How to speak better English than Donald Trump

Would you (or your students) like to speak better English than a “native speaker”*? Wouldn’t it be great if your command of the language could be superior to that of the most powerful English speaker on the planet? Granted, Donald Trump is not noted for his articulacy. Possibly as a result of a degenerative brain disease, his fluency, coherence and range of vocabulary have deteriorated considerably over the years, as this 1992 interview demonstrates and this article explains in detail. He used to be able to follow a train of thought; now listening to him is more like witnessing a syntactical train crash. Half-ideas cascade chaotically like carriages piling up on top of one another, deafening explosions of total incoherence reverberate down the track while anyone with any regard for their personal safety runs away screaming.

The very latest indication that Trump’s mastery of standard (or, rather, sane) English is slipping out of his tiny grasp came yesterday, in the tweet he posted in the wake of yet another NRA-sponsored massacre**. His tweet offered his “warmest condolences” to the victims (and, obviously, no condemnation of the culprit – Trump hasn’t expressed any anger at the killings). Cue howls of ridicule across social media: why? Well, no one talks about “warm condolences”. You might offer warm congratulations to a friend who’s just found a job, or sincere or heartfelt condolences to someone who’s just lost a loved one. But the adjective ‘warm’ just doesn’t go with the noun ‘condolences’. Or, in other words, it doesn’t collocate.

How do I know this? Well, I’ve spoken (and, more importantly, read) English all my life (and taught it for nearly 20 years). I’ve never seen or heard that expression before. The fact that Trump thought that ‘warm’ was an appropriate word in response to a mass shooting may be some indication of how such events make him feel deep down. But it’s also an indication that he’s not in control of what he’s saying. Maybe the fact that he boasts of never reading books has something to do with it.

So, how can you acquire a better command of the language than him? Well, you could buy yourself a collocations dictionary, which will tell you which adjectives are commonly used with which nouns, which nouns collocate with which verbs, etc. (Better language coursebooks also put a great deal of emphasis on what many now call ‘word grammar’.) Or, you could use this website. As you can see, it has a really simple interface, and is free. I urge all my students to use it, and it has an immediate and dramatic impact on the quality of their writing in particular. A smattering of collocations can easily raise any IELTS score from 6.5 to 7.0, for example. I’m sure Trump would struggle to write a coherent 250-word essay; he probably hasn’t composed anything longer than 140 characters since he was cheating his way through college. (As for writing in a foreign language, he’s probably barely aware at this point that such things exist.) In the speaking test, he’s probably get a 4.0: links basic sentences but with repetitious use of simple connectives and some breakdowns in coherence; can only convey basic meaning on unfamiliar topics; errors are frequent and may lead to misunderstanding and/or nuclear war.

*This is in inverted commas as it’s a highly problematic term, its use punishable by stoning in some quarters.
**Trump is also sponsored by the NRA, to the tune of more than $30 million.

Helping your students to understand Scottish accents

One of the most bizarre moments of my teaching career was when a whole class of Portuguese students complained to the Director of Studies because they’d paid tens of thousands of escudos for a ‘native’ teacher and had been assigned a Glaswegian. The conversation in which it was explained to them that Scotland is an English-speaking country was apparently a little awkward but the cause of much subsequent staffroom mirth. If there’s one thing EFL students love more than talking about their driving tests, it’s complaining about the range of accents that people (uh?) the English-speaking world. Two popular sources of confusion are Indian accents (which sometimes smacks a bit of racism, given that India is partly (and officially) an English-speaking country, so get used to it) and Scottish wans. It’s useful but sometimes fruitless to point out in response that by no means everyone from Scotland sounds like Rab C. Nesbitt. Although doing so by first explaining who Rab C. Nesbitt is tends to complicate things still further.

I decided to take on the task of challenging the notion that Scottish accents are hard to decipher, and have enlisted the help of Glasgow comedian Limmy, who in 2006 introduced the world to a cast of inimitable characters from that deer green city. I have chosen three clips with three of those characters and prepared some compehension questions which will, with a little guidance from you the teacher, enable your students to see through the mist of culturally-conditioned prejudice and grasp the gist, the details and the subtext of the monologue in question.

N.B. One or two of the videos include(s) the occasional example of raw or vernacular language.

