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Van Life (Intermediate) .pdf

Homeless people in the United States are increasingly living in vehicles as an alternative to traditional housing. Bob Wells helps promote this "nomadic" lifestyle through his non-profit Home on Wheels Alliance and YouTube channel. He teaches people skills for living self-sufficiently in vehicles to prevent homelessness. April Craren received a donated minivan from HOWA after losing her home. She now feels healthier living an outdoor lifestyle. While not addressing the root causes of all homelessness, the nomadic community provides independence and support for those struggling with housing costs.

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Published by Macmillan Education Ltd. © Macmillan Education Limited, 2021.
Home >> Adults >> General English >> NEWS LESSONS
  Warmer
Brainstorm reasons why people might become homeless and where they might live when they no
longer have a home of their own.
Why people might become homeless Where homeless people might live
  Key words
a. Find the following words in the text. The paragraph numbers are given to help you.
1. ready and able to do something (para 2)
2. someone who belongs to a group of people who move from place to place
(para 6)
3. an aim that is very important to someone (para 7)
4. money that someone pays to support an ex-husband or ex-wife
(two words, para 9)
5. material used to prevent heat, cold or noise from passing through something
(para 11)
6. very useful and important (para 12)
7. keep something (e.g. a vehicle) in good working condition (para 17)
8. respect that other people have for you or that you have for yourself
(para 18)
9. being or feeling successful, happy and healthy (para 19)
10. able to quickly become healthy, happy or strong again after a problem
(para 20)
Off-road, off-grid: the modern nomads wandering America’s back country
Level: Intermediate
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Published by Macmillan Education Ltd. © Macmillan Education Limited, 2021.
Home >> Adults >> General English >> NEWS LESSONS
b. Use some of the key words above to complete these sentences.
1. My new houseplant is on the bright windowsill.
2. More than half of Jeff’s money went on to his three former wives.
3. Rescuing donkeys was Gina’s in life.
4. When I fell over in the street, I felt I’d lost my .
5. The prime minister wasn’t very well for the press conference.
Off-road, off-grid: the modern nomads wandering America’s back country
Level: Intermediate
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Published by Macmillan Education Ltd. © Macmillan Education Limited, 2021.
Home >> Adults >> General English >> NEWS LESSONS
Stevie Trujillo
4 February, 2021
If you look closely on city streets, campsites
and public lands in the desert, you’ll see more
Americans living in vehicles than ever before.
“I wasn’t prepared when I had to move into
my SUV*. I had no money saved. I was really
scared,” said April Craren, 52.
April became homeless after separating from
her husband. “I could have gotten an apartment
but in an unsafe place and with no money to do
anything at all,” she explained.
April lived in Missouri, where the average
rent for a flat was $762, slightly less than the
national average. Like nearly half of American
renters, she would have been crippled by
the cost.
It’s not surprising, then, that job loss, divorce
or a health or financial crisis can lead
to homelessness.
Bob Wells, 65, helped April to adopt the nomad
way of life and change her life.
Bob lives in a van with solar power and
a fridge. His life mission is to promote
nomadic tribalism in a car, van or RV** as
a way to prevent homelessness and live
more sustainably.
Before becoming a nomad in 1995, Bob lived
in Alaska, with his wife and two boys. Bob had
a job he hated and worked with people he
didn’t like to buy things he didn’t want. He knew
he wasn’t happy, but it never occurred to him
to live differently.
Then, when he was 40 years old, he got
divorced. After paying spousal maintenance
and child support, he was taking home $1,200
a month, $800 of which went on rent.
One day he saw a van for sale and thought:
“Why don’t I buy that van and move into it?”
He thought the idea was crazy, but he used his
last $1,500 and bought the van.
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As his finances improved, he put in insulation
and got a proper bed. He started working fewer
hours and spent more time camping with his
kids, which helped him become happier.
Realizing he had something valuable
to share, he bought the domain name Cheap
RV Living. He posted tips and tricks about living
in a vehicle.
Many Americans are interested in van life as
an answer to the affordable housing crisis,
an idea made accessible by Bob on his
YouTube channel.
With 460,000 subscribers, the videos also
make him money from ads and links to sales.
His most popular video, Living in a Car on $800
a month, has more than 4m views.
