Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer, manager and consultant

To see the previous lessons, click here.

In today’s lesson we started off with a quick revision of the long vowel sounds covered at the end of the last lesson because H said he hadn’t listened to them at all. He remembered almost all of them, but struggles with the /3:/ sound in bird.

I then used Cuisenaire rods to elicit the forms that we did last time. This was the result for ‘I’ (without the words!):

Cuisenaire rods grammarI then held up the ‘I’ white rod and said ‘you’ and we repeated the pattern, then did the same for he/she/it. He needed to use his piece of paper to remember the forms the first time round, so we ended up doing it twice: once with the paper, once without.

Before the lesson I had laid out a set of pictures cut from magazines:

Pictures on deskI pointed at people/things in the pictures and asked a set of simple questions, along the lines of:

Is he a teacher?

Is it a dog?

designed to elicit Yes/No short answers, referring to the Cuisenaire rods if necessary. We then switched roles so that H was asking the questions. He started to experiment more with the language, adding a few colours, this/that and my/your. I haven’t done colours with him, so I checked quickly and he knows most of the basic ones except for brown, purple and grey.

I decided to build on the possessive pronouns my/your for the rest of the lesson. He wrote another table similar to last week’s one:

Possessive pronounsI know the sentence ‘It is its cup’ is a little odd, but he was happy with the pattern, so I don’t think it matters too much.

I made a quick list of all of the things we’ve covered, plus some of the extra language he brought up in the picture activity above. It looks like this at the moment:





Monday-Sunday, January-December

The Alphabet



Knows: red, blue, black, white, green, yellow, orange, pink

Added 19/6: purple, gray, brown


Teacher, student, fireman/firewoman, actor/actress, shop assistant, singer, sportsman/sportswoman, secretary

Pronunciation 19/6: hairdresser, waiter, journalist, nurse

Added 19/6: policeman/policewoman


cup, table, chair, armchair


dog, cat, mouse


bike, car, train



To be

I am, You are, He/She/It is (+ – ? yes no)


my, your, his, her, its

I’ll try to keep the list up-to-date. H was very motivated to see all of the things we’ve managed to cover so far.

His homework is to listen to recordings of the three colours he had trouble with (he asked for them with Czech too), the jobs he had trouble pronouncing and the sentences from his grid for my/your/etc.

This could be our last face-to-face lesson as I’m leaving Brno a week today. We’re planning to try out teaching via Skype, so watch this space!

Comments on: "Diary of a beginner: seventh lesson" (5)

  1. ..Writing..Have pairs of children create their own Mystery Trains by using three or four Cuisenaire rods to create a train and then writing clues about how to make it.


  2. Hi Sandy,

    This is Carmen from “Darkest Peru” and I have just read your post at the British Council forum. I have been teaching English over 30 years and I really find your pieces of advice most user- friendly. Congrats!

    Maybe we can exchange different teaching views. I invite you to keep in touch, my Facebook account is RHOR IDIOMAS. Let’s keep in touch.

    I teach at university level; however, I also have private adult beginners and I think your methodology is really useful and entertaining.

    All the best.



    • Thanks for your comment Carmen. I don’t really use facebook for teaching. Instead, I’m on Twitter as @sandymillin, where there is a huge community of English teachers from around the world, including some from Peru 🙂 Look forward to seeing you there, and glad you found my blog useful!


  3. Hi Sandy, I found your blog through the British Council forum as well and I want to thank you for taking the time to create exactly what I need! I’m volunteering to teach English through an organization in Vietnam and had absolutely no idea where to begin with these total beginners. The cuisenaire rods are something I heard about in my CELTA course but never really used, and I see clearly how I can implement a similar tool idea for my students. Many thanks!!


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