See you in September with lots more conversations and lessons.
Do you have a job or a mission?
Level: mid-intermediate and advanced
Celeste Headlee, a trained opera singer turned radio show host, has some rather interest insight to share about the difference between a job and a mission. She also has a lot to say about how we get stuck focusing on our education and job expectations and miss the larger picture. But if you think she gives the same old spiel about finding your passion, being brave and embracing your true calling, you would be wrong. She knows we all have mortgages, rent, food, and stuff to pay for. And she also knows that finding your passion is complicated, changing, and doesn’t always match the needs of the market. Thankfully, she is not going to tell you to quit your job or sit at the top of a mountain to meditate.
This is the third post on this series on jobs and careers. So far we have gone through some basic vocabulary and explored what jobs are out there and then saw some fun ways to go about choosing. In this post, we will take a more analytical approach and explore the skills connected to jobs. We are going to exercise our mental flexibility and examine the components of various jobs or fields and see how they can apply to other jobs and fields.
- What do you think is the difference between a job and a mission?
- How many job-related skills can you name? (e.g. teacher: public speaking, content design, presentation design, audience analysis, etc.)
The Video: TED Don’t find a job, find a mission
- Do a Mind Map or recap of all the main points of the talk (see our list)
- What do you do? What are the skills involved in your job?
- Do you like your job? What do you like and don’t like?
- What things do you look for when looking for work?
- If you were to do something completely different, what would it be?
If you could do a job a week, which would they be?
Level: beginner, intermediate and advance
Ever feel like you want to re-invent yourself? Like even though you are an English teacher, you could have also been a baker, or a computer programmer.
In the spirit of practicality, we usually chose one job, study for it and then go do it. But in fact, very few people work in the field they study in and even fewer people are truly happy doing what they do.
That’s why I love this video by Sean Aiken. He finds the question of finding a profession so limiting and stressful, that instead of sitting in the dark and brooding about it, he challenged himself to a different job a week. 52 weeks 52 jobs.
In this post, I am referencing the trailer to the film as a discussion launch pad.
- Mind Map all the different jobs and fields you know
- If you could choose 5 jobs instead of just one, what would they be?
The Video: On Week Job Trailer
- What is Aiken’s response to finding his passion?
- What do you think it will led Aiken? What job do you see him doing?
- Why is he doing this video?
- Which jobs would you do if you could do a job a week?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of this strategy?
What did or do you want to be when you grow up?
Level: beginner and intermediate
If you are like me, that question makes you cringe. Why? Because I have wanted to be so many things. Narrowing it down was a stressful process filled with doubt–even today.
Of course it’s normal to think about it. It’s also normal to look at your children and try to see where their strengths are. Are they mathematical or artistic? Are they builders or sports enthusiasts. The answer is probably complex.
Yet to be able to pay for food and rent and get around, most of us need to narrow something down. Ideally it is work that we like and provides us with the kind of lifestyle that we like. But statistically speaking, it’s unlikely.
This is the first of three posts on this topic. In this post, I am featuring a wordless animated short by Jasmin Lai entitled When I Grow Up. It is a great launching pad to uncover all the job related vocabulary and perhaps begin the discussion of the stresses associated with choosing a job.
- How many jobs can you name? Do a Mind Map.
- What did you want to be when you were growing up?
- Did that happen? Why or why not?
The video: When I Grow UP by Jasmin Lai
- Why do she compare her clothes to the other people taking the bus?
- Try to name as many professions as you can.
- How do you think the main character is feeling?
- What do you have to think of when choosing a profession? (e.g. education, talent, work conditions, etc.)
In the next post, I will feature a trailer of Sean Aiken’s film One Week Job where instead of thinking about his passion, Aiken just goes out and tries a bunch of jobs.
Are your clothes environmentally friendly? Do you even know. I didn’t. Manufacturing clothes is a complex industry that involves chemicals, non-ethical labour (child labour), shipping, and very high carbon emissions (5% over the overall carbon emission every year).
