This exercise is linked to the topic The young and the challenges they face.
Opener: Write the following housing idioms on the board and have students try and guess what they mean: “A man’s home is his castle,” “Something is a house of cards,” and “Nothing to write home about.” Call on a few students and elicit their guesses, and then tell them the correct meanings.
• A man’s home is his castle: A man (or homeowner) is the ruler of his own home, and what he says is the final “law.”
• Something is a house of cards: Something has been poorly constructed or organized and is about to fall apart.
• Nothing to write home about: Nothing is especially interesting/exciting (nothing worth mentioning).
1) Writing and speaking: When it comes time for you to move away from home (not just to study at university, but permanently), would you rather rent or buy a home?
• Instruct students to justify their reasoning in at least one paragraph (eight-10 sentences). (5 minutes)
• Have them summarize their reasoning and present it to the class in about one minute. (5-10 minutes depending on how big the class is and how many people have to speak)
2) Listening and speaking: Play the following YouTube video from CNN about renting vs. buying a home: VIDEO. Break the class up into pairs and have them discuss some of the positives/negatives about renting/buying that the video mentions. Call on a few students and ask for their feedback, writing some of the pros and cons of renting/buying on the board. (15 minutes)
3) Reading and writing: Read the Spectator article in class together, instructing students to underline/highlight words they’re not sure about. After reading, call on students and write the words they underlined on the board. Go through their meanings together as a class, instructing students to take notes on their copy of the article (they can use it as a study resource). Then, ask students to respond in writing to the following statements from the Spectator article:
• Nevertheless, Zuzana Kusá, a sociologist with the Slovak Academy of Sciences explained for The Slovak Spectator that the Eurostat data might be misleading, since there are a considerable number of young people who live in rented flats or abroad but are officially still registered as living at the home of their parents.
• “The current situation in Slovakia is a combination of an extremely limited supply of available housing and a gap between the average income of a young person and the average price of an apartment,” Silvia Porubänová, a sociologist with the Institute for Labour and Family Research told the Sme daily.
• Slovakia has the fifth highest unemployment rate of people aged under 25 among the EU states, according to Eurostat. The data from November 2012 suggest that every third young Slovak does not have a job, the TASR newswire reported on January 18.
• The inability to speak a foreign language, as well as unrealistic job demands, also join the list, according to the analyst. *For this statement, point out to students that the fact that they’re learning English will help them overcome this challenge, and it will put them ahead in the workforce.
• The limited availability of rental housing also plays a role in youths’ reluctance to move out of their parents’ house.
*For the writing exercise, pose some of these questions: How do these statements make you feel as someone who will enter the workforce in a few years? Do you agree/disagree with the statements, and why? How do you think the situation could be improved for young people in Slovakia?
Homework: If students do not finish the writing exercise, instruct them to do so for homework.
This exercise is published as part of Spectator College, a programme created by The Slovak Spectator with the support of Sugarbooks, a distributor of foreign language books. The author works at the Evanjelické lýceum in Bratislava as an English-language instructor.