Posted in Conversation Classes, Listening Classes, TED Talk Lesson Plans

TED Talk, Paul Root Wolpe: Bio-engineering

Image credit: www.ted.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a new TED talk lesson plan for higher levels (C1+) on the subject of bio-engineering and cloning. Thanks to my colleague Cliff Grossman for recommending this fascinating talk. You can download the materials below:

TED Bio-engineering – Student handout

TED Bio-engineering TEACHER NOTES

Procedure

You can either give students the handout and have them watch the talk and answer the comprehension questions for homework, or do it in class.

Then depending on class size students can ask and answer the discussion questions in small groups or in open class. The topic also lends itself well to debates on GM food, cloning and bioengineering.

Student Handout

Comprehension Questions

  1. What have been the three great stages of evolution?
  2. What are some of the animal hybrids he presents?
  3. What have scientists done with bioluminescent cells from jellyfish?
  4. What does he say about the differences in regulations on genetic modifications between the US and Europe?
  5. Name a few of the animals that have been successfully cloned.
  6. What have scientists managed to do with cockroaches and goliath beetles?
  7. What was so special about the monkey with the prosthetic arm?
  8. What was grown on a mouse’s back?
  9. What is Paul’s view on bio-engineering?
  10. What changes does he predict in the future?

Discussion Questions

  1. What did you think of the talk?
  2. Did you like his presenting style?
  3. What’s your opinion in the different experiments?
  4. Which ones do you find interesting?
  5. Which ones do you think go too far?
  6. What uses can you see for the different bio-engineered animals?
  7. How far do you think we should go?
  8. Should we clone humans?
  9. What problems do you foresee if we were to start cloning humans?
  10. Who should decide the limits of where science can go?
  11. Should people be able to design their own pets/children/bodies?

Language

Look at the language in bold. What do you think it means?

  1. By changing our environment, we put new pressures on our bodies to evolve. Whether it was through settling down in agricultural communities…
  2. So I want to take you through a kind of whirlwind tour of that
  3. Someday, perhaps pretty soon, you will have beefalo patties in your local supermarket.
  4. Dogs are the result of selectively breeding traits that we like.
  5. The scientists that made this cute little creature ended up slaughtering it and eating it afterwards.
  6. We had to do it the hard way in the old days by choosing offspring that looked a particular way and then breeding them.
  7. What are the ethical guidelines that we will use then?

Key

Comprehension Questions

    1. What have been the three great stages of evolution? 1st: Darwinian evolution 2nd: humans changing their environment by forming civilisation 3rd: Evolution by design (bio-engineering)
    2. What are some of the animal hybrids he presents? Liger, geep, zorse, beefalo, cama,
  • What have scientists done with bioluminescent cells from jellyfish? Made animals that glow in the dark

 

  1. What does he say about the differences in regulations on genetic modifications between the US and Europe? Regulations are much stricter in Europe
  2. Name a few of the animals that have been successfully cloned. Sheep, pigs, rats, cats, dogs, horses, wolves, cows.
  3. What have scientists managed to do with cockroaches and goliath beetles? Made them remoted-controlled
  4. What was so special about the monkey with the prosthetic arm? It learned to move its new prosthetic arm using just its brain signals meaning that it effectively has three independent arms.
  5. What was grown on a mouse’s back? A human ear
  6. What is Paul’s view on bio-engineering? He is worried about its implications and thinks we have to be very careful.
  7. What changes does he predict in the future? Human cloning and designer pets or even babies.

Discussion Questions

  1. What did you think of the talk?
  2. Did you like his presenting style?
  3. What’s your opinion in the different experiments?
  4. Which ones do you find interesting?
  5. Which ones do you think go too far?
  6. What uses can you see for the different bio-engineered animals?
  7. How far do you think we should go?
  8. Should we clone humans?
  9. What problems do you foresee if we were to start cloning humans?
  10. Who should decide the limits of where science can go?
  11. Should people be able to design their own pets/children/bodies?

