Dec 14, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

My dear friends,

I'm going on vacation now. I really need to rest and recharge the batteries. Salvador and its beaches are waiting for me. I wish you and your families a wonderful Christmas and a perfect 2014. New posts are coming up in January 2014. See you soon!

Dec 7, 2013

Upside Down: Compound Adjectives

This is a love story. The premise of the plot - two twin planets with inverse gravities - is amazing. The setting is awesome and the scenes in which the characters are literally upside down are fascinating.

A. Watch the movie segment and rewrite the phrases below, using compound adjectives.

1. They are adapted to the  basic laws of double gravity that will never change.

2. An object weight can be offset by the other planet because of the concept that its matter is inverse.

3. One day Adam climbed the mountains so high and experienced an event that changed his life.

4. The view from the mountains had a look that was very ominous.

5. Eden was a pretty girl that had blond hair.

6. Eden had a fall that threatened her life.

7. The movie had many scenes whose visuals are attractive.

B. Discuss these questions:

1. What are the complications of a relationship like the one of the characters?

2. What are the advantages?

3. How do you compare those planets to the Earth?

4. What does the Earth and those twin planets have in common? Aside from the gravity laws, how different are they?



Answer key:

1. They are adapted to the never-changing laws of gravity

2. An object weight can be offset because of the inverse-matter concept.

3. Adam experienced a life-changing event.

4. It was an ominous-looking view.

5. She was a blond-haired girl.

6. Eden had a life-threatening fall.

7. The movie has many visually-attractive scenes.

Nov 30, 2013

42: Etymology

The word etymology is derived from the Greek etumos which means real or true. The ending ology suggests the study/science of something, as in biology or geology. And that is the etymology of etymology. It is the study of the origins of words; how they evolved. 
The Ancient Greek word hippos means horse. And potamus means river. Hence hippopotamus literally means river horse.

A few other parts of words derived from Ancient Greek are tele (long distance), micro (small), phone (speak), and scope (look). From these come such words as telephone, telescope, microphone, and microscope.

I. In small groups, come up with a definition for the following words. Then try to imagine its origin. Be creative!


II. Before watching the segment, make a guess about the origin and meaning of the following words:


Sympathy - Origin

a) Latin
b) Anglo-Saxon
c) Greek
d) Germanic
e) Persian
f) Slavic

Sympathy - Meaning

a) to love
b) to suffer
c) to mercy
d) to sin
e) to help
f) to lose

Philadelphia - Origin

a) Latin
b) Anglo-Saxon
c) Greek
d) Germanic
e) Sioux
f) Apachian

Philadelphia - Meaning

a) Brotherly Love
b) Mother Nature
c) North Sunset
d) Land of the Children
e) Winds of Hills
f) Green Plain

III. Watch the segment and check your answers.



Answer Key:

II.  Check your answers below:

During the time of the Crusades the members of a certain secret Muslim sect terrorized their Christian enemies. These acts were carried out under the influence of hashish, and so the killers became known as hashshashin, meaning eaters or smokers of hashish. Hashshashin evolved into the word assassin.

"Utopia" is ancient Greek in origin and means "Not" + "Place"; in other words, "nowhere".

The ancient Roman word salarium has developed into today's word salary, which is the money we earn from employment. The Roman were originally paid in salt. The Latin word for salt is sal.

Comes from the Czech word robota, meaning "forced labour" or "hard work".

This word for a fun festival is related to such words as carnal and carnivore. It originated as a word for a festival  in which the eating of meat was forbidden. Carnival literally means the withholding of meat.




Nov 23, 2013

Wanderlust: Metaphorical x Literal Meaning

I have been adding posts about figures of speech and pragmatics. This one contrasts literal and figurative meanings, important nuances of language.


Figurative and literal are terms that signify whether language complies with its accepted, dictionary definition (literal) or whether it diverges from its generally accepted meaning by the use of symbolism, exaggeration, or other device (figurative). Literal language strives for one, clear meaning, while figurative language seeks to add layers of meaning that require interpretation. The particular devices a writer employs (for example, metaphor, simile, or personification) are referred to as figures of speech. 

