55 Frequently Misspelled Words

e1f43fb1d8b19a48d3f1a019cf537599--misspelled-tattoos-tattoo-artists source:www.pinterest.com

Good to use in any type of English Exam Preparation class as a funny dictation. Misspelled areas are emphasized so teachers would make the dictation amusing and interactive by  asking students ‘Did you double the second e in precede? ‘ or ‘ Does your catastrophe end with y?’ Here’s the list:






































































You can download the printable version here:

55 Frequently Misspelled Words

Have fun!






WWW.WIRED.COMsource: http://www.wired.com

One of my main concerns is teaching students how to write a good quality essay. Maybe because I’ve always been a big fan of writing. The hardest part about being the teacher in the process is accepting the fact that not all students find writing easy. This time it’s not about the layout or the vocabulary or some smart structures that can be learnt by heart and practised until they become familiar and easy to use. This time it’s about writing a high quality essay that means a lot more than shallow good looks. So, what is it all about?

Creating content that would make the reader say ‘oh, finally, something worth reading…’-how difficult a task can that be? Well, believe it or not, for most teenagers and very young adults it is very difficult… at least here, in Romania, where students rarely get the chance to practise essays at school, written in their mother tongue, dealing with a variety of topics that would require general knowledge about the world.

The question is: Which essay would get a higher mark? A dull one, still correct, coated with  beautiful academic vocabulary, precious complex structures and containing all the other ingredients used by connoisseurs or one written in rather simple words, but giving the reader the feeling they were taken on a journey they’d so much enjoy …My answer to this is- I don’t know. What do you think? But what if that essay had both? Would that be too much to ask from a student who usually has so many other things on their mind and in their weekly schedule? Hmmm…let’s give it a try, shall we?

I think there are two types of problems students may be facing when dealing with IELTS Essay writing. The first one is related to difficult topics, that require specific knowledge. I’d mention some examples, such as space research, alternative medicine, green energy, globalization or social welfare. Opinion is not enough in these cases. General knowledge and real examples, combined with the ability to prove a mature approach and some originality would be appreciated. So, let us read and learn some information about these topics… What about the second problem? Well, that is rather a trap. When dealing with easy, familiar topics, students might feel too relaxed and write a lot about nothing, really…I’ve seen that many times and the authors were students who had great knowledge about science, geography, politics, economics, literature, psychology…So, a familiar topic could make one fall into the trap of dealing with it in a very unsophisticated manner. Like long-married couples wearing the same old threadbare clothes at home and picking their nose when watching TV together because why bother? And the adjective in both cases (essay reader and partner) is, probably, bored. Is a bored essay assessor exactly what you need?

Exploration is essential. Be it space exploration or  some specific essay topic research, acquiring information, filtering and processing it is a must for evolution.

Let’s first see some past space exploration IELTS exam essay examples:

  1. Many people think that the government should spend money to explore the outer space, while others believe that it’s a waste of public money. Discuss both views and include your own opinion.
  2. It has been more than 30 years since man first landed on the moon. Some people think that space research is a waste of money. Discuss your opinion.

Before writing about this topic students should first read articles and watch videos about some benefits and drawbacks of space exploration and they may find out about:


1.Spinoffs –technologies used on Earth that were first pioneered in space exploration:

-Memory Foam (first used for airline crash protection)

-Magnetic Resonance Imaging

-Smoke Detection

-Infrared Ear Thermometers

-Artificial Limbs

-Firefighter Gear

-Portable Cordless Vacuums

-Harnessing Solar Energy

-Water Purification


2.Education and Job Creation

-encouraging students to pursue STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)



-fuel costs

-expensive failed missions

-endangering the lives of astronauts

– pollution in space –  debris that space missions leave behind, such as satellites or rocket launch boosters


More information related to the topic:

Top 5 countries spending on space exploration: USA, China, Russia, Japan, France


Historic moments in  space exploration:


And last, but not least,

 Why We Need the Explorers

a brilliant Ted Talk by Physicist Brian Cox.

