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Dec 2018 - Year 20 - Issue 6

ISSN 1755-9715

Life is a Journey. A Creative Project

Life is a Journey. A Creative Project

Milka Hadjikoteva, Bulgaria

Milka Hadjikoteva, PhD, a senior assistant professor, is Head of English Studies Department at New Bulgarian University, Sofia, Bulgaria. She teaches EFL and ESP courses, linguistic disciplines and teacher training courses. Her interests include linguistics, semiotics, translation studies, EFL approaches and methodology. She is active as a translator. Her book Challenging Academic Presentation has been published recently by Lambert Academic Publishing, Germany. Email:


Life is a Journey. Lesson Plan


  • Introduction of the conceptual metaphor [LIFE IS A JOURNEY] as well as the conceptual metaphors  [LOVE IS A JOURNEY] and [CAREER IS A JOURNEY];
  • Development of vocabulary and focus on the meaning and translation of metaphorical expressions based on these conceptual metaphors;
  • Development of translation skills through reflection and discussions of the relevance of the students’ suggestions;
  • Development of reading skills via focusing on texts with a number of metaphorical expressions;
  • Selection and classification of metaphorical expressions;
  • Analysis of basic information in reading passages;
  • Development of skills for working with references/dictionaries;
  • Development of reflective skills via focusing on analogies in the native and the foreign languages; reflection on the adequacy of translation equivalents;
  • Development of skills to work in pairs/groups;
  • Development of skills to deliver monologues and participate in dialogues;
  • Development of listening comprehension skills


The students (Ss) are familiar with the concepts introduced in their native language and have a set of lexical units and grammatical structures to communicate in English. They have already mastered basic reading comprehension, listening comprehension and speaking skills, however, they need practice and additional guidance when working on finding parallels / differences in associations / conceps in their native language and English ​​(implicit introduction of conceptual metaphors that function in conceptual systems in both languages) and relevant translation equivalents (expressions and phrases associated with them).

Expected problems and ways to solve them

It is possible that some of Ss may be anxious to speak. Probably working in groups and pairs may lead to a better performance and help overcome anxiety.

  • The following abbreviations are used in the table below: T (the teacher), S (a student), Ss (the students)

Stages (Minutes)


Forms of interaction




1. Warm-up (2-3’)


Introducing the theme of life being a journey through comments on the image and the quotation;

S-S; T-Ss

Elicitation of background knowledge; Brainstorming; Tuning-in

Task 1






2. Watching an advert, answering questions, cloze task, discussion (10’)

Ss work in pairs and discuss their suggestions;

S-S; T-Ss

Developing listening comprehension skills; vocabulary development

Task 2






3. Reading a passage and matching images with ideas; translation(10’)

Ss work in pairs and discuss their suggestions; class discussion

S-S; T-Ss

Activation of vocabulary; Developing skills of reflecting upon the meaning of expressions and their use; developing associative thinking processes; translation skills;   

Task 3






4. Reading a passage and commenting on it; discussion (10’)

Ss read the passage and suggest their ideas about their own lives

S-S; T-Ss

Reading comprehension skills development; vocabulary activation and associative thinking development; development of skills to deliver monologues and participate in a conversation;  

Task 4*






5. Translation (5’)

Ss work in pairs and discuss their suggestions; class discussion

S-S; T-Ss

Translation skills; Activation/practice of the use of the metaphoric expressions already introduced

Task 5






6. Listening to a song and supplying the missing words; answering questions (10’)

Ss work in pairs and discuss their suggestions; class discussion

S-S; T-Ss

Listening comprehension skills development; development of skills to deliver monologues and participate in a conversation; 

Task 6






7. Reading and discussing a poem (10’)

Ss answer questions, discuss questions and reflect upon it;

S-S; T-Ss

Reading comprehension skills development; associative thinking; controlled practice of metaphoric expressions; development of skills to deliver monologues and participate in a conversation;