Language

Look at the language in bold. What do you think it means?

  1. By changing our environment, we put new pressures on our bodies to evolve. Whether it was through settling down in agricultural communities… (to stop travelling and stay in one place to live)
  2. So I want to take you through a kind of whirlwind tour of that (a very quick tour seeing the most important places)
  3. Someday, perhaps pretty soon, you will have beefalo patties in your local supermarket. (hamburgers)
  4. Dogs are the result of selectively breeding traits that we like. (characteristics)
  5. The scientists that made this cute little creature ended up slaughtering it and eating it afterwards. (kill an animal for food)
  6. We had to do it the hard way in the old days by choosing offspring that looked a particular way and then breeding them. (biological term for children)
  7. What are the ethical guidelines that we will use then? (moral rules)
Posted in Conversation Classes, Listening Classes, TED Talk Lesson Plans, Video Classes

TED – Daniel Levitin: How to stay calm when you know you’ll be stressed

Image credit: http://www.ted.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a new TED talk lesson plan for C1+ students. You can either set the TED talk with the comprehension questions as homework or watch the talk in class as it’s only 12 minutes long. Download the handout and teacher’s notes below:

TED Daniel Levitin Stress sts handout

TED Daniel Levitin Stress Teacher notes

Student Handout

Language Focus

Discuss the meaning of the phrases in bold with your partner.

  1. I had just driven home,it was around midnight in the dead of Montreal winter.
  2. As I stood on the front porch fumbling in my pockets,I found I didn’t have my keys.
  3. It releases cortisol that raises your heart rate,it modulates adrenaline levels and it clouds your thinking.
  4. Now you might be thinkingI’ve pulled this number out of the air for shock value.
  5. So the idea of the pre-mortem is to think ahead of timeto the questions that you might be able to ask that will push the conversation forward. You don’t want to have to manufacture all of this on the spot.
  6. You might change your mind in the heat of the moment,but at least you’re practiced with this kind of thinking.
  7. So I’m not completely organized,but I see organization as a gradual process, and I’m getting there.

Comprehension Questions

  1. What happens in the anecdote Daniel tells at the start of the talk?
  2. What were the consequences of Daniels clouded thinking?
  3. What is the solution he comes up with?
  4. What are the two practical tips he gives for common problems?
  5. What are the two questions he recommends asking to a doctor before they prescribe you a drug?
  6. What was the historical advantage to the brain releasing cortisol in stressful situations?

Discussion Questions

  1. What did you think of the talk?
  2. Have you ever been in a similar situation to the one Daniel describes in his anecdote? What did you do?
  3. Have you ever forgotten a passport or boarding card when flying somewhere? What did you do?
  4. Are you an absent-minded person? What things do you lose/misplace? Where do you keep your keys/mobile/wallet at home?
  5. In what situations is it good idea to predict the possible problems that could occur?
  6. Are you good at making decisions under pressure?
  7. What do you think of what he says about the medical industry?
  8. Would you trade quality of life for a longer life?

Pre-mortem

What things could possibly go wrong in these situations, and how could you prepare for the problems?

A job interview Travelling by plane An important exam A first date
A wedding The first day at a new job A surprise party Climbing a mountain

Teacher’s notes

Language Focus

  1. In the dead of winter/night = in the middle of
  2. Fumble = to feel/do something clumsily/inefficiently
  3. Clouds your thinking = confuses/affects your thinking in a bad way
  4. Pull a number out of the air = invent a number in the moment of speaking
  5. For shock value = in order to cause shock
  6. On the spot = in the moment of speaking, also “to put someone on the spot” = force someone to answer a difficult question without preparation.
  7. In the heat of the moment = do something while stressed/angry/excited
  8. I’m getting there = I’m making progress

Comprehension questions

  1. He forgets his keys so has to smash the basement window to get into his house.
  2. He forgets his passport the next morning when he goes to the airport.
  3. To perform a “pre-mortem” evaluation of possible problems that could occur.
  4. Designate a place for commonly lost things: keys, wallet etc. Take a photo of things you might lose while travelling: credit card, passport, keys and save it to the cloud to make it easier to get them back.
  5. What is the number needed to treat? What are the side-effects?
  6. When faced with a predator it helped us to escape.
Posted in Listening Classes

CAE Listening Exam Technique

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This is a handout to help students tackle the four parts of the CAE listening paper. You can download it below. Do you have any other tips?

