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Lesson Plan: Writing cinquains
Murder in the Classroom

Creating Podcasts to Explore Study Abroad
Bon Voyage! Virtual Vacation
Welcome to my house!

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Lesson Plan: Writing cinquains
A writing activity for language students of all ages

Your students will feel a sense of accomplishment when they realize that they can write beautiful poetry in the target language. Give them the guidelines and show them some examples. Tell them that it is easy and fun to write a Cinquain.  And, the frosting on the cake -  they can publish their poems in the Culture Club where they will have a wide international audience.


Line 1: a noun
Line 2: two adjectives that relate to the noun
Line 3: three verbs that relate to the noun
Line 4: a sentence that captures the essence of the noun
Line 5: a noun that relates to the first noun

An example in English: River

Clear, wonderful
Slapping, whirling, flowing
The river is cold.

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Lesson Plan: Murder in the Classroom
Submitted by Sara Mykeityn

Sara Mykietyn, a 2007 graduate of The George Washington University, is currently residing in Neufchateau, France and working as an English teaching assistant. When she is not in the classroom, Sara can be found behind her camera, enjoying cups of tea, and getting to know the locals.

The website One Stop English ( contains a Lesson Share Archive that is very useful for busy teachers. Sara Mykietyn found this lesson and re-formatted and adapted it slightly for her EFL class. It could be used in any foreign language class. If you translate it into your target language, why not share it with your fellow Culture Club colleagues?

Preparation: Depending on the class size, decide how many groups you will have. The first seven characters (see teacher’s answer sheet) are the main characters that you need to play the game. The others are extras that do not contain any substantial information. Groups as close to seven as possible work best within a 50 minute time period. The game may be played with six, eliminating Patricia Woods. Make the necessary copies of the character sheets. Cut each sheet, separating the background information from the character’s identity. Make one copy of the worksheet for each student.

Game Day: Before the students enter the classroom, write the word "Murder" on the board. Ask them to define the word for you. Tell them that there has been a murder in the high school and you need their help to solve it. Plus, one of them is the murderer! First, give each student the top half of the sheet, with the background information. Read it aloud and ensure comprehension. Then, divide the class into their groups. Give them individually their character and explain this is who you are. If you have time, nametags are a nice idea but definitely did not seem to be essential. Finally, while they read their character descriptions, give them the worksheet to record all the information from their interviews. Answer any vocabulary questions.

To explain the game, read the five questions on the bottom of the character sheet together. They must ask these five questions to every other member of their group. As well, they will be answering the same questions. Based upon the answers, they must then determine what that character’s motive and alibi is. This information is recorded on the worksheet. By talking to the other characters, their goal is to find out who the killer is and why.

Download entire lesson plan to print

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Lesson Plan: Creating Podcasts to Explore Study Abroad
Submitted by: Lara Lomicka Anderson, The University of South Carolina.

Target Culture: France/Francophone Countries
Language Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Time involved: One semester
Objectives: This activity is designed to help students explore a potential study abroad site in a French-speaking country. Students also have opportunities to practice speaking and presenting their ideas to others. They work on listening skills (listening to other podcasts) and writing (text based blog entry(ies)).

Description of Activity : [written for students]
During the semester, our class will maintain 2 weblogs (4-6 students per group). You will be placed in a team and will be required to contribute to the blog three times during the semester; you will be asked to visit the other class blog and comment three times during the semester. The topic of each of the blogs will be study abroad. While some of you might be planning to study abroad and others of you not, these topics will give you ideas about the study abroad experience and if it would be an appropriate option for you.

For the first posting, you will be asked to include a short text of 200 words (in addition to the podcast) and a picture or link (it is a good idea to write your posting in Microsoft Word and then copy and paste it to the blog so that you have an extra copy) as well as create a 1 ½ minute-long podcast. For the other two postings, you will be asked to produce a longer podcast. Be sure to cite any sources you use when writing your blog or producing a podcast (with a link to the website, for example). During the week after you finish your blog/podcast, you should visit the opposing team’s blog and comment on what they wrote/said. If you as the author then respond to those comments left by your classmates, demonstrating in your answer that you read the comment, you will receive ½ point extra credit on your blog assignment per response. At the end of the semester, we will have a contest and ask French speakers to vote on which blog they felt was the most informative, entertaining, and creative. The losing blog group will then throw a party for the winning group during the last week of class. The topics are listed below:

Context: study abroad

1. Introduce yourself in 200 words – respond to possible questions for study abroad application
  • Have you traveled or studied abroad before? Where?
  • Describe your family.
  • Tell us about your personal interests and hobbies.
  • Why are you a good candidate for studying abroad?
  • Why do you want to study in this country?
  • What do you want to achieve during your experience?

