Leigh Davidson Leigh Davidson

Life and Death [Part 1]: Is It A Right Or Not?
Upper-Intermediate to Advanced level


In this two-part lesson Ss will informally discuss various subjects connected to the theme of unalienable human rights--specifically whether or not death (and how a person wants to die) is a right of every human that cannot morally or ethically be taken away by another. The first part of this LP series will focus on the topic of euthanasia. A pre-lesson listening activity (a Ted Talk by Peter Saul on 'Let's Talk About Dying') will guide and inspire Ss to think about how they would define a 'proper' and 'dignified' death and what conversation, if any, we should have on the subject of death and dying. Multiple HO's will also present the Ss with hypothetical situations, related to death and dying, that they must respond to in PW/GW activities.


Abc Euthanasia Discussion

Main Aims

  • To provide Ss with an opportunity for freer speaking practice within the context of humanity's unalienable rights associated with death and the process of dying (i.e. how one wants to die).

Subsidiary Aims

  • To provide Ss with an opportunity to familiarize themselves with, and use, phrasal verbs, collocations, and phrases with the word 'death' in them.
  • To provide Ss an opportunity for gist and detailed listening practice with a Ted Talk lecture on the subject of hospice care, euthanasia, and making plans for one's inevitable death.


Warmer/Lead-in (6-9 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students

Write on the WB LIFE AND DEATH: DO WE HAVE A RIGHT? and underneath the header, the following quote: "If people have the right to live how they choose, do they also have the right to die how they choose?" Try to elicit an initial discussion from the WC, briefly, on whether they think we have the right to live and, more specifically, the right to die according to our personal desires. "Is there ever a situation that we might lose that right to live and die as we choose?" (e.g. we take the life of someone else; the choices we make to live the life we want somehow negatively affect or harm someone else) "Do you think anyone, in this world, is actually able to live and die as they choose?" Mention that this lesson is the first part of a two-part lesson plan. "The topics that we are going to discuss today, and next week, will help us try to define our unalienable human rights when it comes to life and death." Write on the WB 'in-vitro fertilization (IVF), increasing longevity, euthanasia, and the death penalty.' Mention that the first two subjects will be the focus of the following lesson (the second part of the LP); and the last two subjects will be the focus of this lesson.

Useful Language: The Right to Die (6-8 minutes) • To highlight and clarify useful language for coming productive tasks

Write on the WB the following terms: SUICIDE; MURDER; MANSLAUGHTER; EUTHANASIA." Elicit from the WC the differences amongst these words. Divide the WC into groups and distribute the HO on 'The Right to Die: Definitions.' Have the groups quickly match the terms with their applicable definitions. Use WC FB to check for understanding and clarify any questions. Highlight the fact that 'assisted suicide' is synonymous with 'euthanasia.'

Useful Language: Euthanasia (12-14 minutes) • To highlight and clarify useful language for coming productive tasks

Write on the WB EUTHANASIA and the 4 different types of euthanasia: SUICIDE; VOLUNTARY; INVOLUNTARY; NON-VOLUNTARY. Try to elicit from the WC the differences for these terms. Assist if Ss get stuck. [T's Note: it is only suicide if the person physically takes their own life; it is only voluntary euthanasia if the person wants to take their own life but is physically unable to do so; it is involuntary euthanasia if the person has not asked to die, but is suffering in some way that would force their family/doctor to consider taking their life; it is non-voluntary euthanasia if the person is not able to ask for assisted suicide (e.g. the patient is in a coma).] Elicit from the WC their feelings and responses to these distinctions in suicide. --"Should any of these forms of euthanasia be controlled by legislature (by Government and by laws)? Which ones and why?" --"What is Turkey's approach to euthanasia? Is it legal or not? Which forms (if any) are legal?" --"What about the United States? Do you know the American Government's response to euthanasia?" [T's Note: passive euthanasia (refusing drugs) is legal everywhere; physician-assisted suicide (PAD) is legal in CA, CO, OR, VT, WA, and disputed in MT.] --"Could a doctor, and/or relatives, ever use any of these forms of euthanasia to take advantage of a sick patient/family member?" If time allows, briefly mention the budding phenomenon of suicide/euthanasia tourism. E.g.: People travel to Switzerland, check into a hotel run by the private company 'Dignitas,' and legally commit suicide or are euthanized there. Elicit a general response, from the WC, to this phenomenon. Should this be an option for some people, and should it be a business? "Should people profit, and make money, off of the demand for euthanasia?"

Productive Task: The Right to Die and Suicide (27-30 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive

Inform the groups that they are going to read about 4 situations in which euthanasia was allowed or not allowed to a patient. Instruct the groups to discuss whether that was the best choice for each patient in each situation. And for those situations in which euthanasia occurred, do they think that a crime was committed? "Who has the right to make the decision (whether to allow euthanasia) in each situation? The patient, the doctor, or the family of the patient?" Following discussion bring the groups together for WC FB. In the same groups, distribute some difficult scenarios that question a person's right to take their own life (suicide). Assign one scenario per group. Instruct the groups to discuss and decide what they would do in their situation. During WC FB have each group present their situation, their approach to that situation, and their rationale for their decision. Allow time for the WC to respond to each others' scenarios.

Productive Task: Let's Talk About Dying (15-18 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Reference the WC to the pre-lesson listening activity (the Ted Talk by Peter Saul on 'Let's Talk About Dying'). Elicit from the WC their answers on, and thoughts to, the activity's comprehension questions. 1) "Based on the statistics that Dr. Saul mentions, do you think that most people are prepared, and have a plan, for their inevitable death? Why (not)?" [T Answer: No] 2) "What are we 'dying' of right now? And why has this become more common today?" [T Answer: organ failure and frailty; because modern medicine has found ways to avoid sudden death and prevent terminal illness] 3) "Dr. Saul mentions a program called 'respecting patient choices.' What did this program do and do you agree with the aims and objectives of this program?" [T Answer: it promoted a discussion between medical workers, patients, and their families on creating a plan for death] 4) "Dr. Saul ends his lecture with this quote: 'You matter because you are, and you matter to the last moment of your life.' What message is this quote communicating, when applied to the subject of this lecture (talking about and making plans for your death)? Do you agree or disagree with this quote's message?" Elicit from the WC a general response to the following question: "The main topic of Saul's lecture was on taking control of our death, and the dying process, through discussion. Is it good to talk about the way we want to die and what decisions we would need to make beforehand? Would you have that conversation with your family members? Why (not)?" Reorganize the WC into different groups and instruct the groups to discuss 4 of the 7 questions, on euthanasia, in a HO ('Euthanasia Discussion'). Following GW discussion, bring the WC together for FB.

Useful Language: Death-Related Phrases (10-13 minutes) • To highlight and clarify useful language

Write on the WB the following death-related phrases: BEEN SEEN/CAUGHT DEAD IN; SICK TO DEATH; DROP DEAD GORGEOUS; DEAD LOSS; OVER MY DEAD BODY; DYING FOR; CATCH YOUR DEATH; NEVER SAY DIE; DEAD AND BURIED; IT'S DO OR DIE; COME BACK FROM THE DEAD; A FATE WORSE THAN DEATH; TURN IN [YOUR] GRAVE Try to elicit from the WC a meaning for some of these phrases and sayings. Distribute the HO on 'Death-Related Phrases' and have the groups verify their WC quesses through the activity. Following the GW , bring the WC together for FB and EC.

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