Feb 25, 2012

Once Upon a Time in America: Used To

This activity was taken from an unforgettable classic. It is a wonderful movie with a brilliant story and saga. It's one of my all times favorite. I took advantage of the scene that shows New York in the beginning of the century to practice USED TO in a contextualized way.

Watch the video segment and observe how different New York used to be in the beginning of the century. Pay close attention to the following people and objects.

Cars - Street vendors - Streets - Cameras - Women

Clocks - Police Officers - Buildings - Clothes - Kids

Read the examples and write down your own sentences, using the given cues. Make sure you choose a suitable verb to complete the sentences.

The kids/ on the streets. The kids used to play on the streets.
Cars/ uncomfortable. The cars used to be uncomfortable.
Street vendors/ bread. Street vendors used to sell bread.

1 – Streets/ crowded ______________________________________

2 – Cameras/ practical _____________________________________

3 – Women/ dark clothes ___________________________________

4 – Police officers/ elegant uniforms ____________________________

5 – Buildings / dirty _______________________________________

6 – Streets / smoky _______________________________________

After viewing:

Talk to a partner. Discuss the following questions:

1 - How do you compare the New York depicted in the segment and the city nowadays?

2 - Which one is better and why?

3 - Would you like to live in New York nowadays? Why?

4 - Would you like to have lived in New York in the beginning of the century? Why not?



How to prepare your own video segment:

• Select a movie segment that takes place in the past.

• Costumes, childhood memories, last century towns, historical moments are perfect to assess this grammar goal .

• Ask students to observe specific features in the passage .

• Prepare an exercise with cues that will help students write sentences with the structures/verbs you want to assess.

• Students write sentences, using “used to” .

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