Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

My dear friends, I'm finally going on vacation! I really hope to rest with my family for a while, recharging the batteries for 2011! Brand new activities starting on January 14th, 2011. I promise a lot of new hot topics activities with attractive movie scenes. Meanwhile, don't hesitate to contact me, for I'll be replying all your comments and clearing your doubts . I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Eurotrip: Hooligans

Social issues are often discussed in conversation classes. Hooligans are approached here in a light, fun manner. This movie is great, don't miss it.

A. Read the definition of Hooliganism:

Football hooliganism is unruly and destructive behaviour —such as brawls, vandalism and intimidation—by club fans. Fights between supporters of rival teams may take place before or after football matches at pre-arranged locations away from stadiums, in order to avoid arrests by the police, or they can erupt spontaneously at the stadium or in the surrounding streets. Football hooliganism ranges from shouts and fistfights to riots in which fans clash with bats, bottles, rocks, knives or guns. 

A. Discuss these questions with a partner:

1. Does your country face violence in sports?

2. In which sports can you see more violence outside the sports arenas.

3. Are football fans particularly more violent? Explain it?

4. What can be done to reduce violence rates among hooligans?

5. What should happen to a hooligan who is caught fighting in another country? What about when it happens in his own country?

6. How do athletes contribute to violence inside and outside the stadiums? Explain it.

7. Why do hooligans behave the way they do? Justify your answer.

8. Are certain club fans more violent than others or are they pretty much the same? Why?

9. Do you still go stadiums and arenas despite the potential violence you may face? Justify it.

10. Which countries do you believe face more problems concerning violence in sports?

11. Is hooliganism a sport or social problem? Explain it B.

Watch the funny movie segment from the movie Eurotrip and discuss the questions that follow:


1. Describe the scene.

2. Why did the Americans end up in a pub full of hooligans?

3. How did they feel? How did the hooligans feel?

4. What did the Americans do to prevent violence from taking place?

5. What could the possible consequences for their entering that bar be?

6. Is the situation in the movie a possible one? Explain it.

7. Is it fair that English people have been seen as hooligans? Why (not)?

8. What are the stereotypes of a hooligan that you could identify in the segment?

9. How different are these hooligans from the ones your city (country)?

10. Are football (soccer) hooligans different from the fans who support other sports?

11. What would you do if you were in the Americans' shoes?


Saturday, December 11, 2010

The New Daughter: Neglicence x Carelessness x Accident

This movie was not very popular, but it has good moments. This scene is great for discussing NEGLIGENCE, CARELESSNESS and ACCIDENTS.


A. Read the definitions of Negligence (N) , Carelessness (C) and Accident (A). Now decide what the following cases are. Justify your answers:

Carelessness (C) is lack of concern about the consequences of an action, and by extension, the behavior that results from that lack of concern. 

Negligence (N) refers to a failure to exercise the proper care and skill that a reasonable person would have exercised. Negligence is the fault of a person.

Accident (A) refers to an event that occurred despite the use of proper care and skill. Accidents are not anyone’s fault.

1. ( ) In 2003, Annette Ritzmannt stopped to get gas and a paper at the corner store. As she walked into the Miller Mart, she slipped on a small puddle created by a leaky awning, fell forward onto her chest and chin, and lost consciousness. A witness said the impact sent her head snapping back. Miller Mart's owners, Miller Oil Co., admitted they had known the outside curb was dangerous. She was awarded more than $12.2 million in damages.

2. ( ) An 8 year old girl in Grain Valley, MO was killed. This tragedy occurred in the 1200 block of NW Phelps Drive. The news agency reported it as an “accidental” shooting. It appears that one or more adults didn't store their gun, or educated their children about the importance of gun safety.

3. ( ) Jonathan Kalus, the local hospital nurse, forgot to give Jerry Lewans his medication, so he end up having a seizure.

4. ( ) Dr. Gary Garson prescribed his patient, Ana Miller, the wrong dose of medication who was accidentally overdosed.

