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Monthly Archives: September 2016

A conversation lesson about self-love – Intermediate level

When I first came across Jessamyn’s story, I thought it was gutsy and moving. She is a yoga teacher who has become an Instagram star for her body-positive message and for showing the world that Yoga teachers can come in all shapes and sizes. I tend to plan my lessons around topics that interest me first, and I then reflect on whether my students might also connect and engage with these topics.

Most of my sources are authentic and this one is no exception. I essentially based all of the tasks on Jessamyn’s impressive Facebook profile; she posts interesting news articles, videos, photos and different sorts of media items.

This topic couldn’t be more relevant: self-love, self-acceptance, self-esteem, fat shame are currently hot topics in the mainstream media. She talks about her body insecurities and I believe that 98% of all women can relate to this, in one way or another – and certainly some men too. Therefore, your adult learners might have dealt with these issues at one point or another during their lives – so why not bring the topic into the classroom?

Teachers need to be aware that some learners might have preconceived notions on these topics – even being judgemental. Learners who feel free to express themselves will often start a discussion on an apparently sensitive area if it is important to them.
Bear in mind that we must not judge their opinions (even if we completely disagree with them). The main objective of this lesson is to discuss different points of views, have them agree or disagree with what our character says, read what people have to say, and have them outline and explain their opinions.

You can watch the slides here or download the PDF file every-body-yoga-1

Lesson Outline
I designed this lesson with adults and mature teenagers in mind as the ideal age group. Their level should be B1/ B2.
The slides are pretty self-explanatory and some extra notes are following:
Slide 1 
Arouse students’ interests by asking what job Jessamyn might have. Write down some guesses on the board. Ask them : Could she be a doctor? A lawyer? A police officer?
Slides 2, 3, 4
As her story unfolds, pay attention to students’ reactions and comment on what they say. Ask them: Could she be a Yoga instructor? Why or why not?
Can you do a handstand like she does? Do you do Yoga? Does your Yoga instructor look like Jassemyn? What does she/ he look like?
Slide 5
Have students discuss the 7 questions with their partners and walk around the class. Tell them they should refer back to the text to answer the questions. Help them with new vocabulary. If it’s 1:1, take turns in asking and answering the questions with your student.
Slide 6
Pre-listening task – Ask those questions to arouse students’ curiosity and engagement.
Slide 7
Post-listening tasks – After watching the video, have students ask questions 1-5  to their partners. Share some answers with the whole class. Have students agree or disagree with the Facebook comments. Help them with the vocabulary by explaining and writing new words/ expressions on the board.
Slide 8
1) conflicted relationship
2) favourite – for so long
3)  throw shade – I am
4) curvy people

How to Use Authentic Tasks with Video in the Classroom


I love authentic video! A lot has been said about its use as a classroom tool and I couldn’t agree more. Videos are fun, engaging and they can provoke the most exhilarating reactions.

On the other hand, in my opinion, the way to approach authentic videos has yet to be properly developed. We teachers should aim to use video as if it were being watched outside the classroom. Make it relevant to our students’ daily lives. 

By the way, I was inspired by Marek Kiczkowiak’s amazing blog post on how to design authentic tasks for listening and reading resources.

Do we really need to create a worksheet of exercises with filling in the blanks, true and false or order the events? What’s the point of this? These tasks are rather boring and not meaningful.

Instead, we should ask ourselves: If my students were to watch this video outside the classroom, how would they react to it? What would they say or do? All tasks I propose be done in class are how we attack a video in real life.

Why you should use authentic tasks with video

• More meaningful, fun and truly engaging
• Students practise English outside the class
• There is no right or wrong answer
• Learners are taught skills to be used outside the class (such as comparing, summarizing, evaluating, criticising, etc.)
• Prime students to dissect similar videos in the future

Bite-sized video

Why? They’re great, short and straightforward. You can find this type of video on Facebook fan-pages, in the “video” section. Also try CNN, Entrepreneur or BBC Culture, for instance.


Word spotting for lower-levelled learners: They might not understand what’s being said, but they can hear isolated words. If they can do that, it’ll provide a sense of achievement (I do look for words I know when I’m reading something in Czech)
Retell it to your partner: We do that in real life, don’t we? “You know the other day I saw a funny video about…”
Write a comment: Imagine a friend has shared it on Social Media.

