The Car Thief: A quirky news story about an unlucky criminal

Today’s story is about a car thief, and a woman who was not willing to part with her car so easily. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page if you’d like to print out a handout to use with your classes. 

The Car Thief

Melissa stopped her car at the gas station. She opened the door and went outside to get gas. Suddenly, the car started to move. Melissa looked up and saw a man in her driver’s seat. He was a car thief! He wanted to steal Melissa’s car.

Melissa loved her white SUV. She didn’t have time to think. She jumped on top of the car and grabbed the windshield wipers. She banged on the window and screamed at the thief, but he just laughed. He started the car and stopped the car and started the car and stopped the car very quickly. He wanted Melissa to fall off, but she didn’t. She held on tight. Finally, the man got out of the car and ran away.

Later, Melissa watched a security video from the gas station with her fiancé. Her fiancé was shocked and a little upset.

“Why did you do that?” he asked. “It was so dangerous!”

“I know,” Melissa said, “but I was in a bad mood. He chose a bad day to mess with me! And you know what? I’m proud of myself!”

Conversation Questions:

1- Do you think that Melissa did the right thing when she jumped on her car?

2- What would you do if someone tried to steal your car?

3- How do you think car thieves should be punished?

More Speaking Practice:

Student A: You are Melissa. Imagine that you just came home. Tell your fiance about what happened at the gas station.

Student B: You are Melissa’s fiance. Ask Melissa some questions, and tell her how you feel.

Vocabulary:

I would recommend pre-teaching the following words/phrases. I have made a separate list of verbs in case you like to go over their past tenses as I sometimes do.

  • Gas station
  • Thief
  • Windshield wipers
  • Fiance
  • Shocked
  • Upset
  • In a bad mood
  • Proud (of yourself)

Verbs

  • Grabbed
  • Banged
  • Screamed
  • Laughed
  • Ran away
  • Mess with (someone)

______________________________________________________________

Handouts and Links:

You can print out a print out a handout of the text that you can use with your students right here: The Car Thief

Be sure to check out this page for ideas on how to incorporate this into your lesson: How to use the stories

And click here to see my constantly-growing list of quirky news stories: Quirky News Stories

Please check back soon! I plan to update all of my news story lessons with follow-up activities, and ideas on how to use them in your classes.

A Trip to Gator World: A Quirky News Story in Three Tenses

 

A Trip to Gator World – A Quirky News Story in Three Tenses

Today’s story, which appeared in the news about a year ago, is about a young girl who survived an alligator attack at a Florida beach.

I decided to try out something different for this story, and give you three tense options: Present tense,  past tense, and mixed tense. That way, you can choose the option that works best for the level that you’re teaching, or for the grammar point that you happen to be covering.

If you’d like to use this for grammar practice with higher levels, I would suggest that you give them Option 1 or 2, and ask them to add in other tenses wherever they might be appropriate. You could give them Option 3 later, for comparison.   

I’ve also included related conversation questions and a list of helpful vocabulary to pre-teach. Please make sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page to print out the handout!

Option 1: Present Tense

A Trip to Gator World

Juliana is ten years old. She loves animals and amusement parks. One day, her parents take her to Florida. Juliana is very excited to go on on vacation!

On the first day, they go to Disney World. Juliana rides on roller coasters and eats cotton candy. On the second day, they go to Gator World. Juliana learns about alligators, crocodiles, and Florida wildlife. On the third day, they go to the beach. Juliana plays in the water, and her parents relax on the sand.

When Juliana is swimming, she sees an animal. It is a big animal. It is dark green, and it has sharp teeth and a long tail. It is an alligator! The alligator opens its mouth and bites Juliana’s leg.

Juliana doesn’t panic. She remembers something that she learned yesterday at Gator World. She puts her fingers into the alligator’s nose. The alligator cannot breathe. It opens its mouth for air. Juliana is free! She swims to the shore. Her parents take her to the hospital, and she gets stitches in her leg. Her leg hurts, but she is happy! She survived an alligator attack. She will never forget her trip to Florida.

 

Option 2: Past Tense

A Trip to Gator World

Juliana was ten years old. She loved animals and amusement parks. One day, her parents took her to Florida. Juliana was very excited to go on on vacation!

On the first day, they went to Disney World. Juliana rode on roller coasters and ate cotton candy. On the second day, they went to Gator World. Juliana learned about alligators, crocodiles, and Florida wildlife. On the third day, they went to the beach. Juliana played in the water, and her parents relaxed on the sand.

