Harry Potter: Intermediate Lesson Plan

Harry Potter LessonHello all. I hope you had a wonderful Easter and you haven’t eaten too much chocolate.  I have been very good and resisted as much chocolate as possible, but I have been very naughty and decided to eat it after my resistance faded.  Anyhow, I have another lesson plan – this time focused on the Harry Potter books – which you could use in class.  It is hope that students would react positively to this lesson plan and then decide to read the Harry Potter novels in their free time.

The lesson focuses on the different books, the names of the books, more specialist Harry Potter language as well as a jigsaw reading activity about Harry Potter.  For a nice activity at the end of the lesson, students have a quiz.  You can access the lesson plan and all material below but I have been kind enough to attach the lesson to this blog as a PDF file.

Please enjoy and let me know how you get on in class!

Harry Potter Lesson Plan (PDF Format)

N is for Nine years on


Reading “Teaching Unplugged”

After reading Scott Thornbury’s blog post about his forty years in the ELT profession, I thought, rather than post a large reply to his post, I would write a personal blog post about my journey in the ELT profession.  It was incredibly interesting to learn more about Scott Thornbury’s decision to teach as a way to travel as well as being taught the International House method of teaching the grammar of English in ‘contrived’ ways.  Nevertheless, I thought it would be a wonderful chance to share my own journey of becoming an English language teacher as well as the changes that I have noticed in the English teaching industry.

When I first started teaching, it was back in December 2005, after completing a degree in International Business.  I travelled to South Korea with my family fresh off the plane with a rejuvenated sense of teaching Korean young learners.  All that was required when I arrived to become a professional English teacher was to have the following:

  • A university degree
  • Be a native English teacher

Fortunately, I met these requirements and at the time I didn’t even need a certificate, such as the CELTA, to teach English.  I was so happy and keen to jump into the classroom.

I suppose this was the first thing that I noticed in the English language teaching profession was this ownership of the teaching of English, and the backwash was that institutes would only be allowed to recruit teachers from countries which were from either America, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia or South Africa – which is the inner circle of language native speakers of English.  This had the unfortunate drawback that non-native speakers did not have the opportunity to teach in South Korea – but this is another blog post.  These days, from my personal observation with the South Korean English education system, they are more adaptable with regards to non-native speakers of English – especially for those teachers who are Korean themselves.  However, there still remains some issues of recruitment with non-native speakers of English from those countries which were not mentioned above.

Where do i goAfter a year, I joined a four week intensive CELTA course at the British Council in Seoul.  I had to go to their centre and go for an interview before being accepted on to the course but it was highly competitive and I was the only Brit on the course.  It was a joint interview with a fellow non-native English teacher and it was so nice to see the British Council accommodate non-native speakers of English on the course.  It didn’t seem such an exclusive course for just native speakers of English and we were able to share ideas of teaching English to adult language learners.  We were introduced to the British Council/CELTA method of teaching English – much like Scott Thornbury’s IH method – where we taught small elements of language items and grammar through a context.  I was very keen to put this into practice with my learners at our small school in a rural town of Korea but quickly realised that this was not so transferable towards young learners and I wanted to teach at an adult institute and I moved on to Wall Street English in Seoul.

I was so enthusiastic and keen to teach English via this newly discovered communicative method that I was quite popular among the learners.  My basic stages in all my lessons were:

  • Introduce the topic and elicit possible vocabulary
  • Introduce vocabulary for main activity
  • Undertake the main activity (reading, listening, etc)
  • Provide feedback and end lesson

I perfected this method so well and gave space for Korean language learners to communicate, that my lessons were rather popular.  I noticed an improvement in their fluency and keenness to speak with each other in English – a marked improvement from Korean young learners but a different kettle of fish.  After a few years, I returned to the UK.

My initial impressions of English language teaching in the UK was different to my views from South Korea.  I felt like I had just started out again as a teacher.  I was used to monolingual classes with students who were intrinsically motivated rather than groups of students where I had to try to encourage less motivated learners in class.  I was a bit wet behind the ears and jumped in with both feet.  It was the first time that I had taught alongside non-native English teachers.  This was one development that I saw in English language teaching from two different perspectives.

