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Monthly Archives: August 2016

Conversation lesson: Man who wears all his clothes


We all want our students to feel motivated to come to our class, right?

The other day I watched the enlightening and inspirational webinar “Motivating the Unmotivated” by Ken Wilson delivered at the British Council. I was particularly sparked by the first activity he used to arouse students’ curiosity with an intriguing image of a man eating a bicycle tire. Images can be so powerful! That set me off to write this very lesson plan. My main aim is to make students curious and keen to discuss the topic and I’ve decided to choose a funny piece of news.

You can find the Lesson Material here ( presentation and notes) or download it here:  All the clothes( pdf file).

Activity: Debate / Pair work 

 Topic:  Weird News

 Age group : Adults 

 Time: 1h

 Level: B1

 Language point: Giving opinions, speculating, predicting

Lesson Notes 

Slide 1

Arouse your students’ curiosity –  Ask them : Who do you think he is? What happened to him? What did he do? If they say the man is wearing lots of clothes, ask : Why is he wearing all those clothes?

Slide 2 

Provide more details : Show the full picture of the man and headline. Elicit some answers.

Ask them :

  • Would you wear all your clothes to avoid paying extra bag fees?

  • If you were broke and decided to wear all your clothes, would you take a picture and post on social media?
  • Would you convince your partner to wear all their clothes as well?

Let them answer in pairs and elicit some answers. Tell students they will read the full story in the next slide.

Slide 3 –  no notes
Slide 4 
 Give students 20 seconds to scan the text and check if their answers were correct. Set a timer and tell them to stop reading ( or move to the next slide) when 20 seconds is up.

Questions and answers :

  • How much was the fee he didn’t want to pay? £45
  • What did he wear?  T-shirts, sweaters, pants and a pair of shoes sticking out of his pocket.

  • Where was he travelling from and to? From Wales to Iceland

  • Was he alone? No, he was travelling with his girlfriend.

You may want to explain and give examples of the new lexical terms : To drop money, frugal, _____ ( number) bloody quid, to layer on his clothes, ludicrous, massively flustered Michelin man, to endure extra questioning.

Slide 5

Pair up students for this task. Ensure male students pair up with a female student so that he can give his opinions about her choice. Encourage them to make questions and explain their choices.

Eg : What will you do with your beach bag?

      I will throw it away because it’s too old.

     And your maxi dress?

     I will have to wear it because it was my daughter’s birthday present, it’s too expensive to throw away.

Thanks for reading.


Why on earth are you learning Czech? #learningCzech

For those of you who don’t know me, here’s a quick introduction: I’m a native Portuguese speaker and English teacher. I was born in Brazil and I’ve lived here all my life, apart from a three year period when I happily lived in the UK. I started studying English when I was nine years old, when my parents, with good forethought, enrolled me on an English language course in Rio de Janeiro.

I finished my English course when I was 20 but, before that, I had started studying English and Portuguese at university. I started teaching English when I was 19, and it’s been an amazing 17 years on this teaching journey – you can do the sums to see how old I am! I’ve always been fascinated by learning languages and I dabbled in a few while I was at university: little a bit of Italian, German and Spanish – all of which I didn’t take very seriously at the time.

As a language teacher, I must admit that it’s sometimes easy to take things for granted.For example, over-reliance on certain resources while teaching.

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 00.59.31

Why learn new a language and why on earth Czech? It’s such a difficult language!

When I told some friends about my plans to learn Czech, all I heard was: “Wow…why?”, “Why not German?” ( sure, why not, it’s super easy compared to Czech, right?), “How impressive, but that’s a bit crazy for my liking”.

Well, I’ve decided to learn a language from scratch because I want to  get a feel for what goes on in the mind of a beginner student. If I can put myself into my students’ shoes, will I be able to help them achieve their language goals more efficiently? Will I become a better teacher? Will my assumptions or beliefs change at all? I love teaching and I celebrate my students’ achievements like no one else. I also believe that all teachers should be a lifelong learners and dedicate themselves to continuous improvement. As a non-native bilingual English teacher my perspective is influenced by my own learning experience.

I could have chosen an “easier” language, considering my linguistic and fitness background: Latin and Anglo-Saxon languages would have been much easier and faster to pick up but who says the well-trodden path will provide the greater adventure? I deliberately chose Czech for three reasons:

  1. Czech is like no other language I’ve ever come across ( Disclaimer : I subsequently discovered that Czech is strongly influenced by Latin and German – but I wouldn’t let that spoil my motivation)
  2. I visited Prague in 2013, fell in love with the city and I desperately want to return sometime; this time I want to be able chat with locals especially with handsome Czech men
  3. I was fascinated by the written appearance of the language and its quirky spelling.

