Blog Archives


We have finally got to Dogme Challenge Nº 10 , and Karenne has invited us to ask questions. I will grab at this opportunity, as I’ve been having this question at the back of my mind since I read about dogme for the first time. So please, my wonderful, supportive and encouraging PLN can you help me in this one?


I have been thinking a lot about dogme recently, and it comes natural to me when I have to “teach” writing or speaking, but what about as regards reading and listening? I don’t have any clue as how to go about these skills doegmecly. Could you write some tips about this? What do you do in your classes?


Baboons a 2010 Soccer World Cup problem- Lesson Plan

With my 5º grade students at school we are doing a thematic project on the World Cup.  Sean Banville’s web page Breaking News English has inspired me.  I love his site so I’ll take the chance to recommend it to you! He has “EFL / ESL English Lesson Plans & Podcast for studying Current Events and News. There are thousands of FREE 13-page, Ready-to-Print Handouts with Downloads & Quizzes.”

The thing is, that he has written a wonderful lesson plan about the problem of baboons for the 2010 world cup organisers. But, as his lesson plans are aimed at adults and teenagers with an intermediate or above level, I couldn’t use it with my children at school. However, I have adapted the news article and prepared a new lesson plan about the same topic for young learners.

First, I asked my students to search for information about baboons on the net as a homework. I asked them to complete a fact file about them, similar to this one:









I also asked them to find out why baboons are a problem for the world cup organisers. The next class, we did the reading activities you will find in this file.

Hope you’ve found it useful and do share some more ideas to work on this topic. I will be grateful!

Lesson Plan: “Strategies for learning new vocabulary with Avatar film”

Cameron’s film Avatar is in everybody’s mouth at the moment. For that reason, we can take the opportunity and bring it into the classroom, to teach our students in a fun way, how to use   context clues  when reading to infer new vocabulary. This is a useful tool all students need to know for autonomous reading and expansion of vocabulary.

The lesson plan starts with a listening activity based on the film’s trailer, in which students will be able to appreciate the wonderful “natural” world Cameron’s team has created for the occasion.

Then, they will reflect about the strategies we can use when reading a text to infer the meaning of new words from the context. They will apply this to discover the meaning of some words in a text adapted from the New York Times about the Na´vi language (a language created for the aliens in the film to speak).

They will finally listen to an extract in  Na´vi language to reflect upon the strategies we can use for understanding oral material in a foreign language.

I really hope you like this lesson plan and you have a lot of fun with your students. Don’t forget to comment on how it goes.

Lesson Plan: World Financial Crisis

If you haven’t heard recently about the financial crisis, you are definitely not living in the Earth planet. Every newspaper, magazine, television programme and the like is dealing with this issue. Everybody seems to be an expert in economy nowadays, or at least they would like to be. As our classes do take place in this planet, why not take this popular topic to the classroom? There are plenty of articles, videos and recordings about it somewhere there on the net. There are even lesson plans! For example, if you have students from higher levels a good option would be this ready-made lesson plan from In Company website.

However, it is very difficult to find an article suitable for lower levels. After surfing the net for a long time, I have finally discovered one written by CBBC Newsround and prepared with it a lesson plan: cash_crisis. It deals with the current world financial crisis using very simple language making it accesible for language learners. It is also a good revision of verbs related to money.

Hope you enjoy it and don’t forget to leave as a comment if you happen to use the lesson plan or if you have more ideas to deal with the topic.

Lesson Plan: Madonna’s 50th Birthday!

It’s Madonna’s 50th birthday on Saturday 16th August, why not celebrate it in the classroom with this lesson plan (see attached file below) ?

You can start by asking students to guess whose birthday is it on the 16th of August by doing a reading activity based on Madonna’s biography. Then, to revise the past simple form of verbs, students can be asked to complete the song by Madonna “Drowned World (Substitute for Love)” with the verbs in the correct form. Finally, they will listen to the song to check their answers and do some comprehension questions.

Here you’ve got the video of the song. It is great fun for the students to watch it, instead of just listening to the song. Apart from that, it acts as a visual aid to help them understand the song better.

Hope you like it. My students loved it. If you have any other ideas, don’t hesitate to share them with us.


Lesson Plan: Press Censorship

The 3rd May is “World Press Freedom Day” so why not take the opportunity to discuss this important issue with our students? A great film we can use to bring about this topic is “All the president’s men”. Here you will see the trailer of the movie.

You may decide to watch the whole film with your students or concentrate on the scene in which Carl Berstein confronts the public relations executive and secures information about Mr. Dahlberg (at about one hour into the film). Before watching the film, you can discuss the meaning of free press and explain to them that they are going to watch a scene from a film about the of role the press. Students will need to have information about the Watergate case. If you find it necessary, provide them with some background information (e.g from Wikipedia)

Divide them into 4 groups and ask each group to view the film from one of the following perspectives: the investigative reporters, the editors, the people being investigated, and US Citizens. They should collect information for a debate about:

1) The techniques used by investigative reporters. What type of questions do they ask? What ethical standards do they follow?

2) What risks are involved in running a controversial story such as this? What ethical standards do editors follow?

3) How people being investigated respond to the press? How are they feeling? Are they honest?

After watching the film, give them some time in groups to organise their ideas for the debate. Then, make a whole class debate. To sum up the discussion, you might pose the following questions: What values seem to conflict with freedom of press? What can we do to ensure free press? What limits, if any, do you think we as a society should place on the press?

If you don’t have acces to a VCR or DVD player and you still want to deal with this topic, there are several lesson plans on the net. The ones I liked the most are the following two:

1) An article on press censorship in the bbc learning englich central website.

2) An article or listening activity at Breaking News English ESL Lesson Plans.

Hope you find it useful. If you have any other idea, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Playing With Current News

Are you bored of dicussing current news with your students always in the same way? Finding a piece of news in a newspaper, True or False, questions, vocabulary work and personal reactions to the text seem to be the only way available. However, there is more to it than just that. Having a look at Larry Ferlazzo’s blog I have found another online jewel for teaching English. It is a game called Play the News, with which you will be able to have some fun with your students while working on the well-known “current affairs topic”.

Play the News is an interactive game based on current news. You are given some background information and you can watch some videos in order to get informed for the game. Then, you are asked to choose a role to voice your opinion on the subject. Finally, you are given the possibility of predicting what is going to happen in the real world. To be able to play you have to register for free.

I believe it will become a great tool in most of my Business Classes and in some General English classes too. What do you think about it? What are the possibilities that this game has to offer? As always, please if you use it, share your experience with us.

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)

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!