Here's a news story from The Guardian which could be used in a variety of ways at different levels:
For years, Travis had been a local celebrity in his hometown. He featured often on TV adverts, and would pose for photographs performing his favourite tricks: tucking into a filet mignon, dressing himself or using a computer.
But yesterday the pet chimpanzee went berserk, attacking a friend of his owner's and causing terrible facial injuries before turning on a police officer who shot him in self-defence. Read full story >>
You can also find video reports on CNN (US Section) and WCBSTV.
1. Use the article for reading comprehension (boring, I know).
2. Get your students to act out interviews based on the report, e.g., with the owner, the police officer, a neighbour, an animal behaviour expert, etc.
3. Hold a debate on the following topic: "People should not be allowed to keep exotic animals as pets".
4. As a written follow-up, get your students to write an essay on the debate topic.
Englishspark.com is a website built by teachers for teachers living in Japan. It aims to provide you with all the tools you need to make your stay in Japan a successful one.
You can view the materials page for some free teaching supplements, aids, and teaching tips.
English Spark will soon be providing teaching materials for private teachers. These will be for beginner to advanced English levels and include lesson plans based on topics such as grammar, vocabulary, Business English, TOEIC, TOEFL, EIKEN, daily conversation, travel, etc.
The site provides advice on everything from teaching, Japanese culture, and things to do and see in your area. You can also network with other foreign teachers to meet new students, find friends, and make your Japan experience a great one.
Verdict Even if you are not teaching or planning to teach in Japan, English Spark has some useful material. Check out the Material Directory for lesson plans and worksheets, and the Teacher Stumpers for articles on tricky grammar and vocabulary points.
The Tourism Board of Queensland in Australia is looking for a "Caretaker of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef." The job pays $100,000 U.S. for 6 months of whale watching, pool cleaning—and blogging. I'm tempted to apply myself ... This CNN video gives the lowdown.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wanted: One island caretaker of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Pay: $100,000 U.S. for 6 months of watching whales, feeding turtles or whatever else you'd like to do on a tropical island. Oh, you might have to clean the pool at the beachfront, three-bedroom luxury house that comes with this package. And all you have to do is write a weekly blog for the Tourism Board of Queensland about your island experience. So, is it a job too good to be true?
MAN ON THE STREET: You get a three-bedroom luxury apartment with a swimming pool and 73,000 pounds a year.
MAN ON THE STREET: That can't be right. There’s gotta be a catch somewhere.
WOMAN ON THE STREET: Sounds like a good job. I should go bikini hunting straight away.
SHUBERT: Tourism Queensland insists there's no catch, just, quote, "the best job in the world." Others might call it a publicity stunt for Australian tourism, but one that just might work.
JANE NICHOLSON, REGIONAL MANAGER, TOURISM QUEENSLAND: Word of mouth is really important now. You need to hear from fellow travellers what a destination is really like. So, what better way than to create a job to allow someone to do that? They need to be over 18; they have to be able to swim. And apart from that, it's open to anybody.
SHUBERT: The land down under has been hit hard by the credit crunch. Tourism Research Australia says tourist numbers could fall by 4% this year, especially from mainstay markets like the UK. So, will the "best job in the world" spark new interest? Well so far, so good. On opening day, the Web site has been flooded with about 33 hits per second. All applicants have to do is submit a 60-second video to this Web site, islandreefjob.com, explaining why they are the perfect candidate to be island caretaker. It's very tempting.
SHUBERT: Eleven lucky finalists will be flown to Australia for a final round of interviews before an island caretaker is chosen. Twenty-six-year-old Louise Cryan saw it in the paper on Monday morning and immediately called up, one of the first to apply.
LOUISE CRYAN, APPLICANT: It's actually a real job, so that's amazing. I just thought, what a great place to go and spend 6 months. Looked out of the window; it's such a grey and miserable day, so who wouldn't want to go?
SHUBERT: So, rainy London versus sunny Australia in the middle of a credit crunch? What would you choose?
MAN ON THE STREET: For me, with everything that's going on in my life, it couldn't come at a better time.
SHUBERT: Better get your applications in. The deadline for the best job in the world is February 22nd. Atika Shubert, CNN, London.
Comments When I read about this story in the press, I thought it would make a great subject for a lesson. That was a couple of weeks ago, and I've now had time to put together some materials. In this Word file you will find the video transcript, an English-French glossary, a video worksheet, a website scavenger hunt and a job interview activity.
Lesson ideas You can use this subject in many different ways. Here are a few suggestions:
• students produce a 60-second video job application (there's nothing to stop them applying for the job for real). You can watch other candidates' videos here.
• students hold interviews for the job (see my lesson materials for one suggestion).
• students write a letter of application for the job.
• use the story as a marketing case study (the job is really just a way of promoting tourism in Queensland!)
This is one of thirteen cartoons in the Nick Newman's Week slide show on TimesOnline. What's really good about this feature—apart from the cartoons—is that each cartoon has an accompanying text which explains the context and a link to a related article. Here's the text for this cartoon:
The lowest interest rate in the history of the Bank of England will deter savers from depositing money and further undermine troubled banks, it was claimed after the Bank cut the cost of borrowing to 1.5 per cent. ... more
For the above cartoon, Nick has modified a well-known English proverb: "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." The construction is an old-fashioned imperative. In modern English we would say: "Don't be a borrower or a lender." The joke is that Nick has added "saver" to reflect the current economic climate, which is bad for savers.
