Saturday, October 29, 2011

Due Date & New in Town: Travel Hassles

It's great to talk about travel hassles. I used these great scenes to lead in the topic.

I. Work in pairs. Discuss and list some of the kinds of hassles that occur when people travel. Write the name of the hassle and describe a product or idea that might help in dealing with each problem.

1. With Language:


Hassle: You don't know the language

Product: A foldable card in which you point to the pictures and you will be able to communicate with any people in any culture

2. In hotels:



3. On planes:



4. On Buses:



5. At airports:



6. With food:



II. Make a list of the kind of things that can cause problems when you travel.

Think about the following items and other ones too.

Luggage (carry-ons, security ...)

Documents (passports, visas, tickets...)

Valuables (jewelry, money, cameras, laptops...)

People (passengers, flight attendants, family, children...)

Reservations (hotels, flights, car rentals...)

III. Watch the segment from the movie Due Date and make a list of all the hassles Robert Downey Jr's character faced in the segment. Compare his hassles with the list you prepared in exercise II.

IV. Answer these questions. and make a list of all the hassles Renee Zellwegger's character faced in the segment. Compare his hassles with the list you prepared in exercise II.:

1. Describe the scene.

2. What were the most and least serious hassles he faced?

3. What would you do if you were in his shoes? How would you react to each of the hassles you had listed?

4. Have you ever faced a situation like his?

5. Describe some travel hassles you have experienced and how you dealt with the situation.

V. Now watch the segment from the movie New in Town and discuss the questions:

1. Describe the scene.

2. What were the most and least serious hassles she faced?

3. What would you do if you were in her shoes? How would you react to each of the hassles you had listed?

4. Have you ever faced a situation like his?



Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hereafter & San Andreas: Tsunami, Natural Disasters

After watching this scene and thinking about the consequences of tsunamis in Thailand and in Japan, I felt the urge to prepare an activity to talk about it. Tsunamis don't take place in Brazil, so it is very shocking and hard to believe that such a tragedy is always about to happen somewhere in the world.

I. Prepare small posters with the information presented in the items below and tape them around the classroom. Give each students (or pair / group of students) the questions below. Ask them to guess what the answers are. Finally, The students look for their answers by reading the information displayed in the posters and read the class what they found out about tsunamis.

1. What is a tsunami?
  • A tsunami is a series of waves with a long wavelength and period (time between crests) generated by a large, impulsive displacement of sea water.
  • Time between crests of the wave can vary from a few minutes to over an hour.
  • Tsunamis are often incorrectly called tidal waves; they have no relation to the daily ocean tides.
2. How are tsunamis generated?
  • Tsunamis are generated by any large, impulsive displacement of the sea level.
  • Tsunamis are also triggered by landslides into or under the water surface, and can be generated by volcanic activity and meteorite impacts.
3. How often do tsunamis occur?
  • On the average, two tsunamis occur per year throughout the world which inflict damage near the source.
  • Approximately every 15 years a destructive, ocean-wide tsunami occurs.
4. Can strike-slip (horizontal motion) earthquakes trigger tsunamis?
  • Yes, approximately 15% of all damaging tsunamis were triggered by strike-slip earthquakes.
  • This type of earthquake is less likely to trigger a tsunami than one with vertical motion.
  • The waves are likely generated by associated landslides or motion of a sloping bathymetric feature.
  • Tsunamis generated by strike-slip earthquakes normally affect regions near the source only.
5. What does the word tsunami mean?
  • Tsunami (soo-NAH-mee) is a Japanese word meaning harbor wave.
6. How fast do tsunamis travel?
  • Tsunami velocity depends on the depth of water through which it travels (velocity equals the square root of the product of the water depth times the acceleration of gravity).
  • Tsunamis travel approximately 475 mph in 15,000 feet of water. In 100 feet of water the velocity drops to about 40 mph.
  • A tsunami travels from the central Aleutian Is. to Hawaii in about 5 hours and to California in about 6 hours, or from the Portugal coast to North Carolina in about 8.5 hours.
7. How big is a tsunami?
  • Tsunamis range in size from inches to over a hundred feet.
  • In deep water (greater than 600 feet), tsunamis are rarely over 3 feet and will not be noticed by ships due to their long period (time between crests).
  • As tsunamis propagate into shallow water, the wave height can increase by over 10 times.
  • Tsunami heights vary greatly along a coast. The waves can be amplified by shoreline and bathymetric (sea floor) features.
  • A large tsunami can flood low-lying coastal land over a mile from the coast.
8. What does a tsunami look like when it reaches shore?
  • Normally, a tsunami appears as a rapidly advancing or receding tide.
  • It some cases a bore (wall of water) or series of breaking waves may form.
9. How is a tsunami different from a wind-generated wave?
  • Wind-generated waves usually have periods (time between crests) between 5 and 20 seconds. Tsunami periods normally range from 5 to 60 minutes.
  • Wind-generated waves break as they shoal and lose energy offshore. Tsunamis act more like a flooding wave. A twenty foot tsunami is a twenty foot rise in sea level.