Clothes define us. Make us feel pretty or handsome, help us feel confident. I’m the first to admit that it’s hard to feel good in a job interview when you are wearing and old suit. But
Still, I know that my love of clothes is not the best for the planet. So I made one of my environmental objectives to buy more second hand clothes. In this PBS YouTube show Hot Mess they present other ways to help reduce our environmental foot print with different ways of choosing and buying clothes.
Teachers note: The presenter speaks fast. But you can reduce the speed to 0.75 and still get a natural flow. You can also add the close captions. If the rate and vocabulary is a bit frustrating for your students, encourage them to use their meta-knowledge to achieve comprehension (images, body language, guessing from context). The faster they get over what they don’t understand, the better they will feel when faced with native speakers in real life.
- Do you like to shop for clothes?
- Do you ever buy second hand clothes?
- What do you do with the clothes you don’t wear anymore?
Some concepts to explore before the video:
- clothing as a status symbol
- impact on the planet
- textiles, garments
- releasing carbon dioxide, green house gas emission
- climate friendly
- fossil fuel
- ethical labour
- environmentally friendly shipping
The Video: PBS Hot Mess How To Make Clothes Less Terrible for the Planet
- Stop the video 2 or 3 times and do a Mind Map of all the key concepts.
- Why are clothes so important to us?
- What are some of the impacts of polyester, rayonne, leather, and cotton?
- What are some of the environmentally friendly things we can do to reduce the impact of buying clothes?
- After watching this video, what could you change in your buying habits that could improve the impact of the clothing industries’ impact on the environment?
Can my body language affect my mood? Your body language may not only affect how people perceive you, but it may also have an impact on your brain chemistry. Watch Amy Cuddy’s famous TED talk (I suggest you break it down into smaller parts and do short Tell Backs) to find out just how profound the way we carry ourselves changes our outlook.
Cuddy speaks fast, but the vocabulary is relatively repetitive and she uses a lot of non-visuals. I would encourage you to preface this video with a bit about the Whole Language Approach. Tell them that they don’t have to understand everything. Review some of the meta-tools they have to achieve comprehension: non-verbal language, guessing from context. It may be frustrating for adults not to understand everything, but I feel it is important to expose them to first language material to prepare them for real life conversations with native speakers. Thus the more they get used to (by that I mean get used to not understanding everything) quick talking native speakers the more they will likely take their English out and use it.
Also you can add subtitles and slow the video down a bit with these features:
- Some vocabulary:
- body language
- non verbal behaviour
- power dynamics
- power and dominance
- fake it t’ill you make it
- What kind of body language makes a good impression?
- How important do you think body language is in communication
*You could cut the video at about 14:00 where Cuddy describes the study that supports her findings. Unless you find that interesting (which it is) it might be a little detached from the general point.
The Video: TED Amy Cudy Your body language may shape who you are
What is the most important element that Cuddy is highlighting?
Why is it important to be “body aware”?
What will happen if you change your body language the way Cuddy suggests?
What can you conclude about the impacts of posture on our outlook on life?
For more on this topic see Body Language Mistakes
Would you rather text or email than talk?
It’s just so easy. I don’t have to interrupt anyone, I can write while I’m in the moment, I don’t have to hold anything in my memory, or remember to ask what might have happened after a doctor’s visit or some sort of major life event, I don’t even have wait my turn to talk. When the thought appears, I can just shoot a message off and my counter part can react when it is convenient for them. In some case, with my more talkative friends (and family members) a digital message is the only way I can get a word in edgewise.
Plus, I can re-read, check my tone or make sure I didn’t word anything in an insensitive way. I can edit. Digital communication allows me to put forth my best self. Great stuff…right?
Sherry Turkle is not so sure. Her TED talk Connected but Alone? takes a good hard look at what digital communication may be doing to us. We have all heard that technology may be making us more isolated, so beyond this statement, just how it is doing that? Turkle gets right under the hood of our communication habits and puts forth some thought provoking concepts that definitely gave me pause.
This lesson is definitely for more advanced students. I did this with a mixed class of high level and lower level students and the lower level were a bit lost. However, I still recommend using first language material as much as you can to get their ears and minds used to native speaking. Once they get over focusing on what they don’t understand and focus on what they do, they will increase their ability to get into the English speaking community.
