Featured Post Posts Teaching Matters Advent Calendars 2019

Advent Time is Near! presents FIVE Advent Calendars again this year. As each class is different, there is only an approximate language level for each calendar. The general idea is (in Sweden): A1.1.= yr 1-2; A1.2.= yr 3-4; A2.1.= yr 5-6; A2.2.= yr 7-8; B1= yr 9 and up.

Sorry for Early Birds: As the Calendar program is American and the calendar doors won’t open until the actual date, there is a delay in the morning. I hope it’s until 9 o’clock, but it may be 10. I’ll let you know on Sunday.

Precheck. The teacher who doesn’t like surprises is advised to take a peek before class for two reasons:

1. There is the same theme on each level for the day, so you may choose an easier or a more challenging one.

2. There may be an automatic advertisement that you wish to skip in the beginning.

Spoiler! This link takes you to a .pdf document that lists the themes for each day of the calendar: Advent Calendar 2019

1st Advent: This year, the 1st of December is on a Sunday, which means that there is no door to open in Calendar at school until Monday. As I know many students are longing to open the first door of the Calendar, here is an early peek to the first Advent Sunday.

A1.1. What is Advent?

A1.2. This is Britain – Advent Calendar

A2.1. Whirl Kids Celebrate Advent

A2.2. What is Advent? (Stop at 00:46)

B1. Advent Meaning Definition Advent Calendar Beginner (A1.1.) Advent Calendar Elementary (A1.2.) Advent Calendar Lower Intermediate (A2.1.) Advent Calendar Intermediate (A2.2.) Advent Calendar Upper Intermediate (B1)

Teaching Matters Christmas 2019 has updated all Christmas pages and added a new level. New items into each will still be added throughout December.
Best of Christmas 1-4 has lesson plans and materials for beginner levels (A1).
Best of Christmas 5-7  has lesson plans and materials for elementary levels (A2.1.).
Best of Christmas 8-B1 has more than you’ll ever need for intermediate students (A2-B1).
A Christmas Carol is a theme page dedicated to the well-known story by Charles Dickens. There are 26 different film versions from 1910 to 2019 and lots of other lesson materials, varying from lower-intermediate to advanced level (A2-B2).

FIVE Advent Calendars will be released on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday Dec. 28th. The first window will not open before Dec. 1st, anyway.

NOTE about ads: I have tried to choose pages with a limited number of ads. However, as YouTube has become more aggressive with advertising, you could consider using You just copy the url of the video you want to show in class into the app and it will let you show the video without any ads whatsoever.

Teaching Matters

Thanksgiving or Day of Mourning?

For 50 years the Native Americans have celebrated the Day of Mourning on the 4th Thursday of November while the other nationalities in the US celebrate Thanksgiving Day. This year, has added a new Thanksgiving Theme Page for level B1 that teaches the truth and the Native American side of the history of the Thanksgiving celebrations.

For the sake of the traditional holiday, the Theme Pages for the lower language levels are still mainly aligned with the traditional story of Thanksgiving as it has been told since the 19th century. As people’s awareness grows year after year, I hope to find suitable materials about the Day of Mourning even for the younger students.

These are the relevant pages for teaching about Thanksgiving Day / Day of Mourning in

Thanksgiving, 3-7

Thanksgiving 7-9

Thanksgiving B1

Native Americans, 7-9

English Conquers the World, 5-9

Colonisation of North America 8-9

Posts Teaching Matters

Grammar Matters 2

The Swedish Curriculum is based on Communicative Language Learning and Teaching. According to most researchers within this field, grammar should be presented following one principle:

WHEN it’s needed and not IN CASE it’s needed.

To help argue my point I found this short article summarising a meta-analysis by Nina Spada and Yasuyo Tomita. This is an excellent article as it gives both the points that some teachers use to try to prove me wrong when I say they should skip grammar lessons, but it also includes exactly the points I rely on and relate to in my teaching.

When teachers read conclusions of research like

explicit instruction was more effective for both simple and complex language features“, or

most of the research investigating the effects of instruction on L2 learning indicates that a combination of language-based and meaning-based instructions works better than an exclusive focus on either one”,

they take this to mean that whole-class instruction of grammar rules with follow-up excercises and translations will do the trick. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

When reading current research, you should first clear your mind of your own school-time experiences of grammar lessons and interpret the text outside of that box.  When you take the time to study the whole research process or even read the whole short article, you will find out:

The study does not support teaching grammar in the sequential order in which most coursebooks present it.

