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B2 English Monday 8:15

English conversation for B2 level

We'll have in-person lessons Mondays at 8:15. Here is our topic for our next class and a brief reminder of some of the things we learned:

27 May - This week we will speak about happiness. I'd like you to listen to a 2-hour Diary of a CEO podcast featuring Mo Gawdat. I found it fascinating and would love to discuss the topics raised. The podcast is available here on YouTube but you can also find it on Spotify or other streaming providers. Make sure you listen to the right one. The full title is – The Happiness Expert That Made 51 Million People Happier: Mo Gawdat | E101. There's no need to listen to all of it -

20 May – no lesson – Whit Monday. Please start on your homework for next week, which is a fairly long podcast. Can you also try to do the second conditional challenge.

13 May – We'll do something topical this week - let's look at why Hugh Grant has accepted damages rather than continue to pursue his claim against the owners of The Sun newspaper. Read this article here paying attention to any conditionals used. If you're not sure why Hugh Grant was suing The Sun, you can do a spot of research.

Words we learned in the lesson included the following:

Pronunciation - blouse, clothes

Vocab - 1970s, even though, apron, shying at that fence (think of a horse), defunct and oblivion

6 May - we'll look at Destination, unit 11. Before then I'd like you to try my second conditional challenge.

Today we practiced superlative and comparatives for both adjectives and adverbs. You learned how to pronounce infamous, island and hotel and asked lots of great questions regarding spelling (fitter) and choosing between two options. I learned that Swiss cats have seven lives whereas English ones have nine!

29 April - no lesson, it's the holidays.

22 April - Let's talk about housing. There are two articles I'd like you to read, one about social housing in Vienna and another suggesting that the private rental market should be abolished. The second article is fairly challenging so it's fine if you just prefer to read the first one.

Today we learned expressions 'to nip it in the bud' and 'it's not the end of the world'. We also talked about using the past simple with expressions such as last year. Vocabulary included courtyard, overlooked, environment, lower prices , nicely done, to leave rubbish – hopefully people don't do this, and it's better than being alone.

15 April - Destination again - we'll look at review 5 in class.

In today's class we talked about verb patterns with the word to. To is normally followed by the infinitive but occasionally it can be followed by an 'ing form. Here are some examples of the unusual to + 'ing form.

  • He objected to having to wash the pots.

  • I have got used to living abroad.

  • I'm looking forward to seeing you.

I gave you a tip in class about how to remember whether to use the to + 'ing form. Can you remember the tip?

We also talked about the following words - approve, argumentative, banned (from) and impolite. Can you recall how to say these words in German?

8 April - I've got two videos for you to watch about the dinosaurs and why they became extinct. If you have time, watch them both but otherwise just watch whichever you prefer. The first is an animated video by Kurzgesagt and the second one from National Geographic includes interviews with scientists.

25 March we'll continue with Destination unit 9 (see 11 Mar for homework) and make a start on unit 10. For homework I'd like you to finish unit 10.

18 March - poetry and technology! Manchester poet, John Cooper Clarke gives his views on technology. Read the article and decide whether you agree with him.

Vocabulary we discussed today included bookmakers (bookies), stressful, treat yourself to, phone box (UK) and phone booth (US). In terms of pronunciation we compared lose and loose and learned how to say subtle, prejudice and development.

11 March - we'll continue with Destination unit 9 (see 26 Feb for homework).

We practiced the second and third conditionals, talking about what we'd do if we saw a bear in the forest, and where we would have gone at the weekend if things had been different. I would have gone for a walk in the forest if the weather had been better and we would have all gone to Aarau if we had known about the fab exhibition.

Your homework is to finish pages 58 and 59 in the book and to keep practicing the conditionals.

4 March - In the lesson we'll talk about the power of drama to reach people. Please read this article about a recent drama that has had a huge political impact. Should you want to read more about the scandal, you can do some research or read this or this.

Some of the things we discussed in the lesson include story, tale, saga, a series (not serie), song lyrics, record (pronunciation of verb and noun), being dropped by your record company and injustice.