Task 7






8. Cloze task; discussion (5-7‘)

Ss work in pairs and discuss their suggestions; class discussion

S-S; T-Ss

Practice of metaphoric expressions related to the conceptual metaphors already introduced;

Task 8






9. Translating sentences (10’)

Ss work individually and discuss their suggections; class discussion;

S-S; T-Ss

Associative thinking; reflecting upon the vocabulary units; translation skills development;

Task 9






10. Matching images with metaphoric expressions; translation equivalents (5’)

Ss work in pairs and discuss their suggestions; class discussion

S-S; T-Ss

Introduction of similar conceptual metaphors and new metaphoric expressions; Reflection on analogies in the native and target language;

Task 10






11. Discussion of images (5-10’) free practice

Ss provide their suggestions; a discussion

S-S; T-Ss

Free practice of the metaphoric expressions; associative thinking; development of skills to deliver monologues and participate in a conversation;

Task 11






12. Conclusion (1-2’)

Ss write down five expressions they have been impressed with during the lesson


Ss need some time to reflect on the material practiced;


 Approx.. 90’






*Task IV proves to be the most inspiring one in the lesson. Every time I teach the lesson my students, having acquainted themselves with the short passage, start brainstorming and looking for interesting activities to talk about their own lives. Here is a list of some phrases and expressions a number of my students have come up with:


A train trip;

Choose the train route;

Get on the train and get off when and where I want;

When unhappy, change trains;

Buy only one-way tickets, never return tickets.


Travel by plane;

High in the sky, close to the clouds;

Never able to get off;

Have to travel the distance and go back after that;

Trapped in the sky;

Find myself in a city I don’t know;

Ask for directions.


A roller-coaster ride;

Dangerous curves and loops;

No way back.;

No stops, I can’t get off until the end.;

Some people may lose their minds.;

Nobody needs a map.;

Someone else planned your ride.


A parachute jump;

It’s a free fall in the beginning;

to make a wrong move;

plan the fall;

know when to open the parachute;

get my bearings after the fall;

ask for directions, if I am lost;

find my way home.


Life is like riding a horse.

I decide when to start and when to stop.

To choose my horse;

To plan the ride;

To use the map;

To ask for directions;

If I take a wrong turn, I’ll get back on the right road.


Life is a Journey. Worksheets

  1. Look at the picture. Do you share the following opinion?

Life takes each of us on a unique path of discovery and every mountain we climb, every step we take, brings us closer to our dreams.

Are there similar associations in Bulgarian?

  1. Watch the Dream Garage Advertisement at and answer the following questions:

What is the boy chasing?

                Who gets the ball?

                What happens when the boy reaches for it?

                Who welcomes the boy?

The actor Dale Ishimoto plays the elderly man based on Mr. Yutuka Katayama, who introduced Nissan cars to the United States in 1958. Finish his lines:

"Any car can get you where you need to …….. . A special car gets you there with a smile on your face. … Remember, young man, life is a ………… . Enjoy the ………!”

  1. Read the quotation. Please, put the letters of the pictures next to the bolded words they represent and write down the italicized words under the corresponding pictures they are associated with. Then write about your own associations based on the pictures.

The Road to Success is not straight

(A). There is a curve (…) called failure, a loop () called confusion, speed bumps () called friends, caution lights () called family, and you will have flat tires (…) called jobs. But, if you have a spare tyre () called determination* and an engine () called perseverance**, you will make it to a place called success!


*determination - the quality of trying to do something even when it is difficult

**perseverance - continued effort and determination

Translate the quotation in Bulgarian. Are there similar associations there? Looking at the pictures, please “retell” the quotation.

  1. Read the following passage. How similar is a car trip to a life journey? Do you share this opinion? Can you give your own example?

Driving through a new town can cause us to become lost. We may have made a wrong turn and realize it immediately. When I do, I find a place to turn around and get back on track.  Sometimes we don’t realize it until later. We may find ourselves in a place we know we do not belong to. When this happens, I find my map and plan a route back to where I want to be.  Sometimes we need to ask for directions. Eventually we find our way back to our planned route. 

