With Answers! | Download the Whistle-blowing ESL Lesson plan here: Topic-Whistleblowing-Wigand-Tobacco-UppIntermediate-01082011.doc
Whistle-blowing ESL News Lesson Plan : Warm-up
1) What was the worst thing you did as a child? Did you get caught?
2) What does it mean if someone is a rat in your language?
3) Have you ever taken a complaint to your boss or the police?
4) What does it mean to blow the whistle?
Topic: Jeffrey Wigand the Whistle-blower
Jeffrey Wigand began working as a researcher at Brown & Williamson (B&W), an American tobacco company, in 1989. He and other scientists put forward the idea of developing a safer cigarette that would be less likely to cause cancer. His boss, however, told him to abandon the idea because a safer cigarette would highlight the harmful effects of other cigarettes. Wigand bit his tongue and gave up the project. He turned his attention to investigating the ingredients in his company’s products and found two harmful additives that were poisonous and highly addictive. He also uncovered documentation that showed company executives knew the truth about these additives, although it had denied its cigarettes were harmful or addictive to the public. Wigand asked to have these additives removed from their products. He was fired shortly after in March 1993.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) began an investigation of the tobacco industry in 1994. They contacted Wigand, who agreed to talk with investigators. Afterwards, Wigand says he received two death threats at his home. He claims one anonymous telephone caller stated “Leave tobacco alone or else you’ll find your kids hurt.” Despite this, Wigand testified in the criminal investigation against the industry. He also participated in a TV interview in which he accused his former company of intentionally lying to the public and also using chemicals to boost the effects of nicotine, an addictive chemical found in cigarettes.
In response, B&W launched a smear campaign against Wigand to damage his image in the public. They combed through Wigand’s past to find lies that would make him seem like an untrustworthy person. Their efforts were in vain. Wigand’s testimony helped forty-six American states win a lawsuit against the tobacco industry. The industry was forced to pay $368 billion for the burden it had placed on the country’s health care system. (308)
Whistle-blowing ESL Lesson Plan : Comprehension Questions
1) Why did Wigand’s boss tell him to cancel his project to make a safer cigarette?
2) True or False: Wigand was fired for giving private documents to the media.
3) How does Wigand claim he was threatened?
4) What is a smear campaign? Who does Wigand claim started such a campaign? Why?
5) What was the result of the lawsuit?
Whistle-blowing ESL Lesson Plan : Vocabulary Matching
|put forward (an idea, etc)|
|bite your tongue|
|comb through (verb)|
- put forward (an idea) – to suggest
- bite your tongue – stop yourself from speaking although you want to
- addictive – habit-forming
- uncover – reveal
- anonymous – unnamed, unidentified
- testify – state sth is true in a court of law
- boost – increase, enhance
- smear – make sth appear dirty or damage sb’s reputation by telling lies
- comb through – examine thoroughly
- in vain – useless, ineffective
- burden – heady load, large difficulty
Whistle-blowing ESL Lesson Plan : Connect the below idea(s) to make a sentence.
government / uprising
|representation / women / government|
put forward / proposal
bite your tongue / boss
|uncover / addictive|
|anonymous / letter|
testify / mafia
politician / smear / reputation
|comb through / newspaper|
efforts / in vain
|burden / health care system|
- The company has put forward a proposal to open a manufacturing plant in Kenya.
- I thought the idea was stupid, but I had to bite my tongue because it was my boss’ idea.
- Scientists have uncovered that nicotine is addictive.
- I received an anonymous letter that said I was being watched.
- The man was scared to testify against the mafia.
- The politician launched a smear campaign to destroy the reputation of his opponent.
- Andy combed through the newspaper for any reference to the fire on his street.
- Barb’s efforts to lose weight were in vain.
- The harmful effects of smoking have put a burden on the health care system.
Whistle-blowing ESL Lesson Plan: Brainstorming
Why might someone NOT blow the whistle on his or her employer? Think of reasons for 1-2 minutes and then discuss your ideas with the class.
Whistle-blowing ESL Lesson Plan: Debate (Pair Work)
- a clearly-defined procedure for reporting issues.
- trained people to receive and investigate reports.
- a commitment to take appropriate action.
- guaranteed protection for whistleblowers against retaliation (punishment).
Student A: You support this policy. Think of reasons why adopting this policy would be beneficial (1-2 minutes). Start the debate when you’re ready by presenting your ideas to your partner.
Student B: You are against this. Think of reasons why such a policy might harm the company [for example, it may contribute to an environment of mistrust, it might make it hard to fire bad employees, etc]. Your partner will begin the debate.
Whistle-blowing ESL Lesson Plan : Discussion Questions
(Write your answers in the Comments section below if you wish).
- Is Jeffrey Wigand a hero?
- What are some questions a person should consider before deciding to whistle-blow?
- LOYALTY: should employees be loyal to their company or the public good?
- COMPENSATION CULTURE: do smokers have the right to sue tobacco companies for damages?
- WIKILEAKS: Wikileaks publishes private information, often obtained from whistleblowers, to the public. Do you support Wikileaks?
- What whistle-blower cases do you know of?
- What kind of protection does your government provide for whistleblowers?
- Do you believe the company really made death threats to Wigand?
Lesson plan copyright Matthew Barton of Englishcurrent.com