It was a day that changed the world forever, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 on the World Trade Centre changed how we live or lives today and travel. Anyone old enough to have been around on that fateful day on September 1th 2001 will almost certainly remember where they were and how they felt when they heard the news that two passenger planes had purposely been flown into both towers of the World Trade Centre, New York, causing the deaths of thousands of innocent lives and billions of dollars in damage.


This ESL News lesson will be very interesting to English students and they'll certainly have opinions to share about this topic. 

There are a number of reading comprehension exercises to do in this class, perfect for intermediate and advanced students, those preparing for IELTS exams, or university / adult students. 

by Stuart Allen
Published in News lesson plans
Tuesday, 09 February 2016 08:15

ESL News English: The D-Day Landings (1944)

By 1944, the Second World War was on the turn after the German forces' disasterous campaign in Russia and with the Germans also being pushed back in North Africa. The time had come for a full allied landing in Europe which would eventually lead to the end of WWII.

The 6th June 1944 will be forever known as D-Day (which stood for 'Day' Day) - the day in which the allies stormed the beaches at Normandy, France, in a bid to make a foothold in Europe and to force the European campaign.


In this ESL News English lesson, students will discuss what they know about World War Two and any other conflicts they know. They'll then practice their reading skills to learn facts about D-Day and work in pairs to find and expand their vocabulary about war and conflict. Your students will love this war-themed News English worksheet about D-Day and the Second Worls War.

by Stuart Allen


 
Published in News lesson plans
In 1986, scientists were carrying out safety checks at the nuclear power station in Chernobyl, Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union). There was an unforeseen power spike sending readings dangerously high. Minutes later, the heat inside the nuclear reactor had become so hot that the cooling rods designed to cool the reactor to safe levels had buckled and could not drop into place. From that moment, the reactor was doomed and there was a catastrophic explosion which blew off the roof of the reactor and caused radiation to be blown high into the air and the surrounding countryside. The Chernobyl Disaster is still the world's worst nuclear disaster.

The aims of this English News Lesson about Chernobyl are:

To read an authentic news article in English and improve their reading skills (e.g. reading for gist, reading for information) 

To acquire new vocabulary in a natural way (i.e. through reading a news article like we do in our native language) 
 
To have a discussion about peace in order for students to practice reasoning skills and to make them think

by Phil Senior
 
Published in News lesson plans
Tuesday, 09 February 2016 07:10

ESL News Lesson: The Peace Index

Each year, The Instutute of Economics and Peace publishes its Global Peace Index which measures how peaceful countries are around the world and the changes in peace between regions and countries. Many factors are taken into account when the peace rankings are made.

This News English lesson plan has a number of English teaching activities which centre around an article about the peace index. Students discuss which countries they think are the most and least peaceful and why they think this. Students should also match the countries which appear in the article to which continent they lie in.

There are also additional scanning and skimming activities, good for IELTS reading practice and finally a class brainstorming activity. The ability to discuss current affairs is an important element in getting a higher score in the IELTS speaking component.

Written by Phil Senior
Published in News lesson plans
Every year, millions of Chinese students face the biggest challenge of their young lives by taking on the Gaokao exam - China's be-and-end-all test to see which students can enter which university. Failure in this exam can be disaster for the dreams of many young Chinese people and they will endure many sleepless nights revising for the exam and worrying about if they will pass it.

This ESL News lesson looks at the exam in a slightly different way in that the pressure to succeed and do well in this exam is so great, that a few people will try to cheat their way to sucess in the exam.

This News English lesson will be very relevant and interesting to students, especially in China. 

There are a number of different activities for your students to do, including colloquation activites, debate and discussion activities and other comprehension excercises. This will also be good for students in later middle school, high school, university or in preparation for an IELTS or TOEFL exam.

by Phil Senior
Published in News lesson plans
Made in Britain stars Tim Roth in one of his first roles as Trevor, a teen delinquent who hates authority and refuses to conforn to what society wants or expects. Trevor is actually very intelligent, but has become disillusioned by modern 1980's Britain and the education system. He has been convicted of stealing, taking drugs, shopplifting, vandalism and violent behaviour. He has become criminal and a racist, and prison beckons if he does not change his ways. This lesson is only suitable for adults.

