Apr 15, 2014

Ivan the Incredible: Similes, Figures of Speech

This movie is great. It is wonderful to see the story of an ordinary boy who can be the best at everything for just one day. You can't miss it.


A simile is a figure of speech that says that one thing is like another different thing. We can use similes to make descriptions more emphatic or vivid.
We often use the words as...as and like with similes.
Common patterns for similes, with example sentences, are:
  • something [is*] AS adjective AS something 
  • His skin was as cold as ice.
    It felt as hard as rock.
    She looked as gentle as a lamb.
  • something [is*] LIKE something
    My love is like a red, red rose.
    These cookies taste like garbage.
    He had a temper (that was) like a volcano.
  • something [does**] LIKE something
    He eats like a pig.
    He smokes like a chimney.
    They fought like cats and dogs.
* stative verb: be, feel, smell, taste etc
** action verb

A simile is a direct comparison of two things. Similes are a easy to understand. The uses of similes can be confusing to people who are not fluent in a given language, because they will interpret the words literally. Also, similes  can change from region to region, and even among groups of people, like musicians or teenagers.


I. Match the adjectives and nouns and make similes connecting them. You may repeat the adjectives. What does the witch say to Ivan, using similes?

1. Strong
2. Calm
3. Happy

( ) Cow
( ) Steer
( ) Tarzan
( ) Hog

1. _______________________________________
2. _______________________________________
3. _______________________________________
4. _______________________________________

II.  Watch the segment and check your guesses.

III. Work in groups. Mention five things that you would like to do or be, using similes.

Ex: I'd like to be as fast as Superman.



Answer key:

He is as strong as a steer
He's as calm as a cow.
He's as happy as a hog. 
He's just as strong as Tarzan.

Apr 5, 2014

Europa Report: Past Modal Verbs for Speculation

This movie could have been better, but it has intriguing moments. This scene, though, is wonderful for past modals for speculation because of the range of possibilities it may unravel.

I. Watch the segment and discuss the questions:

1. What is the new step for mankind the scientist mentions in the beginning of the segment?
2. What were the astronauts doing when they received their last image from the mission.
3. Dr. Samantha Unger was Europa Ventures Lead Mission Planner. She asked herself - What happened?


Work in small groups. Speculate about what might have happened to the astronauts and present a report to Dr. Unger. You must come up with five possible/plausible explanations for the mystery. Use your imagination and creativity. 




Answer key:

1. They put men and women into deep space to explore Europa, one of Jupiter's moons, with similar atmospheric conditions as Earth. It was the first manned trip into deep space.

2. Nothing special, they were working and waiting for the following events to take place.

3. - TASK - Answers will vary.

Mar 25, 2014

Now You See Me: To x For

One of my 2013 favorite movies. The lovely story and special effects were so gripping that I was totally involved by the plot and its twists. I strongly recommend it.

Look at some of the ways we can use FOR or TO:

To for destination – We’re going to Paris.
To – What time is it? – minutes before the hour – It’s a quarter to three.
To – Distance – It’s about 1 km from my house to my English School
To – Comparing – I prefer reading to watching TV.
To – Giving – I gave a book to my cousin.
To Motive or Reason (with verb) – I came here to study English with you.

For – Benefits – Yogurt is good for your health.
For – Periods of time – I have lived in Brasilia for 12 years.
For – Scheduling – I made an appointment for Friday.
For – Agree with or in favor of something – Are you for or against the development of nuclear weapons?
For – Doing something to help someone – Could you carry these bags for me?
For – Motive or Reason (with noun) – Let’s go out for a drink?

To and For:
Motive or Reason
I came to Brasilia to be part of the swimming team
I came to Brasilia for the swimming team

I. Watch the movie segment and fill in the blank with FOR or TO. You have to explain why you chose it.


1.Many people in Chicago came _________ see the magic tricks on a beautiful Monday evening.

2. In New Orleans, the hypnotist knew the man hadn't gone on a business trip, but on a trip with his sister-in-law, his lover. The magician made her forget everything. He did it ______ her husband, because he wanted his money.

