Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Xmas

Dear Friends,

I'm having a vacation break now. I wish you all a merry Christmas and a Happy 2013. Brand new posts will come out in mid-January. Thanks for your constant support.

Claudio Azevedo

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Emperor's Club: Teachers

This is an amazing movie and this touching scene is perfect to warm-up a discussion about teachers.
Discuss these questions with a friend.

 1. Who is/was your favorite teacher? Justify your answer.

 2. What makes a good teacher? What qualities must he have?

3. Have you ever had a teacher you had a disagreement with? What happened exactly?

 4. Are teachers' salaries fair enough? Do you think it may influence in their performance in class? Explain it.

 5. Have you ever given a teacher of yours a gift? Why did you do it?

 6. Would you like to be a teacher? Why (not)?

 7. Will teachers ever be replaced by technology in the classroom? Explain it.

 8. Are teachers nowadays better or worse than the ones in the past? Justify it.

 II. Watch the movie segments from the movie The Emperor's Club and discuss the questions:



 1. Describe the scenes.

 2. How do you compare both scenes?

 3. What's your opinion about this kind of attitude demonstrated by the students. Is it sincere or do you consider it tacky? Why?

 4. Have you ever done it with one of your teachers?

 5. Would you like to honor any teacher of yours the way these students did? Why (not)?

 6. What sort of difference will this behavior make in the teacher's life? Explain it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Rio 2, New Year's Eve & When Harry Met Sally: New Year's Eve


This is a nice class for the end of the year's holidays. I have posted one for Christmas and now I am providing you with one for New Year's Eve. I hope you like it! Happy New Year!

I.          Talk to a partner in pairs:

      1.   How important is New Year’s Eve for you?      
      2.   Can you remember (one of ) you favorite New Year’s Eve? 

            3. What about a frustrating one?

      4.     How do you prefer to celebrate this event? In a very busy city , with the person you love and maybe a few friends in a quiet place, or would you rather stay home and sleep early?

      5.      Do you like to watch New Year’s Eve special TV programs? Why (not)?

      6.    What are some famous spots people go on New Year’s Eve? 

      7.      Where do the people in your city gather to celebrate New Year’s Eve?

      8.       Do you have any superstition for that moment? Do you know any superstition people have for New Year’s Eve?

II.  Check what you usually do when in New Year’s Eve?

( ) Travel

( ) Go to very crowded places

( ) Watch the fireworks

( ) Go dancing

( ) Go to church

( ) Exchange gifts

( ) Watch TV

( ) Go to restaurants

( ) Go to a friend's house

( ) Stay with your family

( ) Cook and eat special meals

( ) Drink a lot

( ) Party all night long

( ) Take pictures

( ) Sleep early

( )  Go to a quiet, romantic place

III. Watch the first segment from the movie New Year's Eve and discuss the questions:



1. Where does the scene take place?

2. What are some of the things in exercise II that you can see in the segment

3. Have you ever spent New Year's Eve in New York? Talk about your experience. If you have not, would you like to do it one day? Why (not)

4. What was the  unexpected event that happened in that specific year?

5. What's your opinion about her speech? Is is tacky or touching? Explain it.

IV. Watch the scene from the movie When Harry Met Sally and discuss the questions:


1. Describe the scene.

2. Where does it take place?

3. What do both segments have in common and how different are they?

4. What was so special for the characters about this special event?

5. Is New Year's Eve a good moment to find a new lover? Or to make up a broken relationship? Why ?

 V. Watch the segment from the movie Rio 2 and answer the questions:


1. How do Brazilians celebrate New Year's Eve in Rio?

2. How different is this celebration in Rio from the way it is celebrated in your city?

3. Have you ever spent New Years Eve in Rio? How was it?

4. Should we celebrate New Year's Eve? Why is (not) it special?




Friday, November 30, 2012

Bangkok Dangerous & Take Shelter: Sign Language

A sign language (also signed language) is a language which, instead of acoustically conveyed sound patterns, uses visually transmitted sign patterns - manual communication, body language - to convey meaning and express a speaker's thoughts. Wherever communities of deaf people exist, sign languages develop. Their complex spatial grammars are markedly different from the grammars of spoken languages. Hundreds of sign languages are in use around the world and are at the cores of local Deaf Cultures.

