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ESL / EFL Lesson Plan on a Possible Cure for the Common Cold

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Date: February 15, 2009
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THE ARTICLE

Scientists closer to cure for cold

Scientists are a step closer to finding a cure for the common cold. The simple colds we all get several times a year are one of science’s mysteries. Researchers have worked for centuries to find a remedy. All have failed so far. However, new research from the USA has unlocked the genetic code for 99 different types of cold. Researchers at the University of Maryland and the J. Craig Venter Institute organized their data to produce a family tree of colds. They separated the 99 types of cold into 15 different branches. The next step is to identify the things these branches have in common. Once scientists have done this, they can work on producing anti-cold drugs. And once we have anti-cold drugs, there is one less excuse to take a day off work or school.


 
 

The researchers warned we should not expect to have a cure or a drug in the near future. They said the cold is still one of the most complicated viruses known to man. Scientists say the cold becomes more complex the more they find out about it. One of the researchers, Dr. Ann Palmenberg, was quite pessimistic about a cure. “There’s not going to be a vaccine for the common cold,” she said. However, there could be cold-fighting drugs in the future for cold sufferers. This is good news for us all. Adults get around four colds a year and children average ten. There is a multi-billion-dollar industry based around medicines for colds. Everyone also has their favourite remedy. Sleep seems to be the most popular way of fighting a cold.


 


 

WARM-UPS

1. COLDS: Walk around the class and talk to other students about colds. Change partners often. After you finish, sit with your partner(s) and share your findings.

2. CHAT: In pairs / groups, decide which of these topics or words from the article are most interesting and which are most boring.

 

steps closer / the common cold / genetic code / family tree / branches / days off / researchers / cures / viruses / pessimistic / cold sufferers / medicines / remedies

Have a chat about the topics you liked. Change topics and partners frequently.

3. REMEDIES: What are your remedies for these complaints? Complete the table below. Talk with your partner. Change partners and share what you wrote.

Complaint

Remedy

How good is it?

Colds

 

 

Being overweight

 

 

Having no money

 

 

Failing exams

 

 

Nervousness

 

 

Volcano

 

 

4. CURES: Students A strongly believe scientists will find a cure for all viruses and diseases; Students B strongly believe scientists will never find cures for health problems. Change partners again and talk about your conversations.

5. POOR ME: In pairs / groups, rank the following in order of which you think is worst to have.

____ a cold

____ a headache

____ no money

____ a broken heart

____ a computer virus

____ a toothache

____ a lost passport

____ a stomach ache

6. COLD: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word ‘cold’. Share your words with your partner(s) and talk about them. Together, put the words into different categories.


 
 

BEFORE READING / LISTENING

1. TRUE / FALSE: Look at the article’s headline and guess whether these sentences are true (T) or false (F):

a.

Colds are one of the great mysteries of science.

T / F

b.

People have spent hundreds of years trying to find a cure for the cold.

T / F

c.

Scientists have discovered the genetic code for 100 types of cold.

T / F

d.

Finding a cure for colds means more excuses to take a day off work.

T / F

e.

The cold virus is one of the most basic known to scientists.

T / F

f.

The more scientists know about colds, the more complicated they are.

T / F

g.

Children average four colds a year and adults get around ten.

T / F

h.

Sleep appears to be the most common remedy for getting rid of colds.

T / F

2. SYNONYM MATCH: Match the following synonyms from the article:

1.

cure

a.

catch

2

mysteries

b.

hope for

3.

unlocked

c.

remedy

4.

data

d.

combating

5.

excuse

e.

opened

6.

expect

f.

statistics

7.

complicated

g.

trade

8.

get

h.

unknowns

9.

industry

i.

tricky

10.

fighting

j.

reason

3. PHRASE MATCH: Match the following phrases from the article (sometimes more than one. combination is possible):

1.

Scientists are a step closer to

a.

remedy

2

find a

b.

future

3.

produce a family tree

c.

a day off work

4.

the things these branches have

d.

in the near future

5.

one less excuse to take

e.

a cold

6.

not expect to have a cure or a drug

f.

colds a year

7.

one of the most complicated viruses

g.

finding a cure

8.

there could be cold-fighting drugs in the

h.

of colds

9.

Adults get around four

i.

in common

10.

the most popular way of fighting

j.

known to man


 

WHILE READING / LISTENING

GAP FILL: Put the words into the gaps in the text.

Scientists are a step closer to finding a cure for the common cold. The simple colds we all get ___________ times a year are one of science’s mysteries. Researchers have worked for centuries to find a ___________. All have failed so far. However, new research from the USA has ___________ the genetic code for 99 different types of cold. Researchers at the University of Maryland and the J. Craig Venter Institute organized their ___________ to produce a family tree of colds. They ___________ the 99 types of cold into 15 different branches. The next step is to identify the things these ___________ have in common. Once scientists have done this, they can work on ___________ anti-cold drugs. And once we have anti-cold drugs, there is one less ___________ to take a day off work or school.

