Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Giver: Love

This is an excellent film. I loved its premise and the way the emotions were dealt with by the characters.  Don't miss it.

I. Work with a partner. Write down a definition of "love". You  may write more than one definition if you believe there are different kinds of love.

II. Read you definitions to the class.

III. Read the definition provided by a dictionary and check which definition is closest in meaning to the dictionary's.

1. A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from  kinship, recognition of attractive qualities,or a sense of underlying oneness.
2. A feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person with whom one is disposed to make a pair.
3. An intense emotional attachment, as for a pet or treasured object.
4. A person who is the object of deep or intense affection or attraction

IV. Read the quotes about love below. In pairs, explain what they mean and decide if you agree with them. Explain why.

a) Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says ‘I need you because I love you.’

b) In dreams and in love there are no impossibilities.

c) The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor even touched, but just felt in the heart.

d) There is no remedy for love but to love more.

e) In the arithmetic of love, one plus one equals everything, and two minus one equals nothing.

f) You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.

g) Love is to love someone for who they are, who they were, and who they will be.

h) You know you’re in love when you don’t want to fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

i) Goodbye without reasons is the most painful one.
Love without reasons is the most beautiful one.

V. Watch the movie segment. Discuss the questions.

1. What is their definition of love?

2.  How is life in a world without love?
3. Why do you think those people chose not TO live a life with LOVE?
4. What's the difference between the questions: "Do you love me?" AND "Do you enjoy me?"


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Gandhi: Gandhi

The most important time in Gandhi's life was the time he spent fighting for the independence of India.  Great Britain was a small country that owned India.  Great Britain owned the United States until 1776.  India wanted to be free just like the United States.  Gandhi spent his entire life fighting for India's freedom.  Gandhi's  longest fast was 21 days.  He fasted for the independence of India and for the war between the Muslims and the Hindus to end.

Answer key: All are true.

Read the quotes below. Decide what they mean and if you agree with them:


  •  “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” 
  •   “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
  • “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
  • “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problem.”
  • “An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”
  • “You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result.”
  • “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
  • “If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”
  • “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
  • “A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.”
  • “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”
  • “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” 
  • “You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind.”

 I. Watch the movie segment and answer the questions:
1. Describe the scene of the murder.

2. Describe Gandhi's funeral.

3. What did the reporter say about Gandhi?

4. What did you learn about Gandhi that you didn't know before this class?


Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Bag Man: Curiosity

I really liked this movie. I was intrigued by the content of the bag. It was a surprise to me. My students wanted to kill me, because I never told them what was in the bag, so they had to rent the movie if they wanted to know it. That's my contribution to Hollywood! By the way, this class generated a lot of discussion and debates. It was lovely!

I. Work with a partner:

What makes you curious? Rank the items from 1 (extremely curious) to 5 (not curious at all)

Life of celebrities

Discoveries about the outer space




Your neighbors

Your children's life

What people think

What your lover thinks

The existence of aliens/UFOs

What dreams mean

How/When you are going to die

Your future


 II. What do you understand by the expression: Curiosity Killed the Cat?

 Answer key:
"Curiosity killed the cat" is a metaphor used to warn of the dangers of unnecessary investigation or experimentation.

III. Divide the class into two groups. Group 1 reads passage # 1, whereas group 2 reads passage #2. Then pair-up one student from each group and they tell each other what they read about:


Curiosity is an important trait of a genius. I don’t think you can find an intellectual giant who is not a curious person. Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, they are all curious characters. Richard Feynman was especially known for his adventures which came from his curiosity.

But why is curiosity so important? Here are four reasons:
  1. It makes your mind active instead of passive                                                                                                                                           Curious people always ask questions and search for answers in their minds. Their minds are always active. Since the mind is like a muscle which becomes stronger through continual exercise, the mental exercise caused by curiosity makes your mind stronger and stronger.
  2. It makes your mind observant of new ideas
    When you are curious about something, your mind expects and anticipates new ideas related to it. When the ideas come they will soon be recognized. Without curiosity, the ideas may pass right in front of you and yet you miss them because your mind is not prepared to recognize them. Just think, how many great ideas may have lost due to lack of curiosity?
  3. It opens up new worlds and possibilitiesBy being curious you will be able to see new worlds and possibilities which are normally not visible. They are hidden behind the surface of normal life, and it takes a curious mind to look beneath the surface and discover these new worlds and possibilities.
  4. It brings excitement into your life
    The life of curious people is far from boring. It’s neither dull nor routine. There are always new things that attract their attention, there are always new ‘toys’ to play with. Instead of being bored, curious people have an adventurous life.

