Posted in Advanced C1, Conversation Classes, Proficiency

Where do you Stand? Entertainment & Culture

Entertainment And Culture Icon Set High-Res Vector Graphic - Getty Images

This is another edition of my “Where do you Stand?” conversation series. Students debate different topics related to entertainment and culture but must rate the opinion on a scale from 1-6 before they begin the discussion.

The PowerPoint contains examples of language of opinion, agreement and disagreement designed with C1 students in mind. If you are teaching lower level students, you could just use the student handout. You can download a B2 phrase sheet here.

Here are the topics students discuss:

The book is always better than the film.

There are too many sequels and spin-off films these days. There aren’t many original stories.

The original version of a song is always the best.

Celebrities shouldn’t complain about being in the public eye. It’s part of the jobNetflix will kill the cinema.

You shouldn’t watch films on your phone. It ruins the experience.

Watching a film at the cinema is always better than at home.

Violent films and videogames should be banned.

Music, art and drama should be compulsory subjects at school.

Social media companies should be responsible for the content that users post on their platforms.

Children shouldn’t play with “violent” toys like guns and weapons.

Something is always lost when a text is translated.

Physical books will disappear one day.

Governments should be allowed to censor some elements of the media including books and films.

The benefits of social media platforms outweigh the negative aspects.

Sports involving animals (hunting, horse riding, bullfighting, etc.) are an important part of my culture and must be protected.

Watching too much television makes you stupid.

Posted in Conversation Classes

Conversation Topic: Kids & Parenthood

Preparing your finances for parenthood | Vanguard

A simple conversation activity I designed as a follow-up to my previous post entitled “A Weekend Off”. It can be used with B1+ students. Students discuss various topics related to parenthood, kids and growing up. Download the handout below:

Put students in pairs or small groups and have them discuss the questions. Pause regularly to feedback in open class. The activity should generate a lot of emergent language.

Student Handout

  • How does life change when you have kids?
  • How can other family members help with childcare?
  • What things do you think new parents miss about their old life?

What do you think are the biggest challenges for new parents?

  • Feeling unprepared for parenthood
  • Suffering from sleep deprivation
  • A loss/lack of intimacy
  • Changing dirty nappies/diapers
  • Picking kids up from kindergarten/nursery
  • Financial struggles

How is growing up different for:

  • The first child?
  • The middle child?
  • The baby?

What position were you in your family?

What are some stereotypes associated with the different positions among siblings?

What are the pros and cons of being an only child?

What do children learn from having siblings?

What do you think is the perfect number of children to have?

  • 1?
  • 2?
  • 3?
  • 4?
  • More?

What are the pros and cons of these stages of children’s lives?

  • Babies (0-1)
  • Toddlers (1-3)
  • Kids (3-10)
  • Pre-teens (10-12)
  • Teenagers (13-18)
  • Young adults (18-22)

What’s the most rewarding and most challenging aspect of each stage?

Posted in Advanced C1, Conversation Classes, Proficiency

Discussion: Where do you Stand? Animal Rights

Animal Rights Advocates | LinkedIn

This is a discussion topic for B2+ students on the topic of animal rights. Download the student handout and PowerPoint below:

The PowerPoint contains advanced language for expressing opinion, personalising the topic, agreeing and disagreeing. It was made with C1/C2 students in mind. If you’re teaching lower levels, the student handout may be more suitable, although I recommend supplementing it with a phrase sheet, perhaps try my FCE Speaking Phrases post.

Put students into small groups (3/4) or conduct the activity as an open class discussion. Before engaging in discussion on the topics, students must decide individually to what extent they agree or disagree with the given statement by circling one of the numbers from 1-6. The idea is that students will be more likely to take a stand and defend their point of view and less able to go along with the crowd if they’ve assigned their opinion a numerical value.

You could also introduce the phrase “to play devil’s advocate” and encourage students do it during the discussion. Another idea could be to assign a specific student from each group as the devil’s advocate for each topic, thus forcing them to come up with counter arguments to what their classmates are saying.

