Useful Lesson Links 2.0

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A new year, a new list.

I would like to take the opportunity here and thank all English class participants who were willing to embark on our online experiment. Thanks for your patience and for staying with us. It was not always easy, especially at the beginning, but I believe we learned a lot and together. I must admit, I would probably have never done this voluntarily and alone. But now I am glad we did. There are some possibilities we have online that we didn’t have in our classrooms. Though many of you miss personal contact, seeing each other on our screens is the next best thing. I hope we continue having satisfactory meetings together.

I will continue placing links here for easier planning and access.

Update July, 2021

I haven’t continued to post much in detail here the last months, but basically continued using the sources mentioned in both Useful Lesson Links posts.

May, 3

Last week was Oscar week. The Academy Awards surely were different this year. They had been postponed to April, probably in the overly optimistic hope that things would be back to whatever will be normal again once Covid 19 has been overcome. And it will be overcome. Every pandemic ends, has ended, will end… In any case, I had a spontaneous change of plan last Monday and decided to take a closer look at the nominated films, all of which could be streamed online. I started reading up on the Awards on Sunday; Monday morning the Wikipedia text was updated: And the winner is….Together and with further help of Wikipedia and the internet we explored the winners and watched some trailers together. We had a few quite enjoyable sessions and some emotionally intense moments, e.g. while watching the trailer to The Father. I am now in the process of watching all I can on Netflix and Amazon Prime; the winner Nomad is on Hulu, which I don’t have. I will have to wait for the DVD…

Monday, April 12

Here is a very good sporcle on Climate Change. Together with the article from Guardian on what some scientists say what they do to fight climate change, this could make for an interesting lesson session.

Monday, March 22, Links for next week Monday morning (March 29)

This morning, while I was going through my early morning news routine, I thought, why not share this with my group. It turned into a session long affair (instead of the planned 20 minutes – what WAS I thinking?); I had everyone choose one headline that would catch their interest and we started reading and discussing them. Well, actually only one, the others are for next week, which is why I will ‘bookmark’ them further down.

The one we read was about dog’s ruling the night in Kabul. Our reading and discussion extended to more general questions of dog culture and ownership in different countries. Which countries have the most dogs? Are they more pets or working dogs? The bet was on for who has more, Germany or the UK? (The UK, but only b a small margin.)

New York Times, Any travel plans to China?

The quite harrowing police recordings of the events at the Capitol on January 6th – a nine minute video.

And a little article on the hazards of ‘smart phoning’ while walking, found under the Monday morning briefing, category ‘Science’.

In connection with this, looking at vocabulary describing the structure of a newspaper might be interesting. Identify the ‘masthead’ Op Ed, the structure of a typical (well-written) article… I found some images when typing in ‘masthead, newspaper, meaning’.


This one is a link to TED Ed, a spin-off of TED talks. I received this one per newsletter. It is titled When is a Pandemic over?

As much as I love TED talks – I find them interesting, inspiring and short enough to listen to and discuss in class meetings – there are so many that deciding which one to watch is sometimes so overwhelming that I don’t watch any. So I decided to select and make my own list that should not exceed 20 to 30 talks. So here another list: MY TED talks

Some music sporcles for Monday February 8

Can you name the band or musician in picture? And another one of those. (I am sooo bad at this.)

Musical instruments – warm up (vocabulary – images of instruments)

Musical instruments close up

Musical instruments pictograms – great fun!

Can you name the musical instrument by their sound?

Vocabulary size test and practice

New Online co op games

I’m looking for new online games to play with groups. We have tried several escape room type ones especially from the website PANIC ROOM; all good stories, but the type of puzzles might seem repetitive after a while.

Highly recommendable is the Durham Escape Room. I tried the free Durham Mr. X with two groups. So far my favorite online game, as it makes good use of the internet: google maps, street view, websites e.g. restaurant menus etc.

A little background knowledge on Bill Bryson is useful to understand his connection to Durham, especially Durham University (and necessary to solve the first puzzles. (See his 1997 book: Notes from a Small Island.) What I eventually did in class was provide some of this background: we checked wikipedia and I shared some pages from his books, especially the pages from Notes from a Small Island that made him so popular in Durham.

My favorite Bill Bryson book is History of Private Life that provides loads of material for follow up topics on …almost everything. I’m still in the process of supplementing.

The follow up to Mr X is The Hunters. A little more challenging with more puzzles and clues, more things to do. It is not free of charge, but then again, I always find it important to appreciate good work monetarily, which is why I also donated to Mr X.

I felt it necessary to provide extra material and sent my participants extra tips in form of emails for every puzzle. It was loads of work, but definitely worth it. It might have been too difficult otherwise.

Another website (or blog) on Fun, Free Online Games recommending some online escape room type games that I found recently (though they are not all free, but that’s okay).

A little fun trivia at the side in connection with houses and everyday life: The most dangerous everyday things to do. Lot’s of everyday vocabulary in one place and loads to talk about.


A colleague of mine sent me the link to an interesting blog by a fellow language teacher: Lessonsplansdigger. It offers more structured lesson plans and descriptions than I do here, as my blog is mainly there to serve my personal teaching purposes. (I might want to change that in future, but at the moment, I need it as an immediate reference tool.)


Today I found an article introducing “30 Best co-op games to play

Wish you were here sounds interesting, but seems to be only for two people. But it’s described as communication based – the two players are in different locations – so sounds perfect for what I am looking for.

This one still needs to be checked out: 10 online multiplayer games.


Every once in a while I need to go through all the favorites I collected in my list of favorites to edit, delete or revisit. I found two interesting articles:

Film topic

An interesting article about films that were banned in some countries while celebrated in others.

Another one of a similar kind that definitely is an interesting topic for me: How food has changed in the last 50 years.

And in connection with Bill Bryson’s History of Private Life I found another sporcle: Do you recognize the houses in the movies? Movies by House

Minimalism, consumerism, veganism and climate change

These topics come up again and again. In this context, we have been watching some interesting videos and Ted talks on the topic of walkable cities. Jeff Speck‘s, for instance, is an interesting one, and he speaks very slowly and clearly (I think). In a second Ted talk, he describes four ways to create a walkable city.

In his book – available as pdf e-book – Jeff Speck mentions Dan Buettner’s research into Blue Zones – areas that have a high population of centenarians – and he points out what Dan Buettner misses in his analysis of their lives. Buettner has given a TED talk on the topic. It might be an interesting addition to the topic of walkable cities, a topic perhaps better dubbed: quality of life and the many aspects as to how to achieve it.

On the side bar to these talks, you find more, like: Retrofitting suburbia, or Building a park in the sky (about New York’s highline), or Seven principles for building better cities; they are all worth watching and talking about. Eric Sanderson’s TED talk New York before the city is also quite fascinating.

I also came across some delightful little videos on special houses: one of an engineer transforming a plane into a ‘house’; another one on fairy tale cottages; and many on tiny houses (make your own pick). See the you tube show “Living Big in a Tiny House

A colleague of mine recommended a book on minimalism by a Japanese author: Goodbye Things

Loads of topics refer in one way or another to climate change. In an article in the Guardian, a group of scientists from different fields tells us what they specifically do to contribute to lowering their ecological footprint.

Our food choices are always one of these topics, especially our choices concerning meat, or, as vegans like to put it, our choices concerning eating animals. Though for an occasional (and always organic) meat eater like myself, some of these are hard to watch, Melanie Joy’s on the psychology of eating meat is at the same time intriguing as it is challenging. As is Ed Winters: Every argument against veganism.

Another topic of interest here is a TED Ed lesson on concrete, an issue I had never thought about before.

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