 

 

 

separated
data
excuse
unlocked
several
branches
producing
remedy

The researchers warned we should not ___________ to have a cure or a drug in the near future. They said the cold is still one of the most complicated viruses ___________ to man. Scientists say the cold becomes more ___________ the more they find out about it. One of the researchers, Dr. Ann Palmenberg, was quite pessimistic about a cure. “There’s not going to be a ___________ for the common cold,” she said. However, there could be cold-fighting drugs in the future for cold sufferers. This is ___________ news for us all. Adults get around four colds a year and children ___________ ten. There is a multi-billion-dollar ___________ based around medicines for colds. Everyone also has their favourite remedy. Sleep seems to be the most popular way of ___________ a cold.

 

 

good
complex
fighting
average
expect
vaccine
known
industry

LISTENING:  Listen and fill in the spaces.

Scientists _____________________ finding a cure for the common cold. The simple colds we all get several times a year are one of science’s mysteries. Researchers have worked for centuries __________________. All have failed so far. However, new research from the USA has unlocked the genetic code for 99 ________________ cold. Researchers at the University of Maryland and the J. Craig Venter Institute organized their data to produce _____________________. They separated the 99 types of cold into 15 different branches. The next step is to identify the things these branches ________________. Once scientists have done this, they can work on producing anti-cold drugs. And once we have anti-cold drugs, there is one ________________ a day off work or school.

The researchers warned we __________________ have a cure or a drug in the near future. They said the cold is still one of the most complicated ___________________. Scientists say the cold becomes more complex the more they find out about it. One of the researchers, Dr. Ann Palmenberg, ___________________ about a cure. “There’s not going to be a vaccine for the common cold,” she said. However, there could be cold-fighting drugs ________________ sufferers. This is good news for us all. Adults get around four colds a year and ________________. There is a multi-billion-dollar industry based around medicines for colds. Everyone also has their favourite remedy. Sleep ___________________ popular way of fighting a cold.


 
 

AFTER READING / LISTENING

1. WORD SEARCH: Look in your dictionaries / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … for the words ‘common’ and ‘cold’.

common

cold

 

 

 

 

  • Share your findings with your partners.
  • Make questions using the words you found.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

2. ARTICLE QUESTIONS: Look back at the article and write down some questions you would like to ask the class about the text.

  • Share your questions with other classmates / groups.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

3. GAP FILL: In pairs / groups, compare your answers to this exercise. Check your answers. Talk about the words from the activity. Were they new, interesting, worth learning…?

4. VOCABULARY: Circle any words you do not understand. In groups, pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find their meanings.

5. TEST EACH OTHER: Look at the words below. With your partner, try to recall how they were used in the text:

  • step
  • several
  • code
  • data
  • once
  • excuse
  • expect
  • still
  • complex
  • news
  • industry
  • fighting

STUDENT COLDS SURVEY

Write five GOOD questions about colds in the table. Do this in pairs. Each student must write the questions on his / her own paper.

When you have finished, interview other students. Write down their answers.

 

STUDENT 1

_____________

STUDENT 2

_____________

STUDENT 3

_____________

Q.1.

 

 

 

 

Q.2.

 

 

 

 

Q.3.

 

 

 

 

Q.4.

 

 

 

 

Q.5.

 

 

 

 

  • Now return to your original partner and share and talk about what you found out. Change partners often.
  • Make mini-presentations to other groups on your findings.

COLDS DISCUSSION

STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

a)

What did you think when you read the headline?

b)

What springs to mind when you hear the word ‘cold’?

c)

How often do you catch a cold?

d)

Why do you think scientists have never found a cure for colds?

e)

What do you think the 99 different types of cold feel like?

f)

Would you like to do research into colds?

g)

What medicine do you take when you have a cold?

h)

What cold symptoms do you most hate?

i)

Have you ever taken time off work or school because of a cold?

j)

What are the differences between a cold and the flu?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

a)

Did you like reading this article?

b)

What do you think could be so complicated about a cold virus?

c)

What was the worst cold you’ve ever had?

d)

Why do you think it is called the common cold?

e)

How will society / life change if scientists find a vaccine or a cure?

f)

Do you stay away from people with colds?

g)

How many cold symptoms can you name?

h)

What’s your usual cold remedy? Does it always work?

i)

What three adjectives would you use to describe having a really bad cold?

j)

What questions would you like to ask Dr. Ann Palmenberg?

LANGUAGE

Scientists are a (1) ____ closer to finding a cure for the common cold. The simple colds we all get (2) ____ times a year are one of science’s mysteries. Researchers have worked for centuries to find a remedy. All have failed so far. However, new research from the USA has unlocked the (3) ____ code for 99 different types of cold. Researchers at the University of Maryland and the J. Craig Venter Institute organized their data to produce a family (4) ____ of colds. They separated the 99 types of cold into 15 different branches. The next step is to identify the things these branches have (5) ____ common. Once scientists have done this, they can work on producing anti-cold drugs. And once we have anti-cold drugs, there is one less excuse to take a day (6) ____ work or school.

