Author Archives: Zdenda

Our High School – episode 1 – video for learners of English

I was playing with the animation for nearly a month but at the end I managed to produce the following video for learners of English. It is called Our High School and it is aimed at pre-intermediate learners. This video should appeal to teenagers who can follow various stories taking place at a fictional secondary school.

In this episode they will meet the main characters.

I hope you will enjoy it.


Free graded readers

Recently I have spent quite a lot of time simplifying books and creating graded readers. I have managed to rewrite 5 stories into simple English and you can read the graded readers here:

Free graded reader – Sherlock Holmes stories

Sherlock Holmes story – Silver Blaze – Pre-intermediate graded reader (4,000 words).

Sherlock Holmes – Identity – free graded reader for preintermediate students. (3,800 words).
Sherlock Holmes – Empty House – pre-intermediate level (4,100 words).New item

Free graded reader – Short stories by Otakar Batlicka

 Great Magic – intermediate level (1,100 words).New item

Certain Bet – pre-intermediate graded reader (900 words).

Free graded readers for Kindle

Sherlock Holmes story – Silver Blaze – for Kindle.

Sherlock Holmes – Identity – Preintermedite level (3,800 words).

Sherlock Holmes – Empty House – pre-intermediate level (4,100 words).New item

 Certain Bet – preintermediate level.

Great Magic – intermediate level (1,100 words)New item


I hope you will find this page useful and that you will read a lot in English.

Top 5 TEFL sites

Top TEFL sites

Top TEFL sites

Have you ever wondered what is the best TEFL site on the internet? Do you still hasitate where to put your money? Right now there are hundreds of sites offering worksheets for teachers of English as a foreign language. But how good are they? Which one is the best TEFL site? Is it worth investing my money into it? I hope that the following summary will help you in your decision.

TEFL sites in the order from the best

1. Mary Glasgow Magazines
Price: 15 pounds / year
This site is quite cheap and at the same time it offers incredible variety of content at top quality. There are pages from magazines, pages from the popular Timesaver series, listenings, songs, grammar exercises and videos.
The search engine works fine and all the pages it finds are relevant and useful.
The only cons are that the worksheets are often cut into pieces. For example, you will find a worksheet for a song but the song is somewhere else.
However, right now it is the best TEFL site there is and it is cheap at the price.

Price: 42 pounds / year
The quality of the articles and worksheets at this site is outstanding. So is the variety and amount of the useful materials for English teachers. There are worksheets, theoretical articles, songs, news articles at different levels etc. The site is connected with Macmillan publishing house, so they publish from Macmillan resource packs a lot. The best part though for me are their serialised readers. Especially the Owl Hall is excellent.
The cons are that as big as the site is, the search engine is not the best, therefore it is quite difficult to find the materials you need. Moreover, they do not have videos. The greatest disadvantage of the site though is the price. I know that they have to generate a lot of income to keep the quality of the site but 42 pounds is too much.
I like the site a lot and if it wasn’t for the price it would have ended up at number one.

3. Teachitworld
Price: 25 pounds / year
I love this site because I could publish several resources here. This site contains current articles from The Week magazine, incredible worksheets with fresh ideas, listenings and interactive content and activities for IWB. I love best the worksheets, because they are of superb quality and sometimes the ideas are absolutely original.
The cons are the price and the lack of video. Moreover, they have just a quarted of the resources the Onestopenglish offers.
I think it is a wonderful TEFL site with a great potential and I hope to contribute to its growth too.

Price: free (you have to contribute)
This TEFL site contains the most worksheets and materials. It has worksheets, powerpoint presentations and games and interactive exercises. Moreover, the price is great, as it is free. It is enough if you contribute some materials of yours and you can download anything there is. The search engine works wonderfully as it orders the relevant materials according to the number of downloads, the best materials are always at the top of the list.
The concept of the site is wonderful but it has its disadvantages. As virtually anyone can contribute and the materials are not edited and checked, the quality is often bad. There are mistakes in the worksheets and some of the worksheets are simply dull.
I have contributed a lot to this site and whenever I need a worksheet or two I go there and download it. But then I spend some time editing the material to avoid unpleasant surprises in the classroom.

Price: $30 / year
I don’t know whether you have ever heard about this site, but I think it is one of the great ones. There are worksheets only but the worksheets deal with grammar, songs, speaking, vocabulary etc. Each worksheet is perfectly designed and there are several different activities which you together constitute a perfect lesson.
The cons are that the site is not cheap and that the variety of the materials is quite low.
They offer here several worksheets for free so, if you have never heard of this TEFL site I believe it is worth trying.

If you know any other great TEFL sites, please let me know or write your comment here and I will check it up and I will update this post if necessary.

Past simple story – Scream

Past simple story - scream

Past simple story – scream

Don’t worry! This is not a horror story 🙂 It is a simple story in past simple tense in which you or your students will learn and practise several verbs in past simple tense.


