Tobleronegate: a conversation lesson

To Brazilians, the strategy of reducing the weight of a product while continuing to charge the same price is nothing new. So I was a bit shocked to see how Brits reacted to what happened to Toblerone in England. What do I know, maybe they are right to complain and we’re the fools for letting these kinds of things slide.

I first came across this news in a Brazilian magazine and only then did I go online to find out how big a deal this was in the UK and that #tobleronegate was trending on Twitter. I wanted to hear what my students had to say about this matter, so I went looking for an article and video and came up with this lesson.

This can be used with students who are adults or adolescents. Their level should be B2 or above, but it can also be used with B1 students with some pre-teaching.

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Thanksgiving: a conversation lesson

Many of the lessons I post on the blog are things I come across during the previous week, reacting to things that are happening in the world or to things I read or watch. This one, however, had been waiting in the wings for a while.

Although Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Brazil, most people who study English know about it, because of how often it is depicted in American films and TV series. I thought this text, which focuses on family, would be an ideal way to talk about it.

This lesson is aimed at adult students who are B1 and above. I haven’t tried using it with adolescents, but if you do, make sure you change the questions in the last slide.

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Doing things alone: a conversation lesson

I think I’ve said it before, but one of the biggest sources of inspiration for the lessons I post here is Facebook. So many of my friends are teachers and they are always sharing interesting articles and ideas. This lesson is no different, based on something Isabela Villas Boas shared a week or so ago.

Personally, I’m a fan of doing things alone, but I wanted to find out how my students felt about it. This is aimed at  adults and young adults who are B2 or higher. However, much like other lessons, some pre-teaching of vocabulary would make this accessible to B1 students as well.

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Life before the internet: a conversation lesson

A couple of weeks ago I read an article on Facebook describing the last generation that remembers life before the internet. Most of my adult students belong to that group (as do I), so I thought  this could lead to some interesting conversation.

This lesson is aimed at students who are 30 or older, but if you have a classroom with a mix of students where about half of them are over 30, this could also work well. In that case, you probably want to pair people up in such a way that they can share their different experiences.

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A Halloween conversation lesson for adults

It’s that time of the year again. If you are into Halloween there are a plethora of materials out there. For starters, you may want to check out the vocabulary lessons I posted last year. In addition to that, check out Eduardo de Freitas’ materials. He has Halloween lessons for all levels with great handouts. Finally, if you are looking for a reading Halloween lesson for advanced students give Beatriz Solino’s blog a go.

As for my lesson today, I feel like adults are often ignored during Halloween, as teachers are worried about activities for children and pre-teens. With this in mind, this is a conversation lesson to be used with adults or young adults – better to be safe and do it with students who are over 18, as the topic of the text may be sensitive.

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Gender diversity at work: a conversation lesson

I have only ever worked as an English teacher, and maybe because of that, my initial thoughts about gender diversity at work are biased. Along the years, most of my co-workers and bosses have been women (7 of the coordinators/managers I have worked with directly were women and only two were men).

However, when talking to students in other professions, I realised that their reality is the complete opposite of that. So, when I found an article that touched on this issue, I thought it would generate some interesting discussion with my students.

This lesson is aimed at adult students who are B1+. I could be wrong, but I’m not sure adolescents, regardless of their level, would have much to say about it.

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Brazil’s Trump? – a conversation lesson

Last week I wrote in a comment on BrELT that religion is a topic I”m afraid to talk about in English lessons. Politics is, on the other hand, fair game.

Two weeks ago Brazilians voted to elect their new mayors and there was one candidate in particular that proved to be very controversial, at least according to my Facebook timeline. After João Doria’s win in São Paulo, I came across a couple of articles in English comparing him to Donald Trump and thought that could lead to an interesting discussion with my students.

This lesson is aimed at adult students who are B2, although you can use it with B1 students as well with some pre-teaching of vocabulary for the text.

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Commuting: a business conversation lesson

I have been going to São Paulo once a week for the past year. Because of that, the topic of commuting has been on my mind quite frequently and I thought it would be a good topic for a conversation lesson.

This is a lesson aimed at adult students, particularly those who deal with long commutes. However, I have also used it successfully with students that have short commutes. The former get to think whether their life-choices are worth it while the latter get asked what would take for them to give their short commutes.

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A vocabulary lesson based on Glee

Some weeks ago BrELT organized its first online event, the BrELT Queer Day. During one of the talks I told my friend Thiago Veigga about the first time I remembered bringing up the topic of sexuality with my students. I did a little digging recently and it turns out it was in 2011, using an episode of Glee.

The lesson’s main  aim was vocabulary, but the pre and post watching activities ended up being very interesting and leading to some very interesting conversation. Initially, this lesson was given to a group of young adults who were at university (19-22-year-olds), but it can also be used with younger or older students by changing the questions slightly. I’d recommend this for students who are B2 or higher. If you have access to the original episode with subtitles, that would work with B1 students as well.

Finally, for this lesson, I’m going to try out writing the post in a similar way to what Cecila Nobre has been doing on her blog (which you should definitely check out by the way).

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6-hour workday: a business conversation lesson.

The length of workday has been a hot topic in Brazil lately and I thought contrasting Brazil’s proposal (having a 12-hour workday) with what has been happening in Sweden (experiments to evaluate the effectiveness of a 6-hour workday).

This is a lesson better suited to adults, but if you have a mixed group (adults and adolescents) you can get the younger students to compare workdays with how long their school days are.

The text has been shortened a little and you can use the material with B1+ students. If you are working with intermediate students, do remember to use the close captions available in the video – they are generally pretty accurate.

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