-Required image: picture of yourself
-Podcast (1 ½ minutes)– intercultural story/misunderstanding that occurred either in US or abroad and what you learned from it

2. Interview (4 minutes) – Interview someone who has studied abroad.
Prepare a list of 3-4 questions about study abroad (2 minutes) and then discuss stereotypes you have about the French and what kinds of stereotypes they have about us. Are they necessarily true? Why or why not? (2 minutes)
-Required image: picture of person you interviewed (could also be a picture of interviewee taken while studying abroad)

3. Podcast (3-4 minutes) – Research a French/Francophone town in which you would be interested in studying abroad.
Then create an advertisement (what to see, do, eat, sleep, university, classes, etc.) for the city. Remember that you are trying to encourage your classmates to visit you here, so try to make it sound interesting and inviting.
-Required image: 3-4 pictures of the town.

Blog Grading Rubric
Your Blog

5 points – content
4-5 pts – topic fully discussed with several examples from your experiences and research
2-3 pts – topic only cursorily discussed with only one example provided
1 pt – topic barely discussed with no examples provided


5 points – coherency and organization
4-5 points – coherent and well-organized
2-3 points – somewhat difficult to follow
1 point – not organized


5 points – accuracy
4-5 points – few errors in spelling and grammar
2-3 points – many spelling or grammar errors, but still comprehensible
1 point – meaning unclear due to spelling or grammar errors


5 points – creativity
4-5 points – creative presentation of topic including pictures or links to other websites
2-3 points – semi-creative presentation without pictures or links
1 – completely uncreative presentation

Total Points: __________/20

Your Comments on Opposing Team’s Blog

5 points – content
4-5 points - demonstrated that you read their posting by reacting to or asking about what your classmate wrote
2-3 points – questionable whether you read or understood classmate’s posting
1 point – no demonstration of having read classmate’s posting

Total Points: ___________/5

Your Podcast

5 points – content
4-5 pts – topic fully discussed with several examples from your experiences and research
2-3 pts – topic only cursorily discussed with only one example provided
1 pt – topic barely discussed with no examples provided


5 points –coherency and organization
4-5 points – coherent and well-organized
2-3 points – somewhat difficult to follow
1 point – not organized


5 points –pronunciation and fluency
4-5 points – few errors in pronunciation; conversation flows well
2-3 points – a fair amount of pronunciation errors, but still comprehensible; many starts and stops in conversation
1 point – meaning unclear due to pronunciation errors


5 points – accuracy
4-5 points – few errors in spelling and grammar
2-3 points – many spelling or grammar errors, but still comprehensible
1 point – meaning unclear due to spelling or grammar errors


5 points – creativity
4-5 points – creative presentation of topic including music, background, special effects, and/or energetic presentation
2-3 points – semi-creative presentation without additional effects
1 – completely uncreative presentation

Total Points: ___________/25

Expansion: Students can present their projects in class using PowerPoint, posters, or other tools.
Variations: Students can introduce their state or region to a partner class in France or they can explore a certain region in France in-depth. Many variations are possible.

Sample projects for French:

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Lesson Plan: Bon Voyage! Virtual Vacation

Language: Any

Level: Intermediate, Advanced

Adaptation: This activity can be easily altered to suit any language.

Overview: In this activity students will research and plan their ideal vacation. Whether you choose to have them present their findings orally in front of the class or in a written form, this exercise will expand their vocabulary and develop understanding of verb tenses.

. Students develop travel vocabulary.
. Students practice employing future and conditional tenses.

Materials: Internet access, English-Target language dictionary.

Presentation and Practice:
1. Instruct the students to imagine what to them would be the ideal vacation in a country of their choice. Which city or cities would they visit? What would they do there? How would they get there? Explain that the students will have to present in an account of this ideal vacation in the target language.

