53. Lesson Plan – Nepali Short Story: The Rat


The Rat

There was once a rat, who thought that he must have none other than the king’s daughter as his wife. So, he went to the king and proposed to wed the princess.

Said the rat to the king: “Oh great king, let me marry your daughter because you are the greatest one on the earth.”

The king, however, said: “You are wrong, my friend. The sun is mightier than me.”

So the rat went to the sun and said: “You are mightier than the king. Please give me your daughter in wedding.”

“But the cloud is more powerful than me,” said the sun.

The rat went to the cloud and said to him: “Please give me your daughter. You are mightier than the sun.”

“I am not that powerful,” said the cloud, “The wind pushes me around. He is stronger than me.”

So, the rat went to the wind and said to him, “Please let me marry your daughter.”

“No, I am not as strong as you think,” said the wind, “No matter how hard I blow, I cannot take the grass away with me. The grass is, therefore, more powerful than me.”

The rat went to the grass and asked for his daughter’s hand.

But the grass said: “The rat burrows beneath me, cuts at my root and kills me. I cannot stop him. The rat is more powerful than me.”

The rat then got convinced more than ever that there was none greater on earth than a rat. So, he married a rat.

– Anonymous

Lesson Plan:

Level: Elementary/Secondary (Class 5 to 8)
(Can be adapted to lower level, using pictures)
Grammar Focus: Direct speech, Present tense
Vocabulary Focus: Adjectives of Comparison
Activity: Listening to the story, re-telling the story

The reading part:

1. Ask the students if they have heard any folk story, what are the stories like, characters like, etc.

2. Tell/read the story to the students. (Telling a story is always a better idea.)

The three layers:

3. Talk about the story – What happened in the story? How was the ending?

4. Talk about beyond the story – What lesson did the character learn? What was the moral of the story?

5. Talk about the text – about the sentence construction, direct speech, about the use of adjectives of comparison.

6. Ask students how the story would be if other animals were used – for example, a cat or a dog.

The production part:

7. Ask the students to re-tell the story. (Students could also pick a role/character and act it out.)

8. Ask the students to write the story from memory.


49. Nelta Janakpur Conference – Teaching English through Songs


We were to present just the  pecha-kucha during the Janakpur phase of the 18th International Nelta Conference, however, due to some luck (or bad luck) many presenters had backed out and that meant I too could present one more during the parallel sessions.

So my session would be “Teaching English through Songs”. Of lately, I’ve been incorporating songs in the classroom to teach English language from a fun-perspective so I was quite prepared to do this session.

– to discuss and come up with various ways to use a song in the class
– to discuss similarities of a song with poems: alliteration, rhyming words, rhythm, etc
– to use songs in both inductive and deductive ways to teach vocabulary, word chunks/collocation to the students
– to focus on grammar and sentence structures
– to make students write their own version of the lyrics based on the melody
– and in general, to make teaching more effective and interesting, to make the students feel at home and reduce any affective filters.

Ugly Kid Joe‘s beautiful song “Cloudy Skies” is one of the perfect songs that can be used in the classroom. It’s not that heavy, it is not ‘pop’ either. And, after a 40 min discussion and a demo, the participants were able to do this.

I was quite happy sharing these ideas with the future teachers and students in Janakpur.

42. Lesson Plan: Soldier of Fortune


Lesson plan based on Deep Purple’s Soldier of Fortune

This is the first time I used a song in the classroom to teach English language. The first song I chose was Deep Purple’s “Soldier of Fortune” as this is a great rock ballad with very poetic yet simple words, easy enough for the students to understand. (I actually wanted to do this with a heavy metal song, but I quickly decided against it for obvious reasons.)

I did this with class 10 students and here’s how I went about:

Lesson Plan:

Level: secondary students (Class 9 and 10)
Time: around 80 mins
Activity: Listening to the song, discussion, writing
Grammar focus: past tense, present tense. Switching back and forth.
Literary focus: metaphor

1. Write the title of the song “Soldier of Fortune” on the board and ask the students to make a guess what the title means.

2. This is optional. Tell the students about classic rock genre and about Deep Purple as well.

3. Play the song. Ask the students to notice and write down the key words (content words) as they go listening to the song.

4. Show them the lyrics (or better, read out the lyrics) and ask them to tally it with the key words they’d written down.

The lyrics:

I have often told you stories
About the way
I lived the life of a drifter
Waiting for the day

When I’d take your hand
And sing you songs
Then maybe you would say
Come lay with me love me
And I would surely stay

But I feel I’m growing older
And the songs that I have sung
Echo in the distance
Like the sound
Of a windmill goin’ round
I guess I’ll always be
A soldier of fortune

Many times I’ve been a traveler
I looked for something new
In days of old
When nights were cold
I wandered without you
But those days I thought my eyes
Had seen you standing near
Though blindness is confusing
It shows that you’re not here

Now I feel I’m growing older
And the songs that I have sung
Echo in the distance
Like the sound
Of a windmill going round
I guess I’ll always be
A soldier of fortune
I can hear the sound
Of a windmill goin’ round
I guess I’ll always be
A soldier of fortune

5. So, that’s the fun part. Now ask a few students if they can sing the song while reading the lyrics from the notebook.

6. To make them familiar with the song, play it one more time.

7. Now comes the actual learning stage. Discuss with the students about the theme of the song. Naturally, they will come up with different themes. Tell them, one of the themes is “retrospection on life”.

8. Remind them about the literary tools like: metaphors, similes and images. Ask them to find such literary tools in the song.

9. Ask the students what sort of mental/visual image does the song portray?

Some answers could be like:
Music: a very sad song
Vocals: old, tired, filled with regret
About: a drifter, someone who lived life wandering, aimlessly, and now that he’s growing older, his heart is filled with regret and sadness

10. Finally, as a part of homework (assignment), ask them to interpret the song relating to the moments when they were sad and regretful of something they had done or had not done.

11. And, play the song one more time just to check if they can sing it without looking at their notebook.

Since a period means only 40 mins, I did this in two days. After I finished the lesson, I also talked about Ritchie Blackmore, Deep Purple and why the guitar solo in the middle of the song is one of the greatest solos ever. Talking about this song made me realize that I love this song even more.

Not surprisingly, the students told me that they wanted to do similar activity again. I wonder, which song would that be!

The lyrics and photo source – the internet 🙂