The English Learners' Blog

A blog for English learners and their teachers everywhere, initiated in 2010 with the contribution of students from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. More about me on the On-line Profile below. Welcome!

What Could You Do with a One-Minute Story?

Emily Casriel, Head of Editorial Partnerships and special projects for BBC World Service Group, gives a detailed account of her project Take 10 animation in a blog post published a month ago.  

This project involves MA student animators from the Animation Department at the University of the West of England (UWE), who were given a great challenge: to animate 10 one-minute audio clips, inspired by 10 inspirational stories  from BBC World Service.

Here is how  

Student animators get creative with one minute World Service stories

Testimony of former child soldier Deng Adut, animated by Laura-Beth Cowley and Carwyn David.

Take the harrowing tale of being hauled in front of Islamic student activists in Iran, the search for an elusive bird in East Africa or the first-person experience of a child soldier. Hack each complex and rich story to precisely one minute. Now present those 60-second tales to a bunch of student animators and ask them to draw upon their wildest creative imagination to craft films that are so full of personality that they will engage people across the world. 

When I visited the Animation Department at the University of the West of England UWE to meet its MA students, I was presenting them with a demanding challenge. As I played the one-minute audio clips, drawn from a range of BBC World Service output, the animators listened intently with furrowed brows and occasional smiles.  

The students were already visualising how they could bring to life an attractive story while plotting how they could wriggle out of being assigned the toughest stories. Who would be tasked with imagining the story of a corrosive Soviet town and who would have fun bringing to life the wine-loving bear?

I first developed the partnership with the University of West of England (UWE) two years ago, when it was already clear that animating audio was an effective way to engage audiences which might not already be consuming BBC News content. Bethan Jinkinson from BBC World Service Digital was excited to collaborate on this project because of its potential to showcase and share the richness of our audio offer.

Research with the BBC’s Global Minds panel indicated that audiences liked snacking on content. The combination of factual content with a creative treatment seems to be attractive, perhaps because it engages both sides of our brain. Sharing something intelligent, yet still accessible, makes people look informed in front of their peers, which in turn drives viral success.

The search for a rare East African bird inspired animator Thomas Porras.

The BBC is increasingly experimenting with animated audio – from Omar’s Journey which depicts the journey of a teenage refugee in the Jungle in Calais based upon his own drawings, to The Today Programme animating the news. When I used to run the ideas discussion show The Forum I even experimented by personally animating its 60 second idea.  

I sought out UWE in Bristol as it is renowned for its creative flair and enjoys links to some of the most successful animation companies in the world, such as the local Aardman studios, home of Wallace and Gromit. Back in 2014, we collaborated with Chris Webster, the course leader, and his second year BA students to produce an animation based on a BBC World Service Outlook interview about Antarctica, saunas and naked running. Truly.

There were many exchanges over the tiniest of details from the texture of the sky (richer and more artistic) to permissible nudity (bottoms acceptable, full frontal not). I learned that the students needed to be encouraged to fly free of a too literal interpretation of the spoken word, while still keeping to the spirit of the message. This knowledge was useful when I briefed the graduate students this year for our more fully fledged partnership.   

My follow-up visit to the MA students was exciting if a little daunting for all of us. The students, who had been attracted to the course from across the world – from Vietnam to Venezuela – were now on the cusp of exposing their creative imagination to an external client for the very first time, awaiting judgement on the first ‘draft’ of their one-minute masterpieces.

From the moment the first film was shown on the screen, I could see that the MA students were in a different league to their BA counterparts. Yet I was a little confused by seeing a set of wooden films with little movement. The students patiently explained to me that the animatic wasn’t the finished film, merely a moving sketch book.

They had all put tremendous energy into researching the world behind their one minute clips.   Michail Gkialas Fikaris had watched numerous YouTube videos of his beatboxing subject (above) to understand not only the artist but also the beatboxing culture.

