English and CEFR

The National Curriculum and teaching of English in the Swedish school system is adapted to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR). In Swedish it is referred to as Gemensam Europeisk referensram för språk (GERS). It can be discerned in the curriculum for English in Swedish grundskola and in Curriculum for the upper secondary school.

Swedish version / version suédoise : Gemensam europeisk referensram för språk : lärande, undervisningoch bedömning, Skolverket, 2007, ISBN : 978-91-85545-50-6, www.skolverket.se.

In Common European Framework of Reference for Languages ger Europarådet en översikt över språkfärdigheter i de sex nivåerna A1 – C2. Denna globala skala kan användas framför allt för att informera t.ex. föräldrar, beslutsfattare eller representanter för näringslivet (Den globala skalan).

Skolverket “Om ämnet Engelska” (p. 2)

The CEFR organises language proficiency in six levels, A1 to C2, which can be regrouped into three broad levels: Basic User, Independent User and Proficient User, and that can be further subdivided according to the needs of the local context. The levels are defined through ‘can-do’ descriptors. The levels did not suddenly appear from nowhere in 2001, but were a development over a period of time, as described below (from CEFR levels described).

These levels are described and delimited, as in Qualitative aspects of spoken language use.  The Swedish National Agency for Education clarifies how the European framework and national curricula are aligned in the dokument “Om ämnet Engelska“, where there is very clear figure (see above) illustrating the levels and alignment. Wikipedia has a clear description of the levels as well.

The education systems in the European Union are autonomous, but for languages there is the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, which comes into effect as well. in Swedish this becomes evident in the curricula but also in the construction of National Tests; see Relating Language Examinations to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR). A Manual.

Structuring your writing

Structure improves your writing. The function of structure and paragraphs  is to make a text clearer and easier to read and understand.

In this post there are some resources collected to help you with improving your writing. Links in the text below will take you to exercies and more extensive explanations when you feel a need for more help or information.

Click the image below to access the activity/exercise

Skillswise structure and paragraphs

All texts should have a clear beginning, a middle and an end, but there are many different types of text. Before you start writing an essay make sure you know which type of essay you are going to write.

You should also think about your audience. For whom are you writing? Format and style depend on what you write as well as on who you audience are.

“Structure, tone, style and adapting to your audience can help you create your own literary works”. Find out why they are important.

As a help you can use  TAP (T – text, A – audience, P – purpose)

Text refers to the type of text you are being asked to write: letter, magazine article, story, etc. T

Audience is who you are writing for. This may be teenagers, adults or even children.

Purpose refers to the point of the text and what it is aiming to do.

Now you should start planning your writing. (Instructions  on how to plan a text).


Resourses to improve your writing can be found at Bitesize and at Skillswise.

General Writing Outline

Please feel free to use the General Writing Outline.
The instruction is available online (click the embedded file to the left) where you can download the instruction in pdf-format.






The BFG (Part 1)

The BFG, working with the text

The BFG is the story of a girl called Sophie who meets the Big Friendly Giant. Although he looks scary he is a kind-hearted soul who is an outcast among the other giants  because he refuses to eat children.

We start by reading the first third of the book and work with words and expressions as well as text comprehension.

The BFG lessonplan

We read the following chapters: (25 minutes)

The Witching Hour, page 1,
Who? page 4
The Snatch, page 8,
The Cave, page 12,
The BFG, page 17.

Some questions to consider:

  • When Sophie looks out through the window at night how is the street described?
  • Read the description of the BFG on page 8 and 9. If you didn’t know that a giant was described, what would your impression be then?
  • Now we know that the giant is friendly. What signs would have told that before? In your answer state on what page those signs may be found.
  • The man-eating giants, how do they choose what kind of people to eat?

The complete worksheet can be found in pdf format below or just click the embedded file above to the right.

Worksheet: 1415297898_stock_save-pdfThe BFG_Work Sheet_illustrated_20160817

For more on Roald Dahl and The BFG

Roald Dahl- The BFG

The BFG (Part 2)

The BFG (Part 3)

The BFG (Part 4)

The BFG (Part 5)

The BFG (After reading the book)

The assignment has been constructed in collaboration with Marie Erenius Bergqvist (content)

The Tale of Desperaux – a lovely story for people of every age

The Tale of Desperaux“His ears are too big,” said his sister Merlot. “Those are the biggest ears I’ve ever seen.”

“Look,” said a brother named Furlough, “his eyes are open. Pa, his eyes are open. They shouldn’t be open.”

