Ice-breaker Activity

When you start a new project with a class or large group, the first lesson is key to imprinting in your students a positive memory that will set the course of the entire work. The way I’ve found quite effective in doing this is to start off with this little questionnaire activity.

FORMAT: in pairs, students interview each other (if the class has an odd number, there will be one trio) on basic personal information. When the interviewing part is done, they stand up and give a brief presentation of the person they interviewed.

(You may print it out on paper and hand it out, or if available you can project this page and have the students take notes on their pads.)

AIM: this activity is aimed at getting people to interact from the start, and to do so in a very basic way, which makes this kind of activity ideal for any level.

TIME: 5-7 minutes for the questionnaire; about 2 minutes for each individual presentation.




  1. What’s your name?
  2. Where do you live?
  3. What do you do in your free time?
  4. Do you do any sports?
  5. Do you like English? Why/why not?
  6. When do you use English in your life (e.g. at school, at home, with friends, online, etc.)?




FOLLOW UP: a great activity to do once the presentations are over is to have students ask you questions. Give them a few minutes to write down as many as they can think of (but let them improvise once the activity starts if they can’t think of any), and then have them interview you: this will make you more accessible and more likeable, especially if you can joke a bit with them and not take yourself too seriously.


LEVEL: intermediate (B1)
This is a great activity to speak about stereotypes and an effective lead-in to racism.

Before watching: introduce the following pieces of language

  • Easy on the eyes
  • Take it to the next step
  • My bad, bro
  • There’s no such thing
  • Calm down
  • Hyped up
  • Get rid of them

Next, tell Ss you’ll be watching a video that speaks about stereotypes, and have them say what they think the video might be about


After watching: explain the meaning of stereotypes and elicit examples from personal experience.

Stereotypes appearing in the video
Black: foul language, eat chicken, carry guns, wear gold chains, fixated with sex, criminal who robs white people;
Jews: Rabbi, dancing the Hava Nagila, focused only on money (greedy);
Asian: do martial arts;
Middle-eastern: always singing traditional songs and wearing traditional clothes, all work as cab drivers;
White: rich, boastful, smartly dressed, cardigan around their neck, look down on others;
Latino: working in services (gardeners and cleaning).

Modern Slavery

“No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”


Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states what many of us think is an obvious right, but that 80% of people ignore is being violated repeatedly, even as we speak. Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery in the US in 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation, and was killed for that, among other reasons. The objective of this lesson plan is to understand its history, but also its present implications, and some of the notions we have covered when we spoke about Fair trade will come in handy.

First, let’s analyze some images of slavery: what do these images show? What do you know about slavery?

United States Slave Trade



Is slavery really over? Think again…

[LINK]Anti-slavery: what is modern slavery?


Try completing this Top 10 facts about modern slavery list:

  1. Slavery: forced to w_____ without pay under threat of v_________ and unable to l_________;
  2. There are between 2__ and 3______ m_______ slaves in the world today: 80% are f__________, 50% are c_______;
  3. Slavery is i________ anywhere but happens everywhere;
  4. The majority of slaves are found in I__________ and A__________;
  5. At least 14,500 slaves are trafficked into the U________ each year;
  6. Slaves work in f_______, b________, h_________, m_________, r__________;
  7. Human t___________ is the modern day slave-trade;
  8. $_____ is the average  cost of a slave around the world;
  9. Slave owners use many terms to avoid the word slavery: d______ bondage, b_______ labor, f_______ labor, indentured servitude and human trafficking;
  10. It is possible to end s_______ in 2___ years.

Finally, here’s a video that sums up everything:

Write down the key concepts and figures.

Fair trade

Fair trade is growing in importance both regarding volume as well as the awareness it’s striking in people.

To this end, here’s an adapted article on the pros and cons of fair-trade coffee:

Talk on Fairtrade USA (0:00 – 2:14)

Additional resources:

What is Fairtrade? |

Is it fair? |

Smoothie Challenge | Rosanna & Molly Pansino

Level: lower-intermediate (B1)

Lesson plan for teachers: I thought I’d post this video which I have used countless times in my lessons. A harmless challenge to try at home (as long as you keep the ingredients harmless), I usually show this video and ask students to write down the ingredients as they see and hear them, and then have them speculate on who they think won the challenge.

