Why Norway Is Full Of Teslas

Tesla car

Today I’d like to share a lesson I’ve made with my fellow teachers. This lesson is about electric cars and how popular they’ve become in Norway. I hope this can help you in your class and give your students some extra economic-related vocabulary they could use. Thanks to Anton for suggesting the YouTube channel I took the video from.

So, let’s get started:

1) Ask your students some questions in the first slide to get them interested in the topic. Get feedback and find out what your students associate Tesla with. You can ask them if they would like to have a Tesla car.

2) Ask your class if electric cars are becoming more popular and if they think these cars have a future.

3) I divided the video into parts, so before your students watch the first part, give them a gist question:

How many electric cars were purchased in Norway last year compared to other cars?

When they’ve answered your question, you can ask them if they think Tesla cars will become more common in their own country.

4) The second part of the video deals with the reasons why Norway is full of Teslas so, before students watch the video, give them 2 questions:

1. Why do you think Norwegians are buying more electric cars?
2. What incentives can stimulate people to buy these kinds of cars?

And have them watch the second part of the video and compare their answers.

5) Give your students the true or false statements taken from the first 2 parts of the video and have them correct the ones that are false. Ask your students to compare their ideas in pairs before getting feedback.

6) Ask your students 3 questions:

1. How many charging stations do you think there are in Oslo?
2. How much do people pay to charge their electric cars?
3. How can the government fund the subsidies mentioned in the second part of the video and why do you think they’re doing it?

Then, have them watch the third part of the video and compare their answers.

7) The third part of the video raises an ethical issue, because Norway is selling fossil fuels but is also promoting going green. Ask your students how they think Norwegian people feel about burning and selling fossil fuels while promoting going green in the country?

Then, have them watch the fourth part of the video and ask your students if they agree with Tor’s opinion. You can ask them what other countries are promoting going green and ask them how important they think it is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

8) Give your students the next set of True or False statements based on parts 3 and 4 and have them correct the ones that are false. Ask your students to compare their ideas in pairs before getting feedback.

9) Give your students sentences taken from the video and ask them to match the words to the right sentences. Get feedback and ask your students to explain in a few words what they think the words mean.

10) To give your students extra practice using these words, ask them to work in groups and make questions using these words to ask the other group. The groups have to decide how to answer these questions together and reach an agreement.

11) Give your students some questions to discuss together in pairs and get feedback from them.

12) As a final activity, you can divide your students into 2 groups hold a debate whether the local government should motivate people to buy electric cars. Have each group think of the advantages and disadvantages of using electric cars. You can allow them to use the internet to find out more information about such cars and, possibly, situations where electric cars were useful or harmful to people (Accidents, success stories from countries like Norway). You can ask your students write their arguments on the board so they can reference them when speaking.

Once your students are done debating, you can hold a vote to choose 2 strongest arguments from each group and to see which group was more convincing.

I hope your students will enjoy this lesson, and I’d like to know what you think about electric cars. Will we see Teslas everywhere in the next decade or do you think that they won’t be able to substitute gasoline-powered cars?

Let us know in the comments section. 🙂

A Clockwork Lesson

Droogs by Paul Stevenson. License: CC BY 2.0

Since I mostly teach people whose mother tongue is Russian, one common thing they have is that they often read without really thinking about what they are reading. They may focus on each word so much that they would mispronounce them and often ask you the meaning of a word, not noticing that it collocates with something else giving them a context. I figured that by taking an extract or two from “A Clockwork Orange” written by Anthony Burgess where the heroes use a made up language that mixes English words with Russian ones I could help them think more about what they’re reading and the right way of pronouncing some words. 🙂

Here’s what I did and what you can also do with your students:

1) Ask your students if they like reading books. What was the last book they’ve read? Is it easy for them to understand books in English? Ask them what they do when they find words they don’t understand.

2) Write down Nadsat on the board. Ask your students what they think it means but don’t confirm any answers yet. Then, write A Clockwork Orange on the board and ask your students if they’ve seen the movie or read the book and what they think about it (Or what they think it’s about if they have no idea what this is). You can tell them that the book speaks about the relationship between a person and the government, morality and being good or bad. Show your students a trailer and ask them to think while watching what Nadsat means.