Journey your life in the same way. When you take a wrong turn, and you realize it, do not continue down that road just because it happens to be the one you are now on. Do not beat yourself up for turning the wrong way; it happens to all of us sooner or later. Find your map, get your bearings (find out exactly where you are) and get back on the right road. Chances are that when you pass this way again, you will remember where you turned wrong and avoid making the same mistake.


  1. Please, find the English equivalents of the following words and expressions in the text. (NB. My students are Bulgarian. You would need to use th estudents’ mother tongue here)


губя се по пътя                                       правя обратен завой             намирам пътя си

продължавам си по пътя                     завивам в грешна посока     моля да ме упътят

планирам маршрута си наобратно       ориентирам се за местонахождението си

връщам се на верния път                      изминавам същия път         


  1. Listen to the song At The Beginning (Richard Marx and Donna) at

Answer the auwstions and then fill in the missing words and phrases.

  • Who do you think the song is about?
  • Was the singer’s life happy?
  • Did he/she find his/her soul mate?

We were strangers
Starting out on a …………….

Never dreaming
What we'd have ……………………..
Now here we are
And I'm suddenly standing
At the ……………. with you

No one told me
I was going to find you
What you did to my heart
When I lost hope
You were there to remind me
This is the ………….

Life is a …………………
And I want to keep going
Love is a …………………
I wanna keep flowing
Life is a ……………….
Now and forever
Wonderful ………………

I'll be there

When the world stops turning
I'll be there

When the storm is through
In the end I wanna be standing

At the ……………. with you

We were strangers
On a crazy …………………
Never dreaming
How our dreams would come true
Now here we stand
Unafraid of the future
At the …………… with you

  1. Read the poem The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost and answer the following questions:


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood                      Where did the speaker go?
And sorry I could not travel both                              Would he like to try out both roads?
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could                    
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair                            Which road did the speaker decide to take?
And having perhaps the better claim,                        Why?
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,                      Were both roads similarly worn?

And both that morning equally lay                            Are both roads less travelled by?
In leaves no step had trodden black.                         Had the leaves been walked on?
Oh, I kept the first for another day!                           Would he come back again?
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,                     Was he certain? Why or why not?
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh                                When is the speaker going to sigh?
Somewhere ages and ages hence:                            Is this a sigh of relief or regret?
Two roads diverged in a wood and I—                     Is the difference positive or negative?
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


  1. What are the two paths/roads in the woods associated with?
  2. What are forks/curves in roads associated with?
  3. Which of the following statements is a possible summary of the poem?
  1. We are free to choose, but we do not really know beforehand what we are choosing between.
  2. There is not a right path - just the chosen path and the other path. 
  3. Seize the day.

VIII. Do you know what the phrases from the language box phrases mean? Finish the sentences, using them. Some minor changes may be necessary.

without direction                         get a head start in life                        where you want to be in life
at a crossroads                             go places                                go through a lot

down the highway of life             slow down and think             live in the fast lane


  1. Each year, more than 4200 disadvantaged children ………………………with quality educational programs.
  2. We ………………………..because we have no slow lanes any more. Every lane is fast, and the only comfort our culture can offer is more lanes.
  3. He was such a gifted musician, I always knew he would ………..
  4. Even now, many years ………………………. , my excursions don’t give me the opportunity to experience desert, its harsh and lonely conditions as well as its immense beauty. 
  5. I think that she has to be more careful. She has got to …………………….. about what to do.
  6. She's …………………. in her career, and the way she performs in this race could decide her future.
  7. If you are not …………………………., it is your own fault. You can have a rewarding career that you will enjoy.
  8. I think most Americans are fair and most Americans realize that people  …………… in their life and only then they reach a wise  judgment.
  9. I think education still leaves a lot of people ………………………. . I never took the term direction to mean being told what to do.

