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Lesson Ideas: Romance and Relationships
Romance and relationships are often avoided by international course books, most likely because they want to sell copies in conservative religious countries. This is perhaps unfortunate for students in more liberal countries for who dating and relationships are a part of everyday life.
Of course, teachers should always make decisions about what is culturally relevant for their students. However, an argument can be made that even in conservative countries, a discussion on what is not permitted in their country is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, course book units on crime often teach the word ‘murder’. This is not so that students can go and become murderers! Teaching students about dating customs around the world and to express what is forbidden by their religion is a valid aim, though one that requires sensitivity and possibly checking with school management before pursuing.
Romance and relationships is potentially an embarrassing topic for students, not to mention that different students may be at different points in their lives. For this reason, in many exercises it makes more sense to de-personalise these activities.
Possible Learning Outcomes:
Nowadays, intercultural relationships are increasingly common. Students may find it useful therefore to be able to talk to a partner in English. Additionally, conversations about our relationships are not uncommon, and therefore students may wish to be able to describe aspects of their relationships and to advise others. More generally, students may wish to be able to discuss trends in dating and relationships. The following outcomes may be useful in planning a lesson:
(All outcomes should be proceeded by “by the end of the lesson, students will be better able to”)
- express their preferences and expectations for a relationship,
- describe relationship problems,
- provide advice on relationship problems,
- discuss what is acceptable within their culture in terms of relationships,
- discuss changing trends in dating and relationships.
Some people enjoy trying to get people they know to get together. One activity that tries to do this is the “Lovebug Dating Agency” activity found in the New Cutting Edge Pre-Intermediate (3rd edition) Teachers’ Book. Essentially, in this activity, students first create profiles for some people including hobbies, interests and ambitions. Students then attempt to match the male and female profiles, justifying why those pairings are likely to be a successful match.
My Dating Profile
In more liberal locations, you may be able to have students create their own dating profiles. This can follow a conversation about what information is appropriate to include in such a profile which may be a much-needed conversation for young people these days.
I personally wouldn’t get students to role play an evening of speed dating. I would however use the format to have students speak to a lot of partners quickly and this could be on the topic of romance and relationships.
If you don’t know, at a speed dating event half the participants (typically one gender) move around and speak to the other half, spending 3-4 minutes with each partner. The timing is tightly controlled by the host of the evening.
My favourite game for giving advice works perfectly well for giving relationship-related advice. In this game you need a number of problems written on pieces of paper or card. These could include:
- You have forgotten your partners birthday.
- Your partner’s parents don’t like you for some reason.
- You saw your friend cheating on their partner.
- You are attracted to a good friend’s partner.
In a group of three to five, students take turns to pick up and read out a problem. The other students provide their best advice for the situation. Students should not repeat each others’ advice. Once all students have provided a piece of advice, the student who read out the problem gives the paper to the student whose advice they thought was best. The student who has the most papers at the end of the game is the winner, being the best at giving advice.
Agree or Disagree
Romance and relationships is an area where students may have considerable disagreement. This can be exploited through an agree or disagree activity. In a classroom, you can do this by assigning two opposing walls as agree and disagree. Students then move to an appropriate position when you read out a statement, such as “PDAs (public displays of affection) make me uncomfortable.”
Online you can still do such an activity by having students show fingers on one hand to show their position. In this case, 1 (or 0) = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree.
In either case, after students have chosen their position, this time should be used to invite students to offer more on their position.