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Teaching Tips 220

Happy New Year
BND '15
Spooky lessons

Happy New Year!

A very Happy New Year to all!
Let's hope it will be a prosperous year in every way for all.

There are a few new things on the site, most notably some DELTA
lessons plans by Esther Ratcliff:

- Preparing and drafting formal emails of complaint through a
process-genre approach
- Teaching functional exponents for making, rejecting & accepting
- Developing listening for specific information at C1

To begin the year in your classes try a look back with a 2015
The questions & answers are below & at the site there are photos
to go with the questions to make it more interesting. On the same
page you can find links to the last 14 years of quizzes on the
site so why not pick a couple out to use in class to provoke
discussion. Students could then discuss their personal highlights
of the past year & also what they would like to see happen in the
world & personally achieve in the coming year.

Clearly New Year Resolutions combined with your students' ideas
on improving their English would make a good focus for a lesson.
Other New Year classroom ideas on the site:
New Year Resolutions reading:
The New Year: Traditions & Resolutions:

Some other New Year material at the site:
New Year's Resolutions lesson plan:

As the sales are in full flow now there is a lesson plan about
the sales that went wrong at IKEA:

And there's a lesson plan about taking presents back to the shops:

2015 Quiz
Clearly some questions will be more relevant to certain
nationalities - choose to suit. Use the opportunity to delve into
the topics in more detail & give more speaking practice, maybe
preparing how you might do this for when you discuss the answers.

There is a pdf download of the quiz & answers at:

Questions about the year 2015 in no particular order.

Discuss the answers with your partner & at the end decide on the
top three stories of 2015.

1. What happened at a satirical magazine in Paris in January?

2. Where did women win seats in an election for the first time?

3. Who was suspended for suspected corruption?

4. Who was Time Person of the Year?

5. Which country suffered a devastating earthquake in April?

6. Which was the biggest crisis of the year in Europe?

7. Which, among several countries, suffered from the on-going
civil war?

8. Which two countries came to an agreement after many years of

9. What happened in Paris in November?

10. Which EU country was bailed out, again?

11. In which country did a bomb explode during a peace rally?

12. Which country finally had democratic elections & who is the
country's leader?

13. Which country sent their first astronaut into space?

14. Which film series returned to the screen, yet again?

What other things happened in 2015?
What happened for you personally in 2015?

What do you hope will happen for you in 2016?


1. The staff were attacked by terrorists killing 12 ounding

2. Saudi Arabia elected women into office for the very first
time. Five women won seats on local municipal councils.

3. Sepp Blatter, president at Fifa, & Michel Platinin ,
prresident at UEFA.

4. Angela Merkel.

5. Nepal - 9000+ were killed.

6. The refugee crisis.

7. Syria.

8. Cuba & the US.

9. The terrorist attack.

10. Greece.

11. Turkey

12. Myanmar with Aang San Suu Kyi elected in November

13. Tim Peake from the UK.

14. Star Wars

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BND '15

Thanksgiving in the US is nearly upon us which is followed by Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year in the US & designated as Buy Nothing Day by groups of anti-consumerism activists. On the website of the originators of Buy Nothing Day -

"Today, humanity faces a stark choice: save the planet and ditch capitalism, or save capitalism and ditch the planet."
– Fawzi Ibrahim

Until we challenge the entrenched values of capitalism – that the economy must always keep growing, that consumer wants must always
be satisfied, that immediate gratification is imperative – we're not going able to fix the gigantic psycho-financial-eco crisis of our times.

The journey towards a sane sustainable future begins with a single step. It could all start with a personal challenge, such as this: make a vow to yourself to participate in Buy Nothing Day this year. This November 28th (US - 29th in European countries), go cold turkey on consumption for 24 hours … see what happens … you just might have an unexpected, emancipatory epiphany!

Buy Nothing Day is legendary for instigating this type of personal transformation … as you suddenly remember what real living is all about … you sense an upsurge of radical empowerment and feel a strange magic creeping back into your life.

Join millions of us in over 60 countries on November 23/24 and see what it feels like. Then, after Buy Nothing Day, take the next step … for generations, Christmas has been hijacked by commercial forces … this year, let's take it back.'

buy nothing receipts

With an more advanced group the above Ibrahim quote might make an
interesting discussion to lead in. Below are a series of links & tasks for the classroom.

