Apr 15, 2017

The Secret Life of Pets: Farewells - Functional Language

Check the alternatives that the characters used to express farewell.

I'll see you tonight



See you later

Have a good night

So long

See you

I'll miss  you

Sleep well


Talk to a partner:

Which ones do you consider informal? 

Do you have a pet? Do you say goodbye to them when you leave home?

Do you act like the characters in the segment?



I'll see you tonight


See you later

So long

See you

I'll miss  you


Mar 30, 2017

The Jungle Book: Modal for Ability - CAN/CAN'T

Watch the movie segment and write down three things that Mowgli can do, but you can't.


Ex: Mowgli can swing on trees, but I can't.

1 ___________________________ 
2 ___________________________ 
3 ___________________________ 

Now write down three things that Mowgli can't do, but you can.

Ex: Mowgli can't use the computer, but I can.

1 ___________________________ 
2 ___________________________ 
3 ___________________________ 


Mar 15, 2017

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Simple Past

This activity was provided by a reader called Magdalena Irrazábal. Thanks, Magdalena, for the contribution.

¨Before you watch
Discuss in class: Have you watched the movie? What is it about? Does it relate to another famous movie? Which one?

¨ While you watch


Watch three scenes from the movies. Put the titles of the scenes in order:
Newt arrives to New York                                        Scene number _____
Newt chases Niffler                                                  Scene number _____
Newt finds Niffler in the bank                                  Scene number _____
¨ After watching
Scene 1: Answer the questions
-          How many times has Newt been to New York?
-          How do you think Newt feels when the policeman asks the questions?
-          What does Newt say about his suitcase?
-          Why does the suitcase look normal to the policeman?
-          What does the policeman say to Newt at the end?
Scene 2: (a) Put the events in order
-          The suitcase opens and a roar comes from inside.    ___
-          Niffler acts like a statue.  ___
-          Newt sees Niffler.  ___
-          Kowalski arrives to the shop.              ___
-          Niffler and Newt destroy the shop.  ___
-          Newt breaks the window and jumps inside.  ___
-          Newt falls from a ladder through the window.  ___
-          Niffler drops the jewelry.  ___
(b) Turn the all the sentences into the Past Simple tense. Write four in the affirmative and four in the negative.
Scene 3: Write 6 sentences in your folder describing the scene. Use the verbs from the box and the Past Simple tense.
Enter – See – Catch – Shake – Fall – Laugh

Feb 28, 2017

Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter: Expressing Preference with Prefer

Grammar Reference:
Expressing preference:

We use prefer to say we like one thing or activity more than another. We can use a prepositional phrase with to when we compare two things or actions:


I prefer tea to coffee.

We prefer going by ferry to flying.

We don’t use than after prefer:

She prefers books to magazines.

NotShe prefers books than magazines.

She’s not keen on coffee. She prefers to drink tea. (or She prefers drinking tea to coffee.)

I. Make guesses to express preferences. Use the words in column one and decide the correct order of preferences:

Ex: History prefers _______________________ to ______________________.

_______________________________________________________________ .

_______________________________________________________________ .

II. Discuss with a partner. What you prefer? Follow the examples.

1. Fruit / Meat
Ex: I prefer meat to food.
2. Dancing / Singing

3. Hot / Cold Weather

4. Watching / Playing Sports

5. Hotels / Camping

6. Brazilian / American Music

7. Traveling by car / Plane

8. Comedies / Thrillers

9. Movies / Theater

10. TV / Video Games

Answer key:
Ex: I
History prefers legends to men.
It prefers nobility to brutality.
It prefers soaring speeches to quiet deeds.
Ex: Answers will vary.

Feb 15, 2017

Zootopia: Animals - Vocabulary

This activity is for very young learners. It is kinesthetic and fun.

I.              Brainstorm names of animals.

II.            Slides with farm and zoo animals. Give each student a letter, F (farm) or Z (zoo). Tell students to stand up and touch their toes if the animal projected on the board corresponds to the category they have (farm or zoo animal).

III.           Students watch the movie segment.


IV.          Project on the board the following chart and ask students to say what they have seen in the segment (T: Is there a black cow?...)

a rabbit


a lion

a hippo


a bear

a rhino

a gazelle

V.              Slides with the animals in IV. Tell students to make a line to participate in a game. The T projects the pictures and vocabulary from the chart in IV. The first student in line chooses the ball that corresponds to the scene they’ve watched (green – there is, yellow – there isn’t, red – there are, blue – there aren’t) and tries to throw it into a basket. When he/she hits the basket, he/she has to say a complete sentence (e.g. There is a chicken.). 

VI. Ask students to write sentences about the items in  IV, using There is (isn’t) or There are (aren’t).


POWER POINT SLIDES - Slides prepared by reader Katy Piauhy, who kindly shared it with us. Thanks, Katy.


Jan 30, 2017

Before I Wake: Euphemism


It's important that we be all polite to each other. For this reason, there are many polite ways to talk about impolite topics.

Match the euphemisms with the real message transmitted.

1 - He's light-fingered

2 - She's been doing time

3 - I'm just going to powder my nose

4 - Down and out / A down-and-out

5 - She's in the family way

6 - She had a baby

7 - He made an honest woman of her

(   ) she has been in prison.

(   ) she gave birth to a new child.

(   ) the person is a thief / steals things.

(   ) a polite phrase that some people use to say that they are going to the toilet.

(   ) 'Down and out' is an adjective but 'a down-and-out' is a noun that describes a person who is homeless.

(   )  a man has married a woman.

