Posted in Reading Classes

Activities to Help Develop Reading Skills from the British Council

Saw these on the British Council Facebook page yesterday, definitely going to try them out.

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Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes, TED Talk Lesson Plans, Video Classes

Kicking the Habit: TED Talk, Reading and Discussion

 

Image credit: ted.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a lesson plan for C1+ students on the topic of bad habits based around a TED talk by Judson Brewer and an article from Yahoo Health. You can find the TED talk, students’ handout, reading text and teacher’s notes below:

TED Bad habits sts copy – Students handout

TED bad habits teachers notes

Common Bad Habits – Reading Text

TED  – Breaking Bad Habits – Teacher’s Notes

Step 1: Expressions with habit

What do you think these expressions mean? Do they exist in your language?

He’s been smoking since he was 15 years old and he just can’t kick the habit.

When my grandad retired he didn’t stop getting up at 6am and putting a suit on. Old habits die hard.

I could never go backpacking I’m too much of a creature of habit, I can’t stand changes to my routine.

I’ve always written my essays at the last minute and I normally get good marks. Why break the habit of a lifetime?

Kick the habit = give up/quit a bad habit

Old habits die hard = it’s difficult to stop a habit you’ve been doing for a long time

A creature of habit = someone who likes the security of a routine

Why break the habit of a lifetime? = something you say to a person you know isn’t going to change their habits.

Step 2: Brainstorm bad habits on the board

Step 3: Reading

Give out the reading handout, put students in groups of 3. Students read each section then discuss the meaning of the vocabulary in bold. Then they answer the discusssion questions. Then they move onto the next bad habit.

Step 4: TED Talk

Students watch the TED talk and answer the following questions:

What bad habits does he mention? Being unable to concentrate, phone/internet addiction, stress eating, smoking, distracting yourself from work.

What solution to these bad habits does he suggest? Using mindfulness to focus on the cravings we feel and see them as physical moments that pass.

After watching students discuss:

  1. What do you think of the talk?
  2. Do you have any of the bad habits he mentioned?
  3. Do you think mindfulness would work for you?
  4. Have you ever meditated? Would you consider it?

Step 5: Vocab Focus – Meaning from Context

Students try to guess the meaning of the expressions in bold from the context.

  1. When I was first learning to meditate, the instruction was to simply pay attention to my breath, and when my mind wandered, to bring it back.
  2. Why is it so hard to pay attention? Well, studies show that even when we’re really trying to pay attention to something — like maybe this talk — at some point, about half of us will drift off into a daydream, or have this urge to check our Twitter feed.
  3. Instead of this hunger signal coming from our stomach, this emotional signal — feeling sad — triggers that urge to eat.
  4. Maybe in our teenage years, we were a nerd at school, and we see those rebel kids outside smoking and we think, “Hey, I want to be cool.” So we start smoking. The Marlboro Man wasn’t a dork, and that was no accident.
  5. What if instead of fighting our brains, or trying to force ourselves to pay attention,we instead tapped into this natural, reward-based learning process?
  6. She moved from knowing in her head that smoking was bad for her to knowing it in her bones, and the spell of smoking was broken. She started to become disenchanted with her behavior.
  7. When the prefrontal cortex goes offline, we fall back into our old habits, which is why this disenchantment is so important.
  8. And this is what mindfulness is all about: Seeing really clearly what we get when we get caught up in our behaviors.
  9. We start to notice that cravings are simply made up of body sensations — oh, there’s tightness, there’s tension, there’s restlessness.
  10. These are bite-size pieces of experiences that we can manage from moment to moment rather than getting clobbered by this huge, scary craving that we choke on.

Mind wanders/drift off into a daydream = get distracted

Have/get an urge to do something = a strong desire/impulse

Trigger (v) = activate/set off/cause to function

Nerd = unpopular, studious person

Dork = unpopular, studious person, more pejorative than nerd

Tap into = manage to use something in a way that gives good results. Get access to a resource. Collocations: tap into an energy source, tap into creativity, tap into the water supply.

Know in your bones = feel something using intuition, synonyms: know in my guts, a gut-feeling.

Break a spell = end magic/enchantment

Disenchanted = two meanings. 1. Free from illusion/magic 2. Disappointed, demotivated, disillusioned.

Fall back into old habits = return to old habits after having changed

Get caught up in st = to become completely involved in something, normally bad connotation.

