A web site for the developing language teacher

Teaching Tips 195

International Women's Day
Dewi Sant
The Oscars

International Women's Day

It's International Women's Day again, on 8th March, & below is a lesson plan that uses an article on the history of the Day.


Over time and distance, the equal rights of women have progressed. We celebrate the achievements of women while remaining vigilant and tenacious for further sustainable change. There is global momentum for championing women's equality.

Each year around the world, International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. Thousands of events occur not just on this day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organisations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women's groups, corporations and the media celebrate the day. Many groups around the world choose different themes each year relevant to global and local gender issues.

For more information about events, check out the site:

Here is some material taken, with permission, from the United Nations Cyber School Bus website with ideas on how to use it

There is quite a lot of text - two different sections; the first talks of why we have Women's Day & the second how the Day came about. I have chosen to use the first orally & the second as a reading text. And perhaps you might like to shorten the second text & only use the first part, until the dotted line.

1. Introduction - rank the women in order of their contribution to women's rights. Stds in pairs rank the women. Feedback.

2. Elicit what Women's Day is & when it falls & anything the stds might know about it. Some visuals on the board would help everyone focus.

3. Read the first text aloud - stds listen. Then they compare ideas on what they heard - maybe read again if requested.

4. Set the reading task - to identify what the given dates refer to as quickly as possible. Give out text & dates. Check & reading task.

5. Stds compare answers.

6. General feedback & discussion of the events as you work through the dates - picking up on reactions, anything surprising etc..

7. Vocabulary - stds in pairs/small groups underline vocabulary specifically related to Women's Day & protest. Encourage the stds to work meaning out from the context & have dictionaries on hand if they need to confirm their guesses. See below for a selection of related vocab from the text.

8. Feedback. You might also like to exploit the reading text for some grammar areas.

9. Discussion - could begin in small groups & then bring all together for a class discussion - see later for ideas on discussion points.


Rank the following women in order of their contribution to women's rights & be prepared to justify your decisions - Margaret Thatcher, Emilia Earhart, Mother Theresa, Princess Diana, Eva Peron, Madonna, .....put here some famous women from you country.


Why Women's Day?

Why dedicate a day exclusively to the celebration of the world's women?

The United Nations General Assembly, composed of delegates from every Member State, celebrates International Women's Day to recognize that peace and social progress require the active participation and equality of women, and to acknowledge the contribution of women to international peace and security.

For the women of the world, the Day is an occasion to review how far they have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development.

You might think that women's equality benefits mostly women, but every one-percentile growth in female secondary schooling results in a 0.3 percent growth in the economy. Yet girls are often kept from receiving education in the poorest countries that would best benefit from the economic growth.

Until the men and women work together to secure the rights and full potential of women, lasting solutions to the world's most serious social, economic and political problems are unlikely to be found.

In recent decades, much progress has been made. On a worldwide level, women's access to education and proper health care has increased; their participation in the paid labor force has grown; and legislation that promises equal opportunities for women and respect for their human rights has been adopted in many countries. The world now has an ever- growing number of women participating in society as policy-makers.

However, nowhere in the world can women claim to have all the same rights and opportunities as men.

The majority of the world's 1.3 billion absolute poor are women.

On average, women receive between 30 and 40 per cent less pay than men earn for the same work.

And everywhere, women continue to be victims of violence, with rape and domestic violence listed as significant causes of disability and death among women of reproductive age worldwide.

Dates task

Read the article quickly & decide what events the following dates refer to.

8 March 1857

March 1859

8 March 1908

28 February 1909


19 March 1911

25 March 1911

the last Sunday in February 1913

23 February 1917

27 February 1917


December 1977





Vocab suggestions

Vocabulary connected to the lexical field

expansion and turbulence
booming population growth
radical ideologies
staged a protest
inhumane working conditions
labour union
basic rights
the workplace
marched through NY City
demanding shorter work hours, better pay voting    rights and an end to child labour
economic security
the declaration of the Socialist Party of America
an international conference
a proposal
an International Day to mark the strike
the proposal was greeted with unanimous approval
elected to
established to honour the movement
the right to vote
the declaration
a series of rallies
they demanded the right to work and an end to    discrimination on the job
lack of safety measures
led many protests
funeral march
labour legislation
the peace movement brewing on the eve of
to express solidarity with
opposed the timing of the strike
granted the right to vote

How It Happened

How It Happened -
A Brief History of International Women's Day

The idea of an International Women's Day first arose at the turn of the century, which in the industrialized world was a period of expansion and turbulence, booming population growth and radical ideologies.

