feel free to correct me!

WARNING: A couple of these videos contain adult content, so check them before you use them with a class (I know you would anyway!)

In no particular order:

Many accents

A voicethread I made collating videos

British Library page

Evolving English world map

woices – location based audioguides (for example, there is a guide taking you through Birmingham’s musical history)

BBC Voices

Speech Accent Archive

Mixed Accents

Hale & Pace (Yorkshire and Dudley/Black Country) – Pub Hooligans and What are you looking at? (via Klara P)

Gavin and Stacey (Essex and Wales) – the girls are from Wales and the boys are from Essex

Cockney, Lancaster and Yorkshire accents in East Street (Eastenders and Coronation Street meet)

Frank Skinner (West Bromwich/Black Country) interviewing Noel Gallagher (Mancunian – Manchester)

Geordie (Newcastle)

Geordie case study from the British Library

Geordie monologue – a funny poem including lots of local words (these won’t appear in the exam – I hope!)

Ant & Dec talking about Comic Relief (see my lesson about Comic Relief and Red Nose Day here)

A local man talking about his seat at St. James’ Park (from woices.com)

Sarah Millican (Geordie comedian) solving problems

West of England / Somerset etc

Fork handles by the Two Ronnies

I’ve got a brand new combine harvester by The Wurzels (and the lyrics!)


Rhod Gilbert doing stand-up

Tom Jones interview

Irish (I know they’re not strictly British, but these are good videos!)

The similarities between Irish and Scouse

Dara O’Briain doing stand-up about mothers using other men to control their children

Ballykissangel – the opening scene


Scottish English– an interview done by an American (via Klara P)

Hamish Macbeth – the opening scene

Scottish voice-operated lift

Glaswegian surrealism – Dee Dee in the kitchen

Scouse (Liverpool)

A set of links

The similarities between Irish and Scouse

Red Dwarf – Lister (Craig Charles) is a Scouser – in this clip, he speaks from 1 minute

Brummie (Birmingham) and Black Country

Talk like a Brummie Day

Black Country Alphabet and a blog post talking about the dialect (thanks to Mark Andrews for the second link)

Allan Ahlberg reading Talk Us Through It, Charlotte (a poem)


Last of the Summer Wine: Who’s Got Rhythm?


Phil Harding talking about the Stonehenge Dagger

‘Standard’ English

Hugh Laurie discussing some American and British English differences (via Kristyna)

Please feel free to add to the list by posting in the comments below, if possible including which accent(s) the video include(s).



I’ve now created a set of materials based on some of these videos and others.

I also found a list of accents used by public figures (all from England) on Wikipedia. It could be a good starting point if you want to do further research.

Not completely authentic, but interesting nonetheless: a dialect coach gives a tour of British accents for the BBC Film Programme.