It is true. Despereaux’s eyes should not have been open. But they were. He was staring at the sun reflecting off his mother’s mirror. The light was shining onto the ceiling in an oval of brilliance, and he was smiling up at the sight.

“There’s something wrong with him,” said the father. “Leave him alone.”

. . .

“The last one,” said the father. “And he’ll be dead soon. He can’t live. Not with his eyes open like that.”

But, listener, he did live.

This is his story.

The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo. The book is presented as,

A tidy tale of mice and men that explores the “powerful, wonderful, and ridiculous” nature of love, hope, and forgiveness. It centers around a mouse named Despereaux who just doesn’t fit in with the other mice. He is born with his eyes opened. He sees a beautiful world that the others are blind to, and he is shunned because of it. He is able to hear music, and he is able to love creatures who are different. It is a beautiful little novel about having the courage to bring some light into the world. The Tale of Despereaux is an amazing novel for people of every age.

In her observations of the political machinations and follies of rodent and human societies, Kate DiCamillo reminds adult readers of George Orwell. But the unpredictable twists of plot, the fanciful characterizations, and the sweetness of tone are DiCamillo’s own. It is entertaining, heartening, and, above all, great fun.

ESL BITS makes books available both to read and listen to at two different speeds. This is a great resource for English learners as well as teachers.


Civil Rights…(Lesson 1)

Lesson plan Civil Rights in the English Speaking World

Civil Rights in the English Speaking World

The outline and lesson plans are constructed for lessons which are 60- 90 minutes long.  The instuctions can be downloaded as a pdf 1415297898_stock_save-pdfINSTRUCTIONS: Civil rights_Eng6_Lessonplan or read online.

Each lesson will also appear as a post here on this blog which links and embedded resources.




Lesson 1

I. Introduction to the work unit: written instructions are given out, explanations: requirements and time frame etc (see Outline above).
Martin Luther King Jr. - The Civil Rights Movement

II. Martin Luther King Jr. is a logical starting point for the project Civil Rights – in the English Speaking World. The teachers gives an introduction to the Black Civil Rights Movement in the USA.

A. Presentation Martin Luther King Jr.1415297898_stock_save-pdfMartin Luther King jr CC


B. On National Geographic’s web page you can find background and vocabulary useful for studying the issue.

C. a timeline is also useful,

D. and  Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech

    is easier to follow if you can also read the text as you listen.

E. For those who want to know more –  The King Center is a good place to start.

F. National Geographic also has more material for those who want to focus on other areas of civil rights.

G. Also see, Civil Rights Movement from History

III. Watch TEDTalk, Yoruba Richen: What the gay rights movement learned from the civil rights movement

You can also read the TEDBlog, What the LGBT movement learned from civil rights: Yoruba Richen at TED2014 http://blog.ted.com/what-the-lgbt-movement-learned-from-civil-rights-yoruba-richen-at-ted2014/

IV. After watching the film, together in class discuss Civil right in the USA and compare to the situation in your own country.

V. Introduce other areas of civil rights in the English speaking world.

  • The Stolen Children (Australia) and other indigenous populations
  • Women’s lib
  • War veterans
  • Religious groups
  • … suggestions from the students

VI. Students start looking for information and to decide their topic.

A document with a list of sources should be set up;

The teacher shows students how to use the Harvard generator referencing web sources. Just cut and paste your url (the text in you search window) and you will get a proper reference, which you then cut and paste into your reference list.

This first list are possible sources to work with such as: text, film, audio… (links), books, etc. This   list you should then continue to work with as you research your project.

Homework 1: As preparation for next lesson – choose one area of civil rights and start looking for information. Your choice should be set before next lesson. Turn in your chosen topic to your teacher and your list of sources so far. Name your document Civil Rights_references_class_your name.

Also see 1415297898_stock_save-pdfINSTRUCTIONS: Civil rights_Eng6_Lessonplan

Civil rights

Martin Luther King Jr. and Civil Rights
Civil Rights – a themed project in English 6
Civil Rights…(Lesson 2)


A little book with the most common words in English

The 100 most frequent words make up about 1/3 of everything written in English. The 300 most most frequent words are 2/3 of the written language. Learning to spell these words correctly is an effective way to filter out common mistakes both native and second language users often make.


Most Common Words in EnglishI have made a small illustrated book with the 100 most common words in English. The book is free to use and available in several formats.

To read on-line, click the embedded file to the left.

