A vocabulary lesson based on Glee

Some weeks ago BrELT organized its first online event, the BrELT Queer Day. During one of the talks I told my friend Thiago Veigga about the first time I remembered bringing up the topic of sexuality with my students. I did a little digging recently and it turns out it was in 2011, using an episode of Glee.

The lesson’s main  aim was vocabulary, but the pre and post watching activities ended up being very interesting and leading to some very interesting conversation. Initially, this lesson was given to a group of young adults who were at university (19-22-year-olds), but it can also be used with younger or older students by changing the questions slightly. I’d recommend this for students who are B2 or higher. If you have access to the original episode with subtitles, that would work with B1 students as well.

Finally, for this lesson, I’m going to try out writing the post in a similar way to what Cecila Nobre has been doing on her blog (which you should definitely check out by the way).

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Ryan Lochte: a conversation lesson

The Olympic games are the gift that keeps on giving for conversation lessons. Although the games ended two weeks ago, they are still being talked about and we now have the Paralympic games starting tomorrow.

The Ryan Lochte story interests me firstly because I like swimming, but also because it’s so crazy that you almost end up believing it (as in, nobody would be that stupid and entitled, would they?).

This lesson can be used with students who are B1+, but there are follow-up activities for C1 students as well.

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Ethical Living: a conversation lesson.

Living ethically is something I have been thinking about recently, particularly how difficult it can be to do good things when you are aware of the consequences of your actions.

I found an article that reflected my opinions on the topic and a new lesson came out of it. This is better suited for adults and young adults, although I imagine some adolescent students who are mature for their age or who are interested in environmentalism will appreciate it too.

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Orlando Shooting: a conversation lesson

Although the events that took place in Orlando this past weekend were horrific, I think they are worth discussing with students. From a language perspective, much like the topic of impeachment, things like terrorism, homophobia and gun laws have frequently come up in the news recently. An important part of conversation lessons is to empower students to talk about these.

This is a lesson that can be used with both adolescents and adults, as this is a subject I believe everybody can benefit from discussing and being better informed about.

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Wage Equality – A conversation lesson for adults

This past week my dear friend Natália Guerreiro drew my attention to a blogpost by Elaine Hodgson on critical thinking in the EFL classroom. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d encourage you to do so.

Critical thinking and taboo topics are things I often think about. They were the inspiration for my first ever lesson on the blog (about drugs, in June of last year). I’m hoping this week’s lesson will be no different, as I usually try to choose topics that may lead to interesting discussions and, hopefully, some critical thinking.

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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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Spectre: a conversation lesson about the new 007 movie

Back when I worked for Cultura Inglesa in Rio de Janeiro, the academic department used to send each branch a DVD with video activities based on songs and movie trailers (this was before YouTube was a thing as well). I really looked forward to those and since then I have tried to create my own lessons based on new films.

There has been some buzz about the latest James Bond film, Spectre, as it may be the last one with Daniel Craig. I thought this would be a good fit for one my students who is a young adult, but the topic of films is general enough that this could be used with adolescents and adults.

If you are a big Daniel Craig fan, by the way, you’ll probably also want to check out this funny lesson by Luiz Otávio Barros.

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Halloween video lessons for adolescents and adults

As an English teacher Halloween is one of my favourite events. Not because I particularly enjoy wearing costumes (I don’t think I’ve worn one in the past 10 years), but because I love using TV series in my lessons. There are some great Halloween episodes around and these are two of my favourites, one to be used with adolescent groups and another with adults.

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Speeding in Finland: a conversation lesson for adults.

Two of my private students may move to Finland next year. Because of that I’ve been keeping an eye open for interesting stories about Finnish people or that talk about Finland. A couple of weeks ago I found one that is general enough to be used with other adult students as well.

It turns out that in Finland speeding fines are calculated according to people’s income, which can lead to some pretty unbelievable amounts being paid. I thought this would lead to some interesting discussions and based a lesson around it.

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New Girl: a video-based vocabulary lesson

Whenever possible I try to illustrate new language students come across with a video snippet. I believe it helps make the language more memorable and it’s also a great way to work on pronunciation features like connected speech.

So, last week, after using a text to talk about the protests in Brazil, I was looking for a video with the phrasal verb ‘fed up with’. The snippet I found had so many interesting bits of language (including not my cup of tea) that it ended up becoming a lesson on its own. Continue reading