The lesson is designed around a short film called The Love Competition directed by Brent Hoff and the theme of love. In order to find out if it’s possible for one person to love more than another the film-maker teamed up with neuroscientists at Stanford University to test seven contestants’ ability to love using an fMRI to monitor brain activity while the contestants focused on loving thoughts. The lesson practises speaking, reading and listening.
Language level: Intermediate(B1) – Upper-intermediate (B2.1)
Learner type: teens and adults
Time: 90 minutes
Activity: Speaking, reading and listening
Topic: Love and the brain
Language: Comparatives using more and less, adjectives to describe emotions, vocabulary related to the brain
Materials: Short film, discussion questions; graphic
Get students to discuss the questions about love in the document below. You can also download the document.
Tell your students they are going to watch a short film called The Love Competition. Put them into pairs and ask them to speculate about what they the film will be about and what story it will tell. Get feedback after 5 minutes.
Show the film until 1:27. Ask students what the love competition is and what the rules are.
The rules are:
Contestants have 5 minutes in an fMRI machine to love someone as hard as they can. Brain regions involved in producing the neurochemical experience of love are measured. The contestant who generates the greatest level of activity in those areas wins.
Write the following adjectives on the board:
stressed alert motivated sad
attractive afraid obsessive aggressive
Put your students into pairs and ask them to discuss whether they think more or less of each emotion when they are in love. Give them an example sentence such as:
I think you feel more alert and attractive, but less sad and anxious.
Give them five minutes to discuss their opinions.
After five minutes give them the brain graphic document which shows the different emotions we feel when we love. Get them to compare their answers with the information in the graphic. Ask them if there is anything surprising in the graphic.
Tell them that the neuroscientists in the experiment in the film examine the same areas of the brain as shown in the graphic to determine who loves the most.
Now show the second part of the film, pause at 08:04. Ask the students to write down the following information about the seven contestants.
Who or what type of love they are going to concentrate on:
Ask your students the following question:
How does each contestant feel after the experiment?
Now show the third part of the film, pause at 13:37.
Show the And the winner is… caption and ask your students who they think is going to win.
Now show the last part of the film.
Show the rest of the film and ask them for their reactions. Ask them if they would consider taking part in this type of experiment.
I hope you enjoy the film and the lesson.