Posted in Conversation Classes, Listening Classes, Proficiency, Reading Classes

Reading, Video & Debate: Compulsory Vaccination

Person Holding A Vaccine

This is another guest post by Soleil García Brito. It is a reading, listening and speaking lesson plan for B2+ students based around the topic of compulsory vaccination. Download the materials below:

The Vaccine debate – Teacher’s notes

Warmer

Short answers

  • What is a vaccine and how do they work?
  • Have you been vaccinated for anything?
  • Would you get vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 if a vaccine were available?
  • Do you think vaccinations should be compulsory?

Video – Why are some children still not getting the MMR vaccine? | ITV News

Watch the video and answer the questions below

  1. Are vaccinations compulsory in England?
  2. Who is to blame for the falling rate of vaccinations, according to the video report?
  3. Do the British public trust health care professionals?
  4. Where does the British Health Secretary stand on making vaccinations compulsory?
  5. How is the British government planning to stop the spread of fake news about vaccines?

Watch the video again and listen for the words in the gaps below. Discuss the meaning of the words or phrases in the gaps.

Teacher tip → Play twice if necessary.

  1. In the UK it’s _________ parents whether their child gets vaccinated for measles
  2. But if we want to _________ measles outbreaks don’t spread, we need ninety five percent of the public to be vaccinated
  3. But why are we so _________ about measles right now?
  4. More than half a million children in the UK _________ on the MMR jab between 2010 and 2017
  5. Some ________________ what’s known as the anti-vax movement
  6. Many worry that the MMR jab can cause autism, a theory ___________ from the British former doctor Andrew Wakefield
  7. In 1998, he published a paper claiming there was a link, but his results were later completely _________ and he was __________ the doctors’ register.
  8. ___________, Public Health England believes social media isn’t a major factor
  9. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has refused to _________ children being kept out of schools if they haven’t been vaccinated against measles, but infection experts have said that this drastic solution could ________ a rise in the anti-vaxxer
  10. … to remove any post promoting false or misleading information about ______, like MMR.

 

Transcript

In the UK it’s up to parents whether their child gets vaccinated for measles. Last year 87% of children received their full dose of MMR; that stands for measles mumps and rubella. That number sounds pretty high, right? But if we want to ensure measles outbreaks don’t spread, we need ninety five percent of the public to be vaccinated. This is called herd immunity. But why are we so concerned about measles right now? Measles is one of the most contagious diseases; it can cause brain damage, blindness, and it can even be fatal. And now in England cases are rising. They’ve nearly quadrupled in the last year, going from 259 in 2017 to 966 in 2018. More than half a million children in the UK missed out on the MMR jab between 2010 and 2017, and each year the number of those being vaccinated is dropping. So why are vaccination rates falling? Well it’s not just the UK. In America 2.6 million children have gone unvaccinated. Some put this down to what’s known as the anti-vax movement. Anti-vaxxers believed that certain vaccines are not safe. Many worry that the MMR jab can cause autism, a theory stemmed from the British former doctor Andrew Wakefield. In 1998, he published a paper claiming there was a link, but his results were later completely debunked and he was struck off the doctors’ register. Since then the National Autistic Society has said there is no link between autism and the vaccine, but the scare story still continues to spread. Go online in search of information around vaccinations and you’ll find social media is awash with anti-vaccination propaganda. But is the anti-vax movement to blame? Actually, Public Health England believes social media isn’t a major factor. It’s surveyed parents and found that 93% viewed health care professionals as the most trusted source of information on immunization. In fact, public health England think the key to better vaccination rates is sending out reminders to parents and making GP appointments more convenient so that vaccinations can actually happen. So what can be done to increase vaccinations? Well, in France vaccinating children became a legal requirement last year. Could that be adopted here? Health Secretary Matt Hancock has refused to rule out children being kept out of schools if they haven’t been vaccinated against measles, but infection experts have said that this drastic solution could fuel a rise in the anti-vaxxer movement. For the moment the governor plans to stop the spread of fake news by introducing legislation that would force social media companies, like Facebook, to remove any post promoting false or misleading information about jabs, like MMR.

 

Debate – Set up – Jigsaw Reading

Discuss with your partner or group whether your point is for or against compulsory vaccination. Then, summarize the main ideas to present them to the rest of the class.