When Juliana was in the water, she saw an animal. It was a big animal. It was dark green, and it had sharp teeth and a long tail. It was an alligator! The alligator opened its mouth and bit Juliana’s leg.

Juliana didn’t panic. She remembered something that she learned yesterday at Gator World. She put her fingers into the alligator’s nose. The alligator could not breathe. It opened its mouth for air. Juliana was free! She swam to the shore. Her parents took her to the hospital, and she got stitches in her leg. Her leg hurt, but she was happy! She survived an alligator attack. She will never forget her trip to Florida.

 

Option 3: Mixed Tenses

A Trip to Gator World

When Juliana was ten years old, she loved animals and amusement parks. One day, her parents told her that they were going to take her to Florida on vacation. Juliana was very excited!

On the first day, they went to Disney World. Juliana rode on roller coasters and ate cotton candy. On the second day, they went to Gator World. Juliana learned about alligators, crocodiles, and Florida wildlife. On the third day, they went to the beach. Juliana played in the water while her parents relaxed on the sand.

When Juliana was swimming, she saw an animal. It was a big animal. It was dark green, and it had sharp teeth and a long tail. It was an alligator! The alligator opened its mouth and bit Juliana’s leg.

Juliana didn’t panic. She remembered something that she had learned yesterday at Gator World. She put her fingers into the alligator’s nose so that it could not breathe. When it opened its mouth for air, Juliana escaped. She quickly swam to the shore. Her parents took her to the hospital, and she got stitches in her leg. Her leg hurt, but she was happy! She had survived an alligator attack. She will never forget her trip to Florida.

 

Conversation Questions:

  1. What do you think about Juliana’s story?
  2. Have you ever gone to Florida?
  3. Where do you like to go on vacation?
  4. Do you like amusement parks? Why or why not? Do you like roller coasters?
  5. Do you like swimming at the beach? Why or why not?
  6. Have you ever seen an alligator? Do you know any cities or countries where you can see alligators?
  7. What should you do if you see an alligator?
  8. What wild animals live in your hometown? What wild animals live in the place where you are now?

 

Suggested Vocabulary:

  • Amusement park
  • Roller coaster
  • Cotton candy
  • Alligator / gator
  • Wildlife
  • Sand
  • Sharp teeth
  • Tail
  • Bite
  • Panic
  • Nose
  • Mouth
  • Fingers
  • Breathe
  • Shore
  • Get stitches
  • Hurt

Verbs:

  • Swim
  • Bite
  • Relax
  • Panic
  • Breathe

Handouts and Links:

You can print out a print out a printable handout of all three texts along with the conversation questions right here: A Trip to Gator World

Be sure to check out this page for ideas on how to incorporate this into your lesson: How to use the stories

Did you like this lesson plan? Have you tried it out? Would you like to see more like it in the future? Please let me know in the Comments section,  or send me an email at ESLairplane@gmail.com. I’d really love to hear from you, since it helps me figure out what to post in the future.

Describe This Animal: Speaking Prompt Worksheet

Yay! Animals!

I made this super-simple, adaptable worksheet to  give students a way to practice using language that they have learned recently. It could be easily adapted to be used with a variety of topics such as:

  • parts of the body
  • appearance
  • shapes
  • behavior
  • animal sounds
  • the structures “It is ____________. / It has __________.
  • etc.

Ideas on Using this Worksheet:

  • I would suggest introducing the worksheet by showing your class a picture of an animal on the board. Then ask your students to describe the animal. You might want to write the description on the board.
  • Next, you can divide your class into small groups, and have your students practice describing the animals in speaking.

  • After students have practiced in groups, you can play a game of charades as a follow-up activity. Have each student describe an animal to the class without saying the name of the animal. Classmates guess which animal they are describing.

  • You might also use this as a writing prompt. You could ask students to choose 5 animals from the worksheet and write descriptions of them. After they finish, you might even have them read their descriptions in small groups, and have groupmates guess which animal they are describing.

Here is the text for the worksheet, but be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page if you’d like to print out the handout.

Describe These Animals

  1. Dog
  2. Cat
  3. Horse
  4. Cow
  5. Giraffe
  6. Monkey
  7. Owl
  8. Whale
  9. Shark
  10. Dolphin
  11. Lion
  12. Skunk
  13. Bear
  14. Raccoon
  15. Rabbit
  16. Hamster
  17. Frog
  18. Snake
  19. Pigeon
  20. Parrot
  21. Turtle
  22. An animal that is from your country.

