What game theory teaches us about war

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  • General
  • Global Issues

Listening skills


This lesson plan touches upon topics which are not usually recommended for teaching English, namely war and politics. Nevertheless, these are global issues worth talking about and most students are eager to discuss them. Bear in mind that some students may have controversial opinions so it’s up to you to decide whether you can moderate the discussion on such a topic. The worksheet itself is based on a TED talk by Simon Sinek titled “What game theory teaches us about war”.

C1 / Advanced60 minStandard LessonPrintable & Digital$6 Plan


The lesson opens up with some lead-in questions on the topic of wars and America’s role in it. On the right-hand side, there are two terms explained that come from the game theory. Let your students read them before watching the video as they play a major role in the speech. To check how they understand these terms, ask them to give some examples of finite (chess, baseball, Monopoly) and infinite (evolution, life, politics) games.

The next task looks into vocabulary that is used in the video. Students have to fill in the sentences with a set of words. This exercise will show them how they collocate as students have to create some fixed phrases. Exercise 3 is where students need to get the meaning of those fixed phrases from the context. They have 8 dictionary definitions that need to be matched with the phrases.


The next page starts with a comprehension task. Ask students to look at the notes from the speech so they can learn what the video is about and get acquainted with the task. Their job is to watch the video and fill in the gaps in the notes. After watching the video (approx. 9 minutes), you don’t have to check whether students completed the task correctly – they will do it themselves in a moment. In exercise 5, students will need to use the notes and what they remember to retell the story from the video. This way they will do a peer review of the previous task and negotiate the context and understanding of the speech. If you have a strong group/student, encourage them to paraphrase Simon Sinek rather than repeat his words.


The last part of this worksheet involves some discussion points that could be discussed in pairs or as a group and that relate to the topic of the lesson and the content of the video.



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  1. I teach in a military gaming company and this lesson fits my students perfectly. I’m looking forward to sharing it with them.


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