Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Social Network: Social Networks, Facebook

The Social Network is an amazing film. Talking about Facebook, twitter, orkut, Linkedin, etc is always attractive to learners because everyone has opinions about them.

I. Work in pairs. Interview each other and prepare a profile of your interviewee to share with the class.

- Do you have social networks accounts, such as facebook, orkut, my space, linkedin, twitter? Which ones? Which one is your favorite?

- Do you have a Facebook account? How often do you check your Facebook account?

 - How many friends do you have on Facebook? Are they actually your friends? - What do you do on Facebook? - What's the best and worst thing about Facebook? - What's something you don't like about Facebook?

- Have you ever had a problem on Facebook?What happened? Do you know anyone who has had a problem on Facebook?

- Do you chat on Facebook? How often do you do it? Do you like chatting on the internet? Why (not)?

- Do you know any story about a problem because of Facebook?

- Do you accept any friend request? How do you do it?

- Is it okay to have your boss as a friend on Facebook? Why (not)? What about your parents? And teachers?

- Do you have any private album that none of your friends can see? - How do you protect your album privacy on Facebook?

- What are some privacy concerns when using Facebook?

- Do you follow celebrities on Facebook?

- How different are Facebook and Twitter?

- How different are Facebook and Orkut?

- Why is Facebook so popular?

II. Now prepare a speech about your partner and talk about his/her social networking profile.

III. Watch the segment from the movie The Social Network and discuss the questions in pairs.


1. What are the main ideas that the creator of Facebook and his partner had in mind that makes the concept successful?

2. Why is Facebook different from other sites, according to the segment?

3. What suggestions would you give to make Facebook even better?

4. What is the future of Facebook?

Christine Kane's suggestion: 10 Most Accurate Movies about the Internet. Great suggestions there.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tooth Fairy, The Princess and the Frog, Ella Enchanted & Shrek: Fairy Tales

Talking about Fairy tales is great because there is a lot to connect with reality. The final activity about the movie Shrek was provided by the reader Rodigo Tiago Mendonça. Check his info out in the end of the post. Thanks, Rodrigo.

Watch three movie segments. One is from the movie Tooth Fairy, another one is from the animated movie The Princess and the Frog, and the last one from Ella Enchanted. Then look at the characteristics of a fairy tale, which follow the segments, and write T if it applies to the movie Tooth Fairy, E for Ella Enchanted, P if it applies to The Princess and the Frog, A if applies to ALL and N if it applies to none of them.

T - Tooth Fair

P - The Princess and the Frog

E - Ella Enchanted

A - All

N - None

Tooth Fairy:


The Princess and the Frog


Ella Enchanted


1. ( ) It takes place in a vague period of time (Once upon a time... / A long time ago... / etc)

2. ( ) The plot usually includes magic or fantastic forces.

3. ( ) The inhabitants of this magical land sometimes visit the world of humans.

4. ( ) Some events have rule-breaking consequences.

5. ( ) The hero or heroine is often looking for something (a home, a love, wealth, wisdom) and everything turns out for the best, but sometimes with sad, dark endings.

6. ( ) Girls often marry princes and boys overcome adversaries to be successful.

7. ( ) There is a presence of magical, unreal, incredible events.

8. ( ) Spells are important elements.

9 . ( ) Magic and the supernatural permeate everyday life, showing that everybody can live happily ever after.

10. ( ) Fairy tales deal with real problems that can be easily identified by the children in the tale.

B. Form three groups: One groups is responsible for the Tooth Fairy, another one about the Princess and the Frog, and the third one about Ella Enchanted. Each group talks about the questions about their own fairy tales:

GROUP 1: The Tooth Fairy

1. Describe the scene.

2. What is the fairy tale about?

3. What is the magical element in the fairy tale?

4. Why does this tale exist? What lesson does it teach?

5. Did you use to believe in the tooth fairy? is it a common fairy where you live? If so, how different is it from the way it is shown in the movie?

6. How interesting is this tale?

GROUP 2: The Princess and the Frog

1. Describe the scene.

2. What is the fairy tale about?

3. What is the magical element in the fairy tale?

4. Why does this tale exist? What lesson does it teach?

5. Did you use to believe in the marrying a price (princess)? is it a common fairy where you live? If so, how different is it from the way it is shown in the movie?

