Thursday, August 25, 2016

Vacation: Vacation

I. Work in small groups and discuss the questions.

  • How do you feel after a long vacation?
  • Did you encounter any problems during your last vacation?
  • How did you resolve them?
  • Did you have any bad experiences?
  • Did you meet any interesting people? Talk about them.
  • Did you notice any cultural differences during your vacation?
  • How much luggage did you take?
  • What were the women like?
  • What were the men like?
  • Were people friendly?
  • Did you stay in a hotel? Or do you prefer camping?
  • What historical sites did you visit and what did you learn?
  • What souvenirs did you buy?
  • What was the best food you ate during your vacation?
  • What did you do there?
  • What did you see in each place?
  • What kind of food did you eat?
  • What was the weather/food/scenery like?
  • Have you ever run out of money when you were on holidays? What did you do to deal with the situation?
  • Have you ever been mugged while on vacation?
  • What kind of trip do you enjoy the most? 
    • Adventure? 
    • Cultural? 
    • Relaxing? 
    • Visiting museums? 
    • Going to concerts and rock shows? 
    • Extreme sports? 
    • With family? 
    • With friends? 
    • Alone? 
    • Dangerous trips, like safaris, diving with sharks, mountain climbing, for example?
    • Alternative trips? (Deserts, Countries in the middle of a war or political crisis, totally different cultures, Indian tribes, etc)

II. Watch the movie segment and talk to a partner:


1. Describe the scene.
2. What kind of vacation trip is it?
3. Do you like this kind of trip? Why (not)?
4. Was this trip a good choice? Why (not)?
5. What was the most extreme experience you have ever experienced during a vacation trip? 
6. What was the best place you have ever been to on vacation? Explain why.
7. What was the worst place you have ever been on vacation? Explain why.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Race: Jesse Owens

Work in groups:

1. Do you like the Olympic Games? What sports do you like following and why?

2. What sports do you think your country is strongest at?

3. Are the Olympics an event for sports or is politics important as well?

4. What's your opinion about doping? What should the consequences to the athlete be?

5. Read the passage about Jesse Owens, Are sports and politics connected in his case? What lessons can we learn from that event?

Jesse Owens was an extremely important athlete. He participated in the Berlin Olympics. Interestingly, through 1936 Berlin Olympics, Adolf Hitler intended to showcase the Nazi German domination and power. Nazi propaganda created hype about alleged ‘Aryan racial superiority’. However, Owens, changed this perception by winning four gold medals.

He participated in four events at the Berlin Olympics, winning each of them. While at the 100m sprint he created a world record at 10.3 seconds, in the long jump with a leap of 8.05 m, he became the No. 1 player. He also won 200 m (20.7 seconds), and 4x100 m relay (39.8s).

Unlike earlier when he had to lodge in at ‘black-only’ hotels and eat at ‘black-only’ restaurants, the victory at the Berlin Olympics changed the perception of people as he was allowed to stay at the same hotel with other White athletes or eat at the same joint. He was also offered a sponsorship by Adidas athletic shoe company for promoting the Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik shoes.

Owens was not honoured by the then President Franklin Roosevelt who neither invited him to the White House as was atypical for champions, nor congratulated him for the superlative success. It was only in 1955 that President Dwight D. Eisenhower honoured him by naming him an ‘Ambassador of Sports’.

6. Watch the movie segment and talk about the importance of his act, the reaction of the other athletes and the population.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Chariots of Fire: Olympic Games

It is a great opportunity to talk about the Olympics, especially now that they will be held in Rio. Let's have fun!

I. Discuss the questions in groups:

How is a country chosen to hold the games?

Is holding the games a financial incentive?
Is it good for the country that holds the events?

Which Olympic sports do you like to watch on TV?

Do you think that the Olympics are important, or have there been too many negative things (use of performance-enhancing drugs, corrupt judges) in recent history?

Should professional athletes be allowed in the Olympics?

Do you think it's fair that an athlete who lives in one country and competes in another country can come back to his/her home country to be part of the Olympic team?

Do countries spend too much time on the Olympics?

If you had to change one Olympic sport, which sport would you take away and which sport would you add?

What is the most difficult Olympic sport?

Should all sports be included? For example, the horse riding event which means transporting the horses all over the world?

