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Should you ever have forgotten your bag with all your teaching plans and materials at home, don’t panic, ask your group if anybody would stop working if they won a substantial sum of money that would exempt them from having to work for a living.
A variation on the theme is to consider how much money would be necessary in order to be able to stop working. And this is where the discussions sometimes get really interesting, and the topic touches upon all kinds of themes related to everyday life (and is thus also great for revising basic vocabulary.)
Even without having forgotten my material – I’m happy to say I actually never have so far – the topic comes up every once in a while as it touches upon the very essentials of life. What do we really need to be happy or content. What does it mean to be happy, anyway? Concepts and philosophies of life and living come up, critical aspects of wastefulness and many more topics are triggered by the lottery question.
A few months ago, the topic was not triggered by the lottery question, but by the report of a study conducted to determine – if possible – how much money is necessary to be happy. The study put the optimal income for happiness at around $75,000. After that amount, more income would not lead to a substantial increase in ‘real happiness‘ the researchers said to have found out.
In one group, we sat down and made a list. It came to look like a shopping list, and was – from a language learning perspective – a great review of basic vocabulary. And I think ‘detergent‘ was a word they were not familiar with.
In answer to the lottery question, we all tended to agree that one million would not be enough to be able to stop working for a living. It would have to be at least two. (So we would have to go to the SKL show where you can win 5 million; Who Wants to be a Millionaire wouldn’t be lucrative enough, though we do sometimes ‘practice’ for that show, as I have the game as an app on my Kindle.)
Concerning the question of monthly income, we arrived at roughly 6000 Euro, though I don’t remember if gross or net.
Follow-up topics to this theme are numerous and vary from questions of consumerism, greener living and ecological responsibility to the protestant work ethic.
Another favorite topic of mine linked with this is: plastics. Recently, as one of my students told me, there was a documentary on TV about a family that tried to live without plastics for a few months and reported about their experience. It was (or is) extremely difficult, if not impossible, to avoid plastics. However, they seemed to have had managed sufficiently well enough to show changed amounts of BPA in their blood when tested afterwards.
More about plastics in a separate post.