By Chegg

I. Watch the movie segment. Then take a look at the statements selected from the snippet. Finally, decide if they have literal or figurative language.

Money Buys Nothing

Literal or Figurative?

You Can't Express Your Feeling by Sending a Letter through a Fax Machine

Literal or Figurative?

II. Discuss these questions:

1. Why did the characters disagree about the meaning of the sentence "money buys nothing'?

2. What did both of them have in mind when they expressed their ideas? Who do you think is right?

3. What does the character mean with "you can't express your feeling by sending a letter through a fax machine"? 

4. Come up with some figurative ways to say the following sentences.

- She died.

- She's very ugly.

- He's extremely handsome.

- He's very rich.

- That car is very powerful.



Answer key:

Money...      (literal)
                    You can't ... (figurative).

3. He means he wants the couple to stay in the community.

Nov 9, 2013

The Croods: Possessive ('s) and Vocabulary - Family

I simply love this family, The Croods. The movie is awesome and it is wonderful to talk about family. I used their family tree to practice the use of possessives ('s).

I. Work in pairs:

1. Talk about your family. What do they do and how old are they?

2. Do you have pictures of your family in your cell phone? Show them to a partner and tell him/her where they are and what they are doing there.

3. Who are you closest to in your family? Justify your answer.

4. What would you change in your family?

II. Watch the movie segment and complete the blanks with the name of the characters.


Ex: Gran is Ugga's mother . 

1. __________________ is Grug's mother-in-law.

2. ________________ is Eeep's brother. 

3. _________________ is Sandy's sister.

4. __________________ is the family's pet. 

5. __________________ is Sandy's brother.

6. __________________ is Ugga's son.

7. __________________ is Ugga's husband

8. __________________ is Grug's wife.

9. __________________ is Gran's granddaughter.

10. __________________ is Eep's grandmother.

III. Complete the blanks with the name of the correct character and ('s).

1. Ugga is ______________________ mother.

2. Grug is ______________________ son-in-law.

3. Hunk is _____________________ grandson.

4. Eep is ______________________ daughter.

5. Grug is ______________________ father.

Answer key:


1. Gran
 2. Hunk
3. Eep
4. Belt
5. Hunk
6. Hunk
7. Grug
8. Ugga
9. Sandy
10. Gran


1. Hunk's / Eep's / Sandy's
2. Gran's
3. Gran's
4. Ugga's
5. Hunk's / Eep's / Sandy's

Family Members


I. Warm-up

1. Pair up students and ask them to stand back to back. The Teacher says the name of a family member and they have to turn around, clap their hands, touch their partner’s hands and say the opposite of the word.
2. Ask students if they have pictures of their family in their cell phone. If  they don’t, ask them to get a drawing or another project they’ve made about their family to show it to their partner while they talk about their family. Model the sentences on the board.
    EX.: This is my ___________. His name’s _____________. He’s _____ years old.

              This is my ___________. Her name’s _____________. She’s _____ years old.

 II. Students watch the movie segment

III. Divide the students into two groups and number them within their groups. Place pictures of the movie characters facing down on the floor. Call a number and project the sentences from the box below on the board. The students who are called have to find the picture on the floor that completes the sentece correctly. He/She says the sentence out loud and then all the students repeat it.

1. ________________ is Eep's brother. 

2. _________________ is Sandy's sister.

3. __________________ is the family's pet. 

4. __________________ is Sandy's brother.

5. __________________ is Eep's father.

6. __________________ is Thunk's mother.

7. __________________ is Sandy's grandmother.

8. __________________ is Thunk’s father.


