Mar 25, 2015

The Boxtrolls: Present and Past Modals for Advice and Regrets

This is a lovely movie with a moving story. It is a must. You can't miss this British animation.

I. Work in pairs:

1 - What would you recommend someone if you knew he/she were going to a formal party, but he/she doesn't know anywhere there?

2 - What about an informal party? Would your recommendation change?

3 - Have you ever done something in a party that you regretted having done? Talk about it.

4 - What is something someone should NEVER do in  a party?

II. Watch the movie segment and complete the chart. Write 5 pieces of advice that were given to Egg.

1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -

III. Work in groups. Talk about the mistakes Egg made during the party. 
1 - What shouldn't Egg have done, but he did? Mention as many things you can remember.
2 - What should he have done, but he didn't? Mention as many things as you can remember.
IV. Imagine Egg is going to the following places. Make a list of social etiquette recommendations he should follow, according to your own culture.
1. A wedding
2. A funeral
3. Church
4. Christmas Dinner
5. Theater
6. Plane trip


Mar 15, 2015

The Truman Show: Present Perfect x Present Perfect Progressive

This is another awesome activity provided by Nina Hudd, an amazing teacher who also likes sharing. Thanks, Nina, for such enriching activities. I will be using this one next week!

Nina Hudd has been teaching English for over 14 years in England, Hong Kong and France. She currently runs her own English tuition company for all ages and ability from 2 years old to adult, absolute beginners to advanced.

Video Link at youtube

Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous 

The Truman Show

A. Read and discuss the questions below.

1. Have you ever watched a reality TV show? If yes, which one or ones.

2. What do you think of reality TV? Please explain.

3. Why do you think reality TV is so popular these days?

4. Would you ever go on a reality TV show? Why?

B. Watch the clip and complete the blanks using either present perfect or present perfect 

continuous. If either is possible, make a choice and explain your reasoning.


1. They _________ (get) about 5,000 camera in the town.

2. Truman __________ (live) in a fake world since he was a baby.

3. He wonders whether his whole life ________ (building) towards something.

4. Truman ____________ (want) to be an explorer since he was a child.

5. Recently, strange things ______________ (happen).

6. His best friend __________ (know) him since he was seven years old.

7. The producer of the show believes he _______ (give) Truman the chance to live a normal 


C. The Truman Show is an extreme example of reality TV, especially since he had no awareness or 

choice in the matter. Usually during a reality TV show, the contestants are interviewed as to what 

has been happening and what they have been doing.

In pairs, talk about what you have been doing recently. Do not use specific time phrases such as 

‘yesterday’ or ‘on Tuesday’ for which you must use the simple past. Instead use general time phrases 

such as ‘recently, lately, this week, already, just etc.’

Consider whether you are talking about a result or permanent state (present perfect), or a duration 

or temporary state (present perfect continuous). Remember, non-continuous verbs cannot be used in 

present perfect continuous. You must use the simple present perfect.



Mar 5, 2015

Rio: Sentence Fragments

Rio is a lovely movie. It is fascinating. I used this scene to practice correcting sentence fragments. 

Fragments result if you punctuate certain word groups as if they are complete sentences. 
You have a number of different options when fixing a fragment. Frequently, you can attach the fragment either to the front or to the end of a nearby main clause.
Another option is to add whatever words will give the fragment its own mandatory main clause.

 I. Watch the movie segment. Then read the sentences below about the segment. Revise the fragments in order  and make the necessary changes to make them complete sentences. There is more than one single possibility. If the sentence is correct, write CORRECT.

1. Trying to fly, the blue macaws landed on a passing hang glider. While it was gliding near the Corcovado.

2. Blu was fascinated by the view. Admiring the beaches and the landscape of the marvelous city.

3. Very confident, Blu spread his wings. To feel the breeze on his face and enjoy the flight.

4. Trying to survive, they ended up landing on a beach and crashing on some people.

5. The macaws were by hit some tourists on the beach. Such as a boy playing soccer and a beautiful girl wearing a bikini.

6. Even though the macaws are birds and are supposed to fly.



Answer key - Possible Answers:

Trying to fly, the blue macaws landed on a hang glider while it was gliding near the Corcovado.

Admiring the beaches and the landscape of the marvelous city, Blu was fascinated by the view.

Very confident, Blue spread his wings to feel the breeze on his face and enjoy the flight.


The macaws were hit by some tourists, such as a boy playing soccer and a beautiful girl wearing a bikini.