Pop Culture

Let’s see how prepared you are about pop culture, with this quiz:

So, how did you do? Are you pop-savvy or do you need to watch more videos or listen to more songs? Either way, kudos on completing the quiz.

Now it’s time to consider this: what aspects of pop culture were the questions about? Brainstorm for a few minutes.

  • Music
  • Films & TV
  • Celebrities
  • Toys & Games
  • the Internet
  • Language
  • Arts
  • Sports

How many of those did you think of? I’m sure a few of them were new. 🙂

Well, it’s time to go deeper into an important aspect of today’s pop culture: memes. As you have seen from the quiz, a meme is an image, video, catchphrase or idea, usually of a humorous nature, that goes viral. I am sure you see a lot of these every day, but just to give you a few examples:



And, finally, here are some additional resources for you to check out.

In case you’re feeling creative, you can create your own memes at IMGFLIP Meme Generator


We have already spoken about peer pressure, it is now time to look deep into what it can degenerate into.

First, consider these words:

  • harassment
  • stalking
  • denigration
  • impersonation
  • exclusion

What do they mean? Can you use them in a sentence?

We will discuss the idea behind this short and see if we can come up with a script for one as well. So, bring your ideas!

Finally, here are some true stories of cyberbullying:

We will read and talk about them in class, so take a few minutes to prepare for the discussion: which story impressed you the most? Why? What would you have done?


Peer pressure

This topic is central to your lives, and, unfortunately, it’s often in the news in its evolution: bullying and cyberbullying. Before we get deep into this discussion, though, I think it’s important we see what peer pressure is and how it works. To that end, please listen to this interview with Brett Laursen, PhD. You will recognize some of these segments from the activity we did in class, so I hope you will not have any issues in reading it.

Speaking of psychology: peer pressure

As part of our second lesson on this topic, you will be divided in groups and assigned a real inspirational story of peer pressure: your assignment is to read the story, understand it and create a short dialogue, imagining what the protagonists of the story did and felt, and prepare to act it out before the class. No drama skills are necessary, just a will to not take yourself too seriously.

Peer pressure: some true stories

Finally, speaking about peer pressure, here’s Kendrick Lamar performing his song The art of peer pressure. Lyrics are in the link below the video.

The art of peer pressure – LYRICS


Day 1

It’s all about globalization: the good, the bad and the ugly of it, what made it possible and how it has changed the world. To get familiar with the concept, here’s a very interesting article taken from the Udemy website, which is your first assignment:

Pros and cons of globalization: controversy and discussion

To help you fully understand the article, ask yourselves these questions before you read:

  • What aspects does G. involve?
  • What made it possible?
  • What are its main features?
  • What are its consequences?

In class we’ll do an activity in which I’ll ask you to explain these different concepts. And since it’s here, in writing, there are no excuses for not doing it! Unless, of course, your computer dies, the battery in your smartphone explodes and your town library closes due to lack of funding. And even in that case, the Meduna shopping center had free WiFi. 🙂

Day 2

Now that you have familiarized with the key words and concepts of the topic, it’s time for your second assignment. But first, an introduction is in order: the following video is taken from a YouTube channel called Crash Course and it offers what the name suggests, i.e. courses on specific subjects done very quickly (crash). In this video, the speaker is John Green (the guy who wrote The fault in our stars and Paper town). The language will be challenging at times (especially the speed), so I strongly recommend you use subtitles and take your time in watching it. Don’t be afraid of pausing it, going back and listening to it again. This is training, and in training you do things over and over again until they come naturally.

In class, I’ll be asking you comprehension questions and expansion of ideas on this video. I find that working in groups can really help, so go ahead and organize yourselves as you seem best works for you.

I also encourage you to check out the other crash courses available on their channel, you might find something you’re interested in. From time to time, you’ll find some suggestions in the VIDEO section of this site.

Well, that’s all for Globalization for now, we’ve only scratched the surface, but I hope it can make you curious enough so as to go deeper in the subject.

See you guys in class.