Six original topical teaching ideas for January 09

crocusWelcome to the first instalment of original topical teaching ideas! I aim on doing one of these every month in addition to my other blogposts. Of course, topical teaching ideas are nothing new – they are all over the web. You may even get a “topical lesson plan” in your email. So what’s different about these? Well, for one I aim to avoid the typical, tired topical dates (e.g. Valentine’s Day and Halloween). These will be slightly different topical dates. Second, I’m only going to give you an idea for a class – you have to run with it yourselves! The full lesson plans, teacher’s notes and so on are things I do for money 😉

Anyway, without further ado here are the first six OTT ideas of 2009!

1. Write a message in Braille! January 4th is Louis Braille’s 200th birth anniversary. Find a Braille-English alphabet chart and write a secret message in braille. Then give them the chart and ask them to decipher the message. Then they send messages to each other in English translated into Braille.

2. Read a classic bit of Poe! January 19th is Edgar Allen Poe’s 200th Birth Anniversary (another bicentenary!) Find a bit of one of the classic stories to study in class. If you’re dramatically inclined, do a reading of one yourself.

3. Teach how to give compliments! January 24th is Compliment Day, according to this site.  Use this to teach basic compliment phrases and have a discussion on compliments and complimenting across cultures.

4. Teach winter sports vocabulary! January 25th is the 85th anniversary of the First Winter Olympics. Teach winter sports vocabulary, or hold a class winter olympics complete with your favourite vocabulary games etc.

5. Talk money! This is the 10th anniversary of the Euro being introduced and used by banks (it arrived in regular circulation in 2002). Use this to spark off a class talking about money, prices etc. and watch how everyone has a good old moan about how expensive things are getting, but in English!

6. Banish some words! Every January, Lake Superior State University publishes this list of words they think should be banished from the Queen’s English for overuse and general meaninglessness. This year includes the words BAILOUT, WALL STREET VS MAIN STREET and GREEN. Give students some of the words and ask them to say why they think they have been overused in the news. Ask students to suggest their own “overused” words in English.  

Of course, this month is also Chinese New Year and Australia Day. Both of these will be the topic of other “topical lesson plan” places I’m sure (although I may make a six things for Australia Day all on its own). However, if you develop one of the ideas I listed you’re sure to stand out above the others in the staff room. Happy teaching!

Published in: on January 4, 2009 at 12:16 pm  Comments (7)  
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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great Ideas and topics, Lindsay!
    I thought about the braille and I am teaching a lesson on Tuesday about it.
    Funny they have a ‘compliment day’, eh?
    Other topics you could include are:

    *”Clean off your desk day” (jan 14th) – excellent for messy people just like me.

    * “National hugging day” (jan 21st)
    – want another excuse to hug somebody you like?

    and believe it or not

    * national handwriting day (jan 23rd)

    It’s crazy how they have a holiday for almost everything nowadays.


    • Thanks Leo. I had heard of clean off your desk day but not the others. I can see some of the guys in my adult intermediate class taking advantage though of national hugging day to get closer to some of their female classmates. Could get a little too personal(ised)? 🙂

  2. What about a “Shoot that Bastard you Hate at Work day”? I mean, you don’t actually have to kill him/her, just leave the poor sod critically injured. I think it could take on in a big way … in certain parts of the world, anyway.

    • Well, it seems rather early in the year to have that day but hey…

  3. I was once given a book called How To Tidy Your Desk by my boss, but it got lost in all the office mess – true. Meanwhile how can one read of a Winter Olympics anniversary and not want to watch Will Ferrell and Jon Heder in Blades of Glory? What’s that, you can? Not me. Even if it is for the 85th time.

  4. I think I would enjoy that for sure, Sid.
    I’ve got at least one or two at work that I wouldn’t mind giving it a try.

  5. How to give compliments is best one bcause compliments make people feel happy. That always good.

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