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Sunday, November 30, 2014

December Themes and Topics for ESL Students

Be sure to take a peek at some of the suggested topics and themes for December here! The main theme of course will be the holiday season - decked out in colorful lights and cheery decorations! However, you may also want to discuss a bit about the history of December 25th and focus less on the commercial side of it. Depending on where you are, your students will most likely be surrounded by an abundance of holiday festivities, Christmas carols and red and green symbols in their don't be afraid to get them all into the holiday spirit too!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Using COMEDY to Learn English!

I recently RE-discovered the hilarious, timeless and popular American television sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond" (1996 to 2005) to teach and reinforce authentic English. Each episode is only about 22 minutes long so you don't have to worry about students losing interest or getting bored. It's been a hit in class for all language levels - even the beginners can follow the plots centred around family problems & relationships, parenting dilemmas and conflict resolution. The repetitive dialogue and the exaggerated body/hand gestures is guaranteed to keep students in their seats - giggling!>>>

Friday, November 21, 2014

November Topic: Shop Til You Drop!

With the holiday season fast approaching, many of us are getting in the spirit of shopping! It's a good time to get your ESL students talking about shopping and how it relates to CONSUMERISM. There is no shortage of vocabulary, expressions and phrases when it comes to teaching around the theme of SHOPPING (see recommended links) and all the linking topics including sales and discounts, types of stores, online shopping, as well as the countless number of products that society needs and of course wants. >>>

Have your students talk about the culture of shopping in their country and see if it compares to days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday (kick offs to the official start of the holiday shopping madness this Friday, November 27th and Monday, November 30 th).

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Shopping to our American neighbours! (see links to Thanksgiving worksheets and activities).**


1. Do you like to shop and if so, what are some things you usually like to shop for besides the basics?
2. How have shops and stores changed over the years? How does this compare to shops and stores in your home country?
3. Are you an online shopper and if so, what do you typically buy? How does this experience compare to shopping in a physical store?
4. How are the terms 'consumption' and 'consumerism' related? What role does consumerism play in the environment, the economy, and in our daily life? Do you think consumerism can affect our well being?
5. What are the differences between "needs" and "wants"? Do you think society's needs and wants have changed over the years? If so, what could be some of the reasons besides creative and sneaky marketing strategies?
6. How has the role of marketing and advertising influenced consumerism? Can you give any specific examples?


ESL Discussions: Discussion questions on "Consumerism"
ITESLJ: Conversation questions on money and shopping
ESL Library: ESL Podcast: How Much Stuff Do We Need?
ESL Library: A reading and vocabulary lesson on consumerism
Breaking News English: Men Suffer from Shopping Too! - reading and activities
YouTube: The Story of Stuff - find matching comprehension worksheet here
Teaching English: Consumer - Society Lesson Plan
ESL Right Now: Consumerism-supermarket-psychology lesson plan
ESL Ect: Reading activities on Black Friday and Consumption
ESL Printables: Worksheets and on-line exercises on consumerism - membership site
ESL Video: 10 minute documentary on consumerism
ESL Holiday Lessons: Reading and activities on Buy Nothing Day
ESL Lab: Short video with 3 questions on Black Friday
YouTube: What is Black Friday All About! Watch and discuss
ESL Fast: Black Friday reading with follow up activities
ESL Library: Lesson Plan on Cyber Monday - membership site
English Blog: Reuters Video on Cyber Monday with full script
English Post: Reading on Black Friday and Cyber Monday with questions
Daily Infographic: Learn all about Cyber Monday - get your students to write summary sentences
Lyrics Mode: Shania Twain's Song with lyrics: "Ka-Ching"

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November Topic: Universal Children's Day

November 20th is officially observed as Universal Children's Day. It's a day to honor and promote the welfare of children around the globe. Many parts of the world celebrate Children's Day throughout the year however on this day there has been more international awareness to protect the rights of children worldwide. Focusing on children and some of the key issues they face in developed and developing countries makes for an important discussion topic with your ESL learners. >>>

Saturday, November 15, 2014

November Topic: World Television Day

Get set for World Television Day on Saturday, November 21st! This day was officially identified by the United Nations General Assembly in 1996 to acknowledge and commemorate the role that television has played in providing the world with ongoing information and communication.  Television has not only provided the world with universal links to social, economic and political developments, but has also been one of the most important drivers of technological developments in entertainment and communication. Television can make for an interesting and entertaining topic for ESL learners as they look into the history of television and how it has helped shape our world as we know it today! >>>

Sunday, November 9, 2014

November Topic - World Kindness Day

WATCH: Music video for the song "One Day" was produced by Life Vest Inside. It shows just how "kindness can be contagious".