Information provided by the informative site:

II. Watch the segment from the movie Hereafter and discuss the questions in pairs:

1. Describe the scene.

2. What did you see in the segment that you learned during the previous task?

3. What happened to the character of the American woman in the segment?

4. What are the most famous tsunamis you have heard of?

5. What do you think should be done in order not to have so many casualties because of tsunamis?

6. Are you afraid of tsunamis where you live? Do you face any natural disasters threats?


Watch the segment from the film San Andreas, a catastrophe movie that make dramatic predictions for San Francisco, CA. Then answer the questions:

    1. Describe the scene.

    2. What did you see in the segment that you learned during the previous task?

    3. Do you think it is a possible future for California or is it just a fictional movie?

    Saturday, October 15, 2011

    Serendipity: Piracy

    This is a romantic movie for those who love happy endings. It is a well told story and perfect for romantic lovers. I used this scene to talk about piracy, a growing problem all over the world.

    I. Work with a partner and discuss these questions: 1. Is Piracy (music, fashion, movies, software) a problem where you live? How so?

    2. How do you assess this problem? Is it a governmental problem or is it the citizens' and manufactures', designers', and artists'?

    3. What should be done about it?

    4. Have you ever bought a pirate product? Talk about it?

    5. What's your opinion about illegal downloading of films, music and software from the Internet? Have you ever done it? How concerned are you?

    6. Do people buy pirate products because the original product's price is far more expensive than they should be, or is it because they do not have principles concerned about copyrights issues?

    II. Work in groups and decide if you agree or disagree with the statements about several views about piracy.

    1.Downloading music makes it readily available to the masses in minutes, which is great for new artists.

    2. When you download music, you save on the costs that would be incurred if you would have decided to buy it because costs are unnecessarily high.

    3. Music industry has profited with piracy because they have other ways of making money differently despite the decrease in sales.

    4. The practice of downloading music leads to the diminishing of sales of music cassettes, CDs and DVDs. It reduces the sale figures of music companies. It has an adverse effect on the music industry.

    5. By downloading music you lose its originality. When you use the copied versions of music; you indirectly encourage piracy. As you download music, you do not go for the purchase of the original copies of music, which may result in an indirect violation of copyright.

    6. In the fashion industry, styles copied at lower price points flood the market with cheap imitations of higher end goods. Piracy permeates the industry; even copies are copied. The quality is not worth it.

    7. Designers such as Gucci, Armani, Prada, Louis Vitton charge too much for their products. It is only fair that piracy makes them available to larger masses.

    8. These materials are often of poorer quality than the more expensive resources used by the higher priced manufacturers and consumers need to replace their clothing more frequently, and so do retailers, making cheap become expensive.

    9. The business of copying allows for greater employment opportunities in the apparel industry for both skilled and unskilled labor.

    10. For a garment to become a fashion, it needs to diffuse to a large mass of people. Design piracy makes possible for cheap reproductions of fashionable goods to diffuse to women of all economic levels.

    III. Watch the segment from the movie Serendipity and discuss the questions.

    1. Describe the scene

    2. How is piracy shown in the segment?

    3. Who's selling and who's buying?

    4. What are the consumer's feelings towards piracy?

    5. How would you assess the quality of the purchased product?

    6. Why did she decide to buy it?

    7. Would you do the same as her? Explain it.

    8. What should happen to a person who sells a pirate product? What about the person who buys it? And the person who makes the pirate product?


    Saturday, October 8, 2011

    When in Rome & Made of Honour: Traditions

    We always talk about traditions in our classes. These funny scenes are wonderful to lead in the topic.

    A tradition is a ritual, belief or object passed down within a society, still maintained in the present, with origins in the past. Common examples include holidays or impractical but socially meaningful clothes (like lawyer wigs or military officer spurs), but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as greetings. Wikipedia 

      I. Read about some people talking about wedding traditions in their countries. Then make a guess to find out which country the traditions come from. Taken from Topic Online Magazine



    1. Wearing White, Giving Flowers, and Throwing Rice In my country, the bride always, or almost always, wears a white dress. The man comes to the house of the bride and give her her bouquet of flowers (also in white or other light colors). They go to the church and the man is inside when the father of the bride brings her to her future husband. And at the end, when they come out, the family throws rice on them. Jolien Debonne

    2. Important Details of the Wedding Ceremony The bridegroom can't see the bride wearing her wedding dress before the ceremony. The bride has to wear something old, something new, and something that is borrowed. One more detail is that the rings should be engraved: the name of the bridegroom on the bride's ring and vice-versa. María Celina Brandao

    3. One of the Interesting Things in a Chinese Wedding Ceremony A couple always has jokes played on them by their friends or guests. For example, during the ceremony an apple is hung with a thread before the couple. Then people who attend their wedding ask the bride and groom to bite the apple at the same time in order to show they love each other. However, at the moment their lips touch it, one of their friends suddenly pulls it away and the couple's lips meet and they have a big kiss instead of biting the apple before them. Interestingly, this action or behavior always causes a loud laugh. Cheng Limin

