The Gaudí Effect

 In Emotional Intelligence in ESL classrooms

Author of some of the most singular buildings of the time, Antonio Gaudí left behind old architectonic concepts with his revolutionary construction solutions inspired by nature. He was 52 years of age when he took on the commission of the renovation of the family home of an astonished and amazed Josep Batlló.


Embellish = to make something more beautiful or interesting by adding something to it


It was in Casa Batlló when I was admiring Gaudí’s masterpiece that this idea originated, which I like to share with my students, of comparing two pieces of work where one is a simple, plain, colorless item and the other one is an enhanced, embellished, creative work of art. So when their are preparing drafts for their speaking tasks they can visualise how their speech can grow richer by adding descriptive adjectives, linking words, idiomatic expressions, referential language, cleft sentences, and so on.







I invite students to practice this exercise that follows:

Think about how you could improve your text by adding extra details. Get small post-it notes of different colour with adjectives, adverbs, linking words/expressions, with significant events or relevant information you would like to include, and stick them like add-ons onto the draft copies of your texts. Whether these will be oral or written -as seen in some samples below. Move the post-it notes around, change them, remove them, add new, add two more or perhaps the text has gone overcrowded with add-ons and you need to go back to simplicity in this particular paragraph? Think of good closing statements that you can stick to your speech as a distinctive conclusion. Take it as a creative act of enjoyment.



Like Gaudí changed the original classical property into something imaginative and unique, we pursue incorporating imaginative ideas, reasons and opinions, etc, into our oral (or written) texts to make them simply unique.






For a forever successful group activity in class students can build up a story from scratch by adding elements to a given introductory line. For instance,   Andy and Liz had booked tickets for a musical on Sunday evening. Ask them to pay close attention to the details they are all introducing to develop the story so they don’t end up with an incoherent non-sensical text! Remind them that characters and plot are there for a reason and some connections that manage to close up the story nicely in the end need to be made.



Today I am providing links to IELTS tasks that students can visit in search for inspiring sample texts for their assignments, and learn by:



  • Distinguishing subtle differences of meaning to enhance their speech: «Describe your favourite sport».
  • Listening carefully to the prompt questions to make sure that they answer them fully and appropriately: «Describe a place you enjoy visiting».
  •  Planning their answer taking all criteria into consideration: «A visit to a friend that you must change».
  • Using clear signals when they move on from one prompt to the next: «Describe your favourite family tradition».
  • Taking care to spell words correctly and displaying a wide array of words related to a given topic: «Show (dis)agreement with the statement ‘Some people believe arts subjects such as literature and music have little importance in schools today’.»
  • Preparing some questions in advance: «Talk about your present or past job».
  • Extending and improving the accuracy of their vocabulary with useful tips.
  • Studying various topics to help express themselves precisely.



IELTS is an English language test for study, migration or work. Accepted by more than 11,000 employers, universities, schools and immigration bodies around the world.

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