Activities, Conversation subjects and Interest

  1. Spot the differences - comparing pictures
  2. Essential Job Vocabulary
  3. Speak Method
  4. 101 ways to Learn English
  5. Running the Marathon
  6. Vocabulary - Winter Olymic Games
  8. Macmillan Business English - resources / worksheets / presentations
  9. IEC - English course
  10. English Proficiency Test  - for Readers
  11. Advanced Vocabulary subject lessons
  13. Theme lesons - English Club
  14. Language Guide
  15. English for Everyone
  16. Learn English through Pictures - Vocab - US vocab
  17. Short stories & poems - British Council
  18. 101 Ways to Learn English
  19. Mentoring Ms. Montfort
  20. Real English practice exercises
  21. Charles Aznavour - Emenez Moi / Take Me Along - song
  23. Discussing the Divine Comedy with Dante
  24. VirtouristVirtual Tourist
  25. Listen a Minute
  26. English Club : The Learning English Video Project
  27. Games to learn English
  28. Spot the differences - game
  29. The Invisible Gorilla

Open Space ESL Lesson Plan: Warm-up

1)     How has the inside of offices changed since the time of your parents?

2)     What are the minimum things you need to do your work effectively? Do you have them?

3)     Would the below items affect your productivity as a worker in an office? How so?

  • sunlight / lighting
  • artwork


  • coworkers
  • furniture (e.g. chairs)
  • unrestricted WWW access
  • wall colors

Topic: Offices, Cubicles, & Open SpaceIn the past few decades, there has been a shift away from the traditional private offices and cubicles found in the workspaces of the 1980s. Whether for financial reasons or streamlining efficiency, many companies are adopting open space layouts where teams of workers are clustered together.

The most glaring criticism of cubicles, semi-private work areas surrounded by partitions, is their resemblance to cages. They can remind the worker of confinement and claustrophobia. Franklin Becker, the director of a workplace studies program at Cornell University, believes cubicles “provide pseudo-privacy at best, and are terrible for spontaneous communication.” Becker is also against private offices because they discourage employees from having contact outside of their group. He believes promoting inter-group collaboration is important for a company’s success. While Becker realizes employees need privacy at times, he believes four to eight-person team offices are ideal because people spend most of their time in teams. Such an environment can also generate synergy and boost employee morale.

Michael Brill, a workplace-planning consultant in Buffalo, holds a different view. According to Brill, the top two predictors of job performance are: 1) the ability for teams and individuals to do work without distraction, and 2) the ability to have easy, frequent, informal interactions. Therefore, he believes that having a private office lends itself to a more productive work environment.

Another issue at question is the importance of displaying hierarchy. Some argue that private offices promote individual status over team performance. Stripping senior employees of their cherished offices, however, could be interpreted as an insult.

Clearly, designing the ideal workspace is a complex task. Employers might be better off asking their workers what they prefer. (277)


ESL Lesson Plan: Comprehension Questions

1)     What does the author believe is the most obvious criticism of cubicles?

2)     According to Franklin Becker, what should companies promote?

3)     True or False: Brill believes, most importantly, workers must be able to concentrate on their job.

4)     True or False: The author states that companies should give offices to workers who earn them.

Match the words with their meaning as used in the article.

streamline (verb)

cluster (verb)







lend itself to (verb)


make a system, organization, etc. work better

obvious, striking

false, not genuine

fear of small enclosed places

the confidence and enthusiasm of a group or person

be suitable for something

energy/success gained by working together

come together in a group


Master the language: Connect the below ideas to make a sentence. (note: good as homework)

government / crush / uprising

e.g. The government crushed the uprising

cluster / stars


cubicle / pseudo-privacy


confinement / claustrophobia


streamline / production


glaring / problem / democracy


morale / boost


layout / lend itself to


ESL Lesson Plan: Quotations (Pair Work)

Discuss with a partner whether you agree with the below quotations. 

“Open office settings encourage office space cleanliness and organization.”

“Cleanliness can be equated with productivity.”

“People (workers) spend most of their time in teams.”

“Happy workers are more productive”.

“Employers might be better off asking their workers what they prefer.”

ESL Lesson Plan: Debate (Each student reads his/her role to him/herself)

Student A:

Your company is moving to a different location next month. Due to budget concerns, you have had to reduce the number of offices available to managers. Student B is a senior manager at your company. She/he will lose his office. Please give him/her the news, and try to convince him/her that it will benefit his/her happiness and productivity. When you are ready, start the conversation.