26 February - Destination - please do up to page 53 in the book before the lesson. Today we looked at Unit 9 - Conditionals in Destination. I asked you to look at questions C, D and E for homework.

Other topics that cropped up in the lesson included word transformation for believe, friends of ours (not friends of us) and how to use the word 'much'.

12 and 19 February - no lesson during the holidays.

5 February - This week I'd like you to watch this YouTube video about why we increasingly need subtitles to understand film dialogue. Before watching the video try to predict the reasons for this.

We learned that Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world and that people go for a dip in it in summer even though it is only about 14 degrees. We talked about the difference between 'look' and 'watch' and how to use reflexives when the subject and object are the same ('I watch videos to cheer myself up'). The vocab we mentioned included 'unintelligible', 'inaudible' and 'distorted'. Finally, I explained the different pronunciation of 'project' depending on whether it is a verb or noun.

29 January - Destination. Do pages 49 & 50 before the lesson.

It was a fun lesson today (&funny) with lots of good questions, as usual. Here are some of things we discussed. Having a lot of wives (more than one), no point in trying, make a statement (not do), this and that, to bring it up rather than bring up it, the difference between on the news and in the news and the meaning of confuse in the sense of mixing up two things. For homework please finish up to page 53.

22 January - we'll discuss whether swearing is becoming more acceptable. Please read this article.

We learned a lot in today's lesson including the following:

  • the meaning of swear

  • the past forms - swear swore sworn

  • Home Secretary and Home Office (Innen Department)

  • alternatives to swearing (Pete, pity, goodness, heaven and sugar)

  • it was such a nice day (not so a nice day)

  • in a way which is acceptable (not who)

  • coarse vs course

  • speaking to each other/ between themselves (not under themselves)

  • vocab included exaggeration, yawn and broadcaster

15 January - we'll work with Destination. Please do pages 46 - 47 before class.

We talked about the difference between 'little' and 'a little' (the zero article version tending to have a negative connotation). I also said that we always say 'a bit of' - not just 'bit of'. Actually, the last statement isn't completely true - as there are various words that can precede 'bit of' such as 'every' or 'that' - however, AFAIK (as far as I know) we don't use 'bit of' with a zero article. As usual - Skell is very helpful.

An MP is a member of parliament and the word 'the' is pronounced in different ways depending upon whether it comes before a word starting with a vowel or one with a consonant.

Your homework is to finish pages 49 and 50 in the book.

8 January - I'd like you to read two articles here and here about making New Year's resolutions. You don't need to read them both in detail. I'd like you to practice skim-reading - skimming through an article to notice the points that are interesting to you.

Here's some feedback from the lesson:

  • a drop in the ocean

  • to submit a proposal

  • to implement the projects

  • underdeveloped

  • repay the loan/ pay the interest

  • things are getting worse/ things are going backwards

  • chemical fertiliser

  • he was sinking in (to the snow)

  • during the year (not under the year)

  • pursue/ the pursuit

18 December - last lesson of term so we'll play games.

11 December - I'll give you a choice this time. You can watch this video about classical music or read this article about greeting strangers. Talk to each other and let me know which you prefer to discuss.

4 December - we'll work with Destination (see notes from 20 November for homework)

Today we talked about Mars and Venus, jeans are, his hair is and the news was. In other words the topic was articles - when to use a, an, the and the zero article. There was also a reminder of the importance of the small words. The cause of and the reason for.

27 November - Time for another TED Talk. This time it's about how to have better conversations. Click here to watch radio presenter Celeste Headlee's presentation.

Here are some of the words and expressions that cropped up in today's class:

  • pay attention to

  • be close to someone (not near)

  • genuine

  • urgent

  • I don't have the need to do it (or I don't need to do it)

  • deteriorated/ worsened

  • headphones (not earplugs)

20 November - Review of units 5 & 6 in Destination (pages 40-41). For homework I'd like you to finish page 41 and do page 44.