Craving = a consuming desire, normally physical related to addiction.

Restlessness = a state of discomfort, can’t stay still/relax. A restless night.

Bite-size pieces = small easy to manage pieces

Get clobbered = to be beaten/hit severly

Choke on st = not able to breath because of something in your throat

Step 6: Sentence Completion

Students put the expressions from the vocab focus into the following sentences:

  1. He was always so restless at school, he couldn’t sit still for a second.
  2. I’m a bit weird, whenever I go near the edge of a cliff or a tall building I get the sudden urge to jump off!
  3. Don’t worry, everything is going to be alright, I don’t know how but I feel/know it in my bones.
  4. I managed to stop biting my fingernails for 6 months but recently, because of all the stress at work, I have fallen back into old habits.
  5. Most voters are completely disenchanted with politics in general and extremist politicians like Donald Trump are simply tapping into the anger and resentment.
  6. When my Mum was pregnant she had strong cravings for avocado even though she normally hates them.
  7. The earthquake triggered a huge tsunami that hit the coast at 10am.
  8. When I was at school I always used to get into trouble for drifting off into a daydream during class.
  9. 3 hours into the film I got a bit bored and my mind wandered to what I was going to have for dinner.
  10. A man suddenly started to choke on a prawn and a fellow diner had to give him the heimlich maneuver.
  11. I was definitely a bit of a nerd at school but I certainly wasn’t a dork.
  12. I got so caught up in the excitement of the party that I didn’t realise I had missed the last train home.
  13. He caught the rugby ball, turned around and was immediately clobbered by a huge opposition player.
  14. I broke the carrots up into bite-size pieces so that the children wouldn’t choke on

Step 7: Discussion

Students answer questions in pairs.

  1. Were you restless at school? Did you use to drift off into a daydream?
  2. Do you know the heimlich maneuver? Have you ever choked on anything?
  3. Were you a nerd when you were at school?
  4. Do you ever get so caught up in something that you lose all sense of time?
  5. Do you ever get the urge to do something silly or outrageous in social situations?
  6. Do you agree with sentence 5 above? What can we do to change the situation?

Students’ Handout

Expressions with habit

What do you think these expressions mean? Do they exist in your language?

He’s been smoking since he was 15 years old and he just can’t kick the habit.

When my grandad retired he didn’t stop getting up at 6am and putting a suit on. Old habits die hard.

I could never go backpacking I’m too much of a creature of habit, I can’t stand changes to my routine.

I’ve always written my essays at the last minute and I normally get good marks. Why break the habit of a lifetime?

TED Talk

  1. What bad habits does he mention?
  2. What solution to these bad habits does he suggest?

Discussion

  1. What do you think of the talk?
  2. Do you have any of the bad habits he mentioned?
  3. Do you think mindfulness would work for you?
  4. Have you ever meditated? Would you consider it?

Vocabulary Focus

Read the sentences from the transcript and discuss the words/expressions in bold with your partner.

  1. When I was first learning to meditate, the instruction was to simply pay attention to my breath, and when my mind wandered, to bring it back.
  2. Why is it so hard to pay attention? Well, studies show that even when we’re really trying to pay attention to something — like maybe this talk — at some point, about half of us will drift off into a daydream, or have this urge to check our Twitter feed.
  3. Instead of this hunger signal coming from our stomach, this emotional signal — feeling sad — triggers that urge to eat.
  4. Maybe in our teenage years, we were a nerd at school, and we see those rebel kids outside smoking and we think, “Hey, I want to be cool.” So we start smoking. The Marlboro Man wasn’t a dork, and that was no accident.
  5. What if instead of fighting our brains, or trying to force ourselves to pay attention,we instead tapped into this natural, reward-based learning process?
  6. She moved from knowing in her head that smoking was bad for her to knowing it in her bones, and the spell of smoking was broken. She started to become disenchanted with her behavior.
  7. When the prefrontal cortex goes offline, we fall back into our old habits, which is why this disenchantment is so important.
  8. And this is what mindfulness is all about: Seeing really clearly what we get when we get caught up in our behaviors.
  9. We start to notice that cravings are simply made up of body sensations — oh, there’s tightness, there’s tension, there’s restlessness.
  10. These are bite-size pieces of experiences that we can manage from moment to moment rather than getting clobbered by this huge, scary craving that we choke on.

