Mini ESL Lesson Fillers Archives

Alpine Skiing at the Olympics – Winter Olympics vocabulary

Alpine Skiing, also called downhill skiing, consists of four main events in the Winter Olympics.  These events are slalom, giant slalom, super giant slalom and the downhill.

Slalom:  The slalom event is where the skier skis around poles from side to side in a short downhill in zigzagging manner. The object of the event, as is with the others too, is to complete the course with a faster time than the other competitors.

Here is a video of a slalom event:

Giant Slalom: This is also known as the “GS”. The GS involves the same zigzagging skiing around poles, but on a slightly longer course, with the poles more spaced apart, and thus a GS skier will reach faster speeds than a slalom.

Super Giant Slalom: The Super Giant Slalom, is also known as the “Super G”, which is even faster, with an even longer course than the GS. Again, the poles are more spaced out and this event is faster yet than the GS.

Downhill: The Downhill is the fastest of the alpine skiing events, and the skier must simply complete the course in the fastest time possible. The downhill racer doesn’t ski around gates, but the skier must atay within the boundaries of the course, which is marked by poles (called gates).

Slalom again:



How to write a cheque

How to write a cheque

What is a cheque: A cheque is form of “currency”, which is a different word for money. A cheque is a form of money that you can use to buy something very similar to cash.  In Canada the spelling used most commonly is ‘cheque’.  In the United States it is spelled ‘check’.  You can use either spelling in Canada without any problems.

Personal Cheques
:  When you open a chequing account at a bank, you will have an option to receive `personal cheques`.  Personal cheques are a book of cheques that you can use as currency for purchases and payments you wish to make.

A chequing account is the most common type of bank account that most people will have.  Chequing accounts are now called different things sometimes such as “day to day banking account’, ‘daily banking account’, or other similar names.  The reason is that it is becoming rarer to write personal cheques these days. Cheques are now replaced by debit cards for most daily purchasing in Canada and the United States.  When you make a purchase with a debit card, you will be asked to choose your account type and will be given an option between chequing and savings.

Sample cheque

A Sample cheque from Raccoon English.

Paycheque / Paycheck:  This is the pay you receive for doing your job at your workplace. Although it is rare to receive an actual cheque these days we still commonly use the word ‘paycheck’.  Usually, your paycheck is deposited directly into your bank account (most likely a chequing account).

Post dated cheque:  a post dated cheque is a cheque which is dated payable for a future date.  Usually when you enter into a lease to rent an apartment you will be asked to provide post dated cheques.  For example, if you rent an apartment, at the beginning, you will probably be asked to provide 12 ‘post dated cheques’ for the monthly rent, each dated for the first day of each month for the entire year.

Write a cheque / cash a cheque / cheque clearing: We use the expression, “write a cheque”, because that is exactly what we do, we write in the information including the date, people to pay to and the amount of money on a cheque.

When you write a cheque and use it to pay someone for something, you are actually giving that person permission to make a demand on your bank account to pay the amount you write in the cheque. This is called cashing a cheque.

When the payee (person you make the cheque payable to) cashes the cheque, your bank will take money in the amount you indicated on the cheque from your bank account and give it to the person. This is called the cheque clearing process. If you have enough money in your account the cheque will clear, if you don’t have the money, the cheque will “bounce.” This means it will be sent back to the payee from the bank with a message saying that there is not enough money in the account.

Cheque writing role play: You can set up role plays such as in a department store or an open air market, the options are endless. ESL students can barter or negotiate over the price in English and seal the deal with a cheque.

Extra lesson / vocabulary / discussion: What happens if a cheque bounces? Will you charge an NSF (Non-Sufficient Funds) fee? Did the cheque clear yet? Use your imagination and use our props to make it happen. Do you have to give post-dated checks for your rent, or other purchase?

Cheque Tips & Vocabulary:

  • Date: always be sure to date your cheque to ensure you, as the cheque writer, state when it is valid. What could happen if you don’t date the cheque?
  • Payee: You, as the cheque writer are the payor, and the person you give it to is the ‘payee’. This means that the payee can “cash” the cheque, or “deposit” the cheque into his or her bank account. What could happen if you leave the payee blank?
  • Pay to the Order of: a cheque is a type of demand currency note. In other words it upon the demand by the payee, the cheque is treated as money. However, the person or bank cashing the cheque does not have to accept it. There is risk involved to the person taking a cheque, it may “bounce”.
  • Bounce a cheque: for a cheque to bounce means that the bank returned it, after depositing or cashing it and said that the payor has not enough money in his or her account to pay the amount of the cheque.
  • Post dated cheque: this means you date the cheque for later, in the future. Often in Canada and the USA, when people pay rent for their apartment they have to give their landlord post-dated cheques for the rent payments.

Use the below sample cheques to learn how to write a cheque. 

Practice cheque


Present participle – Expressing a progressive action

The present participle in English is a very easy and useful verb form to learn.  It is simply formed by adding ing to the verb ending.

The present participle allows language users to express the following:

  1. A progressive action.  For example:  Beth was sleeping.  She was dreaming about the future.
  2. As an adjective.  For example:  He is an inspiring speaker. His talk was captivating.