5. ( ) Jane Collor took Mary Dawson's respirator out and forgot to put it back, causing her death.

6. ( ) Sarah Parker slipped on a an entryway that was particularly slippery, even though it had been completely cleaned 20 minutes before.

7. ( ) Electrical wires are exposed and during a rainy night damaged a car parked in front of the light pole.

8. ( ) Jennifer Lois saw her child with unusual symptoms, such as bleeding and eyes rolling back, but did not take action. Nothing happened to the child, but the father wants custody of the child.

9. ( ) Carl Carlton allowed an unlicensed driver to drive his car and was caught by the police.

10. ( ) The owner of a car allowed a drunk driver drive his car. There was an accident and the car owner was killed.

11. ( ) The bar in front of a college serves alcohol to minors. One teenager was hit by a car that was passing by.

12. ( ) Justin Stones was driving on a icy road and fell off a cliff.

B. Watch the movie segment and answer the following questions:


1. Describe the scene.

2. How would you describe the father's, the boy's and the girl's behavior?

3. Was it negligence, carelessness, or an accident.

4. Why did the boy get hold of the gun?

5. Who's responsible for the happening?

6. What should the consequence in the following situations be? What penalties should be applied?

- if the boy gets hurt

- if the girl gets hurt

- if the boy gets killed

- if the girl gets killed

- if the father gets hurt

- if the father gets killed

C. Read the statements below about gun control found on the polemic site Guncontrol.com. Decide if the statements are fact or myths. Justify your answers

#1: Gun control stops criminals from having guns.

#2: Guns are ineffective for self defense.

#3: Gun ownership is not an constitutional right in the USA.

#4: Guns are not needed since the police can be called.

#5: Only violent and uneducated people want to own guns.

#6: A home owner is 43 times more likely to be killed by their own gun than to kill an intruder.

D. According to the site, all of the items are myths. Below are the facts for each of the myths above. Do you agree with them? Why (not)? 

Fact #1: Gun control laws do not keep guns out of criminals’ hands.

Fact #2: Guns are the most effective means of self defense yet devised by human kind.

Fact #3: The Supreme Court of the United States has conclusively declared gun ownership for self defense to be an individual right.

Fact #4: The police simply cannot get there quickly enough, or at all in some situations.

Fact #5: Gun ownership is a right that between one third and one half of all Americans exercise.

Fact #6: 65 lives are protected for every 2 lives lost.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Clockwork Orange: Punishment

This activity was shared by one of this blog's reader, Rodrigo Tiago Mendonça. Check out his biodata and views in the end of the post. Thanks, Rodrigo. Here is a space for sharing, so if you have activities to share, email them to me at claudioazv@gmail.com

Video Activity – Clockwork Orange - The segment has been edited in order to make it suitable to an EFL/ESL class.
1) What kind of punishment would you give to the following heinous crimes?
a) A drunkard who dragged and killed an innocent child while trying to steal a car and failing to notice the parents were trying to take him out of the backseat.
b) A man who viciously killed a couple of homosexuals because they were holding hands in a public place
c) A seventeen-year-old boy who attacked and killed his stepmother out of jealousy for his father’s attention. His stepmother was six-month pregnant at the time.
d) A psychopath who killed and mutilated over 18 women and afterwards kept their hands in a trunk. The media nicknamed him the “maniac collector”.
2) Is capital punishment acceptable in any of these cases?
3) Watch the following movie segment and mark True (T) or False (F):
( ) Alex will be given something to sleep.
( ) Alex couldn’t shut his eyes or look away.
( ) The patient would feel a death-like paralysis together with feelings of deep terror and helplessness.
( ) According to the nurse, Alex’s body was learning that violence was a very horrible thing.
( ) Alex hated classical music.
( ) According to the minister, Alex would learn real values and honesty in prison.
( ) Alex didn’t change because of the treatment.
( ) Alex would get nauseated whenever he was submitted to violence.
4) What would you do if you wanted to help someone close to you but the person refused to accept it? Would you consider helping the person against his or her own will?

