Teaching Teens magazine third edition

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WHAT DO YOUR STUDENTS CARE ABOUT? SUSTAINABILITY From a whole school approach to class activities

HYBRID TEACHING Blending the online and physical classroom

HOBBIES Bringing students’ interests to class

WELLBEING Supporting yourself and your students

LIFE COMPETENCIES Skills for the wider world


Letter from the editor Welcome to the third edition of our Teaching Teens magazine. In this issue, we want to look beyond the disruption that coronavirus has caused and focus on other topics and themes that our teenage students really care about. At our Global Schools Festival, we asked teachers what topics their teen students were most interested in, or concerned about. Surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly, there were many similarities among teenage students across the world. Environmentalism, wellbeing, hobbies and staying connected were all recurrent themes. So, in this edition of the magazine, we’re looking at how you can incorporate these hot topics into your language classroom. Why not start by catching up on the inspirational talk on creating a sustainable school that Matt Larsen-Daw from the WWF gave at our Global Schools Festival? For ready-made class activities on sustainability, Linda Ruas from the IATEFL Global Issues SIG has plenty of ideas.

We know many of you are concerned about the impact that school closures is having on your students, not only academically, but also socially. Nik Peachey has some tips to help your students stay connected when learning remotely, and Christina Gkonou provides insights into maintaining your own and your learners’ wellbeing, whatever your teaching scenario. Jo Szoke looks specifically at the new phenomenon of “hybrid” teaching, and discusses how to cope when you have students learning face to face and online at the same time. We also have a special feature on hobbies; sports, TV, film and reading, and how to include these topics in your classroom, with ideas from our Learn English with Cambridge presenters, plus a pull-out project you can try instantly with your class. Finally, for a bit of fun, have a game of “Call My Bluff”! I hope you enjoy this issue of the Teaching Teens magazine. For more insights, events and advice, go to cambridge.org/ secondary.

Laura Sigsworth Secondary ELT Team, Cambridge University Press


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Videos from the festival

How to teach teens with confidence



Explore the latest blogs


Discover Own it! on Cambridge One

Your home for digital learning



Protecting teacher wellbeing at times of crisis


Wellbeing advice from the experts


Building rapport in the remote classroom


Teaching online and face to face, at the same time!?


Education for a sustainable planet


Bring sustainability into your class

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Project teacher’s notes page 1


3 ways to talk about film and TV in your lessons


4 ways to bring sport into the classroom


5 steps for running a book club with teens


Integrating life competencies into your classroom


Words of advice for your students, from some famous faces


Call My Bluff! class game

Pull-out project Project teacher’s notes page 2


Protecting teacher wellbeing at times of crisis by Christina Gkonou

Christina is Associate Professor of TESOL and MA TESOL Programme Leader in the Department of Language and Linguistics at the University of Essex, UK. She works with many new teachers who are in their first roles within the sector.


significant turning point for the world of education came in March 2020, when schools were suspended and online learning and teaching became the norm. In subsequent months, some attempts were made to reopen schools whenever this was deemed safe. However, schools that reopened have often had to close again due to new waves of infection among the population. Such disruptions to school routines and modes of study have overwhelmed both students and teachers, making them feel uncertain and stressed, making the process of learning and teaching challenging for some and even traumatic for others, and impacting upon their mental health and wellbeing. So, how could teacher wellbeing be best supported at such times of crisis? And how could teachers ensure that they are looking after themselves well whilst also looking after their students?



ADVICE FROM THE EXPERTS Putting yourself first

Supporting your students

It’s important that teachers attend to their own wellbeing in order to be able to teach well, and they should do so before and sometimes whilst also looking after their students and their wellbeing. At this point, take a moment to consider the safety instructions given to airline passengers by the crew before take-off. According to the instructions, in the unlikely event of loss of cabin pressure and emergency landing, passengers travelling with young children are required to put on their own oxygen masks before assisting the children with theirs.

It’s worth noting that the actual process of going to school is a useful support mechanism for many children and particularly those children with special education needs and/or mental health concerns. For this reason, current disruptions to school routines are likely to be a source of stress for many students. Teachers should ensure that students are given the opportunity – on an individual basis or as part of whole class activities – to ask questions and share concerns about the current situation and how it will affect their education. Another important skill that teachers and students need to build, specifically in response to the pandemic, is resilience. This can be achieved through thinking flexibly when problemsolving, understanding and appreciating others’ views even if they directly contrast one’s own, and recognising the importance of collaboration and team spirit. But remember that dwelling on discussions and ruminating on negative thinking does not help anybody. So, as part of your practice, try to be supportive and realistic but still remain positive.

“ADULTS NEED TO LOOK AFTER THEMSELVES BEFORE THEY ARE IN A POSITION TO BE ABLE TO HELP THE CHILDREN.” This is by no means intended to imply that young children are not the adult passengers’ priority; quite the contrary, it means that adults need to look after themselves before they are in a position to be able to help the children. These instructions could be extended to classrooms (face-to-face and online), which function in a similar way; and teachers do indeed need to apply their own oxygen masks first, in order to survive and thrive in their professional roles!

LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF et aside time to stay connected to your colleagues S online. Discuss teaching ideas, share possible concerns about students and exchange materials and tools, or just socialise! ake advantage of teaching events from external T organisations and teaching associations, which also offer help, like the webinar series from IATEFL or our Global Schools Festival. ake sure you log off. When you’re constantly M connected to your students virtually, you can feel under pressure to remain glued to your phone or computer, but this can actually make you less efficient. e compassionate to yourself. You are doing a great B job. Don’t put unrealistic pressure on yourself to be 100% perfect, 100% of the time!

