Author Archives: Zdenda

Cell Phone Troubles – a short story for intermediate students

Paul Walker was a senior at Elkin High School. He was captain of the football team and probably one of the most popular boys in school. He actually enjoyed school. When you have popularity on your side, school is a cake walk. He was liked by almost everyone and had a super hot girlfriend.

“Yo, Tasha,” he said to his girl, grabbing her playfully by the hips. She gasped and smiled up at him, her blue eyes sparkling.

“Paul, you know I don’t like it when you grab me like that,” she chastised him, but right after she gave him a kiss, running her fingers up into his dark hair.

“I love you babe,” he said, holding her close.

“Break it up,” an annoyed boy, with curly blond hair said. That was David. Paul had never been especially fond of David. The boy was prone to dramatic mood swings due to a mental disability. Paul didn’t know what it was called, but it could be damn annoying. There was a time that he just started sobbing in the middle of class, for no damn reason.

“He’s just jealous he doesn’t have someone to hold,” Natasha said, smiling sweetly up at her boyfriend.

“He’s in my next class. I gotta go babe,” Paul said, gave her one more kiss an hurried to class before the bell rang. When he came in he found that his usual seat was taken by someone else.

“I’ve rearranged your assigned seats,” the teacher said, “Your seat is number 12.”

Paul’s eyes moved to number 12 and to his dismay he saw David in seat 11, messing with his cell phone like he always did. Just because he had a disability he was allowed to play on that phone all day. Apparently it helped keep his outbursts down to a bare minimum.

“Hey,” David said, trying to gain Paul’s attention. Paul ignored him, but David was persistent.

“Hey…. Paul… Hey…” He poked him with a pencil. Paul gritted his teeth.

“Yes, David? What do you want?” he asked with extreme aggravation. The boy looked down at his phone and pulled up a picture to show Paul. It was a picture of Paul, naked and singing in the locker room showers. Paul’s eyes widened and he made a grab for the phone, but David was too quick.

“You better delete that you little shit, or so help me…” Paul began but the teacher cleared her throat.

“Excuse me, what is going on back there?” she asked.

“Nothing, sorry Mrs. Turner,” Paul said. He was already thinking of a way to get that phone and delete that picture. He was infuriated. How dare that little snot snap such a picture of him. Getting the phone would be easier said than done. David was always on the damn thing. However, it seemed he was in luck though. David went to the restroom and left his phone on his desk. Paul was just about to grab the phone when all of a sudden, the fire alarm went off.

“It’s probably just a drill,” Mrs. Turner assured them, “Everyone line up in an orderly fashion.”

As Paul stood to his feet, he casually grabbed the phone and slipped it into his pocket.

They all walked outside into the parking lot, and waited for the drill to end. Fire drills were so annoying, but Paul was grateful for today’s. David could be seen very distressed. He didn’t like when his schedule was interrupted.

“I wanna go home,” he told Mrs. Turner, almost in tears.

“David, please calm down,” Mrs. Turner said, “It’s alright. It was only a drill, and we’re all going to go back into class soon and everything will be back to normal.”

Paul couldn’t help but smirk a little. He wondered how David would react to having lost his phone. Soon they were given the ok to return inside.

“Attention students,” the principal spoke over the intercom, “We had a small kitchen fire, but because lunch has been destroyed, school has been cancelled for the remainder of the day. Please prepare to go board your buses and go home.”

“Sweet!” Paul said with a grin. He took out David’s phone, deleted the picture of him and was prepared to return it, but the boy was already long gone.

The next day Paul was shocked to find police searching lockers and backpacks.

“What’s going on?” he asked Natasha.

“Oh, David’s parents are freaking out saying someone stole David’s phone, so they want everyone searched. He’s got powerful freaking parents, and they paid for the search themselves.” She said.

Paul went a little pale. He felt the phone in his pocket and it made him a little sick. He could just drop it somewhere, but with the picture deleted, David would know it was him.
Paul hurried to Mrs. Turner’s room. He trusted her way more than a policeman.

“Mrs. Turner…” he said awkwardly.

“Paul, is something wrong?” she asked, “I hope this search thing isn’t upsetting you.”

“No… not exactly, it’s just… I took the phone…” he said.

Mrs. Turner looked surprised.

“Paul, I wouldn’t have expected this from you,” she said, “I’m very disappointed.”

