ESL etc.

Global Issues and Activism in English Language Teaching

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Working with Streaming Audio for ESL – Sample Exercise (21 Lies I Will Tell My Children)

For this activity, I use the full script of the play, an mp3 recording, and some pre- and post-listening questions. Some of the lies in this list could lead to discussion of mature topics, so use them at your own risk.

After students discuss the questions, I would have them listen to the play. I might give them the script beforehand, possibly modifying it to work as a cloze activity. If I wanted to focus on grammar, I might remove entire sentences from the list and ask students to dictate them back to me. I would also probably pre-teach some of the vocabulary words.

Pre-listening questions:

  1. Is it ever OK to lie? Why or why not?
  2. Can you give some examples of “good” lies that you’ve told?
  3. Have your parents ever lied to you? What did they lie about?
  4. Would you lie / have you lied to your children? What would / did you lie about? Why?

“21 Lies I Will Tell My Children”


  1. If you don’t get down you’re going to break your neck.
  2. Santa’s coming.
  3. Mommy was just…um…singing. Go back to bed.
  4. I will never forget this for as long as I live.
  5. I’m sure he didn’t mean to hurt you.
  6. I said “shucks.” “Oh shucks.”
  7. Sure I like your music, it’s just…different.
  8. One more time and you’re going to get out and walk.
  9. Just because your friends do it, doesn’t mean you have to do it.
  10. Oh now, you don’t really mean that.
  11. Sure I like your haircut, it’s just…different.
  12. I never said that.
  13. No one is going to notice a little pimple.
  14. Sex is the expression of love and devotion.
  15. It doesn’t matter about the new car, all that matters is that you’re OK.
  16. I’m going to kill you.
  17. Sure I like your boyfriend, he’s just…different.
  18. I was just closing my eyes for a minute.
  19. You were the best baby in the world.
  20. Everything is going to be all right.
  21. Daddy will always be here to take care of you.


Post-listening questions:

  1. Are there any lies that you don’t understand? Ask your partner(s) to explain them to you.
  2. Did your parents tell you any of these lies? Which ones? When did you realize that they were lies?
  3. Do think any of these are not lies? Which ones? Why?*
  4. Which of these lies do you think parents should tell their children? Which do you think they should not tell?
  5. Are there any additional lies you would add to this list?

* For this question, it might be helpful to point out a few of the more subtle “lies” (9 and 20, for example) and talk about them more at length. You could also discuss what the fact that they are called lies tells us about the author.

That’s it! You now know how to record and edit streaming audio to make your own clips. For a quick review of all of the steps, click here.

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