Sunday, December 27, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You & The Dilemma: Excuses

I think both films are funny and catchy. If you like comedies, you can give them a go. These scenes are contextualized and perfect to talk about Giving Excuses.

I. Work in pairs. Make a list of 4 different excuses people usually give in the situations below. Be creative, but believable.

1. You're late for a class because you overslept. The teacher does not accept tardiness. What excuses can you give to be accepted in class?

2. You didn't do the homework assigment and it's for a grade. It is due today. What would tell your teacher to have an extra time to hand in the assigment?

3. You went dancing and met the girlfriend/boyfriend there.
of your dreams. You arrived home 4 hours later than your parents' stipulated curfew. What excuses can you give so that you don't get grounded?

4. You were invited for a dinner party in your honor and the only dish is something you simply hate. What excuses can you give without hurting the host?

5. You received a present that you disliked. You want to exchange it, but the only way of doing it is by returning it to the person who originally gave it to you. What would you say to him/her?

6. You invite someone for dinner at a very expensive restaurant , but you forgot your wallet at home. You want to impress this person. What excuses can you give to have your guest pay the check for you?

7. You went out with a girl (boy), got her (his) telephone number but never called her (him). You meet her by accident on the street and he (she) asks why you didn't call her (him). You are still interested in the person. What can you say so that she (he) doesn't get disappointed with you?

II. Role play the situations above.

III. Watch the movie segment now. Pay attention to all the excuses the women in the segment came up with to justify their lover's not calling them. Try to remember all of them.

 IV. Discuss these questions with a partner.

1. Is it true that women want men to call them after the first date right on the next day? What's your opinion about it?

2. Is it true that men don't want to call them after the first date right on the next day? What's your opinion about it?

3. If the man does not call after the first date, is it okay for the woman to call him? Explain it.

4. What's your opinion about women who don't wait for the man to approach and initiates the contact?

5. Is it true that men want outgoing women to date and shy and conservative women to marry? Justify your answer.

V. Watch the scene from the movie The Dilemma and answer the questions in pairs:

1. Describe the scene.

2. What did he see and what happened to him?

3. Why do you think he decided not to tell the truth?

4. What excuses did he make up while and after narrating the story?

5. Did Geneva believe his excuses were true?

6. What would you do if y ou were in his shoes? And in her shoes?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Juno: Teenage Pregnancy

This is a great movie. Teenage pregnancy is dealt with in a creative, different manner. My students had a lot to say about it.

I. Talk to a partner about the following questions:

1. Is unwanted teenage pregnancy an issue where you live?

2. What can be done to prevent it from happening?

3. What's your opinion about aborting a teenager's unwanted pregnancy? Would you consider it under any circumstances?

4. What about giving the child away for adoption? What do you think about it?

5. What should children be taught about conception and pregnancy?

6. Is it better that teenagers remain celibate or that they become sexually active, using condoms? Explain it?

7. What should parents do when it happens?

8. What about the future father? What should he do under the circumstances below?

- if he is underaged too?

- if he is older than 18?

- If he is older than 35?

- If he had raped the teenager?

- if he has a wife?

- if he denies it?

II. Watch the movie segment and answer the following questions in groups:

1. Describe what happened in the segment.

2. What was her mother's reaction?

3. What was her father's reaction?

4. What was her friend's reaction?

5. What did Juno say she was going to do? Do you like her idea?

6. What would you do if...?

- You were Juno?

- You were Juno's best friend?

- You were Juno's parents?

- You were the father of the baby?

- You were the foster parents to whom Juno promised to give the baby away.

7. What do you think will happen next?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Akeelah and the Bee & Bad Words: Spelling Bee

The Spelling Bee is a big event here at the Casa Thomas Jefferson. These two segments are perfect to activate schemata and to give students an idea of how important these events are in the USA. Spelling Bee is already a tradition at Thomas!

I. Talk to a partner:

1) What do you think when your teacher says you’re going to do some spelling?

2) Is learning spelling in class interesting and fun? Should it be?

3) How important is spelling compared with pronunciation, vocabulary, punctuation, etc?

4)What strategies do you use to remember the spelling of difficult words?

5) Have you ever heard of the Spelling Bee contest? What do you know about it?

B. Now check the alternative you believe is correct. The winning group is the one who scores the most points.

1. The National Spelling Bee contest started in ______

a. 1925
b. 1935
c. 1945
d. 1950

2. The 1st National Spelling Bee Contest had ______ participants.

a. 5
b. 9
c. 90
d. 150

3. The term Spelling Bee refers to:

a. The sound bees make.
b. The busy social life of the bees for a single activity.
c. Bees skipping from letter to letter on television programs broadcasting the contest .
d. No one knows why it is called Spelling Bee.