Printable Worksheet:

Describe these animals: Click here to print out the questions above in an easy-to-use worksheet format.

Looking for more beginner-friendly questions on a variety of different topics? You can find all of my Conversation Question posts right here: Speaking Questions

Were these questions helpful to you? Is there anything else you’d like to see? I’d love to hear from you! Please take a moment to post a message in the comment section.

Conversation Questions about Water Activities

It’s been a rainy summer week in my hometown, and I guess that’s as good a time as any for speaking about water activities, right? Today’s list of question is designed to get your students chatting about everything from the beach and the pool to water fights and  scuba diving and swimming with sharks. It should work well with students of all ages and English levels, and I imagine it could be a great summer camp conversation starter.

Make sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page for a handy printable copy of the questions.

Water Activities:

  1. When you were a child, did you ever have water fights? Describe them.
  2. Do you like the beach? Why or why not?
  3. What are five things that you like about the beach?
  4. What are some activities that people do at the beach?
  5. When is the last time you made a sandcastle?
  6. How do you make the perfect sandcastle? Give step-by-step instructions.
  7. What is the perfect type of food to eat at the beach? What are the worst types of food to eat at the beach?
  8. Have you ever gone surfing? If so, talk about the first time that you surfed. If not, would you like to try surfing?
  9. Did you ever try any other water sports?
  10. What other water sports do people do? Which would you like to try?
  11. Do you prefer the beach or the swimming pool?
  12. Did you ever go snorkeling? Where? What did you see?
  13. Did you ever swim with dolphins or sharks? Would you like to?
  14. Did you ever go whale-watching?
  15. What other water animals have you seen? What animals live in the water in your country or hometown?
  16. Do you like walking in the rain? Do you like jumping in puddles? Why or why not?

Printable Worksheet:

Water Activities_ Conversation Questions: Click here to print out the questions above in an easy-to-use worksheet format.

Looking for more beginner-friendly questions on a variety of different topics? You can find all of my Conversation Question posts right here: Speaking Questions

Were these questions helpful to you? Is there anything else you’d like to see? I’d love to hear from you! Please take a moment to post a message in the comment section.

Conversation Questions About Summer!

Conversation Questions About Summer for ESL Students

Conversation Questions About Summer

I love summer, and I love hearing about summer in different parts of the world! This list of 20 questions is designed to get your ESL students chatting about their own opinions and past experiences with the best season ever. The questions are all fairly simple, so they can easily be used with multi-level classes.

  1. Do you like summer? Why or why not?
  2. Describe the weather in summer in your hometown.
  3. What activities can you do in summer?
  4. Do you like going to the beach? Why or why not?
  5. Can you swim? When did you learn? How did you learn?
  6. Do you like sunbathing? Why or why not?
  7. What are your favorite summer fruits and vegetables?
  8. What else do you like to eat or drink in the summer?
  9. Can you recommend a good place to get ice cream?
  10. Do prefer to use an air conditioner or open the windows?
  11. What insects do you often see in summer?
  12. What are some things that you liked to do in the summer when you were a child?
  13. Do you travel during the summer? Where do you usually go?
  14. What holidays do you celebrate in the summer?
  15. Does your city have any festivals or parades during the summer? Which ones
  16. How do people usually dress during the summer in your hometown?
  17. What types of shoes do you usually wear in the summer? Do you like flip flops?
  18. What are the three best things about summer?
  19. What are the three worst things about summer?
  20. How is summer different from winter?

Printable Worksheet:

Summer_ Conversation Questions: Click here to print out the questions above in an easy-to-use worksheet format.

Looking for more beginner-friendly questions on a variety of different topics? You can find all of my Conversation Question posts right here: Speaking Questions

Were these questions helpful to you? Is there anything else you’d like to see? I’d love to hear from you! Please take a moment to post a message in the comment section.

The Holiday Season: ESL Conversation Questions

Do your students celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year? You can use these conversation questions as a simple way to get your students talking about their own holiday traditions and share a bit about the holiday season culture in America.

