Friday, December 20, 2013

My dear friends,


I'm going on vacation now. I really need to rest and recharge the batteries. Salvador and its beaches are waiting for me. I wish you and your families a wonderful Christmas and a perfect 2014. New posts are coming up in January 2014. See you soon!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Urban Legend & When a Stranger Calls: Urban Legends

When a Stranger Calls is a classic. In the 80's, it was probably one of the first (good) movies about an urban legend. Urban Legend, though, is just average, but this scene is great, especially because it explains what an urban legend is. Moreover, the scene is great. However, I recommend you use them with adults only.


I. Watch the movie segment and answer these questions, based on the teacher's explanation and happenings in the segment.


1. What is an urban legend?

2. What is a cultural admonition?

3. Do urban legends really happen in real life?

4. What is the cultural admonition in the story about the babysitter?

5. What is the urban legend about pop rocks?

6. Who's Mike?

7. Think about 5 urban legends you have heard of where you live. Then think about the cultural admonition behind the story.

Ex: There is a fake nurse who steals newly born babies in hospitals.
Cultural Admonition: Have an eye on your baby at all times or you may lose it forever.
II. Watch the segment from When a Stranger Calls and answer the questions.

1. What are the similarities between this scene and the one described by the professor in Urban Legend?

2. Do you think it is an urban legend? Is it still a common legend or it outdated?

3. What do you think will happen next?

4. Would the technology we have today change the situation of the character? How so?



Sunday, November 24, 2013

Parkland & Killing Kennedy: John Kennedy's Assassination, Historic Moments

The assassination of President Kennedy still intrigues the world even after 50 years of his death. I used this scene from the emotional movie "Parkland" to illustrate the moment. Here you can see the person who shot the video everybody has seen showing the President's shooting, how he felt at the moment, and the President's first moments in Parkland, the hospital that received Kennedy after the shooting. Killing Kennedy is a TV movie, a good one, and it shows a different point of view of the shooting - the shooter's.

Information taken from the marvelous and informative site:

I. Talk to a partner.

1. What do you know about President Kennedy assassination?

2. Why was it so shocking at the time and why does it remain so vivid in our memories?

3. Do you believe the story there was a conspiration to kill him or do you think Lee H. Oswald acted alone? Why?

4. One of Dallas's major tourist attraction is the museum and visiting the shooting area and building. Is it okay to make money out of a tragedy like that? Explain it.

II. Read the text below:

John and Jackie Kennedy were loving parents who adored their children. Mrs. Kennedy did not like leaving Caroline and John behind, especially overnight. But the Texas trip was important and had been planned for several months. The political benefits were expected to outweigh the drawbacks of a short separation. 

Most Americans were proud of their President and his glamorous wife. Forty-six on the day he went to Dallas, Kennedy was the youngest-elected U.S. Chief Executive.  He would soon be the youngest to die.

As the motorcade turned on to Elm Street, Abraham Zapruder, a local businessman, waited with his Bell and Howell 8mm camera. He had found a great place to stand. His secretary, standing behind him, would provide support since Zapruder sometimes suffered from vertigo. He waited for the President's car to reach his line of sight.

On the sixth floor of the School Book Depository building, the alleged assassin, Lee Oswald, also waited. A new employee of the depository warehouse, Oswald would soon have an excellent view of the President's car. 

As soon as he could see the President's limo, which was traveling at about 11.2 miles per hour, Zapruder aimed his camera at the car and recorded the President's visit. Oswald, meanwhile, allegedly aimed his rifle at the same moving target.
At about 12:30 p.m., Oswald took his first shot.

Recording events at about 18.5 frames per second, Zapruder's film is the best evidence of the assassination of President Kennedy. The 26-second film, now owned by the American people through the U.S. National Archives (at a cost of $16 million paid to Zapruder's heirs), begins routinely and ends horrifically. Panning from left to right, Zapruder followed the motorcade as it moved through Dealey Plaza. A highway sign momentarily blocked Zapruder's view of the President's limo. Staying focused, however, the amateur continued filming.

Investigators interviewed 216 Dealey Plaza witnesses. Hundreds more testified in the Warren Commission hearings. Within a year, the Commission found that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, had assassinated President Kennedy. Those official conclusions, however, were never universally accepted. Too many unanswered questions remained. Too many "findings" did not match the facts.

