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Superheroes – speaking activity

Front_cover,_'Wow_Comics'_no._38_(art_by_Jack_Binder)

What kind of Superhero are you?

Superheroes is a good speaking‏‎ activity for the TEFL class.

This is all about the students inventing a new superhero and testing them out in various scenarios to find out who has the most successful.

Preparation

You will need to prepare beforehand a number of threatening scenarios in which a superhero can help. Try and make these as unusual as possible and, to make it more relevant, you can always involve the students in the situation.

As always, be sensitive to the students in your class; if you are teaching refugees for example, you do not want a threatening scenario which might reflect the students’ own experiences. It’s best here to use your imagination and try and create scenarios which are outrageous and over the top!

Each situation can be put down on a flashcard. Suitable ideas could include:

  • The Queen of England has been kidnapped by Dr Bad, tied up and attached to a wire and she’s slowly being lowered into an active volcano!
  • The President is visiting New York. He goes to the very top of the Empire State Building to see the view. He gets into the lift to go back down but the cable snaps and suddenly he is plummeting to certain death one hundred floors below!

If appropriate and suitable, you can include specific students to give the lesson an extra element of fun:

  • Xing went for a ride in his uncle’s boat but there was a storm and the boat sank. Xing managed to grab hold of a bit of wood and he’s floating in the middle of the sea. Suddenly though he looks up and sees a giant shark heading directly towards him!
  • Super spy Karol is captured by the KGB and put in prison! She has to escape but how will she get past the steel door, the guards, the dogs, the barbed wire and out of the country?

In the Classroom

In class begin by introducing the ideas of heroes to your students. Then move on to superheroes. You can illustrate this with pictures of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and so on and encourage discussion on the subject. Get the students to talk about their strengths, weaknesses, superpowers and suchlike.

The next step is to divide the class into small groups. Explain that each team will develop their own superhero. They can look at the physical appearance, size, sex, the superpower they might have, their special vulnerability (think of Kryptonite and Superman here), how they travel (fly, supercar, etc) and so on.

During this phase, encourage your students to use their imagination and to come up with as much detail as possible.

Once the groups have their character, get them in turns to explain to the rest of the class who they have and what that person can do. Again, encourage discussion and debate.

The final phrase is to put them to the test. Take the situation cards and draw one at random. Explain the situation to the class and go round each group so they can tell you why their superhero would (or would not) be successful in rescuing the situation.

  • Any superhero who could not fly would find it difficult to rescue the Queen of England from the volcano!
  • A superhero who is much bigger than a normal person might find it difficult to get into the lift shaft and stop the falling lift to rescue the President!
  • Suppose the superhero’s weakness was water – they couldn’t help Xing!
  • Only a super-intelligent superhero could rescue Karol!

Finally you can take a vote on which team has put together the best superhero.

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