Monday, March 30, 2015

The Book Thief: Learning and Teaching Strategies

I like the book and the movie. The story is gripping and full of contrasts. I do recommend it. This scene was used in my Methodology class. We talked about learning strategies and this scene - a compilation of scenes - provided everyone with food for thought.

I. Work in pairs:

1. Do you consider yourself a good learner? Explain it.

2. Do you remember any strategies you used (or was taught) to learn a new language or vocabulary?

3. Do you have different strategies according to the subject you are studying?

4. Why do you think it is important to learn about learning strategies?

II. Read the suggestion below on how to become a good learner.

  • find a learning style that suits you
  • find a learning style that suits you
  • involve yourself in the language learning process
  • develop an awareness of language both as system and as communication
  • pay constant attention to expanding your language
  • develop the L2 as a separate system 
  • take into account the demands that L2 learning imposes  
1. Do you follow the suggestions above when you are learning a new topic/ If so, do you do it consciously or is it an automatic process for you?

III. Read the Vocabulary acquisition strategies listed on the site - The Good Language Learner (GLL) Strategies (Naiman, Frohlich, & Stern) -  .  Then check the strategies you make use of while learning new words. Discuss your choices with a partner and explain how you do it.

Vocabulary strategies

1 ( )  linking L2 sounds to sounds of the L1 word

2 ( )  looking at the meaning of part of the word

3 ( ) noting the structure of part

4 ( ) putting the word in a topic group

5 ( ) visualising the word in isolation

6 ( ) linking the word to a situation

7 ( ) creating a mental image of the word

8 ( ) associating a physical sensation with the word

9 ( ) associating the word with a keyword

IV. Repeat the process with the cognitive strategies below. Work in pairs. Check the strategies you make use of while learning new words.

1. ( ) repetition: imitating other people's speech overtly or silently. 

2. ( )  resourcing: making use of language materials such as dictionaries. 

3. ( ) directed physical response; responding physically 'as with directives'. 

4. ( ) translation: 'using the first language as a basis for understanding and/or producing the L2' 

5. ( ) grouping: organising learning on the basis of 'common attributes'. 

6. ( ) note-taking: writing down the gist etc of texts.  

7. ( ) deduction: conscious application of rules to processing the L2. 

8. ( ) recombination: putting together smaller meaningful elements into new wholes.  

9. ( )  imagery: visualising information for memory storage - "Pretend you are doing something indicated in the sentences to make up about the new word". 

10. (auditory representation: keeping a sound or sound sequence in the mind - "When you are trying to learn how to say something, speak it in your mind first". 

 11. ( ) key word: using key word memory techniques, such as identifying an L2 word with an L1 word that it sounds like. 

12. ( ) contextualisation: 'placing a word or phrase in a meaningful language sequence'.  

 13. ( ) elaboration: 'relating new information to other concepts in memory'. 

14. ( ) transfer: using previous knowledge to help language learning - "If they're talking about something I have already learnt (in Spanish), all I have to do is remember the information and try to put it into English"  

15. ( ) inferencing: guessing meanings by using available information - "I think of the whole meaning of the sentence, and then I can get the meaning of the new word".  

16. ( ) question for clarification: asking a teacher or native for explanation, help, etc.  

V. Watch the movie segment and check the vocabulary learning strategies (Ex: IV) Liesel made use of to learn how to read and acquire vocabulary.



Friday, March 20, 2015

A Walk to Remember: Peer Pressure

This is a romantic movie teenagers love and consider a classic. In fact, it is a good movie. This scene generated much more discussion than I had originally expected, which was perfect. I hope you like it.

I. Read the text below. Then pair up with another student and discuss the questions that follow.

Peers are people who are part of the same social group, so the term "peer pressure" refers to the influence that peers can have on each other. Although peer pressure does not necessarily have to be negative, the term "pressure" implies that the process influences people to do things that may be resistant to, or might not otherwise choose to do. So usually the term peer pressure refers to socially undesirable behaviors, such as experimentation with alcohol and drug use, or even vandalism and crime, rather than socially desirable behaviors, such as academic success, although it could be applied to either, and either could be a positive or a negative experience for the individual.Peer pressure is usually applied to younger people, especially teenagers. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable, because they are at a stage of development when they are separating more from their parents' influence, but have not yet established their own values or understanding about human relationships or the consequences of their behavior. They are also typically striving for social acceptance at this stage, and may be willing to engage in behaviors that will allow them to be accepted that are against their better judgment.

