Protests in Brazil: a conversation lesson

This is the second time in less than a year when I have prepared a lesson about protests in Brazil. My political bias aside, I think this is an important part of the nation’s zeitgeist.

This is undoubtedly a controversial topic. Much like the last few lessons I have posted, some sensitivity may be in order when choosing which groups to use it with.

Lastly, although some adolescents students  may not be old enough to vote, I believe this is a topic that will interest adults and teenagers alike.

Start the lesson by showing students this picture and ask them to tell their partners the first things that spring to mind.


Give students a couple of minutes to discuss their ideas and then ask for contributions and board them.

Now tell students they are going to watch a video about the protests in Brazil on Sunday, March 13. They should pay attention to whether any of the ideas they came up with are mentioned in the video.

As an additional question, you could ask students if, according to the video, the protests are seen as positive, neutral or negative.

Once they have watched the video, get students to discuss their answers in pairs. After about two minutes, elicit answers from the whole group.

Play the video again and now tell students to pay attention to the following:

  • How many people protested in São Paulo?
  • What is the reason for the impeachment bid?
  • How much did the economy shrink last year?

Students check compare their answers in pairs, then check with the whole group.

To follow this up, get students into trios and ask them to discuss this question:

  • Did you attend the protests on Sunday? Why or why not?

After three or four minutes, turn this into a whole class discussion and let students share their opinions.

Now tell students they are going to read an article from The New York Times discussing the motivations behind Sunday’s protests. The original article can be found here and my adapted version is below:

Protests in Brazil (NYT)

Before reading, ask students to brainstorm five words they think might appear in the article (content words, not things like the or is). Board their suggestions and then give students 60 seconds to look at the article and find the words on the board.

After that, give them more time to read the text properly and answer the following questions (You may want to clarify step down)

  • How many cities held protests on Sunday?
  • Is there an agreement on how many people protested in São Paulo?
  • Why are people angry at the government, according to the article?
  • Who led the protests, according to the article?
  • Does the president plan to step down?

Get students to compare their answers before checking with the whole group.

As a follow-up, ask students if they know the meaning of ‘reach rock bottom’ and ‘a military coup’. Clarify meaning, if necessary, and work on the pronunciation of coup.

Now ask them to discuss these questions in trios or small groups.

  • Do you agree with the portester who said Brazil has reached rock bottom? Why?
  • Do you agree with the protestter who supports a military coup? Why?

(Disclaimer: I do not support a military coup in any way. I do, however, think it makes for an animated discussion)

To wrap things up I assigned a writing task for my students. The theme was: Is there a solution to the problems in Brazil? I’m looking forward to reading the answers.

Alternatively, if you really want to watch the world burn, you can get students to discuss their opinion on the viral photo of a couple who attended the demosntration with their babysitter. Are they in favour or against the couple?

Protests in Brazil - Nanny

Thanks for reading.

One thought on “Protests in Brazil: a conversation lesson

  1. Pingback: Impeachment, what happens next? – A conversation lesson | ricardo barros elt

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