Answer Key:
My name is Rodrigo Tiago Mendonça, I'm 28 years old and I live in São Paulo, SP. I've been a teacher for 8 years now, 4 of those for Yazigi (morumbi branch), the school I'm currently at. As a teacher I'm an ideologist, I believe that teaching gives me the opportunity to make a remarkable change in the future, so I try to provide open, meaningful dialog whenever possible. And that's how I came to the present activity, I wanted to make my students ponder on the rights and responsibilities we have living in a society and how easy it is to lose track of those. I'd like to thank Claudio for the great initiative in sharing his ideas with us.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Fifth Element, WALL-E & The Road: Future Trends

A. Read these two quotations from the past. Then discuss why these specialists in their fields were unable to foresee the future.

1. "Everything that can be invented has been invented." (Charles H. Duel, Commissioner of the US Patent Office, 1899)

2. There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home." (Kenneth Olson, President of Digital Equipment, 1977)

B. Discuss these questions in pairs:

1. What important inventions have been made since 1899?

2. What reasons are there for people to have computers at home?

3. In your opinion, when might the following future events? How will they happen?

- Space tourism:

- The widespread use of non-petroleum-dependent technology:

- The elimination of cancer as a health threat:

- The widespread use of flying automobiles:

- The widespread use of robots as household chores equipment:

- The use of cryonics for immortality - people with fatal illnesses could have their bodies frozen before death to wait for its cure.

4. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future? Explain it.

C. Watch the first segment from the film The Fifth Element and discuss the questions that follow:


1. Describe the scene.

2. Is this an optimistic or pessimistic view of the future? Explain it.

3. How different is this future from the one you imagine it will be like?

4. How do you think the future will be similar to the one shown in the segment. Think about everything you have seen (living in a big city, cars, police, weapons, traffic, criminals, buildings, etc).

5. Would you like the future to be like the one depicted in the segment? Why (not)?

D. Now watch the second segment from the same movie, The Fifth Element, and discuss the questions that follow.


1. Describe the segment.

2. Do you think space tourism will ever be possible? Why (not)?

3. How similar and different is this kind of tourism from the way tourism is nowadays?

4. Would you like to join this group of tourist? Why (not)?

5. How do you think tourism will be in the future, 20 years from today, for example?

E. Watch the third segment from the wonderful movie WALL-E.


1. How does the director describe the future? Is it an optimistic or pessimistic view? Why?

2. Why is everyone so fat?

3. Most of the inventions nowadays are to make our lives more effortless. Do you agree with this statement? Why (not)? What are the possible consequences of such inventions.

4. What were some of the novelties promised by the movie? Will they ever happen? Which ones will and which ones won't be possible?

5. How do you compare the future shown in WALL-E with the one shown in The Fifth Element.

F. Discuss future trends in pairs. Write R if you believe the following rates or trends will rise, and F if you believe they will fall. Justify your answers:

1. ( ) crime rate

2. ( ) birthrate

3. ( ) literacy rates

4. ( ) fertility rate

5. ( ) divorce rate

6. ( ) population growth

7. ( ) life expectancy

8. ( ) marriage trends

9. ( ) unemployment rates

10. ( ) wars

G. Now watch the fourth segment from the movie The Road and discuss the questions that follow.


1. Describe the scene.

2. Is it an optimistic or pessimistic view of the future? Explain it.

3. Do you think this is a possible reality? Why (not)?

4. What could lead us to a future like this one?

5. What is mentioned in the segment concerning:

- what possibly happened

- daylight

- weather

- animals

- crops

- trees

- food

- shoes

- cannibalism

H. Class discussion:

1. How do you compare the future shown in The Fifth Element, WALL-E and The Road?

2. Which one of them is more feasible to happen? Why?

3. How do you think our future will actually be like?