Today we spent a lot of time practicing word transformation and talked about words such as inexplicable, introductory, impossibly and discovery. Can you remember any of the tips I gave you?

In terms of pronunciation, we practiced myths, pyramids, physics and Egypt.

13 November - This time we'll read about Britney Spears. There are two articles to read - both are fairly short but with some tricky vocabulary. If you prefer to just read one article, that is completely fine as the content is quite similar. The first article is a review of her recently published memoir, the second article is an opinion piece by Emma Brockes.

6 November - Destination again. Try to finish up to page 38 before the lesson.

Vocabulary we learned included appointing a person (to a senior role), modest, niece, antibiotics, is also known as and don't blow your own trumpet.

30 October - I'd like you to read about misophonia! It's a new word for me - I'd never heard of it until I read the article. I think you will understand the gist of the piece but there are some quite unusual expressions (in this vein) and lots of advanced vocabulary - apoplexy, respite and debilitating. Good luck with it!

Words we learned included snort & sniff, grinding teeth, the difference between embarrassed and ashamed and the volume (how loud something is). In terms of pronunciation, I'd like you to practice the following words - bear (not beer), anxiety, phenomenon and vein.

23 October - we'll continue with Destination - try to do pages 35 and 36 before the lesson.

Again - lots of good questions in the lesson, including the difference between an engine and a motor. We talked about spelling (little, bitter, batted, hated and liked) and paying attention to the little words - reasons for/ causes of.

Please finish page 38 in Destination for homework.

No lessons on 9 and 16 October - autumn holidays.

2 October - we'll do another conversation class this week. I've chosen an article from The Guardian's 'A New Start after 60' series. This one is about a former IT worker who now makes flutes. One reason I chose it is for a spot of revision as it contains the word 'bar' in the same context as last week's Eurostar article. Here's the link where you can find it.

We discussed lots of great words today including drawbacks, setbacks, taken aback (surprised), trade unions, rehearsal, retirement at 65 (not with 65), starting out, (sometimes a sentence just needs an extra word) aptitude (or the lack of it), resurrect and resuscitate - which can both be translated as 'wieder beleben' but are used in quite different ways in English.

25 September - We'll talk about the Eurostar and Brexit. Read this article before the lesson.

This turned out to be a really good lesson - lots of interesting questions. The article was difficult because of the many long sentences, the slightly advanced language (all but... , bar + noun) and the false friends (eventually). We learned the difference between a watchdog and a guard dog, discovered that brakes can be applied, found out that Swansea is in Wales and that a Labour peer is a person in the House of Lords representing the Labour Party. Next week, I'll give you an easier article to read.

18 September - There were some great questions in today's lesson. We talked about the following:

  • by or until (can you send me the report by Friday)

  • will not or won't

  • probably will or will probably?

  • he will have got the letter by now

  • sentences with while

  • present simple for timetables

  • ferries set sail even though they don't have any sails whatsoever (it's also fine to say depart if you prefer that)

  • coach holidays (tip google the phrase 'coach trip' and look at the pictures)

  • a coach is an 'it', not a 'he' (cars and ships can be referred to as 'she' but that's another story)

11 September - no lesson

4 September - Homework from 28 August is to do pages 32 & 33 in Destination. I'd also like you to read this article about getting front row seats at a concert. As you're reading pay attention to the word or words used to describe the people at the concert (are they visitors, the audience, the crowd, concert-goers or fans?)

28 August - hopefully you should have finished up to page 27 in Destination. In the lesson we will talk about any questions you have. Try to learn some of the new vocabulary from 21 August (see below).

21 August - it's the start of term. I'd like you to read this article on good posture and back pain. Before reading the article I'd like you to write a few sentences on what you know about the topic. Then read the article and compare with your ideas.

Vocabulary from today's lesson included - arduous, the in-laws, activate your core, chair, stool, I ask myself, an initiation of sorts and question (v).

10 July - it's the final week of term! We'll play some games.

3 July - in today's lesson we talked about verbs followed by 'ing forms such as enjoy, avoid, recommend, suggest and imagine. I suggested that you write up your notes at the end of each lesson as this will help you to identify the important things you have learned.

