“If you’re bored then you’re boring”

Bored by Picture Taker 2 (Flickr)

Having introduced the passive the previous week, I wanted to do something to build on the lesson, particularly relating to situations in which the passive is used. Try as I might, I couldn’t think of anything exciting enough to hold my students’ attention for 50 minutes and sufficiently highlight uses of the passive. I decided instead to focus on something related, and a huge problem for my students, participles used as adjectives. My students regularly confess to me how boring they are, which when you’re studying every waking minute may well be true, but isn’t what they mean. In order to save them further embarrassment I constructed this weeks lesson.

I’ve been having one or two problems with getting classes to settle down recently, so I went back to something I did regularly last year, which was to open the class with a video. Strangely, my students seem to be concentrated rather than enlivened by blasting loud music at them first thing in the morning. For this lesson I chose Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger (below) as it contains the line in the post title. I played a couple of verses of the song, and then asked students to try to dictate the line. When (with some prompting based on the PPT below) they had it, I avoided explaining it and just asked students to think about it, leaving it on the screen as a puzzle for the lesson.

Getting students to focus on each other worked really well in my personalities lesson, so I repeated the trick here with a survey to find the most loved and loving, teased and teasing, smiled at and smiling and of course bored and boring. In a Korean classroom this works really well – I’ve said before that classrooms here thrive on banter, and harnessing this can be a powerful tool. It comes with the warning that it has to be carefully monitored to prevent genuine bullying, and it will not be suitable for all groups. I wouldn’t recommend this unless you know your students pretty well.

We took the survey results (I found the best way to do this was to get one student to read the names and the others to keep count of their own votes) and turned them into a set of sentences on the board (eg Su-nam is the most loving). I ended up not focusing too hard on the grammar and passive and active nature of the participles, save for mentioning it as another way to remember; I think the work done on the survey was a better demonstration.

We finished with a game of taboo (except with only one word that was taboo) which I had ben worries was too difficult for my students, and was too much of a step up from the rest of the lesson content, but with some of the better speakers it worked really well. I was particularly pleased to hear one of my students, in trying to get his team to say tiring, say “car wheel, car wheel” – some really good creative thinking. The game was really well received by the students, with a couple of requests to play again next week.

As with last week, I think that working within a fairly finite set of vocabulary is beneficial as it does get students more focused on a grammar point and allows the vocabulary to be properly reinforced. It was also another chance for everyone to get involved in something quite simple, and even some of my less-keen students were suddenly eager to label their friends “boring”.  There weren’t too many problems here, but time was a little pushed a t the end of some classes, and so I had no time to help students understand the quote from the beginning.

I don’t think there’s much I’d change about this lesson. If I had more time I’d probably at least make students copy down the sentences, and probably come up with categories of their own as well. Apart from that it provided another good fun week, and hopefully something for them all to think about.

Lesson plan and Powerpoints are below. Thanks for reading,


Passives 2 – Lesson Plan

Lyric Solving PPT


Taboo PPT


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