For this lesson, you'll need the Made in Britain DVD. In ordering this, you'll also be helping us.




Warning!
This film is for adult students ONLY! Under no circumstances should this film be shown to minors. The film shows scenes of violence and extreme racist views. The lesson plan should only be used with mature, open-minded students, who feel comfortable watching and discussing such content in an open class environment.  The use of this lesson plan is wholly at the discretion of the teacher. It is essential that the teacher watches the suggested film clips in their entirety before choosing whether or whether not to use this plan. 

ESL Adults discussion questions on teenage crime and delinquency

Show the film clips first before having the discussion. Make sure to lead-in to the activity in your own way first.


Are parents to blame for juvenile delinquency?
Should children who hate going to school be given something else to do?
Is corporal punishment a good idea for naughty children?
Should naughty children be rewarded for good behaviour with money instead of punished for bad behaviour?
Should parents of juvenile delinquents be sent to prison when their children misbehave?
How would you deal with Trevor? What is his 
future?
What kind of problems do the young have in your country?
How does your country deal with juvenile delinquency? Do you think it is a good system?
If you were in your country’s government, what would you do differently?
Will juvenile delinquency ever go away? Why/why not?
What is the cure to juvenile delinquency?
 
 
_______________________________________________________
Clip One (Start to 4:30mins)
The film starts with Trevor in court being convicted for a racist attack on an Asian man’s home. He is sent to a detention centre for children.
Clip Two (6:37mins to13:25mins)
Trevor arrives at the detention centre and is told about a contract he must sign to promise to behave. He pesters a staff member there to give him some money and goes out to the job centre. On the way, he steals a car and buys glue to sniff and get high. He abuses the job centre staff and throws a paving slab through the window.
Clip Three (18:02mins to 38:34mins)
The detention centre find out about the stolen car and refuse him lunch. He attacks the cook at the canteen for not serving him lunch. The centre workers lock him in a room to calm down and then a senior staff member come to look at his future. This scene is key for your class discussion! It is the foundation for your discussion. Stop the film and turn off the TV at “Yeah, he’s a waste of time”.

Lesson written by Stuart Allen
 
Published in Movie lessons
in Liar Liar, Jim Carey stars as a successful lawyer, who has built his career by telling lie after lie after lie. He lies in the courtroom, he lies to his friends and he lies to his family (white lies that is). 

One day he misses his sons birthday and lies about why he couldn't make it. His son, Max, wishes that his dad can't lie for 24 hours and it comes true!

Your English students will find it hilarious to watch Jim Carey unable to lie in various situations and this will be the ideal lead-in to your main speaking activity where your ESL students must lie to each other and try not to be caught out. The full lesson plan PDF with student handout is free to download below.

You can download Liar Liar on the spot right here. You'll be helping us too.








What to Do in Class

Write the word LIE on the board. Ask your students if they know or can guess what it means. Give some examples, for example, exaggerating your age or how handsome you are. Make your students laugh. After a minute or two, they will all understand the meaning of lie.
 
Ask your students if they have ever lied about something. Try to get some humorous stories.
 
Show the film clips. Follow up with a short talk about Fletcher and if he was a nice man or not.
 
Write three things about yourself on the board. Two must be true and one must be a lie. Make it difficult to guess the correct answer! Ask the students which one they think is a lie and reveal the answer right at the end. Make all three things unusual or interesting.
 
Now tell your class that they must write three questions that they need to ask other students in the class. Everyone must tell two truths, but lie once to everybody. Get your class to mingle round and write their answers on the printable student handout.

Once every student has spoken to everyone else and written down their answers on the worksheet provided, you can ask them what they think the lies were. If they can guess correctly, the liar must take a forfeit card, if they guess wrongly; the guesser must take a forfeit card i.e. Stanley, what do you think Jenny lied about? Sorry Stanley, that’s wrong. Please take a forfeit card! This is a great activity, especially as a first class topic as everyone gets to know each other! Enjoy!

