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ESL / EFL Lesson Plan on Richard Branson

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Virgin Millionaire


Friday November 12, 2004
Intermediate +

THE ARTICLE

Why would billionaires want to do reality television? Why would Sir Richard Branson, one of Britain’s richest people want to produce shows on mainstream American TV? You can find the answers in “The Rebel Billionaire: Branson’s Quest for the Best”, a full-on, non-stop mixture of thrills, adventure and business. The series started last night with a 2-hour premiere on America’s Fox TV.

Branson is an enigmatic character. He is the 54-year-old founder of the Virgin Group, which has under its umbrella everything from cola, rail companies and airlines to condoms, CDs and space travel. He is also somewhat of an adventurer, attempting and succeeding in numerous daredevil challenges. In 1986 he crossed the Atlantic Ocean in the fastest ever recorded time. He also crossed the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in a hot-air balloon. He’s going to send his elderly father into space for his 90th birthday!

Branson combines his two passions of risk-loving adventurer and entrepreneur extraordinaire in his first TV show, in which sixteen young hopefuls embark on a physically and mentally challenging, globe-trotting competition. The carrot is $1,000,000 plus the presidency of the Virgin Group for six months, just the kind of prize any gung-ho twentysomething would risk their high teeth for.

It is all nail-biting entertainment of the highest order. The challenges on the first show include a heart-stopping walk between two balloons 3,000 metres up, with a picnic on top of one balloon. Another challenge entails going over Africa’s Victoria Falls in a barrel. Branson eliminates two contestants each week. It is definitely not for the faint-hearted, for TV viewers and participants alike.

It seems like a tortuous way to pick a corporate boss. Branson’s rationale is that “having the courage to know when to say no and when to say yes, to calculate the downside, to decide when adventures are just too risky” is necessary to make it to the top. However, make no mistake – the show is a marketing tool for Richard Branson and his latest venture: launching Virgin Airways in the United States.

WARM UPS / COOL DOWNS

1. CHAT:  Talk in pairs or groups about who wants to be a millionaire.

2. BIG SHOPPING: Students talk about what they would spend $1,000,000 on if they went shopping tomorrow..

3. ROUTE 1: Students brainstorm ideas about the quickest way to become a millionaire.

4. VIRGIN: Write some of Virgin’s commercial enterprises on the board. Students talk about them: Virgin Active (fitness centres), Virgin Atlantic (airline), Virgin Business Solutions (financial consulting), Virgin Books (publishing), Virgin Brides (wedding planning), Virgin Cosmetics, Virgin Cola, Virgin Condoms, Virgin Galactic (space travel), Virgin Games, Virgin Holidays, Virgin Megastores, Virgin Mobile (phones), Virgin Online (ISP), and Virgin Wines. .

5. ADVENTURE: Students talk about the most adventurous things they have done.

PRE-READING IDEAS

1. U.S. TV: Students talk about American TV – game shows, serials, comedies, cartoons, home shopping etc, and compare the quality with their own country’s stations.

2. YOUR LIMIT: Students discuss what they would do for one million dollars:
- climb on top of a hot-air balloon at 3,000 metres up.
- walk barefooted across 25 metres of burning coals.
- sell their grandmother.
- eat one kilogram of live worms.
- go over a 100-metre high waterfall in a barrel.
- stand strapped to the top of an acrobatic airplane while it is performing stunts.
- sit in a lion’s cage for 30 minutes.
- other ideas??

3. ANSWER:  Students predict the contents of the article by answering the two questions set at the beginning of the first paragraph.

4. MINI-DISCUSSIONS:  Students take parts in mini-discussions based on ideas and vocabulary in the article:
- Would you ever go on a reality TV show or game show?
- Are you an adventurer? Do you like to take risks?
- Do you have any business or entrepreneurial sense?
- What would you buy a 90-year-old man for his birthday?
- Would you like to do some globe-trotting?
- Are you gung-ho?
- Do you mind heights / high altitudes?
- Do you know when to say ‘no’, when to call it a day?

