Calypso blues

March 14, 2013

I love this song. It was sung by Nat King Cole and there’s a great version sung by Youn Sun Nah, but it could be a bit long ,and some people might even find it weird, although I love it.

I think this could be used as an error correction exercise, as you can see the lyrics Calypso blues, are not standard English.


Sittin’ by de oceanNat_King_Cole_19[1]
Me heart, she feel so sad,
Sittin’ by de ocean,
Me heart, she feel so sad…
Don’t got de money
To take me back to Trinidad.
Fine calypso woman,
She cook me shrimp and rice,
Fine calypso woman,
She cook me shrimp and rice…
Dese yankee hot dogs
Don’t treat me stomach very nice.

You could use this with mature teenagers and adults, however it would better to avoid using it with young learners, as there are references to parts of a woman’s anatomy that you/they might find embarrassing. Don’t worry nothing too explicite compared to some of the stuff in a lot of songs today. So just basic error correction for A2 learners, however there’s certainly a lot of other stuff to get out of it.

For example you could have them rewrite it:

Well here I am sitting down here at the seaside and I’m feeling a little sad,

thinking about my woman back in Trinidad…

Here are the links to the songs: and 

This is a beautiful animation by Caroline Leaf. Which you can find here:

I think it could best be used as stimulation for creative writing. Here’s one possible way of using it:

  1. Show the two pictures below.
  2. Get them to identify the birds.
  3. Discuss what they know about the habits of either of these two birds. Like: Owls are nocturnal hunters – birds of prey, often associated depending on the culture with magic and or death. Snow geese mate for life and they have two plumage morphs, they can be white or grey -blue. They migrate (3000 miles) and live in flocks, so they are gregarious, whereas owls are not. I think there is lots of scope for discusion here.
  4. Ask: What do think would happen if these two birds paired up? What kind of match would that make? More scope for discusion: Mixed mariages, difference of personalities in a relationship, complementary/opposites etc.
  5. The language spoken in the film is “Eskimo”, so no one is going to understand, well probably not in a European ESOL class. Get them to watch the whole film and then go back and freeze frame at the appropriate moments, or use these slides I made The owl’s mariage and ask them to write the dialogue or narrate the story.

Capture d’écran 2013-03-12 à 10.29.45

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My favorite Things

February 8, 2013

My Favourite things. Lesson plan

My favourite things:was sung by Julie Andrews in the film production of the Broadway musical. The musical was written by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein, based on a book about the Von Trapp family, itself based on the memoirs of Maria Von Trapp.

  1. Show the slides: My fav. things slides to the students. Elicit and explain any vocabulary. Drill the words.The slides are in chronological order. Don’t tell the students and make sure they don’t write anything ( 20 minutes).
  2. Listen to the song X 2 and have the students write down the words that they hear and have remembered from the slides.(5 mins.).
  3. Feedback. Write up the words on the white board . ( 5 mins.).
  4. Erase white board and give out the gap fill .Fav. things Gap fill Get them to fill in the blanks using the wordle: favourite things wordle ( ).
  5. Listen to the song once, and then a second time and ask them to correct (10 mins.).
  6. Ask them to think about their favourite things and make a list of five things. Encourage them to use adjectives to describe them. ( 15 mins.).
  7. For homework ask them to write another verse to the song using the worksheet.

There  is one notable version of this song by John Coltrane and a rather lovely song version by Youn Sun Nah

Pothole gardener

September 9, 2012

Hers’s a pdf of shots of the different gardens with names blocked out. “Guess the name of the garden” task.
pothole gardener

Guerrilla gardening

September 9, 2012

Here’s a nice video that you can use in class in lot’s of different ways:

The Wind

November 29, 2009

For this plan you need the ad for wind power made by Epuron.

Here’s the lesson plan and the pdf file

  1. Show the the still. Ask what do you think is going to happen? Get students to perhaps write their ideas. Compare and deal with any error or language issues.
  2. Tell them that the guy in the ad is in fact the Wind or a personification of the wind. Ask them to think about what kind of things he might do(nuisances and disturbances) and to work in pairs and write their ideas down. Don’t tell them if their right or not.
  3. Watch the clip until nearly the end, up until the scene with the newspaper and check if they predicted correctly.
  4. Do the first exercise on the pdf and practice and go over any new stuff with them. then show them the clip again so they can check the order
  5. Do the second exercise. watch the clip again so that they can check and clarify with them any issues
  6. Give out the second page of the pdf file and get them to fold it immediately and to only look at the top half of the sheet, get them to complete it, but tell them not to turn over the sheet until you tell them(you could give them a time limit). Ask them to turn over and complete the bottompart of the sheet and not to look back and repeat the process as many time as it takes for them to complete sucessfully both halves or until you think they’ve had enough.