Even though the macaws are birds and are supposed to fly, they ended up having an accident.

Feb 25, 2015

The Day after Tomorrow: Past Perfect x Past Perfect Continuous

This awesome activity was provided by Nina Hudd, an amazing teacher who also likes sharing,

Nina Hudd has been teaching English for over 14 years in England, Hong Kong and France. She currently runs her own English tuition company for all ages and ability from 2 years old to adult, absolute beginners to advanced.

A.      Preparation/discussion

Do you like disaster movies? Why/why not?
Why do you think disaster movies are so popular?
Do disaster movies serve any practical purpose?

B.      Watch the segment and identify the order of the actions below.


People have umbrellas up.

The man walks away from the café.

A police car is driving around giving information.

The policeman is hit on the head by a hailstone.

The man puts his case on his head for protection.

A man stops at a street side cafe and drinks some tea.

The man is talking on his phone.

The café owner closes his café up.

The man’s telephone rings.

Everyone starts running around screaming.

A hailstone hits the man and he falls down.

The policeman is arguing with an old man.

A motorbike drives into a shop window.

Consider which of these actions had finished when the hailstorm hit and which of these actions were taking place during the hailstorm. Some of the actions may have been continuing throughout the clip.

C.      Fill in the blanks with the past perfect or the past perfect continuous form of the verbs in parentheses. Consider carefully whether the first action was completed or taking place when the second action happened.

A man _____________ (drink) tea at a street side café when his telephone rang.
The man __________ (already, walk) away from the café when the first hailstone hit.
The café owner ___________(close) up his café before the hailstorm.
The policeman ___________(argue) with a man when the hailstone hit him on the head.
People ______________(walk) around with umbrellas before the hailstorm hit.
A man ________________(ride) a motorbike during the hailstorm but then crashed into a shop window.
The man _____________(put) his case on his head for protection but still got hit.

D.     Extension activity – read the article and reflect, referring back to the questions in section A.


If you were to look on the bright side, you could argue that we simply enjoy seeing things being blown to smithereens. "There's a kind of pleasure in destruction," says Sheldon Hall, co-author of Epics, Spectacles and Blockbusters: A Hollywood History. "It's the kind you get from building a sandcastle and then jumping on it as a child. When we watch those elaborate sets blow up in a James Bond film, we know that they're fake, so we appreciate the skill that goes into building them, and the same sort of skill that goes into their destruction. It's all part of the magic of the movies."
But it can't be a coincidence that the images in our multiplexes are so similar to those on the news, whether we're watching footage of Hurricane Katrina, the Indian Ocean tsunami or the latest terrorist bombing. In these chaotic times, is it any wonder that we're drawn to films that reframe that chaos as an awfully big adventure?
"All around the world, people are aware of climate change," says Kramer, "That could underpin our sensitivity to stories that respond to such concerns. Let's not forget that Avatar came out on the very weekend that the UN's climate change conference in Copenhagen ended in failure. Avatar was probably consumed by more people in a short space of time than any other story in human history – and it was all about a military-industrial complex intent on ruining a planet."
That's all very well, but apart from making James Cameron even richer, do these mega-disaster movies have any practical purpose? Will Hollywood's doom-mongering prompt impressionable film-goers to change their ways? Well, possibly.
"One thing that a lot of these films have in common is the sense that the threat is not just to me and my family, but to everybody," says Kramer. "They tend to tell stories about isolated groups overcoming their differences to come together and solve their problems. And because these films reach different communities around the planet, they might just foster a sense of solidarity and prepare the ground for some sort of collective action in the future. They reach into us and respond to a need that we have – a hope that if we get together, we can make a difference.

Answer Key:

A man had been drinking at a street side café when his telephone rang.
The man had already walked away from the café when the first hailstone hit.
The café owner had closed up his café before the hailstorm.
The policeman had been arguing with a man when the hailstone hit him on the head.
People had been walking around with umbrellas before the hailstorm hit.
A man had been riding a motorbike during the hailstorm but then crashed into a shop window.
The man had put his case on his head for protection but still got hit.

Feb 15, 2015

The Internship: As a Matter of Fact / In Fact

I simply love this movie. It is most of teens' dream to work for a company with such innovative ideas for the workplace. I had a blast watching it. As a matter of fact, it pleases adults and teens. I used it to contextualize ideas to practice AS A MATTER OF FACT and IN FACT to contradict or correct previously stated ideas.

