suggested reading for teenagers and young adults

This is a list of books for children, teenagers and young adults, by no means comprehensive, which could be used as reading material in the English classroom, or as recommendations for independent reading:

Further suggestions (year 4 secondary and upwards):

Roald Dahl’s short stories:



Inversions after negative or restricting adverbs- examples in real language use

If you want to know how to use these expressions-typically used for emphasis-you can watch the video below:

  • No sooner had I …than
  • Seldom have I seen…
  • Little did she know…

You can find examples of these inversions from such TV shows as The Crown, The Big Bang Theory or Friends, among others:

The Crown

Should you Thursday Club members ever grow tired (=If you ever get tired of…) of your colorless and empty lives in London, I suggest immediate relocation to the discrete island nations nestled around Tonga… surely the closest one can come to heaven on Earth. Never have we received such a welcome, or eaten so well. Never have I experienced such a willingness to set oneself free and enjoy. And nowhere on Earth, and we have, by this point, travelled across almost every inch, have we encountered such beautiful women.

The Big Bang Theory

Not only will I drive you there

Nowhere is it specified that…

Under no circumstance will you give her that engagement ring.


The IT Crowd: 

…I thought I’d made too much, but only now do I realise that I’d made exactly the right amount for our current purposes.


At no point after you dropped her off on Saturday night did you see Trish Winterman again?

State of the Union

Never again do I want to meet anyone who’s trekked through the Andes on their own:

Mrs. America: 

Not only are we proceeding down the wrong path, but Nixon’s leading the parade.

Not only did I marry you for your mind, it’s the reason I fall more in love with you every day.


Charlie Brooker’s Antiviral Wipe (2020):

No sooner had the lockdown began than reporters ran outdoors to see what a world where you weren’t allowed outdoors was like. 

  • You can also find plenty of examples in the news:

Not only have I lost a friend, but we have all lost an extraordinary creative mind. 

Only when the capsule has survived that (…) will people talk about success. 

Only then will they be able to agree to an extension. 

Never before has the Security State of Army, Police, intelligence and militias been forced to concede to the will of the people. 

Rarely (in one night) can both main parties have suffered such a grim set of results. [Both the Conservatives and Labour have just lost a significant amount of votes in the recent local elections, in all likelihood as a consequence of the Brexit deadlock].

All hospital visits have been stopped. Only in exceptional circumstances may a family member of a very sick patient be admitted. 

Under no circumstances should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body.

Only nine times in the past hundred years have there been more than five hundred hours of sunshine in the months of March, April and May. 

Not since the assassination of Martin Luther King in the late 1960s have we witnessed such widespread racial turbulence. 

Only when this operation is finished in three or four months’ time can they start thinking about the real response to the disaster. 

(Published 10.02.2019, updated 09.06.2020)

Related post: inversions for conditional clauses

Cleft sentences to emphasise part of the sentence

Sometimes, you need to give special emphasis to a specific part of the sentence, either because you want to make a contrast, or because it is new information you want to highlight. The so-called cleft and pseudo-cleft sentences, or it cleft and wh-cleft sentences can help you achieve those ends.

Watch this video to see some examples of how to use them and to what effect:

easy video tools for the language / CLIL classroom

This is a list of easy video tools I tend to use to prepare my classes and training sessions: : Many times, YouTube videos include advertisements before (or even during) the video. Aside from being tiresome, they may sometimes be inappropriate for students.

To prevent ads from playing, copy the link to the video you want to share, then paste it on the search box. It will create a ‘purified’ link, sharing the video and the video alone.

On top of that, if you click on the settings button you can also select a start time and an end time; create customised links; or even, if necessary, create a password for the link. To download YouTube videos (whole videos, or clips, selecting start and end times). It’s rather reliable. It doesn’t work with music videos, though.