LOOKING AFTER YOUR STUDENTS Staying connected is important, and the best way to do this if you’re learning online is through video calling and personalised interactions. So, try to interact with your students face to face and individually, and send personalised messages where you can. Your students may be missing out on social time during breaks and in-between lessons, so try to build in time for them to catch up informally in class, in breakout rooms or during ice-breaker chats. evelop a compassionate mindset towards any D students showing gaps in attainment, or lost skills due to blended learning. It’s more important to look forward, without judgement, towards how you can help that student catch up. Start by asking how you can help. Students may feel demotivated and disheartened if they feel they have fallen behind. Remind them of the growth mindset ideas (Dweck, 2017). Studies have shown that brain structure changes very rapidly and learning a new language or skill, like meditation for example, changes actual brain structure in as little as six weeks! Educate students about stress management. Teach Nicola Morgan’s four legs of the Table of Wellbeing: food, exercise, sleep and relaxation. If one leg is weak, the table collapses. This applies to teachers too! Dweck, C. 2017. Mindset – Updated Edition: Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential. Hachette UK Morgan, N. 2018, Promoting wellbeing in the teenage classroom, World of Better Learning


Building rapport in the remote classroom by Nik Peachey

Nik is a teacher trainer, award winning author and Director of PeacheyPublications, which specialises in the design of digital learning materials. He has more than 20 years’ experience of working specifically with online and blended learning environments.


ver the last year we have seen one of the biggest fundamental shifts in educational practice in history. Within the space of weeks, millions of students and their teachers were forced out of their classrooms and onto online platforms with little or no preparation. As someone who has been training teachers to work with technology for more than 20 years, this has been incredibly interesting, at least from a pedagogical point of view. Seeing how different teachers of various ages and with very different attitudes to and experience of technology, social media and communication technologies have coped has been fascinating. It’s also filled me with admiration for the people who work within my profession. Their willingness to share and learn from each other and to look for different tools and approaches has been awesome. However, I do feel that some vital aspect of what we do has been overlooked in this rapid shift to remote teaching.


In 2014 I was lucky to work as the head of learning for a 100% online school. In this school, all lessons were automatically recorded so that students could watch them again. Students also chose which teacher they wanted from lesson to lesson. This provided considerable data on what made teachers successful online. Among the successful teachers one factor set them apart. This was their ability to transfer their interpersonal skills into the virtual classroom. These teachers were able to speak to the webcam as though it was a person, and this helped them engage and quickly build rapport with their students. So how do we make that shift to projecting our personality through the webcam? Here I have a number of tips and techniques that you may find useful:

“THE WEBCAM AND THE MICROPHONE ARE OUR FUNDAMENTAL TOOLS TO MAKE A HUMAN CONNECTION.” Make sure you have your room and equipment set up properly • You need plenty of light on your face. Be sure to avoid backlight. You don’t want to appear as a silhouette to your students. • You also need to make sure the room is quiet and distraction free. • Make sure you have a plain background. Bookcases, windows, piles of washing can be distracting. Virtual backgrounds are okay if you have no better option, but they blur your edges especially if you move around a lot (and you should). The best thing is a plain wall. • Use boxes or a riser under your computer to ensure your webcam is at eye level and that the screen is parallel to your body. This will give students the impression you are making eye contact and your body won’t be distorted by the lens. There’s also nothing worse than looking up someone’s nose or at the top of their head and the ceiling.

Think about your body and your voice • Step back from your computer. This will give the students a better view of your body and help them understand your body language. • I teach standing up and about a metre back from the webcam. Having more distance between myself and the camera also allows me to use proximity as I would in the classroom. I can move in closer to get students’ attention or even move off screen to give them space or thinking time. • Use a headset with a microphone. Using your built-in computer ones will have a negative impact on the sound quality for everyone. • Think about how you use your voice and vary the volume and tone of your voice. With a headset microphone you can speak normally as you would to someone across the desk. Even if you whisper students should still be able to hear you. • Avoid using your classroom voice. You don’t need to speak over the murmurings of forty students. If you project your voice loudly it will be uncomfortable to listen to and distort the sound.

Get the most out of the camera • If you want to give the impression of eye contact, you need to remember to speak to the camera, not to your computer screen. To make this easier, drag the small screen where you see yourself to the top of the screen beneath the webcam. Then you can monitor your body language and give the impression of making eye contact. • You need to get students to use their webcam too. Acting as a model for how they use it will help, as will sharing a few of these tips with them. • Use activities that encourage and develop the use of the camera. • Do “show and tell” using the camera. Students can show photos and objects that have special significance for them or even give other students a tour of their house/room and introduce their family. • Have dress up days with younger students. Everyone, including you, wears a costume, or get students to make puppets to use in front of the camera if they are shy.

Help students think about their body language • Build awareness of how we use body language to communicate. We mirror the body language of people we are speaking to if we like them, so get the students practising mirroring each other or you. • Body language is a powerful communicator of attitude, so get students miming different attitudes and guessing each other’s attitudes.

The question I’m asked most when delivering training for teachers is, “What are the best tech tools to use with students?” My answer is always the webcam and the microphone. These are our fundamental tools to make a human connection and to get our students making a connection to each other. This is the purpose of communication and one of the great benefits of technology – It enables us to connect with each other and build relationships, even from the other side of the planet. See Nik demonstrate great online presence in his talk from the Global Schools Festival at cambridge.org/remoteclassroomtalk



Jo has been teaching English for over 10 years in Hungary, Poland and the UK and is now actively involved in teacher training. She’s a regular presenter at TEFL conferences and a content creator for several English teaching websites and video channels.


fter almost a complete year of   teaching online, we can confidently

say that we know much more about it now than we ever did in peaceful preCOVID times. Yet there are still many different forms of online teaching, and perhaps the most challenging is the “hybrid” teaching model, where some students attend the class in person, while some join the same lesson remotely from home. Hybrid teaching has received a lot of criticism even though it could well be the best of both worlds and the ideal solution when a student cannot attend class in person. Yet hybrid teaching also presents major challenges, including access to tech resources and technical knowledge, increased workload due to the presence of two audiences, and classroom management issues. Unfortunately, the first challenge, access to tech resources, is often not within teachers’ control as it depends on the school’s budget. Hybrid teaching is always going to work much more smoothly if the classroom is equipped with cameras, a tablet for every student and a teacher’s laptop and large screen. But the following tips will show that you can teach a successful lesson even with a low-tech setup.