  1. Who was ‘Sandy’?
  2. Why did John Paul dial 1471?
  3.  What did he then tell his friend Craig?
  4. How long did he wait before calling the woman back?
  5. What did he say to the woman the second time he calls?
  6. What did the woman do to try to stop him calling her, and why doesn’t it work?
  7. How long did John Paul then wait before calling her back?
  8. What happened in the end?
  1. What was ‘D-Day’?
  2. What sort of company was BAMN Concepts?
  3. What did Benjamin send the client?
  4. What question did Benjamin ask himself?
  5. Who did he call, and what did he ask them to do?
  6. What did the people of Glasgow find graffiteed all over their city on Monday morning?
  7. What made news of the campaign go global?
  8. What were the consequences for everyone involved?
  1. What kind of event did Jacqueline decide to go to?
  2. Why did the organisers take her photo?
  3. Why did she feel awkward about what she was wearing?
  4. What happened at 8.30?
  5. How long would the partners have to talk to each other?
  6. What did Jacqueline start to explain to her partner?
  7. How many partners did she dance with altogether?
  8. Was the night out a success?

Lesson plan: Is it right to burn money?

A great theme for a lesson is one that makes your students sit up and go WTF WAS THAT?! In all my years of trying to provoke my students this is the lesson that has generated most furious debate as it opens up a lot of political issues that people tend to take personally, like money, wealth, value and waste.

The lesson should take about 75 minutes and will work well with any class above B2.1/Upper Int. Access to an IWB will facilitate things immensely.


  1. Show this film clip, giving students time to identify what’s happening (ans: some people are burning lots of cash).
  2. Do a quick straw poll: Who thinks it’s right or wrong?
  3. Get them to look up online who the KLF were, specifically how they got the money in the first place.
  4. Establish that they were an (unusual) pop band who had huge success. Show a couple of short clips from their videos.
  5. Elicit ideas as to why they decided to burn a million pounds. Show this photo to get them started. Get students to look up any articles in which the members of the group explain their reasons for what they did, and share what they find.
  6. Using the collocations dictionary, point out that you can, regardless of the legal or moral implications, burn (as in waste) money. Students in pairs list other ways of ‘burning’ money.
  7. Share their ideas on the board.
  8. Students prepare for a debate. Who thinks the KLF were right or wrong to burn money? Help with arguments on each side. Encourage them to use real and hypothetical examples of similar cases.
  9. Hold the debate – you can follow the procedure described here.
  10. For homework, get the students to write an IELTS-style essay setting out the main points on each side and giving their own opinion.

    C’est tout!

    Lesson plan: “You are a refugee”

    Wherever you happen to teach there’s a chance that your class includes refugees and/or racists. The point of this lesson is to increase the level of understanding of the plight of the former and encourage the latter to be less so. Linguistically the lesson lends itself to concentrated practice of various conditional forms. In terms of vocabulary, the ‘text’ is quite lexically dense so I wouldn’t attempt it with anything lower than B2. As you will see, discovery and development of relevant vocabulary is written into the task as it will be repeated various times.

    To set it up you will need access to a pc, ideally with an IWB/projector; it also requires that students make use of their own phones.


    1. As students to write down the name of anyone they know who had to leave their home for a prolonged period, maybe because of war, political instability or a climate catastrophe. If they don’t know anyone personally ask them to think of any famous people who fall into that category, or even any films they’ve seen which depict such a situation. Ss discuss in small groups.

    2. Share ideas, obviously sensitively if anyone in the class has had such an experience. In the process elicit, board and clarify key vocabulary: refugee, seek refuge, protection, asylum; escape, flee, run away.

    3. Tell ss they’re going to imagine that they’re refugees. Ask them to guess which country they might be escaping from. Tell them they’re going to face a series of dilemmas and see if they’re successful at reaching safety. Point out that the scenario is based on the real experiences of millions of people.

    4. Show them this page from  the BBC website and recapitulate the scenario. Point out the vocabulary that has already come up and highlight the words ‘traffickers’ and ‘deportation’. Clarify any misunderstandings.

    5. Tell then you’re first going to do the task all together. Decide on the balance of the class if ‘you’ are male or female.

    6. Show them the first dilemma: Egypt or Turkey. In pairs, students discuss for about two minutes, then vote as a whole class.

    7. Take them through the dilemmas, clarifying vocabulary as you go. If you like, you could highlight the 1st/2nd conditional forms on the board.

