Worth watching videos on active learning! :)

Tools to encourage active learning



What students think about active learning



Teaching actively through short stories

I have chosen Guy de Maupassant’s short story The Necklace because I think it is quite easy to understand and I enjoyed a lot while reading through it, I think students might like it. I like the message that it contains as well; it might make them reflect on the important aspects of life, and also make them think that you have to be careful if you are too materialistic because in the end it can cause you the ruin as it happened to Mathilde, the protagonist. You can find the short story in a previous post called “The Necklace”.

Now I’ll tell you which activities I’d use to teach English through this short story in an active way. The activities will be divided into pre/actual and post-teaching.


1. Students read the first paragraph of the story and they have to predict what the story will be about.

She was one of those pretty and charming girls born, as though fate had blundered over her, into a family of artisans. She had no marriage portion, no expectations, no means of getting known, understood, loved, and wedded by a man of wealth and distinction; and she let herself be married off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education. Her tastes were simple because she had never been able to afford any other, but she was as unhappy as though she had married beneath her; for women have no caste or class, their beauty, grace, and charm serving them for birth or family, their natural delicacy, their instinctive elegance, their nimbleness of wit, are their only mark of rank, and put the slum girl on a level with the highest lady in the land.

They’ll do a brainstorm in small groups and they’ll create a wordcloud (http://www.wordle.net/) that summarises their ideas. They have to explain orally to the class what are their predictions and why do they think that will happen. They can also share their wordclouds on Edmodo (http://www.edmodo.com/).

2. Discuss  the following quotes in small groups:

“There are people so poor that the only thing they have is money.” –Unknown

“You might be poor, and unhappy; but become suddenly rich, and you will still be unhapy.” –Rick Beneteau

“How poor we truly are when we measure wealth in monetary terms; overlooking the true value of ourselves and those we love.” –Kelly Comeau


This short story is about a lowly woman who aspires to become rich. One day she has the opportunity of attending to an important event but she has nothing decent to wear. She has a rich friend who borrows her a beautiful (and apparently expensive) diamond necklace. Unfortunately, Madame Loisel loses it and she and her husband spend all their possessions and work hard in order to buy a new necklace. After 10 years, Madame Loisel and her friend found each other again and, talking about the issue, Madame Loisel discovers that the necklace she was lent by her was an imitation and the one she bought cost her a fortune!

Students have to discuss in small groups the quotes, expressing themselves and sharing their opinions. Through this story we can teach our students some values. We live in a materialist world and we sometimes have to reflect to see where the real happiness come from: family, friends, health…etc.


1. Try to represent one or two of the major points of action of the story: when Madame Loisel borrows the necklace from her friend, the affair… through a scene. You can use either goanimate (http://goanimate.com/) or bitstrips (http://www.bitstrips.com/) to do so.

Students must read the whole story. Then, they get into small groups and they have to identify the different parts of the story: introduction, plot and conclusion. They have to focus on the plot and select the best moments and represent them using a nice tool online. They can share their stories on Edmodo as well. The scenes must be coherent and students can’t copy directly from the text as they have to use their own words to retell the scenes. The best scenes will be awarded with a special badge on Edmodo from the teacher!


1. Role-play. Get into pairs and represent the last part of the story where Madame Forestier and Mathilde Loisel found each other after 10 years. Try to represent Mathilde’s reaction when Madame Forestier tells her that the necklace she lent her was an imitation indeed. 

This activity is purely communicative although students should take notes in order to arrange the script of the role-play. They can dress up as if they where the characters in the story and record themselves and then upload it on Edmodo so the rest of the class can see and share each others’ works. With this activity they think about what will happen next in the story and can also provide a different ending for the story. There are many possibilities, they just need to be creative and have fun while doing it!

So, this is it! I enjoyed a lot while designing my activities for the song and the short story. There are so many possibilities in which we can teach our students in an innovative way… I can’t wait to teach students of Secondary Education and try these activities with them! I have discovered a new world through blogging! This is my first blog and I feel it won’t be the only one!


Teaching actively through songs

I have to design some activities for teaching teenagers through active techniques for my subject. It is quite a challenge as our teacher knows a lot about active methodologies and I want to do my best!

I think that songs are something we all like, we listen to different types of music, and we all start doing it since we are very little. For some people (like me) music means more than a “catchy” thing to hear, it goes beyond that, and music serves as a way to escape, to feel and to dream.

I think that songs are powerful tools we can use in the classroom as some songs contain structures that we are dealing with in class and teaching them through songs might be more interesting and challenging for our students. I agree with the fact that if we use songs in the classroom we have to design activities with a purpose and they have to be carefully planned.

Through songs we can teach effectively English but, as I am dealing in this subject with active methodologies, all the activities which I’ll be posting will be under the parameter of active techniques.

I have chosen this song because it contains vocabulary appropiated to discuss in class. This activity would be addressed to students of fourth of ESO because the song deals with love and I’m sure teenagers at that age start to be interested in dating. We should try to find topics they like or they are experienced in order to provide them with significant learning; if they are not interested in what it’s going to be taught, they won’t participate.