Conversation Questions: The Holiday Season

  1. What’s your favorite holiday song?
  2. What’s your favorite holiday movie?
  3. Do you celebrate holidays in November, December or January? Which ones
  4. Do you decorate your house for the holidays? What decorations do you have
  5. How do people in the U.S. celebrate Thanksgiving? Did you ever celebrate it
  6. What do you know about Black Friday? Does Black Friday exist in your country? Do you like to go shopping then?
  7. Do you have a Christmas tree? What does your tree look like?
  8. Do people in your neighborhood have elaborate holiday decorations on their houses?
  9. Do people in your country spend a lot of money on Christmas presents?
  10. Do children in your country believe in Santa Claus? When you were a child, did you believe in Santa Claus?
  11. What are some symbols of Christmas?
  12. Do you like shopping during the holiday season? Why or why not?
  13. What types of food do you usually eat on Christmas?
  14. What types of food do you usually eat on New Year?
  15. What smells remind you of Christmas?
  16. What do people in your hometown usually do at midnight on New Year’s Eve
  17. What other New Year traditions exist in your country? (Do you wear a certain type of clothing, eat a certain food, clean your house, give gifts, etc.?)
  18. Would you rather celebrate New Year in a public space, a big party, or a small gathering with friends and family?
  19. Why do a lot of people feel stressed around the holidays?

Printable Worksheet:

The Holiday Season: Conversation Questions: Click here to print out the questions above in an easy-to-use worksheet format.

Looking for more beginner-friendly questions on a variety of different topics? You can find all of my Conversation Question posts right here: Speaking Questions

Conversation Questions About Halloween for ESL Students

Where I live, Halloween is really popular with adults. My adult students often find it funny since Halloween is mainly a children’s holiday in a lot of countries. A lot of them get really into it and get all dressed up for my school’s annual costume contest. Others just think it’s weird.

Anyway, whatever their opinions are, here are some Halloween conversation questions to get your students into the holiday spirit.

Halloween Conversation Questions

  1. What do you know about Halloween? (How do people Celebrate?)
  2. What’s your opinion about Halloween? Is it a children’s holiday, or can adults celebrate it, too?
  3. Do people in your country celebrate Halloween? How do they celebrate?
  4. How do people celebrate Halloween in the city where you are now?
  5. Are there any holidays in your country that are similar to Halloween?
  6. Do you ever dress up in costumes? What’s your favorite costume?
  7. Did you ever go to a Halloween party? Describe it.
  8. What does the phrase “trick-or-treat” mean?
  9. Did you ever go trick-or-treating? If not, do you want to? Why or why not?
  10. Do you like candy? What’s your favorite kind of candy? Did you ever try candy corn?
  11. What is a jack-o-lantern? How do you make one?
  12. Do you decorate your house for Halloween? What kind of decorations do you have?
  13. Do you like horror movies? What’s the scariest movie you can think of?
  14. Did you ever go to a haunted house? What did you see there? Was it scary?
  15. Do you believe in ghosts? How about magical spells?
  16. Do you know any good ghost stories? Tell one!
  17. Are you superstitious? Do you think that black cats are bad luck? What other superstitions about bad luck do you know?
  18. What would you like to be for Halloween this year?
  19. Did you ever see dogs or other animals dressed up for Halloween?
  20. Do you prefer scary costumes, cute costumes, or political costumes?

Handout:

Here is a convenient, printable version of these questions that you can hand out to your students: Conversation Questions About Halloween

Have you used my questions with your classes? How do you celebrate Halloween at your school? How do your students feel about the holiday? I’d love to know, so please take a moment and leave a comment in the box!

Looking for more beginner-friendly questions on a variety of different topics? You can find all of my Conversation Question posts right here: Speaking Questions

Conversation Questions About Weather

Where I live, people are always making small talk about the weather because it’s pretty unpredictable, and it’s always changing!

I just kind of assumed it was like that everywhere, until a student from Colombia pointed out that one major  difference between this city and her hometown is that nobody back home ever speaks about the weather. She said that the weather there is always sunny, and pretty much the same all year round, so nobody really thinks to mention it. I thought that was pretty interesting because here it’s common to open your door in the morning and say, “It looks like a really nice day!” And then two hours later, you find yourself turning to a stranger in the elevator and saying, “Ugh, I think it’s gonna rain.”

Anyway, here’s a list of weather-related questions for your students to answer. These should work well if your students come from countries with different climates, or if you live in a city with unpredictable weather, like mine. As always, you’ll find a link to a printable handout at the bottom of the page. Let me know how they work out, in the comment section!

