Tuesday, February 26, 2013


By: George Friedman
Published: February 19, 2013; Stratfor; www.stratfor.com Alternatively, just google the title and writer’s name
Level of Difficulty: ****
Try and discover a video concerning unmanned aerial vehicles, listen and take notes. Think about the pros and cons of the extensive use of such instruments of war. Then discuss the following:
·         What are the advantages of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones for the countries using them?
·         What are the possible disadvantages?
·         In what way is this type of warfare different from conventional warfare?
·         Do you think it is in the long term interest of countries to continue using them? Explain.
1.       Why is the US at the center of the dispute concerning unmanned aerial vehicles?
2.       What is the function of paragraph one? Analyze its structure.
3.       Why is it misleading to call the MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper drones?
4.       What does “this” refer to in the phrase “technologies work together to make this possible”?
5.       What is the major reason for the popularity of Predators and Reapers?
6.       What does “This” refer to in the phrase “This distinguishes unmanned aerial vehicles …”?
7.       The lack of anonymity in the case of drone attacks means there is …………………… , which  was not an issue in the past.
8.       What is the consequence of acting as judge and jury in the context of drone attacks?
9.       The major argument in favor of unmanned aerial vehicles is the lack of ………………… in the international jihadist movement.
10.   What is the advantage of having dispersed groups or individuals around the globe for the terrorist group?
11.   The parallel between traditional military attacks and those with unmanned aerial vehicles is the understanding that …………………………………………………………………………………………………………
12.    In what way are the French snipers in the Franco Prussian war and modern day militants  similar to each other?
13.   Attacking targets in a country which is not in a state of war with the US and has not consented to these attacks is not a problem because ……………………………………………………………..
14.   Why are unmanned aerial vehicles not used against local terrorists in the US and the UK?
15.   The writer argues that the US is on a slippery sloap because of the basis on which it has chosen to wage war. Why exactly does he make this claim?
16.   What are the advantages of unmanned aerial vehicles from the terrorists’ point of view?
17.   What is the flaw in the US approach to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles? Be brief.
18.   Why can’t modern day terrorists be defeated via armed conflict?
19.   What does “That” refer to in the phrase “That is there charm”?
Use the notes you made on any listening you did and the text to write advantages disadvantages essay concerning the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in warfare.
The advantages according to the text are as follows:
·         Can attack terrorists’ command structure without risk to ground forces
·         Only option (no hierarchical command structure)
·         The individual terrorist is the military unit
·         No insignia so no considerations given under the rules of war
·         No insignia so terrorists responsible for civilian deaths
The disadvantages according to the text
·         Process given to error
·         Violates principles of human rights
·         Gives state the power of life and death without over sight
·         Personal culpability
This very topical text analyzing a current dilemma should go down very well and lead to a lot of discussion. It seems to be the current trend in warfare and the students should be able to provide examples. The text comes out against killing targets with drone attacks (the main focus of the text) but students may disagree. The text leads itself to a wonderful writing activity which could be written as an argumentative essay as well. Enjoy
1.       The US has the biggest fleet of these weapons; it employs them more frequently than any other country.
2.       The introduction; it states the problem, then the main arguments for and against.( Just like our students have been taught)
3.       Because they are actually remotely piloted aircraft
4.       Receiving flight data and visual images from the aircraft and sending command signals back to it via satellite.
5.       The ability to loiter and then strike quickly when a target presents itself ( Best)
6.       The fact that unmanned aerial vehicles are use to deliberately target specific individuals
7.       Personal culpability
8.       The process is given to error, violates principles of human rights and gives the state the power of life and death without oversight.   Note: acting as judge and jury means summary executions!
9.       Hierarchical military organization (best);  OR: divisions and battalions
10.   They can mount military operations against the enemy at unpredictable times and in unpredictable ways
11.   In all wars and militaries, imperfect intelligence, carelessness and sometimes malice have caused military action to strike at innocent people. OR, killing the individuals is a military necessity…
12.   They provide no sign of who they are so they are responsible under international law when civilians are killed.
13.   If a country harbors enemy units, it is an enemy. OR, if it is incapable…
14.   When the police and internal security forces can arrest jihadists plotting attacks, there quite simply is no need for airstrikes from unmanned aerial vehicles. OR, they are tools to be used when a government cannot or will not take action to mitigate the threat.
15.   (If the strategy is to go wherever the enemy is) then the war is limitless; it is also endless.
16.   Their efficiency allows the jihadists to lure the US into other countries and with sufficient manipulation, can increase the number of innocents who are killed; the potential cost to the US is substantial;  the broader the engagement, the greater the perception of US hostility to Islam; it is easier to recruit…
17.   The targets are not as vital as the US thinks; the belief that the destruction of the leadership is the most efficient way to…
18.   Because the real struggle against jihadists is ideological.
19.   The fact that unmanned aerial vehicles lead to geographical limitlessness.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Note to the visitor to this blog: It is suggested that you preface all the writing activities you do with appropriate videos and reading.