I have created activities on the 4 skills: listening, writing, speaking and reading which are divided into pre-listening, listening and post-listening activities.

Course: 4th of ESO (although it can be adapted)

Learning goal: To learn some colloquial expressions, vocabulary and the second conditional form. To practice spelling, listening, speaking, writing and reading comprehension.

“Hey There Delilah” by Plain White T’s

Hey there Delilah, 

What’s it like in New York City?
I’m a thousand miles away,
But girl tonight you look so pretty,
Yes you do,
Time Square can’t shine as bright as you,
I swear it’s true.

Hey there Delilah,
Don’t you worry about the distance,
I’m right there if you get lonely,
Give this song another listen,
Close your eyes,

Listen to my voice it’s my disguise,
I’m by your side.

Oh it’s what you do to me,
Oh it’s what you do to me,
Oh it’s what you do to me,
Oh it’s what you do to me,
What you do to me.

Hey there Delilah,
I know times are getting hard,
But just believe me girl some day,

I’ll pay the bills with this guitar,
We’ll have it good,
We’ll have the life we knew we would,

My word is good.

Hey there Delilah,
I’ve got so much left to say,
If every simple song I wrote to you,
Would take your breath away,
I’d write it all,
Even more in love with me you’d fall,

We’d have it all.

Oh it’s what you do to me,
Oh it’s what you do to me,
Oh it’s what you do to me,
Oh it’s what you do to me.

A thousand miles seems pretty far,
But they’ve got planes and trains and cars,
I’d walk to you if I had no other way,
Our friends would all make fun of us,
And we’ll just laugh along because,
We know that none of them have felt this way,

Delilah I can promise you,
That by the time that we get through,
The world will never ever be the same,
And you’re to blame.

Hey there Delilah you be good,
And don’t you miss me,
Two more years and you’ll be done with school,
And I’ll be making history,

Like I do,
You’ll know it’s all because of you,
We can do whatever we want to,
Hey there Delilah here’s to you,
This one’s for you.

Oh it’s what you do to me,
Oh it’s what you do to me,
Oh it’s what you do to me,
Oh it’s what you do to me,
What you do to me.



1. Watch the video of the song on YouTube and start a class-discussion:


1. Do you think the love story of the song is real or fictional? Justify your answer.

2. What kind of feelings does the video transmit to you?

3. Have you ever been in love?

4. Have you ever suffered from unrequited love?

5. Would you ever write a song like this to express your feelings?

This activity would be done in form of a THINK-PAIR-SHARE in order to be more active and have all the students involved. I think that if I do a normal debate, the ones who speak most will be all the time participating and the shy people wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about that issue. If this discussion is done by pairs I think you can get the most from your students.

Students have to watch the video of the song on Youtube and then discuss some questions in order to keep the class active and work with the communicative skills.

First, students are asked to reflect on the questions posted above and then I’ll give them some time to formulate an answer.

Then, students get into couples and discuss their answers to the questions.

Finally, the whole class will share some of the answers.

With this type of strategy, our students can practice the oral skill, they work with each other and they also develop interpersonal skills which are very useful for themselves and their future. We need to get the whole class participating and involved in their learning process in order to provide them with significant learning.

2. Read the following text and answer the questions:

It’s a simple premise—a guy, his guitar and an unrequited love for a girl who lives many miles away—and it’s made “Hey There Delilah” by Plain White T’s the summer’s top love song. But sweeter still is the story behind the catchy ballad. Five years ago T’s frontman Tom Higgenson, 28, met Delilah DiCrescenzo, 24, through a mutual pal in their native Chicago. “Something about her really drove me crazy,” Higgenson recalls. “So I said, ‘I have a song for you,’ trying to be smooth. That was a big lie.” They exchanged instant messages, and she’d ask about her song when they’d chat online. “In my wildest thoughts,” she says, “I didn’t believe he’d actually go through with it.” After all, DiCrescenzo, an All-American track star studying at Columbia University in New York City, already had a boyfriend and only saw Higgenson on one other (nondate) occasion before he wrote the song—at a Plain White T’s show in Manhattan in 2003. “He didn’t have enough material!” she jokes. But Higgenson did have two lines he loved (“What’s it like in New York City? … ‘Cause tonight you look so pretty”), and with DiCrescenzo’s prodding, he decided to fill in the blanks. Says Higgenson: “For the rest of it, I had to imagine, If I was with this girl, what would I want to say?”

1. How did Tom and Delilah meet?

2. What is the story behind the song?

3. What does the expression “trying to be smooth” mean in the text?

4. Can you explain the meaning of the words in bold?

5. Was Tom able to go on a date with Delilah? Why? Why not?

In order to do this activity which at first may sound too typical what I would do is to use an active technique called  CHALKBOARD SPLASH.

First they have to read the text (so they practice reading skills).