Initial Plan & Goals

My initial plans are:

  • Study Czech online guided by an online teacher for four months, (two lessons per week). On top of that, I will commit myself to  thirty minutes independent study every day.
  • My primary goal is to learn basic Czech so that I can engage in basic conversation with a native speaker.
  • Another goal is to take my newfound insights as a student and apply them to the lessons I provide as a language teacher.

In my next blog post, I will write about my first lesson and impressions. Stay tuned.

P.S. This the first of a series of blog posts which will be tagged as #learningCzech



Business English conversation lesson : Every meeting ever


A lesson on Business English doesn’t have to be dull and serious so I’ve created this (hopefully) fun lesson to show myself(and other teachers) that students can laugh and learn in a Business English class.

How many meetings have your students attended during their lives? Probably tons of them! Were all of them productive? Most likely not!

Not every meeting is valuable, and there are a few that are downright counterproductive. The main reason is due to how the meeting progresses and whether there are a few characters who end up dominating the discussion.

This lesson is based on a funny and relatable comedy sketch video  which summarizes common types of people and situations one might experience during a meeting.

 Activity: Debate / Pair work / Videotelling

 Topic:  People who ruin meetings

 Age group : Adults / Business Professionals

 Time: 1h

 Level: B1

 Language point: Giving opinions, comparing, contrasting, speculating,  discussing techniques for business meetings

Step 1

Tell your students they will watch a video about a business meeting and ask them what they predict will happen. Prime them with questions:

Do you attend lots of meetings each week? Do you like going to meetings? Are the meetings in your work productive or a waste or time?

Step 2

Show the video once and ask them for their reactions.

Every Meeting Ever Video

Do you identify with any of the personalities featured in the video? Which one(s)? Who is the most irritating character? Why ?

Pair up students and let them share their ideas.

Step 3

Give out the  Every_meeting_ever handout to each student. Play the video once more and let them do Exercise 1 and 2 in pairs.

You may want to explain some key words and lexical terms:

  • Ol’ Thin Skin – Ol’ is for Old. Thin skin or thin-skinned is an extremely sensitive person who easily gets offended.
  • To ramble on
  • Underachieving scribe
  • Hedging
  • Carefree -laid back
  • Unintelligible notes
  • To accomplish goals

Explain the most common discussion techniques of meetings: Hedging, interrupting, referring back, checking understanding, concluding. Show other ways of how to use polite expressions in meetings.

Ask them: How could the characters use polite language in those situations?

Handout Answer Key

Exercise 1 – variable

Exercise 2 –  (in order) 7 – 5 – 4 – 2 – 11 – 3 – 10 – 6 – 1 – 9 – 8

Exercise 3 – a) Concluding  b) Interrupting  c) Checking understanding  d) Hedging  e) Referring back

Exercise 4

a) How long is this meeting supposed to last? The schedule wasn’t exactly clear.

b) Uh, that’s a fun idea.

c) Hold on! Thanks for pointing.

d) Let me take that back a little bit.

e) We get your concern, Nancy.

f) Sorry, but I’m a couple of minutes late. I got caught in traffic.

Thanks for reading.

Conversation lesson : Is Social Media redefining identity?


I got really excited and a bit carried away preparing this lesson, I must admit. As a heavy user of social media, I thought it would be an interesting topic to discuss – even though there are lots of lesson plans out there. But I thought I could make something more creative.

In this lesson students discuss the uses of social media by tackling three social media giants : Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Whether you love it or loathe it, it’s a divisive issue. In this sense, the lesson is conversation-driven. Because social media is already something most students like and care about, they relish the opportunity to learn with it.

The main topic entails the redefining of identification of self through social media: Is social media addictive? harmful? just another way of communicating? My aim is to develop students’ critical thinking skills by asking questions that elicit understanding with reason and evidence. Students will be given time to think and be encouraged to debate productively. Most activities from this lesson are supposed to be done in pairs or groups so that each student can debate their assumptions and see the topic from a different perspective.

What’s more? There is also the element of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in the lesson, where, counterintuitively, students are encouraged to use their phones as part of one activity. Reflective thinking is promoted throughout the entire lesson as students are required to predict, speculate, express opinions, compare, contrast and infer information.

Another important element of the lesson is humour. According to Krashen Affective Filter Hypothesis (1986) students’ feeling of anxiety builds up an affective filter, a mental block which makes the individual generally unreceptive to language input. All three activities (the text about Facebook, the Twitter graphic and the Instagram video) feature humorous and sarcastic language, thereby reducing students’ anxiety and making them  more likely to participate in and become engaged with the topic.

I believe the success of the lesson relies upon the teacher’s ability to manage the conversation  and attend to emergent language in the class.

Thanks for reading.

Downloads : Social Media worksheet and LP outline – Social Media