Flash Games for ESOL / ESL / IELTS part 2 – The Gorillaz Website


Cartoon Band The Gorillaz were a breath of fresh air when they landed on the music scene a few years ago. With Blur front man Damon Albarn handling the music and legendary 2000AD artist and writer Jamie Hewlett , they created four distinct members of the band, Murdoc, 2D, Noodle and Russell.   Their first album, Clint Eastwood was released as an enhanced CD featuring a short flash movie and access to Murdoc’s Winnebago which fans can explore, you can visit this today by visiting Kong Studios. Not afraid to use the internet to promote themselves, flash technology provided Hewlett with the perfect place to let fans explore the fictional lives of the band and the studio they worked in, Kong Studios is entertaining, informative and well designed and therefore perfect for students learning English.

The Lesson Plan.

I’ve never used this lesson as I felt that my students and institution might not be ready

Download the lesson here Gorillaz Reading Lesson

Internet Research for ESOL / ESL / IELTS Part 2- Clothes Shopping

Despite the dot com boom and bust and the fear of criminals using ones credit card number, internet shopping continues to be big business reducing shopping streets across the world to ghost towns.  Next, www.marksandspencer.comTopman and even Ebay have bright, engaging websites to sell their clothes. As always, there is opportunity to exploit these well designed resources with your English language students.


Download the lesson here. Clothes Shopping on the Net: https://chrisspeck.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/clothes-shopping-on-the-net1.doc

Materials Needed: 1 copy of the worksheet per student /One computer with the internet for each pair of students/ Interactive Whiteboard (optional)

Level: Entry 3+ / B1 + / Pre Intermediate +

What it’s good for: Scanning, pair work, discussion, clothes, shopping

How long will it take: 40 minutes including introduction and feedback

Lesson Notes

**Note** The key to this lesson is making the introduction and the feedback after the worksheet meaningful. The task in itself is very straight forward scan reading from the internet but to make it more communicative you can use the front and back end of the lesson. It could also be intergrated into a section of your course on shopping and clothes.

1. Introduction. You might like to start by showing some pictures of clothes on the interactive whiteboard. The Leo Network has some nice images here here: http://www.learnenglish.de/vocabulary/clothes.htm

2.  Ask students where they buy their clothes. Do they ever use the internet to buy clothes? What websites do they use? Show a glossy website like M and S and ask students what they’d like to buy. Search for the item using the search box and choose the item together.

2. Have students complete the worksheet  by searching on the internet for the items they want. It might be better to put girls together Circulate round the room loking at what students are doing offering comments, suggestions or help. Don’t just leave them to it.

3. Feedback. Ask pairs to tell you how much they spent, also ask them to say what they liked and why. This might also lead onto a discussion on fashion or men and women’s clothing, download my powerpoint for this here: Shopping Discussion for Interactive Whiteboard: https://chrisspeck.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/clothes-discussion.ppt

Internet Research for ESOL / EFL / ESL Part #1 – Shopping At Argos

Using computers and the internet to find information is a modern life skill, and very useful to boot; it’s also a great way to get your students reading and writing meaningful English. This ‘Argos’ shopping lesson gets students scanning and reading English as well as dioscussing the merits of what to buy.

Lesson Plan

I did this lesson in a computer room with one computer per student BUT I asked students to work together in pairs on one computer so they could discuss the answers. I also had a IW (interactive whiteboard) where I could show results. You can download this lesson here Argos Shopping

Level – Pre-intermediate, E2-E3, A2-B1

Time: 1 hour

1. Ask students where they go shopping. Do they go shopping online? Which website to they use? Ebay? A local one?

2. Show students www.argos.co.uk  . It isn’t an online shop but it you can search for items in the handy box at the top. Each item also has a reference number which can be used to find it really quickly. Asks students for an item they would like to buy and write this in the search box, then used the drop down boxes to select how you would like the results displayed – explain to students how to do this.

3. Now give students the worksheet, explain that they have to use www.argos.co.uk  to find the items needed on the sheet to furnish their new flat which they will share with their partner. They must write down the name, the price and the reference number – which you can use to check what they’ve bought later. Importantly they both have to agree on the item that they buy and they must keep to the tight budget of 500 pounds.

4. Now students work through the sheet. Walk round and check what they students are shopping for, commenting on them being too expensive or cheap. Encourage students to discuss what they are buying together.

5. When students have finished, ask them to add up what they’ve spent and make sure it’s in budget. Then have them feedback their answers, quoting the reference number which you can then type into the www.argos.co.uk website to find out what they bought.