Past simple story – Scream MATERIALS

Start by downloading the Past-simple-story_scream_original (5)

In the first part your students should translate the words into their mother tongue. It is necessary for the students to understand all the words to comprehend the text.
In the second part the students should read the story and answer comprehension questions. You can play the story to your students on your IWB by clicking here: Past simple story – scream – listen and read.

Now the teacher should give the students several minutes to study exercise 3 and realise what the pictures stand for. The pictures replace the irregular verbs in past tense and short phrases. After three or four minutes the students should work in pairs. One of the students covers exercise 2 and reads the story aloud while their partner follows the story in exercise 2 and corrects their partner whenever they make a mistake. The students swap roles once they finish the story in past simple tense.

In exercise 4 the students should write the past simple story. It takes about ten minutes and when they finish they should check their answers.

In the last exercise they try to solve the crossword by replacing the pictures with the past simple tense of the given verb.

If you have an IWB you can play with your students the storyboard game here. Students should put away the worksheets and each should come to the computer and type one word they believe was in the story. If they write a word that was in the story they score one point. If they write a word that wasn’t in the past simple story they lose one point. The students can help each other.
If your class is too big or you do not have an IWB you can ask your students to play the storyboard game at home.
I hope you find this worksheet and activities useful. Please leave comments below.
Thank you

Top 5 theoretical books for TEFL teachers

I have read many books on teaching English and here I have created my top 5 list of the theoretical one.

1. Vocabulary Myths by Keith S. Folse
Having finished my TESLdip course I realised that all the methodology was created for a completely different setting than the one I was regularly teaching in. I realised the Mother tongue had its place in monolingual classrooms but I didn’t know where and how.
In this book all the myths surrounding teaching vocabulary and English as a second or foreign language are blown and all the research findings are summed up in a very readable way. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

2. Learning Teaching – Jim Scrivener
I know this is a classic but it is good. All the basic methods and approaches are described here and I like dipping in from time to time. Maybe, if you are an experienced teacher, it won’t be as interesting or new but it is always good to remember the basics.

3. Messaging – George Woolard
Right now it is the top book for me. For the last two months I was looking for a new method to teach my students English. After teaching them for the whole year I found out that they do not know as much as I would like them to know. What I needed was a method which would give the students a feeling of success and give students the chance to learn at home. And then I came across this book.
And now I believe that this book answers all my needs. Of course I will change the method a bit to suit my teaching style but I believe that George Woolard found the holy grail here.

4. Uncovering Grammar – Scott Thornbury
It was probably my first theoretical book on teaching TEFL I have ever read and at that time I was not experienced enough to understand it fully. However, beside all the theory there are several practical activities and worksheets which I have been using since.

5. Big questions in ELT – Scott Thornbury
In this tiny book all the big questions concerning teaching English are summed up. All the questions are dealt with in depth, but the answers are not given 🙂 It is fine that even the best in our field have the same problems as I do, but I would love to know the answers. (BTW it is sometimes quite clear what the author’s answer is even though it is never clearly stated.)

Sherlock Holmes story

Sherlock Holmes - Love your neighbour

Sherlock Holmes – Love your neighbour

My students like watching films in English. But normal films are too long to watch in lessons and short clips are often too difficult to watch. That is why I turn books into films for students to watch, read and listen to at the same time. You can see a few of these books at my Youtube channel zdendarotesl.
This time I turned Sherlock Holmes comic into a film and I have prepared a few activities and worksheets to accompany it.
I always start with pre-teaching vocabulary. The activity which in my experience is most useful and successful when teaching vocabulary is called Random Repeat. I found this method in the book Human Memory by A.Baddeley and the author claims that it was invented by Tom Landauer and Robert Bjork in 1978. It was invented for teaching foreign languages but it never made it into classrooms, which is a pity as it is one of the most effective methods of teaching English vocabulary.

Sherlock Holmes – Teaching procedure

Teacher writes (or if they have an IWB) a new word on the board and say its meaning in the students´ mother tongue. Students repeat the word several times. Teacher writes another word and says its meaning. Then he/she says the first word in MT and the students have to say the word in English. Then the teacher asks about the second word.

The teacher writes on and asks students to say the previous words in English. The teacher asks about the already presented words in random order and he/she asks only about 5 or 6 of them. However the new one has to be asked about last and only then a new one can be presented.
Once all the words are on the board students turn with their backs to the board and complete the table where only the MT words are. Here you can find the powerpoint presentation of the new words.
Sherlock Holmes 2_random repeat

And here is an example of a table with the MT words in Czech.
Sherlock Holmes 2_random repeat tabulka

Once they have finished, they turn back and check their answers and spelling.