Soon after completing a few years experience in the UK, I decided to take a post-graduate course at the University of Sussex in English Language Teaching.  I decided to do the one year full-time course with a dissertation at the end of the academic year.  The first academic term was incredibly challenging but I pushed my knowledge and understanding of second language acquisition for language learners.  It was here that I was introduced to the concept of World Englishes and the ownership of English – which is still a hotly contentious issue.  At the end of the academic year, after completing a Diploma level course as part of my MA course, I decided to research teacher and learner uptake of Dogme ELT.  It was under-researched at that point in time and I found a new passion in language teaching.  I had only discovered the book “Teaching Unplugged” after receiving a copy to review on my blog just a month or so before I had to start my research.  I met with many teachers, posted a lot on Twitter and was keen to practice much of the lessons in the book as much as possible.  I completed my dissertation with a mark of 80% and was so happy.  I also volunteered at the IATEFL in Brighton that year and met up with the likes of Scott Thornbury and Luke Meddings.  It was so nice to feel part of a group of language teaching professionals who were keen to strip back to basics with English teaching and it was then that I noticed a change in the air where teachers were becoming more experimental in their teaching practice.

After completing the MA course, I gave a talk at IATEFL Glasgow a year later on Dogme ELT to highlight the results of my research and, still at this time, it was a popular discussion in the ELT world.  However, since then, the discussion of Dogme ELT has quietened down a little bit more but there are the occasional posts from other bloggers but it has focused now more on culture in the classroom and translation has had some kind of resurgence – with a recent book by Philip Kerr “Translation and Own-language Activities“.

Finally, last year, the assessment of English, particularly those that are involved in certain professions, has stoked some interest by some academics and I was asked to attend a round-table discussion on the testing of English and the replacement of the Common European Framework (CEF).  In the classroom though, the CEF is rather popular and many coursebooks now align towards the CEF with “can do” statements.  It is an interesting development for teachers and something which kind of constricts learner freedom in language education where students are expected to acquire certain nuggets of knowledge and not beforehand.  However, there is the understanding that language learning is an unexpected and emergent phenomena which is completely unpredictable.

A talk about Dogme ELT at IATEFL Glasgow

A talk about Dogme ELT at IATEFL Glasgow

So, where have I seen language teaching develop?  Well, we had a resurgence in the communicative method when I started out – but this could have been going on for years before I started teaching.  There was also some interest and enthusiasm for more experimental and eclectic forms of teaching – Dogme ELT – but translation and own language use in the classroom is becoming more accepted in the classroom.  As a side note, I once asked in the CELTA where we stand in relation to translation and all I got was a lot of stares from the other trainees and trainers on the course.  I never felt that comfortable with translation in the classroom again.  There is finally some focus on standardising English teaching through the CEF and it is becoming less flexible.  However, there is some interest in teaching cultural aspects of language rather than grammatical items and I hope that in the future language teaching develops on to more cultural specific areas and the sharing of cultures through a common language.

I hope this answers your question Scott: “What’s changed since you started teaching?”

University of Oxford Video Tour: Lesson Plan and Material

Lesson plan

It seems fitting that I continue past blogging performance with another lesson based post, but rather than post another authentic listening lesson, I would prefer to focus on authentic video.  The authentic video is related to a tour – which is rather educational itself – of the University of Oxford.  There are various gist and more detailed activities which revolve around the video itself with a final memorisation game.  A lovely supplementary lesson idea, as mentioned by a wonderful colleague, Peter Clements (ELT Planning) – who I might add is rather new to blogging but has some wonderful lesson ideas and I would highly recommend you reading his blog – suggested a tour of our school, whereby students prepare their own video tours of the school – which could be replicated by any other institution and their very own school.

Anyhow, I do hope you enjoy this lesson idea and you are able to incorporate it into your very own teaching.  All materials are available as part of a PDF download and the video of the tour of the University is embedded below.  As ever, it would be wonderful to hear how you got on with this lesson.

