Saturday, November 30, 2013

An Inconvenient Truth

Why I Saw This Movie
          If left to myself, I would never have watched this movie.
            Not because I don’t believe in the danger of climate change, but because I believe in it all too much, and thinking about it only sends me into depression.  Consequently, I try not to think about it.

            However, I was recently assigned to teach an advanced English for Academic Purposes class (for ESL students) in which the topic for the term was human activity and climate change.  This movie was part of the pre-determined curriculum, and because my students had to watch the movie, I also had to watch it with them.

The Review
          First, a caveat:
            Someday, I’m going to write a long and pessimistic blog post about how I don’t think we humans are going to get our act together in time to avoid a climate catastrophe.  (I’d love to be proven wrong on this, but…)  But this is not that post.  In this post, I’m going to focus primarily on reviewing this movie and critiquing its effectiveness.  I’ll deal tangentially with the larger issues (it would be impossible to ignore them completely) but it’s not the purpose of this post to write exhaustively all my thoughts about global warming.

            Next, the review:
            Since this movie is already several years old, I suspect that by now either you’ve already seen it, or you’re not planning to.  Perhaps, like me, you’ve been purposely avoiding it.
            If you have been avoiding this movie, the good news is that it’s not quite as emotionally draining as I feared it would be.  Or, at least it balances interesting facts with predictions of gloom and doom.
            Documentaries are a popular genre because we humans get pleasure from learning something new, and there is actually a lot of interesting science in this movie that does stimulate and feed your brain even as you realize the implications of what you’re learning are devastating. 
            Al Gore got a lot of flack during the 2000 election for being stiff and boring, but this was unfair.  He’s a skilled communicator with a lot of folksy charm, and as he guides you through the issues and the science he makes a wonderful narrator. 
            For example, I thought his description of why Carbon Dioxide levels vary with the seasons was quite interesting.  I also enjoyed his description of how scientists use ice in the Antarctic to obtain a historical record of global temperatures.

            Also, I think it was good for me to watch this film.
            I had previously been avoiding it because I already believed in climate change, and so saw no need to watch a film that would convert me to what I already knew.  But after watching this film, I have a renewed sense of urgency about the matter, which has caused me to be more vigilant about conserving energy.
            Therefore, I think I’m a better person for watching the film, and it’s probably an important enough film that, ideally, everyone should see it.
            Unfortunately everyone’s not going to see it, and this film is going to be almost exclusively watched by people who already agree with it.

            Part of the reason for this is the spokesman, Al Gore, is not perceived as a neutral figure in American politics.
            The movie itself originated as just a slide-show presentation Al Gore had put together.  When movie producer Laurie David saw the slide show, she was so inspired that she put together a team to make a motion picture out of the slide show.  Al Gore agreed to the project.  To the original slide show presentation, the producers decided to mix in pieces of Al Gore's biography.
            Since the whole basis of the film is Al Gore’s presentation, it is perhaps a little unreasonable to ask that Al Gore be removed from Al Gore’s presentation.
            And yet, the decision to integrate the issue of climate change with Al Gore’s biography guarantees that this film will have limited appeal outside of the Democratic Party base.  It struck me that one of the reasons this film has such a polemical reputation isn’t because of climate change, but because conservatives really hate Al Gore.
            (I remember I was doing my student teaching in a ultra-right wing conservative Christian high school during the 2000 election, and its impossible to understate the visceral hatred these people had for Al Gore.  During the re-count debacle, they were convinced he was trying to destroy the republic.)
            To make matters worse, the film contains some polemical jabs against George W. Bush and his administration.
            It’s not that Bush doesn’t deserve the scorn (I’m no fan of Bush myself), but ultimately, if there’s any hope that humans will come together to avert a global catastrophic, then the goal will have to be to convert conservatives, not alienate them.
            Unfortunately, I worry that this film is not going to make converts. 
            Again, I know you can’t really criticize Al Gore for being involved in a film about Al Gore’s slideshow.  Given that Al Gore can’t be anyone but himself, I think the worst you can say of him is that he did what he could, and the world is a better place for it.  But at some point, if we’re going to get any dialogue on this issue, we’re going to need an evangelical film by a figure less associated with partisan politics.  (As it is… well, you can give this film to your conservative friends if you want to, but don’t expect them to watch anything with Al Gore’s name on it.)