- Let’s hypothesize…Why do you think Turkle thinks texting and emailing is making us more isolated?
- Make a pros and cons list for digital communication
- What is the difference between isolation and solitude?
- What is the difference between friendship and companionship?
The Video: TED Sherry Turkle: Connected but Alone?
There is a ton of stuff to talk about here. And rather than try to Tell Back everything Turkle says (although you are free to do that), I would jump right into the discussion with some of the following key ideas:
- “We want to customize our lives and control where we put our attention”
- “We are getting used to being alone…together”
- “We are compromising companionship for friendship”
- “We have an illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship”
- “We can’t get enough of each other, at a distance, in amounts we can control”
- “We use technology to manage our relationships in ways we can comfortably control”
- Technology is satisfying 3 basic fantasies:
- We can put our attention where we want it to be
- We will always be hear
- We will never be alone
- “Being alone feels like a problem that needs to be solved”
- “I share therefore I am”
- “Connection is creating isolation”
- “We need to cultivate the capacity for solitude”
- “We need to build a self-aware relationship with technology”
And I could go on and on pulling quotes from this video. Turkle is articulate, astute and a fantastic social analyst.
I am ready to admit that I am getting caught in the fray of convenience, but short of stopping (which is not going to happen) Turkle has helped me see where I might be more self-aware.
I hope you enjoy talking about this as much as me and my students.
Is failure always a bad thing? I think we all know the answer to that. However, whether consciously or unconsciously, the fear of failure might be telling us a lot about who we are and how we can turn that fear into a constructive element in our lives. If you are in the mood for an introspective discussion, watch author Elizabeth Gilbert (“Eat, Pray, Love”) talk about what failure has done for her.
Do a tell back of the main points in Gilbert’s presentation.
Are there elements in Gilbert’s presentation that relate to your life?
Do you have successes and failures that have marked your life?
How have your successes and failures defined your path? In other words, where might you be today if things were different?
Do you have an activity that you love more than anything that transcends the need to succeed or the fear of failure?
Why do humans treat their pets like human beings? Yep, I’m guilty of that sometimes. And why wouldn’t I? Sometimes my dog is nicer to me that my children are. This phenomena is called anthropomorphism and there are many reasons we do this.
Somehow the relationship with a pet is a more intuitive and perceptually deeper. Since they don’t have words to tell us what they really think , we use empathy to ‘read’ them. And since animals are very good at picking up our vibes, it feels like they understand us better than our human counter parts.
I think it is normal to appreciate this, but do you think that showering them with treats and love and affection is good for them? It is also normal to want to give our pets a good life, but what should that really look like?
- What do pets bring to our lives?
- How would you describe a healthy pet-owner relationship?
- Some vocabulary:
- bond and bonding
- alleviate stress
Video and Article: New York Times Why Humans Treat Their Dogs Like People
- Do a Mind Map of the main points of the video
- Who is Tinker Bell?
- Why does Annie Grossman think anthropomorphizing animals is problematic?
- What did B.F. Skinner do to help us understand behaviour?
- Is anthropomorphizing animals a northern hemisphere phenomena? How do you view animals in your culture?
Is it possible that we don’t have one true calling? That we have more than one talent? One gift? That is the question that Emilie Wapnick asks her TED audience. She is a self proclaimed “multipotentialite” which is to say, she has many potential careers and gifts.
I must say I got a little emotional watching this talk. I too am someone who is constantly looking for my one true thing only to feel disappointed in myself when I get interested in something new. It is a very freeing concept that my students loved to talk about…
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
- If it changed, why did it change?
- Why is it ok for children to have many career paths, but adults must chose one?
Watch the video and gather some of the main themes and points.
Post Video Discussion
First do a Tell Back.
- Do you see yourself in Emilie’s concept of mulitipotentialite?
- What are the advantages of exploring all our interests?
- What are the multipotentialite’s “super powers”?
- How are those skills relevant in today’s job market?
Have a good discussion!