Linh Nguyen had drawn upon a Japanese vintage aesthetic to animate the story of a robot (above) which was born the moment its mother unwrapped the packaging. Not content with the audio narrative that I had presented to her, she had inserted an angry unicorn with a murderous laser beam as a visual sub plot. This burst of creativity led to a discussion about the importance of a visual narrative that would complement rather than compete with the audio. Linh’s finished animation sticks a little more faithfully to the audio clip, though it is still full of visual jokes reflecting her subversive originality.

I was also impressed with how Nagore Rementeria Muriel used stark black and white graphic images and negative space to create a tense atmosphere in her depiction of fear in revolutionary Iran (above). She built a 3D model of an Iranian man to rotate for the animation, and scribbled intimidating anonymous figures.  

Hannah Stevens had enlisted the help of her six year old cousin to imagine the two headed purple mutants of a fabled Soviet town, and then drew on World War Two propaganda films to create a cinematic atmosphere (above).  

And it was fantastic to see some stop motion animation in the mix with Sasha Lawrence’s story of the first legal inter-racial marriage in South Africa. Sasha took plywood and plaster to create a three tiered wedding cake (above) and found a 1980s Jet Magazine picture of the couple online to inspire her creation of the bride and groom puppets. 

At the end of our session together, tutor Chris Webster told his students that one of the most valuable lessons of this partnership was to understand the mindset of a client and the likelihood that they wouldn’t understand the animating process. He is committed to helping his students not only develop their own voice – all of the animations are highly individual – but also equip them with skills that will enable them to succeed in the world of deadlines and client demands. 

I am excited to share these jewels with our worldwide audience by publishing them on the BBC website, broadcasting them on BBC World News and seeing reactions as we share these films on a whole range of social media platforms. I hope that people around the world will appreciate the thought and inventiveness that has gone into these richly layered treats and feel tempted to find out more.       

The animations are available on the BBC News website, BBC World News and across social media. 

 

Filed under: 3►STYLE, 5►LEARN MORE FROM:, ■ ANIMATE, ■ Animations, ■ Communicate, ■ Creativity, ■ How to Tell a Story, ■ Movies, ■ The Path of Metaphor, ■ Thinking Space, ►META PHORS▼

Aristotle and the Philosophy of Everyday Life

Many of the sayings we use daily were first coined by Aristotle (384-BC – 322 BC).
His studies in living the Good Life (nothing to do with Felicity Kendall looking seductive in dungarees and wellies) included advice like; moderation in all things, friends are worth more than gold and one swallow doesn’t make a summer. Fair enough, but how can we stop just quoting him and start living Aristotle’s Good Life? Much of his thinking seems surprisingly contemporary. He covers mindfulness, the value of teachers (his habit of wandering around the grounds of the school he founded, the Lyceum, in Athens, with his pupils trotting after him, led his pupils to be referred to as ‘the peripatetics”, or “people who travel about”) and the difficulties of adolescence.
So here’s BBC Radio 4’s guide to Aristotle’s ‘Good Life’

1. Value your friends

“For without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.”

2. Keep learning

Aristotle considered happiness to come more often from “those who are highly cultivated in their minds and in their character, and have only a moderate share of external goods, than among those who possess external goods to a useless extent but are deficient in higher qualities.” So that’s something to bear in mind when you go over your overdraft limit.

3. Reward yourself for overcoming personal struggles

“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.”

4. Value teachers

The mean-spirited phrase ‘those that can, do. Those that can’t, teach” is a corruption of Aristotle’s ‘those that know, do. Those that understand, teach.” Aristotle saw happiness, fulfilment and a sense of civic duty all arising from education, and felt that “those who educate children well are more to be honoured than parents, for these only gave life, those the art of living well.”

5. Do it, don’t just talk about it

Actions speak louder than words. “Virtue is more clearly shown in the performance of fine actions than in the non-performance of base ones.”

6. Practise mindful meditation

A thought is just a thought. It doesn’t need to be acted upon. “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

7. And finally…

Aristotle’s ultimate, and most difficult realisation. “Happiness depends upon ourselves.”

