Bear Eats Porridge – enhancing an English lesson

Bear Oatmeal

I was recently teaching English (as a second language) to a class of Pre-Intermediate level (B4) students when  I encountered a short listening task. It was a news story titled “Bear Eats Oatmeal” which immediately made me think of the children’s story “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”.

I asked the students if they were familiar with the children’s story but only the young man from Switzerland knew the tale. The Japanese girls did not know about Goldilocks. I decided to use the Internet to enhance this learning experience!

First I searched YouTube to find a good retelling of the story.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover this short film which has over 2.7 million views.


Next, I played the recording which accompanied the student book and let the students do the task.  I searched for the original story news story, found it on Fox News (article link) printed it and used it later to introduce new vocabulary.

Here is the story. I highlighted the words which were new for the students.

Vancouver Oatmeal Just Right for Bear Found Eating Breakfast in Kitchen
Published June 19, 2006 Associated Press

WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia – A woman in this suburb north of Vancouver had reason to feel like Goldilocks in reverse when she arrived home to find a bear eating oatmeal in her kitchen, police said.

The one- or two-year-old juvenile bear apparently entered through an open sliding glass door, broke a ceramic food container and started chowing down last Thursday, West Vancouver police Sgt. Paul Skelton said.

“It sounds like a nursery rhyme, doesn’t it?” Skelton said. “At least we have a health-conscious bear on our hands.”

Three police officers couldn’t get the bear to budge, he said.

“The bear didn’t appear to be aggressive and wasn’t destroying the house, so they just let it do what it was doing and eventually the bear decided to make its way out of the residence and down toward a forested gully,” Skelton said. “It ended the best it could.”

The report was one of six complaints police said they received about bears in the area on Thursday.

One entered a trap that was placed in the area the same day but escaped and another sighting was near a school.

Skelton said bears in the suburbs north of Vancouver have been coming out of hibernation as hungry as ever but later than usual but this spring because of a heavier than normal snowpack from the winter.

Lessons learnt?

  • Always think about the students and what they may or may not know about the topic.
  • Find relevant information online to supplement the lesson.
  • Make the learning fun and alive by using real life stories – newspaper, video and images.

Author: charuzu

I live in Sydney and interests include music, piano playing, technology, cooking, English language, public speaking, Toastmasters, Asian culture (especially Japan and Korea), cinema, personal development, productivity and making friends with people from around the world.

One thought on “Bear Eats Porridge – enhancing an English lesson”

  1. Good points to ponder. I would imagine too that the bears will be extra hungry this year as well because the snow pack in Western California all the way up to B.C. has been the heaviest in decades (my family and friends in California and eastern Washington state have reported “rainmaggedon”).

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