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Teaching Tips 217

The phone call
Oscar time
Year of the Sheep

phone call

The phone call

Using the telephone in English is one of the more challenging skills that a lot of our students need to master & clearly a difficult means of communication due to the absence of body language or paralinguistic features. Here are a few guidelines on developing this is in & out of class.

phoning

  • teach conventional beginnings, endings, & functional language that cater to phone needs - requesting, giving information, arranging to meet etc...

  • help students to plan for the phone - for incoming calls they could have a list of phone language handy, together with some comprehension strategies - 'Could you repeat/spell that please?, I didn't catch that last bit, could you say it again, please? etc..'

  • for outgoing calls, encourage the students to take notes in preparation. You could provide a phone form to complete beforehand that focuses them on the relevant organisation of their call.

  • lots of rehearsals in the classroom - sit the students back-to-back to simulate the lack of paralinguistics. If you can use internal phones in the school or company, so much the better. Look for opportunities to bring in phone roleplays & use them as warmers & coolers.

  • lots of listening & listening strategies, & notetaking development.

  • a comparison between English-based phone language conventions & those of the students' own conventions. In Spain, one picks up the phone & says 'Digame' - literally 'Tell me' - not really one to transfer.

  • our students are going to have problems on the phone so we need to build up their confidence & ability to deal
    with the unknown. A practical way to do this is with blocking telephone roleplays. See the 'Blocking Roleplays' Tip:
    http://www.developingteachers.com/tips/pasttips10.htm

  • encourage out of classroom phoning to each other - homework could ask them to use the phone in an information gap task.

  • ask friends & colleagues to be available for phone calls - set up some tasks.

  • if in an English-speaking country, set up tasks so that students phone different organisations for information e.g. travel agents to research holidays - the students come together to collate the information to see which offered the best deals. This could be planning a day out for the class - & then you go out for the day together!

Here are a couple of links:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/business/
talkingbusiness/unit1telephone/1connecting.shtml

http://www.businessenglishpod.com/category/telephoning/

A tricky area but one that can be fun in class.
And then you can go on to exploit your students' fascination with the smartphone & use it for lots of things in & out of the classroom to support their language development.

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The Oscars

Oscar time

Here are a variety of film & Oscar-related teaching ideas:

Below is a list of the nominees & winners in bold, which might make for an interesting discussion for the film-interested group. See below for further ideas to use with these lists. .

Best Picture:
American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

Best Director:
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

Best Actor:
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Best Actress:
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Supporting Actor:
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress:
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into The Woods

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Did you know that:

'Popular legend has the Oscars statuette as unchanging, made of precious metals, and non-replaceable. This is not entirely the case. One-off variants have twice been produced. In 1939, Walt Disney was voted a special award for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The Academy presented him with one normal one, plus seven little miniatures.'
And:

'In 1937, the supporting actress winner Alice Brady was at home nursing a broken ankle. When her award was announced, a man stepped forward to receive it, then left the stage. Neither he nor the statuette was ever seen again.'
These are from the article 'Oscars Babylon: Tales from the Academy awards - Tonight, Hollywood's red carpet is rolled out once again for the annual orgy of self-congratulation. But not everything in the history of the Oscars is a cause for back-slapping.'

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/
oscars-babylon-tales-from-the-academy-awards-1917584.html

Read the article, take a few notes & give your students some interesting live listening.

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Have a look at the following short article:

Academy has custody of some 100 orphaned Oscars
By The Associated Press – 18.2.09

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences requires all Oscar nominees to sign a contract specifying that they will not sell their statuette without first offering it back to the 
academy for $1.

The so-called winner's agreement dates back to 1951, at a time when the organization began to worry about orphaned Oscars winding up in the hands of the highest bidder.

So, how many Oscar winners have sold their statuettes to the academy for a buck?

None, says AMPAS Executive Director Bruce Davis, although Oscars still make their way back to the academy's custody.

"We have statuettes willed back to us fairly regularly — maybe two per year — from recipients who don't have appropriate heirs, or who just want to be sure that nothing undignified ever befalls their Oscar," Davis says.

The academy says it owns almost 100 statuettes that have been returned by winners, heirs, or buyers like Steven Spielberg, who purchased pre-agreement Oscars won by Clark Gable and Bette Davis in order to return them to AMPAS.

Statuettes from the collection occasionally go on display at 
academy headquarters in Beverly Hills, Calif., and eventually, the organization's long-planned Oscar museum in Hollywood will include space for more of the collection.

