Image credit: old-fashioned-school-room.jpg By Robert Weissberg
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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:
We had to…
We weren’t allowed to…
We didn’t have to… (it wasn’t necessary)
(noun/gerund)… was compulsory
(noun/gerund)… was prohibited
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.
- Where did you go to school?
- Can you describe your school?
- Did you have to wear a uniform? If so, what did it consist of?
- What time did you have to start school?
- 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.
- Did you eat lunch at school?
- Who was the best teacher you had at school? Why?
- Who was the strictest teacher you had at school?
- What was your favourite subject?
- What was your least favourite subject?
- Describe a typical day at your school.
- What facilities did your school have? (gymnasium, swimming pool etc.)
- Have you been to your school recently? How much has it changed?
- Would you send your children to the same school?
- What things have changed for the better?
- What things have changed for the worse?
- Who was your best friend at school?
- Are you still friends with them now?
- 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.
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Photo credit: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/dutch-retirement-home-offers-rent-free-housing-students-one-condition/
This is a conversation activity for adults (B2+) based around an article about a Dutch retirement home where university students can live rent free in exchange for spending time with the senior residents. It also includes Cambridge exam style open cloze and word formation exercises.
Lesson Plan:Dutch nursing home lesson plan
Article:Dutch nursing home offers rent
Open Cloze: Dutch nursing home open cloze
Word Formation: Dutch nursing home word formation
You can either split the class into groups to discuss the questions or conduct the discussion as a class. Warmer questions:
- What is ageism?
- Have you ever experienced it or seen an example of it?
- In what ways/situations are people discriminated against because of their age?
- Do you think older people are treated well in your society?
- What type of problems do elderly people face in modern society?
- How could this be improved?
- Do you think the way in which older people are treated has got better or worse in your lifetime?
- Are young and elderly people well integrated in modern society? If not how can we improve this?
Give out article and have students read it, clear up any vocabulary issues. Then give out the open cloze and word formation exercises.
- What do you think of the program?
- What are the potential advantages and disadvantages?
- Why would this program appeal to the students?
- Why would this program appeal to the elderly people?
- What would the students get out of the program?
- What would the elderly people get out of the program?
- Would you have liked/like to spend your university years living in a retirement home?
- Would you like to live in a home like this when you retire?
Follow up activity: Students write a CAE style essay, report or proposal on the topic of ageism and the retirement home program outlining pros and cons or highlighting advantages and disadvantages for the students and the elderly people.
This is a conversation activity in which students discuss human achievements and the Mars One colonisation project. Either split the class into small groups (3-4) or for smaller groups have a class discussion. You can download the handout here.
- How many amazing physical achievements (climbing Everest, walking to the South Pole etc.) can you think of?
- Which achievement was the most impressive?
- What’s the most physically difficult thing you’ve ever done? (climb a mountain, run a marathon etc.)
- Are there any you would like to try in the future?
- Are there any you wish you had tried in the past?
- Are the world’s best athletes present at the Olympic Games?
- What type of athletes or sportsmen/women do you think deserve the most respect?
- What do you think of ‘extreme’ sports (bungee jumping, tightrope walking…)?
- What do you think is the most impressive human achievement? (not necessarily physical, could be scientific/technological/medical for example the moon landings)
- How much do you know about Mars? Share your knowledge with your group.
- Are you interested in astronomy and the science of space travel?
- Do you have any memories of important achievements in space travel?
- Have you heard of the Mars One project? Share your knowledge with your group BEFORE READING THE DESCRIPTION BELOW.
Mars One is a privately funded project which intends to establish a human colony on Mars by 2025. They plan to send an unmanned spacecraft to the planet in 2018 followed by equipment and supplies over the following 6 years. They are currently accepting applications to be part of the first 4-man crew that will take off in 2024 on a one-way 7 month trip to the red planet. Once the colony is established 4 people will be sent every 2 years.
- What do you think of the project? Is it realistic?
- The project is currently accepting applicants to be part of the 4 man crew that will leave in 2024. What kind of people do you think they are looking for?
- Would you be interested in participating? Why? Why not?
- What kind of people do you think would apply for the project?
- If you were running the project what tests would you do on the applicants to check if they are suitable?
- What are the biggest problems the people could encounter on the 7 month journey to Mars? And when they land?
- How would you feel if a member of your family wanted to apply for the project?
- Do you know anyone who you think would like to apply?
- Why do you think people would apply to be part of the project?
- Imagine you have been selected to be part of the first crew. You are allowed to take 1 item of hand luggage (standard budget airline size) of personal belongings. What would you take and why?
This is a conversation activity based around Amy Chua the controversial author of the book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”, her guide to parenting using stricter Chinese methods. Below are the links to the prezi and two hand outs.
tiger mother example of technique
Tiger Mother quotes handout
First show the first slide of the prezi with the three quotes and have students discuss them as a class or in small groups.
Then tell show them the second slide and tell them that the three quotes are all from Amy Chua. Ask students if they have heard of her and encourage them to share their knowledge if they have.
Then give out the first handout (example of technique). Have the students read the story, go over any vocabulary issues and then have students discuss it using the questions on the 2nd slide.
Then have students discuss the quotes in the 3rd slide of the prezi or alternatively print out the second hand out (quotes) and use that for discussion.
Students preparing for exams could write an article or essay based around Amy Chua and her techniques. A compare and contrast piece based around students opinions of her techniques compared to traditional western parenting.
This is a conversation topic lesson plan for adults and mature teens about the subject of the current age restrictions for films, video games and music. You will need this handout.
Put students into small groups of 3-4 and give each a copy of the handout. Start by answering the first question yourself in front of the class; give them a brief summary of the last film you watched, any shocking scenes is contained and what the age restriction was. Then encourage them to ask and answer the questions in their groups.
When all groups have finished have them feedback to the rest of the class, encourage the groups to retell the information they have learned about their group members, for example:
“Carlos said that Jurassic Park had given him terrible nightmares.”
“Montse said that she didn’t think anybody followed the age restriction rules.”
Then have the students turn the paper over and discuss part two, in which the groups must discuss appropriate age limits for different movie/TV content, afterwards they will discuss the effect theses things could have on impressionable children. Have students feedback to the class as before.
Here is the handout in full:
- What was the last film you saw at the cinema/on TV/DVD/on the internet?
- Briefly describe the film to your group.
- What was the age limit?
- Did the film contain any shocking scenes?
- What’s the scariest/most shocking film/TV show you’ve ever seen?
- Do you remember any specific films or TV shows that had a big effect on you when you were younger? Did any films give you nightmares?
- What’s your opinion of the current system for age limits on films? (U, PG, 12A etc.)
- Do you think people follow the system?
- If you have children do you let them watch films with a higher age limit than their age?
- Did these limits exist when you were a child?
- Did your parents let you watch films with a higher age limit than your age?
- Do you know the rules for what can and can’t be shown on TV? Do TV stations edit/censor parts of films when they are on TV? (For example in the UK violent films or films containing nudity can only be shown after the ”watershed” (9pm)
Look at the following list. In your groups discuss each item and think about an age limit for each one. Also think about the effect each one could have on young children. Share any experiences you have.
- people using drugs
- songs with explicit lyrics
- scenes of people smoking
- news containing images of dead people
- How have films/TV shows changed during your lifetime? Do they contain more or less of the things in the list?
- What changes would you make to censorship laws/age restrictions if you were in government?
- Whose responsibility is it to make sure that children are not exposed to things they shouldn’t see? Parents? Government?
- What effect do you think violent films, TV shows and videogames have on children and people in general?
- Can you think of specific examples of games/shows/films that cross the line? (that are too violent)