Thursday, December 15, 2011

Four Christmases, How the Grinch Stole Christmas & The Polar Express: Christmas Eve, Santa Claus

Talking about Christmas is always a referring topic, especially in the end of the year. I hope you enjoy this activity and Merry Christmas to you all!

I. Santa Claus Quiz. More than one answer is possible: Taken from the wonderful site
1. Santa Claus is also Known as:

a. Saint Nicholas b. Father Christmas c. Santa

2. The image we have of Santa Claus nowadays was created in:

a. the 18th Century b. The 19th Century c. The 2oth Century

3. Santa Claus' traditional transport is:

a. a motorbike b. a sleigh pulled by reindeer c. horses

4. The annual Santa Claus World Championships are held in:

a. Switzerland and Sweden b. Austria and Australia c. Iceland and Italy

5. Santa Claus gets into houses to deliver presents:

a. down the chimney b. Through a window c. Through the front door

6. Traditionally, the three kings bring children presents instead of Santa Claus in:

a. South Africa b. Spain c. Scotland

7. Santa Claus brings presents to well behaved children. What happens to badly behaved children?

a. He brings them coal b. They are caught and taken away c. They're whipped

Answer key: 1. a, b, c 2. b 3. b 4. a - races that include sledge racing, chimney climbing, karaoke. 5. a (possibly c, most cases don't have chimneys) 6. b - But Santa is becoming more popular nowadays 7. a, b, c - all are used to scare children into obedience.

II. Work in small groups. Do the comments below reflect your own opinion and experiences about Christmas and Santa Claus? Explain your ideas.

1. I used to believe in Santa when I was child and I believed it for a long time.

2. Santa Claus is an unfair tool for parents to make children behave well.

3. Making your children believe in Santa Claus is not fair because it means lying is okay.

4. The image of Santa Claus is just part of the commercialism of Christmas.

5. Santa Claus takes away the real meaning of Christmas.

III. Vocabulary matching. Match the words related to Christmas and their definitions.

1. Mistletoe

2.Trimming the tree

3. White Christmas

4. Stockings

5. Reindeer

6. Sleigh

7. eggnog

8. Christmas carols

9. Christmas Eve

10. Carving the bird

11. Chestnuts

12. Wreath

( ) This is a plant. There’s a fun tradition that North Americans follow during Christmas. Mistletoe is often hung from a doorway between two rooms. If someone stands under the mistletoe, it is customary for someone else (usually a member of the opposite sex) to kiss him/her.

( ) are commonly eaten at Christmas.

( ) a Christmas with snow.

( ) literally, ‘socks.’ People hang them in front of a fireplace. Small presents are placed there and usually opened on Christmas morning.( ) a drink commonly served at Christmas parties.

( ) cutting the meat and handing it out to people is called ‘carving’ the bird

( ) Santa rides in a sleigh that is pulled by them. The most famous one is Rudolph.

( ) a ‘carriage’ that rides on snow.

( ) songs that are sung at Christmas.

( ) the evening of December 24, also called “The night before Christmas.”

( ) decorating the tree is called ‘trimming the tree’.

( ) a circular band of flowers or foliage twisted together, used as a symbol or decoration. It is usually placed on the front door.

Answer key: 1, 11, 3, 4, 7, 10, 5, 6, 8, 9, 2, 12

IV. Take turns asking each other the following questions:

1. How do you celebrate Christmas?

2. Is Xmas time a good or bad moment in your life? Why?

3. Is shopping for Xmas a hassle or something fun?

4. What are the good and bad sides of Xmas time?

5. What do you usually eat during Xmas?

6. Do you celebrate Xmas on Xmas eve or on Xmas day?

7. Have you ever believed in Santa Claus? How did you find out he does not exist?

8. Is it fair that people help poor people during Xmas time, but not during the rest of the year? Why do they do it? What can be done about it?

V. Watch the first segment from the movie Four Christmases and discuss the questions that follow:

1. Describe the scene

2. How does this family celebrate Xmas?

3. Who still believes in Santa Claus?

4. What kinds of presents were given? Did the children like them? What about the adults?

Explain how you know it.