Grammar Related Writing
1.       Future Tenses (Writing Files 1)
2.       Past tenses and cause effect structures ( Writing Files 1)
3.       Present perfect and past tenses (Writing Files 1)
1.       Guided narrative and summary practice: Why Luke Died With a Knife Through His Heart (Writing Files 1)
2.       Narratives: Suggested Topics (Writing Files 1)
3.    Who was Sara Forbes Bonetta? Narrative
4.    How Scotland lost its independence; narrative
5.    The mystery of the Mary Celeste; narrative
6.    The mystery of the Bermuda Triangle; narrative
7.     The Story of Atlantis: Fact or Fiction? Narrative
8.     The Kon-Tiki Expedidition; Narrative
9.    The rise and mysterious fall of the Maya; Narrative
10.  Who are the white supremecists? Description / Narrative / Problem solution essay
11.  Astrology and its significance for ancient civilizations
12. Witches and Witchcraft through the ages
13. Almaz's story; narrative
14. When time stood still; a Hiroshima survivor's story
15. What happened to flight MH17? Guided narrative
16. What happened at Aston Hall?
17. What happened to Damien Nettles?

    Tell the story (all these posts can be found under narratives as well)
1.       Tell the story of the Gunpowder plot
2.       Tell the story of the Soweto uprising
3.       Tell the story of the Battle of Hastings
4.       Tell the story of the Battle of the Somme
5.       Tell the story of the Night of the Long Knives
6.       Tell the story of the Opium Wars
7.       Tell the story of the Salem Witchcraft trials
8.       Tell the story of Galileo and the Inquisition
9.       Tell the story of the expression “Crossing the Rubicon”
10.   Tell the story of the Red Queen
11.   Tell the story of Queen Nefertiti
12.   Tell the story of the Boston Tea party
13.  Tell the story of the Nobel Prize
14.  Tell the story of the peasants' revolt
15.  Tell the story of Earth
16. Tell the story of Pocahontas
17.  Tell the story of The Ming Dynasty of China
18. Tell the story of the Roman gladiators
19.  Tell the story of the Praetorian Guard
20. Tell the story of Hammurabi's Code
21. Tell the story of the Totem Pole
22. Tell the story of the Inquisitions
23. Tell the horrific story of the live orca trade
24. Tell the story of the Christmas Truce of 1914
25. Tell the story of the Dreyfus affair
26. Tell the story of the killing fields of Cambodia
27. Tell the story of an ecological disaster: the Aral Sea crisis
28.  Tell the story of the famous march in Selma
29.   Tell the story of the Vietnam War
30. Tell the story of Confucius
31. Tell the story of the Suffragettes
32. Tell the story of the Red River murders
33. Tell the story of the gun powder plot
34. Tell the story of the famous architect Antonio Gaudi
35. Tell the story of the Apartheid
36. Tell the story of the Black Death
37. Tell the story of the Mayerling incident
38. Tell the story of Operation Mincemeat
39. Tell the story of the resurrectionists or body snatchers
40. Tell the story of a famous feminist: Caroline Norton
41. Tell the story of a Victorian feminist: Josephine Butler
42. Tell the story of the internment of the Japanese
43. Tell the story of how the Sun will die
44. Tell the story of the Republic of Texas and the Texas Revolution
45. Tell the story of the contract children of Switzerland
46. Tell the story of the trail of tears
47. Tell the story of the Highland clearances
48. The Terrible world of the Victorian workhouse

1. Where to go during your vacation? Virtual tour assisted description or comparison contrast essay /paragraph
2. Description of a place; virtual tour assited writing activity
3. .Describe a building or a house; virtual tour assisted writing activity
4.  World heritage sights; interactive map related description
5.  Who were the Samurai? Description
6.  Who were the Vikings? Description
7.  Who are the white supremecists? Description / Narrative / Proplem solution essay
8.  Astrology and its significance for ancient civilizations
9. The plight of refugees
10.The Magna Carter and its significance
11. The Gulags past and present
12.  What is vintage? Description
13. Become a tour guide; description
14. Who were the neanderthals? Description
15. Reilly Ace of Spies
16. Describing people
17. Describing a place
18. What are persuasive technologies and how do they work?
9.   What will the world of the future be like?
20. How trees communicate (Coming soon)
      Process Essays
1.       Guided summary and process essay: The German Dioxin Scare 
2.       Process Essay With Plan: How to Prepare For The Proficiency 
3.       How to become a successful sportsman 
4.       How to achieve happiness in life 
5.       How to become a good parent 
6.       How to make a success of a relationship 
7.       How to make a success of secondary school 
8.       How to rise in the private sector 
9.    The secrets to successful negotiations
Classification Essays
1.       Classification essay with plan: Books 
2.       Films 
3.       Advertisements 
4.   Research essay: what is cyber bullying
5.   Non Govermental Organizations
6.   Painters
Definition Essays
1.       The qualities of a good teacher 
2.       The qualities of minority groups 
3.       The qualities of a good leader 
4.       The qualities of hooligans 
5.    Research related definition essay: voluntary simplicity 
7.     Research related essay: what is a welfare state
7.     Research related writing: what is cyber bullying
8. What is cybercrime?
9. What is Bitcoin? Definition essay
10. The secrets of body language: a definition essay
11. Integrity and work ethics; definition and problem / solution essay
12. What is yoga? Definition / Advantages essay
13. What is consumerism and how does it impact our lives? Definition / problem and solution essay.
14. What is emotional or social contagion? Definition / solution essay
15. What is altruism?" Definition essay
16. What is gentrification?
17. What is non verbal communication?
18. What is telepathy?
19. What is genocide?
20 What is a logical fallacy?
21. What is Voodoo? Definition essay
22. The qualities of an ideal university
23. The qualities of an ideal manager; definition essay
24. What is synesthesia?
25. Buddhism: a pilosophy
26. What constitutes national identity?
27. Inspirational leadership
28. The factors affecting memory 
29. Schadenfreude and what it entails 
30. What is minimalist design?
31. The plight of the Aboriginal people of Australia
Comparison Contrast Essays-   
  Research related essay: What is cyber bullying?
1.       Text based comparison contrast essay: The UK and The Bedouin family (Writing File 1)
2.       Boarding schools and day schools (Writing Files 1)
3.       Watching a film at a cinema and watching a DVD at home (Writing Files 1)
4.       Comparison contrast essay with plan: team sports and individual sports (Writing Files 1)
5.       Text based comparison contrast essay: working with your hands versus working with your hands (Writing Files 1)
7.   Comparison / Contrast Essay: Electoral Systems
9. Gypsies past versus present
9. The private sector and the public sector; a comparison contrast essay
10. Berlin and Paris 1914, on the eve of WWI
11. The team player versus the lone wolf; comparison contrast or advantages and disadvantages essay
12. Solitude versus loneliness; a comparison and contrast essay
13. Democracy versus totalitarianism; a comparison and contrast essay
14. World War 1 and World War 2; comparison contrast essay
15. Hitler versus Stalin; comparison and contrast essay
16. The Egyptian pyramids versus the central and south American pyramids; comparison and contrast essay
17. Where to go during your vacation? Virtual tour assisted description or comparison contrast essay /paragraph
18.Description of a place; virtual tour assited writing activity
19.Describe a building or a house; virtual tour assisted writing activity
20. Feudalism versus the Caste System; Comparison and Contrast Essay
21. Freedom of Speech; Comparison and contrast essay
22. Washington D. C. past and present
23. Afghanistan past and present; comparison contrast
24. Empathy versus sympathy; comparison and contrast essay
25. Autocratic versus democratic management
26.  Ancient Greek democracy versus modern democracy comparıson and contrast essay
27. Neanderthals versus modern humans
28. Tea or coffee?
29. Refugees, Migrants and Assylum Seekers
30. The male versus the female brain
31. Which afterlife would you prefer?
32. The fuel of the future
33. Where to live: homes for the future
34. Comparing two cities: Milan and Hong Kong
35. Fluid versus crystallized intelligence

Advantages Disadvantages Essays
1.       Seasonal agricultural labor: a worthwhile institution or a source of problems 
2.       Being a member of a group 
3.       Text based advantages disadvantages essay: school uniforms a blessing or a curse? 
4.       Online Recruiting 
5.       Military interventions 
6.  Reading related essay: the advantages and disadvantages of citizen journalism 
7. Research related advantages and disadvantages essay: Uploading Your Brain to the Internet
8. Research related advantages disadvantages essay: Data Mining
9. Research related advantages disadvantages essay: International Aid to Underdeveloped countries
10. Research related advantages disadvantages essay: how Skype and similar applications have transformed our lives.
11. Private security companies in war zones; an advantages and disadvantages essay
12. Government involvement in providing health care
13. The team player versus the lone wolf; comparison contrast or advantages and disadvantages essay
24. The advantages and disadvantages of departmentation
25.  What is yoga? Definition / Advantages essay
26. . Contracting and subcontracting; a brilliant move or a headache? Advantages and disadvantages essay