          One of the reasons I’m so pessimistic about Global Warming is that in spite of all the increased awareness we have about the problem, human beings show no sign of reducing our carbon footprint.  In fact we show every sign of increasing our consumption, not decreasing it. 
            In the 3rd world, where I am currently living, the goal of the people is to develop to Western standards of living.  From an egalitarian standpoint, we in the West can hardly criticize this, and indeed economic development is the explicit goal of many NGOs working in the 3rd world.  And yet, if the 3rd world ever did catch up to the West in terms of consumption, it would be environmentally disastrous.
           Even in the West, consumerism is only increasing as yesterday’s luxuries are considered today’s necessities.  To give but one example out of many, high-powered smart phones, which 5 years ago were considered a luxury, are now quickly becoming a necessity to keep up socially.
            Right now, we can’t even properly address the problem because we are still trying to get a large portion of the politicians to acknowledge the reality.  But, even if we did convert all the science-deniers on the Right, does humanity have the will-power and the means to address this problem?

            Al Gore is an optimist.  He believes we do.  And at the end of the movie, he quickly lists all the ways we can overcome the problem.

            “…If we accept that this problem is real, maybe it’s just too big to do anything about.  And you know, there are a lot of people who go straight from denial to despair, without pausing on the intermediate step of actually doing something about the problem.  And that’s what I’d like to finish with: the fact that we already know everything we need to know to effectively address this problem. We’ve got to do a lot of things, not just one.  If we use more efficient electricity appliances, we can save this much” [Indicates space on graph] “off of the global warming pollution that would otherwise be put into the atmosphere.  If we use other end-use efficiency, this much.  If we have higher mileage cars, this much.  All these begin to add up.  Other transport efficiency.  Renewable technology.  Carbon capture and sequestration—a big solution that you’re going to be hearing a lot more about.  They all add up, and pretty soon we are below our 1970 emissions. We have everything we need, save perhaps political will.  But you know what?  In America political will is a renewable resource.

            Perhaps he goes through this a little bit too quickly.  He didn’t even bother to explain most of the solutions he listed at the end. Despite his assertion that I’m going to be hearing a lot more about carbon capture and sequestration, I still have no idea what this is.

            (Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but even this hopeful picture is still based on the assumption that China, India, and the rest of the 3rd World never rise-up out of poverty and reach Western levels of consumption, right?  If we factor in economic development and increasing levels of consumption in the 3rd world, then….?  And what about the projections for continued population increases?)

            Solutions are not the main thrust of this movie.  The point of this documentary is just to convince people that the problem exists.  Unfortunately, we’re still at that stage of our political discourse.  (Although, as I mentioned above, the irony is that this movie is only going to be watched by the sort of people who already believe the problem exists.)
            At some point though, we’re going to need another documentary that explores more fully the solutions to global warming.

Al Gore’s Personal Environmental Record
          Although Al Gore was well-known as an environmentalist even back in the 1990s, it’s important to remember that his political record didn’t always match his rhetoric.  (For example, SEE - THESE - LINKS - HERE)  In fact his poor environmental record was one of the reasons Nadar’s campaign was so popular with a large percentage of green voters back in 2000    
           Now that Al Gore is out of political office, he’s found it advantageous to return the environmentalist rhetoric.
            Ordinarily, I wouldn’t care.  Politicians reinvent themselves all the time, and if Al Gore is a hypocrite, so what?  Ad hominem attacks don’t disprove the content of the message.
            Except…except Al Gore’s own political history does seem to undercut his message of hope.
            Al Gore believes that the global climate change crisis is solvable if the American people simply muster the political will power.  But perhaps this is an overly optimistic view of how the political process works in our country.
            In the 2000 election, why did Al Gore make so many concessions to oil companies? (SEE HERE - HERE - HERE- HERE and HERE for examples).   It wasn’t because he personally believed it was the right thing to do.  The author of Earth in the Balance (A) knew as well as anyone the environmental dangers.  It certainly wasn’t because his political base wanted it.  And it wasn’t even because he believed it would be popular with the majority of voters. (He certainly didn’t campaign on these concessions).  If everyone was against these concessions to business, then why do they keep happening?
            Powerful corporations and businesses lobbyist control much of the political process.  Al Gore knew it was a political necessity to make these concessions not because the people wanted it, but because businesses wanted it.           
            Al Gore speaks like if we simply vote in the right politicians, we can solve climate change.  But if that we’re true, it would have already been solved.  We already had 8 years of Clinton-Gore, and what did that get us?
            In 2008, after his primary victory, Obama promised his supporters that: " I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when ... the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal." 
  But what has happened since then?
            The lesson seems to be that you can vote however you want, but business interests, not the voters, are going to decide the country’s environmental policies.

