Star Wars: The Force Awakens – A conversation lesson

I have recently discovered that one of my one-to-one students is a big Star Wars buff. I had been promising him to have a Star Wars-themed lesson for the past few weeks and the week after Thanksgiving was perfect for it.

Why so, you may ask? It turns out that Thanksgiving weekend in the USA is a big date not only for eating turkey and shopping but also to advertise your blockbuster film. Because of that, new videos and articles were published and those were ideal for the type of lesson I like to teach.

If you know your student(s) are into Star Wars, you can jump right to the questions about the movie. Otherwise, you may want to start a discussion talking about sci-fi films in general.

  • Do you like watching sci-fi films? Why or why not?
  • Have you got any sci-fi films that you particularly like or dislike? Why?

Let students discuss these in pairs for a couple of minutes. If Star Wars doesn’t come up naturally, try to elicit it from students at the end of the discussion. You could ask something like ‘Which big sci-fi film is going to be released in a few weeks’ time?’

Then show students a poster of the movie and ask them how much they know about the story and the characters. A possible follow-up question is ‘Do you think it’s important for a sci-fi film to have a female lead in this day and age?’

Star Wars poster

Once the discussion is over, tell students they are going to watch an interview with the movie’s director, JJ Abrams. Ask students if they are familiar with his work (he is famous for Lost and the Star Trek reboot). You could also ask if students have heard of Jimmy Kimmel, who is the host of the show.

These are the while-watching questions I’d suggest you use.

  • Why was JJ Abrams reluctant to direct the movie?
  • What is he most excited about?
  • How does he feel about Star Wars fans?
  • What information is Jimmy able to get out of JJ?

 

 

There are some chunks of language in the snippet that might be worth working with. If you decide to do so, these are the ones  I’d focus on.

be eagerly anticipated

to disparage someone

be an utter disaster

You may also want to skip that and move on to the article. Tell students they are going to read an article talking about the new Star Wars trailer. If students are enthusiastic, you can show them the trailer below. However, having watched the trailer is not essential, as long as you introduce the main characters when talking about the movie poster.

The original article from the Guardian can be found here, and my adapted version is below:

Star Wars The Force Awakens (The Guardian)

As a gist question, you can get students to read the article in 90′ and say if they think it’s positive or negative towards the film. After that, give them more time to read it and answer the following questions.

  • Besides the trailer, what other video was revealed during Thanksgiving?
  • What is the rule of two?
  • Where do Finn (John Boyega)’s loyalties lie?
  • What is confirmed about Han Solo in the new film?
  • What kinds of surpises does BB-8 hold?

Get students to compare answers in pairs, then check with the whole group. To wrap up this discussion, ask students a follow-up question such as ‘Do you think this film will be able to live up to people’s expectations?’

You can also work with some of the vocabulary from the text. In that case, use the words in bold and provide some definitions for students to match them to. In a more advanced group they could try to guess the meaning from context.

have a trick up your sleeve
be scared out of your wits
have (no) qualms about
be mischevous
get your own way

After clarifying meaning, give students some personalized practise by using these questions.

  • In what situations is it important to have a trick up your sleeve?
  • Can you think of a time when you were scared out of your wits?
  • Do you have any qualms about being a Star Wars fan?
  • Have you got any friends who are mischevous?
  • Did you used to get your own way when you were younger?

For some freer practice, have students choose two of the expressions and write sentences about themselves. Then ask them to explain to a partner why they wrote those sentences.

Finally, if you are interested in showing your students the EW’s video, it can be found here.

Thanks for reading.

 

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