27. What is gentrification?
28. Eugenics; a completely unethical movement or a brilliant opportunity?
29. The advantages of crowdfunding
30. The pros and cons of labor unions
31. The pros and cons of being a vegetarian
32. Being a multipotentialite
33. The advantages and disadvantages of gaming
34. The advantages and disadvantages of hosting a major sporting event
35. The advantages of bilingualism
36. Degree Apprenticeships: the alternative to a university degree
37. A cashless society; would it work?
28. The pros and cons of mind wandering
29. Biofuels; a blessing or a curse?
30. The power of a broader perspective
31. The advantages of emotional intelligence
32. The advantages of social intelligence
33. The advantages of a good sense of humour
34. Ecotherapy and its benefits
35. The benefits of prosocial behavior
36. The pros and cons of fracking
37. Seasteading
38. Microliving
49. Biomimicry
40. The advantages and disadvantages of boredom
41. The Power of Curiosity
42. The advantages of intellectual humility

Cause Effect Essays
1.       Feudalism and tribalism in the southeast of Turkey 
2.       The fight against poverty: why is the world failing miserably? 
3.       The popularity of social networking sites 
4.        Video related cause effect essay: domestic violence 
5.       The world cup in Qatar                              
6.       Obama and the Gay military law 
7.       Climate Change and Turkey: where are we heading? 
8.       An increasing menace: urban violence 
9.       Text based cause effect essay : racism( Writing Files 1)
10.   Text based cause effect essay: the arms trade booms amid global economic woes 
11.   Text based cause effect essay: life after war 
12.   Text based cause effect essay: talking rubbish
13.   Text based cause effect essay: a global recession 
14.   Forest fires 
15.   Surveillance  
16.   Refugee crises 
17.   Cause  effect essay with plan: stress 
18.   Cause effect essay with plan: happiness 
19.   YouTube related cause effect essay: gold mining operations  
20. Research related essay: the cheap labor garment industry 
21. Research based cause and effect essay: Europe's lost generation youth unemployment
22. Research based cause analysis essay: Mob Mentality
23. Research related effect analysis essay: Discrimination
24. Research related essay: the causes of social unrest
25. Research related essay: the causes of corruption
26. Research related essay: why it is important to preserve historical sites and artifacts
27. Research related essay: the increase in doping in sports and the effects on athletes and the sports
28. . Research related writing: the rise of the extreme right in Europe
129. Cause / effect essay: why do we play games?
30. Nature Deficit Disorder: A 21st Century Problem
31. No...Please: We're Japanese!
32. Violence against women: the causes the effects and the solutions
33. The gender gap in professional environments
34. How does political turmoil impact the economy?
35. The Eurozone Crisis; Cause / Effect or Problem Solution essay
36. The Causes of Suicide
37. Urban sprawl: cause and effect essay
38. What is happening to slow or deep reading? cause and effect essay.
39. Positive thinking: an effect analysis or problem solution essay
40.  The effects of the Industrial Revolution
41. The  causes and effects of the Great Depression
42. The impact of the Age of Enlightenment
43. The causes and effects of the reformation
44. Mining accidents: preventable man made disasters
45. Why women seem to be less confident than men
46. The Reykjavik confessions: a murder mystery; cause analysis essay
47. Who gets to graduate? Cause analysis and problem solution essay
48. Binge drinking on university campuses; cause and effect essay
49. What is gentrification?
50. The plight of refugees
51. The impacts of colonialism
52. How are gender roles determined?
53. Witches and Witchcraft through the ages
54. Why is anti-Semitism on the rise? Cause and effect essay
55. The social and economic impacts of epidemics
56. The Causes of shyness
57. Illegal immigration into the EU; a growing problem
58. Burnout: symptoms, causes and solutions
59. Income inequality; effects and solutions
60. Why is it important to remember Auschwitz?
61. What makes humans capable of such incredible cruelty towards each other?
62. Why do we blame others and why should we give it up?
63. Curiosity and why our future depends on it
64. Why are some people chronically unhappy?
65. Envy, jealousy and resentment
66. Social anxiety disorder, causes, effects and solutions
67. An unspeakable, shameful and violent crime: rape
68. Child trafficking in China
69. What makes us human?
70 Job satisfaction
71. Reasons for conflict in the workplace
72. Why is play so important?
73. Why we need art in our lives
74. Why we need music in our lives
75. Education standards in developing countries
76. Hooked: a series on drug abuse; Discussing causes and effects
77. Rumination: the danger of dwelling on things
78. The plight of child soldiers
79. The Prohibition Era: a failed social experiment
80. What makes Hayao Miyazaki special?
81. What makes Hayao Miyazaki special?
82. The poisoning of a town: Flint's water supply
83. How does a conartist trick you?
84. The impacts of bad news
85. The impacts of urban noise
86. The effects of urban living on the mind
87. Why are we so ready to believe rumors?
88. Ocean Garbage
89. Vietnamese girls abducted and sold in China
90. Food insecurity; causes and effects
91. The causes and consequences of biodiversity declines
92. The strategy of planned obsolescence
93. Social consciousness; what it is and why it is vital
94. Light pollution
95. What determines voter behavior?
96. The effects of boredom
97. Recruitment bias
98. How does music affect us?
99. Why do intelligent people have fewer friends?
100. A dirty secret: coal mining
101. Thawing permafrost has serious implications
102. What happened at the infamous nuclear test site, The Polygon, in the former Soviet Union?
103. The problems facing the world's oceans
104.  The food you eat effects your gut
105.  The lost children of East Timor
106.  Why do humans have larger brains?
107. Plastic surgery in South Korea: an epidemic
108. Rising sea levels
109. The Halo Effect
110. Why are conspiracy theories so popular?
111. Bibliotherapy
112. Voter apathy and voter fatigue
113. Overparenting: helicopters, snowplaughs and bubble-wrappers
114. The importance of medical ethics
115. The reasons for the increase in world hunger
116. Why is critical thinking so important?
117 Social mobility
118. Canada's Dark Secret
119. Electronic waste management
120. Resignation syndrome
121. The tragedy of the commons
122. What would happen if the world went vegetarian?
123. Contact sports and dementia
124. Teen risk taking
125. The problems with diamond mining in Africa
126. Microaggression matters
127. Compassion fatigue
128. The impacts of the palm oil industry
129. Confirmation bias
130. Emotional labor
131. How reliable are our memories?
132. The consequences of tariffs and quotas
133. Cellular memory: does it exist?
134. Sustainable fashion
135. Cognitive development
136. The dangers of tribalism
137. The causes of altruism
138. Self Compassion
129. Denialism
130. Emotional courage
131. The causes and effects of consumerism
132. The effects of climate change
133. Why we choke under pressure - and how to avoid it
134. Hikikomori
135. Ageism
136. The importance of civility in life
137. The damage done by headphones (Coming soon)
138. The implications of an aging population
139. Plant blindness
140. Food poverty or household food insecurity
141. Why palliative care is important
142. The impacts of biodiversity loss
143. The effects of social exclusion
143. Why is cybersurity important?
144. The causes of public protests
Problem Solution Essays
1.       Video and reading related problem solution essay: the US gun laws 
2.       The ongoing problem of the Somali pirates