 

Sentence Completion

Complete the sentences with the expressions above.

  1. He was always so ______________ at school, he couldn’t sit still for a second.
  2. I’m a bit weird, whenever I go near the edge of a cliff or a tall building I get the sudden __________ jump off!
  3. Don’t worry, everything is going to be alright, I don’t know how but I ______________________.
  4. I managed to stop biting my fingernails for 6 months but recently, because of all the stress at work, I have __________________________________.
  5. Most voters are completely __________________________ politics in general and extremist politicians like Donald Trump are simply ____________________________ the anger and resentment.
  6. When my Mum was pregnant she had strong _____________ for avocado even though she normally hates them.
  7. The earthquake _______________ a huge tsunami that hit the coast at 10am.
  8. When I was at school I always used to get into trouble for _______________________________ during class.
  9. 3 hours into the film I got a bit bored and my ____________________________ to what I was going to have for dinner.
  10. A man suddenly started to ________________ a prawn and a fellow diner had to give him the heimlich maneuver.
  11. I was definitely a bit of a _____________ at school but I certainly wasn’t a ____________.
  12. I _________________________________ in the excitement of the party that I didn’t realise I had missed the last train home.
  13. He caught the rugby ball, turned around and was immediately ___________________ by a huge opposition player.
  14. I broke the carrots up into __________________ so that the children wouldn’t ___________ them.

Discussion

  1. Were you restless at school? Did you use to drift off into a daydream?
  2. Do you know the heimlich maneuver? Have you ever choked on anything?
  3. Were you a nerd when you were at school?
  4. Do you ever get so caught up in something that you lose all sense of time?
  5. Do you ever get the urge to do something silly or outrageous in social situations?
  6. Do you agree with sentence 5 above? What can we do to change the situation?

Reading Text

Common Bad Habits

Everyone has habits that they would probably be better off without. You may not have any major vices but minor ones add up and deserve attention too. “The small stuff really matters in our lives,” says Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion. “Life is full of the little things.”

In reality, you’re probably not eating poorly or shirking on sleep just once a month, but, more likely, multiple times a week. If you need some help identifying changes you might aim to make, here are some of the most common bad habits and two universal fixes from Goldstein about how we can change for the better.

Stress-Eating

We’re a country of high-stress and high-calorie foods, so it should be no surprise that emotional eating is a common issue. There are many reasons people turn to food when they experience negative emotions, like stress, sadness, and boredom. First of all, food can serve as a distraction from unpleasant goings-on. Research has also suggested that foods that are high in fat and sugar may actually (temporarily) quiet parts of the brain that create and process negative emotions.

  1. Do you stress eat? If so what?
  2. How do you relieve stress?

Sitting Around

Surveys have found that people, on average, spend more than six hours a day sitting. Many people sit while commuting, at work, and while unwinding at the end of the day. It may feel like your body is happier taking a seat, but spending so much time off your feet has serious health effects including increased risk of obesity, diabetes, cognitive decline (like dementia), cancer, bone loss, and even a weakened immune system.

  1. How much of the day do you spend sitting down?
  2. What do you think of the idea of a standing office? Or a standing school?

Not Getting Enough Sleep

Days can feel far too short, especially when you want to catch up with friends at a late dinner or binge-watch your favorite show. Late nights in moderation are okay but getting too little sleep — less than seven hours — on a regular basis can make you more prone to long-term diseases, like hypertension and diabetes, and even short-term illness. Being tired can also affect how you function during the daytime, making you less productive and more prone to errors and accidents.

  1. How much sleep do you need to function well?
  2. How much do you usually get?
  3. Are you more productive in the mornings or the evenings?

Over-Grooming

Picking at your nose and mouth and biting your nails are already social faux pas. They can also be bad for your health. As you should already know, our hands are usually teeming with nasty germs. Putting your fingers in your nose or mouth — even to fish unwanted spinach out of your teeth — is a good way to give those germs easy access to your body. Nail biting, in particular, can also raise your risk of getting skin infections on your fingers and spreading warts to other parts of your hand. In some cases, excessive grooming behaviors are considered a mental disorder related to obsessive-compulsive disorders.

  1. Do you bite your fingernails?
  2. Can you think of any other social faux pas’s? What topics are faux pas when your first meet someone?