3) Divide your students to Student A and Student B. Regroup them if you want to. Do a jigsaw reading. Each student reads their own parts of the reading and underline the things that they’ve seen in the video. Find out what they’ve underlined.

4) Give the students 14 True or False statements and, since Students A & B have different texts, tell them to skip the questions they can’t answer. Then, put Students A & B in pairs and have them compare and explain their answers to each other before getting feedback.

5) Ask your students to look at their texts, make a short plan of them and tell their partner what they’ve read.

6) At this point I usually tell students that while there is a method of reading books which puts the translation and meaning after the words in the original language (It’s called Ilya Frank’s Reading Method), I believe reading should be done for fun and, in order to enjoy the books we read, sometimes it’s more useful to guess the meaning from the context instead of always looking at dictionaries and losing interest in the book itself. Anyway, give your students the next exercise where they have to work out the meaning of the words in Nadsat in pairs and then, after you get feedback from your students, have them find other words in this “language” in their texts and try to work out the meaning as well as the words they find hard to understand in pairs. Get their ideas and correct them if necessary.

7) Tell your students that the method they’ve read about was called The Ludovico Technique and write it down on the board. Ask them if they think this method is effective in curing young people from committing crimes and have them give reasons for their opinions.

8) Give your students 8 questions to discuss in pairs. When they’re done, have them share their ideas with the class.

9) In A Clockwork Orange the Government plays an important role and its aim is to suppress individuals and individual choice in favor of the stability of the State so that it can survive. The Government is ready to do everything in its power, including distributing propaganda and censorship, employing shady techniques to “reform” the criminals, and employing criminals as state patrol to threaten other citizens and achieve this stability.

So this can be used to start a debate. Write down on the board:

Should the government take action in fighting young criminals?

You can divide your class to two groups. One of which would speak for the idea and the other one – against it.

If you have enough time, you can also ask students to debate this question too:

Which is a more moral person: a kid who consistently but freely chooses to do evil deeds over good ones or a reformed criminal who has been brainwashed to choose only good deeds?

10) For a final activity, have your students work in groups of 3 people as a commission for juvenile criminals’ rehabilitation. Your students should make a program to prevent juvenile criminals from committing crimes.

They must think:

1) What will they do to help young people?
2) How will they promote their program?
3) What problems can their program have and what will they do to solve them?
4) Where will they get the money to implement this program?

When they’re done, have your students present their programs and you can have a class vote of the best program, the most useful one, the most realistic one and the shadiest one.

Did romance get killed by technology?

Here’s a lesson I’ve done using a Funny Or Die video about how phones are making us less romantic and motivated. I decided to use it to both give my students extra practice at listening, as well as to revise the Present Continuous. For my fellow teachers, I’ll share how you can use this video in your lesson.

As with most of the authentic content, there are some things to keep in mind if you decide to use this video:

1. In the beginning of the video, Josh starts writing a poem and, if you used this video with Pre-Intermediate students like I have, you may need to tell your students that what he’s writing isn’t important for them.

2. The video features the F-word (Once) and you may have to pre-teach the word “hangover”.

1) To warm students up, ask them about their free time, what they do when they have it, how often they use their phones and if it’s easy for them to stay focused when their phone is online and why/why not. Alternatively, you can print out the questions and ask your students to ask each other these questions and then get feedback from them.

2) Tell your students that they’re going to watch a video. Ask them to find out what the man sent to the girl.

3) Have your students work in pairs and put the events they’ve seen in the video in the right order. When they’re done, have them watch the video again to check their answers.

4) Have your students work out which statements are true and false, compare their answers with their partners and check the answers by watching the video once more.

5) Ask your students:

1) How does the situation in the video make you feel?
2) What do you do when you get too many messages?
3) What emotions do you have when you get too many phone calls and texts?
4) When you text someone, are your texts usually long or short? Why?

6) The next thing I do is transition the second half of the lesson to be devoted to the Present Continuous. Since I teach online, the presentation below has students completing examples of positive, negative sentences and questions, but feel free to do something else to give your student the meaning, form and pronunciation.