3.       Text related problem solution essay: four simple ways to end your next argument 
4.       Text related problem solution essay: AIDS in the third world 
5. Problem solution / process essay with a plan: How to write a good essay
6. Problem solution / process essay with a plan: How to tackle a writing activity in class?
7. Research related problem solution essay: bullying in schools
8. Research related problem solution essay: Loneliness 
9. Research related problem solution essay: Bonded labour 
10. Research related problem solution essay:  street children 
11. Research related essay: child brides 
12. The Cove
13. A toxic feeling: prejudice and how to deal with it
14. Famine and Starvation in Africa; a Problem Solution Essay
15. Research related analysis of a problem: the troubled teen industry and the horrific rehab centers
16. Conflict minerals: problem and solution essay
17. Burnout: problem solution essay
18. Miscarriages of justice: problem solution essay
19. The Eurozone Crisis; Cause / Effect or Problem Solution Essay
20. Anger management: problem solution essay
21. Anxiety: problem solution essay
22. Attention span: how to remain focused; problem solution essay
23. Integrity and work ethics; definition and problem / solution essay
24. What makes a positive college experience?Problem / Solution essay
25. Positive thinking: an effect analysis or problem solution essay
26. How can the teaching / learning experience be improved? get rıd of obsolete methods and practices; problem and solution essay
27. What is consumerism and how does it impact our lives? Definition / problem and solution essay.
28. Who gets to graduate? Cause analysis andproblem solution essay
29. What is emotional or social contagion? Definition / Solution essay
30. STD's and how to prevent them; problem and solution essay
31. Who are the white the white supremecists? Description / Narrative / Problem solution essay
32. How to fix public education: designing the classrooms of the future; problem and solution essay 
    33.  How can one develop positive teacher student relationships? 
34. Creating more sustainable cities; problem solution essay
35. Tell the horrific story of the live orca trade
36. How to increase motivation
37. Favoritism, cronyism and nepotism
38. Anger management
39. How can motivation be increased
40. How to improve concentration
41. The importance of social mobility
42. The science of persuasion
43. How to find happiness in the modern world
44. How to combat poaching in Africa
45. Education standards in developing countries
46. How can labor productivity be increased?
47. What is reslience and how can it be improved?
48. The problem of homelessness
49. How to increase student creativity
50. Food waste a totally avoidable problem
51. How to be a good listener
52. Critical thinking: what it is and how to develop it
53. Passive aggression and children
54. Groping and harassment
55.. The impact of fake news
46. What we can learn from the latest PISA results
57. Rehabilitating prisoners so that they can be productive members of society
58. Can compassion be taught?
59. Math anxiety
60. Insults and how to deal wıth them
61. How to deal with the rubbish we produce
62. Coercive control
63. Tackling space rubbish
54. Rewiring your brain for happiness
65. Digital clutter and how to deal with it
66. Attitudes towards disability (Coming soon)
67. The implications of an aging population

Argumentative Essays
1.       Should people be barred from developed countries? 
2.       A liberal arts education or early specialization? 
3.       Can TV journalism survive the media revolution?
4.       Is the health sector becoming commercialized? 
5.       Rethinking Education 
6.       Enough is enough; we need to set our children free (Writing Files 1)
7.    Research related argumentative essay: should gay couples be allowed to adopt?
8.    Reading related argumentative essay: should the correction of university level essays be left to artificial intelligence? 
9. Reading related essay: Does television shape concepts of social reality
10. Research related cause and effect or problem / solutıon essay: the tragic plight of street children 
11. Are parents legally responsible for their children's actions?
12. Should a third airport be built in Istanbul?
13. Should Turkey build nuclear power plants in Sinop and Akkuyu?
14. Are drones a legitimate weapon of war?
15. Modern surveillance technology
16.  Argumentative essay: What is a fair wage for sportsmen?
17. Argumentative essay: Is space exploration a waste of money?
18. Argumentative essay: Should the retirement age be raised
19. Argumentative essay: Conscription, military recruitment or the draft
20. Argumentative essay: Is growth good for biodiversity?
21. Argumentative  essay: Is the risk of cyber-warfare over rated?
22. Argumentative essay: Should cannabis be legal everywhere?
23. Argumentative essay: Are casinos too much of a gamble?
24. Government involvement in providing healthcare
25. Surrogacy, an act of generosity or perversion?
26. Is solar energy the answer to all our prayers?
27. Coeducation or same sex schooling? An argumentative eSSAY
  28.Is MOOC or massive open online cource the future of education? Argumentative essay
29.  Nuclear disarmament; a dream or a distinct possibility? Argumentative essay
30. . Paper, plastic or neither? argumentative essay
31. Movies or books? An argumentative essay
32. Is Uganda's draconian new law against human rights or not?
33. Dementia village: a wonderful idea or a new take on the Truman Show?
34. Pressure groups, indispensable or not?
35. Humanitarian intervension: an argumentative essay
36. The NSA versus individual freedom: an argumentative essay
37. Private education: an argumentative essay
38. Sex education in schools: a taboo or a requirement?
39. Should euthanasia be allowed? Argumentative essay
40. Should prostitution be legalized? Argumentative essay
41. Should women be recruited on the front line? Argumentative essay
42.A world without food: ıs eating overrated? Argumentative essay
43. Is World War 3 possible? Argumentative essay
44. . How should this man be dealt with if he is caught? Argumentative essay
45. A good man in Rwanda; argumentative essay
46. Should teachers be using social media in class? Argumentative essay
47. Will artificial intelligence spell the end of the human race?
48. Do enhanced interrogation techniques work?
49. Should there be limits to freedom of expression?
50. What type of leader or manager would you prefer to work with and why?
51. Are we getting dumber or smarter?
52. Standardized tests: pros and cons
53. Is online voting a feasible option for the future?
54. What are multiverses and do they exist?
55. Is it ever right to create a superior human being?
56. Open borders versus the nation state
57. Who is happier? The introvert or the extrovert?
58. Should refugees be turned away or welcomed?
59. Can doctors and hospitals refuse treatment?
60. Are people born evil?
61. George Orwell or Aldous Huxley; who has it right?
62. Who was George-Eugene Haussman?
63. Money and happiness; what is the relationship?
64. Should the jury system be abolished?
65. Which is more important: talent or hard work?
66. Are we losing the art of listening?
67. Does suffering make us stronger and lead to success?
68.  Organic Farming
69 The pros and cons of factory farming
70 The presidential versus the parliamentary system
71. Mitacondrial replacement therapy (MRT) or three person babies
72. Protectionism versus international trade deals
73. What is the Mandela Effct and what are its implications?
74. Should we get rid of standerdized tests?
75. Does technology need to be ethical?
76. Net neutrality
67. Should cannabis be legalized?
78. Should children be banned from using mobile phones at school?
79. Should private education be banned?
80. The ethical dilemna of designer babies
81. Should people be microchipped?
82. Geoengineering: a silver bullet or a grave mistake?

