Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Omen, Orphan, Despicable Me & Reclaim: Adoption

A. Work in pairs. Take turns asking each other questions. Student 1 asks the questions in red and Student 2 asks the questions in orange.

1. What's your opinion about adoption?

2. What happens to those children who are never adopted?

3. What are the problems that there might be when adopting a child?

4. How different is the love of a biological parent from that one who is a parent of an adopted child?

5. Is it better to adopt a baby or an older child?

6. Should parents adopt people from the same race? Why (not)?

7. What should happen when the biological parent shows up ten years after his child's adoption by another couple, asking for his/her child back?

8. When should the adopted child learn about the adoption? How should it be done?

9. Should all adopted children know they are adopted? Why (not)?

10. What if the child decides to meet his/her biological parents? Should they always be allowed to do it?

11. Should same-sex couples be allowed to adopt children? Why (not)?

12. Should single people be allowed to adopt children? Why (not)?

13. Is it better to adopt a child from your own country or from a very poor country? Why (not)?

14. Should siblings be separated from each other for adoption or is it better for them to stay together without the adoption? Explain it.

15. What happens if the adopted parents decide they don't want the kid anymore after a few years?

16. Many people have dogs who are treated like kings. What's your opinion about people who do it instead of adopting children?

B. Watch the first segment from the movie The Omen. Then discuss the questions that follow:


1. Describe the scene.

2. Why did Mr. Thorn decide to adopt the child?

3. What would you do if you were in his shoes?

4. Did he do the right thing not to tell his wife about the adoption? Why (not)?

5. What are the possible consequences of his act?

6. Should adoptions be made easier so that situations like the one in the movie did not happen?

7. Is there anyone wrong in this case? The priest, Mr. Thorn? Both? No one? Explain your answer.

8. What do you think will happen next?

C. Watch the segment from the great movie Orphan. Then discuss the questions that follow.


1. Describe the scene.

2. Why did they decide to adopt Esther?

3. Esther is an older child. Is it better or worse for the adopted parents?

4. Why do parents prefer adopting babies rather than older children like Esther? Was their decision right?

5. They decided to adopt a Russian child? Does it make a difference?

6. What do you think will happen next?

D. Watch the scene from the outstanding animated movie DESPICABLE ME and answer the questions.


1. Describe the children who want to be adopted and their feelings too.

2. Describe the place they live in, waiting for the adoption.

3. Describe Ms. Hattie, the lady who runs the place.    

4. Describe the man who adopts them.

5. How do you think their lives are going to be, according to what you see in the segment.

6. Which place is better. The place she lived in before the adoption or the house?

 7. Is this kind of adoption rare? Do all adopted children have better lives after the adoption?

 8. How often do people lie in order to provide the necessary information to adopt someone?

9. Do you think single men should be allowed to adopt children? What about gay couples? Justify your answers.

E. Watch the scene from the movie Reclaim and answer the questions:


1. Describe the scene.

2. The couple did not follow the regular procedures for adoption. Are they right?

3. They are adopting an orphan child from Haiti. She lost all her family. Are the couple wrong to help the girl?

4. What could possibly go wrong in such kind of adoption?




Saturday, November 20, 2010

Free Birds, Pieces of April & The Ice Storm: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is not a popular holiday in Brazil, so it is always profitable to insert cultural perspectives into the lessons. My students learned a lot about this holiday and had fun doing it.

GAME: Here you will find some information about Thanksgiving. In groups, decide if the statements are True or False. The group who scores most points is the winner.

1. ( ) Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada.

2. ( ) Thanksgiving is celebrated on the same day in both the US and Canada.

3. ( ) Thanksgiving Day is also celebrated in Leiden, the Netherlands.

4. ( ) Thanksgiving in the United States has been celebrated on various different dates throughout history.

5. ( ) In the West African country of Liberia, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the first Thursday of November.

6. ( ) Thanksgiving day originated in America.

7. ( ) It is traditional for families and groups of friends to get together for a large breakfast.

8. ( ) Traditional food often consists of a turkey, stuffing, different types of potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy,
other seasonal vegetables.

9. ( ) Pumpkin pie is a traditional Thanksgiving dish.

10. ( ) Thanksgiving Day parades are held in some cities and towns on or around Thanksgiving Day

11. ( ) Many football games are played and watching them is a popular activity on this holiday.

12. ( ) Many families and groups of friends get together for Thanksgiving, so it is one of the busiest periods for travel.

13. ( ) Some states, such as Maine and West Virginia (among others), have an extra week for the Thanksgiving holiday

14. ( ) Native Americans celebrate Thanksgiving as the most important holiday of the year.

15. ( ) 95 percent of Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving.

16. ( ) Thanksgiving is about asking for blessing for the following year.