3. In New York, a magician said he would give US$100,00 ________ anyone who could tell him how his trick was done.

4. He made a magic trick __________ the audience's attention.

5. Many people did not know, but it was a quarter _______ two.

6. In Los Angeles, the magician had to be handcuffed under water ___________ sixty seconds before the piranas were thrown into the tank.

7. Thousands of people went ________ Los Angeles just because of her show.

8. What about you? Are you __________ or against the shows in the segment?

9. The magicians are scheduling a joint presentation ___________ Saturday.

10. Are magic tricks good _________the mind?



Answer key:

1. to (motive or reason + verb)
2. for (doing something to help someone)
3. to (giving)
4. for (motive or reason + noun)
5. to (minutes before the hour)
6. for (periods of time)
7. to (destination)
8. for (Agree with or in favor of something)
9. for (scheduling)
10. for (benefits)

Mar 15, 2014

Warm Bodies: Modal Verbs for Advice

This is an awesome movie. It is funny, but not stupid. I loved the way the story is told - from the point of view of the zombie. I recommend it.

I. Make a list of 10 things you should do to make your life better:

1 _______________________________
2 _______________________________
3 _______________________________
5 _______________________________
6 _______________________________
7 _______________________________
8 _______________________________
9 _______________________________
10 ______________________________

II. Read the statements below and check the ones that are true to you:

(      ) I should get out more.

(      ) I should eat better.

(      ) I should stand up straight.

(      ) I shouldn't be so hard on myself.

III. Watch the movie segment and decide what you and the movie's main character - R - have in common. Which of the statements in II are true to R.


IV. Write three pieces of advice to R, using Should/Ought to...

1 _______________________
2 _______________________
3 _______________________

V. Discuss the questions below:

1. Why are people so fascinated by zombies? Why are there so many movies about them?

2. Are zombies scary or funny? Why?

3. What's your opinion about horror movies. Do you like them? Why (not)?

4. Is this scene scary or funny?



Mar 5, 2014

Click: Regrets with Past Modal SHOULD and WISH

This movie provides us with entertainment and food for thought when it comes to our life choices. Having a remote control to extend my favorite moments of the day sounds like a dream, but we have to deal with its consequences. This scene is really touching.


Work in pairs:

1. Are you an impulsive person or do you mull an idea over for a long time before taking action?

2. How does it affect your life decisions? Have you ever regretted a decision you have taken? Give examples.

3. Think about three things that you regret having done in your life. Share them with your partner.

4. Would you do anything differently if you could go back in time? Explain it.

5. Imagine that you had a remote control that would allow extending your most pleasurable moments and speeding up your boring moments. Which moments would you extend and which ones would you speed up? Think at least about 5 different moments for each situation.


Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions:

- Is the scene about the past, present or future?

- Can he change his past? Why (not)?

- How does he feel about his relationship with his father?

Make a list of 5 things he regrets. Use both should have + past participle and wish.
EX: He wishes he had spent more time with his dad OR He should have spent more time with his dad.

Feb 25, 2014

Titanic: 3rd Conditional - Omission of IF

Hindsight: the ability to understand, after something has happened, what should have been done or what caused the event.

I. Work with a partner:

1. What do you know about the Titanic?

2. Why is it such a famous shipwreck?

3. According to the definition of hindsight, what can we understand about the accident, making use of hindsight? Read the chronology and facts below before you answer this question.

II. Read the chronology of the happenings concerning the sinking of the Titanic:

  • April 11th - Titanic departs on her first Atlantic crossing. Calm clear seas.
  • April 12th - Calm clear seas, fine weather. Ice warnings are given by other ships.
  • April 13th, 22.30 - Heavy ice warning is given by a passing ship Rappahannock which already reported some damage from ice. In total, Titanic receives 6 such warnings.
  • April 14th - Captain Smith delays a scheduled change of course by 30 minutes. Scheduled lifeboat drill was cancelled by the Captain. Reasons are unknown but some people think it was to allow passengers to go to church. Lookouts were sent to the crows nest. Apparently the lookouts had no binoculars. At that time, some ships captains approved the use of binoculars whilst others did not.
  • April 14th at 23.40 - Titanic is 5 miles south of where she should have been had she been perfectly on course. Titanic and the iceberg collide some 1,500 miles south of the Arctic Circle.
  The iceberg photograph below may have been the Titanic sinking iceberg taken on the morning of April 15,1912 by a passenger on the German ocean liner SS Prinz Adalbert, unaware of the disaster on the previous night.

