Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Butler: The African American Civil Rights Movement

This is a worth-seeing film. I loved the way they portray the Civil Rights Movement in the USA. 

Work in pairs:

1. What do you know about Martin Luther King and his fight against discrimination in the USA?

2. How were African Americans viewed in the 50's and 60's? How are they seen nowadays?

3. Read the text below and then share what your read with a partner, using your own words.

The African-American Civil Rights Movement was an ongoing fight for racial equality that took place for over 100 years after the Civil War. 

The Civil Rights Movement has its background in the abolitionist movement before the Civil War.  After the war, slavery was made illegal with the thirteenth amendment to the US Constitution. After the Civil War, many southern states continued to treat African-Americans as second class citizens. They implemented laws that kept black people separate from white people. They required separate schools, restaurants, restrooms, and transportation based on the color of a person's skin. Other laws prevented many black people from voting. 

The 1950's and early 1960's brought about several major events in the fight for the civil rights of African-Americans. In 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving up her seat on the bus to a white passenger. This sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott which lasted for over a year and brought Martin Luther King, Jr. to the forefront of the movement. King led a number of non-violent protests. 

The Civil Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. This act outlawed segregation and the Jim Crow laws of the south. It also outlawed discrimination based on race, national background, and gender. Although there were still many issues, this law gave the NAACP and other organizations a strong base on which to fight discrimination in the courts. 

II. Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions:


1. Describe the scene.

2. According to the text above, when do you think this scene took place? Before the 2nd World War, in the 1950's or 1960's, in the 1980's, or nowadays?

3. How did the USA react to the assassination of Martin Luther King?

4. Do you think the African Americans situation nowadays is resolved? Explain it.

4. Did Brazil (your country) go over a similar movement as the Civil Rights Movement in the USA? Talk about it.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Mama: Feral Children

This is a scary movie, but this scene is great. It shows a child that was separated from society and spends several years alone in the jungle.

I. Discuss with a partner:

1) What is your earliest memory? How old were you?

2) Do you remember your first school? What do you remember?

3) How would you think someone's life would be if he/she were separated from society at his/her very early years? 

4) Could this person be reintegrated to society? What difficulties would they face?

5) Have you heard of the stories of Mowgli and Romulus & Reno*, who were raised by wolves? What do you know about them?

* In ancient mythology, Romulus and Remus were brothers who were raised by wolves and went on to become the founders of Rome. In Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Mowgli is a boy who lives in the wild and behaves like one of the animals. He is stronger and lives by a higher moral code than most human children.

II. Read the definition of Feral Children below and then discuss the questions:

feral child (also, colloquially, wild child) is a  child who has lived isolated from human contact from a very young age, and has no (or little) experience of human care, loving or social behavior, and crucially, of human language. Some feral children have been confined by people (usually their own parents); in some cases this abandonment was due to the parents’ rejection of a child’s severe intellectual or physical impairment. Feral children may have experienced severe  trauma before being abandoned or running away. Feral children are sometimes the subjects of folklore and legends, typically portrayed as having been brought up by animals.

Scientific Interest in Feral Children:
Feral children provide scientists an interesting view of humanity that no other person could provide. Feral children are devoid of acculturation, meaning they lack the basic social skills and communication skills that are naturally developed in a healthy child when they are surrounded by other people. More than anything else, however, feral children have changed the way scientists look at human language. Having never been exposed to human language, feral children do not speak. In fact, they have a severely impaired ability to learn language and inter human communication. This supports a hypothesis known as the Critical Period Theory. This hypothesis states that first language acquisition can only occur during a critical development period, when children are very young. 

Taken from the wonderful:

III. Share what you read, using your own words, and say whether you agree or disagree with the passage.

 IV. Watch the segment and discuss the questions that follow:

1. What happened to the children?

2. Which of the two girls are considered feral children?

3. Describe the younger sister's behavior.

4. Describe the older sister's behavior.

5. How different are they from each other? And what about  the rest of the girls of their own age?

6. Do you think they will ever be "normal" again? Explain it.

7. What should their caretakers do to make them behave more appropriately?

V. Web Search:

Visit the site below and choose one of the feral children's real stories and then report it to a partner. Explain why you chose that particular feral child.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Surf's up: Inspiration, Admiration


I love animated movies. This one has a beautiful story about friendship, admiration and fighting for your beliefs. Besides, it is a lovely scene.

I. Work with a partner. Make a list of at least 10 people both of you admire. Make sure they are all from different areas/fields.

