Posted 7/1/13
In this activity, students are given key phrases from the video before watching it. Students use these phrases to construct a narrative – a predictive description of how the experiment works and what they think happens.
  • Language level: Intermediate (B1) +
  • Learner type: Teens; Adults; CLIL
  • Time: 50 minutes
  • Activity: Speaking
  • Topic: Fairness, morality and ethics
  • Language: Describing an experiment; Present tenses
  • Materials: Video clip
Angry monkeys pdf [downloaded 6677 times]

Lesson plan outline

  1. Show students the book cover image which can be downloaded here. Ask them to translate the phrase It’s not fair! into their own language and find out if it is something that they used to say when they were children. If so, ask them to share their stories.
  2. Elicit the following words and write them on the board:
  3. Positive adjective: Fair | Negative adjective: Unfair
    Positive noun: Fairness | Negative noun: Unfairness

  4. Tell students that you are going to show them an excerpt from a 2010 publicity video for a British political party. Play the first 20 seconds of this clip.
  5. Ask students if they are aware of any political campaigns from their own backgrounds that centred around the idea of fairness.
  6. Suggest that the video clip demonstrates the importance of fairness to humans. But despite the importance, the word fairness can be difficult to define. Tell students that for the next 5 minutes, they are going to be dictionary writers. Ask them to write definitions for either the adjective fair or the noun fairness. Also ask them to include synonyms and collocations if possible. This will work best if students collaborate in pairs or small groups.
  7. Allow a spokesperson from each group to share their definition with the rest of the class before looking at some real dictionary definitions of the words (here, for example).
  8. Ask students to recall a time in their lives (the memory of an experience or an incident, etc.) that that involved unfairness. Put them into pairs or small groups and ask them to share their stories. This could be done as a writing activity.
  9. Tell students that you are going to show them a video in which a man called Frans de Waal demonstrates a famous experiment on fairness. Write the following phrases on the board:
    • “A very famous experiment”
    • “A fairness study”
    • “A simple task”
    • “Grapes”
    • “Slices of cucumber”
    • “Creating inequity”

    Tell students that these are phrases which Frans uses in the video to explain the experiment to us. Make sure that they are aware that the word study means research project and inequity is a synonym of unfairness.

    Put students into pairs or small groups to try and answer the following questions:

    • How does the experiment work?
    • How does the experimenter create inequity?
    • What do you think happens as a result?
  10. Let groups share and compare ideas.
  11. Play the clip Capuchin monkeys reject unequal pay. Let your students hear the audio but do not let them see the images. They will be able to hear Frans de Waal’s explanation and compare it with their own ideas. They will also hear audience laughter when the monkey reacts.
  12. Find out how much students understood. How did their ideas about the experiment compare with Frans’ explanation? Invite them to speculate on why the audience laughs. In other words, what is the outcome of the experiment?
  13. Let students watch the video. Give out copies of the Video Transcript (included in the PDF download).

Follow ups

Follow up ideas are included in the PDF download.

Image credit

The capuchin monkey photograph used in this activity was taken by David M Jensen and was found on Wikimedia Commons.


The video clip used in this activity is an excerpt from a TED talk by Frans de Waal: Moral behavior in animals.



Posted 7/1/13

20 Responses to Angry monkeys

  1. David Barry says:

    Hi Jamie

    Thanks for uploading yet another great lesson! It’s so refreshing to have a break from the textbook and use your material. I’m based in Tenerife (not a bad place to teach English) and used this with my advanced class. Needless to say they really enjoyed it.

    So thanks again and I look forward to your next upload!



  2. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thanks David
    Yes – you could be doing a lot worse than Tenerife!
    Thanks for the comment. Great to get the feedback.
    Jamie :)

  3. Veronica says:

    I saw you at BBELT Mexico. Just to tell you that I learnt a lot and that you were fantastic. Great new ideas for me

  4. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Veronica
    BBELT was great wasn’t it. I almost presented this activity but decided not to in the end.
    Jamie :)

  5. S Mohanraj says:

    I liked the lesson very much. I liked it for its innovativeness in using animals to impart social values.

  6. Graziela says:

    Great activity!! I’ve inserted a little warm-up with a song, though. It’s a John Mayer’s song called ‘Waiting on the World to Change”. So what I did was play the video clip without any sound. It shows some guys doing graffiti while John Mayer is walking along a street and singing. After they’ve watched the video clip, I ask what they imagine the song is about. Lots of ideas come up, but I what I do want is them to talk about fairness. So chances are that students will come up with graffiti as a means of expressing yourself. When they say that, I ask what kind of things are usually expressed thru graffiti, so they’ll say ‘things you are not happy with, especially in society’. And so on. I think the song worked as a great starter to talk about fairness!

  7. Jamie Keddie says:

    Graziela’s song here:
    Thanks for that
    Jamie :)

  8. Emine Kara says:

    Hi Jamie,

    I am a student in English Teaching Department. I am attending 3rd grade. Today I have had a presentatin about teaching speaking. I have prepare my presentation by help your lesson plan. This lesson plan is realy useful, fun, wellprepared, and I’ve benefit from it very much.

    Thank you very much for your exertion my professor liked my presentation :) Thanks alot again, bye

    Emine Kara

  9. Jamie Keddie says:

    Well done Emine
    I’m very happy to hear it!
    Jamie :)

  10. natalia says:

    Hi Jamie!!! I really love your website and it has been really useful for my classes! THANKS!!! The other day I had an accident with my computer and I lost the video about “Jaques and the tortoise” that I love!! could you be so kind to send me the link so I could have it back?? please?? I really need it now- thanks a lot for your great ideas!! Greetings and hugs from Argentina!!!

  11. Dolores A. Batista says:

    Simply marvellous, adorable.

  12. Kasia Krajewska says:

    Hi Jamie,
    Great idea, as usual fascinating material.
    I’m only afraid you need to replace the youtube link with the link (as it’s been removed from youtube due to a TED talks copyright claim).

    Thanks for all the stuff.

  13. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Kasia
    Thanks for your comment.
    In fact, the video should work – I changed it to the official TED version a couple of months ago. You could try clearing your cache (see below for Firefox) but you might find that you lose some of your settings on other website. Alternatively, try opening Lessonstream on another browser
    Hope that helps!
    Jamie :)

  14. Phil says:

    Thank you so much for this amazing lesson. It creates so much engagement and discussion that it’s a truly exceptional piece of ESL teaching. I’m very grateful for you sharing these great resources.

    I’ve even stumbled upon an interesting modification, depending on class size it might work well for others too. Instead of students recalling times they’ve been unfairly treated, I got students into groups of 4-5 and asked them to write very short stories about a main character being treated unfairly. Then we share the stories. Finally, however, I then ask if the students felt that they all had an equal chance to say what went into the story – if the narrative was an equal representation of everyone’s input.

    Thanks again!

  15. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Phil
    Very glad to hear that your students enjoyed the angry monkeys. Thanks very much for sharing the follow up – a great idea.
    Jamie :)

  16. Azizjon Rustam says:

    Hi everyone who teaches English and ejoys it. I am a freshmen in teaching. I really liked the plans and games given.
    I just want to thank all the people of this useful website.

  17. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you very much Azizjon
    Great to hear from you. I am glad that you are enjoying the site.
    Good luck with your new career!
    Jamie :)

  18. Sean Armstrong says:

    “Capuchin monkeys …” This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Ted Talks.

  19. Jamie Keddie says:

    It should be fixed now Sean. Any problems, here is the link:
    Thanks for that
    Jamie :)

  20. Irena says:

    It’s really interesting!