Time: 90 minutes
Level: Upper intermediate/Advanced
The theme could easily be used for lower levels too. Follow
the plan but miss out the reading, or do the Checklist
To give extensive & intensive reading practice.
To give freer speaking practice.
To look at some of the language in the text.
That the stds will be interested in the topic -'consumerism'.
That the language will be mostly known & the unknown should
not interfere with comprehension if it is not guessed from
Anticipated Problems and Solutions:
The topic - you might be enthusiastic about Buy Nothing Day,
or you might not. Careful if you are as your stds might not
be & see this as pushing your ideas on to them & resent
it. Treat it like any other topic & see how it develops.
The language in the text - depends really on the group. There
is quite a lot of interesting vocabulary in the text. The
selection in stage 4 is just that, a selection - choose to
Adverts - this takes you to the Adbusters site.
Text about Buy Nothing
Day & Pictures
from the Buy Nothing Days webpages - with permission from
Checklist for Shopping - from an
article in The New York Times, 29.11.97
Stage 1 - Lead in - To get stds thinking
about the topic - for the adverts for this stage you'll need
to the Adbusters Spoof adverts page, right click on the
image & save it to as file on your computer.
1. Elicit lexical set: ad(n), advert(n),
advertising(adj), advertisement(n), & related: advertising
2. Elicit & discuss: What's your favourite advert at the
3. Handout the adverts - a couple
for each pair.
Do they like the adverts?
Why are they ....
Can they think of any ideas for adverts that they know?
5. Feedback - introduce the idea of a 'Buy Nothing Day' -
have they heard about it? what is it? etc..
Stage 2 - Reading - Gist
the pictures that accompany the text - but not the text
yet - stds discuss the possible relevance of the pictures.
4. Gist reading - stds match the pictures with sections of
the reading text. Give a time limit of 4/5 minutes.
5. Activity - read & match.
6. Stds compare their matchings.
Stage 3 - Reading - more intensive
comprehension - you may feel this stage unnecessary & skip to the next stage, the vocabulary focus. Or you could
do the vocabulary before the detailed comprehension.
1. Give out question sheet - read & answer.
2. Activity - individual.
3. Stds compare answers.
A few comprehension questions:
1. Why do the writers think Bush, Blair & Chretien
want us to 'Shop like you've never shopped?'
2. Who is organising the Buy Nothing Day?
3. How often does this day happen?
4. Why is 23rd November chosen for the Buy Nothing Day?
5. Is the protest only for people in North America?
6. What do some people do to celebrate the day?
7. What do the writers feel is more important that shopping?
8. What is a Gift Exemption Voucher?
9. Do the organisers advertise a non-advert on American
TV? Why/why not?
10. Why do the writers talk about September 11th?
11. Why was September 11th a 'good thing' for the economy?
12. Which do the writers feel is the way forward against
Stage 4 - Vocabulary focus - look
through the article for more for your particular group.
1. Look at the expressions, they are in the
order they appear in the text - which can you work out from
the context of the text - check with dictionaries to confirm,
2 Activity - in pairs.
sinking in personal debt
a consumer fast
out of deep left field
breaking the trance
in the long run
shout from the highest rooftops
sparked (a) debate
made a pact
the consumer stream
marked the event
our consumer landscape
to break ranks
make it clear who butters their bread
Stage 5 - Follow up activities - Speaking
There are various possibilities here.
1. A good start might be to hand out some
of the messages from the forum about Buy Nothing Day on the
Adbuster website - http://www.adbusters.org/campaigns/bnd/debate/comments.html
. These give opinions, mostly in favour of the protest but
some against. this could then lead into a debate - for/against.
Here are some of the messages from the forum.
If you're gonna shop, buy something for someone
in Afghanistan. They need it more than you need that
Xbox, right couch potato?
dude, sf, ca
we should continue with Buy Nothing Day. We need
to show corporate America that we don't agree with the
sweatshop produced goods that we buy. It would take
the kid that made it 10 years to buy it because we import
it and sell it for a thousand times more than its worth.
Wave the corporate flag high and proud.
Tegan Hipple, Waldo
I am in a quandry about this. While it sounds delicious
to me, I am an artist and I make at least 1/3 of my
year's income between Thanksgiving and New Years. It's
not much of an income at that. So, I suggest that people
support local craftspeople. P.S. there's a middle ground
between yes and no to Buy Nothing Day. I don't like
having to choose "no" because it makes me
look like I therefore do not support boycotting the
malls and sweatshops.
Sandi Morey, Oakland CA
But, Buy Nothing Day is a misnomer. It's really
just Delay Payment Day. Everyone involved is still consuming
a product that must be bought; whether they buy it on
BND or wait until the day after to pay for it doesn't
change the fact that those resources were used, those
by-products produced, etc. Gasoline, electricity, food,
etc. all get used on BND even if they don't get "bought"
on BND. This really defeats the purpose. No one is going
to sit in the dark, not go to work, not eat for an entire
day--and even if they did, they still go back to what
they are doing the next day.
Adbusters uses advertising to combat advertising.
Talk about a dumb idea! So, you wanna prove that it
works? Just ignore it! (Simpsons anyone?)
Lewis Drake, DC
The squandering of money on sometimes cheap, sometimes
not, unnecessary goods is what's wrong with the world.
We keep people in the 'developing' world in penury through
our use of scandalously cheap labour (with appalling
working conditions) in order to maximise profits for
the fat cats who run the consumer companies. If we think
about the rest of the world for a change, they might
not dislike us so much.
lynne roper, stirling
2. You could get the stds to storm a list
of awareness questions for shoppers - they then compare with
the list below.
Checklist for Shopping
(From an article in The New York
The Buy Nothing Day campaign in Seattle distributed
this checklist to let shoppers evaluate things they
were thinking of buying.
-Do I need it?
-How many do I already have?
-How much will I use it?
-How long will it last?
-Could I borrow it from a friend or family member?
-Can I do without it?
-Am I able to clean, lubricate and/or maintain it myself?
-Am I willing to?
-Will I be able to repair it?
-Have I researched it to get the best quality for the
-How will I dispose of it when I'm done using it?
-Are the resources that went into it renewable or non-renewable?
-Is it made or recycled materials, and is it recyclable?
-Is there anything that I already own that I could substitute
3. Roleplay between shopper & Buy Nothing
Day activist. Give out cards:
|You are a shopper. You love shopping
& feel you have the right to spend your money as you
wish. There are some strange looking people around the
shopping centre today, you're tired & you've got some
heavy shopping bags.
|You are a Buy Nothing Day activist.
You feel very strongly that people spend too much
& that a lot of innocent people are exploited as a
result. Talk to a shopper who has a lot of shopping bags.
Use some of the arguments you read about in the article.
3. A straightforward discussion - this will
probably be enough for a lengthy discussion
4. If the stds are enthusiastic about the
Buy Nothing Day, they could storm different ways that they
could take action.
the text used in the plan
the pictures used with the text