Leigh Davidson Leigh Davidson

Crime and Punishment
Intermediate to Upper-Intermediate, Prep Speaking level


In this lesson Ss will think about and discuss crimes in both Turkey and the United States and the current justice system that punishes these crimes. Debate will focus on the judicial system of these two countries and whether or not they are effective deterrents against crime. A brief reading activity on one form of punishment ('naming and shaming') will be provided to wrap up the lesson and guide the conversation towards a discussion on whether or not punishments can, and should, be equal to the crime.


Abc Major & Minor Crimes

Main Aims

  • To provide Ss with the opportunity to discuss and debate, in an informal setting, crime and punishment and whether or not the justice system (in countries such as the United States and Turkey) has modeled punishments that fit, and are equal to, the crimes civilians commit.

Subsidiary Aims

  • To review and introduce Ss to terminology associated with the criminal and justice system in the United States of America.


Warmer/Lead-in (16-18 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students

Write on the WB COMMON CRIMES. Underneath, create two headings: MINOR and MAJOR. Elicit from the Ss some examples of small, minor crimes and major, serious criminal offenses. Write some of the Ss answers underneath the applicable column. Project on the WB two images of major and minor crimes in action (Jaywalking and Murder). Elicit from the WC the names/terms of these crimes and whether they are considered major or minor. Divide the WC into groups and distribute the 'Major and Minor Crimes' HO. Inform the Ss that the HO includes some images of crimes in action (both major and minor). "First, look through these images and discuss with your partner which of these crimes are considered 'major' and which of these crimes are 'minor.' Write down the names of those crimes that you and your partner are familiar with. Second, discuss with your partner which of these actions (or behaviors) are also considered criminal in Turkey. Do you know what punishments are given for each criminal offense in Turkey?" Following GW discussion, bring the WC together for FB. Go through each image to discuss the name of the crime, whether it is considered minor or major (and why) and what punishments are given in Turkey for the crime. Highlight the distinctions between THEFT/LARCENY, PETTY THEFT BURGLARY, and ROBBERY. [write on the WB] [T's Note: theft/larceny has to do with stealing property, with no intention to return; robbery is theft with force or the threat of force (the person being robbed is generally present during the robbery); burglary involves entering a structure with the intent to steal.]

Productive Task: Reporting A Crime (18-20 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

"As the great Seneca, the Roman statesman, once said, [write on the WB] 'He who does not prevent a crime when he can, encourages it.' Who agrees with this statement?" Elicit a discussion from the WC, guiding the Ss to think about our roles and responsibilities, as citizens, when we witness a crime and when we are aware of the possibility, or potential, for a crime. Refer back to the Warmer/Lead-in discussion of common crimes. "What are some situations for which you would call the police? Can you think of a situation (or situations), in which a crime has been committed, but you would not call the police?" Highlight the fact that the law, in America, considers a 'witness' to a crime as an ACCESSORY (i.e. you are considered partially responsible for that crime). "A survey conducted in Britain in 2009 found that more than one in five people would not give information about a crime to the police. The numbers varied according to the type of crime, but even for rape and murder, nearly one in ten Brits said they would not report the crime to the police. Concerning drug use, one third stated that they would not go to the police if they observed someone breaking the law. Do you think these numbers would be around the same, or different, for Turkey today. How so?" Divide the WC into groups and distribute the HO on 'Reporting to the Police.' Instruct the Ss that you have some situations you would like them to look over and discuss. "Which of these crimes would you report to the police if you were a witness? Which of these crimes would you NOT go to the police to report, if you were a witness? Why?" Bring the groups together for some WC FB.

Productive Task: Keep Your Mouth Shut (17-20 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Inform the WC that they are going to watch a short film on this topic [8:20 minutes long]. "In this film, a man witnesses a crime." Warn the Ss that there is a little bit of violence, and blood, and some curse words in this short movie. "The title of the film is called, 'Keep Your Mouth Shut.' We are going to watch the first few minutes of this film. First, I want you just to observe what is the crime that the man witnesses." Play the film until 2:30. Instruct the Ss to discuss with their partner what they observed and what they think will happen next. "What do you think the man on the roof will do?" Following GW discussion, inform the WC they will watch a little more of the film. "I want you to observe if you were correct in your prediction." Play the film until 5:23. Elicit FB from the WC. Did any group guess correctly what happened next? Play the remainder of the film. Following a viewing of the film, instruct the Ss to discuss with their partner what they observed at the end of the film. "What do you think is the message of this film? What is the director trying to say here?" Following GW discussion bring the WC together for FB.

Useful Language (16-18 minutes) • To highlight and clarify useful language for coming productive tasks

Write on the WB PUNISHMENTS. List some common punishments beneath: "Fine, Prison sentence, Suspended prison sentence [T Note: the convicted does not have to serve time in prison, but their conviction is now on file/in public record], Community service, Tagging [T Note: attaching an electronic device to the convicted to monitor their movements], the Death penalty, Corporal punishment [T Note: physical punishment like beating or whipping someone], Solitary confinement." Try to elicit the meaning of each term from the Ss. Distribute the HO on 'Punishments' and have the Ss, in pairs, quickly verify their guesses through a matching exercise. Go through WC FB quickly to clarify any confusion. Instruct the Ss to discuss the questions on the HO. Bring the pairs together for some WC FB.

Productive Task: Naming and Shaming (13-15 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive and receptive skills

Inform the WC about the reading activity. "I would now like you to read an article on a unique approach some states in America have taken to punishing certain crimes. While reading the article, think about these things: 1) WHAT DO YOU THINK about this unique form of punishment? 2) As the title states, do you think that this unique form of punishment 'FITS THE CRIMES'? 3) Are these punishments TOO HARSH, or TOO LENIENT, for the crimes that they are punishing?" [write on the WB] Following PW reading and discussion, bring everyone together for some WC FB. Draw the Ss' attention to the article's comment on 'public stocks.' Explain the term if Ss are unfamiliar. "Should we go back to public stocks? Why or why not?"

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