    8. See how ‘you’ end up. Gather reflections on the success/failure of their route.

    9. In the same pairs, ss repeat the task on their phones. Monitor in case they need help with language.

    10. After a couple of attempts, gather reflections on their experiences.

    Homework: Students repeat their task at home and write the story of what happened in the past simple, first person, adding details as they go to make it more real.

    Extension task: in a following lesson you could the videos on the same page to practise talking about unreal scenarios using 3rd and mixed conditionals, eg. ‘If they had paid the smuggler…’, ‘If he hadn’t decided to go to Libya’, etc.

    هذا هو!

    Celebrity IELTS interviews no. 1: Momus


    I’ve been an IELTS examiner for over eight years. That’s a perfect English sentence, but it’s not in itself very interesting. Far more impressive is the fact that Nick Currie, also known as Momus, has made around 30 albums, written six novels, performed as an Unreliable Guide at various art festivals and biennali, produced reams of art criticism and a consistently compelling blog, and even written a food column for the Japan Times. All that makes him a fascinating subject for an interview, and I had the chance to do just that recently in the jaw-droppingly beautiful setting of the Istituto Svizzero in Rome (interview itself coming soon). Knowing that Nick’s father was an English teacher who brought up his family in Canada, Italy and Greece, I thought it would be fun to take advantage of the encounter to conduct another kind of interview, viz specifically an IELTS one, not because he’s planning to apply for an Australian visa or hoping to embark on a Business Studies course at Aston University*, but because I’m very interested in the question of how articulacy and what it’s probably not okay these days to call well-spokenness relates to language ability, education, personality and intelligence**. Nick happens to be a (problematic term coming up) ‘native speaker’ who is extremely articulate, engaging and intelligent, so I thought he might make a useful and entertaining model for what, if such a thing exists, IELTS 10, 11 or beyond might sound like. Apologies for the audio, which only gets 5.5 as we were up on the roof and it was a bit windy. This is the first of a series of IELTS interviews with semi-famous people; in coming weeks, I’ll be speaking to Lawrence from Denim, Justine from Elastica and the drummer from Ride about why old buildings should be preserved, the usefulness of mobile phones and how uniquely annoying it is to hear 16 candidates in a row all use the phrase ‘global village’ at least five times each.

    *A bit like Russell Brand.

    **I’m aware that this sentence could have been phrased more elegantly.


    Business English lesson plan: Emmanuel Macron’s Neoliberal BINGO!!!


    I kinda like Emmanuel Macron. He soundly defeated one of the world’s most unpleasant creatures in the debat last week and in Sunday’s election, and he’s also said some very laudable things about France’s shameful colonial past and its need to hold onto its liberal traditions. At the same time, he is, as many have pointed out (some of them dickheads, but what the hey) a bit of a (quelle horreur!!!) Neoliberal. Watching an interview with him this week (he is an excellent role model for non-‘native’ English speakers), I was struck by just how many neoliberal buzzwords he managed to fit in to a short interview: competition, compete, competitiveness, competitively, markets, markets, markets… it was a bit like watching a windup neoliberal doll. On that basis I’ve devised this game for use in ‘Business English classes’ (after all it’s basically just neoliberal ideology taught more slowly, your students coming up with wacky product ideas and reading articles on how smartphones will enable a new generation of innovative entrepreneurs to market their innovative innovations competitively and provide innovative global leadership blah blah innovative blah…). The interview in question is here and the BINGO! cards here (don’t worry – that link genuinely has nothing to do with Wikileaks/the Kremlin). If you don’t know how to play Bingo, er…jfgi.

    P.s. You could complement the lesson (and counter the pro-neoliberal stance of Macron) by showing your students this.)

    Et voilà!!!

    Anti-fascist lesson plan

    This is an anti-fascist lesson for the week leading up to the potential election of a fascist leader of a major European country. Although in some teaching contexts political content is discouraged, engaging with questions of power and society is one way of allowing your students to develop their rhetorical skills, and also a means of encouraging a sense of group unity and shared purpose at a time of increasing division and social atomization.