IX. Translate the following sentences. (See note in point V)

  1. Той не знае по кой път да поеме – на кръстопът е.
  2. След години на пътуване без посока, вече зная каква работа ми доставя удоволствие. 
  3. Мнозина получават преднина спрямо колегите си с усърдна работа.
  4.  Хората преминават през много изпитания в живота си.
  5. За да вземеш правилното решение е нужно да забавиш темпото и да помислиш.
  6. Днес всички живеем на бързи обороти.
  7. Той е много умен. Винаги съм знаел, че ще стигне далеч.
  8.  Извървял съм много пътища в живота си, но все още не съм обиколил света.
  9.  В живота е важно е да опиташ да стигнеш там, за където си се запътил.


X. Match the pictures and the expressions. Can you think of similar associations in Bulgarian?

  • Their marriage is on the rocks.
  • My wheels are turning but I’m not getting anywhere…what about you?
  • I realized that this is how marriages go off the rails - women demand things, and when they do not get them, they get resentful.
  • This relationship is foundering. Their relationship isn’t going anywhere. /They are in a dead-end relationship./
  • Their marriage is a dead-end street.

Can you think of their Bulgarian equivalents?

XI. Look at the people in the advertisements of Samsonite “Life is a Journey” tagline. What are your associations about these people and their journeys? Are there any of them at a crossroads, without direction, going through a lot or living in the fast lane? Have they had a head start in life? Are they successful? How do we know it?

Write five words/phrases you are going to remember about LIFE/LOVE/CAREER being associated with A JOURNEY.


The role of creativity in my classroom

Since I started teaching I have been interested in finding creative ways to develop what many of my intermediate students labelled as a flair for English. Later I have realized that the major difficulty in acquiring a foreign language laid in the differences of conceptualizing the world in different cultures. Mirroring this picture of the world, the foreign language classroom, especially a monolingual one, in which the teacher and the students share a native language, is more than challenging when it comes to developing the skills necessary to use metaphoric expressions.

The conceptual systems typical of the native language and a foreign language are in a continuous contact in a foreign language classroom. They interact and, in order to be used as much as possible, the conceptual similarities and differences in the two languages should be explored in a comparative plan. This implies a differentiated approach when selecting language learning materials and, in my case, inspired me to develop my own materials, part of my PhD thesis defended in 2012. The underlying idea of my study is that a comparative analysis of the conceptual metaphors in English analyzed by Lakoff, Johnson and Kovecses and their Bulgarian counterparts may prove essential for successful acquisition of English as a foreign language by speakers of Bulgarian.

To understand the metaphoric nature of English it is important not only to teach metaphoric expressions, but to clarify and explain their implications, the ultimate goal being to stimulate their creative use. It is not possible to ask students to draw conclusions how to use metaphoric expressions based on their personal observations. At an intermediate level they are not adequately prepared to observe and induce the rules they need to start applying the logic behind them. They need assistance when it comes to the reasons why an expression is relevant or irrelevant in a situation, what its implications are and what information it provides about the speaker. For example, if a person says "All work and no play ...", it presupposes that the interlocutor in this conversation is familiar with the saying and gets the message sent.

The only way to start using successfully metaphoric expressions is by setting creative tasks either individually, in pairs or in small groups. It is essential to allow students to work independently, to consult reference materials and dictionaries and to discuss their ideas with their peers. It is a must to let them present the outcome of their creative efforts to their peers and to encourage the good work. Last but not least, it is the responsibility of the teacher to help students realize the importance of reflecting and analyzing the meaning and the message carried by such expressions that at first glance may seem easy enough to be translated literally into a foreign language.

To wrap up, the materials I have developed have proved that if such a process is well-structured and all the skills necessary are mastered, students become good at distinguishing the semantic layers of meaning and enhance their ability to adequately convey their thoughts and ideas in English.


Please check the Methodology and Language for Secondary course at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Creative Methodology for the Classroom course at Pilgrims website.

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