Reading comprehension – Joe Orton

joe orton reading comprehensionJoe Orton was a famous English playwright who met a very unfortunate early death. His plays are still being performed today, though, and may still be considered controversial. His writing caused outrage and amusement, in dark comedies often covering scandalous topics. As we have a number of theatre productions of his works in Brighton, it seemed an excellent topic for me to present in a reading comprehension exercise. So, as English reading practice, please read the following article and see if you can answer the questions that follow. Hopefully it will prove educational, too! Continue reading

Felix and the Umbrella – a mixed past simple uses exercise

past simple exerciseIn the following reading text, all of the verbs should be in one of the past simple forms. Choose which past simple form to use, and complete the reading text by using the information in brackets. Sometimes the verb in brackets is also joined by a negative or subject.

For example:

  • Q: He ______ (to go / not) to the opera.
  • A: He did not go to the opera.

Continue reading

Short Halloween horror story – reading practice

halloween reading practiceLet’s get you in the mood for Halloween. The following is a quick reading practice that makes use of the words from my Halloween noun and adjectives lists. It is a short story about a haunted house – read through it and see which words you can spot from the lists. I’ve given you a few questions underneath to get you thinking more about the story. Have a creepy, chilling Halloween, and a devilishly good time. Continue reading

Adverbs for building atmosphere – vocab and reading pratice

atmosphere adverbsTo put my Friday Twitter vocabulary blasts to more use, here’s a list of adverbs that can build atmosphere in descriptive English. As adverbs describe verbs, adjectives or other adverbs, these atmospheric words can add depth to your descriptions and events. The adverbs are listed with alternatives for descriptions (which you may want to learn too!) and example sentences. Below is a reading exercise to test your understanding. Continue reading

The Past Tenses in Narratives – Comparative Examples (2)

reading practice past tensesContinuing my short series of narrative examples to explain different uses (and the reasons behind different choices) in using past tenses, below is another brief past tense passage. The sentences are numbered, with full explanations below. Continue reading

The Past Tenses in Narrative Use – Comparative Examples (1)

past tenses comparative narrativeAs the many uses of the different aspects of English can make choosing between the different tenses confusing, it may help to look at specific narrative texts or sections of English dialogue and analyse why the writer or speaker chooses different tenses. To help demonstrate the different uses of the past tense, the following short paragraph has numbered sentences, and a full explanation of why each clause is in that tense: Continue reading

Articles and periods of time: exercise

time periods and articles, exerciseThis exercise tests understanding of articles and periods of time. As some periods of time can be used as nouns or adjectives, this tests your knowledge of how a period of time is used in a sentence. It will also test use of articles with sequential numbers.

Complete the following exercise choosing the correct determiner (the indefinite article (a), the definite article (the), a plural determiner (any, some, many, etc.) or no article). Continue reading

Brighton Fringe and Brighton Festival: Reading and Vocab

brighton fringe festival

A brief description of the Brighton Festival and Brighton Fringe. For general information or as reading practice for learners of English. I’ve included some descriptions of the language in use below to help develop vocabulary skills.

For anyone lucky enough to be in Brighton during May, both the Brighton Festival and Brighton Festival Fringe are almost upon us. Founded in 1966, these massive events span the whole city, running for most of of the month of May, and were previously combined to form the largest multi-form art festival in England. They divided to form 2 separate festivals in 2006, though both festivals cling to the largest festival claim.

Brighton Fringe

As a completely open access festival, anyone can put on an event in Brighton Fringe, with inclusion in a brochure and listing on the website. For a fee. All art forms are included, with no judgement criteria to limit involvement. It helps both new and established artists attract fresh audiences, press and promotion.

More than half of the talent involved in Brighton Fringe is home-grown, from Brighton and Hove. In 2012 it included 743 individual events, 171 free events, and 3622 performances spread over 193 venues. The numbers for 2013 are expected to be much higher! It includes tons of free events, as well as affordable ticketed ones. Check out the specifics of what’s on here.

Brighton Festival

The difference between Brighton Festival and Brighton Fringe is the open-access element.strange float at the brighton childrens parade Brighton Festival is a curated event, so the performances and events involved are all commissioned and supported by the festival organisers. There is a lot of overlap between the sort of events you will see at Brighton Festival and Brighton Fringe, but the Brighton Festival ones have the potential to be larger. For instance, the Brighton Festival opens with the Children’s Parade on May 4th, a huge event where the children of local schools march through town with a host of extravagant floats.

Other events you can expect to see at both events include theatre, film screenings, dance, art, stand-up comedy, opera and kids events in both indoor and outdoor venues, day and night, throughout the city. Check out more Brighton Festival events here.

Example Vocabulary Explanations


almost upon us – almost here, used to say something is happening soon, or will come soon.

founded – started or originated.

span the whole city – to span is to cover, or spread across, so this means it stretches across the city.

cling – hold onto.

open access – when access is open, anyone can gain entry.

inclusion – the noun form of include, to be made a part of.

judgement criteria – the items/values that something will be judged on.

home-grown – something that is locally produced.

curated – to curate is to care for, but we use it to refer to a person responsible for  locations and events. Most commonly a curator organises exhibitions, for instance ina  museum.

commissioned – something that is officially requested.

potential – possibility

extravagant floats – extravagant is something very elaborate and fancy. A float is usually a large handmade display in a parade.