FOCUS Debate / Vocabulary extension
TIME  60 min (incl. 5 min video)


Here is another lesson brought to you thanks to TED Talks and this time their TED Ed programme (explore it as it is perfect authentic material for ESL teachers). This time the lesson focuses on debating skills and vocabulary for expressing opinions. The worksheet is based on a video called “Ethical dilemma of driverless cars” by Patrick Lin and gravitates around moral dilemmas.

Instead of a usual oral lead-in, the first exercise checks Ss knowledge on phrases for expressing opinions as they need to fill in a mind map that starts with the ubiquitous “I think that”. Students get the first letters of the words so they have to come up with specific phrases, however, there are some open gaps where they can put other phrases they know. What follows is a short speaking task during which Ss need to use vocabulary from exercise 1 while they are forbidden to use the word “think”. It may seem easy at start but the phrase “I think…” is so common that even when Ss monitor themselves they often use it subconsciously when they really get into the discussion. I usually start this task by asking them to choose 3-4 phrases they like the most from exercise 1 and stick to them. I don’t believe it is realistic to expect that they will use 10 new phrases just like that, however, if they learn to mix it up and instead of choosing “I think..” all the time throw in 2-3 other expressions, it’s a win!

Exercise 3 looks into a few common idioms related to decision-making. In this task, students need to match the idiomatic expressions with their definitions. You can also ask them whether there are similar equivalents in their native language – this can help them remember these phrases better. Note: watch out for idioms that are similar in students’ L1 but not quite the same. Exercise 4 is yet another speaking opportunity to reinforce new vocabulary and use it in practice.

Finally, we get to the video itself. It is important to elicit from your students what a driverless car is (and its different names). This video below contains not only the original TED Ed clip but also some discussion questions and one multiple choice task. It was created through islcollective.com and if you go there by clicking here, you will also find a vocabulary list from the video which you might use as well as all the discussion questions in a printable format if you don’t like such ed-tech applications.

The last task includes some other dilemmas I have taken from a blog. You can go there and find 23 more moral dilemmas and try to use some other ones, for example, to review the vocabulary on the following lesson. Watch out, some of them are pretty gruesome!! Nevertheless, this last exercise gives students a chance to look at other ethical dilemmas not related to new technologies or cars.

This is one of the lessons I enjoy doing with my students. It expands students’ vocabulary, stimulates them to use it and discusses meaningful up-to-date issues.   

Overall, the lesson has been planned for 60 minutes (including the video), however, I had to use the last task for a vocabulary revision during the next classes as I ran out of time.







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