Filed under: 1►TO DO, 5►LEARN MORE FROM:, ■ Books, ■ The Path of Metaphor, ■ Thinking Space

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014 !!!

Alina AlensThank you for your support and suggestions over the three years of ELB! Counting on you in the future, so do let your thoughts unravel freely our way. Here are the most popular posts of 2013 in review. May each and every one of you have a great New Year ahead, with many reasons to celebrate living, learning and growing!!! 

All the best,

Alina Alens

Filed under: 0►TRUST, ■ The Path of Metaphor, ►META PHORS▼

The Golden Rules of Telling a Great Story

by Andrew Stanton

How to Tell a Story

Filmmaker Andrew Stanton  is the writer behind the three “Toy Story” movies, the writer/director of “WALL-E,” and “John Carter.” In the video below he shares what he knows about storytelling — starting at the end and working back to the beginning.

Warning: this video contains graphic language…

Filed under: 3►SPEAK▼, ■ How to Tell a Story, ■ Movies, ►META PHORS▼

Last Classes, New Ideas :)

Happy summer holiday 2013!!!

Happy summer holiday 2013!!!

Hello!

This school year is rapidly drawing to a close, so I will take this opportunity to wish you all a very peaceful summer and to reassure you that the ELB is going to still benefit from new thoughts in the summer, just like before. After all, life’s lessons never seem to go on holiday like we do. They are always there, for us to take our pick and share. 🙂

I am writing this post below, to share some thoughts with you, yes, as I have been known to do,  on prejudice and intolerance, the lack of which will help us maintain and cultivate broad-mindedness. Or open-mindedness, if you will. 🙂 Now, what is different about this post is that, in truth, it hasn’t happened yet, by which I mean that the activities I will describe and the links I am about to recommend below are going to be put to work with the students in one of my adult learners groups later today for the first time. Imagine their surprise when I will disclose to them the existence of this article at the end of the class. 🙂 I will be back with impressions in a little while, so hang on.

“Things Should Be as I Think

or

I Know Best About This (Whatever This Might Be)”

 

The first two activities I have come up with sprang from a dialog I witnessed at a class one week ago between two of my students. The general topic of the dialogue was good manners around the world, and the more specific aspect discussed was ways of spending Christmas in Poland. I was surprised to discover how certain one of these students was about THE way of spending Christmas in Poland, the one and only PROPER way. The discussion turned out to be very insightful, as it showed that even open-minded people can have strict ideas and views on certain topics. There is, or there may be prejudice, my dears, even in areas we least expect it to appear. The good part is that once exposed hovering around some ideas in our minds, it can easily go out in a splash, like a candle blown out by a kid at bedtime.

ACTIVITY 1

Imagine:

– that you were offered an all-inclusive opportunity to travel to an area in your country or to an area that you have never visited beforein a poor country. What would you choose and why? 

– that you were living in a slum (a poor urban area in a big city, sometimes found in  developing countries). How would you feel? What would your celebrations/ anniversaries look like? Would you miss anything?

– that you are a CNN reporter who is given an assignment to interview one of the following people: a trainer from India, an Australian writer or a famous person in your country. Who would you choose to interview and why?

ACTIVITY 2

Use the words below to frame or express your own idea about your outlook on the world, on personal success, values and lifestyle:

passion           (a sense of)  purpose             humour              the voice within                   generations                

inhibitions                failures                 disabilities                         problems                          

(passing on) legacies                  (ways of )speaking                  sensitivity (to various issues)                   

Would you cross out any of these words as unnecessary? How about adding anything else to the ones you selected? Explain.

ACTIVITY 3

Watch the recently published TED video below (one of the 29,409 vids currently on the TEDx Youtube channel), in which the stand-up Indian comedian from Bangalore, Sandeep Rao, uses the concepts in Activity 2 above, to shape his own view of life and living. 

Do his views differ from yours? In what ways?

