Lesson plan: Talking about experiences and abilities

Could this be one of your students?

After two months, seventy or so blog posts, 880,000 views and the arrival of one impossibly cute baby daughter, I am now back at work. This is the lesson I just did with a low B1 class. I think it’s very important in any lesson for the students to produce something they can feel proud of, so (with their consent) I have posted the recordings of their interviews at the end. You could use them as examples/models at the start of the lesson or to demonstrate the task to the students before they do their own interviews (you could also use them to highlight errors in question formation. Then do some drilling of the correct forms. I didn’t do this and it shows). The point of this lesson is to give them a chance to reflect on their English at the start of term, but you could easily use it in the middle or at the end of a course. The items in the list relate directly to what they’ll need to do in the next few months (some of them do, anyway. I’m not planning to send them to do an eye test) so obviously feel free to change them.


Your experiences and abilities in English

Look at the list below and make sentences using ‘I have (never)…(past participle)’ / ‘I could (not)…(bare infinitive)’, eg ‘I have never written a 200-word essay in English’ or ‘I could write a 200-word essay in English’.

  •         Write a 200-word essay
  •         Work in a bar
  •         Read Shakespeare in the original language
  •         Order a meal in a restaurant
  •         Work as a taxi driver
  •         Give a five-minute presentation
  •         Read a short novel without a dictionary
  •         Watch a whole TV series with no subtitles
  •         Do an eye test
  •         Teach a beginner’s class
  •         Do a Master’s degree











Now look at your sentences and decide if you want to insert any of these expressions:

if I had to         easily                 with difficulty                when I was at school                 with a bit of practice

Now look at the list of things you couldn’t do and choose two you would really like to be able to do, eg ‘I would love to be able to…’:



Now think of one more thing you would love to be able to do in English:


Now prepare to be interviewed about your English. Don’t worry about making mistakes. If you are the interviewer, ask questions beginning with ‘Have you ever…?’ and ‘Do you think you could…?’. Remember to choose the appropriate verb form and then ask follow-up questions: when, why, why not, etc.

Swap partners and take out your phones. This time you are going to record the interview! Once you’ve finished, listen to it and check that you’re happy with the result – if not, delete it and do it again.

(nb. I know this is not strictly speaking a lesson plan but the material sort of teaches itself so I don’t feel it’s necessary to specify the points at which you should monitor, look out of the window, do the TEFL crouch, etc.)

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