            And that’s another reason why I’m pessimistic that this problem will be solved.

The Ending Credits
            Yep, I’m going to complain about the ending credits here.

            During the ending credits, the filmmakers attached a list of all the things you could do to solve the problem of climate change.  Below is their list:

Are you ready to change the way you live?
The climate crisis can be solved.
Here’s how to start
go to
You can reduce your carbon emissions
In fact, you can even reduce your carbon emissions to zero.
Buy energy efficient appliances
* lightbulbs
Change your thermostat (and use clock thermostats)
            to reduce energy for heating
            & cooling
Weatherize your house
Increase insulation, get an energy audit
If you can, buy a hybrid car
When you can, walk or ride a bicycle
When you can, use light rail* mass transit
Tell your parents not to ruin the world that you will live in
If you are a parent, join with your children
            to save the world they will live in
switch to renewable sources of energy
Call your power company
            to see if they offer green energy
            if they don’t ask them why not
Vote for leaders who pledge to solve this crisis
Write to congress
If they don’t listen, run for congress
Plant trees
Lots of trees
Speak up in your community
Call radio shows and write newspapers
Insist that America freeze CO2 emissions
Join international efforts to stop global warming
Reduce our dependence on foreign oil
Help farmers grow alcohol fuels
Raise fuel economy standards
Require lower emissions from automobiles
If you believe in prayer,
            pray that people will find
                        the strength to change
In the words of the old African proverb,
            when you pray
                        move your feet
Encourage everyone you know to see this movie
            Learn as much as you can about the climate crisis
                        Then put your knowledge into action

            Now, when I was showing this movie to my class of Cambodian students, it was impossible for all the students to read these suggestions off of the small screen TV we were using in the classroom.  So I had to stand at the front of the room and read out the suggestions aloud as the credits rolled.  Occasionally I stopped to explain something or clarify a point.  Here’s what it sounded like:

Are you ready to change the way you live?
The climate crisis can be solved.
Here’s how to start
go to

 “…Actually I was just visiting that website before class.  It didn’t really think it had many useful practical suggestions, but go ahead and check yourself and see what you think…”

You can reduce your carbon emissions
In fact, you can even reduce your carbon emissions to zero.

“…All the way to zero!  Really? It doesn’t really say how though, does it?  Does anyone know how you can do this? No?  Well, moving on....”

Buy energy efficient appliances
* lightbulbs

“….let’s see, it doesn’t really say where you can buy these.  Does anyone know where they sell these? No?  Oh, wait, next one…”

Change your thermostat (and use clock thermostats)
to reduce energy for heating

“…Let’s see, you probably don’t really heat your house in Cambodia, do you? No, I didn’t think so…”

& cooling
Weatherize your house
Increase insulation, get an energy audit

“…Do you insulate houses in Cambodia?  No?  Does anyone around in Cambodia do energy audits?  No?....”


“…Yeah, you can recycle.  I think you already knew that though…”

If you can, buy a hybrid car
When you can, walk or ride a bicycle
When you can, use light rail* mass transit

“…No mass transit in Phnom Penh, is there?  Okay, just ignore that one…”

Tell your parents not to ruin the world that you will live in

“…Um, you might want to be a little bit nicer about it…”

If you are a parent, join with your children
            to save the world they will live in

“…Nobody here is a parent, right?  Okay, just ignore that one…”

switch to renewable sources of energy
Call your power company
            to see if they offer green energy
            if they don’t ask them why not

“…Does anyone here ever call your power company?  Does this sound a conversation you might have?  No?  Okay, just ignore this one too…”

Vote for leaders who pledge to solve this crisis
Write to congress
If they don’t listen, run for congress

“…Can any of you run for congress?  No?  Okay, ignore that one as well…”

Plant trees
lots of trees
Speak up in your community
Call radio shows and write newspapers
Insist that America freeze CO2 emissions

“…Yeah, okay, you can try this.  I’m not sure who in America you would contact…”

Join international efforts to stop global warming

“…Um, let’s see, it doesn’t really say how you would do this…”

Reduce our dependence on foreign oil

“…Yeah, again, I’m not sure how you would do this, so…”

Help farmers grow alcohol fuels

“…Does anyone here help famers grow alcohol fuels?  No?  I’m not sure how you would go about doing this….”

