TEFL teaching materials

teaching professional people english

Handwriting v. e-mail

This is not an erudite debate about the evils of modern communication.  It’s just an unassuming item which would be perfect for reviewing vocabulary and passive/active forms, possibly as a 15-minute slot at the end of another lesson.    Take a look at the advert, and see what you think.

I’m not sure that I will be buying the product (My handwriting wouldn’t look like that, and what could I have to say that would merit such extraordinary treatment?) However, the idea is intriguing, and the film is just right for pre-intermediate students.  We’ve had fun reviewing various language items.


I am aware that most of my posts have touched on this recently, but it’s important.  The simplest thing to so with this video is to have students relate the sequence of actions from memory after watching.  For elementary students who don’t know the basic computer vocabulary, you can pre-teach the relevant items, possibly providing cards to be put in order.

Passive/active forms

By the time students reach me they have ‘done’ the passive a dozen times.  However, a quick review from time to time is a good idea.  ‘Print out the template’ – ‘The template is printed out’ etc. etc.  If this proves too difficult, you’ll know you need to come back to it during another lesson.

Explaining procedures

After explaining this product, students will be better able to tackle explaining other procedures and applications.  Here are some ideas – I’m sure you have better ones;

  • Turning the computer on, accessing wi-fi
  • Setting up the games console (the Wii is a particularly good example)
  • Using e-mail or the intranet in their place of work
  • Using the photocopier
  • Starting the car
  • Making a purchase by internet

Be difficult, and make people give a blow-by-blow account in minute detail – I have one student who felt that this was an adequate explanation (bless him)

I turn the key.  Vroom vroom, the car she starts.

He is in his late teens, and that is the first English he has ever spoken under any circumstances.  I put the student in the classroom, and uh….uh…. the learning, he starts…

Additional material

Oxford University Press’ ‘Tech Talk Pre-intermediate’ is absolutely excellent as a textbook for this sort of thing.  Unit 17 in particular presents a list of verbs which may prove extremely useful (is supported, is lifted, is dipped/packed/turned/put/….)  If you know others, feel free to comment below.


About Catherine Kennedy

Second year undergrad (super-mature) at Sheffield Uni doing single honours Religion, Theology, and the Bible. (Formerly TEFL teacher in France)

2 comments on “Handwriting v. e-mail

  1. loxtonenglish

    Another great idea Catherine. I don’t know how you find the time to keep sending these out, as they’re always so well presented. This is indeed an intriguing invention. I thought perhaps you could use it as a way of authenticaticing emails (it must be from Mr Smith because it’s in his handwriting etc). Thiscould perhaps lead to a discussion on the safety and security aspects of using the internet. Also would having something like this that makes the whole experience more personal, encourage people who are maybe a little afraid of using PCs (I’m thinking of older people here) to use use it more?
    Keep up the good work!


    • Catherine Kennedy

      Thanks, Phil

      I’m not sure I can go along with the your thinking on security though. It seems to me that it just made handwriting hackable ….. I’ll never look at my valentines the same way again!

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