Netflix and online piracy – a conversation lesson

Last year I read Australian newspapers quite often as I was preparing a student to go on a 6-month exchange to Melbourne. I have actually already posted one of the lessons I prepared for him, about Vegemite.

Another lesson was about Netflix in Australia and how it can be compared to what we have in Brazil. I have recently used this lesson again, in light of internet providers trying to limit the amount of data broadband connections can use. This lesson can be used with both adults and adolescents and my students have enjoyed it so far.

Start the lesson by showing students the logo and eliciting the correct pronunciation. Much like Facebook, Brazilian students tend to stress the second syllable. The correct pronunciation is /’net.flɪks/.


After that, ask students to discuss the questions below:

  • Haver you ever used Netflix?
  • If so, how much does it cost? Do you think it’s worth it?
  • If not, how much do you know about the service?
  • What are the pros and cons of using Netflix?

Collect their ideas as a whole group after a few minutes and board their suggestions of the pros and cons of Netflix.

Now tell students they are going to read an article about Netflix in Australia. Ask them if they think Netflix in Australia is better, the same or worse than the one we have in Brazil. As a gist task, students read the text to confirm their guesses and to see if any of the pros and cons from their initial conversation are mentioned in the text. How does this situation compare to Brazil?

My students have said that the situation in Australia is either the same or worse than in Brazil (taking into account things like internet speed, prices and availability of content). If that’s the case with your students, ask them if they think this is surprising.

The original article can be found here and my adapted version is below.

Dear Netflix (The Age)

After discussing the answers for the gist tasks, tell students to read the text again and find the answers to these questions:

  • How much do streaming subscription services cost in Australia?
  • Was the author able to find the films she was looking for on Netflix?
  • What does she say about the prices on services like iTunes?
  • Why do people resort to illegal downloads in Australia?
  • Will the site-blocking bill stop illegal downloads?

You may want to clarify ‘resort to’ and ‘a bill‘.

Let students compare answers in pairs and then check with the whole group.

As a follow-up, students can watch a video about internet piracy. Ask them to pay attention to the following things.

  • In what ways are people who download films and music different?
  • What points from the video overlap with what is said in the article?

You can use the subtitle feature for this video as the presenter speaks quite fast (and the subtitles work well).

Put students in pairs or trios to discuss their answers. Elicit their ideas and then ask if they think it’s also true in Brazil that film pirates spend a lot of money on legal entertainment.

Alternatively, you can go back to the text and explore the vocabulary highlighted in bold.

be ripped off

give or take

to binge-watch

be (right) up your alley

a gripe

to trawl (through)

be unaddressed

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. Make sure you double check ‘give or take‘ as some of my students thought it meant ‘take it or leave it’. You may also want to draw their attention to the final /t/ sound in ripped.

For some contextualized practice, you could get students to discuss the questions below.

  • Do you binge-watch any TV series? Do you trawl through Netflix looking for new series to watch?
  • What kinds of books and films are up your alley?
  • What are the main gripes people have about living in your city?
  • How many years have you studied English, give or take?
  • What unaddressed issues would you like the interim government to deal with?
  • Can you think of a time when you felt ripped off (e.g. by a shop assistant or taxi driver)?


Thanks for reading

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