University of Oxford Lesson Plan and Material (Downloadable PDF)

“I Have Never Seen Star Wars”: Radio 4 Listening

In my last post, I decided to create a lesson plan on an authentic news clip from Radio 2.  It has worked remarkably well and in light of this, I have now decided to create another listening lesson but based on the Radio 4 show “I Have Never Seen Star Wars”.  The main focus of the radio show is to get participants to do things that they have never done before such as wallpapering, cooking a meal or doing the ironing.  It is a really engaging and comical show which is available on their website and I would recommend anyone to have a listen.  The presenter is Marcus Brigstocke and he really does get listeners engaged in the show.  Anyhow, back to the lesson plan.

Aim: By the end of the lesson, students will listen to someone talk about a life experience that they have never done.  They will also listen to an authentic radio program.

Level: Upper Intermediate +

Grammar Focus: Present Perfect

Time: 60 – 90 minutes

Speakers: Marcus Brigstocke, Reece Shearsmith and a Driving Instructor

1. Draw up a picture of a car on the whiteboard and ask students whether they can name any parts of a car.  Label any parts that they can name and include the following:

Mirrors Brake Seat belt Engine
Clutch Accelerator Indicator Gear lever
Seat belt Hand brake Neutral

2. Ask students if they know any verbs or phrasal verbs related to driving a car.  Write down any language that they mention but also pre-teach the following vocabulary as well:

To pull away To pull in Brake
To signal/indicate Mounting the curb To give it some gas

Other vocabulary that would be good to pre-teach would include:

Curb (n) Pavement (n) Blind spot (n)
Death traps (n) My heart was pounding (expr.) Nice and steady (expr.)
No harm done (expr.)

3. Speak to students and tell them an experience that you have never done: rode a motorbike, done bungee jumping, etc.  Ask the students to see if they have not done anything during their life up to now.  As language emerges, make a note of this on the board and provide feedback at the end of the conversation.  Ask any students if they have or will take driving lessons in the future: Have you taken a driving lesson before?  Will you take a driving lesson in the future?  What was it like? What do you think it will be like?

4. Tell students that they are going to listen to a story about someone but show the pictures up on the board and elicit from them what they think the story is about.  Board up elicited stories on the whiteboard and help out with some vocabulary.  Pictures include the following:

Car crash Robin Reliant Driving Lesson Dukes of Hazard

Radio 4 listening

The story is that a person never took a driving lesson as his grandfather was involved in an accident with his Robin Reliant, which he also experienced.  He describes the accident like a scene out of “Dukes of Hazzard”.

5. Tell students that they are going to listen to someone talk about their experiences of their grandfather driving his Reliant Robin and have a driving lesson. Whilst they listen, ask students to choose whether the following sentences from the listening are true or false.

  • You have to be 18 when you learn to drive. (False – you have to be 17)
  • His granddad crashed his Robin Reliant by hitting the side of the road. (True)
  • The person had his driving lesson on an airfield. (False – he thought it would be on an airfield, it was actually in London)
  • He doesn’t know where his blindspot is located. (True)
  • During his driving lesson he got into second gear. (True)
  • His instructor’s name is called Jason. (False – he is called John)
  • He marked himself 8 out of 10 for his first ever driving lesson. (False – he marked himself 9 out of ten)

Get students to compare in small groups before eliciting the answers from the students.

6. The next part of the listening is to get students to put the following excerpts into order that they are mentioned. Play the recording a couple of times and get the learners to work individually before checking their answers in pairs or small groups.  Here are the following excerpts in order:

  • “You told me, and I was surprised actually, you told me you’d never driven a car or had a driving lesson”
  • “We hit the side of the road, in the Robin Reliant, and it literally – Dukes of Hazzard – went upside down rolling”
  • “I now feel really bad sending you on a driving lesson.”
  • “You thought you’d be taken off to a special track?”
  • “Umm … is it accelerator, brake and that’s for this, the clutch”
  • “When you go to pull away, where is your blindspot?”
  • “Now check your mirrors and gently, nice and gently, away we go.”
  • “Have a go at pulling away, getting in to second gear, pulling in.”
  • “Nice and steady now. Wait until we get round a bend before we hit second gear.”
  • “On your first lesson, you got up to second gear.”
  • “Not all of it on a London street, some of it on a London pavement!”
  • “I thought I would be more panicked than I was.”
  • “Do you think you’ll do it again?”
  • “Excellent! Sounds like you are both back safely.”

