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Date: Sep 4, 2005

Level: Easier (Try the harder lesson.)

Downloads: Word Doc | PDF Doc | Listening

Audio: (2:06 - 246.9 KB - 16kbps)
 
1,000 IDEAS FOR ESL CLASSES: Breaking News English.com's e-Book

THE ARTICLE

A political mystery that has been talked about for four decades in Australia has finally been solved. The Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt vanished in 1967 while swimming off the coast of the state of Victoria. His body was never recovered. Dozens of wild and strange theories about his disappearance quickly developed. Some people believed he committed suicide or faked suicide to live in Switzerland with his lover. Other rumors included a shark attack, a Chinese submarine kidnapping him and a CIA assassination plot.

Australian authorities have finally said that Harold Holt accidentally drowned in heavy surf. It has taken so long to reach a conclusion because the law has only just changed. Coroners can now make a decision on death even when there is no body. Coroner Graeme Johnstone said: “It is sad that, over the years, all of these…unusual theories about Mr. Holt’s disappearance should…overshadow his life and require an explanation.” He also said this case should have been cleared up many years ago.

WARM-UPS

1. CONSPIRACY THEORIES: Talk about the following conspiracy theories with your partner(s):

  1. John F. Kennedy was assassinated by the CIA.
  2. Dutch flower growers assassinated Princess Diana to increase flower sales.
  3. Israelis organized the World Trade Center attack in 2001.
  4. Elvis Presley faked his death and is still alive.
  5. Eurabia – the idea that the Islamic world is taking over Europe.
  6. The AIDS epidemic is a CIA conspiracy.
  7. The Apollo moon landing was a hoax.

2. CHAT: In pairs / groups, decide which of these topics or words are most interesting and which are most boring.

Political mystery / Australia / 1967 / conspiracy theories / Switzerland / lovers / shark attacks / Chinese submarines / CIA / surf

Have a chat about the topics you liked. For more conversation, change topics and partners frequently.

3. MAKE A STORY: Use the words in the “Chat” activity above to make your own predictions about the story in the article.

4. MYSTERY: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word “mystery”. Share your words with your partner(s) and talk about them. Together, put the words into different categories.

5. RUMORS: The following people have suddenly disappeared. Despite a worldwide hunt to find them, they cannot be found. Discuss what might have happened with your partner(s). Change partners and share your ideas.

  1. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
  2. Michael Jackson
  3. US President George W. Bush
  4. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
  5. Rock singer and charity organizer Sir Bob Geldoff
  6. Your country’s leader
  7. United Nations Secretary General Kofi Anan
  8. Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo

 
 

BEFORE READING / LISTENING

1. TRUE / FALSE: Look at the article’s headline and guess whether these sentences are true (T) or false (F):

a.

Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard went missing for a week.

T / F

b.

An Australian Prime Minister vanished while he was swimming.

T / F

c.

The body of the Prime Minister was recovered last week.

T / F

d.

Some people believe the Prime Minister was a Chinese spy.

T / F

e.

The Prime Minister was murdered by his opponents.

T / F

f.

The coroner cannot decide on the cause of death without a body.

T / F

g.

The coroner said it was sad so many rumors spread.

T / F

h.

The coroner said this case should have finished many years ago.

T / F

2. SYNONYM MATCH: Match the following synonyms from the article:

a.

mystery

incident

b.

finally

found

c.

vanished

plan

d.

recovered

at last

e.

plot

ruling

f.

reach

puzzle

g.

decision

cloud

h.

overshadow

resolved

i.

case

disappeared

j.

cleared up

come to

3. PHRASE MATCH: Match the following phrases from the article (sometimes more than one combination is possible):

a.

A political

quickly developed

b.

finally

an explanation

c.

theories about his disappearance

plot

d.

he committed

conclusion

e.

a CIA assassination

cleared up many years ago

f.

Harold Holt accidentally

mystery

g.

reach a

suicide

h.

overshadow

his life

i.

require

been solved

j.

this case should have been

drowned in heavy surf

WHILE READING / LISTENING

GAP FILL: Put the words in the column on the right into the gaps in the text.

Missing Australian PM mystery solved

A political ________ that has been talked about for four ________ in Australia has finally been solved. The Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt ________ in 1967 while swimming off the ________ of the state of Victoria. His body was never ________. Dozens of wild and strange theories about his disappearance quickly developed. Some people believed he ________ suicide or faked suicide to live in Switzerland with his lover. Other rumors ________ a shark attack, a Chinese submarine kidnapping him and a CIA assassination ________.

 

 

decades
committed
plot
coast
mystery
vanished
included
recovered

Australian authorities have ________ said that Harold Holt accidentally drowned in heavy ________. It has taken so long to ________ a conclusion because the law has only just changed. Coroners can now make a ________ on death even when there is no ________. Coroner Graeme Johnstone said: “It is ________ that, over the years, all of these…unusual theories about Mr. Holt’s disappearance should…________ his life and require an explanation.” He also said this case should have been ________ up many years ago.

 

 

decision
overshadow
finally
cleared
reach
body
sad
surf


 
 

AFTER READING / LISTENING

1. WORD SEARCH: Look in your dictionaries / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … for the words ‘over’ and ‘shadow’.

  • Share your findings with your partners.
  • Make questions using the words you found.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

2. ARTICLE QUESTIONS: Look back at the article and write down some questions you would like to ask the class about the text.

  • Share your questions with other classmates / groups.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

3. GAP FILL: In pairs / groups, compare your answers to this exercise. Check your answers. Talk about the words from the gap fill. Were they new, interesting, worth learning…?

4. VOCABULARY: Circle any words you do not understand. In groups, pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find their meanings.

5. STUDENT “MYSTERY” SURVEY: In pairs / groups, write down questions about mysteries and conspiracy theories.

  • Ask other classmates your questions and note down their answers.
  • Go back to your original partner / group and compare your findings.
  • Make mini-presentations to other groups on your findings.

6. TEST EACH OTHER: Look at the words below. With your partner, try to recall exactly how these were used in the text:

  • political
  • vanished
  • recovered
  • faked
  • lover
  • plot
  • surf
  • reach
  • law
  • body
  • overshadow
  • cleared up

DISCUSSION

STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

  1. What did you think when you first read this headline?
  2. Did the headline make you want to read the article?
  3. What were your feelings after you read the article?
  4. Did you know anything about this story before you read the article?
  5. What do you think happened to Harold Holt?
  6. Are there any mysteries surrounding the leaders in your country?
  7. Have you heard any strange rumors recently?
  8. What’s the latest gossip about your country’s leaders?

STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

  1. Did you like reading this article?
  2. What do you think about what you read?
  3. Are there any unanswered questions about your country’s government?
  4. Should it have taken so long for Australia to say Harold Holt drowned?
  5. What do you think Australia should now do to remember Mr. Holt?
  6. How possible is it that an Australian Prime Minister could be a Chinese spy?
  7. How possible is it that America’s CIA might assassinate an Australian Prime Minister (or another country’s leader)?
  8. Did you like this discussion?

AFTER DISCUSSION: Join another partner / group and tell them what you talked about.

  1. What question would you like to ask about this topic?
  2. What was the most interesting thing you heard?
  3. Was there a question you didn’t like?
  4. Was there something you totally disagreed with?
  5. What did you like talking about?
  6. Do you want to know how anyone else answered the questions?
  7. Which was the most difficult question?

SPEAKING

MYSTERY: In pairs / groups, create a mystery story about a famous person. Use the ideas in the left column to help you:

Who is the famous person?

 

What happened?

 

How?

 

What mysterious object was left at the scene?

 

What did the police say?

 

What reasons might the person have for disappearing?

 

What conspiracy theories are there?

 

Other

 

Change partners and tell each other your stories. Try to help each other make your stories more interesting.

Return to your original partners and talk about how your story has changed.

LISTENING

Listen and fill in the spaces.

Missing Australian PM mystery solved

A political mystery that has been ______ ______ for four decades in Australia has finally been _______. The Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt vanished in 1967 while swimming off ___ ______ ___ the state of Victoria. His body was never recovered. Dozens of wild and strange ________ about his disappearance quickly developed. Some people believed he committed suicide or ________ suicide to live in Switzerland with his lover. Other rumors included a shark attack, a Chinese submarine kidnapping him and a CIA assassination ________.

Australian authorities have finally said that Harold Holt accidentally ________ in heavy surf. It has taken so _____ ___ _______ a conclusion because the law has only just changed. Coroners can now make a decision on death even when there is no ______. Coroner Graeme Johnstone said: “It is sad that, over the years, all of these…unusual theories about Mr. Holt’s disappearance should…overshadow his life and ______ an explanation.” He also said this case should have been ________ ___ many years ago.

HOMEWORK

1. VOCABULARY EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or Google’s search field (or another search engine) to build up more associations / collocations of each word.

2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find more information on Harold Holt. Share your findings with your class in the next lesson.

3. NEWS REPORT: Write a news report about someone who has mysteriously disappeared. Read your report to your classmates in your next lesson. Did you all write about similar things?

4. CONSPIRACY THEORY: Find a conspiracy theory and make a poster on it. Show the poster to your classmates in your next lesson. Did you all find out about similar things?

ANSWERS

TRUE / FALSE:
 

a. F

b. T

c. F

d. T

e. F

f. F

g. T

h. T

SYNONYM MATCH:

a.

mystery

puzzle

b.

finally

at last

c.

vanished

disappeared

d.

recovered

found

e.

plot

plan

f.

reach

come to

g.

decision

ruling

h.

overshadow

cloud

i.

case

incident

j.

cleared up

resolved

PHRASE MATCH:

a.

A political

mystery

b.

finally

been solved

c.

theories about his disappearance

quickly developed

d.

he committed

suicide

e.

a CIA assassination

plot

f.

Harold Holt accidentally

drowned in heavy surf

g.

reach a

conclusion

h.

overshadow

his life

i.

require

an explanation

j.

this case should have been

cleared up many years ago

GAP FILL:

Missing Australian PM mystery solved

A political mystery that has been talked about for four decades in Australia has finally been solved. The Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt vanished in 1967 while swimming off the coast of the state of Victoria. His body was never recovered. Dozens of wild and strange theories about his disappearance quickly developed. Some people believed he committed suicide or faked suicide to live in Switzerland with his lover. Other rumors included a shark attack, a Chinese submarine kidnapping him and a CIA assassination plot.

Australian authorities have finally said that Harold Holt accidentally drowned in heavy surf. It has taken so long to reach a conclusion because the law has only just changed. Coroners can now make a decision on death even when there is no body. Coroner Graeme Johnstone said: “It is sad that, over the years, all of these…unusual theories about Mr. Holt’s disappearance should…overshadow his life and require an explanation.” He also said this case should have been cleared up many years ago.

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