The Case against Pets (Advanced Lesson Plan)

ESL/EFL Level: Advanced (C2)
Lesson Topics: pet ownership, ethics
Skill Focus
: Reading, Vocabulary, Speaking
Approximate Class Time: 1.75 hours
Lesson Plan Download: pet-ownership-ethics-advanced-062023.docx
Lesson Overview:

  • After warm-up questions, students read a summary of a Vox article entitled The Case against Pet Ownership. The passage discusses the ethical implications of owning a pet, the uptake in pet ownership during the pandemic, and the notion that fewer people should have pets. After the passage, students complete a recall activity and answer comprehension questions. Finally, students match key vocabulary to definitions and then create three discussion questions.
  • For speaking activities, the lesson contains a roleplay between a child and parent on whether to purchase a pet, a discussion with an adoption counselor at an animal shelter, and a scenario between neighbors. As a debate activity, students consider whether pets should be welcome in the workplace. Finally, students consider three pet-related scenarios for discussion.
  • Finally, the lesson ends with discussion questions and a quick collocation review.

A picture of a small furry dog.

ADVANCED (C1/C2) EFL Lesson Plan on Pet Ownership

Warm-up Questions

  1. Have you ever had a pet? If so, what kind and what was its life like? If not, why not?
  2. What are the challenges of owning a pet?
  3. The below article is entitled “The Case against Pet Ownership.” With a partner, brainstorm some ideas that you think the article might present.

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-- Lesson plan on pet ownership written by Matthew Barton of (copyright). ChatGPT helped in generating a rough draft for the article and providing answer keys. 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. The main argument presented in the article is questioning the beneficial nature of the human-animal bond and making a case against pet ownership.
  2. Pierce describes the common assumption about pets' well-being as the idea that they lead comfortable lives. However, she views this assumption as flawed—she states that modern pets have boring and frustrating lives.
  3. The historical reason is their transition from their original roles as hunters and guards to being expected to adapt to human norms and companionship.
  4. According to the article, the pet industry contributes to the challenges faced by pets by promoting the sale of animals based on human preferences and prioritizing traits that are attractive to humans. This has led to health issues due to selective breeding.
  5. He realizes that despite treats, walks, and playtime, his own dog, Evvie, spends much of her day bored and lacks autonomy, indicating that he does not meet her needs.
  6. This behavior might include chewing, digging, barking, howling, and related destruction.
  7. Some suggestions include reducing the pet population, shifting pet ownership from a casual hobby to a serious responsibility, promoting spaying/neutering, and adopting from shelters.
  8. A rescue dog is a dog that was abandoned and then re-homed to a new owner.

Vocabulary Answers: 1-b, 2-a, 3-m, 4-c, 5-j, 6-k, 7-L, 8-h, 9-g, 10-i, 11-d, 12-e, 13-f

Collocation Answers: 1-d, 2-a, 3-g, 4-b, 5-c, 6-f, 7-e


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