ESL Lesson Plan: LC, Pairwork & assignment for the "Iceberg Project"

I am presently slightly updating some of the listening comprehension exercises and suggesting new ways of presenting them. The second one is the narrative the "Iceberg Project." It is the same story as in "When the Iceberg Arrives…", but it has been rewritten and is offered in two parts.

New projects to bring drinking water to the driest regions of the planet

I believe this is a very topical theme today with the Ice Dream Project about to be launched with a new documentary on the work of engineer Georges Mougin and Dassault Systèmes, a French IT enterprise. This project was initially proposed by the French explorer Paul Emile Victor.

The narrative—in "Your English" Podcasts 23 and 24—has been cut into two parts with an introduction and a listen-and-repeat section for each part. There are also "debate" questions in each recording that students can take down in dictation and prepare orally or silently after completing each part. These exercises are appropriate for all levels from A2 to C1—thus good for mixed level classes. The oral files can be used in labs, in class or as "oral" homework when students have access to computers.

Two podcasts from "Your English" on the "Iceberg Project"

You can download them here:

  • Your English No.23 for "Iceberg Project Part 1"


MP3 - 12 Mb
Your English 23 Iceberg Project 1
  • Your English No.24 for "Iceberg Project Part 2"


MP3 - 9.7 Mb
Your English 24 Iceberg Project 2
  • If you prefer you can go to iTunes, type my name "Marianne Raynaud," and get the whole series of "Your English" including #23 & #24.

There is a new format for the worksheet/key

As many teachers have to deal with large classes of 30 or more students, I thought it might be good for the students to work on the listening comprehension in pairs—after listening to the recorded version once or twice. This procedure is also a different way of working on listening comprehension "orally" instead of using a gap-fill grid.

One recto-verso paper for part one

After playing the recording of part one to the class (or reading it aloud yourself), you hand out one recto-verso paper (worksheet number one below) to each pair of students. They take turns being the "teacher," i.e., they read the text aloud (without letting their partner see it), do the listen-and-repeat part having their partner repeat, and then ask the sort of questions we teachers tend to put to the whole class.

PDF - 213.9 kb
Iceberg - Part 1 L&R+Qs

"Easy" questions

On the paper, the questions to be asked by the “student teacher” are printed with (in parentheses) some words that the “student” should use in the answer. Again the “student teacher” is instructed not to show the paper to his to her partner.

The teacher will have to walk around to see and hear whether the students are speaking correctly, but I can assure you they will all be active and they will enjoy this activity much more than having the teacher put the questions to the whole class and answering one after another.

A short list of debate questions

There is an additional page (below), which the teacher should not print out or give to the students, because it is a page of advice with the short list of debate questions found at the end of the recording (Podcast 18) that the teacher can write on the board or project to the class. I strongly suggest that before discussing these questions in pair work the students should change partners. These activities (reading, straightforward questions and then debate questions) should take about 30 minutes after which the teacher may decide to open up the discussion to the whole class—in that case, please look at my suggestions on the "Questions for Debate" page.

PDF - 156 kb
Iceberg - Part 1 Qs for Debate

The assignment

The assignment after the first session should be to learn that second part by heart.

Part 2 of the "Iceberg Project" on a different day

I think it is advisable to do "Honesty part 2" on a different day. The students should first be asked to memorize part one and be ready to recite it to a partner at the next session. If they seem reluctant, tell them that this narrative is full of the type of expressions that are on international tests and that they will be reciting to a partner and not in front of the whole class. That should reassure and motivate them. I would like to point out that all the verbs in part one are in the simple present (giving opinions and information) and all the verbs in part two are in the simple past (telling what happened). So this narrative provides practice with useful structures and essential tenses.

One recto-verso paper for part two & debate questions

During the second class, you put the students in pairs. First, they recite part one to each other—very important. Second, they listen to the recording of part two (or you read it aloud yourself). Then you give out the worksheet for part two (below), and they start the different exercises leading up the debate questions that you project or write on the board. It is best to ask the students to change partners for this second pair work activity.

PDF - 211.5 kb
Iceberg - Part 2 L&R+Qs
PDF - 211.5 kb
Iceberg - Part 2 Qs for Debate

Videos about the Ice Dream Project with George Mougin and Dassault Systems and icebergs in general

Videos you may want to watch after the second podcast:

IceDream: The Iceberg project

Iceberg, the incredible journey - no commentary but an interesting film

Tracking the World’s largest Iceberg B 15 - again no commentary but you and your students can talk about what they see

Groups of three or four to "talk" about their essays

At the end of the second session, instead of having a whole class discussion, this time you can ask the students to proceed differently. They get up, form different groups of three or four, and (while they are standing) talk about what they said to their partners concerning the debate questions and how they reacted to the films (if you showed them any video clips.

The assignment

The assignment after the second session should be to learn that second part by heart.

Great success with this theme

I have always had great success with this theme of "providing drinking water for all populations of the world," which today seems just as valid and up-to-date as in the past. With the lesson plan mentioned above, all the students will be participating actively and will wind up expressing their ideas far more than when the teacher asks them to express their personal opinion in front of everyone else.

I’d love some feedback

I would enjoy getting some feedback from teachers using these podcasts and worksheets. Just write to Marianne Raynaud. You can also contact me if you have any questions.

Additional exercises to make the most of the "Iceberg Project"

I have written a gap-filling exercise, a worksheet with questions and a vocabulary exercise to learn semi-scientiifc vocabulary. All these exercises are to be found in our digital resource book in MS Word files and PDFs.

All the files on this page available in MS Word

If you purchase the digital book (see below), you will get all the files mentioned on this page in MS Word. Then you’ll be able to customize them, i.e., add definitions in your students’ native language, additional explanations, or instructions like the due date of the essay assignment. Teachers who buy the book say they are overwhelmed by the great number of excellent materials. In fact, there are 3.0 GB (with audio and video) in the COMPLETE PACKAGE 2.0.

Kind regards,


Effective teaching materials

If you are looking for teaching materials that help students learn to speak English, read about QualityTime-ESL: The Digital Resource Book Version 2.0 offered in three zip files, which include 1,500 files (MS Word, MP3, PPT and video formats). To purchase it go to the store.

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