As an extra to getting students to re-order the text, you could get students to listen to the audio again and decide who said what.  For example, “You told me, and I was …” was mentioned by the Presenter, Marcus Brigstocke, so students could put (P) next to the quote, (DI) for the Driving Instructor, and (I) for Interviewee, Reece Shearsmith.

As a final activity, and practice, get students to speak to each other using the Present Perfect and Past Simple form.  Use the board game, available in the download, to prompt students to talk to each other.  Monitor the speaking practice and provide feedback and scaffold language, where necessary, at the end of the lesson.

Well that is all from the lesson plan but all necessary material is available as a download and the audio is accessible from SoundCloud below.  Again, I hope this lesson is useful in getting more authentic listening inside the classroom and getting your learners used to a natural speed of spoken English.  Have you adapted any authentic listening for the classroom?  Do you think it empowers students to listen to more natural English or do you think that any adaptation of authentic listening reduces its authenticity?

I have never – Upper Intermediate: PDF material and lesson plan download

Authentic Listening in the Classroom: Lesson Idea

The majority of the listening that we play in the classroom is as inauthentic as possible, despite the fact that many coursebooks these days are using various authentic material such as radio interviews, podcasts or music.  However, what is incorporated to develop materials conducive to a classroom and learning environment is rather inauthentic in its application.  Nonetheless, I thought I would steer clear from coursebook listening for once and create my very own authentic listening activity to develop my learners’ ability to listen to various radio stations in their own time.  I just hope that the activities provide the confidence to my learners to listen to the radio in their free time and is not so inauthentic in its application during the lesson.

Lesson Plan

The lesson is aimed for Upper Intermediate students or above and should last between 1 hour and 1 hour 30 minutes.  By the end of the lesson, students will be able to listen to a 4 minute radio clip featuring 5 news items and prepare them for authentic listening outside the classroom.

  1. Ask students to discuss the initial questions to each other. Give students a few minutes to discuss in pairs or small groups and then feedback as a whole class, nominating students questions and board up any emergent vocabulary.
  2. After preparing students for the topic of the lesson, handout the three gist questions for the radio listening and play the recording once or twice.  Get the students to compare their answers with each other before eliciting the answers from students.  Here are the answers to the questions:
    1. What is the name of the news presenter on the radio? Jason Kay
    2. What is the radio station? BBC Radio 2
    3. How many news items were mentioned in the radio clip? 5 news items plus 1 weather item
  3. The next stage is to get students to first use the images as prompts to help them discuss the news items.  Once they have discussed the news items, get students to put the images in order that they are mentioned.  The order of the news items are:
    1. Foreign Office summons the Russian Ambassador due to 2 bombers flying near the UK
    2. Discs containing investigations have been lost in the post
    3. Jordan wants proof that their pilot being held hostage by extremists is still alive
    4. The number of Secondary schools underperforming has doubled
    5. OFGEM say that energy companies will increase tariffs to customers despite a large fall in the price of oil
  4. Once students have discussed the news items and put the pictures in order, handout page 2 and set students to find out the definitions for those words on the worksheet either in their dictionary or online.  Allow around 15 to 20 minutes and play some background music.  Just monitor and assist where necessary.
  5. Once students have finished looking for the vocabulary, elicit possible meanings and definitions with nominated students.
  6. The next activity is for students to put the vocabulary in the corresponding gap in the transcript from the radio clip.  You can either get students to put the vocabulary in the gap from memory or get them to listen and do this while the clip is being played.  Play the radio clip a few times.
  7. Once students have finished this activity, get students to write the correct vocabulary on the whiteboard and play a final time to check the answers as a class.

I hope that this lesson plan is useful.  Have you used authentic listening before?  Have you played clips from the radio before?  How did it go?  If you have any feedback on this lesson, that would be great.

