It's a Bird! It's a Plane!

There is a super hero in this world watching over ESL teachers in their hour of need. He is a brave man, selfless and true. His tireless efforts have saved many a lesson plan from the deadly sin of boredom. Who is this worthy hero, this warrior of ESL education?  

Super Hero
Super Hero

It's Rowan Atkinson.

Rowan Atkinson is an English actor and comedian. He is also popularly known as Mr. Bean. And he is an ESL teacher's dream come true.

Think about it. Who is Mr. Bean? He is a strange, rubber faced man who does very bizzare things in otherwise ordinary locations. He goes to the dentist to get a cavity filled and ends up stealing a kid's comic book and drilling his own teeth. He goes to the beach to take a swim and enjoy the sunshine and ends up having to figure out a way to change clothes in public. He goes to the amusement park and does various silly things. He cooks Christmas dinner for himself and his girlfriend and ends up getting a turkey stuck on his head.

If you happened to click on any of those Youtube links, you probably noticed a couple of very interesting facts:

  • Mr. Bean episodes have very little actual talking
  • He does everyday activities in the silliest manner possible.

It is this combination that makes him perfect for ESL education. The lack of language means that your students spend almost no time struggling to understand unfamiliar words. This allows a lot of freedom to construct questions and activities that are tailored to your students' proficiency level. Just type "Mr Bean ESL" into Google search and you'll see a ton of examples of teachers doing this very thing.

The fact that Mr. Bean's everyday activities always go wrong is a bonus. There's a whole skit where he does his normal morning routine (brushing teeth, changing clothes, etc.) while frantically driving down British motorways. First of all, its hilarious. Second, its a heck of a way to start a classroom discussion.

So all hail Mr. Bean. ESL teachers everywhere give you thanks.