To use this - cut & mix up the paragraphs & students put in a 
logical order. They justify their logical sequencing decisions to 
all Then possibly on to some other language focus eg. direct & 
indirect speech decisions. 
Follow this with a discussion:- why & what uses could the 
statuettes be put to? Some must have been sold as Spielberg 
needed to buy them back? etc...

*******

- Check out any of the following for good material on the cinema & the Oscars:
http://www.hollywood.com
http://www.oscars.com
http://oscars.movies.yahoo.com/
http://www.imdb.com
http://www.allmovie.com
http://darkhorizons.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academy_Awards
http://eonline.com
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com
http://www.filmsite.org - an excellent source of info about film. The author, Timothy Dirks, lists his top 100 all time favourite films - you'll probably disagree - there's a paragraph about each of the 100 films which could be exploited nicely in class. Lots of other related topics including the famous film quotes page.

- http://script-o-rama.com - a massive collection of film scripts. Gone are the days of transcribing pages of the script to use in class. Just copy & paste the part you need.

- Oscar quiz - check out the Tim Dirks' site above.

- Oscars - discuss equivalent in own country - language of prediction & comparison before 'X will win because...' - language of past criticism afterwards 'X should've won because...' - language of dis/agreement with the Oscar results

- Lexical field - actor, actress, star, an extra, a bit part, producer, cameraman, studio, to shoot a film, still, clip, excerpt, set, on location, to edit, script, lines, costumes, action, different genres (western, comedy, adventure, sci-fi etc), screening, premier, critic, reviews ...

- A good opportunity to review narrative telling.

- Past Tips around film:
Budding Screenwriters:
http://www.developingteachers.com/tips/pasttips51.htm
Shadow reading:
http://www.developingteachers.com/tips/pasttips11.htm

- Famous film quotes - match film, character & quote.
http://www.afi.com/docs/tvevents/pdf/quotes100.pdf - 100 quotes
'To get an Oscar would be an incredible moment in my career, there is no doubt about that. But the 'Lord of the Rings' films are not made for Oscars, they are made for the audience.'
Peter Jackson
'I live in Spain. Oscars are something that are on TV Sunday night. Basically, very late at night. You don't watch, you just read the news after who won or who lost. '
Javier Bardem

- Film reviews - students could write them for films they have recently seen to swap around for colleagues to read & add comments when seen - an on-going mini-project. There are several net chat groups for students devoted to this as well.

- Cinema What's On Guide - we would naturally scan a cinema guide so give out one to each students & you ask a question, the students look quickly for the answer & raise their hands when they have found it - wait till half have their hands up & elicit the answer & locate it for those who are having difficulties. Have eight to ten questions ready e.g.. Where can you see 'The Full Monty? What time/How much ...etc. It's a very good way of gauging the scanning ability in the group.

- Making a film - imperatives - beginner students act out a short scene using imperatives from the director on tape - total physical response - a great effective way of building up elementary students store of verbs. A possible procedure would be to act it out yourself, taking on both roles while students listen & watch you, after several times the students then act out to the tape & then they write their own instructions in small groups for a short scene & you can feed in the verbs they need. The one std reads out the verbs & the others from the group act - for the rest of the class to observe.
Tip - Action - TPR:
http://www.developingteachers.com/tips/pasttips35.htm

- Interviews with the stars - dubbing - this involves the class discussing a picture of a film star & writing a list of questions they would like to ask the person in the picture. When a series of questions has been complied, give the picture to a std who takes on that role & the others interview her/him. A well prepared roleplay then ensues.

- Interview with a film star - one word collective person - this is a fun, challenging roleplay. There is an interviewer & three/four students take the role of the one interviewee. Each std supplies one word in the response to a question e.g.. Why did you start acting? A:Well B:at C:school D:I A:was B:always C:involved D:in A:the B:Christmas C:play. Each std has to continue the utterance so that it makes sense. Can be difficult but lots of fun.

- Day in the life of a film star - this could come as a continuation of the previous activity - students write up a typical day by way of compiling the responses from the interview - they take notes when they ask the questions.

- Discussion topics - Does violence in movies influence real-life events? - Prefer the book or the film? - The film star you would like to meet? What say/do? - Where prefer to sit in the cinema? Front, middle, back? Why?

- Roleplay ideas - son wants to be an actor, Dad wants him to be a doctor like him, Mum is caught in the middle - you are an actor in the middle of shooting a film & the director wants to change your lines (reduce them!) & you disagree strongly etc....

- Have a class outing to the cinema & then use it in class.

- Get students to go to see films & report back to the class - if they go to the cinema a lot, this could be a regular early in the week feature of the lesson. They could write reviews for each other, recommending or not that they see the film.