Work in pairs:

1. Have you ever learned a sign language? Why (not)?

2. What do you think is easier? Learning a foreign language or sign language? Why?

 3. Should learning sign languages be mandatory in schools? Why (not)?

4. Would you learn sign languages if someone in your family were deaf? What if your neighbor were deaf?

5. Should all teachers learn sign languages in case he/she has students with hearing special needs?

Watch the scene from the movie Bangkok Dangerous and discuss the questions:


1. Describe the scene.

2. How difficult was their communication?

3. How did he manage to understand her? What strategies did he make use of?

4. What was easiest and most difficult thing for him to understand her?

5. Would you like to get involved with someone with that sort of special need? What would you do to overcome it?

Read the questions below and choose what you believe is the correct answer. Then watch the scene from the great movie Take Shelter and check your answers.


1. What is the main focus of ASL with children from 4 to 7 years old?

a. the alphabet

b. the signs

c. the movement of the mouth

2. Where is the male sign for males?

a. the forehead

b. the cheek

c. the eyes

3. How do you say "I'm sorry" in ASL?

a. making a circle with your hands around your heart.

b. putting your hands together like a prayer.

c. showing the palm of your right hand

4. How do you say "excited" in ASL?

a. pulling your hair

b. placing both hands in the air

c. rolling your hands and fingers in front of your chest.

1b, 2a, 3a, 4c,



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Serendipity: Fate, Destiny

FATE: what happens to a particular person or thing, especially something final or negative, such as death or defeat  

DESTINY: the force that some people think controls what happens in the future, and which cannot be influenced by people.

  Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary.

 1 - What is the difference between Fate and Destiny, according to the definitions above. Do you agree with it?

 2 - Do you believe in Fate or Destiny? Explain it.

Read the following quotes about destiny and fate. In pairs, decide what they mean and if you agree with them. Taken from

Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.(Marcus Aurelius)

Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her. But once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.(Voltaire)

Men are not prisoners of Fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.(Franklin Roosevelt)

How a person masters his fate is more important than what his fate is.(Karls Wilhelm von Humboldt)

When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.(Jung)

It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves. (Shakespeare) The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)  

Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved (William Jennins Bryan)  

Destiny is usually just around the corner. Like a thief, a hooker, or a lottery vendor: its three most common personifications. But what destiny does not do is home visits. You have to go for it. (Carlos Ruiz Zafon)

Watch the movie segment from the movie Serendipity and discuss the questions.


1. Describe the scene

2. Is the scene about Fate or Destiny? Explain it.

3. Do you believe this is a possible situation? Would you do anything if you were told that?


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hotel Rwanda: Rwanda Genocide

Beginning on April 6, ________, Tutsis were killed by Hutu militia using clubs and machetes, with as many as 10,000 killed each day. It is one of the most tragic human tragedies in human history. Answer the quiz below and make guesses about the massacre facts. The winning group is that who answers most correct items.

 1. In what year did the Rwandan genocide take place?

a. 1994
b. 1990
c. 1980
d. 1992

2. The countries around Rwanda have all played strong roles in its politics, including the genocide. Which of the following is a correct list of the countries bordering Rwanda?

a. Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi.
b. Tanzania, South Africa and Kenia
c. Nigeria, Niger and Ivory Coast
d. South Africa, Zambia, Niger and Togo

3. About how many people were killed in the Rwandan genocide?

 a. about 400.000
b. about 800.000
c. about 1.100.00
d. about 90.00

4. Which European former colonial power has been accused of being complicit in the genocide?

a. Belgium
b. England
c. The Netherlands
d. France

5. About how long did the Rwandan genocide last?

a. 10 days
b. 30 days
c. 45 days d
. 100 days

6. Which of these media did the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide use in order to organize the genocide?

a. the Internet
b. newspapers
c. radio
d. fliers

7. What percentage of the population was killed?

a. Over one-tenth of the population, an estimated 800,000 persons, had been killed.
b. half of the population had been killed
c. 1% of the population had been killed
d. 65% of the population had been killed.