4. Spelling Bee contests are popular in ______.

a. Most countries in the world.
b. English speaking countries.
c. The USA only.
d. In England only.

5. Which one of the alternatives is true?

a. No Black Americans have won the National Spelling Bee contest in the USA.
b. No foreigners have won the National Spelling Bee contest in the USA
c. New York is the state that has had the greatest number of winners of the National Spelling Bee contest in the USA.
 d. 70% of the winners in this contest have been females.

Answer Key: 1a, 2b, 3b, 4b, 5d

III. Watch the movie segment and answer the following questions.

1. Describe what happened in the segment.

2. How would you describe the participants' feelings?

3. And the audience's?

4. Are participants excited about the contest?

5. How do the participants feel when eliminated?

6. Would you like to participate in such a contest? Why (not)?

7. Is it important to participate in competitions like this one? Why (not)?

8. How important is the contest in American society? What did you see in the segment that justifies your answer?

PPT SLIDES - Prepared by my colleague Daniela Lyra

IV. Watch the movie segment from the movie BAD WORDS and answer the questions.

1. Describe what happened in the segment.

2. How would you describe the participants' feelings?

3. And the audience's?

4. Are participants excited about the contest?

5. How do the participants react to the adult who is participating in the contest? And how does the adult react to his own and the other's participation? How do you describe his attitude?

6. Should he be allowed to participate? Why (not)?

7. How do you compare both Spelling Bee contests? What do they have in common and what are the differences between them?



Friday, December 4, 2009

21 & All In: Gambling & Casinos

I. Talk to a group of three students about the following questions:

1. Have you ever been to a casino? Talk about your experience. If you haven't, would you like to? Why (not)?
2. Are casinos legalized where you live? Do you agree with this decision?
3. Should casinos be prohibited? Why (not)?
4. What about lotteries?
5. What do you know about cards games? Can you play any? What are the rules?
6. Is it okay for children to play cards even if no money bets are involved?
7. Do you think the life of a professional gambler is glamorous? Justify it.
8. Casinos make a lot of money. Is it fair that clients cheat or use illegal tricks to win their bets over?
9. Should gambling be considered a disease, like an addiction, for example?

II. Talk to your partners and match the vocabulary and the definitions about gambling:

1. Banker

2. Blackjack

3. Bet

4. Chips

5. Color up

6. Hand

7. House

8. Jackpot

9. Fold

10. All-in

11. Bluff

12. Hit

( ) When a player converts chips of smaller denominations to larger denominations.

( ) the dealer in card games.

( ) The casino or any gambling facility.

( ) To throw your hand away when it's your turn to act.

( ) The cards that a player holds.

( ) to wager

( ) When a player bets all his/her chips.

( ) a table game that requires a pair of cards to total 21. A winning hand should be higher than the dealer’s cards without going over 21.

( ) The round-shaped tokens used in gaming instead of cash. These are bought at the gaming tables and converted to cash at the cashier’s booth or cage.

( ) To make other players believe that one has a better hand

( ) A big win on a slot machine.

( ) It means the player wants another card.

Answer Key: 5, 1, 7, 9, 6, 3, 10, 2, 4, 11, 8, 12

III. Watch the first segment of the movie 21 and answer the following questions:

- Describe what you saw in the segment:

1. What game are they playing? How do you know it?

2. Is the main character cheating? How do you know?

3. Is he working by himself?

4. Is he right or wrong? Why?

5. Which words presented in the vocabulary exercise could you use to describe the segment?

IV. Now watch the segment of the movie All In and answer the questions that follow:

- Describe what you saw in the segment.

1. What game are they playing? How do you know it?

2. Is the main character - the young girl - cheating? How do you know?

3. Is she working by herself?

4. Is she right or wrong? Why?

5. Which words presented in the vocabulary exercise could you use to describe the segment?


1. What do both scenes have in common and how different are they?

2. What do you think will happen to the main characters after the scenes?

3. Which of the two games is more interesting? Poker or Blackjack? Why?

4. What should happen to the main characters in the movies? Why?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Frida: Frida Kahlo

This movie is just great and Kahlo is one of my favorite painters. We often talk about her and art in general in our classes, so I developed this ativity, which my students enjoyed and learned a lot.

A. Work in groups of three students. Answer the following quiz about the great painter Frida Kahlo. The group that score more points is the winner.