Lesson by Stuart Allen
Stuart Allen
 
Published in Movie lessons
Divorce rates around the world, particularly in China, are going up and up. Kramer vs Kramer is a brilliant movie for ESL discussion classes to look at divorce, the causes of divorce, who should get what, and importantly, the custody of children after divorce.

In Kramer vs Kramer, Ted and Joanna have decided to divorce. Ted would like Joanna to come back, but she has moved on with her life and wants a clean break. After a year of travelling and starting a new life, she has now decided that she wants to fight Ted for custody of their son, Billy. Ted is against this, because she ran away for a year and he has struggled to become a good dad. Joanna feels that she is the mother and so has the automatic right to take care of their son. Students must debate and decide who should get custody of Billy.

If you want to teach this ESL divorce debate and discussion roleplay and need to by Kramer vs Kramer, then click here 








How to Approach the Lesson
 
Introduce the topic of divorce. Perhaps ask the students to get into pairs or small groups to think of problems that people might face in their adult lives. After a few minutes, write down their ideas on the board i.e. debt, job problems, marriage problems. Ask the students which of their suggestions are most common. Divorce is bound to come up and once it does, start moving the conversation wholly in this direction.
 
Ask the students what kind of problems and difficulties come as a result of divorce. The students are likely to offer things such as depression, family pressure, money and child custody. Again, once child custody is raised, talk about this in more detail.

It is important to get the child custody/divorce topic well discussed before playing the movie. It generates interest in what they are watching and the students will get far more out of the lesson.
 
Play the movie clips as shown in the free lesson plan accompanying this page. Make sure that you have watched the clips before hand so you are familiar with the clips!
After you have finished watching the clips, stop the DVD and tell the class that Joanne has come back and now wants full custody of Billy. Ask the class if they think it is fair or not and ask the class to give their reasons.
 
Divide the class into two groups. One group must argue for Ted to retain custody of Billy. The other group are in favour of Joanna getting custody of Billy. Give each student the info slip corresponding with who they support.
Tell the class that they have ten minutes to prepare arguments in support of either Ted or Joanne. After ten minutes, bring the two groups back together and let them debate who should get custody of Billy. The teacher should act as a neutral referee, only getting involved when necessary.
 
After the debate, maybe have a secret ballot to decide who gets custody of Billy. You can also have an open class discussion, using some of the divroce discussion questions below as a starter.

Divorce Discussion Questions for ESL Students

Divorce rates are climbing each year. What is the reason for this?
Should divorce be made illegal?
Do you think people get divorced to easily and quickly these days?
Who should usually get custody of children following divorce?
How much should the parent who doesn’t have custody of the child pay each month to the parent with custody?
How does divorce affect children?
Should parents ever continue in a loveless marriage to protect their children’s feelings?
Would divorce be less common if couples lived together for at least two years before marrying?
Why do celebrity marriages often end in divorce?
How do you feel about young, attractive women marrying older men i.e. a 25 year-old woman marrying a 70 year-old man? Should she get any money in the event of a divorce?
Is divorce a big problem in your country? Why?
Divorces usually end in a 50/50 settlement. Is this fair?
If you divorce, are you a failure?
 
ESL Class Divorce Debate 
 
Arguments for Ted Kramer to have full custody of Billy Kramer
Ted Kramer has looked after Billy for the past year, even though he admits that he has found it difficult
Ted quit his high salary, high pressure job to spend more time with Billy and to learn to be a better father.
Ted has proven his love for Billy
Joanna has a new job, which means that she will be working much of the time
Joanna walked out on Billy before. Maybe she will walk out on him again?
Joanna said in the lift that she was a bad mother and that Ted could look after Billy better than her.
 
Arguments for Joanna Kramer to have full custody of Billy Kramer
She is the mother and can probably look after Billy better
She is more experienced at looking after Billy, as she looked after him full-time before
She has found a new job with a high salary. Billy can now live better and go to a good school
She says that she was not thinking straight before because of the stress of living with Ted. She would never walk out on Billy again. 
Ted admits that he has found it tough to look after Billy in the last year. 