Teacher tip → there are 12 statements in total: 3 PRO, 3 AGAINST, and each of their counterpoints. This activity can be structured in many ways depending on class size, level and time constraints. Here is a suggested way of structuring the activity:

 

Jigsaw Reading Phase 1:

  1. Cut up the texts; keep points and counterpoints separate.
  2. Split class into pairs or groups of 3 depending on numbers. Ideally you want either 3 or 6 groups.
  3. Give out one point to each pair/group. Don’t give out the counterpoints for now.
  4. Instruct students to read their text and first decide if it is a arguing for or against compulsory vaccination. Have for/against columns on the board and keep track of the points. Students could even come to the board to write their points in the column.
  5. Have students reread their texts and summarize it in their own words.
  6. Clear up any doubts about meaning.
  7. Students present their summaries to the class.

 

Jigsaw Reading Phase 2:

  1. Now tell students that you have counterpoints to each of the points they’ve just looked at.
  2. Give out the counterpoint texts to each group randomly.
  3. Students must now match their counterpoint to the previous points from phase 1 and then summarize it for the class.
  4. Clear up any doubts about meaning.

 

Language Focus:

Have students look at the underlined words and phrases in the texts they’ve looked at; have them infer meaning from context and take note of collocations and useful expressions.

 

Debate

You can now conduct a class debate on the topic. Divide the class into two teams and decide which team will argue for and against compulsory vaccination. Encourage students to include their own ideas and opinions as well as the points and counterpoints previously studied. You can structure the debate in many ways. Follow the link below for language for debating and suggested debate structures: https://freeenglishlessonplans.com/2017/11/17/debating-at-higher-levels/

 

POINTS FOR COMPULSORY VACCINATION

POINT 1

It’s the state’s duty to protect its community

In an industrialized country such as the USA, unvaccinated people were 35-times more likely to contract measles than vaccinated ones; in developing countries where these viruses are still endemic, the risk would be considerably higher. After a scare about possible side effects of the MMR jab, in 2008 there was a drop in voluntary vaccinations in a part of London (Lewisham). In that part of London only 64.3 % of children were vaccinated and in that year the district accounted for one third of all South-East London measles cases. Unless there is a 95 % vaccination, there is a great threat to public health of infection outbreaks. It is therefore the role and duty of the state to understand these issues and possible threats and provide protection and care, in this case, in the form of immunization.

COUNTERPOINT 1

Voluntary immunization should be enough

Compulsory vaccination is an example of the tyranny of the majority even if it is coming from a democratic government. And in a community that praises itself as democratic and respectful to wishes of others it is in no way acceptable that the rights of some get abused by the wishes of others. Besides, The United Kingdom does not have a system of compulsory health care, but disease outbreaks are still prevented due to the voluntary immunizations. The pediatrician Miriam Fine-Goulden explains: “The risk of contracting these infections is only so low at present because the voluntary uptake of immunizations has been high enough (in most cases) to reduce the chance of contact with those organisms through the process of herd immunity.”

 

POINT 2

Duty to protect children

Each year millions of children worldwide die of preventable diseases before the age of five. The argument presented here is that the state needs to protect the child and immunize him or her from preventable diseases as obviously the child does not have the capabilities at this stage to make informed decisions of their own. The United Nations Right to Liberty and Security of the Person treaty, article 6.2 supports this view – State Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.

COUNTERPOINT 2

Forcing parents to vaccinate could backfire

The key issue at stake here is who gets to decide about the healthcare needs of children – the authorities or parents? Critics of enforced vaccinations argue that it may have the opposite effect to that desired, and end up demonizing parental choice. Indeed, adopting compulsory vaccinations can be counter-productive, causing concerned parents to withdraw their kids from school and entrenching anti-vaccination sentiment.

 

POINT 3

Compulsory vaccines are a financial relief on health system

Commonly used vaccines are a cost-effective and preventive way of promoting health, compared to the treatment of acute or chronic disease. In the U.S. during the year 2001, routine childhood immunizations against seven diseases were estimated to save over $40 billion per birth-year cohort in overall social costs including $10 billion in direct health costs, and the societal benefit-cost ratio for these vaccinations was estimated to be $16.5 billion. Additionally, if less people get sick, productivity rates remain high and less money is destined to social and health programs.