Radio News Authentic Listening (Downloadable PDF document)

“How To Teach English To Young Learners”

My latest publication, “How To Teach English To Young Learners“, is now available to download completely free of charge.  This publication focuses on the teaching of English for Young Learners and I hope you enjoy this book.

You can download this eBook on your iPad or other Apple device.  Thank you for your support, and I hope you enjoy this book.  There is a PDF version available to download attached to this blog post as well as accessible via Scribd.

Downloadable PDF Version: Teaching Young Learners

10 Websites for English Language Teachers

All teachers enjoy reading and gaining access to more resources for lesson ideas or developing material for classes and I thought I would share the ten websites that I like to refer to when I am seeking for lesson ideas or material to use in possible lessons.  These ten websites below are my favourite websites that I like to refer to when preparing lessons, reading up on methodology or creating material.  So without any further delay, these are my ten must visit ELT-related websites.

1. British Council Teaching English

British Council Teaching English

For me the British Council Teaching English website is such a wonderful resource with many videos and blog posts that you can find a lot of information about teaching in particular contexts.  I do enjoy the regular updates that this website offer for those in English Language Teaching (ELT) from lesson plans and materials to interesting blog postings about language learning.  I use this website a lot with their videos for in-house Teaching Training sessions, particularly related to young learners.  This website is now also offering webinars which you could register and watch either live or at a later date. To add to the already abundant resources which you could gain, there are also the annual seminars which you could attend at the British Council or watch streamed via the internet.


2. ISL Collective

ISL Collective

There are not many free websites around for lesson material but ISL Collective really is a gem and would highly recommend teachers to consider using this website to seek for lesson ideas or materials.  You can search for material based upon grammar focus, skill, level of student or age.  Naturally, you have to consider the appropriacy of materials and edit them where necessary but the best thing about this website is that you can download the material in Word format and edit them where you see fit. If you visit other EFL-related websites, much of their material is in PDF format and non-editable. And unless you enjoy the unhappy task of recreating the worksheets, you will not be able to edit the texts.


3. ELTChat


One of the first websites that I was introduced via Twitter was actually ELTChat.  The aim of the website is to create a “freely available social network for ELT professionals” in order to assist CPD.  ELTChat host weekly chats on Twitter on a range of topics ranging from blended learning to dealing with mixed ability classes.  Their chats on Twitter are usually every Wednesday in the afternoon at 12pm or evening 9pm (GMT) and the chat is followed through the use of a hashtag (actually #ELTChat). Despite the chats remaining on Twitter, the transcript is then downloaded, analysed by us bloggers and then written about. It is a wonderful resource and you can find various blog posts about the discussions on all the various topics that ELTChat has incorporated in their weekly chats.  Summaries of discussions can be seen here.


4. Designer Lessons

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If you are quite keen to incorporate Dogme into your lessons but don’t know where to start, worry not as there is a wonderful website which offers teachers a wonderful selection of Dogme-esque teaching ideas which you could incorporate into your lessons.  Designer Lessons is a wonderful resource full of teaching ideas for those teachers which are keen to experiment with Dogme ELT and I would highly recommend teachers to consider using this resource to develop their repertoire of lessons and ideas for developing lessons for a range of levels.  As well as Dogme style lessons, there is also a range of lessons catered for exam preparation lessons as well as more traditional lessons organised into levels.


5. Wordle

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If you have seen other teachers create words clouds (essentially text generated in an easy to read and quite artistic manner) but do not know how to create such works of vocabulary art, then I would recommend Wordle.  I usually use Wordle on a weekly basis to create word clouds and I usually create key vocabulary or a review of vocabulary from the previous day this style of word cloud.  It is incredibly easy to create and it generates student interest straight away, as it is usually different to the standard “Do you know this word?” or “Let me explain this word that I have just written up on the board!”.  You can create an interesting and engaging introduction to key vocabulary by printing out the word cloud and doing the following:

  • Students look up words in a dictionary and then write out the definition in their notebook.
  • Students try to create groups of lexis – usually quite useful if you have a range of vocabulary with different groups (i.e. jobs, verbs, etc).
  • Look for the words in the text (if it is a reading).
  • Guess the topic or story.


