First classes dictation to boost motivation

New school year, new groups, new students – to put it simply: expectations.

Very soon I’m going to join my old friends and my new potential allies in an epic battle with English. We’re going to start our fight after a holiday break, so we’ll be refreshed and motivated, but with November looming ominously, we’re bound to feel broken, tired to the bone and full of hatred. It’s nothing unusual, it happens and I believe that would be unnatural, feeling constantly motivated. Really.

So, being an Evil Empress in the making, I want to prepare my students for that unavoidable pit in education. There are always the moments when you don’t feel like waking up, let alone learn a language (and then it turns out it’s a Reported Speech time in the classroom, oh joy!) – and it’s ok. It’s important to feel motivated, sure – but it’s completely natural to let it go once in a while.

I found this poem by Chanie Gorkin, and once I saw it, I thought I could use it on my very first classes, to make my students remember…. well, here’s the poem I make my students write down as a dictation, line by line (of course, I’ll have to adjust vocabulary to my students’ proficiency level, but what’s so difficult in replacing convince with tell etc.?):

Today was the absolute worst day ever

And don’t try to convince me that

There’s something good in every day

Because, when you take a closer look,

This world is a pretty evil place.

Even if

Some goodness does shine through once in a while

Satisfaction and happiness don’t last.

And it’s not true that

It’s all in the mind and heart


True happiness can be obtained

Only if one’s surroundings are good

It’s not true that good exists

I’m sure you can agree that



My attitude

It’s all beyond my control

And you’ll never in a million years hear me say that

Today was a good day

Now, as a way of checking the dictation, I want my students to read the poem from bottom to top.

And I want all of us to remember that sometimes looking at our lives from a different angle can make us feel better. So, whenever things go wrong, let’s just stand upside down, and…

… something like this, you know 😉


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