Buy Nothing Day lesson plan:

Buy Nothing Day - Adbusters:
Wikipedia page about Buy Nothing Day:

buy nothing day ad





Have a read of this article:

Why I Shop on Buy Nothing Day

This kind of activism is the problem, not the solution.
By Jenn Farrell
Published: November 24, 2006

As a society, we sure spend a lot of money on crap. Yep, we get into debt buying stuff that becomes quickly obsolete but first drains the planet's resources and pollutes it. My own collection of lip glosses is a fine example.

So this Friday, on Buy Nothing Day, many people across North America (and worldwide on Nov. 25) will refrain from making any purchases in an effort to increase awareness of overspending and remind people that they are more than simply consumers.

If anyone needs me, I'll be out shopping.

While I agree in principle with the noble aims behind Buy Nothing Day, I use the day to throw some cash around. Other than plain pigheadedness and hating being told what to do, I have a number of reasons.

Buy Nothing Day's biggest proponents must be the well educated and well fed, who can certainly afford to take a day off from their conspicuous consumption. While it's laudable to want to do something about the problem, I question the potential influence of a bunch of people standing in front of a suburban Wal-Mart and harassing some mother of three who just wants to get in there and buy some darned detergent. Don't lecture her about over-consumption and globalization -- she just wants to get a load of the baby's sleepers through the wash while supper's cooking.

Hoi polloi politics

As a mom myself, and at one point, a single welfare mom, I can't help but remember my own "buy nothing" days all too well. Lots of them were strung together in the week before cheque-issue day, when I just kept eating from a bag of rice and saved the few remaining bananas and carrots for my kid. Good times. Now that I actually earn some money and creep ever closer to the happy side of the poverty line, I'm beyond grateful that I'm able to buy something every day if I need to. I don't ever want to go back to diluting the milk for my cereal with water, thanks very much.

So who is Buy Nothing Day really for? It's certainly not for most wealthy, high consumers, who largely couldn't give a toot what the hoi polloi are protesting about now. And it's not for those who are already not buying anything and long to escape those circumstances. So that leaves Whitey McPrivileged, who can check to make sure he's got enough toilet paper and tea bags in the house before the big day. And while the campaign ostensibly acts as a springboard to creating more lasting change, I bet a lot of participants breathe a sigh of relief the next morning, when they can get back to business as usual. Remind me again how this changes anything?

That's why I use Buy Nothing Day for what I think are better ends. I buy "consciously" all day long -- from getting a fair trade coffee at a locally owned shop in the morning, to picking up a few Christmas gifts made by independent artists and crafters in the afternoon. Rather than take my money out of the marketplace for the day, I'll put it in the hands of people who operate in line with what I believe are ethical business practices. And whatever's left over gets split between panhandlers and charity donation boxes. It's not much, but I hope it'll do more good than "nothing."

And don't even get me started on Buy Nothing Christmas.

Here's a short procedure:

1. After introducing BNDay through some of the above materials, put the headline on the board ' Why I Shop on Buy Nothing Day' & put students into pairs to discuss reasons the writer might put forward for actually buying on the day.

2. students discuss - go round & help out with language & point them to some directions.

3. Feedback - collate some ideas on the board. .

4. Reading - students read quickly to see if any of their ideas - on the board - are in the article. Give a time limit to speed up their reading.

5. Students read.

6. Students compare in pairs >> feedback.

7. Vocab pre-teaching before the intensive reading - you might want to teach the following: Hoi polloi, welfare..& anything else you consider 'crucial' for the task.

8 Set the more intensive task - give out the following questions & set the task:

a. Does the writer agree with BNDay? Why/why not?

b. Who does she think might be offended by BNDay?

c. How has her life changed?

d. What type of person does she think is proposing BNDay?

e. What type of person does she think it is really directed at?

f. What is her approach to the issue?

9. Students read individually to answer the questions.

10. Students compare in pair >> feedback.

11. Elicit the 'response' to the text - what do they think of the ideas expressed in the article?

You could then return to the language in the article & do some 'noticing' tasks - vocabulary, structures & discourse aspects - choose to suit.

12. Integrate the skills - look through the above materials & develop the theme of BNDay through the speaking, listening, reading & writing skills.

