Leigh Davidson Leigh Davidson

Animal Versus Human Rights
Upper-Intermediate to Advanced level


In this lesson Ss will informally discuss the topic of animal rights, comparing and contrasting the social and psychological traits of humans with common household pets and other such 'kept' animals (like in a zoo), to determine how and why animals should be treated a certain way. A pre-reading article and a pre-listening task will be assigned prior to the lesson, to jumpstart the Ss' thought-process and in-class discussion. Pairwork activities will guide the WC to a well thought-out and supported answer to the lesson's chief question: do animals deserve the same basic rights that are considered inseparable from being human? The in-class conversations will prepare Ss for a formal, Lincoln-Douglas debate on the subject in the proceeding lesson.


Main Aims

  • To provide Ss with the opportunity to practice and use opinionated and persuasive language while discussing the topic of animals, pets, and whether or not animals deserve universal rights just like humans do.

Subsidiary Aims

  • To provide Ss with the opportunity to practice and use their gist and detailed reading skills while completing pre-lesson reading tasks.


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

Show some adorable photographs of different kinds of pets. Try to elicit a general emotional response from the Ss. Write on the WB IDEAL PET and underneath the header the following: CATS, DOGS, OTHER, and NO PETS. Elicit from the Ss which of these categories they consider as an 'ideal pet' and why. Elicit from the Ss their rationale behind their pet opinion. Write under the corresponding pet category some of the Ss' reasons for why they think that that animal is a good pet--or that no pets is the best option. Start a brief debate between the dog and cat lovers of the class. "How do dogs help people in particular? Can you name some professions for dogs?" (Possible Answers: dogs for the blind; dogs for the disabled; dogs for patients with an ailment or disease; canine police). "Can you imagine a feline police office? Why not? How do cats help people in particular?" "What are some disadvantages to having pets? How could pets cause trouble? What are some challenges with having a dog? Do cat owners experience similar, or different challenges to dog owners? What challenges might those be?"

Exposure: Good Pet Owners (15-17 minutes) • To provide a model of production expected in coming tasks through reading

Refer the Ss to the pre-lesson reading assignment (the Hot English article on spoiled dogs and their owners). Elicit from the Ss their thoughts on the article. "Who thinks that the items purchased for these dogs were necessary and who thinks that they were luxuries? Why would someone buy their dog a necklace made of fake pearls or a 300 pound bed? Are the owners just spoiling their pets, or are they doing something much worse?" Focus on the last story in the article (the Yorkshire Terrier named Mignon). "Do you think that it's fair (and healthy) for this dog to get anaesthetized, once a week, for a procedure like having it's fur done? Would you define Claudette and Pierre Leroi as good or bad pet owners? Why?" Divide the Ss into groups and instruct them to decide on what behaviors they would consider as essential for a good pet owner. "What should a person do to be considered a good pet owner? How should a 'good pet owner' take care of their pet?" Following discussion, bring the groups together for WC FB. Write some of the Ss' answers on the WB, under the header IDEAL PET OWNER.

Productive Tasks: Animal Exploitation (15-18 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Distribute the first half of the HO on 'Do Animals Have Rights?'. In groups have the Ss come up with a list of at least 7 things that we do with animals (7 common ways that animals are useful to us). Instruct the Ss to also discuss, in their groups, their thoughts and opinions on how humans 'use' animals. "Do you object to (are you against) any of the ways that animals are useful to humans in your list?" Bring the groups together for WC discussion and a response. Write on the WB "EXPLOITATION OF ANIMALS" and list the following: "Horse-Racing; Dog-Racing; Performance animals in a circus; Bullfighting; Animals in a zoo; Dog-Fighting; Show jumping (with horses); Dog shows; Fot hunting; Cock fighting; Pheasant shooting; Game hunting (i.e. deer, elk, etc.); Big game hunting (i.e. lions, elephants, etc.); Exotic pets." Refer the WC to the Hot English dog article again. "Some people would argue that dressing up a dog like a human or a doll (Beauty and the Yorkshire Terrier Mignon) should be considered 'exploitation' of that pet. The owner is using that pet for their own pleasure and entertainment, with no concern for the physical and emotional health of that animal." Elicit from the WC their thoughts, concerning this statement. Elicit from the Ss, within the WB list, which of the activities they consider exploitation of animals, and why. Explain any of the activities if Ss are unfamiliar. Compare and contrast these exploitative activities. Which, would the Ss argue, are the top 3 most exploitative activities in the WB list? Why?

Productive Task: Animal Exploitation Opinion Statements (8-10 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Distribute the second half of the HO on 'Do Animals Have Rights?' Have the Ss read a collection of statements on animal exploitation and animal rights. In their groups, instruct the Ss to respond to these statements. "Where do you 'draw the line' on exploitation and animal rights? Do you agree or disagree with the statements in your HO?" Following GW discussion bring everyone together for WC FB.

Productive Task: Universal Animal Rights (15-18 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

"We have been talking about the ownership of animals and the general treatment of animals. But we need to ask ourselves why we think animals should be treated a certain way--and should they be treated differently from each other and from humans?” Refer Ss to the pre-listening task on ‘What animals are thinking and feeling, and why it should matter’ (Carl Safina Ted Talk). Discuss the while-listening questions with the WC. 1) Throughout this Ted Talk the lecturer, Carl Safina, describes many qualities and behaviors that both animals and humans possess and exhibit. He includes the topics of: tool-use [octopus; sea otters; chimpanzee], teaching and sharing with others [sea otters; killer whales], partnership and cooperation [groopers and moray eels], behavioral logic [elephants and shade], categorizing one’s external environment [elephants and recorded conversations], art [baby dolphin and milk ‘smoke’], and caring for children [albatross]. Listen for the specific animals he connects with each of these qualities/behaviors and the examples he provides. 2) What does Safina think about empathy in the animal kingdom and among humans? Does Safina think that animals can be empathetic? How so? What does Safina think about empathy in humans? [‘Contagious fear’ example; feeling with another; feeling for another (sympathy); acting for another (compassion)] 3) How can we truly know that animals ‘think and feel’? What example does Safina use to argue this point? [Safina’s dog wanting her belly rubbed.] 4) According to this Ted Talk, what really is the difference between humans and other animals? [We have the most of everything.] Following discussion, present the WC with the chief question of the LP. "Based on all of the various discussions that we just had during this lesson, do you think that animals deserve basic rights like humans?" Write on the WB the following rights: "1) Right to equality; 2) Right to life, liberty, and personal security; 3) Freedom from slavery; 4) Freedom from torture and degrading treatment; and 5) Right to recognition as a person (change to animal) before law." (T's Note: Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948; a list of 30 universal human rights). Separate the WC into groups and instruct them to discuss and decide which, if any, of these universal laws should also apply to animals. Bring the WC together for FB and a response.

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 next week's debate group project. Have Ss select the topic that 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 6-8 MINUTES (approximately 1 minute per Ss per debate stage). Show a LD debate example for illustration and clarification.

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