1. Frida was _______.

a. Spanish

b. Colombian

c. Cuban

d. Mexican

2. Frida was a survivor of ______.

a. polio

b. malaria

c. cancer

d. Spanish influenza

3. She was born in

a. 1897

b. 1907

c. 1917

d. 1927

4. She was married to a famous painter

a. Pablo Picasso

b. Salvador Dali

c. Juan Miró

d. Diego Rivera

5. At the age of 18, she was seriously injured in a ________.

a. bus accident

b. fall in the bathroom

c. fight with her husband

d. fall from the stairs

Answers: 1 d, 2 a, 3 b, 4 d, 5 a

B. Look at the painting below. Talk to a partner and make guesses:

1. Who is the character in the painting?

2. Why is she wearing those clothes?

3. What was she feeling?

4. What happened before she painted it?

5. Why did she paint it?

Painting: Self-portrait with cropped hair - Frida Kahlo

C. Watch the segment and check if you were right.

D. Now repeat the process with this painting:

1. Who is the character in the painting?

2. Why is she wearing those clothes?

3. What was she feeling?

4. What happened before she painted it?

5. Why did she paint it?

Painting: The Broken Column - Frida Kahlo

E. Now watch the second segment and check if you were right.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Swing Vote: Elections

This movie is surprisingly good. Because Brazilian elections are completely different from American's, this scene is perfect to practice vocabulary about elections and conversation. It is great at election times. I hope you like it. My students did.

A. Match the vocabulary and its definition:

1. polls

2. candidate

3. ballot

4. platform

5. campaign

6. party

7. running mate

8. swing vote

( ) a document listing all the alternatives that is used in voting

( ) the place where people vote

( ) a race between candidates for an elective office

( ) a person who is running for office

( ) the person a presidential candidate will choose to run for vice-president

( ) the vote that unties an election

( ) a statement of principles and objectives used during a campaign to win support from voters

( ) a group of persons with common political opinions and purposes

B. Now fill in the blanks with the words in Exercise A.

1.Everyone needs to go to the ________to vote.

2. Each political party nominates a_____________.

3. He put his vote in the __________ box.

4. The candidate simply ignored the party _______________ and followed his own ideas.

5. An organized effort to gain votes is a _____________.

6. Each political ___________selects a candidate.

7. The vice-presidential candidate is the ____________.

8. Because each of the candidates had 5 votes, mine will be the ___________.

Answer key:

A: 3, 1 5, 2, 7, 8, 4, 6

B: 1. polls, 2. candidate, 3. ballot, 4. platform, 5. campaign, 6. party, 7. running mate, 8. swing vote

B. Interview each other:

1. Do you like to vote?

2. Is it important to vote? Why?

3. Do you remember who you voted for in the previous elections? And for representatives?

4. Should voting be mandatory? Why (not)?

5. What are the best and worst things about elections?

C. Watch the movie segment from the movie Swing Vote. Then describe everything the little girl did on the American presidential election day. Make sure you use the vocabulary you have learned.


D. Talk to a partner:

1. Do you think that what happened in the segment could possibly happen during the elections in your country? Why (not) ?

2. What would the consequences of her act be if the elections were in your country?

3. Is the voting process in your country similar to the one in the segment (USA)? How different is it?

E. Watch the second segment and answer the questions:


1. What were the consequences of the power failure?

2. How did the candidates react? Would it be different if they were in your country?

3. What do you think the candidates are going to do to convince that citizen to trust him his ballot?

4. What would you do if you had the the swing vote?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Long Weekend & The Beach: Sharks

I. Work in small groups. Answer the following questions about sharks. The team that scores more points is the winner:

1. What is the largest shark in the world?

a. Hammerhead shark
b. Whale shark
c. Great white shark
d. Tiger shark

2. How long can a shark go without eating?

a. a week
b. two weeks
c. a month
d. two months

3. Mother sharks stay close to their babies until they are mature.

a. true
b. false

4. The great white shark is the most fierce of the sharks.

a. true
b. false

5. About how many kinds of sharks are there?

a. Under 250
b. 250 -350
c. 350 - 450
d. Over 500

6 . Sharks have upper and lower eyelids but they do not blink.

a. true
b. false

7. The most harmless sharks tend to be the largest.

a. true
b. false

8. Some sharks may eat other sharks.

a. true
b. false

9. Florida has the greatest number of shark attacks annually in the whole world.

a. true
b. false

10. Almost all sharks are "carnivores" or meat eaters.

a. true
b. false

Answer key:

1 b, 2 c, 3 b, 4 b, 5 c, 6 a, 7 a, 8 a, 9 b, 10 a

B. Discuss the following questions:

1. What's your opinion about sharks?

2. Have you ever seen a live shark? Where?

3. Are sharks a problem where you live or spend summer vacation?

4. Is it okay to kill or hunt sharks in areas they attack human beings?

5. What are the qualities of a shark?

C. Watch the movie segment from the Australian movie, Long Weekend, and answer the questions.

1. Describe what happened in the scene.

2. What would you do if you saw someone in the ocean and a shark approaching?

3. The scene takes place in Australia, a country famous for its shark attacks. Would you swim on a beach you knew there are sharks around?

4. If you were Peter, would you swim there again on another day?

5. What will happen next?

D. Now watch another segment from the same movie, Long Weekend. Check what happens to the animal.

1. Was it a shark? What was it? Did it surprise you?

2. Why did the characters think it was a shark when they first saw it?

3. Would you feel more relieved or worried after the discovery?

E. Work in small groups discussing the following questions, previewing the next segment from the movie, The Beach.

1. Who is more likely to win in a confrontation? A man or a shark?

2.What should a man do in order to defeat a shark when fighting in the waters of the ocean?

3. Is it possible to defeat a shark in its natural habitat?

4. Watch the segment. Then describe the scene and share your opinion about what actually happened.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Lakeview Terrace & Rear Window: Neighbors

I. Interview a partner:  

1. Talk about your neighborhood. Do you know all your neighbors?

2. What kind of neighbors do you have?

3. Do you trust them? Why (not)?

4. Do you have nosy neighbors?

5. What about noisy neighbors?

6. What should one do to be a good neighbor?

II. Switch roles now.

1. Is it good to have neighbors who visit you often? Why (not)?

2. Talk about your best neighbor.

3. Talk about your worst neighbor.

4. What are the most common disagreements between neighbors.

5. Have you ever argued with a neighbor? Talk about it.

6. Have you ever had a "dog problem" with a neighbor? Talk about it.

III. Watch the segment from the movie Lakeview Terrace now and discuss the following questions

1. Describe what happened in the segment.

2. How would you describe their relationship? Why?

3. What do you think happened before the segment?

4. What will probably happen next?

5. Who's right in the scene?

III. Circle the adjectives that you believe your neighbors would apply to you and underline the ones you think apply to your neighbor (choose one of them).





Open minded


















IV. Now watch the segment from the movie Rear Window and discuss the questions that follow.

1. Describe the scene.

2. What do you think actually happened?

3. Was the owner of the dog right to say what she did? Explain it.

4. What kind of neighborhood is it?

5. How do you compare these neighbors to the ones in the first segment?

6. Which of the adjectives in the previous exercise apply to this neighborhood?

7. How different are these neighbors from your own?

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I have given an interview that has been published on a peer's (Vanessa Prata's) very intereresting blog, about using movie segments in the classroom. You may check it out here. Thanks Vanessa. Your blog, English for All, is great for teachers. Congratulations.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Felon: Justice - Law

Watch the first segment from the movie Felon and discuss the questions that follow:

1. Describe the scene.

2. Did Wade Porter, the main character, do the right thing?

3. What should happen to him?

4. Should he go to jail? Why (not)?

Vocabulary Building:

Work with a partner and match the words and the definitions about Law:

1. Sue (v)

2. Jury (n)

3. Defendant (n)

4. Judge (n)

5. Arson (n)

6. Manslaughter (n)

7. Witness (n)

8. Verdict (n)

9. Trial (n)

10. Evidence (n)

11. Lawyer, Attorney (n)

12. Convict (v)

13. Sentence (n)

14. Prosecutor (n)

15. Defense Attorney (n)

( ) The punishment.

( ) One or more reasons for believing that something is or is not true.

( ) A person who is in charge of a trial in court and decides how a person who is guilty should be punished.

( ) To decide officially in a court of law that someone is guilty of a crime.

( ) the crime of killing a person by someone who did not intend to do it.

( ) A group pf people who have been chosen to to listen to all the facts in a trial to decide whether a person is guilty or not guilty.

( ) Someone whose job is to give advice to people about the law and speak for them in court.

( ) To take legal action against a person or organization because of some harm they have caused you.

( ) The attorney that defends someone of committing a crime in a Court of law.

( ) The attorney the accuses someone of committing a crime in a court of law.

( ) The hearing of statements and showing of objects to judge whether a person is guilty of a crime.

( ) A person who sees a crime or an accident.

( ) A person who is accused of having done something illegal.

( ) The crime of intentionally start a fire in order to damage or destroy something.

( ) An opinion or decision made after judging the facts at the end of a trial.

Answer key: 13, 10, 4, 12, 6, 2, 11, 1, 15, 14, 9, 7, 3, 5, 8

Watch the second segment. Talk to a partner about the questions that follow:

1. Describe what happened during the scene.

2. What is the officer accusing Wade of?

3. Was it a self-defense crime, in your opinion?

4. Who's right? The officer or Wade?

5. Would it be fair for him to go to jail despite the circumstances of the crime?

The Trial:

Divide the class into two groups.

One group is the prosecution and the other one is the defense.

Come up with a case either defending or accusing the defendant to present the jury (a group of students), who will decide and tell the judge (the teacher) the main character's sentence, based on the evidence and argumentation presented by the students. 


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Labor Pains & The Proposal: Boss x Employee

A. Talk to a partner about the following questions.

1. What should the ideal boss be like? Mention at least 5 important qualities he/she must have.

2. Mention 5 qualities a boss can't have.

3. What is the limit for an employee to bear with a rude boss?

4. Would you quit a position because of your boss even if the job were excellent pay and you didn't have any other opportunity in mind?

5. Would you tell the truth to your boss if you didn't like the he/she treated you? Why (not)?

B. Watch the first part of the segment from the movie Labor Pains and decide.

1. Who is right? The boss or the employee?

2. Was the boss too strict about her delay? Why (not)?

3. What would you do if you were the employee?

4. What would you do if you were the boss?

5. What were the wrong things both the employee and the boss did? Explain it.

C. Now watch the second segment from Labor Pains and answer the questions that follow.

1. Is the main character actually pregnant?

2. Why did she make that up?

3. Is it okay to lie to your boss just to keep your job?

4. Do you think it's fair that a pregnant woman can't be legally fired? Why (not)?

5. What are the laws in your country concerning pregnant women at the workplace?

6. What will she have to do so that her workmates don't find out she's not pregnant.

7. What will happen next?

8. What should the boss do if/when she finds out about that she is not pregnant at all?

9. What other excuse could she have made up in order to keep her job? Would it be better or worse than hers? Why?

D. Watch the next segment from the movie The Proposal. Then discuss the questions.

1. How do you describe the relationship between the boss and the employees? How healthy is it?

2. What about the boss and her secretary?

3. Does the boss deserve her reputation? Explain it.

4. What's your opinion about the way she fired her employee?

5. What's your opinion about the way the fired employee reacted to it?

6. Would you like to be her secretary knowing that the pay is extremely profitable? Why (not)?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Because I Said So: Internet Dating

This is a great romantic comedy. It is extremely current and has great moments, such as the one I selected for this activity. I hope you like it. My students had a lot to talk about.

Online dating or Internet dating is a dating system which allows individuals, couples and groups to make contact and communicate with each other over the Internet, usually with the objective of developing a personal romantic or sexual relationship. Online dating services usually provide matchmaking over the Internet, through the use of personal computers or cell phones.

A. Work with a partner. Discuss the following questions:

1. Are you familiar with Internet dating or is it too far off your reality?

2. What's your opinion about this kind of sites?

3. Is it possible for someone to find their soul mates on line?

4. Would you create a profile of your own on one of those sites? Would you tell the truth
about yourself?

5. Do you think people often lie about themselves on these sites? If so, why do they do it?

6. Is it easier or harder to make new good friends on sites such as orkut, facebook, twitter, or others? Why?

B. Check the items below that one will probably find on one online personals or dating site:

( ) They can search the service provider's database for other individuals, using criteria they set, such as age/ range, gender and location.

( ) They allow members to upload pictures of themselves and browse the photos of others.

( ) They may offer additional services, such as online chats, telephone chats (VOIP), and message boards.

( ) They provide free registrations, but many provide services which require a monthly fee.

( ) They have members coming from a variety of backgrounds looking for different types of relationships.

B. Watch the segment now and answer the questions that follow.

1. What happened in the segment?

2. Do you think it is a good idea for a mother to place a personal add on about her daughter without her knowing about it? Why (not)?

3. Should a mother help her daughter choose Mr. Right for her? Why (not)?

4. Try to remember all the candidates. Which one was:

the ugliest / the funniest / the most ridiculous / the best / the worst

5. What do you think will happen next?

6. What would you do if you were the daughter whose profile had been published on the site? How would you react to it?


Christine Kane's suggestion: 10 Most Accurate Movies about the Internet. Great Suggestions there.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic: Shopping

This movie a great source of discussion points. I used the opening scene to talk about shopping in an impartial manner.

A. Watch the movie segment from the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic and then discuss the following questions:

1) What are real prices and mom prices, according to Rebecca?

2) What does she see when she goes window shopping?

3) How did she call credit cards? Why?

4) How does she compare her excitement of seeing a store?

B. Talk to a different partner now:

1. Who prefer shopping? Men or Women? Why?

2. Do you buy unnecessary things? How do you deal with it?

3.What advice would you give Rebecca, the main character of the movie?

