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This content-based reading class we are using in IES Mungia BHI is aimed at students in DBH4./4ºESO. It Is part of a unit about the topic of human rights and democracy and it includes authentic present-day reading about the Arab revolutions.

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Objectives: 1 – use English to talk about current issues,

2- read an article from Time magazine and understand the main ideas,

3- learn new vocabulary related to the topic.


1. Warm-up. Write on the blackboard “Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Yemen, Egypt,…  ,Libya”or show students page 20-21. Ask students what they have in common. They are the countries where the Arab revolutions are taking place. Ask students what they know about the topic: Are these revolutions peaceful or violent? What do they want? What type of political systems do they have in those countries? Are they rich countries? etc. Write the English words that students need to express their ideas on the blackboard and tell them to copy the words on their notebooks and use them.

Background information: 60% of the population in those countries is under 30; unemployment rate reaches 25%.

2. Vocabulary work.  Students do a matching exercise with some vocabulary from the text: “anthem”, “employment”, “rage”, “demonstrators”, …

3. Reading. Warn students it is an authentic text so sometimes they are not going to understand, but they should not stop reading because of that. Students read the text and answer the comprehension questions:

Why is El General famous?

Who are the leaders of the revolutions?

How do they get organized?

What do they want?

4. Check as a class. Encourage students to use their own words to answer the questions. Highlight interesting expressions or grammar structures in the text, such as “on the same wavelength”, “are led by”, “social networking sites”, …

Related activities

Listen to Obama’s speech to students at the beginning of the school year. It is in YouTube and Part 1 is about 8 minutes long, easy to read and very useful to work on reported speech later: “Obama said that…”, he told students to…”

Read the lyrics and then listen to the advertisement “Yes we can”. It is in YouTube and the lyrics are on the Internet. It is useful to talk about the history of USA: “immigrants”, “slaves”, “abolitionists”, … The video clip won 3 Grammy Awards

Mª Carmen Estebaranz

Mungia High School




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Teachers spend long time deciding which readings are most suitable for our students. We focus mainly on vocabulary and grammar structures, we are obsessed by “matching” everything together. Students are usually asked to read the text and answer some questions “using their own words”, which means that writing synonyms, opposite words or syntactic changes leads them to high marks.
English teachers at UribekostaHigh  School have sometimes reflected on this topic, and we have also asked students about their opinion, and we all seem to agree that reading just to answer some comprehension questions  is next to nothing, that is to say, as we see it, reading should just be a pretext to create a new text. A reading activity should give way to another activity: speaking (a debate), writing (a summary, a follow-up…), listening to something related to the topic.
What kind of texts should we choose then? It is undeniable that students’ interests should be our target, but how can we know what really interests them? We have all had the disappointing experience of bringing something to the class sure of its success, but it just turned out to be a disaster. But sometimes things work out. We would like to share with you an experience we had with a text titled  PRE-TEEN BEAUTY QUEENS taken from Real English 3 by Burlington Books (page 52) , which we consider a good example of the above mentioned. We thought the topic would be interesting for our students, but we also felt as if something was missing.

Youtube is often a good solution for these cases, and after searching for a while, we came across some videos on this topic and we chose this one.

The reason we chose this one is because it is short and shocking: mothers speaking through their daughters´mouths, mothers treating their daughters like muppets.  This controversial issue of parents bringing up their children to be winners is ideal for a successful follow-up debate.
We hope you´ll enjoy it and we wish you good luck with your reading activities.
Uribekosta High School English Department.