The Greek Crisis and The Big Bang Theory

Last week I read an article about whether tourists should still travel to Greece despite the economic crisis the country is going through. It reminded me of one of my favourite scenes from the Big Bang Theory and I thought a good lesson would come out of it. I have used it with both adult students, but I see no reason why it wouldn’t work with adolescents as well.

To set the scene I’d suggest starting with a couple of pictures and asking students what both photos have in common?


The first pictures is from the Island of Santorini and the one on the right shows a protest in Athens. If the subject doesn’t come up naturally, ask students what they know about Greece’s economic problems before showing them these follow-up questions.

  • Have you ever been to Greece? If not, would you like to?
  • Do you think now is a good time to travel to Greece? Why or why not?

After collecting feedback from the whole group, tell students they are going to read an article from the Huffington Post on the topic of travelling to Greece. Before reading, you could ask students what kind of information they expect to find in the article, and use those ideas as gist questions.

Once students have had a chance to read the text quickly, show them these additional questions.

  • What economic restrictions are there for Greek people?
  • Has tourism been affected by the restrictions?
  • What precautions should tourists take when travelling to Greece?
  • Should tourists be afraid of crime or violence?

The original article can be found here, and the adapted version is below:

Visiting Greece (The Huff Post)

If you decide to work with the lexis from the text, those are the words and expressions I chose, which appear in bold in the PDF.

to make headlines
to crumble
ATM withdrawals
a bailout deal
(fuel) shortages
to point out

After discussing the meaning of the words, it’s important to give your students a chance to use them. One way to do so is to get them to discuss questions like these:

  • Can you think of a time when someone you know made headlines?
  • Do you think Brazilian economy is crumbling?
  • Have you ever had problems withdrawing money when you were abroad?
  • Do you remember a time when there were fuel shortages in Brazil?
  • Is it easy for you to point out things that your husband/wife does wrong?

Another option is to try to link the text to the Big Bang Theory snippet I mentioned before. You should start by asking them about Greek food. If you are a big enough fan of the show you can probably see where this is going.

  • Have you ever tried Greek food?
  • Which of the dishes shown in the pictures would you like to try? Why?
  • Are there any that you wouldn’t try?


After a brief discussion, tell students they are going to watch a snippet of The Big Bang Theory. Make sure students know who Sheldon is by showing a picture of the main characters.

These are the while-watching questions.

  • What kind of food are they eating?
  • What does Sheldon think they should be eating?
  • Why was the type of food changed?
  • What’s Sheldon’s opinion of the lamb kebab?

As a follow-up you could ask students if anyone in their family is a fussy eater and what kinds of problems it creates. Alternatively, you can play the video again and use this gapped transcript to focus on language.

TBBT – Transcript – 4×21


delightfully cruel


out of business

turns out

nothing if not

think about it

charred meat

You can wrap things up with some conversations questions so that students can use these words and expressions in context.

  • Have you ever needed to hire an attorney?
  • Can you think of any shops or restaurants that went out of business in your city?
  • Do you know anyone who likes eating charred meat? How do you prefer your meat?
  • Have you ever been to an event that turned out to be much worse than expected?
  • Do you consider yourself to be nothing if not adaptable?

Thanks for reading

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