Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Dear Mr. Gacy: Death Penalty

A. Discuss the following questions in small groups:

1. Do you agree with capital punishment - death penalty? If so, under which circumstances?

2. What do countries do about people wrongly executed? What do you believe should be done?

3. Is capital punishment a deterrent to curb violent crime?

4. What do you think about the saying "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth"?

5. Should death penalty be applied to mentally ill criminals, especially those who cannot be treated and recovered to live in society?

6. What do you think goes on in the mind of the person who will be executed? What about the executioner's?

7. What is the most humane way to put someone to death?

8. What is the best alternative to execution?

9. Should the general public be allowed to attend the execution? Why (not)?

10. In Britain, you may be sentenced with a death penalty if you kill the Queen, but not if you kill your neighbor. What's your opinion about it? How fair is it?

11. What's your theory for why 98% of the people executed in the USA are male?

12. So, are you for or against death penalty? Explain why.

II. Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions:


1. Describe the scene:

2. What does the student want do do?

3. Do you think this is a good research? What can we learn from it?

4. What are the risks of such a decision?

5. What should happen to the main character of the scene?

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Runner: Oil Spills, Environmental Disasters

Nicolas Cage finally did a great movie again. It has a great plot and there are several polemic issues to discuss. I recommend it.


Inspired by the awesome site 

Work in groups of 3 students. Each student reads about one of the consequences of oil spills in the ocean. 

Student 1 :

1. Environmental Effects: First of these is the environmental effect. The animal life that lives in the water or near the shore are the ones most affected by the spill. In most cases, the oil simply chokes the animals to death. Others that live face a number of other problems. The oil works its way into the fur and plumage of the animals. As a result, both birds and mammals find it harder to float in the water or regulate their body temperatures.
Many baby animals and birds starve to death, since their parents cannot detect their natural body scent. Birds that preen themselves to get rid of the oil accidentally swallow the oil and die due to the toxic effects. In many cases, the animals become blind due to repeated exposure to the oil. Dolphins, sea otters, fish, countless species of birds and many oceanic mammals face these consequences. Countering these effects and cleaning the oil can take anywhere between a few weeks to many years, depending on the damage caused.

Student 2: 

2. Effect on Economy: The second major effect of the oil spill is seen on the economy. When precious crude oil or refined petroleum is lost, it effects the amount of petroleum and gas available for use. This means more barrels have to be imported from other countries. Then comes the process of cleaning the oil spill, which requires a lot of financing. Although the company responsible for the oil spills and their effects has to clean it up, there is a lot of government help required at this point.
The workers that are brought on board to clean up the spill face tremendous health problems later in life as well. Their medical treatment has to be paid for and becomes the responsibility of the government. Putting all the methods of recovery into place and monitoring them takes away resources from other more important work and hits the economy in subtle but powerful ways.

Student  3:

3. Effect on Tourism Industry: The local tourism industry suffers a huge setback as most of the tourists stay away from such places. Dead birds, sticky oil and huge tarballs become common sight. Due to this, various activities such as sailing, swimming, rafting, fishing,  parachute gliding cannot be performed. Industries that rely on sea water to carry on their day to day activities halt their operations till it gets cleaned.
One of the biggest oil spills seen in history happened during Gulf war when approximate 240 to 336 million gallons of crude oil flowed into the Persian Gulf. It was considered one of the worst disasters, beating the Ixtoc 1 Oil spill in Mexico. Recent major oil spill happened when an oil rig, Deepwater Horizon sank in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill released somewhere between 172 to 180 million gallons of crude oil into the environment. In the year 2010 alone, six oil spills were seen in the USA. Outside of the United States, oil spills have happened in Canada, Nigeria, France, United Kingdom and in China.

II. Without looking back at the text, tell your partners what you understood from the text. Then decide which one is the most serious and why.
III. Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions below.


1. Describe the scene.
2. What are the consequences of this tragedy. Refer to the items you read in exercise I.
3. In your opinion, who is responsible for this act?
4. What is the right punishment? Who should be punished?
5. What can be done for this kind of environmental disaster not to happen again?


Thursday, October 6, 2016

TV Series for Learning Blog

I am very proud to share a blog about TV Series for Learning, developed by Ronaldo Lima Jr.  This is an awesome blog, and I am sure you will profit a lot from it. Make sure you visit it. You will be flooded with amazing ideas.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter: Lincoln

Work in groups:

1. What are the American presidents you know? What do you know about them?

2. What do you know about Abraham Lincoln? 

3. What makes a president unforgetable?  

4. Read the summary of Lincoln's major accomplishments and decide why he became so famous. In the group's opinion, what are his two major accomplishments?