Now it is time to play the Sherlock Holmes video:

If you want to you can ask the students to answer the following questions before the students watch the video:

  1. Who was killed?
  2. Who killed him?
  3. What problem did the police have?
  4. How did Sherlock solve the case?

And to finish this pleasant activity, here is a game to test your students understanding. I like dividing the class into two groups who play against each other. The members of the same team can help each other, but each time a different person has to play the game on the IWB.


Contents of this blog

The best posts and games to teach English

The best posts and games to teach English

I have published quite a lot so far and it is getting a bit confusing and some great posts are getting lost. That is why I decided to create this post which contains the list of the materials that you can find here:


Sherlock Holmes and comprehension games
Exactly what you ordered – a romantic story with a comprehension game
Freddie and his friends – elementary story with a comprehension game and text reconstruction


Present perfect tense – games and worksheets to practise and present present perfect tense
Simple past story – Michael – a story about friendship in past simple. Students learn about 10 irregular verbs
Past simple and continuous – a worksheet and several games to practise and present the difference between the two tenses
Adverbs – a way to introduce and then teach and practise adverbs. Several simple games too.

Be going to – teach future tense using be going to in a way that your students will remember.

Let and make – Let and make is a grammar point which is hardly ever covered but it is important. Here you will find a video that will grab students’ attention and a worksheet to teach this grammar point.

Irregular verbs – several games to practise and teach irregular verbs.

Mixed conditionals – I do not know a more complicated grammar but this post contains a worksheet and a presentation to introduce this point in a new way.


ELM magazine – English learning magazine issue 3. Download this pdf file with several new activities for your students.

Please tell me which material you like best and why

IWB classroom reading – Romantic story

IWB story - romantic story

IWB story – romantic story

In one of my previous posts I have turned a Sherlock Holmes story into an IWB classroom reading and I created a game for IWB to check the students’ comprehension. I was quite surprised how popular the story and the comprehension game proved to be. Surprisingly all the students paid attention and then they enjoyed playing the game.


Having used my experience from the previous lesson I have prepared  another story for them. This time it is a romantic story called “Exactly what you Ordered”.


Here is the way I use the material:

  1. Display the story on board and ask the students to read it.
  2. When you think that they have finished, check the more difficult words or explain some phrases.
  3. When you finish the story in this way, divide the class into two teams and play the game.

Exactly what you ordered story – powerpoint presentation

Exactly_game basketball
I hope you will find the story useful and interesting.

Freddie and his Friends – IWB reading

Freddie and his Friends comic story

Freddie and his Friends comic story

This time I tried something new. I turned the original comic into a film and put it on the Youtube. You can play the video to your students and they watch and try to understand the story.  The story itself is quite easy so you can do it even with elementary students.

The story is especially convenient when you have between 4 and 15 minutes.

Here is the lesson plan:

  1. Play the video. (2 minutes)
  2. Play the video, stop it when necessary and check that the students understand the words. (5 minutes)
  3. Divide the class into two teams and play the Hoopshot game (8 minutes)
  4. Ask the students to do the Storyboard games as their homework. (2 minutes)

Then divide the classroom into two teams and play the basketball game to check their comprehension.

Freddie and friends hoopshot game

In the end you can ask your students to practise the language used in the comic by playing the storyboard game. In this way they will learn a lot of English in an enjoyable way.

Freddie and friends01 – storyboard game

Freddie and friends02 – storyboard game

Freddie and friends03 Storyboard game

Past simple tense – Michael story

Past simple tense story - Michael

Simple past story – Michael

Past simple tense is, in my opinion, the most important tense in English. This is the tense that you cannot avoid whatever you do.
Therefore, I do my best to teach the irregular and regular verbs in past simple tense as best as I can. That was why I designed so called Past simple tense stories. One of them you can find in my previous post called ELM issue 3 – English learning magazine. Moreover, you can practise irregular verbs in past simple tense here. However, the problem with the second activity is that the irregular verbs are not in context. And so I created another Past simple tense story – called Michael.


Past simple tense story – Procedure

Simple past story Michael worksheet

What you should do with the worksheet?

  1. Students translate the words into their mother tongue.
  2. Students should read the story and decide whether the statements under the text are True or False.
  3. Students work in pairs and do grammar up activity. Here you can see a video explaining how to do this activity or you can find the description in ELM magazine.
  4. Students solve the crossword using the verbs in past simple.
  5. Students complete the text with the missing words

This worksheet is easy to use in a classroom and teach past simple in this way. However, I would love my students to study at home too. That was why I created the following activities for them to use while they browse the internet:

Simple past story – Michael – the audio recording

Simple past story Michael – ordering game – a game in which your task is to put the text into the correct order

dictation Simple Past Story matching game – listen and match the sentences and the recordings

Simple Past Story – write the sentences – Listen and write the sentences, you hear.

Simple past story storyboard – You should write the story again. It is a very useful game because students learn the new words and phrases from the text.

Past simple story – irregular verbs game