6. One Stop English

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You are searching on the internet for a lesson related to Thanks Giving but most lessons which you have found seem rather boring as well as a bit teacher centred. Worry not, as One Stop English is offering a variety of engaging and motivating activities to suit a range of levels as well as ages.  If you want to develop the students’ awareness of American culture, then there are a range of engaging activities to achieve this ranging from webquests to listening.  Yes you have to pay for becoming a member of this website but the range of lessons offered really will benefit teachers and there are numerous activities and blog posts which support newly certified teachers.  I do pay for membership of this website and would continue to do so in the future as the activities involved with listening lessons are wonderful and it is such a relief to steer away from the coursebook from time to time.  Finally, this website is a great resource for those young learner teachers who are keen to develop their CLIL-related material as there are lessons and activities for teachers to incorporate in class.


7. BBC Learning English

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This was one of the first websites which I started using and referring to back in 2005 in my first year of teaching in order to gain an understanding with teaching.  I remember being asked why I used this website in my CELTA interview and how I use it.  I essentially mentioned that the BBC Learning English was a wonderful website and I prepared lessons using some of the ideas posted on the website, which was mainly geared for self study language learners.  However, I do enjoy browsing the activities and lessons for students as well as incorporating some of these ideas in the classroom.  There is a wonderful podcast which is updated on a regular basis which offers a grammar focus for students.  I usually enjoy preparing lessons involving the listening from the podcast to supplement a grammar point and some of the practice activities are great.  I really enjoy browsing this website and looking at some of the lesson ideas which are recommended.  Although this website is aimed for self-study, it is a free resource and with a little bit of work, the lessons developed could be adapted for a range of classes.


8. Cambridge English Online

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If you are looking for a website to develop flashcards related to the phonological chart or phonemes, then Cambridge English Online is an invaluable website.  You can create your own flashcards using their stock of images or uploading your own images, inserting phonetics for words.  It is a great website and I have used the applications on their website with my young learner and adult lessons.  There are other applications which focus on idiomatic language or the phonemic chart and you could use these within a classroom should you have an IWB or projector and computer in your classroom.  You could get students to create their own flashcards and print these out and then laminate them for possible flashcard games.  For more ideas for games involving flashcards, read my previous post here.


9. Lesson Stream

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A few years ago I was looking for lesson ideas related to images and fortunately I came across a wonderful website which contained loads of suggested lessons. I remember that I prepared a lesson related to the Mr Men series with the help from Lesson Stream.  Jamie Keddie has a lot of suggested lessons graded by level which teachers could incorporate in their lessons.  There are teacher notes and material all available on Jamie’s website and much of the material could be incorporated into adolescent classrooms with the correct amount of adjustment.  It is a wonderful resource and would supplement any coursebook.  Furthermore, this great website is free of charge for any teacher and all material can be downloaded for use with potential classes.  Personally, I used lesson ideas with both adolescent and adult learners and is a refreshing change to the coursebook.


10. An A-Z of ELT

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The final website which I would recommend any professional English language teacher to view is Scott Thornbury’s A-Z of ELT blog.  It is a wonderful website stocked full of rich and engaging content in relation to the theory of language learning, acquisition and teaching.  It supplements the ELT dictionary, published in 2006, which is also called “An A-Z of ELT” and is a must read itself.  Nevertheless, there is a lot of content which is not included in the original edition of the book published on this blog.  Unfortunately, it is now no longer a live website but Scott has kindly allowed access for readers to view – “Thanks Scott!” – and if you are curious about the methodology of language teaching, learning and acquisition then this blog will assist you delve dipper into the profession and become more knowledgeable.  It has always been a useful ‘go to’ website, especially when studying a post-graduate or diploma in ELT as it has been invaluable for teachers looking at developing professionally.

So these are my ten favourite and must visit websites which I would recommend other teachers to visit.  I hope this helps you develop as a teacher and also support you when creating engaging and motivating lessons for your students.  Anyhow, what are your favourite ELT related websites?  What websites would you recommend that I visit?