1. In which city were the first Modern Olympics held?
• Munich
• Barcelona
• Athens
• Olympia

2. Who has won the maximum number of gold medals at a single Olympic Games in the history of the Olympics?
• James Connelly
• Mark Spitz
• Abebe Bikila
• Michael Phelps

3. Who set a record for the most gold medals in a single Olympic Games at the 1972 Munich Olympics?
• James Connelly
• Nadia Comaneci
• Abebe Bikila
• Mark Spitz

4. What is the distance of the marathon race in the Olympics?
• 21 miles 585 yards
• 22 miles 855 yards
• 24 miles 835 yards
• 26 miles 385 yards

5. Which country's team always marches last in the March Past at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics?
• Greece
• host country
• Zimbabwe

6. When was the first time the Olympic Games moved to Asia?
• 1964
• 1976
• 1988
• 1992 

7. Which country's team remained undefeated in field hockey between 1928 and 1956?
• India
• Pakistan
• France
• Italy 

8. In which city were the Olympics in 2004 held?
• Athens
• Los Angeles
• Mexico City
• Tokyo 

9. Which sport was back to the Olympic Games after 112 years in Rio 2016?



10. In which Olympics did the world-famous American boxer Muhammad Ali win the light heavyweight boxing title?
• 1960 Rome Olympics
• 1972 Munich Olympics
• 1976 Montreal Olympics
• 1984 Los Angeles Olympics 


1. Athens
2. Michael Fred Phelps of the USA won eight swimming gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He holds the record for the maximum number of gold medals at a single Olympic Games in the history of the Olympics surpassing the earlier record of Mark Spitz, who won seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
3. Mark Spitz of the USA won seven swimming gold medals, including four individual, all in record times at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Michael Phelps of the USA won eight swimming gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and thus set a new record for the maximum number of gold medals in a single Olympic Games in the history of the Olympics.
4. The distance of the marathon race is 26 miles 385 yards or 42.19 km.
5. Greece is always first and the hosting nation is always last in the Parade of Nations (i.e., the March Past order) at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics.
6. The Olympic Games moved to Asia for the first time in 1964. At Tokyo, Japan, the torch was lit by Yoshinori Sakai who was born in Hiroshima only an hour before the atomic explosion took place in 1945.
7. The Indian men's hockey team was unbeaten in the Olympics from 1928 to 1956, winning six gold medals in a row. India has won a total of  11 Olympic medals (8 gold medals, 1 silver medal and 2 bronze medals) in field hockey.
8. The 2004 Olympics were held in Athens, Greece.
9. Golf
10. Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. on 17 January 1942) won the Olympic light heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Rome Olympics. He lit the torch to start the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Good Lie & Chloe and Theo: Adjusting to a New Culture - Culture Shock

Both films are a must. I love the acting and the cultural aspects shown in the movies. Don't miss them.

I. Work in pairs:

1. Have you ever traveled to another country? If so, talk about the cultural differences that you experimented there. If you have never been abroad, talk about a city you have seen in films and mention what cultural differences you managed to see. 

2. Would you like to live in the following places to experiment the way those people live? Explain why.

- New York City
- Tokyo
- Rio de Janeiro
- Saudi Arabia
- A tribe of indians in Africa
- Russia
- Mexico

3. What are some of the difficulties you would face in those places in terms of culture?

4. What is a good definition for culture shock?

II. Read the definition below and say whether you agree/disagree with it and why.

Culture shock is a term used to describe the anxiety and feelings (of surprise, disorientation, confusion, etc.) felt when people have to operate within an entirely different cultural or social environment, such as a foreign country. It grows out of the difficulties in assimilating the new culture, causing difficulty in knowing what is appropriate and what is not. 

III. Read the following tips: 
Ways to Diminish Feelings of Culture Shock

"Plunge" into your host culture and wrestle with the differences.
Keep an open mind; it is natural to have preconceived ideas and beliefs that come into question while abroad.
Athletic activities like team sports or taking walks may be helpful.
Get to know others at your host school or organization.
Do not isolate yourself.
Find a local person with whom you can discuss your frustrations and encounters.
Learn as much as you can about your host culture.
Maintain a support structure with others, particularly those going through the same experience. However, do not retreat into a clique" to avoid the discomfort of culture shock.
Keep a journal. Record your impressions of new experiences and the transformations that are occurring within you.
IV. Watch the segments below (if you prefer, you may watch the full version - video 3)and discuss the following items.

- What are the main characters' main cultural differences from Americans'? Talk about both THE GOOD LIFE and CHLOE AND THEO

- What happened in the segments?

- What would you suggest they do?

The Good Lie 1

The Good Lie - Part 2

The Good Lie - Full Version

Chloe and  Theo 




Saturday, June 25, 2016

Jurassic World: Communicating with Wild Animals

This activity is based on this great site. Don't miss it!

I. Work in pairs:

1. How do wild animals communicate with each other?

2. Can wild animals communicate with humans?

3. Is it possible to communicate with a wild animal if you are being attacked by it?

4. Read what some researches say about it:

How do wild animals communicate?