 

COUNTERPOINT 3

The cost of vaccines is itself high

Vaccines themselves are expensive to develop in the lab and to mass-produce for widespread compulsory vaccination programs. The cost of developing a vaccine—from research and discovery to product registration—is estimated to be between $200 million and $500 million per vaccine. In addition to these upfront costs, organizing compulsory vaccination programs across an entire country can be very complicated and expensive. For instance, mechanisms must be set in place to ensure that the program is indeed compulsory, which means establishing a database of those that have and have not received the vaccine.

 

 

POINTS AGAINST COMPULSORY VACCINATION

POINT 1

Compulsory vaccination violates the individuals’ right to bodily integrity

In most countries and declarations, one of the most basic human rights is the one to bodily integrity. It sets down that you have a right not to have your body or person interfered with. This means that the State may not do anything to harm your body without consent. The NHS (National Health Service) explains: “You must give your consent (permission) before you receive any type of medical treatment, from a simple blood test to deciding to donate your organs after your death. If you refuse a treatment, your decision must be respected.” In the case of vaccination this principle should be also applied.

 

COUNTERPOINT 1

Social responsibility trumps individual rights

The problem with the idea of “individual rights” is that those refusing vaccines on account of this effectively violate the same right for other people if, and when, there is an outbreak of the disease against which the vaccine is protecting. Those who wish to opt-out of vaccination (often on behalf of their children, who have no say in the matter) are classic free riders, hoping to benefit from the more responsible behavior of the rest of society. As it is assumed that most of society see it as a responsibility and a duty to protect others.

 

POINT 2

It is a parental right to decide whether or not to vaccinate their child

Through birth, the child and the parent have a binding agreement that is supported within the society. This agreement involves a set of rights and duties aimed at, and justified by, the welfare of the child. As custodian, the parent is under the obligation to work and organize his or her life around the welfare and development of the child, for the child’s sake. Therefore, the parent is endowed with a special kind of authority over the child. If the parent believes the child will be safer and better off in society without being given vaccine it is the parent’s right to decide not to give vaccination to the child.

 

COUNTERPOINT 2

Parents do not have absolute rights to decide for their children

An adult vaccine refusal and a parental vaccine refusal are not the same. Parents do not have absolute right to put their child at a risk even if they themselves are willing to accept such a risk for him or herself. Minors have a right to be protected against infectious diseases and society has the responsibility to ensure welfare of children who may be harmed by their parents’ decisions. As seen not to vaccine children can represent a danger for their future, there should be no ultimate power of parents to prevent vaccine jabs.

 

POINT 3

Vaccines have severe side effects

Some of the used vaccines may have severe side effects, therefore we should let every individual assess the risk and make choices on their own. Besides introducing foreign proteins and even live viruses into the bloodstream, each vaccine has its own preservative, neutralizer and carrying agent. Evidence also suggests that immunizations damage the immune system itself, because vaccines trick the body so that it will no longer initiate a generalized response. In addition, the long-term persistence of viruses and other foreign proteins within the cells of the immune system has been implicated in a number of chronic diseases, such as allergies. Moreover, MMR vaccines may cause a child who is genetically predisposed to have autism, due to the Thimerosal, which is a compound that contains mercury.

 

COUNTERPOINT 3

Lack of evidence for prevalence of severe side effects

First of all, many of the arguments suggesting vaccination is dangerous refer to observations from the 60s or 70s. Since then, more recent studies have reported no link between MMR vaccines and autism. Similarly, a 2011 study from the German Health Institute comparing the prevalence of allergies and infections in vaccinated and unvaccinated children and teenagers, concluded that there was no difference between them, other than the frequency of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as mumps or measles.

 

The text was reproduced and adapted from http://www.idebate.org with the permission of the International Debate Education Association.

