Garage Sales and Thrift Stores

New immigrants may see something as they walk around their neighbourhoods that they don’t have in their home countries: garage sales. Likewise, they will likely come across thrift stores or flea markets in their neighbourhoods. 

A lesson on thrift stores, garage sales and flea markets could be incorporated into a lesson on community. It could also fit into a shopping unit or one on the environment. Buying second hand comes under Reduce in the 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) of being environmentally friendly.

Attitudes toward second hand shopping have changed a lot in North America in the last 25 years and immigrants’ attitudes may differ. Unlike in some immigrant cultures where buying something second hand might be an embarrassing secret, North Americans will often brag about a money saving second hand deal

The following beginner reading exercise has questions on garage sales, flea markets and thrift stores. (Click on the image below to download. )

Teaching Food at Higher Levels

Just because your students have moved beyond learning the names of common fruit and vegetables does not mean they cannot get something out of a food unit.

I’ve copied a page on anti-cancer foods from New York Times Bestseller Food Your Miracle Medicine by Jean Carper, for non-commercial, educational purposes only. It discusses what you would eat if you were a newborn infant and could eat right the rest of your life to avoid cancer.  Click on the image of the book to download the reading.

The following worksheet asks students to fill in the foods from the article in the correct categories. It’s a challenging assignment to complete, because of the complex sentence structure in the reading. Click on the image below to download it. Let me know how it works in your classroom!

Reading on a Thrift Store Business Model

Thrift stores are becoming more popular with middle aged clothes shoppers. If you don’t want to wear yoga attire to work, thrift stores are some of the best sources for clothing made from a wider variety of fabrics.

Even if the environmental ethic of reducing consumption or the excitement of a rare find is difficult to convey to students, cultural differences in attitudes toward second hand shopping are a worthwhile topic to explore in the English language learning class. 

Attitudes towards second-hand purchases differ significantly across cultures and are worth making students aware of. For North Americans, finding something at a remarkably cheap price at a thrift store or garage sale can confer on the item a certain cachet, even bragging rights to the consumer. Ask your students if the same applies in their cultures and many may reveal such a purchase would be a source of shame.

While students will pick and choose the aspects of our culture they wish to adopt, part of our job as ESL, ELL or EFL teachers is to improve students’ bi-cultural fluency, thereby enhancing their soft skills

Here are two worksheets, one for beginner and one for intermediate, on a thrift store called Value Village. It’s part of the Savers chain. This is a company with a very successful business model even students uninterested in second-hand shopping usually find very interesting. A for-profit company, Savers gets its merchandise from and shares its profits with over 160 non-profit partners. 

Click on the image below to view the intermediate level reading exercise.

The beginner exercise covers the basics. Click on the image below to view it. 

Let me know how it goes!

What it Means to be Canadian

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a habit of defining who we are as a country by referring to our highest values. During the pandemic as well as the fires in Fort McMurray, he said, “I really do want to highlight that Canada is a country where we look out for our neighbours and we are there for each other in difficult times. “

Nothing better exemplifies Trudeau’s words than the actions of a group of Syrian refugees in Calgary. Such a short time in Canada themselves, these refugees donated what little money they could for the victims of Fort McMurray, understanding better than most others what they were going through. Already giving back to Canada, they are proving to be the kind of people we need in our country, on the road to becoming exemplary citizens.

If you teach a LINC 5 or higher, this article from the Calgary Herald might be a great reading exercise for your class:

From the article: 

“We understand what they’re feeling. When you lose everything, you have to start from zero. You lose your memories, your items. It’s not easy. It’s something very sad. We can totally understand their feeling,” Khanchet said.

“We are very thankful to the Canadian people and we want to be a part of this society. We will do our best to be a good part of this society. By doing that, maybe we can return a little bit of the great job that Canadian people did for us.”

Need a tissue? 

Intermediate Reading Lesson on Hoarding

The popularity of reality television shows on hoarding indicates people are fascinated (or horrified?) by hoarding. Your students may find this intermediate level reading lesson interesting. The questions require learners to interpret information by making inferences and require them to extend their literal comprehension and form opinions and new ideas from the information in the text. An adverb exercise is included.

Download the full lesson by clicking on any of the images below and let me know how it works with your students. Please let me know if any changes are required. 

The vocabulary is isolated at the top of the reading exercise. Lines are numbered to enable impromptu skimming and scanning exercises. 

True or false questions and an adverb exercise follow.

Written questions extend to asking opinions. Having students create a graphic organizer such as a mind map to brainstorm possible solutions could be an effective follow up activity.