BUDDING LESSONS | January 2018


Here comes a January set of budding lesson ideas:

  • A STELLAR CAREER – based on story of a sandwich that almost ruined a career (story-rich)
  • DERELICT SIGNS – inspired by a an art project that makes you rethink the impact of social media
  • AN ICE-COLD TURN – inspired by a prank video (story-rich)
  • PARANOIA – based on a documentary video exploring the different parenting styles in Japan and the Western world

Scroll down,explore the budding lessons, give them your loving touches, test them and … let me know what works and what needs a tweak or two!

See you on the final day of February with a brand new set of 4 budding lessons!

Milada :)


A grammar/lexis presentation idea (story-rich)

Topics: risk taking, success and failure, careers, food, space travel

Minimal level: B1+

Language focus (you decide):


  • Past narrative tenses
  • Reported speech
  • Modals of speculation (past)
  • Used to/be used to/get used to
  • Relative clauses (who, whose, which, where, when, why)
  • Clauses of concession, result, cause and reason
  • Linking words
  • Inversion


  • Vocabulary related to work/career
  • Vocabulary related to risk taking/success/failure
  • Phrasal verbs
  1. Get students into groups of 3 or pairs.
  2. Display the photo of the sandwich replica in resin. Make sure students can’t see the description. Get students to speculate how the sandwich rose to fame (2-3 minutes).


Depending on your lesson aims, encourage students to use the target language of your choice.

As you monitor, take notes of samples of great language (to praise students later on) and samples with errors (to base your grammar/lexis presentation on real samples of language and show a knowledge gap).

3. Elicit stories from students and collect their written work for self-correction later on.

4. Reveal the true story. Time permitting, start with a gapped version and let students fill in the blanks. Then show them the full version.

I played with Lumen5 – a free tool which transforms a text into a visually-enhanced slideshow, with background music if you like. See what I came up with and decide if you prefer a text version of the story or this:

For more info, read the original article here.  Or watch the video of the original (unabridged) story:

5. When students have compared their versions with the original, use samples of their language to introduce the target structures.

6. For controlled practice or end-of-lesson revision, have students rewrite the stories created early in the lesson, this time using the target language correctly.


A visual prompt for discussion

Topics: advertising, social media, addiction, millennials, communication, changes, success and failure

Minimal level: B1

Language focus: future forms, future time clauses, clauses of cause and result

  1. Before the lesson, read about the “Social Decay” project here select the brands your students may be familiar with.
  2. Show the slick and shiny logos of the brands. Have students predict the near and further future of the brands/companies (group discussion).
  3. Now, display the derelict logos of the same brands. Tell students these are the same brands 25 years from now. First ask them about their emotional reactions. Then, have students predict the worst case future scenario for each brand: a scandal/scandal that leads the giant brand to fade into oblivion (group discussion).
  4. Introduce students to the rationale behind Andrei Lacatus’ “Social Decay” project. Based on your lesson aims and students’ response:
  • focus on the future forms and/or future time clauses.
  • explore the topics of social media, millennial lifestyle, addictions, changes.


A grammar presentation idea (story-rich)

Topics: weather, pranks, travel & tourism, film, advertising

Minimal level: B1

Language focus: passive voice, weather vocabulary

1.Set the context (a true story about a summer trip to New York). Emphasize it is a true story, recorded on video.

2. Ask the question: Why would someone pay to experience that during a summer holiday? Have students read the first part of the story and then discuss the answer (open class).

It is a sweltering summer day in New York. A real scorcher! You could fry an egg on the sidewalk. It’s clammy and sticky. You have only just left the air-conditioned hotel but the heat is unbearable and you are all covered in sweat. You’re roasting.

There is no way you could walk to Central Park today. You get into a yellow cab, instead.

3. Give students the second part of the story to read. Again, emphasize it is a true story. Their task is to predict what happens next (pairs).

The taxi driver switches on the Taxi TV station. Unexpectedly, it soon cuts to a breaking news broadcast. The local TV anchor announces dangerous ice storms popping out of nowhere around New York City:

“Some areas are experiencing sudden and extreme drops in temperature and severe icing conditions. This is happening very rapidly, in some areas within seconds.”

In the mirror, you can see the driver shaking his head in disbelief.

At this point, as the cab rolls into an alley, the broadcast loses its signal. The driver slows down and what you see comes as a complete shock.

4. Have students read the rest of the story and answer the final question (pairs):

You didn’t see that coming. You look around with your eyes wide open.