    It’s possible that you have a fascist or two in your class. Let’s hope not. This lesson isn’t designed for them, but who cares. Maybe they can leave the classroom and go and troll Twitter instead. It aims to enable your normal students to engage politically on an international level through the medium of English. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, don’t do the lesson, but it’s worth bearing in mind that a) English is not just a language for conducting trade, presenting innovative product ideas, etc and also b) if fascists such as Le Pen triumph your livelihood as teacher of a globalising language will be under threat and a lot of your students (and your friends, your family and you) will end up exiled, in jail, dead, or guarding concentration camps for a living.

    The lesson as designed is 75 minutes long and should work well for high Upper Int/B2.2 upwards. I did it on Tuesday with a B2-ish class of Political Science students and it worked wonderfully.

    Lesson procedure

    1. Write on the board ‘fascism’. Ask what it is. Elicit names of famous fascists but also ideas about how to define it. Offer no definitions of your own. (5 mins)

    2. In pairs students write their own definition of fascism. (5 mins)

    3. Now look at the one on Wikipedia. Do your students agree? How would they change it? (5 mins)

    4. On their phones or together as a class, edit the definition on Wikipedia (NB. your/their definition(s) will be rejected almost immediately, but you don’t need to tell them that.) (10 mins)

    5. In small groups students address the following

    Questions for discussion:

    Do you know any fascists personally?

    What would you do if a friend of yours started talking about:

    • Voting for a fascist candidate?
    • Joining a fascist organisation?

    Have friends on or off social media been talking about the French election?

    What would you say to a French friend who was talking about voting Le Pen?

    (10 mins including brief report back from each brief pair on what was briefly said – don’t let this bit drag on. Make it brief.)

    6. Half the students read Article A, half Article B. They take notes on the MAIN points (stress this and jog them along if they get stuck on details – with less strong groups tell them to just read the first seven or eight paragraphs), check difficult vocab and compare with a partner who’s read the same article. (15 mins)

    7. Students swap partners and share what they learnt, taking notes on other person’s article. (10 mins)

    8. Share and clarify the meaning of vocab they learnt on the board. (5 mins)

    9. Students imagine they have a French friend who has been posting pro-Le Pen stuff online. They write an email to their friend telling them what they think. Depending on their level you could instruct them to use a certain number of conditional sentences (‘if Le Pen wins’, etc). Be on hand to offer vocab and grammar suggestions, etc. They then share what they wrote with a partner, asking for constructive suggestions, etc (20 mins)

    10. For homework students write a second draft and then email it to you for corrections, etc.

    C’est tout. Nique les fachos!

    Listening worksheet: David Foster Wallace’s commencement address (B2+)

    Students can often surprise you with what they’ve read in English. I once taught a 14-year-old FCE candidate who’d enjoyed ‘Trainspotting’ by Irvine Welsh in the original ‘Embra’ dialect, and over the years I’ve met several dedicated fans of Nicholas Sparks and Paulo Coelho, one Margaret Atwood reader (yay!) and a particularly sulky and precocious Russian student who on the first day of the course simultaneously impressed and horrified me by proudly claiming to have read everything by Ayn ‘Medicare’ Rand. Choosing a particular long-form author to be your language teacher is, as Steven Krashen points out in this excellent essay (one which is also very good to use in class), a tremendous way to take your command of a language way beyond anything a coursebook can teach you.

    David Foster Wallace is more of a challenge. Although I wouldn’t suggest ‘Infinite Jest’ to anyone with a CEF level of less than C9.9, his essays and short stories are so entertaining that the inherent language difficulties shouldn’t be insurmountable. If you happen to be teaching students with a very strong interest in issues of language usage his long essays ‘Tense Present: Democracy, English and the Wars Over Usage‘ and ‘Authority and American Usage‘ are worth pointing out to them.

    But even for students who would never tackle his writing, this speech (audio here, full transcript here) is typically inspiring and engaging, particularly if you’re teaching university-age students. The format is one they should be familiar with – I start by showing them a google image search for ‘commencement address’, which brings up photos of Oprah Winfry, Barack Obama and Steve Jobs. His speech, which has been very widely shared and published and is known as ‘This is Water’, lasts 25 minutes, so it’s a very good idea to break it down into four sections – stop the recording after each four answers, allow the students to consult a partner and then share ideas. To extend the exercise/for homework you can get them to write, rehearse and perform their own five-minute commencement speeches, passing on the multifarious lessons that life has taught them, or, in the case of any Ayn Rand fans, telling the audience they’re all worthless subhuman filth :-P.