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year of the sheep

It is the Chinese New Year on the 19th February, the start of the Year of the Sheep.

'Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. In China, it is also known as the 'Spring Festival', the literal translation of the modern Chinese name. Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally ran from Chinese New Year's Day itself, the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month. The evening preceding Chinese New Year's Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the Chinese New Year is often referred to as the "Lunar New Year".'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_New_Year

So if you were born in the year of the Sheep - 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015 this is your profile according to Chinese astrology.

SHEEP (Goats)

February 13, 1907 to February 1, 1908 (fire)
February 1, 1919 to February 19, 1920 (earth)
February 17, 1931 to February 5, 1932 (metal)
February 5, 1943 to January 24, 1944 (water)
January 24, 1955 to February 11, 1956 (wood)
February 9, 1967 to January 29, 1968 (fire)
January 28, 1979 to February 15, 1980 (earth)
February 15, 1991 to February 3, 1992 (metal)

Celebrities include:
Rudolph Valentino - Boris Becker - King George VI -
Veronica Lake

Sheep (Goats) are regarded by Chinese astrologers as having a strong essence of "Yin", therefore the most feminine of the animal signs. The are typically elegant, charming, artistic, and fond of natural items. Sheep personalities often find expression in craftsmanship rather than originality. They are very conservative and often leave their creative sides unexplored when it comes to career advancements.
Sheep are insecure and need to feel loved and needed. They shy away from confrontation and often follow the crowd instead of standing up for their true beliefs. They resent being led by others, although they allow it. This characteristic often leads them to ask for help, then resist it when it comes.
They study the esoteric, reading books on new-age beliefs, astrology, and fortune-telling. Because of their indecision, Sheep do not usually make good business people. They prefer to use their artistic talents and craftsmanship skills.
Sheep are typically very romantic and sensitive. They are hard to resist with their loving and caring nature, and make excellent spouses.

Check out the material attached to the New Year lesson plan for all of the horoscopes for the different animals.
http://developingteachers.com/newsletterplans/feb4_2002.htm

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There is a lesson plan about the Chinese New Year on the site. First there is a lead in with a discussion about some fortune cookie sayings. Then there is a general article about the Chinese New Year, followed by an introduction to the Chinese calendar where students find out which animal represents their birth year. Then they read & discuss an interpretation of their animal characteristics.

Plan at:
http://developingteachers.com/newsletterplans/feb3_2002.htm
Materials at:
http://developingteachers.com/newsletterplans/feb4_2002.htm

Activity Village has lots of excellent materials for the younger learner:
http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/chinese_new_year.htm
Some nice Chinese zodiac posters, lots of adjectives to play with:
http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/chinese_zodiac_posters.htm
Stories from China:
http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/stories_from_china.htm

Apart from the New Year celebrations it is an excuse to bring in
material about this amazing country. Here are a couple of examples:
Wine exports to China - for the business group:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/01/spanish-wine-wins-
best-wine-china-magazine

Top 10 attractions of China:
http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/china-top-10-
attractions.htm

The best of China:
http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/top-highlights-of-
china.htm

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The Story of the Chinese Zodiac

Many people have wondered over the years how it was that the rat, the smallest of all the creatures, was given the honour of having the first year of the Chinese Zodiac named after him. This is the story I have heard.

A very long time ago, the Jade Emperor, who ruled the heavens of China, sent a message to all the animals asking them to come together so that he could give each of them a year, which would make it easier for the people of China to keep track of time. The cat and the rat were good friends and decided to travel to meet the Jade Emperor together.

When it came time to leave, however, the cat was taking a nap. The rat, realising that he would have to use all his cunning to be noticed by the Jade Emperor, left his friend sleeping, and set off on his own. This is why there is no year named after the cat, and also why cats have hated rats ever since.

When the rat arrived, the Jade Emperor welcomed him and the other animals and told them that they should all take part in a swimming race. Once again, the rat realised that he would have to be very clever if he wanted to win the race. He found the largest, strongest animal, which was the ox, and pleaded with him to let him ride on its head. The ox was kind and strong, and agreed that they would swim across together. The rat travelled safely across the river on the ox's back, but, just before they reached the other side, climbed over the ox's head, jumped onto land, and reached the finish line first. The rat had proved its cunning, and the Jade Emperor named the first year after the rat and the second year after the ox.

http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/the_story_of_the_Chinese_zodiac.pdf

Apart from a straightforward reading text or some live listening - you tell the story to the students, this might be suitable to cut up, every three lines, & logically order, or use as a dictation, a traditional one or a running dictation (see: Running around - http://www.developingteachers.com/tips/pasttips30.htm ) - for both younger learners & adults.

year of the sheep

Here is a 20-part overview of the Chinese New Year - lots of facts. For big classes the students could have one section each & mingle, explaining & listening to other sections, possibly completing a chart, & then discussing which information they found the most interesting. And for the smaller group, choose the most interesting sections & do the same. Clearly, grade the sections to suit the level.