Langauge note You borrow money from someone and lend it to someone.
I did a lesson about New Year Resolutions this morning, which I thought I'd share with you.
First, I got the students to work in pairs and ask/answer the questions on Worksheet 1 of this Onestopenglish lesson. We then watched the first 8 minutes or so of Bridget Jones's Diary (with the English subtitles). The students then had to work in groups to fill in a worksheet. After getting some feedback on that activity, I distributed the script of the movie extract we'd watched and went over the language items marked in bold. I took advantage of the opportunity to explain the British system of weights and measures (Bridget resolves to lose 20lb).
For homework, they have to write an essay titled 'My New Year Resolutions'. I gave them some examples of New Year resolutions and encouraged them to use similar constructions in their essay.
Here's another clip from the film which could be used in class:
The Daily Mail is outraged by the fact that the EU has forced Britain to stop selling traditional incandenscent light bulbs:
Millions of Britons are finally waking up to the fact that their beloved light bulb will disappear for good after 120 years.
Traditional 100-watt bulbs are vanishing from the High Street because of a controversial European Union decision.
Yesterday panic buyers were snapping up the remaining bulbs in a last-ditch attempt to stockpile the final supplies. Hundreds of leading supermarkets and DIY chains - including Sainsbury's, Asda and Homebase - have already sold their last remaining bulbs after a surge in panic buying.
Other stores say they have enough stocks to last until the end of next week.
The supplies are running out after the Government signed up to an EU decision to replace conventional 100w light bulbs with supposedly greener low energy alternatives.
Ministers claim the switch will reduce carbon dioxide by around five million tons each year.
But experts have questioned whether or not the new bulbs, far from being environmentally friendly, are actually harmful. Read full story >>
Click to enlarge
Lesson idea: It's always interesting to compare the Mail's anti-EU, morally outraged treatment of a story with a more objective source, e.g. The Daily Telegraph. You could get your students compare and contrast the language used by different newspapers (tabloids vs. broadsheets) when reporting the same story. For example, the Mail's headline goes: "Revolt! Robbed of their right to buy traditional lightbulbs, millions are clearing shelves of last supplies"—note the exaggeration, sensationalist exclamation, tone of moral outrage—whereas the Telegraph settles for a more measured "Traditional 100 watt light bulbs to be phased out in favour of low-energy alternative."
The latest Cartoons for the Classroom lesson is based on the cartoon below, which shows Barack Obama, dressed as a fireman, taking an emergency call. Unfortunately, he can't do anything about the burning house (=economy) before January 20th, which is, of course, Inauguration Day, when he finally becomes President.
Telegraph.co.uk has 25 examples of bad manners we should resolve to stop doing. Here are the first five:
1 Talking on a mobile phone while being served by a shop assistant
2 Playing music through a mobile phone's loudspeakers in a public place
3 Sending text messages while at the dining table
4 Writing abusive comments on internet messageboards
5 Listening to music through headphones in the office
Lesson idea: Give your students a selection of items from the list and get them to rank the items according to how annoying they find them. They could do this individually and then in groups. Follow up by asking them to come up with their own examples of bad manners.
TimeRime.com is a website that allows visitors to view, create and compare timelines. These timelines can be illustrated with pictures, text, YouTube movies and MP3 files. On the website, you will find timelines about music, movies, history, politics, art etc.
Lesson idea: Get your students to create their own time lines (their own life story, for example) and use them as visual aids for presentations. It will make a change from PowerPoint!
In these harsh economic times, office Christmas parties are feeling the pinch. Life-size ice sculptures, fireworks and champagne fountains are out. Cheap food and cash bars are in—assuming the party's not been cancelled. CNN reports:
Crappy Graphs! is a micro-project by Brian Shaler.
The simple graphs and charts cover topics including office/white collar life, programming, and marketing. They are based on the author’s observations while working in those environments/industries.
Comment: What's really interesting about this site/blog is that you can create your own 'crappy graphs' and submit them for inclusion. Here's a fun example:
Lesson idea: If you have a videoprojector, you can get your students to produce their own crappy graphs and present them to the class. Or you could put them on a class blog. This is a good opportunity for students to use their imagination and sense of humour!
There are plenty of free website creation tools available but Edicy has got to be one of the simplest. You just have to give your e-mail address, confirm your registration by e-mail and you can start building your site. You can choose from a range of attractive themes and add, delete, modify any text or pictures as you desire.
Comment: I got my last group of English for Marketing students to create a blog but another possibility would be to get them to create a website for an imaginary company. Edicy would be the perfect platform for such a project.
Yesterday was Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year in the U.S. By complete contrast, today is Buy Nothing Day, which is being promoted as 'a global holiday from consumerism'. You can find out more on these sites:
Comment: Buy Nothing Day comes at a very interesting time this year. Governments all over the world are trying to kick-start their economies by encouraging consumers to go out and spend, spend, spend. Does this mean that we are not good citizens if we participate in Buy Nothing Day? Won't we be contributing to the recession? Will you be 'celebrating' Buy Nothing Day? Is BND a stupid idea?
Lesson idea: Show the video below to your students and organize a debate on the following topic: What makes a good consumer?