Students write their answers in small pieces of paper and then the teacher collects them all and stick them into the blackboard or a poster. Students can check their answers, correct each other, see if they answered the same way… In this way they are practicing writing skills and if we make them comment orally and establish connections between the different notes we can transform the activity into a more communicative one.

Either the teacher can collect and stick the notes or the students themselves, having your students moving around the classroom is quite funny and new for them but you have to make sure they won’t make too much noise. Our teacher in the masters’ class says that English lessons are noisy! I totally agree as I work in a school with kids and we are most of the time singing, jumping, dancing… it’s crazy!


1. Listen to the song and correct the words in bold. Write the correct word in the provided space:

Hey there Delilah how‘s it like in New York City     __________________

I’m a thousand kilometers away                               __________________

But girl tonight you look so lovely, yes you do        __________________

Times Square can’t shine as bright as you, I assure it’s true       ___________________

Hey there Delilah don’t you worry about the future       _________________

I’m right there if you get sick give this song another listen   ______________

Close your eyes, listen to my voice it’s my gift                    _________________

I’m of your side  ____________________

With this activity students can improve their listening skills. They have to listen to the song and correct the words in bold and write in the provided space the correct word. They need to pay attention carefully in order to not miss out the information. They are focusing in uses of the language. Throughout the activity we can ask them by the meaning of the lines, of the words they don’t know. We can even play a little game through it! Once all the students have written the words, they way in which the activity will be corrected is the following: they have to act out the words the words they corrected and classmates have to guess! The first line and the last one are difficult as you can’t mime a preposition or a relative but if you’re students are imaginative you can give it a try!

2. Find some examples on the second conditional and explain when we use it and the structure. Why do you think the singer uses the second conditional form in some lines?

Hey there Delilah, I’ve got so much left to say

If every simple song I wrote to you

Would take your breath away, I’d write it all

Even more in love with me you’d fall, we’d have it all

A thousand miles seems pretty far

But they’ve got planes and trains and cars

I’d walk to you if I had no other way

Our friends would all make fun of us

And we’ll just laugh along because we know

That none of them have felt this way

I like this activity because students have to look for information in the text and figure out the structure so they’re reflecting upon what they already know. I have added the question where they have to figure out the use of the second conditional form through the meaning of the song so they are applying knowledge to real life as we use the second conditional to talk about unreal or hypothetical situations. Students can then upload their answers and reflections on Edmodo (http://www.edmodo.com/)so they can see their classmates’ answers, to comment on each other…etc. It can give feedback to the teacher as you can check if your students understood.


1. Imagine you are deeply in love with a person and you wanted to tell him/her how you feel. Write a letter, poem or a song to express your love.

Students have to write a poem, a song or a letter to express their feelings imagining they are in love. I like very much this type of writing activities because there are students which are quite creative and if they can choose the genre they can be even more. If there is someone in class who plays an instrument he/she can write the song and then perform it in class or even record himself through (http://vocaroo.com/), (http://soundcloud.com/) or any other type of recorder; the one who chooses the poem can read it in front of the class and the same with the letter. They can also upload them on Edmodo.

We can collect the class’ poems, letters and lyrics in the song and create a virtual book we can share in our platfom Edmodo. You can use this amazing tool to do it: (http://www.flipsnack.com/en/)

Maybe some students who are shy don’t want to share the activity with the class but if we tell them that it’s okay if they make mistakes, that I’m not going to judge them in front of the class and that no one is going to laugh they might feel more comfortable.

Whenever you give your students the chance to choose the product you get is better. I’m sure they’ll love this type of activities and they’ll learn a lot.

2. Write an interview to Delilah DiCrescenzo asking her how she felt when she discovered that there was a song about her.

This activity can be done in many ways. First students have to create the interview, so it’ll be written. Then they can do like a role-play in pairs and perform it in class and it can also be recorded and uploaded on Edmodo. They can create the scenery, bring clothes and dress up. It’ll be fun and they’ll like it a lot!

If they don’t want to appear in the video they can record only their voices and share it on Edmodo. They can also create a comic or a scene to represent it virtually in small groups with (http://www.bitstrips.com/), (http://goanimate.com/) or any other!

I hope you find all of these activities interesting and easy to apply in class. I think they are quite motivating and the purpose of all of this is that students learn effectively integrating the four skills and working actively. You just need to be creative and change the way in which you teach if you want your students to be fully involved in the learning process.

Some reflections on active learning/teaching…

I’m writing my final project of the master’s degree on active methodologies so I’ve spent the weekend reading and investigating about it and there are lots of interesting ideas and projects we could develop with our students…

Active techniques can successfully engage our students, involve them in the learning process and help them to acquire key competences and cross-cultural skills which are beneficial for them.

As we are living in an era of “technological information” and society has changed enormously due to this fact, traditional methodologies no longer work. Our students must be the centre of the process “learning-teaching” and we, as teachers, should be the ones who guide them through the process, coaching and encouraging them to work actively. Through active methodologies you can integrate all the skills (listening, reading, writing and speaking) in the tasks, you just need to be very creative and present contents in an interesting way. We all learn by doing and practicing, memorising stuff is boring and our students deserve a significant learning that will make them become better and prepared for life persons.

