Monday 3 December 2018

News Lesson - Couple Finds $1.8 Million Lottery Ticket

Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash

Couple finds $1.8 Million Lottery Ticket

In this week's post, I've created a lesson plan and materials based on a short news article from the NPR news website.  The objective of the lesson is to encourage students to read authentic English materials, to teach 8 new expressions and to promote speaking and discussion about the topic using the second conditional. In addition, students will need to practise paraphrasing and summarising.

Lesson Plan

The lesson consists of a warm-up exercise and seven tasks. It is designed as a one-on-one lesson for intermediate to upper intermediate level adult students, but could easily be adapted for a group class.

Lesson Objectives:

  • To build students' confidence with regards to reading authentic articles. 
  • To use the fun topic of winning the lottery to encourage speaking and discussion.
  • To learn eight new expressions.
  • To practise paraphrasing.
  • To practise summarising.
  • To review the second conditional

Warm Up 

Ask the questions, encourage students to talk about their experiences and express their opinion.

Task 1 - Language

Ask the student to read each sentence and try to guess the meaning of the underlined phrasal verb/idiom/phrase in the context of the sentence even though it may be new to them. Then ask them to match the underlined expression with its definition from a-h, assist where necessary.

Task 2 - Reading

Ask the student to read the article aloud to you. Listen carefully while the student is reading and take note of pronunciation/intonation errors.  Give feedback and correction at the end of each paragraph.  The student may need to re-read the paragraph quietly in order to improve comprehension. 

Task 3 - Comprehension

Ask the simple comprehension questions. If the student does not remember the answer, they can look back at the article to find the answer.

Task 4 - Paraphrase

Ask the student to read the extract from the article.  Then, get them to underline words in the sentence that could be replaced with a synonym without changing the meaning of the sentence. Get them to write possible synonyms on the line underneath the word they have underlined.  They should then try to write a new paraphrased sentence. 

Task 5 - Summarise

Ask the student to read the article again. If they are viewing it in the Woodpecker app they can use the dictionary tools to check the definition of any words that they are still not sure of their meaning.  Then, ask them to prepare a short summary of the text.  If students are not familiar with how to summarise an article, it might be necessary to explain in more detail what this involves.  I suggest that the student spend a few minutes writing a brief summary and then read it out loud for correction and feedback.

Grammar Review

Quickly go over the grammar review.  Give further examples concerning the hypothetical meaning of the second conditional.  Encourage students to give their own examples to check for comprehension.

Task 6 - Speaking

Encourage the student to read and answer the questions using the second conditional, get them to explain why and expand their answers.

Task 7 - Discussion

Encourage the student to give their opinion and discuss the topic.  If time, you can prepare a short debate with your student for questions 2 and 3.

Lesson Materials

Lesson materials

Click to view in Google Docs
Click to view the article

Digital Tools

I recommend encouraging students to view the article in the Woodpecker app so they can use the built-in dictionary functions while reading.  The free version of the app has 5 English language news websites where the dictionaries work for free, which gives teachers a huge amount of content to choose from when creating lessons or self-study activities.

Free News Sites for English Learners
NPR (National Public Radio):
BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation):
CBC/Radio-Canada (The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation):
ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation):
RNZ (Radio New Zealand):

To view the article in the app, touch the main menu bar, then "News Reader" and copy paste the link into the URL bar:


This lesson plan started out as a quick conversation lesson based on a news article. However, it turned into a more structured lesson with a variety of exercises to develop a range of language skills and a grammar review. This is what I enjoy about creating lesson materials for my online students, you start out with a topic and then the lesson grows and develops on its own as you write.  I hope that you and your students will find it useful.

Please feel free to comment, I appreciate any feedback.  If you are a Google+ member please comment below. If you're on Facebook please message me there and of course, you can always contact me through my website:

Wednesday 28 November 2018

Is it sensible to be sensible - Lesson plan and materials

This post contains a free lesson plan and downloadable lesson materials for intermediate to upper intermediate level adults.  The lesson is designed for a one-on-one conversation lesson but could easily be adapted for a group class.