4. Do you know anyone like Rebecca? Tell your partner about this person.

5. What are the best places for shopping in your city?

6. Do you prefer department stores or smaller ones? Why?

7. Do you prefer malls or shopping on the streets? Why?


1. Which is the best shopping mall in your city? Why do you think so?

2. Which is the best store for women's clothes? And men's clothes?

3. What do you dislike about shopping malls?

4. What do you like about shopping malls?

5. What was the last thing you bought for yourself? Why did you buy it?


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Marie Antoinette & Lost in Translation: Fashion

I usually use this activity either before or after the ones in the previous post - style - because they pretty much go together. The vocabulary is useful for both. By the way, both of the scenes are extremely attractive. Students love them both. I hope you do too.

A. Divide the class into pairs.

Student 1 asks questions 1 to 6 and student 2 asks questions 7 to 11.

1) Do you like fashion?

2) What is your opinion about the fashion industry?3) Are you a fashion victim or slave to fashion? Explain it.

3) What's your opinion about fashion models?

4) How does fashion affect your life?

5) How important is fashion today compared with the past?

6) What do you think fashion will be like 40 years from now? Will we wear any different kinds of clothes and materials?

7) What is more important? To look elegant or comfortable?

8) What are the bad aspects of fashion?

9) Is fashion only for beautiful or famous people? Explain it.

10) Do you have your own fashion style or follow the crowds?

11) What are some of the strangest fashions you have seen?

B. Watch the movie segment. It is about fashion in the Elizabethan era. Watch it and compare it to fashion nowadays.

1) What's your opinion about the fashion in the Elizabethan period?

2) Would you like to wear those clothes? And the shoes? Why (not)?

3) Choose three positive adjectives and three negative adjectives to describe their clothes.

4) Look at the adjectives below and decide which ones apply better to fashion nowadays (N) or to the Elizabethan era (E).

a. Elegant ( )

b. Expensive ( )

c. Comfortable ( )

d. Romantic ( )

e. Ugly ( )

f. Corny ( )

g. Wearable ( )

h. Fierce ( )

i. Fresh ( )

j. Eclectic ( )

k. Luxurious ( )

l. Extravagant ( )

m. Predictable ( )

n. Boring ( )

o. Glamorous( )

C. Now watch the next segment from the movie Lost in Translation. Then discuss the questions with a partner.

1. Describe the scene.

2. Describe the TV host fashion style. What's your opinion about it?

3. How do you compare the fashion in Marie Antoinette and in Lost in Translation?

4. Which adjectives in the previous exercise apply to the TV host? And to Bob Harris?


Work in small groups. Read the sentences below and decide whether they apply to the way you see yourself and fashion. Explain why you chose or didn't choose each of them.



Saturday, September 26, 2009

Edward Scissorhands & Sin City: Style

Both films are wonderful Edward Scissorhand is a classic and you can use it in many different manners. Sin City is fantastic. Its cartoonish view and colors are gripping and breathtaking. I decided to use it to warm up classes on styles, its preconceptions and implications. I hope you like it.
A. Watch the segment and answer the following questions about the characters in the movie Edward Scissorhands.

A. Talk to a partner:

1) What can you say about the character's life styles, according to the way they look like?

2) Try to think about the daily routines of the ladies in the segment. What is their everyday life like?

3) Why did they like their new looks so much? Did you like them?

4) What about their clothes colors? Do they mean anything to you?

5) What's your opinion about their style? Do you like it? Why (not)?

6) Would you wear their clothes and hairstyles?

B. Now watch a segment from Sin City. Pay attention to the characters clothes and fashion style in order to answer the following questions. Make guesses based on their looks. Talk to a partner and come to an agreement.

1) Are they rich? Explain your answer.

2) Where are they? What do their clothes say about the place they are at that moment.

3) In your opinion, is smoking classy or corny? What about in this segment? How is smoking connected with their life style?

4) Why are her dress, lip and eye colors the only ones you can see in the segment? Why does that happen? Why are they so flashy?

5) What do their haircuts say about them?

6) Was the end unexpected to you? Come up with a creative alternative ending for the scene.

7) Share your alternative endings and choose your favorite one to role play to the class.

Class discussion:

- Which one of the scenes do you prefer? Why?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

In the Electric Mist & Footloose: Drunk Driving

A. Talk to a partner.

1. What is the law concerning drinking and driving in your country?

2. Do you agree with it? Why?

3. Should the law be more lenient or tougher on this issue?

4. Is drinking and driving a problem where you live? What should be done to prevent it from happening?

B. Each student has a set of questions.

Student 1 asks student 2 his/her questions. Then they switch roles:

Student 1:.
1. Should the passengers of a drunk driver be punished? Why (not)?

