Random ideas for ELT people, plus guest blogs & travel notes

About this site

Your humble blogger in an earlier life, performing the Fire Station sketch with the English Teaching Theatre

Your humble blogger in an earlier life, performing the Fire Station sketch with the English Teaching Theatre

28th March 2011 – Update

The original idea of this blog was to provide a place where I could give my sketches and songs away for free. They have all been published at some time or other and in some form or other and now – for some reason or other – they’re out of print. So they’re up here for free.

Since the 1970s, I’ve been involved in about 30 different ELT publishing projects, including ten series of coursebooks. If you count all the workbooks, teacher’s guides and other paraphernalia, it’s about 80 books – I really should sit down and try to work out the exact number.

Various of these publishing projects have involved songs and sketches. Almost all of the song and sketch material is now out of print.  I want to make as much of this material as I can available here to download free of charge. I wrote about 150 ELT songs and co-wrote (with Doug Case) 100 or so English Teaching Theatre sketches. Little by little, I’m making them available here via box.net,  plus some ideas for how to use them.

All of this completely free. I have got a lot out of this business and am trying to  give something back…

However, things never turn out the way you expect, of course, and the blogs themselves seem to have become of some interest. Plus, I’ve managed to maintain that interest by prevailing on some very clever and talented people to write guest blogs for me. At time of writing this, I’ve posted about 40 of them, and there are still more on the back burner.

It’s been a total joy to be involved in the blogosphere, and I hope everyone who comes here goes away, if not better informed, then at least a little bit entertained.

Comments on: "About this site" (43)

  1. lclandfield said:

    Hello Ken and welcome to the blogosphere!
    Look forward to getting my hands on some of the great songs and sketches. I think it’s a great thing you are doing here, and I wish you all the best.
    Good choice of wordpress by the way, I love their templates.
    See you!

  2. What a generous project! Thank you! (from a ‘Mister Monday’ fan, and an ‘English Teaching Theatre’ fan)

  3. Hi Ken

    Welcome to bloggerland! I am sure you are going to be a huge hit with your blog. I used to use your great songs and sketches when I first started teaching in 1979 and I can’t wait to see them again. Thank you for sharing them!
    Best of luck with your blogging. You will have great fun.


  4. Hi Ken!

    Loved your piece on Mister Monday! Does he still “work all day from nine to five and live alone in the city”, of has he shuffled off to pastures new? I remember when the songs were first released in the 70’s, and, together with the Strategies series, changed the face of ELT forever. When I realised it’s also the 40th anniversary of Abbey Road this year, I got caught in a time warp and went back to being 23 again!!! And in the words of the immortal song, “Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end/We’d sing and dance forever and a day/We’d live the life we choose/We’d fight and never lose/ Those were the days, oh yes those were the days”!

    Cheers from rainy Porto Alegre!


    PS My website exists, but there’s nothing on it yet.

  5. Dear Ken,
    this is a most generous gesture!
    My friend is married to a Dutchman and said she is not amazed anymore why the Dutch are well off. They have learned to give. Every week they are raising money for a good cause and people ARE GIVING. Literally, everybody gives a couple of euros.
    In Hungary we have a saying: “good deeds go around” I guess it’s like “one good turn deserves another”
    I love your sketches and using them in the classroom. Brilliant stuff!

  6. Alicia Afanasyeva said:

    A magical present!

  7. Hello Ken,
    Great blog – very generous and sincere information- I’ll definitely be reading your stuff. Love the pics and nice
    to keep in touch.

    Our website will be going through some major changes in 2009 with a blog too!

    BTW, we met in Cardiff through Karen Richardson, remember????

    Sunny greetings from Stuttgart!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thanks for your kind words, Gaby. Let me know when you start blogging. I’ve become more interested in read other people’s blogs since I started my own.

  8. Hi Ken,
    Love the blog. Is it still a labour of love? I’d be interested to hear how you feel about it next time we meet (IATEFL in Harrogate?). I have a few blogs and have varying feelings about them. The main one linked to the website has been rather neglected in the past months and the ones I keep going for my uni students do their job but are not very exciting; the one I have most fun writing (although it’s mostly photos) is our house blog http://kawezo-house.blogspot.com/. This one also gets the most visitors by far which in turn encourages me to update it regularly.
    BTW the funky snap shop thingy you’ve added is great!
    All very best wishes to you and yours,

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Hi Karen,

      well, yes it’s a labour of love in the sense that I’m not trying to make any money out of it, and also that I’m enjoying doing it. Will definitely see you in Harrogate, and will take a look at kawezo!