Raise fuel economy standards

“…Again, I’m not sure how you would go about doing this on your own…”

Require lower emissions from automobiles

“….Yeah, um, just see what you can do about this one…”

If you believe in prayer,
            pray that people will find
                        the strength to change

“…Um…,well, you can do that if you want to but…”

In the words of the old African proverb,
            when you pray
                        move your feet
Encourage everyone you know to see this movie
            Learn as much as you can about the climate crisis
                        Then put your knowledge into action

“…Um, right, so, to sum up, your options are to pray, or run for congress.  Any questions?...”


            This list comes right at the end of the movie, right after the viewer has been sufficiently scared into being motivated to take action, and is desperate to find out what they personally can do.
            Never will the viewer be more receptive to practical advice.
            Never was an opportunity more criminally misused.

            How much time do you think the filmmakers spent putting this list together? Did the interns take 5 minutes right before lunch break?  Were people in the room just yelling out whatever came into their head?  Were they accepting any and all ideas?

            About half of the suggestions on this list just amount to telling other people to be worried about climate change in some form or another.

            Okay, to be fair, some of the ideas on this list are good practical suggestions.
            Other things on this list would be okay if the list didn’t muddle together issues that can be addressed individually with issues that require collective action.  (Whoever put this list together apparently doesn’t understand the difference.)  Both are issues that need attention, but it doesn’t really inspire empower people if you promise them a list of things they can start doing right now, and then instead just list a variety of issues that are going to require large scale political organization.
            I mean really, without any further help or guidance, what good does it do to just tell someone to “Raise fuel economy standards”? What is that person going to do when they walk out of the movie theater?  It would have been much better to just provide contact details for organizations already working on these issues.
            And then, some items on this list just seem to embody the worst aspect of flaky new age hippy thinking.  Tell your parents not to ruin the world that you will live in”?????  Does that sound like it’s going to be the start to a constructive conversation?  If you are a parent, join with your children to save the world they will live in”???? Yeah, that’s a great consciousness raising sentiment and everything, but you’re preaching to the converted.  The reason we’re watching this video is because we’re already concerned about saving the world we live in.  Just please give us some practical advice!
            And then: “If you believe in prayer, pray that people will find the strength to change.  Oh come on!  This is the advice we’re getting?! Come on, this is a serious issue!
            Now, granted, a significant portion of the American population does believe that God routinely intervenes in earthly affairs. 
            (Although, not to be to cynical but, much of that same population also believes that the fate of the earth is firmly in God’s control, and so what we humans do won’t matter much one way or the other, which is one of the reasons climate change is having so much trouble gaining traction as a broad based issue in the first place.)
            But for a documentary that hopes to have a broad-based appeal, resorting to appeals for divine intervention to solve the climate-change crisis is an unfortunate editorial decision.  I mean, if we’re going to appeal to private individual beliefs to solve climate change, then why not also say that the droughts caused by global warming might be solved if people tried more rain dances?  Or, since many people in Cambodia believe in animist forest spirits, ask people to supplicate the tree gods in the rain forests so that more carbon can be absorbed.

            (Even assuming a Christian worldview, I’m not sure you could just appeal to God to help people change their ways.  Somewhere in here there’s a sticky theological question of human free will, but I’ll leave that alone for now.)

            And then, they follow up the advice for prayer with: In the words of the old African proverb,       when you pray move your feet.
            Okay, so essentially they’re saying pray, but just don’t expect it to do any good.

Also: Help farmers grow alcohol fuels
            Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m not sure alcohol fuels are better for global warming than oil.  Don’t they also release Carbon Dioxide, and isn’t the land used to grow them sometimes taken from the rainforest?

Reduce our dependence on foreign oil
            Yeah, the atmosphere really doesn’t care if the oil is foreign or domestic.  And we have plenty of domestic oil if we wanted to burn it.