Use the shortcomings to your advantage

You may be most worried about making sure that both the face-to-face and the online group are always on the same page, which can leave you exhausted. But why not use this situation to your advantage? You can create genuine information gap activities by sharing something with the face-to-face group while muting the ones online or sending the online group some material (video, audio or an online article) which the physical students cannot see. This basically recreates the classic “send one student out of the classroom while the others agree on something” game.

2 Use online tools that let everyone interact from anywhere

Just as in any online lesson, why not make use of various online quiz tools and games in the hybrid classroom as well? Students enjoy competitive and fun games, such as Kahoot!, Quizlet Live, Quizizz, Mentimeter Quiz, and the up-and-coming GimKit, so it’s definitely worth using these to check and revise. Another activity type you can transfer to the hybrid classroom is collaborative writing or brainstorming with the help of real-time cloud-based apps or websites, such as Google Docs, Google Jamboard or Microsoft Word.

“HYBRID TEACHING ISN’T T IT’S STILL POSSIBLE TO H 3 Use the eBook version of your

course book with screen share

This is another tip that is going to make sure all students are following you even if they have left their books elsewhere. Most current course books also come with a separate online platform which makes it easier for all students to do extra work and re-listen to audio files.

What teachers say about hybrid teaching: DANIELLA LIMA ROCHA PRIMARY TEACHER, BRAZIL

THE IDEAL SCENARIO, BUT HAVE GREAT LESSONS!” 4 Use an online whiteboard to write on

Again, this is to keep everyone on the same page no matter if they are there face to face or following the lesson online. If the whiteboard you use is a cloud-based notebook (Google Jamboard or Microsoft OneNote, for example), you don’t even have to send the files to your class; everything remains in one place.

5 If you’re in a low-tech environment

If all you have is a laptop, you obviously don’t have much room to move, but you can still bring in the online tools mentioned above, and you can also consider bringing in asynchronous and semi-synchronous elements. For this, you definitely need to keep using your virtual learning environment (I hope you have already set up one!) because it can keep everything organised. What I did with my own group back in the autumn of 2020 was that I scheduled materials and questions they either had to complete in advance or during the lesson. Due to the low-tech setup, I could only give them feedback after the lesson but this was the best I could do at the time with only one laptop and one speaker.

6 Don’t leave students unsupervised for a long time

You may worry about constantly dividing your attention between the two groups, which will leave both unsupervised and unsatisfied. But to manage this, you can have more open class discussions, lots of collaboration, and various dynamic tasks so students don’t lose focus. If there are only 2–3 online students, then you can still set them up with face-to-face students for group activities.

7 Finally, don’t forget to enunciate

It might be hard for the online students to catch what you said. Reformulate what the face-to-face or online students said in order to make it clear for everyone.

Hybrid teaching isn’t an ideal scenario, but it’s still possible to have great hybrid lessons! Getting these tips and tricks under your belt will help you be prepared for whatever the coming years hold for teaching.

I realised early on that the students found it difficult to understand me when I was speaking through my mask. So I found a transparent mask to help them see the movements of my mouth and match them to the sounds they hear. This hybrid teaching is the worst mental fatigue that I have ever felt, because I have to divide my attention between the kids at home and the kids in front of me in the classroom.

“I NOTICE THAT MY KIDS ARE EMOTIONALLY FRAGILE.” I notice that my kids are emotionally fragile. They miss you, they want to hug you, and it’s really hard to keep students in class apart. That’s why I try and make sure that they can stay connected to their friends by doing a lot of speaking activities through the virtual classroom or tablet.

JAVIER MARTÍNEZ TARÍN SECONDARY TEACHER, SPAIN I have started using other tools to help my students learn. For example, I have an Instagram account to present grammar structures and I have a blog. We can’t do speaking practice in class because of safety issues, so I use FlipGrip for speaking practice. I write a task for them on the app and they record themselves speaking and send it to me.

“STUDENTS NEED TO BE EMOTIONALLY BALANCED IN ORDER TO LEARN.” I’ve become more aware of the emotional aspect of learning. Students need to be emotionally balanced in order to learn. With the pandemic and lockdown there is a lot of tension around, so I think we have to remember that if we want learning to happen. Sometimes my students will write to me on a Sunday morning and I always try and reply to them and tell them not to worry. It’s hard because you feel like you need to be connected all the time, but they know I’m there and they need that reassurance, so I always try to answer them straight away.


Education for a sustainable planet by Matt Larsen-Daw

Matt is Education Manager at WWF-UK. He opened our inaugural Global Schools Festival in November with an inspirational talk on how to bring the values of sustainability into schools. atch his talk at cambridge.org/ W sustainabilitytalk or get a quick overview in the summary below.

What is the role of schools in driving sustainability?


he environment is of special importance in a schools context because of the role that educators play in our society. A school has to teach students about the world with the skills and the values that they will need in their futures. That means responding to the world as it is at this time. There is no bigger need now than the need to address the existential environmental threats we face, and I truly believe no one can do more to save the world than educators.

“WE CAN CHOOSE TO WAIT FOR THAT CHANGE, OR WE CAN CHOOSE TO START DRIVING THE CHANGE NOW.” You may have heard the term “eco-anxiety”, which expresses the concern that many young people feel about the state of our planet and what that means for their future. We have a duty to curate our young people’s educational experience in light of what we know they are dealing with. We need to be sensitive to their mental health but also to have an awareness of how their education can be a positive force in addressing the causes of their anxiety. We need students to feel the potential for positive development. The way that we live now is going to change, either because of climate change or biodiversity loss. We can choose to wait for that change, or we can choose to start driving the change now. So, what does that mean for us as educators? It means that we have a duty to inspire and equip our young people to drive this positive future and thrive in it.



