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Lesson type: Listening comprehension integrating vocabulary, speaking and writing skills.
Level of the students: High intermediate
To provide students with practice in developing their skim and scan listening skills.
To review and present vocabulary essential for understanding the article as well as to provide practice in use and pronunciation thereof.
To integrate listening into writing and speaking skills and provide practice in summarizing.
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Time: Approx. 90min
Students have experience with listening skimming and scanning techniques.
Students are familiar with most of the vocabulary in the article.
Students are familiar with classroom discussions and summarizing.
Anticipated problems and solutions:
-Students may have difficulty following and understanding the recording. I will play it as many times as is required for them to complete the listening comprehension tasks.
-Students may struggle with quite a bit of the vocabulary in the article. The more difficult vocabulary will be presented and practiced before the listening task.
-Students might struggle to imagine the situations presented in the first speaking activity and to convey their resultant feelings. I will show them various pictures of beautiful, tranquil scenes of nature and pictures of the mentioned animals to elicit responses.
Aids: Authentic material (audio recording of newspaper article): ‘Swim with dolphins to reduce stress’ (see transcript below); pictures of nature and animals; handouts with the vocabulary exercises; handouts with the listening comprehension activities; blackboard.
Article: Swim With Dolphins To Reduce Stress
A newly published study conducted in Honduras reports that swimming with dolphins helps alleviate stress and lifts depression. Researchers from Leicester University in England found that patients suffering from depression became happier after they swam with dolphins. Time spent in the water with the aquatic creatures led to falling levels of depressive symptoms in 15 patients diagnosed with mild or moderate depression. None of the participants took antidepressants or had psychotherapy for four weeks before taking part in the study. Researchers reported a noticeable lifting of depression after just two weeks of the dolphin therapy. They say this supports the theory of biophilia – or how human well-being is dependent on interacting with the natural environment.
The study entailed observing two groups of patients – one played with dolphins, the other simply swam alone in a pool. The dolphin therapy lifted depression considerably quicker than is the norm for counseling sessions: Researchers said: “Depressive symptoms improved after two weeks….In conventional therapy – psychotherapy or drug therapy – symptoms usually improve substantially after four weeks.” Researcher Michael Reveley attributed this to positive therapeutic feelings created by playing with dolphins. He said the creatures are “highly intelligent animals who are capable of complex interactions, and regard humans positively.” He also said animals could be used to treat other psychiatric illnesses. He added: “We need to remember that we are part of the natural world, and interacting with it can have a beneficial effect on us.”
Aim: Speaking skill: Create interest in the topic using discussion and the personalization technique. Pre-teach and practice vocabulary through matching and comprehension exercise.
Interactive patterns: T-S, SS
Time: Approx. 30min
Aids: Handouts with vocabulary exercises, blackboard.
Step 1: Speaking skill – Discussion and personalization
Teacher asks the following questions of the students to facilitate short discussions.
a. Do you find that your fast-paced lifestyle in the city makes you stressed?
b. How often and in what ways do you interact with the natural environment?
c. Do you think that animals can help us to feel good? Could animals be useful in treating mental illness?
d. How do the following animals make you feel: dolphin, dog, horse, rabbit, kitten?
e. Imagine swimming with a dolphin in a tropical paradise. Would you like to do this and how do you think this would make you feel?
Step 2: Vocabulary
Students work in pairs to match up the new vocabulary words with the scrambled definitions alongside on the handout. They should be familiar with some of the words and should be able to complete the exercise through the process of elimination. After the exercise, go over the answers and ensure that everyone understands the meaning of each word.
conduct- carry out
alleviate- to make something less painful, severe or serious
depression- a feeling of extreme unhappiness and gloom
aquatic- of, in or related to water
symptom- a sign or indication of something
diagnose- to determine the cause and nature of a problem from examining the symptoms
moderate- neither very great or very small in size, amount, strength or degree
well-being- a good or satisfactory state of existence, characterized by such things as
health and happiness
therapy- a form of treatment for an illness or medical condition
session- a period of time used for a particular activity
conventional- of the usual, traditional, accepted type instead of being new and different
substantially- by a large amount or degree
attributed- to believe that something is the result of a particular situation, event or
psychiatric- relating to mental illness
Step 3: Checking comprehension of vocabulary and practicing pronunciation.
