Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hotel Tansylvania &, Delivery Man & The Change up: Parenthood

I. Talk to a partner:

1. Do you have children? Talk about them.
2. What were (are) the most difficult moments while raising your child? 
3. If you don't have a child, what do you think your greatest challenges would be?

II. Here is a list of what a research showed parents believe were/are their greatest concerns about parenthood. Talk to a friend a write 1 to 5. 5 being extremely difficult and 1  no  concern at all.

  • Sleepless nights
  • Having patience
  • Getting children to eat the right foods
  • Give your child what they want without spoiling them
  • Getting children to clean their teeth properly
  • Dealing with an ill child
  • Leaving your baby for the first time
  • Getting a baby to sleep through the night
  • Getting children to do their homework
  • Going back to work after having a baby
  • Keeping an eye on your child 24/7
  • Trying to stop children spending too much time in front of a computer/TV
  • Bed-wetting
  • Getting a toddler to stay in bed
  • Getting time off work when your children are ill
  • Your child’s first ever day at school
  • Teaching them the value of money
  • Keeping a lid on bad language
  • Getting to school on time
  • Keeping an eye on what your children are looking at online/watching on TV etc
  • Preventing children from smoking or using drugs
  • Coping when you’re child’s first pet has died and knowing what to say

II. Watch the movie segment from the movie Hotel Transylvania and answer the questions:

1. How did he cope with parenthood?
2. What were his major difficulties?
3. Which item in the previous exercise did he have the hardest time at?
4. What advice would you give him?

III. Watch the movie segment from the movie The Change up  and answer the questions:


1. How did he cope with parenthood?
2. What were his major difficulties?
3. Which item in the previous exercise did he have the hardest time at?
4. What advice would you give him?

IV. Watch the segment from the movie Delivery Man and answer the questions. Dracula had a different situation and had a different task with his daughter.


1. How did he cope with parenthood?
2. What were his major difficulties?
3. Which item in the previous exercise did he have the hardest time at?
4. What advice would you give him?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Fifth Estate: Advances in Communication Throughout History - Historic Moments

This is a thriller with a very current topic. I liked it a lot and the opening scene is perfect for that recurrent conversation class about technology.

I. Talk to a partner:

1. Think about all the progress that has taken place in the history of communication. Can you come up wit a chronological order of the advancement of communication until current times?
Ex: First, human beings started to communicate through drawings in caves. Then, writing was invented, etc...

2. Match the means of communication and the year they were invented/established:

  • Gutenberg invented the press, which made books much cheaper and allowed newspapers to be invented
  • Writing was invented
  • Invention of the alphabet in what is now Israel and Lebanon
  • The Internet gained a public face
  • The first fax machine was invented.
  • Telephones became common in peoples homes
  • The Chinese invented printing with block
  • The Chinese invented paper
  • TV began in the USA
  • Television was invented 
  • The telegraph was invented in 1837. A cable was laid across the Channel so it became possible to send messages across the Atlantic.
  • The first telephone exchange in Britain opened.
  • Radio broadcasting began in Britain
  • Smart phones were introduced
  • The first mobile phone call in Britain was made

Ex: 3,300 BC - Writing was invented

1,600 BC - 
200 BC - 
500 AC - 
1400 AC - 
1837 - 
1843 - 
1879 - 
1922 - 
1925 - 
1941 - 
1970 - 
1985 - 
1989 - 
1996 - 

II. Work in   pairs:

1. Which of the inventions above do you consider the most important one? Why?

2. What will come after the Internet?

3. How do you see communication in 50 years form now?

4. Will people communicate less or more in the future?

III. Watch the movie segment and make a list of all the advancement in technology you managed to see in the segment.



Answer key - Ex: 2:

3,300 BC - Writing was invented
1,600 BC - Invention of the alphabet in what is now Israel and Lebanon
200 BC - The Chinese invented paper
500 AC - The Chinese invented printing with block
1400 AC - Gutenberg invented the press, which made books much cheaper and allowed newspapers to be invented. 
1837 - The telegraph was invented in 1837. A cable was laid across the Channel so it became possible to send messages across the Atlantic.
1843 - the first fax machine was invented.
1879 - The first telephone exchange in Britain opened.
1922 - Radio broadcasting began in Britain
1925 - Television was invented 
1941 - TV began in the USA
1970 - telephones became common in peoples homes
1985 - The first mobile phone call in Britain was made
1989 - The network gained a public face
1996 - smart phones were introduced

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Hitchcock, The Birds and Psycho: Hitchcock, Cinema


Filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock was nicknamed the "Master of Suspense" for employing a kind of psychological suspense in his films, producing  a distinct viewer experience. Hitchcock created more than 50 films.  Hitchcock received the AFI's Life Achievement Award in 1979. He died in 1980.

