The Teach-Off – Coursebk Day 3

This is Varinder Unlu’s account of her 3rd Day using the coursebook.

Click here if you need a refresher on what’s happened till now.

Meanwhile, let me hand you over to Varinder


25th April 2012

We had another student join the class today so that takes our total to 12 students now.  He is from Brazil.


Today’s objectives:

To increase students’ knowledge of lexis related to money and business

To improve students’ listening skills

To improve students’ pronunciation

To improve students’ speaking

To improve students’ reading skills


Pages 80, 81 and 144 of Global Intermediate


I was in the classroom before the students arrived this morning because I wanted to set up the listening and also a clip from Youtube about a lady who lives without money (one and a half minutes long).

Most of the students arrived on time.  I asked the students if they had done their homework (Pg 144 from Global).  They had done and I asked them to compare their answers with their partner. We conducted a brief class feedback to check answers as whole class.

I then wrote the word “Money” on the whiteboard and asked the students to give me as many examples as they could of how they could get money:

Answers from students:  Earn it, invest it and get interest, win it, find it, borrow it. I added steal it and inherit it to their list.    We then discussed ways of using money.  Answers from students: spend it, lose it, lend it, save it.  One student was trying to “give to someone take care of animals.” I told him that it’s donate to charity. 

We briefly discussed if students thought it would be possible to live without money.  Most of the students said no.  I played a short clip from Youtube of a trailer of a woman who lives without money.  I asked students to listen to how she manages to survive.  After the clip I repeated the questions and one said “she work for people to get food.” Another said “ people give her tickets” (for travel). I asked the class if they could live like this and all the students said no because it would be difficult.

I asked students to look at page 80 of Global and focused their attention on the first activity.  (Speaking Activity to put into order the best to worst way of making more money).  Students read the instructions and I checked that they had understood what they needed to do.  Students worked alone and ordered them 1-7 and then compared their answers and explained to each other why they had ordered them how they had.


Listening activity:  I wrote the word “bubble” on the board and asked the class if they could give me a definition for it.  One student made held up his hands as if he was holding a ball and said “bubble”.  I asked them to look at the two questions and then read then the definition to answer them.  Students had two minutes to do this.  A class check confirmed that they had got the meaning.

I explained to that the class were going to listen to someone talking about the first known economic bubble: Tulipmania.  In pairs students discussed the meaning of the following words: bulb, guilder, outstrip, trader, profit. None of students knew the meaning of the first three and I explained these to them.  I put the gist question on the board and played the listening.  Students discussed their answer in pairs and during feedback asked if they could  listen to it again so I played the listening for a second time and we checked the answer.  The students then looked at the multiple choice activity (exercise  4). Once they had read the sentences, I played the listening for the third time, students checked their answers and I played it one final time to allow them to confirm their answers.  The students found the listening quite challenging and that’s why I played as many times as they needed it. I think they appreciated the fact that they were allowed to hear it more than twice.

For the next activity (5) on page 80, I put the class into two groups rather than have them working in pairs.  They had already done a lot of pair work – checking their answers to the listening and the first activity that I felt it would be better to change it.  In their groups, I could hear some interesting exchanges about why they agreed or didn’t agree with the statements.  There was quite a lot of disagreement about if the government should help people if the market crashes and the students had quite strong opposing views.  I allowed the discussion to develop with the following lexis emerging: bankrupt, greed, greedy, recession, mortgage, property boom, intervene, intervention, taxpayer, interest rates dropped/fell, vote, election, status symbol.

After the break, we continued working from the book and students looked at page 81 – Vocabulary and pronunciation.  Students worked in pairs to complete the tables.  I played the listening for them to check their answers.  I then asked them to mark the stress on the words and played the listening again for them to hear the pronunciation to check their answers.  We checked the answers by me writing the words on the board and students marking the stress.  A quick session of choral and individual drilling ensured that they had got the stress right.  They had quite a lot of fun with this by exaggerating the stress.  Students then completed exercise 3.  We checked answers and I asked students to choose one of the statements and write a short paragraph about it for homework.  The word “fairtrade” came out from the checking of answers.

On Monday I had asked the class to read the first story from the Sherlock Holmes book they had chosen and so in the final 15 minutes of today’s class we focused on this.  In two groups the students discussed what the story was about, what they liked/disliked about it and shared three new words/phrases they had learned.

