The Last Argument: A Quirky ESL News Story

a short, quirky news story for beginner ESL classes

Today I have a true ESL news story about a man who came up with a very… uh… creative way to get out of a bad relationship. Below, I’ve included a printable handout, as well as tips on how to use the story with your classes.


The Last Argument

Lawrence had a problem. He and his wife had different opinions about everything. They argued every day. One day, he got very, very angry.
“You are driving me crazy!” he shouted. “This will be our last argument.”

Lawrence left his house and drove to the bank. He went to the bank teller and pulled out a gun. He said, “Look! I have a gun. Give me all of your money.” The bank teller gave him $2,924. Then she called the police.

Lawrence walked outside of the bank and waited. When the police arrived, he walked over to them. He said, “Excuse me officers. I’m the man you are looking for. Please arrest me.”

Why did Lawrence want to go to jail? He told the judge that he wanted a vacation from his wife. The judge sentenced him to six months of house arrest. He has to stay in his house for six months. He can’t go to the supermarket. He can’t go to the park. He can’t go to work. He can’t go anywhere! Lawrence wanted to escape his wife, but now he is going to see his wife every day for the next 6 months.

Suggested Vocabulary:

  • opinion
  • argue / argument
  • angry
  • You’re driving me crazy!
  • bank teller
  • gun
  • arrest
  • jail
  • house arrest
  • escape

Tips:

  • I would recommend reading this story aloud to your students until after the third paragraph, or possible after the first sentence in the last paragraph. Before reading the ending, pause and ask your students what they think the man’s punishment should be.
  • Role play idea: Put students into pairs. Tell your class to imagine that Lawrence has just come home from court after receiving his sentence. In their pairs, students should write and then perform a conversation (or argument) between the two of them.
  • Take a look at this page for more ideas on how to use my quirky news stories with your classes: Quirky News Stories

Yay! Handouts!

Click here to download a PDF printable handout of the story that you can share with your students: The Last Argument

This ESL news story was based on a true story. You can read the actual story here, and share it with your more advanced classes: Husband Robbed Bank to Escape Wife

 

 

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Questions About: Being a Teenager

When you were a teenager…

  1. Who were your favorite bands and musicians?
  2. What was your favorite movie?
  3. What was your favorite television show?
  4. What sports did you play?
  5. Did you like school? Why or why not?
  6. What was your favorite subject in school?
  7. What subjects did you hate in school? Do you like them now?
  8. What did you do after school?
  9. What did you do on the weekends?
  10. Did you participate in any clubs or afterschool activities?
  11. Did you listen to your parents? Were you a troublemaker?
  12. What did you usually wear? Were you interested in fashion?
  13. Did you cook or clean?
  14. Did you have older or younger brothers and sisters? Did you spend time with them?
  15. Did you have a job? If so, what did you do? Did you like it?
  16. Did you like to read? What was your favorite book?
  17. Did your parents let you stay out late at night? What time did you have to come home?
  18. Did you like parties?
  19. Were your parents strict?
  20. Did you like being a teenager, or did you want to grow up quickly?

Handouts!

Want to print these questions out on a handy handout?
Click here: Questions about being a teenager

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Questions About: Animals

  1. Do you like animals? Why or why not?
  2. What’s your favorite animal?
  3. What animals live in your hometown?
  4. What animals did you see in your current city?
  5. What animals are your afraid of?
  6. Which animals are the cutest? Which animals are the ugliest?
  7. Do you prefer big dogs or small dogs? Why?
  8. Did you ever ride a horse? How about a camel or an elephant? Where?
  9. Do you know any animals who are famous on the internet? Can you give an example?
  10. Did you ever see a bear, alligator or snake in nature? How did you feel?
  11. Do you like the zoo? Why or why not?
  12. Which animals are the most intelligent? Which animals are the least intelligent?
  13. Do you think animals can understand people? Why or why not?
  14. How do animals communicate with each other?
  15. How are animals different from people?
  16. Which country do you think has the most beautiful animals?
  17. Would you like to have a lion or tiger as a pet? Why or why not?
  18. Did you ever see a shark, dolphin or whale? Where were you? How did you feel?
  19. What are some movies about animals? Do you usually like movies about animals?
  20. Did you ever see a skunk? What happened?
  21. Did a wild animal ever come into your house? What happened?
  22. Did you hear any news stories about animals recently? What was the story about?

Free Printable Handout!

Want to print out this lesson so that you can carry it around with you forever? Click here: Questions about animals 

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Design a New Restaurant: Creative Task #1

Yum! Food!

Most ESL textbooks include a chapter on food, and in my experience, that chapter is usually everyone’s favorite. Students of all levels are able to talk about what they like to eat and describe the foods that they miss from back home. I usually use the following create-it task at the end of a food unit to give students a chance to practice new vocabulary or grammar structures.

I’ve used variations of this creative activity with Beginner to Intermediate level students, and they always seem to enjoy it. It can be surprisingly easy to set up, and doesn’t require tons of advance planning. If you have the technology available, you could display the slide above, or create one with your own questions. If you don’t, you can simply write your questions on the board.