I. Work with a partner.

1. What is your favorite kind of movies? Why do you like it?

2. What kinds of movies do you dislike? Why?

3. Do you have favorite actors? What about directors? Talk about them.

4. What is your opinion about the Oscar and other Awards ceremonies? Do they actually award the best movies of the year?

5. What do you know about Alfred Hitchcock?

6. Hitchcock was nominated for best director five times without a win. Why do you think that happened?

7. Do you like suspense movies? Why (not)?

8. Have you ever seen a Hitchcock movie? If so, which one was your favorite? Why is it your favorite?

II. Hitchcock had very special techniques that made him stand out the other directors of the genre. They made him unique and respected all around the world. Read some of them and see when/how you can spot them in the segments you will watch.

Inspired by the informative site:

  • Emotion is the ultimate goal for each scene. The closer the camera the more intense the film is.
  • The camera takes on human qualities so that the audience feel like they are uncovering the true story. 
  • He doesn't always use dialogue, but body language and action to pull the audience in. He saves dialogue as a last resort.
  • He uses simple shots.
  • He keeps the story simple.
  • He makes  the characters the opposite of what the audience expects.
  • He uses humor to add tension.
  •  He shows two unrelated things happening at once. 
  • He shows the audience what the characters don't see to create suspense. The character is completely unaware of what is going on.
  • What's happening next is always a complete surprise.
III. Watch the segment from the movie The Birds and see when/how Hitchcock uses his techniques. Remember that he doesn't necessarily use all of them in every film or scene.

IV. Repeat the process with the famous bathroom scene from Psycho.

V. Now watch the segment from the movie Hitchcock and answer the questions.


1. Can you relate the techniques discussed in the previous exercise with the opening scene of the segment?

2. What made Hitchcock so surprised or upset about the reporter's questions?

3. Was that question appropriate for the moment, a premiere of his latest movie?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Into the Storm: Storm Chasers, Tornadoes

Tornado Watch - Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!
Tornado Warning - A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately under ground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom).
I. Work in pairs. Decide whether these places are good shelters in case of tornadoes:
  • A small room, such as a closet or a bathroom, near the center of the home
  • a bathroom under the stairs and centrally located
  • a basement
  • under a heavy bench or a heavy table
  • crawl space if the house is built on concrete block.
  • garage
  • a mobile home

Wrong answers:
  • crawl space if the house is built on concrete block. - the house can pancake on the ground or move as a single unit off the foundation. You can be crushed.
  • garage - garage doors fail easily
  • a mobile home - it can be taken away by the winds with you inside.
II. Choose the correct alternatives:

1. A ________________is a giant whirlpool that covers land. A ____________ is a whirlwind. (HURRICANE/TORNADO)

2. ______________ form over land from
thunderstorms. ______________ form over water and covers all sorts of spinning storms from a standard low pressure system to a ______________. (TORNADOES / CYCLONES / HURRICANE)

3. In themselves nothing, they are both the same thing. The distinction is that _________________ form in the Atlantic, and _________ form in the Pacific Ocean. (HURRICANES / TYPHOONS)

4. ____________ Hurricanes are LARGE scale weather systems that form over warm ocean waters near the equator due to the convergence of several factors, including LOW wind shear, warm ocean water, and the Coriolis force. They are large features that exist over time scales of many hours to days. ___________ form in super cell thunderstorms, which are rotating thunderstorms that form in conditions of HIGH wind shear and large atmospheric instability. They are small features that exist on small time scales of minutes to an hour. (HURRICANES / TORNADOES)

Answer key: The answers are in the correct order.