CAE Listening Technique

Part 1 – Short conversations – Multiple Choice

  • 3 short extracts. Short conversations between two people.
  • 2 questions per extract. 6 marks in total
  • Time in between extracts to read next two questions.
  • Read questions 1+2 – underline key words
  • Listen to extract 1 twice
  • Move onto questions 3+4 etc.

Part 2 – Sentence Completion

  • Sentence completion – complete sentence with word or short phrase
  • 8 questions, 8 marks
  • 45 seconds to read task – underline key words and make predictions about type of word (adjective, noun, verb) and possibilities (number? animal? place?)
  • Listen for first time – be careful for distractors:

Identify the distractors in this question:

Sentence: The subject Steven was teaching when he first read about the bath toys was ____________________.

Listening text: “So how did I get involved? I’m a college lecturer but not teaching anything like economics or even geography; media studies is my field.”

  • Confirm answer on second listening.
  • Numbers can be like this: 36 or like this: thirty-six
  • Check that word or phrase makes sense in the context of the sentence, Should it be plural? Does it need an article? (a/an/the)

Part 3 – Long Interview – Multiple Choice

  • 6 questions multiple choice
  • 6 marks in total
  • 70 seconds to read the task – 10 seconds per question, underline key words in questions and options, focus on phrases like “biggest benefit” or “most important.”
  • First listen try to answer each question or at least cross out any that aren’t possible
  • Confirm on second listen.

Part 4 – Two Task Matching

  • 5 extracts about same topic – short monologues.
  • Two tasks at same time – 10 marks in total.
  • 45 seconds to read task – first thing: underline the information for each task: reason why they did the course, consequences/benefits of doing the course.
  • Read options and attempt to memorise
  • Try to complete both tasks at the same time.
Posted in Conversation Classes, Listening Classes

Giving Advice: The Best Way to Quit Smoking

Image credit: tips.pk

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

I’m running the Barcelona Half-Marathon dressed as David Bowie to raise money for Cancer Research, sponsor me here:

https://www.justgiving.com/Timothy-Warre/

This is a lesson plan for B1+ students on the topic of quitting smoking in which students learn the language of asking for, giving, accepting and rejecting advice and using it in a role-play. I prepared and taught this class as part of my productive skills assignment for the DELTA at International House Barcelona.

Download all the materials below:

Giving Advice Problem Cards

Smoking TWarre Prod Skills – Powerpoint

TWarre prod skills listening comp qs – Listening questions

TWarre Prod Skills Procedure – Procedure/Teacher’s notes

TWarre prod skills sts handout – Student hand out

Audio File

Procedure:

Stage Time Focus Procedure Aim
Speaking  1 3 mins Closed pairs

 

 

 

OC

Sts ask and answer questions about smoking from 1st slide of powerpoint (pp)

 

Give opportunities for 1 or 2 sts to explain how they quit.

To engage top-down knowledge and personalise topic.

Lead in to pre-listening.

Pre-listening 5 mins Closed pairs

 

 

 

 

OC

 

 

 

 

Closed pairs

Sts brainstorm different ways to quit. Board any that are different to the 4 on slide 2: nicotine gum/patches, e-cigarettes, hypnosis.

 

 

Show 2nd slide, board pronunciation of cigarette, patches and hypnosis. Drill briefly.

