Getting your class to steal things from shops

For anyone who thinks that this blog should probably have something to do with teaching, like I do, here is a lesson plan I made up in my head while I was ‘Just Sitting There’ thinking hard about shoplifting and what the hell I’m gonna do tomorrow in class…

Shoplifting Lesson

Show students something you can claim to have stolen – bananas or Ipods work wonders. Ask them how much they think it cost. Tell them you it didn’t cost you anything, and try to convince them that you nicked it.

Say ‘No, haha, of course it’s not stolen’ and show them the receipt (‘ask for ‘un recibo, por favor” (Time Out Madrid, 2002)) (unless of course you did steal it, that is, in which case Hey hey!, well done, I’m jealous).

See if they know any other words for ‘steal’ – teach them nick, swipe and ‘five-fingered discount’. Elicit Shoplifting.

Ask them if they’ve ever taken anything from a shop without paying. If no, tell them you understand they might be shy, and put them in groups to ‘share their secrets’.

In pairs or threes or whatever, give them the following questions to discuss:

Have you ever stolen anything from a shop?

Do you know anybody else who shoplifts regularly?

Would you ever nick anything from a shop? If so, under what circumstances?

Get feedback on questions – get one in each group to ‘report’ back and try to find some way of getting the others to contribute instead of just staring at you when you’re not the one talking.

Have a quick vote on who thinks it’s right or wrong to shoplift. If you have someone who is opposed to it under any circumstances whatsoever, try not to spit on them as you put them in the same group with the one who you most suspect of having a criminal record. Or alternatively, stick them in a pair with the one who hardly ever….says…………..any……………………


Give them the following questions:

Do you think it’s right or wrong to shoplift? Why/why not?

Is stealing from local shops the same as stealing from supermarkets? Why/why not?

Do you know anyone who’s ever get caught shoplifting? Did you feel sorry for them?

See if anyone knows about the €350 thing. Briefly ask them what they could steal ‘for’ €350. Tell them that all the things they’ve mentioned are basically free if you’re prepared to maybe lose face a little in your local community.

Tell them they’re going to practice their shoplifting skills. Because they’re just practising, they will have to take it in turns to be the thief and the shop assistant, or if you have or prefer threes, the third one can be the manager.

EITHER tell them you didn’t have time to prepare properly, and hand them some post-it notes so they can write role-cards for the other pairs. Remind them that you want to practice as realistically as possible, so they should think of a variety of people in different shopping places – supermarkets, chinese shops, newspaper & porn kiosks, off-licenses, the fucking Body Shop, and so on.

Get down into your Tefl Crouch and help them write their role-cards.

OR alternatively you could use these ones I made earlier.

Swap round the role-cards and tell them to get practicing…

..and then all you have to do is wander round giggling and waiting for the bell to ring, which, what with my appalling sense of …. timing, should have been about 35-40 minutes ago.

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