What do your hobbies do for you?

What do your hobbies do for you?

Do you knit, run, read, eat, garden? Hobbies are acticities that we do for the sheer pleasure of doing them. They help us take time for ourselves. Whether they are sports related or a more relaxing activity, a hobby is something to enjoy. In other words, when you have given them a bit of time, you feel recharged and happy–as opposed to guilty or tired.

Personnally, I have more hobbies than I probably should. I love relaxing. I knit, paint, garden, cook, take long walks with my dog, read and write blogs. In fact, my hobbies help me channel a lot of creative energy. My husband on the other hand uses hobbies like obsesive video game playing to expell his stress. I’m not sure that it works though.

Moreover, not everybody nutures hobbies. In fact, in many cultures hobbies can be viewed as lazy or a waste of time–something you do when you are children or you want to avoid ‘real’ work. What do you think? Are hobbies healthy or a waste of time? In this Huffington Post article, the author develops the idea that there are good and not so good hobbies.

Warm up

Do a Mind Map of the different hobbies.

The Artcle: Healthy Hobbies That Will Improve Your Life

  • Scan for words that describe the benefits of hobbies.
  • What hobbies do you have?
  • Out of the 11 hobbies listed in the article, which would you like to try?
  • What is it about that activities that sparks your interest?

Do you eat…environmentally?

Being environmentally mindful can mean much more than composting your food scraps and recycling packaging. There are hundreds of little gestures that can contribute to making the planet healthier.

How many try to pack litterless lunches? Do you use plastic produce bags for your fruits and vegetables? Do you use reusable shopping bags? And more importantly, do you think that any of this makes a difference in the planet’s health?

And what about the way we buy food. Do you try to buy local? Can you tell which is local from the imported stuff? What do you know about how your food is produced? If you are like me, probably not enough.

If we look at food buying trends, it would appear that we are trying to shop and eat smarter. So what do you think that means? In this PBS Hot Mess feature, they take a look at global food production and why it is so hard to change methods that are depleting the planet of its resources.

About the video: the information is not always easy to follow. It is full of government references (I guess it must be interesting for someone) and they bring up many questions but don’t really get to the answers. Still, I suggest you get through to the end. The conclusion carries many of the main messages and leaves a few concrete things to think about.

Warm-up

  • How have you changed the way you buy food in the last 10 years?

The Video: PBS Hot Mess Food vs. Climate Change

Discussion

  • First, do a global Tell Back of the video…broad strokes.
  • What do they mean by a universal food reference?
  • Does eating more fruit and vegetables help the environment?
  • Why is it hard to change our food habits?

Agree or disagree

  • Adopting a universal reference diet is easy
  • To reduce carbon emissions, all we have to do is eat less meat
  • If people knew more about how food is produced we could change damaging food production practices
  • There is nothing we can to do change food production

Are your clothes environmentally friendly?

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.

Pre discussion

  • 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, greenhouse gas emission
  • climate-friendly
  • fossil fuel
  • sustainable
  • ethical labour
  • environmentally friendly shipping

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.

The Video: PBS Hot Mess How To Make Clothes Less Terrible for the Planet

Discussion Questions

  • 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?
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Let me know how it goes…

Where did you go on vacation?

Where did you go on vacation?

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.

Hiking in Vermont

That’s why this week’s theme will be devoted to summer, vacations and routine-breakers.

Warm up

Do a quick Mind Map of the vocabulary associated with vacations.

The Discussion

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.

Click on the image to go to the site.

The next posts will feature a video or perhaps an article, but for today, the good ol’ Q&A will do the trick.

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Do you have a job or a mission?

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.

Pre discussion

  • 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

Discussion questions

  • 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?
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Profession: super hero

If you could do a job a week, which would they 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.

Pre Discussion

  • 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

Discussion

  • 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?
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Can my body language affect my mood?

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.

Teachers note: 

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:

Pre discussion

  • Some vocabulary:
    • posture
    • body language
    • non verbal behaviour
    • power dynamics
    • power and dominance
    • assertive
    • optimistic
    • hormone
    • 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

 

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Would you like to visit Mars?

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.

Pre discussion

  • 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?

Questions

  • 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?

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Have a good trip!

 

When you speak, do people listen?

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.

Pre discussion

  • 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…)

Legends Only

What makes good art?

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.

Pre discussion

  • 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

Discussion

  • 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?

Let me know how it goes…

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