Bob started the Home on Wheels Alliance
(HOWA) charity in 2018. HOWA helps people
who can no longer afford traditional housing.
It helps them become contributing members of
the mobile community.
Funded by sponsors and donations, HOWA has
so far given away seven minivans, two trailers,
one school bus and many tents.
To join HOWA’s programme, April had to sign
a three-year contract, show she could maintain
her vehicle, and put $200 a month in an
account until she had enough money to buy the
minivan and get the vehicle title released to her.
“Most of HOWA’s applicants are older women.
They’re disabled, or retired and divorced,
or simply don’t earn enough to afford rent,”
Bob explained. HOWA helps them keep their
independence and dignity while also making
friends in the nomad community.
Today, April camps on public land next to Cliff,
a nomad and HOWA volunteer. April’s lost
weight and feels healthier, thanks to eating
fresh foods and living a more active outdoor
lifestyle. “I’m not just surviving; I’m thriving,”
she said.
Bob admits that his solution doesn’t address
PTSD***, mental illness or drug addiction, three
main causes of homelessness – but he does
see it as a way to lower our carbon footprint
and make ourselves more financially resilient
in difficult times ahead.
© Guardian News and Media 2021
First published in The Guardian, 04/02/2021
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Off-road, off-grid: the modern nomads wandering America’s back country
Level: Intermediate
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Glossary
*SUV = sport utility vehicle
** RV = recreational vehicle
*** PTSD = post-traumatic stress disorder
Published by Macmillan Education Ltd. © Macmillan Education Limited, 2021.
Home >> Adults >> General English >> NEWS LESSONS
3
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  Comprehension check
a. Find the facts.
1. Why did April become homeless?
2. Where did April get the minivan that she lives in?
3. Where does she live now?
4. How does April feel about her new lifestyle?
b. Are these statements true (T) or false (F) according to the article? Correct any that are false.
1. Bob became homeless after he lost his job in Alaska. T / F
2. Bob has not seen his children since he moved into his van. T / F
3. Bob’s aim in life is to help other people lead the best alternative lifestyle that they can. T / F
4. HOWA offers special help to homeless people with mental health problems. T / F
  Word pairs
a. Match the word to make word pairs from the article.
1. public 		 a. title
2. child 		 b. footprint
3. traditional 		 c. land
4. mobile 		 d. lifestyle
5. vehicle 		 e. support
6. outdoor 		 f. housing
7. carbon 		 g. community
b.	
Which of the word pairs above describe each of these things? Write them next to the
definitions a–g.
a. an official document
b. a way of living
c. environmental damage
d. money
e. a group of people who move about
f. a house or a flat
g. areas of countryside __________________________
c. Then use the word pairs in sentences of your own.
Off-road, off-grid: the modern nomads wandering America’s back country
Level: Intermediate
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Published by Macmillan Education Ltd. © Macmillan Education Limited, 2021.
Home  Adults  General English  NEWS LESSONS
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  Discussion
• What are the most difficult things about living in a vehicle, do you think?
• Are people allowed to live in a vehicle in your country?
• Which other alternative ways of living can you think of?
Who is likely to live like this, and why?
  In your own words
Watch the video from Cheap RV Living: Living in a car on $800 a month.
Make notes so that you will later be able to retell the information to someone that has not watched
the video.
In particular, make notes about:
• the changes Dee has made to her car
• Dee’s essential equipment and where she keeps it
• the dangers and discomforts Dee might have to deal with
• the (possibly unexpected) ‘comforts and luxuries’ Dee has
• Dee’s most useful tips
• other questions you would like to ask Dee.
Off-road, off-grid: the modern nomads wandering America’s back country
Level: Intermediate
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Off-road, off-grid: the modern nomads wandering America’s back country
Level: Intermediate – Teacher’s notes
Published by Macmillan Education Ltd. © Macmillan Education Limited, 2021.
Home  Adults  General English  NEWS LESSONS
b. Before reading the article carefully, students
use some of the key words to fill the gaps in the
sentences to ensure that they understand the words
and know how they are used in other contexts.
Key:
1. thriving
2. spousal maintenance
3. mission
4. dignity
5. prepared
3. Comprehension check
a. In the first part of this two-part comprehension
task, students find information in the text to answer
the questions.
Key:
1. She separated from her husband and couldn’t
afford to pay rent in a safe area, so she had to
move into her car.