Copyright © 2005 International Debate Education Association. All Rights Reserved

 

 

Posted in Conversation Classes, Vocabulary Classes

Politics: Idioms and Discussion

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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 adult higher-level students (high B2+) in which students learn some political idioms and put them into practice in a discussion. Download the hand out and key below:

Politics student handout

Note: I found most of the political idioms on the site below, but designed the matching task, sentence matching activity and discussion myself:

http://www.learnenglish.de/vocabulary/electionidioms.html

Politics – Idioms and Discussion

Match the idioms to their definitions:

the hand-out has pretty pictures but they didn’t come out here 😦

1.       A two/three/four-horse race 2.       A political football 3.       Hot air
4.       Toe the party line

 

5.       A political hot potato 6.       A hung parliament
7.       Press the flesh

 

8.       Get on/off your soapbox 9.       Throw in the towel
10.   Bent/crooked 11.   Live/be in an ivory tower

 

12.   Have the common touch

 

a.       Be corrupt

b.      When there’s no clear winner in an election

c.       Empty words

d.      To speak passionately about something you believe in

e.      A problem that doesn’t get solved because of political reasons

f.        To give up

g.       A competition/election only a few people can win

h.      To shake hands with the public

i.         To be able to relate to the public

j.        To be detached from reality

k.       A potentially controversial  topic

l.         Conform to and express the same views as the leaders of your party.

 

Put the expressions in the sentences:

  1. After the speeches the politicians went into the crowd to __________________ with members of the public.
  2. What the chancellor said about trickle-down economics is a load of ________________, I don’t believe it for a second.
  3. The problem with most politicians is that they __________________________ and have no idea how their policies affect people.
  4. I reckon half the politicians in this country are _____________________, you just have to follow the money.
  5. The opposition have decided to __________________________ and accept that they lost the election.
  6. Normally, if a cabinet minister doesn’t ________________________ they’ll soon be out of a job.
  7. Early polls suggest the result will be a _____________________ with no clear winner.
  8. It looks like the election will be a ___________________ between Labour and the Conservatives.
  9. Prison reform has been a ______________________ for years because prisoners don’t vote!
  10. The subject of MPs’ expenses is a ______________________, nobody wants to touch it but I’m sure it’s going to blow up soon.
  11. The new leader of the Liberals _______________________, you can see it in the way he talks to his constituents.
  12. ______________________ Tony, you’re always banging on about conspiracy theories but we’ve heard it all before.

Discussion

  1. How much of a politician’s time should they spend on local issues relevant to their constituency?
  2. How much of a politician’s time should they spend on national issues?
  3. Should all politicians have to toe the party line? When should they be allowed to speak out against their leader/policy in their party?
  4. If a politician doesn’t toe the party line, what should the leader do?
  5. Which politicians are always spouting hot air? Can you trust anything a politician says? Are there any politicians in your country that you believe in?
  6. Who should get the first opportunity to form a government in a hung parliament, the party that got the most votes? Or the party most likely to be able to form a stable coalition?
  7. What have been the biggest political hot potatoes in your country in the last few years?
  8. Are there any issues that are treated like political footballs in your country?
  9. What do you think when you see a politician pressing the flesh? Why do you think they do it? Have you ever pressed the flesh with a politician?
  10. What do you get on your soap box about?
  11. Which politicians in your country have the common touch? And which don’t?
  12. Are elections in your country normally a two-horse race?
  13. If you could change one thing about the political system in your country, what would it be?
  14. How much do politicians earn in your country? Is it enough? Why do people get into politics?

Key

Definition match

  1. G
  2. E
  3. C
  4. L (l)
  5. K
  6. B
  7. H
  8. D
  9. F
  10. A
  11. J
  12. I (i)

Sentence match

  1. Press the flesh
  2. Hot air
  3. Live/are in an ivory tower
  4. Crooked/bent
  5. Throw in the towel
  6. Toe the party line
  7. Hung parliament
  8. Two-horse race
  9. Political football
  10. Political hot potato
  11. Has the common touch
  12. Get off your soap box – used to tell someone to stop talking about something

Follow up

Students could write a CAE/CPE style report on the state of politics in their country, the report could then suggest ways in which politicians could get young people to take and interest in politics.

Posted in Conversation Classes

What’s the best/worst thing about…?

 

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This is a conversation activity designed to get teenagers and adults talking and practice the phrases:

The best/worst thing about… is…

Download the powerpoint below, project it and have students discuss their ideas in groups then share them in open class, board any emergent language and exploit any opportunities for debate and exponents of agreeing, disagreeing and expressing opinion.

