ESL-BRAINS – B1-C1 video worksheets from Poland
December 2020 – When I started teaching online, I first stuck to the course books I had been using for years. I had been familiar with the online extensions, I had already worked on the Cambridge LMS and used all multimedia materials available to my favourite course books. I had even had experience with e-books.
However, very soon I realized that online teaching offers way more possibilities than only a digital copy of a face-to-face lesson.
Furthermore, I had students who had reached a high level and they were no more interested in exam preparation, they just wanted to maintain their level and preferred simple conversation to a more structured course. So, very soon I found myself on a website which today is my first reference point for any B1-C1 level conversation-centred or listening-based lesson: ESLBRAINS.com.
The website has been online for three years and is run by two teacher colleagues (and life partners) from Poland: Justa and Stan. The structure of the website is very clear, its design is simple, but pleasant. They offer lesson plans for higher level classes (Intermediate, Upper-intermediate and Advanced). Their worksheets are organized around a video, which can be a YouTube video or a TED-ED video/audio material. They give a short description of the materials in their post and provide two versions of the handout: one for the student and one for the teacher. They don’t load the teacher’s version with long-winded explanations, they only give the answers to the questions (in red) and offer some extra tasks with extra materials, if possible.
The worksheets I have used start with vocabulary revision or training and insert before and after the video watching conversation tasks. Students need to answer questions while watching the video which are embedded in the posts, but you can also find the clickable link on the pdf worksheet file. The topics are various, so you can also browse for materials by topics, not only by levels.
FLIPPED LESSON PLANS
They offer a great deal of these worksheets for free. However, they also offer some types of membership to have access to more materials and also flipped lesson plans (where students do some pre-lesson tasks at home and the lesson is based on what they have learnt on their own).
As a reaction to the whole COVID-19 emergency, they also started to open their section for e-lesson plans: interactive power-point versions of their worksheets, giving the possibility to colleagues to use these as a presentation in their online classroom. One sample lesson plan is available at the end of the post even for simple visitors.
SKILL-TRAINING WITH ESL-BRAINS
The ESL-Brains materials don’t follow a syllabus, so in case you want to use them to cover all syllabus points of a level, you might not find everything you need. However, it is easy to expand the conversation topics to further grammar points and to provide further vocabulary training after the tasks on the worksheet. Browsing the net for further reading on the topics can also be assigned for homework.
The materials provide an excellent way to practise listening and stimulate conversation. The videos expose students to a wide range of pronunciation patterns and ideas. I personally find Justa and Stan’s blog a remarkable example of professional content creating and an excellent resource bank for my own lessons.
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