If they don’t listen, run for congress
            Okay, I’m going to shatter a Jeffersonian myth here, and say that, for most ordinary people, running for congress is not a realistic option.  Since the constitution prohibits anyone under 25 from serving in Congress, by the time most people have reached the age where they are eligible, they have jobs, families, and responsibilities which occupy most of their time.
            Besides which, to realistically have a chance of winning, you need a certain amount of personal connections and political support that the average person just doesn’t have.

Link of the Day

Friday, November 29, 2013

TESOL Ideas and Worksheets



Any Grammar Point 

* Choose Your Victim
* Hangman for Grammar
* LINK: Making Grammar Fun 
* Activities that Can be Used for any Grammar Point
Around the Room Memory Game
Garbage Man
Change Chairs
* Grass Skirts
Activities That Can Be Used for Any Grammar Point--New Version
Silly Sentences
* Zombie Sentences
Using Songs to Illustrate Grammar Points
Find the Person Who is Most Similar/Different to You: Freer Practice Activity


* Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Too and Enough
* Adjectives for Describing Someone--Find Someone Who 
* LINK: Adjectives Antonyms Opposites ESL Vocabulary Crocodile Game
* Naruto Bomb Game With Comparative Adjective Forms
* Naruto Bomb Game with Comparative and Superlative Adjective Forms
* Adjectives (and 3 noun phrases) to Describe Personality: Various activities
* Qualities for each job: practice adjectives and nouns for describing personality
* PowerPoint Presentation to Drill Comparative Adjectives
* LINK: ESL Conversations Superlative Adjectives
* drilling comparatives and superlatives
Card Game for Comparative Adjectives
Board Game for Comparative and Superlative Adjectives
too+ adjective Slideshow
* LINK: British Council Material for "too+adjective"
Presentation for More, Less, Fewer
* More, Less, Fewer--Scrambled Sentences
More, Less, Fewer: Lesson Plan
Naruto PowerPoint Game for ~ed or ~ing adjectives
Adjectives Slideshow
Jokes Using Comparative and Superlative Adjectives (and adverbs)
Pokemon Game for Past Participle Adjectives
Adjectives ending with -ible and -able
Forming Negative Adjectives with "in" and "im" Crossword Puzzle
Adjectives ending with -ous


* Adverbs: Total Physical Response
* Adverbs Board Game 
* Adverb Quiz
* Adverbs of Frequency Guessing Game
* Still Slideshow
So Slideshow
So Such Lesson


* LINK: ESL Quiz - So or Because (Lettia Bradley) I-TESL-J
Either...Or: Slideshow and Worksheet
Either... Or Scrambled Sentences
So Slideshow
Both Either Neither Slideshow


* Too much, too many, enough, not enough Classroom survey: countable and uncountable nouns
* Too much and too many scrambled sentences
* Too much and too many: find your partner 
Lesson For Quantifiers on Countable and Uncountable Nouns
Quantifiers for Countable and Uncountable Nouns (Updated)
* LINK: Demonstrative Pronouns Game (this, that, these, those) 
* LINK: Subject object pronoun game
* Subject Object Doraemon PowerPoint Game
* Naruto PowerPoint Game for Articles
Doreamon PowerPoint Game for Countable/Uncountable Nouns
Such, such a/an, so Scrambled Sentences
Something, Anything, Everything, Nothing Slideshow
This/ These Slideshow
* Reflexive Pronouns
Someone, Anyone, Everyone, No one Slideshow
Indirect Pronouns--Shouting Dictation
Possessive Pronouns
Find Your Partner: Possessive Adjectives versus Possessive Pronouns
Possessive Pronouns Crossword Puzzle
Scrambled Sentences: Possessive Adjectives versus Possessive Pronouns
Slideshow for drilling Possessive Pronouns
* LINK: from His hers yours mine
* Gerunds Running Dictation
* Wishing and Hoping by Dusty Springfield
* Gerunds Crossword
* Sorting Activity: Present Continuous, Adjective, or Gerund
* For + Gerund Slideshow
Human Bingo For Gerunds
Gerund Discussion Questions

Noun Versus Verb

* Order: Noun or Verb

Noun Phrase Versus Question



* How Questions: Matching Words
* How Questions: Practice With Partner
* How Questions: Class Survey

