jueves, 31 de mayo de 2012

Aimee Mullins, athlete, actress and fashion model

Aimee Mullins is an American athlete, actress, and fashion model best known for her collegiate-level athletic accomplishments, despite a medical condition that resulted in the amputation of both of her legs (source: Wikipedia). Aimee has become a L'Oreal ambassador in 2012.

In this talk created for Ads Worth Spreading, she explains why L'Oreal's "Because you're worth it" slogan has always had great meaning for her.

Self-study activity:
Watch the Ad and fill in the blanks in the transcript with the missing words.

Hi, I'm Aimee Mullins. I'm the new (1) ... ambassador for L'Oreal Paris.
Things that I'm celebrated for (2) ... it's from sports or you know, fashion, having been, (3) ..., even because of, what I've learned and have experienced as a woman living with two prosthetic legs.
We don't need to (4) ...  to someone else's idea of what beauty is. Decide for yourself and invent the version of yourself that you want to see on that day.
And for me, it's like it's in a very literal way, could be changing my (5) ... . Changing the kinds of legs I wear actually changes the way I feel. The slogan of "Because you're worth it." had a (6) ... that connected women to something bigger than themselves.
For me anyway, it provoked something totally unexpected, which was giving myself the (7) ... on the back. Being my own (8) ... I'd say, "Yes, you are enough!"
When I filmed my first commercial, it was a great experience. For a lot of it, it was just, I was actually taking my voice down to a (9) ... . We wanted to create this mood of intimacy, you know, like I was (10) ... something. For me "Because I'm worth it.", it's an incredibly personal thing. There were different emotions that were provoked, realizing like wow, that actually was hard to say that time. That actually almost made me cry or well, that was interesting. There was some kind of (11) ... that came out when you said it at that time. What happened there, that it can mean something very personal is I think what makes this tagline and the (12) ... for L'Oreal Paris so iconic.

1 brand 2 whether 3 in spite of 4 fit in 5 height 6 resonance 7 pat 8 cheerleader 9 whisper 10 revealing 11 defiance 12 signature 

miércoles, 30 de mayo de 2012

Talking point: What's cluttering up your life?

According to the Online Cambridge Dictionary, clutter is "(a lot of objects in) a state of being untidy". The word can also be used figuratively to refer to mental states, as in the sentence I try not to clutter (up) my mind with useless information.

With this short explanation in mind, it will be much easier to understand today's talking point. Get together with the members of your conversation group and discuss the topic of clutter in today's life. You can use the questions below, taken from The New York Times Learning blogs, to help you focus the topic.

Do you think that possessing a lot of material goods can decrease your quality of life?
How much is too much?
Have you ever experienced a "space" or "accummulation" problem?
Do you think that clutter is limited to material goods, or that it exists in other forms?
What, if anything, do you think your life might be better off without?
How could you reduce this kind of clutter?
What should people do with things they don’t really need?
What clutters up your life, and what can you do to lessen its impact?

Yvetta Fedorova

In preparation for your talking session, you can read the article Making Progress Against Clutter by the NYT health and science reporter Jane E. Brody.

Do you think Mr. Dennis’s advice is helpful?

martes, 29 de mayo de 2012

Speakout elementary: Healthy Lifestyle

Do you have a healthy lifestyle?
What do you do to stay healthy?
What do you do if you’re ill?

These are the questions the people interviewed answer in a new installment of Speakout, Longman. Watch the podcast and note down the answers the speakers give.

Now it's over to you. If possible, get together with an English-speaking friend and answer the same questions about yourself.

You can read the transcript here.

lunes, 28 de mayo de 2012


What do you look for a holiday?
What would you look for a holiday in Denmark?

Watch this video from the Danish Tourist Office and get some answers to the two questions above.

Self-study activity:
Complete the blanks in the transcript with the missing words. The activity is suitable for Básico 1 and Básico 2 students.

What do you look for in a holiday? (1)...? Suitable accommodation? (2) ... attractions? Or meeting new people? (3) ... a smile? Feeling welcome and noticed?

A good holiday in Denmark is the (4) ... of simple things. Hours spent by the sea, bare (5) ... in the sun, wind in your hair, (6) ... the daily grind on its head.

A good holiday is an (7) ...  and challenge. It offers action and relation. (8) ... .

A good holiday is about (9) ... your pace, spending quality time together, doing the simple things you otherwise never have time for.

