Last year I posted a lesson about the use of technology that generated positive comments from my students. Because of that, I have continued to keep my eyes open for new texts and videos about this topic.
An unlikely source of good texts is LinkedIn, particularly if your students are business minded. They touch on topics such as health, career and technology from a perspective that adult students are generally interested in. You can find these kinds of texts here.
Anyway, going back to technology, I thought it was time to revisit the topic and finally found a good combination of video and text to do so.
Start the lesson by showing students this picture and eliciting the names of the objects in English.
Students are likely to call the image on the top left-hand corner a ‘microwave’, the same way they tend to say ‘shoppings’ instead of ‘malls’. Make sure they get it right and then show the group the following questions:
- How have these things impacted your life? Which of these do you use the most?
- Is technology always something positive? Why?
Allow students to discuss their ideas for a few minutes and then open the discussion to the whole group. Focus on the second question, as that is closely related to the topic of the lesson.
Now show students the second picture and questions.
- Is this a problem for you and your family or friends?
- In what ways can tech use be a problem at work? Why?
Again, allow students to discuss their ideas for a few minutes and then open the discussion to the whole group. When eliciting ideas for the second question, board students contributions, as they are going to be used as a gist task for the reading.
Tell students they are going to read a text from a social media website. Show them the logo below and elicit the correct pronunciation (LINkedin). As a quick practice, get students to tell their partners whether they have a LinkedIn profile or not (and why).
Refer back to students’ ideas as how tech can be a problem at work and give them about 1 minute to see if they are mentioned in the article.
The original article can be found here and my adapted version is below.
After checking the gist question, show students these other specific information questions and give them more time to read the text.
- What did Paul Graham compare tech use to? Why?
- How can companies deal with the problem of tech use during meetings?
- What is phone stacking? Does the author think it’s a good technique to get people not to use their phones?
- How does the author suggest you can discourage tech use among friends?
Get students to compare their answers in pairs and then check with the whole group.
As a follow-up, ask students to discuss these questions in trios or small groups:
- Are mobile phones allowed during meetings in your job? In your opinion, should they be allowed or banned?
- Have you ever tried the question-asking technique suggested in the article? Do you think it might work?
- Do you have any other strategies to discourage the use of mobile phones at work or with friends?
After a few minutes of discussion, ask students to share their opinions with the whole group.
Now tell them they are going to watch a video related to the same topic (up to 2:22) and that they should pay attention to the following.
- What point is the man making in the video?
- To what extent do you agree with him?
If your students agree with the video and that technology is to blame for the lack of relationships, you can play devil’s advocate and show them this picture and questions.
- When do you think this picture was taken? What point is it making?
- Does it support the arguments made in the video? Why?
To wrap things up you may want to go back to the vocabulary from the text. These are the expressions I chose to work with
to sit idly
to take off
to play dumb
Either give students definitions for them to match or ask them to guess the meaning of the words/expressions in pairs (which works better with higher levels). Either way, concept check the expressions before moving on to practice exercises.
A simple way of giving students controlled practice of these items is to get them to ask and answer some discussion questions.
- Do you ever think disparaging thoughts about co-workers?
- Why do you think Japanese restaurants have taken off in recent years?
- Do you have time to sit idly at work or are your days always very busy?
- Have you had to tackle any difficult problems at work recently?
- In what ways are you and your parents or siblings unlike each other?
- Do you ever have to play dumb with your friends? Why?
For free practice, you could ask students to create 2 or 3 discussion questions using the words and expressions from the text. Check their written work and then get students to mingle and ask each other their questions. Finally, collect some feedback from the whole group (e.g. what were the best answers you got?)
Thanks for reading