Here are the discussion topics:

  • Zoos have a positive impact on society.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • Big game hunting should be allowed the money from hunting licences should go towards conservation.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • Humans shouldn’t step in to save endangered species; nature should be allowed to take its course.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I see no problem with testing cosmetics on animals.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I see no problem with testing medicines on animals.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • People in the future will view the way we treat animals today as barbaric.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • It’s not a square meal without some meat.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I could go vegetarian.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I could go vegan.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I’m willing to cut down on meat for environmental reasons.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • Eating animals like dogs and cats shouldn’t be viewed as strange; we eat pigs, sheep and cows.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I would be able to tell the difference between real and synthetic meat.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • One day, all meat will be synthetic meat, grown in a laboratory.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • Factory farming is necessary in order to feed the populations.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • Eating meat is an important part of my culture.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • Sports involving animals (hunting, horse riding, bullfighting, etc.) are an important part of my culture and must be protected.
Strongly agree               1               2               3               4               5               6               Strongly disagree
  • I could kill and butcher and animal for food.
Posted in Conversation Classes

Conversation Topic: Everyday Sexism

everyday sexism

Credit: https://everydaysexism.com

This is a conversation lesson for higher-level adults and mature teenagers on the topic of everyday sexism. I have used extracts taken from the fantastic everyday sexism project website. Download the student handout, teacher’s notes, discussion language and powerpoint below:

Everyday Sexism Teacher notes

Everyday Sexism Student handout

Everyday Sexism

Collaborative Speaking Phrases

Teacher’s Notes

Vocabulary

Complete the table

Noun Adjective
Feminism (concept)

Feminist (person)

Feminist
Sexism (concept)

Sexist (person)

Sexist
Stereotype Stereotypical

Look at the vocabulary in bold and discuss the meaning with a partner

  • Talk over sb = to talk loudly at the same time as someone else
  • Talk down to sb = to talk to sb in a condescending way
  • Wolf-whistle at sb = whistle in a suggestive way
  • Catcall = make unwanted, inappropriate, suggestive comments
  • Leer at sb = to look at someone in an obviously sexual way
  • Grope sb = to grab someone in a sexual place, often unsolicited
  • Gender roles = stereotypical jobs/responsibilities
  • Mansplain = when a man explains something to a woman in a condescending, overconfident way.

Discussion

CAE Part 3 Practice

Give out the collaborative language handout and show students the first slide of the powerpoint. If you want to use it as exam practice have them discuss the questions for 2 minutes, then stop them and give them one more minute to answer the following question:

  • In which situation do women experience the most discrimination?

Repeat for 2nd slide then ask:

  • Which is the most effective way to combat sexism?

Sexism in Advertising

Show students the examples of sexist advertising, ask them:

  • Do you think the adverts are sexist? Why/why not?
  • Can you think of any other examples?

Accounts of Everyday Sexism

Have students read the accounts from https://everydaysexism.com and discuss them in pairs or small groups.

Alex

I opened the door for another student recently and didn’t think twice about it, until he said to me, “Oh no, ladies first.” A little taken aback, I told him “You don’t need to worry about that, it’s 2017, we’re past that.” “No we’re not,” he said, and held on to the door that I was already holding open and refused to walk through it. That’s not helpful or chivalrous. That’s just being difficult and wasting my time. Just say thank you and keep walking boys!

Oppressed White Male

‘Man up’ ‘grow a pair’ ‘act like a real man’…all comments that personally I have heard almost every female in my adult life say to or about men at some point or another.

Rarely acknowledged but just as offensive as being told to get back in the kitchen.

Joanne

On a cold and rainy morning having got up on my day off work, solely to walk my daughter to the bus stop. A stranger shouted at me to smile more. It’s a small incident but is another example of how some people feel it’s OK to police women’s presentation of themselves.

Ingrid

I was part of an all female group presenting a project within the architecture school at a very good German University. We were criticized – which is normal, and likely the work wasn’t brilliant – for some window details we had drawn that would have been very difficult to clean in real life. A valuable lesson. Until we were told that as women, we should know about cleaning… and perhaps we should focus on that instead of pursuing architecture.

Laura

My boyfriend is a doctor and I’m a medical student. So, one day, we were chatting at his parent’s house and I was saying that I was really interested in surgery and his father started laughing saying I am too small and petite to be a surgeon, while his mother started asking me who would take care of the children if I became a surgeon. I just let go and laughed it off, but I was really sorry to hear such nice people say those things.

Catcalling Videos

You can either show students the original “10 hours walking in NYC as a woman”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1XGPvbWn0A

Or show them the newer parody version in which a woman responds to the catcalling with funny comments:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35KqGNa1FGA

Ask students to recount their experience of catcalling and answer the questions on the handout.