A good holiday means (10) ... outdoors until late and talking till (11)... . Spending a moment on your own and (12) ... good company doing a little less. Getting away from it all or (13) ...the town. Finding a place in the sun, getting your (14) ... down. Feeling tempted to take home a slice of Denmark.

A good holiday is about finding (15) ... in the small things in life. Getting in touch with your (16) ..., meeting new people, spending long days (17)... , and sharing new experiences. Sending a (18)... home saying “Wish you were here”.

1 Sunshine 2 Major 3 Sharing 4 sum 5 feet 6 turning 7 adventure 8 Culture 9 slowing 10 staying 11 dawn 12 sharing 13 hitting 14 hair 15 greatness 16 soul 17 together 18 message 

domingo, 27 de mayo de 2012

Priorities of Life

Priorities of life is a beautiful video I discovered through ESL Chestnut.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video. What do the golf balls, the pebbles, the sand, and the wine represent in the story?

You can read the transcript below to check your answers.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he picked up a very large and empty jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. 
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full.  They agreed it was. 
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. The sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous "yes." 
The professor then produced two glasses of wine from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed. 
"Now," said the professor as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things -your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions- things that if everything else was lost and they remained, your life would still be full. 
The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your important possessions. 
The sand is everything else -the small stuff. "If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you. 
"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand." 
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the wine represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of glasses of wine with a friend." 

sábado, 26 de mayo de 2012

Inside Sotheby's

Inside Sotheby's is the site of the American corporation that is one of the world's largest auctioneers of  decorative art and jewelry.

The section Your Art World gives us the opportunity to watch four videos where different aspects of the company are explained in detail. Optional subtitles are available.

viernes, 25 de mayo de 2012

Spinnin’ For 2012

This is a video of some of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay route with the official Olympic Torch Relay Song performed by Dionne Bromfield and Tinchy Stryder.

You can read the lyrics below.

It-It’s spinnin’ again, It-It’s spinnin’ again, It’s uuh spinning again
We go for pain and try to shine in the perfect moment
We let it burn inside knowing the path is golden
See the strain in our eyes, we’re gonna do our best
You and me we give it all until nothing is left
We’re gonna catch the light and stay alive
And feel the love coming from the flame

The world keeps spinning
Changing the lives of people in it
Nobody knows where it will take us
But we hope it gets better, better, better
We can stand the rain, the clouds have all gone
World on my shoulder standing so strong
Chase my path with all the clues gone
Success and I is like a true one
Dropping it out or pulling this offload
Negative vibe now, we just step forward
Swinging the arrow, can’t push for cold
Winning’s the key, make it known
The world keeps spinnin’ faster
Day by day gets harder
Oh, I’m a soldier
Fight until it’s over, yeah
And when the hope is gone
Just keep it strong
And feel the love coming from the flame
The darkest day just see the flame

One day I know that it
It will get better
Music is healing
I love the feeling
Today I know that it
It will get better
Music is healing
I love the feeling
One day all people
Will be all equal
Until that day comes
I’ll just be singing my song

The world keeps spinning
Changing the lives of people in it
Nobody knows where it will take us
We don’t know
But we hope it gets better, better, better
The world keeps spinning
It goes round and round
Changing the lives of people in it
Nobody knows where it will take us
We don’t know
But we hope it gets better, better, better

As the world spins
We’ll keep tryin’
If we hold tight
We’ll keep shinin’

jueves, 24 de mayo de 2012

Oprah and Lady Gagah

In March this year Oprah interviewed Lady Gaga for her programme Next Chapter before the artist got involved in her latest show. Lady Gaga welcomed Oprah in her huge New York apartment.

The interview gives us the opportunity to see Lady Gaga in the flesh, so to speak, to see the person behind the public persona. She speaks quite slowly, but her mind seems to be wandering a bit, which makes it a bit difficult to follow her train of thought.

The listening activity is difficult, more suitable for students in the advanced cycle. Anyway, intermediate students will be able to understand snippets of conversation and get to know Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta a bit better.

Self-study activity:
Watch the interview and answer the questions below.

What scares her?
Is she influenced by the way other people define her?
Is the creative process always within her?
Now that she is famous, does she find it difficult to outdo herself and continue being successful?
What metaphor does she use to exemplify her creative process?
She’s now working on another project, what decision has she made so that she can work more freely?

