The Polish Grandpa – an A1 lesson plan

As a Celta tutor, I have to give demo lessons twice every course. This was the second demo lesson with my lovely beginner group. They really needed an opportunity to review the language they had already learned, rather than moving on to a new topic, and I also wanted to model ways of using short films in the classroom. Here’s my lesson plan.

: A1, but also easy to adapt for higher levels.
>This video  (Please note that I edited this to remove the swearing, but I can’t upload videos here – decide for yourself if you want to keep the swearing in!)
> Projector/computer
>I also used a medium sized portable whiteboard

Main aim: Functional Language – By the end of the lesson, students will have been exposed to and had a chance to practice talking about the reasons why they’re learning English.

Subaims: Speaking, general review

I did this lesson with a group of beginner students in the third week of their intensive course. They had already covered countries, nationalities, numbers some basic questions and third person s.


1. Show this picture

and also the following questions:
1. Where is he from?
2. How old is he?
3. What’s his job?
4. What does he want?

(I had written these on a medium sized portable whiteboard in advance, and left spaces in between each question for notes/answers).

Draw a thought bubble, write “I think….”, and model an answer

Allow students some time to discuss their ideas with a partner. Do some whole class feedback, writing up some of the answers, without confirming any.

Tell the class they’re going to watch a video about the man – their task is to watch and see if they can find the answers. Play the video until 02:00. Give students time to discuss in pairs, and then collect feedback.

1. The answer is Poland, but it’s not obvious from the video.
2. We don’t know.
3. We don’t know for sure, but can imply that he is retired, as he doesn’t seem to go to work.
4. He wants to learn English.

Try to elicit number 4, and write the structure on the board. Ask the students if they want to learn English (hopefully they’ll say yes!)

Ask the students why he wants to learn English. After a brief discussion, tell them they’re going to watch the last part of the film and find out. Play the last part of the film.  Allow students to discuss their ideas in pairs before eliciting that the man is learning English because his son lives in England and he wants to talk to his new granddaughter. Expand He wants to learn English by adding to talk to his grandchild. Ask students why they want to learn English. They should discuss this in groups, using the structure on the board. Monitor and help where necessary, noting down interesting content as well as errors for a delayed feedback stage.

Do some whole class feedback, nominating particular students who had good ideas. I was surprised to find out that two of the students in my class had grandchildren in Australia and New York, so they could really empathise with the old man in the film!

You could also do some delayed error correction at this point, focussing on the target language.

Now write on the board – How? Explain to students that they’re going to watch the video again and their task is to notice what the man does to learn English, and to make notes. Check that they have understood your instructions. Play the film again, all the way through.

Ask students to discuss the answers in pairs for a few minutes, and while they’re talking, hand out some board markers for students to write the things on the board. There’s no need to write full sentences at this level.

This is a full list of his learning strategies so you can add any that students miss:

  • he reads a grammar book
  • he repeats verbs
  • he listens to and repeats short phrases
  • he labels objects with Post-it notes
  • He practices in the mirror
  • He watches films and copies them (that’s if you didn’t delete that part)

Which ones are a good idea? Which ones do your students do? Ask them to tell you the things they do to improve English – board these ideas too. Try to elicit using technology and ask them to name or show you the apps on their phone that help them practice English. So by the end, you should have a board full of ideas for students to improve their English. You could set some homework for them to try some new methods or keep a diary noting down the things they do every day related to learning English.

My students enjoyed this lesson and I felt like they had learned something new, meaningful and also a bit challenging.

I adapted this lesson from Film English – which has an excellent collection of short films. As I’m mainly working with beginners at the moment, I had to simplify the language and activities.

A gratuitous picture of Polish Grandpa and his rubber duck, for your viewing pleasure.



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