Tips to develop a curious mind:

1. Keep an open mind
This is essential if you are to have a curious mind. Be open to learn, unlearn, and relearn. Some things you know and believe might be wrong, and you should be prepared to accept this possibility and change your mind.

2. Don’t take things as granted
If you just accept the world as it is without trying to dig deeper, you will certainly lose the ‘holy curiosity’. Never take things as granted. Try to dig deeper beneath the surface of what is around you.

3. Ask questions relentlessly
A sure way to dig deeper beneath the surface is asking questions: What is that? Why is it made that way? When was it made? Who invented it? Where does it come from? How does it work? What, why, when, who, where, and how are the best friends of curious people.

4. Don’t label something as boring
Whenever you label something as boring, you close one more door of possibilities. Curious people are unlikely to call something as boring. Instead, they always see it as a door to an exciting new world. Even if they don’t yet have time to explore it, they will leave the door open to be visited another time.

5. See learning as something fun
If you see learning as a burden, there’s no way you will want to dig deeper into anything. That will just make the burden heavier. But if you think of learning as something fun, you will naturally want to dig deeper. So look at life through the glasses of fun and excitement and enjoy the learning process.

6. Read diverse kinds of reading
Don’t spend too much time on just one world; take a look at another worlds. It will introduce you to the possibilities and excitement of the other worlds which may spark your interest to explore them further. One easy way to do this is through reading diverse kinds of reading. Try to pick a book or magazine on a new subject and let it feed your mind with the excitement of a new world.

Taken from the awesome site:

IV. Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions.

1. What do you think is in the bag? What makes you believe that?

2. Would you manage to do what was requested - transport a suitcase without knowing what is inside, especially if someone tells you not to look inside the bag? Why (not)?

3. How curious are you? What about your family?

4. How do you feel when somebody says he/she has something to tell you, but he/she  would like to do it in another moment?

5. Are you curious enough to go through your lover's cell phone messages, e-mails or calls? Why (not)?

6. What if someone searched your e-mails, messages or calls? How would you react to that?

7. What is your opinion about curious people? Is being curious a positive or negative trait?


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mama: Theories of Cognitive Development and Language Acquisition - Piaget & Chomsky -

This is a scary movie, but the beginning is perfect for warming up topics such as the ones proposed on this post.
Read a short summary of Piaget's and Chomsky's theories of language acquisition. Then watch the segment and answer the questions. Although the segment is fictional, there are several registered cases of similar cases and outcomes. 

Taken from wikipedia

Piaget is one psychologist reluctant to ascribe specific innate linguistic abilities to children: he considers the brain a homogeneous computational system, with language acquisition being one part of general learning. He agrees this development may be innate, but claims there is no specific language acquisition module in the brain. Instead, he suggests external influences and social interaction trigger language acquisition: information collected from these sources constructs symbolic and functional schemata (thought or behaviour patterns). According to Piaget, cognitive development and language acquisition are lifelong active processes that constantly update and re-organise schemata. He proposes children develop L1 as they build a sense of identity in reference to the environment, and describes phases of general cognitive development, with processes and patterns changing systematically with age. Piaget assumes language acquisition is part of this complex cognitive development, and that these developmental phases are the basis for an optimal period for language acquisition in childhood. 

Chomsky - The capacity to learn a language is indeed innate, and, like many such inborn mechanisms, it is circumscribed in time. If a child does not learn a language before the onset of puberty, the child will never master language at all. This is known as the critical period hypothesis, which claims  that if somebody does not acquire a first language before a certain time (around puberty), they will lose the ability to acquire language. There are two versions of this hypothesis: The strong version states that language acquisition will be impossible after this point has been reached. The weak version states that acquisition will be difficult after this period has been reached.

1. Describe what happened to the children.

2. How do you think the theories are applicable in both cases?

3. They have spent the same amount of time away from society. How/Why are their behavior different?

4. How do you think their lives will be permanently affected?

5. How does the situation corroborate (or not) to the theory of the Critical Period Hypothesis?

6. Do you think the movie segment shown an accurate picture of what might happen to children who are isolated from the rest of the word? Explain it.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Ender's Game: Leadership

I. Work with a partner:

1. What are the qualities a good leader  must and must not have?

2. Can someone learn how to be a leader, or are they born one?

3. Do you consider yourself a good leader? Explain it.

4. Can you think of influential leaders? Give examples. 

II. Read the quotes below about leadership. Discuss with each other their meanings and whether you agree with them: 
"The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they
set for themselves."
Ray Kroc
"An effective leader is defined by results not whether they make
great speeches or is liked."
- Peter Drucker

 "The process of influencing others to perform a task by providing
purpose, direction and motivation."
- The Army
"Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.
- John Maxwell
"Leadership is someone who gives hope."
- Tom Peters

