Sunday, 1 July 2012

Parsnips Part Four: Sex

Photo courtesy of Photo Pin
It’s time for our fourth PARSNIP, and you will not be surprised to learn that the web hosts an embarrassment of riches on this particular subject. The watch word here is “comfort zone”: both yours and your learners'.  This post will discuss approaches to the topic of sex which I would feel comfortable in bringing to my own class of learners (an outgoing and relaxed group of adults ranging in age from their mid twenties to mid forties, and Hungarian, Polish, Spanish, Malaysian and Moroccan in nationality.) You may feel you can get away with more or less in your own teaching context!


It can be difficult to gauge how comfortable your learners feel with discussing sex in the classroom, so why not leave the initial lexical input up to them? You could begin by showing them a trailer for a romantic film, and asking them to reconstruct the central narrative after a couple of viewings. I’ve chosen the trailer for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind because learners interpret this chaotic few minutes worth of film in a multitude of ways. It also contains scenes of a couple dancing around in their underwear, so will hopefully generate some of the target language!
If learners happily come up with lexis such as to have a one night stand, and to have an affair with someone and seem eager to engage in further discussion of the topic, you can work on a love and relationships mind map of topic related vocabulary.
 Afterwards, you might want to follow up with some of the ideas below.

Chat-up Lines 

As an ESOL teacher, I seek first and foremost to give learners input which they will be able to use in their immediate environment. In the past, learners have asked me to help them translate some (very dodgy) chat up lines from their own L1 for use in the hostelries and night spots of Lerwick. I have tried to impress upon my learners the naffness of these opening gambits, but to no avail.
Having said this, chat up lines can provide an opening into a fun lexical activity, which can pave the way for a discussion of more serious topics. Here’s what I’ve tried:
  • ·Ask the class if they have heard any good chat up lines recently
  •  If not, give them some you prepared earlier: an excellent source is, which contains 49 horrendously cheesy little numbers.
  •  Put learners into pairs and ask them to come up with two possible responses to the line (one should be a polite rebuff, and the other could be more positive).
  • This leads into a role play activity, in which learners try to prolong to the conversation as far as they can (practicing  turn taking, short answers and other conversational strategies).
  • Finally, learners could try to translate chat up lines they know in their own L1. Do they work? If so, learners could add them to the chat up site listed above.

Serious Sex

This light hearted banter paves the way for more serious discussions on the topic.
Sub topics and suggested texts are listed below.
When should children begin to receive sex education?
Gay marriage around the world: what is the situation regarding gay marriage in your learners’ countries? Really good photos on this webpage should help promote discussion.
A sobering look at the grim reality of a trafficker’s town in Mexico.

And Finally

One of my favourite public health ads ever, and likely to get a few chuckles (or wry nods of recognition from the mums and dads in your class!).  If learners have enjoyed some of the other activities, they might want to make a public health advertisement of their own.

I am on holiday till mid July, and will post the concluding Parnsips on my return.

1 comment:

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