Even if the animals do not know how to speak, they have their own ways for communication. The whales sing, the wolves howl, the frog croaks, the bird will chirp, the dog will bark and the list goes on. If you have a pet dog in your house, you would probably understand his feelings when he waves his tail.

A lot of the wild animals depend upon verbal as well as non verbal modes of communication. And, this includes:

calls or sounds
waving of tails
marking of scents using urine and feces
chemical cues
gestures made with the help of postures, visual signs etc.

As per the research done by Chomsky in 1957 and Pearce in 1987, the animal communication does not have any kind of grammar. While the humans learn the language skills and build on the vocabulary because of their innate intelligence, animals do not learn any such thing. As per Hockett, there are 13 features which go into a language. And, the animals are actually capable of learning the languages and communication systems. It would be difficult for the animals to learn the languages of the humans so they can be taught to use their hands for the sign language. Birds like parrots can be taught human speech. Dolphins can be made to understand the gestures and sounds.

The wild animals can make use of any of the communication methods described above for their communicating purposes.

5. Do you agree with the research? Why (not)?

6. Watch the movie segment and observe how the communication between humans and dinosaurs take place in the segment. What was mentioned in the research that you managed to see in the scene?

Friday, June 10, 2016

This is 40: Technology and Family Relations

I. Work in small groups to discuss the questions below:

1. Describe your family.
2. How often do you spend using the computer? What about the other people in your family?
3. Are there restrictions to the use of technology - cell phones, the Internet, games - in your family? Talk about them.
4. Does technology bring people together or does it separate the family members? Explain it.
5. How savvy is each member of your family?

II. Watch the movie segment and answer the questions.


1. Describe the family in the movie segment.
2. How is technology dealt with in the family?
3. What are the rules?
4. Are the rules fair? Why?
5. How do you assess this family relationship? 

II. Watch this video clip - I FORGOT MY PHONE - that shows how the use of cell phones can affect people's lives. Then make a summary of the negative and positive uses of cell phones you managed to see in the snippet and mention which of the things you saw in the clip you have already done.




Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tomorrowland: The Future

I read great reviews of this movie, but I thought it was boring. However, there are great scenes that you can use in the classroom. This is one of them.

I. Work in groups. Watch the segment and make a list of all the things that you managed to see that the director believes are going to be common place in the future.

Ex; There will be flying cars.

II. Work now with different students. Show each other your lists. Then decide which features you believe will come true in the future, why (not), and if they  will be better or worse for the population.


III. Work with a different partner.Design the ideal world for the future. Imagine that there are no limits to what you can do, Then share your "new world" with the class.Be creative!


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Every Secret Thing: Criminal Age of Responsibility

This is a polemic movie. The scenes were edited and put together for the effectiveness of the activity. My students enjoyed it a lot and we had a lot of discussion during the whole class. Very thought-provoking. Use it with adults only.

I. Work in small groups. Read some laws from different countries, regarding Criminal Age of Responsibility. Decide if you agree or disagree and why. Sometimes you can disagree partially, for example.

Children who commit crimes have a complicated status as far as the legal world is concerned. Since they are children with less understanding of the laws, they deserve special protections. However, since they are still minors, they do not have all the constitutional rights that adults have.

No person can be held criminally responsible for anything done while under the age of 16. A child older than 16 but younger than 18 can only be held criminally responsible where the offence is punishable by deprivation of liberty for more than two years.

People can be held criminally responsible from the age of 16 [Penal Code, Article 5], but can be subject to socio-educative measures from the age of 12, including those amounting to deprivation of liberty.

The minimum age of criminal responsibility is formally 18. If a person is under the age of 18, an alleged criminal offence is considered an infraction and the person would be subject to “socio-educative measures”. If over 12, the measures may include community service and partial or total institutionalization in a socio-education facility. If under 12, the child can be placed in a foster home or with a family, among other measures including psychological accompaniment and mandatory attendance of classes, which can also be applied to children older than 12.

No person can be convicted of an offence in respect of an act or omission committed while under under the age of 12. [Criminal Code, Section 13]

Persons aged 13 or more can be sentenced to penal measures under the Penal Code [Penal Code, Articles 50 and 51].

The minimum age of criminal responsibility is formally 18. Where a person under 18 infringes the criminal law, he or she is considered to have committed “an infraction” and can be subjected to socio-educative measures, though these measures include deprivation of liberty.

