July News: Prisoners, Airbrushing, & Barclays (Upper-Intermediate Lesson Plan)

Download the July News ESL lesson plan here: Prisoner-Airbrushing-Barclays-UppIntermediate-08072012.doc

July News Lesson Plan (ESL): Warm-up (Pair Work)

1) Is there such thing as a dangerous book? Should children be prohibited from reading certain books?
2) Has reading made you a better person?
3) What's your opinion of make up, plastic surgery, and other methods used to `enhance' beauty?
4) Which bank do you do business with? Does it provide quality services?

July News: Literate Prisoners, Natural Teens, & Financial Thieves

BRAZIL - Some of Brazil's most notorious criminals will be offered reduced sentences in return for reading books. The new literacy program will give prisoners in crowded penitentiaries a four-day reduction for every book they read, provided they read the book within 4 weeks and write an essay on it. Essays must be without errors and written in a cohesive manner using paragraphs. A panel will decide which inmates qualify for the program. Andre Kehdi, a supporter of the program, hopes prisoners will leave “more enlightened and with an enlarged vision of the world.”

MAINE — In April, 14-year old Julia Bluhm launched a petition requesting that popular teen magazine Seventeen print one unaltered photo spread in each issue. Bluhm's petition went viral, collecting 85,000 signatures. Seventeen Magazine responded this week promising it will no longer modify girls' faces or body shapes in an effort to embrace all kinds of beauty. Bluhm was ecstatic upon hearing the news. She and other online activists are now working on another petition targeting Teen Vogue.

LONDON — An interbank rate manipulation scandal has engulfed Barclays, a major financial services company headquartered in London. Barclays was fined £290 million for interest rate manipulations in between 2005 and 2009. The scandal has sent shock waves through the financial world. Experts believe the subsequent parliamentary investigation will undoubtedly uncover other culpable banks as well.

In a recent article in The Guardian, writer Aditya Chakrabortty asks the pivotal question: “(Banks) have taken hundreds of billions of taxpayers' money in bailouts — and still they can't resist ripping us off. What — if anything — can be done about it?” (266 words)

[Sources: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/26/prisoners-books-reduce-sentence, http://ca.shine.yahoo.com/blogs/shine-on/seventeen-magazine-stop-airbrushing-due-teen-girl-petition-193101892.html, http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jul/02/barclays-libor-scandal-change-banking-culture]

July News Lesson Plan (ESL): Follow-Up Questions

1)     Your Opinion: Which story did you find the most interesting and why?
2)     Your Opinion: Do you support the literacy program in Brazil?
3)     What did Julia Bluhm achieve?
4)     What do financial experts believe an investigation of the Barclays scandal will reveal?
5)     Your Opinion: How would you answer Aditya Chakrabortty's question?

July News Lesson Plan (ESL): Vocabulary Matching

Match the words with their meaning as used in the news lesson.
spread (noun)
go viral (phrasal verb)
engulf (verb)
shock wave
  • notorious - infamous
  • penitentiary - prison
  • cohesive - united; forming a united whole
  • spread - an article in a magazine, especially one that covers 2 opposite pages
  • go viral - become popular rapidly on the Internet
  • ecstatic - very happy
  • engulf - surround or cover sb/sth completely
  • shock wave - a feeling of shock experienced when sth bad happens
  • culpable - responsible for having done sth wrong
  • pivotal - of great importance because other things depend on it.

July News Lesson Plan (ESL): Connect the below idea(s) to make a sentence.

government / uprising
fashion magazines / notorious
culpable / penitentiary
cohesive / plan
photographer / spread
go viral / social media
daughter / ecstatic
engulf / industry
shock waves / citizens
pivotal / moment

July News Lesson Plan (ESL): Discussion Question

  1. Statistically, many children and youths in the West are overweight. With that in mind, which message is more important to promote: “Lose weight” or “Be happy with yourself”?

*BONUS* A Letter to a Younger You (Group Discussion or Writing Homework)

Imagine you could write a letter to yourself, at any point in your life, and give yourself some advice. What would you write? Think about it for a moment and then share your ideas.
[Question inspiration: http://www.ted.com/conversations/12365/what_advice_would_you_give_a_y.html]



July News ESL Lesson plan copyright Matthew Barton of Englishcurrent.com

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