This is a listening activity based on this recording from the BBC. The listening is at intermediate/upper intermediate level. Right click and select 'Save target as…' to save the MP3 to your computer. You can find more similar recordings here.


Content: Causes of WWII

Language skills: listening/speaking (debating/discussions)

Lexis: language for debating


  • Save a copy of the MP3 file so that you can play it in your classroom.


  • Tell students to talk together in groups about what they know about either World War II in general, or its causes, depending on their knowledge of the subject.
  • If your students know little about WWII you might want to give them this sheet with key names and information about WWII. Get students to match the words and definitions.
  • Tell students that they are going to listen to a discussion about the causes of WWII.
  • Give out the questions worksheet (or alternatively write them on the board to save paper) and tell students to read the questions before they listen.
  • Play the recording and tell students to answer questions 1-4. Tell students to compare their answers (don’t tell them the answers yet). Play the recording again and tell students to answer questions 5-8.
  • Tell students to compare their answers, then give them the script of the recording, available here. Tell them to check their answers whilst reading the script. Check with the whole class. You might want to play the recording one more time with the students reading the script to consolidate their learning.


  • Give students the debating language worksheet and tell them to underline the expressions on the script. Tell them to guess the meanings from the context of expressions they don’t already know, and then go over with the class.
  • Now it’s the students’ turn for a discussion – get them to debate in groups the causes of the Second World War.
  • This can be followed up for homework or in class with an essay on the causes of WW2.


Language level
Language Level: 
Upper intermediate: B2

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