Casey Affleck and International Women’s day: a conversation lesson

At this time last year, I posted a lesson about the International Women’s Day. I wanted to tackle the same theme this year but wasn’t sure how to go about it. And then the Oscar happened.

Now, for most people, the most memorable moment of the Oscar was the fumbled best picture award, but I was more interested in the controversy surrounding Casey Affleck’s win. Then Audrey Duarte shared a very interesting article on the topic and my mind was off to the races.

This lesson is aimed at adult students but it can also be used with young adults. The level is aimed at B2-C1 both because of the length of the text and its vocabulary.

Finally, if you liked this lesson you may also want to check out this one about Hollywood Whitewashing.


The steps below are based on a PowerPoint presentation you can download from Dropbox or from Google Drive. [EDIT: corrected a typo on slide 3]

[Slide 1]

Show students Casey Affleck’s picture and ask them to discuss the questions. Even if they are not movie buffs they will likely be able to say he’s an actor who has won an Oscar. You can try to elicit films he has worked in (there’s a full list here) and ask students if they have watched/liked them.

[Slide 2]

Now ask students if they know why his Oscar win was controversial. Board their guesses and then play the video.

Let students compare answers and then check with the whole group. As a follow-up you can ask students what they would do if they were in Brie Larson’ situation.

[Slide 3]

Tell students they are going to read an article from Elle magazine.

Tell students they only have 45 seconds to read the text and they have to decide if it is in favour or against Casey Affleck. Give them a copy of the text, but fold out the title.

After 45′ let students compare answers and then check it with the whole group. Make sure you ask the to justify their opinions.

After that, show students slide 3 with detailed questions. Check the meaning of harassment (it appears in the text in blue). Give them more time to read the text (2-3 minutes) and let them compare answers again before checking with the whole group.

You can find the original article here and my adapted version below. I had to adapt it for length, but it’s definitely worth reading it in full.

What We Lose When We Give Awards to Men Like Casey Affleck (Elle)

[Slide 4]

Put students in trios or small groups. Ideally, each group will have at least one man and one woman. Show them follow-up questions and give students time to discuss them.

During feedback, it may be a good idea to play devil’s advocate to keep the discussion going. Alternatively, you can make this a debate, with half the class defending the position that his punishment should be up to the courts and the other half defending the article’s position that he shouldn’t be able to run for awards.

You can also connect this more directly with International Women’s day and ask students how much there is to celebrate in light of things like this year’s Oscars.

[Slide 5]

Go over the pronunciation of the words in bold – You may want to focus on the catenation in the phrasal verbs (get away with and rack up). It’s likely that students have never seen the word chortle before and pronounce it as /ˈkɔːr.t̬əl/. The correct pronunciation is /ˈtʃɔːr.t̬əl/

Get students to guess the meanings based on the context or 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 6]

In pairs, students answer conversation questions. Feel free to change the questions so that they are more suitable for your students.

Thanks for reading.

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