 "A true leader is someone who inspires others to become more
of who they truly are.  They bring out the talent in people and
have them put it to use over and over.  They inspire others to be
more than they ever dreamed of."
- Anthony Robbins
"A leader is someone that people follow."
- Warren Buffett

  "Good leaders make people feel that they're at the very  heart
of things, not the periphery."
- Warren Bennis
III. Match the adjectives that describe leadership and their meanings:

1. Responsible

2. Self-confident

3. Competitive

4. Bossy

5. independent

6. Ambitious

7. Sensible

8. Imaginative

9. Enthusiastic

10. Principled

11. Self-assured

12. Tough-minded

( ) People who like giving orders to other people

( ) people who always want to win

( ) People who trust their abilities or skills

( ) Worthy of trust

( ) People who have common sense and are practical

( ) has or shows great excitement and interest; 

( ) shows poise and confidence in your own worth;

( ) has high moral principles

( ) People you can trust or depend on

( ) People who want to be successful in life

( )  Faces facts and difficulties with strength and determination; realistic and resolute.

( ) People who are creative and good at thinking new ideas

Answer key:

Competitive - people who always want to win
Reliable -People you can trust or depend on
Responsible - Worthy of trust
Insecure - People who do not trust their abilities/skills
Self-confident - People who trust their abilities or skills
Independent - People who like doing things on their own, without help
Bossy - People who like giving orders to other people
Sensible - People who have common sense and are practical
Imaginative - People who are creative and good at thinking new ideas
Ambitious - People who want to be successful in life
Enthusiastic - Has or shows great excitement and interest
Principled - Has high moral principles
Tough-minded - Faces facts and difficulties with strength and determination; realistic and resolute
Self-assured - Shows poise and confidence in your own worth

IV. Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions.

1. What is a mind game in this case?
2. What personality traits does Ender have?
3. What do you think about their leadership training methods?
4. Which adjectives in Exercise III would you use to describe Ender?
5. Which adjectives would you use to describe the other leaders in the training?
6. What did Ender do that stood out the others?
7. Are they all effective leaders? Explain it.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dark Tides: Dangerous Occupations

I. Read the information taken from the awesome site Work with a partner and rank them from 1 to 8, being 1 the most dangerous.

Chauffeurs, Taxi Driver and Truck Drivers
taxi drivers
With the ever growing traffic on roads, comes the menace of road accidents. In this regard, the life of a taxi driver or a chauffeur is more miserable than anyone who is driving his/her personal vehicle. The number of people getting fatal injuries is very high in this job.

We all share a feeling of awe for actors and actresses seeing them perform dangerous stunts in a movie or advertisement. In reality these stunts are performed by stuntmen. Even after the advent of technology in this field, this job is still regarded among the top most dangerous jobs in the world.
Roofers and Linemen
electric worker
The risk factor involved in the job of a power line installer or repairer is the risk of electrocution from the high voltage lines. Moreover, they are also at a high risk of falling due to high location of the power lines.
Structural Iron and Steel Workers
iron and steel
People working in the structural Iron and Steel industry are always at a risk of falling from the very structures they build despite the fact that nowadays, the safety measures are in place. 
Flying Engineers and Aircraft Pilots
The job of a pilot is more dangerous than others because of the responsibility that they carry on their shoulders and the risk that are inherent in their job. Although the financial prospects are very high in this job but the risks involved are far more dangerous in nature than they are assessed. It is no news that repetitious engine failures have more often than not resulted in crashes. The risks involved in the job of a test pilot who are required to test aircraft are far more than an ordinary aircraft pilot. And those pilots who work in rescue operations are more prone to dangers as they are required to work for long hours in very tough weather conditions.
Timber and Logging Workers
The prime responsibility of a timber cutter is to cut and transport trees. And the risk involved in this job is the falling of the tree on the timber and logging worker. The timber and logging workers are more prone to hazards as they are required to work under tough weather and geographical conditions. 
Military and Police Personnel
To use the words of Jack Nicholson from the movie-’A few good men’, we live in a world that has walls and those walls need to be guarded by men with guns. Every state has defense as an essential component of its existence.
Ever thought why sea-food is so expensive? Yes, it is so because of the transportation costs but the more important reason is that deep-sea fishing is the most-dangerous job on this planet for the simple reason that the gravity hardships that a fisherman encounters cannot be over-stated. They are constantly at risk of drowning because of the unpredictable nature  of sea weather.
II. Do you agree with their list? What other dangerous occupations would you add to the list?
III. Watch the movie segment and answer the questions:

1. What is the main characters' occupation?
2. How dangerous is it?
3. Would you like to have such a job? Why not?
4. What are their major risks at work?
5. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this profession.
6. Would like to have a dangerous or extreme occupation? Why (not)?