Engaging teens and young adults EVERY lesson with Formula

Engaging students with Formula

You teach two, ninety-minute classes per week to a group of teenage Cambridge B2 First students. Last week, you started a new unit about jobs. On Monday, you did a reading lesson with some vocabulary. Then on Wednesday, you did a Use of English lesson focusing on key grammar structures. It’s a new week and… 

[Teacher] “OK everyone, please turn to page 24.” 

[Multiple students] “Ugh not jobs again…” *start speaking in their first language* 

You’re on the topic of jobs for the second week and before you even start the lesson, your students are already bored and tuning out.  

Does this sound familiar?  

Different week, same topic – what time does class finish again? Admit it, it’s not just the students who need a change… 

How about a twist on things?


Instead of having one unit, one topic, why don’t we choose a theme for each level and cover a variety of interesting topics? For example, if you take the theme of colors, you can look at a wide range of things in each unit: 

  • Unit 1 Blue: natural phenomena, house and home, routines, media, travel   
  • Unit 2 Orange: history, culture, self, annual events, beliefs 
  • Unit 3 White: experiences, hobbies, travel, opinions, free time 
  • Unit 4 Pink: feelings, global awareness, gender, travel, sports, socializing 
  • Unit 5 Black: and so on! 

While the theme stays the same, the lesson focus changes, and there are lots of different, interesting ideas. Student and teacher curiosity will be sparked by the unique topics and the central overarching theme holding everything together and helping build momentum. 

Let’s take a look at how this idea works in Formula – our new three-level Cambridge English exam preparation series for teens and young adults.   

B1 Preliminary – A new take on senses 

Engage teens Formula B1 Preliminary

For this level, the main theme is Senses. There are 8 units focusing on different aspects: Sound, Sight, Touch, Movement, Taste, Feelings, Danger and Smell.  

Every single lesson within the unit connects to that particular sense in an original way.  

Unit 1 discusses Sound, with the diverse topics of: 

  • sound effects 
  • musicals 
  • festivals 
  • concerts 
  • silent cafes 
  • noise pollution 
  • whistling languages 
  • communication 

B2 First – Colors around us 

Engage teens Formula B2 First

Colors is our key theme for B2 First. Each unit highlights a specific color: Blue, Orange, White, Pink, Black, Red, Green and Yellow.  

The first unit features an array of lessons related to the color Blue: 

  • associations with the color blue 
  • once in a blue moon – looking at rare natural phenomena 
  • Frida Kahlo’s La Casa Azul with a listening about homes 
  • out of the blue looks at surprises 
  • blue light and the impact on sleeping 
  • the ocean and travel to the beach. 

C1 Advanced – More than just numbers 

Engage teens Formula C1 Advanced

At C1 Advanced, our theme is Numbers.  Starting off with One, we can see a multitude of engaging lessons: 

  • one small step looks at space travel 
  • going solo talks about travelling alone 
  • one hit wonders is about novelists who only wrote one book 
  • April 1st looks at playing tricks 
  • one of kind illustrates things that are unique in nature 
  • first impressions and things you may do differently when meeting or speaking to someone for the first time 

How does it work? 

Each lesson has a different topic. Just like in the exams, each part is about something new.  

  1. All the usual exam topics are covered and not just in one isolated unit. That way, you don’t ever finish a topic, as you come back to it from different angles throughout the course. This helps reinforce learning. 
  2. The usual topic and lexical sets are collated. There are multiple vocabulary inputs per unit which are then organized in the Vocabulary File in a single wordlist. This helps students build topic vocabulary and practice it across the entire level. 
  3. New lessons, shift in topic. Teachers are supported through changing topics with warmers and coolers for each lesson, bringing seamless links to ideas and language covered. 

Looking forward to the next lesson yet?


By using the Formula approach, we can imagine this scene: 

[Teacher] “OK everyone, please turn to page 24.” 

[Student] “What does ‘once in a blue moon’ mean?” 

[Teacher] “Read the subheading to the text and tell your partner what you think.”  

Last lesson you talked about associations with the color blue and today you’re looking at some rare natural phenomena. Next lesson it’ll be house and home through Frida Kahlo’s La casa azul. All connected to the color blue, but not repetitive by any means! 

What’s next?  

Another lesson, but not just the same old topic – your students will surely be kept on their toes wondering what’s in store in your next engaging teens’ class.

Sign up for our Formula webinars

For more ideas to add colour to your lessons sign up for our free webinar with Formula author, Lindsay Warwick. She’ll show you how to avoid the feeling of topic fatigue during exam courses.

Choose between two dates this September:

Learn more about engaging teens with Formula or Download a sample now!

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