Lesson by Stuart Allen

Stuart Allen
Published in Movie lessons
John Q is about a nine-year old boy who falls dangerously ill with a previously undiagnosed heart condition. His hard-up family find that their medical insurance doesn't cover the costs of their son's illness and if they can't raise the money for an operation, their son will die. The movie investigates the problems with health systems and asks the question Should healthcare be free for all?

This movie lesson is perfect for older teens and adults who are on the topic of health or if you want to encourage a debate on whether healthcare should or can be free in your country. There is plenty of speaking and also a brilliant roleplay activity with roleplay cards should you wish to have an ESL roleplay class with caracter cards. (These cards are free to print in the downloadable lesson plan).

To buy the movie John Q for this lesson please click here




Classroom Activities to run with John Q

Activity One - Free Health Care vs Paid-Health Care debate
After watching Movie Clip Scenes 1 (please see John Q lesson plan), divide your students into two teams. One side argues for the benefits of free health care for all (but everyone’s taxes have to go up to cover it), while the other side argues for medical insurance with lower taxes for all
 
 
Activity Two - Students devise their own medical system
After watching Movie Clip Scenes 1 (please see John Q lesson plan), students must devise their own new medical system and present their system to the class. How can the Mike situation’ be avoided? The best new system is the winner and the teacher can award certificates/prizes
 
 
Activity Three - John Q scenes roleplay
After watching Movie Clip Scenes 2 (please see John Q lesson plan), hand-out to your students the role-play cards and recreate scenes from the movie! If you have a small class, you can do the whole thing or give selected scenes to groups from a larger class and put the whole thing together. Why not film it to make a mini-movie?

Lesson by Stuart Allen
Stuart Allen
 
 
Published in Movie lessons
Independence Day, which came out on the 4th July of that year, was the summer blockbuster of 1996 starring Will Smith. It's a disaster action movie with a sci-fi twist, with aliens invading the earth. Actually a very cool movie!

Teaching grammar to your ESL students doesn't need to always be boring, in fact teaching grammar to your ESL students shouldn't ever be boring! You can use Independence Day to teach a whole range of English grammar structures, but in this movie lesson to teach English, we are going to look at the differences between will and going to. This movie lesson is perfect for elementary level students learning Will vs Going to from the ages of 9 and up.

Want to do this ESL movie lesson but need Independence Day? Click here to order your copy







Preparing Before Class

You will need to make one photocopy the sentence strip sheet for each pair of students in your class. Cut up the sentence strips, shuffle them and paper clip them per pair.
 
What to Do in Class

Ask your students what their plans are for after the class. Ask them what their plans are for the evening, the weekend, the summer holiday, Christmas, whatever. Write their responses on the board. You should have a mix of I will responses and I’m going to responses.
 
Ask your students why they gave the two different responses and if there is a difference between the two. Ask them if there is a rule about which to use and when. Discuss their ideas and then write the rule on the board for them to see. Ask students to give you some examples of both.
 
Tell them that they are going to watch parts of Independence Day where they will hear will and going to being used quite frequently. 

Hand out the sentence strips to each pair and tell them that they must put them in the order that they hear them. It is a fun way to learn the rule! Good luck! 

Hand out the 'will vs going to 'grammar rule sheet after for them to take home and study.

Will vs Going to
 
Will and Going to are both used to talk about the future. But be careful, they are not the same!

Will
- Is used to talk about things in the future that we can’t control 
- Is used when we make a decision to do something while we speak. 
For example:
Maybe it will be sunny tomorrow
I think I will go to the park

Going to
    - To talk about things we have already decided to do or planned. 
- Is used when there is something in the present that tells us about the future. 
For example: 
Next month, I am going to quit my job
The team is on the pitch, the football match is going to start! 

Written by Stuart Allen

Stuart Allen China
Published in Movie lessons
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