Song activity – “th” sounds

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Getting the th sounds right is always an uphill battle for students, but perhaps Bono and co. can help out there.

After raising students’ awareness of these sounds and clarifying/modeling how they are produced, students can listen to this song (U2’s With or Without  You) and decide which of the sounds is uttered in every word with a th sound. Straighforward and effective.

Here’s the song activity then: With or Without You – TH sounds practice. Below you’ll find the song video:


Special contribution

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As a result of my recent blog post on teacher burnout (and my personal quest to bring creativity, curiosity and fun back to my classes), quite a few selfless, generous teachers have sent me incredible activities and/or simple ideas on how to achieve all that. Here’s what my dear friend Layne sent me earlier this week, and below you’ll find a brief introduction written by Layne herself.

“What would you do first if you had only a few more months to live? Would you cherish your last days with your beloved ones or embark on a soul-searching adventure to make the most of life before it all ends? Or maybe both? What is out of question here is to succumb to desperation and pain. After all, life is much more than that; it is about kissing the most beautiful girl in the world, or skydiving or even getting that crazy tattoo you´ve never had the guts to admit you wanted so badly. Presenting our students with this beautiful movie is more than offering a different activity. It is giving them the opportunity to share their innermost wishes and impulses in life and, most certainly, have them appreciate the sheer wonder of being alive….After all, what is better than just talk about la joie de vivre?”

Layne Feijó, from Cordeiros – RJ (

And here’s her activity, complete with teacher’s notes:

The Bucket List Activity – by Layne Feijo

Thanks for that, dearest!

Second Conditional/Historical Present – Friends, season 1

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A few years back I decided I was going to take my decade-long love of the series Friends seriously and use it professionally. I’d used (and have used) Friends episodes in my classes for as long as I’d been a teacher, but I decided I wanted to take it seriously, do it conscientiously. I then set out to watch the 200+ Friends episodes in order, from the pilot to the last one in season 10. It hasn’t worked out yet (but it will, it will). Nevertheless, I at least have a couple of great activities – if I say so myself – to show for it. Both, tellingly, from season 1.

You can download both activities below, but for the videos, I recommend you try to get your hands on the first complete season of Friends, disc 1.

Historical Present: 001 – s01e01 – Grammar – Historical Present

Second Conditional: 002 – s01es03-04 – Grammar – Second Conditional

I have just purchased the box with the 44 best Friends episodes ever, even though I already have the ten seasons. Maybe a few new activities will be available here in the near future!

Funny grammar video warm-up: Sherlock Holmes, the grammar freak!

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If you’ve never seen BBC’s incredible Sherlock series, you must! This modernized version shows Holmes and Watson in today’s London, helping the police solve crimes with the aid of cell phones, SMS, the Internet and the like. Watson even has his own blog!

In this scene (right at the beginning of the third – and last – episode of the first season), Sherlock is interrogating a murder suspect, but he’s actually much more concerned about the criminal’s several attacks against the English language!

Different ways of exploring the scene with students (Intermediate and above):


– Before watching: tell students they’ll watch Sherlock Holmes interrogating a suspect, and that he’ll correct some grammatical mistakes the criminal makes.

– While watching 1: students watch the excerpt and write down the mistakes made by the criminal and Sherlock’s corrections.

– While watching 2: after giving students a minute to check in pairs, tell them what the mistakes were in order. Students discuss possible corrections and then watch one more time to check if their ideas are the same as Sherlock’s.

– After watching: students can act out the scene in pairs.


– Before watching: give students a transcript of the scene, but with gaps in the place of Sherlock’s corrections. Students try to fill in the blanks individually, check in pairs and then watch the scene to check. (here’s the transcript and activity: Sherlock – Grammar video warm-up – script and activity)

– While wacthing: students watch to check whether their predictions were right.

If you have any other suggestions on how to explore this segment, let me know and I’ll add them to this post: