04 July 2013 / by Radmila Gurkova

Why do we like this topic activity about independence?

Topic: Independence

Objective: For students to discuss the pros and cons of Catalan independence using the basis of the opinions of foreigners.

Level: Upper Intermediate - Advanced

Author: Hugo Deslandes


Touching upon sensitive subjects can go two ways in a class: either it stimulates fierce debate, allowing higher level students to really practice their fluency in class and demonstrate their competence in speaking; or, it can cause students to close down, refusing to speak on a subject they find offensive or invasive. If the latter, the teacher should quickly direct the conversation away, either finding another vehicle through which to direct the target language or changing the activity altogether. If the former, the teacher need only sit back and watch, encouraging the use of the target language and correcting when necessary. Of course this demands that the teacher be adaptable to his/her students.

We like the way that Hugo has touched upon the very sensitive and current topic of Catalan independence: using varying opinions of foreigners living in Catalonia to incite debate as a means of avoiding any offence.  This also opens the topic to go forward into a different way if at any point the teacher senses it may be too sensitive, allowing the students to point out stereotypes both of the nationalities of the foreigners and they themselves, which can take it on a humorous path.

We hope you like it too!

Catalan Independence: The views of foreigners who live there

Foreigners who live in the region often have a different take on the issue compared with many Catalans.

Peter Selman, British: I'm not entirely sure the economic arguments are sound. Catalunya may face a boycott from Spain and the biggest Catalan businesses will leave.

Louise Philip, Scottish: Many Catalans do not want independence as they still have family ties to the rest of Spain. Then there is the question of independence being used as a smoke-screen to distract attention from the real issues. Personally, I can't see independence working. I think they should concentrate on getting Spain back on its feet.

Ted Krasny, American: I detest the petty anti-Catalan sentiment one finds around Spain and I do sympathise with certain aspects of Catalan nationalism. However, the CiU party is unlikely to end the liberalism that has put Catalonia, and Spain, in its current economic straits.


TO GET BACK ON ONE'S FEET: To do better after an unfavourable event

PETTY: Of small importance

SMOKE-SCREEN: An action or statement used to conceal actual plans or intentions.

SOUND: Having a firm basis; unshakable

STRAIT: A position of difficulty, perplexity, distress, or need. Often used in the plural.

TAKE: View, opinion

TIE: Link


  • Who do you agree with more? Why? Is their argument more SOUND?

  • What do you think about the foreigners' take on this?

  • Do you think they have a point?

  • Do they have a right to speak on the subject?

  • What are some consequences of Catalonia becoming independent?

  • Do you have family TIES to other countries or regions?

  • How does this affect you?


Each student picks a country. Teacher asks Student 1: What is the stereotype of your country? The student must explain how this country is perceived by foreigners, then ask the student to his/her left the same question.

When this is done, students should be encouraged to debate the idea of stereotypes and how they come about, using the Target Language.


  • When was the last time you needed to GET BACK ON YOUR FEET?

  • Give me an example of something you find PETTY.

  • Use SMOKE-SCREEN in a sentence.

  • What is your TAKE on the most recent James Bond film?

About the author of this activity:


Hugo is a TEFL teacher who has worked at Oxbridge for over a year. His activities are well thought-out, and always take the students into account. Hugo's teaching style is communicative, his classes are interactive and fun, and he focusses well on students' progress, which drives them to succeed.



October 2017
The teachers are in the epicentre of the Oxinity growth model
by Jonatan Buxeda
Today I'd like to share what we have...


October 2017
Frustration of Students: Common Scenarios and How to Manage Them
by Jushua Cutts
‘’Mistakes are he portals to discovery’’ Frustration is defined as the feeling of being upset or annoyed as a result of being unable to change or achieve something. This is a common feeling that ...


October 2017
Teaching kids: challenges and winning strategies
by Gabriel Ekoe González
In an increasing demand for English classes,  important points to consider when teaching kids are how to teach also what makes a good kids’ activity. Perhaps the most important thing to consider when teaching kids is their attenti...


July 2017
10 Real Reasons to do a TEFL Course in Spain
by Radmila Gurkova
TEFL Course in Spain - The time is now! July and August are the best months to decide to make the step into sunshine by signing yourself up to a TEFL course in September here in Spain. It's the perfect time to start something new. If you are a native English speaker or bilingual and you have an upbeat,...


July 2017
7 Tips on Giving Feedback to ESL Teachers
by Peter Nesbitt
Giving feedback to ESL teachers can be tricky, particularly when you have something critical to say. But yet it is also important, as without it, how can people learn? Sure, they can rely on their own self-evaluation of how they are doing, but if you have ever watched any TV talent show, you will see that a lot of people just aren't very good...


June 2017
Teacher Talks - Sharing expertise and experience
by Ryan Beaudelaire
Teacher Talks - Sharing expertise and experiences Things worth sharing We´ve had something up our sleeve for the last few weeks and we´re ready to do what we love and sha...


June 2017
Level testing: How to test a student's level?
by Ryan Beaudelaire
Level testing: How do you do it? Level testing...... Ooooh, lets talk! Unless you've been asked that awkward question outright: 'What level am I?' You won't know what's it like to to be a deer in the headlights and respond with something really daft in a high pitched voice like.... 'Yeah, really good!' Li...


June 2017
Teaching beginners: is translating really necessary?
by Radmila Gurkova
A big debate around teaching beginners has always been whether it is necessary or not to translate into the learners' mother tongue. Opinions are split and vary from definitely not to maybe sometimes yes or, in the other extreme, of course yes, translating is fast and effective. Translating seems straightforward and historically it has bee...


May 2017
Masterclass in ESL at Oxbridge to share and learn about expertise areas
by Gracia Guzmán
The Oxbridge English Teaching System (OETS) is made out of a wide and wide community of teachers from different countries and backgrounds. Offering a masterclass in ESL for different areas of expertise was necessary and easy at the same time, having in mind the richness of profiles of our community members. This is why we are currently devoti...


May 2017
Move to Spain - Have my life! It´s easy
by Ryan Beaudelaire
Move to Spain - Have my life! It´s easy! Last Sunday, this is how we spent our Sunday afternoon, chillin' up the Mountain at Montserrat! Just another mountaintop Benedictine monastery you know! ...