I did an internship in a school with students of 1º of Eso and Bachiller for three months and I had to follow my tutor’s instructions… that implied following the book by heart. It was really boring … I tried to make the most of it and provide the students with opportunities for expressing themselves and sharing their opinions whenever possible. I even used some games as: Simon says to teach the imperative or Mimics to practice the present continuous. Whenever I had the possibility I tried to incorporate more active techniques in the classroom but my teacher told me that if we “waste much time on those things” she won’t cover the full book and that means trouble.

It is a pity that our educational system is a mess here in Spain. It is a fact that most of the students finish secondary education without being able to maintain a “basic” conversation in English.

Something is wrong here. I read some articles in the law and all the contents, objectives and competences are correctly stated but what it’s not effective is the way  in which English is taught in Spain by most of the teachers. Most of them just follow the book because they are under pressure as they have to cover the whole book during the academic year and there’s not much time left to do something different (and in fact significant for students). Some teachers care about this issue but others who have opportunities don’t do it because active methodologies imply lots of planning from the teacher and it is time consuming.

In my opinion, more formative courses should be offered to teachers of secondary education in order to make them see the educational needs and open their eyes to reality. We, as teachers, need to be in contact with each other, share our experiences, fears, opinions … and also be in constant retraining.

I hope that in a near future I will become a secondary education teacher and that I’ll have the opportunity to change things. Our students are the future and we have to prepare them for life. For now, I’m more than happy of teaching little kids to acquire English through games, songs, TPR… I’m obtaining wonderful results and they love learning English!


Here are some tips to introduce active learning techniques in our classroom. Those techniques can be adapted to different levels, language level…etc.

Session 4

Mount Everest (topgold)

Mount Everest (topgold) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this session we worked actively and it was really interesting!.

Our teacher brought several books to the classroom and everyone had to pick one. The class was arranged into different corners where we could find information on different methods: collaborative learning, games, cooperative learning, problem-based learning and task-based learning.

I have to say that, as we were about 30 people or so in the classroom and everybody stood up to pick their book at the same time, when I had the chance to choose mine, the best ones were already chosen and the same happened with the information in the corners. If we ever develop an activity like this in the classroom we need to plan and arrange everything perfectly because our students are not so well organised and this could lead to some conflict.

The book I chose is called Travel Stories and I found it too difficult for ESO students as it is intended for an advanced learner. It is a compilation of short stories that deal with travelling experiences through different places: climbing the Himalaya, travelling through Mexico… I think that the topic is quite appealing for teenagers as they love travelling and discovering new places but the level is too high for them so maybe I won’t use that book in my class or I would adapt the text for them. It is a pity because this book includes authentic texts in English so it can be a good point in order to introduce students in a “real” English atmosphere. The thing that aroused my attention is that every story contains a summary where the ending is not given so we can use it as a pre-teaching activity in order to ask them to work out the meaning and then compare it to the real one provided in the story.

We had to plan different activities using at least two of the methods proposed. Here is my proposal:


I would tell my students to get into groups of 4 or 5 people and work cooperatively. I like cooperative learning as every member of the group has a role: the leader, the language monitor, the advisor and the secretary. The teacher is a guide in their learning process and they are the ones who have to be creative and imaginative in order to produce good works. They make some effort and they “learn while doing”. I  will certainly tell my students to write their progress on Edmodo so the other classmates can comment on their work and the teacher can see the process and take it into account when assessing them.


To present the book what I would do is to project a video on Youtube of the film 127 hours to see their reactions. I would use the video just to catch their attention and make them reflect upon some issues related to extreme experiences of travelling.


It is about an adventurous man who likes risky adventures and gets stuck under a rock while climbing a mountain. It is in fact based on real facts so we can ask them things as:

Have you seen this movie?

Do you know the story shown in the movie happened in real life?

What would you do if you were in his shoes?

After the discussion activity they have a general insight of what they can find in the book.

Then I will give them the titles of the stories which are: The lawless roads, Himalaya, The Land of the Camels, Hammerfest, The Amateur Inmigrant and Long Way Round written in small pieces of paper and they have to guess what are the stories about. Then they have to choose three stories of the six provided and read them. I would like them to read the whole book but maybe that’s too much if I want them to focus on what they are reading and creating nice projects.


Once they have read at least 3 of the 6 short stories they have to choose one and create a glogster where they depict the setting of the story, what is happening and focus on the different parts of the story: introduction, plot and conclusion. I think that through Glogster they are working with several skills: they improve their writing and summarising abilities, they learn how to distribute information in a story and also how to be creative. Then they’ll upload their glogster on Edmodo.

