Lesson idea: Celebrities, morals and ethics

This is a discussion task to introduce a sequence of lessons on fame and celebrities. One of the set reading texts in the sequence included some comments on celebrity ethics. I thought this was a good springboard, so after a brief chat/some questions about what learners consider to be ‘ethical’ behaviour in the context of celebrities, I gave them these three scenarios to discuss:

Scenario 1

A well-known actress creates a lifestyle brand selling a range of health care products derived from natural ingredients. These high-end products are very popular. The brand claim that the benefits of using the health products are scientifically proven. However, experts claim that the products have no scientific basis and that the company are misleading the public.

What actions could the actress undertake to improve or change this situation? Think of at least 3 ideas, then decide the best.

Scenario 2

An athlete has a contract endorsing top-of-the-range sports equipment for a well-known company. They are one of the most successful athletes in the world, and they are highly valued by the company. Unfortunately, the athlete begins to struggle with the pressures of fame. They turn to alcohol, and they are arrested while driving under the influence. The story appears all over the media – this could potentially damage the company’s sales and reputation.

What should the company do? Think of at least 3 ideas, then decide the best.

Scenario 3

A highly successful celebrity chef is about to release a new cookbook and cookery show. The title of the book/show is ‘Back to Meat’. Every episode of the show features three recipes for cooking a different type of meat. It focuses primarily on the best cuts of meat, rather than recipes that use the whole of the animal. One critic estimates that anyone choosing to cook all the recipes from the book would need meat from around 20 animals in total. The chef is expected to sell around 200,000 copies of the book.

Do you think this is ok? If so, why? If not, what could the chef do?

 

Note: these aren’t based on any celebrities in particular, I just made them up. I didn’t pre-teach any vocab, but my B1 students asked about ‘high-end’, ‘misleading’ and ‘turn to [something]

It turned out that this was more than a context builder. There was lots of rich discussion from my students, so I just ran with it. The need for conditional sentences emerged, plus a few phrases for polite disagreement, also some more hypothetical language like ‘Let just say that…’, etc. These random (quickly typed out so sorry if errors) scenarios ended up becoming a bigger part of the lesson, as I made up a couple of role plays off the back of them.

 

Scenario 2

Student A: You are the athlete. The company have called you in to discuss the incident.

Student B: You are the Global Brand Manager for the sports company. Student A is the athlete who endorses your products. Call them into your office to discuss the recent incident, and explain the decision you’ve made.

(note: the phrase ‘to stand by someone’ came out of this one)

 

Scenario 3

You are the chef. After recent stories in the media, you’ve decided to make a statement about the ethical (?!) treatment of animals killed for food in the first show of your series. What would you like to say to the public? Draft a short speech (30 seconds to 1 minute).

(note: the words ‘condone’ and ‘cruelty’ came out of this one).

 

Anyway, feel free to copy and paste (or edit) if these are useful. The alcohol one is PARSNIP-flouting I know, depends on your learners.

 

Feature image copyright Santa Clara University

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