Tuesday, 29 December 2015

New Year's Resolutions - Lesson Plan

This is a lesson plan I created a few years ago, I have used it in my online lessons many times and it is a good lesson for promoting discussion.  It would also be suitable for a classroom lesson.  I have updated it and I am reposting it for my students and for any teachers looking for a ready-made lesson this week.  

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my blog readers a very happy New Year and all the best for 2016 :-) 

  • Level: Intermediate/Intermediate+
  • Method: Online class, face to face class, one to one or group.
  • Age group: Suitable for teenagers and adults.
  • Skills: Listening, understanding, discussion, expressing opinions.
  • Language:  Resolutions, opinions, describing, promises, conditionals.
  • Equipment: Whiteboard, the list of 13 questions below and YouTube (via screen share with sound, projector or individual mobile phones). 


1. What is a New Year's resolution?

A New Year's resolution is a decision that you make, to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year.

2. Can you think of some examples of common New Year's resolutions?

3. Here are some popular New Year's resolutions:

1. Save more money 
2. Get out of debt 
3. Get fit/lose weight
4. Change job/career 
5. Quit smoking 
6. Give up alcohol
7. Spend less time working
8. Spend more time with family/friends 
9. Give up chocolate 
10.  Move house 

4. Why do you think that people make resolutions?

5. Why do you think most people fail to keep their resolutions?

6. If we could focus on what will be the advantage of keeping a resolution, would it help? 

For example:

If I stop smoking, I will save money.
If I stop smoking, I will be healthier.
If I stop smoking, I will live longer.

7. What is this sentence structure called in English?

We call this the 'First Conditional - We use the first conditional to talk about a real possibility.
If + present simple, will + verb.

For example:

If I eat less, I will lose weight.
If I use Facebook less, I will have more time.
If I do sport 3 times a week, I will be healthier.

8. This is a good idea, but it is still only a possibility.  Which word in the sentence could we change to make this possibility more certain?  

Change the 'If' to 'When'.

When + present simple, will + verb.

For example:

When I give up smoking, I will be healthier. 
When I get a new job, I will be happier.

9. 'When' makes the likelihood of the resolution more certain, but it still does not guarantee that you will succeed in keeping the resolution.  Is the name 'resolution', the problem?  What about changing the name from 'New Year's resolution' to 'New Year's promise'.  Could that help?

Word Definition:
Resolution: A firm decision to do, or not to do something.
Promise: A declaration that you will definitely do something in the future.

10. How do we structure a 'promise' sentence in English?

I + promise + to infinitive

For example:

I promise to stop smoking.
I promise to do more sport.

I + promise (that) I + will/won't + verb.

For example:

I promise that I will do more sport.
I promise I won't spend so much time on Facebook this year.

11. Now watch this excellent video by 'Because I said I would' about making New Year's promises.  While you are watching, try to write down the promises that you hear and read in the video:

 12. Share with your teacher/class, which promises you were able to note down and give your opinion of these promises.

Here are some examples:

I promise to:
- rescue more animals.
- push myself out of my comfort zone.
- be who I want to be, not who society wants me to be.
- drop under 200 lbs.
- make 5 people smile every day.
- go vegetarian.

13. What about you? Are you going to make any New Year's promises this year?  


I appreciate any comments and 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 send me a message via my website: Talk2meEnglish.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

"Would you rather" - A no prep speaking activity

"Would you rather speak a second language fluently or be able to talk to animals?"

"Would you rather"  is a party game; the idea is to present a dilemma in the form of a question that has two options. The players have to choose one option, they cannot say “neither” or “both”, and then they have to explain their choice.

I came across the mobile app and decided to try it out in class. It is an excellent, no prep game for an English conversation class or as an end of lesson speaking activity, and my students love it. You present the dilemma, it could be between two positive options, "Would you rather eat chocolate or chips?” or it could be between two negative options, “Would you rather live on the streets or live in a prison cell?”.  The more difficult the dilemma, the more interesting the game is.

"Would you rather be poor and work at a job you love or be rich and work at a job you hate?"

You can create your own topic-related dilemmas,for example if you’ve been working on the topic of travel, you could use dilemmas like, “Would you rather go camping or stay in a hotel?” or "Would you rather have your flight delayed by 8 hours or lose your luggage?".  An alternative is to use one of the apps available and ask random questions (be warned, some of the apps have the odd dilemma that's not appropriate for the classroom).  

Would you rather is a great way to get students talking, they need to talk about their personal preferences, give their opinions and defend their choices.     


Lesson Objective:
Speaking practice and fluency.

Target Language:
Talking about preference, giving an opinion, making your point, comparatives and superlatives, advantages and disadvantages.