Another activity consists on creating an individual blog where they speak about travelling experiences. They have to imagine that they could travel to any part of the world and they have to report their “fictional” adventures: where are they, which perils they have encountered and write a journey diary who will be posted on Edmodo. The design counts so they have to use their imagination and be very creative. They can post nice pics on their blogs using tools as kerpoof (http://www.kerpoof.com/) or add a Voki to present their blog (http://www.voki.com)


They have to represent the ideas they have discovered through the reading of the different stories and create a wordcloud that depicts them (http://www.wordle.net/).

Using the wordcloud, they have to invent a story of their own and they can represent it and record themselves with their mobile phones and upload it on Edmodo.


Another way of teaching this book to students of ESO could be through role play. A role play is a technique in which the student has to perform a role, to act out an invented character or unreal situation. It is quite motivating for them but the teacher must create a friendly environment where the students feel comfortable otherwise they won’t talk. Through role-play students can practice lots of vocabulary and the speaking skill can be improved. I have decided to use the role play as I have used this technique with students of primary education and it works quite good but they have a limited amount of vocabulary so maybe with teenagers it’s easier.

The students will be divided into groups of 4 people. Each member of the group will have a card with the character that has to perform.

For example: Speaker A: You’re one of the mountaineers who climb the Mount Everest. You are tired and you want to convince the group of having a rest. Speaker B: You are the expedition guide and you think that you could continue your journey until you reach the top of the mount, you all need to hurry up as it is cold and soon it will get dark. Speaker C: You are a mountaineer and you don’t get on well with the other people in your team. You think you should overtake your partners and wait them on top of the mountain as your dream is to be the first one to reach the top.

This activity could be adapted to the different activities that appear in the book but as I didn’t have the chance to read it I couldn’t think of more ideas.

I found this simulation very useful as well and I think students could do it and learn a lot. (http://www.iei.illinois.edu/travelsim/) Simulations consist on a technique in which  students are given relevant problems which are solved in environments which closely and precisely emulate real-world situations. This simulation consists on planning a trip through the Internet so it is something they can experience through their lifes. Maybe they already know how to do it in Spanish but we can help them to manage that same situation in English.

In the same groups, students have to go through this site in which students will have to plan a trip to the Grand Canyon. They learn lots of vocabulary as they have to follow different questions and requests and also make some decisions: when do they want to make the trip, how to travel, what to see, which activities they would like to do once they are there…etc. They have a total amount of $4400 so they also practice real life problems as how to organise their budget and what is better for them. In the end they can print their planning and show it in class in front of their classmates and explain the choices they made and why.

These are just some tips or recommendations on how to teach English actively through literature, if you are imaginative and creative you can design a nice lesson which will thrill your students!

Session 3

Session 3 was not an active lecture but it was really interesting as the teacher made a presentation to reinforce the ideas she developed in the first session about active learning and she also provided us with some useful tips we can use in the classroom. As I’m doing my final project of the master’s on active techniques, I found this class very interesting and useful.

She explained us the difference between approach, method and technique because those are three related aspects that sometimes cause misunderstanding.

I find active learning very useful as you give your students the opportunity of doing something and it takes some effort from them. We also prepare them for life and provide them with “lifelong learning” which is the ultimate goal of education. Memorising contents no longer work as in the end those items are erased from our memory in order to remember new ones. We learn by doing and by practising so we need to adapt our methodology to the needs of our students. Through active methodologies we are preparing our students for life as we are developing their language skills and at the same time they teach them how to confront aspects they can find on real life. They enjoy a lot more than just following the book and doing the same boring exercises.


The teacher told us some tips on how to engage students. For example, if we take a literary passage or a short story we can read it with suspense and then ask them some questions to thrill them. Some of our classmates tried to read the beginning of a short story with a “suspense” tone of voice and we could observe how can things change in the classroom just by doing so.

We can give our students the chance to choose the short stories and we can communicate with them through Edmodo. The teacher insisted that we need to set the objectives from the beginning and telling them is an obligatory reading otherwise they won’t do it.

We can tell them to represent a scene from the short story and they can record it with their mobile and upload it on Edmodo so we can teach them that mobile phones can have educational purposes as well.

An interesting activity could also ask them to write a list of people reading (what they where reading, where they were reading) or ask their friends and family and then report via blog. I think this activity could work very good as teenagers are interested in what happens around them and they can make interesting findings they can report back to the classroom.

Through wordclouds (http://www.wordle.net/) we can ask them to pick out elements from the story and write their own and then arrange pre/actual and post/ teaching activities around it. There are infinite activities they can come up with.

We can also communicate with them through Fakebook (http://classtools.net/fb/home/page) which is very similar to the well-known Facebook but for educational purposes. Using these type of tools we can catch our students attention easily.

They’ll also enjoy recording a part of the story through Soundcloud or vocaroo or acting out a scene and they making a video/film version they can then upload to Edmodo and share with their classmates. Receiving positive feedback from either the teacher or classmates can be very rewarding for students who take into account very much what it is said about them.