Everything outside is iced over, with snow-blown pavements and walls, flurries dancing in the air and icicles hanging everywhere. You can see frozen traffic cops and delivery men. You get goose pimples on your bare arms, shoulders and legs.

But your first scream comes when frozen birds start dropping out of the sky, hitting the cab with a heavy thud. Several sickening thuds, to be precise!

Then, it is the driver’s turn – he jumps up in his seat when, out of the blue, a half-frozen frost-covered guy starts banging on the taxi windows, begging you to let him in.

And no, it is not a dream. You are just a regular tourist in a yellow cab in New York.

What the hell?!

5. To reveal the answer, play the video:

6. Divide students into 4 groups. Give each group a short gapped text. Have them complete it with the right forms of the verbs in brackets, to elicit the target structure: passive voice.


Group 1:

The prank (design) to promote a Warner Bros film Geostorm and the video (make) by Thinkmodo in 2017. Earlier promotional campaigns had to (cancel) after Florida (strike) by hurricane Irma.

Group 2:

The cab drivers (not/tell) about the prank and the unsuspecting passengers (not/inform), either.

Group 3:

To stage the prank, 14 mannequins (cover) in acrylic ice and 400 icicles (craft) for the occasion. 57 bags of fake snow (spray) on the ground and over surfaces while an industrial fan (bring) in to simulate live snowfall.

Group 4:

After the prank (film), all the snow had to (shovel) up, which (accomplish) in 5 hours.


The prank was designed to promote a Warner Bros film Geostorm and the video was made by Thinkmodo in 2017. Earlier promotional campaigns had to be cancelled after Florida had been struck by hurricane Irma.

The cab drivers weren’t told about the prank and the unsuspecting passengers weren’t informed, either.

To stage the prank, 14 mannequins were covered in acrylic ice and 400 icicles were crafted for the occasion. 57 bags of fake snow were sprayed on the ground and over surfaces while an industrial fan was brought in to simulate live snowfall.

After the prank was filmed, all the snow had to be shoveled up, which was accomplished in 5 hours.

7. First (before checking answers), clarify the grammar point. To check students’ understanding, have them correct the gapped texts, as needed.

8. Now, get students into mixed groups (1-2-3-4) to share what they learned about the prank.

9. For grammar-focussed practice, have students write a press release about an imaginary prank they have designed for a film/product of their choice. Make sure they use passive structures in their texts.

The source articles:

PARANOIA – A documentary video prompt for speaking and writing

Topics: cultural differences, parenting styles, crime and safety

Minimal level: B1+

Language focus: discourse markers, clauses of concession

  1. Dictate this news headline to your students:

A 40-year-old woman and her husband face child neglect charges

You can reveal the age of the child (a 7-year-old-girl). Have students speculate about what happened and decide on the suitable punishment for the irresponsible parents.

2. Put the headline on the board, but this time expand it slightly:
A 40-year-old Asian woman and her husband face child neglect charges

Ask students if/how this extra piece of information changes their perspective. Make sure you have fostered a healthy environment for respectful discussion as this part may be culturally sensitive.

3. Play the first part of the video (JAPANESE PARENTS: until the 2:02 time mark). Ask students to discuss in pairs: Who do you side with: the parents or the critics?

4. Play the second part of the video (REPORTER: until the 2:26 time mark) and then jump to the third part (WESTERN PARENTS: fast forward to 4:54 and play until the 5:13 time mark). Ask students to discuss in pairs: Which standards, Western or Japanese, would you want to (1) be raised by, (2) raise your children by? Why?

5. Give groups of students this scenario:

You live in a Western country, ruled by the Western standards. Your country wants to encourage parents to adopt the Japanese parenting standards. You are in charge of the team launching a TV campaign to promote the new approach. The budget is generous. Your task is to come up with a TV campaign idea and pitch it to the board. You have 8 minutes to make a decision in your team and 2 minutes for the pitch.

6. After presentations and voting on the best pitch/idea, show students the fourth part of the video (LIFE’S FIRST ERRANDS: go back to 2:26 and play until the 3:05 time mark). Ask students (open class): How do your ideas compare to this show? Which is better? Why?

7. Divide the class into 2 teams (FOR & AGAINST) and have them prepare a mini-debate before they write an argumentative essay. The topic (choose the best one for your group):

  • Western society suffers from a paranoia about leaving the children on their own.
  • Teaching children independence at a very early age does more harm than good.
  • The clash of Western and Eastern cultures breeds innovation for both.

PS: If you want to explore the crime aspect, the video has that covered too. Watch the whole clip (8:21):