You can self-correct the activity by reading the transcript here.

miércoles, 23 de mayo de 2012

Talking point: Healthy Eating Habits

Today's talking point is about healthy eating habits. Get together with the members of your conversation group to discuss your diet and how healthy you think it is. The questions below, taken from The New York Times Learning blogs may help you to focus the topic.

What are your eating habits and preferences?
Do you think your diet is generally healthy?
Do you pay attention to the fat, salt and sugar content of what you eat?
How much of your diet consists of prepackaged, processed foods?
How often do you eat junk food?
Do you help choose, shop for or even prepare meals and snacks at your house?
Would it be challenging for you to change to eating more healthy foods? Why or why not?

Ryan Collerd for The New York Times

In preparation for your talking session, you can also read this New York Times article about Wal-Mart's initiative to reduce the unhealthy content of many of the packaged foods it sells.

martes, 22 de mayo de 2012

Speakout Upper-intermediate: The Arts

What areas of the Arts do you enjoy?
Tell us about a recent exhibition or performance you went to.
Do you think the Arts are important?

These are the questions that people answers in a new installment of Speakout, Longman. Watch the podcast and note down the speakers' answers.

Now it's over to you. If possible, get together with an English-speaking person and answer the same questions about yourself.

You can read the transcript here.

lunes, 21 de mayo de 2012

Gettysburg Address

Larry Ferlazzo brought the Gettysburg Address to my attention a few weeks ago.

As Wikipedia points out, Gettysburg Address is a speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and is one of the most well-known speeches in United States history. It was delivered by Lincoln during the American Civil War, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Gettysburg Address from Adam Gault on Vimeo.

The video is also important because it is one of the entrants in the 2012 Vimeo Awards. As you know, Vimeo is a more artistic alternative to YouTube, as you can check out for yourself by just having a quick look at some of the videos competing this year.

domingo, 20 de mayo de 2012

World's English Mania

It's ages since we last posted an entry on TED, a nonprofit site devoted to spreading ideas. TED is invaluable for the language learner at an intermediate and advanced level because it allows us to listen to thousands of varied presentations and talks by leading experts. On top of that, they give us the opportunity to activate subtitltes in English or in any other language.

The mini-talk below by Jay Walker, just upwards of four minutes, explains why two billion people around the world are trying to learn English.

sábado, 19 de mayo de 2012

Tower Bridge

Richmond Publishers will be releasing The Big Picture this year. To accompany the pre-intermediate level (A2-B1) they have devised the Landmarks videos, some of which we can already see on YouTube.

The Cambridge Online Dictionary defines landmark as a building or place that is easily recognized, especially one which you can use to judge where you are. The Tower Bridge is one of the best-known landmarks in London, and the video explains some details about it.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video, suitable for Básico 2 and Intermedio 1 students, and answer the questions below.

1 What is the task or challenge John has to do? 
2 How long does he have to prepare for that? 
3 How long should the presentation be? 
4 Where’s Tower Bridge? 
5 When was it completed? 
6 Can you eat there? 
7 What films have been made there? 
8 What is John’s uncle Tony’s job? 
9 How did the bridge get its name? 
10 How many builders worked? 
11 How long did it take to build? 
12 When was it opened? 
13 How much did it cost? 
14 Do the two arms of the bridge lift up? 
15 How often do the two arms open? 
16 How many people cross it every day? 
17 What happened 60 years ago? 
18 How much did the girls pay to John ? 

1 To give a presentation on Tower Bridge to some tourists
2 One hour
3 One minute
4 Next to the Tower of London
5 1894
6 Yes, it has a restaurant
7 Sherlock Holmes, The Mommy returns, Spice World
8 A London Tower guide
9 From the Tower of London, on the other side of the river
10 432
11 8 years
12 30th June 1894
13 £1,184,000
14 Yes, to allow boats past underneath it
15 Over 400 times every year
16 40,000 people
17 The bridge was opening while a bus was still going along the bridge and it had to leap the final three meters
18 Nothing the presentation was free

viernes, 18 de mayo de 2012

A wall of books

Only yesterday I was informing you that I had been so badly pressed for time in the last few weeks that I had been unable to post an entry on Earth Day.

The same story goes for today's post, which I had meant to write about for 23rd April, Book Day. This is a great idea by Mª Jesús García, an EOI teacher at EOI Luarca, who is the person behind Stop and Learn English and who came up with the initiative A Wall of Books to encourage students and people in general to read by posting a short review of a book that had made an impact on them.