Trinidad and Tobago
The minimum age of criminal responsibility is not defined by legislation and so is governed by the common law. Children under the age of seven cannot be held criminally responsible for any offence , and there is a presumption that children aged 10 to 14 cannot be held criminally responsible, though  this presumption can be rebutted where it can be demonstrated “that the child knew that his act was seriously wrong … at the time when he did it”.

The US

The minimum age of criminal liability is set at the federal and state level in the United States. At the state level, 33 states set no minimum age of criminal responsibility, theoretically allowing a child to be sentenced to criminal penalties at any age, though in most of these states a capacity related test is applied.

Children can be held criminally liable from the age of 12.


Persons under the age of 18 “able to understand what they are doing” are criminally responsible for the felonies, misdemeanours or petty offences of which they have been found guilty, and may be subject to measures of protection, assistance, supervision and education according to the conditions laid down by specific legislation. There is no absolute minimum age set at which children become able to be held criminally responsible, but a child will usually be considered to have “discernment” between the ages of 8 and 10.

Children can be held criminally liable for offences committed from the age of 12.

No person can be punished for an offence committed while under the age of 15.

United Kingdom.
England and Wales.
Children can be held liable for criminal offences from the age of 10.

Mainland China
Generally, people can be held criminally responsible from the age of 16, but children can be held criminally responsible for intentional homicide, intentionally hurting another person so as to cause serious injury of death, rape, robbery, drug-trafficking, arson, explosion or poisoning from the age of 14.

No person can be held criminally responsible for an act committed while he or she was under the age of seven [Indian Penal Code, Section 82] and no person can be held criminally responsible for an act committed while under 12 while of “immature understanding”. A child will be considered to be of “immature understanding” when he or she “has not attained sufficient maturity of understanding to judge the nature and consequences of his conduct on that occasion.”

People can be held criminally responsible for their actions from the age of 8

South Africa
A child who commits an offence while under the age of 10 is not considered to have criminal capacity and so cannot be prosecuted. A child who is older than 10 but younger than 14 is presumed to lack criminal capacity unless the State proves otherwise. In order to prove that a child has criminal capacity, the State must demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that the child was able to appreciate the difference between right and wrong at the time of the commission of the alleged offence and to act in accordance with that appreciation. 


II. Watch the movie segment.

1. What was the crime?

2. They were children when the murder happened. What punishment should have been applied?

3. Was justice made? Why (not)?

4. What is the risk of convicting an innocent child that is the suspect of a crime? What are the consequences in a teen's life? Who was guilty? Both of them, none of them, or just one of them? Explain it.

4. Do you think they were aware of what they were doing? Does it make a difference in the situation?


Monday, April 25, 2016

Listening: Meditation

Most people did not have the opportunity to see this movie, which is really good. I love this scene!

I. Work in pairs:

1. Do you like to meditate? Why (not)?
2. Why do you think people like to meditate? Do they like it or do they need it?
3. Would you change your life completely to find peace of mind even if it meant that you would have to leave all your family and friends behind and move to a monastery in a foreign country? Explain it.

Inspired by

Why people meditate:

We meditate in order to cultivate awareness. Rather than being lost in thoughts, emotions, desires, we wish to be aware of them. We train ourselves to be non-reactive. Meditation allows us to observe our thoughts without having to jump on board, we don’t have to get lost in all these stories. We can feel our emotions fully without having to turn them into a whole story. Thoughts are just thoughts. Feelings are just feelings. Urges are just urges, nothing more.  As our mind becomes clear and balanced there will be more space for positive and creative thinking. We will no longer be slaves of our desires and cravings, as through meditation we learn to observe and let go.

II. Consequences of meditation. Do you agree or disagree with these statements? Are they true to you? Explain it.

- Meditation relieves overall stress. It can lighten the load of a busy day and relieve your physical and emotional stress through relaxation.

- It helps you look young by getting rid of all that stress that can add wrinkles to your face and make you ill. 

- It helps you make better choices for yourself. Meditation helps you to cultivate awareness of your own patterns and behaviors. As you begin to pay attention to yourself and your life, you start to notice the small choices you make each day –and how those choices add up to the sum total of who you are and what you do in life. 

- It helps you heal your relationships. When you cultivate presence, you not only truly listen to others, but you give them the freedom to be who they are without our limiting prejudices and judgments getting in the way.

- Meditation cultivates clarity. This sense of clarity and focus actually allows you to get more done in less time without drama.

- It helps you curb pointless worrying.  Meditation helps you to get real and tune in to the present moment, the only place where peace resides. Inner peace is a choice, and it's always here, now.

- The greatest gift that meditation can give is the awareness that despite the seeming chaos, despite life not going how you think it ought to, when you step back and experience the joy of just being, you come to the realization that all is perfect, right now.