For example: What about evidence from eyewitnesses who heard shots coming from the grassy knoll area? If true, an assassin would have been in front of the President's car as well as behind it.

What about the Zapruder film which shows the effects of the fatal bullet? If the President were only shot from behind, how does one explain the movement of his head at the moment of impact? Answers, from those supporting the "lone assassin" theory, differed greatly from those with an opposite point of view. Still others believe there was a cover up of the evidence.

Scholarship continues in an effort to get to the truth. The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded there was likely a conspiracy to kill the President. They also found "a high probability" that a second gunman fired at him, although the committee believed that Oswald fired the fatal shot.

III. Talk to a partner:

1. According to the reading, how important was this trip to Dallas?

2. Describe what Zapruder did on that day.

3. What questions remain unanswered. What are they? How would you answer them?

IV. Watch the movie segment.


1. How similar is the shooting scene to the description in the reading?

2. Was the scene exactly the way you had imagined when you read the text? Explain it.

3. Was there anything you didn't know about the assassination that you ended up learning by watching the movie scene?

V. Watch the segment from the movie Killing Kennedy and answer the questions:

Killing Kennedy:

1. How do you compare both scenes?

2. What is shown in this segment that was not included in Parkland's?

3. Do you believe this version is true? Doesn't it seem too easy, therefore unlikely? What's your opinion about this version?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Purge: Urban Violence

This movie was crucified by the critics. I agree that the premise of the movie is sort of stupid and far fetched, but movies can actually do that. It is fiction and fantasy. Taking this into consideration, I really liked the direction, thrills and frights. This is a segment for adults only.

I. Read the short description of the context of the movie below. Then pair up with a partner and explain it, using your own words.

The Purge is based on the premise that every year a 12 hour period is allocated as a kind of law free day in which all crime (unless it is directed toward the government) is permitted. The stated purpose is to allow common people to purge themselves of violent feelings so that they won't be moved to act on them during the rest of the 364 and a half days. The real reason for the Purge is that it is an easy way to get rid of the poor and the homeless, which the government and population consider undesirable. The rich are able to protect themselves in their homes and ride out the Purge, closing their eyes to the violence taking place around them.

II. Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions that follow.

I. Describe the scene.

2. What's your opinion about  the American government of establishing "the purge"? What are the possible consequences to the society we live in if it became true.

3. How can the purge reduce or escalate crime rates?

4. In your opinion, what is the cause of urban violence? How should governments address this issue, if it is the case?

5. How violent is the place you live in? How do you compare urban violence in your city now and 15 years ago?

6. Do American movies show an accurate portrait  of urban violence in the USA or is it an exaggerated picture of reality? Explain it.

7. Do you agree that we should get rid of the poor/homeless/criminals by creating something like the purge? Why (not)?

8. Do you think that the purge is a modern view of the Nazi's behavior during the Holocaust? What are the similarities and the differences between both ideas.

9. In Brazil, there are the "armed militias" that fight against crimes in slums, filling a vacuum of authority by promising residents security in exchange for payments and the chance to take over many illegal businesses — including controlling the supply of water and natural gas, gambling machines, pirating cable television connections, and of course, the drug trade. They gain sympathy from residents because they battle Rio’s “barbaric” drug dealers. Do you think the militias are replacing one form of criminality with another? What is worse, to have or not to have militias?

10. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the reduction of crime rates where you live? Why?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Croods: Family

 I simply love this family, The Croods. The movie is awesome and it is wonderful to talk about family. I used their family tree to practice the use of possessives ('s).

I. Work in pairs:

1. Talk about your family. What do they do and how old are they?

2. Do you have pictures of your family in your cell phone? Show them to a partner and tell him/her where they are and what they are doing there.

3. Who are you closest to in your family? Justify your answer.

4. What would you change in your family?

II. Watch the movie segment and complete the blanks with the name of the characters..


Ex: Gran is Ugga's mother . 

1. __________________ is Grug's mother-in-law.

2. ________________ is Eeep's brother. 

3. _________________ is Sandy's sister.

4. __________________ is the family's pet. 

5. __________________ is Sandy's brother.

6. __________________ is Ugga's son.