“David took an inappropriate picture of me in the locker room. I just wanted to delete it and give it back, but he hurried off yesterday because of the fire freaking him out.” Paul explained.
Mrs. Turner looked thoughtful.

“David should not have taken that picture, but you shouldn’t have taken his phone. You should have come to me with the problem. Come on, let’s go return the phone and explain this to the police.” She said.

“Am I going to go to jail?” Paul asked. Mrs. Turner chuckled a little.

“No,” she said, “I think you’ll just get a stern talking to.”

Two Dates

Two Dates original graded readerI am really proud to present the first original graded reader written for this website. The story was written by me and Liwun Loo from the server I gave the outline of the story, Liwun wrote it and I simplified and changed several parts of the story.

Unlike all the previous graded readers, this one is in modern English and it is aimed at teenagers. The story has been simplified for intermediate and upper-intermediate students of English.

In this story Alan is a shy teenager who would like to change his life. And all of a sudden he is invited on a date by the prettiest and most popular girl in the class. And his life changes!!!!
You can

The City that Escaped from Tomorrow – comic graded reader

The city that Escaped From Tomorrow - preintermediate readerWhen students get a magazine there is always only one page all of them read. The comic at the end.
I remember that I used to be the same. So why not use this reflex to their benefit. Let’s give them comics and they will read in English. That is why I have edited another public domain comics for pre-intermediate students and I hope they will like it.
The City that Escaped from Tomorrow is a nice sci-fi story about time travel. Under the story you can find a comprehension game called Teacher invaders.

The City that Escaped from Tomorrow

The Treasure Hunt – Edgar Wallace

The treasure Hunt by Edgar WallaceEdgar Wallace was a great and popular author of detective stories and thrillers. However, he will probably forever be best remembered as the co-author of King-Kong.
In the story The Treasure Hunt you can meet Mr.Reeder again and admire his brilliant criminal mind. The story has been shortened and simplified for intermediate and upper-intermediate learners of English.

The Treasure Hunt – Edgar Wallace (4,000 words)

My Holiday – messaging lesson

George Woolard recently published a book called Messaging where he describes a new approach to teaching English. I have created a lesson using this approach which I would like to share with you.


1. Start with a video. Ask the students to watch the video and match the places and the things there.

The correct answers are:
Sedloňov – A big tree and church
Gory Stolowe – 656 stairs, Hell
Skutina – Military bunker
Nové Město nad Metují – Castle
Blodne Kameny – Pleasant walk, views
Karlow – DinoPark

2. Ask the students to translate the sentences from the video into their Mother Tongue.
3. Go through the phrases and ask the students to repeat them and translate them. Here there would be suitable to include a memory activity for the students to remember the words. I love using random repeat or flashcards.
4. Ask the students to finish the sentences in a way they want. They can use a dictionary or they can ask you. After 5 minutes elicit the language and write it on board. Students should write down the expressions they consider useful.
5. Having been given all the language they should prepare a speech about their holiday. Ask them to speak for 3 minutes first to their partner. Then swap partners and they should speak for 2 minutes but they should say the same amount of sentences. Then they should swap partners again and speak for 90 seconds.

The Bridegroom’s Other Love

The Bridegroom’s Other LoveLacie is in love with Rex and he marries her. But then she finds out that Rex didn’t marry her out of love but to get a revenge on another woman. Poor Lacie!!

Read the new comic story for pre-intermediate students of English and enjoy the romantic story. At the end of the story you can play a penalty game and check your comprehension of the story.

The Bridegroom’s Other Love


The Locket – Kate Chopin

Here is another graded reader for intermediate students. It is a nice story by Kate Chopin called The
Locket. If you do not know what “the locket” is have a look at the picture.

