Here is a stand-alone language learning activity related to the theme of Healthy Lifestyle. The activity is designed for students at the proficiency level indicated. Some variations ofthe same activity are provided later so that the teacher can modify it and pitch it at a different level in a heterogeneous class that comprises students with varying learning abilities.
Play the Nutritionist, prescribe a plan!
Level: Beginner, lower intermediate
Time required: 30 min
Objectives: To provide students with common vocabulary related to healthy living and to encourage them to speak English freely by formulating questions and answers in a specific situation.
Materials: Chalk and blackboard
Preparation: As a preliminary to this task, ask students how they would define a healthy lifestyle and what, in their opinion, is its significance. To make your discussion interesting, you may use pictures or show short visual clips related to healthy/unhealthy lifestyles.
Elicit nouns, adjectives, verbs or phrases/idioms that students can come up with on healthy living and add your own. Make a box, titled My Healthy Living Manual, as shown below, as you write some of them on the board. Encourage students to fill in their manual and write at least three more in each column along with a friend.
My Healthy Living Manual
Health is wealth
An apple a day keeps the doctor away
2.Now ask students to role play a situation where one student becomes a patient and the other a nutritionist. Each pair carries out a short conversation where the patient mentions a health problem and the nutritionist advises healthy eating habits and lifestyle. Let it be a lot of fun as the nutritionist prescribes a healthy plan to the patient. Students may be allowed to use words from the healthy living manual they designed. A sample conversation along with a prescribed diet is provided below:
Patient: Hello Ms. Sethi! I am 20 years old and have recently gained a lot of weight. I feel week and lazy all the time.
Nutritionist: Hello Namita! Let us get your weight and blood pressure checked first.
Do you recall when you gained weight? How much was your weight before that?
Patient: Yes, I put on weight about a year back. I used to be 50 kilos earlier.
Nutritionist: You are 63 kilos now. Have you consulted a doctor before?
Nutritionist: Well, do not worry. I am prescribing some tests. Please get them done this week. Meanwhile, you will have to lose weight if you wish to feel strong and energetic. Remember, health is wealth!
Patient: How soon will I be fit and agile again?
Nutritionist: Very soon provided you follow the healthy plan that I am recommending to you. You will be required to eat nutritious food and exercise regularly. Come back to me with the reports.
Patient: Thank you.
Nutritionist: You are welcome.
Prescribed Health Plan to be followed for a week
Eat small meals at short intervals; eat green leafy vegetables and a lot of fruits; avoid heavy and oily food. Say no to sweets and cold drinks.
Walk briskly for half an hour twice a day; climb stairs instead of using a lift; do mild physical activity throughout the day
Food for thought
Avoid negative thoughts. You will soon regain health and vigour!
To have a healthy body and a healthy mind is to have the world’s two biggest assets!
There can be several versions of this activity based on slightly different variations of the same theme depending on which particular skill needs to be enhanced and at which level.
If the skill focus is on developing analytical, critical thinking and writing skills of the students, the following activity may work.
Time required: 40 min
Objective: To develop students’ analytical, critical thinking and writing skills
a. Different pictures depicting health and fitness of body and mind. For e.g. a sportsperson, a dancer, a farmer etc.
b. Advertisements in newspapers and magazines of weight reduction and management clinics, products etc. and pictures of slim people.
Show students different pictures of healthy and fit people and ask them to give one word/phrase they associate with each of these persons. For instance, if the picture is of a dancer, then the answer could be grace, flexibility, rhythm etc.
Now show them pictures of slim people and ask students if they associate slimness and beauty with overall health wellness. Why/why not or to what extent?
Show them advertisements of slimming centres and slimming products. Ask students to discuss with their friends and specify whether they find the ads convincing. What reasons do they think attribute to their popularity?
Finally ask students to write a mail to a friend advising her to join/not join a slimming centre in her locality citing reasons to support their view.
If the skill focus is on enhancing critical thinking and creative-writing skills in students, the following variation of the activity may be attempted.
Level: Upper intermediate, advanced
Time required: 30 min
Objective: To develop students’ critical thinking and creative writing skills
Material: Any anecdote/short article on stress/anger related health problems and another on the benefits of meditation
Let the students read the anecdote/article on stress or anger. Break them in pairs to discuss how modern lifestyle causes stress/anger and in what ways can it be overcome.
Share some responses in class.
Now make students read the short piece on meditation. Again ask students how they would define mediation (is it praying; deep breathing; self-introspection etc) and do they perceive it as an effective stress-buster/anger management technique but this time round encourage them to offer their viewpoints in the form of a debate/discussion by giving them topics such as Meditation is only a temporary state of happiness and satisfaction or Meditational practices have no scientific basis.
Ask students to describe the ill-effects of stress/anger using humour. Encourage them to present their ideas creatively through a comic strip/anecdote/interesting dialogue etc.
Have volunteers present their work to the class.
Ruchi Kaushik is Associate Professor of English at Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D in Materials Development in ESP.