ACTIVITY 4

This is another video to watch and analyse, which is the second part in a CNN series called Talk Asia. It is a very special video to me, because it is a brief, 9-minute guided tour of the Indian universe described in one of my favourite books, Shantaram, a tour given by the author himself, the Australian-born,  controversial and very charming Gregory David Roberts.

There are a zillion questions I could think of asking after watching this video, but the ones that I would probably go for at my class, a few hours from now, are:

  • Can Christians, Muslims and Hindus celebrate together? Can people, in other words, celebrate together if their beliefs, background, and outlooks are very different?
  • Would you like to be able to be “adopted” by a society that is very different from the one you were born in?
  • Do you think you would be able to “adopt” someone who comes from a society very different from yours? How would you welcome them into your world as you know it?
  • How long do you think a society can last? Can societies disappear completely or do they change into something else? What can they change into, if they do and how are these changes possible?

* * * 

Enjoy and be back for extras!

Good day to you all!

 Alina Alens

Filed under: 0►TRUST, 1►LISTEN▼, 1►TO DO, 2►READ, 3►SPEAK▼, 4►LIFE, ■ Celebrations, ■ Christmas, ■ Compassion, ■ Empathy, ■ Gregory David Roberts, ■ Inspiration, ■ Meet my friends, ■ Talks & Conferences, ■ The Path of Metaphor, ■ The Voice Within, ■ Travel, ■ Voice Matters, ■ Writers, ►META PHORS▼

ELT Workshops to Remember – Whether in English or a Language You Do Not Yet Master

Teachers of English anywhere in the world are fortunate to have access to many training sessions, conferences and workshops. They may be organised and supported by renowned ELT publishing houses, by local training institutions and sometimes by local schools and centres. In this post I would like to focus on answering the question: what makes a good ELT workshop?, and challenge other ELT professionals to join the discussion.

Two things that first come to mind are the applicability of the content presented and the trainers’ charismatic presence, both of which have managed, time and time again, to anchor relevant pieces of information to my long-term memory.

Let’s look at some examples.  Earlier this year, close to 6 months ago, to be precise, I attended coursebook writer Leslie Anne Hendra’s workshop, Shaking Up Grammar – A Goals- and Context-based Approach.  The quality that I noticed and appreciated about her right away was her ability to deliver a wide range of ELT ideas in a very natural, logical, and, for this very reason, a very accessible way. Listening to her was entertaining, yet not overbearing, and the pacing of her discourse was very well-timed. I still remember tidbits from her speech like:

“context is king, queen, and the whole royal family”, “the importance of re-contextualising” into pretty much anything you want (as long as these re-contextualisations serve the purpose of what you planned to teach), some examples of “voice savers”, the idea that “not every use is functional” and that we should strive to look for what is “real” when teaching, because what is real always has the strongest impact. I also enjoyed hearing her say something along the lines of: “I’d like to see the passive return to conversation.” I see the passive here as only one possible example of many others it could be replaced by. It is all up to the teacher or the aware English language speakers to decide. 

Whenever I have the opportunity to attend workshops like Ms Leslie Anne Hendra’s, I am reminded of the worthiness of learning from people who have decided not only to constantly turn their experience into an advantage at their jobs on a daily basis,  but who are also willing to share their knowledge with others and take the time to record the best of that experience in writing, in the form of articles, coursebooks or other ELT materials for future use. In an era in which the future of English language bears the brunt of so much misuse and linguistic over- and under-evaluation in the street as well as in the classroom, I read such fortunate encounters like the one provided by Mrs Hendra’s workshop as a positive sign that things are heading toward a bright rather than a dark future for language teaching in general and for English language in particular.

A more recent example is the series of 3 workshops organised in Krakow on November 17 by PASE under the heading of   Kapelusze Lektora, for teachers of English and other subjects. I decided to attend these workshops in spite of the fact that they were going to be delivered in Polish, a language I do understand, but am, however, far from having mastered yet.

