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Seven Things I Learned in Seven Years

Posted on February 2, 2015 by kierandonaghy

Film_english_seven_things_title_large

This EFL lesson is designed around a short film by Maria Popova and her reflections on what she has learned since she set up her wonderful website Brain Pickings titled Seven Things I Have Learned in Seven Years of Reading, Writing and Living. Students speculate on a photo, read a short article, watch a short film, talk about the points made in the film, and read the transcript of the film.

film_in_action_thumbnail

 

I would ask all teachers who use Film English to consider buying my book Film in Action as the royalties which I receive from sales help to keep the website completely free.

 

 

Language level: Intermediate (B1) – Upper Intermediate (B2)

Learner type: Teens and adults

Time: 90 minutes

Activity: Speculating on an image, reading an article, watching a short film, speaking and reading a transcript

Topic: Leading a creative life

Language: Abstract nouns

Materials: Article, short film and transcript

Downloadable materials: seven things lesson instructions     maria popova article     seven things transcript

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Step 1

Show your students the photo below and ask them to discuss the following questions:

What type of person do you think she might be?

What job do you think she does?

What does she like doing in her free time?

 

Maria_Popova

 

Step 2

Get feedback from the whole class on the questions about the person.

 

Step 3

Tell your students they are going to read a short article about the person. Give them the article. As they read their task is to answer the questions they discussed in Step 1.

 

Step 4

Go through the answers. The answers are:

  1. She would seem to be a very hardworking, intelligent and inquisitive person.
  2. She is a writer, critic and blogger.
  3. She wouldn’t appear to have any free time as she works so much!

 

Step 5

Ask your students what they think of Maria’s lifestyle.

 

Step 6

Dictate or write Seven Things I Have Learned in Seven Years of Reading, Writing and Living on the board.

 

Step 7

Tell your students they are going to watch a short film with this title in which Maria reflects on what she has learned since she set up her website Brain Pickings seven years ago. Put them in pairs and ask them to speculate on what Maria might have learned in these seven years.

 

Step 8

Show these screenshots from the film one by one; go through any vocabulary your students don’t understand, and ask them what they think the images and the captions refer to and what Maria says.

what_makes_your_own_heart_sing

 

cultivating_true_conviction

 

culture_of_immediacy

 

creative_thought

 

joy_and_wonder

 

produce_and_perform

 

destiny

 

 

Step 9

Tell your students that they are now going to watch the film in seven segments. The first time they watch they are going to watch with no sound. From the images and captions they see they should speculate on what Maria might be saying about what she has learned. Show the first point with no sound then pause. The students work in pairs for a few minutes speculating on Maria’s point and then get feedback from the whole class. Repeat the process for the other six points.

 

7 Things I Learned in 7 Years of Reading, Writing, and Living from Dissolve on Vimeo.

 

Step 10

Tell your students that they are now going to watch with the film with sound. As they watch and listen their task is to compare what Maria says about what she has learned with their comments in the previous step. Show the first point, pause the video and get feedback from the whole class. Repeat the process for the other six points.

 

Step 11

Ask your students if they agree with the points that Maria makes.

 

Step 12

Tell your students they are going to read the transcript of the video. As they read their task is to try to understand the points Maria makes and underline any vocabulary they don’t understand. Give the students the article.

 

Step 13

After the students have read the text go through any vocabulary they didn’t understand. Then discuss each of the seven points.

 

Step 14

Tell your students they are going to watch the film again, and that having read the transcript they will hopefully understand more. Show the film again.

 

Step 15

Ask your students if they understood more this time.

 

Step 16

Tell the students they are going to listen to the film and read the transcript at the same time. As they listen their task is to underline the words which are stressed in each sentence. Show the first point, pause and get feedback. Repeat the process with the other six points.

 

Homework

Ask the students to choose one of Maria Popova’s reflections, to listen to it several times and then record themselves saying it on a mobile device. They should send you an audio or video file, or a link to one. You give them feedback on their pronunciation.
I hope you enjoy this ESL lesson.

Support Film English

Film English remains ad-free and takes many hours a month to research and write, and hundreds of dollars to sustain. If you find any joy or value in it, please consider supporting Film English with a monthly subscription, or by contributing a one-off payment.

Monthly subscription

One-off payment

16 thoughts on “Seven Things I Learned in Seven Years

  1. This website helped me a lot in giving me new ideas for my lessons. The students adore the discussion section and they can’t wait to see what will be going to happen in the next video lessons.

    Thank you and congratulations for this time-saving website and every lesson you share here! Every lesson/video is special so I must say I like them all.

  2. I have shown this film and followed the lesson plan, adapting it to my A1 students… the result? My students had tears in their eyes… they loved it and they left the class feeling happy.. My aim was to show them how special they are and it worked!! What was even better, they learnt English because they were doing what they were supposed to do in the first place… learn English…

    thank you from one teacher who loves teaching with a passion….

  3. Pingback: Week 2 Film Lesson | Joanne´s Developing Teacher Blog

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  5. Hi Kieran,
    Love your website (which I discovered after seeing you in Barcelona 3 years ago at the Cambridge Event) and have just ordered your book from Amazon – so am looking forward to reading it soon!
    Just one comment about the transcript for this video – it doesn’t seem to match the voiceover – has it changed?
    Thanks for all your hard work on this great site!
    Liz

    • Hi Liz,
      Thanks very much for the kind comments which I really appreciate. I hope you enjoy the book. I’ll check out the transcript – thanks for the headsup 🙂
      All the best,
      Kieran

  6. Thank you so much for this lesson plan!!! Not only is it interesting, but it also is thought-provoking and dynamic! You are awesome to do this for us, I deeply apreciate it! 🙂

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