Resources and activities for discussing Genetic Engineering in ELT/EAP


Genetic engineering covers a wide range of topic areas and depending on the knowledge and the background of the students they sometimes need an introduction to genetic engineering.  Below are a variety of resources that can be used to discuss and explore genetic engineering.  Some of these resources are suitable for ELT and some become more technical for an EAP/ESL setting:


Resource 1: Genetic Engineering Visual Discussion: These can be used to get students to guess the genetic engineering connection.  Students can also discuss what they depict, and whether they are positive, negative or neutral.  This also allows the group to develop vocabulary and for the teacher to find out where the vocabulary gaps are:


Click here for Genetic Engineering Discussion


Resource Area 2: Vocabulary development of the general concepts


These resources depend on how technical you wish to be.  Here are a few resources online:


a) Quizlet flash cards on genetic engineering: A nice resource that learners can use to revise and learn at home.


b) Indepth explanation of each concept from Regents’ Prep (this also has explanations of DNA to RNA, genetics and the human genome) : Learners can also create their own vocabulary resources and notes from this.


Resource 3: Genetic Engineering Reading and Discussion on the Pros and Cons for Genetic Engineering on Humans


This resource is based on an article from the Stanford Review entitled Arguing For and Against Genetic Engineering by Chris Seck.  Here I have taken the article and split it into manageable chuncks with discussion questions after each section.  Depending on the level and motivation of the learners I might:


a)get them to read a section, paraphrase it with a partner to check they have understood the meaning and then give them time to discuss their ideas.

b)cut the reading up into cards that can be turned over and then discussed for each section before the learner moves on.

c)jigsaw the reading where the learners read, background research their text, explain it and then discuss the issues in groups.


**An extension: The article is also a rich source of vocabualry and collocation.  I would get learners to collect the vocabulary around the key topics in the text.


Click the modified article here: Arguing For and Against Genetic Engineering


Resource and Activity Area 4: Understanding and Describing the DNA processes


a) Explaining the simple DNA process from DNA to RNA and then onto Protein-Video


  1. Preparation: On a blank peice of paper in groups or individually get learners to draw and try to label in English the process of going from DNA to protein.  This allows the learners to explore what they know and then to also peer learn from each other.  It also provides them with the opportunity to know which gaps they need to fill either in their background knowledge or through vocabulary development.
  2. YOU TUBE Clip Molecular Visualizations of DNA by Drew Berry: Get learners to watch the clip as many times as they need, to fill in the gaps.  This can be done collectively or on their own Smart phones/Ipads.


b) Concept map of Genetic Engineering processes from



This resource also has the answer key at the link above.  It can be a great review at the end of a unit of study.


There are many other resouces for genetic engineering but these are the ones my learners have generally responded to the best.


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