III. Watch the segment and answer the questions.


1. What were they doing when the tornado hit the city?

2. Were they acting right? Explain it.

3. Is their job important? Why (not)?

4. What are the most common natural disaster where you live? How do you compare it to a tornado?

5. Do you consider yourself lucky or unfortunate, regarding natural disasters in your city?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Cyberbully: Cyberbullying

This is a movie made for television, and it talks about a very current topic, cyberbullying. Because cyberbullying involves humiliation, swearing, and desperation, this scene is more suitable for adults or older teens, since there are some curse words and the main character is drawn to a desperate outcome. In fact, total despair and disappointment with life are some of the extreme outcomes of cyberbullying. However, it is important to discuss this issue, and the movie and scene have a very positive message. So, please, mind your audience when you choose this topic and scene. My students loved it, and it was a great conversation starter.

Cyber bullying is bullying through email, instant messaging (IMing), chat room exchanges, Web site posts, or digital messages or images send to a cellular phone or personal digital assistant (PDA) (Kowalski et al. 2008). Cyber bullying, like traditional bullying, involves an imbalance of power, aggression, and a negative action that is often repeated.

I. Here are some characteristics of cyberbullying, which is different from traditional bullying. Read them and decide how the main character of the movie segment dealt with them.

As bad as the "bully" on the playground may be, he or she can be readily identified and potentially avoided. On the other hand, the child who cyber bullies is often anonymous. The victim is left wondering who the cyber "bully" is, which can cause a great deal of stress.
Most children who use traditional ways of bullying terrorize their victim at school, on the bus, or walking to or from school. Although bullying can happen elsewhere in the community, there is usually a standard period of time during which these children have access to their victims. Children who cyber bully can wreak havoc any time of the day or night.
Punitive Fears
Victims of cyber bullying often do not report it because of: (1) fear of retribution from their tormentors, and (2) fear that their computer or phone privileges will be taken away. Often, adults' responses to cyber bullying are to remove the technology from a victim - which in their eyes can be seen as punishment.
Most traditional bullying episodes occur in the presence of other people who assume the role of bystanders or witnesses. The phenomenon of being a bystander in the cyber world is different in that they may receive and forward emails, view web pages, forward images sent to cell phones, etc. The number of bystanders in the cyber world can reach into the millions.

The anonymity afforded by the Internet can lead children to engage in behaviors that they might not do face-to-face. Ironically, it is their very anonymity that allows some individuals to bully at all.

II. Watch the movie segment and answer question I.


III. Here are some kinds of cyberbullying. Which ones did she suffer?

Harassment: Repeatedly sending offensive, rude, and insulting messages

Denigration: Distributing information about another that is derogatory and untrue through posting it on a Web page, sending it to others through email or instant messaging, or posting or sending digitally altered photos of someone

Flaming: Online "fighting" using electronic messages with angry, vulgar language

Impersonation: Breaking into an email or social networking account and using that person's online identity to send or post vicious or embarrassing material to/about others.

Outing and Trickery: Sharing someone's secrets or embarrassing information, or tricking someone into revealing secrets or embarrassing information and forwarding it to others

Cyber Stalking: Repeatedly sending messages that include threats of harm or are highly intimidating, or engaging in other online activities that make a person afraid for his or her safety (depending on the content of the message, it may be illegal)

IV. Work in pairs:

1. What were the consequences of cyberbullying in the movie segment case?

2. Why did her friend decide to do it?
3. What should happen to her friend - the cyberbully? Should she be punished? How?
4. Was there anything that could have been done to prevent the situation from happening? Explain it.
5. Do you know anyone who has gone through such an experience? What happened?


Friday, April 10, 2015

Nightcrawler: Ethics, Professional Electronic Journalists

This is an excellent movie with awesome actors. It depicts ethics on TV news and its ending is amazing. A must!
Inspired by:

Talk with a partner:

1. What kind of programs are most popular where you live? Why are they so popular?

2. Are high TV ratings are synonymous with good quality? Explain it.

3. What make a news program reliable?

4. What kind of news are appealing to the public?

5. What are the limits of what TV news images? Is it OK to show people committing suicide, dying, killing, raping, naked, etc/

Read the three pillars of ethics for professional electronic journalists . Then watch the movie segment and decide which of the principles below were overlooked.



Professional electronic journalists should operate as trustees of the public, seek the truth, report it fairly and with integrity and independence, and stand accountable for their actions.

