Speaking: Lost & Found

I came across this intriguing article on BBC News the other day. 

It’s popped up on a number of other sites including the Independent and CNBC.  

It’s certainly an unusual situation to find oneself in and it makes for an interesting lesson. I also wanted to look at the different ways the same story has been covered by the press.

We began by looking at the three headlines:

  • “S Korean cleaner may lose out after finding gold in bin” (BBC)
  • “Cleaner may get to keep solid gold bars worth ÂŁ240,000 he found in bin in South Korean airport” (Independent) 
  • “A Korean janitor who found seven gold bars worth $325,000 in the trash could be allowed to keep them” (CNBC)

We discussed the language used in the headlines – the use of may and could, the word choice and word order, and whether they sound more optimistic or pessimistic. 

We then read and compared each of the articles – students highlighted unfamiliar language, and we looked at differences between British English and American English. 

  • bullion – gold or silver bars
  • cache – a hidden store of things
  • cleaner, janitor 
  • rubbish, trash

We also thought more about the idea of “finders, keepers” and students shared their views on this. 

This lent itself well to an activity on imagined situations – what would you do if you were in the cleaner’s situation?

Activity: imagined situations

To talk about this we need to use a conditional statement. 

Think about finding 7 gold bars in a rubbish bin. It’s not an everyday occurrence and if it’s actually happened to you, congratulations! For most of us, however, it’s unlikely and therefore an imagined situation – you’re thinking about what you would do were this to take place. For this we can use the second conditional.

If I found gold in a rubbish bin, I would hand it into the police…”

There are two clauses here:

  • a conditional clause – If I found gold in a rubbish bin
  • a main clause – I would hand it into the police.

The structure we use for these improbable situations is:

If + past tense, would + infinitive

Questions: What would you do…?

  1. What would you do it you found gold bars in a bin? 
  2. What would you do if you won the lottery? 
  3. What would you do if it was raining and you didn’t have an umbrella? 
  4. What would you do if you lost your phone?
  5. What would you do if you were president of your country? 

Some suggestions:

  • If I found gold bars in a bin, I would sell them and donate the money to charity. 
  • If I won the lottery, I would go on a world tour in my brand new private jet!
  • If it was raining and I didn’t have an umbrella, I would run very fast from the bus stop to my house.
  • If I lost my phone, I would initially panic and then I’d use the “find my phone” feature to locate it.
  • If I were president, I would invest in our nation’s public transport to improve air quality and reduce congestion

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