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Monthly Archives: March 2017


BBC Interview from Hell: Storytelling


The magic world of Storytelling

I recently bought the captivating book Videotelling ( it’s also a finalist for the ELTons 2017) by Jamie Keddie, and I was inspired to use some of the storytelling techniques to approach this brilliant video. I hope to do justice to the book. 

As you all might know, Professor Robert Kelly found himself struggling with domestic matters two weeks ago when, during a Skype call to discuss South Korea with BBC One, his two cute children burst in behind him. Besides that, his wife frantically dashed in to retrieve the kids. Needless to say, the video has gone viral and it’s the perfect timing to discuss working from home.


The main purpose of this lesson is the storytelling and discussing with students and not to make them guess what viral video it is about – I suppose guessing the video would be easy for students as the video went viral quite recently.

This lesson plan is suitable for A2- B1 students.


 Story and Procedures

  1. Read the story aloud but don’t say it is based on a video


  • Make eye-contact to develop awareness of your audience. Are your students paying attention?
  • Use gestures and actions to mimic the characters. This will be fun!


From Jamie Keddie’s book: Familiarize yourself with the text and read it out a few times before taking it into class. Identify moments that require vocal punctuation ( rising or falling intonation, attention to rhythm, phrasing, pause, etc.)

Teachers are supposed to read the story and make pauses to ask and interact with students. The main purpose is to engage students into the story and make them curious.

If you want to listen to my version, click here.

1.1  You can read the story and interactive questions here: BBCInterviewfromHell-Forteachers ( Timing : 30′ for reading the story and asking and getting feedback from the questions)


  1. Show the word cloud and ask them if they know the video. Handout here ( Timing : 15′)

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 18.02.26

     2.1. Pair up students and they have to come up with a story using 5 words from the wordcloud.

  1.  Students watch the video ( Timing: 2′)

              3.1 You can find the story as a PDF file and hand it to your students after they watch the video : BBCInterviewfromHell-Forstudents


  1. Revisit the story after the video so you can draw the students’attention to key words and phrases ( Timing: 10′)


This is the new vocabulary you might want to explore before telling the story:


  • You’ll slay it! ( informal for “you will succeed”)
  • Groomed (=  looking neat, clean and smart)
  • Show off ( = to try to impress)
  • Blur of yellow ( = blur is a shape you can’t see clearly)
  • To bop ( = to dance)
  • Sassy head ( = smart and stylish
  • To tilt ( = move it slightly upwards or to one side)
  • To shove the girl out of sight ( = to push the girl with a quick movement)
  • Keep his cool ( = to manage to remain calm in a difficult situation)
  • To waddle ( = walk with short steps, swinging slightly from side to side)
  • Muffled cries (= unclear and quiet sound, in this case, the cries of the children when the mother closed the door)

5. Sequencing Exercise – Students will practise transition words so that they can use the new vocabulary in final task ( students’ storytelling)

Handout here : BBCInterviewfromHell-Sequencingexercise

Discussion & Follow-up Questions ( timing : 15′ )


What I liked about Professor Robert Kelly was the fact that he experienced the moment most of working parents dread: being at home on an important call, only to be interrupted by his curious children. Apart from the interview itself, there aren’t any dialogues between the kids, the wife, and the professor. It’s just brilliant.

Now it’s time to ask further questions. According to Jamie Keddie, questions are the key to storytelling. Asking suitable questions help students engage, comprehend the world and reduce teacher input. Some suggestions are:

  1. Do you work from home? What are the perks of working from home?
  2. What are the perils of working from home?
  3. Do you have any ritual when you work from home? What do you wear? What is the room like?
  4. What kinds of jobs offer flexible working hours?
  5. What do you think happened in Professor Kelly’s house when the interview was over?
  6. How would you feel if you were the professor?


Final task:  Students as the storytellers ( Timing : 15′)

Ask students to recreate the story from the mother’s point of view in pairs or trios. Why did the kids burst into the room? What happened in the living room after she grabbed her kids?