Preparation - we'll be working with Destination. Try to finish up to page 27 before the lesson.

26 June - I'd like you to read this article about letter writing before the lesson. We talked about vicious circles, so much information, being close to someone (rather than near) and the importance of commas. Vocabulary included suffocate, account (story) obligated or obliged. Pronunciation - devastating, bowel, 2010 and promise.

19 June - no lesson this week

12 June - We looked at pages 22 - 23 in Destination. Even though this is B2 level the grammar is very complex at times. Don't worry if you don't understand it all. Homework - Destination pages 23 - 27.

5 Jun - Quite a long yet interesting article about how a round the world trip nearly ruined someone's life. We learned vocabulary about courage (muster, pluck up), the word 'beyond', and I provided a few pronunciation tips - claustrophobia, Suzanne and traumatised.

29 May - No lesson - Pfingsten

22 May - grammar - used to and be used to. Vocabulary included opposition and opponents, bring forward (vorverschieben) and taking to something like a duck to water.

  • I used to live in England. (used to )

  • I didn't use to like tomatoes. (used to )

  • I am not used to driving on the right. (be used to + 'ing)

  • I've got used to driving on the right. (get used to + 'ing)

For the next lesson with Destination do page 22 F,G and H.

15 May - We talked about fashion for the over fifties. Vocab included suit (Anzug) and wearing clothes that suit you. Other words and expressions were bold and baggy, too loud, too much and 'mutton dressed as lamb'. I learned the German 'sie trägt kurze Haar' meaning 'she has short hair'. It's a good reminder that languages conceptualise things differently. I also learned anstössig - which can mean offensive, indecent, scandalous or lewd; perhaps my suggestion that it means 'inappropriate' wasn't quite strong enough.

Next week we'll do pages 28-29 in Destination B2.

8 May - Destination pages 216 - 217. We talked about words ending in -ance and -ence, the difference between unmotivated and demotivated, the tricky expression 'for want of' and hanging out with your friends. Which other words or expressions can you remember?

For next week please listen to this weekend podcast from The Guardian. It's over 30 minutes in total but we'll just be talking about the final part of it (from 21.21 minutes). It's about fashion for the over fifties. Alternatively, you can read the article here.

19 April - Wednesday this week, instead of Monday. It's the last day of term so we'll play games.

10 April - no lesson. Don't worry though, you can still do some reading. Click here for some ideas.

3 April - Destination unit 26. Lots of vocab today - switch off, unwind, relax, bone idle, lazy, apart from, in favour of and much more.

27 March - time for some art. Read this intriguing article about the current exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. The vocabulary we discussed included reprieve (not reprise), keen for, facade, to invest time and energy, indebted and eingebildet!

20 March - Destination unit 26.

13 March - let's talk about giving feedback. Read this short article about this topic. In the lesson we discussed vocabulary about comedy (offensive, appropriate, rude) various idioms (don't point the finger, put your hands up, below the belt) and considered the best pieces of advice we have received. (Not advices!)

6 March - We'll start on unit 26 Destination. Homework is to do page 210. We talked about the difference between yawn and yearn, leave it (not 'let it') and practised indirect speech.

29 Feb - conversation time. Can you choose a topic from the Wednesday class. Homework from 6 February is to finish unit 25 in Destination. In the lesson we practised verbs + 'ing verbs, words such as imagine, deny, recommend and suggest and I reminded you that you'd better is short for you had better. Enjoy the holidays!

You opted for the topic about the collapse of furniture retailer, Made.

6 Feb - Destination - we'll continue with unit 25 reporting. Can you revise some of the words that we discussed in last week's lesson such as values, seriousness, voluntary work, gravitas, sweeping generalisations, naive, surveillance, composure and nurture. Can you remember any others? PS a piece of feedback that I forgot to mention was to say 'Lily' or 'the other speaker' rather than 'the Lily'.