Relative Clauses

* Omitting the Relative Pronoun 
* Relative Clauses: Who and Which Grab the Card Game
Relative Clauses Guessing Game
Relative Clauses Scrambled Sentences
* "-er Nouns" for Relative clauses
* Hurricane: Relative Clauses
* LINK: This is the House that Jack Built
Relative Clauses Scrambled Sentences 2
Board Race for Relative Clauses
Relative Clause with Who Slideshow
General Knowledge Quiz for Relative Clauses

When Clauses


--Zero Conditionals
Zero Conditional Formation
Zero Conditional Board Race Slideshow
--1st Conditionals
* First Conditional Brain Storm Activity
* First Conditional Formation Worksheet 
* If You Give a Mouse a Cookie 
--2nd Conditionals 
* Second Conditional Conversation Prompts
* Second Conditional Formation
* Second Conditional Brain Storm Activity 
* Second Conditional Story 
* If I Were a Boy by Beyonce 
* If 6 Was 9 by Jimi Hendrix 
* Second Conditional Karuta
2nd Conditional Doraemon PowerPoint Game
* If I Were the King of the World... (2nd Conditional)
2nd Conditional Slideshow
Sentence Heads Second Conditional
--1st Conditional Versus 2nd Conditional
* 1st Conditional Versus 2nd Conditional Worksheet  
* 1st and 2nd Conditional Board Game 
* 1st and 2nd Conditional Memory Game 
--3rd Conditionals
3rd Conditional Formation
Future Forms
* May Versus Going to Worksheet (might, will, going to) 
* Will, Will Not, Might Human Bingo
* May Might for Future--Dictation 
* Future Forms Worksheets 
* 3 Sentence Guessing Game for "Will" and "Might" 
* Reading on "may" and "going to" 
* Crossword Puzzle for May and Going To
--Will Versus Going to
"Going to" versus "Will" Doraemon PowerPoint Game
--Going To
Going to sentence prompts
* What am I going to do next year?
* Naruto PowerPoint "Going to"
Mingle Activity for "Going to"
Going to Slideshow
Going To Lesson Plan
None of us/ One of us/ Some of us/All of us for "going to-" future
* Que Sera Sera by Doris Day--Will for Future Predictions 
* The Great Dictator Speech by Charlie Chaplin--Will for Future Prediction
* Will for Future Prediction Karuta 
* Will For Making Offers--Find Your Partner 
* Fortune Cards: Will for Future Prediction
Will for Future Prediction: Shouting Dictation
Slideshow for Will and Won't (for future predictions)
* Verb Tense Review Sheet
* General Knowledge Quiz--Verb Tenses 
* Verb Tense Review Crossword Game
* Find Someone Who: General Verb Tense Review
* Doraemon PowerPoint: Imperatives and Let's
You Don't Own Me by Lesley Gore--to+ infinitive verb patterns
* LINK: Infinitives | Johnny Grammar | Learn English | British Council
Modal Verbs
* Modals: Can, Should, Must, Have To
* Modal Board Game (must, can, have to) 
* I Should Be Proud by Martha and the Vandellas 
* Grammar Auction: Modal Verbs
* Modal Verb Karuta
* Modal Verb Guessing Game
* Modal Verb Story 
* Can and Could Guessing Game
* Scrambled Sentences: Modals
* Survey form for Modal Verbs
Different Meanings of "Can" Slideshow
Modal Verb Discussion Questions
--Have to
"Have to" Crossword Puzzle
"Have to" Mingle
School Rules: Must and Mustn't
Survey Form--Using Must for Rules 
* LINK: British Council Materials for Must
2 Meanings of "must" Slideshow
"must" and "must have" slideshow
* Should: Scrambled Sentences
Problem Cards: Using Should for Advice
* Should and Shouldn't: Advice for Classmates
* Guess My Problem--Practice using Should
* Doraemon PowerPoint Game: Should
Should Slideshow
Negative Verbs
Forming Negative Verbs
* You Don't Own Me by Leslie Gore 
* Don't Doesn't Slideshow
Ain't Slideshow
Passive Verbs
* Frankenstein
Slideshow for Drilling Passives
--Past Simple Passive
* Nonsuch Palace
* Country Mouse and City Mouse 
Doraemon PowerPoint Game: Past Simple Passive
--Present Perfect Passive
* Present Perfect Active and Passive Crossword Puzzle 
--Present Simple Passive
*Active/Passive Review
* Active and Passive Meanings
* Tom and Jerry Active and Passive Present Simple 
