Category Archives: role play

Robot Vacuum Cleaners - 15 Discussion Questions for ESOL Classes

Robot Vacuum Cleaners – 15 Discussion Questions for ESOL Classes

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. 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?
  5. 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?
  6. 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?
  7. 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?
  8. 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?
  9. 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?
  10. 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?
  11. 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?
  12. Do you think that robot vacuum cleaners are helpful for disabled people? How could they help?
  13. 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?
  14. Is this kind of cleaner good for the environment? Why? / Why not?
  15. If somebody gave you a robot vacuum cleaner as a gift, how would you feel? Would you try to sell it?
Robot Vacuum Cleaners - 15 Discussion Questions for ESOL Classes

Robot Vacuum Cleaners – 15 Discussion Questions for ESOL Classes

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:
Compare Robot Vacuum Cleaners - Table

Compare Robot Vacuum Cleaners – Table

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.

Images: https://pexels.com (top), https://pixabay.com

Teaching Blog: How do you Escape from a Desert Island?

Teaching Blog: How do you Escape from a Desert Island?

Last week my students crash-landed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and swam for their lives from sharks until they reached a desert island. As luck would have it, a (watertight) container washed up on the shore beside them. It contained fifteen useful items from the plane (see picture below):

Teaching Blog: Could You Survive on a Desert Island?

Laminated page with the fifteen items

knife
mirror
mobile phone
tent
rope
newspapers
sun lotion
fishing net
chocolate
axe
magnifying glass
toilet paper
compass
drinking water
map

Each group had to select six items and explain why they had chosen them over the other items. They also had to say what happened to them at the end of their story, i.e. escape, get rescued, make a new life on the island, or…

Well, that was the setup for the lesson! (They didn’t really crash-land in the Pacific Ocean. If they had, I’m sure our lessons would have been cancelled.) This was my take on the classic team-building problem-solving game.

Procedure for a 45 min. class: (14-15 year olds):

  1. I set the scene in as dramatic a way as possible (involving plane noises, explosions, and swooping hand gestures), then outlined the task, as above.
  2. I gave each group a laminated page with the items on (see above). We checked they knew what they all were and the name of each item.
  3. I explained that there were no right or wrong answers, but they had to justify their choices. I stressed: ‘It’s YOUR story. The island and what happens is up to you. Use your imaginations.’
  4. I explained that their basic aims were: FIRST – escape from the island; SECOND – survive.
  5. SS (students) were allowed to use dictionaries and phone translators, as usual.
  6. After the register and setup (10 mins), and preparation time (15 mins), it was time for the presentations (20 mins). Each group went to the front and presented their choices and their story. I asked questions, e.g. ‘Why this?’ / ‘Why not that?’ and so on. I asked SS about unusual items they had chosen, e.g. the mobile phone or the chocolate, which were both not popular choices. I also asked about life on the island: ‘Have you met any other people on the Island? Can you describe what you can see? How do you feel? What happens…?’ and so on.

Various attempts at putting a brief version of the instructions on the board:

Teaching Blog: Could You Survive on a Desert Island?

Board instructions 1

Teaching Blog: Could You Survive on a Desert Island?

Board instructions 2

Teaching Blog: Could You Survive on a Desert Island?

Board instructions 3

Extension ideas:

  • SS could add drawings and sound effects, if there is time.
  • Role play key moments in the story.
  • Make and edit a film with phone video recorders.
  • Create a competitive version where you assign a value to each item – from low to high – and SS get points for their choices. The ones with the most points win. This would need a rejig of items to make it more difficult – more useful items and fewer low-value items.

There is lots of scope for using creative skills. The lesson could easily have lasted 90 minutes.

Homework:

  • SS write up a diary with x entries, e.g. Day 1, Day 2, Day 8, and Day X (the day their story comes to a head).

What worked?