6. How interesting is this tale?

Group 3: Ella Enchanted

1. Describe the scene.

2. What is the fairy tale about?

3. What is the magical element in the fairy tale?

4. Why does this tale exist? What lesson does it teach?

5. How interesting is this tale?

C. Group discussion:

1. Are fairy tales important or lies that make children believe the impossible can happen?

2. Why are fairy tales so popular until today?

3. Do you know other fairy tales? Talk about the ones you know.

4. What is your favorite one? Why?

5. Do you think fairy tales can be harmful? Why (not)?

This activity was shared by one of this blog's reader, Rodrigo Tiago Mendonça. Check out his biodata and views in the end of the post. Thanks, Rodrigo. Here is a space for sharing, so if you have activities to share, email them to me at


1) Match the following vocabulary to their corresponding definitions.

 A. Knights

B. Keep

C. Lovely

D. Dreadful

E. Enchantment

F. Fearful

( ) Having beauty that appeals to the emotions as well as to the eye.

( ) A mounted warrior in Europe in the Middle Ages

( ) Magic or spell.

( ) Causing or capable of causing fear; frightening.

( ) Extremely unpleasant; distasteful or shocking

( ) The stronghold of a castle or a jail.

2) Now use the words to complete the following story:

 Once upon a time there was a ________________ princess. But she had an _______________ upon her of a _________________ sort which could only be broken by love's first kiss. She was locked away in a castle guarded by a terrible fire-breathing dragon. Many brave ________________ had attempted to free her from this _______________ prison, but none prevailed. She waited in the dragon's ____________ in the highest room of the tallest tower for her true love and true love's first kiss.

3) Listen to Smash Mouth’s song – “All stars”. Fill in the gaps:

Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll me
I ain't the _______________ tool in the shed
She was looking kind of dumb with her finger and her ____________
In the shape of an "L" on her ______________________
Well the _________________ start coming and they don't stop coming
Fed to the rules and I hit the ground ______________
Didn't make sense not to live for fun
Your brain gets smart but your head gets ________________
So much to do so much to _________________
So what's wrong with_______________________ the back streets
You'll never know if you don't go
You'll never___________________if you don't glow
Hey now you're an All Star get your __________________ on,
Go play Hey now you're a____________________
Star get the show on.
Get paid And all that glitters is gold
Only shooting stars __________________ the mold
It's a cool place and they say it gets ___________________
You're bundled up now but _________________ 'til you get older
But the meteor men beg to differ
Judging by the hole in the________________ picture
The ice we _____________, is getting pretty ___________
The water is getting __________
So you might as well ____________
My wolrd’s _____________________
How about yours? That’s the way I like it But I never get _____________________

4) Match the following expressions to their meanings

A. I ain't

B. hit the grond running

C. break the mold

D. get your game on

E. all that glitters is gold

F. the sharpest tool in the shed

( ) the smartest in the group

( ) negative of verb to ve in the present (am not, is not, are not)

( ) everything that looks great is really great (sarcastic meaning)

( ) get better at something

( ) to start successfully

( ) to be innovative

5) What Fairy Tales Characters can you identify in the scene you’ve just watched?

Answer key in the WORKSHEET

My name is Rodrigo Tiago Mendonça, I'm 28 years old and I live in São Paulo, SP. I've been a teacher for 8 years now, 4 of those for Yazigi (morumbi branch), the school I'm currently at. As a teacher I'm an ideologist, I believe that teaching gives me the opportunity to make a remarkable change in the future, so I try to provide open, meaningful dialog whenever possible. I'd like to thank Claudio for the great initiative in sharing his ideas with us.





Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bangkok Dangerous & The Joy Luck Club: Ethnic Food

Talking about ethnic food is something students like doing. You can also connect it to cultural issues in the classroom. Since I had a group full of foreigners, this activity was fun and instructive. In the following class, my students brought typical dishes from Korea, Indonesia, Poland, etc. It was great - but fattening!

Ethnic food is typical food from countries which are not from where you live. It is often called world food. But the definition of ethnic food varies according to where and who you are. Defining it is difficult. In a multi-cultural society like the U.S., one tends to perceive more and more cuisines as ethnic. Also, over time, items that used to be distinctly ethnic, like tacos and pizza, have become part of the mainstream American diet.

From the discussion:

I. Work in pairs:

1. What is your favorite ethnic food? Can you describe it to your partner?

2. What ethnic food have you ever tried? Where is the dish originally from?

3. Have you ever tried the following cuisines? What's your opinion about them?

- Italian

- French

- German

- Brazilian

- Indian

- Moroccan

- Argentinian

- Chinese

- Japanese

- Mexican

4. Which of these cuisines have become mainstream in your country? Do you consider them ethnic?

5. Take a look at the pictures below. Can you identify where the food come from? They're from the countries in exercise 3. 1.