During the talk I had with the two trainers at the end of the workshops – which was in English, by the way -, they were curious to know how much I did understand of what they conveyed and which language I took notes in. To their surprise (and my own, truth be told), I confirmed that I did, in fact understand the gist of each of their workshops. I answered that I took notes in English for the most part, while also jotting down words that I wasn’t sure about or wanted to remember – thanks to the colleague next to me, kind enough to help me with their translation (like “nawyki”, “namowic/przekonac”, “moje przekonania”, “mozliwe do osiegniecia”, “miec wyplyw”, “zdolny” and a few others like “haki” 🙂 – the Polish version of the English “hooks”).

Obviously, I attributed my general understanding of the workshop content to that instinctive type of linguistic understanding that anyone aware of the language of his/her community can develop – after a long-enough time, but, apart from that, I had to reaffirm my belief that people who share similar values, guidelines and views on at least a few topics – like certain psychological approaches to teaching in the case of these workshops, are able to communicate and will reach common ground regardless of linguistic differences. Non-verbal language, the attitude and the “vibe” of the trainer may seem to be the main resorts in such cases, but, fortunately for me, they weren’t the only ones.

I enjoyed the two workshops led by Ms Magda Kidybinska. 

The content of the first reminded me of concepts like celebrating success (which was also discussed at the last workshop led by Ms Aldona Serewa), making the best of the student’s potential, activating leadership, demonstrating integrity, embracing  diversity, enjoying participation, striving for excellence, as well as learning from mistakes and acting in a sustainable manner, concepts I came across in the NGO called AIESEC, 

 which is the organisation that had originally sent me to Poland back in 2006, when I started my cooperation with the Jagiellonian Language Centre.

At the second workshop led by the same trainer I enjoyed the most the resources, tips and activities meant to involve our right brain hemisphere, the discussion on the meanings and understanding of naivete, and the borderline differences between extroverts and introverts or between objectivity and extreme creativity. Throughout the two workshops, the trainer won us over with her charisma and energy. I particularly appreciated her use  of intonation and voice dynamics when addressing us. These are two qualities that I have always appreciated in speakers – trainers and teachers included. 

 Impressive results can be achieved through big, as well as small steps. Kaizen, the Japanese technique of achieving great and lasting success through small, steady steps, inspired the first part of Ms Aldona Serewa’s workshop and led to a very enjoyable and relaxed delivery pace, that allowed for questions to be asked and discussed at any point for the duration of the workshop.

I appreciated the visual aids, case studies and references the trainer included in her workshop, that concluded the Kapelusze Lektora series of the day. I was particularly pleased with her comments on the issue of trust in language learning, and felt that they complemented the previous trainer’s ideas on the topic expressed earlier that day.

 The issue of trust is one of utmost importance, that needs to be approached by any teacher interested in creating a suitable rapport with his students, namely a rapport that fosters and encourages the students’ freedom of expressing ideas in a new language past mistakes and linguistic inaccuracies, or in simpler terms, past the fear of “getting it wrong”. 

Establishing trust, along with establishing mutual respect, should be one of the goals teachers set from the very beginning of the learning process. All the more so if the teacher is interested in pursuing creative paths like what I like to call the metaphor path and try to push the learning towards “aha” moments and long-term language acquisition.

To give an example mentioned by one of the speakers, there are situations in which a creative teacher may start working with a group of students who are not particularly creative and/or not particularly interested in any creative approaches to teaching, who rely mostly on structures and rules, and have a more or less difficult time accepting linguistic exceptions, not to mention anything else that falls out of the strict outlines of their books or courses.

With such students, who may even happen to be adults in positions of authority, CEOs and the like, who rely on their analytical, left brain hemisphere rather than the more creative right brain hemisphere, the teacher has to gradually build up a creativity platform for the students to use during classes, so that they gain a sense of comfort in being creative instead of being frustrated at not coming up with ideas or not really understanding what is expecting from them on a creative level.