1. The 15-day festival, which starts on January 31 this year, is based on a combination of lunar and solar movements. It starts with the first new moon of each calendar year and ends on the full moon.

2. Food is a big part of Chinese New Year celebrations, and many meals are eaten with family and friends. Some traditional dishes for the holidays are nian gao cake, steamed rice pudding, long noodles, and dumplings.

3. Homes are cleaned top to bottom before the beginning of the new year, and all cleaning equipment is put away before New Year's Eve because it's believed that good fortune may be swept away if cleaning is done on New Year's Day.

4. The Chinese New Year's Eve and New Year's Day holidays are very family-centered celebrations. Many dinners are held with family and friends, deceased relatives are honoured, and children receive gifts and participate in traditions like cleaning ahead of the celebration and the Lantern Festival.

5. Before New Year's Day, homes are decorated with trays of oranges and tangerines (which are also brought by visitors during the holiday), a candy tray with eight kinds of dried sweet fruits, and live plants and vases of fresh flowers. Wishes for the new year are written on red paper.

6. There is a focus on ancestors and family members who have passed during the festival. On New Year's Eve, a dinner for ancestors is arranged at the family banquet table, so that all family members, deceased and living, can ring in the new year with a communal feast (called weilu), according to Nations Online.

7. Legend holds that the Chinese New Year began with a battle against a mythical beast called the Nian, who would come on the first day of the new year to eat children, livestock, and crops. In order to protect themselves from the Nian, villages put food in front of their doors believing that the creature would eat that and leave everything else alone. It was believed that the Nian was afraid of the colour red and firecrackers, so people would hang red lanterns outside and set off firecrackers.

8. Firecrackers are set off on New Year's Eve to send out the old year and welcome in the new. In China, officials are trying to discourage fireworks displays this year in order to reduce air pollution, reports The Guardian.

9. There are different traditions for each day of the New Year celebration. Many people abstain from meat on the first day, as that is believed to bring good luck for the year. Instead they eat a vegetarian dish called jai, which contains ingredients like lotus seed (signifying having many male children), dried bean curd (representing wealth and happiness), and bamboo shoots, explains Chow.com. Fresh tofu is not included, as the white colour is considered bad luck and representative of death and misfortune.

10. On the second day, the Chinese pray to both their ancestors and to all of the gods. It's believed that this day is the birthday of all dogs, as well, so canine friends get a lot of love (and food!) on day two.

11. On days three and four, sons-in-law are expected to pay respects to their parents-in-law.

12. The fifth day of the Chinese New Year is called Po Woo or Po Wu, reports China.org, and on that day people stay home to welcome the god of wealth. It's believed that visiting family and friends on this day will bring bad luck.

13. Visiting is back on from days six to 10, where the Chinese also visit temples to pray for wealth and health in the coming year.

14. On day seven, farmers display their harvest and make a celebratory drink from seven types of vegetables. As day two is considered the birthday of dogs, day seven is the birthday of human beings, and long noodles (for longevity) and raw fish (for success) are eaten as part of the celebrations. Check out this recipe for long life noodles with chicken.

15. The Fujian people have a family reunion dinner again on day eight, with midnight prayers to Tian Gong, the god of heaven (and the namesake of China's first space station).

16. Offerings to the Jade Emperor are made on day nine. In Chinese mythology, the Jade Emperor is the ruler of heaven and the creator of the universe, according to Godchecker.com.

17. On days 10 through 12, friends and relatives receive dinner invitations. That means that on the 13th day, people eat rice congee and mustard greens to recover from days of rich meals.

18. The 14th day is spent getting ready for the Lantern Festival on the 15th night. On the fifteenth day, when the moon is full, the Lantern Festival is held. As part of the festivities, children carry lanterns in a nighttime parade.

19. Red is a key colour for New Year's celebrations, as it symbolizes a bright and happy future. People wear red clothing during the festivities, explains Colour Lovers, and children, unmarried friends, and close relatives are given little red envelopes (lai see) with money inside for good luck.

20. This year will mark the beginning of the Year of the Horse: this animal signifies surprises in adventure and romance, and people born during this year are believed to be good communicators, kind, talkative, independent, and impatient.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/01/24/chinese-new-year-
facts_n_4659549.html?ir=Canada+Living

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