Getting your students to talking about controversial topics is sometimes quite hard. This lesson on protests will include some reading, discussion, and a final video presentation.
Lesson timing: 90 minutes
Level: B2 and above
- Ask students to look at the image (see below) and ask then what comes to mind when they see it.
- Run through some vocab and pre-teach where needed
- Use the Vox Pop worksheet attached below. It’s best to print and then cut up each individual comment. Distribute these to the students
- Once the students each have one or two comments, ask them to form groups of three or four. Have them compare viewpoints and discuss what their own opinions are.
- If time persists you can try to board up ideas on the board and create a scale to see where student opinion bunches together.
- Video discussion. Pre-read the video questions and ensure students understand all the sentences.
- Play video and have students listen out for the missing words or phrases.
- Plenary, ask the class as a whole what they found to be surprising.
Looking at the image below, what comes to mind?
- misguided /mɪsˈɡʌɪdɪd/ adjective
- She wasn’t a bad person, just misguided.
- applaud /əˈplɔːd/ verb
- I applaud your effort to make the world a better place.
- sentiment /ˈsɛntɪm(ə)nt/ noun
- I agree with the sentiment that war is a horrible event.
- consequence /ˈkɒnsɪkw(ə)n/ noun
- The past is of no consequence
- outcome /ˈaʊtkʌm/ noun
- The outcome of the vote was disappointing
- demonstration /dɛmənˈstreɪʃ(ə)n/ noun
- The demonstration was peaceful and showed the government that the public is tired of war
- to depose /dɪˈpəʊz/ verb
- The President of Iraq was deposed by a military revolution
- intentions /ɪnˈtɛnʃ(ə)n/ noun
- She was full of good intentions
- military might
- The military might of the United Kingdom was used to depose a dictator.
- precedent /ˈprɛsɪd(ə)nt/ noun
- Military conflict with little evidence was a rare precedent
War is great for business. Companies build weapons and ammunition that can only really be used once or for a short time, then once the fighting stops, the need the rebuild the country quickly becomes a top priority. That said, many have become totally disillusioned with the prospect of war, even if it is good for business and profits. Though this has been a long-running sentiment, it does appear that over the last twenty years people are less willing to accept any military intervention, no matter how calculated, and precise, the desire for conflict is diminishing.
Meanwhile, the public has begun to protest more and voice their concerns to their elected representatives. To best illustrate this, just prior to the 2003 Iraq war, many people all around the world protested. Some 1 million people in London took to the streets to show their disagreement with the government’s decision to go to war.
Questions to think about:
- Do you believe the government’s decision should be respect?
- Does a government need to ask for the consent of its people prior to going to war?
- Is any war justified?
- Are there any alternatives to war? Do they work?
- What was the last controversial war do you remember?
- How much money does the US get each year from selling weapons? [answer: $40 billion in 2004]
- Which countries are the top suppliers of weapons? [The United States, Russia, Germany, France and China]
- Which country produces the most guns? [USA – 112.6 guns per 100 residents, Serbia – 75.6, Yemen – 54.8, Switzerland – 45.7, Cyprus – 36.4, Saudi Arabia – 35, Iraq – 34.2, Uruguay – 31.8.]
- Which country imports the most amount of weapons? [India and then Saudi Arabia]
- How much do countries in the world spend on military equipment? [$1.7 trillion in 2015]
Vox pop worksheet
The worksheet below is for downloading and printing, please ensure each student has at least a cut out of one comment.
Download the PDF Vox Pop plan: Protest Vox Pop ESLTalkingPoints PDF
Video gap-fill questions:
- Whatever the ________________, without doubt one of the largest ____________________ – let alone protest rallies – in English history.
- Many say they’ve never known an _____________________ quite like it.
- I think the world is going ______________.
- ..because I can see it ___________________ into something far wider.
- I have to tell you I’d rather be eating _______________, or reading Satre on the River Seine
- I’m a _____________________ and we have a peace _____________________, war not at any price.
- figures, gatherings
- Quaker, testament
Additional Links (External):
Iraq: Key Facts and Figures (BBC) with graphic and data
If you are having trouble using this lesson plan, get more ideas on How to teach using online comments and vox pop replies