Oral Biographies Lesson Plan in an EFL Context

Participant Name: Mayara de Lima and Ticiane Rafaela de Andrade Moreno

Lesson Overview_____________________________________


This lesson helps students develop their speaking skills in the context of biography telling. Specific skills include talking about a person’s life in the past, sequencing ideas in a time and activating proper time expressions to organize the narrative structure of a biography.


This lesson is part of a bigger project related to biographies. It is required for this classes that written biographies had already been taught, specially with reading activities that activate the Simple Past Tense and time expressions. In this lesson, students are introduced to oral biographies and recall the vocabulary studied previously through listening and pair discussion. Teacher also scaffolds a production of an oral biography, focusing primarily in the narration of facts of a person’s life. And then, students work on the biographies chosen by them in pairs. In the continuity of the classes after this lesson plan is over, the main goal of this project is for students to present biographies of people who make historical contributions in a podcast or video format. This single lesson is planned for one class of 50 minutes, as it in the Brazilian context and there is an assessment in the end of the class.

Student Characteristics_________________________________

Student Group

The student group is in the 8th grade, age from 12 to 13.

Skill and Language Level

The proficiency level, based on Wida Performance Definitions, is level 1. This class is meant to Portuguese speakers (English as a Foreign Language - EFL) and approximately 35 students. However, it can be applied in other EFL contexts.

Curriculum Alignment with Learning Outcome(s)____________

Supported Outcomes

Students will learn how to tell stories of a person’s life based on meaning output production.

Student Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Organize orally a biography in a time order, telling a person’s life story
  • Make use orally of the appropriated form of the  target past actions recurrent in biography text genre;
  • Compose a biography that is sequenced in time and clear in meaning, making proper use of past and present events and time expressions.


Teaching Materials

Video recorded by the teacher telling Anne Frank’s biography, printed information about the listening[1] (put in order activity with excerpts of Anne Frank’s life), online/printed rubrics.

Download: Appendix_1.pptx

Student Materials

Mini notebook[2] (vocabulary chart about studied Simple Past verbs) and printed timelines[3] that were elaborated by the students in the previous classes.

Download: Appendix_2_5q8AA0I.docx

Download: Appendix_3.docx

Technology Requirements

Projector and speakers for low technological environment. If it is a high-resource context, teacher and students can elaborate their Timelines in Canva ou Prezi. They can also have an online classroom to post the audio records and teacher can send online feedback in a digital version of the rubrics, like Google Classroom or Moodle Platform.

Lesson Plan__________________________________________

Knowledge Check

(5-10 minutes)

1. The teacher asks the students to take the Timelines elaborated by themselves in the previous reading and linguistic classes.

2. As a preparation for the production of the oral biography text genre, students tell the biographies of the people in the Timeline in their mother tongue (Portuguese in the Brazilian context).


(5 min.)

1. The teacher briefly recalls the biography text genre characteristics studied previously in a conversation with the students.

2. The teacher reminds students that for the activities they will be going through in this lesson, they have to keep in mind the final product of this project which is producing a podcast or a video about someone’s life who make a contribution to society.

Guided Practice

(25 minutes)

1. The teacher presents a video (produced by them or from some other source) of Anne Frank’s biography and student watches it once to get familiar with it.

2. Teacher plays the video a second time and now while the students watch, they collaboratively put in order the printed information provided to the teacher in a Timeline format. The recommendation for this activity is that only topics of Anne Frank’s life should be provided, omitting the actions presented in her biography. The actions are the language focus for the next task.

3. Using now Anne Frank’s timeline in order, teacher invites the students to try to compose collectively her biography orally.

4. As it is a challenging activity, teacher scaffolds this activity in multiple ways. Teacher can present the information and instigate students to tell the story to the group in English. 

5. Because of their language proficiency, they might say the facts or part of the expressions in Portuguese. If this happens, teacher also scaffolds this process activating students knowledge about the vocabulary learned previously about the Simple Past verbs in the mini notebook with vocabulary charts elaborated by students in previous classes.

6. This time may be useful to reinforce structures, introduce some pronunciation learning, and make repetitions, if necessary. Also, the teacher can invite them to rephrase the sentences told as the teacher finds it necessary to elicit some language mistakes.

7. The teacher can build the text progressively, asking the students to tell others the life facts information and to revisit always when a new information is added the ones told before.

8. After that, the teacher plays the video a third time. Now, the students have to listen to it and to take note of the verbs in their mini notebook as well as the sentences provided in the listening activity. 

9. Teacher corrects the taks, calling attention to the video excerpts where the verbs appear and compare them with the ones chosen by the students to the collective composition made.

Independent Practice (or Student Production)

(10  minutes)

1. Teacher gives back their timelines and tell them now it’s time for them to share this information with a partner in English. Students can use their mini notebook to support the output production. They might have the rubrics in hands and give each other feedback, according to what is required of them for this class.

Closing Activity/Wrap-Up

(5 minutes)

1. They record their exposition to send to the teacher who will assess it in order to provide them feedback to the subsequent activities.


1. The teacher corrects the students productions, using the rubrics with the criteria related to the abilities developed in the classes so far. Besides, a feedback is sent to students with the purpose of improving their future oral biography compositions to reach the final product (biography podcast or video).

Extension and/or Differentiation

Students who have little or no difficulty can be paired with those that are struggling with their speech and listen to their audio. They could give them feedback about what they found that could be changed, or help with structures they know well. Also, they could be challenged to use more elaborated language, like connectors to organize their biographies coherently. Students who struggle with independent speech could be provided with a printed list with examples of ways they could share the informations in their bio.


Assessment Methods

The assessment method used for this particular lesson is a processual one which is connected to the entire project. As we have a composition in progress, students when directed to independent practice must be able to use the same rubrics that the teacher will use to evaluate them in the end of this lesson. The rubric is exemplified in the item below. The audio record is the assessment instrument, but it is not final. At the time that they produce the next compositions, students will have the opportunity to evolve till the final product.

Grading Criteria and/or Rubrics

Rubric Template

[Across: Performance]

[Below: Criteria]

Outstanding (100%)

Satisfactory (80%)

Incomplete (>60%)

Time Organization

Organize orally a biography in a time order, telling a person’s life story.

Put some life facts in the correct time order, but omit others or tell them in a non-logical way.

Tell few life facts in a time organization, but most of them are not sequenced properly.

Verbal Tense - Vocabulary Use

Use the proper form of regular and irregular verbs in the past form.

Sometimes use the verbs in the correct tense and with the proper vocabulary meaning, but other times confuses the tenses and/or the meaning in use. 

Rarely apply the verbal tenses appropriately and/or the vocabulary meaning.


Apply rudimentarily the syntax order of the English language.

Is aware of the syntax order of the English language, however apply very little of it.

Try to communicate the message in their mother tongue syntax and has little awareness of the syntax order of the English language.

Coherence - Meaning output

Share biographical information about important people in a meaningful way.

Comunicate biographical information, on the other hand is not so coherent.

Communicate some life facts information, but not in a clear way and is not possible to understand the entire message.

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