On 8 March 1857, women working in clothing and textile factories (called 'garment workers') in New York City, in the United States, staged a protest. They were fighting against inhumane working conditions and low wages. The police attacked the protestors and dispersed them. Two years later, again in March, these women formed their first labour union to try and protect themselves and gain some basic rights in the workplace.

On 8 March 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter work hours, better pay, voting rights and an end to child labour. They adopted the slogan "Bread and Roses", with bread symbolizing economic security and roses a better quality of life. In May, the Socialist Party of America designated the last Sunday in February for the observance of National Women's Day.

Following the declaration of the Socialist Party of America, the first ever National Woman's Day was celebrated in the United States on 28 February 1909. Women continued to celebrate it on the last Sunday of that month through 1913.

An international conference, held by socialist organizations from around the world, met in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1910. The conference of the Socialist International proposed a Women's Day which was designed to be international in character. The proposal initially came from Clara Zetkin, a German socialist, who suggested an International Day to mark the strike of garment workers in the United States. The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, including the first three women elected to the parliament of Finland. The Day was established to honour the movement for women's rights, including the right to vote (known as 'suffrage'). At that time no fixed date was selected for the observance.

The declaration of the Socialist International had an impact. The following year, 1911, International Women's Day was marked for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. The date was March 19 and over a million men and women took to the streets in a series of rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded the right to work and an end to discrimination on the job.

Less than a week later, on 25 March, the tragic Triangle Fire in New York City took place. Over 140 workers, mostly young Italian and Jewish immigrant girls working at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, lost their lives because of the lack of safety measures. The Women's Trade Union League and the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union led many of the protests against this avoidable tragedy, including the silent funeral march which brought together a crowd of over 100,000 people. The Triangle Fire had a significant impact on labour legislation and the horrible working conditions leading up to the disaster were invoked during subsequent observances of International Women's Day.

As part of the peace movement brewing on the eve of World War I, Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around 8 March of the following year, women held rallies either to protest the war or to express solidarity with their sisters.

With 2 million Russian soldiers dead in the war, Russian women again chose the last Sunday in February 1917 to strike for "bread and peace". Political leaders opposed the timing of the strike, but the women went on anyway.

The rest is history: Four days later the Czar of Russia was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. That historic Sunday fell on 23 February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia, but coincided with 8 March on the Gregorian calendar used by people elsewhere.


Since those early years, International Women's Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike.

In December 1977 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace. Four global United Nations women's conferences have helped make the demand for women's rights and participation in the political and economic process a growing reality.

In 1975 the UN drew global attention to women's concerns by calling for an International Women's year and convening the first conference on women in Mexico City. Another convention was held in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1980.

In 1985, the UN convened a third conference on women in Nairobi, Kenya, to look at what had been achieved at the end of the decade.

In 1995, Beijing hosted the Fourth World Conference on Women. Representatives from 189 different countries agreed that inequalities between women and men has serious consequences for the well-being of all people. The conference declared a set of goals for progress of women in various areas including politics, health, and education. The final document issued by the conference (called the "Platform for Action") had this to say: "The advancement of women and the achievement of equality between women and men are a matter of human rights and a condition for social justice and should not be seen in isolation as a women's issue."

Five years later, in a 23rd special session of the United Nations General Assembly, "Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st Century" reviewed the progress the world has made towards achieving the goals set out by the Beijing conference. This conference has come to be known as the "Beijing +5" conference. Delegates found both progress and perservering obstacles. The delegates made further agreements to continue carrying out the initiatives of the 1995 women's conference.

