Invention Presentations

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This is a lesson plan for pre-intermediate (A2) upwards. Students think of an invention and present it to the class. Download the powerpoint here:

Present an Invention

Put students into groups of 2-3 and show them the powerpoint. Tell them to think of an invention, there are some pictures in the first slide to give them some inspiration. Then give them 10 minutes to write and practice a presentation using the language on slide 2 and any other language they can think of. They must also think of a brand name and slogan.

Students then present their inventions to the rest of the class, who can decide, Dragon’s Den style, if they want to invest or not.

Reading: The Very Latest Inventions

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This is a reading and conversation lesson plan based on an article from the guardian about some of the latest inventions. Download the text below or read the full article here:

The latest inventions

Basically students need to identify the inventions by reading the first section of each text in which the inventor describes them. They will then reread in order to answer detail questions in pairs and respond to the text by answering discussion questions.

Here’s the key:

  1. The selfie-stick
  2. Emojis
  3. The cronut (a doughnut crossed with a croissant)

Read this inventor describing his invention and see if you can guess what it is.

I’ve been fascinated with photography since I was a kid. I used to develop my own prints and experimented with Polaroids and early video cameras.

In 2002 I took my daughter on holiday to Italy. I wanted photos of us together but if you take it yourself you always end up with a head off centre. In the end, we’d wait for a passer-by who looked savvy enough to use my digital camera, then explain what we wanted usually without a common language. Then we had to deal with people walking in front of us while the photo was being taken. I just thought: “There has to be an easier way.”

It took about 100 prototypes to get it right. Every pin, spring, lever and gear had to be up to the job. I wanted each one to last 20 years and be able to withstand use under the sea or in the heat of the Sahara.

  1. Why did he invent it?
  2. Why do you think they became so popular?
  3. What problems do you think the inventor has encountered since the product has taken off?

It wasn’t the first time someone had come up with the idea of sticking a camera on the end of a pole – the BBC claims to have unearthed a picture showing a couple using a selfie stick in the 1920s. Originally, I called it The Quik Pod Extendable Monopod – we only started using the term “selfie stick” when it became part of the lexicon. The first take-up happened in the extreme sport community – it was really popular with skiers, paragliders and divers.

Sales have grown every year since launch but one of the problems I’ve encountered is cheap, rip-off selfie sticks – it’s too time-consuming to go after any but the most blatant copycats.

But money was never my main motivation. I’m far more interested in creating a world where families have good pictures in which everyone is present. In earlier decades, one of the parents tended to be the “designated photographer” and was often all but invisible in their photo albums. Now, for the first time, everyone can always be present. CB

  1. What do you think of the invention?
  2. Do you agree with his justification?

Read the first paragraph, can you guess what the invention is?

It was the 1990s, and we were designing a new online language to use in text messages. Before mobile phones in Japan, we used to have pagers called Pocket Bells. They were cheap and really popular among young people, partly because they had a heart symbol. I knew that symbols absolutely had to be part of any texting service.

  1. How many do you think there are now?

The original emoji were black and white and very simple.
I drew inspiration from symbols used in weather forecasts. At first there were 200, for things like food, drink and feelings – including the heart, of course. Now there are over 1,000.

I didn’t think emoji would spread and become so popular internationally. When I’m introduced as the man who invented emoji, people are taken aback. Emoji is incredibly useful because it transcends language – sometimes a single emoji can say more than words.

  1. Where did he get the inspiration from?
  2. What do you think of the invention?

Read the first section. Can you guess the invention?

I started in kitchens when I was barely 16. My parents didn’t have much money but I found a cookery school. I spent some time in the military and then I worked for the French bakery Fauchon, and Daniel Bouloud in New York, before I opened my own bakery in Soho in 2011.

Someone pointed out that we didn’t have any kind of donut on the menu. I said OK, let’s try it. But I’m French, I don’t know about donuts. Let me work with a texture I grew up with – the croissant.

How do you think they became so popular?

The dough itself is not croissant dough, there’s a different ratio of ingredients. I wanted it to be light but I didn’t want to change the flavour. When I finally found the right balance, it had the perfect texture – the crunch on the outside, the flaky layers within. The team always tastes new recipes together. They said: “Yeah, it’s good. It should go on the menu.”

After that everything happened really fast. By chance, a blogger for Grub Street (New York magazine’s restaurant blog) came into the shop and tried the Cronut. He put it on the blog. Then he called me – overnight, there had been more than 140,000 links to his blog post. He said: “I think you should make a few more.”

The first day I made 30. The next, 45. By the third day we had more than 100 people queuing and the craze began. The line stretched back over four blocks. The enthusiasm is still as strong. Most days we have a line of between 100-180 people, no matter the weather. We serve them hot chocolate while they’re queuing.

I don’t take this success for granted. We have auctioned Cronuts to raise thousands for food banks and food charities here in New York.

I believe in creativity and in innovation. We’re always thinking about how we can impress, how we can touch people with food, so we never stop inventing. I get inspired by all kinds of things – by art, by painting. Recently I was looking at nail art on Instagram. The details, the colour, the mix of techniques are fascinating. Maybe someday I will glaze a cake and be reminded of those details.