      Best, Ken

  9. Hello Ken,

    I love your website! Thank you for sharing the beautiful stories, pictures, and materials. Sometimes, I come across a wonderful post in my Google reader from you that I come here to comment on and it’s gone. At least it is saved I think on my Google reader. I share several of these posts on my Google reader with other Google followers! Thank you for the wonderful content.

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Oops! What did I delete? My ‘up-coming blogs’ post? I deleted that because I thought it would spur me on to actually writing them. Promise not to delete anything any more…

      • I was really looking forward to the drama post! Please say you will do this one! Also, the Clustermaps. I’m one of the Germany dots!

  10. Loved your piece on Mister Monday! Does he still “work all day from nine to five and live alone in the city”, or has he shuffled off to pastures new? I remember when the songs were first released in the 70′s, and, together with the Strategies series, changed the face of ELT forever. When I realised it’s also the 40th anniversary of Abbey Road this year, I got caught in a time warp and went back to being 23 again!!! And in the words of the immortal song, “Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end/We’d sing and dance forever and a day/We’d live the life we choose/We’d fight and never lose/ Those were the days, oh yes those were the days”!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thank you! Actually, talking of 40 years on … next April will be the 40th anniversary of the release of Mister Monday! Amazing what I was able to do as a nine-year-old 😛

  11. Some time ago you posted a black and white photograph of Tina Turner in your story about the best concerts you had attended.

    Would you happen to know who the photographer is?

    I would so appreciate your help.

    Thank you

  12. Hi there,

    Just want to sign up for email notifications. After so unfortunately missing out on meeting you in Sept, I look forward to possibly seeing you in Brazil! Thanks, Lia x

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Hi Lia,

      is there some automatic way that you get email notifications? Do tell me about it!

  13. You can have email notifications by leaving a comment and just underneath ” submit comment” you have two check boxes (I hope it’s the right word). You can choose to have notification of follow-up comments via email and/or notification of new posts via email, like I just did 🙂

    • Ken Wilson said:

      I love the fact there is always someone out there to help a cyber-klutz like me 😛

  14. Hi Ken,

    My name is Alastair Grant and I am the Teaching Development manager at International House San Isidro, working with Celia Walker.

    We’ve been doing a lot of work on teacher development this year, and over the last few months we have been developing a blog, detailing all of this work, including all the sessions we’ve been delivering both in-house and outside in the local community.

    Celia has asked me to send the blog to you, as we are very proud of what we are achieving and we wanted you to be one of the first to have a look at it. Please let me know what you think.

    Here’s the link: http://ihsanisidro.wordpress.com/

    Best wishes,

    P.S. – I’m a fellow devotee of Vicky Saumell and visited her school after reading about her on your blog and contacting Scott!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Hi Alistair – thanks for thinking of me when you started your blog.

      It looks fresh and interesting, and all your teachers will find it useful to see what others are doing.

      It looks like something that maybe the students at IH might want to visit, too. Do you have any plans for student content? And some kind of wiki that students visit and leave diary comments would be really interesting, too.

      Keep me posted about any new developments.

      • Hi Ken,

        Thanks so much for your reply – and yes we were thinking of doing exactly that, having some kind of student section of the blog – I think it’s something that most are sadly lacking!

        I’ll keep you posted.

        Thanks again,

  15. John Bloch said:

    Please subscribe me

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Is this the John Bloch I met on Long Island?

      There’s no subscription system here – just roll up any time. 😛

  16. ARNAUD said:

    Dear Ken ,

    Doug Case and you have been part of my teaching life for the last 15 years and there are lots of kids -here in Réunion Island – who could still give the cue to Superman , Foggings , Gloria and others . I ‘ve read that you had co-written about 100 sketches . Where are those we can’t find in the English Sketches Books n° 1 and 2 ? For many years , I’ve been waiting for a n°3 book for Advanced Students.Could you , please , give me some clue about how to unearth your hidden buried treasure ?


    • Ken Wilson said:

      Nathalie – that’s a very good question!

      The answer is that a lot of our sketches are sitting in files in the English Teaching Theatre archive (ie the shed at the end of my garden). There really are about a hundred out there, but some of them were so awful they never made it into the stage-show, or they did but were quickly dropped.

      However, not making it into our show doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth reviving for classroom use. So sometime soon (2012-13, depending on when my current writing commitments end), I will get out there to the shed and try to sort them out.