Discussion points

With your partner(s), consider the following points:

1. Is there a need in your country to celebrate Women's Day? Why (not)?

2. What can we do to help women's rights?

3. What could your government do to help?

4. What could be done in schools to help?

Back to the contents

St. David

Dewi Sant

If you focussed on the Oscars last week in the build up, don't forget to devote some time to seeing if the students' predictions were right - a short speaking task or a bigger lesson around videos or written reports of the event.


March 1st is St David's Day, the patron saint of Wales, as good an excuse as any for a lesson centred around the often overlooked country of Wales. For information on the country, check out:

Welsh Tourist Board

If your students have internet access, ask them to design a week's holiday in Wales. After giving them an overview of the country; geography, history & culture, they use the sites to design a seven day itinerary. A pair or small group activity would possibly produce more interesting routes, as well as language use. They come together & explain their choices.

There is a very nicely told story of St David & the Day from the BBC at:

From this material, for a warmer or part of a lesson on St David's Day, here's a matching task for quite low levels & up:

Match the headings up with the appropriate paragraph. The paragraphs are in the order they appear in the text

1. The Legend of his Baptism
2. Before his Birth
3. David's Early Life, and another Legend
4. The Legend of his Birth
5. St David and the Spin Doctor
6. David Escapes Poison
7. David the Monk
8. What Was St David Like
9. St David Fact File

There aren't many facts about St David; but here are the only undisputed ones.

  • He really existed
  • He was at the heart of the Welsh church in the 6th century
  • He came from an aristocratic family in West Wales
  • His mother was a saint, Saint Non
  • His teacher was also a saint, St Paulinus
  • He founded a large monastery in West Wales
  • He was one of the early saints who helped to spread Christianity among the pagan Celtic tribes of Western Britain
  • He became Archbishop of Wales, but remained in his community at Menevia (now called St Davids)
  • He was active in suppressing the Pelagian heresy
  • His shrine became a great place of pilgrimage; four visits to the shrine at St David’s was considered the equivalent of two to Rome, and one to Jerusalem!

The most famous story about Saint David tells how he was preaching to a huge crowd and the ground is said to have risen up, so that he was standing on a hill and everyone had a better chance of hearing him.

St David's Day has been a national festival in Wales since the 18th century, and is still marked with gusto.

Many people will wear either a daffodil or a leek, which are both symbols of Wales.

The other Welsh symbol, Y Ddraig Goch (the Red Dragon, Wales's national flag), will be flown on many more buildings than usual.

Concerts are held to mark the occasion, particularly male voice choirs.

Most information about the Saint comes from a biography written by Rhygyfarch in the eleventh century. But because it was written so long after the Saint's death, it isn't likely to be very reliable.

Anyway, Rhygyfarch was a bit of a spin-doctor, and slanted his book to make the case for the Welsh church being independent of Canterbury. One writer describes Rhygyfarch's book as "chiefly a tissue of inventions".

So most of what we know about Saint David is really legend; and none the less inspiring for it.
The first legend is set 30 years before David was born when an angel foretold his birth to St. Patrick.
St David's father was a prince called Sant, son of the King of Cardigan.

His mother, Non, was the daughter of a local chieftain (and possibly the niece of King Arthur).

But David wasn't the child of a love-filled marriage. He was born after his father either seduced or raped Non, who went on to become a nun.

Non left her family and gave birth by the sea. So intense was the birth that her fingers left marks where she grasped the rocks.

As David was born a bolt of lightning from heaven struck the rock and split it in two.
St David was baptised by St. Elvis of Munster, and it is said that a blind man was cured by the water used for the baptism.
David was schooled at the local monastery, Hen Fynyw, which is south of present day Aberaeron, and was taught by Paulinus, a blind monk.

David cured Paulinus of his blindness by making the sign of the cross. Realising that David was a special and holy person, Paulinus sent him off as a missionary to convert the pagan people of Britain.
In the course of his travels, David is said to have founded twelve monasteries.
At one of his monasteries David became so unpopular with his monks for the life of austerity he made them live, that they tried to poison him.

David was warned about this by St Scuthyn, who travelled from Ireland on the back of a sea-monster for the purpose.

