Publicado en C1


Here’s my webinar about the hybrid lessons I’ve been teaching for a few months now. I am not an expert on the matter, just sharing my experience and some tips that might have come in handy when I started back in October 2020…

and here’s the presentation I used with the activities.


A few weeks ago I asked my students to read a story. Half the class read The Snows of Kilimanjaro (Hemingway) and the other half read an African Story (Dahl). And now, what do we do with it? Well, after retelling and analysing the stories, I used a post-reading activity by onthesamepageelt. I adapted it for hybrid teaching/learning.

Click here to find the online version

Reflections on my Hybrid ESL Lessons

Those of you teaching hybrid lessons might have noticed it is a rather complicated task. I have given it a lot of thought and after a few months I have reached some conclusions.

In the first place, nothing compares to classroom instruction. Period. No matter how good you are, online or hybrid teaching cannot replace face-to-face interaction, particularly when teaching a foreign language.

We should be aware of the differences between a lecture at university or Secondary School, if you may, and an English, or any other language, for that matter, lesson. When lecturing, there usually is a speaker and several listeners. On the contrary, if we want an ESL lesson to be effective there are more often than not a set of groups with several speakers interacting and a listener, the teacher, assessing their performance. Thus, difficulties as for grouping and interaction arise in ESL hybrid classes.

I have also come to realise that everything takes longer. And when I say longer I mean way longer. Instructions come in sets of two because even if the activity is the same, It is developed differently in the classroom and online. Plus, each group (online/face-to-face) has its own pace, and within each of them there are also differences in the time sub-groups take to do an activity.

I would also like to mention that bonding, which I find of paramount importance, doesn’t flow as it normally does. You need to somehow force it through what I would call apparently casual activities to get your students to know each other and you.

I must also say that it took me some time to come to terms with the fact that I am not at my best when teaching hybrid. My lessons are decent, but I aim higher: I want my lessons to shine bright. Leonard Cohen wrote “I’m good at love, I’m good at hate, it’s in between that I freeze” and this is the closest I have found to describe my teaching, I’m ok with classroom instruction and online teaching, but this hybrid situation makes me work much harder to get weaker results.

And so, after a few months of hybrid teaching how have I made do? Well, I have been on a trial-and-error spiral seasoned with some emotional ups and downs. However, I have made some progress.

My take on hybrid teaching has been to keep things as similar as possible to what I used to do, and to have both groups, face to face/online, do the same thing at the same time. To do so we need to have good command of some tools (mechanics) so we can make our activities work (dynamics) with as little instruction as possible. If we want to have students do the same thing we need to use different media for each of them, i.e., while face-to-face students can use paper, or photocopies, online students will need pdf or jpg documents.

Plus, while in the past we used posters and sticky notes and had students walk around the class, these days we need them to use their phones and tap messages into a Jamboard, Menti or Wordwall-based (among others) activity.

Given the circumstances, I think hybrid lessons are somehow an acceptable settlement to avoid crowded classes, but nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever replace the warmth of spending the same time in the same place learning from each other,

Publicado en C1


In the English Department in EOI Pamplona we know that team work is a must, particularly these days.

That is why we have come up with this virtual 2020 pub quiz. When life was bright and we could breathe the same air and have a cup of tea together, we would celebrate a pub quiz in an actual pub, several classes together, we would even wear costumes and funny hats. It was great fun and we hope we’ll be able to do it next year, but for the moment, this is it: an online pub quiz we can do in our hybrid lessons to celebrate the year, if that is at all possible.

Thank you María Francés, María Carrera, Cristina Catalán, Noelia Vera, Carlos Remón, José Ibañez, Laura Escribano, Ainara Vázquez y Ana Rodríguez for your generosity.

You can find the answers on the last page. It is a link to a similar presentation with the correct answers.

Publicado en C1, C2.1, MEDIATION, READING

Learning and education

Reading, mediation, and vocabulary activity. Students work in groups of four. Each of them has a different text they need to read and prepare to retell it to the rest of the group. They also have a set of relevant words that appear in the text. They need to deduce meaning from context. If they cannot, then they can check the dictionary.

Once they have all read the text and done the vocabulary exercise, they take turns to retell the article and share the vocabulary with the rest of the group.

Are your students stuck in a sort of comfort zone? Do they convey meaning but never take risks?

Well, this is a pretty common situation with C-levels. They can do without, so they tend not to take risks. This is an issue because we really need to turn passive lexicon into active. Basically, that is my main goal with my Cs.

The activity I share with you today requires very little prep. It is intended for the final part of the lesson plan..

The teacher writes a statement on the blackboard. Let us take Education as an example:


Students are told which side they have to take (there are many techniques to do so, sometimes I give each student a number and then write on the board ODD NUMBERS: FOR /EVEN NUMBERS: AGAINST)

Discussion begins. After only a few minutes, the teacher writes on the blackboard a FORBIDDEN WORD so students cannot use it when speaking, and each time one of them uses it, they ring a bell, or make some noise. After some more minutes, another word is included. You can go on as long as you want, but I do not usually forbid more than four words being OPINION, THINK, or AGREE my indisputable top three.

If you want to push things a little bit further, you can include a second list with COMPULSORY WORDS.

In my view, it is important not to elicit the forbidden/compulsory words from the beginning but to do it as students speak because it makes the activity more dynamic. Plus, there is some kind of warming up and the activity becomes more demanding little by little.

If you want to make it funnier, you can use vocabulary wheels.