The other pages in the pdf file can be used if you want for further work on personifications e.g. you can get them to cite well known personifications and their attributes. As for the ad idea, they may not find it easy to do if you limit them to inventing a personification of something, but you could give them the choice of doing that or just inventing an ad. I found that telling them they could do it as a storyboard is a good idea, they don’t have to be good at drawing, they could use picture from internet or cut out from mags.

PDF epuron wind ad

Lev Yilmaz

October 30, 2009

I’ve known about this guy for some time and I’ve always wanted to try to use one of his animated films which are available on YouTube, but I always wonder how students will reacte to his slightly off key humour, especially some of the sexual stuff. Anyway I’m going to give this one a bash

It’s basically about worrying about the way you look and what you should, can, can’t do about it. What I’d like to exploit is his use of “even though” “look like” and “feel like”, but there’s alot of other stuff too.

Pre-intermediate and above

Start with a dictation about yourself and the way you look, I’ve used this to introduce some of the target voc. There’s a photo of  Boroughs as a friend thinks I look like him. You could include a photo of someone you look like or and someone you would like to look like.

Clear up any issues on the text


My Body

I’m kind of medium height and medium build. I’d like to be a little taller. I’m also nearly bald, so I wish I had more hair. My nose is a bit too big and when I was young this used to worry me. I’m also a little over weight and even though I’m not fat I’d like to be a little thinner. A friend of mine thinks I look like William Boroughs, which worries me, because I don’t like the way he looks

Ask them the following questions ( be careful there maybe, no there will be people who are sensitive about these. I made sure everybody was okay about this before doing the lesson. You can get them to do this in small groups or as written work perhaps before the lesson, or even after

  • Are you happy with the way you look?
  • What would you like to change?
  • What do you wish you looked like?
  • What could you do to change it?
  • Do you think people worry too much about the way they look?

Now watch the video as far as 1:27. Only because after it could offend some people, however there’s stuff that could be used.

Get them to associate the body part with the cause or problem as they watch. You will probabally have to watch a couple of times.

Body part Problem/cause
legs wrinkles
body Not well defined
arms pale
belly Not as thick as before
Head size Too thin
eyes Too fat
hair Likes food too much
Forehead Too far apart
Under his eyes wrinkles
complexion Too skinny
Neck and chin Out of proportion

Here’s the script, I think I’m going to draw their attention to different stuff like:

Even though

Looks like

Feels as if

(Not) good at


and get them to do some work on these, I haven’t got round to making something up yet, so any suggestions are welcome. Thanks

I’ve always thought that my legs looked out of proportion to the rest of my body. When I was a kid I was sort of fat, so I tried to lose some weight by getting a lot of exercise, but the only exercise I liked was biking, so even though I lost some of the weight, my legs were the only part of me that developed any muscles. So today even though they look like this, it feels as they look like this. I also think my arms are too skinny because I never lifted weights or anything. So even though they look like this it feels as if they look like this, and although I’d like to build them up a little I’m no good at push-ups and I’m no good at chin-ups and no good at barbells and no good at curls, so whenever I get paranoid about I just wear a shirt that’s too big for me and leave it at that.

I’m also starting to get a little belly because I really like food and even though it looks like this, it feels as if it looks like this. I feel guilty when I eat cheese and guilty when I drink wine and guilty when I eat hamburgers guilty and when I eat french-fries, and I guess I just feel guilty when I eat anything at all.

I also think the width of my head looks too thin and that my eyes are too far apart, and my hair isn’t as thick as it used to be and I’m getting these wrinkles on my forehead and under my eyes, and I always look sort of pale and my neck and chin are not very well defined;. So all in all, even if I look like this I feel as if I look like this.


Dictate the following to the students

  1. What am I?  ____________ are small to average sized _________ belonging to the family ________nidae, found in warm climates throughout the world.

Tell them not to worry about what the missing words are yet.