I must confess I had intended to take part in A Wall of Books by posting about my all-time favourite, Brazaville Beach by William Boyd, but once again, I was simply snowed under and not psyched up for it.

Anyway, better late than never, as they say. Go through the countless suggestions on A Wall of Books and, who knows?,  you may find something to busy yourself with a good read and you can also get the writing bug and try your hand at reviewing a book you enjoyed.

jueves, 17 de mayo de 2012

When I get older

I had meant to post this video for 22nd April to commemorate Earth Day, but I have been so busy for weeks on end preparing exams and stuff that I have been unable to do it till today.

This is a video I discovered through David Deubel and his great EFLClassroom. A group of children are telling their teacher what they would like to be when they are older.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and complete the transcript with the missing words. Most of the missing words refer to jobs and words related to the environment. The activity is suitable for Básico 2 students.

Tyler, can I ask you a question?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A (1)... .
And Sofia? What about you?
A (2) ... .
A (2) ....!
I’ll be…  a (3) ... .
I would like to be in the (4) ... business to make a lot of money.
Lots and lots and lots of money.
I will sell oxygen masks.
I would like to sell some (5) ... .
I would like to (6) ... new types of cancer.
I want to be a (7) ... because I need to defend the country from other people trying to get in.
I want to study (8) ... .
(9) ... .
(10) ... .
I’d like to be an (11) ... so I can get out of this place.

1 doctor 2 fireman 3 nurse 4 water 5 medicine 6 research 7 soldier 8 storms 9 Fires 10 Pollution 11 astronaut 

miércoles, 16 de mayo de 2012

Talking point: Winning the lottery

How much do you spend on the lottery?
Do you play regularly or just occasionally?
What prizes have you ever won?
Has anyone you know won the jackpot or a big prize?
If so, did their life change?
What would you do if you won the lottery?
How much of the money would you save, spend and give away?
Would you try to keep your name secret?
If so, how can you achieve that?
What do you see as a disadvantage to winning the lottery?
How would you deal with situations like strangers approaching you for money?
Do you think it is possible to win hundreds of millions of dollars and keep your personality, values and outlook on life intact?

This week's talking point is the lottery. The questions above may help you structure your conversation session, and you may like to prepare them in advance, so that you can work out some of the vocabulary problems that might come across.

In preparation, you can also read the article 3 States Sold Winning Mega Millions Tickets by MATT FLEGENHEIMER from The New York Times, about the lottery fever which swept over Americans late in March, with a single winner who pocketed $656m in Illinois.

martes, 15 de mayo de 2012

Speakout Intermediate: Challenges in today's world

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the world today?
If you could do one thing to change the world, what would it be?

These are the questions people in the street answer in a new installment of Speakout Intermediate, Longman. Watch the video clip and try to understand as much as possible of what the speakers say.

Now it's over to you. Get together with an English-speaking friend or relative and answer the same questions about yourself.

You can read the transcript here.

lunes, 14 de mayo de 2012

History behind the Michellin Guide

Self-study activity:
Watch this short video clip, which gives us some background information about the Michelling Guide, and answer the questions below.

How much did the guide originally cost?
Why was it called Michellin Guide?
What colour was it?
What information was originally included in the guide?

What do the following figures refer to?

You can check your answers by reading the transcript here.

domingo, 13 de mayo de 2012

Five things I hate about living in Spain

Stereotypes have come up a number of times on this blog.

European stereotypes  was a really interesting series of articles from The Guardian where six countries were asked to stereotype each other.

Theresa Dold also showed us the way Google can help us build up a stereotype of a nationality through its autocomplete algorhythm.

We also have a beginner's guide to the British and Benny Lewis's view of US, not to mention the stereotypical roles of men and women within a family.

This new addition to the topic of stereotypes will be of great interest for the Spanish students reading this blog: Five things I have about living in Spain depicts Barry O'Leary's experience of living in Spain. After six or seven years settled down in Seville, this is the way he views his life in Spain:

1 Always a guiri, a foreigner
2 Absolute rubbish
3 Frogger
4 Deadly summer heat waves
5 The word "crisis"

Drop by Barry's Teaching English in a Foreign Land blog and find out what he really means by all those five hateful things of living in Spain.

The blog is well worth a visit on a regular basis as Barry seems to be the guy who always has something interesting to say, and knows how to say it.

sábado, 12 de mayo de 2012

Has LA lost its charm for movie makers?

