“Dear me” letters

“What would you say to your 16- year- old self if you had the chance?” That’s what 75 celebrities were asked and they wrote a letter expressing their thoughts. Dear Me Letters is a book that collects those letters.As a kind of follow-up, its website extended the idea to the public and allows readers to submit their own letters.

The Guardian published an extract from the book in an interactive article in the online version of the paper.

It is very interesting to read about the insecurities and suffering of people who would become so successful in life. And It is a very good source for an activity with (very) advanced students.You need to have a very relaxed atmosphere in class as well, and be sure that talking about the past won’t upset anybody.

Step 1

Ask your students the same question: “What would you tell your old self if you had the chance? What would you have changed?”.

Tell them about the book. In groups, each student reads one or two letters from The Guardian (print them or let them read them on their phones/tablets). Then, they have to share information about all the advice given in their letters and ellaborate a list of traits all teenagers seem to have in common.

Step 2

Tell them they are going to listen to a radio programma about Dear Me, featuring the editor of the book, Joseph Galliano. You can play the whole recording or concentrate on the first 4 minutes, when Galliano reads his letter to his old 16 self.

The students take notes and compare what they heard with the list they have written from the other letters.

Step 3

As it might be too personal to ask students to write a letter of the same kind, ask them to write a letter to someone from the past or from the future.

To illustrate the idea, play this video, in which Stephen Fry talks about letters. He is asked three questions:

  1. What letter either sent or received had an impact in your life?
  2. To whom would you write a letter now including someone form the past or future?
  3. Why is it important to keep writing letters?

Before they watch it, students answer the questions themselves in groups.


(The interview was filmed at Letters Live at the Southbank on World Book Night, in aid of The Reading Agencywriting )

An alternative to writing a letter to someone from the past or the future can be writing a letter addresed to themselves in the future. They can write a real letter o an email to FutureMe.org. This website is based on the principle that “memories are less accurate than e-mails”, so they invite you to write an email reminding your future self of whatever you want to remember . And then they’ll do “some time travel magic and deliver the letter to you. FutureYou, that is.”

You can write it as a private email to your own self or make it public (but anonymous), which will be included in the “public letters” section.






‘Fakebook’! Create a Fake Facebook Profile Wall using this generator

Create with ‘Fakebook’ fake Facebook profile wall for educational purposes.

Use “Fakebook” to chart the plot of a book, the development of a character, a series of historical events, the debates and relationships between people, and so on!

Get started by entering a name at the top of the page. Then proceed to add friends, posts, comments and profile information.

Lots of possibilities for language teaching!

See on Scoop.it – Cosas que encuentro para clase

See on www.classtools.net


I love Slideshows, especially if they have background music. With this new online tool you can create stunning photo slideshows in a few steps with good results.

1. Open an account or sign up with your facebook account

2. Select your photos (up to 90!). You can upload them from your computer or choose them from Instagram, Flicker, Picassa, Google Images or Facebok.

3. Arrange them.

4. Add effects (or not)

5.Choose music from Soundcloud or Youtube

6. Publish.

7. Share or embed, you can get your embed code or share it on the following social networks: facebook, twitter, stumbleupon, google+ or pinterest. Unfortunately, they can’t be embedded on WordPress.com.

It also offers the possibility of having your slide.ly publish or private.

Under this link you have a quick example I did for this post. It took me no more than 2 minutes.

Learning English by Doing: Photography

Taking pictures has become really easy with sophisticated digital cameras available for a more than reasonable price and mobiles, especially smart phones, incorporating good quality cameras. And we love to share these pics, that’s partly the reason behind the success of social networks like Facebook, Twitter and the latest craze Pinterest. People want to share all their moments.

And taking a photograph seems to be as easy as to push a button. But is it really that simple? There are certain rules of composition that have to be followed for the photo to be of a decent quality. But, how can we learn about them easily?

The Internet is an amazing source of videos teaching you almost anything you can think of. One of the best websites to find them is Videojug, where you can find thousands of videos of professionals giving you tips on their particular field of expertise (law, driving, cooking, etc) and other videos with a hint of humour explaining the steps to follow in orden to be better at different aspects of life. A very funny example of these kind of surreal videos is The Rules of Pavement Etiquette.

