Unsolved Crimes (Intermediate Lesson)

ESL/EFL Level: Intermediate (B1/B2)
Lesson Topics: the 300 million yen robbery, the D.B. Cooper hijacking, unsolved crimes
Skill Focus: Speaking, Reading, Vocabulary
Approximate Class Time: 1.5 hours
Lesson Plan Download: unsolved-crimes-intermediate-lesson-082023.docx
Lesson Overview:

  • The lesson begins with warm-up questions and a pre-reading task that asks students to predict the content of two stories based on wordclouds. Next, students read two stories about unsolved crimes. The first story describes the 300-million-yen robbery in Tokyo, Japan, in 1969. The second is D.B. Cooper's infamous airplane hijacking in 1971. The passages are 362 words in total.
  • Afterward, there is a recall activity and then a vocabulary exercise that asks students to match B1/B2-level words to definitions. This is followed by some question-making with the key vocabulary.
  • The first speaking task is a debate about whether statutes of limitations for crimes should exist. This is followed by two police interrogation roleplays related to both of the aforementioned famous crimes. Next, students review key vocabulary from the lesson by making a story using four images.
  • Finally, students review collocations and ask each other some final discussion questions
  • Note: If you are teaching a larger class, this alibi game would be fun.

A police car

INTERMEDIATE (B1/B2) EFL Lesson Plan on the Unsolved Crimes

Warm-up Questions

  1. Do you read the news? What types of stories interest you the most?
  2. What are some famous unsolved mysteries that you’ve heard of?
  3. Pre-reading: Look at the word clouds below from two stories. Try to guess what happens in each.

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-- Lesson plan on Unsolved Crimes written by Matthew Barton of EnglishCurrent.com (copyright). ChatGPT was used to create a first draft of the D.B. Cooper story and some 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 bank workers were traveling with almost 300 million yen to pay the Toshiba factory workers in Fuchu.
  2. The bank workers got out of their car because a police officer told them that there was a bomb in their car.
  3. The bank workers probably believed the police officer because he looked like a real officer and they were likely worried about the bomb threat.
  4. The fake police officer left behind 120 different things in the bank vehicle, likely to confuse the police and make it harder for them to solve the crime.
  5. In 1975, the time limit for charging someone for the robbery had passed, so the thief would not get in trouble if he said he did the crime.
  6. Cooper behaved calmly during the flight. He even asked for a drink.
  7. After the plane took off from Seattle, Cooper, dressed in a suit and dark glasses, put on a parachute and jumped out of the back door of the plane into the night. He disappeared into the thick forests of the Pacific Northwest, and his true identity and fate remain unknown.

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

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


[1] Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/300_million_yen_robbery, https://www.tokyoweekender.com/japan-life/5-of-japans-most-famous-unsolved-crimes

[2] Main D.B. Cooper source: https://www.fbi.gov/history/famous-cases/db-cooper-hijacking

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