Teach the connections Our planet works like a living system; everything we do has an impact and issues are not isolated. If we look at one issue instead of them all then we are not necessarily able to address that single issue.

2 Foster a connection with nature

Young people don’t need to be taught to value nature. They just need the opportunity to experience it, and then the wonder and complexity of nature draws them in. Not every child may have access to nature in their home life, so by creating that opportunity at school, whether by creating a school garden or by taking class trips into nature, you can ensure that all children have equal access to that experience.

3 Build sustainable values

Quite simply, sustainability means that what we do now, we must be able to do forever. It’s not that a particular diet, lifestyle choice or product is necessarily good or bad. It means that the total of all that we are doing must be in balance. We need to do things that nature can cope with. That means changing the way that we think, and instilling sustainability as a core value and helping our students understand what it means. This goes across the curriculum; all school subjects can and should be informed by the importance of sustainability.

4 Support and empower students

Show students that their voices are relevant. Give them opportunities to make decisions in school life and help them feel confident in choices they make in their own lives.

5 Nurture hope

It’s so important that we don’t see our mission as simply to avert disaster. There is hope for a positive future and we need to think about what we can do to create it.

“Create a space for these beautiful life lessons.” Olesya Rulin Actress and author

Olesya moved to the USA from Russia at eight years old, speaking no English! She’s now an actress who you may well recognise, and she has had her own poetry published. But, just as importantly, she co-owns a nature reserve in Russia, which she operates with her mother to protect the wildlands and the species that live there. She strongly believes that life lessons, such as the effect we as people can have on the environment, need to be instilled in young people. Some students will be lucky enough to be encouraged at home, but others may not be.

How schools can shape society Teachers have a unique power; they have the power to start shaping the future. A school is much more than a machine for educating students. It has a huge role to play in society because schools are hubs of the community. They link families, local businesses and decision-makers, and often host local events. That means anything that students and staff can do to bring sustainability into all aspects of school life has a ripple effect across society and into the future.





“Whether they have an outside garden, whether you just have a class on the ecosystem, whether you encourage students to bring their own seeds and learn about how they germinate. I think the best you can do is create a space where it’s available.” Read our interview with Olesya at cambridge.org/ olesya




•  Reference to WWF


Bring sustainability into your class

by Linda Ruas

Linda teaches ESOL and CELTA and has been working voluntarily with teachers in Africa over the last 3 years. She writes teaching material, presents at conferences and works on social, environmental and educational projects through her charity, Action Guinea Bissau.

Well, I also try to teach them how to think, and feel – show them inspiration, aspiration, cooperation, participation, consolation, innovation, … help them think about globalization, exploitation, confrontation, incarceration, discrimination, degradation, subjugation, … how inequality brings poverty, how intolerance brings violence, how need is denied by greed, how –isms become prisons, how thinking and feeling can bring about healing. Well I don’t know about that. Maybe you should stick to language, forget about anguish. You can’t change the world. But if I did that, I’d be a cheater, not a teacher. Alan Maley


he poem above, from the introduction to Maley & Peachey, 2017, shows how all-encompassing our role as English teachers can be. Of course, we could simply stick to the grammar and teach structures without meaningful content, but there might be better ways of helping our students with their future in this complex, ever-changing world.

Are you worried about what’s going on in the natural world, desperate to do something about the climate emergency, and for governments, businesses and people to become more sustainable before it’s too late? Or are you vaguely interested, or feel it’s your duty as a teacher to cover the topics related to sustainability in case they come up in the test? It can be even more difficult with teenage students, often resistant to mainstream ideas, and rightly needing to choose their own passions rather than being told what to believe and fight for by older teachers.


To get started, you could try a one-off lesson about a special day, for example World Water Day on 22nd March, or Earth Day on 22nd April, World CarFree Day on 22nd September or World Vegetarian Day on 1st October. The IATEFL Global Issues Special Interest Group website has a lot of free resources, including a calendar of special days with lessons for all these dates and many more. You might enjoy working on something so real and so important. The students might enjoy it too, might feel empowered to get involved in campaigns or issues and create real change.


So here are some tips: S U

Start with getting students interested – e.g. What are the Extinction Rebellion protests all about? Why is veganism becoming so popular? What do we mean when we talk about our “carbon footprint”?


Uncover secrets and investigate the truth behind everyday objects. What do your students have in their pockets? Where were their clothes, their phones, their pencils, make-up, trainers or earrings made, and what can they discover about the supply chain? What can you find out about the history of chewing gum, the bottle of Coke or the sandwich they had for lunch and its sustainability or environmental impacts?

Set an example for your students – young learners are often inspired by teachers. Run a sponsored race for Greenpeace, do a recycling project in class, persuade the school or college to invest in solar panels, reduce your paper use, wear sustainable fashion or cycle to work.   TED talks to inspire you and your students – have you seen the one about 14-year old William Kamkwamba from Malawi who built a windmill to power his family home? You could play one every lesson as a warmer/conversation starter, use part of one for a dictation, get students to write reports on the ideas, or flip the learning by getting them to watch one before the lesson.   Ask questions and get students to ask questions. You can start with a picture from bit.ly/ climatevisuals and ask about what the guy is doing (harvesting wild honey in Indonesia), how dangerous it is, why he’s doing it, who it benefits, how bees help us etc. Or get students to write their own questions about the photos, and swap and research answers.   Introduce them to real people they can identify with. Greta Thunberg and her passionate speeches spring to mind (“plan a similar speech about something you’re passionate about”) but might have been overdone already. How about trying to organise a short Zoom chat with one of these African teen climate activists at bit.ly/talkaboutactivism, or simply read and talk about them?