Student B:

You have been working for Student A’s company for 15 years. You are a senior manager. The company announced that they would be changing locations last year. The move will take place next month. You are already unhappy about this because you bought a home near the current location. Now, Student A says he/she wants to talk to you about something.


ESL Lesson Plan: Workspace Design (Optional Pair Work)


Design a workspace for a small IT company consisting of 1 owner, 1 team leader, 5 programmers, 3 graphic designers, and 1 receptionist. Use the space on the back of this page. You have five minutes. When done, present your design to the class.

ESL Lesson Plan: Discussion Questions

1)     What do you believe are the top predictors of job performance?

2)     Do people often work from home in your company? What do you think of this?

Conversation subjects:

28 ESL Discussion Topics That Everyone Has Opinions On

1. Hobbies

Everybody has hobbies, and everybody loves talking about them. Hobbies could be passions too, you know. Some simple questions to ask include:
  • What are your hobbies?
  • Why do you like your hobbies so much?
  • How often do you do these hobbies?
  • How long have you been doing these hobbies, and how did you get started?
  • What hobbies did you used to have, but now do not?
  • Is it important to have hobbies? Why/why not?

2. Time

As people get older, their perceived value of time increases, so it’s a practical topic that everyone has something to say about. You could ask questions like:
  • How much free time do you usually have?
  • How important is time to you?
  • If you had more free time, what would you do?
  • “Time is money.” Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  • How do you feel about time that is wasted?

3. Sleep

As people get older, they start to appreciate a good night’s sleep more and more. This topic is often a favorite for all. Some example questions are:
  • How much sleep do you usually get?
  • Why do some people sleep well while other people do not sleep well?
  • What do you do when you have trouble sleeping?
  • What time do you usually go to sleep? What time do you usually get up?
  • Have you ever slept in a strange place that was not a bed?

4. Music

Everybody loves music and most people feel very strong emotions towards it—especially when it comes to the music that they love (or hate) most. Some simple questions to ask could be:
  • What types of music do you like/dislike?
  • How do certain kinds of music make you feel?
  • What types of music come from your country?
  • What’s your favorite song/album/artist?
  • What music is popular in your country right now?

5. First Dates

Unless you’re teaching in a place where arranged marriages are the thing to do, talking about first dates gets everybody interested. We’ve all been there. You could ask questions like:
  • How many first dates have you had?
  • How do you feel about first dates?
  • What is a common first date like in your country?
  • What is the best/worst first date experience you’ve ever had?
  • What makes a good first date in your opinion?

6. Work

Lots of people work and have lots to say about it. I mean, if you’re spending about a third of your waking hours at work, you may have lots to say. Some good questions are:
  • What work do/did you do?
  • How do/did you like the work?
  • What is your dream job?
  • What work is common in your city/area/country?
  • What is your general view about work? Why?

7. Risk

Everyone feels a certain way about risk. Some are risk-oriented, others are risk-averse. Talking about risks seems to generate some good conversation. You could ask questions like:
  • What is your definition of risk?
  • Are you a risk taker? Why/why not?
  • What are the advantages/disadvantages of taking risks?
  • What risks do you come across in your work/life?
  • What risks have you taken in your life?

8. Food

Food is possibly the most universal topic of them all and everyone loves to discuss what they eat. This is also an ideal topic for beginners because the vocabulary is usually pretty simple. You could use questions like:
  • What is your favorite food? Why?
  • What food comes from your country?
  • How do you feel when you eat food?
  • What foods do you dislike? Why?
  • Where do you usually get food from?

9. Motivation

Whether or not the students are a motivated bunch, motivation is a good topic to discuss in order to inspire your students. Some example questions are:
  • How motivated are you in general?
  • What motivates you to do things?
  • What is the best motivator to succeed?
  • What do you do when you feel demotivated?
  • What is a good way to motivate others?

10. Beauty

Beauty is one of those topics that’s conventionally more geared toward women than it is to men. However, anyone can appreciate beauty in all its forms, and anyone can recognize the importance of the concept of beauty in our cultures, societies and behaviors. Plus, men might surprise you by caring to chime in on beauty, looks and grooming.
This makes it a good topic to discuss to get some opinions and various views within a group of students. You could ask questions like:
  • What is “beauty”?
  • What/who do you consider beautiful?
  • What does “inner beauty” mean to you?
  • Do you consider artificial beauty (cosmetic surgery) to still be beauty? Why/why not?
  • How do you feel about the emphasis that people put on beauty these days?
  • What would you tell your children about beauty?