This short BBC video clip came on right before the day the Oscar Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles this year.

But while the city was getting ready for the Oscar night, many studios are now choosing to film their movies out of LA, as Tim Muffett reports.

Self-study activity:
Watch the clip and answer the questions below.

1 How many of the films nominated for best picture this year have been filmed in Los Angeles?
2 Why are film companies moving out of LA?
3 How much must a film cost to be considered high budget?
4 How many high budget films were made in LA in 2011?
5 What benefits does Paul Audley expect The Artist to bring to LA?
6 Why has film-making improved in LA recently?

You can read the transcript here.

1 One, The Artist 2 The cost 3 More than 75 million dollars 4 Two 5 He expects more and more companies are encouraged to film in LA 6 Because of new tax incentives

viernes, 11 de mayo de 2012

The Good Life

Watch New York Times author Mark Albion's 3-minute animated movie The Good Life based on his new book, More Than Money.

The Good Life takes you to a chance meeting between an MBA and a fisherman on a small island. As the MBA tries to teach the fisherman about business, the fisherman teaches him about life.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and try to understand as much as possible. The story follows a linear, predictable path, and the pictures in the video also help with comprehension.

Anyway, you may need to check the transcript here for full comprehension or just to check out a few vocabulary items.

Then retell the story in your own words.

jueves, 10 de mayo de 2012

How to read job ads in English

Ads in newspapers frequently include a number of abbreviations to shorten the message because the space is limited.

The meaning of abbreviations is not always obvious for the non-native speaker, so we sometimes need to figure out or look up what a specific ad really entails.

Jon, from EngVid gives us a practical lesson in the use of abbreviations in both job and accommodation ads.

After the video explanation, you can check your understanding by doing the quiz EngVid has compiled.

Make a point of dropping by EngVid from time to time. A number of native teachers post videos on a wide variety of  topics of interest for the English learner: grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, speaking, and so on.

miércoles, 9 de mayo de 2012

Talking point: What's the best museum you have visited?

What are the best museums you’ve visited?
What did you see there?
How often do you go to museums?
Do you like them in general?
What are your favorite kinds of exhibits?
Is there a museum you would like to visit?
Can you name a museum that disappointed you when you visited it?
What museums are there in your city, town or area?
If you could have a new museum in your city or town, what would it be?

This week's talking point is museums. Discuss the questions above with the members of your conversation group. In preparation for your session, you may like to read Carol Vogel's article in The New York Times From Show and Look to Show and Teach.

martes, 8 de mayo de 2012

Speakout elementary: Plans for the future

What are your plans for the future?

This is the question that several people in the street answer in a new installment of Speakout Elementary, Longman.

The question is interesting, as it gives us the opportunity to learn a number of verbs and structures native speakers of English use when talking about their plans for the future. In this video clip I have listed the following:

I would like to...
I want to...
I hope to...
I'm planning to... [present continuous]
I might become... [modal verb of probability]

Now it's over to you. What are your plans for the future? Use some of the verbs and structures listed above in your answer.

You can read the transcript here.

lunes, 7 de mayo de 2012

The two Ronnies: The Optician's

The Two Ronnies was a British sketch show that aired on BBC1 from 1971 to 1987. It featured the comedy duo of Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett, the "Two Ronnies" of the title.

The Opticians is probably their most famous and hilarious sketch.

Self-study activity:
The best thing anybody can do with The Opticians is simply put their feet up and enjoy it.

Apart from that, there are a number of linguistic aspects we can draw our attention to after a closer viewing of the sketch.

Vocabulary to do with not seeing well
the (sense of) sight
test frames
eye charts
test your eyes

The frequent use of “you know” and “you see” by the speaker to signal some kind of explanation and give himself time to think.

The use of shall we? in question tags after “Let’s”.

The use of would/could to make polite requests.

The use of What about...? to make suggestions.

You can read the transcript here.

domingo, 6 de mayo de 2012

The hardest job in the world

This Procter and Gamble commercial intends to honour everything mums do to help their children succeed in life. With the background of the London 2012 Olympics, it shows some of the mothers behind Olympic athletes.

It looks like the perfect way to pay tribute to mums on Mother's Day.

For English students, it can also be a reminder of all the effort invested in the language learning process.

