A Biased lesson idea

This lesson idea covers language for advanced and fluent learners of English who are looking for words related to the media and expressing bias as well as fame. This is an extremely hot topic at the moment because of fake news and living in the information age. We have access to information at our fingertips like never before and that means a whole new world when it comes to stories and news.

Introducing the topic

Most people don’t really want the truth they just want constant reassurance that what they believe is the truth.

Introduce the topic with the quote above and ask students to discuss it or comment to their partner about its significance and if they can think of examples. To help guide them you can put current event topics randomly around the board such as global warming, vaccines, GMOs, industrial animal farming, flat earth and the COVID virus and ask them to comment on the quote with reference to any of these current events. This can be more than a warm-up but a real fast kick start into the topic. From here you can go in any direction you want below. It’s your choice what to use.

Listening and exercises on fake news

Check this Padlet on fake news by a teacher:

Made with Padlet

You’ll notice that it has a lot of  great stuff that you can use in your lesson. If you look through the Padlet you’ll find a great two and half minute video you can show your students that talks about the ‘5 C’s’ of critical consumerism that students can use to identify fake news. Have your students watch it and make notes for checking understanding and launching a discussion about the 5 C’s – Context, Credibility, Construction, Corroboration, Compare. You can also just go through the steps here as a worksheet but prepare what parts you want to include.

Alternatively there is a fantastic ‘Bad news game’ that shows players of the game the ease in which you can become a person that spreads disinformation through twitter. You can incorporate this into your class by asking students to do it for homework in preparation of the topic. When the class is held ask them to share with a partner what they discovered about the process and what impact it may have on the way information spreads. Would it change the way they consume media news and information? how?

Vocabulary

This vocabulary is covered in the ESL trailblazer episode Biased Vocabulary which you can watch to get definitions and examples on the language to incorporate into the classroom. You could ask your students to watch the video and then prepare a quick quiz to check they know the words listed below and also mentioned in the video episode.

Alternatively, you can prepare a simple matching exercise with definitions or sentences with the words missing to give them context for using the words.

Verbs: to question, to debate, to contest, to challenge, to dispute, to disagree, to state, to cite, to declare, to assert, to argue, to content.

Other: Making headlines, in the headlines, prominent, eminent, high profile, explore or examine, biased, prejudiced, influential, subjective, impartial,

Speaking

Debate style speaking activity:

Choose topics or provide some statements that are controversial. Put students into two groups and read the statement out loud. Then ask the students in their groups to pick a side of the argument and to think of arguments to support that view. Once students have had enough time to brainstorm at least 3 arguments you can pair them up with someone from the opposing group to debate.

You can setup this up nicely by placing two lines of chairs facing each other so that people can sit and face each other when debating.

For ideas on debatable topics or statements check the Debate lesson I posted where I have plenty of statements on different topics you can use for this.

Unlike that lesson idea, which was just an overall framework, here you must encourage students to use the language introduced in the lesson specifically, this is incredibly important and needs to be monitored.

Additional questions:

    1. Name some people who are influential in your country in the media, are they considered impartial in their assertions or biased?
    2. Who or what topics are making headlines these days in the media in your country? discuss what the different perspectives are on the issues that are current.
    3. What media channels on TV or online are prominent these days in your country? Why? Who are the people who explore/examine the hot topics on these platforms?
    4. Cite a source of information you rely on regularly and tell your partner what it asserts on certain topics it covers….what aspects are challenged or disputed by others?

Note: You can ideally use these questions after the vocabulary section above is covered.

Hope any of these ideas help you rock this lesson idea in your class, would love to hear your feedback on it. If you like this post submit your email for the monthly newsletter I post here and you’ll get all the latest lesson ideas, teacher tips and videos I post.

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