I used to teach a screen English class. It was so much work but it was also quite satisfying once I finished my class and presented it to my class. For those lucky teachers who find my site I have already done the hours of research and video watching involved in creating a great fun class for students.
This class is one of my most memorable because of the reactions from the students. It involves an Onion story about stabbing monkeys to see if multiple stab wounds are fatal. Quite funny to see students reactions and it also can lead into a great discussion on animal testing and zoos and whatever other subjects you want to bring into the fray.
You can find the video here and look below for the class and discussion questions.
Multiple Stab Wounds May Be Harmful To Monkeys
1. How much money did the experiment cost? _________________________________________
2. How many monkeys were in the test group? _______________________________________
3. How many times were they stabbed? ______________________________________________
5. Where did they stab the monkeys?
6. What did they do to the control group of monkeys? ________________________________________________
7. What do you think of this study?
8. Should we use animals for testing products?
9. What kinds of tests are okay to perform on animals? What kinds of test are not okay? Are medicines okay to test on animals? How about cosmetics testing?
10. How do you feel about using animals in circuses?
11. What do you think about zoos? What are the pros and cons of zoos?
12. How do you feel about keeping a pet?
Feel Free to Expand This to a Debate Class on Animal Testing
It’s actually quite a fun and easy expansion of this class. I usually go over debates and how to debate the day before. I don’t have a class published yet on debates but I will work on one and link it here afterward. I’ll give you a quick preview o how I conduct debates in class. You can adapt what you like and change it around depending on the level of your class and how much guidance they need.
My debate class goes like this. First in pairs, or a group of three if you have an odd number class, have students come up with a list of pros and cons on the subject. You might have to explain this as for or against depending on the level and if they have ever done debates before.
Give them about 5 minutes to talk it over with each other and then have the class count off or you can just pick the students you would like on pros and cons. If I know my students well, I might have the people I know are con on the pro team and vice versa for a challenge. To be totally random you can just say: “All even numbers over here and all odd over there!”
Now you assign each team whether they are pro or con give them time to talk over and come up with their talking points and a strategy. I try to make sure every team member has a chance to make at least one point and then they can randomly do counterpoints. If someone on the team has a better rebuttal they can jump in as well.
How you run the actual debate depends on you and your class. If I have odd numbers, I might pick the strongest speaker and have them be a moderator and control the whole debate. That way I can just sit back, observe and make notes of new vocabulary that comes up.
The Debate Process
There are all kinds of debate styles and patterns. If you have a large class, you can even have a team of three or four students to be judges. Here is the way I usually do it.
Prep stage: 5-10 minutes
Students get together and discuss strategy and who will present each point
The Debate: First each team presents their opening statement which gives a broad overview of their side. You can always skip this and just get right in to point-counterpoint right at the start. Each team has a point to make for one minute. The opposing team can have a counterpoint to that idea also for 1 minute. Then I let the original team that made the point to have a 30-second rebuttal. Every student has to make at least one point and if someone is too quiet I might nudge them into a counterpoint or rebuttal as well.
This can get noisy depending on your students and how strongly they present their points. I try to teach them basic debate etiquette such as, “The gentleman has a good point but…” or “I respectfully disagree!” Also, teaching them how to present their ideas is a good thing to cover. We had a writing class and I usually taught them “I think” and “I believe” already in that class. You might have to remind them or write some pointers on the board.
Speaking of pointers, I usually have point and counterpoint written on the board for however many members of each team there are so I can cross off when they have gone and keep track of how many we have left. I usually had a bell that I got from a game and I could use it in so many activities. When they hear the ding of the bell it works better than me saying “Time!” You will find that your bell will be invaluable after you have been teaching for a while.
After the Debate
At the end of the debate I usually go over new vocabulary learned and any new phrases that they might bring up. I also try to present the class with who I thought was the winner or loser not based on my opinion but based on how well they presented the facts.
This started out as a screen English page but ended up as a debate class. Amazing! I hope your class can enjoy this video and the debate and awesome English as a Second Language discussion that comes after. Till next class remember, Teaching English is Fun!