Leigh Davidson Leigh Davidson

Heroes: The Dark Knight
Upper-Intermediate to Advanced level


In this lesson Ss will discuss the popularity of superheroes in today's technologically advanced and globalized world. Two listening exercises (including a pre-lesson Ted Talk lecture and a short documentary on a real-life Batman) will explore the psychology of the superhero and the public's shared fascination with the superhero. Multiple productive activities will also guide and inspire Ss to consider how we should define heroes and heroism.


Abc Quotes on Heroes and Heroism
Abc Hero List

Main Aims

  • To provide Ss with an opportunity for freer-speaking practice on the topic of heroes, superheroes, and the defining characteristics of heroic deeds.

Subsidiary Aims

  • To provide Ss with an opportunity to practice their gist and detailed listening skills while viewing a Ted Talk and documentary on the subject of the psychology of the superhero.


Warmer/Lead-in (27-30 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students

Show the WC some images of popular comic book characters. Elicit from the Ss which superheroes they are familiar with and what they know specifically about those characters. "What characteristics/traits make [them] 'superhuman' and why [are they] considered 'heroic'?" If there is interest in the topic, expand the discussion with... --A comparison and contrast between certain superheroes, focusing on their strengths and weaknesses and heroic personality. Elicit from the WC which superhero is their favorite and which superhero they would choose as protector of the human race against any threats to planet Earth and humanity. --"If you were a superhero, what power would you want the most? What would you do with this superpower?" Show the WC some images of people (and professions) that are traditionally considered 'heroes.' Elicit from the Ss why these specific people, and professions, might be considered 'heroic' compared to other people and professions, and whether they agree that these professions require heroism. Divide the WC into groups and instruct the Ss to discuss and come up with 4 qualities that they think a 'superhuman' should have to be a 'superhero' and 4 qualities that a human should have to be a 'hero.' Following GW discussion, bring the WC together for FB. Write the Ss' answers on the WB under the headings SUPERHERO and HERO. **If these traits/qualities aren't already mentioned in the previous discussion, write on the WB BRAVERY and SACRIFICE. Elicit from the WC how important these two traits/qualities are for a person to be a hero.** --"Are all heroes brave? Why [not]? Must one be brave to be a hero?" --"Are all brave people heroes? Why [not]?" --"Do heroes always make sacrifices and sacrifice for others? Can you think of an exception--a hero that did not also make a sacrifice in some way?"

Exposure (17-20 minutes) • To provide a model of production expected in coming tasks through reading

Instruct the Ss, in groups, to answer a series of questions that will help them come up with a list of heroes ('Heroes List' HO). Read through one or two questions from the HO for an example. Following GW discussion, bring the WC together for FB. Elicit from the groups the rationale for their answers. Why do they consider their 'heroes' a good example of heroism for each question. Continue the discussion with further probing questions: 1) "What are some of the dangers of being a hero? Would you want to be a hero if you might also die? Why [not]?" 2) "How can heroes inspire us? What can they inspire us to do?" 3) "Are there any disadvantages to being a hero? Are there any disadvantages, to society and the general populace, for having heroes? Is it important, or not, for heroes to exist in a society?" 4) "Are people 'made into' heroes or are they born heroes? Are there certain 'heroic qualities' that can only come from genetics?"

Useful Language (14-16 minutes) • To highlight and clarify useful language for coming productive tasks

Write on the WB HERO VS ROLE MODEL [T Answer: You want to emulate and imitate a role model, and generally, you know them personally]; HERO VS STAR [T Answer: A hero becomes known after their heroic action; a star is famous due to other circumstances not related to heroic deeds; a hero create their own fame; a star is created by the media]; HERO VS IDOL [T Answer: A hero has to do something for their praise/worship; an idol isn't necessarily 'worshipped' for their actions or deeds]; and HERO VS LEGEND. Elicit from the WC what they consider as the differences between a hero and a 'role model,' 'star,' 'idol,' and 'legend.' Write the Ss' answers on the WB. **If Ss are struggling with a clear and succinct explanation, show some pictures of movie stars and ask whether or not the Ss also consider them as heroes; show some pictures of celebrities and ask whether or not the Ss also consider them as heroes.** Write on the WB TRAGIC HERO and UNSUNG HERO. Try to elicit from the WC a meaning for both terms. Provide examples if Ss are struggling. [Tragic: Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Joan of Arc; Unsung: Alan Turing, British code-breaker during WWII that created the Enigma machine and the women from Hidden Figures]. Elicit from the WC some examples of 'tragic' and 'unsung' heroes in the history of Turkey.

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

In groups provide the Ss with a list of 3 difficult situations. "I want to find out how heroic each of you are, based on your response to some dangerous and life-threatening situations." Instruct the groups to share with each other what they would do in these dangerous and life-threatening situations. Following GW discussion, bring the WC together for FB. Refer the WC to the earlier list (of 'heroic qualities' and how to define a 'hero'). Elicit from the Ss whether they would change their list of heroic qualities and traits, based on the current discussion. IF TIME: Provide each group with a proverb (or quote) on heroism and have them discuss the meaning (what is the person saying in this quote?) and whether they agree or disagree with the quoted individual's perspective on 'heroism.' Following GW discussion, bring the WC together for FB and to respond to each other's quotes.

Productive Task: The Psychology of the Hero (23-25 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive and receptive skills

Reference the WC to the pre-lesson listening activity (a Ted Talk on the psychology of the superhero). Elicit from the Ss their answers to the pre-lesson comprehension questions. 1) "Why does Letamendi connect so strongly with the comic book superhero Batman?" 2) "How did Letamendi's culturally and ethnically-diverse background affect her in a negative way? What was her response to these issues?" 3) "What is 'imposter syndrome,' according to Letamendi? Do you have or have you ever felt 'imposter syndrome'?" 4) "Why does Letamendi consider trauma as the link that directly connects real life heroes (e.g. a war veteran) with superheroes?" Focus on the last question. "How can 'trauma' strengthen, rather than destroy, a person? Do you personally know anyone who has experienced trauma and has actually grown from the experience?" Elicit from the WC if anyone is familiar with the history of the comic book superhero--when and why it was first created--and the evolution of the comic book superhero since 'Superman' (the first superhero). [T Answer: Founded during the Great Depression in America, in the 1930's. Both an escape for society as well as an inspirational piece to be heroic in the face of great odds and struggles; Captain America originated in the 1940's, when America was also becoming more involved in WWII; early superheros dealt with socio-political issues, later superheroes dealt with individual, traumatic issues; the 1970's saw the rise of teen superheroes fighting crime and social issues (e.g. Spiderman and X-Men); the 1980's were when superheroes became 'real,' flawed individuals with traumatic and psychological issues] Elicit from the WC why they think superheroes are still popular to this day. "What socio-cultural or political role do superheroes serve for the global community today?" Refocus the Ss' attention back on the concept that 'trauma' links real-life heroes with superheroes. Inform the WC that they are going to watch a video--a short documentary--on a real-life Batman. "While watching this documentary clip, listen to the individual's explanation on his transformation to Batman? Why does this gentleman decide to become Batman?" Following a viewing of the documentary, bring the WC together for FB. Elicit from the Ss a few more probing questions. --"What do you think about this person? Do you think he has dealt with his trauma in a healthy and reasonable way? Why (not)?" --"Do you agree with the gentleman's statement, that by 'wearing a mask,' you can lose the social masks (and the social protections) that we all wear?"

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