    Listening worksheet

    1. What is the point of the fish story?

    2. What is the point of a Liberal Arts education supposed to be?

    3. What, for DFW, is a more important thing to learn?

    4. What does the eskimo story have to say about belief, according to DFW?

    5. What do we need to bear in mind about a lot of the stuff we believe?

    6. What is our ‘default setting’?

    7. What is the most dangerous thing about a university education?

    8. What does ‘learning how to think’ mean?

    9. What is the point that DFW makes about suicides?

    10. What is it that no one talks about in commencement speeches?

    11. What is ‘the absolute voice of death’?

    12. What is the point of the supermarket anecdote?

    13. What is ‘the only thing that’s capital-T true’?

    14. What is a great reason for choosing some sort of spiritual higher power to believe in?

    15. Why will the world not discourage you from operating on your default settings?

    16. What is ‘the really important kind of freedom’? 

    Brexit lesson plan


    As I’m a British person living abroad, I’ve found that my students are very keen to know what I think of Brexit and are generally relieved to hear that (like most people in my situation) I think it was a catastrophic decision. However, I think it’s very important not to fall into the trap of thinking that everyone who voted for it did so out of xenophobia or because they’re all thick, as the Guardian reporter John Harris patiently explains here. Many were frustrated with society, left out of globalisation and duped by nationalist politicians and self-interested newspaper moguls into thinking the EU was somehow to blame. So now you know what I think. Just for a change.

    This lesson doesn’t focus on the causes of the vote, but rather uses a Guardian article from yesterday (March 29th) to help your students (and you) understand some complex issues involved in the negotiations which will now take place. This can be followed by a speaking activity in which they express their own opinions about the broader consequences. The lesson was designed for B2+ Politics students but could be used with any Upp Int+/Adv class interested in the issue.


    1. Show them this article and draw their attention to the subject (Brexit) and the date (March 29th). Ask them what happened on March 29th (Theresa May wrote a suicide note) (you don’t have to call it a suicide note).
    2. Draw their attention to the subheadline. Make sure they understand what civil servants are. Demonstrate what ‘untangle’ means and establish that in this case ‘distill’ means to reduce a list of 700 areas down to eight.
    3. Scroll down pointing out the categories (Timing, The ‘divorce’ bill, Citizenship, Borders, Trade, European Court of Justice, Transition, Ratification). Elicit a brief definition/translation for each.
    4. Show them the questions below and get them to copy them off the board. This will enable them to identify any which cause confusion. Point out that the answers can be found in the text and that they should only use their dictionaries as a last resort.
    5. Either handout printed copies of the article or get them to find it on their phones/tablets/pcs/etc.
    6. Students in pairs find the answers. Monitor to offer occasional hints to any pairs who are struggling.
    7. After 20 minutes or so, swap partners to check their answers.
    8. Go through the answers on the board (make sure you know the answers first).
    9. Tell them they’re going to be interviewed about the consequences of Brexit, and that there will be two questions: 1) What are the short-term consequences a) for the UK b) for Europe? 2) What are the long-term consequences a) for the UK b) for Europe?
    10. Give students three minutes to prepare, looking up vocab they will need and asking you for help if necessary. Make sure they are taking notes and not preparing a speech.
    11. Students interview a partner for 3-4 minutes and then swap roles and repeat.
    12. They change partners and repeat the exercise but this time film/record each other on their phones.
    13. HOMEWORK: Students write a transcript of the interview they gave, making corrections where necessary, and then email it to you for comments.

    Questions for reading exercise


    1) When will Brexit happen?
    2) What’s the main disagreement between the UK Govt and the EU on this point?

    Divorce Bill

    1) How much does the EU think the UK should pay?
    2) How much does the UK Govt think it should pay?


    1) Why are a lot of people in Europe angry about this?
    2) What does pretty much everyone agree on?


    1) What do both the UK and the Irish Govts want to protect?
    2) What do some people hope?


    1) What do most Europeans believe is most important?
    2) What is a “bespoke customs union”?

    European Court of Justice

    1) What doesn’t the UK Govt want to do after it leaves the EU?
    2) What possible solution is the UK Govt considering?


    1) What “painful concession” could May face?
    2) What have business and the City insisted is important?


    1) What are the names of the chief negotiators on each side?
    2) Why would the UK Govt have problems obtaining a “generous trade deal”?

