Extraterrestrial Life

“If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans.”

Stephen Hawking (1942 – 2018), British theoretical physicist
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LESSON OVERVIEW

This free ESL lesson plan on space travel has been designed for adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

Are we alone in the Universe? This is one of the most profound questions humans have pondered and one that we are unable to answer. Considering how many millions of planets there are that are capable of supporting life in our galaxy alone, the probability that intelligent life exists somewhere else in the Universe is high. In that case, where are these aliens? Why haven’t they visited us or even bothered to send a text to say hello? Well, according to some people, they already have but the government has kept this information secret. In this ESL lesson plan on extraterrestrial life, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as whether or not life exists elsewhere in the Universe, what would happen if we made contact with an alien civilisation and whether this contact would be a good thing.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for World UFO day, which takes place on either June 24th (the date of the first ever sighting of a UFO in 1947) or on July 2nd (the date a UFO supposedly crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, also in 1947). For more lesson plans on international days and important holidays, see the calendar of world days to plan your classes for these special occasions.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.

PRE-CLASS ACTIVITIES

Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

BBC Newsround | “What is Area 51?”

The article refers to an event that was organised on Facebook with the intention of ‘storming’ Area 51, a top-secret US Air Force base in Nevada. It gives a summary of the conspiracy theories and UFO sightings that have surrounded the base since the 1950s and also talks about the supposed UFO crash landing in Roswell, New Mexico. At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. What do they think happens at Area 51? Did a UFO crash land in Roswell? Why do people believe these conspiracy theories?

Video activity
To save time in class for the conversation activities, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below and answer the listening questions in Section 3 of the lesson plan at home. There are intermediate listening questions and advanced listening questions so teachers can decide which would be more appropriate for their students. Check the answers in the class.

The video for this class is called “The Fermi Paradox — Where Are All The Aliens?” by Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell which provides a worrying explanation as to why we have not been visited by aliens.

Courtesy of kurzgesagt.org

IN-CLASS ACTIVITIES

The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means and if they agree with it. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including why we have not made contact with aliens, what the students would say to an alien given the opportunity and what TV shows or movies they have seen featuring aliens.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with extraterrestrial life such as alien abduction, crop circle and humanoid. This vocabulary has been chosen to boost the students’ knowledge of less common vocabulary that could be useful for preparing for English exams like IELTS or TOEFL. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the listening questions. Before checking the answers, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about aliens. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as why aliens would want to visit us, whether or not they might have already made contact with us and the possibility that life on Earth was created by a galactic civilisation.

HOMEWORK

After the class, students will write a guide to Earth for a visiting alien. This could be a short paragraph or a longer piece of writing depending on what level the student is at. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise and improve their grammar with the feedback from their teacher. For students who intend to take an international English exam such as IELTS or TOEFL, there is an alternative essay question to practise their essay-writing skills.

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