Posted in Conversation Classes

Crime and Punishment: Conversation Topic

Image credit: www.theguardian.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a conversation topic for adults and teenagers on the subject of crime and punishment. Students discuss how safe they feel in their city, discuss the attraction of crime films and decide the correct punishment for some heinous (and not so heinous) crimes. Download everything below:

Crime and Punishment Lesson Plan

Crime and Punishment

crime film posters

Handout

Discussion

  1. Is your city a safe place to live? Why?
  2. Does your city have any dangerous areas? Where are they?
  3. Are you afraid to walk outside after dark? Why?
  4. Do you know anyone who has been robbed? If so, what happened?
  5. Have you ever been robbed? Have you ever had something stolen from you?
  6. Is it ever okay to break the law? If so, when?
  7. What are some things people can do to protect themselves from crime?
  8. What are some things that are legal but you personally think should be illegal?
  9. What are some things that are illegal but you personally think should be legal?
  10. What crimes have you heard about recently in the news?
  11. What do you think is the worst crime a person could commit? Why?
  12. What crimes do you think will increase in the future? Why?
  13. What crimes do you think will decrease in the future? Why?
  14. Does your country have the death penalty? If so, for what crimes can people receive the death penalty?
  15. Do you think the death penalty is a fair punishment? Why?
  16. Are there any reasonable alternatives to the death penalty? What?
  17. Why do people steal things?
  18. Have you ever had anything stolen from you?
  19. Have you ever stolen anything?

Brainstorm Crimes and punishments

https://www.englishclub.com/english-for-work/police-crime.htm

Glamourising Crime

Show pictures of crime films/books.

  • What happens in these films?
  • Why do we sympathise with the criminals?
  • What crimes are glamorous?
  • Can criminals be heroes?
  • What makes a villain a villain?

The punishment fits the crime

Students debate what punishments are appropriate for the crimes in the powerpoint.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Grammar Classes

Used to/would – Past habit and states

Photo credit: pinterest.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

Just a quick note…

Before you use these materials… We’ve created a new podcast aimed at B2+ level English students and teachers alike. You can listen for free at our SoundCloud page below. You can download teacher’s notes to accompany them from our Facebook page or from this blog. All comments and feedback welcome! Give us a like and a share 😉

https://soundcloud.com/2tspod


https://www.facebook.com/2tspodcast/

Used to/would – Past habit and states

This is a lesson plan for intermediate students to practice “used to” and “would” to talk about past habits and states using videos and conversation.

Download the lesson plan and student’s worksheet here:

Used to would lesson plan

Used to would students sheet

Used to

Warmer: 2 truths and a lie, write three sentences about yourself using “used to”, 2 true and 1 lie. Try to write 2 with state verbs and 1 with an action verb like this:

  1. I used to have shoulder length hair.
  2. I used to dance ballet when I was a child.
  3. I used to be a builder before I was a teacher.

What does used to mean here?

A past state or habit which is not true now.

What are the negative and interrogative forms?

I used to dance ballet.

I didn’t use to dance ballet.

Did you use to dance ballet?

Drill pronunciation: weak “to” in “used to” and the “ed” in “used” is not pronounced.

Remember: Used to only exists in the past, to talk about present habit we use the present simple with adverbs of frequency.

I usually/normally/tend to go to the gym twice a week.

Would

“Would” can replace “used to” in one of the three sentences at the top of the page with exactly the same meaning. In which sentence is would possible?

  1. I would/used to dance ballet when I was a child.

We can use “would” with the same meaning as “used to” only when we’re talking about past actions or habits not when we’re talking about states.

When I was at uni I would/used to get up at 11am. (get up = action/habit)

When I was a child I would/used to have blonde hair. (have = state)

Look at the following sentences, decide if we can only use “used to” or if “would” is also possible.

  1. When I lived in Japan I would/used to eat sushi every day.
  2. When I was at school we used to/would play hopscotch in the playground.
  3. When I was a kid I didn’t use to/wouldn’t like olives.
  4. My dad used to/would have a big green land rover.
  5. He used to/would drive it through the forest on bumpy tracks.
  6. When I was a teenager I used to/would love heavy metal music, now it’s too loud for me.

Videos

Watch the video and make sentences about it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEZUQxQ51Ak

Arnold used to be a bodybuilder. He would lift weights all day. He used to be the governor of California.