Answer key: 1. Argentine 2. German 3. Brazilian 4. Chinese 5. French 6. Moroccan 7. Japanese 8. Indian 9. Mexican 10. Italian

6. How does typical or ethnic food reflect the culture of a country?

7. Can you cook typical dishes from your country?

8. Do you like the typical food from your own country? Why (not)?

9. Can you write down the ingredients for a local food from your country?

10. Do foreigners usually like or reject the typical food from your country? Why ?

11. Is there a special way to eat typical food from your country?

II. Watch the first segment from the movie THE JOY LUCK CLUB and answer the questions that follow.

1. Where is the ethnic food from?

2. Have you ever seen/eaten that dish before?

3. Would you like to have it one day? Why (not)?

4. What would you do if you were asked for dinner whose main dish is the one in the movie segment? Would have it? If not, how would you react?

5. Describe the scene.


III. Now watch the movie segment from the movie BANGKOK DANGEROUS and discuss the questions that follow.


1. Where is the ethnic food from?

2. Have you ever seen/eaten that dish before?

3. Would you like to have it one day? Why (not)

4. What would you do if you were asked for dinner whose main dish is the one in the movie segment? Would have it? If not, how would you react?

5. Describe the scene.



Saturday, May 7, 2011

Gamer, Tron Legacy, Wreck-It Ralph & Video Games - The Movie: Video Games

Gamer is a very creative and gripping movie. I like its original idea about video games. I used this scene to warm-up this recurrent topic in ELT classes. TRON is not as good as Gamer, but the visual effects are wonderful. Both illustrate the topic pertinently.

I. Work in pairs:

1. What is opinion about video games?

2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of playing video games?

3. Do you like playing video games? Why (not)?

4. How have video games changed throughout your lifetime?

5. What do you think video games will be like in the future?

6. Do you learn anything playing video games? Explain it.

7. Would you control the amount of time you (or your children) dedicate to playing video games? How would you do it?

8. What's your opinion about video games with extreme violence and racist or other kinds of discrimination? Should they be prohibited?

II. Work individually now. Write A if you agree and D if you disagree withe the statements below about video games. Explain why.

( ) 1. Video games are dangerous for teenagers.

( ) 2. Video games develop high reflexes with advanced eye and hand coordination.

( ) 3. The player's peripheral vision is improved quite significantly.

( ) 4. Can teach people more about life. Virtual games, for example, can help teach people about what is involved in raising animals on a farm.

( ) 5. Video games can help improve problem solving and logic skills.

( ) 6. They increase attention span.

( ) 7. They are fun.

( ) 8. Some people can become completely addicted to video games.

( ) 9. People become desensitized to violence when they play a lot of violent video games.

( ) 10. They can give people false expectations of real life, as real life cannot be perfectly simulated by video games.

( ) 11. Violent games should be prohibited, since some teenagers have killed people imitating the actions of certain video games.

( ) 12. Time spent on video games affect academics.
III. Work in small groups now. Check and justify your answers. Use all your arguments to talk your partners into agreeing with you.

IV. Now watch the segment from the movie GAMER and answer the questions that follow:


1. Describe the scene.

2. What kind of games will there be in the future, according to the segment?

3. Describe the games presented in the segment.

4. What kind of game is Slayer? What's your opinion about this kind of game?

5. Are there similar games nowadays?

6. Do you think there will be games like those ones in the future? Why (not)?

7. Should video games designers be considered celebrities? Why (not)?

8. Would you like to play Slayer? Why (not)?

V. Watch the segment from the movie TRON Legacy and discuss the questions


1. Describe the scene.

2. Do you think it will be possible to be part of a video game just like it is pictured in TRON? Explain it.

3. Compare TRON's video game to the one in Gamer.

4. Do you think life will be better or worse if video games were like the one in TRON?

5. What do you think the objective of the game shown in TRON is?

VI. Watch the segment from the movie Wreck-it Ralph and discuss the questions:


1. What video game characters did you identify? Have you played them?

2.  What are the characters' conflicts?

3. Which are you favorite video games heroes?


V. Watch the segment from the movie Video Games - The Movie. Pay close attention to the information presented and take notes of any surprising piece of information that calls your attention, such as the video gamers sex, age, where video games are mostly played at, who buys video games, if video gamers are social, genres of video games, among others. Then form small groups and compare your lists.