5. What's your opinion about the way the children were told Santa does not exist?

6. What do you think about the boy's reaction to the news?

7. How similar is the gift exchange to the one you have at home?

VI. Now watch the segment from the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas and answer the questions below:

1. Describe the scene.

2. What vocabulary in exercise III did you see during the scene?

3. What did the characters do to celebrate Xmas?

4. How similar is Xmas day in Whoville AND your town's Christmas celebration?

5. In your opinion, is this scene's the most perfect or the most boring Xmas time? Explain it.

6. What were some of the things you saw in the segment that don't take place in
Christmas time where you live.

Watch the scene from the movie The Polar Express and discuss the questions:

1. Describe the scene.

2. What is the vocabulary in exercise III that you managed to see in the segment?

3. Who believes in Santa Claus?

4. Describe Santa Claus' personality, according to the segment.

5. How do the children feel?




Sunday, December 11, 2011

Breakfast with Scot: Idols x Fans

This film is a nice way to see how different a family can be and how to respect differences. The initial scene is great to talk about the relationship between idols and fans in a world in which the celebrities' lives are exposed to the world practically instantaneously.

I. Take turns asking each other the questions below.

1. Do you have idols? Who are they?

2. Do you have celebrity idols? Do you follow their professional and private lives? Why (not)?

3. Are idols supposed to be role models? Explain it.

4. What's your opinion about news about celebrities that do not show their professional profile? For example, would you read the news about a famous person you admire that says: " X walks by the beach with her son."

5. Are idols responsible for the happiness of their fans? Should they always make time to talk or correspond with their fans?

6. Why do some fans live for collecting information about their idols? What's your opinion about it?

7. Have you heard of stories about fans who want to hurt their idols? Why does it happen?

8. John Lennon was killed by a fan. Why do fans sometimes want to hurt their idols?

9. What does an idol do that hurts their fans feelings?

10. Why do fans change their idols so easily?

11. What would you do if someone you strongly admire treated you badly? Would you still be a fan?

12. What would you do if your child's idol were someone that should not be a model, in your opinion? For example, Hitler, a murderer, or a shallow pop star?

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

1. Describe the scene.

2. Who's the idol and who's the fan?

3. Describe the fan's and the idol's personality and feelings toward each other.

4. How did the sportsman react to his fans' requests? How do you assess his behavior?

5. How did the kid react to his idol's reaction? How do you assess his behavior?

6. How do you think the kid will see his idol from that moment on?

7. Have you ever asked for someone's autograph? Talk about it. Did you keep the autograph?

8. What would you do if you asked for an autograph and you were denied to receive it?


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hurricane Season & Dolphin Tale: Hurricanes, Katrina

I love the city of New Orleans and what happened to it because of hurricane Katrina really broke my heart. Whenever there is a natural catastrophe, talking about what happened is inevitable. This post is informative and a great conversation generator. Moreover, this is a wonderful under-rated movie.

I. Divide the class in three groups.




When a hurricane season starts -

The time to start your preparations is long before a hurricane watch is issued for your area. A good time to begin is during Hurricane Awareness Week, which occurs the week before hurricane season begins on June 1st. This is the time to make a hurricane plan or assess the one you have already formulated. Go through your hurricane supplies and replace any items that are outdated. Test your flash lights and other battery operated equipment. Check your shutters to ensure they're in good working condition. You may even want to deploy one or two to make sure they fit properly and you remember how they go up. Update any emergency numbers and phone numbers for family contacts outside the area. Pick up a hurricane preparedness brochure at the store and review it for pertinent tips and useful information.

When a hurricane watch is issued for your area -

Now is the time to double check your supplies, your shutters, and your plans. If there are any actions in your plan that need to be done long before you hunker down, now is the best time. You should get some cash from the bank or ATM and gas up your car. The longer you wait, the longer the lines will be, wasting your time.