2. She applied to HOWA’s programme and signed
a three-year contract promising to maintain her
vehicle and to save 200 US dollars a month,
which will be exchanged for the vehicle title
when she has saved enough.
3. She camps on public land next to a man
called Cliff.
4. She feels happier and healthier than before. She
says she is thriving now and not just surviving.
b. In the second part, they decide whether the
statements are true or false according to the
information in the article. They correct any
statements that are false.
Key:
1. False. He decided to move into a van to save
money on rent after he got divorced.
2. False. He spends more time with his children
now that he works fewer hours.
3. True.
4. False. Unfortunately, HOWA’s charity is currently
unable to help people with PTSD, mental health
problems or drug addiction.
1. Warmer
Give students five to ten minutes to work with a partner
and write their ideas into the table. Then ask them to
share their answers with the rest of the class before
scanning the article to see what reasons are given there
as to why people might lose their home.
2. Key words
a. Students find words in the text that match the
definitions. Tell them to scan the article and underline
the words as they find them. This will help them
check their answers as well as see how the words
are used in context.
Key:
1. prepared
2. nomad
3. mission
4. spousal maintenance
5. insulation
6. valuable
7. maintain
8. dignity
9. thriving
10. resilient
Article summary: Homeless people are
coming together in the United States to help
each other make the best of their alternative
way of living.
Time: Approximately 90 minutes
Skills: Reading, Speaking, Writing
Language focus: Vocabulary
Materials needed: One copy of the
worksheet per student
Note: Bob Wells, one of the people in this
article, plays himself in the film Nomadland,
which won a 2021 Golden Globe for Drama
Motion Picture.
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Van Life (Intermediate) .pdf

  • 1. Published by Macmillan Education Ltd. © Macmillan Education Limited, 2021. Home >> Adults >> General English >> NEWS LESSONS   Warmer Brainstorm reasons why people might become homeless and where they might live when they no longer have a home of their own. Why people might become homeless Where homeless people might live   Key words a. Find the following words in the text. The paragraph numbers are given to help you. 1. ready and able to do something (para 2) 2. someone who belongs to a group of people who move from place to place (para 6) 3. an aim that is very important to someone (para 7) 4. money that someone pays to support an ex-husband or ex-wife (two words, para 9) 5. material used to prevent heat, cold or noise from passing through something (para 11) 6. very useful and important (para 12) 7. keep something (e.g. a vehicle) in good working condition (para 17) 8. respect that other people have for you or that you have for yourself (para 18) 9. being or feeling successful, happy and healthy (para 19) 10. able to quickly become healthy, happy or strong again after a problem (para 20) Off-road, off-grid: the modern nomads wandering America’s back country Level: Intermediate 1 2 • P H O T O C O P I A B L E • C A N B E D O W N L O A D E D F R O M W E B S I T E
  • 2. Published by Macmillan Education Ltd. © Macmillan Education Limited, 2021. Home >> Adults >> General English >> NEWS LESSONS b. Use some of the key words above to complete these sentences. 1. My new houseplant is on the bright windowsill. 2. More than half of Jeff’s money went on to his three former wives. 3. Rescuing donkeys was Gina’s in life. 4. When I fell over in the street, I felt I’d lost my . 5. The prime minister wasn’t very well for the press conference. Off-road, off-grid: the modern nomads wandering America’s back country Level: Intermediate • P H O T O C O P I A B L E • C A N B E D O W N L O A D E D F R O M W E B S I T E
  • 3. Published by Macmillan Education Ltd. © Macmillan Education Limited, 2021. Home >> Adults >> General English >> NEWS LESSONS Stevie Trujillo 4 February, 2021 If you look closely on city streets, campsites and public lands in the desert, you’ll see more Americans living in vehicles than ever before. “I wasn’t prepared when I had to move into my SUV*. I had no money saved. I was really scared,” said April Craren, 52. April became homeless after separating from her husband. “I could have gotten an apartment but in an unsafe place and with no money to do anything at all,” she explained. April lived in Missouri, where the average rent for a flat was $762, slightly less than the national average. Like nearly half of American renters, she would have been crippled by the cost. It’s not surprising, then, that job loss, divorce or a health or financial crisis can lead to homelessness. Bob Wells, 65, helped April to adopt the nomad way of life and change her life. Bob lives in a van with solar power and a fridge. His life mission is to promote nomadic tribalism in a car, van or RV** as a way to prevent homelessness and live more sustainably. Before becoming a nomad in 1995, Bob lived in Alaska, with his wife and two boys. Bob had a job he hated and worked with people he didn’t like to buy things he didn’t want. He knew he wasn’t happy, but it never occurred to him to live differently. Then, when he was 40 years old, he got divorced. After paying spousal maintenance and child support, he was taking home $1,200 a month, $800 of which went on rent. One day he saw a van for sale and thought: “Why don’t I buy that van and move into it?” He thought the idea was crazy, but he used his last $1,500 and bought the van. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 As his finances improved, he put in insulation and got a proper bed. He started working fewer hours and spent more time camping with his kids, which helped him become happier. Realizing he had something valuable to share, he bought the domain name Cheap RV Living. He posted tips and tricks about living in a vehicle. Many Americans are interested in van life as an answer to the affordable housing crisis, an idea made accessible by Bob on his YouTube channel. With 460,000 subscribers, the videos also make him money from ads and links to sales. His most popular video, Living in a Car on $800 a month, has more than 4m views. Bob started the Home on Wheels Alliance (HOWA) charity in 2018. HOWA helps people who can no longer afford traditional housing. It helps them become contributing members of the mobile community. Funded by sponsors and donations, HOWA has so far given away seven minivans, two trailers, one school bus and many tents. To join HOWA’s programme, April had to sign a three-year contract, show she could maintain her vehicle, and put $200 a month in an account until she had enough money to buy the minivan and get the vehicle title released to her. “Most of HOWA’s applicants are older women. They’re disabled, or retired and divorced, or simply don’t earn enough to afford rent,” Bob explained. HOWA helps them keep their independence and dignity while also making friends in the nomad community. Today, April camps on public land next to Cliff, a nomad and HOWA volunteer. April’s lost weight and feels healthier, thanks to eating fresh foods and living a more active outdoor lifestyle. “I’m not just surviving; I’m thriving,” she said. Bob admits that his solution doesn’t address PTSD***, mental illness or drug addiction, three main causes of homelessness – but he does see it as a way to lower our carbon footprint and make ourselves more financially resilient in difficult times ahead. © Guardian News and Media 2021 First published in The Guardian, 04/02/2021 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Off-road, off-grid: the modern nomads wandering America’s back country Level: Intermediate • P H O T O C O P I A B L E • C A N B E D O W N L O A D E D F R O M W E B S I T E Glossary *SUV = sport utility vehicle ** RV = recreational vehicle *** PTSD = post-traumatic stress disorder
  • 4. Published by Macmillan Education Ltd. © Macmillan Education Limited, 2021. Home >> Adults >> General English >> NEWS LESSONS 3 4   Comprehension check a. Find the facts. 1. Why did April become homeless? 2. Where did April get the minivan that she lives in? 3. Where does she live now? 4. How does April feel about her new lifestyle? b. Are these statements true (T) or false (F) according to the article? Correct any that are false. 1. Bob became homeless after he lost his job in Alaska. T / F 2. Bob has not seen his children since he moved into his van. T / F 3. Bob’s aim in life is to help other people lead the best alternative lifestyle that they can. T / F 4. HOWA offers special help to homeless people with mental health problems. T / F   Word pairs a. Match the word to make word pairs from the article. 1. public a. title 2. child b. footprint 3. traditional c. land 4. mobile d. lifestyle 5. vehicle e. support 6. outdoor f. housing 7. carbon g. community b. Which of the word pairs above describe each of these things? Write them next to the definitions a–g. a. an official document b. a way of living c. environmental damage d. money e. a group of people who move about f. a house or a flat g. areas of countryside __________________________ c. Then use the word pairs in sentences of your own. Off-road, off-grid: the modern nomads wandering America’s back country Level: Intermediate • P H O T O C O P I A B L E • C A N B E D O W N L O A D E D F R O M W E B S I T E
