The Media lesson: internet and social networks in the 21st century

The Media lesson

We are bombarded with media content. Living in the information age and with the digital revolution upon us, now more than ever content is being shared and distributed everywhere 24/7.  The majority of us is consuming this content and with the smartphone technology at our fingertips we can do so at will, whether on public transport, in the office, in the lesson or just in our free time at home.  In light of this, it seems appropriate for teachers to have a lesson on the topic, discussing the issues that arise and how this media firestorm affects our daily lives and decisions on how to spend our free time. This topic has a major impact on our students as well as on us and so they should be very eager to discuss and share their opinions based on experience and what they’ve been taught from parents. This lesson can also bring up topics like the generation gap, phone addiction as well as how technology affects relationships with friends and family. The topic can be discussed from intermediate to proficiency. You just need to adjust the language and the questions a bit. Let’s get started.

Expressions and vocabulary

Here are some useful expressions and vocabulary for this lesson that students can practice:

Using discourse markers to start off: Ok, Shall I start?  So I think this is an important question,… Well,…

Expressing an afterthought: By the way, I’m no expert….  Incidentally, the problem exists in many….

Changing the subject: Anyway, that’s not the only thing…  On another subject….   Moving on…. / Let’s move on….. Another thing is that….  One last thing is…..

Indicating you have no more to say: That’s about it. / That’s all, really. I think that covers it.

Responding to what someone has said: I see what you mean…  That’s a good/ valid point….  I never thought of that… I’d also like to add that….

Vocabulary: completely new, extremely well, rather disappointing, completely destroyed, quite clear, very limited, entirely beneficial, widely publicized, terribly inadequate, absolutely delighted, highly controversial, sincerely believe, fully appreciate, painfully slow,

The lesson structure

List the different ways we consume media today:

Video content on YouTube, short articles on news apps, Facebook newsfeeds, Instagram photos by celebrities/ friends, newspapers, TV, video streaming, music streaming, podcasts, live video, VOD (video on demand), Radio, magazines, newsletters, TED talks

You could also ask students to brainstorm these beforehand and then elicit any they missed onto the whiteboard.

Ask students to separate these into traditional media and digital and then get them to rank their top 3 and bottom 3 just to get a sense of what type of media your students are into to. Get feedback and hold a brief discussion about this.

So far you should have some vocabulary points from the list such as: newsfeed, VOD, podcasts, to consume content, and streaming

Make sure students are clear on the language

From here you can go in a few different directions based on your student’s level of English and how you want to conduct the lesson. Here are some ideas:

You can give them this infographic

consuming online content and it's impact
How the internet has impacted our consumption of content

from the Keynote Proficient student’s book, ask them to study it and then lead into a discussion about the ways in which the internet has been good for society and the ways in which the internet has not been so good. This can be followed up by students commenting on:

  1. People’s access to the internet
  2. The economic impact of the internet
  3. The relation of the internet to employment

For this task students should use the functional language mentioned at the beginning of this post as well as the vocabulary words. The vocabulary is (un)gradable adjectives and intensifying adverbs but don’t tell them that. Check that they understand the language you want them to use and give examples to make sure they are clear about how it’s used in context. I’ve chosen words that I think relate to the topic and will be easy to incorporate. Once students have the language in front of them then let them have a debate/ discussion about this. After an appropriate amount of time depending on how involved in the discussion they are get feedback which could lead into another discussion. Be prepared with follow up questions in the feedback so that students are not just repeating what was already said. Make sure you ask them to justify their opinions for the reasons the internet has helped or hurt us. There is language in this lesson I posted that they can use for that.

Additional speaking practice ideas

This is more than enough for a sixty-minute lesson. But the topic can continue on. If you have time here are some more questions:

  1. How many email or social media accounts do you have?
  2. How long after you wake up do you check your email or social media?
  3. How many of the conversations you had yesterday were online?
  4. If the internet went down, how efficiently would you be able to continue working or studying?
  5. When you go on vacation, do prefer to be with or without internet connection?

Or if you’re pressed for time you can give students this quote and ask them to comment. This quote could potentially be used at the beginning of the lesson as well.

‘A person’s social network profile and online presence can give a very true reflection of what type of person (and employee) they are.’

I have include a follow up lesson for this ‘The Internet lesson’ because there is so much more that can be covered. In particular how it effects our day-to-day behavior and relationships with friends and family.

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