Monthly Archives: September 2014

Group Discussion: Crime (take 2!)

Hey everybody!

Good morning! Here is our next discussion topic for Saturday (September 27th) and Monday (September 29th). The topic is crime!

We will start the discussion with one or two beginner questions, and then one or two intermediate questions, and with the rest of the time we will ask the advanced questions!

If you are a student of mine, I hope to see you at one of the discussion groups. If anybody (student or not) has any questions about this blog, please let me know: Post a comment here, find me on twitter, or email me through my website. Thanks!

During the next group discussion class, we will be talking about crimes. Here is a list of the lexis and possible questions which we may use during the lesson:

Lexis

Nouns

Adultery

Crime(s)

Criminal(s)

Penalt(y/ies)

Policeman/men

Poverty

Prison(s)

Punishment

Upbringing

Victim(s)

Verbs and Verb Phrases

Commit

Consider

Increase

Lock

Protect

Rehabilitate

Rob

Steal

Adjectives

Adult

Afraid

Common

Dangerous

Juvenile

Legal

Illegal

Prevalent

Safe

Severe

Violent

Expressions

Be allowed to

Be considered

Break the law

(the) Capital Punishment

Crime rate

(the) Death penalty

Life Imprisonment

Questions

Beginner

1.Do you think your country is a safe place to live? Why or why not?
2.Are some parts of this city considered more dangerous than others? Which parts? Are there any places you are afraid to visit because of the high crime rate?
3.Do you always lock your house? How about your car? What are some things people can do to protect themselves from crime?
4.Do you think policeman should be allowed to carry guns?
5.What crimes have you heard about recently in the news?
6.What kinds of crimes are increasing?

Intermediate

1.Have you ever been the victim of a crime? How about others in your family?
2.Is it ever O.K. to break the law? If so, when?
3.What kinds of crime are most common in your country? What are the penalties for these crimes?
4.Does prison help rehabilitate criminals? Should it?
5.Should adultery be considered a crime? Is downloading music or videos a crime? What are some things that are legal that you think should be illegal? What are some things that are illegal that you think should be legal?
6.If a person steals a loaf of bread because he needs to feed his starving family, should he be punished?

Advanced

1.Which punishment is more severe, the death penalty or life imprisonment? Do you think that capital punishment is a good idea? Why or why not?
2.Do you think that punishment for violent crimes should be the same for juveniles and adults? Why/why not?
3.What do you think is the worst crime a person could commit? Why?
4.What makes some people become criminals? Is it poverty, upbringing, lack of education, unemployment or something else?
5.Why do you think crime is more prevalent in some societies than in others?
6.Why do people commit crimes?

That’s it! Please prepare and ask me questions if you need help! You can email me too! Hope to see you next time.

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Group Discussion: Sleep

Hey everybody!

Sorry this is so late!  Our next topic is sleep.  We will only have a class this Saturday (September 20th).  There will be no class on Monday (September 22nd).

We will start the discussion with one or two beginner questions, and then one or two intermediate questions, and with the rest of the time we will ask the advanced questions!

If you are a student of mine, I hope to see you at one of the discussion groups. If anybody (student or not) has any questions about this blog, please let me know: Post a comment here, find me on twitter, or email me through my website. Thanks!

During the next group discussion class, we will be talking about homes. Here is a list of the lexis and possible questions which we may use during the lesson:

Lexis

Nouns

Insomnia

Nightmare(s)

Verbs and Verb Phrases

Interpret

Oversleep

Sleep in

Wake up

Adjectives

General(ly)

Expressions

Be a heavy/light sleeper

Go to bed

Take a nap

Questions

Beginner
  1. What time do you usually wake up?  What time do you usually go to bed?
  2. Do you ever sleep in?  Do you ever oversleep?
  3. Do you ever take naps?
Intermediate
  1. Are you a light sleeper or a heavy sleeper?
  2. How many hours of sleep do you generally need?
  3. Do you ever get insomnia?
Advanced
  1. Do you remember your dreams?
  2. Do you ever have nightmares?
  3. Do you think it’s possible to interpret dreams?  Why or why not?

That’s it!  Please prepare and ask me questions if you need help!  You can email me too!  Hope to see you next time.

Learning, Part 3: Deep vs. Surface Learning (2 of 3)

This post is part of a (roughly) monthly series of posts on my favorite topic of all: learning.

Last time I brought up deep vs. surface learning, and why you should take a deep approach to learning, especially when it comes to English.  This time I want to talk about how to become a deep learner.

So how do we become deep learners?

Develop intrinsic motivation

There are two kinds of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.

  • Intrinsic motivation is being motivated by an internal desire.  It means that you feel motivated to do something because you want to do it.
  • Extrinsic motivation is being motivated by an external reward, like money or respect or appeasing someone else.

What this means is that if you have intrinsic motivation, you don’t need any extrinsic rewards to want to do something.  Even if you never made any money, never got any approval or never became famous, you would still do what you do.

Extrinsic motivation is helpful, but if that’s all you have, it’s also fragile.  If the only reason you’re learning something is to make money, what are you going to do if you find out you can’t make money from it any more?  If you are only doing something to make someone else happy, what happens if that person doesn’t care?

When we are driven by intrinsic motivation, there is no rush, no desperate need to cross a finish line, because the whole process is enjoyable to us.  When we are driven by extrinsic motivation, we hurry to get to the finish line because that’s where the reward is.  The process itself is an obstacle to the reward.  With intrinsic motivation, the process is the reward.

Can you see now how being self-motivated can lead to deeper learning?  Can you see how being pressured can lead to shallower levels of learning?