The water temperature on the night of the Titanic sinking was thought to be about 28 degrees Fahrenheit, just below freezing - lethally cold for all those passengers who had been forced to take to the open water to escape the sinking ship. There were insufficient lifeboats to hold all the passengers and crew, they totalled only 20, comprising of 16 wooden, 4 collapsible. Harland And Wolff wanted 64 lifeboats. By the end of 1912, or sometime in 1913. In all likelihood, the iceberg that sank the Titanic was itself doomed to dissolve imperceptibly in the waters of the North Atlantic.

II. Discuss:

What do you think that could have been done to prevent it from happening?

III. Divide the class into four groups. Each group reads about one of the four most important characters of the Titanic disaster listed below. Then reorganize the groups so that each student works with three other students who read about the other characters. Students tell each other about their characters' stories and why they were held responsible for the accident. Finally, they have to negotiate and decide who is the person who had the greatest responsibility for the accident, and be able to justify their answers.  

1-  It was Captain Smith's fault:

 This was Captain E.J. Smith's retirement trip. All he had to do was get to New York in record time. Captain E.J. Smith said years before the Titanic voyage, "I cannot imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that.” If Captain Smith had believed the Titanic was sinkable, the accident might have been more careful with the iceberg lookouts.
2- It was the Shipbuilder's fault:

When the ship hit the iceberg, the force of the impact caused the heads of the rivets to break and the sections of the Titanic to come apart. If good quality iron rivets had been used the sections may have stayed together and the ship may not have sunk. About three million rivets were used to hold the sections of the Titanic together. Some rivets have been recovered from the wreck and analysed. The findings show that they were made of sub-standard iron. If shipbuilders had used good quality iron, the head of the rivets wouldn't have broken and the Titanic wouldn't have fallen apart.

3- It was Bruce Ismay's fault:

Bruce Ismay was the managing director of the White Star Line and he was  aboard the Titanic. Competition for Atlantic passengers was fierce and the White Star Line wanted to show that they could make a six-day crossing. To meet this schedule the Titanic could not afford to slow down. It is believed that Ismay put pressure on Captain Smith to maintain the speed of the ship. If he hadn't wanted to show that they could have made the crossing within six days, he would have slowed the Titanic down.

4- It was Thomas Andrew's fault:

The belief that the ship was unsinkable was, in part, due to the fact that the Titanic had sixteen watertight compartments. However, the compartments did not reach as  high as they should have done. The White Star Line did not want them to go all the way up because this would have reduced living space in first class. If Mr Andrews had insisted on making the compartments the  correct height then, maybe, the Titanic would not have sunk.  

IV. Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions: 


1. Describe the scene.

2. What were some of the problems that you saw in the segment that should have been dealt with differently, now that you can use hindsight?

3. Why is the use of hindsight so important in the case of the Titanic sinking?  
4. What has changed in traveling security after the accident?  

5. Think about a situation (or situations)  in your life in which you would have acted differently if you had had the chance to use hindsight?

IV. Rewrite the following conditions in exercise  III, omitting "IF".

If Captain Smith had believed the Titanic was sinkable, the accident might have been more careful with the iceberg lookouts.


If shipbuilders had used good quality iron, the head of the rivets wouldn't have broken and the Titanic wouldn't have fallen apart.


If he hadn't wanted to show that they could have made the crossing within six days, he would have slowed the Titanic down.


If Mr Andrews had insisted on making the compartments the  correct height then, maybe, the Titanic would not have sunk. 




Answer key:

1. Had Captain Smith believed that...
2. Had shipbuilders used good...
3. Hadn't he wanted to show...
4. Had Mr. Andrews insisted on...