Smoking

This may feel like beating a dead horse but more than 42 million people in the U.S. still smoke cigarettes. Although this number continues to drop, it’s good for people to remember why this habit is such a serious one. Smoking is known to cause several types of cancer — including cancers of the lung, mouth, stomach, and pancreas — and increases a person’s risk of heart disease. It’s also harmful to people who are inhaling second-hand smoke. Plus, smoking is expensive. Even a “cheap” $5 pack every day adds up to $1,825.00 each year.

  1. Do you smoke?
  2. Have you ever smoked? If so how did you quit?
  3. What’s the best way to quit smoking? Hypnosis? Acupuncture? Patches? Gum?

Skipping Breakfast

There are mixed findings about whether or not skipping breakfast can help people lose weight. Generally, experts support eating a healthy morning meal because it fuels your body and mind for the beginning of the day. Research has shown that people who eat breakfast perform better in school and at work. If that’s not enough incentive, a recent study from Harvard found that men who regularly skipped breakfast were 27 percent more likely to experience a heart attack or death from coronary heart disease.

  1. Do you have breakfast?
  2. Find out who has the healthiest breakfast in your group.
  3. What’s your favourite meal of the day?

Overspending

Another common bad habit is overspending, usually in the form of compulsive shopping. Credit is partially to blame because it is easy to obtain and use, helping people forgo responsibility and knowledge about their finances. Overspending is also an easy trap to fall into because buying things makes people feel good in many different ways. It can give us a sense of control and add some excitement to a dull day. Being able to spend money can also make us feel better about ourselves.

  1. Do you often overspend?
  2. Are you a compulsive shopper? If so what do you normally buy?

Listening to Loud Music

Hearing is something that often goes with age but there are still steps people can take to give theirs its best possible chance. Very loud, short-term sounds and sounds that may not seem so loud (but occur over a long period of time) can both contribute to noise-induced hearing loss. This affects about 15 percent of Americans, ages 20 to 69 according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Some loud sounds may be unavoidable but exposure anything above 85 decibels (equal to the sound of heavy city traffic) should be minimized. If you have to raise your voice to speak with someone two to three feet away, the sound level is likely over 85 decibels.

  1. Do you listen to loud music? If so how often?
  2. Have you got god hearing?

Phone Addiction

No, your phone isn’t exactly the most threatening addiction. That doesn’t mean it’s something to ignore. Thanks to the advent of push notifications, many of us are now trained to grab our phone the second it flashes — or when we only think it has. This behavior takes our attention away from other things that we should probably value more, like the work in front of us or talking with friends and family.

  1. Are you addicted to your phone?
  2. How often do you check it?
  3. How soon after waking up do you check it?

Link to original article:

https://www.yahoo.com/health/10-common-bad-habits-and-how-to-break-them-107994730858.html

 

Posted in Reading Classes

Reading List for Post Proficiency

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

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/

One of my post-proficiency students asked me for a list of books he could read. He’s going to Glasgow on Erasmus so the list I wrote him has a Scottish flavour to it. I thought it might also be useful for other high-level students.

Here are some books to read, most of them are just ones I like so maybe we have a different taste in books but try them out and se what you think:
My favourite author is Cormac McCarthy so read anything by him:
The Road (Post apocalyptic horror)
The Border Triology
Suttree
Blood Meridian
No Country for Old Men (they made it into an excellent film)
Child of God
They’re all pretty dark but very well written.
Another favourite of mine is Graham Greene, here are some of his books that I recommend:
Brighton Rock
The Quiet American
Our Man in Havana
The Third Man
The Power and the Glory
The Heart of the Matter
Another of my favourite books is:
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Seeing as you’re going to Scotland you should read some Irvine Welsh, although it might be tough because he uses a lot of Scottish slang, but you can always ask the locals if you need something translated into “English”. Here are some of his books:
Trainspotting
Filth
Glue
Porno
The Acid House
Another book by a Scottish author that I liked was:
How late it was, how late by James Kelman
Another great author is Roddy Doyle, he’s Irish and he has written lots of great ones:
A Star called Henry
The Commitments
Paddy Clarke ha ha ha
The Woman who walked into doors
Or you could try some Ian Banks, he’s also Scottish, he writes science fiction as Ian. M. Banks and dark dramatic fiction as just Ian Banks. I haven’t read any of his sci-fi but I’ve heard it is good. Here are some of his dramatic fiction books, as I said, most of them are quite dark.
The Wasp Factory
Complicity
The Crow Road
Espedair Street
Dead Air
That should be plenty for you to be going on with,
Let me know how it goes!
Tim
What other books would you recommend to high-level learners?
Posted in Grammar Classes, Reading Classes