   Response Essays
1. Five reasons why the office will become redundant.
2. In the baby factory:living inside the house of surrogates
3. Moritz Erhart dies after working long hours
4. Should kids be forced to be vegetarian
5. Is the Dutch state liable for deaths in Serebrenica?
6. Should you tell your child why you are splitting up?
7. Should the 17 year old perpetrator of a hate crime be tried as an adult or a juvenile?
8. Should Facebook and Twitter be controlled? Vietnam shows how.
9. Should all immigrants who reach the shores of Australia be given asylum?
10. Should we judge people of past eras for moral failings?
11. How do people forgive crime like murder?
12. Russia's Arctic mission to protect wildlife
13. A new venture in Zurich
14. Kenyan trio in wife sharing deal
15. No S..Please: We're Japanese
16. How to cope with teeagers: look to the middle ages reaction or response essay
17. The link between faith and morality: reaction or response essay
18. Do we molly-coddle our kids so much that they miss out on valuable childhood experiences? reaction or response essay
19. Corporal punishment: a justifiable way of diciplining children or an act of barbarism? Does Sweden have the answer?
20. The Key by Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes; freedom 2014 reaction or response essay with a twist
21. Six year old Afghan girl married off to pay father's debt reaction or response essay
22. Maslow on Turkey; response or reaction essay
23. A short story to listen to and write about; response essay. Fiction podcast: T.C. Boyle reads Donald Barthelme
24. A short story to listen to and write about; response essay. Fiction podcast: Akhil Sharma reads "The Night in Question" by Tobias Wolff
25. Liberal arts or early specialization? Why I teach Plato to plumbers?
26. The spirit world, reaction or response essay
27. Spurious correlations: margerine linked to divorce
28. Where new dads are encouraged to take months off work
Listening into writing
1.       The secrets to successful negotiations
2.       The science of persuasion
3.       George Friedman and Robert D. Kaplan
4.       The secrets of the human brain
5.      The power of the press: how the mass media influences people
6.    Job satisfaction


Study the following before you start:
Now you are ready to write:
·         Cities and countries: select a virtual tour, study and write
·         Homes: select a virtual tour, study and write
·         Alternatively, write about a country, city or building you know well

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Students of the Past: Ameba with Special Needs
We have all watched classroom scenes out of reproductions of great British classics and observed the strict authoritarian methods employed. Students, it was believed, were essentially flawed; errors of creation if you will, their minds full of “cotton, hay and rags” as Henry Higgins so aptly put it; their minds, it was thought, were an intellectual vacuum. It was the God given duty of teachers to remedy the situation by clearing out the rubbish and instilling, in its stead, “useful “knowledge, “correct” opinions and “appropriate” social skills thus transforming the little savages into human beings. Teaching, according to this view of the world, was akin to godliness; students were the grateful recipients of the modifications made to their mental abilities. Authoritarianism has retained its grip on teaching for centuries churning out apathetic victims who are bored witless and in fact know very little. In such a view of teaching, the horror and fear produced by the perceived “cotton, hay and rags” is so great that all intellectual curiosity – which is, after all, the first step to the actual grasping of the content of a lesson, and later creative thinking and innovation – was successfully stamped out with sheer perseverance; the aim being to create individuals happy to live on the specific hamster wheel considered appropriate. This view of teaching has lingered on due, I presume, to the popularity of authoritarianism in general yet there is change in the air; not due to the so called “ameba” but to the great strides that have been made in technology: the World Wide Web and all the modern appliances that enable maximum use of it. The said technology is being added to every day with apps becoming ever more readily available and easy to use. Coupled with the winds of change espousing more liberalism, views towards education have changed a lot – there is resistance however, as authoritarianism is by nature a breeding ground for egos as someone once said.
The New Approach: Labels Are for Boxes, Bottles and Tubes not People
The new liberal approach removes the master puppeteer and places the learner center stage. The acquiring and internalizing of knowledge is now viewed as an active process on the part of the student who is presented with some information and asked to discover the rest following a set of clues through an obstacle course and thus learning the route, all the possible pitfalls and  ways of avoiding them. This view to learning and teaching means that students are expected to deduce the rules and conclusions rather than being fed them and thus remember them better – as they have been successfully internalized. This method of teaching requires patience on the part of the teacher who should also learn to observe and not take the lead marching ahead, sward drawn but walking along side students guiding them if you will. This view to teaching languages is yet to catch on completely though, and markets are still littered with very popular books that present rules in boxes and then demand that students do a set of well structured exercises. The educational value of this method of teaching is nothing compared to that of a book in which the exercises lead to the deduction of rules, which are thus more successfully learnt as effort has been made to do so and the student has remained actively involved. The same approach is true for the teaching of vocabulary, where teachers should desist from arming the students with vocabulary lists including synonyms and allow students to guess words whenever they can and only allow them to look up key words. Does it really matter if the student knows the difference between loath and detest so long as he has guessed they both mean roughly hate? Provided he understands the sentence as a whole, does he really need to look up every single obscure vocabulary item? If for example, “the plans have gone agley” and he has worked out that there is something wrong with the plans, does he need to rush for the dictionary? This shedding of the shackles allows students to soar, curious and interested. It is, or should be, a teacher’s greatest pleasure to watch them do so. Modern technology and the internet now allow students even more autonomy by replacing, in some instances, the guiding hand of the teacher. The advantages of these new developments are self evident: there are hundreds of language learners and far too few good teachers so if part of the load can be shared where is the harm in that? Another obvious reason why the role of this new route in language teaching is impossible to deny is that the current generation is very tech savvy indeed; they have grown up surrounded by technology thus feel  happy and comfortable working with it. If this is the hand we, as language teachers, have been dealt, common sense dictates that we accompany the students down this route for this reason alone. The new route involves use of some wonderful sites available on the internet and the teacher stepping back after initial introductions to let students get on with the work. In short, we as teachers need to let go of the deductive approach to teaching, confine it to the archives and embrace this new approach the inductive approach and technology have made possible. Old habits die hard and this is true both for generations of students who have learnt to accept the deductive approach as the one and only way to learn, and for teachers who have been laying down the law and delivering exercises for years. Complacency and lack of objectivity about the true value of the way we have been doing things will lock the door leading to better and more effective ways of teaching so it is to these innovative, effective and highly enjoyable methods of learning that we shall now turn.
“Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find” St Luke
The sheer number of students seeking to learn what is now the universal language of the world, English, is staggering. Nowhere is this so evident as in the developing world, East Asia and the Middle East where Turkey is but one example. The university where I teach, one of the top English medium universities in the country, takes on around two thousand new students every year two thirds of whom have to do a year of prep and pass a proficiency exam which is on a par with the IELTS and TOEFL. One year being all that we are allowed and having the same period of time to teach both advanced students and beginners, we know that we have a formidable task. The job can only be accomplished if we furnish the students with the necessary study skills to correctly supplement the class work. This is by no means all; as we cannot – nor should be – holding their hands twenty four seven, we also need a good and reliable stand in to help students, provide material, check their answers and provide explanation so enter the tutor par excellence: the internet. It is amazing how oblivious both certain teachers and students are of the depth and breadth of what is available on the internet. I had a student come into my office a week ago to enquire about the place of adverbs in sentences upon which I asked her if she had checked on the internet. Discovering that she hadn’t, we did so together to locate, to her delight, a wonderful website with some excellent examples. This incident and many others like it have led me to the conclusion that students, at least those in this part of the world, need to be introduced to ways they can exploit the internet. The same is true for some of my colleagues: my jaw dropped a few days ago when a senior member of staff said she wished there was a website for essay topics. I didn’t say anything at the time but I did prepare a set of websites detailing the services they provide and an idiot proof list of study suggestions using the internet, the latter of which you will find in appendix1. To cut a long story short, there is an enormous demand which has been met by the internet so it is to this new source of learning and how various sites can best be exploited individually and in tandem with others that we shall now turn as St. Luke’s words are so very true for both the student and the teacher’s new best friend.
The First Suggestion: Listening, i.e. Videos, into Writing
It goes without saying that most students who desire to learn English as a foreign language do so in foreign countries under the guidance of non native speakers of English. Well trained and highly proficient though these individuals most certainly are, there is always the need to hear native speakers of the language as well. This need first gave rise to cassettes, then CDs but both have now been replaced by all the wonderful sites on the internet. I remember the aversion to the use of technology in class many years ago but eventually people got over their problems with cassettes and later with CDs. Now they will have to do the same with laptops and use of the internet as a learning tool both in class and out of class. I feel that the reason this adaptation process is harder in this part of the world than in others is the limited access to technology throughout the formative years. These are hurdles we need to come to grips with as the opportunities on the internet are stunning.
