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Stop cards
Remember, remember

Running text together

You could run text together with gaps between words & withoutgapsbet
weenwords, justastringofletters.

Here are a couple of ideas to use text that is 'runtogether':

• imagine you have been looking at the vocabulary for cinema recently & you want to quickly review it. Give out the following text & ask the students to find the word boundaries. Good for warmers.


• you could use whole utterences strung together & students identify where the breaks are. Then go on to analyse the language.


Students could then mark the tone units & look for the tonic syllables. For more on tone units & prominence.

• a variation could be to find the words that don't fit into the lexical set - the odd one out.


• to use for awareness of English spelling have a string of unknown or fictitious words & stds divide up the string into possible English words. stds compare ideas & then as a class discuss choices e.g. where would you make the breaks in this string.


• write out a song or poem you are going to use in paragraph form without capitals or punctuations. Read out the poem or play the song & the students make corrections, adding capitals & punctuation. For example:

It's been a hard day's night and I've been working like a dog it's been a hard day's night I should be sleeping like a dog but when I get home to you I find the things that you do will make me feel all right

You know I work all day to get you money to buy you things and it's worth it just to hear you say You're gonna give everything so why I love to come home 'cause when I get you alone you know I'll be OK

When I'm home everything seems to be all right when I'm home feeling you holding me tight, tight, yeah

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Stop cards
Stop cards

Henny was telling me about an experiment she tried out recently with her beginner group. It has to do with the age-old problem of encouraging the students to speak in English & not reverting unnecessarily to their native language.

Henny had the idea of giving each student a card with 'In English, please' written on it. These cards were nicely presented on coloured card & plastified, helping to increase their value.

When in pairwork, if their partner was speaking too much Spanish, the student would simply hold up the card. So instead of just asking each other to speaking Spanish, which they rarely would, this way of doing it means less loss of face for the 'offender' & more chance that they will ask each other to cut down on the native language.

It was working well. The students were enthusiastic about using the cards & time spent in the class was being maximised.

Another important use for the cards is for the students to also use them for the teacher if they feel the teacher is using too much of their native language. Democracy at work, empowering the learners.

Try it out & see.

You can read Henny's articles on the site:

Cultural diversity - Managing Same-Sex Orientation in the Classroom

Listening to the Learners: The Role of the Learner Diary in RSA/ UCLES CTEFLA Teaching Practice

Using the In-Service Feedback Session to Actively Promote Teacher Self-Development

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Remember, remember
The 5th of November

As Bonfire Night is with us on the 5th, Tuesday evening, here are some ideas on the theme.

Before beginning you might like to take get a cup of tea & take a break with this link. I like fireworks but I don't like to be too near them when they go off or land so this is an ideal way of appreciating them. Total control.

Although Bonfire Night is celebrated on Tuesday evening, there's no reason why you shouldn't look at it later on the week if it doesn't fit with your timetable for earlier on in the week.

barrels of gunpowder

Here's an outline for an intermediate upwards reading, vocabulary & speaking lesson. Clearly the texts could be exploited for many different language areas so have a good look to see if there's anything that fits with your particular group/student.

1. Start the lesson by putting this rhyme on the board, explain any difficult vocab & then elicit what they might know. If nothing then tell them all will be explained in the reading text coming up. You could also look at the rhythm. For using cuisenaire rods for rhythm.

"Remember, remember
The 5th of November
Gunpowder treason and plot
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!"

The texts used below are used with permission from

2. Copy the text & cut up each paragraph, give a copy of the paragraphs mixed up to each pair & the put into a logical order. In the feedback discuss why they chose the orders - the cohesive devices.

The History of the Gunpowder Plot

In 1605, Guy Fawkes (also known as Guido - yes, really) and a group of conspirators attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

After Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, English Catholics who had had a rough time under her reign had hoped that her successor, James I, would be more tolerant of their religion. Alas, he was not, and this angered a number of young men who decided that violent action was the answer.

One young man in particular, Robert Catesby suggested to some close friends that the thing to do was to blow up the Houses of Parliament. In doing so, they would kill the King, maybe even the Prince of Wales, and the Members of Parliament who were making life difficult for the Catholics. Today these conspirators would be known as extremists, or terrorists.

To carry out their plan, the conspirators got hold of 36 barrels of gunpowder - and stored it in a cellar, just under the House of Lords.

But as the group worked on the plot, it became clear that some innocent people would be hurt or killed in the attack. Some of the plotters started having second thoughts. One of the group members even sent an anonymous letter warning his friend, Lord Monteagle, to stay away from the Parliament on November 5th.

The warning letter reached the King, and the King's forces made plans to stop the conspirators.
Guy Fawkes, who was in the cellar of the parliament with the 36 barrels of gunpowder when the authorities stormed it in the early hours of November 5th, was caught, tortured and executed.