Some other useful tools which the teacher recommended us are:

– Voki: a page where you can create an Avatar which can talk if you type word or you record your own voice. (http://www.voki.com/pickup.php?scid=7570587&height=267&width=200)

– Go animate: to create animated videos

– Bitstrips: a good tool for creating comics

– Glogster: you can create digital and dynamic posters

In the last part of the session the teacher told us that getting feedback from students is very important in order to get better session by session. Our role as teachers is to change students’ perceptions about the value of literature. They don’t like much reading and if its compulsory it’s even worse! Through short stories, as I have already pointed out you can teach lots of aspects to your students and maybe you discover them a world they didn’t know and their interests change! We can use one minute papers in which at the end of the lesson students have to write their impressions (What new ideas or questions you have? What was good about the thinking you did? You pick up two and read them in a loud voice. This is another way of getting feedback from the students.

We can also use films or series in order to teach English as they all like watching them. However, showing them the full film is not useful as in the end they get lost. We can select some parts of the film and tell them to comment on them, or show several versions of the same scene in order to activate their knowledge.

Debates, role plays, simulation, case studies, songs… there are lots of resources we can use in order to make teaching significant. We just need to try and experiment.


broad caster media


I think there are lots of ways in which we can change the learning experience into a thrilling one and change the way our students see English and maybe change their negative attitute and awaken a positive one in them.

I can’t use any electronic tool in my lessons as I teach kids in extracurricular lessons and I can’t use projectors or white boards but if I ever have the chance of teaching students of ESO in a high school I’ll try to innovate and use these tools as I strongly believe that there’s a need in changing how education works in Spain. Teaching English is still done in a traditional way and for some students, learning it is a torture. Using active techinques can help us to catch their attention and provide them with useful learning they won’t ever forget.

The Necklace – Guy de Maupassant

I’ll soon come up with some nice ideas to teach English through this interesting short story. Here you can read it:

She was one of those pretty and charming girls born, as though fate had blundered over her, into a family of artisans. She had no marriage portion, no expectations, no means of getting known, understood, loved, and wedded by a man of wealth and distinction; and she let herself be married off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education. Her tastes were simple because she had never been able to afford any other, but she was as unhappy as though she had married beneath her; for women have no caste or class, their beauty, grace, and charm serving them for birth or family, their natural delicacy, their instinctive elegance, their nimbleness of wit, are their only mark of rank, and put the slum girl on a level with the highest lady in the land.

She suffered endlessly, feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury. She suffered from the poorness of her house, from its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains. All these things, of which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her. The sight of the little Breton girl who came to do the work in her little house aroused heart-broken regrets and hopeless dreams in her mind. She imagined silent antechambers, heavy with Oriental tapestries, lit by torches in lofty bronze sockets, with two tall footmen in knee-breeches sleeping in large arm-chairs, overcome by the heavy warmth of the stove. She imagined vast saloons hung with antique silks, exquisite pieces of furniture supporting priceless ornaments, and small, charming, perfumed rooms, created just for little parties of intimate friends, men who were famous and sought after, whose homage roused every other woman’s envious longings.

When she sat down for dinner at the round table covered with a three-days-old cloth, opposite her husband, who took the cover off the soup-tureen, exclaiming delightedly: “Aha! Scotch broth! What could be better?” she imagined delicate meals, gleaming silver, tapestries peopling the walls with folk of a past age and strange birds in faery forests; she imagined delicate food served in marvellous dishes, murmured gallantries, listened to with an inscrutable smile as one trifled with the rosy flesh of trout or wings of asparagus chicken.

She had no clothes, no jewels, nothing. And these were the only things she loved; she felt that she was made for them. She had longed so eagerly to charm, to be desired, to be wildly attractive and sought after.

She had a rich friend, an old school friend whom she refused to visit, because she suffered so keenly when she returned home. She would weep whole days, with grief, regret, despair, and misery.


One evening her husband came home with an exultant air, holding a large envelope in his hand.

“Here’s something for you,” he said.

Swiftly she tore the paper and drew out a printed card on which were these words: “The Minister of Education and Madame Ramponneau request the pleasure of the company of Monsieur and Madame Loisel at the Ministry on the evening of Monday, January the 18th.”

Instead of being delighted, as her husband hoped, she flung the invitation petulantly across the table, murmuring: “What do you want me to do with this?”

“Why, darling, I thought you’d be pleased. You never go out, and this is a great occasion. I had tremendous trouble to get it. Every one wants one; it’s very select, and very few go to the clerks. You’ll see all the really big people there.”

She looked at him out of furious eyes, and said impatiently: “And what do you suppose I am to wear at such an affair?”

He had not thought about it; he stammered: “Why, the dress you go to the theatre in. It looks very nice, to me . . .”

He stopped, stupefied and utterly at a loss when he saw that his wife was beginning to cry. Two large tears ran slowly down from the corners of her eyes towards the corners of her mouth.

“What’s the matter with you? What’s the matter with you?” he faltered.

But with a violent effort she overcame her grief and replied in a calm voice, wiping her wet cheeks: “Nothing. Only I haven’t a dress and so I can’t go to this party. Give your invitation to some friend of yours whose wife will be turned out better than I shall.”

