Author Archives: mickey

Rip-off Restaurant

B1 –  Intermediate

Japanese tourists were allegedly ripped off their meal at a Venice restaurant. The tourists reported the incident to the police which was then escalated to the mayor.
Let’s find out more by clicking on the links

Audio  (Listen before reading the text)

Discussion Questions:

What’s your take on the issue?
What do you think of the mayor’s reaction?
Have you ever been ripped off? If so, how and why?
Do you check for a certain establishment’s rating?

Why People Join Cults

C1 – Advanced

By definition, a cult is a group or movement with a shared commitment to a usually extreme ideology that’s typically embodied in a charismatic leader.  Have you ever wondered why thousands of people join cults?

Let’s watch this video to check how cults work, how people are recruited and why they stay in these groups.

Let’s Talk:

Explain what a cult is in as much detail as possible.

Are cults dangerous?

How does a cult differ from religion? How similar are they?

Should the government try to eliminate cults and other fringe or unconventional religious groups?

Would you sacrifice your relationships or morality for the greater good?


Useful words:

GRISLY (adj) –  causing horror or disgust.

INDOCTRINATION (n) –  the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.   [indoctrinate -verb]


Artificial Intelligence

B2 – Upper Intermediate

Artificial Intelligence or AI is everywhere.  As a matter of fact, we use and deal with them every day. It may seem like science fiction is starting to become reality due to these machines’ ability to assimilate our behavior.

Let’s listen to Neil and Tim talk about artificial intelligence. 

Let’s Talk:

1. What sorts of things do we take for granted that are cutting edge for machines? (Machines’ limitation)

2. What other cutting-edge machines can you name?

3. How is artificial intelligence helping us today?

4. What are the dangers of artificial intelligence?

5. What would our life be like without artificial intelligence?

6. What are the differences between artificial intelligence and human intelligence?

7. What will artificial intelligence be like in the future?

8. Will robots ever control the world?

9. What movies have you seen about artificial intelligence?

Are Friends Better Than Family?

B1 – Intermediate

For most people, friends are just as important to them as their families while others can easily choose one over the other.

A study shows that one between these two types of relationships is a better predictor of health and happiness, so which one do you think is it?

Let’s find out:

Let’s talk:

  • What do you think of the study?
  • Do you feel that “blood is thicker than water”? (Family comes first.)
    Or do you feel that friends are more important? Or do you think both are equally valuable?
  • How do members of a family support each other? / How do friends support each other?
  • Do you prefer to have many friends or just a few close ones?
  • What are the benefits of having just a few close friends? How about the benefits of having many friends? Are there disadvantages for both too?
  • How close are you to your family? How about your extended family? (cousins, aunts, great uncles etc.)

Try explaining these statements:

  • “If a friendship has survived the test of time, you know it must be a good one.”
  • “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.”
  • “Treat your family like friends and your friends like family.”

** Share any quotes about friendship and family.


The Impossible Burger

B2 – Upper Intermediate

A Silicon Valley start-up Impossible Foods make burgers entirely from plants. The burger is made from all natural ingredient and a special ingredient called heme. Heme makes the meat smell, sizzle, bleed, and taste gloriously meaty.

A butcher, a cardiologist, a vegan and a technology reporter put the burger to a test. Let’s find out what they think of it:


Discussion Questions:

1. How did the people in the video react?
2. What do you think of the Impossible Burger? What makes it special?
3. How much do you like burgers? Would you try this burger?


Productivity Technique

B2 – Upper Intermediate

How do you get big things done? Certainly, there are several different things you can do to accomplish them. Here’s one technique you can try:


Discussion Questions:

1. What is the technique called and how does it work?
2. How can people improve their productivity?
3. What technology helps you to be productive?
4. Do you think smart phones increase or decrease productivity?
5. Are you a very motivated person or do you wait until the last minute to do things?

Funeral Discounts for Japan’s Elderly

B2 – Upper intermediate

In Japan, the authorities have been encouraging the older people to give up their licenses to reduce traffic related accidents that involve seniors.  A  funeral discount is given to them  to do the trick.  What do you think of this initiative? How successful do you think this strategy will be?

Let’s read more:

Funeral discounts for Japan’s elderly who quit driving 


1. How safe are the roads in your country?
2. Who are the most dangerous drivers in your country?
3. What would you do to make roads safer?
4. Should seniors have stickers on their cars to warn other drivers?
5. Should there be an age at which people should stop driving?
6. What kind or driver are you?

Reasons to Shower Less


B2 – Upper intermediate

We all take a bath or a shower to feel fresh before going to work, after a rigorous work-out or simply to feel clean before going to bed. Do you enjoy your bath time? How often do you take a shower? They say that taking a shower might not be so good for you, so let’s find out.

7 Reasons You Can Probably Get Away With Showering Less

1. Name the reasons mentioned in the article about showering less. Do you agree or disagree with them?
2. Do you prefer taking a shower or having a bath?
3. Do you prefer a quick shower in the morning or a warm bath in the evening?

Express your thoughts:
• A few germs are good for you. People wash and clean too much.
• Expensive shampoos and shower gels are a waste of money. A bar of soap is just as effective.
• The advertising industry is to blame for all the money we waste on cleaning products that we don’t need.

Video: The Caring Bear

C1 – Advanced

For kids, going to the hospital can be a terrifying and sometimes boring experience. An interesting innovation from researchers and roboticists may be a good solution- a robot companion.  This robot’s creators aim to know if it can can have therapeutic value for hospitalized children. Can it really alleviate sick children’s anxiety, pain and isolation?

Let’s meet this blue bear who’s making sick kids less blue.

Mitigating Stress, Anxiety and Pain with a Robotic Companion


1. What do you think of “Huggable”? How does a child respond to it?
2. What suggestions did one of the kids give to make it a better robot companion?
3. How else can we make a doctor’s visit less dreadful for children?
4. Did you enjoy hospital visits when you were a kid? How about now?

Sad Movies Help Reduce Pain

three sad teenage girl watching tv at home

B2 – Upper intermediate

A new study suggests that watching sad movies alleviates pain and may boost social bonds among audience members due to good chemicals produced by the brain.

Read the article below to find out more.  Be ready to express your preferences.

Sad movies help reduce pain


1. What do you think of sad movies? What’s the saddest movie you have ever seen?
2. How much tolerance do you have for pain?
3. What do you do to get a natural high?
4. What kind of movies do you like?