One of my preferred websites for listening purposes is www.ted.com , a wonderful website including academic talks by experts in their fields on practically any subject under the sun.  What makes this site so much better than www.keentalks.com  and others like it is the availability of subtitles in English and the text itself should you wish to refer to it; the former specially is essential for language teaching purposes. Obviously, the activity I am about to describe is suited to intermediate level and above. What I like to do is to ask the students to research a topic they are interested in such as women’s rights or cyber crime and pick out a few videos – the videos vary greatly in both length and level of lexical difficulty. I then tell them to listen first without subtitles and take some notes and then to listen a second time this time with subtitles and check and add to their notes. Then, I ask them to write up their notes in the form of an essay adding their own opinions as well. There are various advantages of this activity: first and foremost, the students adore it, which means they will focus in class, and there won’t be discipline problems, they will be happy to do it for homework and they will learn a lot faster than they otherwise would.  The resulting essays will be a lot better too as what the students learn from the listening – all that new vocabulary, those new structures, collocations and so on – will flow into their essay instead of input in the form of a similar mental-essay written in their native language. This business of translating from the native language is the only option that is left if input in the target language is not provided, and it leads to the most horrific mistakes and very little improvement. The video into writing activity does, however, catch on very fast. To see samples of the said essays go to http://theproproom.blogspot.com and click on sample essays and paragraphs; you will see the links to the videos at the end of each essay along with the level of the student who wrote it. The said essays are all second drafts which the students have produced after studying the first draft I corrected using correction symbols.
A variation of this activity would be the teacher seeking out the videos concerning a topical issue, or an issue students would feel interested in, watching the same and designing the writing activity to go along with it. The preparation is time consuming yet the rewards make it worthwhile. Below you will find a writing activity I prepared after watching a program called “Young and Jobless” on BBC television. Having come across the program purely by chance and realizing what I had stumbled upon, I took notes just as I demand the students do. I then designed the following activity which the students will only be able to complete in a satisfactory manner if they view the same program and take notes. The number of advantages involved in the activity makes one’s mouth water: there is all that listening into writing and all the benefits of that as well as an introduction to a good television channel and an activity they can do on their own as well.
Gone are the days when all recruitment was done with pen and paper and face to face. Although interviews still exist for some candidates at the end of a long a grueling process, most of the selection and elimination process now takes place online. Before looking at the points and starting your research, access bbc.com/youngandjobless on the BBC website; watch the program, read and take notes. Advocates of this new trend claim it has the following advantages:
1.      Online recruiting helps in reducing the volume in the beginning.
2.      The system is fairer as individuals use their judgment and could be subjective.
3.      Recruiting agencies keep the data enabling people to be offered a different job that they didn’t apply for later on.
However the system does have its disadvantages too:
1.      The quality of applications is going down. People send in hundreds of applications and cut corners while doing so.
2.      People sometimes copy paste parts of good applications so finding really good ones is hard
3.      Hundreds of people applying for the same job; hard to get noticed.
In the conclusion, you might like to suggest some solutions:
1.      Think about what you want and target companies that provide the kind of job you want.
2.      Don’t send exactly the same CV, cover letter and answers to every company; tailor your answers.
3.      Check the job offer and use the key words in the job advertisement. Computers are programmed to eliminate by key word
4.      Take rejection on the chin and be persistent.
5.      Don’t aim for the top job at the start; take any reasonable job.
Television and www.ted.com  need not be your only source of listening activities though; we must not forget YouTube. This site is a mine of information and is guaranteed to come up with a video to match any topic you throw at it. One such topic is a very contentious one in this part of the world: gold mining with cyanide; a process that does untold damage to the environment, devastating and laying waste whole swathes of land. Mining of gold takes place in the Aegean region of Turkey and frequently brings locals out onto the streets in protest. A topic of this kind was, I thought, something the students could relate to so I discovered the videos and prepared the following writing activity:
Before attempting this essay it is recommended that the students be asked to do some research concerning the negative effects of gold mining operations. The said research could constitute an assignment or could be done under your watchful eye at a computer lab. This having been done, it is further recommended that you access the following on YouTube and watch it as a class: Poison in the Lifeline (27 min.), the 1995 Omai Gold Mine Disaster.  Poison in the Lifeline lays bare the events and grave consequences of the Omai Gold Mine disaster in Guyana in 1995 tracing the chain of events that led up to the disaster, the situation of extractive industries and the suffering of the 40.000 people who inhabit the area. Finally, ask the students to write a four paragraph essay on the effects of gold mining operations. Ask them to use the notes below
 End this paragraph with the following thesis statement:  Gold mining operations have serious environmental and social effects.
First developmental paragraph
Topic sentence: Gold mining operations do irreparable damage to the environment.
Highly consumptive, environmentally damaging, destroys natural environment, toxic waste, acid mine drainage (rock ground up and exposed to cyanide to extract gold; result: sulphuric acid), heavy metal poisoning (lead, cadmium, 96% of arsenic emissions), water depletion, uses vast amounts of energy
Second developmental paragraph
Gold mining operations have disastrous effects on local populations and the labor force employed on site.
Indigenous / community rights disregarded (mining on native land; natives, hunter-gatherers, subsistence farmers so way of life threatened; no power so rights ignored), laborers endangered (environmental violations put workers and locals at risk)
Write a restatement. 
Needless to say, the activity went swimmingly: we went up to the computer lab, did some research and took notes, we then came back to class and watched the video together and discussed it, lastly the students wrote the essay using the notes they had made on all they had watched and learnt. As a result, not only did they produce some very good essays but they also gained a perspective on a serious environmental issue. Most importantly, they really enjoyed the lesson, which meant everyone was a hundred percent focused throughout and expressed a desire to do more of the same, which we did. The fact that they had such fun also meant that they were happy to do similar activities completely on their own as homework or projects and developed an interest in current affairs, which they proceeded to follow .  Should the students be tackling a listening into writing activity without the teacher’s guidance, they will need some other method of essay correction and to accomplish this task, they will need to turn to the internet and access a wonderful site called www.grammarly.com . In order to benefit fully from the services offered, they will need to subscribe but in my view it is worth it. They then need to copy paste their essay into the space provided and click “academic essay”. The next thing they need to do is click on “correct the essay” and watch the red pen skimming – literally – through the essay. Once done, the site provides a very concise list of all the errors in the essay, both lexical and stylistic in addition to plagiarism – a reason why so many academics use the site. The student should then be advised to look back at his essay to try and find the aforementioned errors before referring back to the site for explanations. In cases where access to a professional does not exist and even when it does, this site is invaluable. I recommend that my students use it before handing in essays mainly to teach them to work on their own and focus on chronic mistakes.