 II. Who have you most admired this year?Think about one person for each item below. Say who you admire and why.

A friend
A family member
A male celebrity
A female celebrity
A politician
A child
A sports person

III. Share your list in small groups.

IV. Discuss the questions.

1. Who did you look up to / admire most  when you were a child? Why did you have such admiration for that person?
2. Who do you look up to / admire most now?
3. Do you think you are a good role model?
4. Who do you think was a good / bad influence on you when you were a child?
5. Were you a good / bad influence on your friends?
V. Watch the movie segment and answer the questions.
1. Who is the role model in the segment?

2. Why is he so admirable?

3. Do you think he deserves the admiration? Why (not)?

4. How did he change the life of his admirers? 

4. Do you know anyone who has a similar story of admiration?  Share it with your friend. It does not have to be a surfer or a sports person.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Morning Glory: Commitment, Professionalism

This a great but overlooked movie. It has wonderful scenes and many of them are clever and funny. Make some time to watch it.

I. Discuss with a partner:

Here are four ways to show commitment at work, according to Christian Fisher.

Bringing energy and initiative to your job every day shows commitment. Caring more about your work and your organization will show in the results you produce. Showing commitment can demonstrate your leadership potential to managers and lead to career opportunities.

1. Do you agree with this statement? What are some ways of showing commitment in your workplace?

     2. He also mentions four different features of commitment. Write the item on the top of each of the following paragraphs

1. Putting customers first
2. Professionalism
3. Keep motivation strong
4. Teamwork

a) _______________________________

Attending to the details of your job demonstrates your understanding and respect for the workplace culture. For example, being punctual and prepared when at work, respecting workplace property and policies or attending meetings when expected shows that you can handle job obligations. Respecting office rules regarding such things as dress code, personal phone use or office romances shows maturity. Too many breeches of workplace basics can undermine your credibility when your commitment needs to shine. Going beyond basics by putting in extra hours, taking up others’ slack and delivering extra service to others shows leadership-level dedication.

b) _____________________________

Striving for satisfaction shows your commitment to your employer’s objectives. Even if your job doesn’t involve interacting with threm directly, your job plays a role in keeping your organization’s clients base loyal and growing. Handling every task with the idea fresh in your mind that your work impacts consumers, company profits and your paycheck may also boost your pride in your work and lead to improved job performance.

c) _____________________________

Making significant contributions to any group task shows commitment to your work team. Displaying confidence in your ideas, skills and solutions is a trait that employers value. Being a reliable follower shows commitment to your team’s objectives and an understanding of the part you play in a bigger picture. Taking leadership roles and organizing team members to cooperate with each other, or collaborate with other groups, shows a commitment to big picture achievement.

d) ______________________________

Keeping yourself and your co-workers or subordinates excited about the job can show your commitment to the overall challenges and demands of your business. It can be challenging keeping up high performance standards. Encouraging employees to develop new skills, improve operations and process or take new risks to advance the business can awaken them, suggests Michael A. Olguin in his “Inc.” article, “Worn Out Employees? Five Ways to Crank Up the Energy.” Also, practicing and encouraging a healthy balance between work and personal life shows commitment to worker well-being that’s good for business.


II.  Watch the segment and answer the questions:

1) What are the interviewer's feelings about the job? How committed is he?

2) What about the interviewee's feeling about the job?

3) What is the real situation of the the TV program, Daybreak? What is it about?

4) What does the candidate do to promote herself and be hired?

5) Which of the four different features of commitment in exercise 2 did you manage to see in the young professional looking for the job? Give concrete examples for each one of them, if it is the case.

answer key:
Ex: 2

a) professionalism
b) putting customers first
c) teamwork
d) keep motivation strong


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bridesmaids & French Kiss: Fear of Flying - Expressing Likes and Dislikes

I love both movies. Bridesmaids is a wonderful, funny story with great acting. The scene from the movie French Kiss is priceless. One of my all  times favorites.

Complete the sentences below with things you like when you travel by plane (or bus, car, boat).

Expressing likes:

I love                                                            .

I like _______________________________.

I fancy ...                                                               .

I enjoy  ...                                             . 

I'm crazy about ...                            . 

I'm keen on  ...                                       . 

I'm fond of   ...                                                  . 

Complete the sentences below with things you dislike when you travel by plane (or bus, car, boat).

Expressing dislikes:

I hate                                                                  . 

I don't like                                            . 

I don't fancy                                  . 

I can't stand                                     . 

I can't bear                            .

 I can't put up with                 .  

I'm fed up with                    . 

I'm sick of                        . 

I'm tired of                          .

Watch the movie segments. Then write sentences, expressing the characters likes and dislikes. Do not use the words love/like/hate/don't like to express their likes and dislikes.

Ex: They don't fancy traveling by plane.