Facebook Live

Why? These videos are non-scripted, spontaneous and full of real communication including fillers, hesitation, paraphrasing and emotional language. Think about the Chewbacca Mum which was the most viewed Facebook live video, watched over 160 million times. Your student has probably watched it as well.


• Tell your students to rate the video and leave a comment on it. Would they give a thumbs up or thumbs down?
• Retell it to their partner: Say the best part, the funniest, the most bizarre and so on.
Read some comments and reply to one. Comments are ideal; some are lighthearted, others are provocative. Choose the comment that got the most “likes” and reply to it.
• Ask your students whether the video is shareable. If so, write an introductory sentence for it.

Social Experiments/Documentaries


Why? They are great at provoking reactions and judgements from both the viewers and participants. 


• Read the title and decide if it’s worth watching and why.
• Is it shareable? Why/Why not?
• What comment would you write if you shared it?
What would you do if you took part in it?



Why? Vlogs are quite popular among teenagers and young women. Their titles are usually sensational, intriguing, outraged or just provocative; vloggers are smart enough to pique viewers’ interests by luring them into clicking. You can find vlogs of different subjects: travel diaries, make up, fashion, random stuff, cooking, DIY projects – you name it.


I’ve had my first Czech lesson…and now?


This is my second post on learning Czech

My first lesson

Finding an online Czech teacher was a bit of a challenge. Naturally, I found myself Google where I came across a teachers’ website called Preply. Even though I found what looked like a nice teacher, the payment system didn’t work so well so I gave up. I ended up finding a teacher via Youtube, Martin, whom I contacted on Facebook.

Unbelievably he lives in Brazil, which makes sorting out payment so much easier for me. After the initial chat, we booked our first trial lesson. I explained my ideas and goals to him and he seemed motivated as well. Martin came across as fun and knowledgeable – the exact type of teacher I was looking for!

As I was feeling anxious about the first lesson, so I sent a confirmation email the day before – which he quickly confirmed. “Great, so tomorrow I’ll start my Czech journey!”I thought. However, the day he sent me a message a few hours before we were due to start asking if we reschedule because of a personal issue. Admittedly I felt let down; it didn’t like we were getting off on the right foot, right? I asked if it was possible to reschedule the lesson to later that day, to which he responded positively.

My goal was to leave the teaching decisions up to Martin and not to interfere with his judgements. Being a fellow teacher there is always the risk that I end up as a backseat driver. I need to concentrate on my role as a student.

Apart from few minor technical issues, the first lesson went well and I was pleased with myself!

My independent learning

Prior to the first lesson, I came across this great blog which provided me with a confidence boost. I also use two Youtube channels for pronunciation and vocabulary practice. On top of this, I’m using a grammar book because…teachers being teachers!
My initial impressions

I’ve had some interesting thoughts on my learning experience, before, during and after the first lesson.

  • I was paying close attention to what Martin was saying, especially by looking at his lips. Sometimes I would ask him to repeat the same word two or three times slowly so I could imitate him. He made me aware of how I should use my lips and tongue to articulate the new words properly.

  • I had learnt some simple greetings on Youtube and I was expecting him to start with them. I was thrown off a little when he didn’t use them.

  • I was happy that he used a textbook and I really wanted to be able to read and understand everything on the first page which, I obviously wasn’t able to after just a few minutes.

  • I was planning to audio record parts of the lesson on Soundcloud but I was so engaged that I forgot which was a shame because I could do with listening to the lesson once or twice again. I’ll make sure that I won’t forget next time.

  • I wasn’t as concerned with understanding the reasons behind grammatical rules – I just wanted to start to get the basics right.

  • He taught me the alphabet which was very useful but I wish he would have linked the letters with their phonetic symbols. I feel that it would have made my pronunciation more accurate.

  • I felt that everything he was saying was important and I did my best to jot everything down, which, in hindsight might not have been very wise because it was very time consuming. I also found myself relying on Portuguese more often than I would have liked.

  • Repetition (from teacher and student alike) is SO very important at this stage! Once, twice, three times…