(   ) means pregnant. Other euphemisms include 'she's expecting a baby' and 'she has a bun in the oven'.

2 - 6 - 1 - 3 - 4 - 7 - 5


Watch the movie segment and decide:

What is the euphemism used?

What is the real message given?


Euphemism: He's in heaven.
Real meaning: he is dead.


Jan 15, 2017

Mr. Baseball: Modals for Advice and Regrets

One of my Methodology students showed me this segment to express regrets. I loved it. I adapted what she had in mind and came up with  this fun activity to express advice and regrets. .

I. Work in small groups.

Imagine you are receiving an American friend for a very informal "feijoada" in a friend's house. Prepare a list of advice you would give her so that she can feel comfortable in the event. Thing about the following things:

*You can adapt the activity with questions about a traditional luncheon or dinner party in your country (Thanksgiving, for example)

- What should she wear?
- What time should she arrive?
- Should she bring anything for the host?
- How much should she eat? 
- What shouldn't she do there?
- What time should she leave?
- Does she have to eat everything that is served?
- What if she doesn't want to eat such an exotic dish? What should she say or do?
- Can she bring someone with her?

II. Watch the movie segment and make a list of the American guest's inappropriate behavior.


III. Report to the class what he SHOULDN'T HAVE DONE, expressing regrets.



Dec 15, 2016

Victor Frankenstein: Used to

Great movie. Wonderful photography. Just loved it.

Work in small groups.

Discuss the questions:

1. What's your opinion about circuses?

2. Is it okay to let animals perform in a circus? Justify your answers.

3. Do you think that circuses nowadays are better or worse than the way they used to be in the past?

4. Should circuses be forbidden?

5. Watch the movie segment and describe the way that circuses used to be two hundred years ago. How did people use to treat clowns? And the other artists? Write at least 5 different things.


1 _____________________________________________ 
2 _____________________________________________ 
3 _____________________________________________ 
4 _____________________________________________ 
5 _____________________________________________ 

6. What safety measures should be taken to prevent accidents like the one in the segment from happening again?

7. Do you think that many accidents still happen the way they used to in the past?



Nov 30, 2016

Gulliver's Travels: Simple Present

This activity was provided by Nadja Jaeckel, a colleague and great teacher at the Casa Thomas Jefferson. Thanks for sharing, Nadja.

Answer the questions about Gulliver:

1 - What time does Gulliver get up?


True or False:

2 - ____ He wears pajamas to sleep.

3 - ____ He has some Star Wars toys.

4 - ____ He makes some tea.

5 - ____ Does he take a shower?


True or False:

6 - ____ He doesn't take a shower.

7 - Does he listen to the radio?


True or False:

8 - _____ He drinks coffee before he gets dressed.

9 - _____ He leaves home and takes the bus.

10 - ____ He wears boots.

11 - ____ He doesn't wear a scarf.

12 - ____ He wears a gray - t-shirt.

13 - ____  He has a letter for Darcy.

14 - ____ He wears yellow glasses and he plays the piano.




Nov 15, 2016

Paddington: Polite Requests for Help

I simply love this movie. It is funny,  sweet and touching. It is great for children and adults. I recommend it. 

I. Watch the movie segment and talk to your partner about the questions below.


1. Was Paddington, the bear, polite with the people around him?

2. What went wrong?

3. What should he do to draw attention to himself politely?

II. Read the expressions below and decide in which situations they would be most appropriate?

1. Can you give me a hand with this?

2. Could you help me for a second?

3. Can I ask a favor?

4. I wonder if you could help me with this?

5. I could do with some help, please.

6. I can't manage. Can you help?

7. Give me a hand with this, will you?

8. Lend me a hand with this, will you?

9. Could you spare a moment?

10. I need some help, please.

III. Now check the explanations for the best use for those requests and compare them to  your answers. 

Phrase 1 is quite a direct question to use with friends and people who you know quite well.

Phrase 2 is more polite. We include the words 'for a second' to show that we don't need a lot of help 
and that it will not be difficult.

Phrase 3 is a general way of introducing a request for help.

Phrase 4 is polite and can be used with people you don't know very well, or with your boss.

Phrase 5 is quite direct, and the focus is that you really need help. It's quite strong.

Phrase 6 shows you have a big problem. You are desperate for help. you often hear this phrase when somebody has too much work to do.

Phrases 7 and 8 are similar and are direct requests for help. 'Lend a hand' is a little more polite and old-fashioned than 'give me a hand.'

We use phrase 9 to show that we respect that the other person is really quite busy and to say that they will only need to help you for a short time.

Phrase 10 is a direct question and the asker does not expect the listener to say no. This is often used by people in authority e.g. bosses.

Inspired by the awesome site International House Bristol. It has wonderful ideas for functional language use.


 Improvise a dialog based on the following situations. Use the expression you have learned in this lesson.

  A: You are the boss of an important department. You need a report ready in two hours, but you don't have enough time to prepare it by yourself.

 B: You are A's assistant. You are very busy, but your main job is to help your boss.

  A: You are lost in a busy foreign city. You need directions to get back to your hotel.   

 B; You are in a hurry heading for work. You can't be  late because it is your first working day at this company , but you don't want to be rude. Decide if you will spare a few minutes of your time to help A or decline A's request  politely.

  A: You are at  a party that you know nobody. You are embarrassed and want to go home as soon as possible. How can you tell the host you want to leave before dinner is served?

 B: You are very busy hosting a party. You want everybody to feel comfortable, but you don't have time to interact with most guests. How will you help A in this situation? You really don't want A to leave the party before dinner.