Leigh Davidson Leigh Davidson

Are You Afraid of the Dark? Part 1: The Strange and Mysterious
Upper-Intermediate to Advanced level


In this lesson Ss will informally discuss the topic of unexplainable phenomena, focusing on specific first-person stories and encounters to decide whether or not they think certain mysteries are believable. This lesson will prepare Ss for a productive activity in the proceeding lesson, a formal Lincoln-Douglas debate on the sub-topics addressed during in-class discussion.


Abc Unsolved Mysteries

Main Aims

  • To provide Ss with the opportunity to practice and use opinionated and persuasive language while discussing strange and mysterious events that happened, or were purported to have happened, in the past.

Subsidiary Aims

  • To introduce Ss to some collocations and phrasal expressions that are commonly used when communicating and expressing one's surprise/astonishment at a situation and/or event.


Warmer/Lead-in (15-18 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students

Write on the WB "THE MYSTERIOUS AND UNEXPLAINED." Write underneath the header the following strange and mysterious events, phenomena, and urban legends: "AREA 51, BIGFOOT, THE LOCH NESS MONSTER, BLOODY MARY, ATLANTIS." Try to elicit from the Ss their knowledge of these myths and stories and whether or not they believe they are real--or can be real. Write the WB, beside your strange list: "STRANGE PHENOMENA, UNEXPLAINABLE EVENTS, and URBAN LEGENDS/MYTHS." Clarify the differences between strange phenomenona (e.g. lights in the sky, interpreted as alien spacecraft), unexplainable events (e.g. moments of dejavu; lights flickering in your house), and urban legends/myths (e.g. the story of Bloody Mary; Slenderman; the Hook; the murderer in the backseat; humans can lick too; aren't you glad you didn't turn on the lights?). Show the WC a dramatized interpretation of an urban legend ('Humans Can Lick Too;' [4:30]). Elicit from the Ss if they are familiar with any urban legends or myths that are connected to Turkey and Turkish culture (e.g Jinn and Cuce). Elicit from the Ss their thoughts on mysteries, unexplainable phenomenon, and urban legends and myths. "These stories exist in almost all cultures, since societies have been telling stories. Why do you think we love these stories so much and why do they persist, even when scientific evidence proves them wrong?"

Exposure (16-19 minutes) • To provide a model of production expected in coming tasks through reading

Divide the Ss into groups and distribute the HO on 'Mysteries, Problems, and Oddities.' Have the groups read the strange and mysterious events together and identify which type of event each story is. Bring the WC together for FB discussion. Write on the WB: 1) AMAZING?; 2) DISGRACEFUL?; 3) DISTURBING?; 4) HARD TO BELIEVE?; 5) RIDICULOUS?; 6) SPOOKY?; 7) SUSPICIOUS?; and 8) WEIRD? Elicit from the WC their thoughts on these mysterious and odd situations. Which ones do they consider 'disturbing'? Which ones do they consider 'spooky'? Etc. Elicit the rationale behind the adjective(s) that they choose. Elicit from the WC some real life examples, to the HO's strange events stories, that the Ss have personally experienced or heard from a friend/family member/etc. Write on the WB: GHOSTS (and/or Jin), MIRACLES, PREMONITIONS, TELEPATHY, and SUPERNATURAL POWERS (such as telekinesis). Elicit from the WC who believes (or doesn't believe) in these unexplainable phenomena. Elicit from the Ss what they think happens during MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCES--especially on the open waters. Highlight the Bermuda Triangle and the mystery surrounding that place (T Note: E of Florida and N of Cuba and Puerto Rico).

Useful Language (8-10 minutes) • To highlight and clarify useful language for coming productive tasks

Write on the WB the following "EXPRESSIONS & COLLOCATIONS," used when discussing and describing strange, mysterious, and scary events: "A bolt out of the blue; Frighten/Scare someone out of their wits; Not know what hit you; Speak/Talk of the devil; Appear out of thin air; On the spur of the moment; Drop a bombshell." Try to elicit each phrase's meaning from the WC first, before providing it.