IV. Students fill in the blanks.

1. Thunk is Eep's __________________. 

2. Eep is Sandy's __________________.

3. Belt is the family's _______________. 

4. Grug is Thunk’s _________________.

5. Gran is Sandy's _________________.

6. Ugga is Thunk's _________________.



Nov 2, 2013

Bridesmaids & French Kiss: Expressing Likes and Dislikes - Functional Languade

I love both movies. Bridesmaids is a wonderful, funny story with great acting. The scene from the movie French Kiss is priceless. One of my all  times favorites.

Complete the sentences below with things you like when you travel by plane (or bus, car, boat).

Expressing likes:

I love                                                            .
I like _______________________________.
I fancy ...                                                               .
I enjoy  ...                                             . 
I'm crazy about ...                            . 
I'm keen on  ...                                       . 
I'm fond of   ...                                                  . 

Complete the sentences below with things you dislike when you travel by plane (or bus, car, boat).

Expressing dislikes:

I hate                                                                  . 
I don't like                                            . 
I don't fancy                                  . 
I can't stand                                     . 
I can't bear                            .
 I can't put up with                 .  
I'm fed up with                    . 
I'm sick of                        . 
I'm tired of                          .

Watch the movie segments. Then write sentences, expressing the characters likes and dislikes. Do not use the words love/like/hate/don't like to express their lokes and dislikes.

Ex: They don't fancy traveling by plane.


French Kiss

Oct 26, 2013

Morning Glory: Expressing Opinions, Functional Language

This is a wonderful segment with multiple possibilities, especially if you want to talk about TV shows. Because TV is a controversial topic, I used it to make students practice expressing opinions in a genuine manner, not using the expression "I think...". I. Watch the movie segment and discuss these questions in small groups.

RATINGS: a list of television and radio programmes showing how popular they are

 1. What were the changes she decided to implement in order to raise the TV shows ratings?

 2. Why did the ratings go up?

 3. Are there TV shows like the one in the segment in your city? What are they? Do you watch them? Why (not)?

 II. Let's practice expressing opinions without saying the expression "I think...". Of course that saying it to express an opinion is fine, but you can enrich your language if you use certain ways to vary your language production. This is called functional language. What can you say instead of "I think" ? I would say

In my opinion
To my mind
I am of the opinion that
I hold the opinion that
As far as I'm concerned,
I understand that
From my point of view, 
I'm not sure, but I suppose
That's an interesting question, 
I believe that

Now work in small groups and express your opinions about the questions below. YOU MUST NOT USE the expression "I think". You must also use all of the expressions above to answer the questions.

 1. Do you think TV ratings help improve TV programs or does it have the opposite effect, lowering the quality of TV shows?

 2. What do you think about her strategies to raise the ratings?

 3. Do you think that the higher the TV show's ratings are the better the show is?

 4. What were the best and worst changes she made in the TV show? Explain it.

 5. What's your opinion about this kind of TV show?

 6. Give examples of TV shows with very high TV ratings, but that you consider stupid.

 7. Give examples of TV shows with very high TV ratings, and that you consider extremely clever.

 8. What's your opinion about Brazilian (your country) TV?



Oct 19, 2013

This Must Be the Place: Apologizing - Functional Language

Apologizing in English is functional language that makes a difference when dealing with native speakers of the language. I used this scene to lead in the topic. This activity can be used with any level. In the end of the instructions, there are apologizing functions, according  to the students' level of proficiency.

I. Discuss these questions with a partner:

1. Why is it important to apologize?

2. Does it matter the way you apologize? How so?

3. Is it hard for you to apologize? Or does it depend to whom you are talking?

4. How do you feel when someone does not apologize for something wrong they have done?

 5. Look at some reasons why you should apologize. Don't forget to visit it. It is worth doing it. Decide if you agree with them and why.

Apologizing when you've broken a rule of social conduct -- from cutting in line to breaking the law -- re-establishes that you know what the "rules" are, and you agree that they should be upheld. This allows others to feel safe knowing you agree that hurtful behavior isn't OK. 