      One note – they probably won’t be advanced level – but there’s nothing to stop your students amending and adapting them using more complex language.

      Those of us who were lucky enough to visit Réunion Island have some marvellous memories.

  17. Alice Savage said:

    Hi Ken, I’d like to pose a question. Are grammar books getting to be kind of like SUVs? They are big and expensive, and much of the material in the “back seats” never gets used, at least here in the states. Is it time for a more fuel efficient model? And how can we keep levels 1, 2, and 3 from looking alike?

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Alice – welcome to my blog! 😛

      I like this analogy very much – would you like to expand on it and write a guest blog for me?

  18. Dear Ken,
    I have been using you ideas on Motivating the Unmotivated, and my students became so interested and sort of fascinated with the lives of Lincoln and Kennedy that the subject turned into project work, I designed a kind of bequest. One of my students did so much research that he found out the following info:
    Kennedy represented Massachusetts’s 11th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1947 to 1953 as a Democrat / In 1846, Lincoln was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Source: Wikipedia
    I guess this means the first similarity between them is not correct, or maybe we got the wrong info.
    Need your help, thanks in advance and thanks for sharing so many great ideas that empowers myself and beloved students .

  19. Hi Ken,

    I just found your blog and I must say I find it extremely entertaining and really enjoy reading it. It is refreshing to see someone who makes so many presentations actually be entertaining and understandable to everyone.

    Thank you!

  20. Deirdre Nicholas said:

    Hi Ken

    I went to the TESOL Arabia Conference a couple of weeks ago and was very impressed with both of your talks which I attended.

    However, I didn’t take notes on your talks as you promised to upload the content of your talks onto your website. Having hugely enjoyed them, I am very disappointed as I cannot find anything on the two talks I attended on your site. They were “Ten techniques for getting your learners to DO something” and “Is anybody listening?”.

    Could you please let me know where I can find these materials???

    With much appreciation…


  21. Vicki Hollett said:

    Ken, I can’t find a ‘contact’ button so I fear I might be going very public with this comment – gosh – perhaps you can delete it later for me? I’m giving a webinar about British and ‘merican for IATEFL this Saturday and I just wanted to ask your permission to tell the lovely anecdote you shared once about Dede replacing ‘Do you want to do the dishes’ with ‘I’ll let you do the dishes’ – like you were straining at the leash. Trust you won’t mind. Just ticking off permission request boxes.

  22. Mostafa Ekhtiyari said:

    I wanna make a blog to help my colleagues like u .How can I do so ?

    Best Wishes

  23. Hi Ken,

    I´d just like to say that one of my favourite ETT sketches of all time is “The Language School Sketch”. I have missed the fact this sketch was not part of the Commerial Publications by ETT, but thanks to your blog, I now have the script.

    When we produce this for our students, I hope I´ll be able to record it and send you a link on Youtube.


    Steve Barlow
    Cultura Inglesa Recife, Brazil

  24. Hi Ken. I was born in Argentina 57 yrs ago, and at the age of around 12 my father bought me “Mister Monday and other songs” one of the most brilliant recordings for children and teenagers striving to learn English through songs and music 40 years ago. Of course in those days there were not all the means we have today for teaching and learning foreign languages. I still have the LP record! To my surprise today I read that you wrote some other 100plus songs for learning English. Is there a way of getting your complete set of songs recordings? Thank you, for all you’ve done to let us know the new Koinè or lingua franca of the modern times.

  25. Kip Cates said:


    Hi from Japan! I’m the chair of JALT’s “Global Issues in Language Education” Special Interest Group (GILE SIG).

    Recently, I finally got around to checking out the great Facebook debate you ran last year on “Should we teach about global issues in the ELT classroom?”

    Would it be OK if I re-printed some of the great comments (by you and others) from this debate in our GILE Newsletter?

    I know a lot of our SIG members here in Japan would be really interested to learn about your ideas on this topic and read the thoughts of the teachers who contributed.

    Thanks in advance for considering this request. It would be great if you could give us permission to reprint. You can learn more about our group at .

    Kip Cates

    PS Thanks again for coming out to speak to our rural Tottori JALT chapter back in December 2013!

    • Hi Kip. Sorry not to have replied earlier. I don’t really use this blog any more, but you’re very welcome to re-use any material you find here.

      Best, Ken

  26. Thank you for your generosity and sharing. I have one problem. I can not see the box.net for downloading the materials you share.

    Thank you so much

    Houmam alfares

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