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Big Families

Big Families

Date: Apr 03 2009

Themes: Family

Grammar: The Unreal Past


1. Learn Vocabulary - Learn some new vocabulary before you start the lesson.

2. Read and Prepare - Read the introduction and prepare to hear the audio.

Recently, an American woman named Nadya Suleman gave birth to octuplets. Octuplets! That’s eight babies. And she already had 6 other children at home. Can you imagine how exhausted you’d be if you were a single mother with 14 children?

Nadya and her brood may be an extreme example, but lots of people want to have big families. For one thing, having more kids means more chances that at least one of them will turn out OK. But children are also a lot of work. And from diapers to college tuition, each one comes with a high price tag. According to one estimate, it costs an average American family over $250,000 to raise a child!

Marni is surprised that Ella wants to have a lot of children. Listen to them talk about the ideal family size.


1. Listen and Read - Listen to the audio and read the dialog at the same time.

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2. Study - Read the dialog again to see how the vocab words are used.





Marni:  So that woman who recently had 8 babies, it’s made me really think about the nature of big families and how it’s pretty unnecessary in this day and age to have that many children.

Ella:  Well, I don’t know, like, it could work. I mean, we have an overpopulation problem. But if I have kids, I think I want four.

Marni:  Four. Really.

Ella:  Well, okay. So, one would be an only child. Two, what would happen if they hated each other? There’s a problem there. Then you have three, there’s the whole “I’m the middle, I’m the youngest.” So four would be just right.

Marni:  So you really think that four is the perfect amount?

Ella:  Yeah, I just, I’ll figure the finances later. But I don’t know, it’d be fun!

Marni:  Fun? But really, you have to think about the expense of it. And like you said, there is an overpopulation problem. We don’t need four children in this day and age. People used to have big families to do farm work and stuff like that, and that’s pretty much non-existent.

Ella:  I’ll live on a farm.

Marni:  You’ll live on a farm. OK. So, if you really want four children do you think maybe you’d consider the Brad and Angelina Jolie route, adopting and having your own?

Ella:  Yeah, totally! Maybe half my own and the other half help some other kids that need help.

Marni:  OK…

Ella:  Yeah, I’m open to anything.


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Farmers used to need lots of children to help out around the farm. But Marni thinks it’s unnecessary in modern society to have a big family. When you think about overpopulation and how many unwanted children there are in this world, having lots of children can seem like a pretty selfish thing to do.

But Ella is sure that she wants to have four kids. She thinks four is the perfect number to avoid sibling rivalry and make sure that all the kids get along. She isn’t worried about how much it would cost to raise four kids. But she is worried about overpopulation, so maybe she’ll adopt two of the four kids.

Are you part of a big family or a small family? How many kids do you have or want to have?



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Iran, Islamic Republic Of

Ithink its good to have a big family,but the parent should give them evrything not just educated ,money ,and good life in the best condition but also  thay should give them kindness,love andspiritual thingsand etc….........becouse i think that they can be friend close friend in the future ,and they can help to each other in evry situation… 

10:10 AM Apr 06 2009 |



so ,we say mother is the great woman in the world

05:13 AM Apr 06 2009 |



I totally agreed  to what you said Masoum cause when you have too many kids you cannot really give them a good education for them to become successful in life.


03:15 AM Apr 06 2009 |


Saudi Arabia

I belong to a family of twelve siblings ........... it is very nice  but i prefer small family to control children and educate them well 

12:13 AM Apr 06 2009 |



Saudi Arabia

It's so funny to be a member of a big family.

we are 10 Cool

your siblings will have diffrent jobs & it's helpful.

you can have new dresses for free,if yr sis boght wrong size;u'll have many shoes & bags

can you imagine a house with 7 girls!!

my mom always complain about having many shoesLaughing

10:32 PM Apr 05 2009 |


United Kingdom

I have 4 siblings but I guess it’s not big family because I know that there are people who have much more (for example my unto have 12 children I always tell her that she have footballs team)any way I think that 2 kids is good because to raise child is Avery hard work to do specially today’s kids they are very naughty and spoiled and need allot of money also I think that having 2 kids and take care of them and raise them in good way and to put all of your effort on them is much better than having allot of kids and to part the effort on much kids !!! Yamani

05:32 PM Apr 05 2009 |


Bosnia and Herzegovina

I live in a catholic family so I am full of respect towards big families. People think that to have big family is very hard, Maybe they are right, but if someone has love in his heart, nothing is hard. I have a brother and a sister and I am very happy because I am not the only kid in my family. I would like to have a lot of kids, that would be only God`s bless!

04:58 PM Apr 05 2009 |



big families is an important question!!

04:51 PM Apr 05 2009 |



Saudi Arabia


that's much fun, i have 7 brothers and 6 sisters.

i prefer big families

04:44 PM Apr 05 2009 |




i have 4 siblings but i guess it's not abig family because i know that there are people who have much more (for example my unt have 12 children i always tell her that she have afootball team)any way i think that 2 kids is good because to raise achild is avery hard work to do specialy today's kids they are very naughty and spoild and need alot of money olso i think that having 2 kids and take care of them and raise them in agood way and to put all of  your effort on them is much better than having alot of kids and to part the effort on much kids !!!

02:02 PM Apr 05 2009 |



well if you got 10 children, i think it's normal.That means you are a lucky mum, no matter you are a single mother or not.We should happy and thanks to the Lord cause give us a chance to got more and more from Him.Anyway it's just my simple opinion.

01:58 PM Apr 05 2009 |




I like a pigeon piair is perfect.But ,like Angelina Jolie'home,which named ”Home of UN",aslo good.They can bring the children up,to single mum,only child is better!

12:38 PM Apr 05 2009 |



I'm the only child, but I really want to have a brother. I hope my mother can adopt a little brother.Laughing

12:05 PM Apr 05 2009 |




i think the women wants four kids is totally crazy!!

she didn't even think of her four chidrens futures. she just thought unilaterally. not practical.

07:45 AM Apr 05 2009 |


Iran, Islamic Republic Of

hi how are you,my name is rouhollah i live in south iran near the persian gulf if you want to com here i am at your service. if you want to call me , this is my phon +989173763091 send my regard for your family and your friends

06:50 AM Apr 05 2009 |




there's something awfully wrong with that woman Nadya. Unemployed, single mom, and for some reason she's obsessed with having children that she has no idea how she's actually going to raise.

I have a student who has 5 children and according to her , it all comes so naturally when you're in love. But unlikely to Nadya, she's conceived all of her children naturally, she's got the means and, definitely, can afford it.

Otherwise, living in a big family can be a lot of fun, but parents have a lot to consider before they decide to have more children.

06:23 AM Apr 05 2009 |


Iran, Islamic Republic Of

I think two is perfect. we haven’t enough time to raise our children perfectly so having one or two allow us to treat and raise them in a right way.

06:09 AM Apr 05 2009 |

Jeff zhang

Jeff zhang


I was amazed!

04:08 AM Apr 05 2009 |



I´m only child, so I don´t really know what is sibling rivalry.

11:50 PM Apr 04 2009 |



Iran, Islamic Republic Of

She gave birth octuplets!!! I think 6 children is enough maybe more than enough nowadays. It`s not just giving birth, the point is how u wanna raise them, then u r responsible for each & every of ur children. Also I don`t agree with big families coz in this day & age we face overpopulation in the world so having many kids don`t work any more.

10:49 PM Apr 04 2009 |

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