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October 2020 - Year 22 - Issue 5

ISSN 1755-9715

Favourite Lessons Collection

Sandra Piai is a freelance teacher trainer and EFL examiner. She has over 30 years’ experience in EFL and has held academic positions such as PG Coordinator on Master’s programmes in ELT at the University of Sussex and the University of St Andrews.  Prior to this, Sandra worked for the British Council. She has presented at many conferences, including IATEFL, and has given EFL workshops in countries in Africa, Asia and Europe and has published in professional journals, including HLT. Email:

I had been thinking of putting together a collection of “lessons that work” for some time before the Corona Virus began to spread. When countries in Europe started to go into lockdown, it seemed a good idea to rethink the original idea of publishing in printed form and putting the lessons up online so that they could be accessed immediately by teachers from anywhere in the world.

After discussing the idea with a couple of former colleagues, who were extremely positive, and finding another colleague in the Highlands of Scotland prepared to host the lessons on his website, the project was set in motion. Teachers were contacted and asked to contribute their favourite lesson(s), which could be aimed at any age or level. At first, the idea was to give teachers a range of ready-to-go lessons that they could download and use in their classrooms once lockdown was over and when everyone might be feeling jaded after so long at home. The original lessons received were, therefore, mainly face-to-face, classroom-based lessons, but it soon became clear that lockdown was going to last much longer than had originally been foreseen, and we began to receive lessons that teachers were now beginning to prepare for their online classrooms.  The collection of lessons became, therefore, a blend of face-to-face and virtual online lessons, although most of the original classroom-based lessons need little, or even no, adaptation to be used online.

That was just the beginning. Because we wanted lessons to be not only easy to download but also to use, all lesson plans were put into the same format, with simple and clear instructions. They were then proofread by two people to eliminate typos and to make sure the lesson plans as they stood were easy to follow and, more importantly, doable.  They were then uploaded under the following categories: Warmers, YLs, EAP, Systems and Skills and were clearly marked for level. Some lesson plans were quite heavily edited whilst others are more or less in their original format. Some teachers just sent a brief description of their favourite lesson which was then written up as a lesson plan with, at times, visuals being added from the internet.  It took between four to six weeks to get all the lesson plans ready to be uploaded and probably another week after that to actually go live. Longer than expected, but it was so rewarding to see all the lessons plans up and available.

We had considered asking teachers to make a contribution either to the NHS or a Covid charity in their own countries if they downloaded lessons. But we didn’t want teachers to feel they had to pay for the lessons in some way, even though it was in a good cause, so the idea of making a contribution to charity became a voluntary option. Knowing that teachers are such caring and generous people, we feel sure that health charities in different countries will have benefited. One thing we do, though, is to check which lessons are most downloaded each week and we generally notify the teacher who provided the lesson plan, so they get some feedback on their contribution.

The lessons themselves are an eclectic collection, ranging from a lesson plan for Very Young Learners revising numbers and counting to some interesting discussions and debates for Advanced learners.  There are video, DVD and Youtube clips and lessons, as well as integrated skills, reading skills, creative and academic writing skills. There is plenty of drama and cultural input (including Shakespeare and well-known art works), and some fun and challenging warmers. In fact, there is something for everyone and every classroom, be it virtual or face-to-face.

If you are reading this article and contributed a favourite lesson, then we would like to thank you for taking the time and energy to do so, especially if you are one of the teachers who wrote a bespoke lesson for online teaching. If you have not heard of this collection of favourite lessons, then please go to:  and see if there is something you or your colleagues would like to download.  Even better, why not contribute your favourite lesson? We intend to put more lessons up at the end of October, so you have plenty of time to think of a lesson you would like to contribute. We would love to hear from you. Please send your lessons to:


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