Tiny apartments: a conversation lesson

I have a friend who is apartment hunting at the moment and every week she complains about how small and expensive apartments have become. This reminded me of a story I had seen on Facebook a while back about really tiny apartments in Asia. I thought to myself this could be a good topic for a conversation lesson.

This lesson is aimed at adult students, but could work with adolescents if they are looking to move out of their parents’ house to go to university (which is very common in Jundiaí, as 17-year-olds go to bigger cities to attend university). The vocabulary in the text is not particularly difficult, so this can be used with B1-B2 students. Consider using subtitles for the video if your students are not used to a British accent, though.


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

[Slide 1]

Tell students about your apartment or house and whether you like it or not. In pairs, students do the same thing by answering the questions. Turn it into a whole group discussion after a few minutes. Talk about the pros and cons of living in a house vs. an apartment.

[Slide 2]

Show students the gist question and board their answers. Play the video for students to check it. Elicit answers and then ask students if they were surprised by the price.

[Slide 3]

Show detailed questions and play the video again. Let students compare answers and then check with the whole group.

[Slide 4]

Tell students they are going to read a text about someone who also lives in a small apartment, but now in Japan. Give students 45 seconds to read the text and decide whose apartment is smaller (answer: Emma’s). Let students compare and then check it with the whole group.

Now show students the detailed questions and give them more time to read the text fully. Ask students to compare answers before checking with the whole class.

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


[Slide 5]

In new pairs or trios, ask students to discuss the follow-up questions. Turn it into a whole group discussion after a few minutes. Be ready to play devil’s advocate if necessary to keep the discussion going.

[Slide 6]

Go over the pronunciation of the words in bold – You may want to focus on the final y in stuffy, tiny and handy as Brazilian students tend to pronounce them like stuff or hand. You could also focus on the dark /l/ in juggle /ˈdʒʌɡ.əl/. Show students how the vowel sound comes before the L, not after as the spelling might indicate. Do some back chain drilling to help students wrap their tongues around it.

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 or pre-teach some of these before the reading. 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. If your students are not familiar with the cars mentioned in question 5, show them the image below (500 on the right and Smart on the left).



Thanks for reading

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