Is it sensible to be sensible?

I discovered an excellent website this week thanks to the Woodpecker App.  I was searching for inspiration for a new lesson topic and while trying out the News Reader function in the app, I came across BBC Radio 4's, '4 In Four' webpage. I must admit that I'm rather excited about this find, as it contains a treasure trove of short articles and videos perfect for conversation lessons and self-study activities.  Firstly, the topics are upbeat and up-to-date. Secondly, they are short in length, which makes them manageable for students. What's more, they contain an abundance of wonderful native expressions. The website's tagline is 'What can you do in 4 minutes? Feed your curiosity and learn cool stuff with Radio 4 in Four'. This kind of thing is perfect for my higher-level adult students. 

The article that caught my attention was, 'Is it sensible to be sensible?'. It contains some interesting expressions and idioms and consists of 8 short paragraphs.  Additionally, it is a light topic, yet thought-provoking enough to guarantee getting students talking and expressing their opinions about it.

The lesson plan

The Conversation lesson is based on the article 'Is it sensible to be sensible' from the BBC Radio 4's, 4 In Four web page.  The objective of the lesson is to use an authentic article to expand vocabulary, improve comprehension and develop speaking skills. 

The lesson consists of 7 tasks:

Warm-up and Tasks 1 and 2 

Should be completed before reading the article, these are designed to introduce both the topic and the key language as a preparation for reading the article.

Task 3 - Reading

Click on the link within the lesson plan in the Woodpecker app (if you have connected the student to your custom link).  Alternatively, your student can copy and paste the link to the article in the Woodpecker browser or go to the article in their regular web browser.  Group classes can read the article individually (and use the app to assist in comprehension). In an online, one-on-one lesson, I use reading aloud as an important opportunity to work on pronunciation. I request that the student read one paragraph at a time.  At the end of each paragraph, I give pronunciation feedback and check comprehension.  If the student needs to re-read the paragraph in order to understand (some students find that reading aloud interferes with their ability to comprehend the text) they should do so and then move on to the next paragraph.

Task 4 - True or False? and Task 5 - Comprehension

Comprehension activities.  Encourage students to check their answers in the text and use language from the text, where necessary, to explain their answers. If time, promote short discussions to encourage the student to express their opinions.

Task 6 - Expressions

Review some of the more native and idiomatic expressions from the article.

Task 7 - Debate 

Could be worked on in class or prepared for homework.  

Task 8 - Quote

Encourage students to define the meaning of the quote and to give examples to demonstrate its meaning.  In addition, ask students to search for other quotes online concerning being sensible.  They can type in their Google search bar 'Quotes about sensible' or 'Sensible quotes'. 

The lesson Materials:

Lesson Materials

Click to view the materials in Google Docs
Click to view the article in your browser

To view the article in the Woodpecker app, touch the main menu bar, then Web Browser and copy paste the link into the URL bar: 

Key Woodpecker functions in this lesson

Built-In English-English dictionary

Woodpecker has recently added a monolingual English-English dictionary to their app. I feel that this is more beneficial to students than translating to their L1.  An advantage of the app is that the student can choose, depending on their level or the difficulty of the video or news article, which dictionary they would prefer to use.  

Watch the video tutorial below to see how to choose and use a dictionary:

Custom Link to connect students directly to lesson plans in the app

Woodpecker offers an amazing option for teachers.  You can contact Woodpecker and request to receive a custom link to your blog or website that will appear in your students' Woodpecker Main Menu.  You can read more about how this works on the Woodpecker website. This means that you can add a lesson plan using Google Docs or your blog, that will appear under your custom link. The lesson plan should contain a link to the article you wish to work on, which your student can select in order to read the article or watch the video within the Woodpecker app.