Answer key:

1. T
2. F (in the United States, Thanksgiving Day falls on the fourth Thursday of November In Canada it is celebrated on the second Monday in October)
3. T
4. T
5. T
6. T
7. F (a large meal, usually dinner or lunch)
8. T
9. T
10. T
11. T
12. T
13. F (an extra day)
14. F (Not everyone sees Thanksgiving Day as a cause for celebration. The European settlers had a massive destructive effect on the Native American peoples and their culture. They have protest marches against it)
15. T
16. F (Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for the people and blessings of the past year)

II. Watch the segment from the movie Free Birds ad answer the questions:


1. What Thanksgiving symbols did you see in the segment?

2. What is the turkey's point of view about Thanksgiving food?

3. What does the segment say about the Thanksgiving tradition?

4. How do vegetarians celebrate Thanksgiving in your country?

III. Watch the segment from the great movie Pieces of April and discuss the questions:


1. Describe the scene.

2. Who do you think is hosting the dinner party?

3. What is being served?

4. What are some of the characteristics in exercise I did you manage to see in the segment?

5. How would you describe the mood of the guests during dinner?

6. Do you celebrate Thanksgiving? How do you do it? How similar do you think it is to your Christmas dinner?

7. Is it a good idea to celebrate Thanksgiving? Why (not)?

IV. Now watch the scene from the movie The Ice Storm and discuss the questions.


1. Describe the scene.

2. Who do you think is hosting the dinner party?

3. What is being served?

4. What are some of the characteristics in exercise I did you manage to see in the segment?

5. How would you describe the mood of the guests during dinner?

6. How would you compare both scenes?




Saturday, November 13, 2010

Did You Hear about the Morgans?: Witness Relocation Program

My students loved the scene and the activity. The movie, though, has funny moments, but it isn't a movie I would strongly recommend. I managed to use two scenes from it, both really funny. I hope you like it.

A. Work in pairs to discuss the questions below:

1. Have you ever heard of the Witness Relocation Program? What do you know about it?

2. Is there a similar program where you live?

3. Would you tell the police that you witnessed a murder even if you knew that your life could be in danger because of that? Explain it?

4. What kinds of crime you have witnessed wouldn't you tell the police? Why not?

5. Do you think that many witnesses are afraid of reporting a crime because they are afraid of the criminals' retaliation to his/her family? What can be done about it, if it is the case?

6. Have you ever witnessed a crime (or Do you know anyone who has witnessed a crime)? Can you share what you (he/she) saw? What did you (he/she) do about it?

B. Read the Witness Relocation Program's procedures below and decide if you think they are TRUE or FALSE.

1. ( ) Usually the witness is relocated and given a new name.

2. ( ) Witnesses are encouraged to keep their first names and choose last names with the same initial in order to make it easier to instinctively use the new identity.

3. ( ) Witnesses are provided with new documentation.

4. ( ) They are assisted in finding housing and employment.

5. ( ) They are provided with a fixed regular income until they find a new job.

6. ( ) They don't have to work, if they don't want to.

7. ( ) Witnesses are allowed to travel back to their hometowns or contact unprotected family members or former associates in case of emergency only.

8. ( ) In order to prevent the possibility of the witness being followed, the witness is made to indirect transportation path, such as random flights and alternative roads, before finally reaching the location where they will live under the new identity.

9. ( ) This program is established to protect witness against organized crime only.

10. ( ) Every witness who has complied with the terms of the Witness Protection Program has been successfully protected. However, a few witnesses who broke with the terms have been killed.

(information collected from Wikipedia) False statements - 6 (have to work), 7 (are not allowed), 9 (or other serious offenses)

C. Now watch the movie segment from the funny movie "Did You Hear about the Morgans?" and discuss the following questions about it.


1. Describe the scene.

2. What are the witnesses' reaction to the program?

3. Where are they going?

4. How are they going there?

5. Why was that location chosen?

6. How would you feel if you were the main character of the film? Would you adhere to the program? Why (not)?

7. Take a look at the items in exercise B. Say which ones did they mention in the segment.

8. What are the advantages and disadvantages to adhering to a program like this one?

9. In the case of the movie, do you think it will work? Explain it.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Anna and the King, My Big Fat Greek Wedding & The Joy Luck Club: Cultural Misunderstanding

Talking about cultural misunderstandings is a topic we always address in our classrooms. Here are segments from three different movies, all of which are worth seeing.

A. Discuss the following questions in pairs.

1. What are the major features of your culture? How would you describe the people in your country?

2. Imagine a foreigner is coming to visit you. What special advice would you give him/her so that he does not face any serious cultural misunderstanding?

3. What advice would you give concerning:

- what to wear on the beach

- what to wear to go shopping

- what to wear in a party

- where to (not) eat

- how to greet people (kissing, shaking hands, etc.)

- What to take when you're invited for a dinner party

- how to talk to people of the opposite sex

- when traveling alone around the country

- how to flirt

4. What was the most different culture you have ever had contact with. How different was it?

5. What are some common mistakes foreigners make when they visit your country? Come up with examples.

B. Now watch the segment from the movie Anna and the King. Then make a list of all the cultural differences Anna experienced. She is an English teacher visiting Siam, which is now Thailand. Write at least 6 different items.


C. Now watch the three segments from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Repeat the process in exercise B.

1. The first segment shows the Greek fiancee meeting her American parents-in-law for the first time.
2. The second segment shows the American fiance visiting her fiance's Greek family for the first time.
3. The third segment shows the American and Greek family getting together for a dinner party.


D. Class discussion:

1. How do you compare the American and Greek family to your own family? Which of the families are closest to your own family when we consider behavior and culture? Explain it.

2. How would your family feel if they were invited for the Greek dinner party? What about the American party?

3. How would they feel if they were invited to a party in your house?

E. Watch the movie segment from the movie The Joy Luck Club. make a list of 5 cultural mistakes the American man made during his first dinner party with his fiancee´s Chinese family.