The researchers warned we should not expect (7) ____ have a cure or a drug in the near future. They said the cold is still one of the most complicated viruses (8) ____ to man. Scientists say the cold becomes more complex the more they find out about (9) ____. One of the researchers, Dr. Ann Palmenberg, was quite pessimistic about a cure. “There’s not going to be a vaccine (10) ____ the common cold,” she said. However, there could be cold-fighting drugs in the future for cold sufferers. This is good news for us all. Adults get around four colds a year and children (11) ____ ten. There is a multi-billion-dollar industry based around medicines for colds. Everyone also has their favourite remedy. Sleep seems to be the most popular way of (12) ____ a cold.

Put the correct words from the table below in the above article.

1.

(a)

staircase

(b)

ladder

(c)

stair

(d)

step

2.

(a)

genes

(b)

genetic

(c)

jeans

(d)

gender

3.

(a)

injured

(b)

injure

(c)

injury

(d)

injures

4.

(a)

tree

(b)

bush

(c)

flower

(d)

forest

5.

(a)

on

(b)

at

(c)

in

(d)

of

6.

(a)

on

(b)

with

(c)

by

(d)

off

7.

(a)

at

(b)

to

(c)

for

(d)

with

8.

(a)

known

(b)

knows

(c)

knowing

(d)

knew

9.

(a)

them

(b)

it

(c)

now

(d)

they

10.

(a)

to

(b)

in

(c)

for

(d)

at

11.

(a)

average

(b)

averaging

(c)

averages

(d)

averaged

12.

(a)

opposing

(b)

struggling

(c)

punching

(d)

fighting

WRITING: 

Write about colds for 10 minutes. Correct your partner’s paper.

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

HOMEWORK

1. VOCABULARY EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or Google’s search field (or another search engine) to build up more associations / collocations of each word.

2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find out more about the common cold. Share what you discover with your partner(s) in the next lesson.

3. REMEDIES: Make a poster about the different remedies around the world for colds. Show your work to your classmates in the next lesson. Did you all have similar things?

4. CURE: Write a magazine article about the effects on society of a cure for the cold. Include imaginary interviews with a drug company and a parent with children who get many colds.

Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Write down any new words and expressions you hear from your partner(s).

5. LETTER: Write a letter to Dr. Ann Palmenberg. Ask her three questions about the common cold. Give her your three suggestions on what people should do to fight a cold. Read your letter to your partner(s) in your next lesson. Your partner(s) will answer your questions.

ANSWERS

TRUE / FALSE:

a.

T

b.

T

c.

F

d.

F

e.

F

f.

T

g.

F

h.

T

SYNONYM MATCH:

1.

cure

a.

remedy

2

mysteries

b.

unknowns

3.

unlocked

c.

opened

4.

data

d.

statistics

5.

excuse

e.

reason

6.

expect

f.

hope for

7.

complicated

g.

tricky

8.

get

h.

catch

9.

industry

i.

trade

10.

fighting

j.

combating

PHRASE MATCH:

1.

Scientists are a step closer to

a.

finding a cure

2

find a

b.

remedy

3.

produce a family tree

c.

of colds

4.

the things these branches have

d.

in common

5.

one less excuse to take

e.

a day off work

6.

not expect to have a cure or a drug

f.

in the near future

7.

one of the most complicated viruses

g.

known to man

8.

there could be cold-fighting drugs in the

h.

future

9.

Adults get around four

i.

colds a year

10.

the most popular way of fighting

j.

a cold

GAP FILL:

Scientists closer to cure for cold

Scientists are a step closer to finding a cure for the common cold. The simple colds we all get several times a year are one of science’s mysteries. Researchers have worked for centuries to find a remedy. All have failed so far. However, new research from the USA has unlocked the genetic code for 99 different types of cold. Researchers at the University of Maryland and the J. Craig Venter Institute organized their data to produce a family tree of colds. They separated the 99 types of cold into 15 different branches. The next step is to identify the things these branches have in common. Once scientists have done this, they can work on producing anti-cold drugs. And once we have anti-cold drugs, there is one less excuse to take a day off work or school.

The researchers warned we should not expect to have a cure or a drug in the near future. They said the cold is still one of the most complicated viruses known to man. Scientists say the cold becomes more complex the more they find out about it. One of the researchers, Dr. Ann Palmenberg, was quite pessimistic about a cure. “There’s not going to be a vaccine for the common cold,” she said. However, there could be cold-fighting drugs in the future for cold sufferers. This is good news for us all. Adults get around four colds a year and children average ten. There is a multi-billion-dollar industry based around medicines for colds. Everyone also has their favourite remedy. Sleep seems to be the most popular way of fighting a cold.

LANGUAGE WORK

1 - d

2 - c

3 - b

4 - a

5 - c

6 - d

7 - b

8 - a

9 - b

10 - c

11 - a

12 - d

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