CPE: Pie Protest – Lesson Plan

10764727523_9a64bee25b_cI made this lesson for my CPE (proficiency) class and it’s centred on this article about pie-throwing protesters in Northern Spain that I read in The Guardian. The areas of the exam it practises are Speaking part 3, and Reading and Use of English parts 1, 2, and 3.

My class really enjoyed talking about real events and reading authentic texts in the Zombie Evacuation lesson, so I decided to take advantage of this story about protesters pieing a politician.

1) SPEAKING – Pt 3.   Last week we were looking at the speaking exam, and the students tried doing parts 1 and 2, but we didn’t have time for part 3.  So this lesson starts with a part 3-style speaking exercise.

Firstly, ask the students to tell each other what they remember about the 3 parts of the speaking exam.  Then tell them they are going to do a Speaking part 3-style exercise. The students work in pairs.

Student A has 2 minutes to answer the following question:  How can people show their dissatisfaction with the government and which ways are most effective? Afterwards, Student B will then answer a related question, talking for about a minute. Then it’s Student B’s turn to talk for 2 minutes, answering this question:  How could Spanish transport systems be improved? And Student A will answer a related question. (See the powerpoint document for the full text.)

Then comes the discussion. This lasts for about 4 minutes. (This is also in the powerpoint.)

  • Why might someone protest about the high-speed rail network in Spain?
  • How do you think the Spanish government should respond to protests?
  • What do you know about pie-throwing as a form of protest?
  • Do you think the Spanish justice system is reliable?
  • What groups do you know of which contribute to society by protesting?

Now, you can ask the students if they know what recent news story all these questions are referring to. Show them this clip and ask them to tell each other what they think the news story is. Don’t tell them what it’s about yourself – they are going to find out by reading the first part of the Guardian article in the next activity.

2) USE OF ENGLISH – MULTIPLE CHOICE.  Give out the first part of the article (part A of the word document) and ask students to read through it quickly to see if their guesses were right.  There are 5 multiple choice questions in the article which they can then do alone or with a partner.  As usual with this type of exercise, ask the students to say why the wrong answers are not possible.

3) WRITING SKILLS (SUMMARISING). Having read about the incident, the students can put their summarising skills into practice and come up with a headline for the article.  You can tell them the original headline had 11 words: Spanish environmental activists could face lengthy jail terms for pie protest

4) USE OF ENGLISH – WORD FORMATION. Now ask the students to talk together about what they think about these charges and how they think the lawyer for those charged might respond. Then you can give them part B of the word document to see what he said and also they can complete a short word formation activity.

5) SPEAKING. Next, it’s time for the students to do a little role play. Divide the students into 3 groups. One group are journalists, one group are Yolanda Barcina (from right-wing People’s party) and the other is Gorka Ovejero (from environmental activist group Mugitu). If you have an odd number, make the larger group the journalists. While the journalists prepare questions, give the other two groups some phrases to complete and include in their answers. They should also have time to think about how each might have felt/feel during/after the event.

Regroup the students so that in each group there is one journalist, one Barcina and one Ovejero. The journalists ask questions and make notes of the answers (if there are two journalists, they can take it turns for one to ask and the other to note).  When the interviews are finished, ask the journalists to feedback to the class what they found out.  You can then find out what the real Barcina and Ovejero said. The text from the original article is on the powerpoint, but we used the original article on the website. (See slide 5 of the powerpoint.)

My students really enjoyed this role play, and we got some good language out of it, eg. I’ll have the last laugh.

6) USE OF ENGLISH.  We didn’t have time to do this next activity in class so I gave it out as homework.  There are 2 different exercises, each an open-cloze style exercise using the last 3 paragraphs of the article. In the first one, all the prepositions are missing; in the second one  the pronouns and determiners are missing.  My suggestion is to give out a mixture – one to each student. They can try it for homework and they will be able to correct each other in pairs at the start of the next class.

CPE – Pie-throwing in protest

Pie throwing

If you have longer lessons (ours are 90 mins) or want to follow this up with another activity, I think this idea would lend itself well to writing an essay or an article.


  1. thank you.

    1. You’re welcome!

  2. It worked really well with one of my classes, leading to an interesting debate on the changing power of the government. However with my next class it almost turned into a slanging match as extreme right wing and left wing students argued about whether the British press were biased and the pie throwers were ETA terrorists.
    I think it could be a little dangerous to use with quite a lot of older (40+)Spanish people. Unless you know the group well, it would be best not to use it as it might be offensive to someone.

    1. Thanks, Ali. Good point!

  3. Natalia · · Reply

    Great post, pls keep up writing more. I am you follower now. Thanks!

    1. Thank you so much, Natalia! I’m new to this blogging thing so it’s great to hear encouraging comments like that! I’ll do my best!

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