We had a quick recap of today’s objectives and the class said they had found the listening challenging and wanted to know about ways of improving their listening skills.  We discussed different ways of doing this, ie watching tv, listening to the radio, going to the school Self Access centre and using the Language Lab

Today’s lesson felt very intense and full and I must say I was a little worried that it might be too much for the learners.  During the break I stayed behind in the classroom with three of the Japanese students and they said that up to that point they had found the class challenging as there was a lot of lexis related to the economy and business, something which they had not looked at before.  I asked if they thought it was useful for them even though they were finding it a challenge and answered yes!

At the end of the lesson I had three students approach me individually to say how much they had enjoyed the class and felt they had learned lot. 

I left out the grammar activity out on purpose because we had already looked at the grammar yesterday and the students had also completed an exercise for homework.  By doing this in class today would have been a slight overload for the learners.

I was also worried about the listening about tulips but did not allow my worries to be projected to the learners.  In fact I tried to make it interesting by giving them a little fact about tulips – they originated in Turkey (true!!).  The students were really surprised by this. And I also tried to make the language rather than the topic the focus of the listening.

Today’s class went better than I had expected and it took real skill to make it work as well as it did.  I walked out of the classroom with a big smile on my face and sense of real achievement knowing  that learning had taken place in my classroom.


Author: Chia Suan Chong

I am a writer, communication skills trainer and a teacher trainer based in York, UK. I have been English Teaching Professional's resident blogger since 2012 and have a regular feature in their bimonthly magazine. My book Successful International Communication was published in Dec 2018.

10 thoughts on “The Teach-Off – Coursebk Day 3”

  1. Hi Varinder, Hi Chia,
    Sounds like you did a great job. Your lesson goes to show that a good teacher can make a coursebook come alive. I think what makes Dogme so great is that meaning is primary. Your lesson shows that even when using a coursebook a lesson can be very communacative, student-centred and meaning-focused.

    1. Hi Eric,
      Thanks for the comment, and for re-blogging Emi’s post!
      Making a language lesson communicative, meaning-focussed and may I add, useful and relevant, is indeed of utmost importance in the classroom.
      Looking forward to hearing more from you in the near future!


    2. Thank you for your encouraging comments. I always try to make my lessons as student centred as possible where learning is taking place as well as teaching.

  2. Why do you think students came to you after class to praise your lesson? There’s often a reason. Is it because your method seems more useful in the way it teaches them or that maybe they feel more ‘at home’ than in Chia’s environment. This is definitely an area of interest ie should we just give them what they are used to or should we give them what we think is best. During my MA research I uncovered a bit of ‘teacher knows best’ and he may well do but if students don’t accept it then it’s difficult.

    Do you think a coursebook-led approach instantly puts these students at ease?
    Is that because they trust books or they look more professional or just that it may actually be less demanding on them than Chia’s version? I know I would feel safer behind a book than in a conversation-based class. I like to doodle too and prepare before the lesson. Have you had this too?? When students do the book at home and turn up with completed exercises?

    Great stuff so far. You are going to keep this up all term, aren’t you???

    1. Hi Phil,
      You are this blog best commenter!!!
      Let me respond to your provocation! heh heh…
      First of all, you are assuming that the students that came up to Varinder to express their joy and gratitude and the same ones who were in my class and hadn’t done so… but do remember that 50% of the class is now made up of new students that I have never met…
      Second of all, I think it would be too early to assume that coursebook are more or less demanding or that students trust books more…
      It could simply be that the students love Varinder’s teaching and her presence in the classroom, and might not be anything to do with the coursebook either.
      But the points you bring up are very valid ones nevertheless…
      Have a look at Day 4 though… I think there’s a debate brewing there that you might like to sink your teeth into!

      Love you!

      1. Hi Chia

        We only have three new students in the class so it’s not 50% new students. Secondly, as was apparent in your feedback and focus group discussion last week, the students really appreciated how you were teaching and I remember that one learner actually didn’t want you to leave the class. The students were happy and enjoying your lessons.

    2. Not sure Phil. But I do know from being in the feedback session with Chia last week that the group enjoyed her lessons as well.

      They were quite cold towards me on Monday. I have had really work hard to show them that they are learning just as much in my lessons as they were in Chia’s. There’s no hiding behind a course book . Students are much more astute and savvy than we give them credit for and they know when they’re getting a bad deal.

  3. Excellent points Varinder. I do find it interesting ie after class praise.I used to get that from Asian students and it pushed me to live in Asia where I found it was quite different. the whole ‘enjoy’ and ‘learned’ balance is a VERY difficult one to manage. The same as student evaluation of teachers. I may be generalising again but based on my experience students aren’t always the best judges, especially straight after a lesson and they can often judge a lesson just on enjoyment and even ‘fun’. Does this influence your school? Do students expect/want/demand to be entertained and how does this influence your school/your teaching?

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