Tagged: first world problems
Level: Upper-Intermediate
Age: Teens +
Target language: Vocabulary related to societal problems, so/such e.g. There is such high employment that …/There is so much bureaucracy that…
Time: 30 minutes+
Preparation: None essential


1: Present and practice vocabulary for societal problems such as high unemployment, bureaucracy, corruption, crime rate.

2: Teach the phrases “there is so much ___ that …” and “there is such high ___ that …”

3: Divide the class into groups and have each group choose a country which they represent. Students should know something about this country, so picking obscure countries is not advised. However, it is a good idea to prevent students from picking their own country. Ideally students will pick first world countries, although this is not strictly necessary.

4: Tell students that although many people think their chosen country is rich, it faces a number of challenges too. Consequently, their country is appealing to the UN for international aid. The UN only has the resources to help one of these nations in need. Each nation must therefore make its case, and the most convincing will get the money.

5: Give students a set time to prepare the case for their country. They should consider societal problems you have presented and use the structure that you presented earlier. Creative groups will be able to play with the language here in coming up with first world problems.

6: Have students present their case and take a vote on the most deserving nation.

7: Provide feedback on language errors and upgrades.

S: I know my country of Switzerland projects the image of a strong, wealthy European country. However, this could not be further from the truth. We have a number of problems, and we desperately need this aid to help us. Firstly, there is such a housing shortage in the cities that people are forced to live in beautiful alpine villages. It’s terrible. Secondly, there is so much bureaucracy that you even have to fill in a form when you buy milk.


1: If students lack world knowledge, you could provide information about countries for them to use.

2. This sequence could also be applied to problems in cities, or with a bit of imagination, global problems with the students presenting to an interplanetary organisation to save Earth!

Follow on:

Students imagine that their country got the funding to fix the problems. Not only were the problems fixed, but this aid has really turned the country around. Students write a letter thanking the delegates and outlining the positive changes that have been made.

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Photo by Kelsey Knight

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