Hi sweetie
It’s time to wake up.
Time to get up baby.
Come on, up you get.
C’mon I’ll make you breakfast.
The hardest job in the world,
is the best job in the world.
Thank you, Mom.

sábado, 5 de mayo de 2012

Adding -es to the end of verbs and plurals

A couple of months ago Joanne Rudling published a blogpost on her Spellingblog to remind us of the rule to add -es to nouns to make plurals and to form the third person singular of the present simple tense.

This spelling rule entails a pronunciation rule, as the words/verbs that take -es add an extra syllable when being pronounced.

Drop by Joanne's blog to read everything she says about this point and to do a practical activity which involves listening and writing.

Remember you can find some other entries on the same pronunciation problem by clicking on the tag Plurals on this blog.

viernes, 4 de mayo de 2012

The Power of Vulnerability

At the end of 2010, reseacher named Brené Brown gave a talk at TEDxHouston. That talk, The Power of Vulnerability, has become a web-video phenomenon since, being viewed and shared by millions of people, for whom Brené's words on shame, vulnerability and honesty moved them, inspired them, helped them make change in their own lives.

Brené Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk at TEDxHouston, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.

She poses the questions: How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?

Remember you can activate the English subtitles to fully understand the talk.

jueves, 3 de mayo de 2012

Raimond Murphy on English Grammar in Use

Raymond Murphy is author of the world's best-selling grammar books for learners of English. This interview, a world first, was filmed by Cambridge University Press in December 2011. Raymond explains how the first English Grammar in Use book came to be written and how it has developed over the years, with English Grammar in Use Online launched in February 2012.

The interview is a great opportunity to know the person behind the book who has helped so many English students at an intermediate level and to know the story behind the book.

miércoles, 2 de mayo de 2012

Talking point: Bullying

What is a bully?
Describe a bully from your school days.
What are some different types of bullying?
Why do bullies behave this way?
When does bullying become criminal behavior?
What personality traits do bullies typically have?
Have you ever witnessed or taken part in bullying? What did you do? Do you wish you had acted differently?
What type of bullying is worse, online bullying or bullying that is face-to-face?

Do you agree or disagree with these statements?
Bullies are typically people who have more confidence than others.
Banning social media networks on school campuses will help prevent bullying in schools.
Students who are bullied need more help from teachers than their bullies do.
Gossiping is one of the worst forms of bullying in schools.
If a victim commits suicide, the bully should be charged with murder.

Today's conversation topic is about bullying. Get together with the members of your talking group and discuss the questions above.

In preparation for your talking session, you can read the article from The New York Times Behind Every Harassed Child? A Whole Lot of Clueless Adults, which reviews Bully, a documentary by Lee Hirsch released in the US in late March. Here's the trailer of the film.

Here's the transcript for the trailer.

The last couple days, we had heard that Tyler had his head shoved into a wall locker.
They said he's a geek.
My concern is that you are making someone feel so uncomfortable, that they didn't want to be in school.
I feel kinda nervous on school days. I like learning, but I have trouble with making friends.
They said he's a geek, and some kids told him that he's worthless, to go hang himself.
And I think he got to this point to where, enough was enough.
Tonight a tragic situation... A Perkins boy, just 11 years old, believed to have been desperate enough to take his own life.
This is an awfully complicated and difficult issue.
Kids will be kids, boys will be boys.
They're just cruel at this age.
Here, what we get, is "nothing's wrong"? We didn't do anything? Everything's fine.
They punch me, strangle me.
Take things from me. Sit on me.
Give it to him hard!
He's not safe on that bus.
I've been on that bus. They are just as good as gold.
My voice is not going to fall silent.
I will go to my grave, until a difference is made.
I reached out to parent's who've lost kids, parents of kids being bullied all over the world, and it took off like wildfire.
All it takes is for one person to stand up.
Be the difference. Go out and find that one child, that new kid, standing over there by himself. Be willing to stand up for him.
Everything starts with one, and builds up. Eventually, we have an army.
If we all do it together, we will change the world.

martes, 1 de mayo de 2012

Speakout Upper-intermediate: Fears and phobias (trouble)

Do you have any fears or phobias?
How do your fears or phobias interfere with your life?
What fear or phobia would be the most troublesome in the modern world?

Fears and phobias is another installment in the Speakout Videocasts, Longman. This episode is suitable for strong intermediate 2 students.

Watch the video clip and make a note of the answers the people interviewed give.

Now it's over to you. If possible, get together with an English-speaking friend and answer the questions above about yourself. Try and use some of the expressions you heard on the video.

You can read the transcript here.