2. Next, have students access travel sites and explore all the possibilities for vacationing in their chosen countries. They should plan a detailed itinerary: how long they are staying, how their going to get from the airport to the hotel, places they will visit, other planned activities, etc.

Sample sites:

3. Once they've planned and prepared an itinerary, students should look up all unfamiliar vocabulary in a target language-English dictionary.

4. Students either present their findings in an orally or in written form. Be sure to specify that the presentation must employ either the conditional or the future tense.

Evaluation: A number of criteria can be used to assess the students' work, including:
. Richness and diversity of vocabulary
. Accuracy of verb tense use.

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Lesson Plan: Welcome to my house!

Learning Strategy: Group/Classify

Standards: Communication 1.3; Comparisons 4.1; Cultures 2.1, 2.2.

Language: Any language

Proficiency Level: Beginning, Intermediate

Brief description of the activity: Students will orally describe the rooms of a household (target culture if possible) based on pictures.

  1. Students will be able to identify and describe the rooms of a house, what the rooms are used for, and common kinds of furniture found in these rooms.
  2. Students will develop fluency skills.
  3. Students will develop household vocabulary.

Language focus: Develop speaking fluency, develop vocabulary

Materials: Pictures/photographs of different rooms

Introduce the content: Explain that students are going to use illustrations (or photographs) to help them describe the rooms of a house - what they look like. Have learners work in pairs to come up with as much house vocabulary as they can in two minutes. Write the words on the board. Using the students' words describe your classroom - add any words necessary, indicate what they mean, and add them to the list on the board. Then put a picture of a room on the overhead and ask students to describe it. Provide vocabulary as needed and write it on the board or overhead. Continue with one or two more pictures of rooms to introduce vocabulary and have students use it in a context.

Introduce the learning strategy Group/Classify: Tell learners that sometimes when you are learning new words, it helps to group vocabulary words according to categories that are meaningful to you. Allow students to work in pairs to develop categories and then copy the "house" words on the board into the categories. Provide vocabulary for the names of categories as needed, and remind students to leave room under each category for new words.

Practice 1:
Display or hand out more pictures of different rooms of the house. You can include different types of rooms and houses. Have learners alternate between listener and describer in pairs or small groups. Students name and describe the room and its contents. When they don't know the word, have them describe the room using words they know. Then provide the unfamiliar vocabulary and allow students to copy the words into their books.

Practice 2:
Create new groups of three or four students with new pictures. Students in each group will assume the roles of buyers or sellers. (You may want to allow the "sellers" to choose the rooms/houses they want to try to sell, and the "buyers" to decide which houses they want to buy). The groups of buyers and sellers describe and discuss the rooms, the furniture, their preferences, and the cost. Provide vocabulary as needed by writing it on the board. After this practice session, you can review the vocabulary words elicited and students can copy them into the appropriate categories in their books.

Divide students into new pairs. The students should sit back to back. One student has a picture of a room. He/she describes the room and the other student tries to draw the room and the furniture. When they feel they have finished, they can compare the picture and the drawing and discuss what is similar, what is different, and why. Then reverse the roles with another picture of a different room. Walk from group to group and observe the students' ability to communicate and their use of the vocabulary. After the activity, ask the students to evaluate their own ability to orally describe rooms on a scale or rubric you devise. Ask them to reflect on what is hard, what is easy, what words are easier and harder to remember. Ask the students if grouping the words is helping them remember the vocabulary. Reflect on how successful this lesson was on reaching your goals? What worked? What needs to be changed?


  1. Learners write a description of their dream house for homework.
  2. Learners choose a picture of a room or house they find interesting and prepare an oral description for the class with an explanation of why they chose this room.
  3. Compare pictures of similar rooms in the U.S. and in the target culture. Kitchens can be particularly useful for this kind of exercise. Are there any consistent differences? Discuss with the class what this might suggest about life in the target culture? Also, what might these differences tell us about U.S. culture?

Teacher Resources: (to help teacher enhance activity): Illustrations and photographs can be found in magazines or on the Web.
See this sample site from the UK that offers design ideas for every room.

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