30 January - usual time of 8:15am. Can you watch this video featuring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin discussing female friendship. In the lesson we can practice some reported speech! She said that... She suggested... Remember to write sentences including the words recommend, suggest, avoid, imagine and mind as homework from 23 January.

23 January - we'll meet at 3.15pm and will work from Destination. Please look at pages 200 - 201 before the lesson. Try to write a list of some ending in 'el or 'le in English. Which list is longer?

16 January - no lesson

9 January - back to conversation again. This time the benefits of walking in the rain and walking backwards. Read the article here. Vocabulary we discussed in the lesson included germs, ions, walking barefoot, broken glass,

19 December - the final lesson this term - let's play some games.

12 December - Destination, unit 24. This week we learned 3 different ways to pronounce recount and did some word transformation with the word 'appreciate'. What else can you remember.

5 December - Can you read this article about Terrence Higgins, the first named person to die of an AIDS-related illness in the UK

7 November - This time we'll talk films. Please read this review of a film I'd like to watch.

31 October - Destination - try to finish unit 23 for homework. We'll make a start with unit 24 in the lesson.

24 October - We'll talk about men's groups after reading this article.

3 October - Destination. Homework is to spend at least 20 minutes sitting and letting your mind wander. Also, think about the words we discussed in today's lesson (26 September) such as sew, breath, contemplate, pigeon and crochet. Check Skell for usage of self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence. You can also check for the same words spelled without the hyphen.

You might also want to read some of my recent blog posts about grammar, learning tips, useful resources and more.

Do you want to choose the topic we talk about next? As usual, you can find your own articles or videos to discuss. Alternatively you can choose one of the articles I've found by looking at the list of possible topics here or here.

Homework and previous topics

26 September - A scientific study about the benefits of sitting still. Here it is.

19 September - Destination unit 23 Verbal complements. I'll also be testing you on some of the recent vocabulary and some of the things we discussed in class ( he wanted us to... rather than he wanted that, watching a series rather than looking a serie.)

5 September - This week's topic is something simple and relevant for all of us about raising teens. Here it is.

29 August - Destination

22 August - Let's start with this fascinating article by photographer Daniel Meadows about a picture he took in Salford in the 1970s. Although I tell people that I used to live in Manchester, technically I lived in the bordering city of Salford. I'll be able to tell you more about Salford in the lesson, including how to pronounce it!

11 July - read an English language book over the summer holidays. Try to do a bit of work in Destination - up to page 185.

4 July - It's the final conversation class of the semester so we'll play games! This time we'll meet on a Wednesday 6th at 2pm.

27 June - another interesting lesson and it's great to see how much progress we are making with Destination. Try to finish unit 22 over the summer holidays.

20 June - we had a great lesson today with unit 21 in Destination. Try to finish the unit before next week's lesson. Here's a quick summary of just some of the things we talked about:

  • what the letter s can signify

  • the difference between few and a few

  • Irregular plurals such as sheep, fruit, fish and deer

  • uncountable words such as furniture and countable examples such as chair, table and wardrobe

13 June - continue reading articles in The Guardian. Maybe you could read another one by Peter White, such as this one about a Christmas that he can remember. Learn some of the vocabulary we discussed in conversation class such as the idiom, the sky to fall in, and words such as rigour, rigorous, furthest, bloke and climax. We also talked about the pronunciation of Worcestershire Sauce so that is something for you to practice at home.

30 May - Let's talk about the dangers of being on the Scottish mountains. Read this article before class.

23 May - Destination page 172 and 173. At our next grammar lesson (13 June) we'll look at pages 168-169. In answer to one of the queries in today's lesson, we use the word 'approval' in relation to new medicines in the UK.

16 May - Let's look at an article about a current social issue, fuel poverty. Read this article before the lesson. For homework continue working on mindmaps to help you learn vocabulary. You can also write 10 sentences using the new vocabulary you've learned.

9 May - we looked at Destination Unit 20 - Power and social issues. For homework, do a mind map of the vocabulary we discussed in the lesson.