5. TRUE / FALSE: Students circle which of the following they think are true (T) or false (F) about Richard Branson:
- Richard Branson is a knight.  T / F
- Richard Branson owns Fox Television, an American TV company.  T / F
- Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group.  T / F
- Richard Branson holds the world record for the fastest Atlantic crossing in a boat.  T / F
- Richard Branson is offering $10,000,000 in prize money.  T / F
- Richard Branson will allow the competition winner to be President of all his companies for six months.  T / F
- Richard Branson likes having picnics 3,000 up in the sky.  T / F
- Richard Branson is a key player in the US airline market.  T / F.


 
 

WHILE READING ACTIVITIES

1. GAP-FILL:  Put the four missing words under each paragraph into the gaps.

Virgin Millionaire

Why would billionaires want to do __________ television? Why would Sir Richard Branson, one of Britain’s richest people want to produce shows on __________ American TV? You can find the answers in “The Rebel Billionaire: Branson’s Quest for the Best”, a full-on, non-stop __________ of thrills, adventure and business. The series started last night with a 2-hour __________ on America’s Fox TV.

mainstream          reality          premiere          mixture

Branson is an __________ character. He is the 54-year-old __________ of the Virgin Group, which has under its __________ everything from cola, rail companies and airlines to condoms, CDs and space travel. He is also somewhat of an adventurer, attempting and succeeding in numerous __________ challenges. In 1986 he crossed the Atlantic Ocean in the fastest ever recorded time. He also crossed the Atlanti c and Pacific Oceans in a hot-air balloon. He’s going to send his elderly father into space for his 90th birthday!

daredevil          founder          enigmatic          umbrella

Branson combines his two passions of risk-loving adventurer and __________ extraordinaire in his first TV show, in which sixteen young hopefuls __________ on a physically and mentally challenging, globe-trotting competition. The __________ is $1,000,000 plus the presidency of the Virgin Group for six months, just the kind of prize any __________ twentysomething would risk their high teeth for.

entrepreneur          carrot          embark          gung-ho

It is all __________  entertainment of the highest order. The challenges on the first show include a __________  walk between two balloons 3,000 metres up, with a picnic on top of one balloon. Another challenge __________ going over Africa’s Victoria Falls in a barrel. Branson eliminates two contestants each week. It is definitely not for the __________, for TV viewers and participants alike.

faint-hearted          entails          heart-stopping          nail-biting

It seems like a tortuous way to pick a corporate boss. Branson’s __________ is that “having the __________ to know when to say no and when to say yes, to calculate the __________, to decide when adventures are just too risky” is necessary to make it to the top. However, make no mistake – the show is a marketing __________ for Richard Branson and his latest venture: launching Virgin Airways in the United States.

downside          tool          rationale          courage

2. TRUE / FALSE:  Check your answers to the above T / F activity.

3. QUESTIONS:  Students make notes on anything they read in the text they want to ask their partner / the class about later.

4. ME / NOT ME:  As students read they circle the things they think, ‘This is me’, and underline things they think, ‘This is not me’.

5. VOCABULARY:  Students circle any words they do not understand. In groups pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find the meanings.

POST READING IDEAS

1. GAP-FILL: Check the answers to the gap-fill exercise.

2. TRUE / FALSE: Check the answers to the T / F exercise.

3. QUESTIONS:  Students ask the questions they thought of above.

4. ME / NOT ME: Students talk about the things they circled / underlined in the above activity.

5. VOCABULARY: As a class, go over the vocabulary students circled above.

6. PARAGRAPH FOLLOWERS:  Students do the following activities to follow each pargraph:

 

Para 1

Things I don’t quite understand. Complete the following sentence starter with 3 of your own ideas. Share with the class after:

Why would anyone want to…
… _________________________________________________
… _________________________________________________
… _________________________________________________

Use these answer starters to answer the above questions:

One reason is …
Another reason is …
And a further reason is …
Another might be …
Probably because …
Why shouldn’t …

 

 

Para 2

Agree or disagree with these statements about Richard Branson and justify your choices:

Richard Branson sounds…

- like my kind of guy.
- like he has a death wish.
- full-on.
- a bit of a weido.
- as though he has a screw loose.
- a perfect role model for would-be entrepreneurs.
- he has more money than sense.
- other???

 

 

Para 3

RHETORICAL QUESTION 1 (In pairs)

What would or what wouldn’t I do for $1,000,000? Hmmm ….
 

 

Para 4

RHETORICAL QUESTION 2 (In pairs)

Am I up to that kind of thing? Hmmm ….
 