Baking’s still pretty much the same wherever you go: bakeries are mostly French, Italian or German. It’s not like cooking, where you have chefs from all kinds of backgrounds fusing different foods. So this is just the beginning. There’s plenty of room to grow. RI

  1. How does he feel about his success?
  2. What other things inspire him?
  3. Are you a baker?
  4. Have you ever tried a cronut?

Speaking Topic: Could you…?

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This is a speaking topic designed for teenagers that could also be used with adults. It consists of hypothetical questions with “could you…?” for example: “could you live without your mobile?”

Put students in small groups (3/4) or you could make it an open class discussion. Download the powerpoint below.

Could you

TEFLtastic Blog

Just stumbled upon the TEFLtastic blog and it’s full of amazing materials. I’ve added it to my blogroll and I’m going to be using a lot of their great FCE speaking materials this year. Check it out.

Reading: Steak Causes Cancer – Argentina Reacts

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Credit to Jonathan Watts at the Guardian for the article.

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This is a reading and speaking lesson plan based around an article about the WHO’s recent revelation linking consumption of red meat to cancer for B2+. Download the student’s and teacher’s copy of the article below:

Argentines meat cancer article TEACHERS COPY

Argentines meat cancer article STUDENT’S COPY

Influenced by my wonderful DELTA tutors I’ve split the text up into sections. Before reading each section students make a prediction about what they’re about to read and then read to confirm their predictions. They then read again and complete comprehension questions that go into more detail.

Lesson structure:

  • Predict/speculate about section 1
  • Read to confirm
  • Read section 1 again and answer comprehension questions
  • Predict/speculate about section 2
  • Read to confirm
  • Read again, answer comprehension questions
  • Repeat

Give students ample time between sections and after finishing the article to respond and interact with the text.

  • Who do they agree with?
  • What’s their reaction to the text?
  • How important is meat in their culture?

The article:

Argentinians react to report linking meat to cancer.

  1. How do you think Argentinians reacted to the news?

As he prepared to order lunch in one of Buenos Aires’ many steak restaurants, Jorge Bacaloni declared himself unlikely to change his beef-centred diet despite the World Health Organisation’s conclusion that red meats are more carcinogenic than previously thought.

In a report published on Monday, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that red meat is “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

But in Argentina, which has one of the highest levels of meat consumption in the world, the study was met with scepticism.

“I’m aware of the health risks, but it’s part of our culture,” said Bacaloni, who estimates that he eats between a kilogram and 1.5kgs of meat each week.

  1. Do you think Jorge will change his ways because of the news?

Most of that is from cattle, putting Bacaloni around the average in Argentina, where consumption per capita was 59.4kg of beef in 2014.

As well as the pure pleasure of home grills and estraña dishes in beef houses, the lawyer said that it was a custom. “This is part of our history. Part of our life,” he says. “And at least cows in Argentina are raised on pastures rather than in sheds. It’s more natural.”

But he was more concerned for his family that the World Health Organisation had classified processed meat in the same cancer-risk category as cigarettes, alcohol and asbestos.

“I have a three-year-old son. We’ve been giving him sausage, but I’ll stop that,” he said. He too is adjusting his diet, though for different reasons. “I’ll have chicken today, but only because I’m on a diet.”

  1. What changes will he make?
  2. What reasons does he give for his scepticism?
  3. Why does he think Argentine beef is better than in other countries?


  1. Why do you think Argentines eat so much meat?

Fashion designer Marcela Duhalde laughs when she explains how often she eats steak. “l hate cooking so when I have to make food I always choose a T-bone steak and tomatoes because it’s easy and delicious. I have it maybe four or five times a week,” she says. “I ought to be huge.”

Raised on a farm, she says eating meat is a custom. “My family was very carnivorous. If we didn’t have meat, we didn’t consider it a meal.”

This is a common refrain. The first cattle were introduced by the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century and they soon became a feature on the pampas – the vast grasslands that stretch across much of the country – while their meat was an integral part of the gaucho “cowboy” culture.

  1. Why does Marcela eat meat so often?
  2. How often does she eat steak?
  3. Is this too often?


  1. Why do some people say that they could never be vegetarian?
  2. What effect do you think the WHO’s decision will have on people’s habits?

Duhalde says she is concerned about the agrochemicals, antibiotics, tainted cattle feed and the generally poor conditions that many cattle are kept in, but vegetarianism is not option. Nor it seems is cutting back.

“Everything I like is unhealthy – steak, alcohol, drugs and other things. I’d rather die than give it all up. I don’t have the energy to be happy without them.”

She didn’t expect the WHO decision to make much of an impact on Argentina’s love of steaks in the short term, but she thought it could make a difference in the distant future if the evidence mounted up and led to the same sort of health campaigns that are now common with tobacco.

“This makes us start thinking about the risks, but there is a big distance between thinking about things and actually changing our habits.”

  1. What things worry Marcela about meat production?
  2. Why could she never be a vegetarian?
  3. What’s her conclusion?
  4. What’s your opinion?

Follow up

Students write an essay examining the importance of meat in their culture and the effect they think the announcement will have.

Structuring a Paragraph

Image credit: Savvy in Second: Stoplight Paragraphs: Helping Structure Writing

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This is worksheet to help students structure their paragraphs correctly when writing formal essays. I prepared it with CAE students preparing for writing part 1 in mind. Download the handout below:

Paragraph Structure