Productive Task: Unsolved Mysteries (16-18 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Write on the WB UNSOLVED MYSTERIES. Elicit from the WC an explanation of this term and any stories of any 'unsolved mysteries' that they would like to share. Divide the WC into groups and inform them that they are going to read about 4 unsolved mysteries. Instruct the Ss to respond to the mystery and try to solve it. "What do you think about each strange and mysterious situation? What do you think really happened in each situation?" Distribute the HO on 'Unsolved Mysteries.' Following GW discussion, bring the WC together for FB. Guide the Ss to the second half of the activity and instruct them to discuss and answer the continued discussion questions. Bring the groups together for WC FB.

Productive Task: Pre-Lesson Ted Talk (23-25 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive and receptive skills

Refer the Ss to the pre-lesson listening task (‘What horror films teach us about ourselves and being human,’ Dr. Steven Schlozman). Elicit from the WC their answers to the pre-listening questions. 1) Why does the speaker, Dr. Steven Schlozman, compare horror movies and the horror genre to a mirror? [It teaches us about ourselves; it shows a subtle displacement of who we really are; it is a commentary on society, shown through a distorted mirror image of ourselves; this distortion allows us to ask the questions that we normally feel uncomfortable with asking] 2) Schlozman mentions some specific horror movies and provides some details on those movies. Which movies does he mention and what ‘uncomfortable questions’ do those movies ask? ‘It Follows’: what it means to ‘come of age’ in this society ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’: how Freddy Krueger is killed (burned alive); it forces us to think about ‘due process’ and the unintentional consequences of ‘mob justice’ ‘Salem’s Lot’: the unbreakable bonds of blood; the brother lets his vampire brother in (Will I invite my brother to the dinner table even though he is an addict/criminal/etc.?) ‘Night of the Living Dead’: deals with racism, sexism and a war that we do not want to fight (alluding to the Vietnam War); it asks the question ‘What will we do in a post-modern world where science can’t solve all of our problem’s?’; it shows what is possible when fear overpowers the rational side of humanity 3) According to Schlozman, horror movies and the horror genre do more than just entertain us. He uses the clown as an example for this. What two things does the ‘clown’ represent for Schlozman? [1) Metacognition: thinking about what you are thinking about—many people are afraid of clowns, but why; and 2) Pattern Recognition—a clown placed outside of its normal context is beyond frightening] 4) According to Schlozman, why should we watch horror movies in the theater? [It creates community and connection.] Write on the WB the following SUPERNATURAL CREATURES: WITCHES, WEREWOLVES, GHOSTS, JINN, FAIRIES, MERMAIDS, VAMPIRES, ZOMBIES, SHAPE SHIFTERS, and EXTRADIMENSIONAL BEINGS. Connect the previous discussion with the universality of supernatural creatures. Elicit from the Ss their thoughts on why scary, supernatural creatures (such as witches, ghosts, werewolves, vampires, zombies, etc.) exist in so many cultures' tales and myths. "What is it about these creatures that is so universal/cross-cultural/global? Just like horror movies and the horror genre, does our belief in the existence of these supernatural creatures teach us anything about ourselves and our culture?" Have Ss, in groups, discuss which of these things/creatures they think are real, and to what extent do they think that they really exist. Bring the groups back together for WC FB. IF TIME: Show the Ss some creepy CCTV footage of 'ghosts' caught on camera (Wingate Hotel Ghost; [2:30]) and lead a WC response. Are the Ss scared, after watching this footage? "Do you think this is real footage of a ghost caught on camera, or is it just a hoax?"

Group Activity: Lincoln-Douglas Debate (8-10 minutes) • Introduction, Discussion, and Preparation for Group Project

Group the Ss into debate partners and introduce the WC to the proceeding lesson's debate group project. Have Ss select the topic they will debate [for or against]. Discuss the rules, requirements, and assessment criteria for the group project. --The debate starts with the 'pro side' (the Ss in favor of the debate topic). --The debate starts with an OPENING STATEMENT: what side of the debate are you arguing for and what is the main point of your argument? --The REBUTTAL is the next step. The pro side will argue against the key points presented by the con side and vice versa. --The debate ends with a CLOSING STATEMENT for both sides. Focus on one or two key points of your argument. --The debate should last between 8-9 MINUTES (approximately 1.5 minute per Ss per debate stage).

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