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.



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