    Tady Prosim!

    EFL worksheet: Russell Brand’s new podcast


    The British standup comedian and political gobbermouth Russell Brand has gone back to school (well, university) (well, SOAS) to learn more about politics, and he’s sharing his new knowledge in the form of an excellent new podcast in which he (making the most of his celebrity connections) interviews leading figures from areas related to religion and global politics. This lesson uses the first episode, which is an interview with the political philosopher Brad Evans called ‘Can we really stop terror?’. It will work well with upper-int(+)/advanced EFL/ESOL students with an interest in  global issues and also with EAP/IELTS classes.


    1. Preparing to listen

    On your phone or tablet, google the following to find out who or what they are and then compare notes with a partner:

    Russell Brand                      Ed Miliband             Brad Evans               SOAS

    Now see if you can find anything they have in common.

    1. Podcast – gapfill

    Try to identify the missing words. Remember that a) you won’t be able to understand every word and b) you don’t need to!

    Part 1 (0.50 – 8.43)

    1. I’m doing a three-year __________ in Religion and Global Politics.
    2. His work introduced me to the relationship between governments and _________.
    3. …the sudden lurch to the __________ as demonstrated by Brexit and the rise of Trump.
    4. I realized this was a very complex world and I realized I didn’t have the artillery to engage in this __________.
    5. What do you say to someone like me who feels __________ with politics but doesn’t know quite where to begin?
    6. Our power to change the world is still __________ to these nationalistic models.
    7. We feel __________ because we know change is not going to happen through those kinds of mechanisms.
    8. One of the purposes of an academic is to ask how we can __________ the right types of questions.
    9. What is the historical __________? What makes this moment this moment?
    10. Why is it that we often put the blame on the __________ of the most vulnerable?

    Now check your answers with your partner.

    Part 2 (8.43 – 17.57)

    1. There is no such thing as Muslim __________ separate from US imperialism.
    2. The term terror has a much broader historical __________.
    3. If you look at the old colonial seafaring powers, they had the __________.
    4. On the one hand you had powers trying to establish __________.
    5. The best way to understand any political regime is to understand the relationships of __________ that it’s engaged in.
    6. Liberalism says it has a __________ over these terms – universality, rights, security, justice – but it doesn’t.
    7. He doesn’t stipulate one precise point about what this shared universal __________ system actually looks like.
    8. The idea that liberalism can transform the world for the better is __________.
    9. People are denied the most fundamental political right, which is the right to __________.
    10. You have these impoverished communities who are taught by the media and people like __________ to fear these people who are deeply vulnerable.

    Now check your answers with your partner.

    Part 3 (17.57 – 26.07)

    1. Whose story is the __________ story, and how do they get to maintain it?
    2. You get people to __________ the conditions they should find intolerable.
    3. Global capitalism today doesn’t require __________ of the world’s population.
    4. Why doesn’t that idea get __________ more?
    5. People are working in such __________ environments today, they can just turn on the TV and be filtered a message which is comforting to them.
    6. It’s what the late Zygmunt Bauman called ‘__________’.
    7. We live in an age of what I’ve called ‘__________’.
    8. You have to __________ them from trying to achieve the kind of lifestyles that we’ve been selling to them.
    9. The ways in which certain elites are operating is having __________ consequences for people on the planet.
    10. One of the questions we need to ask is ‘where is the __________?’.

    Now check your answers with your partner.

    1. Discussion

    Now you’re going to have a conversation about what you’ve heard. Think on your own for two minutes about the following question:

    How does the conversation relate to a) your life b) your country c) your view of the world?

    You can take some notes if you wish. Look up or ask your teacher for any vocabulary you might need.

    Now get into a group of three or four and compare your reactions to the podcasts for ten minutes. One person in the group will need to report back to the whole class on what is said so they need to write down any interesting points. Remember that you don’t have to agree with each other – if you have different points of, explore them, but remember that this isn’t Facebook – be respectful!


    Using your phone, either with a classmate or on your own, make a 5-minute podcast in which (similarly to what you just did in class) you talk about your reaction(s) to the podcast. You might want to listen to the rest of the podcast before you start, but you don’t have to.

    HEALTH WARNING: You might find the ambivalence of your students upon hearing that 60-70% of the world’s population is surplus to the requirements of global capitalism somewhat dispiriting.