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Lesson ideas

May 08, 2007

Hello again,

I was talking to some teachers recently and they were largely in agreement with me that the course book, slavishly followed, has a stultifying effect on both students and teachers. But, they quite reasonably ...

...pointed out, finding ideas for their own lessons is an ongoing challenge; in the end the course book tends to win just because everything is laid on. Recently, however, I came across a web page that seemed to me to provide great inspiration for lessons. All it offers is a list of dates: http://www.developingteachers.com/days/days.htm/. But for each month of the year it notes significant dates for cultures all over the world. This it seems to me is a wonderful source of lesson material.

In May we have:


    1st May Day - Labour Day
    5th Cinco de Mayo - Mexico
    8th World Red Cross Day
    12th Limerick Day - birthday of Edward Lear
    18th International Museum Day
    24th Victoria Day – Canada

This gives a rich mixture of topics that provide fascinating insights into different cultures as well as all sorts of opportunities for discussion, research, reading and listening comprehension and grammar points. May Day, for example, is perhaps best known for being Labour Day, a holiday celebrated widely. But in my childhood it was associated with dancing round the maypole (an ancient fertility rite) and electing the Queen of the May. Compare this with the festival in Mexico on 5th in which a defeat over the French provides an excuse for a national holiday. And Red Cross Day makes a focus point for discussion about the important work done by such organizations. Limerick Day could provide the opportunity for learners to try their hand at writing limerick’s of their own as well enjoying some of the verse of Edward Lear.

International Museum Day has been celebrated since 1977 and this year the theme is “museums and universal heritage. Check the website for all sorts of useful ideas and materials: http://icom.museum/2007_contents.html/.

What appeals to me about using this calendar is that lessons can be so topical and yet so wide-ranging in their scope. Let me know how you get on.

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