Name-drop – maybe teenagers will follow the example of their celebrity heroes like Joaquin Phoenix on veganism or the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation funding forest fire-fighting. Or their football heroes like Peter Crouch on climate change, or David Beckham on malaria.   Amaze the students with game-like technology. Try this interactive “Save the Planet” ThingLink (bit.ly/thinglinkplanet) with video and multiple scenes.   Bring in personalisation wherever you can. Find out how they feel about cycling, flying, solar panels and wind turbines, mass extinctions and the very last Northern white rhino on earth, and get them to work out their carbon footprint online.

Imagine you’re a forest, a mountain, a coral reef, an ocean or the sky, then play these amazing short videos from bit.ly/imaginenature, to find out what nature could really be saying to us.

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Localise – find out about local animals or insects that are endangered or need protecting and what your class can do to help; investigate the air miles of food they eat, and how you can all eat more local, seasonal food; green your classroom and your school with recycling bins; re-invent the “nature table”, start a small windowsill garden and collect rainwater to water the plants.   Involve creativity by reading about positive solutions, then plan and discuss inventions for a more sustainable future. Find examples like the Ooho biodegradable water pouches. Or eGlu reverse glue for recycling electronic devices, in the “Designs for the Future” lesson on the New Internationalist Easier English wiki.   Train students to recognise fake news and awaken their criticality by discussing and researching stories on social media or in the news, e.g. Does British grocery store Harrods really sell Arctic ice water for £80?   Yell! – try this “Radical Phonology” practice task at bit.ly/radicalphonology, getting students to decide on which sustainability issues they feel passionate about, writing a protest banner, practising the pronunciation, and then chanting it! You could even organise a local climate strike.

•  GISIG, Global Issues Special Interest Group, IATEFL website: Calendar of Special Days: https://gisig.iatefl.org/special-days/ •  Maley, A & Peachey, N (Eds) Integrating global issues in the creative English language classroom: with reference to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/sites/teacheng/files/PUB_29200_Creativity_UN_SDG_v4S_WEB.pdf, British Council, 2017 • New Internationalist Easier English wiki: https://eewiki.newint.org/


TEACHER’S NOTES PAGE 1 CEFR LEVEL: A2 PROJECT: A STORYBOARD Before you start Find two or three video adverts for places, from the internet, to show students in class.

1 Preparation

Step 1: Introduce the topic • Ask What do TV channels show between programmes? What types of things to adverts show? • Ask students to discuss questions 1, 2 and 3. • Show students the video adverts. Encourage them to say what they were for and what they see in each scene. Ask What is the purpose of the advert? Is it effective? Why/why not? Step 2: How to write a storyboard • Go through the first two How to write a storyboard tips with the class. Say it’s important to know who the target audience is (for example, children, teenagers, or adults), so that the information in the advert appeals to them. Explain that for storyboards, it is also common to sketch images before finding them. • Ensure students understand that when they make their storyboards, they should use the ideas in this How to section. Step 3: Clarify the project • Brainstorm different places from around the world to advertise. • Ask students to discuss why each place is interesting and what information they can put in an advert about it.

2 Development

Step 1: Assign roles and responsibilities • In project groups, ask students to assign general roles

A scriptwriter (ensures script is correct for each scene)   A special effects coordinator (suggests special effects)   A picture manager (helps choose the images)   An artist (helps sketch the idea)   A music supervisor (helps choose the music)

• Help them decide which roles they could share. Step 2: Research and analyse • Ask students to do Exercise 1 from the PLAN section alone and choose a place from the ones they brainstormed, or think of a different one, using the ideas from the box.


A STORYBOARD Look at the storyboard for an advert and answer the questions. 1 What is the Studio Ghibli museum? 2 What types of music are used for the advert? 3 What special effects are used?


Scene 1

Scene 2

Scene 3

Welcome to the Studio Ghibli Museum,


Studio Ghibli produces animated fantasy films,

Music, special Music: traditional Japanese effects, text, etc. music that lasts through the whole advert


Scene 4

Scene 5

Scene 6

as well as series about ordinary people

You can find out about the history

and science of animation,

Music, special effects, text, etc.

Script Music, special effects, text, etc.


Special effects: make this an animation. Zoom in on the location of the museum

Music: change to music that sounds like it is from a cartoon

Scene 7

Scene 8

Scene 9

see amazing illustrations and learn how films are animated.

Every year there’s a new exhibition.

It’s fun for all the family! What are you waiting for?

Music: Change back to traditional Japanese music

Text: Set information about opening times and prices on the screen Music: the music fades out Special effect: the image fades out

For more projects like this, check out our new courses for teens, Own it! and Shape it! cambridge.org/ownit (British English) cambridge.org/shapeit (American English)



Step 1: Prepare • Go through the checklist in the PRESENT section from Exercise 2.

• Schedule presentation times and stick to them, ensuring all groups present their storyboards. Step 2: Present • Draw attention to the CHECK section from Exercise 3. Ask the class to use these questions to assess each group’s storyboards. Have them write down any interesting facts. • Ask groups to present their storyboards. Remind speakers to explain their section, describing each image and saying how the script relates to it. Step 3: Reflect • After the presentations, hold a class discussion on the CHECK questions in Exercise 3. • Ask students to vote on their favourite storyboard. • If possible, ask the winning group to film their advert, using the images they found, recording their script and adding the music and special effects.


Use these project-specific descriptors to assess students individually or in groups.







Project is well organised, with creative and interesting ideas. It shows attractive images in a logical order. It uses interesting scripts and includes all the extra features.

Project is organised with interesting ideas. It shows attractive images in a mostly logical order. It uses fairly interesting scripts and includes some of the extra features.