We’ll now focus on this first step of writing high quality essays on difficult topics that require opinion based on specific knowledge. Students will move on from ‘I don’t really care’ to ‘I actually like this’ and ‘I’d like to know more’. That’s the point. And this is the PDF with the same suggested information and links:

IELTS Essay Topics – Space Exploration


Idioms and slang-Parties and People

In FCE and CAE exams students may have to write an informal letter about a party they went to. Some idioms mastered with a sense of humour will surely help catch the reader’s attention. (Let’s not forget, however, important ingredients such as  informal connectors, questions, exclamations, and, obviously, the suitable layout.)

Slang can also be used, to some extent, just for adding extra flavour…

Here’s a suggested list of spices:


In the IELTS exam students can also use some of these idioms if they are given a task card on this topic in Speaking part 2.


Descriptive vocabulary-places



A list of vocabulary and idioms that can be used by FCE, CAE, CPE or IELTS students in the following exam papers and tasks:

•FCE: Speaking, Writing – Article, Review, Informal Letter

•CAE: Speaking, Writing – Review, Informal Letter

•CPE: Speaking, Writing – Article, Review, Informal Letter

•IELTS: Speaking





List of Formal and Informal Connectors

bowtie-formal-funny-classy-t-shirts-men-s-premium-t-shirt What about neutral?

I was looking for such a list online some months ago, as my FCE students seemed to be a bit confused when they had to switch registers…and their specific connectors. After trying in vain to find a compared list, well, there might be one somewhere but I guess wasn’t lucky or patient enough to discover it, I gave up searching and started to make my own compilation.

As an English teacher,  I tend to insist on developing my students’ formal/ academic exam writing skills (and I am sure I am not an exception), so it does not come as a surprise to me when they start using ‘therefore’ or ‘furthermore’ in their informal letters after writing so many formal tasks. Consequently, this list seems to have helped them organize and use connectors appropriately.

Again, feel free to download it and improve it, if you like.




Here’s one of the lists some ( read it most) teenage students take a look at just once before they drop  it somewhere among other photocopies in a huge pile of school stuff. Then find it the night before the exam or rather when they clean up the mess at the end of the school year. Find it and think…well, that could’ve saved me…


So, why use phrases like these? I mean…

Do they guarantee a high score?

No. Obviously, not. Academic writing for Cambridge English Exams is a lot more than just some fixed phrases inserted here and there, to make you look smart, mature and well-prepared. Plus, they could look really awkward when they are  mixed with an informal tone, if grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors abound, if content is poor or ambiguous or if they occur so frequently, that the reader becomes  tired and bored.

Do they replace talent and good quality ideas?

No. Nothing can replace talent and high-quality content. I remember a few past CAE students of mine who wouldn’t care about any writing rules, suggestions, layout or carefully chosen structures. Those very few (wish there had been more like them) kids passed the exam with an excellent score in their writing paper just because they were naturally able to create great content.

Then, why use them?

Well, you might just like some of them. As you clearly don’t use them in conversation, ’cause people would run away instantly, they may sound odd to you at first. Just try to get used to them and if, let’s say, you lack inspiration when you have to write your paper or if you are generally  not a fan of writing, using some of them could guarantee a better mark than not using them at all. But, remember, don’t exaggerate!

Here’s a list of suggested phrases you may want to use. You can also download them here:

Academic Writing – Formal Phrases 1

  • This…is primarily provided/fulfilled/achieved through…
  • It is rather hard to believe that…
  • There is a far higher proportion of…who…
  • It is expected that…
  • This is not an incidental pattern, unique to a particular space and time.
  • This measure is likely to cause an unprecedented change
  • These measures largely reflect the needs of…
  • This phenomenon is not unique to…
  • This might prove to be a sustainable and responsible solution to…
  • There seems to be an ever-increasing rate of…
  • This could be a solution that any responsible person would be prepared to contemplate.
  • This is one of the prevalent issues in the modern society.
  • Some of the decisions originally perceived as rather unwise have proved a stroke of genius.
  • There can be little doubt that…
  • Unmistakably,/Unquestionably/Undeniably, this is…
  • Although the measure’s implementation chances of success appear to be ribbon-thin, statistics have shown that…
  • Though it may appear to be a time-consuming process, it has its obvious benefits
  • This…may well represent the very beginning of a fruitful process.
  • The proposed solution is audaciously simple and simply audacious.
  • Perhaps more importantly,…
  • Rules and policies, regulations and stipulations are innovation killers.
  • Scientific evidence can be invaluable, but it has to be used cautiously and in tandem with historical research.
  • This…may add more weight to the growing consensus that…
  • An idea that is sure to have sparked some lively debate refers to…
  • There is relatively thin evidence that…
  • There may have been erroneous opinions on this issue; fortunately, recent studies are now setting the record straight:…
  • One of the latest studies takes the argument further, claiming that…; however, it seems to be clearly just scratching the surface of a big issue, that is, …
  • This may be, nonetheless, a further step in the right direction in terms of…