A Business Lesson : MOMA’s present perfect statement on the ban

I have great friends, most of them are (unsurprisingly) teachers. I am delighted to introduce you to a friend and fellow teacher Sylvia Gonçalves.
Today I was chatting with Sylvia about business lesson plans and we both came up with the idea of having one of her Business LPs here, as she doesn’t write her own blog ( yet). Sylvia is an expert in Business English and I’m sure you’ll find this lesson plan valuable to your classes.
Take it away, Sylvia 🙂
When I first thought of this class, my idea was to find authentic pieces of Present Perfect that could be used with my B2 students. As you all know, students struggle a lot with it and the fact that they can’t relate to any verb tense in Portuguese, makes it even scarier.
I came across this article on Facebook, and I found very interesting the way the
museum was dealing – in a subtle and courteous way – with Trump’s controversial
decision to ban people from Muslim countries. So, I’ve designed this lesson for my one-to- one students, but it can also be adapted for groups. Ideally, it was thought as a 90-minute lesson but depending on the student/ students teachers can stretch it to two classes of 60 minutes each.



Placard (gap fill) – Download here:  Placard_Article_Arts.com

Warm up

Have students look at 3 pieces of Art (preferably from Moma)
Elicit student’s opinion
a) Do you like going to museums?
b) Do you like them? Why? Why not?
c) What do you think they have in common?
Teacher writes on WB student’s opinions and provides useful vocabulary to describe art. For example: abstract, aesthetic, lifelike, minimalist…


The teacher explains to students the paintings are from different Muslim artists and a
museum in the USA found a way to protest against the ban. Teacher gives a copy of the placard and asks students to complete the gap with the missing prepositions. (If you’re using this class with strong B1 students you should provide them a list of possible prepositions to fill the blanks)

I personally like to give feedback on the board, mainly because I can manipulate
sentences and elicit examples from my students. That is, have your students come up with more examples of verb/ noun + preposition patterns.


I always begin my reading activities with some kind of PTV (Pre-teach vocabulary). I’ve been teaching English for more than ten years, and something I’ve learned with my Latin America students is that they cling to many words during the reading, so PTV activities give them more confidence since they seem to have more vocabulary.Teacher asks students to match words and their definitions.

Once again, provide feedback on the WB so you can elicit synonyms, antonyms and/or collocations.

Students read the text and locate more examples of verb/noun + prepositions.

Note: You might need to clarify the difference between the verb + preposition pattern and phrasal verbs (Be prepared!)


a) Did you like the text? Why? Why not?
b) What’s your opinion about Trump’s executive order?
c) How many verb/noun + preposition could you find in the text?

So, if you’re doing a 60-minute class, you should stop here and ask for some feedback.

What I like to do is ask them to tell me at least 3 things they didn’t know before the class and now they do. It gives them a great sense of achievement!

Dealing with Grammar

As mentioned before, this lesson was previously designed to bolster the Present
Perfect.Have students identify examples of the Present Perfect in the text (active and passive voices)

Write good examples on the WB to deal with form and meaning. Have students match the uses of the Present Perfect with the examples from the article.


What I like to do is ask them to tell me at least 3 things they didn’t know before the class and now they do. It gives them a great sense of achievement.

sylviaSylvia Gonçalves has over 10 years of experience as an English teacher in both one-to-one and group classes in Brazil and abroad. She holds a CELTA and a Cert Ibet issued by the Trinity College.

Sylvia is a multilingual professional: Spanish, French, English and Portuguese who utilized modern teaching methods, software and applications and fostered creativity to increase students’ learning process. If you want to get in touch with her: sylviagoncalves@gmail.com

“Your nationality doesn’t make you a teacher”- Interview with Higor Cavalcante

I could not continue the series of teachers’ interviews without the participation of my dear friend and fellow teacher Higor Cavalcante. Higor has extensive experience and expertise relating not only to exams preparation but also teacher development: he’s a teacher, teacher trainer, book author, President of the Teacher Development SIG and the Vice-President of BRAZ-TESOL. But, above the impressive teaching background, being his friend, I can say Higor is one of the most generous and supportive teachers I’ve ever known.

We discussed current issues in ELT: the role of NNEST, the importance of lesson observations, successful teaching tips, the importance of being part of a teachers’ association such as BRAZ-TESOL and much more.

You can watch the first part of the interview here.

You can watch the second part of the interview here.




You can get in touch with Higor by email: higor@higorcavalcante.com.br