When things don't turn out as planned_an EFL conversation class

Disappointments and talking about unsuccessful attempts are topics which tend to be avoided in EFL classes, however, students definitely need this kind of language, expressions and vocabulary.

Disappointments and talking about unsuccessful attempts are topics which tend to be avoided in EFL classes, however, students definitely need this kind of language, expressions and vocabulary. A pint of humour from the sitcoms chosen add the element of fun so that the light, learning-promoting atmosphere of an English class can be there. Sitcoms are also a rich source of current colloquial expressions and slang, which should be noticed and highlighted every chance we can.

Recurrent topics in ELT classes have to do with describing what happened, plans for the future, possibilities, among others. There is a tendency to keep on the positive, predictable, routine-bound side of things. Very often in life the fact is that things turn out differently. Some disappointments may come up but keep in mind that a turn of events can eventually be a blessing in disguise.

This lesson plan aims to prepare students to be better able to explaing when things don't /didn't go as planned.

Level: Intermediate, Upper Intermediate

Profile: adults

Warmer (pair work)

Do you usually travel on your own or with your family?

 How often is that?

How long beforehand do you start making arrangements for your trip?

Where was your last trip to? Would you say it was a blast or a flop? Why?

(You can either dictate the questions or have them on the board. Personally, I prefer the former for there is also a listening focus and students have to pay more attention to the task)

Open question to the whole group

When deciding to spend a weekend away, what do people usually expect when it comes to:


Students brainstorm ideas

Typical Expectations:          

Good weather

Good travelling conditions in the road, airports

Having some money to spend, managing the money wisely

Staying in a nice hotel

What about things that can go wrong in a trip?

Elicit the opposite of those items above (what can go wrong) 

Having inclement, awful weather

jammed roads, delays in airports

running out of money too soon

bad service in the hotel

staying in a bad neighbourhood

Social perception via entertainment media

The two American sitcoms: The big bang theory and The nanny can guarantee good laughs and the chance to work with intonation, pronunciation and the element of humour even when things are not of one’s content. There is still the clear focus of dealing with the fact that things can turn out different from the plan.

·Video The big bang theory   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLuxX4LZ5Fw

Comprehension questions

How does Sheldon describe the weather?   GRACING COLD, INVIGORATING COLD,

What does the stranger ask him ? HELP WITH YOUR BAG, SIR?

When Sheldon realises what has just happened, what does he decide to do ? BUY A TICKET BACK TO PASADENA,CA

What goes terribly wrong for Sheldon? HE IS ROBBED AS SOON AS HE ARRIVES.

Emergent colloquial language from this passage:


·Video The Nanny https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BozIag-ueYc

 counter 6:20-8:50

Comprehension questions

What is the weather like? SNOWY AND FREEZING

Why do they stop? TO USE THE BATHROOM

Why are the airports closed ? IT’S THE WORST BLIZZARD IN 30 YEARS

What does the lady offer them? A TONGUE

While waiting what are they doing ? Watching the "Wheel of fortune"    

counter 10:21 - 11:37

counter 20:59 - 22:27

Emergent colloquial language from this passage:

All the airports and bridges are closed. You mean you haven`t heard?

You're telling me we're actually stuck here?

No swimming in the ocean two hours after eating tongue

And you should put on some sunblock

Can we come back next year for our vacation? Yes, we are having a good time, aren't we?

That's because we're all together! Who needs the Caribbean anyway?

The roads are clear, the airport is open! Alright kids, pack it up. We're out of this dump!



Video : The Nanny (Hurricane Fran)   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUmDWxyILPY

counter 7:37 - 8:58

This breeze is just fabulous!

A terrible hurricane is gonna hit the island where Fran is

Her mother is worried sick

counter 15:33 - 16:15     

She decides to call the family at home to let them know she is ok.

Did Mr Sheffield give you the phone? Gave, fell in my purse... who remembers?

2nd problem The roof is gonna give in.

counter 17:10 - 17:39

I'm never coming to this place again!

Wrapping up

Recap with students what went wrong in the passages they watched

_    Sharing experiences

What was your worst weekend / trip?

Where did you go?

How long did you stay there?

Why do you consider this to be your worst weekend or trip so far ?


“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

Photo by @ukelt | Image 'The Weird weekend' supplied by ELTPics

Some rights reserved

Average: 4 (2 votes)

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