Subversive Teaching – 52

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Bailout – how one teacher used this ad!

Hi everyone
We’ve come out of summer break to share with you all a post we came across via Twitter on The Teacher James’ blog. We really liked the way he exploited the following image, which is activity 32 in our book 52.











We included these images to precisely let teachers decide themselves how best to use them. It was really interesting to see that this teacher’s student thought it was promoting the car companies in the first place and to see the different aspects of language he focused on.

Well, it’s probably best to let you hear it from the horse’s mouth. So please go over to this link and see how a single image can unfurl into a whole subversive lesson! Thanks to TheTeacherJames!


Product placement

This video and teaching idea were submitted to us this past weekend by Phil Wade, a fellow teacher and blogger over at EFL thoughts and reflections. He sent us this video because he thought we’d be interested, and we immediately loved it. We asked him if he would mind 1) us sharing it here and 2) if he could write about how he’d use it.

We’ll let him answer for himself. Phil writes:

The world is not how you think it is. You have been fooled and tricked. Your opinions and choices are not your own. What you do, where you go and what you buy have already been decided for you. Your view of history, the present and the future is controlled and manipulated. You must break free!

Adverts no longer have an impact. Through continued exposure you have become immune so now companies and brands have a better weapon………product placement!

Teaching ideas: Show one of the film clips, ask if it is an advert or a scene in a film and what the differences are. Try it with no sound or no picture and freeze frame. Then ask what it was about and what students noticed. Did they see any products or hear them mentioned?

Was it an essential scene in the film of just a secret advert to promote a product? Did it work on your students?

Watch the whole video and discuss the different examples. Talk about what Coke represents and why. Is it really timeless? Does it epitomize American culture? Which other brands represent cultures or countries and in which time periods?

Is it really “more realistic” to include brands in films? What does that say about our society? How do your students feel about products taking center stage in films and almost becoming main characters?

The AOL/Sleepless in Seattle is particularly interesting as the film is entirely based on a service and is just one big advert. How about the new Bond film which has has been partly financed by product placement? Is the future ‘film advertising’?

Thanks Phil!


Revolutionize the can-do statements

Here’s the “indie” book trailer we launched at IATEFL:



Love is in the air, or is it? If you’re tired of doing the usual valentine’s day lesson maybe this year try an “anti-Valentine’s day” text?

We found a whole website of Anti-Valentine’s Day messages. Many are perhaps a little TOO bitter and cynical for our tastes, but we quite liked these two images.


Teaching idea: This one could be good for reviewing adverb -ly forms. Before showing it, ask students to complete the sentence “I love you…” as many different ways as possible with one word (e.g. truly, madly, crazily etc). Then show the image. What is the artist trying to say? Why is “cliché” written in the heart?


Teaching idea: maybe this one could be used as a flash dictation. Show it quickly, then ask students to write down what they remember. It’s also worth examining the use of “like, er, this one” at the end and what it means. Alternatively, write the following “chunks” up on the board in a random order: nothing says – someone else – “you’re special” – like a mass-produced sentiment – written by . Learners have a go at putting this together to form a sentence. Then show the image.

Finally, ask learners: Do people celebrate Valentine’s Day in your country? Is it a traditional holiday? Is it a worthwhile celebration or is it an excuse for people to buy cards, chocolate and gifts? Are “anti-Valentine Day” messages like these only popular with people who aren’t in love (or worse, bitter about love?)

Incidentally, if you have a copy of 52 you may like to try activity #11 Holiday, which is all about the commercialization of holidays such as Valentine’s Day.

Subvert their minds

Welcome to Suversive Teaching 52. This is the support site for 52 – a book of critical, subversive and unconventional activity for language teachers. The authors of this blog are Lindsay Clandfield and Luke Meddings.

We’ll be posting some activity ideas, discussions, images and videos connected to the material we wrote for 52. We hope this provides readers with, at the very least, food for thought.