7. __________________ is Ugga's husband

8. __________________ is Grug's wife.

9. __________________ is Gran's granddaughter.

10. __________________ is Eep's grandmother.

III. Complete the blanks with the name of the correct character and ('s).

1. Ugga is ______________________ mother.

2. Grug is ______________________ son-in-law.

3. Hunk is _____________________ grandson.

4. Eep is ______________________ daughter.

5. Grug is ______________________ father.

III. Discuss:

1. How do you compare this family to modern times families? What do they have in common and how different are they?

2. Have families changed throughout history? Explain it.

3. How would you describe the personality of your family members? Are they similar to each other?

4. Who do you consider family? Cousins, distant cousins, brothers(sisters)-in-laws, or just parents, siblings and grandparents?

Answer key:


1. Gran
 2. Hunk
3. Eep
4. Belt
5. Hunk
6. Hunk
7. Grug
8. Ugga
9. Sandy
10. Gran


1. Hunk's / Eep's / Sandy's
2. Gran's
3. Gran's
4. Ugga's
5. Hunk's / Eep's / Sandy's

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Morning Glory: TV Ratings, Expressing Opinions

This is a wonderful segment with multiple possibilities, especially if you want to talk about TV shows. Because TV is a controversial topic, I used it to make students practice expressing opinions in a genuine manner, without using the expression "I think...". Be careful with your audience. It is a segment for adults.

I. Watch the movie segment and discuss these questions in small groups.

RATINGS: a list of television and radio programmes showing how popular they are

1. What were the changes she decided to implement in order to raise the TV shows ratings?

2. Why did the ratings go up?

3. Are there TV shows like the one in the segment in your city? What are they? Do you watch them? Why (not)?

II. Let's practice expressing opinions without saying the expression "I think...". Of course that saying it to express an opinion is fine, but you can enrich your language if you use certain ways to vary your language production. This is called functional language.

What can you say instead of "I think" ?

I would say

In my opinion
To my mind
I am of the opinion that
I hold the opinion that
As far as I'm concerned,
I understand that
From my point of view, 
I'm not sure, but I suppose
That's an interesting question, 
I believe that

Now work in small groups and express your opinions about the questions below. YOU MUST NOT USE the expression "I think". You must also use all of the expressions above to answer the questions.

1. Do you think TV ratings help improve TV programs or does it have the opposite effect, lowering the quality of TV shows?

2. What do you think about her strategies to raise the ratings?

3. Do you think that the higher the TV show's ratings are the better the show is?

4. What were the best and worst changes she made in the TV show? Explain it.

5. What's your opinion about this kind of TV show?

6. Give examples of TV shows with very high TV ratings, but that you consider stupid.

7. Give examples of TV shows with very high TV ratings, and that you consider extremely clever.

8. What's your opinion about Brazilian (your country) TV?


Saturday, October 19, 2013

E.T - The Extra-Terrestrial, Mean Girls & The Nightmare before Christmas: Halloween

Hollywood always shows Halloween in their films. Here are three segments that will help you illustrate this holiday. Happy Halloween!

I. Discuss these questions in pairs.

1. What's your opinion about Halloween? Explain it.

2. Do you celebrate it? What about the other people in your country?

3. Do you think Halloween is an American tradition they want to export to other cultures? Explain it.

4. Have you ever gone to a Halloween party? What was it like?

5. How do you think children, teens and adults celebrate Halloween? Is it actually a celebration?

II. Work in pairs. Decide if these statements are true or false.  

( ) The first Jack O’Lanterns were actually made from turnips.  

( ) Halloween is the second highest grossing commercial holiday after Christmas in America.

( ) Samhainophobia  is the fear of Halloween.

( ) The first known mention of trick-or-treating in print in North America was in 1927.

( ) There is a tradition that says that, if a person wears his clothes inside out and walks backwards on Halloween, he will see  a witch at midnight.

( ) Halloween has been around 6,000 years.

( ) Black and orange are typically associated with Halloween. Black is the symbol of death and darkness, and orange stands for the harvest of autumn and its falling leaves

Key: All are true.

