Monthly Archives: March 2008

Lesson Plans Based on You Tube Videos

Talking about films, I would like to share with you a wonderful resource I have just found surfing the net: TEFL Clips. It is an excellent and very useful blog in which you will find a lesson plan per week based on a You Tube video. I believe that You Tube has opened up tons of possibilities for TEFL. We are able to expose our students to real English with material that is fun and attractive. So why not cut down on the amount of time we spend planning and use the lesson plans available here? Share with us your opinion about the site and what you do with You Tube videos in your classes.


The Lazy Way to Planning Lessons with Films

I’m sure that you are always trying to include in your classes material which is real, up-to-date and that your students find great fun. Of course, it is a very difficult combination to achieve, but it’s worth taking the trouble, because the results are optimum: your students get really engaged with the class and they learn up-to-date English.

One of the most useful resources that we can bring into the class are  films. However, we sometimes avoid working with films as it is extremely time-consuming to prepare a lesson based on them. Of course, we can resort to the old way: bring a film, give the students a few questions to answer after watching the whole of it, press play and forget about them for at least one hour and a half. We all perfectly know that that this is useless. They don’t learn a thing and most probably they answer the questions because they have already seen the film in their mother tongue.

If you want to work deeply with films in your classes and don’t want to spend too much time planning, I have found some solutions surfing the net. First of all, there is a page called Challenge-Education , in which you will find lots of lesson plans based on scenes from different films for all levels. There are some sample lessons you can download for trying purposes. I have used them and they are very effective and engaging.

If you would like to use a whole movie rather than just scenes, you should have a look at English Behind the Scenes . Here, apart from finding lesson plans for the entire movie, you will find tips on how to create activities to use with movies yourself. There are also some sample lesson plans you can download.

And now, what do you do with films in your classes? Share with us any other idea, resource or just your opinion on the topic. Looking forward to reading you.

Lesson Plan: Doing Away with Racial Discrimination

As the 21st of March is the international day for the elimination of racial discrimination I have prepared this short lesson plan to discuss the topic with my students. The lesson is based around the poem: “White Comedy” by Benjamin Zephaniah. He is one of my favourite poets. If you don’t know him, here are the words he uses in his official website to introduce himself:

“My full name is Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah which is Christian, Jewish and Muslim. I was born in the district of Handsworth in Birmingham. My poetry is strongly influenced by the music and poetry of Jamaica and I can’t remember a time when I was not creating poetry. This had nothing to do with school where poetry meant very little to me, infact I had finished full time education at the age of 13.”
“I try to write poems that are fun but they should also have a serious message.”

In the class first I ask my students to read the poem “White Comedy” and to tell me what is strange about it (the fact that the authour has changed the word black for white in some lexical items) and then we discuss whether he has done that solely for the sake of humour or not. Here’s the poem (You can download a file of Zephaniah reciting the poet in the British Council page. He’s great, it’s worth listening to him) :

White Comedy

from “Propa Propaganda”

I waz whitemailed
By a white witch,
Wid white magic
An white lies,
Branded by a white sheep
I slaved as a whitesmith
Near a white spot
Where I suffered whitewater fever.
Whitelisted as a whiteleg
I waz in de white book
As a master of white art,
It waz like white death.

People called me white jack
Some hailed me as a white wog,
So I joined de white watch
Trained as a white guard
Lived off the white economy.
Caught and beaten by de whiteshirts
I waz condemned to a white mass,
Don’t worry,
I shall be writing to de Black House.

After that, we discuss the meaning of the words if we turn them into their black counterparts. I usually ask them to match the words with definitions, but if you have advanced courses they may already know the meanings and they can provide the definitions. Gabriella Sellart has done a great job preparing a glossary for this poem in her blog “Glossaries”. You can also make your students pay attention to the meanings of the words white magic and white lies and what is the implication of referring to the White House as the Black House.

I would round off the class by asking the following questions for debate:

  • What do you think the poem says about the connotatins embedded in Western Language and Cultures?
  • Have you ever stopped to think about that?

Hope you find this lesson plan useful and remember if you use it or modify it share your experience with us. Finally, if you have any other ideas to do on this particular day let us know, it’s great to learn from each other.

Further reading: If you really liked Zephaniah and you want more, @harrisonmike has got a wonderful lesson plan on another poem by him: “Talking Turkeys” (great to use during Christmas season)

Here’s a quick way of learning new vocabulary!