And, of course, there is a video teaching the rules of composition in photography that we were looking for:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The activity is designed to be carried out with students who like social networks and are ready to share personal photos, so it might not be suitable for all groups. The best thing to do with Facebook and students is to create a private group specifically for our lessons, a good way to communicate with those who are connected but without creating the awkward situation of having to “befriend” each other, teacher and studentes, mixing worlds.

Step 1. Post the video in your facebook group. If the level of students is not advanced, help them with vocabulary. Set a deadline for the activity giving students plenty of time to get involved.

Step 2. Students have to take a couple of pictures: one breaking the rules explained in the video and another one following the tips, and post both onto the Facebook group.

Step 3. Everybody writes a comment for each photograph and “likes” the one they consider is well done according to the rules explaining why they believe so.

Step 4. We take the best pictures to class and the authors talk about them.

Sh*t New Yorkers Say, intonation practice

Before telling you about the activity I’ve made up, I’m going to tell you where I found this:

I came across this video through Elvira Lindo’s fabebook fan page. Don’t you know Elvira? She’s a famous writer, screenwriter, actress and many other things. You can visit the Wikipedia to read what they say about her or just visit her official website.

The video is just a sample of things New Yorkers tend to say everyday and she compares it with things Spaniards say, well, she just said every region has a list of things people tend to say. Here on the Canaries we would say “It should rain”, “It seems it’s never going to rain”.

After watching the video, I wanted to find out where it came from and I’m not completely sure. It can be found on Eliot Glazer’s channel on Youtube, but I can’t find if it belongs to a collection. Reading the information about the video, the people starring are himself and his sister, Illana Glazer. The previous links are both their personal blogs, but they have both another site each with where they have their own web series.

Illana’s web series is called Broad City, and Eliot’s It Gets Betterish. I haven’t seen any of them, but seeing this video I bet they do have good stuff there.

But let’s see what I’m going to do with the video.

Level: B1 and above.

Skills: speaking, pronunciation and intonation.

Grouping: pairs.

Timing: 35-45 minutes, depending on the number of students you have.

Materials: The video above, paper, pen.

Step 1

5′: Introduce the concept “small talk’ and ask them where they think it usually happens (lift, queues, etc.). Try to obtain examples of common small talk.

Step 2

5′: Now explain that they are going to see a video with lots of examples of small talk, with the characteristic that they all take place in New York. Tell them that they are giving examples of things people say in New York and ask them to write down as many examples as possible.

Step 3

10′: Now write down on the whiteboard the examples they have collected and ask them to watch the video again and pay attention to the intonation of the expressions mentioned.

Step 4

5′: In pairs, ask them to write down a short dialogue including some of the expressions. The more, the merrier.

Step 5

10′: Time to play their dialogues, highlight the importance of intonation and ask them to repeat if they don’t get it right. Exaggerating usually works.

What do people say in your town? Why don’t you share it with us?

12 Things Happy People Do Differently

I came accross this article today on my facebook wall and I saw I could use it in class in that very moment.

By only reading its title, 12 Things Happy People Do Differently, you know it’s going to be great. The article can be found on Marc and Angel Hack Life and it’s full of other articles dealing with similar topics.

Every now and then I enjoying using activites that can cheer my students up, without having any special language purpose, though this article can be used to practise imperatives, but that’s far too easy for my B2 guys. This is my activity:

Level: B1 and above

Language:  imperatives

Skills: reading, writing, speaking

Grouping: small groups of 3-4 students

Timing: 1hour

Materials: This is un unplugged lesson, you only need the whiteboard, paper, pens, and a copy of the article per student.

Step 1

Write the title of the article on the whiteboard and ask them to brainstorm what they think that suits the topic. Then ask them to form small groups of 3-4 students and ask them to write a list with 12 items. They have 20 minutes for this.

Step 2

Every group has to share their ideas with the whole class, at the end, we develop our own class list with the most repeated items or through a votation if we don’t reach an agreement. (20 minutes)

Step 3

We give students the copy of the article, let them read it carefully and ask them to share their feelings. I’m sure the class list will differ a lot from the original one. After reading, we can ask them if they wish to make any changes on the class list. (20 minutes). If we don’t want to make the activity very long, we can ask them to read jsut the headlines, they can read the rest of the article at home.

Follow up

We can ask them to prepare a display with their list, I’m sure the advice given can be pretty useful for all of us.

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!