The progression may involve strategies like a gradual change from closed, yes/no questions to more open ones, with suggested answers at first. The teacher may choose any strategy he or she considers suitable, including switching roles or hats – to use the workshop headline and inspiration 🙂 – from a facilitator or the students’ “best friend” to a more authoritarian figure of the person in the know, able, knowledgeable and competent to share knowledge in areas uncovered or less known by the students.

With practice, the search for the best teaching strategies as they pertain to individual groups will become shorter and easier. A useful piece of advice here may be: keep changing roles, robes or hats until you get the winning outfit. 🙂

All in all, the pairing of the two trainers was a very good choice, so I feel that congratulations are in order at this point. Apart from the ideas, theories and resources presented, the underlying concept guiding and motivating each of the three workshops was the basic idea of giving, the sharing of knowledge and the expectation of positive outcomes to the benefit of both teachers and students. Last but not least, my thanks go out to the Kliny English Courses director for supporting my, and two other colleagues’ participation in this workshop.  

Filed under: 0►TRUST, 1►LISTEN▼, 1►TO DO, ■ Conference Speakers, ■ Giving, ■ Inspiration, ■ Kapelusze Lektora, ■ Talks & Conferences, ■ The Path of Metaphor, ►META PHORS▼

Conversation Topic: How to Live – A Life/ Business Model

The inspiration for this conversation class came to me in a less conventional way, while I was selecting materials for a course tailored toward business that had, it seemed, nothing to do with the “How to Live” topic.

Generally, there seems to be a natural progression from life models and their theories (in ELT terms, general, non-technical  English vocabulary) to business models and their theories (to business or technical English vocabulary). Having said that, I was surprised to notice the applicability of a particular business model to a topic that I could sum up as the Guidelines of “How to Live”. This business model presented in the Cambridge Coursebook Business Advantage Upper-intermediate,  in the chapter on organisational cultures. It comes from Professor Charles Handy’s  book, Understanding Organisations.  My attention was immediately drawn by one of the two types of organisational cultures presented there: the so-called role culture (p.48).

Role Culture can be pictured as a Greek temple. Role culture places its strengths in its columns. These columns represent the different departments, e.g. the finance department and the purchasing department. The work of the columns and the interactions between the columns is controlled by procedures which describe in detail what each department does and what each person does in their job by means of a job description. This structure is suited to stable environments or environments where the organization has a lot of market power, such as monopolies. The  columns are connected at the top by a narrow band of senior management. An organization with a role culture is generally believed to be very stable, but poor at implementing change and adapting to a fast-changing macro-environment.

From here to the path of metaphor was only a very small step that carried me and two different groups of students of mine from Kliny English Courses (a higher-level group and another lower-level group) on an interesting imaginative adventure. 

You can try this metaphorical path yourselves by reading the fragment on role cultures, paying attention to the underlined concepts and being ready to look for their equivalents that make up your own view of life, while bearing in mind this question:

If your intrinsic system of values that you guide your life by were to be associated with a Greek temple, what would your columns or pillars be, how would they interconnect (by what kind of procedures, waysstrategies), and what would be the innermost guiding principle you live by, the roof supported by those columns or pillars?

My students came up with some amazing answers to these and questions or suggestions like (I took the liberty to paraphrase them):

– “My main pillars are: my physical condition  and my family. I realised a while ago that I need to be fit in order to function well at home and at work on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the time I spend exercising takes me away from my family, but I am trying to balance this and everything else in my life as best I can.

– “I am afraid that I am my own pillar most of the times. It happens to me to look around for some help only to realize that I can only count on myself. It makes me think of how strong and, at times, how fragile I am.”

– “My pillars are: my ancestors or my roots, where I come from, then, second, my family, my own generation, which is my present, and third, the future of the next generations of my children’s children and also the future and preservation of our planet. Some families have famous people among their ancestry, Nobel prize winners and the like. Mine doesn’t. The most important value in my family has always been hard work. Another value that is extremely significant for me is passing on our knowledge to future generations. Sharing what I know with the younger generation is something I take great pride and pleasure in doing.”