The Second Suggestion: Listening, i.e. Films, into Writing
Videos aren’t the only source of listening practice; there are also films. In this modern world where the film industry has developed to such an extent and where most films are literally at our finger tips thanks to technology and the internet, it would be very short sighted indeed not to exploit them. There are numerous websites that provide access to films; two popular ones being www.filmsforaction.org and www.topdocumentaryfilms.com ; however, neither of these sights provide English subtitles; a ‘must have’ in my view. There is a way round this of course: installing the subtitles with a nifty little program yet how much simpler would it be to have the subtitles there, ready to go? This is why I like www.imdbfree.com so much. This wonderful site has the films categorized neatly according to genre, all with subtitles.  One piece of advice here, if, like me, you need to familiarize yourself with various films before assigning them to students, I suggest you do what I do and access the following film blog: http://essiespeaks.blogspot.com. The advantage of this blog is that there is interpretation and evaluation without spoilers, which means you can form a very good idea of a film, assign it to a student and watch it in your own time. Going back to www.imdbfree.com , what can be done is select a genre, war films for instance, and assign a pair of films as a project to the students. There are so many choices that you could have different students dealing with different pairs of films the names of which you will naturally have made a note of. The students will then be required to watch the films with the subtitles switched on and make notes – which you should also demand to see. They can then be asked to compare the two films and their approach to war adding their own opinions as well. Let us imagine you have selected “Body of Lies”, “Zero Dark 30” and “The Hurt Locker”; wonderful, thought provoking films about the same issue and the same war and the latter two by the same director. The students could compare the films in terms their handling of the Iraq war, how they approach the topic, what their main focus is and how successful they are.  Alternatively, they could take one epic war film “Inglorious Bastards” for example, which can’t really be studied in conjunction with anything, and write a project on that alone. Such a project would have numerous educational advantages in the short term and the long term: the amount of actual language practice would be phenomenal considering the amount of pleasure the students would derive from the activity, the habit of watching films in the target language would also be formed guaranteeing more of the same benefits in the future. This activity can be done as an in class activity as well; the only down side to this would be the fact that it is tremendously time consuming. This being the case, it is down to the autonomous language learner to tackle it in his own time. Again, once the essay is complete, the student should be asked to access www.grammarly.com to deal with any problems in the same way as described above.
The Third Suggestion: Reading and Listening into Writing
Reading and writing are a marriage made in heaven and the latter should not exist without the former for as I have said before the student requires input in the target language in the form of both language and ideas to be able to write an essay on a topic. The failure to provide such background information would lead to translation and some horrendous problems which need not have existed in the first place. Couple the reading with listening and follow with an essay and you have got the perfect learning opportunity. The first way in which these three activities could be combined would be to hit on a current topic, say gun control, and research it. Videos being the best place to start, it is suggested that students be asked to google gun control and click videos upon which they will discover videos featuring both Piers Morgan and Barack Obama on gun control. Having listened to the said videos and made notes, they could be directed to turn their attention to newspapers and similar publications where they could be asked to tag articles concerning gun control. Having read and made notes on these as well, they could proceed to write their essays which they should hand in to you with their notes. If they are, per chance, working on their own, the next step would be to access www.grammarly.com and work on any mistakes as described earlier. An alternative would be for the teacher to do the research and plan the whole task as an in class activity. Below you will find an example writing handout detailing how the activity would look:
The recent school shooting in Newtown and the horrific death of 27 children sent shock waves through US society and prompted the administration to act. President Obama set out a list of proposals after consulting with vice president Joe Biden who had been working with both sides. A similar shooting in Scotland some years ago prompted the UK government to introduce some of the toughest gun laws in Europe; the same is true for Norway. Both countries have since witnessed a sharp decrease in gun crime. Before studying the proposals, google the following:
·         Piers Morgan on gun laws; access the videos, listen and make notes
·         Barack Obama on gun laws; access the videos, listen and take notes
·         Go to www.bbc.co.uk  and read the following: US gun debate: Guns in numbers
·         Go to http://onlinewsj.com  and http://www.nytimes.com ; read about the new proposals concerning gun laws and reactions to them.
When your research is complete, consider the points below and any others you can think of to write a problem solution essay.
Obama’s key proposals are as follows:
·         Reintroduce an expired ban on “military-style” assault weapons
·         Limit ammunition magazines to ten rounds
·         Background checks on all gun sales
·         Ban on possession and sale of armour -piercing bullets
·         Harsher penalties for gun traffickers, especially unlicensed dealers who buy guns for criminals
·         Approve the appointment of the head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and explosives
·         More focus on mental health issues
·         Changing mind sets
This is far from being the only way reading, listening and writing can be combined; there are also existing reading tasks available in text books, online or in the form of handouts prepared by individuals or establishments which should be prefaced or followed by a listening activity and rounded off with a related essay.  To demonstrate how this works, I would like to turn to my own blog, http://theproproom.blogspot.com, where the reading activities are grouped in five files according to level of difficulty – Level* being early intermediate. In the folder marked Level ***, there is a wonderful reading activity all about how to achieve happiness called “Finding Flow”. After discussing the ways in which one could achieve happiness, www.ted.com  should be accessed. Were you to search for Flow or Finding Flow on this site, you would find a talk delivered by the writer of the article on the same topic. Having listened and taken notes, the students could turn their attention to the reading task which they should complete – the key and explanations are available on the site. They should then be required to write an essay on how to achieve happiness based on all the information they have gleaned and check their completed work on www.grammarly.com . Naturally, it is also perfectly possible to consider the whole task as an in class activity as well in which case it must be taken into account that plenty of time will be required. The advantage of working in this way is that boredom, discipline problems, tardiness and laziness in general will become things of the past with everyone on board and concentrating.
One is not always lucky enough to find the actual author of an article delivering a talk but a multitude of videos on any topic are at everyone’s fingertips. If, for instance, you were covering the reading task “War Against Girls” in Level*, you could seek out videos on women’s rights – there are plenty on www.ted.com - , listen to a few and then write an essay. If you were dealing with “Will We Ever Pass the Turing Test for Computers?”, you could set the ball rolling with a short video detailing the nature of the Turing test – it is the first link when you google Turing test – deal with the reading and having checked the answers, you could go to radiolab.org , to which links are provided on the blog to listen to some discussion and take notes. Everything could then be rounded off with an essay, examples of which are available on the blog in the file marked “Sample Student Essays and Paragraphs”.  Naturally, as with the previous activities discussed so far, the students could perfectly well do all this on their own provided they check their essays on www.grammarly.com.  
The Fourth Suggestion: Reading, i.e. novels and short stories, into writing
I remember my first trip to Eastern Anatolia by sleeper  in 1979 and being accosted at the station of a little place called Palu by a group of children all pleading with us to give them our old newspapers. I was bemused but our guide explained that they had no access to books and what they yearned for was reading matter. I remember how guilty I felt when I cast my mind back to one of my fondest childhood memories: my father taking me to a wonderful large bookstore, Redhouse, and turning me lose to pick out as many puffins, young puffins and, later, peacocks as I wished. We would exit the store laden with a couple of dozen books which I would devour. I have heard recently that various charities are producing simple tablets for children and distributing them in African countries to provide them with access to the internet and improve the quality of their learning. This is an excellent move as the activity I am about to describe requires access to a couple of wonderful websites which present one with a vast array of short stories and novels all absolutely scot free. As foreign books are still enormously expensive for students in this part of the world, this service is invaluable. The first of these sites is www.classicshorts.com and it contains original short stories by well known writers. With an intermediate class, I like to start with Roal Dahl, a universal favorite. There happen to be three of his short stories on the site all of which could be read to write a report; an alternative would be to read individual stories and write about them. A similar website containing short stories is www.americanliterature.com where you gain access to some of the best examples of American short stories. A story on this site which I have assigned in the past with roaring success is “The Lottery”; a highly disturbing story about which much has been written and which lends itself to some great discussion. If you have not read the story, I recommend that you do so. Short stories aren’t the only option though; there are novels as well and a site I suggest for this purpose is www.pagebypagebooks.com . The archive is truly wonderful with a wide choice of both short stories and novels. The students could be required to read either one or a few works and write a report. The activity could be further spiced up with the audio versions of these popular stories and novels available on numerous websites such as www.openculture.com . One word of warning though, I would suggest that you ask the students for their notes as well. In our university, the bulk of a student’s grade is based on exam scores so any work they do for me, they do because they like it or find it worthwhile. The proof of how popular these activities are lies in the fact that most students willingly do the work, which in turn means that stringent controls are never necessary. This level of cooperation can only be achieved if the students deem the activities truly beneficial and entertaining; so much so that they are unaware of how time flies and are mildly disappointed when the class ends.
