“If you haven’t heard of the Tasmanian tiger, it’s not because it’s unworthy of discussion: it’s famously not a feline but a dog-like marsupial, a predator that humans hunted to extinction…Now the ‘de-extinction’ company Colossal Biosciences wants to genetically resurrect the Tasmanian tiger.” B. Chappell, NPR August 20, 2022
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: A plan to bring the Tasmanian tiger back from extinction raises questions, By Bill Chappell, NPR August 20, 2022
“The Tasmanian tiger [is] also known as the thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus) or the Tasmanian wolf.
Whatever you call it, this mythically beautiful carnivorous marsupial was a true ‘masterpiece of biological advancement’, the company says of the project. Yet, the story of its extinction is a tragedy of human interference and aggression.
The thylacine had trademark stripes and, rare in the animal world, abdominal pouches in both females and males. Australian researchers have called it ‘a dingo with a pouch’ or ‘a dog with a pouch’ — but its DNA also has a lot in common with the kangaroo.
Colossal, which has previously aired plans to resurrect the woolly mammoth, is intent on giving the thylacine ‘a second chance at life.’
Humans have been blamed for the animal’s extinction, especially after a bounty program was instituted in Tasmania to protect sheep and other animals.
But in 2017, Andrew Pask, a biosciences professor, led research that found the thylacine also suffered from a lack of genetic diversity.
‘The population today would be very susceptible to diseases, and would not be very healthy’ if it still existed, Pask said back in 2017.
Pask is now part of Colossal’s new project to bring the thylacine back. When asked if his view on its viability had changed, he said via email that the plan will incorporate diverse DNA sources.”
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 60 minutes.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos
Directions: Examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. Examine any photos, then create a list of words and ideas that you and your group members think might be related to this article.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- The Tasmanian Tiger became extinct in 1936.
- If you haven’t heard of the Tasmanian tiger, it’s not because it’s unworthy of discussion.
- It’s famously not a feline but a dog-like marsupial.
- The Tasmanian tiger is a predator that humans hunted to extinction.
- The company Colossal Biosciences wants to genetically resurrect the Tasmanian tiger.
- This mythically beautiful carnivorous marsupial was a true masterpiece of biological advancement.
- If the Tasmanian tiger lived today it would be very susceptible to disease.
- Cloning is a very specific scientific process.
- The first embryo is expected in the next few years.
- Colossal Biosciences is known as the ‘de-extinction’ company.
Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition
Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.
Humans has/have been blamed for the animal’s/animals extinction, especially after a bounty program is/was instituted in Tasmania to/too protect sheep and another/other animals.
But in/on 2017, Andrew Pask, an/a biosciences professor, led research that found/find the thylacine also suffer/suffered from an/a lack of genetic diversity.
Reading Comprehension Fill-ins
Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.
The ___had trademark___ and, ___in the animal world, abdominal ___in both ___and___. Australian ___have called it ‘a___with a ___or ‘a dog with a pouch’ — but its ___also has a lot in common with the kangaroo.
___, which has previously aired plans to resurrect the___, is intent on giving the thylacine ‘a second chance at life.’
WORD LIST: DNA, researchers, woolly mammoth females, pouches, dingo, thylacine, stripes, rare, males, pouch, Colossal,
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Have students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.
Have you ever read an article or thought about animals today that are near extinction?
Do you ever wonder how these animals came to be on the extinction list today?
Have you ever thought about what would happen if scientists were able to bring an extinct animal back to life?
Directions: After reading the article answer the following questions and share your answers as a class.
- What is the Tasmanian tiger?
- When did the last specimen die?
- According to scientists, why did the Tasmanian tiger become extinct?
- According to the article the Tasmanian tiger has a lot in common with which animal living today?
- According to the article how would the animals be created?
- Why were bounty programs organized to kill the Tasmanian tiger?
- How would the return of this animal affect the ecosystem in Tasmania?
- When do scientists intend to create the first embryo?
- What other animal does Colossal intend to bring back?
- Some scientists such as Beth Shapiro thinks that we should focus on helping the wildlife currently struggling to stay alive. Do you agree or disagree with this idea? Please explain why or why not.
- After reading this article do you think bringing back an extinct species is a good idea? A bad idea? Explain your answers.
- List three new ideas that you’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you would like to know that the article did not mention. Share your responses with your class.
Directions: Search the web and find 10 of the World’s most Endangered Animals in 2022 and answer the following questions:
Were you surprised at the types of animals listed? Explain why or why not?
Have you ever visited any of the animals in a zoo?
In which part of the world are the animals located?
Explain (if you can) why are the animals endangered.
Create a list explaining ways we might help save some if not all of the endangered animals on this list.
Directions: Divide students into two teams for this debate. Both teams can use information from the article and sources from the Web to support their arguments.
Team A will list five reasons that support arguments for resurrecting the Tasmanian Tiger.
Team B will list five reasons that support arguments against resurrecting the Tasmanian Tiger.
Each team will have time to state their points of view, and the teacher decides which team made their points.
For organization, have students use Pros and Cons Scale organizer from Freeology: