The Internet TESL Journal

People Who Live the Longest

Gerard Counihan
profesorSs [at]


Good beginner up


Some people live for a hundred years or even more. Many of these live in either the Mediterranean region, or in parts of rural Japan, and Russia. What is their secret? Here is a simple activity I used in order to get people thinking.

Activity A

Give the pupils the following sentence: "People who live the longest normally ...". They must write down several reasons explaining why they think some people live to a very old age. Each student must write down at least two reasons which complete the sentence. The teacher collects all the scraps of paper. My students came up with the following:

People who live the longest normally...

Activity B: Pros and cons of what was said.

This part of the class is dedicated to what I did in my class: debate the pros and cons of what the students have just said and written. The students can even talk about very old grandparents they have, maybe telling the rest of the class something about the former's lifestyle.

Activity C: Aspects of being old.

A brainstorming-type activity aimed at getting the student to think, to say anything at all about the above heading. (If the class is composed of any retired person, you would have to be tactful). My students said the following: As I say, be careful-and positive! Some of the above could definitely be removed from a definitive version on old folk.

(Optional) Activity D

In this part of class get the pupils to make a list of what retired people can do to pass time. My students came up with: You can also ask the students if they are afraid of, or if they ever think about, old age. What do they expect to feel like? What will they do? How do they see themselves when old? And so on.

The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. IV, No. 9, September 1998