The Susan Boyle EFL Video Lesson

duckWhat is your secret ambition?

If you could go back in time, do something else or be someone else what would you do? What do you still hope to achieve before you die?

Susan Boyle, a Scottish, unemployed 47 year woman just stumbled into fame and fell into the hearts of millions.

By taking part in ITV's 'Britain's Got Talent' competition she showed us that ducklings can still become swans, that dreams must never ever be given up on.

She strode on to the stage with chutzpah, took the jeers from the crowd and with her head held high opened her mouth. The sound that came out made my stomach flip and tears prickle at my eyes.

- I joined her Facebook Fan club.

- I worried about the consequences of her new fame.

- I thought about her cat.

- A friend gave me a play-by-playback of her choice expressions, perfectly imitating her accent.

- I spent way too many hours creating a lesson plan for our students.


Do they have dreams, goals, objectives they'd still like to accomplish? I bet they do. And I bet they'll love this:

No internet access/ laptop in class? Do A (extend with SimplyConversations AmbitionsAchievements set), then C + D in class and set B + E as post-task.

If you enjoyed using this lesson with your students don't forget to share it with colleagues, and of course, don't hesitate to let me know now what you think of Susan Boyle's performance - go on, tell me, how many times have you watched the video too?


p.s Thanks muchly, Lisa, for helping me out with the editing!
Any possible errors, typos etc though are all mine - find any, do let me know.

p.p.s If you like working with videos in the classroom, Jamie Keddie's TEFL clips is 'chocka' with great lessons.

p.p.p.s Here are the links to global teachers who have also been using the Susan Boyle saga in their classes and blogging about it, many different approaches and tips - definitely worth have a look at so you can continue extend the lesson or do something different:
  • Susana Canelo:
  • Natasa Grojic:
  • Janet Abruzzo:

Creative Commons License
The Susan Boyle EFL Lesson Plan by Karenne Sylvester is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

16 Responses to “The Susan Boyle EFL Video Lesson”

  • Clare says:
    April 26, 2009

    Very nice lesson Karenne! Thanks for sharing.

  • Anonymous says:
    April 27, 2009

    Boy, Susan and Paul Potts would make a fantastic duet, don't you think?
    I cried my eyes out.. just imagine...don't ever judge a book by its cover!
    Thank you very much for this Karenne.
    Dreams do come true.
    Now back to my stuffy old essay.
    Take care

  • Illya Arnet says:
    April 27, 2009

    Great lesson plan! I'm going to use it this week with my students and will let you know how it went.

    I took part in a workshop using songs in the classroom and have an idea to add to the lesson taken from this workshop:

    Take the phrases, copy them again from the song and cut them up. Tape each set onto a wall and divide the class into 2 groups (make three if it's a big class).
    The groups stand in line in front of the phrases. As they listen to the song the first one in line tries to find one of the phrases used and get it first. This person runs ot the back of the line and so the game continues until the song is over. The group with the most phrases wins.

    It gets the class moving and is great fun.

    Greetings from nearby Switzerland

  • Nina Lyulkun says:
    April 27, 2009


    This is a fantastic lesson!
    Thanks a bunch Karenne!
    Thanks a lot for sharing. I do too would like to try it with my students.
    This is a very popular fairy tale about a duck and swarn in Russia. Wonderful proverb: don't ever judge a book by its cover!

    How happy students might be to have such a wonderful teacher!

    {{{{{BIG HUG}}}}}}
    Nina from Ukraine

  • Nina Lyulkun says:
    April 27, 2009


    This is a fantastic lesson!
    Thanks a bunch Karenne!
    Thanks a lot for sharing. I do too would like to try it with my students.
    This is a very popular fairy tale about a duck in Russia. Wonderful proverb: don't ever judge a book by its cover!

    How happy students might be to have such a wonderful teacher!

    {{{{{BIG HUG}}}}}}
    Nna from Ukraine

    April 27, 2009

    Thanks guys, am really glad you like it ;-)

    Big hug back Nina - I grew up with the same story of the duckling who turned into the swan!

    I really love it that Susan is getting to do this, she deserves it!

    Illya, I love your idea for the song! A super tip and will try it out too.

    I confess I cried a little bit also, Elke. I wonder if it's because we all hope our dreams come true one day too! Good luck with the essay ;-)


  • Miracel says:
    April 28, 2009

    This is a great idea, Karenne! I was also thinking of another blog post on how to use the power of Youtube in your lessons. You hit the nail!

    April 28, 2009

    Just did the lesson with one my older banking students and we focused on the "wolves at the gate" aspect - how Susan will handle the finances associated with her rise to fame and with another group of adults we expanded the activity with a review of the conditionals without "if" (you know the unless, when, as long as & in case) to talk about her future in star business!

    Let us know what else you do too!

  • Unknown says:
    April 30, 2009

    Hi Karenne

    Thanks very much for pointing out the clip to me. I didn't use the handout but the clip gave me an idea how to discuss the topic of discrimination, something we are doing at school right now. Our actual topic is racial discrimination in Britain (50s onwards) but that doesn't matter: the same criteria apply and my students came up with some really good comments and quickly saw the link between the two. One of them even summed it up using the proverb "don't judge a book by its cover".

    It was a good way to round off the lesson and it kept them awake, right to the bitter end: no mean feat when you have a block lesson of 5 hours (German school hours)starting at 6 p.m.!

    Many thanks


  • Rita Zeinstejer says:
    May 01, 2009

    Thanks a lot, Karenne!
    I'm an EFL teacher in Argentina and have just come across your wondeful lesson, which I'm going to use with my upper intermediate students next week. I'll let you know how it goes, but I'm pretty sure my kids will love it!

    It's been a pleasure to meet you online.

    Rita Zeinstejer

    May 01, 2009

    Hey ya Lindsey, that's a great adaptation idea -thanks very much for sharing it with us - whew, am glad am not you making your way through that many hours. Keep up the good work.

    Lovely, Rita, am really looking forward to hearing how it goes and what your students discover too! Very nice meeting you, talk soon.


  • Illya Arnet says:
    May 02, 2009

    The lesson went really well and generated a lot of very thought-provoking discussion. My class of very tired college students LOVED the musical game, but I used another version of 'I Dreamed a Dream' so they could understand it better.

    Thanks again, Karenne, for taking the time and energy to generate and share such a well thought out lesson plan!!!

  • Janet Bianchini says:
    May 02, 2009

    What a brilliant lesson Karenne! You are very generous for sharing such a lovely lesson plan with all teachers.
    I have included your lesson plan link in my blog today as part of the ProBlogger 31-DBBB Challenge.
    Thank you very much indeed.

    Janet Bianchini

  • Natasa says:
    May 04, 2009

    Hi Karenne,
    I hope she wins. I have also joined her Facebook fan club (thanks for the tip). As far as I can remember, this is the first fan club I have ever joined.
    I like your post and your lesson plan. I came up with my own modest plan, which is here:
    There are so many good ideas in your comment section as well.
    Yes, we all have dreams.

    May 04, 2009

    Natasa, not a modest plan - a spark of genius. I enjoyed my trip over.

    Hi Janet, Thank you!

    I love your ways of taking this idea and working with it in the classroom, am linking yourlessons at the bottom.

    Well done, and thanks for sharing with me.


  • Unknown says:
    May 14, 2009

    Thanks Karenne! This lesson went down really well with my students and I plan on adapting it for another class too.


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