Exercise 1: Make sentences using the present participle with the following verbs:

  • Fall
  • Achieve
  • Tell
  • Hear
  • Ask
  • Laugh


Exercise 2: Complete the story using the present participle of the verbs listed.

My friend ______________ (name of your friend) was _____________ (walk) home from English class when he/ she saw a __________________ (sing) ________________________ (name any animal).  The _______________ (same animal) was ____________________ (sing) out loud.  My friend started  ___________ (think) of how to let other people know about this special ___________ (sing)  ________________ (animal) .  He / She then thought that the best way to let other people know was by ____________ (post) the story on Facebook. That was the best was of _______ (let)  the world know about this special (animal)  and he / she did just that. The next day he / she saw that her Facebook post went viral, and now everyone is __________ (talk)  about this special, and talented ____________ (animal) .


Learn to Read with phonics.

Words that begin and end with the letter /c/ (hard /k/ sound)

The letter C - Phonics

The Letter /C/

Part 1:

A)     Read the following words that begin with the letter /c/:

  • Cat
  • Cab
  • Cup
  • Cot
  • Cut
  • Core

What do these have in common?  The vowels used are /a/, /u/ and /o/.  When these vowels follow the letter ‘c’, at the beginning of a word, the ‘c’ usually has a hard /k/ sound.

B)     Also, when a consonant follows the letter ‘c’ the ‘c’ will usually have a hard /k/ sound too.

  • Crab
  • Crank
  • Crow
  • Cry
  • Clap
  • Cross
  • Crown
  • Clown
  • Clock

Part 2:

  • How many more words can you make that begin with the letter /c/?

Part 3: Questions / Trivia

  1. An English and French speaking country in North America: C_________.
  2. It makes milk and says “moo”: c_________.
  3. Look both ways before you c_________ the street!
  4. If you are close to a freshly cut onion you might c_________.
  5. You can color in your coloring book with a c_________.
  6. You can go for a long drive in a c_________.
  7. Ronald McDonald is a famous c_________.
  8. A c____________ turns into a butterfly.
  9. Tigers have big, sharp c_________.
  10. I enjoy learning English on my c_________    .
  11. When I was 4 years old I had 4 c_________ on my c_________.

*bonus – a map maker is also known as a c__________________.



Learn to Read with phonics.

Words that begin and end with the letter /b/ (hard /b/ sound)

Funky Font the letter /B/


Part 1:

A)     Read the following words that begin with the letter /b/:

learning blocks

  • Balloon
  • Ball
  • Barn
  • Bumblebee
  • Banana
  • Baseball
  • Bat

B)      Read the following words that end with the letter /b/:

  • Crab
  • Tub
  • Crib
  • Tab
  • Cab
  • Bob
  • Flab
  • Blab

Part 2:

  • How many words can you make that begin with the letter /b/?
  • How many words can you make that end with the letter /b/?


Part 3: Questions / Trivia

  • A fun place to go in the summer and make sandcastles is the b_________.
  • This has two wheels and you peddle it.  A b_________.
  • The opposite of small is b_________.
  • A country in South America which is well known for soccer and beaches. B_________.
  • You think with your b_________.
  • A lovely colour is b_________.
  • Girls and b_________.
  • A fun game, and the name of a dog in a song is b_________.
  • A pretty flying insect which used to be a caterpillar is a b_________.

Spelling Bee and Listening Bee

This lesson can be adjusted for all levels and ages.

A Spelling Bee is a great ESL game for ESL students of all ages, not just kids.  The reason is, it is very easy to Spelling Bee and Listening Bee ESL gamescome up with simple English words for young, or novice learners, and scale up with the increasing level of ESL student.  You can also use a spelling bee to reinforce phonics and phonemic awareness in students which you may have just taught in an ESL lesson.

For example, perhaps your ESL Lesson was contrasting the /b/ and /p/ phonemes, and your goal is to get students to understand and recognize when each is used or heard.


Simple Novice Listening Bee

  1. Ask students to answer with either “B” or “P” depending on what they hear.
    1. Prepare a list of words and write each on a small piece of paper
    2. Make two teams from the class
    3. Pick one team to start and choose the student
    4. Pick a piece of paper at random from the words you prepares (put them in a hat or box, so you can see what you are picking) and read the word and give the student 2 seconds to choose /b/ or /p/, if he is wrong his team loses its turn, but let them continue until they get one wrong
    5. If he doesn’t answer within two seconds, the other team gets a chance, if they are right, they keep going.

Minimal pairs can be based well upon the following first letter variations:

  • P / b
  • L / r
  • F / v
  • D / t
  • S / z / j
  • G / k
  • And so on..

Part II – spelling bee

You can now easily recycle this activity into a spelling bee by using the same word list you just had your listening bee with.

Tips:  Remember, you can make this as easy or as complex as you need to in order to challenge, but not shut down your class and students.  You can use simple 3 letter words such as pan, ban, pat, bat, or longer words and advanced phonemes such as /ph/ and /f/ in the spelling bee.  You can even use those examples in context and have students pick the phoneme;  example.  Phil said that he had his fill of seafood last evening at the dinner party.  (which came first, the /ph/ or the /f/?)


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