When a hurricane warning is issued for your area -

Now is the time for action! Put up your shutters before the winds get too high. Clean up your yard and prep your pool. Lower your refrigerator temperature and fill up your bathtub and any extra jugs with water. If you are evacuating, prepare your property first then leave the area with plenty of time ahead since roads will become congested soon after the warning is issued.

Information taken from the informative site:

 II. Group up the students so you can have one student from each of the previous groups. They share what they have just read without referring to the original texts.

III. Complete the blanks with the correct word:

1. A ________________is a giant whirlpool that covers land. A ____________ is a whirlwind. (HURRICANE/TORNADO)

2. ______________ form over land from
thunderstorms. ______________ form over water and covers all sorts of spinning storms from a standard low pressure system to a ______________. (TORNADOES / CYCLONES / HURRICANE)

3. In themselves nothing, they are both the same thing. The distinction is that _________________ form in the Atlantic, and _________ form in the Pacific Ocean. (HURRICANES / TYPHOONS)

4. ____________ Hurricanes are LARGE scale weather systems that form over warm ocean waters near the equator due to the convergence of several factors, including LOW wind shear, warm ocean water, and the Coriolis force. They are large features that exist over time scales of many hours to days. ___________ form in super cell thunderstorms, which are rotating thunderstorms that form in conditions of HIGH wind shear and large atmospheric instability. They are small features that exist on small time scales of minutes to an hour. (HURRICANES / TORNADOES)

Answer key: The alternatives are in the correct order.

IV. Read some of the facts about the hurricane Katrina, which destroyed New Orleans in 2005. Decide which ones you believe are true.

a. Hurricane Katrina was one of the deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States, killing over 1,800 people.

b. The confirmed death toll (total of direct and indirect deaths) stood at 1,836, mainly from Louisiana (1,577) and Mississippi (238). However, 705 people remain categorized as missing in Louisiana, so this number is not final. Many of the deaths are indirect. It is almost impossible to determine the exact cause of some of the fatalities.

c. Katrina was the largest hurricane of its strength to approach the United States in recorded history, causing devastation over 100 miles (160 kilometers) from the storm's center.

d. New Orleans' levee failures were found to be primarily the result of system design flaws, combined with the lack of adequate maintenance.

e.Hurricane Katrina was the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, with $75 billion in estimated damages.

f. More than 70 countries pledged monetary donations or other assistance. Kuwait made the largest single pledge, $500 million; other large donations were made by Qatar ($100 million), India ($5 million), China ($5 million), Pakistan ($1.5 million), and Bangladesh ($1 million)

g. New Orleans new levees have been rebuilt and are able to prevent another catastrophe of the kind if it happens again.

Information taken from the Discovery Site:

Answer key: All are true, except letter g, because the levees won't be ready before 2013.

V. Watch the segment from the movie Hurricane Season and talk about the questions that follow.

1. Describe the scene.

2. What were some of the consequences of the hurricane devastation that you managed to see in the segment?

3. What images shocked you most? Why?

4. Have you ever been caught by a natural disaster (earthquakes, tsunami, hurricane, flood, or others)? Talk about it.

5. Is your living area susceptible to natural catastrophes?

6. Why do some people insist in living in areas that are at risk of a catastrophe, such as the eruption of a volcano, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, etc?

Watch the segment from the movie Dolphin Tale and discuss the questions:

1. Describe the scene:

2. What were some of the steps the characters took in order to get protected from the hurricane damages?

3.How severe was the destruction?

4. What was not observed by the characters when they were getting ready to shelter themselves.



Saturday, November 26, 2011

Grown ups: Home Remedies

This very funny scene is great to discuss the topic remedies. We usually talk about it in class, especially when we want students to practice giving advice.

Home remedies and natural cures or medicines made at home from natural ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, herbs are catching a lot of attention due to its very nature of cure: simple, no side effects, no chemicals, inexpensive, plus the pleasure of being able to cure yourself!