2 May - looking forward to seeing you all again. This time I'd like you to watch a short TED Talk about the human voice presented by Julian Treasure. It's entitled 'How to Speak so that People want to Listen'. Click here to watch it.

4 April - this time it's a suggestion from Ruth, an interesting article about our sensory relationship to food, or lack of it. The article is very long but there is no need to read all of it.

23 March - slight change in the schedule and we'll meet on Wednesday next week. Time for a language lesson. I'd like you to read this article in The Guardian from a subeditor about grammar and some common mistakes that journalists make when writing. More interesting than the article are the comments that follow it. They should keep you busy for quite a while.

28 February - over the Christmas and new year period there were many articles in The Guardian about big changes that writers had made in their lives. One of the articles I enjoyed reading the most was this one, written by a journalist who had spent a lot of his life in prison. He talked about why he didn't mind being in prison much of the time and also about the reason that he changed his mind. It's quite an intriguing read with sophisticated vocabulary. I think it will make a good topic for discussion.

31 January - What a great lesson we had today, I learned such a lot about English and German and as usual, you asked me some really interesting questions. I've added some of the vocabulary that we discussed to our Google doc so that you can print it out, put it on your fridge and learn it. Next week we'll continue with Destination and we'll be back to conversation at the end of the month. For the next conversation class, I'd like you to do some listening. Please listen to a recent episode from Desert Island Discs, a popular radio show where guests are hypothetically cast away to a desert island and have to choose the music that they would take with them. As well as explaining their choices, they also reminisce about their lives. It's a good opportunity to listen to spoken English. Pay attention to how often the castaway, Richard Osman, uses the word 'would' when talking about his childhood. See if you can also notice the difference in the regional accent of the presenter, Lauren Laverne, and her guest. By the way, both Lauren and Richard speaks rather quickly. If it is too fast for you, try playing it back at a speed of 0.8. Also, it's about 30 minutes long but you don't need to listen to it all.

10 January - let's discuss the topic of money and kids. Read this article from The Guardian and think about your experiences with money as you were growing up.

3 January - health and science this week! We'll be talking about wine, coffee and chocolate and whether they are healthy or not. Please read this article from The Guardian before the lesson.

13 December - well done to you all for today's lesson. It was really good to see the progress that you are all making! Next week it is the final lesson before Christmas so that means it's a games morning. We'll play word games to help you improve your English. Have a great week!

29 November - this week we're going to talk about how to practice effectively. Watch the following TEDEd talk before the lesson.

15 November - time for something easier than last time. I'd like you to read this article about making your home more beautiful. Some of the author's tips are quite practical, others probably less so but overall I enjoyed reading the article and it has inspired me to buy some more pictures and hang them lower on the walls! I hope you enjoy it too!

1 November - at the last lesson we were talking about the times when people came up with their best ideas. Is it when they are young and unconstrained by convention or when they are older and wiser? That reminded me of this fairly long interview with clinical psychologist, Richard Bentall. Please read it before the lesson, paying attention to the medical terminology used.

4 October - a slightly funny article this time, or at least I thought so. Read up about the plans to change an iconic image and how the original designer reacts. Pay attention to the language he uses and consider whether he prepared his comments in advance.

20 September - a spot of revision. We did this topic last semester but I'd like to do it again as we have a new student. Let's talk about small talk, answering emails, dealing with phone calls and similar. Watch this video from the British Council before the lesson - it's at a fairly basic level but should give you some ideas about how you can keep a conversation going. If we get through the topic quickly, we can move on to some grammar. with the Destination book.

6 September - time for something musical! Read this obituary of The Rolling Stones' drummer, Charlie Watts. We'll talk about rock and roll, jazz, working with Mick Jagger and much more.

Monday 23rd August - let's start by talking about the Olympics. Watch this video about high jumper, Dick Fosbury who used his engineering know-how to develop a revolutionary and successful approach to the high jump. We'll talk about sport, the Olympics and the benefits of doing things differently.

To check what we read last semester, click here.

Kreis 6 English offers conversation classes for intermediate and advanced students in Zurich and online.


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