Lesson Plan: Banksy Part Two! (B2)

As promised, here’s Part Two of my Banksy lesson arc! You can find Part One here. The strength of this lesson lies in the way I personalised it for the particular city I teach in, and I encourage you to edit your materials so that your lesson can more closely reflect your own city and context.

I really can’t overstate how much production this lesson generates –  even when it comes to writing, which my students usually hate. I’ve actually just finished marking a batch of FCE formal letters based on this lesson, and the marks are the highest this class has achieved all year!

Level: B2 (Upper-Intermediate) or FCE
Age: teenagers or adults
Time: 80 minutes
Materials: exam question, list of phrases for formal letters, destroyed model text (comment for files)


  • By the end of the lesson, students will have written a formal letter (FCE Writing Part 2) in the context of graffiti and street art.
  • Students will also be more familiar with fixed expressions used in formal letters.

Continue reading Lesson Plan: Banksy Part Two! (B2)

Lesson Plan: All I Want For Christmas! (B2 to C1)

If your teenage students are anything like mine, then they’re absolutely exhausted and in desperate need of a fun, festive lesson around this time of year! This low-prep lesson outline uses a task-based learning format to help students tackle a Cambridge FCE/CAE-style speaking task in the context of Christmas presents.

Level: B2 to C1 (Upper-Intermediate to Advanced)
Age: teenagers (preferably working towards FCE or CAE)
Time: 80 minutes
Materials: 1 question sheet per student (comment for files)


  • By the end of the lesson, students will have practised FCE/CAE Speaking Part 3 in the context of Christmas presents.
  • Students will also be better able to use phrases for … [e.g. turn-taking, negotiating, etc.  – depending on what your students need to focus on]

Continue reading Lesson Plan: All I Want For Christmas! (B2 to C1)

I’m still waiting for my Delta results!

I have a theory that someone, somewhere currently knows whether or not I’ve passed Delta Module 2. Sadly, I am not that person, although I know for a fact that the results must have been released because everyone I know a friend of a friend says she’s already got hers and it’s a pass with merit, and isn’t that just kick-you-in-the-crotch laugh-out-loud amazing.

Obviously, there’s a reason why the wait for these exam results has been particularly hard. Part of it is that I blew almost three thousand euros on the course alone, and a heck of a lot more if you count the cost of flying to a foreign country, paying extortionate summer rent rates, and generally trying to stay alive and sane for two months. Y’know, if you count that sort of thing.

Part of it is that I’m currently studying for the Delta Module 1 exam, which I have to take in December, and – I won’t lie to you – morale is low. I could really do with the boost of knowing I’d already passed a very similar test set by the very same exam board.

But of course, the biggest issue is related to a post I wrote a little while ago: “I’ve forgotten how to do my job!” In it, I talk about the imposter syndrome that seems to dog so many young professionals in the world of ELT, and I daresay in the working world in general.

So, I’ll admit it again, in a different form: the main reason I’ve been so anxious to get my Delta results is that I’m genuinely worried I’ve failed. This is objectively ridiculous, because my first three assignments were graded as far away as you could reasonably get from a fail. But then again, I had to teach LSA 4 in a feverish, flu-induced haze, and maybe all my prowess as a teacher really could be undone by something as simple as a high fever.


So, come on, Cambridge. Do your worst …


I wrote a syllabus!

This morning I put the finishing touches to a three-year syllabus aimed at preparing Italian teenagers to sit for the Cambridge IGCSE in Extended Mathematics.

Even writing it down feels strange, but I’m slowly coming to terms with it. I did this. I designed a full teaching programme for CLIL students at a local state school, and heaven knows I did it with very little help.

I’m not particularly proud of the latter part, especially since my school were kind enough to send me to the official Cambridge training session in Rome last year. Unfortunately, when I got there, the workshop leader decided that addressing the topic of syllabus design wasn’t the best way of “catering to the needs of the teachers in the room”, leaving me feeling somewhat short-changed but nevertheless challenged to see what I could do about it.

Luckily, having spent most of my teaching career working in the EFL industry, I am no stranger to being asked to do something in which you have received minimal training and will be expected to learn about on the job. We can discuss the merits of that in a later post, but the fact remains: I would never have known I was capable of doing this if I hadn’t been asked to do it. Besides, I already knew the school, the course and the students inside out. If there was ever a perfect syllabus-writing situation, this was it.

The actual nitty-gritty of it wasn’t anywhere near as glamorous as I’d imagined, and mostly consisted of me spending long weekends and weekday mornings poring over the IGCSE exam syllabus from the Cambridge website, various English-language GCSE textbooks, a couple of Italian-language textbooks for the first three years of liceo, and the Italian-language maths curriculum that the students would be following simultaneously.

I started off by using a three-year wall planner to subdivide the IGCSE syllabus into ‘layers’ that could more or less be mapped onto each of the three years available for teaching. These layers were then broken down into study units using a huge academic diary. I blocked these off month-by-month, including several review opportunities and significant assessment time as advised by the exam syllabus. Then each unit had to be further subdivided into individual lessons, using the textbooks for guidance, all the while trying to mirror the meander of the Italian curriculum as closely as possible.

And now that it’s complete, two weeks later, the only thing left to do is see how it works in practice. From now until May, I get to teach the first two years of my own syllabus, which means any changes can easily be made as and when the need arises. By the end of the year I hope to have a tried-and-tested syllabus document on file, complete with lesson plans and homework tasks, and hopefully some student feedback to help me adjust and refine it for the next academic session.

Wish me luck!