A home remedy is a treatment to cure a disease or ailment that employs certain spices, vegetables, or other common items. Home remedies may or may not have medical properties that treat or cure the disease or ailment in question. Many are merely used as a result of tradition or habit. A significant number, however, have been demonstrated to effectively treat ailments such as headache, fever or the common cold.

Class Discussion:
Do you agree with the statements above? Why (not)?

I. Discuss these questions in groups.

1. Are home remedies common place in the country you live? How so?

2. Have you ever used them? What for?

3. Why do you think people make use of home remedies?

4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of home remedies?

5. Do you know any home remedy that is popular in your country?

6. Do you always go to the doctor when you have a cold or a flu? What do you do to get better when you don't look for a doctor?

II. Try to match the remedy and the problem, according to the site Herbal Ayurveda Remedy

1. Cataract

2. Constipation

3. Wrinkles

4. Insomnia

5. Cold and Cough

6. Sunburn

7. Migraines

8. Snoring

9. Dandruff

( ) apply a cloth dipped in milk on the affected area.

( ) Eat papaya before breakfast everyday.

( ) Apply beaten egg whites, let it dry and then wash off.

( ) Grind fresh ripe grapes and drink without adding any water.

( ) Eat raw carrots regularly and also consume fresh carrot juice, twice a day.

( ) Take half a teaspoon of ginger juice with half a teaspoon of honey, three times a day (morning, noon and night). In winter, warm the mixture by mixing a teaspoon of warm water in it.

( ) Drink 2 glasses of orange with a table spoon of honey at bed time.

( ) Take 2 to 3 sips of olive oil before going to bed.

( ) Mix olive oil and almond oil in equal proportions. Leave it for about 5 minutes.

Answer key:, 6, 2, 3, 7, 1, 5, 4, 8, 9

III. Do you know any remedies for the problems above which are different from the ones in the exercise? Talk about them.

IV. Watch the movie segment from the movie Grown Ups and discuss the questions:

1. Describe the scene.

2. What is the old lady's problem?

3. What's the remedy she has been using?

4. Has the remedy worked? Why (not)?

5. Should she be treated with a home remedy or go to a doctor? Why?

V. Role-Play. Make sure you come up with an agreement in the end of the role-play.

Student 1: You're the old lady. Describe what your problem is and ask for advice, but you do not like taking traditional medication.

Student 2: You're a doctor. You believe the old lady's problem is serious and you don't agree with home remedies to treat certain diseases. Talk the old lady into joining a traditional therapy with medication


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mona Lisa Smile: Methodology Teaching

This segment from the attractive movie Mona Lisa Smile is to be used with teachers of English or Methodology students, just like the previous post from the movie Temple Grandin. It is a great idea for reflections teachers should make so that they can reach all kinds of students.

I. Watch the scene from the movie Mona Lisa Smile. Then work with a partner and make a list of all the adversities the teacher faced in her first class with this group of students.

II. Work in small groups:

1. Describe the teacher's expectations before the class.

2. Describe her difficulty with the students.

3. Describe the group of students.

4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a group of students?

5. Describe the teacher's feelings during the class.

6. What would you do if you were in the teacher's shoes?

7. What would you do if you were one of the students?

8. How effective was this class? Was it well-planned? Why (not)?

III. What would you do to make these students interested in the content she is teaching? Think about a lesson plan and strategies to make the following class more effective. Share your ideas with the class.

IV. Watch the second segment from the same movie, Mona Lisa Smile, and answer the questions that follow in small groups.

1. How effective was her class? Why?

2. What were the teacher's strategies to make the class more effective this time? How successful was she?

3. How do you think the teacher's and students' relationship be from this class on?

4. Did you think about the same kind of strategy the teacher did? What did your ideas have in common and how different were they?

5. What kind of learners do you think they are? Visual, aural (auditory) or kinesthetic? Explain it.



Sunday, November 13, 2011

Temple Grandin: Learning Styles, Methodology

This is one of the best films I have seen recently and it teaches us, instructors, how to deal with different learning styles and disabilities. This is the story of an autistic woman who managed to have her Master's despite her unique learning style and disability. This activity is for Methodology students or teachers and students who are taking a Teacher Development Course.