The Locket - Kate Chopin

The Locket

One night in autumn a few men were sitting around a fire on a hill. They were Confederate soldiers. Their gray uniforms were old and dirty. One of the men was cooking something in a cup. Two were lying on the ground, while the fourth was trying to read a letter. His shirt and coat were open.
“What have you got around your neck, Ned?” asked one of the lying men.
Ned—or Edmond—did not reply. He went on reading his letter.
“Is it your lover’s picture?”
“I think it is not a picture,” said the man at the fire. He took his cup. “That’s a magic; some kind of voodoo. It protects him. Am I right Ned?” Edmond looked up from his letter. He was not listening.
“Sorry?” he asked.
“Is it a magic what you have around your neck?”
“It must be, Nick,” answered Edmond with a smile. “I don’t know how I could have gone through these 18 months without it.”
The letter made Edmond want to go home. He lay on his back and looked up at the stars. But he was not thinking of stars. He was thinking of a spring day when a girl was saying goodbye to him. He could see her as she took the locket from her neck and put it on his. It was an old golden locket with small pictures of her father and mother with their names and the date of their wedding. It was the most precious thing she had. Edmond could feel again her soft hands on his neck. Her sweet face appeared before him as if it was real. He turned over and fell asleep.
The night was quiet but tense. He dreamed that Octavie brought him a letter. He had no chair for her and felt embarrassed that his clothes were so old and dirty.
He dreamt of a snake going around his neck, and when he tried to catch it it escaped.
“Get up! You! Ned!” Nick was shouting in his face. There was a lot of movement and confusion everywhere. In the east the sun was slowly rising.
“What’s going on?” asked a big black bird at the top of the tallest tree himself. He was sitting there and the whole day watched the movement below him.
There was a lot of noise and smoke.
“They are children playing a game,” he thought and watched and watched.
When the night came all the men were gone and there was silence. The old bird stopped watching and flew to the plain.
A priest with a black helper were going across the plain. His task was to pray for the last time with those who had yet a bit of life in them.
There were no injured men here; they had been taken away.
There was a soldier—a boy—lying with his face to the sky. Around his neck there was a gold chain and locket. The priest took the chain from the dead soldier’s neck. He had seen a lot of terrors of war but when he saw this he started to cry.
The priest and his helper said a prayer for the dead.
It was a beautiful spring day. Along the road went an old-fashioned cabriolet. It was pulled by two fat, black horses and it went slowly. In the vehicle there were Octavie and her old friend, Judge Pillier, who had come to take her for a morning drive.
Octavie wore a black dress in which she looked like a nun. She had the old locket around her neck. Now it was even more precious than before because it was connected with a very important moment in her life.
A hundred times she had read the letter with which the locket had come back to her.
She had read the letter this morning too. The priest wrote about an autumn evening and a plain full of dead men. Oh! She still could not believe that one of those dead was her own! His face turned up to to the gray sky. She got angry for a few seconds. Why was the spring here with its flowers and its beauty if he was dead! Why was she here!
After each of these moments Octavie felt nothing.
“I will grow old and quiet and sad like poor Aunt Tavie,” she said to herself and put the letter back on the table.
As she sat in the old cabriolet beside the father of her dead lover, again there came to Octavie the terrible sense of loss. She was young and she wanted to be happy and have fun. She put her veil a little closer about her face. It was an old black veil of her Aunt Tavie’s.
“Will you do something for me, Octavie?” asked the judge politely. “Please, could you remove that veil which you wear. It seems out of harmony with the beauty and promise of the day.”
The young girl obeyed him, took it off and put it on the seat next to her.
“Ah! that is better; far better!” he said. “Never put it on again, dear.” Octavie felt a little hurt and hid her face behind a handkerchief.
They had left the big road and turned into an old meadow. Some cows could be seen in the distance. At the end of the meadow there was a hedge along the lane that led to Judge Pillier’s house. Octavie felt the nice smell and welcome of the place.
As they came closer to the house the old gentleman placed an arm around the girl’s shoulders and turned her face up to him. He said: “Don’t you think that on a day like this, miracles might happen? When the whole earth is full of life, does it not seem to you, Octavie, that God might feel sorry for us and give us back our dead?” In his voice was something unusual. She looked at him with eyes that were full of hope.
They had been driving through the lane with the hedge on one side and the open meadow on the other. The horses went a bit faster. When they turned into the road that led to the house, the birds were singing happily.
Octavie felt as if she came into a dream. There was the old gray house and she saw familiar faces and heard voices as if they came from far across the fields. And Edmond was holding her. Her dead Edmond; her living Edmond, and she felt the beating of his heart and his kisses.
Many hours later Octavie took the locket and looked at Edmond with a question.
“It was the night before a battle,” he said. “In the hurry of the fight, and the move next day, I never missed it until the battle was over. I thought of course I had lost it in the fight, but it was stolen.”
“Stolen,” she said and thought of the dead soldier with his face to the sky.
Edmond said nothing; but he thought of the soldier too. It was the one who had said nothing that evening.

