Posted in 2Ts in a Pod: Podcast, Advanced C1, Conversation Classes, Proficiency, Vocabulary Classes

B2+ Conversation Topic: Pet Peeves & Bugbears

Pet Peeves - RunEatSnap

This is a conversation topic for B2+ students in which they discuss things that annoy them. First they study some expressions related to annoyance and anger, then put them to use in a discussion about different annoying habits. Download the student handout, key and Powerpoint below:

Warmer

Start by writing “Pet hates/peeves & Bugbears” on the board and give examples of some of your personal pet peeves using some of the expressions from the student handout.

Vocabulary Focus

Give out the handout and have students complete the expressions. Check answers in open class.

Instruct students to cover the handout, then show the first slide from the Powerpoint, students now need to remember the expressions using the words from the exercises on the handout:

STAND – I can’t stand it when…

The sentences are animated on the Powerpoint so you can reveal them one at a time.

Repeat for the expressions about anger.

Discussion

Put students in pairs or groups of three.

Go through the slides on the Powerpoint showing different annoying habits and behaviours.

For each slide encourage students to discuss their feelings about the topic and also think of a specific time in their lives when they’ve witnessed such behaviour, and how they reacted. If they can’t think of a specific time, encourage them to speculate about how they would react: “If I saw someone throwing litter out of a car window, I would lose my rag!”

Encourage students to share their opinions and experiences in open class.

Wrap up the activity by having students write a definitive list of 3 pet peeves/bugbears that they have.

For adult students or groups that you know well, you may want to teach slightly more explicit versions of the expressions:

Lose one’s shit

It fucks me off

Homework

Have students listen to our episode of 2Ts in a Pod on the topic of Pet Hates:

Posted in Conversation Classes

“I could eat a horse!” – Food Conversation Topic

Super simple conversation activity based around the topic of food. Suitable for a range of levels from A2 upwards. It was written for students based in Barcelona so a couple of questions won’t make sense outside Catalonia, but you can skip/adapt those ones. Credit to my DELTA tutor Neil Forrest for the dressing a salad question and nationalfoods.org for the weird national dishes questions.

Introduce the topic of food debates using the first slide about the Devon vs Cornwall cream tea debate. Cream teas are scones topped with jam and clotted cream but there is a heated debate regarding which should be put on the scone first. Cornish heathens think that the jam should go first, followed by the cream, which is just preposterous. Righteous Devonians know that the correct order is cream first, then jam. (can you guess where I’m from?) Then ask students to discuss any food debates that exist in their country.

Download the powerpoint below:

Posted in Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class, Listening Classes, Video Classes

Gender Roles: B1-B2

The Arbitrary Division of Gender Roles | by Seth Buesing | Medium

This is a guest post by Soleil García Brito. It is a lesson plan on the topic of gender roles. Students complete a First-Certificate-style multiple choice cloze exercise, a listening comprehension based on a clip from Friends and finally, a discussion on the topic. Download the student handout and teacher’s notes below:

Video clip:

Some questions in the discussion have been adapted from: http://www.englishwithjo.com/english-conversation-gender-roles/

Multiple-choice cloze text adapted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/

Posted in Advanced C1, Conversation Classes, Proficiency

Discussion Topics: Where do you stand?

Life Begins at 40: Imágenes, fotos de stock y vectores | Shutterstock

This is a conversation lesson plan designed with higher level adults in mind (C1/C2). It could also be adapted for lower levels. Download the handouts below:

The advanced discussion phrases handout is a truncated version of my C2 speaking phrase sheet, other phrase sheets could be used for lower levels.

Give out the phrase sheet. Have students peruse it and ask questions about unfamiliar expressions. You may also want to model pronunciation of some of the exponents, although this could also be done reactively. You could also ask students to choose their favourite expressions from the list to encourage ownership of the exponents.

Give out the discussion topics. Explain the system: students must read the topic and first individually circle one of the numbers between one and six to determine how much they agree with the statement. Students are then free to discuss the topic in groups or as a class. They must decide their level of agreement before discussing the topic to avoid following the crowd. This system should lead to more in-depth discussion and hopefully more disagreements!

Encourage the use of the expressions on the phrases sheet; you could award points for the number of expressions used. Some of the discussion topics are common proverbs or phrases so be ready to give definitions and examples to illustrate meaning.

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, 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 Conversation Classes, TED Talk Lesson Plans, Video Classes

TED Talk: Rita Pierson, Every Kid Needs a Champion

Image credit: www.ted.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a conversation lesson plan based around Rita Pierson’s TED talk entitled: Every Kid Needs a Champion it’s suitable for C1+ although high B2s might be able to deal with it if you break the video up a bit. Download the handout below:

TED Rita Every child needs a champion

Have students watch the TED talk for homework or you can show it in class as it’s only 8 mins long. Then give out the handout and have students discuss it in small groups or as a class.

Handout

Discussion

  1. What is the talk about?
  2. What did you think of the speaker?
  3. Was she easy to understand?
  4. What is her message?

Look at these quotes from the talk and discuss the questions below:

“And we know why kids drop out. We know why kids don’t learn. It’s either poverty, low attendance, negative peer influences… We know why.”

  • Which of these things do you think has the biggest impact on dropout rates?
  • What can be done to help?

“James Comer says that no significant learning can occur without a significant relationship.”

“George Washington Carver says all learning is understanding relationships.”

  • What is your interpretation of these quotes?
  • Do you agree with them?

A colleague said to me one time, “They don’t pay me to like the kids. They pay me to teach a lesson. The kids should learn it. I should teach it, they should learn it, Case closed.”

Well, I said to her, “You know, kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

  • What do you think of the teacher’s quotes? Do you agree?
  • Do students have to like their teacher to learn from them?

“How do I raise the self-esteem of a child and his academic achievement at the same time?”

  • How important is it that a teacher raises their students’ self-esteem?
  • What methods does Rita mention? What other ways can they do it?

“One year I came up with a bright idea. I told all my students, “You were chosen to be in my class because I am the best teacher and you are the best students, they put us all together so we could show everybody else how to do it.”

“I gave a quiz, 20 questions. A student missed 18. I put a “+2” on his paper and a big smiley face.”

  • What do you think of these methods? Do you think they would work?

“Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”

  • What do you think of her message?
  • Did you have a “champion” when you were growing up? Who was it?
  • How can this message be put into practice?
Posted in Conversation Classes, Recommended Websites

Englishwithjo.com – Conspiracy Theories

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

I’ve just recently found the excellent englishwithjo.com. It’s a great site full of engaging video based conversation activities. I’m going to do her new one on conspiracy theories with a proficiency class tomorrow. I’ve made a little worksheet with some extra vocabulary for higher levels. Download it below:

Conspiracy Theories

Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

Reading: The Very Latest Inventions

Image Credit: www.telegraph.co.uk

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

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?
Posted in Conversation Classes, Current Affairs Classes, Reading Classes

Reading: Steak Causes Cancer – Argentina Reacts

Image credit: www.groupon.co.in

Credit to Jonathan Watts at the Guardian for the article.

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

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.