What is a "learning style"?
An individual's natural, habitual, and preferred way of absorbing, processing, and retaining new information and skill (Reid 1995)

I. Read the techniques or strategies below and decide to which kind of learning style it is most suitable. Write the number before group of sentences.

1. auditory or aural (learning by hearing)

2. visual or spatial (learning by seeing)

3. kinesthetic (learning by doing)


- Listen to instructions and information given orally.

- Sit towards the front of the room so you can hear well and so that you won't be distracted by the noises other students make

- Sit away from doors, windows, and other sources of noise repeat information silently to yourself.

- "subvocalize" as you take notes - repeat information to yourself as a quiet "mumble" that's barely audible.


- watch for key words written on PowerPoint slides, or the board to help organize notes

- Choose a location where you can see the instructor and all visual aids well

- try to listen and write down what you hear; fill in your notes and check for understanding after each class


- Rehearse/repeat information either silently in your head, or out loud study with a partner and take turns reading to each other

- discuss key concepts.

- Work in quiet areas to minimize hearing music, television or other distractions.

- If you prefer to study with music playing, choose something with no lyrics, and keep the volume low.


- Take a small object (eg. stress-ball) to class to play with in one hand while the other takes notes

- Use class breaks to stand up and stretch.

- Do something physical before sitting down to read or study.

- Use your fingers or a piece of paper to help keep track of where you are break reading tasks into small chunks; stop after each chunk, think about what you learned, and write a brief summary


- If confused about a detail, ask the instructor for clarification, write down what she/he says, then review later to ensure you understand.

- Include a left margin with key words look for sketches, diagrams, or charts to help interpret information.

- practice re-drawing them to help remember.

- Make notes colourful; highlight notes so all information relating to one topic is in the same colour category


- Use rhymes or jingles to help remember important points

- Try to remember important terminology by thinking about how parts of the words sound

- Read instructions and questions out loud to yourself (or subvocalize in test situations)


- Personalize the information

- think about how the concepts apply to you or other people you.

- If you typically use your hands when talking to people, try using your hands when studying and explaining concepts to yourself.

Answer key:

Auditory: a, c, f

Visual: b, e

Kinesthetic: d, g

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

1. Describe the scene.

2. What kind of learner is Temple Grandin?

3. How does she process the information she is being exposed to?

4. What are the best ways to teach her?

5. What would you avoid doing, if you were her teacher?

6. What strategies would you make use of to teach her?

7. What are the difficulties a teacher will face if he/she had to teach her a foreign language?

8. What is the advantage and disadvantage of having a student like Temple in your class?


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Love and Other Drugs: Overcoming Difficulties, Parkinson's Disease

This scene from the movie Love and Other Drugs talks about overcoming difficulties and the Parkinson's disease difficult reality. It is important to use the language class to make students aware of issues that concern humanity. When you use the scene, make sure you check if the language used is appropriate for your learners. 


I. Work with a partner and decide if you agree with the tips given here. Then select three suggestions you consider to be the most important ones.

Article Source: THIS SITE IS EXCELLENT. Make sure you visit it.

1. Accept full responsibility for the problem- accepting full responsibility for the problem is the first sign of making sure the problem gets solved. Do not blame people, events or circumstances for your situation. One way or another, your choices in life have brought you to this point. Seek to own the problem.

2. Define the problem exactly---Ask yourself: What is the problem exactly? How did it happen? Get the facts! Seek to state your problem in your own words. It helps to provide more clarity on the situation. Also ask, what else is the problem? You'll be surprised to know that what you initially thought was the problem, was in truth something very different.

3. Next ask yourself: what is the worst possible thing that could happen if this problem is not solved? Then proceed to accept the worst. Be prepared to cut your losses. It will calm your mind in such a way that you wont believe!

4. Now with a calmer mind ask yourself: What are the possible solutions to this problem? Make a list! Brainstorm! Evaluate all the possible solutions. You'll be surprised at all the answers that will come to you.