2. Do you agree with the police's breathalyzing drivers even is he/she hasn't drunk or does not look drunk?

3. Have you ever driven drunk? Have you ever been a passenger of a drunk driver? If so, why did you do it?

4. What is the most appropriate penalty for a drunk driver?

Student 2:

1. Do you think there should be zero tolerance for any alcohol in a driver’s bloodstream? Justify your answer. 

2. What should happen to a drunk driver who kills a pedestrian? 

3. What should happen to a drunk driver who is caught by the police while driving in the city? . 

4. What should happen to a drunk driver who is racing other cars on the streets? 

5. Should drink laws also apply to cyclists? Why (not) ? 

C. Watch the segment. Take turns asking the following questions about the segment:

1. Describe what happened.

2. What were some of the traffic laws the driver broke?

3. Which is more serious? Drunk driving or marijuana smoking and driving? Why?

4. What's your opinion about the police officer's attitude towards the driver?

5. What should the officer have done?

6. What do you think will happen next?

D. Work in small groups. Design a slogan for an advertising campaign on Drunk Driving. Share it with the class and choose the best one.

E. Watch the segment from the movie Footloose and discuss the questions:


1. Do you agree with the prohibition?

2. What did the teens do wrongly, in your opinion?

3. Should the City Council decide what people can or can't do to have fun? Explain.

4. What are the possible consequences of such a drastic decision?


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Flight 93 & Crossing Over: 9/11, Terrorism

Talking about 9/11 is very controversial and points of view vary from country to country. However, it is a theme with a lot of food for thought and the students enjoy talking about it because they always have a lot to share. I tried to be as neutral as possible, but you may adapt the lesson plan to your reality. I just used this activity this week and the students were very excited and argumentative during the whole class. I hope you like it.

A. Work in small groups.

1. What do you know about the the terrorist attacks on September 11th?

2. Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when they happened?

3. What's your opinion about what happened?

4. Has life around the world changed because of that? How so?

5. How exactly did life change in your country? Did it affect you or somebody you know somehow?

B. Watch the first segment from the film Fight 93 now and discuss the questions that follow.

1. Describe the scene

2. What do the terrorists look like?

3. What about the passengers? How did they react at first? Did they change their behavior as the scene developed?

4. What's your opinion about the terrorists acts? Are they right or wrong? Explain it?

Now watch the second segment from the movie Crossing Over and answer the questions:

1. Describe the scene.

2. What's the Muslim girl's point of view of the September 11th acts of terrorism?

3. How did the American students react to her point of view?

4. What's your opinion about what she believes in?

5. Who's right and who's wrong?

6. Was she right to make such a comment in America during a class with a lot of American students? Why (not)?

7. Americans often say that America is a free country. Do you agree with it? Can anybody actually say what they want wherever they want in America? Explain it.

8. What about where you live? Can one express his/her opinions freely? Explain it.



Saturday, September 5, 2009

TransSiberian: Traveling Abroad

I enjoyed watching this thriller with a lot of cultural references. The movie is about drug trafficking in Russian trains and how a naive American couple of tourists get involved with it during a trip abroad. In fact, the director portraits Russians in a way I don't think they are. If you are Russian, will you please make a comment about how you see the way stereotyped Russians are shown and how you feel about this way of portraying your people, please? What did the train attendant say in Russian?? I'd love to know. Being Brazilian, I'm very familiar with stereotyped Brazilians on the Hollywood screens! I hope you like it! By the way, don't miss reading my Russian reader's review on the movie - he criticizes it severely - because it will help your discussion with your students. Thanks, pal!

A. Ask a partner the following questions:

1. Do you like to travel? What was the best place you've ever been to?

2. Would you like to travel alone for many years to different places without coming back
home during the whole period? Why?

3. What is the best way to travel?

4. Have you ever been abroad? Where did (would you like to) you go?

5. Are there places you wouldn't like to go? Why?

B. Now switch roles.

1. Have you ever traveled by train, plane, car and ship? Which one is your favorite?

2. What can go wrong when you travel to another country?

3. Is it important to know the culture of the other country when you go abroad? Why?

4. Do you know anything about the Russian culture? How do you imagine they treat tourists there?

5. Would you like to travel to Russia? What would you like to do there?

C. Watch the movie segment. Then form small groups to talk about the questions that follow.


1. What were the unexpected things the American travelers faced in this short period of their trip?

2. What do you think the Russian train attendant told the couple about the toilet?

3. What idea did you get from the Russians based on the segment?

4. Do you think it is a stereotyped view of the Russian people or even a caricature of their people? Explain it.

5. Would you like to take a trip like that? Why (not)?

D. Each half the class will work on one of the questions below.

Make a list of 5 precautions you would take to reach your destination safely if you were the couple in the segment?

Make a list of 5 precautions you would recommend a woman traveling by herself in your country?

