Sarah McGuire Sarah McGuire

Speaking: The futurological conference
Pre-Intermediate level


In this lesson, students practice conversation and discussion about the study of the future (futurology) and science fiction. The lead-in begins with students watching a short mash-up video of science fiction films and imagery. The word "science fiction" and other related vocab is elicited from students. They discuss what science fiction films they have seen, and what happens in them. Students will then listen to a short audio of three people speaking about the future, and will complete an activity in which they match speakers to topics. They will then practice speaking for thirty seconds on a specified topic. Following this, students work on a pronunciation activity focusing on using contractions and pronouncing/ stressing them properly. Students then practice listening and speaking in a controlled activity in which they listen to a recording and match the descriptions to pictures of gadgets and discuss which gadget they prefer and why. A free speaking activity is then introduced where students, in pairs, invent and describe a futuristic gadget of their own creation and vote on whose is the most interesting. If extra time, again in pairs, the teacher shows students a picture of a computer to elicit discussion in which students ask and answer questions about computers (do you have a computer at home? what do you use it for?) and discuss in small groups how computers have and may continue to transform the future.


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Main Aims

  • To provide students with speaking fluency practice and expansion of vocabulary in the context of science fiction and the study of the future.

Subsidiary Aims

  • To provide Ss with gist listening and listening for specific information practice in the context of talking about science fiction and the future.


Lead In (10 minutes) • Introduce the topic and elicit vocabulary from Ss; begin conversation and establish ss confidence.

Tell students that they will be watching a short video clip and to think about the topic of todays lesson while they watch (brainstorming, prediction). Play the video clip. Post-video, ask students what their predictions were. Elicit the words "science fiction" from students. Write the discussion questions on the board: What science fiction films have you seen? What happens in them? Tell students to use present simple tense to narrate the story of the film. Provide a model answer to students verbally and on the whiteboard: "In "Alien", a crew on a spaceship discover they have an alien on board and have to fight the alien to survive." Put students in pairs and tell them to take turns answering the question. Post-activity, have students switch pairs and exchange answers with another partner. Monitor.

Pronunciation: Contractions 1 (5 minutes) • To highlight sounds of contractions and match phrases with responses.

Write the contractions on the whiteboard: I'll it'll there'll we'll what'll you'll Break down the form (I will, it will, there will, we will, what will, you will). Emphasize stress. Drill chorally, in groups and individually. Give students the handout . Tell them to match a phrase in Column A with an answer in column B. Put them in pairs and have them compare answers. Provide answers on whiteboard: 1. b 2. a 3. e 4. d 5. c In pairs, have students practice the exchanges (one student says a phrase from column A and the other says the response in column B). Model this activity with a stronger student. When finished, have them switch pairs and do this again. Monitor. Provide feedback.

Study and Activate: Listening and Speaking (10 minutes) • Provide model language through a listening activity and topics and cues to engage students in a timed speaking activity.

Tell students that they will now listen to three people speaking (teacher acts out script for the three different characters). Students are to match speakers 1,2 and 3 to three of the topics a-j below. Provide an example on the whiteboard. Put students in pairs to compare their answers, then discuss answers as a whole class: 1. I 2. e 3. f Next, tell students that they will choose a topic from a list of cut out papers. Before they speak, students should spend some time individually preparing and practicing what they are going to say. Students will practice speaking about their topic for one minute. Then students will present their speech in small groups, while one of the other students keeps time and the other looks for errors in pronunciation sentence structure, etc. Model this example with a stronger student (have them time you on their phone while you speak on a topic). Provide some prompts on the whiteboard to get students brainstorming: -What do you see happening to your topic in the future? -What will change and why? -What will stay the same? -How will it affect people and the world? -What are some positive things about the future of it? -What are some negative things? Have students pick a piece of paper (topics should be facedown, hidden). Individually, have them work on developing their ideas. Then, put them in small groups to present their 30 second speech. Monitor and provide feedback. Repeat 2-3x with students in different pairs and provide them with different topics. Recurring errors should be reviewed with WC.

Controlled Practice: Listening and Speaking (10 minutes) • To listen for detailed information and discuss opinions and ratings of futuristic gadgets.

Tell students that they will listen to the teacher read descriptions of the pictures on the handout. Tell students they are to match the descriptions 1-5 to the gadgets A-E. Provide students with the handout and read the descriptions. Put students in pairs and have them compare answers, then put the answers on the whiteboard. Keep students in their pairs. Tell them that they will discuss the following questions (write them on the whiteboard): a. Which of these gadgets would you like to buy? For who and why? Model this activity with a personal example. b. Give students the "Rating Gadgets" handout. Tell students that they will fill in the handout in pairs, discussing which of these gadgets will sell the most. Students are to put the gadgets in order (1= best seller and 5= worst seller). Tell students they are to explain their answer in the chart and write example on the whiteboard: "E is the best seller because it is the most useful because many people lose their keys." Monitor. Provide feedback. Have students switch pairs and compare answers.

Free Speaking Practice: Invent a Gadget (10 minutes) • To provide spoken fluency practice by exploring the topic of gadgets and inventions further.

Tell students that, in pairs, they will come up with their own gadget to use and will have to practice "selling" this gadget as though it is the best gadget. Provide students with model language on the whiteboard: This is the best gadget you can buy because...... This is useful because..... You need this gadget because.... Also write on the whiteboard the words "description, how it is used, price, where you can buy it" and tell students to include these things in their speech. Give students 5 minutes to work on this. Teacher should circulate and provide feedback at this point, encouraging students to clarify/provide more detail/justify as needed. Teacher can also hand out cut up prompts to keep conversation going and to further develop ideas. Post-activity, put student pairs in a line face to face. They should present their gadget to the other groups until all pairs have heard each other's inventions. Then, students vote on their favourite invention and why. Provide feedback.

Extra Time: Discussion (5-10 minutes) • To provide spoken fluency practice by exploring the topic of computers and the future.

The teacher shows students the picture of a computer and tells students to brainstorm some vocabulary that comes to mind when they see the picture. The teacher writes the words on the whiteboard. The teacher then tells the students that they will use the brainstormed vocabulary to discuss the following questions. The teacher writes them on the whiteboard: 1. Do you have a computer at home? 2. What do you use it for? 3. Are you connected to the internet? 4. How often do you use the internet? 5. What do you do online? 6. Do you know any older people (like grandparents) who use the internet? What do they do? 7 .What are some pros (positive things) and cons (negative things) about the internet? Why? Model answers to this activity by giving my opinion. Put students in pairs. Monitor and provide feedback. Have students switch pairs 2-3 times and encourage them to help each other find vocabulary to express their ideas.

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