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.


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 (14-16 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 what they consider small, minor crimes and major, serious criminal offenses. Write the Ss answers underneath the applicable column. Elicit from the Ss what crimes, in the 'minor' and 'major' column, are punished with a fine (some sort of monetary payment). What crimes, in the 'minor' and 'major' column, are punished with jail time and, perhaps, prison? See if the Ss can make comparisons and contrasts between Turkey and America--on how they enforce the law and punish crimes. Write on the WB, off to the side, MISDEMEANOR and FELONY. Try to elicit from the Ss the definition, and difference, between these two words. Use the 'minor' and 'major' crimes list if Ss get stuck. Erase and create on the WB a column for MISDEMEANOR and one for FELONY. "What are some common misdemeanors in Turkey?" Write the Ss answers on the WB. "Do you know what are considered common misdemeanors in the US?" Write some of the answers on the WB: parking and speeding, jaywalking, vandalism/graffiti, possession of drugs, petty theft, prostitution, trespassing, simple assault, public intoxication, and disorderly conduct. Clarify any of the terms that the Ss are unfamiliar with. "What are some common felonies in Turkey?" Write the Ss answers on the WB. "Do you know what are considered common felonies in the US?" Write some of the answers on the WB: murder, rape, kidnapping, theft (i.e. larceny), arson, assault, drug abuse, burglary and robbery, domestic violence, and child abuse. Clarify any of the terms that the Ss are unfamiliar with. Highlight the distinctions between theft, burglary, and robbery. [T's Note: theft 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. "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: Personal Security - Public Safety (14-18 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Write on the WB CRIME AND VIOLENCE. --"Do you think there is more crime and violence today than 50 years ago? Why or why not?" --"How has Turkey tried to maintain public safety, especially in today's interconnected and globalized world? Has it been successful?" --"Do you know how America has tried to maintain public safety [T Note: use the example of NSA surveillance and TSA body scanners at airports]? Do you think we have been successful or not?" Divide the Ss up into new groups and have them come up with 3 ideas for improving PUBLIC SECURITY and 5 suggestions for improving ones PERSONAL SAFETY. Bring the groups together for some WC FB. Write some of the Ss' answers on the WB.

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 (11-13 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?" 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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