Best Worst thing

Posted in Conversation Classes

Conversation topic: Who’s in the wrong?

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This is a conversation lesson plan for intermediate (B1) upwards around the topic of blame. Download the powerpoint below:

Who’s in the wrong

Warmer

SS discuss in pairs:

  • When was the last time you got into trouble?
  • Who was to blame?

Language of blaming:

  1. It was my/his/her/your/their/our _________.
  2. He was to _________.
  3. She was in the _________.
  4. They were at ________.
  5. I blame the broken window _____ John.
  6. I blame John _____ breaking the window.

SS complete the sentences with the following words:

for

on

blame

wrong

fault (x2)

  1. It was my/his/her/your/their/our fault
  2. He was to blame
  3. She was in the wrong
  4. They were at fault.
  5. I blame the broken window on John.
  6. I blame John for breaking the window.

Show the first slide from the powerpoint and have students discuss who is to blame in small groups. Ss then report back in open class. You might want to assign roles from the different situations to different students to make it a bit more exciting.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Grammar Classes

Interesting People: Deduction and Speculation

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This is a lesson plan for intermediate and up based around pictures of interesting people and language of speculation and deduction. Credit to my workmate Mont for the idea, thanks Mont.

Download the handout here:

speculate pictures interesting people

Warmer – Who’s that guy?

Write the following expressions on the board:

He might/may/could be… (possible)

There’s a chance that he’s… (possible)

He can’t be… (impossible)

There’s no way he’s… (impossible)

He must be… (almost certain)

I’m pretty sure he’s… (quite certain)

Then show them the picture of the guy at the top of the post. Students come up with 5 deductions/speculations based on the picture. Tell them they can speculate about his age, nationality, job, personality or anything else they like.

The show them the pictures from the handout. Give them a few minutes to make speculations about the people.

Then show them the following list:

  • A lawyer
  • A police officer
  • A serial-killer
  • A billionaire
  • A rock star
  • A bank robber
  • A chef
  • A professional sports-person

Tell student that they must decide which person has which job. The secret is: There’s no correct answer! But don’t tell them that yet. Give them 5-10 minute to make speculations and provide reasons for which person has which job, then have them present their reasoning to the class and debate them. Only then can you reveal that there’s no correct answer!

Follow up activity

Composition: Can you judge a book by it’s cover? Have students write and essay/article on the topic of first impressions and judging people based on their appearance.

Posted in Conversation Classes

Dilemmas and Debates

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This is a straightforward “What would you do?” speaking activity to practice hypothetical conditionals and just generate debate and conversation.  Download the powerpoint below and project it or print it:

Dilemmas and debates

Language of agreeing and disagreeing will be useful.

Agreeing Disagreeing Ending an argument:
  • We see eye to eye
  • I couldn’t agree with you more.
  • That’s exactly how I feel.
  • You have a point there.
  • I was just going to say that.
  • Absolutely.
  • We don’t see eye to eye
  • I take your point but
  • I tend to disagree with you there
  • I’m afraid I have to disagree with you there
  • I beg to differ
  • That’s not always the case.
  • Let’s just move on shall we?
  • I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

Credit to: http://www.buzzfeed.com/tracyclayton/moral-dilemmas-that-will-break-your-brain#.lhwmbK9XK

For a couple of the ideas.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Video Classes

TED talks lesson: Logan Laplante on “Hack-schooling”

This is a discussion class for higher levels (high B2 – C2) based around the Logan Laplante’s TED talk video on “hack-schooling” a form of home schooling based round applicable skills and hands-on experience.

The video is 11 minutes long so I set it for homework the lesson before so that students could watch and rewatch as many times as they needed to fully understand it. Alternatively, you could watch it in class if you have time.