I am eager to continue using BBC Radio 4 in Four's website as a source of authentic materials to use with my language learners.  I am certain that the variety of eclectic topics will motivate and inspire my students to read more in English and with the help of the Woodpecker app, using such websites becomes a stress-free activity, one that is possible for even lower level students and for self-study activities

Please feel free to comment, I appreciate any feedback.  If you are a Google+ member please comment below. If you're on Facebook please message me there and of course, you can always contact me through my website:

Thursday 22 November 2018

How to record a video of your android screen to create a video tutorial

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

How to record a video of your android screen to create a video tutorial

In this post, I'd like to share an app that I discovered this week that enables you to record the screen of your android phone in order to create quick and simple tutorial videos for your students.

In general, it's easier to follow instructions combined with a visual demonstration, especially when it comes to using technology. I often recommend apps and websites to my students to enhance their learning experience, but some students find the process of using a new digital tool overwhelming.  Over the last few weeks and blog posts, I have created a number of free downloadable lesson plans with materials that use the Woodpecker app. The need to describe in words, how to use the different functions for the different parts of the lessons and adding screenshots and written instructions to every lesson plan has made these lessons rather cumbersome.  

In the past, I have used the free version of Screencast-O-Matic to make screencasts or digital recordings of my PC's screen, but I had never tried with my phone.  Woodpecker is an app and doesn't have a Window's version. Therefore, I decided to do some research and discover whether it is possible to do the same thing with my phone.

I downloaded a number of different apps and tried them out, the first two were almost identical Capture Recorder and Screen Recorder. They both appeared to be easy to use, but I was unable to find a way to visually show where I was touching on the screen in the video, so I installed a third app DU Recorder.  I found this the easiest app to use and it has an option to use a brush to underline or draw an arrow to point to the function or word on the screen that you are referring to in the tutorial.  Here's a quick video I made to demonstrate how to use the app

And here is my first attempt of a video tutorial to demonstrate how to choose and use a dictionary in the Woodpecker app:


This is an extremely user-friendly application and I hope to make many more tutorials like this for my students.  The only problem that I have discovered with creating these recorded tutorials is that each video currently involves numerous takes. In future, I'll try to find the quietest time of day to record, put my dog in another room, switch my phone to silent mode and make a detailed plan including a script before starting to record.

Please feel free to comment, I appreciate any feedback.  If you are a Google+ member please comment below. If you're on Facebook please message me there and of course, you can always contact me through my website:

Sunday 11 November 2018

Making Suggestions and TV Language

Making Suggestions and TV Language

Scaffolding a listening activity using the Woodpecker app

Photo by on Unsplash

In this lesson, I have focused on three areas my students often have difficulty with: talking about their TV viewing habits, making suggestions and listening. 

When I teach expressions for making suggestions, I take the opportunity to highlight the difference between the more formal way of making a request, 'Would it be possible to meet with you on Friday?' and the more common, native way of suggesting, 'Let's meet on Friday'.  I explain that suggestions are frequently used by native speakers when chatting and also in more formal business situations. In general, English speakers are becoming less formal. Therefore, it's important for students to familiarise themselves with such expressions both for comprehension and communication.

In the age of digital streaming and video on demand, chatting about TV shows and online streaming services is commonplace. Students often lack the vocabulary needed to participate in such conversations, so the expressions and exercises in this lesson are intended to help them express themselves more confidently. 

The in-class lesson materials and the homework, form a three-tiered scaffolding activity aimed to develop listening skills.  The lesson is used as a pre-listening activity. The homework includes a listening activity which is broken down into parts and should be completed with the help of the Woodpecker app. And finally, vocabulary and writing activities are given as post-listening activities.

