Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Hunger Games & Stepford Wives: Reality Shows

This is a great scene to start a conversation class about reality shows. The scene is funny and not about any specific reality show, which can be a neutral view on the issue. 

I. Work in pairs and discuss the following questions.

1. Do you like reality shows? Why (not)?

2. What are your favorite ones? Which one do you dislike?

3. Why are reality shows becoming increasingly popular?

4. What kinds of reality shows are there?

5. Would you ever participate in a reality show? If so, in which one (or kind)?

II. Write the name of the reality shows next to their descriptions. If you don't know the shows, make guesses inferring from the information presented in the logos.

1. ............................. Teams of two people who have some form of a preexisting personal relationship, race around the world in competition with other teams.

2. ............................. Contestants are isolated in the wilderness and compete for cash and other prizes.

3. ............................. Two families, usually from vastly different social classes and lifestyles, swap wives/mothers (and sometimes husbands) for two weeks.

4. ............................. A group of people live together in a large house, isolated from the outside world but continuously watched by television cameras.

5. ............................. A number of customers along with their motivations for choosing their tattoos. In addition, there is some focus on the personal lives of the artists.

6. ............................. The program seeks to discover the best singer in the country through a series of nation-wide auditions.

7. .............................. The program uses progressive elimination to reduce the initial field of 12 or more fashion designers down to 3 before the final challenge.

8. .............................. A red team and a blue team competing in various cooking challenges for most of the season.

9. ............................... Dancers audition for a ticket to go on to the next round.

10. ............................ The show's producers coordinate with a local construction contractor, which then coordinates with various companies in the building trades for a makeover of a family's home.

11. ............................ A hidden camera show that puts unsuspecting victims into terrifying situations.

III. Watch the movie segment and answer the questions that follow.


1. What is the name of the new reality show in the segment? Why is it named this way?

2. What does it do to people's lives?

3. What kind of reality show is it?

4. What happened to the character in the movie who went to this show?

5. Are the TV producers responsible for his acts? Why (not)?

6. Do you think TVs can put on any kind of reality show as long as participants agree on the rules? Justify your answer.

7. Do you think this reality show would be successful where you live? Why (not)?

8. Which of the reality shows in exercise II you are familiar with? Which one is your favorite? Would you participate in any of them? Why (not)?

 Watch the segment from the movie The Hunger Games and discuss the questions.


1. What kind of reality show is that?

2. Is it really a reality show? Why do you think so?

3. How authentic is it? Or is it manipulative? Are the characters acting naturally? Explain it.

4. Would you follow such a show?

5. What can you say about the participants?  



Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hope and Redemption - The Lena Baker Story: 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?

B. Watch the movie segment about what happened to Lena Baker. How fair was her trial. How should it be conducted in order for it to be fair?

Read some of the characteristics of her trial and decide if her sentence was fair.

1. Judge William Worrill kept a pair of pistols on his judicial view bench in plain view.

2. The jury consisted of all white male who convicted her in an one afternoon trial.

3. She killed her white male employee after several years of abuse.

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

1. Describe the scene.

2. Did you change your opinion about capital punishment?

3. She was not guilty of her crime. But what if she had actually killed him with the intention of murdering him. Would you think that the punishment would be fair in this case? Explain it.

4. Why are 78% of the executed convicts in America African American descents?

5. Why do 89% of the executed convicts in America come from very low social classes? Is there a logical explanation for this data?


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mr. Woodcock & The Stepford Wives: Workout

A. Work in pairs.

Student 1 asks the first set of questions. Then Student 2 repeats the process.

Student 1

1. Is it important to workout? Why (not)?

2. How often do you workout? Where do you do it?

3. Why do many people not exercise?

4. What kind of people go to the gym? Is their main goal to exercise or flirt with other people?

5. Are the exercises interesting or boring? Which one do you like best?

Student 2

1. Is it more fun to exercise alone or with other people? Why?

2. How can you adapt everyday things you do to increase the level of exercises you do everyday?

3. What's your opinion about hospital's charging higher rates to people who don't exercise? Explain it.

4. Why do some professional Olympic athletes look too old for their ages? Is working out too much harmful too?

5. Is cosmetic surgery easier and more effective than working out? Why (not)?

B. Watch the first segment from the movie Mr. Woodcock. Then answer the questions that follow.


1. Describe the scene.

2. What kind of exercises did they do?

3. Are they enjoying what they are doing? How do you know it?

4. Who is in better shape? Justify it.

5. Do they both exercise regularly? How do you know it?

C. Watch the second segment from the movie The Stepford Wives. Then answer the questions that follow.


1. Describe the scene.

2. What is their exercise routine based on?

3. What do they wear to workout?

4. Do they enjoy it? How do you know it?

5. In which ways is this gym class different from the ones you have already tried?

6. Do you agree that the women in the character are in shape? Do you think this kind of exercise can be effective? Why (not?)

7. Would you like to try one of these classes? Why (not)?



Saturday, June 5, 2010

Alive: Adversity

A. Read the quotations below about dealing with adversity. Then work in pairs and discuss their attitude toward adversity they express. What do they mean and do you agree with them?

"I'm not afraid of storms for I'm learning to sail my ship." Louisa May Alcott, writer

"Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb, go through it, or work around it." Michael Jordan, athlete

"When it gets dark enough, you can see the stars." Lee Salk, psychologist

"The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing but in rising every time we fall." Nelson Mandela, statesman

"Adversity causes some men to break, others to break records." William A. Ward, writer and educator

"A certain amount of opposition is of great help to a man. Kites rise against, not with the wind." Lewis Mumford, philosopher

B. Talk to a partner:

1. Do you agree that adversity can be a positive experience? How so?

2. Do you find any of the quotations inspiring or relevant to your life? Explain.

3. Come up with different words that symbolize adversity and hope. Use your imagination with your analogies.

Adversity: Darkness, fear, etc

Hope: Sunshine, light, etc

4. Write your own quotation about dealing with adversity. Be creative and try to use some of the words you used to symbolize adversity and hope in the previous exercise.

C. Watch the segment below from the film Alive. They are Uruguayan survivors of a plane crash that took place in the 70's on the Andes. They were stranded on the mountains without food or water for over a month, and they had to go through enormous difficulties to struggle for survival. Their extreme measure, for example, was to eat the meat of their dead friends' corpses, frozen under the snow. Then discuss the questions that follow in pairs.


1. Describe the scene.

2. What did the survivors look like? Does it give any clues about what they had been through?

3. What were some of the adversities they have probably faced?

4. How do you think they managed them?

5. Who do you think is the man that is holding a red shoe on the helicopter? How do you know it?

6. Most of the survivors are best friends until today. How do you think this experience brought them together?

7. Would any of the quotations in exercise A apply to this situation in the segment? Explain.

8. Have you ever faced an extremely dangerous situation that made you think you were going to die or get seriously hurt? What happened? When and where was it? How did you deal with the situation? What lesson did you learn from this experience?