A few of my favourite things


This week we have a post from long term HUP volunteer, Madeeha Manzur. Madeeha is a teacher in a primary school in Rawalpindi, Pakistan and every week she connects to a class of children in a school in Nablus, Palestine. But unlike most of our volunteers who tell stories or teach English by interacting themselves with the children in Palestine, Madeeha does it slightly differently by enabling the children she works with in Pakistan to do so. I think she’s doing a wonderful job and you can see by the faces of the children in the pictures that they are all getting a lot out of the experience. Over to you Madeeha…


Having altogether different mother tongues can give rise to a lot of confusion while communicating but these limitations can be used to the advantage of language learners with limited vocabulary. All they need is a topic they feel motivated about. Children love to talk about their favourite belongings. They also feel curious to know what others find favourite and why. Hence “Favourite Belongings” can be an excellent choice for a speaking lesson topic.


favourite 4

In multilingual classes where English is the only common language, students have no other choice but to negotiate the meanings of unfamiliar words and they can learn a lot from this experience.

In a recent class while connecting my classroom with Palestinian students. I made small teams and challenged students to find out as much information as possible about the favourite belongings of the students on the other side of the computer. Here’s how the negotiation happened:


Student 1: What’s your favourite belonging?

Student 2: It’s this watch.

Student1: It’s beautiful. Who gave it to you?

Student 2: My…umm…my Khala

Student 1: Who’s khala?

Student2: She is my mother’s sister.

Student 1: Oh! Aunt you mean.

Student 2: Yes! Yes!

favourite 6


This is an excellent activity to provide opportunities for language exposure, language activation and critical thinking. Here’s an extract of another conversation that went something like this:

Student 1: My favourite thing is this fidget spinner. It glows in the dark and it spins.

Student 2: Tell me again please. What does it do?

Student 1: When I turn all lights off, it glows in the dark. It becomes bright.

Student 2: Does it have a light?

Student 1: No. It has no light. It just glows. Wait I’ll show you. (Student turns off all lights and holds the glowing spinner at some distance from the computer)

They later spoke about how the spinner spins, the bearings present in the centre, how it can be dismantled and reassembled again and it’s different varieties present in the market.

Since students are writing down the information, they sometimes even ask for spellings.







11 thoughts on “A few of my favourite things

  1. Hi Madeeha! I think you’re talking about the ‘Show and Tell’ activity where students bring their favourite items into the classroom and tell a few lines about them. The interesting part about this is that students prepare for the activity. In other words, they organize their ideas and thoughts about the object (topic) they’re going to talk about which is really important to encourage students to express themselves clearly and share their thoughts confidently.

    The question is how to encourage all students to participate? Shyness is one of the challenges that may hold the students back.


    1. Hi Amal,
      Exactly! You’re right! It is the same thing, just that the learners don’t have the same first languages as they do in our normal classrooms. They are left to NEGOTIATE the meanings of unfamiliar words which leads them to a great deal of learning. It’s a great activity for learners from different cultures since they have a lot to share and feel curious about.
      I like your question. My answer would be COMPETITION and COLLABOATION. I love planning pair work and small group activities especially for my online lessons because the results are always good. I usually set small competitions, demo once or twice and Voila! Students take very less time to overcome their shyness. I only keep my fingers crossed for a high-speed internet connection.
      Lots of Love,


    2. Thanks for your comment Amal. One of the things that I’ve noticed about my own children doing ‘Show and tell’ at school in their first language is that they didn’t seem to worry about it in the same way that they worried about other kinds of homework. Of course finding something themselves that they want to talk about and preparing to talk about it should be more motivating than doing a kind of homework where you have to do exactly what the teacher wants you to do. I also think that students are generally quite interested in what other children are saying when they are talking about their favourite things, as Madeeha says. I guess asking everyone to think of a question to ask to the speakers is a way to ensure involvement from everyone, but then there is also the danger that the activity becomes too controlled like this.


  2. Thanks Madeeha and Nick for this chance .You really helped students a lot to break their phobia of speaking English.My students loved this session very much . Hope we can continue with more and more activities .


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