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 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?