Academic Vocabulary 1

Useful for speaking and writing: CAE (essays, proposals, formal letters, reports, reviews), CPE (essays, semi-formal/neutral and formal articles, formal letters, reports, reviews) IELTS (essays)

Alleviate – to relieve; to improve partially: alleviate hunger/poverty/stress/suffering/traffic congestion


Arbitrary-not based on reason or evidence: arbitrary rules/assumptions/decisions/restrictions/events

                                      cartoonstock.com                                    Even in his dessert choices he tended to be arbitrary and unilateral.

Comprehensive-of large scope; covering or involving much; inclusive: comprehensive classification/definition/knowledge/measure/survey/study/system/theory/view   

comprehensive examdiylol.com


Idioms – the coolest English refreshment

easy peasyWhere could you use idioms in exams and why?


*Writing: FCE/CAE/CPE, in the case of informal letters (they rock!!!), in reviews and in some articles and essays ,depending on the topic and level of informality of the idiom. Because some idioms seem more neutral than others. And other idioms may sound really offensive and superficial if used in academic writing.

Here’s a list of idioms you could practise using on a daily basis, until you learn them and are able to fit them almost everywhere (provided they match the content and register, of course):

  1. SECOND TO NONE=better than anyone/anything else
  2. WET BLANKET=pessimist
  3. BURN THE CANDLE AT BOTH ENDS=exhaust yourself by doing too much
  4. SILVER SURFER=an elderly person who uses the internet
  5. TO COME UP SMELLING OF ROSES=emerge from a situation with your reputation undamaged
  6. EASY PEASY LEMON SQUEEZY=very easy indeed
  7. BRAIN DRAIN=loss of talented people by a country that does not offer many opportunities
  9. HAVE A SPUTNIK MOMENT=realize that you are challenged and have to redouble efforts
  10. WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GET GOING=when faced with a difficulty/danger, strong people take action.

Example of a neutral idiom that could be used in may types of contexts:

A THORNY ISSUE (meaning a difficult/unpleasant situation)

Example of  very informal idioms that look extremely offensive and unsuitable in a formal context:

BEGGARS CAN’T BE CHOOSERS (you should not reject an offer if it’s the only one you’ve got)

DEAD MAN WALKING (somebody who will inevitably be in great trouble/lose their job/position)

VERTICALLY CHALLENGED (a very short person)



So, if you’re A TOUGH COOKIE, learn as many idioms as you can and insert them in your discourse, you will STAND HEAD AND SHOULDERS ABOVE the other candidates.

For a useful list of idioms, contact me and I will send it via email. Using idioms will become EASY PEASY LEMON SQUEEZY.




Phrasal verbs magic box


Where can you use it?

1.FCE/CAE/CPE Use of English open cloze/rephrasing exercises

2.University Admission English grammar exercises

So, you need a phrasal verb, you have the verb, it’s, for example – turn, but the particle is missing. You know it must be a common one, you know you know it and it’s so annoying, what is it? OK, write the 6 most common particles that occur within phrasals, that is, 2 adverbs-UP and DOWN and 4 prepositions-IN, OUT, ON and OFF. (As you see they’re all spatial so the box helps you a lot to remember them). Try to match each of them and the right combination will simply pop up, you’ll see!!!

Sometimes it can be more difficult to select, let’s say, in the case of a CPE exam, where the phrasal verb will be a less common one. In this case choose what sounds most familiar, after you try to work out its meaning in context, of course.

To see that it works, try a simple exercise. Here are some verbs: make, get, put, take. Match them with the 6 particles and you’ll see you know all their meanings. This strategy always works.

Good luck!