C1 – Synesthesia (guided listening)

This lesson plan combines two last weeks’ inspirations – a lesson on colours and a neurologist student. After extensive research on colour-themed topics, I found a perfect video which satisfied both of my criteria. I would like to present you with a C1 lesson plan on synesthesia – a neurological condition which pairs senses that usually aren’t experienced together.

Don’t you love that moment when a few of your 1:1 students share interests, allowing you to spend more time developing a perfect lesson plan and ultimately delivering an engaging class (more than once!)? This time all the stars aligned, and I could also finally prepare something for the blog.

This lesson is centred around a short TEDEd video titled What color is Tuesday? – Exploring synesthesia. Since the video is only about 3:45 minutes long, it could be either sent before the lesson and discussed in class or divided into shorter parts and watched during the lesson. This time I chose the second option as some of my students don’t have much spare time due to their busy personal and professional lives.

At the end of the post, you can find a presentation for the online lessons and a worksheet with the teacher’s notes suitable for printing out and sharing in class. Even though the lesson is designed while thinking about 1:1 students, it could be easily adapted to smaller groups.


Before revealing the topic of the lesson, show a list of six physical objects and ask students to discuss their colours, flavours, the way they feel and the sounds they make. Some of the answers are straightforward, for example, we all can describe the colour and the flavour of a banana, but we may struggle with the description of the sound it makes. Most people will associate the sound of a banana with eating and chewing. However, some of the answers may surprise you.

After this relatively challenging task, it’s time to step up the difficulty. Show a list of abstract nouns mixed with nouns which are perceived by people in different ways, for example, a school. Ask students to discuss the same questions as before about these words. Collect their answers and ask them to elaborate on the topic some more. Below you can find the list of all six items. How would you describe their colour, flavour, touch and sound?

Say that you are going to watch a video about a neurological condition called synesthesia. Elicit if students are familiar with this term. If yes, ask them to tell you something more about it. If not, then fear not – show the first part of the TEDEd video What color is Tuesday – Exploring synesthesia (0:00 – 0:47) and fill in the gaps with the missing words. These sentences will introduce students to the condition and give them a general overview of how common this condition actually is.


The second part of the video focuses on some terminology. Before listening to it (0:45 – 1:34), students work individually and match four words with their definitions (synesthesia, anesthesia, grapheme and phoneme). Some of these items may be known, but with a different meaning, for example, from linguistics.

Now that everyone is aware of the meaning and types of synesthesia, it’s time to talk about students’ opinions and understanding of this condition. Start the third part of the video with a short discussion about synesthesia and whether students believe that it’s a disorder. Can they imagine any advantages connected with having this condition? If yes, what kind of benefits people with synesthesia may have? Watch the next part of the video (1:35 – 2:10) and check if the students’ answers are similar to what they heard in the recording. Talk if students changed their beliefs after listening to this part of the video.

It’s time to finish the recording. Read three multiple-choice questions and watch the last part of the video (2:11 – 3:45). Discuss the answers and students’ reactions to them. Are they particularly surprised by the group of people that are most commonly affected by this condition? Ask if they can predict some other groups of people that could match this profile and could find this condition beneficial.


In the last part of the recording, the speaker said the following statement: Inwardly, we’re all synesthetes, outwardly unaware of the perceptual couplings happening all the time. Discuss the meaning of the words inwardly and outwardly. Using the examples from the video, talk about how true this statement is and if students believe that we are all synesthetes in some way.

Finish this lesson by discussing points about synesthesia which were not mentioned in the video, for example, how they remember people’s names and new words or if there are any drawbacks of being a synesthete. Provide students with speaking feedback and end the class.

Click the links below to get the presentation and the worksheet + the teacher’s notes to use with your students.

Do you know any other neurological conditions that are as interesting as synesthesia? Do you often mention such topics in your class?


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