Mysteries of the Ancient World: Past Modals of Speculation

Image credit: www.english-heritage.org.uk

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a grammar lesson on the theme of mysterious ancient monuments. I taught this class as my assessed lesson for the grammar assignment of my DELTA. Download the procedure, powerpoint and handouts below.

Let me know if the lesson procedure is clear enough as it’s written in Cambridge DELTA speak!

Lesson Procedure Past Speculation 3rd draft

The Mystery of Stonehenge 3rd draft – Students’ handout

The Mystery of Stonehenge Teacher’s copy with key – answers underlined

Mysteries of the ancient world 2nd draft – Powerpoint with pictures

The Mystery of Stonehenge – Students’ Handout

Thousands of years ago, an ancient civilization raised a circle of huge, roughly rectangular stones in a field in what is now Wiltshire, England. Stonehenge, as it would come to be called, has been a mystery ever since. Building began on the site around 3100 B.C. and continued in phases up until about 1600 B.C. No written records exist to explain how or why it was built.

How was Stonehenge built?

The biggest of Stonehenge’s stones, known as sarsens, are up to 30 feet (9 meters) tall and weigh 25 tons (22.6 metric tons) on average. Scientists believe that they must have been brought from Marlborough Downs, a distance of 20 miles (32 kilometers) to the north. Transporting the stones that distance can’t have been easy.

Smaller stones, referred to as “bluestones” (they have a bluish tinge when wet or freshly broken), weigh up to 4 tons and come from several different sites in western Wales, having been transported as far as 140 miles (225 km). It’s unknown how people in antiquity moved them that far. Scientists speculate that during the last ice age glaciers might have carried these bluestones closer to the Stonehenge area. An earlier theory was that the builders could have used rafts to transport the stones over the water. However, more recent research suggests that this method can’t have been used because of the weight of the stones.

  1. Where do scientists think the Sarsen stones came from?
  2. What does the writer say about transporting the Sarsen stones?
  3. Where did the blue stones come from?
  4. How do scientists think the blue stones were transported to the site?

What was Stonehenge?

There are a number of theories as to what the site was used for. Archaeologists agree that the site must have had a spiritual significance. It may have originally been a cemetery, according to a new study. After examining bones exhumed near the stones, scientists believe that the burials must have taken place at the same time as Stonehenge was built, suggesting that the stones could have been gravestones for religious or political elite.

  1. What are scientists certain about the significance of Stonehenge?
  2. Scientists are sure that Stonehenge was a cemetery T/F

Stonehenge may have been constructed with the sun in mind. One avenue connecting the monument with the nearby River Avon aligns with the sun on the winter solstice; archaeological evidence reveals that pigs were slaughtered at Stonehenge in December and January, suggesting that ancient pagan sun celebrations might have taken place there.

Steven Waller, a researcher in archaeoacoustics has revealed that before part of the ring collapsed it must have had excellent acoustics and speculates that it might have been an ancient concert hall or cathedral.

  1. Why do scientists think the builders chose the location for the stones?
  2. What other events possibly happened at Stonehenge?
  3. What does Steven Waller say about Stonehenge?

Wild theories about Stonehenge have persisted since the Middle Ages. Some say Merlin the wizard may have cast a spell to make the rocks as light as a feather to help with the construction. UFO enthusiasts believe that ancient aliens could have built Stonehenge as a spacecraft landing pad.

  1. What unscientific methods for Stonehenge’s construction have been suggested?

Form – Past modal verbs of speculation

Look at the sentences on the board and complete the table

Subject          + Modal           + _____________     + _____________
I

You

He/she/it

Etc.

Could

Might

May

Must

Can’t

 

 

_______

…………………

…………………

…………………

…………………

Etc.

Practice – Memory Test

Answer the questions with your partner using past modals.

  1. What did the text say about transporting the larger Sarsen stones?
  2. What did the text say about glaciers?
  3. What are scientists sure about the significance of Stonehenge?
  4. What did the researcher in archaeoacoustics say about Stonehenge?
  5. What were some of the more wild theories about its use?

