Al Pacino in “Scent of a woman”: Charlie’s trial scene

23 Feb

A movie’s scene we saw yesterday:

You can also reach out to this wonderful article published by the New Yorker and to some more material below that I sorted out for you so as to let you further expand on your comments of yesterday (esp. the debate about rudeness Vs. aggressivity, and the ways to combat bullying):

The New Yorker striking, clever, both political and sociological article about niceness and fairness as contraries is to be found by clicking on the link, – I highly recommend this reading.

Besides, a recent blog article caught my attention as it addresses human resources practitioners who turn themselves into victims of bullying just like other employees (according to surveys, up to 30% of them!). I wish to share here their accurate, well-informed analysis as well as their advice about what to do – which useful skills should be specifically trained in such circumstances for example.

Please have a look also at this CNN easy-to-understand report featuring a collective, educational response to bullying (=harcèlement):

There is a school program called Sociable Kidz that several schools are beginning to embrace.  This program, designed by two teachers, will focus on the child who is the victim of bullying and teach that child skills to improve his or her confidence and self-esteem.  It also gives them techniques to respond to the bully when a situation arises.  While all this sounds good, what was missing for me in the CNN story was what the schools are doing to address the child who IS the bully.  Are they offering skills training for them?  Do they just punish without correcting the behavior?  Do they get rid of the child by expulsion?” (out of a critical comment on CNN’s report by Blogger Trish on


What Should Students Be Studying Now To Prepare For 10 Years From Now?

22 Feb

“Our economy’s in dire straits and college students have become increasingly panicked, wondering whether or not they’ll actually find a job post graduation. When applying for schools and choosing their major, they’ve started to think twice. Do they follow their passion, or do they go where the money is? And where is the money? What careers are even sustainable today?”

You’ll find a list of interesting answers to this question by clicking on the link below (same document as distributed yesterday, this time in its online version). Please have a read and prepare to engage in conversation on this topic.

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement

22 Feb

Yesterday, we could listen to the first half of this famous address to Harvard students by Harry Potter’s famous author J.K. Rowlings on the occasion of the 2008 Commencement ceremony at this University. You may wish to have a watch at the whole speech, there it is, as posted by Harvard Magazine on its Youtube Channel:

In addition, Harvard Magazine published Rowling’s address in written form on its own website. So here is the ready-made transcript.

Harvard Magazine’s Youtube Channel may be worthy a watch in itself. However, I wish to use this opportunity to draw your attention to another Youtube Academic Channel set up by another University, one that is as famous as Harvard and is located close to it, I mean of course the MIT. For those of you who study maths and physics as well as those who miss their maths classes from high school, this a wonderful resource platform that I highly recommend.

How to talk about your favorite book?

22 Feb

The video below by Youtube member podcastinenglish is a well-down example of online teaching in English. It sounds to me more natural than many other videos I have come across.


Now, you may find that understanding a real-life video is far more challenging. But you have been very brave yesterday indeed and I still remember how you could provide feedback about so many details from this address by a young lady reviewing her favorite books. Good job! Now, would you mind having a try again at home on your own? It is worth the effort you put in, as her English is in fact a very simple one. Get acquainted with her accent:

Making a lipdub

21 Feb


According to Wikipedia’s article featuring the District of Vellore in the Tamil Nadu State on the South-Eastern Coast of India, the Vellore Institute of Technology (popularly known as VIT) has been ranked as the best private engineering university in India by the magazine India Today. VIT be also the last Indian University to be accredited by the prestigious Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) in London and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) in the USA. In Vellore, Tamil is the official and most widely spoken language. Most of the people in Vellore can anyway converse in English and in Hindi. The VIT college has around 15000 students from all over India and from over 25 countries studying in its campus.

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) offers more than 200 majors, degrees, and credentials, and is a “very high activity” research university. Its official website proclaims that the University has provided 5 Nobel Prize winners. And according to Wikipedia (once again, sorry), UCSB is a politically active campus : “For the 2008 presidential election, UCSB won a national college competition for student voter registration by registering 10857 voters, or 51.5% of the student population.The UCSB Campus Democrats are one of the most active organizations on campus. Over the years, other political parties and organizations have also been known to be active on campus, such as the Environmental Affairs Board, Green Party, Libertarians, NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), and the Queer Student Union.”

by Canadian Peel Schools – from kindergarten to grade 12 // Peel is one of the four regions surrounding the City of Toronto and belonging to the “GTA” (Greater Toronto Area).

One website with many university lipdubs to be watched is here.


Have a look what was happening behind the scene during the making of the amazing Grand Rapids Lipdub. Also, enjoy the final brilliant, unique tracking shot the lipdub is composed of.

English as a creative language

21 Feb

The English language allows for the creation of new words more than French.

This linguistic creativity occurs in many ways. For example, there are diverse types of wordplay (see portmanteau words – the most famous ones being those invented by Lewis Caroll in Alice in Wonderlands). Another example would be the many compound words the Americans continually invent – although they often prove difficult to write correctly.

Hundreds of new words are added every year to dictionaries, – e.g. 150 to the Merriam-Webster in 2011. Ordinary people, writers, movie and sitcom writers, inventors in new technologies, brand specialists as well as journalists create indeed many new words constantly, getting most of their inspiration in daily life and the news. It is even said that the multi-awarded animated sitcom The Simpsons has now more influence on the English language than the Bible and Oscar Wilde. Some of these words are likely to become permanent additions to the language, while others may disappear in a few months.

Here is a useful Wikipedia article about the US annual Word of the Year contest that provides a list of prize-winning new words. If you’d like to see all 2011 nominees we discussed in class, – and how and why they were chosen, you can check here on the official website of the contest.

Some words are very political. As those who attended my course of yesterday already know, the 2011 winner is “occupy”, which refers to the Occupy Wall Street Movement. You can use “occupy” in many ways and even start ironic jokes of all kinds with it. Yet, a good, reflexive, insightful illustration of this new phenomenon is the 2012 “Occupy Valentine’s Day” initiative. You can also have an interesting look here at some “Occupy Valentine’s Day cards” that capitalize on several other words and expressions coming from the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.

Other words emerge from social media users who launch new words for fun or participate in getting them viral. One word of that kind that I especially like is the 2011 Word-of-the-Year nominee Tebowing. This word has been created after the name of Tim Tebow, who plays quarterback at the Denver Broncos of the National Football League, and is famous among other things for kneeling during games on one knee in prayer. It all started on a fan’s personal Facebook page and – strikingly, – this became quickly very popular. Later, people were invited to submit their own shots of individual or collective tebowing actions on a website that had been set up by the same fan…. Several dozens of thousands of pictures have already been published there! The loopy definition of Tebowing as provided on this website reads like this:

What is Tebowing?
(vb) to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different.

As you can check also on the same Wikipedia page dedicated to the “Word of the Year” annual Contest, the on Facebook currently so popular “lol jk” (=lol, just kidding) has a direct ancestor you might know: “NOT!”. This “NOT!” won the “Word of the Year” competition in the early 1990s.., – you have to pronounce it emphatically and loud after a declarative statement. This directly refers to the movie Wayne’s World starring famous actor Mike Meyers. This huge hit features new American middle-class teanagers in an outrageous and crazy manner and still remains a hallmark of US counterculture. For those who loved the movie or – better!- are interested in how to speak while hanging out with gamer friends, here’s some vocabulary to understand, – if not to use. Have a watch!

There is so much more I could write on this topic. That’s one reason I love the English language, so much to explore.

I think that you too can have fun with English!

The Versatile Blogger Award: Tell 7 interesting things about yourself…

19 Feb

… and nominate 15 other bloggers. Latest, Grammar Girl herself has been given the Award. And that’s how I came across this story. Here below ‘s to read how this famous author of books and Internet tips on good writing managed to provide an answer, in quite a funny way as usual. Just click on the link:

As additional material to this document, I wish to emphasize on what I consider as an interesting topic from a cultural point of view: living off the grid (one element listed by Grammar Girl in her post): this is a VERY American (=US) concept, even if we can refer here also to worldwide environmental movements and the way of life they may infer. Just have a read at both text and comments, – name of the post: What Does Living Off The Grid Mean to You?

Last, despite of its immense value in itself, this is now what came as an introductive video to this topic during the lesson – connecting the dots of one’s life… – in its full version this time :

If necessary, you’ll find plenty of subtitled versions, transcripts and translations of this speech on the Internet.