/sɪɡə’ret/ /ˈpætʃɪz/ /hɪpˈnəʊsɪs/

 

Sts answer questions at bottom of 2nd slide.

To activate top-down knowledge further and pre-teach some vocab for listening.

 

To check and improve pronunciation.

 

 

Sts react to content.

Listening 5-10 mins Closed pairs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OC

Introduce characters and situation from listening with 3rd slide.

 

 

Give out listening comprehension handout. Sts listen and answer 3 questions from handout:

1.       What methods does Joanne recommend?

2.       What methods does Ian recommend?

3.       Which method does Katy decide to try?

Replay as needed, break into two parts if necessary.

 

Check answers across class.

 

Give out handout, sts listen again with tape script. “Any questions?”

To ground sts in the situation of the listening.

 

TAVI exercise to aid sts listening comprehension. Secondary aim: to introduce exponents of advice in context.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To clear up doubts.

Language focus 10 mins Closed pairs

 

 

 

 

 

 

OC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OC/closed pairs

Sts categorise the exponents listed on the handout by meaning. Elicit correct categories for first 2/3. Show slide 4 with first 3 in correct categories.

 

While sts do this board all exponents  in categories, add phonetic script for pronunciation focus:

Drill pronunciation of:

If I were you, I’d…

/ɪf ˈaɪ wə ju: aɪd/ Stress “I” and “you”

That’s a good idea

/ðæts ə ɡʊd aɪˈdɪə/ stress “that’s”

Why don’t you try

/waɪ dəʊnt jə traɪ/ notice weak “you” compared to in “If I were you”

 

Sts analyse grammar of components. Use 5th slide to give examples, then answers.

Focus on meaning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Focus on form: pronunciation, elements of connected speech.

 

 

 

 

Focus on form: grammar, verb patterns.

Speaking – controlled practice 1 2 mins Grps of 3 Sts use the transcript to practice the dialogue from listening.

 

Monitor and correct pronunciation.

Controlled practice of exponents without pressure of creating new sentences.
Writing + speaking controlled practice 2 5-10 mins OC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grps of 3

Sts write their own dialogue. Explain that we’ll do an example together on the board. Students don’t write anything yet.

 

Label one strong group of students A-C, choose strongest student to be A.

 

Give A a problem card.

 

Using cued dialogue on 6th slide model a dialogue on the board.

 

Sts create their own dialogues in the space on the handout. Monitor and correct written form, board vocabulary.

 

Sts read their dialogues.

Scaffolded controlled practice of exponents without performance pressure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spoken controlled practice.

Speaking controlled practice 3 10 mins Rotating groups of 3 A’s stand up and rotate to the next group. They explain their problem to the new group who give them advice. Less structured, A is now free to accept/reject advice.

 

Repeat until all A’s have spoken to all groups.

Less scaffolded controlled speaking practice.
Wrap-up 5 mins OC A’s tell class the best advice they received. Focus sts attention to emergent language. Sts respond to activity + develop fluency.

Student’s handout

Transcript

Katy: Hi guys, I need your help with a problem I’m having. I want to give up smoking but I’m finding it very difficult. What should I do?

Joanne: Well, if I were you, I’d try to stop smoking gradually. You know, smoke 10 cigarettes today, then 9 tomorrow, 8 the next day until you’ve stopped.

Katy: Hhmmm, I don’t think that’ll work. I tried it last year and it was too difficult.

Ian: I think you should buy an electronic cigarette. My girlfriend has one and she loves it!

Katy: I’m not sure. I think they’re bad for me too.

Joanne: Ok well, why don’t you try nicotine chewing gum or patches? My sister used them to give up.

Katy: Ok, that’s a good idea.

Ian: Or you could try hypnosis, my friend Sarah is a hypnotist, I could give you her number.

Katy: Hhmm, maybe not. I think I’ll try the nicotine chewing gum. Thanks for your advice guys.

