Monday, December 18, 2017


Here is an interesting English word: loot

We use the word loot in English to describe something that was stolen.

The word loot is originally from India. It is a Hindi word with
Sanskrit roots. The word loot can be a noun, referring to something
stolen or taken without permission. It can also be a verb, to loot. We
also have the word 'looter' -  a person who loots.

When used as a verb, it means to go into a place and steal everything that you can. Think of a bank robber going into a bank and grabbing
all the money. We also specifically use it for the situation where,
after a hurricane or other emergency, people have to leave town and
thieves come in to steal while the town is empty. We call these people

In slang English, we use the word loot in a playful way. For example,
if a kid returns from Halloween trick or treating with a bag full of
candy, he might call it his 'loot'.

Loot is not such a common word. You won''t hear it every day, but I
bet that if you watch a movie about a bank robbery, you'll hear it a

Friday, November 24, 2017

Xmas Vocabulary Quiz

Teachers, here is a Christmas vocabulary quiz that you can use with your students:

Suggested use: Use it with a smartboard or projector as a warm-up activity. There are 20 questions, so it will take 5-10 minutes of class time. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Monday, October 02, 2017

New Word Game: Fonetix

Here is a new word game to try.

Use the word parts on the tiles to form a word before the timer runs out.

Try for a bonus or high score.

Play it here on PC or mobile:

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Conversation Questions

Here are 50 sets of conversation questions for ESL teachers. Each set contains 6 questions.

Download the PDF here:

Or access the smartboard version here:

The smartboard version also works on smartphones.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Word Forms

The Word Forms activity on has been reformatted to work on mobile devices, and also given a fresh look.

Try it here:

Friday, August 18, 2017

100 Warm-up Questions

One of the most popular PDF downloads on Roadtogrammar is the set of 100 Warm-up questions.

It is now available as a web page with a presentation version. You can set up a question on your smartboard at the beginning of class. The students can also access the questions on their smartphones or tablets.

The PDF is here:
The web version is here:

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Salmon and Often

Salmon and Often

I've often noticed that speakers of English as a second language mispronounce salmon.

It looks like it is straightforward enough to pronounce: sal - mon, but in fact the L is silent. To pronounce it correctly, imagine that the spelling is "sammon". It rhymes more or less with 'famine' even though the spelling is quite different. (English is strange that way.)

On the other hand, 'often' is one of those words that has two accepted pronunciations - with or without the 't' sound. This is not a UK/US thing; the words simply has two accepted ways to pronounce it. There are many words in English like this. Like I said, English is strange.

You can listen to the pronunciation(s) of these words here:

The Cambridge dictionary doesn't give the audio pronunciation for 'often' with a t sound, but it lists the phonetic spelling for it.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

2 Common Mistakes

Do you ever make these two mistakes in your English?

Common mistake 1:

A: Would you like a drink?
B: Yes, I like some coffee?

"I like some coffee" is not correct. The speaker means to say: "I'd like some coffee" or "I would like some coffee".

"I would like" is a polite way to say "I want". It is different from "I like".

Common mistake 2:

A: Can I have a napkin?
B: Sure, I get you one.

"I get you one" is not correct. It should be "I'll get you one". We use the future form here, even though it is the near future!

It is easy to make this mistake because "I get" and "I'll get" might sound alike to English learners. However, people who are proficient in English can easily hear the difference!

If you tend to make these mistakes, don't worry - it is quite easy to correct yourself.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Vocab Maze - A Wordsearch Game

Here is a simple and fun game for ESL learners.

You are given a topic and you have to find three related words in a mini word grid.

It's simple, fun, fast and it works on mobile devices too.

Play it here:

Monday, June 26, 2017

Patchwork - ESL Vocab Game

Patchwork is a simple game that is easy to play and suitable for low to intermediate level ESL learners. It is especially suitable for kids.

To play, simply match the different parts of the word from the tiles given. There are two-part words, three-part words and four-part words, too. Topics include animals, descriptions (adjectives), actions (verbs), food, clothes and more.

Play Patchwork here:

Friday, April 21, 2017

What is the size of a native speaker’s vocabulary?

What is the size of a native speaker’s vocabulary?

The answer is not so simple. There are two sides to a person’s vocabulary. The first is the number of words they use on a daily basis. This is their active vocabulary. The second is the number of words that they recognise, but may not use themselves. This is their passive vocabulary.

For instance, most native speakers would understand the word ‘ajar’, which means ‘slightly open’, as in the door is ajar. But it is probably not a word that they use very much. Perhaps they never use it!

Lexicographer Susie Dent says that most native speakers of English have an active vocabulary of 20,000 words and a passive vocabulary of 40,000. I have seen other sources that claim most people have an active vocabulary of as little as 12,000 words.

Still, for an English learner, that is a lot of words to learn to catch up with the natives.

But there is a way to improve your vocabulary without learning new words. That is, to transfer some words from your passive vocabulary into your active vocabulary.

For example, you might be fond of the word ‘maybe’, but you can always try to use ‘perhaps’ more. Perhaps you usually write For example. You could try using For instance instead.

It’s all about making an effort and stepping outside of your comfort zone.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Forty Business English Roleplays

Here is a selection of forty business English scenarios for Business English teachers to use with their students. Scenarios range from asking the boss for a raise to dealing with scheming co-workers. 

The PDF is free to print out and use, or try using the presentation version in class on your smartboard.

PDF version

Presentation version

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Easy Reading Activities

Here are 20 short texts that are suitable for A1 - A2 level learners.

Each one has vocabulary items and a few simple questions.

They are free to use and work on smartphones too!

Click here for the activity.

Click here for advanced reading passages

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Jobs - Elementary Vocabulary Activity

Here is a new activity for learning basic vocabulary related to jobs:

The activity features a glossary and a picture practice activity featuring 20 different jobs. Users listen to the name of the job and click on the correct picture.

This activity is perfect for beginners, or bands A1-A2 of the CEFR standards.

New Quiz: YOUR and YOU'RE

There is another new quiz on Road to Grammar on the topic YOUR and YOU'RE - many learners - and even native speakers - mix up these two ...