Remove the previous exercise from the students and write a list of the new vocabulary words on the blackboard. Get students to individually complete the following vocabulary exercise by inserting the correct word. Check answers and model each new vocabulary word, getting the students to chorally drill pronunciation thereof.
(Answer key in brackets)
a. After examining her ………., the doctor ……….Mary with influenza (symptoms; diagnosed)
b. She suffered a lot from…………after the death of her husband. (depression)
c. As he could not make it in person, the interview was……………by phone. (conducted)
d. You can cook meat either in a microwave or in a ……………..oven. (conventional)
e. Since completing her degree, landing her dream job and finding true love, Sally’s…………..has improved………… . (wellbeing; substantially)
f. Success ………….hard work and determination. (entails)
g. During our trip to the seaside, we saw many……………birds. (aquatic)
h. A question-and-answer………..will be held after the class. (session)
i. His teacher…………his learning difficulties to emotional problems he was having. (attributed)
j. After trying every other type of……………..for her mental illness, she was admitted to a……………..hospital. (therapy; psychiatric)
k. The doctor prescribed some medication to……………Tom’s pain. He stopped taking the medication after a week as his pain was now only…………. . (alleviate; moderate)
Aims: Listening comprehension: Listening for the gist and listening for specific information (scanning).
Time: Approx. 25min
Interactive patterns: S
Aids: Audio tape of the newspaper article, handouts with the 3 listening tasks.
Step 1: Listening for the gist and answer the following questions.
Provide students with the handout with the listening tasks and allow them to read through them. Tell them that they will listen to the tape to find the answers to the questions in the first and second activity.
1. What animals were used in the study?
2. What was the general finding of the study?
3. Can it beneficial for humans to interact with animals and the natural environment?
Play the tape again if the students weren’t able to answer the questions with certainty.
2. That swimming with dolphins helps to reduce depression.
Step 2: Listening for specific information (scanning) – True / false statements.
Say whether the following statements are true or false.
1. The depressive symptoms in 12 of the patients diagnosed with depression decreased.
2. No antidepressants were taken by the patients in the lead up to the dolphin therapy.
3. The study suggests human wellbeing is intertwined with nature.
4. Depressive symptoms disappeared overnight after dolphin therapy.
5. Dolphins generally regard humans with suspicion.
6. A researcher recommends using animals to treat psychiatric illnesses.
Play the tape again if the students weren’t able to answer with certainty.
1. F (15 patients)
4. F (improved after 2 weeks)
5. F (dolphins regard humans positively)
Step 3: Listening for specific information – Listening for mistakes.
Provide the students with the handout of the following sentences from the article. Instruct them to listen to the article, underlining any words which are inconsistent with the article and writing the correct word in its place. Check answers.
1. A newly published study conducted in Havana reports that swimming with dolphins helps alleviate stress and lowers depression.
2. Time spent in the water with the aquatic animals led to falling levels of depressive symptoms.
3. They say this refutes the theory of biophilia.
4. The study entailed observing three groups of patients.
5. In normal therapy-psychotherapy or drug therapy-symptoms always improve substantially after four weeks.
6. Michael Revely attributed this to positive therapeutic emotions created by playing with dolphins.
7. Interacting with it can have a positive effect on us.
Aim: Writing skills: summarizing the article. Speaking skills: discussion
Interactive pattern: S; SS; SSS
Time: Approx. 35min
Step 1: Writing and speaking skill – Summarizing
Have the students summarize the newspaper article in as much detail as they can remember. After this, have them work in pairs to compare what they have written and to check what details they have omitted.
Step 2: Speaking skill – Group discussion
Divide the students into groups of 3 or 4 and get them to discuss their opinions of the contents of the article. Tell them to discuss the following points written up on the blackboard:
• Their opinions on human well-being being dependent on interactions with the natural world.
• Relate personal accounts of how their moods or stress levels are affected by being in nature.
• Their opinions on the use of conventional therapy, such as drugs, versus animal/natural/alternative therapies.
• Do they have any personal stories or know of any situations in which animal interactions have been beneficial.