You can download this lesson here Argos Shopping

you can find more lessons like this at


Using Google Maps for ESOL / ESL / IELTS

If you’re ever in need of directions or need to know where the nearest pizza shop is, then you don’t need to look further than Google Maps. It’s a map of the entire world which can be viewed either as a traditional road map, a satellite snapshot or a hybrid of the two. There is also the new streetview which lets you zoom right into the street for a close up view of what it looks like at ground level.  Not only that but it’s a great resource for ESOL / ESL/ IELTS students at whatever level.


I used this with a group of Pre- Intermediate learners (B1 / Entry 3) in a room where students had access to a computer each. There was also an Interactive Whiteboard that I used to display examples and Google Maps.

1. Ask students these questions and spark up genuine conversation with them about where they live and the area they live in. There might be some really bad (or good) areas around where you live which you could discuss as a group : ‘Where do you live?’ ‘Where’s that near? ‘Is it a good area?’ ‘ ‘Do you like living there?

2.   Show google maps and the functionality on the whiteboard. Explain how students can use the search box to find streets, the zoom features, the buttons at the top to switch between satelitte and map. Ask someone to offer their street and then find it using the search box. Zoom in on where they live if they are happy with this.

3. Pass out the work sheet and have students search through google maps to find the answers – some of the answers they might need to look on the map for. My worksheet is only a suggestion, you might like to change it with places of interest in your country and area.

Street Name Town Postcode Extra Question:
Tiger Lane.     What’s the name of the big park near here?
Gawber Road.     What’s opposite this road?
Jack Straw’s Lane     Which streets come off this?
Downing Street London   Who lives in this street?
Daisy Street Glasgow    

Click here for the full worksheet


4. Encourage students to help each other and discuss anything of interest they have found. Don’t leave them alone to do – this might allow them chance to catch up on their email – worse, it might make them think you don’t care what they’re doing. Circulate round the room look at what they are doing, offering advise or help.

5. When students have finished, make sure they turn off their computer screens so they listen to you and each other, before running through the answers together.

For more on this and other lessons visit http://s132633050.websitehome.co.uk/Computer%20lessons.htm

Educational games- are they any good? Case #1 – 1066

1066 Flash Game developed by Preloaded and Channel 4

1066 by Preloaded and Channel 4










Click here to play the game

The term ‘educational game’ is a bit of an oxymoron – like a fat thin man riding a big small motorbike.  Games that promote learning can sometimes be more boring that actually just learning. Hopefully though, things are changing.

Here’s a great example of what simple flash games can do on the most basic browser. 1066 is made by Preloaded and developed with the help of Channel 4 in line with the show The Battle for Middle Earth that aired in May 2009.  2 million people watched the show and there are rumoured to be 3 and a half million people who have played the game.

What strikes you first is just how well made this is with wonderful voice acting and smooth animation. You play by re-enacting the brutal battles of 1066 as either The English, The Normans or the Vikings. There’s a kind of movie to introduce you to the actual history of the what happened but it quickly cuts to the game. You take charge of one army and move blocks of troops around in turn based action, firing arrows and moving into position before getting stuck into the actual fighting.  It’s terribly bloody with a great feel to it, there are also touches of humour – taunting the enemy sees you screaming ‘pig filth’ or ‘fox beard’ at the enemy.

So, is it educational? That’s a difficult question. It’s a really nice game to play, that’s for sure, a bit like a simpler version of Total War. The bloodsplats on the screen, the noise of sword against sword and the stratergy needed adds up to an entertaining experience. But did I learn about 1066 and history? I took Bruce London’s 15 question 1066 history quiz to find out.

Well, I learned that 3 English kings died that year and that the Viking leader was Harald Haadrada and got these questions correct but that was pretty much as far as I got. Wouldn’t I have learned these things had I just read a book or sat in a history class?

The Battle of Hastings and 1066 is a pretty easy educational topic for a game to cover – it’s got fighting in it, and vikings and people shouting at each other, but how would a game for say, explaining healthy eating or quadratic equations work? Would it be as easy to make these into games?

1066 is a great game, but more than that it’s a great start to the way games should be able to capture people’s imagination and engage them with the subject. It would probably be pretty easy to make an engaging healthy eating game, you could follow the fortunes of a football player or an athlete and decide what they eat, or a doctor examining the damage done to different parts of the body from eating the wrong stuff. Quadratics – I’m still thinking.

As the prospect of ‘cloud or streaming  gaming’ draws closer, more and more powerful games are going to be avaliable to more and more people, games will play a bigger part in our lives and education. How we use them in the classroom will need to be thought about more clearly, but this is a great start.


Fire at will

Fire at will