III. Watch the segment from the movie E.T. and answer the following questions:

1. How does the family, especially the children,  celebrate Halloween?

2. How excited are they?

3. What costumes are they wearing. How do their clothes change, according to their ages?

4. How similar is it to the way you celebrate it?

IV. Watch the segment from the movie Mean Girls. Here the scene shows how teenagers celebrate it.

1. How do teenagers celebrate Halloween?

2. What kind of costumes do they wear? How different are they from children's?

3. What was the biggest mistake the main character made?

4. Have you ever been to a similar party?

V. Watch the segment from the movie The Nightmare before Christmas and answer the questions:

 1. What are the Halloween symbols that you saw in the segment?

2. Read the lyrics and watch the segment.

Boys and girls of every age
Wouldn't you like to see something strange?

Come with us and you will see
This, our town of Halloween

This is Halloween, this is Halloween
Pumpkins scream in the dead of night

This is Halloween, everybody make a scene
Trick or treat till the neighbors gonna die of fright
It's our town, everybody scream
In this town of Halloween

I am the one hiding under your bed
Teeth ground sharp and eyes glowing red

I am the one hiding under yours stairs
Fingers like snakes and spiders in my hair

This is Halloween, this is Halloween

Halloween! Halloween! Halloween! Halloween!
In this town we call home
Everyone hail to the pumpkin song

In this town, don't we love it now?
Everybody's waiting for the next surprise

Round that corner, man hiding in the trash can
Something's waiting now to pounce, and how you'll...

Scream! This is Halloween
Red 'n' black, slimy green

Aren't you scared?

Well, that's just fine
Say it once, say it twice
Take a chance and roll the dice
Ride with the moon in the dead of night

Everybody scream, everybody scream

In our town of Halloween!

I am the clown with the tear-away face
Here in a flash and gone without a trace

I am the "who" when you call, "Who's there?"
I am the wind blowing through your hair

I am the shadow on the moon at night
Filling your dreams to the brim with fright

This is Halloween, this is Halloween
Halloween! Halloween! Halloween! Halloween!
Halloween! Halloween!

Tender lumplings everywhere
Life's no fun without a good scare

That's our job, but we're not mean
In our town of Halloween

In this town

Don't we love it now?
Everybody's waiting for the next surprise

Skeleton Jack might catch you in the back
And scream like a banshee
Make you jump out of your skin
This is Halloween, everyone scream
Wont' ya please make way for a very special guy

Our man jack is King of the Pumpkin patch
Everyone hail to the Pumpkin King now!

This is Halloween, this is Halloween
Halloween! Halloween! Halloween! Halloween!

In this town we call home
Everyone hail to the pumpkin song

La la la la-la la [Repeat]




Thursday, October 10, 2013

Rise of the Guardians: Memories

This is another lovely animated movie. This scene is perfect to talk about childhood memories.

I. Work in pairs: Your teacher will read some words out loud. Tell each other what memories come to your mind when you think about your childhood.

1. TV cartoons

2. TV programs

3. Vacation

4. Sports

5. Doing something naughty

6. School

7. Music

8. Clothes

9. Favorite food (dish)

10. Your home

II. Discuss:

1. Do people usually remember good or bad moments of their childhood?

2. How do you think your memories made you the person you are now?

3. What are some of the sad moments you remember about your childhood?

4. What are some of the good moments?

III. Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions:

1. Describe the scene.

2. What are Jack's memories? What happened to his sister?

3. How did he see his memories?

4. Why was Jack so happy to have seen his past memories?

5. Does it make a difference in someone's life if he/she does not have any recollection of his/her past? Explain how.


Monday, September 30, 2013

Lincoln: Abolition of Slavery - Civil Rights Movement

I love this historic scene despite the slow pace of this movie. I used it to provide the students with opportunities to learn a bit more about culture and history.