November 13th is World Kindness Day. Created in 1997, this special day was developed by  a group of humanitarians in Japan who felt that we needed a day to help us all focus on making the world a better place. The idea is that by performing local "random acts of kindness" such as holding the door open for a stranger, paying someone a compliment or donating items to a local charity, we can actually help make the world a better and kinder place.

WORLD KINDNESS DAY makes for an excellent discussion topic and also represents a great opportunity to become part of the solution. After discussing the topic, why not challenge your ESL students to perform their own "random acts of kindness" on November 13th? The next day have a follow up discussion about their experiences!>>>


 1. When was the last time you went out of your way to be really kind to someone? What did you do and how did it make you and the other person feel?
2. When was the last time you felt someone went out of their way to be kind to you? What did they do?
3. What might cause some people to "pretend" to be a kind person?
4. Can being kind really make a difference in life? Explain.
5. What could be some negatives associated with being too kind a person?
6. What are some things that could affect someone's ability to be kind? (i.e. weather, money, health...etc)


YouTube: Video of 24 Incredible Acts of Kindness
ESL Library: World Kindness Day worksheet - membership site
Breaking News English: A short reading on a "kindness act" with activities
Random Acts of Kindness: Short motivational stories on acts - of kindness
(ACTIVITY SUGGESTION: Have your students read and discuss while looking at new vocabulary and expressions)
Quote Garden: Kindness Quotations
(ACTIVITY SUGGESTION: Get your students to discuss what each quote could mean)
World Kindness: Some random acts of kindness ideas
The Free Dictionary: Idioms and expressions using the word "kind"

Thursday, November 6, 2014

November Topic: Remembrance/Veteran's Day


November 11th, known as Remembrance Day, Veterans Day and even Poppy Day in some parts of the world, is a time to recognize and remember those courageous soldiers, airmen and sailors who died during times of armed conflict. Originally associated with WW1, the scope of this day has since been expanded to acknowledge those who served in other wars as well as those currently serving.

There are a number of key symbols associated with November 11th including the famous war poem from WW1 Flanders Fields Poem (video lesson), the Last Post call, and the Two Minutes of Silence.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

It's About Time!

It's that time of the year again - Daylight Saving Time (DST) - officially ends this Sunday (Nov 1st), so get ready to turn those clocks "backwards"! DST was first introduced in the late 1800's before electricity and  modern lighting as a way to gain an extra hour of daylight and productivity. When the energy crisis hit in the 1970's, more and more countries began to practice DST and today it's observed by over 70 countries worldwide. Applauded for its role in energy conversation, but criticized for the way it disrupts daily life, DST makes for a great ESL discussion topic - one that can also provide a springboard for talking about "time". >>>


1. What are some advantages and disadvantages associated with moving the clocks forward one hour in March and back one hour in November? What about for businesses?  Do you think this has changed since DST was first introduced?
2. Many countries have chosen not to switch to daylight saving time. What do you think their reasons might be? Does your country use daylight saving time? What have been the advantages and disadvantages?
3. Time plays a big role in our lives. What do these common time expressions mean; time on your hands, free time, make time, on time, in time, to pass the time, it's only a matter of time.


EL Civics: Daylight Saving Time picture vocabulary and definitions
ESL Video: How to adjust to DST video and short quiz
English-Online: Easy reading with vocabulary on Daylight Saving Time
The Free Resource: Facts about Daylight Saving Time
EnglishBaby: Reading and listening lesson on Daylight Saving Time
Huffington Post: Daylight Saving Time Ends  **DOWNLOAD COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS BY ESL Made Easy**
National Geographic: A reading on the case against Daylight Saving Time
Bogglesworld ESL: Time worksheets
ESL Tower: Activities for telling time
Teach-This: Activities on time expressions and telling time
EZ Tales: Daylight Saving Time lesson plan  NEW!
Rachael's English Classes: Reading/follow up worksheet on Daylight Saving Time - NEW!
ITESLJ: Conversation questions about time
ESL Partyland: online quiz on time expressions
Daily Writing Tips: 15 time idioms and expressions

Here's a great graphic to show your ESL students: Daylight Savings Time Explained. Find here! Get your students to write sentences on comparisons for the longest and shortest day of the year and the average time for sunrises and sunsets for each month.
 Daylight saving time explained  Infographic

Please feel free to send in your favorite links on daylight saving time!