    4. The Candle Ceremony There is the "candle ceremony" after the ring ceremony where the groom has to light the candle on his left and the bride lights the candle on her right. When they both have their candles lit, they put them together and light the candle in the middle. Then they have to put out their own candles and this means they become just one body for the rest of their lives. Jimena Baquero

    5. Seven When the wedding ceremony service starts, a group of seven men goes to the bride's home. The bride and her family are waiting for seven white cars which escort the bride's car until they arrive at the church. Finally, the bride enters the church and then the nuptial song starts playing. Walter E. Hernández

    6. Tradition of the "Grinding Girl" On the night before the marriage ceremony, three or four unmarried girls hold a clean white cloth on the heads of the bride and bridegroom while they are sitting on a sofa or on the ground. Then one of the girls start to grind two big nuggets of sugar together. As she does that, she asks God to repel all evil spirits from the life of the newly married couple. Before this, the families of the girl and the boy should make sure that the "Grinding Girl" is very trustworthy and decent. This will also provides the young unmarried girls with the chance to get married in the coming years! Mahmood Azizi

    7. Take Note if You're Getting Married - If a groom's friend cuts a piece of the groom's tie, he'll get married soon. - If the bride wears something blue, she'll have a happy marriage. - If the groom sees the bride's dress, she'll have bad luck during the ceremony. Carmen Caffarena

    8. I Can't Read Your Name, So You're Next! When a girl gets married, all her female friends write their names inside her bridal shoes. After the wedding ceremony, if someone's name has been rubbed off and can not be read anymore, it means this person is going to get married next. Arzu Cimitay

    Answer Key

    1 Belgium 2 Brazil 3 China 4 Colombia 5 El Salvador 6 Iran 7 Spain 8 Turkey

    II. Watch the movie segments from the movies When in Rome and Made of Honor and answer the questions about both of the segments.

    1. Describe the scene.

    2. Describe the tradition the segments show

    3. What are the consequences of (not) following the tradition.

    4. What went wrong? Did anything unexpected take place?

    5.Do you have a similar tradition in your country? Talk about it if your answer is YES.

    6. What's your opinion about this tradition?




    Talk to a partner:

    1. Do you have a family tradition ? Talk about it?

    2. Are traditions important? Why (not)?

    3. What are some strange traditions you can remember?

    4. Would you rather live in a world without traditions or in one where traditions are followed very closely? Explain why.



    Saturday, October 1, 2011

    Little Fockers: Parents Styles

    I like all the movies of the series, but this one is really special. I love this scene and so do my students.

    I. There are four types of parenting styles commonly referred to by parenting experts. Match the styles and the descriptions:

    1. Authoritarian

    2. Permissive


    4. Uninvolved

    ( ) Child is the boss.

    ( ) Parents are the boss.

    ( ) Also called rejecting or neglecting: Boss is out to lunch - permanently.

    ( ) Also called balanced or democratic: Parents and children are co-bosses.

    Answer key: 2, 1, 4, 3

    II. Now fill in the blanks with the kinds of style in exercise I.

    In the ____________ household, the parents are the ultimate and supreme commanders. They require their children to obey at all times and to not question authority. Strict with discipline and punishment, these parents value compliance above all else. Many children who grew up in an authoritarian family are not socially capable, lack self esteem or may be openly defiant. They also have been found to be deficient in leadership abilities, be incapable of decision making and to not be innovative thinkers.

    The ______________ family allows the child to dictate behavior; some parents who adopt this style also subscribe to attachment parenting which promotes co-sleeping and "˜wearing' your infant in a sling close to your body. This style of parenting is often adapted by parents who were raised by authoritarians, and who wish to parent their own children in a completely opposite manner. Creativity and originality are highly prized in this family. Children from permissive parents are often impulsive, lack discipline and follow through, but score high when it comes to self esteem. These children are also often bored and expect others to take care of them, even when they reach adulthood.

    ____________ parents permit children to ask questions, but in the end the parents are the final decision makers of the household. As with authoritarian parents, authoritative demand results from their children, but reach this end objective by guiding their children through discussion, caring direction and involvement. Usually these children are very social, do well in school and have high self esteem. Authoritative children are competent, have high leadership qualities, and do well with original thinking and concepts.

    Children of ____________ parents do not have rules and are often the "˜parent' in the relationship. Sometimes this stems from parents that are substance abusers or in some other way incapacitated, including mental or physical illnesses and are not capable of being a good role model for their children. Frequently these children are resentful, have behavioral problems and do not do well in school. Depression is elevated with children of uninvolved parents.

    Information from the great site

    III. Talk to a partner:

    1. What kind of parent are you (your parents)? Explain it.

    2. What are your parents greatest qualities? And weaknesses?

    3. How different would your like your parents to be? Explain it.

    4. Describe the perfect parenting style in your own point of view.

    IV. Watch the scene from the comedy Little Fockers and discuss the questions.

    1. Describe the scene.

    2. What is their parenting style? Justify your answers with examples from the scene.

    3. What about the child? Is the boy responding well to that style? Explain it.

    4. How would your father react in that situation, let's say, if you were playing with the food, but not eating it at all?

    5. How would he react if you did the same thing as the boy did?