Project has interesting ideas but lacks organisation. It shows images in an order that is sometimes confusing. It uses scripts, though they’re not very interesting, and includes very few features.

Project lacks interesting ideas and organisation. It shows images in a confusing order. The scripts aren’t interesting and some are missing. There are no extra features.

Language use

Project shows excellent use of grammar, punctuation and spelling. Excellent use of language from unit (present simple and continuous). Project is understandable with only few or no mistakes.

Project shows good use of grammar, punctuation and spelling. Good use of language from the unit (present simple and continuous). Project is understandable with some mistakes.

Project shows adequate use of grammar, punctuation and spelling. Adequate use of language from the unit (present simple and continuous). Project is understandable, but some sections need further explanation.

Project shows poor use of grammar, punctuation and spelling. Poor or no use of language from the unit (present simple and continuous). Project is confusing, vague and almost impossible to understand.

ways to talk about film and TV in your lessons by George Banks

George has taught English in Spain, Italy, Japan and is now based in South Korea, where he teaches beginner to advanced level. Alongside teaching, he creates videos for Learn English with Cambridge.


any of you have told us that your students are keen on film and TV. They may arrive in class talking about something they’ve seen, or want to see. So, instead of putting a stop to this discussion once the lesson starts, use George’s suggestions to get everyone involved and embrace television in the classroom with these three activity ideas!


1 Film posters

Posters are designed to communicate what a film is about. Choose a selection of posters and have your students guess the plots, explaining their reasoning. You could extend this into an interactive activity, by assigning them “actor” and “journalist” roles and getting them to conduct a pretend interview about the film.

2 Film or TV scripts

All films and TV shows start off as scripts. So, scripts make an excellent starting point for a role play! Choose a script, give your students roles as either “actor” or “director” and get them to act out the scene. You could even have them experiment with sentence stress. How does the meaning change when they place the stress on different words?

3 Still images

If you watch a whole scene, you’ll understand the context and what’s going on. But what if you just see one still image from a scene? Would you be able to tell what the characters are doing and why? Show students an image from a film and ask them to describe what they think is going on. Or, get them to create a dialogue by adding speech bubbles. They can be as imaginative as they like. Anything’s possible in a film after all!

Watch George’s video to hear more about these activities at cambridge.org/filminclass



Greg is a teacher trainer and academic manager based in Spain. He has a keen interest in TEFL-related video content and his primary work in this area is producing videos for Learn English with Cambridge.



port is something that can be enjoyed at the weekend, in the  evenings, in any spare time really. You don’t have to be on a team, or even be particularly good at it! Organising a kick around with friends is just as valuable. We know that sport is a popular topic of conversation among teen students. They might arrive in your class talking about it, so how can you keep that conversation going and bring sport into the classroom? Greg, has some ideas for you.


“Sport is such a universal language, that it’s a great way to start if you are in a country where you don’t know anyone, you don’t know the language.”

ACTIVITY 1: SPORT REALIA Professional players may have trophy cabinets, but your students may also have sporting items that they’re proud of. Ask them to bring in an object of their own, for example, an item of kit, an award, or a picture. In pairs, get them to describe their objects to each other. Using a personal item will increase their enthusiasm for speaking practice.

ACTIVITY 2: SPORT COMMENTATING Teens like to discuss sport that they’ve seen. Who won the game they watched at the weekend? Did one of the players do something particularly impressive? Did anything unfair happen? Show your class a silent clip from a sport event and give them the opportunity to suggest what the commentator could be saying. Have a discussion as a class, then ask them to write their own scripts. Play the clip with sound to see how accurate they are!

ACTIVITY 3: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF… Students who are keen on sport probably have a favourite player. What would it be like to be that person for a day? Describing their own daily routine probably wouldn’t be very interesting to a teenager, but if they were that sports star, they’d have plenty to talk about!

ACTIVITY 4: 2-MINUTE WORKOUT “Hello… is everyone still awake…?” Students won’t be bubbling with enthusiasm for every minute of every lesson. Brains get tired, they get distracted, shoulders start to slump. When it seems like they’re flagging, it’s time to get everyone up on their feet! Spend two minutes doing a workout burst. You can lead this yourself in English, or use an English YouTube fitness video if you’d prefer. This will get energy levels and positivity back up!

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ, INTERNATIONAL TENNIS STAR Daniela asked her parents for a tennis racket at 5 years old. Fast-forward to 13 years old and she moved from Slovakia to Florida to begin her tennis career. It’s through her sport that Daniela learnt to speak English as it’s really used. On the international tennis circuit, she also learnt how to use English as a common language when many first languages are involved. But you don’t need to reach professional level to see the physical and social benefits of sport. “I think it’s such a great, safe place to start from. When I was in Italy I didn’t speak the language, but I was in a tennis club where I was training, and suddenly the sport becomes the language to start with. So, you feel safe, because ok you don’t understand anything, but at least you can hit forehands and backhands with someone else on the other side of the court without having to understand him or her. And then slowly you start to be more brave, and slowly you start to feel comfortable.” As well as her language skills, Daniela believes she has sport to thank for other attributes that have helped her in life. Tennis taught her discipline, determination and acceptance. “I think that’s why it’s also important to encourage kids to do sports. Because you don’t have to be a professional or an Olympic winner to still be able to push yourself and go to your limits, wherever they are. And that’s when you learn how to be committed, how to be disciplined.”


Watch Greg’s video to hear more about these activities at cambridge.org/sportinclass


WHEN WE READ, WE LEARN… … especially when the text isn’t in our first language! Encouraging students to read in English can open up the world for them, alongside developing their English skills through an enjoyable activity that doesn’t have to feel like learning. Let’s have a quick look at the benefits of reading:

AUTONOMY Extensive reading is an individual, silent activity. Perfect for students to take control of outside the classroom and do at their own pace.

VOCABULARY GROWTH Reading doesn’t just increase a student’s vocabulary. It enhances the quality of their vocabulary. They learn how words work together.

