Using a green screen in the classroom

For quite some time I had been toying with the idea of using a green screen for some activity, or for the end product of a project. And finally I’ve had the chance to do it both with my year 1 students and with some of the teachers learning English at CARLEE.

I bought a reasonably priced green screen from a well-known online retailer. I have some trouble getting it to stick to the frame, but until I come up with a better option, good old duct tape will have to do. It’s not the smartest of setups, I should have ironed the screen, I know, but I get by.


Then, I bought the Green Screen app by Do Ink (not too expensive anyway, but I’m sure there must be others, and for other platforms as well). Then, it’s as easy as A,B,C. You simply record the video with the “actors” playing their roles in front of the green screen with the usual camera (in my case, of my ipad). Then, students have to choose up to three pictures to be used as their background. Of course, these pictures need to be related to the product they’re creating. You may even trim the video or the pictures a bit, or resize the video in case some parts outside the chroma key were recorded. Then, you mix the two elements, and there you have it! A lovely video! It’s a good excuse to foster speaking, creativity…

M5-U1: Multiculturalism and Globalisation

  • Speaking activities: click here to download
  • Writing assignment- you may choose ONE of these: either p.15, exercise 6, p.17, ex.8. or p.18, ex.6
  • Extra listening practice:

If the world were 100 people (some facts and figures):

Multiculturalism in food: 

You may watch this promotional video about Borough Market, one of the oldest and largest food markets in London, and probably the most renowned food market in Britain. There you might find stalls offering cuisine samples from all over the world. Try to take short notes of the different opinions reasons to visit the market expressed in the video.

You may also watch this British Council Learn English video about the market, which includes some self-check exercises.

#LondonIsOpen campaign: 

Sadiq Khan, the current and first Muslim mayor of London, has launched a campaign to emphasise that London is open and welcoming, no matter what happens after Brexit. You may watch some videos that show how multicultural London is here.

Fillers para exámenes orales de inglés

En el discurso espontáneo de los hablantes nativos británicos muchas veces se utilizan algunos discourse markers (como now then, well…) que ayudan a organizar la estructura del discurso. Junto a estos, hay otros discourse markers que son más bien fillers, “muletillas”, o expresiones que se repiten, sin que tengan a veces significado ni otra función en la frase, más que la de ganar tiempo mientras piensas qué vas a decir después. En un discurso “correcto” no es apropiado abusar de ellas; pero en un examen oral de inglés, siempre con mesura, pueden venir bien, para dar una apariencia más natural a tu producción, y ayudarte a pensar cómo sigues.

Algunos de estos fillers incluyen you know, I mean, o el más juvenil like. 

Si queréis escuchar a hablantes nativos abusando de estos fillers podéis escuchar esta entrevista a Victoria Beckham (click en la imagen para ver el vídeo subtitulado en inglés, y en lugar de “captions disabled, seleccionad “English”)…[visto en]

(también aqui)

…o podéis escuchar a este oyente que llamó a la BBC de Londres para expresar su opinión sobre los jóvenes de hoy en día: oir clip (27 Mayo 2015).

Más sobre exámenes orales de inglés:

WhatsApp chat group insulting students lands teachers in trouble

Read this piece of news about a group of teachers who expressed their true opinions about their students and their families in a whatsapp group (in a non-PC way), and were caught red-handed, after the comments in the group were leaked to the educational authorities.

Then, discuss:

  • To what extent is whatsapp a private tool? Are opinions and comments on whatsapp within the public or the private sphere?
  • Are the measures taken appropriate for their action?
  • What would happen if students’ comments about their teachers on their whatsapp groups were read? What about parents’ comments about teachers, or their children’s schoolmates?

Topic: school policies versus students’ appearance

This piece of news has hit the headlines recently: Emily Reay (17), a naturally red-head student has been barred from classes for being too ginger. For the last three years, she’s been dying her hair to get a more ‘vibrant colour’. She’s now been requested by her school to change her appearance, or else she will not be allowed to attend lessons.

She wonders “The school’s uniform policy clearly states no unnatural hair colours, like blue or green. Is ginger not a natural hair colour?”

You may read the full story here:

Nice topic for a little speaking practice / debate / argumentative writing:

  • Are the teachers at the school being fair in this situation? Do you understand the school’s intention in doing so?
  • Should schools have a say in these matters (hair colour, tattoos, piercings…)?
  • To what extent can school policies have an effect on students’ appearance?

Expressions to use in a speaking test (monologue /interaction)

Si os estáis preparando para presentaros a algún examen en lengua inglesa (B2- C1…), puede que este listado de expresiones (conectores, marcadores del discurso…) os vengan bien a la hora de afrontar la parte de producción oral (bien sea el monólogo o la interacción). Os ayudarán a dar mayor coherencia a vuestra producción (que las ideas estén más relacionadas); os ayudarán a ganar tiempo mientras pensáis (por ejemplo, los fillers), y os ayudarán a sonar un poco más nativos.

Podéis ver el listado, organizado por funciones comunicativas, bien en la entrada del blog, o descargarlo como pdf (versión actualizada, distintas expresiones y orden)


  • Really?
  • That’s interesting!
  • Right!
  • I see
  • I can’t believe it!
  • Reply questions: I went to Paris – Did you?
  • Uh huh
  •  As you said before, … (referring to what the other speaker said before shows you’ve been paying attention)


  • By the way,
  • Speaking of…
  • That reminds me of…


  • So,
  • You see, …
  • …, you see, …
  • You know,
  • I mean,
  • …, like,… (too informal)

Ver ejemplos reales del uso de fillers:


  • Right?
  • OK?


  • Rhetorical questions (questions you don’t really expect an answer for, you sort of answer them yourself): What do I mean by that?  / Is smoking dangerous? Of course it is
  • As you very well know, …


  • Don’t you think?
  • Question tags (Isn’t it, has it…)
  • You know what I mean,

GIVING THE FLOOR (turn to speak):

  • Don’t you think?
  • Question tags (Isn’t it, has it…)


  • Absolutely
  • I see what you mean
  • I see your point
  • You have a point there.
  • Exactly
  • Definitely


  • I see your point, but…
  • Your point is well taken, but …
  • I beg to differ
  • (I’m afraid) That’s not always the case


  • Not really, no (rather than a plain “no”)

ex. –Do you like football? – Not really, no (instead of “noooo!”)

  • I don’t think so.

ex. Are you coming? – I don’t think so.


  • Personally,
  • I don’t know about you, but I …
  • I feel (strongly) that…
  • I (strongly) believe that…
  • It seems to me that…
  • I have the impression that…
  • I reckon…(informal)
  • Speaking from personal experience,
  • For me personally,


  • How do you feel about…?
  • What’s your take on…?
  • Where do you stand on….?
  • What are your thoughts on this?
  • What do you reckon (informal)?


  • I’m sorry to interrupt, but…
  • Can I interrupt you just for a second (here)?


  • In a nutshell,
  • To make a long story short,


  • In other words,
  • …, that is to say, …

Advice for the interaction: be interactive, contribute to the conversation: it’s not two monologues, one after another!