Tips to help kids deal with peer pressure:
  • Stay away from peers who pressure you to do things that seem wrong or dangerous.
  • Learn how to say "no," and practice how to avoid or get out of situations which feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
  • Spend time with other kids who resist peer pressure. It helps to have at least one friend who is also willing to say "no."
  • If you have problems with peer pressure, talk to a grown up you trust, like a parent, teacher or school counselor.

1. What is peer pressure?

2. Have you ever felt peer pressure in your life? What about when you were a teenager?

3. Give some examples of peer pressure you are familiar with?

II. Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions:


1. Describe the scene.^

2. Why is it an example of peer pressure?

3. Why did the boy decide to jump?

4. Who should be held responsible for the accident? Choose the best alternative.

a. The guy who jumped, after all he decided to jump himself.

b. The boy who pretended he would jump, but did not. After all, he persuaded his new friend to take the risk and tried to help him afterwards.

c. The other fiends who fled and left their peers near the pool.

d. The owner of the swimming pool who did not provide safety measures to prevent trespassers.

e. Nobody. It was an accident.

5. Read  the situations below and think about your answers to the questions.

  • You have a close friend that your other friends don't like. You're having a party at your house this weekend. If you invite your good friend, your other friends will be angry with you. If you don't and your close friend finds out, he/she will be hurt. What would you do if you were in this situation? And if your good friend could never find out about the party?

  • You're assigned to work on a group project with three other people in your English class. You have to agree on one topic. One person suggests an idea and everyone else seems to like it. What would you do if you had a better idea? What if you were new in the school and the most popular person in your class suggested the original idea?

  • Your cousin is a compulsive shopper: the minute he gets the money, he spends it.Recently, he lost his job and asked you for a loan. You have the money but you do not want to loan it to him. What would you do if your other relatives started pressuring you to loan the money? And if you found out that your cousin just bought himself a new cell phone and laptop?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Robocop: Computer Chip Implants for Security Purposes, National ID Cards

I liked this new version of Robocop. It is agile and not shallow at all. I like the controversy it shows, providing ways for better security. I recommend it.


I. Read the article below, taken from the following site:

J.D.Longstreet is very critical about this project, which is seen as a violation of the American citizens' lives. On the other hand, there is no doubt that security would be enhanced and more easily controlled. 

America has already become a police state. And now we are prepared, it would seem, to dig ourselves deeper into the status of a police state with the proposed new (Super) National ID card. Soon the government may be collecting biometric information on you — and on me — such as pictures, fingerprints, retina scans, DNA, and whatever else is needed to make their new super National ID card system workable. We are talking about an ID card that you will need to use at checkpoints, airports, and toll booths, or to access the Internet, and to buy firearms, to purchase prescription drugs, at your job sites, or to gain access to apartment buildings, etc. As proposed, this will be a “super” National ID card, an electronic card beyond anything we have seen before. It will place every American citizen on an electronic leash with the federal government holding the other end of the leash. The National I. D. Card will guarantee the federal government’s complete control over every man, woman and child in the US, period! If you want the government to have total control over your life, then do nothing and very soon we will all be carrying that blasted new “Super” National I. D. Card. A National I. D. Card will grant the federal government the power to reach into the everyday lives of people living in this country on an unprecedented level.A National ID card is much the same as a tattooed number on your forearm. It is proof of ownership by someone other than you. If natural progression holds true, next will come the National RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip implanted at birth. It will broadcast a radio signal all the days of your life telling the government who you are, and where you are, at all times. Beats branding babies, right? National ID, of any kind, takes away one of your basic rights, the right to privacy. It is time to get a grip, America! Our National Anthem says: “…The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.” Well, don’t you think it is about time we began to act like it? A National ID card would say to the world just the opposite.


What is your opinion about this topic?

How different would our lives be if it were implemented in a large scale?

Would it help lower criminality rates or would it be an invasion of privacy?

II. Watch the movie segment and answer the questions?

1. Describe the scene.

2. How was the criminal discovered?

3. Is this new technology worth trying? Explain it?

4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this technology?

5. Do you think the police will have this tool to help them in the future? Is is a good idea to have it widespread in our society?

6. What are other alternatives to reduce crimes?


II. Watch the movie segment and answer the questions?

1. Describe the scene.

2. How was the criminal discovered?
3. Is this new technology worth trying? Explain it?
4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this technology?
5. Do you think the police will have this tool to help them in the future? Is is a good idea to have it widespread in our society?
6. What are other alternatives to reduce crimes?