DNA Journey: a conversation lesson

My wife sent me a video some weeks ago that I knew would be able to generate some interesting conversation. However, at the time, I couldn’t come up with an idea for a text for it and just saved it for future use.

Yesterday I came across the video again, this time on Facebook, and remembered having read something about Trump coming from an immigrant family. I put two and two together and a conversation lesson was born.

This is aimed at adult students, but could easily be used with teenagers who are 15-18, or any group that you think is mature enough to deal with the idea of heritage.


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

[Slide 1]

You can start the lesson by briefly telling students about your family and where they come from. After that, put students in pairs and get them to discuss the questions.

You may want to check the meaning of the word heritage with your students. This is a useful definition for ‘family heritage’: Family Heritage is what gets handed down to you from past generations of your family. You can inherit many things like nationality, ethnicity, traditions, names or heirlooms.

[Slide 2]

Tell students they are going to watch a video where people who live in England answer similar questions. Show questions to students and then play the video up to 2:13.

Let students compare answers before checking with the whole group.

[Slide 3]

Ask students what they think the results are going to be and board ideas. Show them the questions on slide 3  and then play the rest of the video.

Again, let students compare answers and check with the whole group.

As a follow-up, ask students if they it would be a good idea for people to go on a DNA journey and why. Don’t give students much time for this discussion or it may end up overlapping with the post text discussion.

[Slide 4]

Show students the picture and ask them to guess who the people are as a whole group. Give students 40 seconds to read the text and check their guesses.

You can find the original text here, and I also included a sentence about Trump’s mother from this article. My adapted version below.

For Donald Trump_s Family, an Immigrant_s Tale With 2 Beginnings (NYT)

[Slide 5]

Show students detailed questions and give them more time to read the whole text. Allow students to compare answers and the check with the whole class.

[Slide 6]

In new pairs or trios, ask students to discuss these follow-up questions. When you get opinions from the whole class, ask students to justify their opinions.

[Slide 7]

Go over the pronunciation of the words in bold – You may want to focus on gee /dʒiː/ and nee /neɪ/, as students may think they rhyme. Also mention the catenation in ‘go out of your way to’ and ‘come of age’.

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 8]

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

Thanks for reading.

4 thoughts on “DNA Journey: a conversation lesson

  1. The video will be perfect for our class, and just what I was looking for! We are going over a section in a National Geographic textbook called “Tracing Migration Through DNA”. Thank you very much!!


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