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A database of selected, reviewed, tested, assessed and validated e-learning based language teaching sources addressed to Higher education students for the learning of 18 different European languages.

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8 traits of successful people - Richard St. John

Date of Publication

5 April 2013

Target Group


Domain Area

Business & Communication
International Relations

Learning Scenario

Classroom Context

Target Language


Language of Instruction


CEFR level


Type of Material


Linguistic Features





This video (Ted lesson) is easily accessible online as it is available on YouTube. It is a 7-minute video on the traits of successful people, with graphs and images making it more appealing to whoever is watching it. These Ted Lessons represent a very good example of (normally) short, straightforward and enlightening talks about a specific topic. Students can listen to the video and even read the subtitles and therefore improve their listening and reading skills. This resource can be used under the Task-based learning method: students are assigned different tasks based on the video.

Case study

This resource was implemented in an English language class (Advanced to Proficiency level) of 22 students studying Foreign Languages: English and Spanish (BA). The topic in focus was Money matters and the path to financial success. The main goal of the lesson was to expand and practise vocabulary related to the topics. Task-based learning (TBLT) was used, planning a series of sequential tasks that, centred on the video, aimed at the use of the words in writing. Students reacted really well to the video as it had a humorous tone and the graphs and images supporting the talk were also very engaging. Everyone paid close attention to it without being distracted with their mobile phones or laptops and adhered really well to the tasks proposed.


Warmer: T. elicits from students all the words/ideas that they associate with success. Ask students the following questions as a way to introduce the topic for the lesson. “What leads to success? “Is failure part of success?”, Words like “commitment, ambition, perseverance, luck, hard-work” were put forth by the students.
Step 1. Pre-watching the video task. T. asks students to write 3 or 4 traits need to achieve success?” Students write down some of the traits and then compare their own with the ones that are mentioned in the video.
Step 2- Watching the video: Sts watch the video and take note of the 8 traits of successful people”
Step 3: Sts compare the traits they wrote before watching the video with the ones mentioned in it. Common answers were found.
Step 4: T. writes the words “Success” and “failure” on the board forming two columns. Sts have to place words and phrases (either dictated by the T. or written on the board) that describe either success or failure (take off, flunk, bomb, go down a storm, go to pieces, breakthrough, lapse, on the rocks, out of your depth, go under, buoyant, come unstuck, flop, miss the boat, cut your losses, sail through, rest on your laurels).
Step 5: After categorizing words into success and failure, in pairs Sts choose one of these words or phrases and write down a sentence including the word chosen, deciding whether to write about success or failure.
Step 6: Then, still in pairs (or groups of 4), Sts select a phrase or word out of a set of strips of papers with this language written down. They will also be given 4 categories: “family, products, yourself, friends, companies”. Sts have to combine the category and the word/phrase in a short story that refers to both success and failure.
Step 7 (optional): Individually, sts write a short story using some of the words/phrases learnt/practised during the lesson.


Comprehensive approach
Capacity to match the needs of lecturers and students


Added value
The provided tangible improvements


Motivation enhancement
The capacity to motivate students to improve their language skills


Effectiveness in introducing innovative, creative and previously unknown approaches to LSP learning


Measurement of the transferable potential and possibility to be a source of further capitalisation/application for other language projects in different countries


Skills assessment and validation
Availability of appropriate tools for lecturers to monitor students’ progress and for students to assess own progress and to reflect on learning


Flexibility of the contents and possibilities for the LSP lecturers to adapt the contents to their and to students’ need


Assess the technical usability from the point of view of the lecturer and the student


Assess the accessibility from the point of view of the lecturer and the student


This resource matches the needs of both lecturers and students. It meets the students’ needs as they must develop their speaking and listening skills and, simultaneously, they can expand related vocabulary. Lecturers have access to a new resource for their lessons. Technically, it is very easy to use. Lecturers and students easily have access to the link and it also has the option of subtitling. Despite not being a not so new technique, the right use of video resources is still rather appealing to students, keeping them highly motivated. This one in particular is not very long, and, besides the talk by Richard St. John, the video is also supported by images and graphs which make it more engaging and less boring for students. Teachers can also easily adapt the video to different purposes or topics being explored in the lesson (e.g. “Money matters”, “Entrepreneurship”, Happiness and success, etc). Being adequately explored, this resource proves to be useful and meaningful for students.
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