Cheat sheets for English conversation classes

Someone has asked to see examples of my grammar cheat sheets from when I taught larger EFL conversation classes. That’s why I’m posting a few and hoping that they will help conversation class teachers everywhere.

It’s been a while since I have taught any large classes. I’ve been focusing more on my private students, as well as a few freelance writing and translating jobs. So these examples are from when I was teaching back in Leipzig.

English Teaching Books

My collection of English teaching books.

Why not use textbook references?

The full-on grammar tables in textbooks are often too much in a conversation class. I want my students to talk comfortably for most of the lesson, and not to be overwhelmed by a set of rules they need to follow.

My cheat sheets typically include an extremely concise description of each grammar rule, plus one or two examples.

Because they are short and simple, students are less intimidated, and more encouraged to talk.

When they make a mistake, or feel unsure, it doesn’t take much time for them to check the rules, and carry on.

Beginner cheat sheets

Absolute beginners want these to refer to, especially when forming plurals and conjugating verbs. My beginning students used them when doing homework tasks, during warm-up activities, and when writing simple sentences together.

They were less often used during conversations, and I didn’t care – getting most beginner students to feel comfortable talking means not correcting them.

Some of the most often referred to pages include:

Intermediate cheat sheets

Intermediate cheat sheets can be larger, and contain a little more detail. I found that intermediate students referred to them more often during both conversation and textbook classes.

Sometimes, overuse can become a crutch, so I encourage students to read through it thoroughly at the beginning of the lesson. To support this, we do warm up activities where they can use it and ask questions. The other side of the page has the conversation prompts or group exercises, so they must ‘put it away’, at least for some of the time.

Most of my cheat sheets were made for intermediate classes. Here are a couple of examples:

I used the modal verb cheat sheet in all classes from upper beginner through to advanced. The future tense cheat sheet was on the back of a list of conversation prompts and additional exercises for textbook classes. My conversation class students said they referred to these often when doing their optional written homework.

Advanced cheat sheets

I’ve taught only a few advanced classes. I have found that the more advanced grammar books, like Martin Hewings’ Advanced Grammar in Use (available on, or on, have excellent reference sections that are perfect to use as cheat sheets.

Of the cheat sheets I created, comma rules (PDF) and conjunctions (PDF) were the students’ favorites.

Do you like these cheat sheets?

If you like them or use them in your classes, and want more, please leave a comment or send me an email!


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