E. Share your lists with the class as a whole. Are there any matches?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Unborn: Nightmares

Although this movie is not a masterpiece of horror, it can be really spooky at times. If your class is too sensitive, do not use it. Check it out first. The scene is extremely attractive. All my students loved it. I hope you do too. A. Talk to a partner about the following questions:

1. Do you dream every night?

2. Do you remember your dreams?

3. Which kind of dream do you remember with more details? Dreams or nightmares?

4. Do nightmares have meanings? Do you believe your nightmares are telling you something?

5. If you had a horrible nightmare about a plane crash the night before you were going to fly to another city, would you change your plans? Why not?

6. Has any of your nightmares ever come true? If so, describe it.

7. What are recurrent dreams or nightmares? Have you ever had any?

B. Watch the first segment of the movie. This is the main character's nightmare. Try to figure out what it means. What do the objects, animals and people mean? What is the nightmare trying to tell her?

C. Share your guesses with the whole class.

D. Now watch the second segment. The main character asks her friend to give her some explanations about the dream.

E. Talk to a partner:

According to her friend:

1. What does the dog mean?

2. What does the baby mean?

3. What do you think the nightmare means now, combining both pieces of information? Be creative.

4. What will happen next?

5. Would you like to share one of your nightmares with the class?

6. What's your opinion about their interpretation of the dream?


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Role Models: Community Service - Alternative Sentencing

Community service is an act by a person that benefits the local community. People become involved in community service for many reasons: for some, serving community is an altruistic act, for others it is a punishment. (Wikipedia)

A. Class Discussion:
What is your opinion about Community Service as Alternate Sentencing of convicts?

B. Work with a partner. Read the following statements about alternative sentencing and decide if you both agree or disagree with them. Justify your answers.

1. Expensive fines should be reduced in exchange for a certain number of hours of community service.

2. The convicts should be able to choose their community service.

3. Sentences should be ordered by the court, deciding which services convicts must do.

4. The sentencing should be specifically aimed at the convict's crime, for example, a litterer may have to clean a park , or a drunk driver can be asked to talk to school groups to explain why drunk driving is a crime.

5. Minor offenders should be required to work for city departments under the supervision of the police on weekends, as an alternative to jail.

6. A service to the community is more beneficial than punishment .

7. The community sees a benefit, saving costs associated with incarceration.

8. It is a way to educate the convict in what is acceptable behavior.

9. It is a bad example for other groups, such as young people, because they may become reluctant to do it voluntarily.

10. It is too light a sentence for the crimes.

C. Make a list of five alternative sentences you would consider fair.

D. Watch the movie segment and answer the questions that follow. Take turns asking them.

1. Describe what happened in the segment.

2. What were their sentences? Were they fair or should they go to jail? Why?

3. What were some of their crimes?

4. What's Sturdy Wings?

5. What did Sturdy Wings do to Gayle's life? How different is her life now?

6. What's your opinion about the commercial? Is it effective? Why (not)?

7. Is Sturdy Wings really worse than jail?


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Crossing Over: Immigration

I. Work in small groups of students. Prepare a list with 5 advantages and 5 disadvantages of immigration.

II. Share your list with the rest of the class and check if you had the same ideas.

III. Work in pairs now. Give each student a card with different questions for them to interview each other. Student 1:

1. Is immigration good or bad? Why?

2. Was immigration successful in Brazil (your country)? Explain it.

3. Would you like to live in or move to another country? Why?

4. Do you think illegal immigration is a serious problem in Brazil (your country)? Justify it.

Student 2:

1. How different would the world be if there were not any rules to regulate immigration?

2. What would you do if you knew that your neighbor is an illegal immigrant? Justify it?

3. In your opinion, which country has the greatest control of immigration? Is it fair? Why (not)?

4. Is immigration a serious problem where you live? Give examples.

IV. Match the vocabulary and the definitions:

1. Alien

2. Deport

3. Detainee

4. Emigré

5. Immigrate

6. Nativism

7. Naturalization

8. Refugee

( ) A person who is not a citizen of the country where he or she resides. He or She can be in the country legally or illegally.

( ) An alien in the custody of the government temporarily.

( ) A person forced to emigrate for political reasons.

( ) To force someone out of the country.

( ) To enter a country for the purpose of living there

( ) The process whereby an immigrant becomes a national citizen.

( ) A person who leaves his land because of persecution or danger.

( ) A policy of favoring those born in America over immigrants.

 Key - 1, 3, 4, 2, 5, 7, 8, 6

V. Watch the segment now and answer the questions:

1. What happened in the scene? Why were the factory workers so desperate? What were they afraid of?

2. Do you think the Mexican lady was telling the truth about her children? What makes you believe that?

3. Is it fair that the police break into a factory to look for illegal immigrants? Why?

4. What should the government do with those illegal employees that were arrested there?

5. What do you think will actually happen to them?

6. What about the Mexican young woman? And her children?