Narcos and Breaking Bad

In my very first post on this blog I shared a lesson about drugs. Today’s post shares a common theme with it, as it presents two TV series focused on drugs, through a video snippet and a text.

The parts in this lesson are interchangeable in that you could start with either the video or the text. I’d recommend starting with the video as it tends to get students interested in a topic more than a text. I wouldn’t fault you for doing it the other way round, though.

I think it’s usually a good idea, when working with a TV series for the first time, to introduce the main characters. You coul start by showing a poster of breaking bad and asking students if they have ever watched it. With adolescent groups there is usually someone who has, so you can get him or her to tell the other students what it is about. You could also say this is considered on of the best TV series of all time and have students discuss whether dramas are generally better than comedies.

Before watching the snippet you should also introduce Gale and Gus, as they aren’t main characters and therefore may not have come up when talking about the series earlier on.

These are the while watching questions I use:

  • What kind of lab are they building?
  • Is Gale happy with it?
  • Why is Gale worried about the competition?
  • What does Gus say about the competition?

After discussing the questions in pairs and getting answers from students, you could give them another opportunity to watch the snippet, this time focusing on language. I chose the items below to work with, and you could give students a script with gaps or put these sentences on the board and cover some of the key words.

And I would like to point out that if you have any very understandable questions about the price tag.
When do you think we’ll be up and running?
Within a month, I’d say.
And I can’t, as of yet, account for the blue color, but, uh… if that is our competition, we have our work cut out for us.
You don’t have any competition, Gale, not as far as I’m concerned.
His is the best I’ve ever seen, hands down.
You’re sparing no expense.

After discussing the meaning of the expressions with students, give them a chance to practice the language in context, using questions similar to these:

Do you think people who want to study medicine or law have their work cut out for them?
Have you ever been to a birthday/wedding party where people spared no expense?
Do you mind if your friends point out things you are doing wrong?
Do you think a new mall in Jundiaí might be up and running within a couple of years?
As far as you are concerned, what is the best restaurant or bar in Jundiaí?
What is the best present you have ever received? (answer with hands down)

Once the discussion is over, show students these pictures and ask them if they have heard anything about this new Netflix Series? In pairs, tell students to say how different or similar it may be to breaking bad.


Tell students they are going to read a review of the series and that they should answer the following questions:

  • Who is the producer of the show? What film is he famous for?
  • What do they say about Wagner Moura’s performance?
  • How does the text describe Pablo Escobar’s personality?
  • After reading the article, are you interested in watching the series? Why (not)?

Review – Narcos (The NY Times)

After discussing the questions you can choose to work with the vocabulary that appears in bold in the article, or use the review as a springboard for a writing activity.

Thanks for reading.

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