Do you have any students who are huge fans of Netflix’s The Crown ? If yes, you’ll probably find this post useful.

I’ve created two lesson plans based on this series: the first is appropriate for intermediate students, whereas the second can be used with higher levels (upper intermediate/advanced). I’ve selected language with my students in mind and tried to recycle some previously learned items. You might need to make changes to suit your students’ needs.


Communicative aim:

to talk about The Crown and other TV series.

Main aim:

to introduce and practise vocabulary/lexical chunks found in the texts.

Secondary aims:

-to increase awareness of word/sentence stress and check students’ understanding by asking them to choose the right stress pattern/ tick which words are stressed

-to encourage students to reflect on language from the lesson and select 6-8 items for productive use.

-to promote autonomy by introducing a website which students can use at home to explore collocations or how words are used in different sentences.

-to develop oral fluency within an interesting context.

-to read for gist/detail.

Teaching aim:

To experiment with different techniques, such as brain breaks, free recall, and an activity from Teaching Lexically (see point 2 below).


Both lessons can take 60- 90′ depending on how much time you spend on each stage and whether you include frequent feedback slots.

New elements

  1. Lately, I’m being rather democratic in my planning/teaching 🙂 . I present 10 or more lexical items and ask students to select 6-8 they would like to use. This makes them reflect on the target language and its relevance to their own linguistic needs; it usually generates fruitful discussions about language, comparing it to L1 equivalents, how easy it is to remember words, what they can do to remember them and so on. I was pleased to read that this was something Luiz Otávio Barros also recommends. You can read his post here.  Another useful tip from this post is that we need to help students learn “old” words used in new ways.
  2. I used an activity in which students are asked to look at the target chunks and recall what they described/referred to in the text. I read this in teaching Lexically (page 92) and I thought it’s very useful. After focusing on meaning by matching phrases to their definitions, I believe getting students to recall the co-text helps them make associations. You also check how much they noticed the language they encountered. Just make sure you tell them it’s not a test but retrieval practice to make the phrases stick.
  3. Free recall an idea which I shared on my Facebook Page recently:
  • Pause your lesson or activity.
  • Ask students to write down everything they can remember.
  • Continue your lesson or activity

4. I’ve added a brain break stage , inspired by André Hedlunds blogposts. Check out his fantastic blog edrocks.

5. Again, as André recommends, I’ve mentioned in my teacher’s notes that doing homework the next day after their lesson (or later) is more likely to lead to retention and consolidation of language.

For declarative memory to be consolidated in the brain, we need to sleep. Recently learned information is stored in the hippocampus and temporarily reproduced in the brain during sleep to create more representations and lasting memories (Maquet et al.2000). Reviewing content only once after class or doing homework on the same day can be a waste of cognitive resources as it would be more beneficial to revisit it the next day after sleeping and in future review sessions with some spacing between them.

(Henderson, Weighall, Brown, & Gaskell, 2012; Seehagen, Konrad, Herbert, & Schneider, 2015)

6. More pronunciation work. In lesson plan_1, students match words/phrases with stress patterns, eg OoO, or Oo. In lesson plan_2, they think about sentence stress, listen to recordings and finally decide which words are usually stressed/unstressed in sentences.


Overall, I go for cold correction with my higher level students. I prefer the Identify-Capture-Explore framework that Anderson and McCutcheon suggest in their book, Activities For Task-Based Learning, (page 21). So far this technique helps build rapport, as it promotes a Fluency First – Focus on accuracy later atmosphere (I’ve borrowed Neil and Neil’s blog title here!). Students are not interrupted when doing speaking activities. Some reformulation in conversation works for them.

Teacher’s notes

I am not an experienced materials writer and I intend to take a course at some point. I just share the materials I create with other teachers. This time though, I’ve created detailed teacher’s notes-I hope they’re clear enough!

I attended my first webinar as an IATEFL MaWSIG member a couple of months ago, and remember Fiona Mauchline saying we need to make materials hyper-flexi and user friendly.

Another useful tip was make no assumptions, about what students may know or not know, abilities they may or may not have.

That’s why I’ve included:

-tips for private/group/online classes.

-differentiation tips, eg jamboard activities/ fast finisher tasks.

-more options, eg doing a web search instead of activating previous knowledge.

Downloads and links

Jamboard for The Crown_1 and answer key

Jamboard for The Crown_2

The Jamboard templates are view-only.

Please make your own copies. Here’s how:

Thank you..

Karen Gammak for the recordings. 🙂

Vicky Margari for having a look and giving me useful feedback!

Last but not least..

Feedback on the lesson plan or teacher’s notes is welcome! Multitasking is the enemy of concentration.


Anderson, N. and McCutcheon, N., 2019. Activities For Task-Based Learning. Stuttgart: DELTA Publishing.

Brain Breaks and Games for Distance Learning | Understood – For learning and thinking differences

Brain Dumps: A small strategy with a big impact – Retrieval Practice

Dellar, H. and Walkley, A. (2017). Teaching lexically. Stuttgart: DELTA publishing.

Energy and Calm: Brain Breaks and Focused-Attention Practices | Edutopia

Engage, Build, Consolidate: An Effective Framework for Lesson Planning | National Geographic Learning: In Focus (

Luiz Otávio Barros, Teaching vocabulary-five useful tips

MaWSIG: ‘Looking back; looking forward – 10 tips for 2021-friendly materials’ |

Six Metacognitive Strategies and How to Use them with Popular Online Tools – Education Development Courses (

The Pomodoro Technique, Brain Breaks, and TED Talks: How to Increase Focus and Improve Memory Retention – Education Development Courses (

What could work better in the classroom? A Science of Learning perspective (