• Business Geniuses in Prison?

    Normally when I think of prison in the United States, I think of a violent, dangerous place where not much good happens.

    The TED video we’re using for this English listening exercise challenges my ideas of what prisons and prisoners are, and also challenges most people’s beliefs for what they could be in the future.

    This listening exercise is based off of a popular lesson that we give in our live English classes. Interested in talking to a teacher about this lesson? Schedule a live, individual English class.

    Before starting the video, you’ll want to study the many English phrasal verbs used in the video. The words below often have several meanings, we’re using the ones intended in the video.

    Come up with: To think of something, especially a new idea.

    Figure out: Similar to come up with. To think of something, especially a new idea.

    Cut out: To eliminate.

    Get around: To bypass something.

    Get on: A way of asking someone to continue.

    Go through: To examine or review.

    Set up: To schedule or arrange.

    Call off: To cancel something, especially an appointment.

    Call for: To request, especially used in public requests.

    Come around: To accept an idea you originally opposed.

    Comprehension questions. Write your answers in comments, and we’ll respond.

    1. What was BJ’s vision?

    2. Why were most of the other inmates locked up?

    3. What was Jeff Smith’s job in prison?

    4. What were some of the ways to hustle in prison?

    5. What are some of the problems Jeff Smith mentions with the reinitiation of people with a criminal record into the world after they complete their sentence?

    6. Why did Jeff Smith go to prison?

    Discussion questions. Write your answers in comments, and we’ll respond.

    1. Do you agree with Jeff Smith’s ideas about how to treat prisoners?

    2. What ideas can you think of to help prisoners readjust to the “real world” after getting out of prison?

    3. Do you think taxpayers should be asked to pay for better conditions for prisoners? For toothbrushes for them? For a rehabilitation/real-world initiation program for them?

    We hope you enjoyed this lesson! Please let us know if there are any videos you would like to see us use in Future English listening exercises.


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