A simple question to start off the new eslcoversation.ca season. Of course not everyone goes on vacation, but usually the summertime presents opportunities for special visits, adventures, road trips and vacations. I love my vacations. My family and I look forward to them all year. And then, when they are over, we talk about them all year.
There is so much more that happens other than the vacation. No television (less of it anyway), we spend our days together, we eat special food, do activities we have never done before–It is a total break in the routine.
That’s why this week’s theme will be devoted to summer, vacations and routine-breakers.
Do a quick Mind Map of the vocabulary associated with vacations.
My colleague Larry Pitts has an absolutely fabulous site chalked full of open-ended questions. I think this is the perfect place to start our vacation discussion.
The next posts will feature a video or perhaps an article, but for today, the good ol’ Q&A will do the trick.
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.)
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?
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
releasing carbon dioxide, green house gas emission
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:
non verbal behaviour
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?
Would you like to visit Mars? At one time this would have been a question to engage in hypothetical thinking, but now, it could be a real possibility. According to the Washington Post, NASA expects that trips to Mars may be possible in the next 20 to 25 years. In fact, they have launched an exciting competition calling companies, universities and anybody to build models of habitats for Mars.
And if you were to go, what would you bring? Some baggies to collect Mars sand? A good pair of shoes? Camera (of course)? It is an interesting thought to play with. Thus in this post I am referencing the Washington Post article Where to stay on Mars? Robots could create living quarters before humans arrive. The article is featured in the Kids Post, so the vocabulary is relatively simple. And the subject matter may spark some interesting discussion about basic needs, isolation, and exploration.
Would you like to go to Mars? Why?
What do you think it will be like? Dry, hot, cold, lonely, weird, exciting?
The article: Washington Post Where to stay on Mars?
To get the gist of the article, do a series of Tell Backs for each section
What are some of the things that have to be planned in order to make this possible (food, habitat, etc…)?
What is the habitat competition all about?
What kind of entertainment would you bring if you were to stay a year?
What would you put in your suitcase?
How do you think visiting Mars will change life on Earth?
When you speak, do you think people listen to you? Do you think they understand–that they hear you? Ever watch a speech by former President Barak Obama? I just can’t stop listening. However, when my husband gives me the run down of the daily news, most times I totally tune out.
Why is that? According to Julian Treasure, there are many different aspects to a successful speaker ranging from tone of voice to subject matter. His TED talk presents some of the communication approaches that shut people down and those that open people up.
It is a talk that explores both the behavioural and mechanical aspects of speaking that I find rather interesting. Perhaps you and your students will too.
Name some of the people you love to listen to
Why do you like them?
Name some people you tend to tune out of.
The Video: TED Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen
What are some of the behaviours or approaches that make listeners tune out?
What are some of the tools in Treasure’s tool box?
Do a little analysis of yourself. Which behaviours do you have that may put your listeners off?
Do you use/have some of Treasure’s tools already?
What could you adopt that may enhance your speaking without making yourself seem unnatural?
Do you have any anecdotes of good and bad speakers (e.g. teachers, parents, bosses, etc…)
What makes good art? If you have a few art lovers in your class, I think they will enjoy this lesson.
Does an artist have to suffer to make good art? Is it the amount of time one spends on the piece? The complexity, the skill of the artist, the message, the feeling it creates…what?
I am always fascinated when I watch my children draw or make crafts. They dive in with their whole being–fearless. They never doubt their ability to produce or that the result will be great. On the other hand, I am not submitting every piece to the Smithsonian…
So between the fearless child, to the tortured soul, what makes a piece of art great? In this PBS series the Art Assignment, they explore many of the stereotypes we attach to the “true” artist and they challenge some of the values we attach to quality. But better still, they talk about how, regardless of the process, art can make us feel less alone in the complex journey of being human.
Do you go to museums or buy books to look at art?
What kind of art do you like?
What are some artist you know
The Video: PBS The Truth of the Tortured Artist
If you find this video a little fast or vocabulary dense, don’t forget that you can add CC (close captions) to help comprehension and you can slow the video down in the YouTube settings
I would cut the video into parts and do Tell Backs on each. I would take notes on key vocabulary.
Part 1 from 0 to 1:07
Part 2 from 1:07 to 2:10
Part 3 from 2:10 to 3:45
Part 4 from 3:45 to 4:30 (on Picasso)
Part 5 from 4:30 to 4:45 (on Frida Kahlo)
Part 6 from 4:45 to 6:45 (on art as an outlet for pain)
Part 7 from 6:45 to end (what are some of the purposes of art?)
Do you think an artist has to anguish over a piece for it to be good. Or is it more a question of skill and craft (in the other words being very good at what they do)?
What are some of the states of mind art can come from?
If I could grant you all the skills you need to be an artist, why would you make art?
Are you a procrastinator or a planner? That is the question. Personally I am a planner. I get a sense of what needs to be done, break it down into task and plan it out so that I can do it before the deadline. I think that is largely due to the fact that being dyslexic, I need time to review. But that is certainly not true for everyone. In fact, Miles Bess exposes that up to 95% of people consider themselves to be procrastinators. That’s huge! I had no idea.
So let’s talk about this…
Do you wait t’ill the late minute to do things or do you plan ahead?
What benefits do you get out of being one or the other?
The Video: PBS Above the Noise: Can Procrastination Be a Good Thing?
Why do you think so many people procrastinate?
What are the pros and cons of procrastination?
What famous people or documents were made last minute?
Can you explain ‘task-driven’ and ‘deadline driven’
What are some of your procrastination ‘go-to’s’ (e.g. video games, eating, shopping, etc.)
Are you media literate? When we hear the word literacy, generally our thoughts go to reading. But the idea of literacy encapsulates many different skills that we are now extending to many different areas. For example, you can have financial literacy, digital literacy, ethical literacy, computational literacy and yes media literacy (and the list goes on).
Essentially, when you have reached a level of proficiency in an area where you are able to decode, analyse, see patterns, and spot errors, you have become literate in that area. The trend to view literacy as skill that extends beyond reading is a fairly recent one. Not so long ago, before the web took off, the flow of information would generally come from what was deemed reliable sources. We got your history lesson from a history teacher and our news from a trusted news sources. We didn’t really have to question or doubt (perhaps we should have).
But now that information can come from anywhere, it has become increasingly important to be critical and analytical. In other words, we all have to have the instincts of an expert. Radio personality Jay Smooth has created a great YouTube series on probably the most important of the literacies: media literacy. See if you can scoop up some of the ideas he exposes and make a list of the tips he shares.
Let’s play the good and bad game…go through the list of words and say whether they are good or bad:
Influence of media
The video: Introduction to Media Literacy by Jay Smooth
Smooth speaks very fast, and he goes very deep into ‘sociology speak’ so if you are working with lower intermediate students, I suggest you adjust the settings on YouTube to make the video slower and show the subtitles.
Also, I would stop the video at about 2 min (just after the definition of media literacy).
Doing this video requires a little teacher bravery, it’s fast and complex–but it’s also adult, current and intelligent. Remind your participants that the idea is to simply come away with the general concept, that they can deduce from context and perhaps try to recognize one or two new words.
What is media? Make a list
What is the difference between messages and effects?
Go to 5:25 of the video, watch the texting example.
Do you use emojis in your emails and texts? Do you have some signature emojis?
Have you ever sent a message that was mis-interpreted?
This is a vocabulary dense lesson, but it is true to native speaking. I believe it is important to expose students to this so they can develop skills and tricks for when this happens to them in real life. But like I said, it takes a little teacher bravery…let me know how it goes.