Ask them to try to guess how the following 3 sentences could be completed.  For the first e.g It could drown in a teacup, the “real” answers are: a drop(of water/rain, finger tip and rain.

Now play the video, but only allow them to  listen ( with my Laptop I just turn the screen otherwise you could record the video using “Audacity”), ask them to put all the sentences in the the right order ( you could perhaps dictate these too), they will probably hear the blanked out word; Gecko, however if they don’t on a first listening get them to keep guessing and then finally after 3 or 4 if they still don’t get it show them the video and ask them to complete the first sentence you gave them. Finally ask them if they noticed that some of the words(the ones in bold) had been changed, ask them if they heard the original words, take their suggestions and then play it once more to check. The words are reptiles, undergrowth and puddle respectively

  1. It could drown in a…
  2. Could sit comfortably on a…
  3. It’s so small that it has special problems with, for example…
  4. So exceptionally small no other animals compete with it
  5. But its skin is hydrophobic; rain cannot wet it
  6. It’s so light and its skin is so water repellant that it can literally stand on water
  7. So nimble it can escape from the hunting monsters of the forest
  8. But the _________ is unsinkable
  9. A fall into water, you might think, would risk death by drowning

Geckos are small to average sized lizards belonging to the family Gekkonidae, found in warm climates throughout the world. Geckos are unique among lizards in their vocalizations, making chirping sounds in social interactions with other geckos. An estimated 2,000 different species of geckos exist worldwide, with many likely yet to be discovered. The name stems from the Indonesian/Javanese word Tokek, inspired by the sound these animals make. The Malay word for gecko is cicak.


June 22, 2009

simple acts

Wordia is a visual dictionary  where anyone can upload a video on a chosen word, saying what it means to them or giving a deffinition of the word.

It was recently “Refugee Week” and wordia grouped “word videos” together, such as Freedom, identity, community, home, dentention… You can find the videos here:

Lesson idea.

Dictate the following:

__________________is a person who flees to escape conflict, persecution or natural disaster

Ask STDS to fill in the blank, they may need some clues.

Tell them about wordia and that wordia has grouped some words together which people thought had a relevence to being a refugee, or words that were somehow connected. Ask them if they can predict what some the words might be. Put their words up on the white board., it doesn’t matter if they are not the same words, in fact all the better. Ask them why they chose their words and to come up with a short explanation of what their word means to them. You could tell them that you’re going to film or record them and why not upload them to Wordia.

After show them some of the videos and get them to write down any words or phrase they remember. You could perhaps concentrate on one more than the others. There’s one of a man from Senegal talking about the word community,  I found it a little dificult to catch all the words, however my French speaking students found easier, maybe they are more used to Senegal speakers, this probably says something about how we get used to certain types of intonation and stress paterns.

To finish you could get them to do a running dictation with this:

The purpose of Refugee Week is to deliver positive educational messages that counter fear, ignorance and negative stereotypes of refugees, through arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, and promote understanding about the reasons why people seek sanctuary.

And ask them what they could do to make refugees feel more at home. Look at the Simple Act page for ideas: However be careful, some people might have very different feelings on this subject.

For homework give them this link and ask them to chose one of the people featured.

Why not do other themes using Wordia and use them for lesson plans.

Possible lesson plan:

1. start out by talking about pets – tell them about a pet you have or had. Go on to talk about unusual pets. In France there’s something called NAC “Nouveaux animaux de compagnies

2. Find out if they know anybody with an unusual pet.

3. Tell them they’re going to watch a video about a special pet and its owners but first you’re going to give them the following possible titles for the programme – ask them which they find the most interesting

A. The Lion Cub from Africa

B. The lion Cub from the Zoo

C. The lion Cub from Harrods

D. The Lion Cub from the Pet shop All my students choose the right title. video to  1:17 this contains most of the information they’ll need to be able to reconstuct the story ie. They bought a lin cub, they brought it up and finally chose to release it into its natural environment, where it was eventually accepted by the pride, and that finally they went back to see it and were recognized.

This is surely because of imprinting, check it out here

5. Show them this photo and ask them what they think the reason for it is.Answer: Imprinting; the birds were brought up from a very early age with the AULA and think of it as their parent.

cranes fly with ultralight aircraft

Finally you could use the mixed dialogue and the gap fill exercises