Death by Selfie: a conversation lesson

One of the great things about being a Celta tutor is that you get to work with people that are very creative and whose ideas you can borrow. That is true for things teaching techniques and ideas for activities, but also for texts to be used with students.

Today’s lesson is based on an assignment written by Daniel Sheeran, who is one of my Celtees this semester and it is used here with his authorization. Daniel is an English Teacher from Ireland who has been living and working in Brazil since 2014. He is based in Piracicaba and is currently taking the CELTA at Seven Idiomas in Sao Paulo. He claims not to be related to Ed Sheeran, but I’m not sure I believe him.

I have used this lesson with both adults and adolescents and it worked really well even though reactions were quite different. It can be used with students who are B1+ but you will want to pre-teach some words before the reading.


The steps below are based on a PowerPoint presentation you can download from Dropbox or from Google Drive.

[Slide 1]

Show students the picture and ask them to discuss questions it in pairs. If the idea of taking a selfie doesn’t come, make sure you mentioned it.

[Slide 2]

Show students the question,  but before playing the video, ask them to brainstorm some ideas in pairs. Board their ideas and then play the video. Get students to compare answers and check which ideas had been mentioned and elicit if there are any other ideas in the video that students hadn’t come up with.

As a follow-up, ask students if they ever think about these things while posting photos online.

[Slide 3]

Show questions and elicit what an usie is. You can use the picture as an example. If you need more information, I’d recommend having a look at this article.

Give students a few minutes to discuss questions and then elicit some answers.

[Slide 4]

Tell students they are going to read a text from CBS News. Show only the header at this point.

Tell students to read the text quickly and check if any of their ideas from the previous activity appear in the text.

You can find the original text here and I also used the intro from this article. You can download my adapted version below.


After checking answers with the whole group, show them the specific information questions and let students read the text again. You may want to clarify ‘blame-free’ depending on the level of your students.

Give them a chance to compare answers and then check with the whole group.

[Slide 5]

Put students in trios and show follow-up questions. Give them a few minutes for discussion and then elicit answers from the whole group.

[Slide 6]

Go over the pronunciation of the words in bold – they are likely to mispronounce ixnay, so I have added the phonemic transcription for it. My students also tend to misplace the stress in outsource, so remind them that the stress should be on the first syllable.

Get students to guess the meanings based on the context. If you’re working with B1 students, you may want to give them definitions to match. After a few minutes, elicit their ideas and ask CCQs to double check if students know what expressions mean.

[Slide 7]

In pairs, students answer conversation questions. Feel free to change the questions so that they are more suitable for your students. These were made with adult students in mind, but if you use it with adolescents, the focus needs to be different.

Thanks for reading.

4 thoughts on “Death by Selfie: a conversation lesson

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