Keep calm, don't shop poster

Here's the FAQ, from the BND UK site, made into a matching task:

Match up the questions with the answers below.
1. What is Buy Nothing Day all about?
2. Where did BND come from?
3. What's the point?
4. Who runs it?
5. Why is there two different dates/days?
6. But what will I achieve?
7. Do you want me to stop shopping altogether?
8. What is so bad about shopping?
9. What about the environment?
10. Is one day really going to make a difference?
11. Has the day been successful in previous years?
12. What can I do?
a. In Canada and USA Buy Nothing Day falls the Friday after the American Thanks Giving Day. In Europe we hold our celebration The last Saturday in November. We're always out shopping on Saturday, so it makes sense.
b. It's not shopping in itself that's so harmful, it's what we buy. The two areas that we need to concentrate on are the environment and poverty. The rich western countries - only 20% of the world population are consuming over 80% of the earth's natural resources, causing a disproportionate level of environmental damage and unfair distribution of wealth. We need to worry about the way our goods are produced. Increasingly large companies use labour in developing countries to produce goods because its cheap and there aren't the systems to protect workers like there are in the west.
c. Buy Nothing Day started in 1993 by the founders of Adbusters and is now an international event celebrated in over 55 countries.
d. It's incredibly challenging to last 24 hours without spending any money these days. You'll feel detoxed from shopping and realise how much it uses up your free time - especially when there are 101 THINGS to do. For 24 hours you'll got your life back - that's a big achievement! We want you to make a commitment to consuming less, recycling more and challenging corporations to clean up and be fair. Modern consumerism might offer great choice, but this shouldn't be at the cost of the environment or developing countries.
e. It won't hurt to stop for one day and we don't expect the UK to grind to a halt. Like we said, we want to challenge people to think about the effects of what they buy has on the environment and developing countries.
f. Buy Nothing Day isn't about changing your lifestyle for just one day - it's a lasting relationship - maybe a life changing experience! We aim to make Buy Nothing Day stick in peoples minds so they think about the future and turn their back on the throw away society we have become.
g. Literally, doing nothing is doing something! However, check out the BND-UK web site then join a JAMMER GROUP or start one up and support Buy Nothing day which is great fun!
h. As consumers, we should question the products we buy and the companies who produce them. The idea is to make people stop and think about what and how much they buy effects the environment and developing countries.
i. Absolutely, and it's getting bigger and better every year! See the home page for links to newspaper articles and other resources and news from previous years.
j. Buy Nothing Day (November 30th 2013 UK), is a simple idea, which challenges consumer culture by asking us to switch off from shopping for a day. Its a global stand off from consumerism - celebrated as a holiday by some and street party for others! Anyone can take part provided they spend a day without spending!
k. The raw materials and production methods that are used to make so many of our goods have harmful side affects such as toxic waste, destruction of wild life, and wasted energy. The transport of goods internationally also contributes to pollution especially when many can be produced nationally.
l. You do - it's your day - so get involved! Tell all your friends, put up posters and refuse to shop on November 30th 2013 in Europe or November 29th 2013 Canada/USA. The BND-UK site is part of global network of campaigns - see the links to the left for more BND sites around the world.
Other than that try to follow this check list before you buy something.
* Do I need it?
* How many do I already have?
* How much will I use it?
* How long will it last?
* Could I borrow it from a friend or family member?
* Can I do without it?
* Am I able to clean and/or maintain it myself?
* Am I willing to?
* Will I be able to repair it?
* Have I researched it to get the best quality for the best price?
* How will I dispose of it when I'm done using it?
* Are the resources that went into it renewable or nonrenewable?
* Is it made or recycled materials, and is it recyclable?
* Is there anything that I already own that I could substitute for it?

Answers to the matching

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Spooky lessons

Halloween is nearly upon us so below are some ideas & links for
the week ahead.

Nearly all the ideas are appropriate for the younger learner
classes but the Catholic celebration of All Saints' Day could
make for an interesting topic for more adult students:
Using the topic of death in class is fairly taboo, but does it
really have to be? I remember using some interesting material
from the coursebook Mode 2 or Mode 3 on the theme of death. The
reading text is an excerpt from The Diary of Adrian Mole. He goes
to his grandmother's funeral & describes what happens - a
humourous & really good choice of material which went down well
with the group, & allowed the theme to be explored & vocabulary
presented & practised.


Here's another story to ease into the theme:

Fate - A Hebrew Folktale

King Solomon's servant came breathlessly into the court, "Please!
Let me borrow your fastest horse!" he said to the King. "I must
be in a town ten miles south of here by nightfall!"

"Why?" asked King Solomon.

"Because," said his shuddering servant, "I just met Death in the
garden! Death looked me in the face! I know for certain I'm to be
taken and I don't want to be around when Death comes to claim

"Very well," said King Solomon. "My fastest horse has hoofs like
wings. TAKE HIM." Then Solomon walked into the garden. He saw
Death sitting there with a perplexed look on its face. "What's
wrong?" asked King Solomon.

