Lesson: BAD DESIGNS (C1 level)

  • Describing things that you dislike.
  • Using relative pronouns and relative clauses.
  • Reading and reordering a short text.
  • Listening for specific information.

1. First: some vocabulary! What are the names of these things?

This is juice, but what do you call the container?
What do you call the thing on the end of the cable?
What’s in the packets?
What is this?
What do you call a train that has two levels?

Check your answers here.

2. Here are some things which I dislike. Only… I’ve mixed up the first and second half of the phrases. Can you put them back in order?

adaptorsthat don’t pour smoothly
biscuit packagingwhere you can’t avoid using the steps
sinksthat are too big to fit into your electricity socket
juice cartonswhere each one has an individual packet
double-decker trainsthat always splash

Correct answers are here.

3. Here are five more things (and people) that I dislike. Which phrases am I using here to show that I dislike them? Which are the strongest phrases? What words could you add to make these sentences even stronger?

  • Shops where the cash desk is hidden at the back get on my nerves.
  • Showers where you’ve got nowhere to put the soap really annoy me.
  • I can’t stand people who don’t queue properly.
  • I’ve got no time for drivers who follow my car too closely (we call them ‘tailgaters’).
  • I can’t tolerate companies that let you buy their product or service online but make you wait on the phone for hours if there’s any problem or if you want to cancel.

Here are my answers.

4. Now it’s your turn! Think of 5-10 sentences to say to your partner about types of people and things you dislike. Write the sentences down and check if they seem correct before you say them.

To help you, here are some things you could choose to put in your sentences:

Thanks to Browserling for creating https://onlinetexttools.com/convert-text-to-image.

5. Tell your partner about the things you dislike!

6. Now it’s time to look at the grammar of this type of sentence, and correct your sentences if we need to. Look again at my example sentences (in parts 2 and 3 of this lesson) and answer these questions:

  • What types of word come after the noun that you’re describing? (For example, drivers who…)
  • Which words can come after a person?
  • Which words can come after a thing?
  • When do we use ‘when’ and ‘where’ in this type of sentence?
  • What comes next (after who / when / where etc.)?

You can check here to see if you got the right answers!

7. What are the worst or most irritatingly designed things that you have to deal with every day?

  • How could these be improved?
  • Is there any way to make them worse?

8. Here is a list of things you might use every day:

  • a chair
  • a coffee mug
  • a wine glass
  • a key

On your own, think of ways to make these things worse. Write some notes and you could even draw a diagram of your designs!

Now present your ideas to your partner.

9. Compare your designs with the ones you see on this website:
https://www.theuncomfortable.com/
Which is the worst design on the site, and why?

10. What is brainstorming? Have you ever done it?
Have you heard of reverse brainstorming? What might it be? Talk about it and compare your ideas.

11. There’s a text on reverse brainstorming here – but it’s in the wrong order! Can you put it back into the correct order?

Answers to this activity can be found here.

Some questions to talk about:

  • What kinds of problems could be solved by reverse brainstorming?
  • Do you think this is a useful method?
  • How does it compare with ordinary brainstorming?

12. Discuss:

13. In a moment we’re going to watch a video about bad – and good – design.
The title of the video is “Bad doors are everywhere”. But how can a door be “bad”?

14. Watch the first part of the video to find out!

  • What is the problem with the door in this video?
  • Have you encountered doors like this?

15. Watch the next part of the video. Who does the presenter goes to meet?

16. The professor now describes two principles of human centred design.

  • What are these two principles?
  • Which examples are mentioned or shown in the video?

Watch the next part of the video and listen for the answers.

Answers are here, in case you need to check them.

17. Can you think of some more everyday products or services which use these two design principles? And some which don’t?

A few suggestions to get you started:
– car controls
– the electricity control box in your house or flat (we often call this a ‘circuit board’)
– a microwave control panel
– the inside of a supermarket or department store.


Lesson: BAD DESIGNS by the owners of englishin3d.net is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except for video and picture content, which belongs to its respective owners.

Cover image: MasterTux from Pixabay

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s