Burkini Ban: a conversation lesson

The burkini ban created some outrage last week and I thought it would be a good topic for a conversation lesson. The text I chose also touches on the subject of politics, which can be a good segue to talk about other events in Brazil.

This was originally used with a group of C1/C2 teachers, but I have shortened the text. Still, some of the language used in the text is complex and I’d recommend you use it with B2+ students. This discussion is also more appropriate for a group of adults or young adults.

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Olympic Games: a(nother) conversation lesson

If you live in Brazil, like I do, it seems that the Olympic Games is all everybody is talking about. Back in June, I posted a lesson based on this topic and it continues to be one of the most clicked posts on the blog after two months. Because of that, I’ve decided to post a new conversation lesson I used last Saturday, the day after the opening ceremony took place.

The idea behind this lesson is to explore two ideas: the first is that a picture is worth a thousand words and the other is that pictures can be deceiving. This was originally aimed at adult students, but could also be used with adolescents and young adults without making too many changes.

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Protests in Brazil: a conversation lesson

This is the second time in less than a year when I have prepared a lesson about protests in Brazil. My political bias aside, I think this is an important part of the nation’s zeitgeist.

This is undoubtedly a controversial topic. Much like the last few lessons I have posted, some sensitivity may be in order when choosing which groups to use it with.

Lastly, although some adolescents students  may not be old enough to vote, I believe this is a topic that will interest adults and teenagers alike.

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Susie Wolff and International Women’s Day: a conversation lesson

Being the unaware man that I am, I only remembered today was International Women’s Day when I checked Facebook this morning. As luck would have it, I was already planning to have a lesson about Susie Wolff, because of a quote I came across last week.

In a short interview, she said: “We are all defined by our strengths and character, not by our gender.” I thought that would strike a chord with my female students, but decided to expand the lesson a bit to generate more conversation.

I do realize she is now retired, but the point is women achieving things in a field dominated by man. She now runs the Dare to be Different initiative to showcase, inspire and celebrate women in motor sports.

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Oscars and Hollywood Whitewashing: a conversation lesson for adults

The Oscars usually provide good material for English lessons, as most students like talking about movies. This year was no different, even though the focus of this lesson is slightly different from the ones I have taught in the past.

Much has been said about the fact that there were no African-Americans among this year’s nominees and this issue was addressed both by John Oliver in his TV show and by Chris Rock in the opening monologue of the Oscar ceremony.

Disclaimer: although adolescents might enjoy talking about this topic, the first video does include swear words, so be mindful of your audience.

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TBT: Teaching Inversions in Speaking

In anticipation of this year’s Braz-Tesol international convention, I have decided to have my first Throwback Thursday. Back in 2012 I delivered a talk at Braz-Tesol for the first time, about a topic that is near and dear to my heart: inversions after negative adverbials.

I also published something similar at Luiz Otávio Barros’ blog many years ago. The link to the main video is dead, so I though it was worth posting it again.

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Pink Tax – a conversation lesson

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine pointed me in the direction of a really funny Ellen DeGeneres video. In it, Ellen makes fun of the Bic for Her pens and the fact that they are more expensive than regular Bic pens. Having an interesting video, I started looking for an article I could use it with and found out that women pay more than men do for a variety of products. This is now called pink tax, which refers to the premium women pay for certain products (that are generally pink).

This is the lesson I taught to an adult student, but it can probably be used with young adults (16-18 year-olds) as well.

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DELTA Module 2 – Listening

Last week I had a post about my lexis LSA in Delta module 2. Since I believe that was a successful post and it got some good feedback, I decided to write about another LSA that I enjoyed doing.

During module two, each candidate has two choose two skills and two systems to write about in a background essay and to give a lesson that is either observed by a tutor or the external assessor. I chose, in order, grammar, listening, speaking and lexis. I started with grammar as I thought that would be the easiest thing to work with and finished with lexis as I think that is my strong suit.

That left me with two skill assignments for LSAs 2 and 3. I chose to work with FCE listening tasks and used the same B2+ group from LSA4. I received a distinction for the BE and a merit for the lesson, which is explained below.

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Using YouTube videos in the language classroom

I have always been a big fan of using videos in my lessons. One of my bosses once told me that videos were ‘my thing’ (and to this day I’m not sure if it was a compliment or not). However, I have used a lot more films and TV series than unscripted videos from YouTube.

There main reason for that is I used to think students, particularly adolescent ones, would be more interested in watching series they are already familiar with than an unknown person from YouTube. That is not to say I never used film trailers and such like, but I didn’t dive in the large ocean of videos as much as I could have.

Something I read last year started to change my mind, though. Rubens Heredia had a very interesting blogpost on the Richmond Share blog about video genres for the language classroom. Vlogs, in particular, were something he pointed me in the direction of and that I have since been exploring with my students.

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