  • 5. Published by Macmillan Education Ltd. © Macmillan Education Limited, 2021. Home Adults General English NEWS LESSONS 5 6   Discussion • What are the most difficult things about living in a vehicle, do you think? • Are people allowed to live in a vehicle in your country? • Which other alternative ways of living can you think of? Who is likely to live like this, and why?   In your own words Watch the video from Cheap RV Living: Living in a car on $800 a month. Make notes so that you will later be able to retell the information to someone that has not watched the video. In particular, make notes about: • the changes Dee has made to her car • Dee’s essential equipment and where she keeps it • the dangers and discomforts Dee might have to deal with • the (possibly unexpected) ‘comforts and luxuries’ Dee has • Dee’s most useful tips • other questions you would like to ask Dee. Off-road, off-grid: the modern nomads wandering America’s back country Level: Intermediate • P H O T O C O P I A B L E • C A N B E D O W N L O A D E D F R O M W E B S I T E
  • 6. Off-road, off-grid: the modern nomads wandering America’s back country Level: Intermediate – Teacher’s notes Published by Macmillan Education Ltd. © Macmillan Education Limited, 2021. Home Adults General English NEWS LESSONS b. Before reading the article carefully, students use some of the key words to fill the gaps in the sentences to ensure that they understand the words and know how they are used in other contexts. Key: 1. thriving 2. spousal maintenance 3. mission 4. dignity 5. prepared 3. Comprehension check a. In the first part of this two-part comprehension task, students find information in the text to answer the questions. Key: 1. She separated from her husband and couldn’t afford to pay rent in a safe area, so she had to move into her car. 2. She applied to HOWA’s programme and signed a three-year contract promising to maintain her vehicle and to save 200 US dollars a month, which will be exchanged for the vehicle title when she has saved enough. 3. She camps on public land next to a man called Cliff. 4. She feels happier and healthier than before. She says she is thriving now and not just surviving. b. In the second part, they decide whether the statements are true or false according to the information in the article. They correct any statements that are false. Key: 1. False. He decided to move into a van to save money on rent after he got divorced. 2. False. He spends more time with his children now that he works fewer hours. 3. True. 4. False. Unfortunately, HOWA’s charity is currently unable to help people with PTSD, mental health problems or drug addiction. 1. Warmer Give students five to ten minutes to work with a partner and write their ideas into the table. Then ask them to share their answers with the rest of the class before scanning the article to see what reasons are given there as to why people might lose their home. 2. Key words a. Students find words in the text that match the definitions. Tell them to scan the article and underline the words as they find them. This will help them check their answers as well as see how the words are used in context. Key: 1. prepared 2. nomad 3. mission 4. spousal maintenance 5. insulation 6. valuable 7. maintain 8. dignity 9. thriving 10. resilient Article summary: Homeless people are coming together in the United States to help each other make the best of their alternative way of living. Time: Approximately 90 minutes Skills: Reading, Speaking, Writing Language focus: Vocabulary Materials needed: One copy of the worksheet per student Note: Bob Wells, one of the people in this article, plays himself in the film Nomadland, which won a 2021 Golden Globe for Drama Motion Picture. • P H O T O C O P I A B L E • C A N B E D O W N L O A D E D F R O M W E B S I T E
  • 7. Published by Macmillan Education Ltd. © Macmillan Education Limited, 2021. Home Adults General English NEWS LESSONS The video can be found in the Guardian article (link below), or by typing Living in a car on $800 a month into YouTube. www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/feb/04/modern- nomads-nomadland-van-life-us-public-lands 4. Word pairs a. Students first match the words on the left and right to make word pairs from the article. Then they should find and underline them in the article and read them again in context. Key: 1. c 2. e 3. f 4. g 5. a 6. d 7. b b. Students now decide which of the word pairs describe the things a–g, and write the word pairs on the lines. Key: a. vehicle title b. outdoor lifestyle c. carbon footprint d. child support e. mobile community f. traditional housing g. public land c. Students now come up with other sentences of their own for each of the word pairs. 5. Discussion Students discuss the questions that are directly related to the topic of the article. 6. In your own words Either have all the students watch the complete 21-minute video and make notes for a follow-up discussion, or have the students work in pairs and divide the video up between them so that one watches the first 11 minutes of the video and the other watches the second 11 minutes – both making notes on the half of the video they are watching. After this, they should get together, exchange information about what they watched, the notes they made and the questions they still have. Off-road, off-grid: the modern nomads wandering America’s back country Level: Intermediate – Teacher’s notes • P H O T O C O P I A B L E • C A N B E D O W N L O A D E D F R O M W E B S I T E