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Lessons & Classroom Games for Teachers

Creating Fun, Fascinating Conversations about Pets - ESL Teacher Eric Roth Lesson

Do you love pets? Do you carry a picture of your favorite pet? Are you closer to your pet than your neighbor? Brother?

Personally, I'm a dog person. I even named my publishing company after my first border collie, Chimayo. So it seems natural to me to teach and talk about pets in my ESL classrooms.

Here's a conversation lesson plan that I have used with great success on several times. You can adapt it for writing classes too. If you like this conversation lesson, please feel free to visit www.compellingconversations.com for more free sample conversation lessons for ESL teachers and tutors.




"Heaven goes by favor; if it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in."

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer and humorist

Sharing Memories - Please ask your partner about their dog or other pet. Take turns so the conversation flows.

1. Are you an animal lover or a pet person? Can I call you a “dog person”?

2. What pet do you think makes the best pet? Why?

3. What is the name of your favorite pet? What made this pet special for you?

4. What does, or did, your favorite dog/pet look like? Can you describe your pet?

5. How did your dog join your family? What were some factors in your decision?

6. What are your favorite photographs of your favorite dog? Are they displayed?

7. Did you train your dog? How? To do what? Why?

8. How do you take care of your dog? Give specific examples.

9. So, what makes a good pet owner or guardian? What are the dos and taboos?

10. How do you play with your dog (or other pet)? What do you enjoy doing together?

11. Did you dog like car trips? Beach walks? Hikes? Parks? Playing with Frisbees?

12. Can you describe your dog’s personality? What do they like to do?

13. How did others in your family feel about your favorite dog/rabbit/fish/bird/other pet?

14. Why are dogs good pets? Do you agree that dogs are the ideal pet?

15. What are some challenges with having a dog?

16. What are some dog breeds that you think are beautiful? Strange?

17. What is a purebred? What's a mutt?

18. Have you ever owned a purebred dog? What kind?

19. Have you ever owned a mutt? What did your mutt look like?

20. When did you first get a dog? How old were you?

21. How do dogs help people? Can you think of some professions for dogs?

22. Have you ever known an animal that rescued a person? How?

23. What's the most extraordinary thing you've ever heard that a pet did?

24. What are some disadvantages to having pets? How could pets cause trouble?

25. Have you ever taken a pet to a veterinarian? Did it get a vaccination? Why?

26. Why do some cities encourage owners, or guardian, to spay or neuter animals?

27. How did you express your grief when your pet died? What did you do to honor your memories together?

28. Are pets treated different in the U.S. than your native country? Can you give an example?

29. Have you ever watched a dog show ? What was your reaction?

30. Are you allergic to any animals? Which ones? What do you do for your allergies?

31. Can you think of some movies that star dogs? Other animals? Which was your favorite?

32. What books or songs celebrate dogs? Other pets? Which was your favorite?

33. What do you think children learn from having pets?

34. Pet robots and virtual pets have been sold in the last few years. Why do they think these hi-tech toys have become fashionable? Who would you suspect would buy them? Why?

35. Why are we so devoted to our pets? Why do we love them so much?

Vocabulary: Please circle the words that you already know.

personality rescued mutt purebred veterinarian
spayed guardian train pamper allergies

Idioms: Do you know these common idioms? What do they mean?

1. His bark is worse than his bite.

2..It’s raining cats and dogs.

Proverbs: Can you think of another proverb about dogs?

Let sleeping dogs lie. -German proverb

A dog is man's best friend. - English proverb

Two dogs can kill a lion. - Jewish proverb

Quotations: Pick your favorite three quotations. Explain your choices.

1. "If you lie down with dogs, you'll rise up with fleas."
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) , American statesman, inventor, and writer

2. "One of the striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives."
Mark Twain (1835-1910), American writer and humorist

3. "Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun."
Noel Coward (1899-1973), English dramatist

4. "A dog starved at his master's gate
Predicts the ruin of the state."
William Blake (1757-1827, English poet

5. “I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”
Winston Churchill (1874-1965), British Prime Minister

6. “Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”
George Eliot (1819-1880) English novelist

“To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the popularity of dogs.”
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) British novelist

"The more I see of men, the more I like dogs."
Madame de Stael (1766-1817), French social leader and writer

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”
Mark Twain (1835-1910), American humorist and writer

“If man’s best friend is a dog, his worst is dogma.”
Leo Rosten (1908-1997), American writer

“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower (1890-1969), 34th U.S. President and General

"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring — it was peace."
Milan Kundera (1929- ) Franco-Czech novelist


Some people say that dogs and their owners looks alike. As you walk or ride around in the next few days, observe dog owners and their dogs. Try to find at least five examples. What do you think? Do dog owners resemble their dogs? Describe your observations.

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