It's unclear if the conspirators would ever have been able to pull off their plan to blow up the Parliament even if they had not been betrayed - some people think the gunpowder they were planning to use was so old as to be useless. Since Guy Fawkes and his colleagues got caught before trying to ignite the powder, we'll never know for certain.

These days, Guy Fawkes Day is also known as Bonfire Night. The event is commemorated every year with fireworks and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire.

Some of the English have been known to wonder whether they are celebrating Fawkes' execution or honoring his attempt to do away with the government.

3. Elicit the story.

4. Get the stds to highlight all the vocabulary connected to the lexical set of Bonfire Night. e.g. plot, Guy Fawkes, James I, Catholics, violent, Robert Catesby, blow up, Parliament, kill, king, conspirators, plan, gunpowder, stored in the cellar, anonymous letter, Lord Monteagle, caught, tortured, executed, betrayed, ignite the powder, fireworks, burning effigies, bonfire, celebrating.

In the feedback sort out any problems - careful about getting bogged down in this though.

5. Put the title from the next text on the board & get the stds to talk about how they might have been framed.

'Was there really a Gunpowder Plot, or were the "conspirators" framed by the King?'

6. Stds then read the following text to see if they were right.

Was there really a Gunpowder Plot, or were the "conspirators" framed by the King?

There was no doubt an attempt to blow up Parliament. But Guy Fawkes and his associates may have been caught in a Jacobean sting operation.

Many of the plotters were known traitors. It would have been unlikely that they could gather 36 barrels of gunpowder and store them in a cellar under the house of Lords without the security forces getting suspicious.

Furthermore, the letter warning one of the members of government to stay away from Parliament is believed today to have been fabricated by the king's officials. Historians suggest that the letter was simply a tool for the King's officials who already knew about the plot from the very mouth of one of the plotters. The suspected turncoat? Jeremy Tresham.

As a tool for the king's men, the letter was ideal. It made it easy to explain how the king found out about the Plot and stopped it just in time before his untimely death. At the same time, the letter was vague enough to give the officials all the latitude they wanted in falsifying confessions and to pursue their own anti-Catholic ends.

There are two fundamental problems with the letter. Firstly, the letter was unsigned. Any and all of the conspirators, once apprehended, might have saved themselves from torture and perhaps even death if they had claimed to have written it. None did. In fact, not one of the conspirators who was caught appears to have known about the letter. Secondly, the letter was very vague in its content. It said nothing about the details of the planned attack. Still, the king and his men knew exactly the where and when to catch the conspirators and stop the plot. How did they know?

plot letter

7. Response to the texts - discuss what the stds think - framed or not.

8. Discuss what happens nowadays - pre-teach 'effigies' - stds read the text. You could set some comprehension questions with this & the above texts.

Bonfire Night Celebrations

The tradition of Guy Fawkes-related bonfires actually began the very same year as the failed coup. The Plot was foiled in the night between the 4th and 5th of November 1605. Already on the 5th, agitated Londoners who knew little more than that their King had been saved, joyfully lit bonfires in thanksgiving. As years progressed, however, the ritual became more elaborate.

Soon, people began placing effigies onto bonfires, and fireworks were added to the celebrations. Effigies of Guy Fawkes, and sometimes those of the Pope, graced the pyres. Still today, some communities throw dummies of both Guy Fawkes and the Pope on the bonfire (and even those of a contemporary politician or two), although the gesture is seen by most as a quirky tradition, rather than an expression of hostility towards the Pope.

Preparations for Bonfire Night celebrations include making a dummy of Guy Fawkes, which is called "the Guy". Some children even keep up an old tradition of walking in the streets, carrying "the Guy" they have just made, and beg passers-by for "a penny for the Guy." The kids use the money to buy fireworks for the evening festivities.

On the night itself, Guy is placed on top of the bonfire, which is then set alight; and fireworks displays fill the sky.

The extent of the celebrations and the size of the bonfire varies from one community to the next. Lewes, in the South East of England, is famous for its Bonfire Night festivities and consistently attracts thousands of people each year to participate.

Bonfire Night is not only celebrated in Britain. The tradition crossed the oceans and established itself in the British colonies during the centuries. It was actively celebrated in New England as "Pope Day" as late as the 18th century. Today, November 5th bonfires still light up in far out places like Newfoundland in Canada, and some areas in New Zealand.

9. Follow up activities:

• A discussion on capital punishment could begin with this short text on the gruesome outcome from the 'Conspirators' text.

'All imprisoned plotters were executed publicly in March 1607. They were "hanged, drawn, and quartered", a brutal practice which authorities hoped would instil terror in other potential traitors.

Did public executions really function as a deterrent? Or did they simply feed the climate of violence that encouraged Catesby and his men to pursue their deadly aims?'

• Discussion on the dangers of fireworks (bangers, catherine wheels, rockets..) - there are always stories in summer months of accidents at Spanish festivals

• Any similar events in history & celebrations in stds own countries - careful here as could be a sensitive area.

• With the younger learner you could give a brief oral version of the story & the traditions.

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