Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night

Gunpowder Plot

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

Sandwiched between the overwhelming popularity of Halloween and all-American Thanksgiving, on November, 5th there is a festival that, in recent years, has gained its lost popularity. Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes’ Night is one of those celebrations that are not rooted in everyday activities or seasonal changes, but in the historical events that took place in the 17th century and whose main character, Guy Fawkes, has become the icon for many who fight the political power (see “V for Vendetta” or the masks of the members of Anonymous).

For those who, like us, enjoy introducing their students to the culture of the target language, here go a couple of links with materials for the classroom. If you are teaching beginners or basic levels, Activity Village ( has a good range of basic exercises to practice vocabulary.

In case you need something more elaborate for intermediate students, the blog ( has a video lesson with an on-line quiz. Also, for this level, we have the material from Remember Remember ( especially the punctuation activities.

Finally, there is a more humorous BBC video documentary hosted by Nick Knowles that could be a good entertaining and inspiring resource for more advanced students. In this case we have not found any activities, although we suggest students could write a short article on the events described.

If you know of any more materials that could complete this post, please write a comment. We appreciate your collaboration.



English Project- CEP Icod (Tenerife)

Last year, I was involved in an exciting project conceived by the Foreign Language advisor at CEP Icod (click here for the credits). The idea was to film a series of short videos showing real life situations (or better communicative learning situations) performed  by native speakers which could be used in the classroom as a teaching/learning resource. The whole project was put together on a website and launched at the beginning of this school year and it is available for anyone who wants to use it. 

In the website you will find a set of situations (at the supermarket, restaurant, in the street…)  each of which has been divided into two levels, but they are not focused on any specific educational stage. What is more, they can be easily adapted to the purposes of any lesson plan we may be working with. Also, for each of them, a list of extra resources is provided, i.e. scripts of the dialogues, an interactive visual dictionary or extra practice dialogues. 

Another interesting feature is that students can make use of all this material even outside the classroom, i.e.  working pronunciation and language in real context, recreating the dialogues and repeating them to practice rhythm and stress…And it is accessible 24/7 and free. 

Time to stop bragging about it and ask you to give it a shot and try it. If you are not convinced, tell your students. I bet they will find it useful. 

PS: the link to the website is at the top of the page, in case you haven’t guessed it. 

Creating interactive images for your students

If you run a blog or a website for your students, there is a tool you may find useful to catch their attention on specific topics. The tool is called HTML Map Creator (click on the name to open the link) and allows you to add interactive links to a picture you choose. It is dead simple: you pick the picture you want (it doesn’t need to be yours), then you select the area(s) and add the links to the resources you want to be included. Once you have finished, the site will give you an html or css code you can embed in yor posts and that’s the interactive picture working for you. Remember to explain what they have to do or, otherwise, the effect will be lost. If you want to see how it works, take a look at this:

(Click on the candles, the pumpkin and the bowl)


PS: It is importan to check that your picture is not too big for the frame of the post to avoid the whole thing geeting disjointed.

Phones in the classroom? Why not… Teach them how.

This not a post onImage how to handle a mobile phone. I bet our students know quite a lot more about that than we do. I want to focus here on the use of mobile phones in the classroom. Those shiny and bleeping devices that have taken control of students’ minds and attention are here to stay, and we have tried all the tricks in the book to stop them from completely taking over.

Unfortunately for us teachers, they offer a far more appealing reality than schools and lessons do, even if we consider it fake. The truth is that we have lost the war even before we started the first battle. But there is always a way around it, education is the key and etiquette the solution.

I have not invented anything new, it was this article on Educational Technology and Mobile Learning that made me change my mind about mobile phones at school and this poster showing the basic rules of mobile phone etiquette. I think it is a good idea to work with students on this matter and teach them the importance of social rules when using their phones, both to avoid disruption during the lessons and to enjoy of a healthier social life.

Obviously, it will take an awful lot of time to sink in. Meanwhile we can try the hard way. At one of our department meeting, some of my colleagues proposed  a way to punishing students whose phones go off: make them recite a long poem, sing the mos bizarre song or conjugate all English irregular verbs in fornt of the class. I bet you will not hear a bleep ever again.

About social networking and whatsupping, we are still thinking of ideas. If anybody knows of any good one, post it. I know a bunch of people who would be really grateful.

Bring the cinema in the classroom with Film Education

Film Education is a charity backed up by the UK Film Industry whose aim is to foster the use of films as part of the curriculum. They have set a website where teachers of any subject can find resources to work with their students. Not only do they offer ordinary comprehension exercises or lesson plans on Social Studies, Art and Literature or English, but also they go a step further with more creative activities such us script writing or scene creation. For ESL/EFL students, it is also an opportunity to recreate scenes of the films and practice rhythm and pronunciation.  It sounds good and it is real. Among the site’s supporters we find Lord Attenborough or Mark Herman, Director of The Boy in Striped Pyjamas, do you need any more reasons to try it out?

Happy birthday, Citizen Dickens!

Yep! One of the best known British writers of all times is turning 200 this year. Exactly on February 7, 1812,  Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth and he had no easy childhood. His family went bankrupt and his father sent to prison, reason why he had to work in a factory at a very young age. Not much later he started working as a journalist and he gained great success with his first novel the The Pickwick Papers at the age of 24.

If you want to know more ( for you or your students) the BBC has a 4-minutes cartoon with a summary of his life, you can also find a brief reference to his work and life on OUP Bibliographies.Charles Dickens

I personally think that Dickens is a great author to use in class, not only for reading purposes, but also because the amount of class resources we can find on-line    to work almost anything. And what a perfect opportunity to bring it into the classroom by celebrating his bicentenary!

From drama activities to work vocabulary, pronunciation and even creative writing and speaking, to games about the author’s life and literary work or Victorian society. Today, we want  to recommend two of them:

  • Oxford University Press: the publishing house has given free access to some of the class materials from their repositories. You’ll find games, a taste of their readers based on Dickens’ most famous novels, drama activities and more.
  • British Council- Teaching English: on this site you will find a collection of really interesting lesson plans for younger and adult students based on the Victorian writer’s works.
If you know any other please add a comment with the link and your opinion.


Turn your pictures into stunning videos with Flixtime

FlixtimeHave you recently taken pictures of your students class acivities and you want to do something special with them? Flixtime is what you are looking for, you upload the videos or pictures, add the text you need, choose the music you like from a huge and varied catalogue they offer and that’s it, in a couple of minutes you have your amazing video creatio ready to be shared, embedded or linked.

The basic account (for free) only gives you the posibilty of uploading up to 60 pictures and does not allow you downloading or editting the transitions, but do we really need that? 

FlixTime – ¡Presentaciones de vídeo fáciles!