Robot Vacuum Cleaners – 15 Discussion Questions for ESOL Classes
Robot vacuum cleaners are those little round space-age gadgets that trundle around the floor in your flat or house and promise to clean the carpet. Have you ever seen one in action? Have you considered buying one? Maybe you already own one.
Whatever you think of them, robot vacuum cleaners are probably going to be everywhere soon, so why not create an ESOL class based around this topic, using the activities and discussion questions below?
Discuss the following questions with a partner or small group:
- Do you do the vacuum cleaning in your home? Do you like doing it? When do you do it? How long does it take? Do you find it a chore? What would you do with the time if you didn’t have to do it? If not, who does it? How well do they do it?
- Tell me about your vacuum cleaner. What kind is it? What make is it? When did you buy it? Where did you buy it? How much was it? Why did you choose it? How efficient is it at cleaning different kinds of floor? Are you planning on replacing it soon? Why? / Why not?
- Do you have a robot vacuum cleaner? If yes, tell me about it. Why did you buy it? If not, why not? Are you planning to buy one? Do you think they look cool? Do you think your friends, family, and colleagues would be impressed if you had one?
- Compare a robot vacuum cleaner to your current vacuum cleaner. Do you think it would work better than your current regular vacuum cleaner? Why? / Why not?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of robot vacuum cleaners? Do you think that the benefits outweigh the potential problems/costs? Is it worth spending up to £1,000 to buy a top-of-the-range robot vacuum cleaner? Why? / Why not? Is it worth cutting costs and buying a cheaper model, e.g. for £150? Why? / Why not? Are you happy for it to stand there in your living room or corridor all the time, instead of in a cupboard? How good is it if it can be stopped by a stray sock? Could it be a tripping hazard, especially if it is a quiet model and you don’t see it coming? Can it be better than a human doing the job, when it can’t pick up and move anything, or reach high places?
- If you bought a robot vacuum cleaner would you keep your old cleaner? Do you think you need both kinds of cleaner to do a good job? How could a robot vacuum cleaner clean hard-to-reach areas, e.g. corners of ceilings?
- Would you feel embarrassed to let a robot do the housework, when you feel that you should do it? Would you feel embarrassed about a robot doing a better job than you? Or would you feel thrilled to chill out on the sofa while a machine is doing your duties? Wouldn’t it be healthier to be active and move around doing your own cleaning, than resting? Do you have a dishwasher? Did you have misgivings before buying one, thinking that you could do better? How do you feel now? How is a robot vacuum cleaner any different?
- How do you define a robot? Do you have any other robots in your home? How do you think robot vacuum cleaners could be improved? How will they develop and improve in the next: a) five years? b) ten years? Do you think that every home will have a robot vacuum cleaner in time? Is this inevitable progress? Do you think that people complained about vacuum cleaners replacing sweeping brushes?
- Can you think of any other ways in which robots improve your life at present? What jobs would you like a robot to do for you, in an ideal world?
- Do you believe a robot could do your job? Could you be replaced by a robot? Why? / Why not? What about robot cars? Will they become popular? Why? / Why not?
- What is your favourite household appliance? If you had to keep only one, which would it be? Why? How long have you had it? What value does it bring to your life?
- Do you think that robot vacuum cleaners are helpful for disabled people? How could they help?
- Could we use robot vacuum cleaners to save money on cleaning staff costs at places like office blocks and hotels, which have large areas for cleaning? Why? / Why not?
- Is this kind of cleaner good for the environment? Why? / Why not?
- If somebody gave you a robot vacuum cleaner as a gift, how would you feel? Would you try to sell it?
Other fun communicative activities you might like to try:
- Find video reviews online and discuss / compare two different robot vacuum cleaner models. You could use the table below to make notes about each one:
Then write 10 sentences comparing the two models.
- Make a list of advantages and disadvantages of buying a robot vacuum cleaner. Discuss them, and try to appreciate the opposite point of view for each point.
- Write 5 wh- questions and 5 yes/no questions that you would ask a shop assistant about one of these gadgets. Find a real model online and write down the answers to your questions.
- Role play a conversation between a customer and a shop assistant re. buying one. It could include an in-store demo.
- Role play a conversation between a customer and a shop assistant re. getting a refund due to… a) broken model, b) unwanted gift, c) too difficult to use, d) inefficient.
- Choose one model and imagine that you bought it. Write a review about it in your notebook. Give it between one and five stars. Match your review to the star rating accordingly. Read it aloud to the class.