Apologies re-establish dignity for those you hurt. Letting the injured party know that you know it was your fault, not theirs, helps them feel better, and it helps them save face.

Apologizing helps repair relationships by getting people talking again, and makes them feel comfortable with each other again.

A sincere apology allows you to let people know you're not proud of what you did, and won't be repeating the behavior. That lets people know you're the kind of person who is generally careful not to hurt others, and puts the focus on your better virtues, rather than on your worst mistakes. 

  6. Look at some ways and reasons for apologizing:

 Expressing Regret – Saying, “I am sorry.”

Accepting Responsibility – Admitting, “I was wrong.”

Making Restitution – Committing, “I will make it right.”

Genuinely Repenting – Promising, “I will not do that again.”

Requesting Forgiveness – Asking, “Will you forgive me?”

II. Here are some ways of apologizing, according to the student's proficiency level:


I apologize

I'm really sorry

I'm so sorry

I'm sorry

I'm sorry but...


Pre-Intermediate my fault

(I'm) sorry if...

I (really) must apologize

I hope you can forgive me (one day)

I really am so sorry

I wasn't doing my job

I'd like to apologize

Please forgive me


...was very...of me

(I know) my actions...

(Looking back), I (now) realise that...

(Please) don't be angry

I accept (full) responsibility

I am/feel (so) ashamed

I can understand how you feel (about...)

I do apologize

I don't know what to say

I really am most terribly sorry

I regret...

I take (all) the blame

Pardon me!

Please accept my/our apologies

Please excuse my behaviour/thoughtlessness/...


(I now realise that/I know) I shouldn't have done that

(I'm sure) you must be (very) disappointed in me

(Please) don't be mad (at me)/don't kill me

I accept that I am to blame/that it's my fault

I am (such) an idiot

I am sorry to have disappointed you

I apologize wholeheartedly/unreservedly

I cannot say/express how sorry I am

I have reflected on my actions and...

I know it was wrong (of me) (to...)

If I could turn back the clock,...

It was (a bit) insensitive of me (to...)

Please accept my sincere/sincerest apologies

There is (really/absolutely) no excuse for my actions/behaviour/inaction/laziness

You are right to blame me

You must forgive me


(I know) I have let myself/you (all) down (by...)

(I know) it was thoughtless (of me)

I can see how you might be annoyed (by...)

I can't believe I...

I don't know what came over me

I don't know what got into me

I just want the ground to swallow me up

I take (full) responsibility

I think I went a bit too far

I am/was in the wrong

I messed up

I would like to express my regret

I'm happy to take (my share of) the blame

If I could take it all back, I would

It was inexcusable

It's unforgivable, I know

Please don't hold a grudge/don't hold this against me

Silly me!

1. Describe the scene.

2. Why do you think the driver decided to do that.

3. Role Play the situations below:

Student A: You are the driver. Apologize for what you have just done. You are truly sorry for what happened.

Student B: You are one the people running on the road. Accept the apologies politely.

Student A: You are the driver. Apologize for what you have done, but you think they should not be running where they were.

Student B: You are one of the people running on the road. Do not accept the apologies. You think the driver was very rude.

Student A: You are the driver. Apologize, but do not be sincere. You don't really think it was your fault.

Student B; You are one of the people running on the road. Accept the apologies, but give him advice for safer driving procedures.

IV. Read the situations below and role play the situation with a partner. Apologize for what happened.

1. Your friend traveled and asked you to water his/her plants. You forgot to do it and all his/her plants died while he/she was away.

2. Your friend asked you to take care of the dogs, but you can't do it because you are allergic to pets' fur.

3. Your friend asked you to take their of the children during the afternoon, but you forgot to feed the baby.

4. You asked for your friend's car while yours was at the mechanic. You crashed the car while parking it.

5. You borrowed some money from your friend. Now you don't have money to pay back.

6. You parked your car in the handicapped space without realizing it. When you finally picked up your car, someone on a wheelchair had been waiting for you to leave the parking space for one hour.