Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mother Tongues

"Mastery of the mother tongue is a prerequisite for creative expression in other languages." Do you agree? You probably won't show this video to your students - it's in spoken Arabic with English subtitles - but the subject matter is interesting for English language teachers. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Word Crimes, Grammar & Parody

Weird Al is back, if you haven't noticed already from your social media feed. He's pulling a Beyonce and releasing a video every day this week to celebrate the release of his final studio album, which makes me wonder - who buys Weird Al albums? But anyhow!

One of the videos is called Word Crimes, and it's a pretty delightful spoof of Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines, especially for us word nerds. I made a lesson to go with it, and I think it would be useful for advanced writing or grammar classes. I've made a slideshow for the teacher to present, and a worksheet for students. Click through for more!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bill Cunningham and Breakfast At Tiffany's

I love Bill Cunningham, and I thought the video above was a charming segue into themes of New York City, tourism, and the movies. I created a slideshow (see below) that you can use to work with this video in class. It contains a discussion/pre-writing prompt, the opening scene of Breakfast At Tiffany's, a little info about Bill Cunningham, and some questions for further discussion or writing. (If you teach intermediate or high reading classes, have you ever read Truman Capote in class?)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Play Ball

Teachers, can you take a minute in class this morning to mention this meeting to your students? Kata is organizing a trip to see the Mets, and today is a planning meeting.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Teacher Ideas: Happy Stories

Thanks to Kevin for another great installment in our Teacher Ideas series. (Submissions welcome!) Read his thoughts on the power of happiness and play in the language classroom.

 Happy Stories, by Kevin Lathrop

When I asked students on Saturday to bring in happy stories, some said sad ones were easier to find. The assignment was challenging. 

Sonia told a funny story. The headline is “The Butcher.” She is an old woman who was lonely and decided to get a pet. She didn’t have much money, so she went to a second-hand pet shop. She saw many animals: a three-legged cat, a dog without a tail, fish that could only swim backwards and a beautiful bird that could only say one thing: “Who is it?”

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Our World As 100 People

Last spring I shared an amazing infographic of the world as 100 people on our Facebook page. That piece was made by a London-based graphic designer named Jack Hagley using statistical data compiled by the 100 People Foundation. You've probably seen it hanging in the teacher's room, even.

I recently came across a similar project by a Hong Kong-based designer named Toby Ng. His project dates from 2011, so the numbers themselves are slightly different from the numbers used in the other infographic, but the general patterns still hold true. He has illustrated each statistic as a separate graphic. If the world were a village of 100 people:
Why not construct a unit out of these infographics? If you teach low-level students, the pictures and language are easy to understand, and could serve as useful input on complicated topics. If you teach high-level students, you can still use these - perhaps in even more open-ended ways, such as asking students to choose the statistic that is most surprising to them and explain why they are surprised. You could also focus on some key words on the Academic Word List as part of this unit: data (List 1), percent (List 1), illustrate (List 3), statistic (List 4), and ratio (List 5) are just a few possibilities for vocabulary study.