Language

Put the expressions in bold (1-10) in the correct box (A-D)

  1. What should I do?
  2. If I were you, I’d try to stop smoking gradually.
  3. I don’t think that’ll work.
  4. I think you should buy an electronic cigarette.
  5. I’m not sure. I think they’re bad for me too.
  6. Why don’t you try nicotine chewing gum or patches?
  7. Ok, that’s a good idea.
  8. You could try
  9. Hhmm, maybe not. I think I’ll try the nicotine chewing gum.
  10. I recommend giving up gradually
A.      Asking for advice. B.      Giving advice. C.      Accepting advice. D.      Rejecting advice.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar

Look at the expressions in the language exercise, how does the grammar work?

  1. If I were you, I’d try to stop smoking gradually.

If I were you, I’d + BASE FORM (stop/go/have/buy etc.)

  1. I think you should buy an electronic cigarette.

I think you should + __________________________________

  1. Why don’t you try nicotine chewing gum or patches?

Why don’t you + _____________________________________

  1. You could try hypnosis/going to a hypnotist.

You could try + _________________________________________

  1. I recommend giving up gradually.

I recommend + _______________________________________

Now practice the dialogue in groups of 3, one person is Katy, one is Ian and one is Joanne.

Writing a new dialogue

Write a new dialogue with your group, you HAVE TO follow the structure below.

A: Hi guys, I need your help with a problem I’m having. (Explain problem)____________________________. What should I do?

B: Well, if I were you, I’d (gives advice) ____________________.

A: (rejects advice) ___________________________.

C: (gives advice) ___________________________.

A: (rejects advice) ____________________________.

B: Ok well, (gives advice) ___________________________.

A: (rejects advice) ____________________________.

C: (gives advice) ______________________________.

A: (accepts advice) __________________________. Thanks for your advice guys!

Posted in Listening Classes, Vocabulary Classes

Scared Stiff! – Fear and Horror Film Expressions

Image credit: metro.co.uk

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

I’m running the Barcelona Half-Marathon dressed as David Bowie to raise money for Cancer Research, sponsor me here:

https://www.justgiving.com/Timothy-Warre/

This is a lesson plan for higher level students (high B2+) in which students learn expressions related to fear and horror movies. It is a good companion activity my Chucky’s Participle Clauses lesson, I plan to teach the two activities in one 90 minute class. You will need the audio file and handouts below:

Scared Stiff Teacher notes

Scared Stiff Student Handout

Listening Audio File

Scared Stiff

Listening Comprehension

First check students understand “scared stiff” then tell them they are going to listen to a man talking about horror films. Dictate them these 5 questions, students write them down. Play the audio twice all the way through.

  1. What’s his opinion of gory films? He doesn’t find them frightening
  2. What types of gory scenes make him uncomfortable? Gory scenes involving eyes
  3. What types of horror films scare him the most? Psychological horror
  4. What sometimes happens while they are watching a horror film? The phone rings or the cat makes a noise, scaring them.
  5. What’s his girlfriend scared of? Spiders and anything that looks like a spider

Being a bit of a scaredy-cat I’m not really into horror films. But every now and then I like to sit down and watch one with my girlfriend. I’m not very squeamish so I don’t really find gory films very frightening but anything to do with eyes gives me the heebie-jeebies, so I find any scenes where people get the eyes cut or poked out really unsettling.

The films that really send shivers down my spine are psychological horror films, for me they’re far scarier than gory films. Maybe ones where some people are exploring a spooky house and there’s some creepy music playing, they really put me on edge because you don’t know when something is going to jump out and scare you half to death. Sometimes the scariest thing is when we’re watching a horror film and the house phone suddenly rings, or the cat makes a sound and we jump out of our skins with fright.

My girlfriend is slightly different to me. She’s petrified of spiders and anything that looks like a spider but they don’t really bother me. Once we watched a film about giant alien bugs and we had to switch it off because she was shaking like a leaf!

