I would definitely call these ideas half-baked, but somehow I can see lessons hidden here. The ingredients are top-notch, they just need a bit more time, love and tenderness to hatch. Give them some of your love ;)

Feel free to tweak them, test them and … do let me know how things panned out for you and your students. Enjoy & share!






And you? What are you looking for?

A video prompt for a lesson rich in storytelling and discussion

Topics: advertising, decision-making, parenthood, talent/creativity/innovation

In class:

  • dictate this story prompt to students:

A middle-aged grey-haired man is walking out of a house. He is wearing worn-out jeans and a T-shirt. In his hand he is carrying a blue plastic bag, probably a binliner. The bag looks full, but not too heavy. He is walking towards the gate. The man is frowning and looking sideways, as if he was hiding something. There is an air of  mystery around him. What’s his secret? Three people from neighbouring homes have noticed him and are giving him suspicious looks. They don’t seem to trust him at all.

  • get students into pairs/groups and – within a strict time limit – have them discuss and work out:
    • what happened before
    • what is about to happen
  • after eliciting draft scenarios from random pairs/groups, ask everyone to re-formulate their stories – this time perefrably in writing, using no more than 120 words – to include the following items (all of which are featured in the story):
    • a set of headphones
    • a guitar
    • a delivery man
  • after students share their stories, play the video (it is a commercial for an online shopping site popular in Poland: allegro) and let students compare stories
  • now, use the video as a departure point for a discussion focusing on a topic most relevant to your students:
    • advertising and marketing
    • challenges of parenthood
    • making the right decisions
    • fostering creativity/innovation and supporting new talent

what are you looking for

Your birthday # 1 movie search tool

A film review writing prompt

Topics: film, cinema, recommendations

Prior to the lesson, students:

  • go to: http://playback.fm/birthday-movie to find the movie trailer for a film which was #1 on the day they were born
  • do some online research to collect the background info about the film
  • write a 60-word plot summary [draft] either based on their online research or, more creatively, barely inspired by the trailer
  • create a mind map/spider gram with phrases they would use in the review, including these categories: background info, criticism, recommendations

In class, after they explore the layout of a sample review and revise the relevant lexis, students:

  • make mini-presentations [in groups]
  • write their reviews [individually]
  • review each other`s texts [in pairs]


A problem solving task – a fluency-based speaking practice activity.

Topics: viral marketing, online video, charity

Write these on the board. Ask students to copy this into their notebooks:

VIRUS ……………………………………………………… SALES

In pairs students, write a string of words (min.3 , max.5) along the dotted line, words which – by association – link the two concepts: VIRUS & SALES, e.g.:

VIRUSspread – reach – infect – force –  decideSALES

After their share their strings of associations, have them explain what viral marketing is all about.

In new pairs, students come up with a list of features that make a successful viral video. Then share and discuss their ideas with each other.

Get students into groups (3-4 students). In groups, they design a viral video for a charity which helps:

  • half the class: children in need
  • the other half: refugees in need

They take into consideration the features they have only just discussed. Also, tell them that due to financial constraints, they can only inlcude these in the low-budget video:

  • a pet
  • a piece of fruit
  • voiceover

After students present their ideas, show them the video, which was the last project completed by late Alan Rickman before he died in January 2016.

In pairs, get students to decide:

  • if the idea of combining celebryty endorsement and funny animal footage is the recipe for a viral success
  • how the idea could have been developed and enhanced
  • whether celebrity endorsement itself makes videos more viral than using funny animal footage alone


A conversation starter.

Topics: meetings, productivity, time-management (business context)

Copy the quote from Sheryl Sandberg where she mentions the two tricks Zuckernerg uses to enhance the productivity of meetings at Facebook:

“First, “he asks people to send materials in advance so we can use the time for discussion,” she notes. Second, “we try to be clear about our goal when we sit down for a meeting–are we in the room to make a decision or to have a discussion?”

Paste the text into an online word cloud generator, eg. Wordle.net lub Tagxedo.com, to create a word cloud, similar to this Tagxedo one:


Display the wordlcloud. Get students into pairs. Have them work out what 2 tricks Facebook`s founder uses to make his meetings more efficient. Students have to use up as many of the words on display as possible.

Elicit ideas before:

  • you show students the quote
  • students discuss how obvious/thought-provoking these tricks are
  • students share their own experiences/solutions, following this format: a problem with unproductive meetings + idea how to sort it out
  • students rank the ideas contributed by students (in groups)
  • students come up with the TOP 5 tricks for highly successful and prodcutive meetings
  • students make videos or photo-casts (slides + audio) to create a tutorial


A conversation starter.

Topic: national stereotypes

Select the countries on the map that your students are familiar with.

Get students into groups. Assign one country to each group (keep the country names secret from other groups).

Have each group:

  • brainstorm stereotypes of the country assigned to them.
  • give the country a name based on one of the stereotypes in the list (Ideas used by Martin include: India “Holy Cow”, New Zealand “Middle Earth”, Canada “Maple Syrup”, and Japan as “Anime”.

Show the “Map of Stereotypes” to them and tell the brief story behind the map to students. Then have them compare their post-brainstorming lists of stereotypes and the country`s new name with the ideas Martin included in the map.

You can buy the entire world “Map of Stereotypes” by MartinVargic here.

Students present their country to the group without revealing its real name. Instead they just mention the new name and 3-5 stereotypes. The rest of students try to guess the country.

Move on to discuss the role of stereotypes, eliciting specific examples from students:

  • why we need national stereotypes
  • how they are born
  • the advantages of  stereotypes (specific examples)
  • the downsides of stereotypes (specific examples)
  • how we can combat stereotypes
  • whether fighting stereotypes is fighting a losing battle, and why
You can buy the entire world “Map of Stereotypes” by MartinVargic here.

