Dec 14, 2008

Robots: Present Continuous

This segment is great for children. Play it from the beginning up to 3'22. Ask your students to watch the segment with attention and decide what the robots are doing during the scene. Tell the students that the list below contains the activities that robots perform everyday. Ask them to check the ones they can see the robots doing during that specific morning.

( ) They play in the streets.

( ) The ice cream vendor sells ice cream.

( ) They drive cars.

( ) They play soccer.

( ) They work inside the stores.

( ) They swim in the pool.

( ) They feed the chicken.

( ) They listen to classical music.

( ) They take care of the traffic.

( ) They smoke cigarette on the street bench.

( ) They mow the lawn.

( ) They make babies.

( ) Baby robots cry.

( ) They eat in restaurants.

( ) Humans play with the robots

( ) Police robots control the traffic.

Now ask your students to rewrite the sentences above using the present continuous, affirmative or negative statements, according to the information presented. Students have to say what they are (not) doing during that morning.

1 - Some robots are playing in the streets.
2 - An ice cream vendor is selling ice cream.


Kinesthetic Game:
Take pictures of your students performing the actions the robots are doing in the segment (or any other action they want). They can’t see each other while you are taking their pictures. Prepare a slideshow with the pictures (you may use an I-Pad to do it). Finally, show the slides and the students have to write sentences saying what their peers are doing:
Mariana is driving a car.
Jonas is selling ice cream.

The students who identify most actions and write most correct sentences are the winner.



Dec 3, 2008

WALL-E: Future Will

This movie is one of the best ever. It is creative and critical at the same time. This scene shows people in a future that is so automatized that the inhabitants of the colony don't have to make any effort to get what they need, so everyone is extremely fat! Both adults and kids will enjoy the segment.

Before watching the movie segment:
Discuss the following questions with a partner:

1) What's your opinion about living in a time in which all your activities were performed by robots and machines?

2) Would you like to to have machines do all of your physical activities for you?
3) What would the consequences be if people didn't have to exercise at all during the whole day?

4) Would life be better or worse if you had robots to do everything for you? Explain it.

5) Do you think life in 2642 will be better or worse? Justify your answer.

Now watch the movie segment and write down how different life will be in the future, according to the movie, WALL-E. Write at least 10 sentences describing what people and machines will do in the future and how people's lives will be like, according to the movie. Observe the items below and write sentences about them.


Ex: People will move around in floating armchairs.
Follow-up questions:

1) Do you think people will be happier in the future, according to the movie?

2) Will the future like it was presented in the movie a possible reality? Why (not)?

3) How do you think life will be like in 2642?

Kinesthetic Game:

Group Work: Make a list of activities of things people will do in the year 2100, but that they don’t (can’t) do nowadays. Write at least 10 sentences. Be creative!

Now act out what you wrote down, whereas the other groups write down sentences, saying what the people you mimed will do in 2100.

Finally, the groups read what they came up with out loud, and you check who got closest to what had originally acted out.

How to develop your own video activity:

Assessing: Will

- Choose a segment in which the future is shown in a way that it is completely different from the present world.
- Prepare brainstorming discussion questions to activate schemata.
- Play the segment and have sts predict the future using "will".
- You may provide the students with key words to observe during the segment.


Nov 28, 2008

Ratatouille: Passive Voice

This is a very funny scene that adults, teens and children will love. It is perfect for the passive voice practice. The movie is a must!

Meet the characters that are on the scene you will just see:




Watch the video segment and fill in the blanks of the exercise with the correct verb form of the verbs in parentheses.

1) Remy_____________ (distract) the cyclist.
2) The cyclist ______________ (crash) his bike into a car that was parked on the street.
3) Remy______________ (pull) Linguini's hair in order to move his body.
4) Remy _______________ (command) Linguini's body movements.
5) Remy ______________ (open) Linguini's eyes.
6) Colette _____________ (park) her scooter in front of the restaurant.
7) Linguini _______________ (cook) the food when Colette arrived.
8) Colette _______________ (sharpen) the knives.
9) Because Linguini was sleeping, he _____________ (hear) Colette's story.
10) Colette ____________________ (slap) Linguini's face.

Now rewrite the sentences above using the passive voice.Ex:

1) The cyclist was distracted (by Remy).

How to develop your own video activity:
- Select a scene in which a lot of action takes place.

- Write a few sentences with action verbs using active voice to describe the scene.

- The students rewrite the sentences using passive voice.


A peer of mine said that he had used a slides presentation with links to my passive voice activities. I was sent the link and came across this really cool and thorough class on passive voice. I'm glad Simon Friend used my blog for his video activities. His slides are effective, fun and constructive. Thanks Simon Friend for these really cool slides. Thanks for linking my site to it.

Nov 23, 2008

Kung Fu Panda: Comparatives

This is an activity to practice comparatives. This animated movie is fantastic. I love animation and this one is really speacial. The scene is great to compare the main characters, great rivals.

Before you watch the segment:

Take a look at Po and Tai Lung. Then write next to the characters the qualities that best describe them, according to your impressions from the pictures. Make sure you write different adjectives for each of the characters.

This is Po:



This is Tai Lung




After watching the segment:

Take a look at your list again and decide if you would like to change your original guesses by writing sentences comparing Po and Tai Lung.

(Po / Funny) Po is funnier than Tai Lung.
(Tai Lung / Strong) Tai Lung is as strong as Po.
(Po) / Fat) Po is fatter than Tai Lung.
(Tai Lung / intelligent) Tai Lung is less intelligent than Po.
How to develop your own activity
- Select a scene in which you can compare two characters
- Choose adjectives that describe the characters
- Prepare a chart for students to fill in with adjectives that describe them
- Select the adjectives you want to assess
- The students write sentences using comparatives




      I.  Project a picture of Po and Tai Lung on the board. Give each student a white and an orange balloon. Tell them that the white balloon represents Po and the orange balloon represents Tai Lung. Each student gets slips of paper with the vocabulary in the box. Make sure they understand the adjectives. Tell them to stick the words on the balloons according to what they think of the characters. 
I.              Count how many of each adjective they have on the balloons for each character and elicit comparative sentences. Write the sentences on the board as the students say them.

II.             Play the video segment.

III.            Miming Game: Ask students to stand up and make a line with their backs to the board.  One student should face the board and mime the sentence projected on the board (Slides with comparative sentences about Po and Tai Lung). The first student in the line has to say the sentence. If he says it correctly, he mimes the following sentence and the student who was miming goes to the end of the line.

IV.          Follow up: Students pair up to make a poster using their balloons and a slip with an adjective the Teacher gives them. Tell them to draw the faces of Po and Tai Lung on the balloons. They should glue the balloons and the word on a sheet of paper and write a comparative sentence. 

Nov 17, 2008

The 40 Year-Old Virgin: Asking Questions

This segment is very easy for beginners, something really difficult to find in movies. Pre-teach a few words, such as do-it-yourself section, sometimes, looking for, should and your students will be able to perform the assigned tasks.

Asking Questions



Read the answers below. Write the questions using the cues in parentheses.
1) Beth - ________________________________ ? (Can/ help/ I /you)
Andy - I don't know. Can you?

2) Beth - _________________________________? (looking for/ are/ something/ you)
Andy -Is there something I should be looking for?

3) Andy - _________________________________ ? ( do-it-yourself/ like/ you/ do/ to)
Beth - Sometimes...

4) Andy - _________________________________? (name/your/ what/ is)

Beth - Beth.

Now watch the video segment and check your answers.

How to prepare your own video activitiy:

- Choose a segment in which very basic questions are asked.

- Write the dialogs with key words for the students to unscramble.

- The students watch the segment and check their answers.



Nov 6, 2008

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Present Perfect

This is a great, funny scene which is perfect for practicing the present perfect tense. I hope you like it.

Watch the movie segment. Pay attention to the activities the characters have performed during that day. Write CH if one of the chipmunks, Alvin, Simon or Theodore, performed the activity, DA if Dave (the man) did it, BO if both Dave and the Chipmunks performed it, and NO if nobody has performed it during the segment.

1. ( ) Watch TV

2. ( ) Open the food cabinet to steal something to eat.

3. ( ) Skate around the kitchen.

4. ( ) Play tennis.

5. ( ) Pour Cheetos into a bowl.

6. ( ) Hide in the kitchen cabinets.

7. ( ) Remove the kitchen utensils from the cabinets.

8. ( ) Throw a jar at Dave's head.

9. ( ) Faint.

10. ( ) Read a book.

11. ( ) Speak English.

12. ( ) Turn on some kitchen appliances.

13. ( ) Throw the chipmunks out of the house.

14. ( ) Try to reenter the house.

15) ( ) Call the police.

16) ( ) Close the window shades.

17) ( ) Sweep the floor.

18) ( ) Stand in the rain.

19) ( ) Sing songs in the garden.

20) ( ) Dance very happily.

Now write sentences using the present perfect sentence. You CANNOT start the sentence with the word "nobody". You may add "already" or "yet" if it's possible.

EX: Dave has watched TV
The chipmunks have opened the food cabinet to steal something to eat.

How to prepare your own video activity:

- Select a scene in which the character's day hasn't finished yet.

- The characters must have performed several different activities during the segment.

- Ask students to identify who performed them.

- Ask students to write sentences using the present perfect tense.

- If you don't let the students begin their sentences with "nobody", the students will be forced to use negative statements with "yet".




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.