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.

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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.