7) Next, have your students complete some sentences using the Present Simple or Present Continuous and get feedback from them.

8) To keep things related to the video they’ve seen, tell your students that a few days later, Liz called Josh and he invited her for dinner. Have your students complete the dialogue they had using the proper tense and then have them take turns playing the roles of Liz and Josh to practice their pronunciation.

9) As a final activity, ask your students if they remember how Josh met Liz. Tell your students that they will work in pairs to play the roles of Josh and Liz at the bar. Students who will be Josh will have a handout with some questions he could ask Liz and Liz will answer these questions. Students can take roles getting to know each other and add their own questions to make the meeting more interesting.

10) To follow up, ask the students how their evening was, if they liked Josh and if Josh got Liz’s phone number and do an error correction based on what the students have said during the final activity.

I hope you like this lesson, if you’ve got some ideas you think would work better or some suggestions you’d like to offer to make it even more memorable and useful to the students, I’d love to hear what you think in the comments section. 🙂

Dining at The Pearl

Today I wanted to share a lesson I’ve done on Passives and I was inspired by a video shot by Deutsche Welle about a restaurant that happens to be underwater.

WaterYou can watch the video here and download the handout here.

Here’s what you need to do.

1. Ask your students the questions below:

1) What are the strangest restaurants you’ve ever heard of?
2) What do you think makes these restaurants appealing to people?
3) Are these restaurants weird in a positive or a negative way?
4) Would you ever want to have dinner underwater? Why/Why not?

2. Tell them you’re going to watch a video about a special restaurant in Belgium. Ask your students to find out how the customers felt about their dining experience.

3. Give them the True/False sheet and have them work out which statements are false and correct them.

4. Have students match the words they’ve heard in the video with their definitions or synonyms. You may ask them questions using these words to check their understanding of them (e.g. What do you have to contend with at work? Have you ever tinkered with any of your devices?)

5. Now you can use sentences 4 and 5 from the True/False sheet to elicit the grammar in them (Passives). Ask them what changes do we make to form the passives. I’ve even included a table for the students to refer to when doing the exercise, but if you prefer using the board instead that’s fine too.

6. Have students try to complete the sentences taken from the video, elicit answers, but don’t confirm them. When they’re done, have them watch the video again to check their answers.

7. At this point, I ask the students if watching the video made them want to have dinner in such a restaurant and why/why not. You can ask them what dishes they’d like to try there and whether such an idea would be popular in their own country. Ask your students if they’d like to find out more about this restaurant.

8. Give your students the extract from an article about the restaurant. Have them circle the option which they think fits best. Then, ask them to compare their answers with their peers before checking them with you.

9. To sum it up, tell your students to imagine that they’ve decided to start their own restaurant. Have them share their vision of their ideal restaurant with a partner and, to give them extra practice, tell them to think about:

• Where the restaurant is located
• What meals are cooked in their restaurant?
• What can be bought for $20 in their restaurant?
• What special offers are being offered for the customers?
• What ingredients will be bought for their meals and where they will be bought.

When the students are done, ask them to share their ideas, choose the better restaurant in their pairs and then you can have the class vote on the most original restaurant.

On a side note, would you like to dine in The Pearl and whom would you invite with you? (I know I do) 🙂

The Invention Of Dr. Nakamats

I used to teach Advanced level teens using the Real Life book and, I must say, that both me and the students hated this book. There was a lesson devoted to the eccentric inventor Yoshiro Nakamatsu, who is one of the world’s most prolific inventors and I decided that I couldn’t let the book give them a bad impression of the man so I made things a bit differently.

Here’s what I did and what you may want to do with your class:

1) Ask your students to go to the board and write as many inventors as they can remember in 2 minutes. You can have them compete against each other in groups.

2) Ask your students to take out their smartphones and install an app called Kahoot. Then, let them try this quiz.

3) After the quiz, ask the students what all these inventions have in common. (By now, they would’ve figured out that all these inventions were made in Japan). Tell them that they were made by the same person and that the students are going to watch a video about him.

