Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Great Buck Howard & Lost in Translation: Talk Shows

We usually talk about talk shows in the classroom, so I used these segments to engage the students in the topic.

A. Watch the first segment from the movie The Great Howard Buck and discuss the following questions about it:

1. Describe the scene.

2.What does the studio look like?

3. What does the hostess look like? How would you describe her personality?

4. What about the guest? Who is he? Why was he invited to the show?

5. What was the interview about?

6. Was this a successful interview? Why (not)?

7. How did both the hostess and guest behave during the show?

8. What could have been done for that interview to be better conducted?

 B. Now watch the second segment from the movie Lost in Translation and discuss the questions that follow:


1. Describe the scene.

2.What does the studio look like?

3. What does the host look like? How would you describe his personality?

4. What about the guest? Who is he? Why was he invited to the show?

5. What was the interview about?

6. Was this a successful interview? Why (not)?

7. How did both the host and guest behave during the show?

8. What could have been done for that interview to be better conducted?

C. Here are some characteristics of a television talk show. Now that you have watched the segments from the movies The Great Buck Howard and Lost in Translation, check the characteristics that apply to each of them. Write GHB if it applies to The Great Howard Buck, LT if it applies to Lost in Translation and B if it applies to both segments. Justify your answers:

I researched about talk shows and its characteristics in an article by Hanne Bruun, The Aesthetics of the Television Talk Show, which is very rich and worth reading.

1. ( ) The studio is the space of the programme.

2. ( ) It gives an idea of time and space at the same time, as if they were just one thing. The whole thing takes place in the same space at the same time.

3. ( ) It gives the viewer an experience of simultaneity between when the show is made and its transmission.

4. ( ) The viewers should have the idea that they are participants of the programme, not just spectators.

5. ( ) The scenographic arrangement of the studio is supposed to create an idea that the viewer is a participant.

6. ( ) The host(ess) is the central element of the show.

7. ( ) He/She is an intermediary between the programme and the viewers.

8. ( ) Talk shows attach great importance to the personality of the host.

9. ( ) The guests are invited to be in the show.

10. ( ) The host(ess) expresses his gratitude to them for coming to the show.

11. ( ) A talk show is full of many important remarks made directly to the camera.

12. ( ) The unpredictable and the unplanned are important and usually evident in a talk show.

D. Class discussion:

1. Which of the talk shows you have seen in the segments is the most effective one? Why?

2. Which one of the talk shows would you prefer to watch?

3. How similar or different are these shows from the ones in your country?

4. What's your opinion about talk shows? Do you like them? Why (not)?

5. What are the best and the worst talk shows you have ever seen? Explain why.

6. What are the most popular talk shows on TV nowadays? Do you watch them regularly? Why (not)?

7. What are the positive and negative aspects of talk shows?

8. Should there be more or fewer talk shows on TV? Justify your answer.



Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Men Who Stare at Goats: Mind Power

This really funny movie has peculiar humor and plot. George Clooney's character's unusual mind power helped engage the students in this attractive topic. Mind power.

A. Talk to a partner about the following questions:

1. What do you understand as mind power?

2. What are the limits for the brain? Are there any limits?

3. What do you think the brain can do that most people are not aware of?

4. Do you know or have you ever heard of someone who has mind powers that you don't have. Do you believe them?

5. Would you like to have mind power? What would you like to do with your mind that you can't do now?

B. Match the terms below with definitions that follow. Before that, check whether you know any of them. This information was get from the informative site Psychic 101 . Then decide in which ones you believe and which ones do you think you would like to have or try.

1. Telekinesis

2. Hypnosis

3. Dream Programming

4. Fortune Telling

5. Telepathy

6. Teleportation

7. Astral Projection

8. Clairvoyance

9. Psychokinesis

10. Clairaudience

11. Chronokinesis

12. Ouija Board

13. Channeling

( ) It means movement of objects with mind power. It is achieved by projecting a portion of your consciousness in the object that you want to move.

( ) A simple technique to program the topic of your dream. Write what you want to dream about on a small sheet of paper. If you want to solve a particular problem or get clear information about an issue or relationship write a statement that affirm that you will get the information you need. Put it under your pillow. When you are in your bed affirm 20 times your statement of intent about the dream you want to have.

( ) The ability to communicate without the use of the five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste). An instinct that lays dormant in most of us .

( ) It's an out of body experience, the art of projecting an important portion of your consciousness into other realities often called astral planes, mental plane. The biggest obstacles are the fear to not be able to comeback, fear that the body will be invaded by negative entities , etc… . Only fear is the biggest barrier.

( ) This is a parapsychology term to define a process of control on mind over matter.

( ) Chrono means time so chronokinesis is the ability slow down or maybe speed up ones perception of time. It is the power to slow down or speed up your perception of time.

