Jun 27, 2010

Girl, Interrupted: Short Answers and Questions with There + to be

Angelina Jolie's amazing acting makes this movie stand out others. This scene is perfect topractice the verb there to be in a contextualized way. My students enjoyed it a lot!

A. Talk to a partner. Check the items that you think there is in a psychiatric institution.

( ) Several floors
( ) an art room
( ) a living room
( ) a gym
( ) phones
( ) a nurse's station
( ) a swimming pool
( ) classrooms
( ) a TV room
( ) bedrooms
( ) a post office

B. Now watch the segment about Susanna's (Winona Rider) first day at the institution. Check the items that you can find there.

C. Now ask questions using the items in exercise A. Make sure you use Is there... and Are there... in your questions. Your partner should answer with Yes, there is or No, there aren't.

S1: Are there several floors there?
S2: Yes there are.

S2: Is there an art room there?
S1: Yes, there is.

D. Think about an ideal hospital. In your opinion, what is there and what isn't there in an excellent hospital? Use there is (not) or there are (not) to describe it.




Jun 20, 2010

My Life in Ruins: Get / Have Something Done (Passive Voice with Causative Verbs)

I really liked this comedy. Greece is simply fabulous and the views are fascinating. The story is very relaxing and funny too. I used many scenes for different activities. This is the first one of them. I used it to practice causative verbs GET and HAVE in passive constructions. It is an unconventional manner to practice such a barren, unattractive grammar point.

I. Before viewing the segment, talk to a partner about the following questions.

1. Have you ever stayed at a very bad hotel? Tell you partner about it and how you managed to stay there.

2. Do you complain when there is a problem in your hotel room? What do you do if they do not resolve the problem for you?

3. Do you prefer to stay at a bad hotel that is very well located in the city or at a sophisticated hotel that is not so well located? Explain it.

II. Watch the movie segment and check the problems that you could identify in the Greek hotel.

1. ( ) The elevator

2. ( ) The air conditioning system

3. ( ) The mini bar

4. ( ) The shower

5. ( ) The toilet

6. ( ) The fan

7. ( ) The bed

8. ( ) The TV

9. ( ) The telephone

10. ( ) The closet

III. Fill in the blanks with the passive form of the verbs in parentheses.

1. The elevator needs repairing. The hotel needs to _____________ (get / fix).

2. The shower doesn't work properly. The managers will ___________ (have/repair).

3. The toilet broke. Plumbers will ________________ (get/replace).

4. The TV stopped working. The hotel will __________(have/send) to the electrician.

5. The telephone is out of order. They will _______________ (get / reconnect) as soon as possible.

IV. Now write two sentences about the other problems you identified, using passive construction with get and have. Follow the patterns in exercise III.

V. Class discussion:

What would you do if you were in such a breathtaking place like Greece, but in that horrible hotel? Would you complain, demand to change rooms or hotels? Justify it.

Answer Key:


1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10


1. get it fixed
2. have it repaired
3. get it replaced
4. have it sent
5. get it reconnected



 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.

Jun 13, 2010

Shall We Dance? & Save the Last Dance: Similes x Metaphors

Both movies are great. Shall We Dance? has Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez at their best and Save the Last Dance is absolutely amazing, with great songs. Both talk about kinds of music and these scenes are perfect to contrast similes and metaphors, about which many people, even teachers, have doubts.

A. Remember the difference between SIMILES and METAPHORS:

A simile - or to be like something - is to retain a difference which means one can never fully substitute for the other. On the other hand, a metaphor actually is a substitution - it is an equation in principle. Typically, if it needs further explanation, it's probably a simile; if it makes instant sense, it's most likely a metaphor. The simile is always poetic, while the metaphor always has the ring of truth. They are similar, but different in essence.

Simile - Basic Rule: If it uses the words "is like" or "is as", it is usually a simile; if it uses the word "is", without "as" or "like", it is usually a metaphor .

B. Before watching the first movie segment from the movie "Shall We Dance?", try matching the first part of the sentence with the simile or metaphor in the second column.

1. The rumba

2. The rumba

3. You have to hold her

4. Let her go

5. Put her back

6. Then finish

( ) like the skin of her thigh is your reason for living.

( ) like she's ruined your life.

( ) is the dance of love.

( ) like your heart's being ripped from your chest.

( ) is a vertical expression of a horizontal wish.

( ) like you're going to have your way with her, right there on the dance floor.
C. Now watch the segment and check your answers. Identify which items are similes and metaphors.


Answer key: 3, 6, 1 (or 2), 4, 2 (or 1), 5
Metaphors are: 1 and 2

D. Now repeat the process with the next segment from the movie Save the Last Dance. Make a guess matching the first part of the sentence with the simile or metaphor.

1. Hip Hop is

2. Be strong

3. Sit

4. Slouch a little bit

( ) like you're chilling

( ) like you're a nasty bitch

( ) like an attitude

( ) like a tree

E. Now watch the movie segment and check your answers. Identify which items are similes or metaphors


Answer Key: 3, 4, 1, 2 - All are similes.

F. Think about the most popular dance or music in your country and write 2 similes and 2 metaphors describing it.
Samba is like a volcano in the heart. (Simile)

Samba is a ferocious animal in the shape of dance. (Metaphor)

Jun 6, 2010

Ice Age: Possessive Adjectives

Ice Age is one of my favorite animated movies. This scene is great and I used it to practice the use of adjective pronouns, not for beginners, but basic learners. I hope you enjoy it!

A. Watch the movie segment about an eskimo family that is attacked by a group of sabre-tooth tigers. Then complete the blanks with adjective pronouns.

My - Your - His - Her - Its - Our - Their


1. The eskimo tribe lived in the woods. The sabre-tooth tigers invaded __________ territory.

2. The eskimos had some dogs. They barked to warn _________ owners about the dangerous tigers.

3. Kinu, the eskimo, used ___________ spear to fight the tiger and protect ________ family.

4. Jana, the eskimo mother, held __________ baby before Diego, the tiger, attacked it. She would never leave _______ child behind.

5. The tiger grabbed ____________ necklace, but it didn't grab ___________ baby.

6. ________________ husband could not help her because of the tigers. Kinu wanted to help _______________ wife and child, but she ran away with _________ baby.

7. The dogs defended ______________ owner from the tigers.

8. The tigers were unhappy with Diego because of __________ incompetence to get the baby.

9. Kinu found _________ wife's necklace. _______________ friends followed him to look for _________ wife and child.

10. Did you like the segment? What's __________ opinion about it?

11. I (liked/didn't like) it. In ___________ opinion, the segment is (great / terrible / fantastic / etc).

Answer Key:

1. their
2. their
3. his / his
4. her / her
5. her / her
6. her / his / their
7. their
8. his (its)
9. his / his / his
10. your
11. my