Theme: Taking a gap year. Attitudes towards adventure and exploration.
Lexical area: Expeditions, adventurous pursuits and job related vocabulary.
Cross curricular links: Personal and Social Education, Geography.
Instructions for language assistants in italics
This lesson consists of a main text describing a 'gap year' and why people might take one. Task 4 has some short descriptions of gap year placements. It explores attitudes towards personal freedom and adventure and looks briefly at the spirit of adventure of British explorers and young people in Britain today.
- For lower levels find some pictures of young people involved in conservation and community work projects. If you had a gap year bring along your photos which will be of interest to all levels. Try to have a map of the World available so you can locate the countries mentioned in this lesson. If you think students might need quick revision of countries around the world start with a blank black and white map, list the countries on the board and give pairs or groups a time limit to complete the names on the map. This would be a good warmer. They could then mark on the map where they think Shackleton went (Task 1) and where they would like to go.
1. Applying for an expedition - A myth
This task will help you introduce the idea of adventure and look at vocabulary like adventurous, dangerous, challenging, cautious etc.
- Read the advert and explain anything that needs clarification. For a lower level class ask the class what the person going there would gain, certainly not money .With a higher level you could discuss in more detail what might motivate explorers to climb mountains, put themselves in danger or set sail for new places.
- Ask pairs to try and answer the questions and quickly run through their response.
- Ask if they know about any British explorers or recent expeditions. Expeditions to the Moon require a similar 'spirit of adventure'. Ask if they know anyone who is this type of person.
- Ask about fears or phobias. There would be intense cold and darkness during Shackleton's expedition.
- Ask if they have any things they dislike: intense heat, snakes, mosquitoes, spiders…
- More details on Shackleton can be found in the web links for polar exploration. There is no copy of the original advert and the tale remains one of the many myths surrounding the expeditions of that time.
- Get a show of hands to see how many in your class would go with Shackleton.
Task 1 Applying for an expedition - A myth
Read this advert which was placed in a British newspaper by the explorer Ernest Shackleton at the turn of the last century.
|'Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.'|
- Where do you think he was going to?( A Polar expedition to Antarctica)
- How many people do you think applied for this job? (More than 5,000)
- What sort of person might apply?( An independent, adventurous, courageous, tough type. Most likely a curious type and a non-materialistic type, as no money was to be gained. Someone who doesn't mind being alone for extended periods of time.)
- Would you consider doing it?
2. How adventurous are you?
This exercise will give you a chance to recap on continents and countries. Ask where the Andes or where the Himalayas are.
- Discuss the first 2 or 3 examples with the class and get some response around the class.
- Encourage them to give reasons and encourage as much expansion as possible with higher levels.
- Example: 'I would enjoy trekking in the Himalayas as I am used to walking and I enjoy mountains.' 'I would absolutely hate parachuting as I am a bit scared of heights.'
- Then pairs or small groups can work through the task together. A class that knows each other well could nominate the most adventurous student, the most likely explorer in the group!
Task 2 How adventurous are you?
Complete this questionnaire about yourself
Look at the following activities
3. Spirit of adventure
- Look at the questions and ask if anyone knows what 'gap' means. Encourage them to try and predict the answers. Give the reading task to pairs to do.
Task 3 Spirit of adventure
Read the article and answer the questions.
- What is a gap year? (A year off from your studies)
- Who is taking a gap year? (Lots of young Britons)
- Why are they choosing to take a gap year? (It gives them a rest from exams, it is good on your CV and it gives them time to find out what they want to do after university or school.)
- What sorts of work do students do during a gap year? (Charity work, conservation work, work with disadvantaged people.)
Spirit of Adventure
4. The choices on offer
This can be a pair or group task.
- Guide lower levels by going through the adverts with them and giving your reaction.
- Explain any new words.
- You could also give prompts on the board.
- Example: 'That sounds interesting because…' 'I don't think I'd enjoy doing that because..'
Task 4 The choices on offer
There are numerous organisations and charities offering young people the opportunity to work away from home for a year before continuing their studies. Look at the descriptions of gap year jobs for next year.