David blessed the poisoned bread and ate it; and came to no harm.

St David is often shown with a dove on his shoulder. The bird symbolises the Holy Spirit which gave David the gift of eloquence as he preached the Good News of Christianity.

But although he was a great preacher, the message by which St David is most remembered is not a flowery piece of preaching but a simple statement about simplicity. It comes from his last sermon...

In his last sermon David told his monks to "do the little things, the small things you’ve seen me doing".


For a language focus, apart from vocabulary, there are a few
passives you could pick up on.

Back to the contents


The Oscars

It's Oscar time again. You may think it all a complete waste of time & unworthy of attention but it does provide interesting content for your lessons. Students will have seen some of the nominated films, have an opinion about them & all can have fun.

Did you know that:

'Popular legend has the Oscars statuette as unchanging, made of precious metals, and non-replaceable. This is not entirely the case. One-off variants have twice been produced. In 1939, Walt Disney was voted a special award for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The Academy presented him with one normal one, plus seven little miniatures.'

'In 1937, the supporting actress winner Alice Brady was at home nursing a broken ankle. When her award was announced, a man stepped forward to receive it, then left the stage. Neither he nor the statuette was ever seen again.'
These are from the article 'Oscars Babylon: Tales from the Academy awards - Tonight, Hollywood's red carpet is rolled out once again for the annual orgy of self-congratulation. But not everything in the history of the Oscars is a cause for back-slapping.'

Read the article, take a few notes & give your students some interesting live listening.


Below are the 2013 nominations in the main categories, together with last year's winner. Among things you can do with them:
- students can explain the film plots & their opinions to others who have not viewed them.
- view the trailers to some of the films on YouTube.
- with the films all have seen, have a mini-Oscar voting discussion, or just from the trailers & what they promise.
- discuss last year's winner - deserving or not.
- write short summaries of films seen.
- write a review of one of the films - for an exam-based group that needs practice with this genre.

Nominees: Amour, Life of Pi, Argo, Lincoln, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Silver Linings Playbook, Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, Les Misérables

Last year's winner: The Artist

Nominees: Michael Haneke (Amour), Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Ang Lee (Life of Pi), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)

Last year's winner: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Nominees: Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Denzel Washington (Flight) , Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables))

Last year's winner: Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Nominees: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Naomi Watts (The Impossible), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)

Last year's winner: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Nominees: Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

Last year's winner: Octavia Spencer, The Help


A few classroom ideas from past Tips on the Oscars:

Have a look at the following short article:

Academy has custody of some 100 orphaned Oscars
By The Associated Press – 18.2.09

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences requires all Oscar nominees to sign a contract specifying that they will not sell their statuette without first offering it back to the 
academy for $1.

The so-called winner's agreement dates back to 1951, at a time when the organization began to worry about orphaned Oscars winding up in the hands of the highest bidder.

So, how many Oscar winners have sold their statuettes to the academy for a buck?

None, says AMPAS Executive Director Bruce Davis, although Oscars still make their way back to the academy's custody.

"We have statuettes willed back to us fairly regularly — maybe two per year — from recipients who don't have appropriate heirs, or who just want to be sure that nothing undignified ever befalls their Oscar," Davis says.

The academy says it owns almost 100 statuettes that have been returned by winners, heirs, or buyers like Steven Spielberg, who purchased pre-agreement Oscars won by Clark Gable and Bette Davis in order to return them to AMPAS.

Statuettes from the collection occasionally go on display at 
academy headquarters in Beverly Hills, Calif., and eventually, the organization's long-planned Oscar museum in Hollywood will include space for more of the collection.

To use this - cut & mix up the paragraphs & students put in a 
logical order. They justify their logical sequencing decisions to 
all Then possibly on to some other language focus eg. direct & 
indirect speech decisions. 
Follow this with a discussion:- why & what uses could the 
statuettes be put to? Some must have been sold as Spielberg 
needed to buy them back? etc...


- Check out any of the following for good material on the cinema & the Oscars: - an excellent source of info about film. The author, Timothy Dirks, lists his top 100 all time favourite films - you'll probably disagree - there's a paragraph about each of the 100 films which could be exploited nicely in class. Lots of other related topics including the famous film quotes page.

