Danger! Pyramid schemes

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Vocabulary: synonyms and phrasal verbs


worksheet for advanced English students


This worksheet for advanced English students deals with pyramid schemes. Throughout the lesson, students will learn a lot of vocabulary and express their opinions on ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes.

C1 / Advanced
C2 / Proficiency
45 minFlipped LessonUnlimited Plan

This is a Flipped Classroom lesson plan. In a nutshell, it means that the first part of the lesson needs to be done by students at home. Learn more about flipped classroom and how we implement it in these lesson plans in our post.


The pre‐class worksheet consists of four activities on vocabulary. First, students learn a few synonyms by replacing them in the provided sentences. Next, they work on six phrasal verbs and need to choose correct prepositions that go with them. The task includes the following phrasal verbs: bring in, pay in, buy in, lose out, capitalise on, take on. After acquiring new vocabulary, students move to two exercise and practise all the synonyms and phrasal verbs. Now, they read a few sentences. In each case, they have to say which two sentences use the word correctly and which sentence is incorrect. E.g. in what cases we can use the word solicit and in which approach. The last task in this part is based on the phrasal verbs. Students just complete the gapped sentences with correct phrasal verbs.



The in‐class part starts with a short discussion. Students read a definition of a pyramid scheme and discuss questions concerning the term. Next, they move to two listening comprehension tasks. First, they watch the first minute of a video and say what a few numbers refer to. After that, they watch the rest of the video and do a multiple choice task.


Finally, this lesson plan for advanced English students ends with 12 questions to discuss. You can organise students into small groups and allocate four to six questions to each group. You can also invite students to choose six questions to discuss in groups or pairs. At the end of the discussion, ask one student from each group or pair to share one piece of interesting information from their discussion with the rest of the class. The questions include the phrasal verbs and synonyms that students learnt in the pre‐class worksheet.



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Leave a Reply

  1. ChocolateCake

    Slide 5 sentence 2 has two twin options

    1. Stan

      Oh, that wasn’t intentional. We’ve just fixed that to avoid confusion.

  2. Tamiris R. Lara

    Thank you for your amazing lessons. I have a question:

    I am not sure about what would be the difference between 1st and second sentence on ex 3C:

    c) hazy
    • I’m still hazy about what is expected of me.
    • The manager is hazy about what was agreed in last month’s meeting, so can you
    send him the minutes?

    Thank you,

    1. Katherine

      Well spotted Tamiris!
      Thank you for commenting. We’ve changed this now so that the example is obviously incorrect.

  3. AlexandraChernysheva

    Thank you for the great lesson! Could you please explain why we can recruit the help of volunteers but not friends (exercise 3 b)?

    1. Justa

      We wanted to show that ‘recruit’ is more about ’employ’ and with friends it doesn’t sound good, but after going through this example again, we feel that the volunteer and friends examples are too close to each other. We’ve just changed the sentence completely so that it’s clear why ‘recruit’ doesn’t work in a given sentence.

  4. Mary Proia

    It would be beneficial to either provide an article also or provide the trnascript of the video. I’ve been a tutor for many decades and I’ve found that my business students like to have a conversation sparked by a good-quality article, not too many exercises. Discussion prompts are necessary. Mot of them frown upon doing exercises

    1. Stan

      Hi Mary! You can get the transcript of the video on YouTube. As it’s published by TED, the quality of the transcript is perfect. If you’re looking for a conversation-focused lesson based on authentic articles, I’d encourage you to check out our Critical Reading Club format. These lessons are exactly what you described 🙂


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