He was heart-broken.

“Look here, Mathilde,” he persisted. “What would be the cost of a suitable dress, which you could use on other occasions as well, something very simple?”

She thought for several seconds, reckoning up prices and also wondering for how large a sum she could ask without bringing upon herself an immediate refusal and an exclamation of horror from the careful-minded clerk.

At last she replied with some hesitation: “I don’t know exactly, but I think I could do it on four hundred francs.”

He grew slightly pale, for this was exactly the amount he had been saving for a gun, intending to get a little shooting next summer on the plain of Nanterre with some friends who went lark-shooting there on Sundays. Nevertheless he said: “Very well. I’ll give you four hundred francs. But try and get a really nice dress with the money.”

The day of the party drew near, and Madame Loisel seemed sad, uneasy and anxious. Her dress was ready, however. One evening her husband said to her: “What’s the matter with you? You’ve been very odd for the last three days.”

“I’m utterly miserable at not having any jewels, not a single stone, to wear,” she replied. “I shall look absolutely no one. I would almost rather not go to the party.”

“Wear flowers,” he said. “They’re very smart at this time of the year. For ten francs you could get two or three gorgeous roses.”

She was not convinced.

“No . . . there’s nothing so humiliating as looking poor in the middle of a lot of rich women.”

“How stupid you are!” exclaimed her husband. “Go and see Madame Forestier and ask her to lend you some jewels. You know her quite well enough for that.”

She uttered a cry of delight.

“That’s true. I never thought of it.”

Next day she went to see her friend and told her her trouble.

Madame Forestier went to her dressing-table, took up a large box, brought it to Madame Loisel, opened it, and said: “Choose, my dear.”

First she saw some bracelets, then a pearl necklace, then a Venetian cross in gold and gems, of exquisite workmanship. She tried the effect of the jewels before the mirror, hesitating, unable to make up her mind to leave them, to give them up. She kept on asking: “Haven’t you anything else?”

“Yes. Look for yourself. I don’t know what you would like best.”

Suddenly she discovered, in a black satin case, a superb diamond necklace; her heart began to beat covetously. Her hands trembled as she lifted it. She fastened it round her neck, upon her high dress, and remained in ecstasy at sight of herself.

Then, with hesitation, she asked in anguish: “Could you lend me this, just this alone?”

“Yes, of course.”

She flung herself on her friend’s breast, embraced her frenziedly, and went away with her treasure. The day of the party arrived. Madame Loisel was a success. She was the prettiest woman present, elegant, graceful, smiling, and quite above herself with happiness. All the men stared at her, inquired her name, and asked to be introduced to her. All the Under-Secretaries of State were eager to waltz with her. The Minister noticed her. She danced madly, ecstatically, drunk with pleasure, with no thought for anything, in the triumph of her beauty, in the pride of her success, in a cloud of happiness made up of this universal homage and admiration, of the desires she had aroused, of the completeness of a victory so dear to her feminine heart. She left about four o’clock in the morning. Since midnight her husband had been dozing in a deserted little room, in company with three other men whose wives were having a good time. He threw over her shoulders the garments he had brought for them to go home in, modest everyday clothes, whose poverty clashed with the beauty of the ball-dress. She was conscious of this and was anxious to hurry away, so that she should not be noticed by the other women putting on their costly furs.

Loisel restrained her.

“Wait a little. You’ll catch cold in the open. I’m going to fetch a cab.”

But she did not listen to him and rapidly descended the staircase. When they were out in the street they could not find a cab; they began to look for one, shouting at the drivers whom they saw passing in the distance.

They walked down towards the Seine, desperate and shivering. At last they found on the quay one of those old nightprowling carriages which are only to be seen in Paris after dark, as though they were ashamed of their shabbiness in the daylight.

It brought them to their door in the Rue des Martyrs, and sadly they walked up to their own apartment. It was the end, for her. As for him, he was thinking that he must be at the office at ten.

She took off the garments in which she had wrapped her shoulders, so as to see herself in all her glory before the mirror. But suddenly she uttered a cry. The necklace was no longer round her neck!

“What’s the matter with you?” asked her husband, already half undressed.

She turned towards him in the utmost distress.

“I . . . I . . . I’ve no longer got Madame Forestier’s necklace. . . .”

He started with astonishment.

“What! . . . Impossible!”

They searched in the folds of her dress, in the folds of the coat, in the pockets, everywhere. They could not find it.

“Are you sure that you still had it on when you came away from the ball?” he asked.

“Yes, I touched it in the hall at the Ministry.”

“But if you had lost it in the street, we should have heard it fall.”

“Yes. Probably we should. Did you take the number of the cab?”

“No. You didn’t notice it, did you?”


They stared at one another, dumbfounded. At last Loisel put on his clothes again.

“I’ll go over all the ground we walked,” he said, “and see if I can’t find it.”

And he went out. She remained in her evening clothes, lacking strength to get into bed, huddled on a chair, without volition or power of thought.

Her husband returned about seven. He had found nothing.