Discussion

  1. What games did you use to play when you were a child?
  2. Where did you use to go on holiday?
  3. Are there any foods or drinks that you used to hate when you were young that you like now?
  4. What did you use to look like when you were a teenager?
  5. What hairstyle did you use to have?
  6. What clothes did you use to have?
  7. Were you badly behaved at school? What bad things did you use to do?
  8. What did you use to do at the weekends?
  9. What did you use to do at Christmas?
  10. How has the place where you grew up changed in your lifetime?

There used to be a (park/playground etc.)

Follow up:

Students write a composition detailing all of the things that they used to do when they were younger and explaining why they don’t do them anymore.

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

TED Talk: Daniel Kish, How I use sonar to navigate the world

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

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a conversation lesson plan for higher levels (B2+) based on Daniel Kish’s TED talk “How I use sonar to navigate the world”.

You can either watch the video in class or set it as homework. I have included a copy of the transcript which some students may find useful. You can download the lesson plan below:

TED Talk Daniel Kish Lesson Plan

Daniel Kish TED (transcript)

Introduction Questions

What do you call a person who can’t see?

What would it be like to be blind?

How do you feel when you see a blind person in the street?

Are there any advantages to be being blind?

Think of some things that blind people can and can’t do.

How do blind people navigate the world?

What do you think would be the most difficult thing for a blind person to do?

Show the video.

Discussion Questions

What was your initial reaction to the video?

What did you think when you first saw Daniel?

What did he say about the way in which people treat and react to blind people in society?

What’s his message?

Describe how he navigates the world.

What does he call this system?

Do you think you could use flash sonar?

Do you think you have good eyesight/a good sense of smell etc.?

  • sight/vision
  • smell
  • taste
  • touch
  • hearing

With a partner try to put your senses in order of importance. (This should spark off a lively debate)

Try and come up with a definitive order as a class.

If you had to lose one of your senses, which would you choose and why?

Debate

Divide the class into 5 groups and write the 5 senses on small pieces of paper. Each group picks a piece of paper, they then have to explain why the sense they have picked is the most important. Give them a few minutes to think of some arguments and every day situations to back them up.

Follow up activity

Students write a CAE/CPE report/proposal detailing ways in which a school or public space could be adapted for blind people. Alternatively, you could set an essay based on the TED talk evaluating Daniel Kish’s upbringing compared to more conventional parenting styles for blind/disabled children.

Posted in Conversation Classes

School: Conversation Topic

Image credit: old-fashioned-school-room.jpg By Robert Weissberg

http://www.mindingthecampus.org/tag/charles-murray/

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a conversation exercise for adult students (A2+) in which they talk about and compare their experiences at school. I have prepared this activity as a follow up to studying comparatives and superlatives so encourage students to compare their schools and personal experiences: Your school was stricter than mine.

Download the handout here:

School Conversation

Useful language:

We had to…

We weren’t allowed to…

We couldn’t…

We didn’t have to… (it wasn’t necessary)

(noun/gerund)… was compulsory

(noun/gerund)… was prohibited

Discussion questions

Put students into groups of 2-4 and have them discuss the questions and then feedback/report what they’ve learnt from their classmates to the rest of the class. For small groups conduct the discussion as a class.

  1. Where did you go to school?
  2. Can you describe your school?
  3. Did you have to wear a uniform? If so, what did it consist of?
  4. What time did you have to start school?
  5. What were the rules at your school?
  • We had to…
  • We weren’t allowed to…
  • We couldn’t…
  • (noun/gerund)… was compulsory
  • (noun/gerund)… was prohibited/against the rules.
  1. Did you eat lunch at school?
  2. Who was the best teacher you had at school? Why?
  3. Who was the strictest teacher you had at school?
  4. What was your favourite subject?
  5. What was your least favourite subject?
  6. Describe a typical day at your school.
  7. What facilities did your school have? (gymnasium, swimming pool etc.)
  8. Have you been to your school recently? How much has it changed?
  9. Would you send your children to the same school?
  10. What things have changed for the better?
  11. What things have changed for the worse?
  12. Who was your best friend at school?
  13. Are you still friends with them now?
  14. Do you think school is easier or more difficult nowadays? Why?

Homework: Write an essay comparing and contrasting modern schools to schools in the past. Or a “day in the life” description of your school experience.