A short story for advanced learners

This month, I have written another short story with activities for English teachers to use with their advanced students.  This illustration was drawn by a very talented young Brazilian artist called Gabriela Gonçalves.  I hope both teachers and students find it useful, especially as a springboard to discuss gender identity.

Here are the activities and the story:

Pre activity:  These words are all connected to lions.  Do you know what they mean?  If not, look them up in a dictionary or on google images. 

A lion pride
Lion´s den


Mane Long hair growing around a lion´s neck
A lion pride A social group’s lions form
Cub A baby lion
Lioness A female lion
Lion´s den The shelter of a wild animal

While activity:

Read the story and discuss the following questions in pairs.

1. Why do you think the lion found his mane cumbersome?

2. What do you think about stereotypes such as boys playing with toy guns and girls playing with dolls when they are young?

3. Do you think there are typical roles and professions for men and women in society?  If so, what would you say they are?  Do you agree with these divisions?

4. “Women wear trousers. Why don´t men wear skirts?”  What is your opinion about this?

5. Have you ever seen a film/TV programme/soap opera that addresses gender identity issues, such as transsexualism, non-binary gender, homophobia, etc? Tell your group about it.


I have never felt completely comfortable in my own skin.  Whereas other males fell in love with their manes as soon as they started to grow at the age of two, I hated mine. The others took advantage of the status symbol and flirted with the ladies.  They patrolled their territory walking up and down and swishing their thick manes from left to right.  I was different.  I couldn’t bear all that knotted hair under the African sun. 
  As is the custom for male lions, I was excluded from my maternal pride when I reached maturity at the age of three.  I became a nomad and roamed around sporadically.  Sometimes I was alone and other times I paired up with fellow cubs.  I was good at hunting as I was swift and agile.  However, my mane was always cumbersome and heavy.  It never felt part of me.   
During the day, us lions like to nap and laze around.  As soon as the sun begins to set, the smell of our prey wafts towards us and off we go after the poor mortals.  One early evening, I was passing by a watering hole and saw a lioness with her three cubs.  Instinctively, I decided to approach them.  As I drew nearer, I noticed the lioness was bleeding quite heavily.  In fact, she could hardly hold her head up let alone look after her pride.  I arrived on the scene to witness her passing.  Her eyes were wide open staring into space and her body motionless.   
My first instinct as a male lion was to pounce on the cubs and kill them all, which is common behaviour of usurping males.  However, something inside me stopped me in my tracks.  I felt an overwhelming sense of maternal protection, even though these little ones were not mine.   
I assumed the responsibility of the three cubs.  Every day that passed, we grew closer and I discovered I really did have a strong maternal side and protected my new family from any possible danger.   One morning while looking for a new den, I heard a human´s voice nearby, “Look, John.  We finally found her!  The rare maned lioness!”   From that point on, I knew for sure I was no longer a male!
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