The octopus has long been a useful symbol for cartoonists. Its tentacles make a convenient metaphor for a grasping, strangling, threatening force. The latest lesson from Cartoons for the Classroom features a discussion activity based on octopus cartoons. Here's one example:
The Daily Telegraph reports that Portsmouth has been hailed as the "new Malta" in a bizarre summer advertising campaign from Southern Railways.
In a bid to attract tourists, Southern Railways has tried to compare the city – recently described as one of the most "depressed" in the south of England by Boris Johnson – to the sun-kissed Mediterranean island.
Posters put up at all 169 stations run by the operator depict various destinations covered by its services.
It calls London 'the New Europe', Brighton in East Sussex 'the new Barcelona', and dubs Chichester, West Sussex, 'the new Copenhagen'.
But most striking is the comparison between Portsmouth, which has an average summer temperature of 20 degrees, and Malta, which has an average of 31 degrees.
The city was famously described by London mayor Boris Johnson a "a place that is arguably too full of drugs, obesity, underachievement and Labour MPs". Full story >>
COMMENTS I know Portsmouth very well as there's a ferry service between Portsmouth and Le Havre. It used to have one of the ugliest shopping centres in the world (the infamous Tricorn Centre), but that's been demolished now. It still may not be the most attractive city in the world, but there's plenty to see and do, what with the dockyard & historic ships, Spinnaker Tower, Gunwharf (some great pubs), and the nearby seafront with funfair at Southsea. A great place to spend a weekend, I'd say (just don't stay in the awful Portsmouth Travelodge). If you're seeking sun, sea and sand, however, you'd be better off hopping on a flight to Malta.
A teenager is suing a tattoo artist who decorated her face with dozens of stars after she "fell asleep" during the process. Kimberley Vlaeminck claims she only asked for three. Eleanor Jeffrey reports.
Get students to act out the court case using the following roles:
• the girl
• the tattoo artist
• the lawyers
• the witnesses (girl's father & customer at tattoo parlour)
• the judge
• the jury (rest of class)
The lawyers interview their own client and witness and cross-examine the other party's. The jury deliberates (those playing above roles should leave the room for this phase). The jury gives its verdict. The judge decides on a suitable penalty.
UPDATE The girl has now admitted she was awake the whole time—and lied because her father was 'furious'.
Guan Baihua demonstrates his self-made multi-angle-wheel bicycle on May 6, 2009 in Qingdao, Shandong Province, China. Guan Baihua spent 18 months building this strange bicycle. (More pictures)
The Times has an article about this invention which looks at the technical details:
It seems a bit crazy to reinvent the wheel, but that is precisely what the Chinese inventor Guan Baihua has done. Although his new set of wheels have a little twist to them. The 50-year-old military officer from Qingdao has devised a rather curious new bicycle. Instead of circular wheels the bike has a pentagonal wheel at the front and a triangular wheel at the back.
He believes that people will be drawn to the bike because it requires more work to cycle and therefore will provide more exercise for the cyclist than a conventional bike.
Those who have tried it have been surprised at how smooth the ride is.
That is because the edges of the pentagonal and triangular wheels are not perfectly straight. The sides of the shapes bulge outwards in such a way that the wheels share an important feature with the circle: the diameter across the shapes is the same which ever way that you measure it. Full story >>
LESSON IDEAS 1. Students reinvent other classic designs and present ideas to the class. 2. Students create an ad campaign for the new bike. 3. Students role play an interview with the inventor.
COMMENT I've already got three bikes (a road bike, a hybrid and a mountain bike), but I'd love to try this new bike.
Three historic banking brands, Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley, will all be rebranded under their Spanish owner's name Santander by the end of 2010. So what's in a name? Sky's Paul Harrison has been finding out.
1. I've lost count of the number of times my school has been rebranded since I've been teaching here. We've gone from ESC Le Havre to Sup de Co Le Havre/Caen to ESC Le Havre/Caen to Ecole de Management de Normandie to EM-Normandie.
2. For examples of rebranding successes and failures see here and here.
LESSON IDEA Working in teams, students have to rebrand a product and make a pitch to the class. The product could even be a town, as in Episode 8 of current series of The Apprentice.
This cartoon by Garland in the Daily Telegraph suggests that the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square should be used for a statue of a group of politicians announcing their resignations. The inscription on the plinth reads: "We haven't done anything wrong."
2. Several MPs have announced their resignations in recent days following the expenses scandal. Many of them have defended their actions by saying that they had kept within the rules—hence the inscription "We haven't done anything wrong."
GRAMMAR We have done nothing wrong means the same as We haven't done anything wrong. See here for notes on how to use anything.