What to do: 

  1. Divide your students into small groups and tell them that they are business partners. They have decided to open up a little restaurant. Because they are on a budget, they have to keep the menu small. (I usually limit it to 3-5 items because I find that bigger menus can be overwhelming and take a long time to present.) You might brainstorm some possible restaurant themes as a whole class, and list them on the board.
  2. In groups, have students respond to the questions on the board and prepare a presentation for the class. You might have them create a physical menu or poster to show the class, although I don’t often do that with my adult students.
  3. Groups make their presentations, and everyone gets really hungry.

Variations and Follow-Up Lesson Ideas:

If your students created menus, this is the perfect time to do a lesson on how to order food. First, brainstorm useful expressions for ordering at a restaurant, and/or present a simple restaurant dialogue. Them allow them to walk around, “visit” each other’s restaurants, and practice ordering.

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Quirky Story: Sausages for Lunch

Today, I’ve got a super-adorable storyfor you about a couple of lost dogs who really like their Sunday routine. It’s written in the simple present tense, can be used with elementary, and lower intermediate classes, and is appropriate for students of all ages.

I’ve included a handy, printable handout at the bottom of the page so that you  easily share it with your students.

Sausages for Lunch

Liz and Graham Hampson love their dogs Charlie and Theo. They are a happy family. They take walks together every day. The Hampsons make barbecued sausages every Sunday. Then the family eats lunch together. Charlie and Theo love barbecued sausages!

One day the Hampsons take their dogs for a walk in the hills near their home. The dogs run ahead into the forest. It is a foggy day, and soon Liz and Graham cannot see their dogs.
“CHARLIE! THEO!” they call, but the dogs do not come back. They are lost.

The Hampsons are very sad. They call their friends and family for help. More than 120 people come to search for the dogs. They search the forest for four days. Nobody can find the dogs.

Then they have an idea. They bring a barbecue grill to the forest. They cook sausages and wait. Finally, they hear a bark. It is Charlie! Theo is right behind him. They smell the sausages, and they are ready for lunch.

Conversation Questions:

1. Do you have pets? What kinds of pets do you have?
What are their names? What do they look like?

2. Some people say that their pets are their children. Is it possible for pets to be part of a family? Why or why not?

3. Are you a dog person or a cat person? Why?

4. What types of animals are good pets? What types or animals are not good pets?

5. What are some ways to find a lost dog or cat?

Suggested Vocabulary:

  • take walks
  • sausages
  • hills
  • foggy
  • forest
  • lost
  • grill
  • search
  • find
  • wait
  • bark
  • ahead
  • behind

Yay! Handouts!

Click here to download a PDF printable handout of the story that you can share with your students: Sausages for Lunch

This ESL news story was based on a true story. You can read the actual story here, and share it with your more advanced classes: Lost Dogs Return Home for Breakfast

Take a look at this page for ideas on how to use my quirky news stories with your classes: Quirky News Stories

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Questions About: Food

English conversation questions about food for ESL classes
  1. What are some foods that you like to eat? What are some foods that you don’t like? Are you a picky eater?
  2. What are you favorite fruits? What are your favorite vegetables?
  3. Are there any foods from your hometown that you can’t find in this city?
  4. What do you like to eat or drink in the spring and summer?
  5. What do you like to eat or drink in the fall and winter?
  6. Do you eat salad? What do you usually put in your salad? Do you like salad dressing?
  7. What foods and drinks are popular in your country?
  8. What are some typical American foods?
  9. Describe the perfect sandwich.
  10. How do you make pasta? Give step-by-step instructions.
  11. How do you make a salad? Give step-by-step instructions
  12. What do you usually eat for breakfast? Is that a typical breakfast in your country?
  13. How often do you sit down for a meal with your family? Do you enjoy eating with family? Why or why not?
  14. Do you like cooking? Why or why not?
  15. What did you have for dinner last night?
  16. Do you like vegetarian food? How about vegan food? Is it easy or difficult to be a vegetarian in your country?
  17. Do you drink coffee, tea, hot chocolate? Do you make smoothies or other drinks?
  18. Do you use a microwave? Why or why not?
  19. Do you like sweets? What are your favorite snacks and desserts?
  20. Do you eat at fast food restaurants? Why or why not?

Click here for a printable version of these questions that you can print out and carry around in your folder of favorite teaching things: Questions about food

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Welcome Aboard!

Hi strangers! I’m getting ready to launch ESL Airplane, a site devoted to providing teachers with creative classroom resources for English Language Learners. I just wanted to say hi and let you know a little about what to expect.

One of my main goals for this site is to share some good beginner-friendly resources that can be adapted for use with other levels. I love teaching lower-level English classes (B1 and below). I have a hard time finding good materials for them, though, so I often make my own. I’m hoping to put together a collection of the types of materials that I’m always looking for along with tips on how you can adapt them for your classes. You’ll soon see a mix of conversation questions, weird news stories, picture prompts, creative news stories, and more. 

My teaching materials tend to be silly and kinda whimsical. I like my classes to be fun and lighthearted even though I’m serious about teaching. If that sounds like the kind of classroom you’re going for, please come back in a few days! I’m still working on setting up, trying to organize a million ideas into neat little categories, but I’ll have a bunch of new stuff here for you soon!

In the meantime, please take a moment to say hello and introduce yourself in the comment box. Where are you from? Who do you teach? What types of ESL materials do you wish you could find?

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