I would like to thank my students for sharing their thoughts at our classes and for trusting me to take the path of metaphor as often as I suggest it. I would also like to thank Martin Lisboa, one of the authors of the Business Advantage Upper-intermediate coursebook whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the workshop he led in Krakow in May this past spring (Case studies on real companies – Why bother with fakes?) for his excellent contribution to the content of the coursebook and for his supportive attitude and kind appreciation of my ideas and my literary writings in English during our talk on the same occasion. 

I encourage you to think up your own answers and life view versions taking a similar metaphor path. You may wish to keep these views private or share them with people you know well or not at all. Either way, get ready to be surprised. Last but not least, enjoy!

Filed under: 3►SPEAK▼, 8►BUSINESS, ■ About Organisational Cultures, ■ How to Live, ►META PHORS▼, TOPICS▼

Conversation Topic: TV & Radio

1.    Ages, TV & radio 

Selected Vocabulary

fetus, new-born/ infant babies (0-2), toddlers (young children learning to walk), children (3-11), tweens (a youngster between 10 and 12 years of age, considered too old to be a child and too young to be a teenager)/ pre-teen, teenagers (12-19), adolescents, young adultsadults, middle aged, mature, elderly people and so on 

  • Do babies watch TV or listen to the radio? Why?/ Why not? 
  • How many hours a day do teenagers watch TV? What about tweens?

Get more ideas from texts like: Media and Tween Girls

Monitor media usage: You will not be able to avoid all media. Children need it for school. It’s in the bus stops, on billboards…basically it’s everywhere. You can, in your home, monitor how much media is used. Set limits on when and where media can be used. If your daughter has a computer and a smartphone, have a time that all electronics need to be turned in. Do not forget about the iPod touch! This is more than just an MP3 player. Tweens can download texting programs and access the internet, so it is also a mini-computer. Set a “no electronics” rule for family dinners (and yes, this includes you, the parent!).

Understand the media: Know what your tweens are doing with their media. Check out their social media usage (if they are allowed to do it). If they have a cell phone, check to see what and whom they are texting. Watch TV with your tween. Talk about the shows that she is watching and work to understand what it is about the show that she likes. Look at magazines with her to see what she is drawn to and why.

Promote acceptance: This is a time where your tween’s body is changing and she may no longer be the beanpole she was before. Puberty can be tough and everyone develops at different rates. Promote acceptance of who she is and what she has to offer. Talk about how life is much more than solely appearance. Promote health over all other things. Validate that society will pull her in another direction and help guide her toward the acceptance path.

Walk the walk: You cannot expect your daughter to accept herself if she sees you talking about the diet you need to be on, or how beautiful you wish you were. Model for her the behaviors that you want her to follow. Figure out how to promote your own acceptance of yourself. This is the best message you can provide.

Talking about Ratings 

Selected Vocabulary: dubbing, voice over (the voice of an off-screen narrator), subtitles/ closed captions, and more words connected to the types of shows and movies shown on television.

  • Do you know the significance of these American ratings?
  • G                     = General Audiences. All ages Admitted
  • PG                  = Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG – 13          = Parents strongly cautioned
  • R                     = Restricted
  • NC – 17          = No one 17 and under admitted
  • How are movies and TV shows rated in Poland?

2.    Language and television

Discussion: starting from this Macmillan Dictionary blog post on the connections between language and subcultures on television.

I was interested in this article about language in children’s television, featured in last week’s round-up post. I love that it reflects the diversity of modern society, but apparently there have been mixed reactions to the Rastamouse programme. I do understand parents’ fears that their children may accidentally sound racist simply by copying the phrases used on the show, but the whole thing very much reminded me of the furore that blew up around the Tellytubbies over a decade ago.

Critics complained that the ‘baby talk‘ the Tellytubbies characters used would slow children’s language development. I’m not sure whether any research was ever done to find out if that was the case, but I’m guessing the controversy over Rastamousewill rumble on in much the same way. You have to admit though, he is pretty entertaining!