Easter Island Heads

  1. Scientists are almost certain that the stones had a religious significance.

Scientists believe that the stones________________________________ a religious significance.

  1. Scientists think that it’s impossible that the stones came from a different island.

Scientists think that the stones _________________________________ from a different island.

  1. It’s possible that the stones were carved to resemble a famous leader of the tribe.

The stones _____________________________________ to resemble a famous leader of the tribe.

  1. Some people believe that there’s a possibility that the stones came from another planet. Some people believe that the stones _______________________________________from another planet.

Lesson Procedure

Stage Time Focus Procedure Aim
Pre-reading 5 mins OC

 

 

 

In pairs

Show picture of Stonehenge. Ask if anyone has been there. Share information with class.

 

Sts speculate. How old is it? How was it built? What was it?

Introduce topic. To allow sts to apply top-down knowledge
Reading 1 2 mins Pairs Give out handout. Sts read intro. Report back to open class. How old is Stonehenge? To confirm speculation and generate interest.
Reading 2 + language focus (meaning) 20 mins Pairs

 

 

 

 

 

OC

Instruct sts to read next section quickly then read questions and answer in pairs.

 

 

 

Check answers – nominate – check across class.

 

Board first 5 sentences that answer questions with modal verbs.

Ask questions: “How certain are the scientists?” to develop understanding of meaning.

Board paraphrases: “could have” = “it’s possible” “must have” = “almost certain” etc.

Repeat for sections 3,4,5.

While sts read, board phonemics for sentences on board:

/mʌstəv/

/ka:ntəv/

/meɪəv/

/kʊdəv/

/maɪtəv/

To confirm speculation. To test sts ability to understand past modals.

 

 

 

 

To develop understanding of meaning of target sentences.

Language focus 5 mins Pairs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sts look at 5 boarded sentences, analyse structures and complete substitution table on handout:

 

Board formula: modal + perfect infinitive (have + past part.)

 

Focus on pronunciation, sts use phonemics on board to practice target sentences.

To develop form of structures.

 

 

 

 

 

To develop pronunciation of past modals.

Speaking – controlled practice 5 mins pairs Sts answer questions about text on handout in pairs, trying to use the target language. To practice and become more familiar with the structures.
Writing – controlled practice 5 mins pairs Show picture of Easter Island Heads with scientific theories. Sts complete sentence transformations on handout using past modals.

 

Check answers across class.

To practice written form and meaning.

 

 

 

To check answers and practice pronunciation.

Speaking – controlled practice 10-15 mins Pairs

 

 

 

OC

 

Pairs/groups of 4.

Sts speculate about the Easter Island heads in pairs. Monitor, board corrections.

 

Share ideas in open class.

 

Repeat with pictures of Magura Cave, Great Pyramids, Uffington White Horse.

 

Sts make speculations in pairs about new pictures then speak to pair next to them and share ideas.

To practice and become more familiar with the structures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To come to a consensus about speculations.

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.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Reading Classes

No-tech school: Reading + Discussion

Image credit: thelondonacornschool.co.uk

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a reading and conversation lesson plan for high B2+ students, based around an article in the guardian newspaper about the acorn school in London which has a no technology policy for students, both at school and at home.

Download the abbreviated version of the article and the lesson plan here:

Tech free school article

No tech school LP

Warmer

Describe the classroom in our first school. Did it have a blackboard? Decorations? Computers? What were the desks like? How were they arranged?

How did the teachers present information to you? On the board? With a projector? Flipchart? Powerpoint?

How have new technologies changed education?

Do you think they have changed it for the better?

Article

What technology do schools use nowadays?

In what ways does technology help/hinder learning?

At what ages do you think children should start using the following things?

  • the internet
  • smartphones
  • tablets
  • computers
  • tv
  • watching films
  • games consoles

Give out the article and have students read it and underline any vocabulary they have problems with. They should then ask their partner for help with the vocab.

What do you think of this idea?

What are the advantages/disadvantages of this approach?

How do you think children would react to this approach?

Would you consider sending your children to this school?

Debate

Motion for debate:

“Children should not use any technology until the age of 12”

Put the class into 2 teams, try to choose the teams so that students have to argue against their own beliefs.