The Lesson Plan

The lesson objective

The objective of this lesson is to introduce a variety of expressions to make suggestions and to respond to suggestions.  To learn the basic language needed to talk about TV shows and TV viewing. And in addition, to combine an in-class activity and a self-study activity to scaffold an exercise to improve listening skills. I aim to demonstrate how to use the Woodpecker app to review language, expand vocabulary, improve listening skills, and give students the ability to experience the lesson language in new contexts.
English Jade - engVid

The lesson

The lesson consists of a warm-up activity, a vocabulary review and 5 tasks:

  • Warm up: To get students thinking and talking about TV shows.

  • Task 1: TV language - Match the expressions with the definitions.

  • Task 2: Dialogue - To demonstrate a conversation about TV suggestions, to identify the suggestion expressions and to answer brief comprehension questions.

  • Vocabulary review: Expressions with examples of suggestions and accepting/rejecting suggestions.

  • Task 3: Making suggestions - Encourage students to plan and create a dialogue using the language from the first part of the lesson.

  • Task 4Matching statements and responses - To show examples of everyday language. If time, students could create alternative responses.

  • Task 5: Speaking - Two situations to be roleplayed with a partner in order to produce the language and practise it in 'real' situations.

The homework

The homework consists of 5 parts and uses an engVid video viewed in the Woodpecker app.  The homework could be completed using Youtube, but parts 2, 3, 6, and 8 would not be relevant.

  • Part 1: Improve listening - Encourage students to first attempt watching videos without subtitles or a transcript to develop their listening skills. Get them to practise two different listening skills: understanding the main idea and listening for detail (you could suggest specific information for them to listen to like suggestion expressions).
  • Part 2: Improve understanding - Using the app's functions, students should then watch the video while reading along. Encourage students to choose the dictionary in the app, that they prefer before starting.  Lower level students could use a dictionary that translates into their native language, and higher level students should use the English English dictionary with definitions in English. Students can touch any words that are unfamiliar to them to pause the video and to read the translation/definition and to add these words to their 'Word History' in the app.
  • Part 3: Improve comprehension and pronunciation - Using the go-back buttons, students can watch the video again (until 3:46), stopping and rewinding chunks of the language to repeat verbally and copy Jade's pronunciation as they watch.
  • Part 4: Writing and revision - Before watching the second part of the video, which contains new expressions, students should write a list of suggestions to review the language in the lesson in a new context, as in the video.
  • Part 5: Improve listening and new expressions - Students should watch the second part of the video without subtitles as in Part 1.  A number of new expressions are introduced in this part of the video. Lower level students might need an additional explanation, which could be given in class or they could read about the formation of 'Would you mind' expressions here.
  • Part 6: Improve understanding - Students should use the app's functions to watch the second part of the video again, as in Part 2.
  • Part 7: Write a dialogue - Students are required to write a short dialogue to practise the new expressions in the second part of the video.
  • Part 8: Review new vocabulary - Encourage students to check their 'Word history' in the app, they should export new expressions and create a file on their computer to save vocabulary to review and use in the future.  

The lesson materials:

Click to view the lesson materials in Google Docs.
Click to view the video in the Woodpecker app.
Click to view the video on YouTube.


Creating a new lesson plan to work with my students on the topic of making suggestions, is something I've been wanting to do for some time, so I'm very pleased to have finally completed it.  I think the in-class lesson also works well as a pre-listening activity. The TV viewing language is an added bonus and a motivator to promote fluency and improve speaking. I must thank Cynthia, a wonderful Chinese student of mine for the inspiration. She likes to start our lessons each week, with a quick chat about the new shows that she's discovered on Netflix. The excellent Woodpecker app supplies the listening activity for this lesson, an engVid video by English Jade, which both reviews the lesson language and introduces additional expressions. At the same time, exposing students to a London accent.  Woodpecker's video functions greatly enhance the use of such videos with its built-in interactive tools, perfect for building scaffolding activities. It makes planning the listening and post-listening activities so simple for a teacher and so comprehensive for a student. The post-listening activities, in the form of writing a dialogue and reviewing new vocabulary, complete the lesson and ensure that all the four language skills are used and developed in the lesson. 

I hope you and your students find the lesson and homework activities interesting and useful.

