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.


100 Top First World Problems

Our mate Luis Msánchez suggested we could use a video with the same title of this post on our facebook group and this is how I used it. It’s supposed to be a warmer.

I recommend you to watch the video before reading the activity, so that you understand.

Level: B1 and above.

Skills: speaking, listening, reading, writing.

Aim: oral fluency, motivation, fun.

Grouping: Groups of 3-4 students, whole class

Timing: 40 minutes

Materials: Youtube video, projection equipment, pc.


Write down this sentence on the whiteboard: “100 Top First World Problems” and ask them to form groups of 3-4 students. They have to discuss and write a list of problems.


Ask a member of each group to read their list. These are the problems they will mention: famine, economical crisis, unemployment, crime, obesity…


Now tell them you are going to show them the real list. They expect something similar to what they wrote, of course. When they see the video, they feel puzzled and just laugh.


Play the video again and ask them to write down the problems they share with the speaker. Try to give examples of your own problems.


Ask them to read the problems they feel identified with, give examples, try to find possible solutions, etc.


Brainstorm with them other problems they might have and which are similar to the ones presented on the video. With the results you can make your own list. You can read the list of our class under this link which leads you to the blog of our school.

British vs. American Accent

In Spain most text books used in schools are published in the UK, so the accent that most Spanish teachers have been taught and therefore teach is British, and more specifically, Standard British Accent. But most English speakers don’t make a difference between long and short vowels, the ‘t’ is pronounced as “d” sometimes, they stress words on different syllables… And they use different words to describe the same reality. American English is present in films, TV series, songs… We should make our students aware of the differences between American and British accents, and in this post we’ll show you some material that can be used to illustrate them.

21 Accents

One single actress is able to speak in 21 different accents in over a minute. She’s just amazing, and even if students might not understand every word she says, they normally find her ability fascinating.

Eddie Izzard

The difference between both accents are often a source of jokes and humour. A very funny example is this video with stand-up comedian Eddie Izzard (some swearing included). More difficult to understand, but even so, hilarious.

Hugh Laurie

The popular actor in House is an example of the ability that some actors show to switch accents. In this video Hugh Laurie is invited in Ellen Show to play a game in which he has to guess the meaning of some typically American slang words and challenge the TV presenter Ellen to guess some British expressions.

Katy Perry Can’t Speak English.

(For advanced students) The famous American singer is touring in England and is invited to BBC radio programme The Chris Moyles Show and talks about the words she doesn’t understand or pronounces differently.

Learn the accent

In the videos below, Gareth Jameson. an actor and a voice coach, gives us some tips to make British and American accents.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
How do you say it?

When in doubt about the different pronunciations in English and American accents, check this online talking dictionary. It also includes proper names of international places.

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?

Draw a Stickman

If you want to practise some English in a fun way, I recommend you this web application. As its name says, you only have to draw a stick man. But, surprise, your stick man will suddenly come to life. Then you’ll have to help your character along a story.

What are you waiting for? Just click on the image and start your own adventure.