 Answers 1a, 2a, 3b, 4d, 5d, 6c, 7a

Now watch the segments from the movie Hotel Rwanda and work in groups:


Part 1: footage
video part2 :

genocide scene video part 3

final credits





Tuesday, October 30, 2012

License to Wed and Due Date: Babysitting

These segments are great and extremely funny. Talking about babysitting, nurturing, taking care of children is a friendly topic, because most of us have already experienced it at least once in our lives, so it is a true conversation generator.
Babysitting is many teenagers' first job. Many adults also end up having to babysit for their relatives or even friends. We know not everyone is tailored for babysitting, but most of us have already done it at least once in our lives.

 Babysitting is the practice of temporarily caring for a child on behalf of the child's parents. Babysitting is commonly performed as an odd job by teenagers for extra money.

Work in pairs and decide if you think the following statements are babysitting do's or don'ts. Justify your answers.

1. Clean up so that the home or hotel room looks as good as it did when you arrived.

2. Chat with friends if you're allowed to use the phone.

3. Cover up any tattoos as much as possible. Tattoos can make you look scary to children and parents alike.

4. Eat all the clients' food if they give you permission to do so.

5. Answer the parent’s telephone. Take a complete message and speak in a friendly, helpful tone of voice.

6. Ask the parents to come home if a pet or child is sick or otherwise difficult to handle.

7. Let parents know if a child was misbehaving and if the child received a time out or another privilege was revoked. Time out and revoking of privileges are the only disciplinary tools that you have as a babysitter.

 8. Transport children in your own car.

9. Keep bathroom and bedroom doors open at all times and especially when bathing, changing, dressing or helping potty training children. This helps to eliminate any misunderstandings or possible false accusations.

10. Spend money on the children, although the parents did not ask you to do it; i.e. to order a pizza or to buy ice cream.

 Source: Watch the segment below and observe how the characters babysit. Make a list of the babysitter's rights and wrongs. Explain why.

1st Segment: License to Wed 


2nd Segment: Due Date video

How do you compare both babysitters? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Would you hire any of them?


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Transformers 3 - Humanity's Achievements - 1st Man on the Moon

Although I'm not a great fan of this sort of movies, Transformers is definitely above average. These two thought-provoking - or just nonsense - scenes are great to talk about the 1st man on the moon or humanity's achievements.

 I. Think about 5 achievements/accomplishments of humanity. Don't consider inventions, just achievements. Achievement: something that has been accomplished, especially by hard work, ability, or heroism Accomplishment: something done admirably or creditably. Ex: The construction of the pyramids in Egypt.

 II. Share your list with 2 partners and select the 5 most important ones, in your opinions.

III. Class discussion: What is the most important achievement accomplished by humanity? Justify your answer.

IV. POPSI considers the first man on the moon the greatest achievement of all. Do you agree with them? Don't miss visiting POPSI. They inspired this activity.

V. Read the five human achievements that could top walking on the moon. Rank them in order of importance (1 - most important). Be ready to justify your choices. Can you think of another achievement that would top walking on the moon? a.



The Discovery of Alien Life

Chances It Will Occur Within A Decade: Hard to say. The current thinking is that the best place to look for extraterrestrial life is on Jupiter’s moon Europa. Europa has a vast ocean, as well as a good deal of oxygen in its atmosphere. The combination of water, oxygen, and energy from the gravitational pull of Jupiter have led some scientists to theorize that organic molecules might form life at the bottom of Europa’s oceans, similar to the life that formed on undersea volcanic vents on Earth. There are no missions planned to explore Europa.



A Manned Mission to Mars

Chances It Will Occur Within A Decade: Nil. The technology could certainly be developed, but right now, the political will (yet alone the financial support) just isn’t there.

Full Nuclear Disarmament

Chances It Will Occur Within A Decade: Not great. Promising, though, is that last 10 years saw the number of nuclear weapons cut in half, with even further reductions on the way. While a world with zero nuclear weapons may still be far off, it’s not unrealistic to imagine a 2020 with significantly reduced stockpiles.

Free Energy

Chances It Will Occur Within A Decade: The cars will be different, and the light bulbs will be more efficient, but 10 years from now, we’re still going to have to pay an electric bill.


Chances It Will Occur Within A Decade: Moderate. For decades, people have predicted an HIV vaccine right around the corner, and the virus has made fools of them all. However, advances in genetics and computer modeling have greatly enhanced the development of drugs in general, so a vaccine may be closer than ever before.