Reflect on your Learning

Surface learners spend little to no time reflecting.  To them, the lesson or class itself is where all of the learning takes place.  Before and after, there is nothing else to do.  They treat learning almost like they are taking a car to a gas station: I’m on empty, so I need to go to the gas station briefly to get filled up, then I don’t need to come back until I’m empty again.

But learning is an ongoing process.  Your brain is a muscle, and it needs consistent workouts to function at its best, inside and outside of the classroom.

Also, the process is never-ending.  What this means is you should be thinking about what you’re learning both inside and outside of the classroom.

The truth is, if you wanted to, you could take a single aspect of English and go on asking questions about it forever.

Student: Teacher, what does “overwhelm” mean? (1)

Teacher: It means several things.  It means beat badly, or affect someone deeply and emotionally, or give too much of something…

Student: Is it a verb? (2)

Teacher: Yes, it is.

Student: Can it be used any other way? (3)

Teacher: Sure.  There’s an adjective form – overwhelming or overwhelmed.

Student: Can you say “underwhelm” or just “whelm”? (4)

Teacher: Well, you can say “underwhelm”, although we usually don’t, but you can’t say just “whelm”.

Student: How do you use it?  Can you give me an example sentence? (5)

Teacher: Let’s see… for example, “The Hanshin Tigers overwhelmed their opponents, winning the game 10-0.”

Student: I see.  Why can’t you say “whelm”?  “Over” and “under” are prefixes, right? (6, 7)

Teacher: Yes, that’s true.  Actually, “whelm” is an archaic word, so that’s why we don’t say it.

Student: What is an “archaic” word? (8)

Teacher: It’s a word that we used to use, but we don’t any more.

Student: I see.  Why don’t you use it any more? (9)

As you can see, you can take just one word and come up with a ton of questions about it, if you start considering how and why.  You could go on forever asking questions!  LOL

You can do this both during a lesson or at home (be sure to write your questions down so you don’t forget!).  If you have or find a good teacher, he or she will love these kinds of questions (hint: that’s one way to tell if you found a good teacher, ask him or her lots of questions!  LOL).

Deep learners think about what they learn.  They take it with them and, when they have time, play with it in their mind.  They are curious, and they wonder.  So how do you reflect?

Next time I’m going to give you a simple tool to help you develop your reflection skills, and also probably the most important piece of advice to remember as a learner.  Hope to see you then!

Daily English Challenge: “As you wish”

In the extremely popular film “The Princess Bride“, the main character (Westley) uses the same phrase in response to his secret love’s (Buttercup) requests several times.  When she orders him to do something, he responds with “As you wish.”

Many English learners assume “as you wish” means “do whatever you want.”  This is an understandable mistake, because “as you wish” sounds a lot like “do as you wish/want”, but there is a subtle difference between them.  Let’s watch it in context and see if we can figure out how it is being used.

As you can see, the farm boy (Westley) is happy to obey the requests of his love (Buttercup).  So “as you wish” simply means “if you want me to do that, I’ll (happily) do that.”  As they say in the scene, it’s his way of expressing his love for her.  It’s actually a very romantic expression!

So why don’t we hear it much nowadays?  Well, like with many expressions used in fantasy movies, it’s overly formal and outdated!  It sounds extremely formal or romantic, almost poetic.  Nowadays we’d use expressions like “of course” or “sure” or “my pleasure.”

However, I was a big fan of this movie, and this was one of the most common expressions that I remember from it, so I wanted to share it.  Here is another example of it, but I have to warn you: it’s towards the end of the movie, so if you’ve never seen it and you want to see it, don’t watch this video (it spoils part of the end!):

This is a short one today, but I hope that explains the daily challenge!  If you have any more questions contact me on twitter, my website or right here in the comments section!

 

Group Discussion: Home

Hey everybody!

First, an announcement: We no longer have a Tuesday evening class, but we now have a Saturday afternoon one at 3pm, every week (except national holidays)!

This week (September 6th) the topic will be children.  The following week (September 8th and 13th) the topic will be homes!

We will start the discussion with one or two beginner questions, and then one or two intermediate questions, and with the rest of the time we will ask the advanced questions!

If you are a student of mine, I hope to see you at one of the discussion groups. If anybody (student or not) has any questions about this blog, please let me know: Post a comment here, find me on twitter, or email me through my website. Thanks!

During the next group discussion class, we will be talking about homes. Here is a list of the lexis and possible questions which we may use during the lesson:

Lexis

Nouns

Advantage(s)

Disadvantage(s)

Home(s)

House(s)

Location(s)

Neighbor(s)

Verbs and Verb Phrases

Be like

Keep (pets)

Adjectives

Present

Expressions

Dream home

How well

Questions

Beginner
  1. Is your home in a convenient location? What is near your home?
  2. Do you keep pets in your home?
  3. Do you like the place where you are living? Why or why not?
  4. How many rooms are there in your house? What is your favorite room in your house? Why? Which room do you spend the most time in?
  5. Who do you live with?
Intermediate
  1. How long have you lived where you are living now?
  2. How many different homes have you lived in? Which one did you like the best? Which one did you like the least? Why?
  3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of living in a small home? How about living in a big one?
  4. Have you changed anything in your house recently? If so, what did you change?
  5. What are the most important things you look for when choosing a house to live in?
Advanced
  1. Who are your neighbors? How well do you know them?
  2. What do you think houses in the future will be like?
  3. What makes ‘a house’ into ‘a home’?
  4. If you could change anything about your present home, what would it be?
  5. Where would your dream home be? What would it be like?

That’s it!  Please prepare and ask me questions if you need help!  You can email me too!  Hope to see you next time.