- - a massive collection of film scripts. Gone are the days of transcribing pages of the script to use in class. Just copy & paste the part you need.

- Oscar quiz - check out the Tim Dirks' site above.

- Oscars - discuss equivalent in own country - language of prediction & comparison before 'X will win because...' - language of past criticism afterwards 'X should've won because...' - language of dis/agreement with the Oscar results

- Lexical field - actor, actress, star, an extra, a bit part, producer, cameraman, studio, to shoot a film, still, clip, excerpt, set, on location, to edit, script, lines, costumes, action, different genres (western, comedy, adventure, sci-fi etc), screening, premier, critic, reviews ...

- A good opportunity to review narrative telling.

- Past Tips around film:
Budding Screenwriters:
Shadow reading:

- Famous film quotes - match film, character & quote. - 100 quotes
'To get an Oscar would be an incredible moment in my career, there is no doubt about that. But the 'Lord of the Rings' films are not made for Oscars, they are made for the audience.'
Peter Jackson 
'I live in Spain. Oscars are something that are on TV Sunday night. Basically, very late at night. You don't watch, you just read the news after who won or who lost. '
Javier Bardem

- Film reviews - students could write them for films they have recently seen to swap around for colleagues to read & add comments when seen - an on-going mini-project. There are several net chat groups for students devoted to this as well.

- Cinema What's On Guide - a similar procedure as given for the lonely heart's guide we mentioned in the last newsletter - we would naturally scan a cinema guide so give out one to each students & you ask a question, the students look quickly for the answer & raise their hands when they have found it - wait till half have their hands up & elicit the answer & locate it for those who are having difficulties. Have eight to ten questions ready e.g.. Where can you see 'The Full Monty? What time/How much ...etc. It's a very good way of gauging the scanning ability in the group.

- Making a film - imperatives - beginner students act out a short scene using imperatives from the director on tape - total physical response - a great effective way of building up elementary students store of verbs. A possible procedure would be to act it out yourself, taking on both roles while students listen & watch you, after several times the students then act out to the tape & then they write their own instructions in small groups for a short scene & you can feed in the verbs they need. The one std reads out the verbs & the others from the group act - for the rest of the class to observe.
Tip - Action - TPR:

- Interviews with the stars - dubbing - this involves the class discussing a picture of a film star & writing a list of questions they would like to ask the person in the picture. When a series of questions has been complied, give the picture to a std who takes on that role & the others interview her/him. A well prepared roleplay then ensues.

- Interview with a film star - one word collective person - this is a fun, challenging roleplay. There is an interviewer & three/four students take the role of the one interviewee. Each std supplies one word in the response to a question e.g.. Why did you start acting? A:Well B:at C:school D:I A:was B:always C:involved D:in A:the B:Christmas C:play. Each std has to continue the utterance so that it makes sense. Can be difficult but lots of fun.

- Day in the life of a film star - this could come as a continuation of the previous activity - students write up a typical day by way of compiling the responses from the interview - they take notes when they ask the questions.

- Discussion topics - Does violence in movies influence real-life events? - Prefer the book or the film? - The film star you would like to meet? What say/do? - Where prefer to sit in the cinema? Front, middle, back? Why?

- Roleplay ideas - son wants to be an actor, Dad wants him to be a doctor like him, Mum is caught in the middle - you are an actor in the middle of shooting a film & the director wants to change your lines (reduce them!) & you disagree strongly etc.

- Have a class outing to the cinema & then use it in class.

- Get students to go to see films & report back to the class - if they go to the cinema a lot, this could be a regular early in the week feature of the lesson. They could write reviews for each other, recommending or not that they see the film.

Back to the contents

To the Past Teaching Tips

Back to the top

Tips & Newsletter Sign up —  Current Tip —  Past Tips 
Train with us Online Development Courses    Lesson Plan Index
 Phonology — Articles Books  LinksContact
Advertising — Web Hosting — Front page

Copyright 2000-2016© Developing