The Kiss – Kate Chopin

Here is another short story for pre-intermediate and intermediate students. It is quite short but extremely clever. I hope you will like it.

The Kiss / Kate ChopinTHE KISS
There was still enough light outside, but inside the room was full of shadows.
Brantain sat in one of these shadows, but he did not mind. He could look at the girl who sat near the fire as much as he liked.
She was very pretty. She was playing with a cat and sometimes she looked into the shadow where Brantain was sitting. They were talking quietly about things which were not the things that they wanted to talk about. She knew that he loved her. For two weeks he had tried to spend as much time as he could with her. She was waiting for him to propose and she knew she would accept. Brantain was not handsome or important, but he was very rich; and she liked the things which all the money could give her.
During one of the pauses between their talk about the last party and the next one the door opened and a young man came in. Brantain knew him quite well. The girl turned her face to him. He didn’t notice Brantain, walked to her and bent over her chair. He kissed her passionately before she could stop him.
Brantain slowly stood up. The girl stood up too, but quickly. The newcomer was standing now between her and Brantain. He was confused.
“I see,” said shocked Brantain, “that I have stayed too long. I had no idea. I have to go now. Goodbye. ” He took his hat with both hands, and probably did not see that she was offering her hand. She was not completely lost, but she didn’t dare to speak. She was afraid she might say something wrong.
“I am sorry, Nattie. I didn’t see him! But I hope you’ll forgive me. What’s the matter?”
“Don’t touch me, don’t come near me,” she answered angrily. “How could you come inside without ringing?”
“I came in with your brother, as I often do,” he answered coldly. “He went upstairs and I came in here hoping to find you. I didn’t know that there was someone else here too. But, please, say that you forgive me, Nathalie,” he asked.
“Forgive you! You don’t know what you are talking about! Go away! We will see if I ever forgive you.”

At the next party Natty went towards Brantain. She looked sweet, honest and serious.
“Could I speak to you a moment or two, Mr. Brantain?” she asked with a serious smile. He seemed really unhappy; but when she took his arm and walked away with him there was a little hope in his face. She took him to a corner where they could be alone.
“Maybe you do not care, Mr. Brantain; but—but, oh, I have been very sad since that little meeting a few days ago. I do not want you to believe something that is not true.” Brantain’s hopes were getting stronger. “Of course, I know you do not care, but I really want you to understand that Mr. Harvy is an old friend of mine. We have always been like cousins or like brother and sister, I may say. He is my brother’s best friend and he often thinks that we are a family. Oh, I know it is strange,” she was almost crying, “but it is really important for me what you think of—of me.” She was sad and nervous, but Brantain was happy.
“Do you really care what I think, Miss Nathalie? May I call you Miss Nathalie?” They walked along a long, dark corridor. They walked slowly to the very end of it. When they turned to return Brantain’s face was happy and hers was triumphant.
Harvy was among the guests at the wedding, and he went towards her when she stood alone.
“Your husband,” he said, smiling, “has sent me to kiss you.”
She turned red. “He told me he didn’t want his marriage to stop that close relationship which has existed between you and me. I don’t know what you’ve been telling him, but he has sent me here to kiss you.”
She felt like a chess player who was winning the game she was playing. Her eyes were bright and happy. She looked at him. And her lips looked hungry for the kiss.
“But, you know,” he spoke quietly, “I didn’t tell him this. I didn’t want to hurt him, but I can tell you. I’ve stopped kissing women; it’s dangerous.”
Well, she had Brantain and his money. A person can’t have everything in this world; and it was a little stupid of her to expect it.

Doc Strange and Bio-megascope

Doc Strange graded readerDoc Strange was a comic which was published in 1945. Nowadays the comic is in public domain. I took the original and rewrote the bubbles into simple English (intermediate level) and then I made a video out of the comic. You can see the result below.

Watch the video and try to understand the story and then there is a game to check your comprehension of the text.

The text is simplified for intermediate students of English.



Moreover, here is a game to check your comprehension of the text. Your task is to choose the correct answer (a-d) for each question and then score. I hope you will find these activities useful

Doc Strange_comprehension game