Explicit instruction of grammar does not mean harking backing to the times of grammar translation, rote memorization of conjugations, or the focus on grammar McNuggets

The Commentary Material to English for the Swedish Curriculum points this out clearly:

“Linguistic elements like grammatical structures and spelling should be presented only when there is a functional purpose, in order to clarify and enrich the communication.” (My translation)

This article is a follow-up of my two earlier blog posts: Grammar Matters and Why Aren’t There Any Good Textbooks?

Teaching Matters

The Common Sense of Digital Citizenship

Are you so unsure of what Digital Citizenship really means and entails that you don’t even consider teaching about it in your class? As soon as you bring digital tools in your class, you should also make your students aware of fair use and the real risks. has a collection of videos and lesson materials to help you get started. Even if you know zilch about it, you can learn together with your students. Just watch a video and discuss what you all learned and the fair, safe and secure Digital World will open up for you. It’s all very Common Sense. These are some of the videos you can start with:

What Is Digital Citizenship?

5 Questions Students Should Ask About Media

Your Data Matters

There is a lot more in / Digital Citizenship.

Teaching Matters

Halloween Season

For this Halloween season, is loaded with materials. All related Theme Pages have been updated for teachers to make the English classes spooky with witches, monsters, murders and ghosts.

Halloween 1-3

Monsters, 3-5

Gruffalo, 3-5

Halloween 4-6

Mystery, 7-8

Halloween 7-9

Salem Witch Hunt 7-B1

Halloween B1


Posts Teaching Matters

Halloween in 4 levels

This year, there are new Halloween Theme Pages in There used to be just two, Elementary (1-6) and Intermediate (7-9). Now there are four, one for each level and the new level “B1” mainly for Eng5. If you have an advanced year 9, you can use the B1-level theme as well.
Halloween 1-3
Halloween 4-6
Halloween 7-9
Halloween B1
Have a Happy Halloween!

Teaching Matters Presents Level B1

Swedish students are generally supposed to be at the CEFR language level B1.1. when they finish school after passing the National Test in English at the end of year 9. They will continue to level B1.2. in Upper Secondary School. has so far only categorised the themes up until B1 / year 9 in the compulsory school, although many of the themes have included materials suitable for higher-level students.

Now, there is a new category with the cryptic name of “B1” in the Intermediate-level. Some of the themes have been readapted to only include B1-level materials, some still appear in both levels, B1 and intermediate, depending on the amount of suitable materials within the theme.

If you have an advanced year 9 class, you can go right into B1, but it is first and foremost meant for teachers of Eng5-courses on the first year of Upper Secondary School.

Welcome to Eng5 Teachers!

Teaching Matters

Fall Into Fall

Both themes, Autumn-Fall, 2-6 and Weather, 1-6 have been updated in and presented under Current Topics on the Homepage. I found several new Autumn songs, and a couple of new Weather vocabulary exercises.

Next week is Banned Books Week in the USA. My students were always astonished when I told them how many of the books in our library were actually banned in several states in the US. Showing some banned books is a good way to get some of the reluctant readers to get inspired to read. You can learn all about banned books in the theme Banned Books Page.

Friday, Sept 27th, is Native American Day, which could well start a period of learning about the Native Americans and even compare their plight to that of the Swedish Sámi.

Teaching Matters

R.I.P. Ghost Hunter

I have really sad news. I tried my damnest to find the Ghost Hunter from the BBC Archives. After my visit to their offices in London, I had direct contacts with several BB/CBBC Staff who tried to help me, until they found the one in charge, who couldn’t. Some extracts from the letters are cited here:

“The programme was produced for the BBC by Zenith North, who are no longer trading…

…Sorry not be able to help any further. However we do have lots of more recent CBBC Dramas that are available that I hope would be equally useful for your teaching, such as Worst Witch, which is available internationally on Netflix…

…I’m not sure that contacting Zenith would be much help as the programme rights – the right to use the programme – are probably with the BBC, but as we are not able to locate the paperwork and contracts associated with the programme we wouldn’t be able to make any further sales as we wouldn’t be able to make payments due to actors, writers etc.

Your best bet would be to try to track down a DVD of the programme.

Bet wishes, Rosemary”

I also learned that some of the original DVDs may be for sale at eBay, but it is no use ordering copies from FoundThatFilm, as they are of really poor quality. The best I can offer is this collection with fair quality but without subtitles on YouTube.