I. Work with a partner. Here you have facts about the abolition of slavery in Britain, the USA and Brazil. Take the quiz below and let's see how much you know (or can guess) about these historic moments that had different patterns in the three aforementioned countries.


inspired by:

1. It was the first big slave-trading nation to abandon the trade. (True or False)

2. The campaign against slavery was dominated by women. (True or False)

3. In the 18th century thousands of slaves were brought into Britain, and the height of fashion amongst rich ladies was to have a black child servant. (True or False)

4. Coffee  produced by slaves transformed the British cuisine. It was what turned tea into a British national obsession as opposed to the strange Indian pastime it originally was. (True or False)

5. Slavery inside the British Empire came to an end after a rebellion led by a Jamaican slave. What he originally planned was to make use of non-violent tactics and passive resistance to end slavery. (True or False)


Inspired by

1. The senate passed the 13th amendment one year after the end of the civil war. (True or False)
2. President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that all slaves in the rebelling states were free as of January 1, 1863. The Civil War became about ending slavery once and for all. (True or False)

3. 26 of the 27 states of the Union ratified the amendment in February, 1865, the first month after its passage by the Congress. (True or False)

4. The first to ratify the 13th Amendment was Illinois. (True or False)

5. Mississippi was the last state to ratify. (True or False)


Inspired by

1. Brazil achieved independence from Portugal in 1822. The Constituent Assembly was published and addressed that not only the slave trade must end, but also for the gradual emancipation of slaves. However, since this point until the 1880s, the Brazilian demand for slaves was filled by a gigantic increase in the importation of African slaves. (True or False)

2. In 1848, the Brazilian slave trade continued on considerable level growing rapidly during the 19th century, and during this time the numbers reached as much as (6,000 - 60.000 - 100.000)  slaves per year.  (Choose the best answer).

3. the foreign slave trade was finally abolished by 1850. Then, by 1871, the sons of the slaves were freed. In 1885, the slaves aged over 60 years were freed. (True or False)

4. Brazil was the last nation in the Western Hemisphere to abolish slavery. (True or False) 

5. The country that sent most slaves to Brazil was Tanzania. (true or False)

Answer key:


1. True
2. True
3. True
4. False - Sugar
5. True


1. False - Before
2. True
3. False - eighteen states
4. True
5. False - Georgia


1. True
2. 60.000
3. True
4. True
5. False - Angola.

II. Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions:

1. What is the mood of the voting? What about after the voting?

2. What exactly were they deciding with the passing of the 13th amendment?

3. Describe the scene.

4. Can you think of other historic moments in your country's history that were similar or even greater than the passing of the 13th amendment?

5. What are the consequences of slavery in Britain, the USA and Brazil nowadays? Do you have any idea?


Friday, September 20, 2013

Click: Regrets

This movie provides us entertainment and food for thought when it comes to our life choices. Having a remote control to extend our favorite moments of the day sounds like a dream, but we have to deal with its consequences. This scene is really touching.

Work in pairs:

1. Are you an impulsive person or do you mull an idea over for a long time before taking action?

2. How does it affect your life decisions? Have you ever regretted a decision you have taken? Give examples.

3. Think about three things that you regret having done in your life. Share them with your partner.

4. Would you do anything differently if you could go back in time? Explain it.

5. Imagine that you had a remote control that would allow extending your most pleasurable moments and speeding up your boring moments. Which moments would you extend and which ones would you speed up? Think at least about 5 different moments for each situation.

Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions:

- Is the scene about the past, present or future?

- Can he change his past? Why (not)?

- How does he feel about his relationship with his father?

Make a list of 5 things he regrets. Use both should have + past participle and wish.

EX: He wishes he had spent more time with his dad OR He should have spent more time with his dad.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Little Man Tate: Privileges for the Gifted

This movie is a classic. It is a turning point on movies about people with special needs and gifts. Definitely worth-seeing!

I. Discuss the following quotes. Which one do you agree with?

1. 100% of our intelligence comes from the environment. If so, genetics influence is not important, just the way you were educated or raised will count.

2. 50% of our intelligence comes from genes and 50% comes from the environment.

3. 100% of our intelligence comes from our genes. If so, the family of Sigmund Freud and his descendants are all intelligent, for example.

II. Do you think that preferential treatment should be given to the gifted? Do you agree with this statement?

"Gifted Children should be singled out for preferential treatment. They should be given advantages that other children don't get in order to nurture their special talents".

Make a list of arguments for and against this issue.

III.  Divide the class into two groups and promote a debate. The groups prepare a list of arguments for and the other one against the quotation.


IV. Watch the segment and discuss the questions:

1. What is the main characters' special talent?

2. How did feel about it?

3. What did he want to have, and he doesn't?

4. How did the school professionals deal with the situation?

5. How did his mother deal with this situation?

6. What would you do if you were his mother?

7. What if you were the school's director?