A list of pre-prepared dilemmas or one of the following apps:

Web apps:

Mobile apps:

Lesson Plan:

1. Quickly review expressions of preference:
  • Would rather and would sooner:

  • Base verb - I would rather swim in the sea than in a pool.

  I would sooner swim in the sea than in a pool.
  • Prefer:

  • Noun - I prefer chicken to beef.
  • Gerund - I prefer eating chicken to eating beef.
  • Infinitive - I prefer to eat chicken than to eat beef.

2. Present the dilemma and ask the student/s to make their choice and explain why. Students should be encouraged to speak fluently without interruption, take notes and make corrections at the end.

3. In a group class, you could then set up a debate. In a one-to-one class ask further questions to encourage the student to thoroughly explore the dilemma and their choice.

Please feel free to comment. If you are a Google+ member please leave your comments or feedback below. If you're on Facebook please message me there and of course you can always send me an email: emma_segev@yahoo.co.uk

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

How to Upgrade Your Online English Lessons

It's official, I'm a geek!  It's hard to explain how excited I am to have finally got around to learning how to create a screencast (screen capture recording).  I found a simple online screen recorder and it is so easy to use.

I would really like to create some simple videos to help new students connect to the platforms that I use in my online lessons, I think it would be easier to send them a How-To video, rather than a list of instructions each time. Then I'd like to create some short lessons for blended learning and for promoting my courses. But first of all, I thought I'd take the opportunity to experiment a little and demonstrate how to use 3 excellent web apps/sites that, in my opinion, can really upgrade the quality of your online English lessons. 

1. RealtimeBoard 

Real-time board is basically a huge canvas that enables you to upload pictures, files and videos and has annotation tools to draw, underline and add text.  It works very effectively as a whiteboard for online lessons, and there's a free version.

I've created a screencast to demonstrate, how I use RealtimeBoard as a whiteboard for my online classes.

2. Classmill 

Classmill is a new platform for 'Curated Learning'.  It's a simple but effective course management system.  It enables you to create a course, add modules to that course and then upload materials, text, links and videos to each module.  Students can access their personal course and all its modules anytime, anywhere.  Classmill is free for all.

I've created a screencast to demonstrate how I use Classmill with my individual students:

3. Off2Class

Off2Class is an ESL lesson plan library; the library currently contains more than 300 ready-made lessons. I've mentioned Off2Class in a previous post, but the latest version of their platform really deserves another shout-out.  The materials have a modern and professional outlay perfect for online lessons. The materials are suitable for both adults and kids and need no preparation.  The latest version of Off2Class also includes notes for teachers, ready-made homework assignments and progress tracking. Off2Class are constantly adding new content and offering tips and advice for teachers on their excellent blog.  Off2Class works very well with Zoom, you simply screen share the Off2Class webpage. 

When you sign up, you receive a 30-day free trial.  You can then purchase a package for as little as US$5.50 per month, which is fantastic value for money.  

I've made a very quick screencast to introduce the Off2Class webpage: 

Happy online teaching!

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 send me an email: emma_segev@yahoo.co.uk

Sunday, 8 March 2015

The World's Toughest Job - Intermediate Video Lesson

In this post, I have created an intermediate level video lesson using the web tool Edpuzzle.The lesson is based on an advertisement that went viral last year. In the video, applicants are interviewed for what appears to be the world’s toughest job. I don’t want to spoil the video, so I shall say no more, you’ll have to watch it in order to discover which product is being advertised and for which annual UK holiday.

Edpuzzle is a free web tool for creating video lessons for flipped or blended classes.You can read a review of Edpuzzle at Edudemic .I found it very easy to use and particularly liked the fact that you can add web links to the tasks or questions.

Lesson Plan

  • Level: Intermediate +
  • Method: Online class, flipped class, self-study assignment.
  • Age group: Suitable for teenagers and adults
  • Skills: Listening, understanding, making predictions, expressing opinions, vocabulary expansion.
  • Language: Job interviews, characteristics, qualities, idioms, opinions, describing.

Warm Up

1. Have you ever done a job that you would describe as ‘tough’?
  • If yes, what was it about the job that you found difficult?
2. What other factors can make a job difficult?
3. Create a list of 5 of the most difficult jobs in the world (If you need inspiration).

4. Create a list of 5 of the easiest jobs in the world.

5. Have you ever done any volunteer work? 
  • If yes, what was it and why were you willing to work for free?  
  • If no, would you be willing to work for free?
6. Choose one of the difficult jobs from your list in question 3, look at the word cloud below and choose 10 characteristics that you think a person would need to have, in order to do this job (look up any new words).  

7. Have you ever had an online job interview?  
  • If yes, did you find it easier or more difficult than a face to face interview, why?
  • If no, what are the advantages and disadvantages, of interviewing someone online?