( ) This is the act of receiving transmission and information from non-physical being . It is a process whereby an individual (the "channeler") claims to have been invaded by a spirit entity which speaks through the channeler.

( ) Oui- means yes in French, Ja means yes in Dutch and some other languages. It is a A game using a board which is marked with letters, numbers and the words "yes" and "no." A pointer on a raised platform selects a character or word. One or two players place their fingers on the platform, which moves -- apparently by magic. Many conservative Christians believe that this game is profoundly evil and dangerous and that the pointer is moved by demonic forces.

( ) It means ‘Clear Hearing’ , it is usually the ability to hear voice in your mind. This voice is usually from an aspect of yourself . An aspect is a part of your soul or self who exist into another reality , an aspect is usually not recognized as such therefore people who are clairaudients say that they are with their spirit guides or other entities

( ) It is used to refer to the ability to gain information about an object, person, location or physical event through means other than the known human senses a form of extra-sensory perception. A person said to have the ability of clairvoyance is referred to as a clairvoyant.

( ) It is the transfer of matter from one point to another, more or less instantaneously.

( ) It is the practice of predicting the life, usually of a group, through mystical or natural means, and often for commercial gain.

( ) It is a mental state (state theory) or set of attitudes and beliefs (non-state theory) usually induced by a procedure known as induction, which is commonly composed of a long series of preliminary instructions and suggestions, which allows mental regression in time, for example.

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

C. Now watch the funny segment from the movie The Men Who Stare at Goats. Then discuss the questions that follow.

1. Describe the scene.

2. To which item (s) in exercise B does the main character's power belong?

3. What exactly can he do with his mind?

4. Do you think that power is possible? Why?

5. Why do you think the army would want soldiers like him? Explain it.

6. How can people with mind power be helpful to society? What about the police? And the army?

7. Would you like to have that power? Explain it.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

New Moon & Junior: Dreams

New Moon and the Twilight Saga are always welcome in the ESL classroom. This initial scene and Junior's unusual fear are great to talk about dreams.


Read this statement about dreams and decide if you agree or disagree with it and why. Then share your views with the rest of the class.

A dream unifies the body, mind, and spirit. It provides you with insight into your own self and a means for self-exploration. In understanding your dreams, you will have a better understanding and discovery of your true self. 

Online Guide to Dream Interpretation

A. Discuss these questions with a partner:

1. How often do you dream? Do you remember your dreams?

2. Do you like dreaming? Why (not)?

3. Do you dream in color or in English?

4. Do you think dreams have meanings? Explain it.

5. Do you like sharing your dream with other people? Why (not)?

6. Have you ever woken up and believed you’re still in your dream?

7. Why do you think some people remember their dreams and others don’t?

8. Do you have recurrent dreams? If so, would you like to share one of them?

B. Watch the segment from the movie New Moon. Then discuss the questions:

1. Describe the scene (dream).

2. Is it a dream or a nightmare?

3. Have you ever had a similar dream? Talk about it?

4. Just by looking at the scene, what do you think the dream means? How does it reflect the dreamer's current situation?

5. Look at some interpretations of dreaming elements found in the dictionary Dream Moods found here: Dream Moods Dictionary. Then, combine the information gathered here and come up with a meaningful explanation for this dream.


To dream that you are older than you really are signifies wisdom. Perhaps you need to be more sensible. negatively, it may mean your rigid ways and thinking.
To dream that you are younger than you really are suggests that you need to be more carefree and young at heart. Live a little more!


To see your boyfriend in your dream, represents your waking relationship with him and how you feel about him.


To see green fields in your dream, symbolizes great abundance, freedom, and happiness. You may also be going through a period of personal growth. Alternatively, this dream may simply be an expression for your love of nature.


To see something or someone old in your dream, suggests that there is something/someone in your life that you need to replace or get rid of. Alternatively, the dream means that there may be something/someone in the past that you need to incorporate into your current life.

C. Now watch the segment from the movie Junior. Then discuss the questions:

1. Describe the scene (dream).

2. Is it a dream or a nightmare?

3. Have you ever had a similar dream? Talk about it?

4. Just by looking at the scene, what do you think the dream means? How does it reflect the dreamer's current situation?

5. Look at some interpretations of dreaming elements found in the dictionary Dream Moods found here:
Dream Moods Dictionary. Then, combine the information gathered here and come up with a meaningful explanation for this dream.


To see a baby in your dream, signifies innocence, warmth and new beginnings. Babies symbolize something in your own inner nature that is pure, vulnerable, helpless and/or uncorrupted. If you dream that you are on your way to the hospital to have a baby, then it signifies your issues of dependency and your desires to be completely care for. To dream of a crying baby, symbolizes a part of yourself that is deprived of attention and needs to be nurtured. Alternatively, it represents your unfulfilled goals and a sense of lacking in your life.


