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Men vs. Women: gender gap, gender roles

Friday 7 November 2008
by Laurence Bernard

"gender roles and gender gap" ideas for the classroom

Here are a few resources and activities I have recently used in class as part of a lesson on Gender Gap and gender Roles.

  • The lesson starts with a sentence to punctuate.
woman without her man is nothing

I usually just write the words on the board and ask the students to think about it and do it in their exercise book first, then they come to the board to punctuate, in turn. We quickly analyse the grammar/syntax of the sentences produced, and determine whether the sentence is correct or not, whether it makes sense and if so, what the basic information is, what the extra information is.

According to the maturity and level of the students, this activity can be fun. One of my students this year made the whole class laugh when he added four exclamation marks !!!!

Here is a picture which provides the answer. However, this joke is widely spread on the Internet and many links would come up if you pasted the sentence in any web browser search box.

  • The next activity is a "before watching" activity.

It consists in providing the chapters/topics of the video I show in the following step.

At this stage, I also ask the students to do two ordering exercises on quantifiers (from less to more) and frequency adverbs (from less often to more often). This provides vocabulary for the students to start anticipating orally using the grid below. I also provide vocabulary to help them compare men and women (while, whereas, on the one hand...on the other hand, on the contrary, unlike, contrary to, etc.) as well as vocabulary to express personal opinion (see the eslabout.com debate lesson plan below).

TopicsMenWomen
Coming home .......... ..........
Speaking
Watching a romantic movie
Business trip
On a diet
Date at 20.00
Travelling
Seducing
To the toilet
Handbag
shopping
The ideal partner

During this speaking activity, students can be encouraged to produce sentences such as "In my opinion, most men hardly ever go on a diet while a majority of women do so at least once a year."

I don’t worry so much about the clichés conveyed. Infact, clichéd sentences will be all the more interesting as they should make the other students want to react - boys reacting to girls’ clichés, and vice-versa.

Students either watch it in autonomy in the language lab or i project it using a video projector and ask the students to fill in the grid as they watch, taking notes of how each sex is described or characterized in the movie.

Download worksheet 1 for a pdf version of all the activities mentioned above

  • A continuation to the work on the Female and Male animation by Bozzetto is the popular male / female brain comparison cartoons. Lots of versions are avalaible on google images with the following search entry "men vs women brain" . The idea being, of course to detect clichés and mis-conceptions, to argue and to express one’s opinion.

With some classes, I have used the debating lesson plan as such, for a debating activity. In this case, the "Resources for classroom debates" at educationworld.com are quite useful to find rubrics for assessment and other tips for teachers.

However, I have also adapted this lesson plan into a reading activity to provide ideas for the students to write an essay as a final task. I mix all the ’yes’ and ’no’ clues together and ask the students to determine whether each clue is a positive or negative answer to the question: "Are men and women equal?"Hopefully, these clues will be used in the students’ final essay.

I haven’t tried yet but certainly will one day, with a good class. Many great thanks to Béatrice Monnier on eteachnet for the script. Feel free to download the worksheet (equals worksheet 2) that I cam up with.

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