8. Match the words in the table with the definitions below:

All- encompassing

  1. Extremely good or impressive.
  2. Wide-ranging or great in number.
  3. The ability to move freely.
  4. A monthly payment for work completed.
  5. Madness.
  6. Not genuine or real.
  7. A state of confusion.
  8. Without compassion or cruel.
  9. To a high degree.
  10. Including or covering everything.

Printable Lesson Plan   
You can watch the video as a guest or participate by signing up to Edpuzzle and entering the class code ej8GLB.

Here is the original version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HB3xM93rXbY


1. Do you agree/disagree that being a Mum is the world's toughest job?
2. Is it harder to be a Mum or a Dad?
3. Do you think that the interviewees were real or actors? Why/why not?
4. How did the video make you feel?
5. Is it a good commercial? Why/why not?
6. Is buying someone a greetings card a good way of showing gratitude.

Here is the Father's Day version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKB9rQecEgU

Additional activity:

Create a script for a job interview for one of the difficult jobs that you chose in Question 3.Create a job title, list of requirements, characteristics and qualities needed and interview your teacher/fellow student for the job.

Being a Mum might sometimes be the toughest job in the world, but it is without a doubt, the best job in the world!

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 send me an email: emma_segev@yahoo.co.uk

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Flipping My Online Class to Promote Self-Study

Where did January go? It flew by and I didn't even manage to write a single blog post. I did, however, make some exciting new online discoveries and I'd like to share them with you.

Image courtesy of Kromkrathog at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Promoting self-study in my students' busy lives, continues to be a challenge; last year I wrote a guest post for the British Council on the topic of using mobile apps to motivate students to study independently. These apps are excellent, however, the motivated students use them, the less motivated, don’t. I aim to assist my students in progressing to the maximum of their ability in the shortest possible time. I want them to get good value for their money and to feel great about their language learning progress, but self-study plays an extremely important part in guaranteeing this. 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
For my students, time is an issue and not having enough time is a frequent excuse. However, let's face it, the majority of people can find one hour in a week to do some work, whether it's 10 minutes a day or an hour at the weekend, it's a matter of priority. I've been thinking about how I can transform self-study activities and make my students feel like they are one of their priorities and not something they need to do for me.

Courtesy of Renjith Krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I started using Padlet to create homework activities with the purpose of reviewing the lesson topics and/or preparing for the next lesson. The activities were varied: a link to a grammar exercise on the web, a short You Tube video, an article to read. My students responded well and this easy access format, where all the topic based activities were in one place, and only a click away, seemed to work. 

Courtesy of www.englishoutthere.com

Whilst looking for inspiration for advanced level lesson ideas, I discovered Jason West and his website English Out There. It's not new, but unfortunately I hadn't come across it before. In Jason's words "English Out There is the world’s first English course, specially designed to work with social media". 
The 'English Out There' materials are excellent, I highly recommend them. On the website there's an example of online content creation using Padlet.  Jason's lessons have three parts, Pre-Class, In Class and Out There (speaking to real people face to face or via social media). I think it's a brilliant idea and it got me thinking about how I could adapt my Padlet homework activities and effectively use Padlet to flip my class. This would increase the amount of talking time that my students would have with me and at the same time make self-study a fundamental part of the course.

Here is an example of how to use Padlet to create pre-lesson materials (this is based on an 'English Out There' lesson):

Feeling inspired (big thanks to Jason West for the inspiration and for answering my many questions) I immediately got to work using Padlet (example above). At the end of January I read an excellent blog post by Roberta Martino, in it she uses Blendspace (thanks to Roberta for introducing me to Blendspace).  The moment I saw Roberta's wonderful lesson, I knew that this was exactly the web tool that I needed to incorporate self-study activities into my lessons and combine all the different materials, webpages and videos that I've been creating and collecting in a professional, but very student friendly way. 

Blendspace enables you to create fast, interesting and interactive lessons, suitable for blended learning and flipped classrooms. It's very cool! It allows you to connect your Google Drive and with one click add your Google documents. You can upload a variety of files, for example: Power Point presentations, You Tube videos, media, photos from Flickr, webpages and Dropbox files and you can create your own multiple choice questions or add text as part of your lesson. It is so simple, yet has everything you need in one place and it also has very good security settings.

Here is an example of how to use Blendspace to prepare pre-lesson activities using the 'English Out There' materials (the EOT materials are not viewable due to copyright restrictions).

One of my students said that he prefers the look of the Padlet, but as a teaching tool I find Blendspace more functional and effective.  What do you think?

I'm extremely excited about these discoveries and I'm sure that both my students and I will have great pleasure using them.  If the results so far are anything to go by, I think that I may have also cracked the conundrum concerning getting my students to self-study.

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 send me an email: emma_segev@yahoo.co.uk