1. Who is the breadwinner nowadays?



Think about the following questions:

a. How have families changed in the last 60 years?
b. What do you think about single-parent families?
c. Which are the advantages and disadvantages of families headed by same-sex parents?
d. What would you say if your child told you he/she is gay?
e. Can you describe the most important differences between Picture A and Picture B?


 Traditional family  
 Imagen de Amy Jett en

Flickr bajo licencia CC

 Imagen de NobMouse en 

Flickr bajo licencia CC


The nuclear family is the traditional family structure in the West. This term, originating in the 1950s, describes families consisting of a father, a mother, and their offspring. Under this structure, the family is seen as the basic unit in society; the father functions as the breadwinner and the mother as the homemaker. Nowadays, alternative family types are becoming more prevalent, such as single-parent families, families headed by same-sex parents, and extended families where families live with their kin, which may include several generations. Extended families are less common in North America, where it is not uncommon to place grandparents in retirement homes.

A Social Trends survey in 2009 reported radical changes in child rearing and marriage practices in the United Kingdom. Figures showed that while 30 percent of women under thirty had given birth by the age of 25, only 24 percent had tied the knot. This marked the first time childbirth had become the first major milestone in adult life, ahead of marriage. In 1971 in the U.K, 3/4 of women were married by the age of 25 and half were mothers.

Judging by the high rates of divorce and the increasing number of children born out of wedlock, it would appear that the family as an institution is in decline. American sociologist Stephanie Coontz believes so too, but for different reasons. Coontz points out that marriages are no longer arranged for political or economic reasons, and children are no longer required to contribute to the family income. Marriages nowadays are founded on love. She believes this shift towards love and free choice has actually weakened both the family by making it optional and the bond between the husband and wife by making it contingent on emotional fulfillment.

Adapted from:http://www.englishcurrent.com/family-lesson-plan-upper-intermediate/ 

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The words that you can see in the table below come from the text you have just read. Match them to their meaning and write the number in the space provided.


 Offspring    1. The person who manages the home.
 Breadwinner    2. To get married.
 Homemaker    3. The state of being married.
 Kin    4. A slight change in direction, position or tendency.
 Rear    5. A significant stage or event in the development of something.
 Tie the knot    6. A link
 Milestone    7. To bring up and care for a child.
 Wedlock    8. A person's child or children.
 Shift    9. Your family or your relatives.
 Bond    10. The person who earns money to support the family.

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Click here to read and listen to a story called The Black Sheep and the Mysterious Uncle Bob to know a bit more about families. Then do the comprehension task you will find after the text.


When learning a foreign language, it's really important to be familiar with idioms. As you already probably know, they are fixed expressions whose meaning does not come from the meaning of the individual words which form these expressions. Idioms are informal expressions, so don't use them in formal situations. In this unit we are going to focus on idioms related to family.
 1. To be empty nesters
 2. To bring home the bacon
 3. To sow wild oats
 4. To fly the coop
 5. To be a rite of passage
 6. A close-knit family
 7. To be a chip off the old block
 8. To make ends meet
 9. To be the black sheep of the family
 10. It takes two to tango
 11. To run in the family
 12. To be your own flesh and blood
 13. To rule the roost
 14. To keep a tight rein on somebody

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Which idiom are the following definitions referring to? Write the correct number shown in the table above.
   To do a lot of exciting things and have a lot of sexual relationships during a period of your life.
   To be very similar in character to your father, your mother or any other member of your family.
    Both people involved in a bad situation are responsible for it.
    To be in charge, to dominate.
   An event in a person's life indicative of a transition from one stage to another.
   To leave your home for the first time in order to live away from the family.
   To earn and spend equal amounts of money.
    It refers to a characteristic which appears in many members of a family.

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Now you are ready for the following two activities based on family idioms:

Family idioms 1.
Family idioms 2.