5. Choose the best solution. Then seek to take action immediately. You don't have to get it right, you just have to get it going. Be prepared to accept alternative solutions.

6. Turn over your problem to your higher power. Before you go to bed at night or before a meditation session, turn your problems over to God, the Universe, Divine intelligence or whatever you label your higher power. You'll be surprised at how many new insights you receive, especially in the morning when you wake up.

7. Every Solution has a Problem. Focus on what you desire to achieve and not on what you don't want. Your thoughts, feelings, intentions and actions create your reality. Make sure that you are always thinking of the solution. As long as your goal is clear, those problems will vanish in thin air. Persist until you succeed!

You can't miss this site! Article Source:

II. Watch the scene from the movie Love and Other Drugs and discuss the questions:

1. Describe the scene.

2. What is the main character's problem?

3. What did she decide to do to overcome it?

4. How effective is this alternative to overcome a difficult situation?

5. What do you know about the Parkinson's disease now that you did not know before you saw this scene?

6. What are some of the difficulties her boyfriend will probably face if he continues dating her?

7. What would you do if you were in his shoes?

8. What would you do if you were in her shoes?

9. What would you do if you were the man in the conference? Would you tell the cruel truth about your relationship with your wife, remain quiet, or hide the shocking parts of the relationship? Why?


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?


    Saturday, September 24, 2011

    Animals United: Global Warming

    Global warming is a topic we should always address when talking about environment in the classroom. I used this good-humored segment to lead in this important topic.

    The term ‘Global Warming’ refers to the rising temperature of the earth due to an increased amount of greenhouse gases. The scientific community as a whole has determined through all research that global warming is a problem caused by human influence. The burning of fossil fuels emits greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. These gases trap the heat from the sun and cause the temperature of our planet to rise. This warming of the globe could potentially alter sea level, crop yield and rain fall, and could increase the intensity and frequency of natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and droughts.

    Explain what global warming is, using your own words.


    1.How concerned are you and your family about global warming?

    2.What do you do in order to change this situation?

    3. What do you think about your country's stand on this issue?

    4. Read the explanation about the Kyoto Protocol:

    The Kyoto Protocol: 37 industrialized nations including Japan and several European countries have all committed themselves to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 33%.

    An American citizen viewpoint:

    "The Bush Administration decided not to sign the Kyoto Protocol for one reason – the economy. President Bush has said on many occasions that the Kyoto Protocol sets unrealistic goals and would hurt the American economy. And so, we’ve become a country that intentionally lowers our expectations to increase our chances of meeting our goals. We’ve become a country that has made it a practice to do what’s profitable, what benefits our economy the most, rather than what’s right for the world. Most of all, we’ve become a country that seems to have more loyalty to ourselves than to the larger whole of which we should be a part – we care more about how we as a country are doing financially than we do about how our world is doing environmentally."

    Group work:

    What do you think about his opinion? Do you agree with it? Why (not)?

    Decide whether the facts below are facts or fiction about global warming:

    1. For centuries there has been a thick sheet of ice covering much of the Arctic, but recently it has been discovered to shrink at an increasing rate.

    2. Fisheries are forced to move from one coast to another to keep up with the shifting marine life. For example, plankton and algae increase in certain areas, but disappear in others

    3. Since the ice is melting, animals living in the region become endangered. This is also a threat for polar bears. The reason for this is that these animals need the thick ice sheet for their survival, as they often use it for traveling across and hunting for food. If there is less ice to walk on, quite simply, polar bears will have trouble finding food.

    4. Experts claim that by the year 2050 the effects of global warming in Canada could actually make it a global superpower, while the rest of the world suffers.

    5. Canada and global warming is not a new issue on the block, and it is little wonder. Canada has so much unused territory at the moment and it is just begging to be utilized in an efficient way. Canada is projected to have a growing population and a more developed north, as well as shipping lanes going through the Arctic Ocean, which was impossible before. Other effects of global warming in Canada include freeing up natural resources hidden in the north, such as fresh water, gas and oil. This will lead to building more infrastructure and attract more immigrants.