 VI. Watch the first part of the segment from the movie Transformers 3 and discuss the questions.

1. What is the achievement shown in the segment?
2. Describe what happened in the scene.

3. How accurate is the story, according to what we know from our history books?

4. Why is walking on the moon so fascinating to most people? 

VII. Watch the second segment from the same movie. The segment shows what really happened there, but was hidden from our books.


1. Describe the scene.

2. What happened there?

3. Could have that actually happened? Why (not)?

4. What if this footage were not fake? How different would walking on the moon be seen nowadays?

 5. Should NASA hide this sort of information, if it is true? Why (not)? 6. Should NASA go on spending billions of dollars to explore the universe? Justify it.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

As Good As It Gets: Dealing with Difficult People

 This is a classic with wonderful acting and plot. You can't miss Jack Nicholson's best performance ever.

What is a "difficult person?" 

Anyone who doesn't behave as expected. We do, after all have some unwritten "rules" about appropriate behavior in our society. Be fair; wait your turn; say "please" and "thank you"; talk in conversational tones and volume... Difficult people ignore those mores, or act as if they are exempt - often while they expect you to live by the standards they're flaunting. They're usually loud, intrusive, impolite, thoughtless, selfish, and, difficult! Activities inspired by this excellent site:

Work in pairs:

1. Do you know any "difficult person", according to the definition above? Talk about him/her. What is your relationship with him/her?

2. What would you recommend someone do when dealing with a difficult person.

 3. How do you react when you have to deal with a difficult/rude person?

4. How difficult do you think you are?

5. What are the consequences of being difficult where you live? Explain it.

6. Do you agree with the statement: "Difficult people are the ones who actually make us reflect upon our acts. Their role in society is to show that politeness and kindness is just a convention established by society".

II. Read some tips on how to deal with impolite people. Decide if you think the tip will actually help or worsen the situation.

1. No matter how rude they are, it is just not worth the effort to be rude in return.

2. The best way to deal with impolite responses is by completely ignoring the person who talks rudely.

 3. Whenever a person tries to be rude with you and says something offensive, try to negate the effects by responding in a kind and sweet manner.

4. Direct confrontation is the most important step you can take to stop such outrageous behavior.

 5. Face the person head on and make him or her well aware of how such behavior is unappreciated.

6. Ask the other person to stop such a behavior. III. Watch the movie segment from the movie "As Good As It Gets" and discuss the questions that follow:


1. Describe the scene.

2. Why is Jack Nicholson's character difficult?

3. Which of the tips above did Helen Hunt's follow? Give examples.

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

5. Have you ever seen anything similar to this scene in a public place? Talk about it.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hugo: Cinema

This is a marvelous movie, especially for those who are movie buffs, just like myself. It talks about the passion of film making and the magic of cinema in our lives. I used it to introduce the topic "movies". My students loved it.

I. Work in pairs.

1. Do you like going to the movies? How often do you do it?

2. What kind of movies do you prefer? Rank the types of movies according to your preferences. Number 1 is your favorite.


3. Think of examples for each of the types of movies in item 2.

4. What do you prefer doing? Going to the movies or watch films at home? Justify your choice?

5. What do you prefer? New releases or classics? Why?

6. Who is your favorite actor, actress and director?

7. What is your all times favorite movie? Why do you like it so much?

III. Decide if the statements below are true for you and your partner:

( ) I have nightmares when I see a horror movie.

( ) Old movies are not so interesting because of the technology and acting.

( ) All movies should be made in 3D.

( ) Movie ratings are not important. Everyone should be allowed to see the films they

( ) Sex and violent scenes should be prohibited.

( ) Animated movies are only interesting for children.

( ) Silent movies are stupid.

( ) American movie's humor are not funny for the people in my country.

( ) Brazilian (or your nationality) are better than American productions.

( ) The Oscar is not a good reference for choosing the film you see because its main objective is just to promote American movies.

( ) I love American blockbuster movies.

( ) I don't like watching films from less famous studios, such as Iranian, Turkish, French, Italian, Argentinean, etc.

( ) TV is much better than movies.

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


1. Describe the scene.

2. What was the first movie about? What did it show and what was the audience's reaction?

3. What were some of the scenes shown in the segment? What did the first movies talk about?

4. Who was George Meliés? What power did he have?

5. Would you like to see the first movies made or do you think it is a waste of time? Justify your answer.