A video prompt for a fluency-based discussion.

Topics: hotels, travel, technology, future, progress

In groups, students travel in time into the future to the year 2050 and take a few minutes to decide on their vision of the hotel experience of the future.

Elicit ideas.

Have students watch excerpts of the video. This article gives extra details about the Henn-na hotel. Share extra facts with them, if you like.

Pause after each fragment of the video you choose to play (humanoid reception robots, the dinosaur robot-computer combo, vending machines, etc.). Have students answer the questions:

  • How do you feel about what you have just seen?
  • How does it enhance the hotel experience that you are familiar with?
  • What threats/drawbacks can you think of?

To conclude, have a secret vote to find out how many studenst would like to stay in the robot-run hotels on a regular basis in the future.


A lesson warmer or a conversation starter.

Topics: weather, pet peeves, superstitions, advertising

Language points: narrative tenses

Write these on the board: car, weather, morning, bad luck. Don`t give them any hints about the season.

Get students into groups of 3 and have them make up a story:

  • titled: Bad morning
  • featuring a middle-aged man
  • including the 4 expressions on the board

When ready, students swap groups to share their stories.

Then they watch the video to compare their versions with the original.

If you pause at the 0:36 mark, you can ask them to guess what kind of product can be advertised in this way (answer: coffee served at the STATOIL petrol stations).


A lead-in activity in a grammar-based lesson.

Topics: misfortune, challenges, changes

Language points: unreal conditionals – type II

Show students the photo of Graham Pawley and the title of the BBC article: The man who can only say yes and no.

In pairs, students discuss how in their opinion this predicament affects Graham`s life. It may come in handy if you list different aspects of life on the board: work, relationships, shopping, travel, etc.

Elicit ideas.

Briefly outline Graham`s story (or have students read the text and find out). This YouTube video showing him playing the harmonica adds the personal touch to the story and makes the character even more real.

In new pairs, students list 4 things that would change in their life if they had this kind of aphasia, by completing the sentence opener:

If I could only say yes and no, …

1 . ____

2. ____

3. ____

4. ____

Use their sentences as samples to present the key grammar point: unreal present – conditionals type II.


A lesson wind-down (the first lesson of the course/term) or a personalised writing activity to finish off the lesson on a positive note.

Topics: plans, ambitions, success

Give out blank slips of paper and empty envelopes.

Have students read the text and explain the difference between intentions and goals to you.

Ask them to think of 1-2 intentions related to learning English. Give them time to put their ideas into words. Make sure they include first their intentions, then goals.

Help them edit their work.

They seal their envelopes with the intention-goal notes inside. Then they stick the envelope to the inside back cover of the notebook/course book.

Remind students to open the envelopes and have them revise their plans in the final lesson of the course/term.


A fluency-focused activity or a conversation starter.

Topics: relationships, personality, surveillance.

Write the first four lines of a dialogue between two shy people in love – inspired by the gif story. Dictate the dialogue or display it on the board.

Don`t tell students it is a conversation between two CCTV cameras. Make them believe it is between two humans falling in love. Have them create profiles of the two characters.

Ask them to finish the conversation, using the target language – in writing or as a role play.

Show students the gif.


A conversation starter.

Topics: daily chores, stereotypes, random acts of kindness, jobs.

Before they see the video, give students 4 minutes to do one of these:

  • mumble and grumble about typical household chores
  • think of 8 different household hacks
  • list 20 ways that turn daily cleaning into a fun activity


A lead-in to a story writing activity or a conversation starter.

Topics: technology, the Internet, mobile devices, addictions.

Language points: reported speech, descriptive verbs [ways of saying things]

Write this incomplete story starter on the board:

“Be strong.” I whispered to my …

In pairs, students take 5 minutes to write a 100-word paragraph of a story, starting with the sentence above.

After pairs share their versions, reveal the original Instagram quote:


  1. Lead-in to grammar presentation.

Language points: modal verbs for speculation, AS IF/AS THOUGH,  WISH/IF ONLY, conditional clauses type 3.

Show the embarrassing scene first and have students work out how come.

2. A conversation starter.

Topics: judging by appearances, jumping to conclusions, prejudice.


A text-based discussion/debate.

Topics: Cultural clashes, education and ubringing, values, success and failure.

Students read the story of a lesson observation in a Japanese school [1st part of the text] and compare their opinions.

In two groups [the East, the West] they read the text, looking for arguments to support ‘their’ culture`s approach to struggling.

In pairs [the East + the West], students try to convince each other that ‘their’ culture`s approach to tackling challenges is more beneficial.


A conversation starter.

Topics: environmental protection, global issues

Tell students the video holds the secret to what the topic of today`s lesson is.

Students watch the video up to the 1:36 mark.

Pause the video a couple of times and let them guess what questions the orangutan is going to ask the girl and vice versa. Keep encouraging tudents to guess the topic of the lesson [eg. technlogy, communication, animal rights, family relationships, travel, viral marketing, food, etc.].

Let them make the final guess about the lesson`s topic after you pause the video at the 1:36 mark.

Show the rest of the video to reveal the campaign`s theme: environmental protection, in general, and saving rainforests, in particular.

A vocabulary revision activity.

Topics: environmental protection, global issues, contemporary threats, the future

Start the lesson following the class where you introduced and practised the vocabulary related to the themes mentioned above with the video.

Students watch the video and take notes of any theme-related expressions/chunks from the previous lesson that spring to mind.

then, in pairs, students discuss the issues raised in the video, using the lexis from the previous lesson which needs recycling (their notes).



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