French Kiss


Work in Pairs:

1. How do you feel when you have to travel by plane?

2. How scared are you to fly?

3. What makes you scared while flying?

4. Would travel by plane if you had a dream of a plane accident the night before your trip? Why (not)?

5. Have you ever experienced a scary moment while traveling by plane? Share it with a friend?

6. Number from 1 to 5 the means of transportation you prefer using when traveling:

( ) plane
( ) car
( ) ship
( ) train
( ) bike



Friday, August 29, 2014

We Steal Secrets & The Fifth Estate: Wikileaks

We have been having a lot of news about Wikileaks on TV and it is hard to understand what they do, especially if you are not much into this kind of topic. However, it is an interesting and important issue, which can generate a great deal of conversation. It is a very current topic.  I recommend it for adults only.

I. Read the text about Wikileaks below. Then retell it to a friend, using your own words.

WikiLeaks is an international non-profit online organisation which publishes secret information and classified media from anonymous sourcesThe group has released a number of significant documents which have become front-page news items. According to the WikiLeaks website, its goal is to bring important news and information to the public.Another of the organisation's goals is to ensure that journalists are not jailed for emailing sensitive or classified documents. The online "drop box" is described by the WikiLeaks website as "an innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information to WikiLeaks journalists". Because of the sensitive nature of most of the information available on Wikileaks, authenticity is not just assumed. The Wikileaks community carefully vets all submissions, making absolutely sure that the innocent are protected and that the information is both secure and authentic.
Why is Wikileaks so important?
Wikileaks aims at being a safe place for airing documentation of corporate or governmental misdeeds. It is a safe haven for anyone, anywhere in the world, to submit sensitive information that can then be read by the public, with the ultimate aims being transparency and justice through public communication. 

 Edited from:

II. Divide the class into three groups. Group 1 reads THE GOOD, Group 2 reads THE BAD, and Group 3 reads THE UGLY.

THE GOOD: Complete transparency will not work in the industrial world but there is something to say for it in government. When government is dealing with its citizens, complete transparency ought to be the rule. Indeed, too much secrecy goes on in government regarding its dealings with citizens; otherwise, why would we need a Freedom of Information Act and be required to use it all the time in order to squeeze a little information out of the government? Unfortunately, this is not the secrecy that WikiLeaks exposed.

THE BAD: When you are dealing with opponents, it is certainly not in your interest to expose your strategies, your tactics or your private thoughts. Private industry understands this completely and its secrecy works to great advantage all the time. Take Apple as an example. Its product development secrecy makes for huge product launch successes. And if they didn’t do that? Their success would be diminished. In government, the same is true of opponents. Face it, the world is not made up of angels. There are evil people and even just plain people who want to protect their self-interest. To win against evil people or evil governments requires not sharing your strategies or tactics. When WikiLeaks shares all the inner thoughts, strategies and tactics with the world, the US negotiating position is severely weakened. The other parties have their secrets, but we have lost ours.

THE UGLY: If transparency were the rule in, say, State Department interactions, then people would have interacted differently. But State Department people felt that they could rely on secrecy to transmit their private thoughts and suggestions to their superiors and underlings. To have this trust broken is indeed ugly. With new technologies, people have to work around possible exposure. Emails are far from secure yet some people treated them as private conversations, much to their dismay when a court proceedings revealed everything. So people began using phone conversations hoping they were not tapped. Real security might only be found in one-on-one conversations in an open field. But most people using the “secure” system trusted that their conversations were private.

The State Department is one area, but the Defense Department is even more extreme. One cannot win wars without secrecy. The Chinese understood that 1000’s of years ago. And having WikiLeaks expose only one side’s secrets is only a way to assure defeat for that side. Because of the intention to do just that, the efforts of Assange and his organization are indeed treason. He must be prosecuted to the maximum extent and not just on rape charges.

Taken from worth-visiting site:

III. Group up one student from each of the groups and have them share what they understood in the passages.

IV. Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions (You may watch the scene twice):

1. What do they say about Julian Asssange, WikiLeaks's founder?

2. Is the Internet a good place for secrets? Why (not)?

3. How did he collect the data, secrets and information from the Internet?

4. How do you assess Assange's intentions? Does he mean well or is he just a traitor to the USA?

5. What are some of the journalists opinions about Assange?

6. What's YOUR opinion about him and WikiLeaks?

7. What were some of the examples he gave about the actions of WikiLeaks?

8. Why was 9/11 such a turning point for Wikileaks?

9) How do you see the future? Will it be  easier or harder to keep political secrets hidden?


IV. Watch the segment from the movie The Fifth Estate and answer the questions.

1. What are the historic moments that you managed to identify in the segment?

2. What means of communication was used in each of the periods? How effective were they?

3. What were the communication limitations imposed by technology during those historic moments?

4. What do they say about WikiLeaks and Edward Assange?