upper intermediate

Fluency practice: What do you know about Britain?

Here’s a fun way to get students sharing information, in the context of history and culture. I originally got this idea from waygook.org, which is a good source of lesson inspiration if you’re a teacher based in South Korea.

Let’s say you have 16 intermediate/upper-intermediate students. Give each one a slip of paper with information about British history on it, here are four examples: (more…)

British History Lesson: Boudica

I recently taught a great group of upper-intermediate Italian college students. They were from a humanities college, they requested lessons in history, psychology, sociology and so on. It was International Women’s Day the weekend before, so I thought it was fitting that we looked at one of the most famous, or infamous, women in British history –Boudica! (more…)

Lesson idea: exploring the characters in a short movie

Here’s a great video to shape your own lesson around. In a previous blog I mentioned a few websites where you can find one minute long videos, which are great for a lesson starter. Here’s my favourite:

Source: http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/10-fantastic-short-films-that-are-only-a-minute-long.php

I think this is a great video to introduce a whole range of topics – the senses, morals, emotions, etc. I had 45 minutes to spare and wanted a creative activity to get students sharing their emotional responses to the film.

Here’s what I did. There wasn’t a particular language focus (the video itself has no dialogue), just a chance to get students expressing themselves. If you’ve any ideas on how to relate this to a particular language point please comment!


A fun way to introduce graphs in class

I stumbled across Google Trends on the net last year after reading a blog by Jeremy Kritt. I did a project on Trends back in June, and found it a great resource for lessons.

Google Trends provides information of what people are searching for on the internet. It allows you to explore pretty much any search item, from David Beckham to i-phones, Bognor Regis to Chelsea FC. At the click of a button, you can get information on how popular these search items are on Google, and how that’s changed over the last few days, months or years.

Here’s a search I did a while back for ‘Of Mice and Men’, analysing the popularity of this term in search engines over the previous 90 days. Here’s what I found… (more…)

Video lesson: sickness benefits in the UK

Here’s a fairly topical upper-intermediate level lesson, as we get closer to the general election. I saw this report on Sky News back in mid-February and thought it would be a really good talking point. Apparently, David Cameron is thinking of cutting sickness benefits for people who don’t accept help, or try and help themselves. Most of the report focuses on obesity, but they chuck other things into the mix like alcohol addiction, which seem like a separate issue altogether.

Anyway, take a look…


So this is a completely authentic text. It’s pretty difficult to grasp a lot of it, but learners can definitely get a general understanding of the issues. Obviously this is a touchy topic for some, and the resources I’ve created are designed to provoke discussion and opinions. Consider the audience carefully – mine were students at a humanities school who expressed a desire to learn a bit about the welfare state.

sickness benefits lesson resources

teacher answers

General aims:

  • Students will practise listening for gist and detail in the context of an authentic news report
  • Students will learn about the UK benefits system
  • Students will practising expressing opinions/debating in the context of the provision of state benefits

Lesson time: 90 mins approx


Students discuss the following

What causes someone to become fat?

Elicit ideas (lifestyle, mental health issues, genetics, etc)


Teach Petr Cech English – a lesson using British Council Premier Skills

I’ve only just discovered the British Council Premier Skills site. It’s a great resource for some of the groups I teach. They’ve got a lesson planning competition going on at the moment, which inspired me to create a little something. My lesson uses this video from the British Council website:


You can find the lesson resources and a football vocabulary revision task here:

teaching Cech English lesson resources

football vocab revision task 


Students discuss the following questions

What’s the hardest thing about learning English?

When you speak English, what’s main cause of communication problems?

Do you think English would be easier to learn than your own language?

Explain to students that they will be watching a video of Premier League footballers discussing what they find hard about learning English. Briefly discuss what students know about the players, their nationalities, etc.