  • It was another topic that engaged the SS from the outset, and a fairly simple activity compared with previous presentation tasks. The lesson plan worked like a charm and the planning and preparation time that I put in at the weekend paid off big-time. The lesson time flew by but it was really important to keep strict timing so that we could hear everybody’s presentation. On a couple of occasions we ran out of time and I had to hear the last presentation during the break-time.
  • It was a manageable task with an interesting theme that allowed for SS’s use of imagination, for example, one group imagined ‘cannibals’, another an island full of women, while one student wanted to cut the twelve plastic bottles in half and hang them upside down to (somehow) collect the moisture from the air.
  • It was a nice easy class for me to manage. I did the introduction, then SS worked in pairs or threes and I could monitor casually; then we had the presentations; then the lesson was over.
  • I could use the Q&A element as a filler by asking more questions, or ask fewer questions, depending on how the time was going. So, if there were still ten minutes of lesson to go but only two more presentations, I would ask both groups more questions to fill the time.
  • We had fun with the Polish word for axe, which is siekiera, and pronounced almost the same as the name of the popular singer Shakira.
  • It was interesting to see what each group had chosen, and what they valued. I was surprised that the water was so popular, because it could only be used once. There were only six litres, so a three-strong team would only get two litres each. Still, many groups valued it above items such as the tent, and thought they would get some use out of the plastic bottles too (as above), e.g. as containers; for catching fish/insects; for making a raft with floats, and so on.
  • We had a few discussions about boiling seawater. I didn’t think it was possible and it forced me to look it up online and discover that it would be possible to distil it by boiling it and collecting the condensation. However, I don’t think the SS had the right tools to be able to do this – pans, glasses, cups, and so on. Still, it was a moot point!
  • For those who tried to escape by raft or boat I challenged them – do you think you would get far by raft or boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? It would depend on the location. As I had said, it was their story, so some SS managed it because they imagined their island to be fairly close to Hawaii. I thought their best chance of escape would have been to use the mirror and signal for help; there were bound to be helicopters and planes out searching for survivors. Some SS groups preferred to stay on the island and many thought death would be their outcome: ‘We all died’ came the fairly defeatist statement from some groups. Of all the possible outcomes… However, a few SS realised that if they died on the island, or were eaten by sharks, they wouldn’t have to invent much of a story. One group of three guys began their story: ‘We found a knife and killed Kacper for meat, because we were tired of hearing about Martyna [his ex-girlfriend]! Then we killed each other.’ Me: ‘How did you do that?’
  • However, this lesson provided a breakthrough in terms of the problem of getting the SS to speak English during the lessons. As I got used to doing the lesson plan (13 times over the course of one week!) I realised that the longer I sat with the groups while they were preparing, the more they would have to speak English; also, the longer time I allowed for presentations, the longer I could do the Q&A sessions, where again SS had to speak to me in English. As the lessons went on I allowed less time for setup and prep and much longer for the presentations. This really felt like a significant breakthrough, and it is something I will do again in the future.

Challenges

  • If I did this lesson plan again, I would definitely rethink the items. There are too many ‘weak’ items, like the chocolate, the sun lotion, the toilet paper, the newspapers, and the mobile phone, so many groups ended up choosing more or less the same six most useful items, i.e. the knife, axe, net, rope, magnifying glass, and water. There need to be mainly strong items to choose from, so there is more variety and more deliberation/explaining to do. That’s something to improve the activity for next time, but it didn’t spoil the lessons.
  • Early on I realised I had to explain what some of the items were. The mirror was mistaken for a frame a few times, and one group thought the newspapers were towels!
  • In the initial lessons, SS read out short stories, with a list of items usually at the beginning. I decided to ask them questions to try to break up the prepared answers and get some spontaneous answers. This ended up working really well.
  • There is a gap in the narrative / break in the logic, which none of the SS mentioned or seemed bothered about: why, if the washed-up container had fifteen items in it, did they have to choose only six. The task relies on selection, but why only six things from fifteen?! Nobody asked! Why were these fifteen items together in the container anyway? I remembered the mnemonic: KISS (keep it simple, stupid!). But it began to bother me. I didn’t find a suitable narrative. It would have to be that another person – from the plane or from the island – was limiting the number of items to six. Thankfully it didn’t matter! The SS accepted the activity for what it was and ran with it.
  • This lesson was a hard sell at 8am on a Thursday morning! It didn’t help when three students walked in late at intervals as I was trying to go through the setup…

Overall this week’s lessons were really fun. Being able to do this lesson plan with thirteen of my eighteen groups was really rewarding. The lesson plan was solid but it definitely improved as we went along, and can be improved in the future.