GRAMMAR ACQUISITION To develop understanding of grammar, students need to see lots of examples. Where can you find lots of real language use…? In a book!

WRITING SKILLS DEVELOPMENT Absorbing examples of how language works on the page can give students a better understanding of how to construct their own writing.

WELLBEING Reading can help combat feelings of loneliness that students may be experiencing, particularly while learning at home. While reading itself is a solitary activity, books are there to be shared and talked about. Let’s have that conversation in the classroom!



steps for running a book club with teens by Rebecca Rios

Rebecca began to teach individual students during university and has never looked back! She is from Brazil, where she currently teaches children and teens. She is a fan of technology and produces videos for Learn English with Cambridge.


hen I was a child, I was always  surrounded by books. My father had a library of about three thousand books of all sorts of genres and always had one to recommend to people, whatever their situation. Something that I’ve learnt as an English language teacher is that getting students, especially teens, to read in English is a great opportunity to improve their vocabulary and grammar, and to broaden their cultural knowledge. In addition to that, when I created a book club for them to share and discuss ideas they had read, it really helped their critical thinking and speaking abilities. Here are 5 practical steps for setting up and running a book club with teens, that will work both for online and in-person classes.

Choose two or three books according to your students’ interests and English reading level. Read them ahead of time to make sure they are suitable for their age. These can be fiction or non-fiction. It’s also important to choose titles that will interest learners and provoke discussion.

Present the options to your students and take a vote on what they would like to read. Not every class has the same tastes and teens like to have options.

Prepare questions about the book and have a class discussion. Think of yourself as a mediator of the discussion and encourage students to take the lead. Use the questions that you created about the book as a starting point for their discussion. Let students answer and express their opinion, and use the book and their ideas to debate specific topics. Write down mistakes students make while they speak and correct them after they’ve finished talking, so that you don’t interrupt conversation flow.

Set a date for the book club to happen and tell students to be prepared for a class discussion about it. Encourage learners to create their own glossary, writing down and looking up new words they don’t know the meaning of. This will enhance their vocabulary as well as improve their understanding of the book itself.

To expand their knowledge even more and practise new vocabulary, ask students to create a summary of the book, or write a short text relating what they’ve read to reallife situations. Get students to share their work in your real or virtual class noticeboard. This helps build a reading community and encourages others to get reading.

A book club is a great way to connect students, develop their language and help them explore worlds (far) beyond the classroom.

Book recommendations to get you started Get your book club going with these titles, written especially for teen learners of English.

Younger teens

Older teens


Explore the full range at cambridge.org/gradedreaders For non-graded recommendations too, visit cambridge.org/fictionforteens


Quick tips for integrating life competencies into your classroom by Laura Sigsworth, Secondary ELT Team, Cambridge University Press


WATCH ALL THE TEACHING TIPS VIDEOS AT CAMBRIDGE.ORG/TEENTEACHINGTIPS The Cambridge Life Competencies Framework outlines six key areas of competency that will help students succeed in class and beyond; Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Learning to Learn, Communication, Collaboration and Social Responsibilities. The purpose of the framework is to help you define and track what each competency means in practice, at every stage of the learning journey. So let’s look at some quick tips for incorporating each competency area into your lessons.

Learning to Learn Learning to learn is all about helping students become better, more independent learners by helping them develop learning skills and strategies, take control of their own learning and reflect on and evaluate their progress. In this video, Greg suggests that you introduce students to different learning strategies. In the case of notetaking, for example, this could be a table, a spider diagram or a notes box. Over the course of a few lessons, get students to use each one in turn, then evaluate which one worked best for them. If you are teaching remotely, you could experiment with different ways of presenting, for example, a new grammar point. Start by presenting live as if you were teaching face to face. Then ask students to watch a video which explains the grammar point before coming to class. Finally, get students to read an explanation of the grammar from their coursebook or other materials.

“IT’S ABOUT STUDENTS LEARNING HOW THEY CAN HELP THEMSELVES IF THEY ARE STRUGGLING.” Ask students to choose and discuss which method or methods they found most helpful. You’re sure to get a range of answers, but it’s not about changing your teaching style, it’s about students learning how they can help themselves if they are struggling.

Social Responsibility The framework defines Social Responsibilities as the rights and duties that come along with being a citizen of a particular nation or state, as well as of a broader global entity. This may sound like a challenging thing to teach. But once it’s broken down into core areas, like understanding personal responsibilities within a group, intercultural awareness and understanding global issues, it becomes easier to see how this competency can be incorporated into classes.

“STUDENTS CAN DISCUSS HOW THIS ISSUE AFFECTS THEM AND HOW THEY COULD MAKE A POSITIVE IMPACT ON IT.” In this video, Will suggests that you help students keep in touch with current news by dedicating a lesson or part of a lesson to the news. It’s important to do this regularly. Find articles from different sources on a news story that you think your students will find interesting. Ask your students to read the article and note down the most important information. You can guide your students by asking questions like “When did it happen?”, “Who was involved?” and “Write what happened in less than 20 words”. Next, ask students to prepare to tell the class about the story by selecting and organising the key information. When they share this information, students can discuss how this issue affects them and how they could make a positive impact on it.


Critical Thinking

Creative Thinking

We are all aware of the importance of developing our students’ critical thinking skills. With mobile phones at their fingertips (or in their pockets) they have more access to information and misinformation than ever before. In this era of “fake news”, our young people need to be able to separate reliable sources from unreliable ones, form their opinions and make choices with the best possible information available to them.

Creative thinking is a vital life skill which enables us to imagine, innovate and respond to unexpected or changing situations. A traditional school curriculum doesn’t always leave a lot of space for imagination or divergent thinking, and not all students will be used to thinking creatively in class. Therefore, it’s important that we give them a starting point for creative activities. You can use almost anything as a prompt for creative thinking; from images and video to other stories, diagrams or objects.