To see or dream that you are in a hospital, symbolizes your need to heal or improve your physical or mental health.


If you are waking up in a different and/or unknown bed, then it represents the consequences of the decisions you have made.


To see a nurse in your dream, means that you need to take time out in order to heal, mentally, physically and spiritually.



Saturday, August 7, 2010

My Sister's Keeper & Gattaca: Designer Babies - Organ Donation

This is an excellent movie with a controversial issue being discussed. Great acting and plot. An emotional movie that will touch your hearts. I simply love it and strongly recommend it.

A. Read the definition of designer babies provided by Wikipedia:

The colloquial term "designer baby" refers to a baby whose genetic makeup has been artificially selected by genetic engineering, combined with in vitro fertilization to ensure the presence or absence of particular genes or characteristics. The term is derived by comparison with "designer clothing". It implies the ultimate commodification of children and is therefore usually used pejoratively to signal opposition to such use of reprogenetics. Designer babies is a term used by journalists to describe it; it is not a term used by scientists. (Wikipedia)

B. Work in groups. Decide whether you agree or disagree with the statements below about designer babies. Write P if you think the information is a Pro or C if you think it is a Con. Justify your answers.

( ) Babies Genetic screening can reduce the baby's chances of being born with several serious diseases like Down Syndrome, Famial hypercholesterolemia, rare blood disorders such as Diamond Blackfan Anaemia, etc.

( ) This technique is not limited to screening for genetic and hereditary disorders, but is also used for cosmetic reasons.

C. Decide in your groups if you agree with the statements below. Justify your choices: Write A if you agree and D if you disagree.

( ) Adolf Hitler was on a quest to create a race of Aryan Blond, blue eyed and tall people. Creating designer babies is believed to be on the same lines. The question arises, which skin color and physical features are to be chosen.

( ) The advent of designer babies will effect biodiversity. Moreover, traits decided by parents, eliminates the say of the child in his or her life.

( ) Parents passionate about sports would have the athletic ability engineered into the child, however, the child may not want the same. This reduces the child's freedom to choose.

( ) If accepted, it will have a negative impact on the society. It will result in increase of unreasonable fear or hatred towards foreigners or anyone who appears different.

( ) People with genetic defects will be socially rejected. They will be called 'gene poor' and will be separated from the society too.

( ) Today, people who have genetic defects are already treated differently and cast out from society in several parts across the world. Designer babies concept will lead to discrimination on the basis of certain qualities or traits.

( ) Kids of rich families will receive genetic enhancement, leading to genetic aristocracy. This gives them an unfair advantage over the other children. People unable to afford genetic engineering will be looked down upon. Thereby, creating a greater rift in society.

( ) Most parts of the world are still male dominated, and sex or gender determination of the baby can lead to gender discrimination across the globe.

( ) Life will definitely be better for people will live longer and with fewer diseases.

( ) I would have a child genetically engineered if I had another child in need of a compatible organ to transplant for its survival.

( ) I would make my designer baby donate its organ to save another child of mine even if it did not want to donate it.

Information taken from the great site

D. Watch the first movie segment from the movie My Sister's Keeper and answer the questions that follow.

1. What's the main character's opinion about how most babies are generated?

2. What's her opinion about the way she was generated?

3. Why was she engineered?

4. What has changed since her sister got sick?

5. How would you describe the family's relationship?

E. Watch the second movie segment from the movie My Sister's Keeper and discuss the questions that follow in pairs.

1. What are the girl's arguments for not donating her kidney?

2. What is their family reaction?

3. Is she right to say what she did? Explain it.

4. What about her parents? Are they right to demand the donation?

5. What's your opinion ab out the situation?

F. Now watch the final segment from the same movie and discuss the questions:

1. What does the main character want to do?

2. Why does she want  to do that?

3. What's the lawyer's opinion about it?

4. What has she gone through since
she was born?

5. What are the possible consequences of her decision?

6. What's your
opinion about her decision? Is she right or wrong? Explain your answer?

7. Does she have the right to do it? Why (not)?

8. What would you do you if that girl were your own daughter, refusing to donate her kidney to save your other daughter?

G. Watch the segment from the movie Gattaca and discuss the questions:

1. What is the natural way most children will be conceived in the future?

2. What will parents be able to previously know about their babies by choosing to conceive their babies by screening cells?

3. What were the consequences of the parents' not having chosen to have a designer baby?

4. How did the parents decide to conceive their second child? Why did they do it? Were they completely happy about it? Explain it.

5. How different are Vincent and Anton?

6. Do you see this future as brighter or darker? Explain it.