    6. The tropics that are now considered “lungs of the planet” are projected to become complete desert, which will have catastrophic effects on the earth’s overall well-being.

    7. The impact of global warming is greater in Antarctica than anywhere else in the world. There has been an almost 5 degree F rise in temperature over the past 50 years in Antarctica, and it is leading to a shrinking of the surface area thickness of the ice shelves

    8. climate change and global warming have a largely negative impact on rain forest animals. Some tropical species like amphibians are already becoming extinct, and many more species of animals and plants are projected to be put on the danger lists of complete extinction in the 21st century.

    9. There is a number of predicted effects of global warming, including extreme weather conditions like droughts, floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and heat waves. Melting ice caps are also among the predictions, with the consequent rising sea levels that will threaten the lives of millions inhabitants living along the coastlines.

    Key: All the items are facts.

    source : Don't miss visiting the site. It is awesome. Also:

    Watch the segment from the movie Animals United and discuss:

    1. What is the viewpoint shown in the segment?

    2. What is the message given?

    3. How do you relate what was discussed in class with the segment?

     Visit the link below. Make sure you visit the site, because it is really informative and attractive. Read the info graphic about global warming and climate changes. Select the information you consider most relevant and prepare a speech to share with the class.


    Friday, September 16, 2011

    27 Dresses: Unusual Weddings

    This is an attractive romantic comedy that talks about weddings, a perfect theme for our English classes.

    I. Talk to a partner about the following questions:

    1. Have you ever been to an unusual wedding? Describe it.

    2. What are some of the unusual weddings you have heard of?

    3. Would you like to be a guest of an extremely unusual wedding ceremony? Why?

    4. What's your opinion about this kind of wedding?

    5. Would you like your wedding not to be a traditional one? Why (not)?

    6. Which kind of marriages last longer? Those in which ceremonies are traditional according to their culture or one in which the ceremony does not follow the usual conventions set by culture? Why?

    You may have more warm-up questions about weddings and vocabulary related to it in these two posts published months ago here in the blog.

    II. Watch the scene from the movie 27 Dresses. Work in teams. Make a list of all kinds of weddings you manage to remember from the segment.


    III. Complete your list with the information collected by the other members from your group. Who scored more correct answers?

    IV. Decide:

    Which one is _________________?

    the most unusual

    the funniest

    the most traditional

    the most interesting

    the craziest


    Friday, September 9, 2011

    Rio & Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Poaching

    Rio is an amazing movie and it addresses a serious topic, poaching, in a romantic, but informative way. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is too far fetched, but the original idea is clever and the movie breathtaking and thought-provoking. The information for the following exercises was taken from the wikipedia page


    Poaching is the illegal taking of wild plants or animals contrary to local and international conservation and wildlife management laws. Violations of hunting laws and regulations are normally punishable by law and, collectively, such violations are known as poaching.

    I. Explain poaching in your own words.

    II. Talk to a friend.

    1. Does your country face problems with poaching? Which ones?

    2. What are the problems poaching may bring to the society?

    3. Here is a list of what makes hunting illegal - poaching. Decide if the reason is fair enough or if it not.

    - It may be illegal and in violation because:

    - The game or fish is not in season; usually the breeding season is declared as the closed season when
    wildlife species are protected by law.

    - The poacher is illegally selling the animal, animal parts or plant for a profit.

    - The animal is being hunted outside of legal hours.

    - The hunter used an illegal weapon for that animal.

    - The animal or plant is on restricted land.

    - The right to hunt this animal is claimed by somebody.

    - The type of bait is inhumane. (e.g. food unsuitable for an animal's health)

    - The animal or plant is protected by law or that it has been listed as extinct or endangered and similar laws/treaties.

    - The animal or plant has been tagged by a researcher.

    Note that only wild animals can be poached. Stealing or killing domestic animals is considered to be theft, not poaching.