Additional links:

Would you mind expressions:
Jade's YouTube link:
Article about scaffolding:
Article about breaking down listening activities into 3 parts:

Please feel free to comment, I appreciate any feedback.  If you are a Google+ member please comment below. If you're on Facebook please message me there and of course, you can always contact me through my website:

Monday 5 November 2018

Listening to Numbers

Listening to Numbers

Photo by Stephen Dawson on Unsplash

In today's post, I have created a lesson plan to review numbers and listening to numbers.  I often prepare students for the IELTS and the FCE exams and my students find listening to numbers extremely challenging.  My business students also have difficulties understanding numbers and figures when attending meetings and participating in conference calls. Therefore, I hope this lesson will give them the opportunity to practise and improve their listening skills.


Whilst browsing for a suitable video containing lots of numbers on the Woodpecker app, I found a video from the Alltime Numbers YouTube channel.  They have created a variety of videos on different topics 'in numbers', with the help of YouTube and the Woodpecker app these videos can be quickly and easily transformed into lesson plans or homework activities. 

Preparation tips

  • Use the Woodpecker app to find a video by typing a keyword into the Search Bar in the Main Menu. You can also use the list of categories to search in a specific area of content or click on the Channels & Playlists and search there.  I simply wrote 'numbers' in the search bar and scrolled through the options. 
  • Once you have chosen your video and checked that the content is suitable and appropriate, touch the Share icon to send yourself an email containing the Woodpecker code for the video.  You will add this to your lesson plan so that your students can connect directly to the video within the app.
  • Open the video in YouTube, on your PC/Laptop, click on the Options menu (three dots on the right-hand side, under the video). Click Open Transcript, the transcript will appear at the top right of the screen and can be copied and pasted into your lesson plan in order to create a fill the gap listening exercise.
  • Choose the vocabulary, expressions, and grammar that you would like to introduce or review in the lesson and basically, you have a lesson plan.

Lesson Objective

The objective of this lesson is to firstly review how to say numbers and figures and secondly to develop the ability to listen to numbers.

The lesson consists of a warm-up activity, vocabulary and grammar revision, a speaking exercise and a scaffolded listening exercise.

Warm-up: A reading activity containing random facts about the UK.  Students should read the text. Feedback and pronunciation correction should be given.  The facts can also be discussed.

Vocabulary and grammar review: Students read the information.  At the end of each point, the teacher should highlight key information and then write additional examples for the student to practise in order to check comprehension e.g. the use of 'and' should be highlighted by the teacher 'one thousand AND one' then additional examples should be given, e.g 2,018, 5,432.  This is not a reading activity, the more active this part is, the better-prepared students will be for the speaking and listening tasks.

Task 1: Say the numbers - Students need to read and pronounce the numbers correctly. 

Task 2: Listening - Students should watch the video without the transcript or subtitles.  First, they should focus on understanding the main idea and then they should try to listen for details, listening and noting down the numbers that they hear.

Task 3: Complete the gaps - Students should watch the video again, this time completing the gaps with the correct numbers.  They can watch the video numerous times according to their need.

Task 4: Reading and checking - Students can now turn their phones to portrait mode and watch the video again, reading along with the transcript and using the video tools to check the translation/definition (depending on the dictionary they have chosen in the Woodpecker app) of new or unfamiliar words.  They can also check their answers from Task 3.

The lesson materials

Lesson Materials

Click to view the lesson materials in Google Docs
Click to view the video in the Woodpecker app
Click to view the video on Youtube


Using authentic English videos to review numbers is an excellent way to prepare students for tests and for real-life English.  It takes practice and experience to develop listening skills, so creating lessons like this and setting homework tasks for students to work on using apps like Woodpecker is essential.  I hope you and your students find this lesson useful.

Please feel free to comment, I appreciate any feedback.  If you are a Google+ member please comment below. If you're on Facebook please message me there and of course, you can always contact me through my website: