Friday, January 31, 2014

MULTIPLE TEXT READING-INTO-WRITING PROJECT: THE ADVANTAGES OF BILINGUALISM


This task involves a collection of three reading activities which all pave the way for one common writing activity so be prepared to spread it out over a day or two. It is suggested you complete all three tasks before you attempt the writing task for maximum benefit.
BEFORE YOU READ
·         What is bilingualism? Is it simply knowing more than one language?
·         Are there any bilingual communities in your country?
·         Until recently, it was thought that speaking more than one language was a handicap. Do you agree?
·         Can you think of any advantages of bilingualism?
NOW WATCH THE FOLLOWING

 The benefits of a bilingual brain - Mia Nacamulli https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMmOLN5zBLY

 Language and Bilingualism in the Brain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5rvmczGANc



TEXT ONE: HOW LANGUAGE SEEMS TO SHAPE OUR VIEW OF THE WORLD
By: Alan Yu
Published: January 2, 2014; www.npr.org
Level of difficulty: **
Note to the student: this is a difficult level two or an easy level three so don’t make this the first reading task in this category that you do.
1.       Read Broditsky’s experiment carefully. The five year old aboriginal girls always got the question right because………………………………………………………………..(Be specific)
2.       What does “those changes” in the phrase “Researchers are starting to study how those changes happen” refer to?
3.       What does “That’s exactly the case” refer to?
4.       Read the example of the cups and glasses carefully. This example supports the earlier contention that…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
5.       Read the example pertaining to Vladimir Nobokov. What conclusion can we draw from the example?
6.       Nobokov’s initial theory that “he could just translate the book” into Russian proved impossible because……………………………………………………………………………………………………..
7.       Why would eye-witness testimony provided by an Englishman and a Spaniard be different although they were describing the same event?
8.       What genral principle was being tested in “the language hoax”?
9.       Broditsky feels “the hoax experiment”  doesn’t necessarily disprove her theory but it does indicate that…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
TEXT TWO: NEW STUDY SHOWS BRAIN BENEFITS OF BILINGUALISM
By: Barbara J. King
 Published: November 14, 2013; www.npr.org
Level of Difficulty: **
QUESTIONS
1.       The India study revealed, for the first time, the link between bilingualism and the onset of dementia. True or false?
2.       Not knowing how to read and write was found not to affect the positive influence of bilingualism. True or false?
3.       What made India especially ideal for the study was the……………………………………………………
4.       What does “the trick” in the phrase “is enough to do the trick” refer to?
5.       What three additional advantages of bilingualism are mentioned in the text?


TEXT THREE: SPEAKING MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE COULD PREVENT ALZHEIMER’S

By: Nancy Shute
Published: January 10, 2013; www.npr.org
Level of difficulty: **
QUESTIONS
  1. What does “the idea” in the phrase “to test the idea” refer to?
  2. What does “the task” in the phrase “ his bilingual seniors were better at the task” refer to? Why exactly were they better at the task?
  3. The fact that bilingual seniors’ brains seemed to be working like young adults’ proves that………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
  4. Age related declines in thinking and memory seem to be partially dealt with thanks to………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
  5. What does “That” refer to in the phrase “That , he says, would be more useful to people”?
WRITING TASK
The writing task draws on all three texts as all three discuss various positive effects of bilingualism. Draw on all three and follow the plan below to write a 5 paragraph essay.
In your introduction, define bilingualism and provide examples of communities: the Armenians, residents of Quebec, the Irish, the Welsh, the Jews, offspring of mixed marriages and the like. Then state the old view concerning bilingualism – that it was a handicap – and state that that has been disproved. Then comes your thesis statement, which should state clearly that you will be discussing various advantages of bilingualism.
In your first developmental paragraph, discuss the positive effects on the brain:
  • Compensating for age related declines in thinking and memory
  • Help in protecting against the losses caused by Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Delaying the onset of dementia
In your second developmental paragraph, discuss the positive effects in terms of personal expression
  • The effects on memory (Vladimir Nobokov)
  • Switching between languages allows different personality traits to emerge
  • Provides flexibility in personal expression
In your third developmental paragraph, discuss the global effects: the enhancement of understanding, world peace, cultural awareness, cultural acceptence and the like.
In your conclusion, you can discuss measures to increase access to a second language in early childhood to spread the benefits. Alternatively, you could write a restatement.
MULTIPLE TEXT READING-INTO-WRITING ACTIVITY KEY AND TEACHER’S NOTES
At first glance, the topic seems not to have a wow factor but on further study, it emerges that this initial impression is wrong – although I do see it may not appeal to everyone. On the plus side, the three texts slot in together perfectly covering all the bases so to speak. As such, they lead to a very fruitful writing activity. One of the purposes of the activity is to prepare students for more research related writing activities including videos and multiple texts. It is recommended that the plan should be studied to be able to grasp how it has been put together for future reference.
TEXT ONE: KEY
  1. The Australian aboriginal language doesn’t use words like left and right. It uses compas points. The difference is language would be too genral. In order to decide whether your answer is too genral, imagine you are reading the question and answer for the first time. Do you feel the need to ask an additional question, to demand an explanation? If the answer is yes, your initial answer is wrong.
  2. Change in the way you behave, how you sort things into categories, what you notice
  3. The fact that bilinguals switch focus depending on the language they use
  4. People speaking different languages group or observe things differently
  5. One’s native language could also affect memory
  6. He recalled a lot of things that he did not remember when he was writing it in English.
  7. Because English doesn’t always note the intent of a person but Spanish does.
  8. Were constrained by their language
  9. Language isn’t the only factor affecting what we notice.
TEXT TWO: KEY
  1. False
  2. True
  3. Its cultural context. The purpose of this question is to test your summary skills. The answer provided summarizes the previous two sentences and is the only one that fits grammatically.
  4. Better development of executive functions and attentional tasks (with…)
  5. The emergence of different personality traits as a result of switching between two languages; opening up new worlds of global connection and understanding; flexibility in personal expression
TEXT THREE: KEY

  1. Whether Speaking more and more languages could help save you from Alzheimer’s disease
  2. An attention switching task; people bilingual since early childhood are better at high order thinking ( called executive function).
  3. Bilingual seniors’ brains are efficient.
  4. Having more reserve brain power
  5. Seeing if learning a second language in adulthood gives some protective benefit

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

WHO SAYS MATH HAS TO BE BORING?


By: The Editorial Board
Published: The New York Times; December 7, 2013; www.nytimes.com
Level of difficulty: **
BEFORE YOU READ
·         What is the attitude to maths in your part of the world?
·         Do you believe there are problems in the math syllabus? If so, what?
·         Do you think there are problems with methodology? If so, what?
·         How do you think maths can be made more attractive?
NOW CHECK OUT THE FOLLOWING
Beauty of mathematics https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmEtouLI7VY

NOW CHECK OUT THE SOLUTION

Dan Meyer: Math class needs a makeover https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_meyer_math_curriculum_makeover

QUESTIONS
1.       Which sentence best summarizes the first paragraph?
2.       Why is the above of such concern?
3.       For what reasons do students grow to dislike maths?
4.       What does “That” refer to in the sentence “That’s because the American system of teaching these subjects is broken”.
5.       What does the phrase “Mathematical education has changed very little since the Sputnick era” mean? Use your own words.
6.       What kind of support helps students succeed at math and science?
7.       It is suggested in the text that ………………………………..should replace the longstanding pathways?
8.       What is the function of the paragraph beginning “Finding ways…”?
A more flexible carriculum
9.       What does “This” refer to in the phrase “This is not an endorsement of tracking”?
10.   What specific change in carriculum is recommended for what reason?
11.   What is the consequence of students not taking engineering or computer science cources in high school?
12.   What change in methodology is recommended?
Very early exposure to numbers
13.   Not being familiarized with numbers in early childhood makes some Americans………………….
Experience in the real world
14.   P-Tech and Raisebeck Aviation are examples of schools which………………………………………………
WRITING TASK
Watch the video at the beginning of the text and make a few notes. Then access all the links that emerge in the text and make more notes. When you are done, do a little research on how to popularize maths education and the changes that need to be made in teaching styles and material. When you have done so, write a problem solution essay on the issue.
In your introduction, outline the problem and explain why it has to be tackled. Use notes you made on the text.
In your development, elaborate on the three main areas of solutions suggested in the text and any others you can think of.
·         Providing additional instruction to science and math teachers
·         Offering students greater choice between theoretical and applied cources
·         Encouraging the use of technology and applied thinking instead of rote memorization
In your conclusion, discuss the effects  or make a restatement
WHO SAYS MATH HAS TO BE BORING? KEY AND TEACHER’S NOTES
This text has the advantage of being about a very common problem and therefore an issue students can identify with. Another plus point is that it is well-written text yet relatively simple text which lends itself to some real complrehension questions. When all is done and dusted, it ispossible to write a brilliant problem solution essay as well. I strongly recommend that the writing activity is done immediately as it is the ultimade reading activity and will help clinch everything.

  1. American students are bored by math, science and engineering.
  2. Because the need for workers in STEM is soaring. You need to see what “those” refers to.
  3. Many are being taught by teachers who have no particular experience in the subject; they are following outdated curriculums and textbooks.
  4. Students become convinced they are no good at math, that math and science are only for nerds and fall behind.
  5. Nothing has changed for years or words to that effect.
  6. Family encouragement and enrichment
  7. Real world problem solving
  8. It introduces the main body of the article: solutions to the problem and therefore, provides transition. It is a bridge paragraph.
  9. Students being offered a greater choice between applied skills and the more typical abstract cources
  10. Career and technical education; it would reduce drop out rates
  11. Most students say they have no interest in them
  12. The use of technology and applied thinking
  13.  Unfit for many newly created jobs
  14. Offer job oriented STEM education

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

WHY WE ARE SOMETIMES KIND WITHOUT REASON


“Our brains are constantly, subtly being primed in fascinating ways by our physical surroundings”
By: Charles Montgomery
Published: The Atlantic; November 22, 2013; www.theatlantic.com
Level of Difficulty:***
BEFORE YOU READ
Study the streets the links to which are below and try and answer the following questions:
Second link
·         On which street would you walk faster?
·         On which street would you feel more relaxed and happy?
·         On which street would you find it easier to talk to strangers?
·         On which street would you want to linger and perhaps sit down somewhere?
·         Now try and explain the reason for your answers.
QUESTIONS
1.       According to Goffman, what makes public and private places a stage and the people round us actors?
2.       The case of the man in the example in the second paragraph and the subjects in D.S. Wilson and Daniel O’Brien’s study both prove that……………………………………………………………………………..
3.       The examples of the pavement, the drinks and the escalator seem to show that……………………
There are two answers; state both.
4.       What does the example involving The Salvation Army have in common with that involving film clips? Both involve…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
5.       The paragraph beginning “Neuroscientists have found…” focuses on:
·         The mental processes underlying our responses or reactions
·         The hormonal basis of our reactions or responses
·         The biological basis of our responses or reactions
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
·         Other: please specify
6.       What does “This” refer to in the phrase “This should be a concern…”?
7.       The prejudice that emerged in the Dutch experiment could be alleviated through …………………
8.       There are two reasons why the writer and Zak met with the reactions they did on the Main Street of Disneyworld (link below); they are: (https://www.google.com.tr/search?q=Main+Street+Disneyworld&espv=210&es_sm=93&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=zaHnUrPNCcOSywOGsoLIAQ&ved=0CCsQsAQ&biw=1024&bih=509

9.       Which of the sentences below best summarizes the effect modern cities have on people:
·         They cause loneliness
·         They cause aggression
·         They cause nostalgia
·         They dehumanize people
10.   Both neuroscientists and Main Street USA’s designers discovered that……………………………………
11.   Why have care facilities replicated Main Street USA to comfort residents rather than employ some other method?
12.   What is the implication of Main Street USA in terms of our physical environment?
13.   What examples of “social spaces” can you provide based on the text?
14.   The experiments at the BMW Guggenheim lab support the contention that………………………….
15.   What does “This” refer to in the phrase “This points to an emerging disaster”?
16.   Read the paragraph beginning “This points to an emerging disaster in street psychology”. What is it exactly that has such a negative effect on the aging population?
·         Alienation
·         Destruction of the community
·         The disappearance of small local businesses
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
·         Other: please specify
17.   What two functions does the following sentence fulfill: “Fortunately, some cities have begun to enact laws to stop developers from killing the sociability of streets.”?
18.   Manhattan has been provided as an example of a city which………………………………………See link: https://www.google.com.tr/search?q=manhattan&espv=210&es_sm=93&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=aqLnUuWuC4eFtAb5oYDoBg&sqi=2&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1024&bih=509
19.   Read the examples provided in this last part of the text carefully to the end. Why exactly is New York “adopting new zoning that limited the ground floor width of new stores on major avenues on the Upper West Side”? There are two answers; find both.
20.   What is the outcome of the regulations in Vancouver as far as residents go?
WRITING TASK
Select an area in a city you know well and imagine you have been given a free rein to do whatever you wanted. Describe what improvements you would make and why. Imagine you have to report to a council which is likely to disagree with you so justify your proposals. You can accompany your essay with photos, videos, graphics or a power point presentation to support your case. You may also send in the result and it could get posted.
WHY WE ARE SOMETIMES KIND WITHOUT REASON KEY AND TEACHER’S NOTES
This wonderful text brings home a point that we all know instinctively: that skyscrapers, aluminum, glass and the loss of small businesses leads to alienation and unhappiness, which eventually impacts how long we live and what quality of life we enjoy. As such, it is fascinating to read. It also allows for a creative and original writing task, which I hope will be fun to do.

  1. The fact that life is a series of performances (in which we are all continually managing the impression we give other people).
  2. Being high up, or the mere act of ascending, reminds us of lofty ways of thinking and behaving.
  3. First alternative: we regularly respond to our environment in ways that seem to bear little relation to conscious thought or logic. The second alternative: the environment feeds us subtle clues that prime us to respond differently to the social landscape – even if those clues are wholly untethered from any rational analysis of our surroundings.
  4. A relationship between attitude and altruism
  5. Other: 1+3
  6. The fact that humans have a huge concentration of oxytocin receptors in the oldest part of the brain which…
  7. Design
  8. The fact that people go there intending to be happy; every detail on the artificial street is intended to draw you deeper into a state of nostalgic ease. ‘The powerful priming effects of the landscape’ is not explicit enough; it doesn’t tell you specifically what the reason is.
  9. The fourth
  10. Design could be used to get people from a state of anxiety and fear to a place of hope and happiness.
  11. Because the place effect is so powerful. Just effect won’t do; it is a reference and you need to see what it refers to in order to be precise.
  12. That every urban landscape is a collection of memory-and-emotion-activating-symbols. The following sentence is optional.
  13. Clean, tidy, well kept cities, access to nature, smaller structures, cultural heritage which has been preserved; not ultra modern… In fact, the opposite of everything in the text.
  14. If a street features uniform facades with hardly any doors, variety or functions, people move past as quickly as possible.
  15. People reported feeling significantly along the messy but active street front, than they did along the blank, tidy façade.
  16. All of the above
  17. First of all: it is the topic sentence for both the paragraphs; second of all, it provides transition from the first paragraph of examples to the second as the second paragraph is all about the killing of sociability.
  18. Killed the citizenry’s right to a healthy, life-giving public realm
  19. First alternative: passive bank facades bleed life from the sidewalk and two many of them can kill a street. Second alternative: Stores are the soul of the neighborhood. Small pharmacies, shoe stores, they mean everything to us (the second sentence is optional). In short, Gale Brewer’s comments.
  20. People actually walk, bike or take the subway to the big box, sit out front at the Starbucks, sipping their lattes in the rain.

YOUR BRAIN ON POVERTY: WHY POOR PEOPLE SEEM TO MAKE BAD DECISIONS


And why their “bad” decisions might be more rational than you’d think
By: Derek Thompson
Published: The Atlantic; November 22, 2013; www.theatlantic.com
Level of Difficulty:**

BEFORE YOU READ
·         Do you believe that poverty affects decision making in general? If so how?
·         Read the title. What do you think the writer is refering to?

NOW CHECK OUT THE FOLLOWING
Why poor people’s decisions make sense http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/why-poor-peoples-decisions-make-sense/529379d802a7600de5000276

QUESTIONS
1.       What does “It” refer to in the phrase “It was widely seen as a counter argument”?
2.       What does the phrase “as opposed to the other way round” mean and what implication would it have?
3.       For what reasons would the person described in the example make what we would describe as poor decisions?
·         He needs to get what pleasure he can, when he can
·         He feels his prospects will never change anyway
·         He feels the way rich people do
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
·         Other: please specify
4.       Which sentence in the two highlighted paragraphs of examples in the text is the main idea for both?
5.       What reason is given for the series of bad, short term relationships in the example in the text?
6.       Which sentence best expresses the conclusion that can be drawn from the two examples?
7.       According to Kable, self control may not be the sensible path to take if………………………………
8.       Read the text to the end and state clearly which sentence(s) best express the conclusion we can draw from the whole text?
WRITING TASK
Write a paragraph discussing the cognitive effects of poverty and possible solutions to the issue.
YOUR BRAIN ON POVERTY: WHY POOR PEOPLE SEEM TO MAKE BAD DECISIONS KEY AND TEACHER’S NOTES
You would be forgiven for reading the text and immediately harking back to the common prejudices concerning decision making and poor people but you would be very wrong indeed. The attracktion of this text is that it takes a familiar problem and turns it on its head with the full backing of science. As far as I am concerned, it has also given me the opportunity to write some serious comprehension questions, which is always good. I hope you find the activity useful and interesting.
1.       The fact that poverty itself hurts our ability to make decisions about school, finances and life imposing a burden similar to losing 13 IQ points. What is required is the counterargument so that is what you provide.
2.       That poor people are to blame for bad decisions; giving cash should alleviate the cognitive burdens of poverty.
3.       Other: 1+2
4.       Poverty is bleak and cuts off your long-term brain
5.       The pull to feel worthwhile
6.       You just take what you can get as you spot it.
7.       The time frame wasn’t properly framed to begin with
8.       All the data shows that it isn’t poor people, it’s about people who happen to be in poverty. All the data suggests it is not the person; it is the context they are inhabitting.


Friday, January 17, 2014

THE ACTIVITIES OF THE NSA; ARE THEY GOING TOO FAR?

An article in The Guardian newspaper titled "The NSA collects millions of text messages daily in untargetted global sweep" has revealed the extent of the NSA surveillance and the lengths to which they will go to collect information. Read the text the link to which is below and decide where you stand in relation to the issue: should governments be given a free hand to harvest data in the current climate where thanks to technology, the threat of attack has quadruppled or should there be limits in the name of personal freedom? When you are ready, write a response essay. Here is the link; copy paste to activate:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/16/nsa-collects-millions-text-messages-daily-untargeted-global-sweep

Below you will find the link to the modifications to NSA data gathering and storing of meta-data proposed by President Obama in a press conference on the 17th of January:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/17/politics/obama-nsa-changes/index.html?hpt=hp_inthenews



HOW DOES POLITICAL TURMOIL IMPACT THE ECONOMY? EFFECT ANALYSIS ESSAY


Many countries in the Middle East, South East Asia and in Africa are currently experiencing political turmoil of one sort or another. Uncertain times can have disastrous effects on the economy creating a domino effect that reaches far into the future. Your purpose while preparing to write this essay is to discover what these short term and long term economic effects are.
Suggested plan
In your introduction, discuss the destabilizing influence of crises briefly and give examples of countries currently experiencing political crisis. In your thesis statement, you should state that the focus of the essay is the economic impacts of political crisis.
In your first developmental paragraph, discuss the effects on exchange rates and the knock on effect a tumbling local currency has on local businesses and everyday life: potential bankruptcy, increasing debt, rising inflation and the like
In your second developmental paragraph, discuss the effects on foreign investment and what can be done to get the investors back.
In your third developmental paragraph, discuss the effects on tourism
In your conclusion, write a restatement
Reading material to annotate
1.       “Economy reels from recent turmoil” http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/08/18/economy-reels-from-recent-turmoil/
3.       “Political turmoil leaves tourist industry in tatters” http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/10ca5734-52a3-11e3-8586-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2qYky4Sv2
4.       “Thai stocks, currency slide on political turmoil” http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140102/thai-stocks-currency-slide-political-turmoil
5.       “Turkish markets thrown into turmoil amid political crisis” http://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2013/12/26/turkish-markets-thrown-into-turmoil-amid-political-crisis/
6.       “Thailand starting to lag behind its neighbours as crisis takes hold” http://www.nationmultimedia.com/business/Thailand-starting-to-lag-behind-its-neighbours-as--30224062.html
Videos to watch and make notes on
Research the topic on major news channels for videos


ARE DRONES A LEGITIMATE WEAPON OF WAR? ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY


   In the course of time, people’s values  and priorities have changed yet there is one that has remained the same since the beginning of time: the need for security and to win battles of all kinds at any cost. People have tried yet failed to eliminate wars, but they work  hard to preserve their own safety. Because of this, scientists developed UACs and drones thanks to technological developments. In this centuy, people are killed easily by push button crafts. Drones are one of these UACs and the legality of drones is a matter of debate in many countries. Some of them are in favour of the drone strikes  whereas others are against it for some valid reasons. It ıs my contention that drones are not a legitimate weapon of war.
   First of all, many civilians are killed by drones. In spite of the murders being commited right and left, the drone technology is moving ahead at full speed. Drones were used firstly in the Yugoslav conflicts ,and the use of drones escalated in the Afghanistan war. Due to the drone strikes, not only militants but also noncombatants are killed. According to some research, there have been 41 known drone strikes in Pakistan since Obama became president and due to these strikes, 450 locals have been murdered. This is an enormous mortality rate. The drone strikes are giving more damage to the civilian population than militants. Because of this, the drone strikes pose a great risk for humanity.
   A further argument against the drone strikes is that the drone strikes have some adverse effects on the drone operators. The drone operators suffer from conflict-zone trauma, despite not being in the line of fire. They are faced with the knowledge that they themselves are responsible for the death of innocent people. Moreover, the drone strikes are controlled via some computer software; therefore, this system can be turned into a military threat by hackers. Hackers can enter the military network and take control to drive the drone into the ground or use it for their own personal gain. For exampe; Todd Humphreys, an assistant professor at the University of Texas, showed how his research team was able to take control of a US military drone just by using a store –bought GPS in 2012. This is not impossible; therefore, drones should not be used in order to preserve  world peace.
   The supporters of drone strikes claim that these aircrafts are  far cheaper than other weapons because the initial cost is not as high as manned aircraft. It is asserted that when the government uses the drones, military spending may decrease in the country. However, this is a very superficial idea. The initial cost is just the begining of the story.  The personnel will  need to specialize in training operations; therefore, the operation cost is likely to soar over time. The driving of a drone is harder than manned aircrafts; thus, the requirement for specialized men will escalate in the country.
   To sum up, UACs provide some advantages for the military  but the drawbacks cannot be overlooked. Due to the drone strikes, a lot of people suffer from trauma and many civilians  are murdered. Because of this, the drones are not a legitimate weapon of war.

Written by: Hilal Demirtaş

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

PRESSURE GROUPS, INDISPENSABLE OR NOT? AN ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY


Are pressure groups essential to a fully fledged democracy or not? Is democracy enriched by pressure groups or not? Do your research and find out. Then write an argumentative essay on the topic.
Thanks are due to Özge Çağlar Aksoy for this wonderful topic

Familiarize yourself with the topic
·         “Pressure groups” http://prezi.com/gjped8uc53wa/pressure-groups/ 
·         “Pressure groups” http://www.slideshare.net/GovernanceHome/pressure-groups-3580754
·         “Advantages and disadvantages of pressure groups” http://prezi.com/ucimo288gmyq/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-pressure-groups/ 

The main points summarized
·         “How important are pressure groups?” http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki/How_important_are_pressure_groups

Reading material to annotate

Videos to make notes on

BERLIN AND PARIS IN 1914, ON THE EVE OF WWI; COMPARISON CONTRAST ESSAY


Read and carefully annotate the following text: “La Belle Epoque: Paris 1914” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25619822. Next read and carefully annotate the following text: “Berlin 1914: A City of Ambition and Self Doubt” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25635311. When you have done so, write an essay comparing the two cities.

Your essay could be organized in various different ways depending on what kind of thesis statement you choose to write and whether you compare by whole parts or point by point. It is suggested that you take the former route but the reason for comparison – your thesis statement – I leave to you.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

THE EVOLUTION OF VAMPIRES; SELECTIVE LISTENING


Level of difficulty: intermediate, end of the first term.
Original text: Essie, http://essiespeaks.blogspot.com
We owe Essie thanks for allowing a follower of this blog to transform her text into a listening activity.
Vampires have always been an important part of various works of art. They can be seen mostly in books and films. They have appeared in various forms and in various cultures throughout the world; stories of blood-sucking demons can be found in very early folk myths in Asia and the Middle East. Today, I would like to have a chronological look at the vampire phenomenon in the history of cinema.
Vampires “reached” Europe in the early 18th century. Stories of vampires came to Europe from the Balkans. Stories spread mostly from the Balkans because Balkans had a tradition of vampire legends. The stories even lead to a wide-spread public hysteria. Luckily, in the beginning of the 19th century, vampire legends came to a stop and the public started not to be affected from these vampire legends. The first reason why vampires lost their fear factor is that 19th century is the age of reason. In addition to the fact that it was the age of reason, modern science also proved that vampires did not exist. So, it was the modern science which disproved the existence of vampires. Vampires did, nevertheless, continue to be seen in many works of art. In written literature, the most famous one is no doubt Braham Stoker’s 1867 novel, Dracula. With the 20th century and the advent of cinema, vampires made an appearance in the cinema, too.  And one of the earliest works of cinema is Murnau’s Nosferatu, dated 1907.
The world is full of legends and heroes. However, vampires have a special place among these legends and heroes. The most basic characteristic of a vampire is the fact that it is a monster. This monster is frightening. The fact that vampires are frightening monsters is well known by almost everybody. That is why film-makers who are new to this business use these frightening monsters as their best actors. The pioneer filmmakers had to use certain “types”, types that everyone knew, that didn’t need much introduction. The vampires need no introduction because of many reasons.
The second reason why film-makers used vampires as their best actor is that they could easily reach the dramatic mood they wanted to achieve.  For film makers the hardest part is to reach the dramatic mood and they can do this by using this frightening monster.
Thirdly, the audience didn’t really expect to see vampires in the early 20th century. One must remember that the cinema was principally a spectacle for many years; especially in its early years, the cinema was viewed as entertainment and it was not thought of as a work of art. And besides, the audience was very unused to this new form of entertainment; the cinema did not become a common form of entertainment until the middle of the 20th century, so no one had seen that many films. To make people see more films, filmmakers had to use strong characters. Vampires, as you can imagine, are very strong characters and thus the filmmakers used vampires as strong characters. Nowadays, you can imagine that Bruce Willis or Dwayne Johnson does not need an introduction to the audience. They are both heroes that almost everybody accepts.
 You can all imagine that cliché characters needed no real introduction, everyone knew them well anyway; in an adventure film the hero is always handsome and brave.  In a comedy, he is dumb and clumsy. Then there is a beautiful maiden, naturally, young and stunning. The hero must do something to make the maiden love him. Then of course the villain, the bad person in the movie, who must be overcome by the hero. In a horror movie, all we really need to know about a monster – be it a vampire or something else – is that it is out to get you and must be stopped. The hero’s job is to stop the monster which is out to get you. The rest is largely left to the viewer’s imagination.
When we look at the history of vampires in the cinema, the first character we observe is Braham Stoker’s Dracula. As mentioned earlier, we need a monster and a hero. Our monster is the vampire, Count Orlok. Count Orlok lives in a scary castle in Romania. Our hero is a lawyer from a small village in Germany. The Count wants to buy a castle in a small village in Germany, so he recruits the lawyer, our hero. In the earlier versions of Dracula, the count is depicted as ugly and scary; however, in later versions, the vampire gained one quality – they were, for the most part, good looking, or at least charismatic. Of course, the story never changed: our hero needs to kill the monster, however good looking and charismatic he may look, in contrast to the ugly and scary monsters of the past.
The 1990’s brought with it a new decade and a society with even more needs. Vampires have successfully made their way into mainstream comedy. Two icons – still popular to this very day – were born in this era. One is a more romantic image of vampires, targeting a slightly older audience – Interview with A Vampire, starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. The second is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and her partner Angel. Buffy and Angel aimed at a slightly younger audience with overtones of a supernatural adventure story. As we all know, young people would love to watch supernatural adventure and that is why Buffy and Angel were mostly watched by the younger audience.
As we said, Angel is a more complex vampire than his predecessors. Unlike them, he has a conscience, and a soul. Now this, we may recall, came about because Angel is cursed. He angered a gypsy who cursed him by giving him back his soul. Of course now he is no longer a soulless monster; Angel is tormented beyond belief by the memory of all the horrible things he has done in his vampire life. But that is not all, if he ever finds true happiness; he will lose his soul again, becoming a destructive monster. So therein lies the dilemma, Angel has regained “human” status in a sense by having his soul, but he must struggle through his endless life, not indulging in any true happiness. Remember, if he finds happiness, he will lose his soul and become a monster again.
Now, let us begin by analyzing some aspects of the popular television series True Blood. We must confess that there are inherent difficulties in analyzing a series because there are many layers and different messages that are given in various episodes but there are some basic messages that “stick out” in certain seasons. And the main “problem” True Blood has with the world seems to be political. In the first series, the underlying message is all about the fact that vampires “hunt humans”. One cannot help but ask oneself, what would happen if, one day when we woke up, we found out that there were such things as vampires? Even if these were people we had known for a while like the doorman in our apartment or the dentist we go to, we would be horrified by the fact that they could potentially kill and eat us. How would we feel about such a thing happening? There may be many interpretations of True Blood out there but the one interpretation is striking. In this interpretation, the world with the vampires is America after the 9 /11 incident. Remember the American citizen Muslims working as pilots causing the deaths of many while hitting the twin towers? In a world like this, then, the vampires represent the Muslims. Naturally, people knew that Muslims actually existed, but the “war on terror” changed the way they were viewed forever as far as some people were concerned. As True Blood is a complex series, there are good vampires and bad vampires, just as there are good and bad members in any section of society. So, a popular television series like the True Blood can view the world as political and makes social criticism on that.
Similar criticism can be found underlying many of the most innocent looking vampire films. Another good example is the Twilight saga that has taken the planet by storm. Twilight is, very basically, a teenage romance. It speaks of Edward Cullen the vampire and Bella Swan the human who fall in love, and all the obstacles they must overcome until they are able to get married – when Edward will turn Bella into a vampire too and their love will become eternal. The first noticeable strength about Twilight is the lengths to which its creators have gone to make absolutely sure we find the vampires approachable. The Cullen family, in the tradition of all truly “good” vampires, does not feed on human blood. They call themselves “vegetarian” and only animal blood will do. Secondly, they do not have any problem with going out in the day time, the reason they avoid the sun is that it makes their skin glow in a rather conspicuous manner – thus making them that little bit more approachable / like us.
 “Adapt or die”, if we cannot go as far as calling this a mantra for the entire planet, it is definitely a very sound principal to base one on. And vampires seem to have done just that; adapted and thrived. Gone are the mere monsters of yesteryear, gone are the vampires without souls hell-bent on destruction alone, they have shown us a different side to their character. The reason for this is no doubt, the changes in modern audiences. Apparently, modern audiences call for these changes to get away from the boredom of daily life.
This is the end of this interesting lecture. Thank you for listening.
THE EVOLUTION OF VAMPIRES
SELECTIVE LISTENING
1.            Why did stories of vampires spread from the Balkans?
_________________________________________________________________________________
2.            Why did people stop being afraid of vampires in the 19th century? (write one).
_________________________________________________________________________________
3.            What is the basic feature of a vampire?
____________________________________________________________________________
4.            What did the filmmakers who preferred to use vampires as their best actors try to achieve?
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
5.            To enable more people to see their films, filmmakers needed to use _______________________________    such as vampires.
            
6.            What is the hero expected to do in horror films?
_______________________________________________________________________________
7.            In today’s films and TV series, vampires are ____________ and _____________; however, in the past, they were all shown as ____________ and ____________.
8.            What aspect of the Buffy and Angel series made young people love watching them?
___________________________________________________________________________
9.            What must Angel avoid throughout his long life?
_____________________________________________________________________________
10.          The TV series `True Blood` sees the world as _______________________.
11.          The strength of the `Twilight Saga` is that the characters are _____________________ and they are like us.
12.          What is the reason for the change vampire characters have undergone throughout the years?
____________________________________________________________________________

THE EVOLUTION OF VAMPIRES
SELECTIVE LISTENING - KEY
1.            Why did stories of vampires spread from the Balkans?
                The Balkans had a tradition of vampire legends.
2.            Why did people stop being afraid of vampires in the 19th century? (write one).
                It was the age of reason / modern science proved that vampires did not exist.
3.            What is the basic feature of a vampire?
                It is a monster.
4.            What did the filmmakers who preferred to use vampires as their best actors try to achieve?
                The dramatic mood
5.            To enable more people to see their films, filmmakers needed to use strong characters such as vampires.
6.            What is the hero expected to do in horror films?
                Stop the monster (which is out to get you)
7.            In today’s films and TV series, vampires are good looking and charismatic; however, in the past, they were    all shown as ugly and scary.
8.            What aspect of the Buffy and Angel series made young people love watching them?
                It is a supernatural adventure story.
9.            What must Angel avoid throughout his long life?
                Finding true happiness
10.          The TV series `True Blood` sees the world as political.
11.          The strength of the ‘Twilight Saga` is that the characters are approachable  and they are like us.
12.          What is the reason for the change vampire characters have under gone throughout the years?
                The changes in modern audiences