Lesson: BANNED! (B2 level)

  • Listening to a video about a part of American history.
  • Talking about things which are banned by law.
  • Presenting your opinion.

Start here, and open the links in a new window or tab. I will direct you to my Tumblr page a few times and you will find extra information there, like a transcript (all the words from the video, written down).

Please note that this lesson contains some vocabulary relating to alcohol. If you do not want to discuss this topic, please try another lesson.

Talk with a teacher or a partner about your answers. This is important if you want to practise your speaking! You can also write your answers here in the comments.

1.  What ideas or feelings come into your mind when you look at this picture? Think for a few seconds, and then tell your partner.


2.  In a moment, you’re going to listen to a video, but first let’s sort out some alcohol-related vocabulary.

In this table, the definitions are in the wrong order. Can you match them up with the correct words?

Vocabulary Definition
intoxicatingalcohol made illegally at home
drymoney which the government gets from import and export taxes on a product
saloonany alcoholic drink
excise revenueable to make people drunk
liquorwithout any alcohol
bootleg alcoholan older word for a bar

Some notes:

  • Liquor is different from ‘liqueur’, which is a particular type of flavoured alcoholic drink.
  • ‘Dry’ can also be used for a drink which tastes less sweet, for example a ‘dry white wine’.

3. You’re going to watch a short documentary video about Prohibition in 1920s America. Think about these two questions:

  • What was ‘Prohibition’?
  • Why did it turn out to be a failed idea?

4.  Talk about your answers with your partner and see if you agree! You might like to watch the video again after that, so you can check if you were right. Here are my answers to the questions in part 3.

5.  If you would like to read the transcript of the video, please check my Tumblr page. There are also some exercises using the vocabulary from the video. Please don’t read this until you’ve listened to the video a few times. It’s harder to listen without a text, but it’s great practice!

6.  Which of the following statements are true, according to the video:

  • The problem was more with people bending the rules, instead of breaking them.
  • There was evidence of corruption as a result of this law.
  • The law was full of loopholes and this allowed gangsters to operate.
  • The prohibition law could be described as counterproductive.

Talk about your answers with your partner, and then you can check my answers too!

7.  Is the sale of alcohol restricted in your country? How? What would happen if the law suddenly changed? Discuss your ideas with your partner.

8.  Here’s a montage of things which are restricted in some countries: what do you know about these? Where do you think they are banned? Discuss them with your partner.

Created with https://www.photocollage.com/ from photos publicly available.

For more information, you can check here.

9. Take 5-10 minutes to think about three things that you would like to ban. These can be serious things (war? racism? plastic bottles?) or less serious ones (annoying phone ringtones? talking in the cinema?).

10. Tell your partner about your list from Part 9 and see if you agree on any things you want to ban!

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