If you haven’t heard of ‘ghosting’, where have you been? Ghosting is one of the worst things to come out of the digital age. The term «ghosting» first came to popular attention in 2011 and was one of 2018’s biggest buzzwords. It has become so endemic on the singles scene that the term now appears in the Collins Dictionary: “Ghosting – the act, or an instance, of ending a romantic relationship by not responding to attempts to communicate by the other party.” But it’s no longer just applicable to romance. This toxic behaviour has apparently seeped into the friendship, workplace and so on. Employers are finding that sometimes their perfect candidate, after a strong interview and job checks, just doesn’t turn up for the first day of work. It is becoming increasingly common when a very enthusiastic student just disappears, simply leaving the classroom and never coming back, with no explanation given.

Why do people ghost? Of course, confrontation is difficult and nobody wants to have an argument by delivering the news face-to-face that it’s over. Ghosting is one surefire way to avoid that.

Should we talk about this phenomenon in the lesson? Yes, and here are some ideas on how:

Task 1
Play the video and ask students to listen and remember what ‘ghosting’ is and who can a person ghost.

Brainstorm why people might ghost somebody.

Task 2
Put students in pairs and ask to discuss the questions:

  1. Who would you ghost and why?
  2. How do people ghost?
  3. Have you ever been ghosted?
  4. How can a person understand if they have been ghosted?
  5. Would you ever talk to a person who has ghosted you?

Task 3
Depending on the goal of the lesson, your students’ age, interests, level and so on, choose a suitable activity:

1) Writing practice

  • Students read the article, make a list of advice, choose the best ‘break up’ text message and then ask students to write ‘break-up’ texts to a boyfriend, friend, employer, teacher etc.
  • Students write a ‘break up’ text message and then compare their ideas with ones in the article.
    The article: here

2) Lessons with millennials
Discuss the questions:

  • Do you agree with the statement: ‘Young people treat everything like Tinder and don’t commit’?
  • Why are workers ghosting their employers?
  • What can an employer do about it?

Ask students to read the article and compare their answers with ideas in the article.
The article: here

3) Business English classes

  • Discuss how people ghost employers and how they are dealing with new recruits who don’t turn up for work. Then students should listen to the podcast or read the article, compare ideas and take notes.
    Podcast: here
    Article: here
  • Students should listen to the podcast about the company helping people to quit jobs in Japan and answer the questions:
    • Why are more and more people ghosting at work?
    • What is people’s attitude to quitting in Japan?
    • What are the ways Japanese people use to quit the job?

Podcast (0:00- 6:46): https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3cswgr5
The rest of the podcast can be assigned as homework

Task 4
Discuss what can be even worse than ghosting. For example, curving or orbiting.

If you liked the lesson ideas, please leave comments below.

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