I. Rank the items below according to what you consider the most important features for your dream job. (1 - most important and the last one the least important)

( ) Challenging
( ) Good workmates
( ) Flexible working hours
( ) Safety
( ) Chances of promotions
( ) Comfort
( ) Long vacations
( ) Not wearing uniforms
( ) Fun
( ) Opportunities to travel
( ) Friendly boss

II. Group up with a few friends, compare your lists and justify your answers.

III. Watch the segment from the movie The Internship and describe Google's working conditions, select positive and negative aspects of working there, and what can still be improved. Finally,  decide if you would like to work there.


IV. What is the ideal job for you? What about the working conditions?


Both As a matter of fact and in fact can be used to modify or contradict a previous statement:


A: I hear that you're a doctor.
B: As a matter of fact (In fact), I'm a dentist.

A: Well, it may sound very straightforward to you, but in fact (as a matter of fact) it's all very complicated.

A:Would you agree with me that teachers should refrain from socializing with their students? 
B: As a matter  fact (In fact) I think it's a good idea for them to socialize - up to a certain point!

V. Contradict the information in the items before. Use AS A MATTER OF FACT and IN FACT to express your ideas.

A: Most of Google's employees wear suits and ties at work.
B: ______________________________________

A: Eating in Google's facilities can be very expensive.
B: ______________________________________

A: Most people who work for Google are middle aged.
B: ______________________________________

A: Only very young adults can be interns at Google.
B: ______________________________________ 

A: It is very easy to get a position at Google.
B: _______________________________________

A: Working for Google must be a dull experience.
B: _______________________________________

Answer Key (answers may very – As a matter of fact can be used interchangeably):

1. EX: As a matter of fact, most of them don’t wear suits and ties at work.
2. In fact, Eating in Google’s facilities is free
3. In fact, most people who work for Google are very young.
4. As a matter of fact, everyone can be an intern at Google.
5. In fact, it is not very easy to get a position at Google.

6. As a matter of fact, working for Google must be very exciting.

Feb 5, 2015

Delivery Man: WOULD - Different uses


1. What is a sperm bank? What are the services offered by a sperm bank? Make a guess if you have no idea.

2. Visit the site on this link, Then answer the questions that follow.

  • What is the name of the sperm bank?
  • What services does it offer?
  • What are the costs?
  • Do you consider it expensive? Why (not)?
  • What's your opinion about this issue? How ethical is it? 
  • What is the trend in the future? Will it be an ordinary service, like purchasing a new car or house?
  • Would you be a donor? Explain it
  • Would you consider using a sperm bank if you could not have children?
  • Are donors altruistic or just looking for some extra cash?
  • Should the donor's identity be revealed if the child wanted to know it? Why (not)?

I. Watch the movie segment. Vince Vaughn's character is the biological father of of those young people he interacts with in the scene. The kids, however, don't know it. 
Match the dialogs and a use of would to each conversation in the following exercise. Make sure you decide it according to the information presented in the snippet.


A- To give advice
B - To make an offer
C - To talk about regular actions
D - To talk hypothetically
E - A polite request

1 ( ) - I thought the young lady was not going to show up for her first day at work.
        - Well, that would not surprise me.

2 ( ) - I'm here for the music performance.
        - Would you like to sit down?

3. ( ) - What should I get? My toe nails polished or a haircut?
         - I would get the nails done.

4. ( ) - What did you do to motivate the tour guide?
         - I would attend his tour even when the weather was awful.

5. ( ) - Oh, Gosh. You hurt your back.
         - I'm fine. However, I would like to rest here for a while before I stand up.

II. Is 'd in these sentences would or had? Rewrite the sentences with the contractions.

1. He'd never treat any of those kids badly.

2. He'd forgotten how helpful he could be.

3. He wishes all the kids were successful. He'd be very proud of them.

4. He'd love to see them all happy.

5. The musician was very confident after  several presentations. He'd given the same performance many times.

6. He knew he had to jump off the trampoline to look courageous. He was sure he'd make it.

7. He knew he'd been saved by the lifeguard. That made him feel embarrassed. 

Answer key:

  • What is the name of the sperm bank?  The Sperm Bank of California
  • What services does it offer? Donor Sperm, Sperm Storage,  Semen Analysis, Genetic Consultation
  • What are the costs? It depends on the services required. From US$9,000,00 to US$35,000,00 - sometimes more depending on how long the storage will take.
  • The other answers will vary.
1. d
2. b
3. a
4. c
5. e


1. He would never
2. He had forgotten
3. He would be
4. He would like
5. He had given
6. sure he would make it
7. he had been saved



Jan 25, 2015

The Nut Job: A Number of x The Number of

A number of should be used with a plural verb. Think of it this way: 
A number of equates to the word they.