TRUTH: Professional electronic journalists should pursue truth aggressively and present the news accurately, in context, and as completely as possible.

Professional electronic journalists should:

* Continuously seek the truth.
* Resist distortions that obscure the importance of events.
* Clearly disclose the origin of information and label all material provided by outsiders.

Professional electronic journalists should not:
* Report anything known to be false.
* Manipulate images or sounds in any way that is misleading.
* Plagiarize.
* Present images or sounds that are reenacted without informing the public.

FAIRNESS: Professional electronic journalists should present the news fairly and impartially, placing primary value on significance and relevance.

Professional electronic journalists should:

* Treat all subjects of news coverage with respect and dignity, showing particular compassion to victims of crime or tragedy.
* Exercise special care when children are involved in a story and give children greater privacy protection than adults.
* Present a diversity of expressions, opinions, and ideas in context.

INTEGRITY: Professional electronic journalists should present the news with integrity and decency, avoiding real or perceived conflicts of interest, and respect the dignity and intelligence of the audience as well as the subjects of news.

Professional electronic journalists should:

* Identify sources whenever possible. Confidential sources should be used only when it is clearly in the public interest to gather or convey important information or when a person providing information might be harmed. 
* Refrain from contacting participants in violent situations while the situation is in progress.
* Use technological tools with skill and thoughtfulness, avoiding techniques that skew facts, distort reality, or sensationalize events.
* Use surreptitious news gathering techniques, including hidden cameras or microphones, only if there is no other way to obtain stories of significant public importance and only if the technique is explained to the audience.

Professional electronic journalists should not:

* Pay news sources who have a vested interest in a story.
* Accept gifts, favors, or compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage.
* Engage in activities that may compromise their integrity or independence.

Final discussion:

  • How do you assess the journalist's job? Is he a a good journalist? Is he ethical? 
  • What about the TV channel? How do you assess them?
  • Do you like to watch news shows like that one? Why (not)?
  • Can you give some examples of news programs like the one in the segment?
  • Do you think the journalist did anything wrong? Should he be punished? Justify it.


Monday, March 30, 2015

The Book Thief: Learning and Teaching Strategies

I like the book and the movie. The story is gripping and full of contrasts. I do recommend it. This scene was used in my Methodology class. We talked about learning strategies and this scene - a compilation of scenes - provided everyone with food for thought.

I. Work in pairs:

1. Do you consider yourself a good learner? Explain it.

2. Do you remember any strategies you used (or was taught) to learn a new language or vocabulary?

3. Do you have different strategies according to the subject you are studying?

4. Why do you think it is important to learn about learning strategies?

II. Read the suggestion below on how to become a good learner.

  • find a learning style that suits you
  • find a learning style that suits you
  • involve yourself in the language learning process
  • develop an awareness of language both as system and as communication
  • pay constant attention to expanding your language
  • develop the L2 as a separate system 
  • take into account the demands that L2 learning imposes  
1. Do you follow the suggestions above when you are learning a new topic/ If so, do you do it consciously or is it an automatic process for you?

III. Read the Vocabulary acquisition strategies listed on the site - The Good Language Learner (GLL) Strategies (Naiman, Frohlich, & Stern) -  .  Then check the strategies you make use of while learning new words. Discuss your choices with a partner and explain how you do it.

Vocabulary strategies

1 ( )  linking L2 sounds to sounds of the L1 word

2 ( )  looking at the meaning of part of the word

3 ( ) noting the structure of part

4 ( ) putting the word in a topic group

5 ( ) visualising the word in isolation

6 ( ) linking the word to a situation

7 ( ) creating a mental image of the word

8 ( ) associating a physical sensation with the word

9 ( ) associating the word with a keyword

IV. Repeat the process with the cognitive strategies below. Work in pairs. Check the strategies you make use of while learning new words.

1. ( ) repetition: imitating other people's speech overtly or silently. 

2. ( )  resourcing: making use of language materials such as dictionaries. 

3. ( ) directed physical response; responding physically 'as with directives'. 

4. ( ) translation: 'using the first language as a basis for understanding and/or producing the L2' 

5. ( ) grouping: organising learning on the basis of 'common attributes'. 