Conversation Questions About Weather:

  1. Describe the weather today.
  2. What’s your favorite type of weather?
  3. What type of weather do you dislike?
  4. How many seasons are there in your hometown? How many seasons are there in the place where you live now?
  5. What do you like to do on rainy days?
  6. What do you like to do when it is very hot outside?
  7. Does it ever snow in your country?
  8. Do you remember the first time you saw snow?
  9. What usually happens when it snows in your country? (Do schools close? Do people go to work? etc.)
  10. Is weather a common conversation topic in your hometown? How about in the city where you are now?
  11. Do you usually use an umbrella in the rain? How about in the sun?
  12. Are rain boots fashionable where you live? What else do people wear in the rain?
  13. What do you wear when it is very cold?
  14. How often do you wear sunscreen? Do you usually get sunburns or suntans
  15. What are the three worst things about the summer?
  16. What are the three worst things about the winter?
  17. Did you ever travel somewhere extremely hot or extremely cold? Where?
  18. Do you think that the season of your birthday affects your personality?
  19. Do you like air conditioning? Why or why not?
  20.  Is the weather in your country different now from when you were a child?

Printable Handout

You can print these questions out in a convenient handout format right here: Conversation Questions About Weather

Conversation Questions about Movies

Students love talking about their favorite and least favorite movies. Describing movie plots is never easy, but is a great way to work on improving fluency. And because movies often have different names in different languages, part of the challenge is trying to figure out which movie your classmates are describing. 

Anyway, today I have a list of movie-themed conversation questions to get your students  chatting. If you’d like to print out the list, there’s a link to a printable handout at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!

Conversation Questions About Movies

  1. What are your favorite types of movies?
  2. What is the last movie you watched? What was it about?
  3. What is your favorite movie from your childhood?
  4. What is your favorite teen movie?
  5. Do you remember the first time you went to a movie theater? How old were you? What movie did you see?
  6. Did you often go to the movie theater with friends when you were a teenager?
  7. Do you prefer to watch movies at home or in a movie theater? Why?
  8. What is your favorite movie snack?
  9. Do you prefer to watch movies alone, with friends, or with your family?
  10. Do you usually talk while you watch movies, or are you quiet?
  11. What movie do you really hate? Why do you hate it?
  12. Do you have a favorite movie?
  13. Do you ever cry when you watch movies? Which movies made you cry?
  14. How do American movies compare to movies from your country?
  15. Do you like documentaries? Describe an interesting documentary that you saw.
  16. Do you like animation? What is your favorite animated movie?
  17. Do you like silent movies? Do you like Charlie Chaplin?
  18. What are your favorite holiday movies?
  19. Do you read reviews before you watch a movie? Do you usually agree with the movie critics?
  20. Do you watch award shows? Why or why not?

Handouts:

I’ve typed these questions up into a printable worksheet that you can hand out to your students right here:  Questions About Movies

The Best Pet – Would you rather have a fluffy cow or a plant with eyes?: Picture Prompt #2

The world is full of big, important issues that your students could be debating, but I don’t have an example of one for you today. Instead, I have this picture prompt:

Which is the best pet? A horse, a fluffy cow, a bear or a plant with eyes? List 10 reasons why.

 

This is a prompt for those days when your class just needs a silly, lighthearted debate. It’s a good way to help nervous language learners stop taking themselves so seriously and start brainstorming.

Here’s a little handful of ideas on using this picture prompt:

  • Divide your class into four groups, and assign each group to a different one of the pets. (I would recommend assigning the pets randomly. It’s more fun and more challenging when students have to defend an idea that they don’t actually believe.) Encourage them to (a) compare their pet to the other pets, and (b) Think of specific examples of activities that they could do with their pet.
  • After your students are finished writing down their ideas, it’s time to debate! My debates are usually somewhat informal. I give each group the chance to state one of their ideas at a time, and then I allow the other groups to argue against it. (If anyone has any ideas for a better organized debate, though, I’d love to hear them.)
  • This prompt works well after teaching comparative and superlative adjectives. (A bear is stronger than a horse, but a plant with eyes is cuter and less dangerous than a bear.)
  • Here is a simple, printable organizer that I created to help your students outline their ideas: The Best Pet: Graphic Organizer

Thoughts and Ideas:

How else could you use this prompt in your classes? Please share your ideas in the comment box!