Thou shall not bore us with grammar


In 1951 British philosopher Bertrand Russell published in The New York Times Magazine his Ten Commandments of Teaching which outlined what he felt were the key responsibilities of the role. 

Whether you feel that these rules have any relevance to today’s ELT classroom or not they can serve as a great opener to a discussion on the role of the educator in general and what makes a good one. First introduce the idea of the list to your class and see if they can predict in pairs what the commandments might be about, using the key words below.

1. Feel certain

2. Conceal evidence

3. Discourage thinking

4. Opposition & authority

5. Others’ authority

6. Power & opinions

7. Eccentric opinions

8. Intelligent dissent vs. passive agreement

9. Inconvenient truths

10. Happiness in a fool’s paradise

Hand out to them Russell’s original commandments and get them to score their list on how many they predicted correctly the general message for. Next get them to put a tick and cross next to the ones they agree with and then discuss in pairs their opinions, seeing if they can agree on one final list together. If you’re feeling brave allow them to add a few of their own on what they expect from a teacher. Finally for homework turn their attention to their role; can they write the 10 commandments of being a student? To round things off show them this quick example of how it’s not done:


Continuing the theme of all things education you’ll find a host of complementary exercises on Macmillan English Campus:

Learning from lectures In this two-part English for Academic Purposes (EAP) listening activity you hear someone at a university talking about the best way to learn from lectures.

Teaching by example This news item is about the work of the Indonesia Teaching Foundation. The foundation recruits graduates and trains them to teach in remote areas, helping bring education to rural people.

Teachers In this listening activity you listen to two people talking about teachers they remember from school.

Learning English In this listening activity you listen to two English teachers talking about learning English in the future.

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