Lesson Plan

Hal and Steve Lesson Plan 2: Pretentious People

Intermediate English Conversation

Semester 3, Lesson 17 

Download the lesson here: http://www.halandsteveenglish.com/lessons/pretentious-people-2/

This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite lessons.

I think every person, regardless of self-awareness, regards themselves as a down-to-earth John or Jane.  Nobody would ever consider him/herself pretentious.

Until this lesson.  I taught this to 10 different groups of students this year.  The majority of which were either business men and women, or university students.  A handful, though, were high school students.

Whichever group, though, they all regarded themselves as modest human beings.  However, when I explained the concept of “pretentious” and the related vocabulary (snobby, snooty, etc…) they all jumped into conversation and debate.

Some folks jokingly accused each other of “pretentious” social faux pas.  Others, in moments of self realization, admitted that they have either acted snooty in the past, or were currently snooty.

I remember an exact moment, when one of my high school students mulled over the vocabulary for a minute or two.  She seemed to struggle with the nuances in the words.  One of her classmates, a university student, helped clarify it for her.

I think his anecdote was pretty perfect…

“How do you feel when you buy a new Gucci purse and your friends have less luxurious brands,” he asked.

My young high school student immediately responded “I feel better than them.”

“That’s snobby.” He defined.

Those moments, when students help each other discover the subtle contextual meanings behind English words and phrases, really transform the lesson into a transformative experience.


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