 

Para 5

RHETORICAL QUESTION 3 (In pairs)

Do I have what it takes to be a top executive? Hmmm ….
 

7. DISCUSSION: In pairs/groups students think of 2 or 3 questions for a class discussion on the article. Teacher corrects on board and puts students into discussion groups.

8. READY-MADE DISCUSSION: Copy and give the following discussions to students:

- What do you think of Richard Branson?
- Would you stop / retire if you were a billionaire?
- What daredevil escapades would you love to do?
- Do you have any goo d ideas to start a new company?
- What are your passions?
- Do you have what it takes to finish Branson’s ‘Quest for the Best’ TV show?
- What is your quest?
- Are you afraid of heights? Do you have any phobias?
- What does it take to become a top executive? Do you have what it takes?

9. BODY ADJECTIVES: Students guess / look in the dictionary to find these adjectives using body parts (there are another 3 in paragraph 4):
foot-tapping
stomach-churning
eye-catching
back-breaking
ear-splitting
heart-breaking
lung-bursting
mouth-watering
brain-numbing
head-turning

10. YOUR CHALLENGE: Students create the ultimate challenge for Richard Branson’s TV show. Present each challenge to the class, which asks questions about the challenge. Students assess each challenge in pairs before the whole class takes a vote on which one should be included in the show.

HOMEWORK

1. VOCAB EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or the Google search field to build up more associations / collocations of each word.

2. WEB LINKS: For more information on Virgin, visit http://www.virgin.com, or http://www.mind-advertising.com/uk/virgingroup_uk.htm.
To follow the show online, visit http://www.fox.com/rebelbillionaire.
To read about the world’s ten richest people, visit http://www.forbes.com/people/2001/06/21/billionairesindex.html.

3. THE ULTIMATE: Outline your proposal for the ultimate TV challenge, complete with rules.

4. LETTER: Write a letter to “Richard Branson” explaining you want to be a contestant on his show.

ANSWERS

GAP FILL:

Virgin Millionaire

Why would billionaires want to do reality television? Why would Sir Richard Branson, one of Britain’s richest people want to produce shows on mainstream American TV? You can find the answers in “The Rebel Billionaire: Branson’s Quest for the Best”, a full-on, non-stop mixture of thrills, adventure and business. The series started last night with a 2-hour premiere on America’s Fox TV.

Branson is an enigmatic character. He is the 54-year-old founder of the Virgin Group, which has under its umbrella everything from cola, rail companies and airlines to condoms, CDs and space travel. He is also somewhat of an adventurer, attempting and succeeding in numerous daredevil challenges. In 1986 he crossed the Atlantic Ocean in the fastest ever recorded time. He also crossed the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in a hot-air balloon. He’s going to send his elderly father into space for his 90th birthday!

Branson combines his two passions of risk-loving adventurer and entrepreneur extraordinaire in his first TV show, in which sixteen young hopefuls embark on a physically and mentally challenging, globe-trotting competition. The carrot is $1,000,000 plus the presidency of the Virgin Group for six months, just the kind of prize any gung-ho twentysomething would risk their high teeth for.

It is all nail-biting entertainment of the highest order. The challenges on the first show include a heart-stopping walk between two balloons 3,000 metres up, with a picnic on top of one balloon. Another challenge entails going over Africa’s Victoria Falls in a barrel. Branson eliminates two contestants each week. It is definitely not for the faint-hearted, for TV viewers and participants alike.

It seems like a tortuous way to pick a corporate boss. Branson’s rationale is that “having the courage to know when to say no and when to say yes, to calculate the downside, to decide when adventures are just too risky” is necessary to make it to the top. However, make no mistake – the show is a marketing tool for Richard Branson and his latest venture: launching Virgin Airways in the United States.

TRUE / FALSE

- Richard Branson is a knight.  T  (‘Sir’ means to be given a knighthood by Queen Eliazabeth II).
- Richard Branson owns Fox Television, an American TV company.  F
- Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group.  T
- Richard Branson holds the world record for the fastest Atlantic crossing in a boat.  T
- Richard Branson is offering $10,000,000 in prize money.  F
- Richard Branson will allow the competition winner to be President of all his companies for six months.  T
- Richard Branson likes having picnics 3,000 up in the sky.  T
- Richard Branson is a key player in the US airline market.  F – (not yet!)

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