Or it you would rather download choose the pdf below.

1415297898_stock_save-pdf100 Most Common Words in English_HF

Creative Commons License This book is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The ton of bricks that crushed Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz stood up for freedom and fairness – and was hounded to his death from The Guardian Sunday 7 February 2015.

For students

The film begins with a quotation from Henry David Thoreau: “Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?”

Pause and think about what this means in the context of the film. Come back to this quote after watching the whole film.

Find out about:

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), Creative Commons licenses, Gatekeeper JSTOR, Net neutrality NSA, Patriot Act/Electronic Crimes Task Forces and Working Groups, Piracy, Remix culture RSS, SOPA Whistleblowers.

Note! Always check your sources and research organisations/writers.

Now consider these questions:

  • Who made the documentary? Why? (What is the purpose?)
  • What ideas/beleifs can you see in the content? Do you agree or not?
  • How might different people see this film differently?
  • Who and what is shown in a positive/negative light? Who and what is left out (not shown at all)? Why?

Also see the post Looking at Documentaries – Media Literacy


Read the Guerilla Open Access Manifesto – discuss.

More reading: Aaron Swartz news round up from the Guardian

For teachers

1415297898_stock_save-pdfThe internet’s own boy: the story of aaron swartz (Docs for Schools, Educational resource). “This guide has been designed to help teachers and students enrich their experience by providing support in the form of questions and activities. .”
Lesson Plan: Introducing Documentaries to Your Students (Grades 7-12)  from POV: documentaires with a point of view
Common Core Standards Writing Task Lesson: Aaron Swartz and the Free Culture Movement from the school improvement network

This post is a collection of digital material which can be used for learning and teaching

Learn to code – interactively and free


Why not give coding a try at Codeacademy?


You can also Try an Hour of Code with Khan Academy

And then you should have a look at Scratch.

Scratch is a programming language that makes it easy to create interactive art, stories, simulations, and games – and share those creations online. Imagine, program, and share at http://scratch.mit.edu. 

Scratch Overview from ScratchEd on Vimeo.

Video created by Michelle Chung and Karen Brennan of the ScratchEd team at Harvard University.
Visit ScratchEd at http://scratched.gse.harvard.edu and try Scratch at http://scratch.mit.edu

Music: “And It Spread” by The Avett Brothers

“The Walrus and the Carpenter” & Lewis Carroll

Poetry is an artform. It is different from ‘regular’ text, more condensed and “frequently rely for their effect on imagery, word association, and the musical qualities of the language used.” (poetry.org)

Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland. You can listen to Chapter 1 below.

The Walrus and the Carpenter” is a poem from the novel Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There.

 (The original extract from Alice in Wonderland (1951))


(Lewis Carroll ~ The Walrus and The Carpenter ~ poem with text)

This presentation [below] “of the beautifully ridiculous, ridiculously beautiful “The Walrus and the Carpenter” breaks the poem into each of its stanzas and sometimes into individual lines. Each stanza or line is accompanied by an image from National Geographic.”

NG Geostory_The Walrus and the Carpenter

Poetry FoundationMore poems by Lewis Carroll to be found at Poetry Foundation which is a good site for poetry; “The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience.

NG The Wonderland of Lewis CarollNational Geographic also has an article “The Wonderland of Lewis Caroll” available to read and view digitally. It is free but requires you to register. I recommend it!

This post is a collection of digital material which can be used for learning and teaching.

JF Kennedy: Who was he and why is he important?

When learning English as a second language you also learn about the English speaking world, which includes history and politics.

How much do you know about the Cold war period and the president JF Kennedy? Who was he and why is he important?

John F. Kennedy Assassination 1963 – Stock Footage Newsreel


NG Geostory JFK_imageMany English textbooks for ESL have texts or chapters on JFK where you can also learn about the time and the man. To learn more about JFK see:  A President and His Assassin from National Geograhic Education, where I recommend A President and His Assassin Geostory . (Unfortunately not embedded here. Follow the link below)


The short news item 50 Years later: The JFK Assasination from CNN.com is dated but still interesting because it shows something of his importance in American society still. You may also like 5 things you might not know about JFK’s assassination (also from CNN).

And Lee Harvey Oswald, who was he? There are many questions around the JFK assassination which are still unanswered.

Newsreel of Lee Harvey Oswald getting shot

Killing Kennedy is an interactive experience from National Geographic (click below)

Killing Kennedy _NG

This post is a collection of digital material which can be used for learning and teaching.