Posted 26/6/10
Having your name misspelled is a fundamental part of learning a foreign language while living in a new country, especially when dealing with, or giving personal details over the phone. No matter how clearly I try to pronouncethe letters in Spanish, people invariably think that I am el Señor Kettye, Kidd-eye or even Kettle. Students that are learning English might have similar experiences. The video clip that is used for this lesson plan comes from the British comedy series, Fonejacker. The programme was broadcast on Chanel 4 and saw actor Kayvan Novak makes a series of prank telephone calls to members of the British public.
  • Language level: Beginner; Elementary (A1; A2)
  • Learner type: Teens; Adults; Business
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Activity: Role play; Listening
  • Topic: Telephones
  • Language: The alphabet
  • Materials: Video; Dialogue cards
Spelling your name pdf [downloaded 4214 times]

Lesson plan outline

  1. Revise pronunciation of the letter names of the alphabet.
  2. Tell students that they are going to hear a telephone conversation between a man and a woman. Ask students to identify where the woman is and why the man is calling.
  3. Let students see the clip until the point when the woman asks the man to spell his name (00:30).
  4. Let students compare ideas and replay the clip if necessary.
  5. Choose a random name (your own perhaps) and spell it for your students. Demonstrate the rise and falls (e.g. rise at the end of the first name, fall at the end of the last name). Drill pronunciation of this.
  6. Give out copies of the dialogue cards randomly to students (see sample below). Ask for 2 volunteers to act out the role play. Before they start, ask them to decide who is going to be the caller and who is going to be the receptionist.
  7. At the end of the dialogue, the student who is playing the part of the caller will have to spell his or her name. Use this as an opportunity to draw attention to elements of intonation that are important when spelling names, giving phone numbers or listing items verbally.
  8. Ask everyone to stand up and find a partner. Pairs should act out the dialogues and then swap roles. Pairs should then split up and find new partners. Everyone should write down the names of as many callers as possible in the spaces provided on their dialogue cards.
  9. Ask everyone to sit down. Ask individual students to spell the names of the specific callers and write these on the board.
  10. * Caller 1:            Takeru Kobayashi
    * Caller 2:            Adriana Dominguez
    * Caller 3:            Rory Gallagher
    * Caller 4:            Celina Jaiteley
    * Caller 5:            Arun Venkatesan
    * Caller 6:            Marju Raudsepp
    * Caller 7:            Michael Rasmussen
    * Caller 8:            Helena Papadopoulos
  11. Bring students back to the video clip. Ask them if they can guess what happens next before playing the entire clip from beginning to end.
  12. Ask students if they ever made prank phone calls as children.
  13. Give out copies of the NATO alphabet and invite students to spell their names using this ‘foolproof’ system.

Follow up

Ask your students to create a personalised version of the NATO alphabet for the classroom wall. This will come in useful for those awkward spelling moments. For example:

Posted 26/6/10

14 Responses to Spelling your name

  1. Hanna says:

    I just love this video :))))) and the lesson plan is also gr8
    Thank you so much

  2. Jamie Keddie says:

    Brian Bud-a-bung-bung is the best!
    Glad you like the lesson Hanna
    Jamie :-)

  3. Andrea says:

    Used your lesson plan today in my English Conversation lesson (2nd and 3rd form of secondary modern school) – was great fun. As a follow up I erased your given names and the students came up with new funny names – really good exercise to revise the alphabet! (They were allowed to use their mobile too!)

  4. Jamie Keddie says:

    What a great idea Andrea. So you asked students to look through their mobile phones to find the person they know with the most difficult surname to spell?
    Thanks for sharing

  5. Andrea says:

    Well this would be a nice idea too!!
    What my students did was that they “invented” a new, mostly unusual name, as well as names of filmstars etc. and wrote them down on their new worksheets. Then they mingled again. They used their mobile phones just to act out the dialogues – it was more fun for them.

  6. Jamie Keddie says:

    Ah – now I see. That makes sense. I bet it was fun with students making up silly names.
    Jamie :-)

  7. Barbara says:

    Very nicely organised lesson! Very exciting, too. I think my students will benefit greatly from your creativity. I know I have!

    Many many sincere thanx!

  8. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Barbara. Good luck with the activity.
    Jamie :-)

  9. Roxzy Lok says:

    Your lessons are beyond amazing! I can’t thank you enough Jamie:)

  10. Jamie Keddie says:

    Very nice to meet you Roxzy. Thank you for your comment.
    Jamie :-)

  11. Priya says:


    I’m interested in using this clip but I don’t have access to the internet in my classroom. Any idea where I could download the clip from?

    • Jamie Keddie says:

      Hello Priya
      I am sure the clip is on YouTube as well. I am on an iPad at the moment and can’t find it with you YouTube app. But I am sure it’s there – type Fone Jacker Art Gallery into YouTube and see hif you can get it that way. Then yo can download it. Or you could buy the Fonejacker series. It’s pretty good.
      Jamie :-)

  12. Maura says:

    Hi, Jamie!

    We met a few weeks ago at the British Council event in Vienna. I just wanted to say that I used this lesson last week to start out a review of telephone spelling for a customer care group I teach. They absolutely loved it and the caller cards were a great way to get all of them to interact and practice. It was a great start to a continuation of a course! Thanks!


  13. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thanks Maura
    Glad it worked – it took ages of googling time to choose the names!
    Jamie :)