Death replied, "Tonight I'm supposed to claim the life of your
servant whom I just now saw in your garden. But I'm supposed to
claim him in a town ten miles south of here! Unless he had a
horse with hooves like wings, I don't see how he could get there
by nightfall . . ."

After dealing with the story (eg give out the first four lines
jumbled up, the students order them, & then try to predict the
continuation, & finally give out the last line to see if they
were right, & then a response to the text) the lexical field can
be explored: death, to kick the bucket, pass away, coffin,
cremation, deceased etc... And then a discussion of different
countries' & religions' attitudes to death, how death is dealt
with in your environment etc... For example, when I came to Spain
I found it strange that the funeral tends to be the day after a
person dies, a very quick process, here one day & literally
buried the next.

Clearly sensitivity is required but it certainly makes for more
interesting lessons than the stock topics such as 'holidays'!


Monster consequences
This is a variation on the game consequences where you circulate
papers in turn adding a bit of information, folding them over &
then at the end opening out the paper & reading out the wacky
result. Here you design a monster. All students take a piece of
paper & describe the monsters head at the top - this could be
drawn. They then fold the paper & hand it to their neighbour to
their left. Then all describe the body & do the same - fold &
hand on. And on like this with a scary feature, the food it eats,
something about its habits, a noise it makes & a name for the
monster. At the end each student opens the paper & reads aloud
about their monster. Instead of folding the students could see
the previous things & have more of an idea of the monster & a
description is being built.

Scary movies
Students write a list of scary movies & explain what happens in
their favourite one. Then, each group designs a new monster for a
new scary movie. They decide on its name, eating habits, likes &
dislikes, physical description, habits etc.

Start you own business - rent-a-ghost
People rent hosts from your company to scare others at Halloween.
Design a brochure of available ghosts for hire, including a
picture & description of haunting characteristics, special
talents & hourly rates. Students then roleplay sellers/customers
looking for an appropriate ghost. Give the customers a role card
before with ideas.

Ghost interviews
You have a Rent-a-Ghost business which is going well & need to
hire more ghosts. Interviewers prepare suitable questions to
interview ghosts e.g. ways of scaring people, special talents,
why they would be good for the job etc. Ghosts also prepare
mini-CVs containing previous experience, special haunting skills,
ghost courses completed. They need to ask about conditions & pay
at the interview. The interviews take place & the best ghosts are

Ghost hunters
Like Ghost Busters, the film, these people get rid of ghosts. All
students draw a ghost & the teacher takes them in. Std A - has
spotted a ghost in their house - one of the ghosts that has been
drawn, & they must describe the ghost, what it does, when it
arrived, conditions in the house when it arrived etc. Std B -
works for 'Ghost Hunters' & will interview the house owner about
the ghost. Also give advice on what to do to get rid of the

Radio Show - interview with a vampire
Students write down everything they know about vampires - two
Grp A are the presenters on a radio show - they interview about
the vampire's daily routine, clothes, habits, likes etc.
Grp B - are the vampires who prepare details about themselves.
Could record the interviews.

Design a potion
Students design a new potion & the advert that sells it. They
need to decide on its magical properties, who it's for, what it
contains, the packaging, name & slogan. All mingle selling their
potions to each other, persuading each other they need this new
magical potion.

Scary sounds
You need a tape of a series of scary sounds. Play the tape &
students work out a story that fits. If no tape, you could make
the noises!

Horror story writing
Students first plan the story deciding on the time, setting,
characters, plot etc. (background-problem-solution-outcome) Could
also look at specific vocab they might need - scared, terrified,
scream, creaking, gloomy, chains, etc.

Act it out
Students discuss fave scary movie & choose a sketch to act out.
They write a dialogue & then could write it as a radio play with
background scary effects.

Halloween party
Students decide what costumes they would wear & what these
character live would be like. Students then act out the party.
Could use role cards to smooth things along.

Make a Mummy
Lots of toilet paper required to wrap round one of the children!
Or teams - the first to make a Mummy.


From a brief look around at sites dedicated to Halloween it seems
quite a commercial time. A lot of the sites have something to
sell but keep looking & you’ll also find lots on information to
use with all ages & types of classes.
A couple of links for Halloween stuff:
Lots of quality material for lessons from the British Council.

For information about storytelling, how to tell effective
stories, check out the article used in the lesson plan here:

And a few more ghost story sites:
Reading about werewolves & links to related site
101 Halloween ideas

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