Alternatively, you can follow this procedure: if you have a link like this: Before “youtube” insert “ss”. So the result will be This will take you to a website that will allow you to download the video, even if it is a music one. Just bear in mind that it contains lots of advertising: this is exactly where you should click: or There are some videos which are embedded on websites, and they can be rather tricky, time-consuming (or plain impossible) to download. What can be done is to record the part of the screen that we’re interested in, together with the sound coming from the computer (system sound). The free version leaves a watermark in the videos, but that’s fine with me.

  • Subtitles: Some YouTube videos contain subtitles (either uploaded subtitles or automatically generated). To download the subtitle file, copy and paste the link to video in the search box. Warning: the first and second time you click “download”, it will take you to different advertising websites. The third time you click will finally work.

If you’re happy with your subtitles, give the same name to both video and subtitle file, and keep them in the same folder. If you play the video with VLC player, it will play the video with the subtitles automatically. If not, you can always open VLC, then click on “subtitles”>subtitle track, and find the subtitle file you want.

If you want to edit your subtitles, or start subtitling from scratch, you can use one of these websites: Copy and paste the YouTube link. If it already has some sort of subtitles, they will appear on Amara. Them, you can edit those subtitles if needed.

The result is a video which can be played with / without subtitles; a clickable transcription is also available below the video (if you click on it, it will take you to the point in the video where that sentence appears).

See an example here.

Another subtitling platform I really like is The process of subtitling feels natural to me. However, a downside now is that you can only transcribe videos on your connected YouTube or Vimeo accounts.

Finally, you can also try Kapwing. It’s a fast and easy way of subtitling, as it is basically designed for subtitling videos for social media. You can copy a YouTube video link, or upload a video file. Then, as you are transcribing, you can use sliders to select the start and end times. If you happen to have the subtitle file, you can upload it as well and edit it. The end result is a video with embedded subtitles.

You can find an example below (click on the picture):

World Teachers’ Day (5th October)- some ideas

World Teachers’ Day (October 5th) has been held since 1994. It is a day celebrating teachers and commemorating teacher organisations around the world.  You can also celebrate it with your own students. Here are some ideas and resources:

Goofy (Walt Disney)- Teachers are People: 

In this short film, Goofy becomes a teacher, who has to face a rather trying classroom. One student in particular drives him up the wall.

(H/T to I.L. for sharing the video with me)

  • Click here to watch the video with subtitles.
  • Presentation with some of the actions shown in the short film.

Matilda, by Roald Dahl: Miss Honey vs Miss Trunchbull:

The text below describes Matilda’s teachers, Miss Honey and Miss Trunchbull. Students can compare and contrast them by using the graphic organiser below:

You can listen to the text being read by Kate Winslet here:

Kidvice- What kids want you to know about their teachers: 

Some American kids were asked by ABC’s Today show these questions:

  • Tell us about your favourite teacher
  • What do you think makes a good teacher?
  • If you could give your favourite teacher a gift, what would it be?
  • What do you think teachers do for fun?
  • If you could say one thing to your favourite teacher, what would it be?

You can find their answers on the video below (H/T to T.F. for sharing the video with me):

Click on the picture to watch the video

You can ask those very questions to your students, to see what they think, and ask them to write their answers on a mindmap (see below).


The Perfect teacher: 

You can ask your students to reflect on and discuss what makes a “perfect” teacher, by answering the questions about the Kidvice video, and writing their answers on a Mind Map like the ones below.

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Then, they can write a short text describing their perfect teacher, following a suggested model.

Finally, why not read some of these stories about the World’s Worst Teachers by David Walliams?

(Post updated on October 5th 2019)

How to use smart annotation on Pages for iPad for listening comprehension exercises

Some months ago, iOs 11 introduced smart annotation for Pages, Numbers and Keynote for iPad, when using an Apple pencil. A similar feature can be found on the mobile version of Word or Power Point.

Whatever app or stylus you are using, this is a suggestion of how you can use smart annotation / handwriting on documents to go over listening comprehension exercises, by projecting what you are writing on your iPad or tablet:

Real materials and mobile devices in the English / CLIL classroom #ThinkZGZ

This is my presentation for today’s workshop at #ThinkZGZ: