Ethical issues in zoos

Ethical issues in zoos

Lesson overview

In this Intermediate ESL lesson, students will discuss the pros and cons of zoos. They will also learn how to talk about moral actions using modal verbs.


Warm-up discussion

The lesson starts with questions related to the student’s experience with zoos.


Video: Zoos – helpful or harmful?

Prior to watching the video Why do we need zoos?, the student gets familiar with the vocabulary which will be mentioned in the video. They need to match the words with their meanings (e.g. extinction, disease, species, etc.).

After watching the first part of the video, the student answers questions about modern zoos. Then, they watch the rest of the video and answer questions about the role of modern zoos.


Reading: Upsides and downsides of zoos

The student reads two opposing opinions about zoos and decides which opinion they agree with and explains why. Then, they identify the synonyms of good thing(s) and bad thing(s) (e.g. drawbacks, upside, etc.).
The student reads the meanings of the synonyms and decides if they are true or false. They practice using these words in a speaking exercise where they are encouraged to mention them in their answers.


Modal verbs: talking about moral behavior

The student tries to identify the verbs used to talk about moral behavior (e.g. should, have to, must, etc.). Then, they classify the modal verbs as strong/weak and positive/negative. After that, they fill in the gaps with modals where necessary and find the mistakes in sentences with modal verbs.



In the first part of the wrap-up discussion, the student imagines a shocking situation and comes up with a response in which they will use a modal verb.

In the second part, they express their opinion about zoos in general.



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