4) Students watch The Invention of Dr. Nakamats and answer two questions: How many patented inventions does Dr. Nakamats have?
How does he improve his performance?

5) Give students True/False statements and after they’ve tried to do them, watch the video again to check their answers.

6) Have the students discuss the questions below in pairs and get feedback when they’re done.

7) Ask the students if watching the trailer made them want to see the documentary itself. Then, ask your students “If I asked you to describe his personality, what would you say and what kind of adjectives can you use to describe him?”

8) Give students the gap-fill exercise, but tell them to forget about the gaps and just read the sentences finding at least 1 fact which wasn’t mentioned about Dr. Nakamats in the video.

9) Print out cards with the vocabulary from the gap-fill and give it to the students, students take one card and explain their understanding of the words to their partner. Elicit their ideas before clarifying the adjectives.

10) Students fill in the gaps using the proper adjectives.

11) Write down this quote by Seneca “There is no great genius without some touch of madness“. Ask students if they agree with this quote and why. Ask the students which other inventors were known to be eccentric. You can have a discussion why there may be a relationship between unusual behaviour and creativity.

12) Tell your students, that many of the inventions that Dr. NakaMats has invented are called Chindogu (Weird tools) in Japan because they are everyday objects which are, in fact, useless. You can tell your students that the selfie stick was considered as a Chindogu and featured in a book in 1995 but has now become more popular and useful than it was in the past.

13) Nominate two students to be “sponsors”. The rest of the class should work in 2-3 groups to be the “inventors”. The “inventors” must create their own Chindogu and think of a pitch for the “sponsors”. Give the “sponsors” the Sponsor’s handout. The “sponsors” will make notes of the inventions they see and each “sponsor” must ask the “inventors” at least 1 question. Once all the “inventors” have finished speaking, the “sponsors” will choose which team they will sponsor and why.

Can people date their computers?

This is a lesson I’ve had with scenes from one of my favorite dramas called “Her”, featuring Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johanson. The movie is about a man who falls in love with an intelligent operating system. There’s a great scene which can be used to practice Past Simple and Present Perfect, or you can get students to talk about technology in a new way for them.

Here’s what you need to do:

1) Ask your students if they are in a relationship. How long they’ve been in their relationships and ask them to describe what they like about their partners to their fellow students.

2) Get feedback from the whole class.

3) Ask students what’s the best way to get to know somebody and why.

4) When students have spoken about dates, ask them if they’ve had a date go wrong and what happened (But don’t push them if they don’t want to talk about it)

5) Tell students that they’re going to watch a video about a date. Show them the first part and ask what relationship do the characters have but don’t confirm any answers yet.

6) Show students the second part and ask them what did they sign, students will have guessed by now that the characters are signing divorce papers.

7) Have students watch the third part and discuss the questions with their partners:

1. What does Theodore mean when he says “You are your worst critic?”

2. What makes Theodore cry?

3. How long has Theodore been dating someone new?

4. How did he describe his girlfriend?

5. How did Catherine react to Theodore’s description?

8) Before showing students Part 4, ask them to imagine in pairs what Theodore’s new girlfriend looks like. Get feedback from the students and show them the last part. Ask them if the situation surprised them.

9) Ask students how Catherine reacted to the information. Then, ask them if they agree with her opinion of Theodore’s relationship. Also, you can ask them how would they react if they found out that their partner was dating a computer and why they think Theodore started dating his Operating System.

10) To practice their listening skills, as well as the tenses. Have them fill-in the gaps using the sentences spoken during the video and when they’re done, have them check their answers by watching the whole video.

11) Ask students how often they use their computers and smartphones. Ask if they think they’re too attached to them. Ask them how they can limit their use of their devices. Then, after getting feedback, ask students if they think the situation in the movie can happen in real life.

12) Tell students that in China, some men have actually married robots. Divide the classroom into 2-4 groups (depending on how many students you have) for and against marriage to robots. Give them time to think of ideas to support their point of view. For fun, when students are done debating, you can switch roles and have the ones for robot-human marriage speak against it and vice versa. Award the groups with points and have the class choose which group had the best ideas and why.