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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Are you a “multipotentialite”? Wait? What

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…

Pre discussion

  • 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?

The Video

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!

What do you worry…? Preposition Practice

Prepositions can be a bit nebulous to second language learners. Yet they do a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to meaning. So in many cases, it’s important to get it right. Here is a very short activity that requires the participants to complete the questions with the correct preposition. BUT after the exercise is complete, you can use the questions for a general discussion…double whammy.

Also, if as a teacher you need to get your head around explaining prepositions, this Khan academy presentation breaks it down a little. This is not material I would use with a student, but I thought it was interesting to freshen up my grammar knowledge and get a bit of the method behind the preposition madness. So to speak.

Meet the Preposition

 

What picture speaks to you?

In my opinion, photography is one of the most important inventions of the last century. The ability to record our past, slices of life, memories. Its impact on history and culture is so vast, it goes way beyond our little discussion circle.

ESL with pictures is probably one of my most powerful lessons. It doesn’t matter what level you students are at, a picture is bound to conjure some vocabulary

National Geographic is one of my “go to’s” when it comes to esl picture prompts. So many of their pictures give me pause. Either because of their beauty or what they tell.

Let’s dive right into this lesson and visit National Geographic’s Photo of the Day Archive…

  • Let the students pick a photo that they find interesting.
  • Have them describe it
  • Have the other student do a Power Listing exercise and ask the speaker at least one question or provide one comment about what was said.
  • You could also do a Q&A exercise where the student pick a picture in their minds and the others ask questions to try to discover which picture it is.

Let me know how it goes…

 

What would be different if I knew then what I know now?

Experience is a funny thing. When we don’t have it, we don’t always know it. We are in a state of  “blissful ignorance.” What is blissful about ignorance you ask? Well mainly that we can go around judging things with a feeling of superiority and mastery.

Let’s consider a concrete example…

Ever stroll through the aisles of the supermarket, quietly contemplating dinner plans and peacefully reading labels only to be violently yanked out of  your reverie by a screaming child? You know what I am talking about: the epic supermarket toddler meltdown. Oh yes, they cry they scream, either they want out, they want in. For goodness sake, what do they want?

I admit it, I judged the parents of those children. But now that I am a mother, I too have been the mother of a screaming toddler. Sometimes I reflect on how my perspective has changed and I feel guilty about my un-empathetic superior thoughts I had about those parents.

This lesson features a funny video about how non-parents see parents. I like the video because it is repetitive enough that students may be able to get the humour.  As you may know, understanding humour in a foreign language is rather challenging, so any time I find something that can make people laugh, I like to use it.

But I feel the discussion lies beyond the video. I think it’s about how experience changes us. And how sometimes that very experience can have us looking as crazy as the people on the video.

Rather than have a pre-discussion as a warm up, I would use the video to get prime the participants’ thoughts.

The Video: What Parenting Sounds Like to Non-Parents

Discussion

  • Can you think of a ‘before and after’ situation where experience made you change your perspective?
  • What events in your life (e.g. becoming a parent, changing jobs, moving to a foreign country) have changed the way you think about things?
  • Can you remember a scene in your life that made you look as crazy and the people in the video?
  • If you were going to make a video like this one, what would the topic be?

How do you make hard choices?

So much of me has changed since I entered adulthood. My career, my interests, my abilities. And some of these changes have put me before some of the hardest decisions of my life. Like choosing to put my career on hold to raise my daughters. Or shifting my practice to literacy and dyslexia remediation when I became brave enough to admit my own struggle with dyslexia.

But before making those hard choices, I felt caught between what I ought to do and what I want to do. And sometimes this tension became so great that I had to make concrete changes to find peace.

Changing careers, changing partners, changing schools, changing where we live…those are all hard choices. So what governs our decisions? In Ruth Chang’s TED talk “How to make hard choices”, Chang fleshes out how we weigh the pros and cons and how culture influences this. Chang argues that hard choices are precious opportunities that show us that we have the power to become the individuals we desire to be.

See also Let’s make some Let’s make some comparisons.

Pre discussion

  • What major life changes can you share?
  • What were the options? Between what and what were you choosing?
  • How have the changes influenced your life?

The video: Ruth Chang: How to make hard choices

  • Do a Tell Back of Chang’s main points
  • What is the difference between scientific thinking and value-based decision making?
  • Why do you think Chang studies the phenomenon of hard choices?
  • How does this shed light on your own hard choices?

Are you good with conflict?

Even though I know how to stand up for myself, it is not my favorite thing to do. It will inevitably cause awkwardness perhaps even anger. I might be perceived and agressive or unreasonable.

Yet, we all have to deal with conflicting view points at some time or another. Perhaps some have to deal with it every day. Heck , some make a career of it.

That’s why I like this article from Thrive Global (Ariana Huffington‘s wellness publication). In it there are practical tips on how to deal with relationship conflict. The article is nicely organized, well supported and each part succinct. It makes for a great Tell Back article and probably a few anecdotes.

Pre discussion

  • How are you with conflict? Are you more a fighter or lover?
  • Do you have any moments (perhaps not too personal) where you have had to stand up for yourself?

The Article: 9 Ways do Deal with Relationship Conflict

  • Take each of the 9 points and pull out the main recommendation
  • Are there any recommendations that you disagree with?
  • Are there any that you see yourself adopting?
  • Is there a pattern or something that each recommendation has in common?

Are billionaires a good or bad thing?

I don’t know if any of you buy lottery tickets, but I don’t. I suppose my logical brain tells me that the chances are so low that I shouldn’t waste my money. Still, when the jackpot goes up high, I can’t help my thoughts wander to odd fantasies of what I would do if I had that much money.

I’ve often heard that we need billionaires because they create wealth for everyone. In the financial terms, this notion of trickle down economics  is rooted in the idea that over taxing the wealthy will do more harm than good. Forbes magazine poses this very question and ask famous billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates about the consequences of a wealth tax. The answer may surprise you.

This article is a vocabulary rich text, appropriate for intermediate to advanced learners.

Pre discussion

  • What would you do if you were a billionaire?
  • Which billionaires are philanthropic (use their fortune to better the world)?
  • Do you think billionaires are a good thing or a bad thing?

The article–Forbes Bill Gates gets why people are doubting billionaires

  • Pull out the economic related vocabulary
  • Do a Tell Back of what Gates says about over taxing billionaires

The article is pretty intense, so I will leave it at those two points for now, but if you have a question suggestion, please don’t hesitate to add it to the comments.

What is your parenting philosophy?

Parenting is probably one of the toughest jobs on the planet. We all do it slightly differently and usually have fairly strong beliefs about how it should be done.

In this post I have two references for you. First a psych-quiz on parenting styles:

And then a series of open ended questions from the TESL Journal to fuel discussion further:

http://iteslj.org/questions/parenting.html

 

Let’s make some comparisons…

Cats or dogs? Chocolate or ice cream? Making comparisons can ignite some interesting debates with the simplest of prompts.

Most of my posts include some sort of first language ressource to use as a launch pad or a vocabulary building tool. However, sometimes I like to see what words live spontaneously in the minds of my students.

Some of my more extraverted learners enjoy this because they do not have to struggle with the dual task of incorporating new words while stringing together meaning. Others find it utterly daunting because they have nothing to inspire their thoughts. Or the idea of just talking makes everything jam up inside.

In both cases, open ended questions can be either a good relief or a good challenge (that you can scaffold with various prompts if necessary).

Here is a good ressources to practice comparatives. The site features a ton questions organized in different themes and focuses, but I like this one because it contains a lot of variety and a relatively easy grammar element.

eslconversationquestions.com: equative