1. Abraham Lincoln made the decision to fight to prevent the nation from splitting apart.

2. Abraham Lincoln was an unfaltering commander in chief during the Civil War which preserved the United States as one nation.

3. Abraham Lincoln's foreign policy was successful in preventing other countries from intervening in America's Civil War.

4. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which began the process of freedom for America's slaves. The document also allowed black soldiers to fight for the Union.

5. Abraham Lincoln was a strong supporter of the Thirteenth Amendment that formally ended slavery in the United States.

6. Legislation Abraham Lincoln signed into law included the Homestead Act, the Morrill Act, the National Banking Act, and a bill that chartered the first transcontinental railroad.

7. Abraham Lincoln set an example of strong character, leadership, and honesty which succeeding presidents tried to emulate. Barack Obama stated during his campaign that he would look to Lincoln as a model.

8. Abraham Lincoln gave a series of great speeches before and during his presidency including the House Divided Speech, the Cooper Union Address, the First Inaugural Address, the Gettysburg Address, and the Second Inaugural Address.

9. Abraham Lincoln wrote a series of famous letters including the letters to Grace BedellHorace GreeleyFanny McCullough, and Lydia Bixby.

Abraham Lincoln's quotes are among the most famous quotes in the world. Read them and discuss their meanings and if you agree with them.

“No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar”
"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

"Common looking people are the best in the world: that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them."

"The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time."

"Character is like a tre and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it and the tree is the real thing."

“Everybody likes a compliment.” 

“If there is anything that a man can do well, I say let him do it. Give him a chance.” 

“A friend is one who has the same enemies as you have.” 

Watch the movie segment and discuss with your partners the way Lincoln sees himself . Do you also think we are the way he sees himself? Explain it.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Paddington: Polite Requests for Help

I simply love this movie. It is funny,  sweet and touching. It is great for children and adults. I recommend it. 

I. Watch the movie segment and talk to your partner about the questions below.


1. Was Paddington, the bear, polite with the people around him?

2. What went wrong?

3. What should he do to draw attention to him politely?

II. Read the expressions below and decide in which situations they would be most appropriate?

1. Can you give me a hand with this?

2. Could you help me for a second?

3. Can I ask a favor?

4. I wonder if you could help me with this?

5. I could do with some help, please.

6. I can't manage. Can you help?

7. Give me a hand with this, will you?

8. Lend me a hand with this, will you?

9. Could you spare a moment?

10. I need some help, please.

III. Now check the explanations for the best use for those requests and compare them to  your answers. 

Phrase 1 is quite a direct question to use with friends and people who you know quite well.

Phrase 2 is more polite. We include the words 'for a second' to show that we don't need a lot of help 
and that it will not be difficult.

Phrase 3 is a general way of introducing a request for help.

Phrase 4 is polite and can be used with people you don't know very well, or with your boss.

Phrase 5 is quite direct, and the focus is that you really need help. It's quite strong.

Phrase 6 shows you have a big problem. You are desperate for help. you often hear this phrase when somebody has too much work to do.

Phrases 7 and 8 are similar and are direct requests for help. 'Lend a hand' is a little more polite and old-fashioned than 'give me a hand.'

We use phrase 9 to show that we respect that the other person is really quite busy and to say that they will only need to help you for a short time.

Phrase 10 is a direct question and the asker does not expect the listener to say no. This is often used by people in authority e.g. bosses.

Inspired by the awesome site International House Bristol. It has wonderful ideas for functional language use.


Improvise a dialog based on the following situations. Use the expression you have learned in this lesson.

A: You are the boss of an important department. You need a report ready in two hours, but you don't have enough time to prepare it by yourself.

B: You are A's assistant. You are very busy, but your main job is to help your boss.

A: You are lost in a busy foreign city. You need directions to get back to your hotel.   

B; You are in a hurry heading for work. You can't be  late because it is your first working day at this company , but you don't want to be rude. Decide if you will spare a few minutes of your time to help A or decline A's request  politely.

A: You are at  a party that you know nobody. You are embarrassed and want to go home as soon as possible. How can you tell the host you want to leave before dinner is served?

B: You are very busy hosting a party. You want everybody to feel comfortable, but you don't have time to interact with most guests. How will you help A in this situation? You really don't want A to leave the party before dinner.


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 & The Legend of Tarzan: 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?

7. Watch the movie segment from the movie The Legend of Tarzan and  discuss the questions.


Tarzan was raised among wild animals. Does it make him more able to communicate with wild animals or do you think it is just fiction?  Explain your argumentation