In many countries, there has been a flight from rural to urban areas as young people seek jobs, prosperity, and a more exciting life. As a result, much of the population in the countryside consists largely of the elderly, as well as a few youths with dreams of escape. Of course, many of these communities have attempted to lure residents back with tax breaks; a modern infrastructure of fast and reliable Internet ideal for telecommuting; or advertisements appealing to a safer, more wholesome environment in which to raise children. The successes have been mixed, depending on the location and the incentive.
In Spain, though, the problem of depopulation is so serious that whole villages have been abandoned. In fact, there are hundreds upon hundreds of villages where not a single soul lives. In recent years, as numbers dwindled in smaller hamlets, schools closed, which then exacerbated the problem. Residents moved to other, somewhat larger villages and town with schools, hospitals, public transportation, and the like.
For some, the result is an opportunity. People with spare cash can buy houses, farmland, or even whole villages. In fact, a village in a fertile area might go for as little as $230,000, while only tens of thousands of dollars might be the asking price in a poorer area. Naturally, all prices are negotiable.
For others, though, there is only sadness. The older people in the area remember happier times, and at least hope that if people buy the various properties for retreats, schools, and second homes, then someone will look after part of the country's heritage.
Preview some of the lesson material:
Warm Up: Do you agree or disagree? Why?
- It's much cheaper to live in the countryside than in the city.
- It's much safer to live in the countryside than in the city.
- I would prefer to live in a rural area than in a large city.
- If I didn't need to worry about money, I would like a second home in the countryside.
- In the future, everyone will live in urban areas.
Fragments: Remember how the fragments were used, and complete the sentence from today's article.
- The successes have been mixed, depending on...
- In Spain, though, the problem of depopulation is so serious that...
- In recent years, as numbers dwindled in smaller hamlets, schools closed, which...
- Residents moved to other, somewhat larger villages and town with...
- People with spare cash can...
post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!
- Which is a better environment for children, the city or the countryside? Why do you think so?
- Which is a better environment for adults, the city of the countryside? Why do you think so?
- If you had grown up in the countryside or city, how would your life have been different?
- Has there been a similar problem with people leaving the countryside in your country?
- What might be done to bring back people to the countryside? Please explain.
Google Search: Type "abandoned villages" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.