Barcelona’s Superblocks (Advanced Lesson Plan)

ESL/EFL Level: Advanced
Lesson Topic: Designing superblocks in cities to reduce car-related issues
Skill Focus
: Listening, Vocabulary, Speaking
Approximate Class Time: 1.5 hours
Lesson Plan Download: super-blocks-urban-design-advanced-112022.docx
Lesson Overview:

  • This lesson is based on a short (5:30m) YouTube video by Vox on the topic of superblocks in Barcelona. Though the video is from 2016, the concept of superblocks is still a contemporary urban planning idea to reduce traffic in residential areas. The video describes the dependency of American society on cars, the implementation of superblocks in Barcelona, and questions whether the concept would work in an American city.
  • Post-video activities include a roleplay scenario with the mayor and an undecided city councilor, a debate where students propose a change to their city,  and a grammar review of the second (unreal) conditional with questions.
  • All lessons come with warm-up questions, comprehension questions, a vocabulary section, and discussion questions.

A view of Barcelona

ADVANCED Video-Based Lesson Plan on Barcelona's Superblocks (ESL)

Warm-up Questions (Pair Work)

  1. Is owning a car necessary for your life?
  2. How do you feel about the design of your city and its streets? Are there areas for improvement?
  3. How has your town or city changed physically in the past century?

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--- Lesson plan on City Design and Superblocks written by Denis Cavanagh and Matthew Barton. Site members may photocopy and edit the file for their classes. Permission is not given to rebrand the lesson, redistribute it on another platform, or sell it as part of commercial course curriculum. For questions, contact the author.

 Possible answers to comprehension questions:

1) …

2) A superblock is a grid of 'blocks' is segregated from city traffic and made into pedestrian areas - traffic inside the block is limited to deliveries and residents only at 10km per hour

3) Pollution levels decreased significantly. There was a 42% reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions and 38% reduction in particle pollution. Noise pollution decreased from 66.5 decibels to 61 and pedestrian space increased from 45% of surface area to 74% in the central superblock. Businesses also improved sales.

4) The city contains a large grid network with streets that can be easily segregated from main traffic.

5) US cities tend not to have many mixed-use districts, Barcelona has mixed commercial/residential areas. US streets also tend to be much wider, which limits effectiveness.

6) There has been a slow realisation that the 'car first' model has failed citizens and that more walkable cities are more desirable

Vocabulary Review Answers: 1-perimeter, 2-inherently, 3-ubiquitous, 4-mingle, 5-sink in, 6-premature, 7-patronize, 8-occur to (someone)

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