B1 · B2 · Grammar activity · writing

Past perfect and past simple: A Horrible Day

Past perfect or past simple? This is an activity that will help you practise these tenses within a story about Jane, a girl that was looking forward to going to a party, but discovered that being absent-minded wasn’t a good thing ….unless you change the end of the story.

The first part of the activity is to fill in the blanks with the correct form of the verb in brackets. After checking the activity, students can write their own version of the end of the story. (max 50 words).

Once we have all the stories, we’re going to vote the one we like most! 🙂

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B2 word formation · writing

B2 Writing a report

cropped-writing_workshop1.pngHello again! We’ve just finished first term tests and we’re already planning and working hard towards the final certificate examinations. One of the writing genres that we will be doing is a ‘report’. A report has a very specific format that students often confuse with essays. However it has little to do with the latter even though both have some features in common such as, the use of formal language and passives,  just to mention a couple of examples. Here are some important tips for this writing model which I hope you will find useful. As usual, I have used a special and fun format to give this information. After the introduction, you’ll find a link to an activity quiz related to reports.

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B2 · B2 Writing · writing

Writing a review


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A review is a brief description of a book, film, play, album, restaurant, etc. A review gives the main points of the plot, events, or features of something, including the writer’s comments or recommendation.

What is important in a review?

When writing a review, consider the tenses you should use for each paragraph. When describing the plot, present tenses should be used and paragraphs should include more than one sentence.

When a new topic is introduced, begin a new paragraph. Your recommendation or judgement should be included in the conclusion. Always give good reasons to support your comments/opinions.

What style should you use for a review?

The style of a review can be formal or neutral depending on the intended reader. This means that when writing a review, it is important to have in mind who is asking for it as the style will not be the same, for example, for a review written for a secondary school or one written for a language magazine.

Getting started

Carefully read the instructions before writing. In the instructions you’ll get a close idea of the information that is required and the type of public that is going to read your review.

Image by blogdeserena.blog
Structure for a review

Brainstorm for ideas and think in which paragraph of your review would it best fit in. The image above represents a review plan. Organising your information is important. If paragraphs deal with mixed up items, the reader is bound to get confused or may even miss your point.

It’s very important to have in mind that a review isn’t a summary of the plot of a film or a book. So whatever you do, don’t go and give a rambling account with every single detail about everything that happens. Here, basically stick to the information that has been required from you.

Keep it nice and interesting!

Don’t forget that a nice and juicy variety of vocabulary and structures will make your review much more interesting and, although this doesn’t mean that it has to be absolutely highbrow (as the register will depend on who the review is addressed to), always check and double check for repetitions of words and structures that may result too simplistic or repetitive.

Avoid emotional and vague language

Remember that the intention of a review is to give a description and an assessment (however abstract the experience may have been). Here you will have to be prepared to use a wide variety of vocabulary so as to render the characteristics of your item as clearly as possible as well as in an interesting way. You must also why you enjoyed the item you are dealing with or not, giving your reasons. So, if you are writing about a restaurant, for example, where you didn’t enjoy your diner, don’t just say that the food was disgusting or the service was bad. Another thing to avoid when writing a review is serving it as an opportunity to rant and rave about something bad that happened to you and to use it as a detox therapy. Instead, say why you have this opinion. In this way, your review will be useful to other readers that will have the opportunity to make a decision on whether to follow your advice or not.

Checklist for reviews

Never forget to ask yourself the following questions before handing in your review.

  • Does the piece of writing answer the rubric?
  • Is the review divided into paragraphs?
  • Is the style appropriate?
  • Has a wide range of vocabulary been used?
  • Are there any grammar/structural mistakes?