LESSON IDEA Students have one minute to present their candidate for the empty fourth plinth. Hold a ballot to choose the winner.
This BBC video report looks at the challenges faced by football clubs who look to generate revenue from allowing firms to sponsor their shirts. The economic downturn means the pool of sponsorship money is getting smaller.
LESSON IDEA This video would make a great introduction to the negotiation case study in Market Leader Upper-Intermediate Unit 4. If you haven't got that coursebook, you can organize your own negotiation simulation. Divide the class into groups representing sponsors or football clubs. The clubs have to negotiate a sponsorship deal with the companies. It will work better if you come up with some negotiating points beforehand (length of deal, value of deal, what's involved, etc.)
It's not often that New Zealand gets a mention on The English Blog, but here's a story from The Times which would make a good subject for a classroom discussion:
A New Zealand man who fled with his girlfriend after receiving millions of dollars in a banking error is described by friends as an unsuccessful businessman whose main aim was to get rich quick.
An international search is underway for Leo Gao, a Korean national, and his girlfriend Cara Young, a New Zealander, who disappeared two weeks ago after finding their bank account had mistakenly been credited with $NZ10 million (£4 million).
It is understood the couple, who ran a failing service station in Rotorua, on North Island, had applied to Westpac Bank for a $NZ100,000 loan but were given ten times that amount instead.
The young couple, who are in their mid-twenties, told friends they were going on holiday but instead withdrew at least $NZ3.8 million and left the country. Full story >>
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS • What would you do if your bank accidentally put £4m in your bank account?
• Assuming you decided to keep the money, how would you organize your 'escape'?
• What would be an appropriate punishment when they are caught?
• What should the Westpac Bank do?
• 'Best of luck to them', wrote one blogger. Do you agree?
• 'It's the bank's own fault and it deserves to lose the money.' Do you agree?
The world's first burger pilgrimage has been announced allowing 'food tourists' to pay homage to the humble fast-food.
The itinerary takes in 16 cities in eight countries that are deemed to have played a pivotal role in the evolution of the burger.
The Burger Pilgrimage Trip, cooked up by fast-food giant Burger King, will take 35 days to complete and cost a whopping £3,400.
It is aimed at the rapidly growing number of 'food tourists'. Full story >>
For more on this story, visit Burger King's Burger Pilgrimage site, which has a history of the burger and a detailed itinerary. To book a place on this mouth-watering adventure visit the STA Travel website.
LESSON IDEA Get your students to plan an itinerary for another 'pilgrimage trip'. This could be for a food or drink item, or any well-known product. This would make a good subject for project work involving research and presentation of results.
COMMENT I used to read the Mr Men (and Little Miss) books to my children when they were young. In those pre-internet days, parents did things like that. Now kids can watch videos and play games on the Mr Men website while Mummy and Daddy update their Facebook accounts.
TEACHING IDEA There are dozens of characters in the Mr Men and Little Miss series with names not ending in -y (Mr Forgetful, Mr Clever, Mr Chatterbox, Little Miss Stubborn, etc.) These could also be used for teaching adjectives describing character.
The British Council's award-winningTeachingEnglish site brings together everything busy teachers need, from classroom materials to ideas for development.
The site is divided into four main sections:
THINK: where you can find teachers' articles on different aspects of teaching, from classroom practice to learning theory
TRY: where you can find lesson plans, quizzes, ideas for activities and other materials which you can download to use in class
TALK: where you can keep you own personal blog, join discussion forums and and form groups around particular areas of interest.
TRANSFORM: where teachers can can get help and advice on their professional development (training, qualifications, personal development, specialist areas, etc.).
The materials on this site are designed for non-native speaker teachers of English working predominantly in secondary education in state schools around the world. However, the wide variety of material available will also be of interest to teachers of all age groups and working in other kinds of teaching institutions.
Again, this is more than any other country, at least half-an-hour more than the average Briton, and a full hour more than the average Mexican. Full story >>
You can read more about the OECD study here.I may have lived in France for over 25 years, but I haven't picked up French sleeping and eating habits. I ususally have 'un sandwich' for lunch, and very rarely sleep more than 8 hours!
The ad is designed to make people aware of the environmental costs of transporting foodstuffs around the world. For more information on this topic just Google 'food miles'. The term 'food miles' refers to the distance food travels from where it is grown to where it is ultimately purchased or consumed by the end user. Many environmental groups believe that the more food miles that attach to a given food, the less sustainable and the less environmentally desirable that food is (though things may not be quite so clear cut).
LESSON IDEA Organize a debate on the following topic: 'We should eat local produce to save the planet'. Ask students to research arguments for and against.