And Finally: New Horizons in Learning
Wonderful, educationally worthwhile websites are by no means the only advantage provided by the World Wide Web; courses and even whole educational establishments have gone either partly or completely viral signaling the trend of the future: virtual learning environments. The best known of these sights is www.coursera.org , a wonderful website established by a Stanford academic working with Google. The organization has made agreements with a slew of renowned universities the teaching staff of which offers courses in their fields online, free of charge to a global student body. There are fixed starting dates, projects, tests and even the possibility for direct communication with the lecturers via Google hangout. This novel and highly democratic system is growing in popularity every day. Online graduate work has been around for a while now and businesses now accept certificates from these courses too – albeit in pdf form – with Google taking the lead and skimming off the best of the crop.  Another similar organization is Udacity, which is a completely online university with no physical campus and has taken the world by storm. EDX is taking its first baby steps and I am confident there will soon be more such educational establishments and for the moment at least, they are completely free. This being the new trend in learning, I feel it is only a matter of time before online language schools are also established. Technically, I can envision how this would be possible; I feel it is only too easy and only needs a group of enterprising teachers and IT specialists to take the lead. This being the way the wind is blowing, it falls to us teachers to keep up for ours is a profession where keeping abreast of changes is paramount.
As for how this trend currently applies to language learning, the opportunities are obvious especially in the case of university preparatory departments aiming to prepare students for their freshman year in an English medium university. One problem our advanced students complain about is being cut off from their departments proper for a year; a problem that could easily be rectified by introducing them to www.coursera.org , where they could take a course in their chosen department, prepare for the year to come and practice their English in the process. This is something they could continue to do throughout their university careers improving their CVs to be able to compete in an ever more selective job market. The advantage of continuing to take these courses is the obvious edge it will provide in terms of English proficiency; an important advantage in second and third world countries.
In conclusion: Spoon Feeding is out and Autonomy is in
Such methods of study as described above are hard to accept if the students and the teachers are all products of a more authoritarian educational system but the students’ future proficiency and welfare demands that we as teachers move with the times. Making sure our students are presented with the best possible opportunities to improve themselves and not get left behind is after all our cherished goal. The only issue we need to be disabused of is that there is only one good way to accomplish a task and that is what we personally have been doing all our lives A closed mind of this kind, even with the best of intentions, does untold damage not only to students but to teachers themselves as well as student displeasure and dissatisfaction will impact the pleasure the teacher will derive from his profession leaving him bitter and yearning for those mythical good old days. After all, as Heraclitus said “There is nothing permanent except for change” and yes, this is true for language teaching as well.
 Select a topic that you are interested in like slavery in the modern world, women’s rights or war for example.
1.      Access ted.com and print your topic into the search section.
2.      When you have discovered the videos related to your chosen topic, grab a pen and paper
3.      Listen to each video at least twice. If you are intermediate and above in terms of level, listen first without the script and make notes; then listen again this time with the script and check your notes. If you are a pre intermediate student reverse the process. If you feel you need to listen three times, that is fine too.
4.      Gather your notes together and write them up in the form of an essay.
5.      Access grammarly.com and copy paste your essay on to the site. Then select academic essay and hit “check your essay”.
6.      When you have a list of your mistakes, go back to your essay and try and locate them yourself.
7.      Finally, take your essay to any of the writing centers or your teachers for a final correction.
Note to the teacher: this procedure could be used as a project as well in which case the students should be requested to hand in their notes  and the links to the videos they watched as well.
1.      Access imdbfree.com and select a category that interests you like war films for example
2.      Select a couple of films in your chosen category and watch them with English subtitles.
3.      Then write an essay comparing and contrasting the films and their handling of war for example.
4.      Last of all, access grammarly.com and follow the procedure outlined in steps 6, 7 8 in the first suggestion.
Note to the teacher: this procedure could used to write essays in class or as a project. In the case of the latter, students should be required to state their choice of category and specific films beforehand to prevent large groups watching the same films.
1.      Access theproproom.blogspot.com and select an appropriate level of reading activity. If you are an intermediate or pre intermediate student, this would be “Level of difficulty*”; if you are an advanced student, it would be “Level of difficulty**” to start with. Level one is lower intermediate in terms of level so should be manageable for pre intermediate students as well. If you are a remedial student and failed reading, you follow the same procedure advanced students do. If you passed reading start with “Level of difficulty ***”.
2.      Select a reading task that looks interesting
3.      Locate the text by googling the title and the author’s name and get a printout.
4.      Read the text carefully once, looking up key words on dictionary.com, which you need to download onto your laptops and telephones, and guessing the meanings of other words.
5.      Now try and answer the questions. While doing so, write out the answers; do not just underline.
6.      When you have completed the questions, check your answers. If there is anything you don’t understand, bring it to the writing centers or ask your teacher.
7.      Now access ted.com and search for related videos using key words in the text. For instance, if you have just completed work on “War Against Girls”, search for videos related to women’s rights; if you have just completed work on “How to Die”, search for humane end of life practices.
8.      Watch and take notes on the videos as outlined in the first suggestion.
9.      Now return to the blog and do the writing task.
10.  When you have completed your essay or paragraph, follow the procedure outlined in steps 6, 7 and 8 in the first suggestion.
Warning: it is important that all this be done at one sitting to enable flow of information from the reading to the listening and from both to the writing task. A delay would mean that a valuable learning opportunity has been wasted.
  1. Access the following website:  pagebypagebooks.com, classicshorts.com or americanliterature.com and select a writer. Roald Dahl or Edgar Allen Poe for example.
  2. You may select a novel, a single story, a couple of stories by the same writer or a couple of stories discussing the same theme by different writers.
  3. After reading the story or stories you have selected, write a reaction essay, a comparison or an opinion essay concerning the ideas in the story.
  4. Lastly, follow the procedure outlined in steps 6, 7 and 8 in the first suggestion.
  1. Access coursera.org and select a field of study that interests you.
  2. Select a course and apply for it. The courses are completely free
  3. You will get all your material, tests and projects online and be expected to hold up your side of the bargain.
  4. The advantage is that you will not only practice your English but also broaden your horizons and learn subject specific vocabulary.
Note to the student: use the suggestions listed here as guidelines to discover additional ways to improve your language skills.