ESL Dreams Discussion Lesson Plan

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

Through activities in this lesson plan, your English Language Learners will listen to and discuss a recorded interview about the meaning of dreams and whether dreams can be influenced by eating cheese. The activity will culminate with a survey.

Learning Objectives

As a result of this lesson, students will:

  • Discuss information in a recorded interview.
  • Use context clues to determine the meaning of vocabulary terms.
  • State their opinions about dreams and dream interpretation.
  • State their opinions about the interview they read.
  • Identify and understand vocabulary.


60-90 minutes

Curriculum Standards

ELP 6-8.1

ELLs will construct meaning from oral presentations and literary and informational text through grade-appropriate listening, reading, and viewing.

ELP 6-8.2

ELLs will participate in grade-appropriate oral and written exchanges of information, ideas, and analyses, responding to peer, audience or reader comments and questions.

ELP 6-8.5

ELLs will conduct research and evaluate and communicate findings to answer questions or solve problems.

ELP 6-8.8

ELLs will determine the meaning of words and phrases in oral presentations and literary and informational text.

Materials Needed

  • Transcript of NPR interview: 'Study: Eating Cheese Can Alter Your Dreams' (1 per student)
  • Computer with audio capabilities
  • Audio file (from NPR website): 'Study: Eating Cheese Can Alter Your Dreams'


  • Dream
  • Interpretation
  • Nightmare
  • Tryptophan
  • Types of Cheese
    • Blue Stilton
    • Cheddar
    • Cheshire
    • Lancashire
    • Red Leicester
  • Survey
  • Transcript
  • Vegetarian
  • Wacky


  • To introduce the lesson, ask students if they remember their dreams when they wake up. Encourage them to share their responses for several minutes.
  • Explain to the students that some people, including some scientists, believe that our dreams have meaning, while others don't agree. Ask the students to turn to a partner and give their opinion about dreams - do dreams have real meaning, or are they just random thoughts our brains have while we are sleeping?
  • After the students have discussed this question with a partner for several minutes, ask the students to raise their hands to vote whether they think dreams have meaning or are just random thoughts.
  • Ask the students if dreams have special significance in their culture. Give them time to share their responses.
  • Hold up a piece of cheese, and tell students that some researchers have discovered that when people eat different types of cheese, they dream about different things!
  • Hand out copies of the transcript for the NPR interview called, 'Study: Eating Cheese Can Alter Your Dreams.'
  • Have the students look at the handout and ask them what they notice about it. Point out that it is a 'transcript' of an interview. There are different people talking, so the transcript identifies who is speaking and then exactly what that person said. It is like a conversation that is written down.
  • Ask the students to read along as you play the interview using the audio file available for free on the NPR website.
  • After the students have listened to the interview once, display these vocabulary words on the board: interpretation, nightmare, tryptophan, wacky, and vegetarian. Discuss the meaning of each word. Have the students find the words in the transcript and read the sentences with the words in them aloud.
  • Then list the types of cheeses on the board, and pronounce each one. Have the students pronounce them after you. Ask the students to find these words in the transcript and circle them. Tell them to read the sentences with those words in them and try to decide what these words are and what they have in common. Ask them to discuss their ideas with a partner.
  • After the students have discussed these words with a partner, share their ideas. Be sure they realize that these are all the names of different kinds of cheese.
  • Ask the students if they know the names of any other types of cheese that are not included in the article.
  • Play the interview one more time and have the students follow along. Then ask the students to discuss the interview with questions such as:
    • What were the scientists trying to find out with their research?
    • What is tryptophan and what does it have to do with dreams?
    • What did the scientists find out about eating cheese before going to bed?
    • What type of cheese made the people dream about wacky things?
    • What type of cheese made the people dream about celebrities?
    • What did the people who ate Lancashire cheese dream about?
    • What do you think about this research? Do you think it is true or not? Why?
  • After the discussion, divide the students into pairs and have them each take one of the roles in the interview. Have them practice their oral reading skills in English by reading the interview aloud to each other.

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