“IN THIS ERA OF “FAKE NEWS”, OUR YOUNG PEOPLE NEED TO BE ABLE TO SEPARATE RELIABLE SOURCES FROM UNRELIABLE ONES.” In this video, Greg suggests using a ranking method to help students examine and evaluate their own opinions and help them be open to changing them. First, offer students a statement to discuss; one that is likely to produce a range of opinions like: “Make-up really helps improve our image and, as a result, our self-esteem”. Using a topic that you are currently studying in class will help make sure that students are well-informed. Ask students to grade their opinions using a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). If you’re teaching in person, you could even ask them to physically grade their opinion by arranging themselves along a wall. Next, ask your learners to say why they believe that and to try persuading dissenting classmates to change their views. Finally, get your students to grade their opinions again to see if they have changed. This type of exercise helps students practise evaluating their opinions.


“YOU CAN USE ALMOST ANYTHING AS A PROMPT FOR CREATIVE THINKING; FROM IMAGES AND VIDEO TO OTHER STORIES, DIAGRAMS OR OBJECTS.” In this video, Emma suggests using a short story as a prompt. Choose a short story for students to read and respond to. Then adapt it by removing short sections of the story and ask your students to fill the gaps with their own creative ideas. For lower-level learners, you can remove short sections like names, places and activities. For more advanced students, you can remove longer sections, like descriptions and dialogue. Finally, ask your students to share their stories with the class. You can turn this into a game by asking students to guess what other students might have written. By doing this, you are encouraging students to imagine different ways the story might unfold.



Project work is a fantastic way to develop students’ collaborative skills like communication, teamwork and leadership. It also helps develop other useful skills like doing research, making presentations and speaking in public. The motivational aspect of project work is particularly important when many students are learning remotely. Getting students to work together, independent of the teacher, avoids online classes becoming too teacher-focused and encourages students to take ownership of their learning.

Getting teenage students to speak in class can sometimes be a challenge, especially if you’re asking them to speak English! Even the most confident student can feel self-conscious in another language, and for very shy students the idea of speaking in front of the class can be overwhelming.

“THE MOTIVATIONAL ASPECT OF PROJECT WORK IS PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT WHEN STUDENTS ARE LEARNING REMOTELY.” However, the classroom management of projects can be very time-consuming for teachers. The challenge of coming up with an idea, to gathering the right materials, to making sure that students are all contributing fairly, can often make project work seem more like hard work! The first step of any project is setting clear goals for students. In Will’s video, he suggests that we get the students to decide what a successful outcome looks like and write it in the form of a checklist. Then, students plan the stages they need to reach their goal, referring to the checklist. In the case of making a poster, the stages could be finding pictures, designing the layout and making the poster. Each of these stages could be broken down into further stages to make the project more manageable.

It can also be a battle to keep students from slipping into their first language. Using the student’s first language in class has always been a matter for debate, but in this video, Emma suggests that it can be helpful for students to compare the speaking strategies that they use in their first language to the ones they use in English. Ask students to record a video of themselves doing a role play in their first language. Then get them to record themselves doing the same role play in English. Ask them to watch their two role plays back, comparing their use of eye contact, body language and fluency. This gives students the opportunity to use the skills and confidence they have in their first language to improve their speaking in English.

“OVER 60% OF FACE-TO-FACE COMMUNICATION IS NON-VERBAL.” Studies show that over 60% of face-to-face communication is non-verbal. This is great news for language students because it means that even if they don’t understand every word, they can still guess and communicate meaning from things like tone of voice, gestures and body language.

Find out more about the Cambridge Life Competencies Framework at cambridge.org/clcf


























veryone has to start somewhere! You  may recognise these people from TV, sport and the media, but behind their successes are some very interesting stories, with language learning at the centre. We’ve spoken to each of them about their background and they’ve shared their words of wisdom for today’s learners.


Read all about their experiences of learning languages at cambridge.org/interviews


Call My Bluff! Vocabulary puzzles for you and your class

To “call someone’s bluff” is an idiom in which you ask someone to prove what they are saying is true. It’s also the name of an old game show in the UK and US in which players tried to guess the correct definitions of unusual words. Each of the vocabulary items below has three possible definitions. Can you and your students guess the correct one?

1 3

Desertification (n)

a) The creation of a sweet snack b) The process of land turning into desert c) Studying for a certificate in making cakes/sweets etc

Skip-diving (n)

a) An ancient British sport where people dive over ropes into pools of water

b) A job where someone finds people who have disappeared, especially people who owe money

c) The activity of searching through large

bins to find food that can still be eaten or objects that can still be used



Upcycle (v)

a) To make new furniture or objects out of old or used things

b) To ride an old-fashioned bicycle with one large wheel

c) When water is taken up from the

sea, rivers etc. and then comes back as rain or snow


Gaffer (n)

a) The person responsible for lighting when making a film or television programme

b) The owner of a house (informal) c) A performer in a 19th-Century theatre


Quirk (n)

a) A type of soft cheese b) A cylinder-shaped piece of wood or

plastic that is put in the top of a bottle to close it

c) An unusual habit or part of someone’s personality

a) To be unhappy and without hope b) Dancing to 1970s music c) When something smells bad

Now why not get your students to create their own definitions of unusual words and test their classmates? Discover more unusual words and create your own wordlists at dictionary.cambridge.org Answers:

1b 2a 3c 4a 5b 6a


In a funk (idiom)


We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our Teaching Teens magazine! For all our resources for teachers of teens, head to the Cambridge Secondary website.


You’ll find video tips, blog articles, our Global Schools Festival playlist, graded material and more. Everything you need to deliver engaging lessons and teach teens with confidence!

Cambridge Life Competencies Podcast Prepare your students for adulthood, with these practical tips and techniques to develop their life competencies.




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