Africa and Asia Venture: Do an intensive teaching course with us in London and then spend 3-4 months in helping in village schools in Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana or Nepal. Accommodation, food and a local salary included .Become involved in sports training at some teaching centres.
- Which job or project appeals most to you?
- What types of skill might you learn during the year?
- Which types of project seem to be the most adventurous?
- Is there any place you would absolutely not like to go to?
5. Packing for your trip
This is a fun discussion task which can be done in pairs or groups. First get a couple of suggestions for the trip from the students. Give examples of how you packed for a gap year trip or for your year abroad. Remind them that there is only so much that you can fit in a back pack. At the end of the exercise you can explain that all the gap year organisations give packing lists and help with vaccinations and a survival course for dangerous expeditions.
- Pairs or groups can brainstorm the questions together. Lower levels will need more prompting: ask about food, ask about temperature at night, ask about insects, ask about useful things to take.
- Potential difficulties could be a lack of knowledge of how to survive without food or in dangerous situations, homesickness and missing people and also TV and other luxuries, language difficulties in places where no English is spoken.
Task 5 Packing for your trip
You have just received the following letter:
|' We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted on our conservation project in a remote part of Tanzania. Your living conditions will be a basic hut and the climate is tropical. Communications with the nearest town is by helicopter once a month'.|
- Make a sensible packing list of essential items to fit in a standard sized back pack.
- Write the questions you are going to ask the returning volunteer when you meet them in London.
- Think of two potential difficulties that a Western teenager might have during this work placement.
6. Describe you dreams and ambitions
- This is an opportunity for students to talk about their own dreams and ambitions. Students can work in groups or pairs. Don't let the discussion drag on if they don't really have any clear plans and are running out of steam. Discuss the opportunities and employment situation in your area. Ask if knowing English will be an advantage on the job market.
Task 6 Describe your dreams and ambitions
Imagine that you are allowed to go anywhere you wish and do any type of work or course of study.
You may prefer to stay at home or you may wish to travel alone. You may like to start your first job as soon as possible.
- What would you do? Describe your first year in as much detail as possible.
- What would you like to do when your schooling or studies finish?
- Do you have any special dreams?
- Do you have any ambitions for your future?
- Do your parents or family share your hopes and ambitions for your future?
7. Discussion questions
- Students can work in groups. Ask them to modify the statements so they can agree with them. Ask the whole group to decide on a summary of their conclusions. Each group leader can then read aloud their summary. Do they all share similar attitudes towards gap years and studying?
Task 7 Discussion questions
Do you agree or disagree with these statements about young people?
- Taking a gap year is a luxury for lazy students who want to do nothing for a year.
- Working before you go in to Higher Education is a useful experience.
- There are too many opportunities open to young people and this makes them indecisive.
- 18 years old is far too young to be travelling alone in distant countries.
- It is not a good idea to have a gap after school because you might lose the habit of studying.
- Parents do not allow young people enough freedom to experiment with jobs and their studies.
- Going away from your parents at 18 is a character building experience and very beneficial.
- The gap year is for people who cannot decide what to do with their lives.
- Going to dangerous places is not an adventure it is foolish.
- Students who have a gap year are probably more mature than those who do not.
- Parents who do not allow their children a chance to go abroad without them are very selfish.
This site gives a comprehensive list of current gap year opportunities and links to all the main sites. You can access gap year diaries of current volunteers. Very interesting.
An Independent Special report article with useful links and first hand accounts.
An excellent source of real stories and role play situations to be exploited on the theme of expeditions and adventures.
A recent news story covering the experience of the first all woman team of Polar explorers from Britain.
A series of lessons and worksheets on British explorers and others.
This site has lots of lessons and web quests on the theme of exploration.
Essential UK links
Fundraising UK style looks at the work of charities in the UK and the ways they raise money. Many gap year placements involve charities and work for them abroad. Gap year students also have to raise money to get a placement abroad.
Freedom and you takes up the idea of growing up and independence from parents. It is a good link to the idea of responsibility and freedom in this gap year lesson.
The Tested generation links to the theme of a generation who may need some time out from a stressful system of exams. It also explores attitudes towards school and studying.
School's out follows up the theme of choosing what to do in the school holidays.
By Clare Lavery