Vocabulary

Logan uses some skier/skater American slang, for example:

To be stoked – to be excited about/interested in something

to be bummed out – to be annoyed/disappointed

Other vocab that might need highlighting:

To log out of reality – to escape from reality

mashup – a mixture/fusion of different elements

hacker mindset – a mindset is a set of attitudes a person has

Discussion questions

  1. What was your first impression of Logan?
  2. How old is he?
  3. Is he a typical 13 year old?
  4. What are the 8 keys to happiness? (Exercise/diet and nutrition/time in nature/contribution and service to others/relationships/recreation/religious and spiritual)
  5. What do you think of this idea?
  6. How does he define a “hacker”? (A person who changes and improves established systems)
  7. What is “hack-schooling”? (opportunistic learning that doesn’t follow a curriculum with no fixed structure)
  8. What do you think of this idea?
  9. How and what does Logan learn?
  10. Is it for everyone?
  11. Is it only for people from a privileged background?
  12. “Schools are orientated towards making a living rather than making a life” What do you think of this statement? Do you agree?
  13. Do students today learn applicable skills?
  14. What do you think Logan is going to be when he grows up?
  15. What would your friends say if you pulled your children out of school?

Role-play

Put students in pairs of groups of 3 and have them role play the last question, student A has decided to pull their kids out of school to teach them at home, student B thinks they are crazy!

Debate

“The education system does not prepare students for life.”

Split group in to two groups, 1 in support and 1 against the motion. Follow standard debate structure, 2 minute opening arguments, rebuttals etc.

Posted in Conversation Classes

Rebuild civilisation conversation lesson

mushroom cloud

My take on a conversation class classic. There have been many different versions, I did this one in my Spanish class and then translated it into English to use with my students. I am afraid I don’t know the Spanish textbook title so can’t give a credit.

Click here to download the handout:

Rebuild Civilisation

Rebuild Civilisation

Below or in the handout above you will find the conversation task. Before you start the activity you might want to pre-teach some vocabulary. For example some verbs and nouns:

cultivate – cultivation

procreate – procreation

populate – population

Or for lower levels you can give the students more of a framework. For example:

I think we should / shouldn’t / ought to /ought not to take ………………… because……………….

This handout on language of agreement and disagreement might also be useful:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=79CFF252BEEA0A7D!247&authkey=!ANBIbEVteXyYHnY

Encourage students to justify all their decisions, don’t let them get away with simply crossing the banker off the list because they’re angry at bankers. Try to play devils advocate too; stand up for the banker, the computer programmer or the economist to encourage the students to think critically and find justifications.

Class instructions:

  1. Give out the handout and explain the situation to the students.
  2. Put the students into groups of 3-4, or if you have less students pairs is fine. Try to have at least two groups, the more groups there are the more opinions there are and the more discussion there will be.
  3. First have the students individually read the list and select a provisional list of 7 people. Tell them not to worry if they have trouble choosing only 7.
  4. Then in their groups they must share their thoughts and try to convince their classmates which people to choose.
  5. Give them plenty of time to do this and make sure they justify everything.
  6. Then have a feedback session; each group reads out their list of 7 and explains their reasons for choosing them.
  7. Then try to come up with a universal list of 7 for the whole class. So each team must defend their choices and try to talk the other teams round to their way of thinking.

There has been a nuclear catastrophe. Everyone on the planet has died except the 20 people listed below. There is a small aeroplane with only 7 spaces. The aeroplane will take the 7 people to a desert island in the Indian ocean where they will rebuild civilisation.

In your groups you have to decide which 7 people will travel on the aeroplane.

  • A 50-year-old male judge.
  • A 25-year-old female economist.
  • The 52-year-old Chief of an African tribe.
  • The Chief´s pregnant wife.
  • A 30-year-old male professional ballerina.
  • A young, male soldier from an island close to the one they are going to.
  • A 35-year-old female agricultural engineer.
  • A 35-year-old male priest.
  • A 28-year-old female opera singer.
  • A 24-year-old handsome, well-built man.
  • A 25-year-old hot, buxom blonde woman.
  • A 26-year-old nun.
  • A 37-year-old male witch doctor from the African tribe.
  • A 52-year-old male psychiatrist.
  • A 14-year-old male child-genius.
  • A 27-year-old female history teacher.
  • A 32-year-old male computer programmer.
  • A 37-year-old male biologist who specialises in the evolution of species.
  • A 31-year-old female painter.
  • A 41-year-old male banker.

Wrap up:

If you were in this situation what do you think you could offer the new civilisation?