Apr 25, 2015

Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart: 2nd Conditional

This is a beautiful, magical and dramatic story of a mother who has to make a very difficult decision in life - giving her baby away to be raised by someone wealthier, because she does not have the means to nurture him. It is a French animated movie spoken in English I loved it.

I. Work in pairs:

1. Have you ever had to make a difficult decision in your life? What made you decide what to do? Can you talk about it?

2. Have you ever made a wrong choice? Talk about it?

3. What would you do in the situations below? Explain your choices.
  • You are offered a fantastic professional opportunity, but you would have to be two years and a half away from your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend? There will not be any chances to see each other, just by using mobile devices (skype, facebook, etc). What would you do?

  • You  have two children. A four year-old boy and a three-year old girl. A criminal tells you to sacrifice one of your children or both of them die. He won't choose; you have to do it. If you don't choose one of them, both of them die. You cannot sacrifice yourself to save both of them. If you do it, both of them die. What would you do? Who would you choose to survive?

  • You saw your best friend's lover kissing another person. Your best friend loves her partner and is nine-month pregnant. You don't know how involved your friend's lover is with that stranger. Would you tell him/her what you saw?

  • You receive the news that the person you love most will die in two months. This situation can't be changed. He/she has a lot of plans for the future and is very happy with her life, her accomplishments and expectations for the future. However, he/she is not in a hurry and is planning things slowly. What would you do? Warn him and make him enjoy life immediately, risking fostering depression and desperation? Would you let him/her waste his time and opportunities to enjoy the time that is left for him/her without worries?

II. Here are six questions one should ask himself before making a difficult choice. Answer the questions, connecting them with each of the four situations above:

1. If I don’t do this now, will I regret it?
2. What am I afraid of?
3. What does my heart say?
4. Who am I really doing this for?
5. Will I like myself after this decision?
6. Can I cope with the consequences of my decision?

III. Watch the movie segment and answer the questions in exercise II. How would she probably answer those questions?


IV. What would you do if you were in her shoes? How would you answer those questions in exercise II if you were in her position?




Apr 15, 2015

The Leftovers: Past Modals for Speculation

This is the second post based on a TV series. The Leftovers is an intriguing HBO dramatic series and its first scene is perfect for modals for speculation.

I. Watch the movie segment and work in small groups of three students. Number the students (1, 2 and 3).

II. Imagine you are  police officers talking about the happening to a reporter. Describe what happened and present two different possibilities for what happened during the scene. What happened to the baby? What happened to the kid's father? And what about the car accident? Then prepare a speech about your conclusions and imagine you are going to give an interview to explain the community what went on that day. Make sure you include the modal verbs you have been studying.
III. Have the students who have the same numbers sit together and share their theories to their new group.

IV. The students choose the most plausible (or creative) explanation to share with the class.

Apr 5, 2015

The Amazing Spider Man: Indefinite Articles, Vocabulary Practice

This is a fun, creative activity provided by a reader, Pedro Urbano, based on a blockbuster I simply love. Thanks, Pedro, for sharing your great activity with us. I hope you share even more!

I've been teaching English for nine years working with teens, adults, and seniors. Creating songs activities and especially movie worksheets are my features. Today, I'm part of ICBEU teacher team - Manaus (a dream of 13 years that came true), working with teens and adults. 



Before you watch:

What’s in the girl’s bag?  


What’s in the man’s briefcase


Write down three possible  objects. Then, compare with your partner.

While you watch:


Watch the video segment. Check the correct answers.

A. Where’s Peter?
(   ) at school
(   ) at home
(   ) at the gym

B. Who’s Peter talking to?
(   ) Gwen and Dr. Curt
(   ) Ben and May Parker
(   ) Dr. Stacy and Dr. Rattha

C. Who are Ben and May?
(   ) Peter’s parents
(   ) Peter’s uncle and aunt
(   ) Peter’s grandparents

After you watch:
Watch the video segment. Check T (true) or F (false) in the statements.

A. After talking to Ben  and May, Peter goes to the kitchen. (    )
B. Peter wears contact lenses (   )
C. The briefcase belongs to Peter (    )

 Peter finds some objects in the briefcase. Make a list of four objects you observed in the scene. Then, compare with your partner. Don't forget to use a / an / X (no article) before the objects.




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 didn'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