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First World Obligation


This lesson plan is based on the idea that having students support opinions that are not necessarily their own during debates can help improve students fluency. In this manner, students pragmatically focus on correct production skills in conversation rather than striving to "win" the argument. For more information on this approach please see the following feature: Teaching Conversational Skills: Tips and Strategies

Of course, once students have become confident in their production skills, the can obviously argue the point they truly believe in.

Aim: Improve conversational skills when supporting a point of view

Activity: Debate concerning the responsibility of First World countries to help Third World countries

Level: Upper-intermediate to advanced


  • Review language used when expressing opinions, disagreeing, making comments on other person's point of view, etc. (See work sheet)
  • Discuss the differences between what is considered a First World Country and a Third World country.
  • Ask students to consider the following statement: First World countries have an obligation to help Third World countries with funds and assistance in cases of hunger and poverty. This is true because of the First World's advantageous position attained by its exploiting the resources of the Third World in the past and present.
  • Based on students' responses, divide groups up into two groups. One group arguing for extensive First World responsibility, one group for limited responsibility. Important: Make sure that groups are put into the group with the opposite opinion of what they seemed to believe in the warm-up conversation.
  • Give students worksheets including ideas pro and con. Have students develop arguments using the ideas on the worksheet as a springboard for further ideas and discussion.
  • Once students have prepared their opening arguments, begin with the debate. Each team has 5 minutes to present their principal ideas.
  • Have students prepare notes and make rebuttal to the expressed opinions.
  • While the debate is in progress, take notes on common errors made by the students.
  • At the end of debate, take time for a short focus on common mistakes. This is important, as students should not be too involved emotionally and therefore will be quite capable of recognizing language problems - as opposed to problems in beliefs!
First World Obligation

You are going to debate the correctness of the following statement: First World countries have an obligation to help Third World countries with funds and assistance in cases of hunger and poverty. It is important to remember that you have been placed in your group based on what seems to be the opposite of what you really think. Use the clues and ideas below to help you create an argument for your appointed point of view with your team members. Below you will find phrases and language helpful in expressing opinions, offering explanations and disagreeing.

Opinions, Preferences:

I think..., In my opinion..., I'd like to..., I'd rather..., I'd prefer..., The way I see it..., As far as I'm concerned..., If it were up to me..., I suppose..., I suspect that..., I'm pretty sure that..., It is fairly certain that..., I'm convinced that..., I honestly feel that, I strongly believe that..., Without a doubt,...,


I don't think that..., Don't you think it would be better..., I don't agree, I'd prefer..., Shouldn't we consider..., But what about..., I'm afraid I don't agree..., Frankly, I doubt if..., Let's face it, The truth of the matter is..., The problem with your point of view is that...

Giving Reasons and offering explanations: To start with, The reason why..., That's why..., For this reason..., That's the reason why..., Many people think...., Considering..., Allowing for the fact that..., When you consider that...

For Extensive Responsibility

  • First World has always exploited Third World
  • Creates dens of international or global community
  • Promotes cross-cultural understanding
  • Raises First World awareness of Third World plight
  • The importance of humanitarian deeds
  • Promotes economic stability
  • Raises standard of living for Third World populations
  • Reflects acceptance of First World responsibility for past historical actions
For Limited Responsibility
  • Every nation is responsible for its own people
  • Long term affects of sustained "charity" are negative on the whole
  • Makes Third World countries even more dependent on First World countries
  • Imports First World cultural values into Third World context where they do not necessarily belong, or apply
  • Creates cultural homogenization
  • Past history of corruption and ineffectiveness of such "help" programs
  • Need for real economic opportunities rather than charity
  • Hurts national pride and confidence in the leadership of the Third World countries involved
  • Help can be made dependent on certain political or economic conditions imposed by First World countries

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