Is Technology Always a Good Thing?

It’s funny how lessons can sometimes come from the most unexpected of places. A couple of weeks ago I was looking for a snippet to use with an advanced level class that included a sample of the passive voice. I found one I liked, and it turns out the snippet had both good language and an interesting topic – technology.

So, after my passive voice lesson I went looking for a text that would match the video I had. I ended up finding two, and they both had points I thought were interesting. Now, usually the texts I use on the blog are authentic (adapted for length), but I can’t claim this is the case here, as I merged both texts into one.

I suggest starting this lesson with the following question to see where your students stand. Depending on their age or profession, they will be more or less likely to agree with the statement. Get them to talk about it in pairs or small groups than elicit people’s opinions.

  • Is technology always a good thing?

After the initial discussion, show the group this picture and elicit which aspect of technology it shows. Hopefully, this will lead to a discussion about the possible negative aspects of technology.


Now tell students they are going to read a text about the negative effects of Technology.

The original texts are here and here. My own version is below.

Why Technology Isn’t Always a Good Thing

If you want a gist question, give the text to students without the title and ask them whether the author has a positive or negative view of technology. Make sure to set a short time limit for this activity and remember to ask students to justify their answers.

When reading the text for detail you could get students to answer these questions:

  • Why does she think technology may not always be a good thing?
  • How does it affect adults and adolescents?
  • What does she think schools should teach children?

As a follow up, ask students to what extent they agree with the author.

If you decide to work with the language from this article, these are the words I’d choose. Six or seven words is the number that works best with my Upper-intermediate students.

to feel foreign
rather than
a burden
to fret about
a shift
go the way of the buffalo

Once students have discussed meaning and you have clarified the more difficult words, you could use these questions for some contextualized controlled practice.

  • Did your parents use to fret about you and your siblings when you were children?
  • Is there anything/anyone that is a burden in your life at the moment?
  • Does writing with pen and paper feel foreign to you?
  • Which technologies do you think are going the way of the buffalo in the near future?
  • When you go out with friends, to you prefer going to a restaurant rather than a bar?

Alternatively, you may want to carry one talking about technology and use this snippet from Bones. Introduce the main characters (using this picture, for example) and then show students the while-watching questions.

  • What is their relationship?
  • Do they agree on whether technology is good or bad?
  • What is Booth’s opinion of blogs?
  • Is Bones tactful?
    (It’s probably a good idea to pre-teach tactful.)

Let students compare their answers in pairs. After you have checked it, ask students to discuss if they are more similar to Booth or Bones when it comes to technology.

You also have the option of working with language here. I’d focus on the following words and expressions.

to scoff at something
to take a jab at someone
to slam someone
(not) be your strong suit
to lose your temper
to mutter

Notice that scoff and mutter are not words the characters say. I used the script made for the hearing impaired, which you can find below.

Bones – Season 9 Episode 8

To wrap things up, get students discussing these questions. You could also ask them to come up with their own questions or write sentences about themselves using these words and expressions.

  • Do you remember a time when somebody scoffed at your ideas?
  • Which English skills are your strong suit? (speaking, reading, listening or writing)
  • Do you lose your temper easily? If so, what kinds of things make you angry?
  • When was the last time you took a jab at one of your friends? Did you mean it or was it just for fun?
  • When you are angry at people, do you say it to their faces or do you mutter it under your breath?

Thanks for reading.

2 thoughts on “Is Technology Always a Good Thing?

  1. Pingback: Is technology always a good thing? (part 2) – A conversation lesson | ricardo barros elt

  2. Pingback: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish | ricardo barros elt

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