You (or a helper or student) hobble into the classroom coughing and sneezing (or with a thermometer in your mouth)-on one crutch, holding an ice pack on your head with your free hand, wearing a bandage around one knee and a white cloth tied around your head with some cotton stuffed in one spot to give the appearance of a toothache! Once inside, say:

I'm sick! I have a [cold] [cough] [headache] [sore throat] [backache] [toothache] [sprained ankle]!

If you are the "sick one," prearrange for a student to ask-as soon as you enter the room- "What's the matter?" If a helper or student is the "sick one," then you ask this question. But immediately thereafter, turn to address the class, saying:

She/he has a/an ______. (etc.)


Distribute the Student Study Guide and then ask students to spell each ailment as you write a list on the board(a single column to the left of center).Randomly point to the ailments in this listand ask students to read the new word again. Write a heading at the top of this list: AILMENTS. Then to the right of this list write another heading: REMEDIES. Pointing to each of these headings, say to the class: Today our topic is Ailments and Remedies.


1 Give novice students Handout #1 (pictures of the seven ailments). Refer to the structure in #A of the Student Study Guide. Repeat the question, "What's the matter?" As you write the question on the board to the left of the list of ailments. Point to each of the seven pictures and ask: "What's the matter?" (practicing the names of the ailments once more).

!!!More Advanced!!!

Ask students to work with a partner to talk about these (using the vocabulary and structure from the Student Study Guide). With a helper or more advanced student, show the class what you want them to do. Remind them to "go both ways"-practice asking and answering the question and pointing to all the pictures. One partner will ask: "What's the matter?" The other will answer: "I have a/an ________." (Remember the "chunk" rule-and don't try to explain the meaning of "the matter"!)

2 Give half the students a paper square with the picture of an ailment (no words) on each one. Give the other half of the students a paper square on which you have written the name of one of the ailments. Ask students to get up and walk around to find a "match"-picture and word. They are NOT to do this, however, by showing other students their paper square. They are to use the question and statements they have been practicing. Write these on the board as you say them:

Student A: "What's the matter?"
Student B: "I have a ____."
Student A: "I'm so sorry!"

Demonstrate this dialog with a teaching partner or one of your best students. Then ask the students to do this activity.

!!!More Advanced!!!

With more advanced students, skip Handout #1 and begin with Handouts #2A (vocabulary) and 2B (pictures of ailments). Go over each ailment with the students. Have them repeat each word with you. Demonstrate the dialog; then divide the class into pairs to practice asking and answering questions with these handouts.

Give each pair a set of the information gap activity (one copy of 3A and one copy of 3B). Partners A and B must talk to each other in order to identify all of the ailments. They do this by asking the question "What's the matter?" or "What's wrong?"-another common way to ask about ailments. Write some possible answers on the board:

I (bruised) my (knee).
I feel (dizzy).
My leg is bleeding.

Demonstrate what you expect the students to do. Call on two of the better students to demonstrate also. Then ask the class to do this activity.


Briefly introduce the concept of home remedies. Hold up a bottle of aspirin and say:

In the U.S., if I have a headache, I take an aspirin. In Cambodia, if I have a headache, I drink rice water! In YOUR country, if I have a headache, what do I do?

1 Allow time for responses. In small groups have students talk about home remedies for each ailment. Each group is to select a secretary to make a list of all the remedies the group can think of. See which group knows the most remedies. Debrief using the board-writing some of the unusual remedies opposite the ailments already listed there.

2 Ask half the students to stand and form a circle. Then ask that they turn around and face in an outward direction. Have the other students from an outer circle, so that each one is standing directly opposite another student. The inner circle is to ask the question and give advice after hearing his/her partner describe an ailment. This will give more practice with the language they practiced in the beginning of this lesson. In addition, they will suggest a good remedy.

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