Monthly Archives: April 2008

Lesson Plan: Press Censorship

The 3rd May is “World Press Freedom Day” so why not take the opportunity to discuss this important issue with our students? A great film we can use to bring about this topic is “All the president’s men”. Here you will see the trailer of the movie.

You may decide to watch the whole film with your students or concentrate on the scene in which Carl Berstein confronts the public relations executive and secures information about Mr. Dahlberg (at about one hour into the film). Before watching the film, you can discuss the meaning of free press and explain to them that they are going to watch a scene from a film about the of role the press. Students will need to have information about the Watergate case. If you find it necessary, provide them with some background information (e.g from Wikipedia)

Divide them into 4 groups and ask each group to view the film from one of the following perspectives: the investigative reporters, the editors, the people being investigated, and US Citizens. They should collect information for a debate about:

1) The techniques used by investigative reporters. What type of questions do they ask? What ethical standards do they follow?

2) What risks are involved in running a controversial story such as this? What ethical standards do editors follow?

3) How people being investigated respond to the press? How are they feeling? Are they honest?

After watching the film, give them some time in groups to organise their ideas for the debate. Then, make a whole class debate. To sum up the discussion, you might pose the following questions: What values seem to conflict with freedom of press? What can we do to ensure free press? What limits, if any, do you think we as a society should place on the press?

If you don’t have acces to a VCR or DVD player and you still want to deal with this topic, there are several lesson plans on the net. The ones I liked the most are the following two:

1) An article on press censorship in the bbc learning englich central website.

2) An article or listening activity at Breaking News English ESL Lesson Plans.

Hope you find it useful. If you have any other idea, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.


Lesson Plan: Earth Day!

Have you ever wondered how much “nature” your lifestyle requires? Why not take this opportunity (Earth Day, which is on 22nd March) to reflect upon what we are doing to our planet? You can start the class with a short warm up activity. This Ecological Footprint Quiz estimates how much productive land and water you need to support what you use and what you discard. Beware, you may be surprise at the results!

A good film that fits perfectly with this topic is Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”. Here you will find a list of questions that you can use to discuss with your students after watching the movie. You can finish the class by watching this video, which I have found in video jug, in order to promote some action. What can they do to help solving this problem?

Finally, if you want to revise making predictions (using goign to and will) you can find out whether they are pessimistic or optimistic about the future of our planet. Ask them to make some predictions. They can talk about the climate, the anvironment, energy, health, transport, agriculture and many others.

Hope you find it useful and don’t forget to share your ideas or experience with us.

Playing With Current News

Are you bored of dicussing current news with your students always in the same way? Finding a piece of news in a newspaper, True or False, questions, vocabulary work and personal reactions to the text seem to be the only way available. However, there is more to it than just that. Having a look at Larry Ferlazzo’s blog I have found another online jewel for teaching English. It is a game called Play the News, with which you will be able to have some fun with your students while working on the well-known “current affairs topic”.

Play the News is an interactive game based on current news. You are given some background information and you can watch some videos in order to get informed for the game. Then, you are asked to choose a role to voice your opinion on the subject. Finally, you are given the possibility of predicting what is going to happen in the real world. To be able to play you have to register for free.

I believe it will become a great tool in most of my Business Classes and in some General English classes too. What do you think about it? What are the possibilities that this game has to offer? As always, please if you use it, share your experience with us.

IATEFL Conference

The 42nd international IATEFL conference is about to start. If just like me, you haven’t got the opportunity of travelling to Exeter, don’t worry, you can get all the information about it by visiting the official website. There you will find lots of resources so that you can get information about what’s going on at the conference and at the same time, be able to participate and share ideas with colleagues. Among other things you will find:

  • video and audio recordings of selected sessions
  • live streamed plenaries and events
  • moderated discussion forums
  • chat sessions, interviews, reports, photo albums and a lot more!

I am currently moderating the Business English Forum so I’m really looking forward to seeing you all there.