Friday, 11 April 2014


How would you define Freedom?  

This lesson is based on a wonderful article from the BBC Magazine concerning Freedom.  I created it for one-on-one lessons with Upper Intermediate and Advanced students.  However I'm certain that it would work just as well, if not better with a group.

Lesson Objective : 

The main objective of this lesson is to promote discussion, to encourage students to talk about the topic of freedom and the difference between the feeling of freedom and the state of freedom. In this lesson students will practise listening, expressing opinions, describing how something makes them feel, practise using comparatives and generally expand their vocabulary.  

Warm up:

Ask your students the following questions:
  • How would you define freedom?
  • When you think of the word freedom, what topics/issues/situations come to mind? (Prison/animals/war/slavery/media/religion/free time)
  • Can you think of any synonyms for the word freedom? (Exemption/immunity/liberty/ability)
  • Can you think of any antonyms for the word freedom?(Restraint/captivity/confinement/imprisonment/restriction/slavery)
  • Can you name some different types of freedom? (Discuss the meaning of each with your student:Freedom of speech/Political freedom/Physical freedom/National freedom/Freedom of belief/Freedom of the press/Economic freedom/Freedom of expression) 

Freedom 2014: What freedom looks like to you

As part of the BBC's freedom 2014 season they asked their webpage viewers to send in photos of what 'freedom looks like to them'. They received more than a thousand responses and showcased them in the article that this lesson is based on.
BBC News Magazing: Freedom 2014

Task 1 

Explain that you're going to watch a short video Watch the short video and listen to five high profile people reveal what freedom looks like to them.
Task 2 
Click on the link and play the video at the top of the page.

Ask your student to describe the video? (My students didn't need any prompting, they all gave opinions, feelings and expressed surprise at how different the topics and perspectives expressed in the video were)

Task 3 

Write on the board the following quotes from the article:
"Freedom is living your life, acting, speaking, thinking with no limits".
- "Freedom is to be unafraid to go out in the street, to be unafraid to go for a walk with my children on the streets of my city and country".
- "Freedom to me is about letting go of our past and restoring our faith in one another". 
-  "Everyone has a different understanding of freedom, for someone it will be climbing a mountain, for others it will be the sensation of floating in the water, still others will need extreme sensation like base jumping."
Ask you student:

  • In your opinion, which definition is the most accurate? 
  • Explain why different people perceive freedom in different ways.

Task 4

Now choose a number of photos from the article, I used the following pictures:
 - 2nd picture - The horse
- 4th picture - 5 women in a hallway 
- 7th picture - The hatched egg
- 13th picture - View from a prison cell
- 21st picture - Grave yard
- 25th picture - Man diving in the sea 
- 30th picture - Man in a wheelchair in Thailand
Show your student the pictures one at a time and ask them to:

  1. Describe the picture.
  2. Explain what kind of freedom it represents.
  3. Read the caption underneath the picture and compare the photographer's perception with their own.   

Task 5

Ask your student:
  • What have you learnt from this lesson?
  • What did you like about the lesson?
  • What didn't you like about the lesson?

* Finally what freedom looks like to me:

My son walking along our local beach
There is something about the vast open space, the golden sand stretching as far as the eye can see, the sound of the waves and the wind blowing gently on a sunny day that is both exhilarating and relaxing.  This is what freedom looks like to me.  Do you agree?


Ask your student to:

    • Look at all the pictures in the article and choose the one that you think best depicts freedom. Write a few sentences describing the picture and explaining why you chose it.  
    • Take a picture or write a description of a picture that illustrates what freedom looks like to you. 


    Further reading

    Further reading from the BBC's Freedom 2014 series: 

    I really appreciate any comments and feedback and would be very interested to know 'what freedom looks like to you'.  So please send me a photo or description of your perception of freedom.  With your permission I could add them to the blog post.

    If you are a Google+ member please comment below. If you're on Facebook please message me there and of course you can always send me an email:  

    Thanks and I hope you and your students will enjoy working on this lesson :-)

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