    III. Watch the movie segment from the movie Rio and answer the questions:


    1. Describe the scene

    2. What animal is being poached?

    3. Why is it considered poaching? Take a look at the previous exercises to help you.

    4. How serious is the situation shown in the segment? Explain it.

    5. Are any of the characters committing a crime? How innocent is a person who possesses a wild animal at home? What if this wild animal is very well-treated by the poacher? What if it is not well-treated? What should the punishment be, if any?

    IV. Watch the scene from the movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes and discuss the questions.


    1. Describe the scene

    2. What animal is being poached?

    3. Why is it considered poaching? Take a look at the previous exercises to help you.

    4. How serious is the situation shown in the segment? Explain it.

    5. Are any characters committing a crime? What if the animal is being taken for animal testing, for example to find the cure of an incurable disease, like Alzheimer?

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    The Queen & Paparazzi: Paparazzi

    The Queen is a wonderful movie which deals with Lady Diana's death and the Royalty's reaction to the press in a unique manner. Paparazzi is another interesting movie about Paparazzi, and these shocking scenes are food for thought. I used it to talk about paparazzi.

    I. Match the vocabulary and its definition:

    1. Footage

    2. Inquest

    3. be swarmed

    4. Tip off

    5. Onlookers

    ( ) an official process to discover the cause of someone's death

    ( ) a secret warning or piece of secret information

    ( ) large numbers of people moving around someone

    ( ) people who watch something that is happening in a public place but is not involved in it

    ( ) (a piece of) film especially one showing an event

    Answer Key: 2, 4, 3, 5, 1

    II. Now read the latest developments about Lady Diana's death and complete the paragraph with the words from exercise I.

    Jurors at a London court have been shown previously unreleased video ___________ of the last moments of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her partner Dodi Al Fayed. The couple were seen rushing into the hotel on the evening they both died in a tragic car crash in a Paris tunnel. They _____________ by paparazzi and __________and dived into the hotel to avoid the photographers’ flashes. The new pictures reveal Diana and Dodi sharing intimate moments in the hotel’s elevator on the way to their fateful car journey. The focus of the ___________ is now on the actions of Henri Paul, the head of security at the Paris Ritz. There is speculation that he _____________ the paparazzi to exactly when and from where Diana would leave the hotel the evening she died. 

    Answer key: footage, were swarmed, onlookers, inquest, tipped off

    III. Watch the movie segment from them movie The Queen and discuss the questions that follow:

    1. Describe the scene.

    2. What were some of the moments that Lady Diana was caught by the paparazzi's cameras, according to the segment?

    3. How did her death happen?

    4. Was it an accident or murder? Explain it?

    5. How responsible were the paparazzi?

    6. Were the paparazzi important in Lady Di's life? Or were they only harmful to her? Why?

    7. How could the accident be prevented from happening?

    8. What are the celebrities that are mostly chased by paparazzi nowadays?

    9. What would you do if you were a celebrity chased by restless paparazzi?

    10. What are the limits for paparazzi?

    11. Can paparazzi film famous people children and publish their photos/videos without the celebrities' permission? Why (not)?

    12. Do celebrities depend on paparazzi? What are some celebrities you believe profit from the paparazzi's news?

    13. What are the recent news you have seen that were published by paparazzi?

    IV. Watch the segment from the movie Paparazzi and discuss the questions.

    1. Describe the scene.

    2. How would you describe the fans and their idol's (Bo's) contact?

    3. What do you think about the picture in the newspaper? Do you think it is a worth-reading piece of news?

    4. How would you describe the paparazzi?

    5. What do you think about Bo's reaction?

    6. Who's right? 7

    . What would you do if you were in Bo's shoes?

    8. What would you do if you were in the photographer's shoes?

    V. Now watch the second scene from the movie Paparazzi and discuss these questions.

    1. Describe the scene.

    2. How do you compare this scene with the first one from the movie The Queen.

    3. Was it an accident or murder?

    4. How would you describe the actions of the paparazzi before, during and after the accident?

    5. What should happen to the paparazzi?