6. ( ) note-taking: writing down the gist etc of texts.  

7. ( ) deduction: conscious application of rules to processing the L2. 

8. ( ) recombination: putting together smaller meaningful elements into new wholes.  

9. ( )  imagery: visualising information for memory storage - "Pretend you are doing something indicated in the sentences to make up about the new word". 

10. (auditory representation: keeping a sound or sound sequence in the mind - "When you are trying to learn how to say something, speak it in your mind first". 

 11. ( ) key word: using key word memory techniques, such as identifying an L2 word with an L1 word that it sounds like. 

12. ( ) contextualisation: 'placing a word or phrase in a meaningful language sequence'.  

 13. ( ) elaboration: 'relating new information to other concepts in memory'. 

14. ( ) transfer: using previous knowledge to help language learning - "If they're talking about something I have already learnt (in Spanish), all I have to do is remember the information and try to put it into English"  

15. ( ) inferencing: guessing meanings by using available information - "I think of the whole meaning of the sentence, and then I can get the meaning of the new word".  

16. ( ) question for clarification: asking a teacher or native for explanation, help, etc.  

V. Watch the movie segment and check the vocabulary learning strategies (Ex: IV) Liesel made use of to learn how to read and acquire vocabulary.



Friday, March 20, 2015

A Walk to Remember: Peer Pressure

This is a romantic movie teenagers love and consider a classic. In fact, it is a good movie. This scene generated much more discussion than I had originally expected, which was perfect. I hope you like it.

I. Read the text below. Then pair up with another student and discuss the questions that follow.

Peers are people who are part of the same social group, so the term "peer pressure" refers to the influence that peers can have on each other. Although peer pressure does not necessarily have to be negative, the term "pressure" implies that the process influences people to do things that may be resistant to, or might not otherwise choose to do. So usually the term peer pressure refers to socially undesirable behaviors, such as experimentation with alcohol and drug use, or even vandalism and crime, rather than socially desirable behaviors, such as academic success, although it could be applied to either, and either could be a positive or a negative experience for the individual.Peer pressure is usually applied to younger people, especially teenagers. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable, because they are at a stage of development when they are separating more from their parents' influence, but have not yet established their own values or understanding about human relationships or the consequences of their behavior. They are also typically striving for social acceptance at this stage, and may be willing to engage in behaviors that will allow them to be accepted that are against their better judgment.

Tips to help kids deal with peer pressure:
  • Stay away from peers who pressure you to do things that seem wrong or dangerous.
  • Learn how to say "no," and practice how to avoid or get out of situations which feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
  • Spend time with other kids who resist peer pressure. It helps to have at least one friend who is also willing to say "no."
  • If you have problems with peer pressure, talk to a grown up you trust, like a parent, teacher or school counselor.

1. What is peer pressure?

2. Have you ever felt peer pressure in your life? What about when you were a teenager?

3. Give some examples of peer pressure you are familiar with?

II. Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions:


1. Describe the scene.^

2. Why is it an example of peer pressure?

3. Why did the boy decide to jump?

4. Who should be held responsible for the accident? Choose the best alternative.

a. The guy who jumped, after all he decided to jump himself.

b. The boy who pretended he would jump, but did not. After all, he persuaded his new friend to take the risk and tried to help him afterwards.

c. The other fiends who fled and left their peers near the pool.

d. The owner of the swimming pool who did not provide safety measures to prevent trespassers.

e. Nobody. It was an accident.

5. Read  the situations below and think about your answers to the questions.

  • You have a close friend that your other friends don't like. You're having a party at your house this weekend. If you invite your good friend, your other friends will be angry with you. If you don't and your close friend finds out, he/she will be hurt. What would you do if you were in this situation? And if your good friend could never find out about the party?

  • You're assigned to work on a group project with three other people in your English class. You have to agree on one topic. One person suggests an idea and everyone else seems to like it. What would you do if you had a better idea? What if you were new in the school and the most popular person in your class suggested the original idea?

  • Your cousin is a compulsive shopper: the minute he gets the money, he spends it.Recently, he lost his job and asked you for a loan. You have the money but you do not want to loan it to him. What would you do if your other relatives started pressuring you to loan the money? And if you found out that your cousin just bought himself a new cell phone and laptop?