A number of fans buy tickets at the game. (They buy tickets.) 
A number of dogs in our neighborhood actually like the mailman. (They like the mailmam.)

On the other hand, when using the number of, use a singular verbThe number of equates to the word it.

The number of snowstorms this year was more than expected. (It was more than expected.)

The number of dogs in our neighborhood has grown over the past several years. (It has grown.)

I.              Watch the movie segment and choose the best answer:


1. The number of cars on the streets WAS / WERE small.

2. A number of money bags WAS / WERE  inside the armored van.

3. A / THE number of nuts the vendor put in her the little girl's mouth was enough to keep her quiet.

4. A / THE  number of pictures were drawn to review the plan.

5. The number of nuts in the nut cart IS / ARE enough to feed everyone.

6. A / THE  number of squirrels have planned to assault the nut cart.

Answer Key:

1. was
2. were
3. the
4. a
5. is
6. a

Jan 15, 2015

The Secret Life of Water Mitty: Wish

This is such a strong character that his name became a dictionary entry. The definition is below and the plot revolves around the character's personality. The movie, though, did not meet my expectations.

Walter Mitty
noun, plural Walter Mittys.

an ordinary, timid person who is given to adventurous and 
self-aggrandizing daydreams or secret plans as away of 
glamorizing a humdrum life. 
In his heroic daydreams, Mitty does not triumph, several fantasies being interrupted before they actually happen.

I. Watch the movie segment about Walter Mitty.  Mitty wishes he could have done a few things in order to win Cheryl's attention over. Write at least three different things.


II. Now rewrite the sentences below and the ones you came up with, expressing wishes.

1. He did not manage to leave a wink to Cheryl. 

2. HE did not jump through Cheryl's apartment window.

3. He did not save her three-legged dog, Chips.

III. Discuss:

Have you ever felt like Walter Mitty? Have you ever thought that you could have done something to prevent a situation from happening, but you failed to do it? Talk about it.

Answer key:

1. He wishes he could have left a wink to Cheryl.

2. He wishes he had jumped through Cheryl's apartment window.

3. He wishes he had saved her three-legged dog, Chips.

Jan 5, 2015

Jack and the Giant Slayer: Modal Verb for Drawing Conclusions - Must

This is a great movie, but the legend became scarier that I had thought it would be. I would avoid showing it to young teens.

I. Discuss  these questions:

1. Are tales important or lies that make children believe the impossible can happen?

2. Why are tales so popular until today?

3. Do you know other tales? Talk about the ones you know.

4. What is your favorite one? Why?

5. Do you think fairy tales can be harmful? Why (not)? 

6. Is Jack and the Beanstalk a popular tale in your country? What do you know about it?


II. Watch the movie segment. What is the most plausible answer for the questions below? Then write sentences drawing conclusions, using MUST.


1. What do you think about Jack and his dad's relationship?

a. It is a bad relationship;
b. They are very distant from each other.
c. They love each other.

They must love each other.

2. What time of the day does the scene take place?

a) bedtime, late at night
b) early evening
c) right before sunrise

__________________________________________ .

3. Jack

a) believes giants exist
b) thinks giants are stupid
c) believes giants are pure imagination

_________________________________________ .

4. The legend of the giants

a) are funny
b) are real
c) are scary

_________________________________________ .

5. Jack's father believes

a) Jack has noble blood in his veins.
b) Jack has ordinary blood in his veins.
c) Jack is prepared to fight against the giants.

_________________________________________ .

6. According to the first scene of the movie:

a) the movie is a comedy
b) the movie is romantic
c) the movie has spectacular visual effects

__________________________________ .

7. How do you think life was like in the times giants ruled the world.

a) it was terrifying
b) people lived peacefully
c) people lived in harmony.

__________________________________ .

 8. Before the king expelled the giants.

a) he waited for the giants to leave his kingdom
b) the population suffered a lot
c) the giants tried to be friends with humans

________________________________________ .

Answer key - POSSIBLE answers

2. It must be late at night.
3. Jack must believe giants exist.
4. The legend of the giants must be scary.
5. Jack's dad believes his son must have ordinary blood in his veins
6. The movie must have spectacular visual effects
7. It must have been terrifying
8. The population must have suffered a lot.