Students listen again and write down as many expressions as they can.

Language focus

Students look at the expressions in the box, find them in the text and try to deduce meaning from context.

1.       Scaredy-cat – a person who is easily frightened/scared of a lot of things

2.       Squeamish – a person who can’t deal with the sight of blood/gore

3.       Gory – a film with lots of blood and guts

4.       Gives me the heebie-jeebies – makes me feel uncomfortable/scared/disgusted

5.       Unsettling – makes you feel uncomfortable

6.       Sends shivers down my spine – a physical response to being scared

7.       Spooky – haunted, supernatural

8.       Creepy – discomforting, films can be creepy but people can too, a creepy guy etc.

9.       Put me on edge – makes me nervous

10.   Scare you half to death – scare a lot

11.   Jump out of your skin – gives you a big fright

12.   Petrified of – very scared of

13.   Shake like a leaf – physically trembling with fear

Memory gap-fill

Students turn the hand out over and try to remember the positions of all the expressions to complete the text. If they get stuck they can turn the paper over and look for one expression.

Analysis

Students look at the expressions and analyse them with the following questions to increase chance of retention.

  1. Is the meaning obvious from the words?
  2. Which ones exist in your own language?
  3. Which one is your favourite?
  4. Which one will be the easiest/most difficult to remember? Why?

Discussion

Students discuss the following questions with their partner using the expressions and the language in the box below. Students should be encouraged to use the “showing interest” expressions to actively listen to their partner.

Showing interest Personalising
Uh-huh.

That’s interesting/weird.

Oh, I see.

Right.

Totally/absolutely.

I see what you mean.

I’m exactly the same.

Uh-uh, not me.

No way!

You’re joking

For me personally,

Speaking personally,

From my point of view,

When it comes to (scary movies), I think…

Speaking of (scary movies), in my opinion…

I find (gory movies) really (terrifying)

 

(psychological horror movies) are much/far scarier than (gory movies)

  1. Are you a scaredy-cat?
  2. Are you squeamish? Do gory movies give you the heebie-jeebies?
  3. What type of movies put you on edge?
  4. What are you petrified of?
  5. Can you think of a scene in a film that made you jump out of your skin?
  6. What type of scenes/monsters send shivers down your spine?
  7. Which films left you shaking like a leaf?
  8. What scares you more, a spooky place or creepy music?
  9. What situations are unsettling in real life?
  10. Has a friend or family member ever made you jump out of your skin or scared you half to death?

Follow up

Students right a CAE style review of the scariest film they’ve ever seen, explaining why it was so scary and who they would recommend it to.

Posted in Listening Classes

Listening: I got double-scammed!

Image Credit: blogs.thisismoney.co.uk

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This is a listening lesson for high B1+. I designed this lesson for my DELTA receptive skills assessed class. It’s based around a listening text from Speak Out Upper-Intermediate (Pearson), in which a woman describes how she had her bag stolen while sitting in a café. I chose this text because this type of crime is an extremely common occurence here in Barcelona.

Below you can download the lesson procedure, students’ and teachers’ handout, an annotated version of the transcript and the listening file.

Lesson Procedure 

Lisas bad day student handout 

Lisas bad day Teacher’s copy

Audio file

annotated transcript lisa0001

The most important thing to bear in mind is that this is a class which focuses on developing students’ listening skills rather than simply testing their comprehension of a text so feel free to replay sections of the text as many times as it takes for them to get the message.

It’s important to follow the steps as laid out in the procedure. The pre-listening tasks, in which students make predictions about what will happen next, aid students in their comprehension as they are given the opportunity to apply their own knowledge and experience to the text.

After listening the language focus section on connected speech will help students to identify and decipher fast connetced speech, for example, the pronunciation of past modals “can’t/must/might have”. I’m currently working on my grammar assessment class in which I will come back to past modals of speculation. It should make a good follow-up class to this one so watch this space.