He went to the police station, to the newspapers, to offer a reward, to the cab companies, everywhere that a ray of hope impelled him.

She waited all day long, in the same state of bewilderment at this fearful catastrophe.

Loisel came home at night, his face lined and pale; he had discovered nothing.

“You must write to your friend,” he said, “and tell her that you’ve broken the clasp of her necklace and are getting it mended. That will give us time to look about us.”

She wrote at his dictation.


By the end of a week they had lost all hope.

Loisel, who had aged five years, declared: “We must see about replacing the diamonds.”

Next day they took the box which had held the necklace and went to the jewellers whose name was inside. He consulted his books.

“It was not I who sold this necklace, Madame; I must have merely supplied the clasp.”

Then they went from jeweller to jeweller, searching for another necklace like the first, consulting their memories, both ill with remorse and anguish of mind.

In a shop at the Palais-Royal they found a string of diamonds which seemed to them exactly like the one they were looking for. It was worth forty thousand francs. They were allowed to have it for thirty-six thousand. They begged the jeweller not to sell it for three days. And they arranged matters on the understanding that it would be taken back for thirty-four thousand francs, if the first one were found before the end of February. Loisel possessed eighteen thousand francs left to him by his father. He intended to borrow the rest.

He did borrow it, getting a thousand from one man, five hundred from another, five louis here, three louis there. He gave notes of hand, entered into ruinous agreements, did business with usurers and the whole tribe of money-lenders. He mortgaged the whole remaining years of his existence, risked his signature without even knowing if he could honour it, and, appalled at the agonising face of the future, at the black misery about to fall upon him, at the prospect of every possible physical privation and moral torture, he went to get the new necklace and put down upon the jeweller’s counter thirty-six thousand francs.

When Madame Loisel took back the necklace to Madame Forestier, the latter said to her in a chilly voice: “You ought to have brought it back sooner; I might have needed it.”

She did not, as her friend had feared, open the case. If she had noticed the substitution, what would she have thought? What would she have said? Would she not have taken her for a thief?


Madame Loisel came to know the ghastly life of abject poverty. From the very first she played her part heroically. This fearful debt must be paid off. She would pay it. The servant was dismissed. They changed their flat; they took a garret under the roof.

She came to know the heavy work of the house, the hateful duties of the kitchen. She washed the plates, wearing out her pink nails on the coarse pottery and the bottoms of pans. She washed the dirty linen, the shirts and dish-cloths, and hung them out to dry on a string; every morning she took the dustbin down into the street and carried up the water, stopping on each landing to get her breath. And, clad like a poor woman, she went to the fruiterer, to the grocer, to the butcher, a basket on her arm, haggling, insulted, fighting for every wretched halfpenny of her money.

Every month notes had to be paid off, others renewed, time gained.

Her husband worked in the evenings at putting straight a merchant’s accounts, and often at night he did copying at twopence-halfpenny a page.

And this life lasted ten years.

At the end of ten years everything was paid off, everything, the usurer’s charges and the accumulation of superimposed interest.

Madame Loisel looked old now. She had become like all the other strong, hard, coarse women of poor households. Her hair was badly done, her skirts were awry, her hands were red. She spoke in a shrill voice, and the water slopped all over the floor when she scrubbed it. But sometimes, when her husband was at the office, she sat down by the window and thought of that evening long ago, of the ball at which she had been so beautiful and so much admired.

What would have happened if she had never lost those jewels. Who knows? Who knows? How strange life is, how fickle! How little is needed to ruin or to save!

One Sunday, as she had gone for a walk along the Champs-Elysees to freshen herself after the labours of the week, she caught sight suddenly of a woman who was taking a child out for a walk. It was Madame Forestier, still young, still beautiful, still attractive.

Madame Loisel was conscious of some emotion. Should she speak to her? Yes, certainly. And now that she had paid, she would tell her all. Why not?

She went up to her.

“Good morning, Jeanne.”

The other did not recognise her, and was surprised at being thus familiarly addressed by a poor woman. “But . . . Madame . . .” she stammered. “I don’t know . . . you must be making a mistake.”

“No . . . I am Mathilde Loisel.”

Her friend uttered a cry.

“Oh! . . . my poor Mathilde, how you have changed! . . .”

“Yes, I’ve had some hard times since I saw you last; and many sorrows . . . and all on your account.”

“On my account! . . . How was that?”

“You remember the diamond necklace you lent me for the ball at the Ministry?”

“Yes. Well?”

“Well, I lost it.”

“How could you? Why, you brought it back.”

“I brought you another one just like it. And for the last ten years we have been paying for it. You realise it wasn’t easy for us; we had no money. . . . Well, it’s paid for at last, and I’m glad indeed.”

Madame Forestier had halted.

“You say you bought a diamond necklace to replace mine?”

“Yes. You hadn’t noticed it? They were very much alike.”

And she smiled in proud and innocent happiness.

Madame Forestier, deeply moved, took her two hands.

“Oh, my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was worth at the very most five hundred francs! . . . “