3.    What can you do while watching TV or listening to the radio?

 Suggestion: Illustrate the action by playing charades

Vocabulary:

  • charades = (used with a singular verb) a game in which the players are typically divided into two teams, members of which take turns at acting out in pantomime a word or phrase which members of their own team must guess.
  • to win at charades
  • Whose go (BE) / turn is it (AE)? = Who is next?

4.    Life before television

  • What did people do 100 years ago instead of watching TV and listening to the radio?

5.    Talk about Your Favourite TV/ Radio Show

Filed under: 2►LINGUA, 3►SPEAK▼, ■ Baby Talk, ■ TV & Radio, ■ TV Language, TOPICS▼

Big Voice / Little Voice

Recently I’ve come across an article on Toastmasters about finding your voice in situations in which you need to speak in front of an audience.

It includes some great tips that you might like to know about, so I invite you to read it below.

Once you manage to stand behind a lectern without fainting, then what? You need something to say, and you want it to be interesting to the audience. The age-old excuse people have for avoiding public speaking is, “I don’t have anything to say. My life is boring.” You don’t have to have a life-and-death experience or be an Olympic champion to have a story to share. You may not think so at the moment, but you do have a message to share. And as Toastmasters’ 2006 World Champion of Public Speaking Lance Miller shares in an article for the Toastmaster magazine, the more personal and passionate your story is, the better.

How to define yourself and your message
Look at who you are. What are your passions and interests, what do you struggle with? What challenges have you overcome? Here is a list of questions to ask yourself:

  • What is your philosophy? By what values do you live your life?
  • List the defining moments of your life. Any special lessons or experiences that profoundly affected you? For example: learning how to ride a bike, moving to a different city, taking on a new job, becoming a parent.
  • What subjects and issues are you certain about? The test of this is, How easily can you be convinced to change your mind? Have you discovered the best way to motivate a child to read? To make flowers grow? To create world peace? Then share your expertise with the world!
  • Find the extraordinary in the ordinary. You won’t inspire an audience if you live a negative life. Find the blessings in life and bring them to life for yourself and your audience!
  • What makes you laugh? Share your favorite sources of humor.
  • What makes you angry? Share how you would change the world for the better if you could.
  • What are you struggling with right now? Speak about what captures your attention at the moment. If you have “speaker’s block”, speak about your inability to come up with a speech topic. Don’t have enough time in the day for all your work? Give a speech on that topic! It will help you give a passionate speech and perhaps solve a problem.

So, what do you have to say? Challenge yourself and discover your voice!

To take it a little further, think about discovering the power of your voice, which I will call  the “Big voice,” while keeping in mind the concept of the “little voice,” the inner voice each of us hears inside, accompanying our actions or reactions. An interesting site about mastering the “little voice” belongs to Blaire Singer. Here is what he writes about it:

Everyone has a “Little Voice” that beats them up. Have you ever had a “Little Voice” in your head tell you that you aren’t:

  • Good enough
  • Smart enough
  • Successful enough

…enough of something to successfully to do whatever it is you really want to do?

You’re not alone.

This “Little Voice” has the ability to stop you dead in your tracks, preventing you from believing that you have what it takes to achieve your goals and dreams.

But, the GREAT NEWS is – You can learn to:

  • Recognize this “Little Voice”
  • Challenge it
  • And manage it out of your way

..so you can achieve goals and dreams that would otherwise seem out of reach!

You can even take a free diagnostic test of your power over your “little voice” on the same site, to find out more about your ability to handle objections, to identify emotions, and overcome “I can’t do it,” among others.

Read, learn and enjoy!

Filed under: 5►On-line Assignments, 7► DIY, ■ Brain Matters, ■ Happiness, ■ Self Development Links, ■ Site Scout, ■ Voice Matters, ►11.ON LINE▼, ►META PHORS▼

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