This is not really a totally original post, because I’ve heard about this wonderful tool from Silal but I thought it was worth sharing it with all of you. Visuwords™ online graphical dictionary is a great tool for teachers, students, writers and, in fact, for everybody. You can look up a word, and apart from getting a definition as in ordinary dictionaries, a word map will start being created with associations with other words and concepts. Here you can see an example:


In the webpage you can enter words into the search box to look them up or double-click a node to expand the tree. Click and drag the background to pan around and use the mouse wheel to zoom. Hover over nodes to see the definition and click and drag individual nodes to move them around to help clarify connections. A great and useful tool. How can we use it in our classes? Leave us a comment.

Downloading efl/esl books!!!!!

Updated 28/03/08

I have published here a link to a Russian page where you could download lot of EFL/ESL material.  In the webpage there was a downloading agreement that reads:

Download Agreement

By agreeing to our Terms and Conditions, you are stating that you are downloading this material for familiarizing purposes only, and you agree to delete it afterwards and purchase the hard copy.

Because of this, I thougt it was legal and I saw no harm in downloading books for trial purposes before you actually buy them.  However, I have just received an email from the  author of one of the books which was available there for download asking me to delete  the link on the following grounds: “I’ve no doubt you thought that the ‘download agreement’ might make it OK, but the people who own the copyright for those materials (the publishers and authors) would have to agree as well, and they haven’t been asked.  I not only found links to my books there, but lots of other authors as well.” As I found it very reasonable I am editing this post now. Hope you can understand.


Lesson Plan: Gender Stereotypes!

Happy women’s day! Continuing with this topic I have prepared a lesson for my intermediate course on men and women role stereotypes that I would like to share with you.

I have found a good lesson plan in English-4u, a webpage where you’ll find lesson plans based on news and hit songs, to introduce the topic. The title of the lesson is “Jobs About the House” and it is a reading activity based on some statistics by the UK Office for National Statistics. After doing the activities proposed there, we can discuss whether we live in a man’s world and who is expected to do all the household chores.

To finish off the lesson, we can work on an episode from friends (season 9, episode 6): “The one with the male nanny”. Here, we will be able to discuss stereotypes at work. Are there jobs for women and jobs for men?

Here you’ll find some activities you can do with your students while watching the video:

  1. Make a list of things the men that appear in the video do, that are not generally associated with the male sex.

  2. How’s Ross feeling when he talks to Sandy? Why?

  3. What reason does Ross give for firing Sandy? Is it the REAL reason? How do you know?

  4. Does Sandy need recommendations? Why?

  5. What’s Ross problem? What happened to him when he was a kid?

  6. Is Ross a stereotype of the “Macho Man”? Why?

Hope you find it useful. Looking forward to your comments…

P.S. I have just found a wonderful lesson plan in Carlos’s blog: Movie Segments for Warm ups and Follow-ups that deals with the topic. Do have a look at it!

International Women’s Day

As you all probably know 8th March is the International Women’s Day so why not take the chance and reflect with our students on the roles of men and women in our society. I have found a very interesting video in You Tube to work with my students.

But first, let’s do a bit of history. If you go to this page you will find a great lesson plan based on this topic. There are two different reading sections; the first talks of why we have Women’s Day and the second how the day came about.

I have decided to use this day as an excuse to deal with a topic I wanted to discuss with my upper intermediate course: “The Images of Women and Sex Roles in Advertisements”. I have found a great presentation in You Tube to show them:

After watching the video they can discuss about:
What were the people in the ads like? What kind of men did you see? What kind of women? What were they doing? How were they dressed? What emotions were shown by whom?
What is the difference between the way men and women are seen in advertisements? How realistic are (either of) these images? How have ads changed over the years? What does this reflect? What kind of image do you think the advertisers have of women?

If you have any other idea on what to do on this day, don’t hesitate to share it with us. If you use this lesson plan or modify it to adapt it to your class, share your teaching experience with us we can all learn form each other.

Let’s start the academic year with a bit of listening!

The academic year has just started here in Argentina. For that reason, I’m quite busy at the moment planning classes and all that stuff.

Looking for some listening activities to work with my business students, I have found these wonderful sites with tons of recordings on the topics you are looking for. I’m sure you’ll find something useful. Here you have the links:

1) ELLLO is a free online listening resource of over 1,000 listening activities designed especially for ESL and EFL students and teachers. Most listening activities include images, an interactive quiz, transcript of the audio and downloadable MP3.

2) Randall‘s ESL Cyber Listening Lab

Hope you find them useful. If you have more links on listening activities, share them in the comments section.