III. Watch the movie segment and talk about why the main character decided to change his life. How do you think meditation will help him? Would it help you?



Sunday, April 10, 2016

In the Heart of the Sea: Survival

I enjoyed this movie about Moby Dick. The special effects are awesome and the story is gripping. Lovely choice for a weekend.

I. Work in small groups. Make a list of 10 objects you would take with you if you had to live for one year alone with your group on a desert island with few resources. You all have to agree on the items.

II. Share your list with the rest of the class. Now imagine that you can only take the objects that all the groups wrote on each of their lists.

III. Now imagine what you would do to..........*

- Drink water
- Fish
- Build a shelter
- Protect yourself from wild animals
- Prevent diseases
- Make food

 * Remember - you only have the objects that all the groups came up with:

IV. Watch the movie segment and discuss what the survivors of a shipwreck did to survive. Were there similarities between what the movie characters did and what you said you would do?



Friday, March 25, 2016

Beowulf: Vikings, Heroes

I. Work in small groups:

Come up with your own definition of the word HERO

Webster's definition for hero:

The definition of a hero has changed profusely throughout the evolution of society. In the days of Beowulf and the Vikings, a hero was a man who was strong and courageous, willing and able to protect his tribe and provide for his people. But today, since our culture has vastly changed, so has the meaning of this word; now it is used for the brave and selfless people of the world. 

Beowulf is painted as a great hero before his name is even mentioned in the story, and this image does not falter against those of previous kings. Every man described as "great" through the story is also always described as some combination of warrior, ring-giver, powerful, and war-lord. Vikings were always either being attacked or attacking someone else, therefore their leaders and heroes must be warriors to keep the tribe alive.

II. Game: Work in pairs. Decide if the statements about the Vikings are true or false.

1. Vikings did not wear horned helmets. 

2. Vikings were not simply savage brutes.

3. The Vikings were famous for sailing huge distances from their home in Scandinavia between AD 800 and 1066.

4. The name ‘Viking means ‘a pirate raid’ in the Old Norse language. 

5. Around 500 years before Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ the American continent, Vikings had visited its shores, landing in what is now Canada in around AD 1000.

. Among the many gods Vikings believed in were Thor, the god of thunder,  

7.  The Vikings were expert boat builders and sailors. 

8. When important Vikings died, they would be placed with all their clothes, jewellery, even their animals, in a burial ship.

9.Vikings' favourite food is fish!

10.  They were dirty and filthy.

11.  They spent all their time raiding and warring

12. Vikings were a unified army

13. They were large and heavily muscled

III. How do you associate what you saw in the segment with the Vikings fact you read about? How is the hero shown in the segment?


False: 10, 11, 12, 13

Vikings did not wear horned helmets. There is no evidence to suggest that they ever did, apart from in some ritual ceremonies. Having horned helmets would seriously impede your ability to fight effectively in close combat. 

Viking helmets were in fact conical, made from hard leather with wood and metallic reinforcement, or made in iron with a mask and chain mail. The idea of Vikings wearing horned helmets arose during the 19th century when romanticised and nationalistic views of the Viking people became popular.

Vikings were not simply savage brutes. Images of wild-haired, wild-eyed raiders are but a myth. In fact, the Anglo-Danes occupying parts of Great Britain were described as excessively clean by their Anglo-Saxon neighbours, as they insisted on bathing at least once a week and kept their hair well-groomed.

Archaeologists find evidence on a regular basis of combs, spoons and other grooming utensils that indicate the Viking people were very keen on maintaining personal hygiene.

They didn't spend all their time raiding and warring

While raiding proved an excellent source of income, many of the Vikings held farms back in their homeland that their wives maintained during Viking season. When the men returned home from a raid, they resumed their normal routine of farming.

Vikings were NOT a unified army

Due to the difficult geographic location, the Scandinavian people were very spread out to conserve limited farmland. In addition, the penetration of Christianity caused many great divisions among the people still worshipping the traditional Nordic pantheon, further emphasizing the divided nature of the people.

5. They were large and heavily muscled

Due to the short summer seasons, growing crops was difficult and resources were always scarce. As a result, many of the Scandinavian people were much smaller than commonly depicted due to limited food sources. While the living conditions in Scandinavian regions were certainly harsh and made a hard people, many Vikings suffered from the scarcity of resources and the people set up their homes over great distances with no real unified leadership. During the Viking Age, the Scandinavian people were able to make a stronger push to the outside worlds and create a reputation for themselves beyond simple barbarism. While some Vikings were driven with the lust for riches, many sought more peaceful economic relationships with the surrounding nations.