Oct 29, 2008

Miss Congeniality: Unrestrictive Relative Clauses

This segment will provide the students with a fun opportunity to practice relative clauses. The segment is funny and the language used is easy.

Watch the video segment. Write in parentheses the abbreviation of the state the candidate represents according to the information provided during the pageant in the movie segment.
RI - Miss Rhode Island

CA - Miss California

NE - Miss Nebraska

NJ - Miss New Jersey

TX - Miss Texas

NY - Miss New York

(CA) She is a music major.
(CA)She likes opera, reggae and the Beach Boys

(RI ) She is a Science major.
(RI ) Her field is nuclear fission.

(NE) She is a Theater major.
(NE)She helps run a drama program for underprivileged children.

( ) She hopes to become a pediatrician.
( ) She likes taking long luxurious bubble baths.

( ) She is a Psychology major.
( ) She loves Mexican food.

( ) She told the audience she was a lesbian.
( ) She was removed from the stage.

( ) She believes America is like a big ship.
( ) She became Miss United States.

( ) She realized that the participants are smart, terrific people.
( ) She used to consider the Miss United States pageant outdated.

( ) She was wearing a pink dress.
( ) She became the 4th runner-up.

Now rewrite the pair of sentences above using relative clauses. Start the sentences with "Miss... "

Ex: Miss California, who is a Music major, likes opera, reggae and the Beach Boys.
Miss Rhode Island, whose field is nuclear fission, is a Science major.
Miss Nebraska, who runs a program for underprivileged children, is a Theater major.

How to develop your own activity:

- Choose a scene in which there are several characters clearly shown.

- Write down pairs of pieces of information about each of the characters.

- The students connect both sentences using relative clauses.



Oct 20, 2008

Mamma Mia: Adjective Order

This delicious movie scene is perfect to have students practice order of adjectives. Play the segment once and ask students to complete the blanks with the correct order of adjectives in parentheses. For this blog, I prepared the sentences with the correct adjective order, but of course you should mix them all up in your teaching situation.

Watch the movie segment, pay attention to the objects the main characters wear and use during the musical segment. Then, read the sentences below and fill in the blanks with the correct order of the adjectives in parentheses.

- Meet Tanya (left), Donna (center) and Rosie (right)

1) Donna was wearing a/an ______________________ hat.
(unusual/enormous/ blue/ feathered/ musketeer)
2) Donna hid herself under a ___________________ blanket.
(beautiful/ red and white/ Greek/ linen)
3)Tanya used a/an _______________________ hair dryer as a microphone.
(small/ blue/ electric/ portable)
4) Rosie put on a/an ___________________ bra to cheer Donna up.
(ugly/ tiny/ oldfashioned/ cotton)
5)Donna was wearing ________________ overalls.
(comfortable/ loose/ blue/ denim)
6) The natives were dancing on ________________ streets of the island.
(tranquil/ narrow/ dusty)
7) The dancing ladies crossed a ____________________ bridge.
(narrow/ old/ wood/ harbor)
8) They all jumped into the ______________ seawater.
(peaceful/ warm/ Turkish blue/ Greek)
Follow-up activity:
Provide the students with the lyrics of the song - Dancing Queen - and sing along with them!
How to develop your own segment:
Assessing: Adjective Order

- Choose a scene in which a lot of objects and materials are shown.
- Prepare a series of items with adjectives that describe them.
- Have students watch the segment and fill in the blanks of the exercise with the correct order of the adjectives provide in the blanks.



Oct 11, 2008

Speed Racer: Would x Used to

It is often difficult for students to realize when to use "used to" or "would" in order to express past habits. This segment and activity will give students an opportunity to use this target grammar point in a contextualized manner.

Before watching the segment:
Play some relaxing music, dim all the lights, create a cozy atmosphere, and ask your students to take a fantasy trip into the past. Tell them to think about their childhood (or adolescence). Ask them to close their eyes and address them the following questions. Don't let them answer the questions now; all they have to do is travel in time.

What are your best childhood (teenage) memories?

What did your school look like?

What kind of student did you use to be?
Who used to be your best friend?

Where did you use to go on weekends?

What sports did you use to practice?

What were your favorite games?

What did you dislike about that period of your life?

Now divide the class into pairs, give each pair a copy of the questions you have just read, and let them share their ideas with their partners.

Now watch the video segment and fill in the blanks of the following sentences with "used to + verb" or "would + verb". If both are possible, use "would (not)". Pay attention whether you will write affirmative or negative statements, based on the information presented in the segment.
1) Speed ___________ (be) a restless child.

2) He _____________ (be) easily distracted during the classes.

3) He ____________ (concentrate) during the classes.

4) He _____________ (enjoy) being in the classroom.

5) He _____________ (count) the seconds for the break time.

6) He ____________ (think) about automobile racing all the time.

7) He _____________ (draw) racing cars.

8) His mother __________ (be) called by the school's director to talk about Speed's performance in class.

9) His mother ___________ (agree) with the director.

10) He _____________ (pretend) he was driving a car.

11) He _______________ (be) the first student to leave the classroom when the bell rang.

12) He __________ (leave) the school with his father.

13) His brother _______________ (coach) him how to drive a racing car.

14) He ____________ (drive) racing cars by himself when he was a kid.

Answer Key:

1. used to
2. used to
3. wouldn't
4. used to
5. would
6. used to
7. would
8. used to
9. wouldn't
10. would
11. used to
12. would
13. would
14. would


Used to: Before both stative and action verbs
Would: Before action verbs
Exception: There + to be: Only would

How to prepare your own grammar activity:

- Select a scene in which childhood memories are evident.

