Unsolved Mysteries (Upper-Intermediate ESL Lesson Plan)

Download the Unsolved Mysteries Lesson Plan (ESL) here: Unsolved-Mysteries-UppIntermediate-05042013.doc

Unsolved Mysteries Lesson Plan (ESL): Upper-Intermediate

a mysterious misty forest

Unsolved Mysteries Lesson Plan (ESL): Warm-Up

1) What genre of books and movies do you enjoy? Do you read mystery novels?
2) Do you know any unsolved mysteries from your town, city, or country?

Reading: 5 Unsolved Mysteries

Read and discuss these unsolved mysteries.
Voynich Manuscript — This 240-page book, known as “the world’s most mysterious manuscript,” is written in a strange language or script that has yet to be deciphered. Adding to the document’s mystery, its pages contain odd diagrams and drawings of plants that do not match any species known on Earth. The manuscript’s author is unknown, and carbon dating indicates it was made between 1404 and 1438. Some theorize that the manuscript was a pharmacopoeia (a book containing a list of drugs and their use) of medieval medicine. The pictures of herbs and plants also suggest the book may have been used for alchemy. Most theorists doubt it could be a hoax, given its detail.
Shroud of Turin — Most Catholics believe this shroud (a cloth used to wrap around a deceased person) had been placed on the body of Jesus Christ at his burial site. Mysteriously, the linen cloth carries an image of a crucified man, whom millions of people believe is Jesus. Scientists have yet to explain or replicate how the image was imprinted. Radiocarbon tests place its creation in the middle ages, although defenders of the shroud reject this. Some academics believe it was also known as the Image of Edessa, a shroud reliably reported since the 4th century.
Allagash Alien Abductions — In 1976, four men were fishing at night together in Maine when they saw a bright object float towards them. What happened next is unknown; all men claimed to have no memory of the events that followed. They remember lighting a large fire on the lakeshore and then seeing it burnt out a few moments later. After the event, each man underwent regressive hypnosis and recounted a story of abduction and subjection to physical experiments. In the weeks that followed, each man claimed to have had dreams of an invasive and humiliating experience. The stories of all men passed lie detector tests, and psychiatrists reported that each man was mentally stable.
The Loch Ness Monster — Although the earliest observation of this large creature comes from 565 AD, modern interest in it was sparked by a 1933 sighting. A man and his wife apparently saw `a most extraordinary form of animal’ about 4 feet high and 25 feet long cross the road in front of their car. This monster, which apparently dwells in a large lake in Great Britain called Loch Ness, has been photographed and even videotaped as recently as 2007. None of the pictures or video however gives a clear view of the animal. Some people believe it is a dinosaur called the plesiosaur.
Rain of Seeds — A man in Southampton, England, was alarmed when hundreds of mustard and cress seeds coated in a jelly-like substance began falling onto his home and in his garden. A similar phenomenon occurred the following day, except with corn, pea, and bean seeds that seemed to have fallen from the heavens above. All in all, the man and his two neighbors endured a total of 25 bombardments of similar items from the sky. A police investigation could not pinpoint the source of the objects.
[Sources: http://listverse.com/2007/07/20/top-10-unsolved-mysteries/, http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/photos/10-of-the-worlds-biggest-unsolved-mysteries/go-figure]

Unsolved Mysteries Lesson Plan (ESL): Vocabulary Matching

Match the words with their meaning as used in the news lesson.
decipher (verb)
replicate (verb)
recount (verb)
humiliating (adj)
spark sth (verb)
dwell (verb)
all in all
pinpoint sth (verb)
  • decipher – convert a code into normal language
  • hoax – a humorous or malicious trick
  • deceased – dead
  • linen – cloth made from flax
  • replicate – make an exact copy of; reproduce
  • recount – tell
  • abduction – the action of forcibly taking someone away against his or her will
  • humiliating – shameful; embarrassing
  • spark sth – provide the stimulus for an event or process
  • dwell – live in or at a specific place
  • all in all – considering everything; on the whole
  • pinpoint sth – find or locate exactly

Unsolved Mysteries Lesson Plan (ESL) : Idiom Focus

a shroud of ~ / shroud sth in sth
E.g: There’s a shroud of secrecy surrounding the report. / His family background is shrouded in mystery
Both phrases are used figuratively to say that something is covered (or wrapped) in something that makes it hard to see. The most common collocation is shroud of secrecy or that sth is shrouded in secrecy.

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

government / uprising
genius / decipher
recount / hoax
linen / deceased
computers / replicate
abduction / humiliating
spark / interest
dwell / cave
pinpoint / location
all in all
shroud (idiom)

Unsolved Mysteries Lesson Plan (ESL): Discussion Questions

1) What other unsolved mysteries do you know of?
2) Have you ever witnessed or experienced inexplicable phenomenon?
3) What is d©j  vu? Do you regularly experience it?
4) What do you think of Eastern medicine?
5) Do you believe in stories about out of body experiences?
6) What theory of creation do you support?

Unsolved Mysteries Lesson Plan (ESL) copyright Matthew Barton of Englishcurrent.com

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9 comments on “Unsolved Mysteries (Upper-Intermediate ESL Lesson Plan)

  1. gloria (Posted on 10-2-2013 at 12:59) Reply


  2. Andrew (Posted on 7-28-2014 at 15:58) Reply

    Wow, great site and really interesting lesson plans. I wish you offered them as a printable PDF too, then it would be beyond good.

  3. Andrew (Posted on 7-28-2014 at 15:59) Reply

    Ok, just found the .doc link at the top. The site is officially beyond good.

  4. mb (Posted on 7-28-2014 at 22:34) Reply

    Glad you found it! Maybe I should make the link more noticeable…
    Hope your lessons go well.

  5. mty (Posted on 2-13-2015 at 13:30) Reply

    i wish there is an audio accompanying this. i used this in class and it was a great hit. thanks! can you add audio please

  6. Edison S (Posted on 3-5-2015 at 16:58) Reply

    Really liked it. It will work well with past modals.

  7. Debbie (Posted on 5-13-2015 at 03:47) Reply

    Great lesson plans…..a nice mix of discussion, vocab and roleplay making it really interactive, something which most teaching books fail on in my opinion.
    When will there be more Topics coming?

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 5-13-2015 at 12:45) Reply

      Hi Debbie. I’m no longer teaching classes that require me to make topical lesson plans, so most of the material I’ve been posting recently has been grammar-related. Things may change though in the future, as my classes change.

  8. Kory (Posted on 7-24-2016 at 14:51) Reply

    Love it!!!Amazing job!!!Keep up the good work!!!

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