As a postscript, during one of the final lessons with this plan I finally realised that the term ‘desert island’ might have given all the groups the wrong impression! In Polish ‘desert’ is pustynia – like the Sahara Desert – while deserted is ‘opustoszały’ (abandoned/desolate). One student asked me in the penultimate lesson – ‘Is the island just desert?’ ‘No,’ I explained. ‘Desert island really means deserted island. The island can be big, with trees and lakes. It’s up to you. It’s about your imagination!’ I could have kicked myself: how I had potentially made it harder and more confusing for them because of the language barrier, and by assuming they know what the cultural concept of a ‘desert island’ is. What I had in my head was apparently completely different to what they might have been imagining. More planning required!

## Please let me know if you try this lesson and how it goes! Click here to contact me. ##

ROLE-PLAY: SHOPPING

ROLE-PLAY: SHOPPING

ROLE-PLAY: SHOPPING


— Read on intercambioidiomasonline.com/2018/04/25/role-play-shopping-2/

Story Planning - My Life Without...

FREE Podcast! Story Planning – My Life Without…

Get your students writing and performing with our brand new free printable worksheets and the accompanying free podcast!

Listen and download the free MP3 lesson: Story Planning – My Life Without… (14 MB, Google Drive)

This fun and multifaceted writing activity includes story planning, writing an article or story for a newspaper or magazine, grammar practice in the form of writing wh-questions and yes/no questions, and also group work with students creating, producing, performing, and peer-assessing role plays based on the original stories!

Download the free worksheets below and get your students to use their imaginations on the topic of My Life Without…

Story Planning - My Life Without...

Image courtesy of https://pixabay.com
—-
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Can you teach an old dog new ELT tricks? FREE podcast

FREE Podcast! Can You Teach an Old Dog New ELT Tricks?

Free podcast featuring new ideas for teaching English as a Foreign Language for summer 2017!

Can you teach an old dog new ELT tricks?

Click here to download the podcast (Google Drive)

Yes, you can in my case! Here are some of the new lesson ideas that I tried out while working at a language school in the UK this summer. Feel free to try them yourselves – they worked really well for me! If you need any further information about the activities, please contact me here or via Twitter @purlandtraining

Free image courtesy of Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/en/jenga-wooden-blocks-game-play-2558356/

Here is the full list of activities mentioned in the podcast:

New resource books for teachers of English, ESL and EFL

FREE Podcast! Episode 25 – Two Great New Books for Teachers!

Listen to my book review of two new releases from Alphabet Publishing!

I review two brand new resource books for teachers from Alphabet Publishing:

Successful Group Work: 13 Activities to Teach Teamwork Skills – by Patrice Palmer:

http://www.alphabetpublishingbooks.com/book/successful-group-work/Successful Group Work - by Patrice Palmer

and Classroom Community Builders – by Walton Burns:

http://www.alphabetpublishingbooks.com/book/classroom-community-builders/Classroom Community Builders - by Walton Burns

Both books are out in July 2017, and you can get hold of them here:

http://www.alphabetpublishingbooks.com/

You can download my FREE book You Are The Course Book here:

https://purlandtraining.com/free-books/free-elt-book-you-are-the-course-book-by-matt-purland/

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FREE Podcast! Episode 21 - Create a Role Play with Great Sound Effects!

FREE Podcast! Create a Role Play with Great Sound Effects!

I found a super app which you can use with your EFL students!

In this free podcast I talk about an amazing app that students can use to create imaginative role plays with great sound effects! The app is called Quiet Space and is available for iOS here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/quiet-space-best-quiet-space-effect-generator/id1114817125?mt=8

Don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review on iTunes – thanks!

The Four Kinds of Love – Lesson Plan for Valentine’s Day (Free Podcast)

The Four Kinds of Love - Lesson Plan for Valentine's Day (Free Podcast)

Discover a lesson plan for Valentine’s Day role plays.

Free lesson notes: https://purlandtraining.com/podcast-3-lesson-notes-the-four-kinds-of-love.pdf

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