- Prepare a few questions for students to remember their childhood's special moments.

- Students share their ideas with a partner.

- Prepare an exercise sheet with the activities presented in the segment.

- Write sentences with both action and stative verbs so that students can select "used" to or "would " to complete the blanks.

- Some of the sentences must be true, others false; this way you will work with listening comprehension too.

- Have students to the exercise.



Oct 8, 2008

Hancock: Past Continuous x Simple Past

Check out this activity to practice simple past x past continuous. I recommend it for adults because of the language used. Tell me how you like it by adding a comment, please

Before watching the segment:

Discuss the following questions with a partner:

1) Would you like to be a Super Hero? Why (not)?

2) What super powers would you like to have?

3) Which of the super powers you mentioned would you consider the
most important one?

4) How different would your life be if you had this super power?

5) Would you keep your super powers a secret? Why (not)?

Watch the movie segment and fill in the blanks with the simple past or past continuous form of the verbs in parentheses.

1) Hancock _____________ (sleep) on the bench when a boy _________ (wake) him up.

2) A young lady ____________ (walk) on the street when Hancock ________ (touch) her back.

3) Several birds ________ (hit) him when he ____________ (fly) with a bottle of liquor in his hand.

4) Hancock __________ (fly) and ___________ (drink) when he _______ (hit) a traffic sign.

5) Hancock _________ (try) to persuade the foreigners to surrender when they _____ (shoot) him.

6) Hancock ___________ (throw) their car at the building when he _________ (fly) and _________ (carry) their car around the city.

After watching the segment:

Discuss the following questions about the segment:

1) What’s the matter with Hancock’s super powers?

2) Would you like to be Hancock? Why (not)?

3) What advice would you give him?

How to prepare your own video activity:

• Select a scene in which the characters’ actions are interrupted during the segment.

• Prepare an exercise in which the students have to identify when to use the target structures.

. Prepare pre and post viewing questions to activate schemata.



Oct 6, 2008

While You Were Sleeping: Reported Speech

This a very funny scene. Your students will enjoy it a lot. Tell me if you like it or give suggestions by leaving a comment, please.

Before you watch the segment:

Talk to a partner about the following situations. Decide what you would do:

1) What would you do if you saw someone falling on the subway tracks? Justify it.

2) If you saved someone's life, would you expect a financial reward? Why/Why not?

3) Would you hide a secret in order not to hurt a stranger's feelings? Why/Why not?

Now watch the movie segment and decide who said each of the following lines:

Lucy (Sandra Bullock)

A Doctor

A Nurse

A Police Officer

1) Will you marry me? ____________________________

2) Are you okay? _______________________________

3) There’s a train coming and it’s fast. ________________

4) Are you family? ______________________________

5) She’s his fiancee. _____________________________

6) I need to ask you a few questions. _________________

7) He is in a coma. ______________________________

8) He was pushed from the platform at the train station. ___

9) She jumped on the tracks. ______________________

10) She saved his life. _____________________________

Now rewrite the sentences, using reported speech:

EX: 1) Lucy asked if he would marry her.

2) Lucy asked if he was okay.

Answer key:

3. Lucy said there was a train coming and it was fast.
4. A doctor asked if she was family.
5. A nurse said she was his fiancee. 
6. A police officer said he needed to ask Lucy a few questions.
7. A doctor said he was in a coma.
8. Lucy said that he had been pushed from the platform at the train station.
9. A police officer said that she had saved his life.
10. A police officer said that she had jumped on the tracks.

Grammar Goal: Reported Speech

• Choose an attractive movie segment with several characters

• Decide which verb tenses you want to assess

• Select a few lines from the segment with the target structures

• Students check which characters said them in the segment

• Students come up with indirect speech statements


Oct 1, 2008

Marie Antoinette: Adjectives (ING X ED)

This is a scene to work with participial adjectives. The segment is just great, full of visual input. Your students will enjoy it a lot. I loved the film. If you have suggestions, post a comment, please.

Before you watch:
Talk to a partner about the questions below:

1) How different would your life be if you could live in a palace with lots of maids around to help you?

2) Would you like to live in a historical period in which you would have to wear very uncomfortable, fancy clothes and wigs?

3) What's you opinion of pre-arranged marriages? Can they work out? Why (not)?

Watch the segment and pay attention to the people and the palace. Then choose the correct form of the adjectives.


1) Marie Antoinette is a charming/charmed (charm) princess.

2) Her fiancé was embarassing/embarassed by the awkward introduction to his future wife.

3) They rode on carriages through the fascinating/fascinated gardens of the palace.

4) Marie Antoinette was amazing/amazed with the reception provided by the French.

5) The little girls handed her some flowers in a moving/moved attitude.

6) The guests were interesting/interested in observing every move she made.

7) The palace's overwhelming/overwhelmed beauty is magnificent.

8) The chandelier is stunning/stunned.

9) The garden is a relaxing/relaxed view from the palace.

10) She is totally touching/touched by the wealth of the palace.

11) Her wedding is full of monitoring/monitored guests observing every single detail of the ceremony.

12) The straining/strained groom was sweating during the wedding.

How to prepare your own video segment:

- Select a scene in which a lot of objects and situations can be observed

- Prepare descriptive sentences of the scene, adding adjective derived from verbs, for the students to choose the correct form of the adjectives provided.