* Passive Form Worksheet--Present Simple
* Passive Form Crossword Puzzle--Present Simple
* The Banks are Made of Marble by Pete Seeger 
* Active Passive Scrambled Sentences 
* Picture Identification
* What Are Little Boys Made Of
* Passive Sentences Tables and Arrows
Conversation Prompts with Present Passive Sentences
Picture Identification: Choose the pictures that match the sentence
--Will Future Passive
Fortune Teller for Future Passives
Future Passives Shouting Dictation
Naruto Bomb Game Future Passives
--Present Simple and Past Simple Passive
* Passive Forms Crossword puzzle--Present Simple and Past Simple
* Active Versus Passive Form Worksheet Present Simple and Past Simple
* Present Passive versus Past Passive 
* Present Passive and Past Passive: Find Your Partner
Doraemon game for present simple passive and past simple passive
 --Present, Past, Present Perfect Passive
* Active/Passive Review: Present, Past, Present Perfect
* Find Your Partner: Active and Passive Sentences for Present, Past, and Present Perfect 
--Present Simple and Present Continuous Passive
* Passive Form Worksheet--Present Simple and Present Continuous
* Active/ Passive Find Your Partner Game Present Simple and Present Continuous
--Present Simple, Present Continuous, Present Perfect Passive
PowerPoint Game for Active Passive Verbs: Present Simple, Present Continuous, Present Perfect
Active Passive Find Your Partner Game (Present Simple, Present Continuous and Present Perfect)
--Present Simple, Past Simple, Present Perfect, Future Simple Passive
Passive: Present, Past, Present Perfect, Future
Past Continuous
* Past Continuous: Find Your Partner
* Past Continuous Mingle Activity
* Past Continuous Cards for Conversation
Crossword Puzzle for Past Continuous
Google Slides for Drilling Past Continuous
While + Past Continuous Slideshow
While+ Past Continuous Scrambled Sentences
Write Your own Sentence: While + Past Continuous + Past Simple
While + Past Continuous + Past Simple Scrambled Sentences
While + Past Continuous + Past Simple Slideshow
Past Forms (General)
* Find Someone Who: past perfect, had to, could
* Find Your Partner: Past Forms 
* A Trip to the Jungle 
* Crossword Puzzles for Practicing Labels on Past Tense Verbs 
* Past Form Verb Names Memory Game 
Past Perfect
* Comprehension of Past Perfect
* Make Past Perfect Sentences about Your Partner 
* Find Someone Who 
* 2 Truths and 1 Lie 
* Doraemon PowerPoint Game
Past Perfect Dictogloss
Past Perfect Board Race
Past Simple
* Simple Past Tense Memory Game
* Past Simple Karuta 
* Regular Past Simple Pronunciation Slap the Board Game
* Pronunciation of regular past tense endings
* Past Simple Crossword Puzzle
* Past Simple Mingling Activity
* Speaking Cards for Past Tense
* Find Someone Who Questions in the Past Simple
* Past Simple Mingle 2
* Past Simple Speaking Topics 2
* PowerPoint for Drilling Past Simple
* PowerPoint for Drilling Past Simple Questions
Had Past Simple Drilling for PowerPoint
* PowerPoint for Drilling irregular Past Simple: Statements and Questions
* Past Simple Irregular Verbs Slideshow Presentation
Past Simple Questions Slideshow
Regular Past Tense Pronunciation Lesson--2nd Version
* Was/Were Grammar Auction 
* LINK: Was/Were Computer Game at British Council Website 
* LINK: Was/ Were Computer Game at ESL Games Plus 
* Was/Were Worksheet and PowerPoint Presentation
* LINK: Was/Were Card Game
* Google Slides for Drilling There was/There were
* There was/ There were Worksheets
Past Simple Versus Past Continuous
*Past Simple versus Past Continuous Crossword Questions
* Past Simple versus Past Continuous Worksheet
Phrasal Verbs
* Phrasal Verbs Sorting Exercise 
Present Continuous
* Present Continuous Board Game
* Present Continuous Charades 
* Present Continuous Scrambled Sentences large version
* Present Continuous Scrambled Sentences Small Version 
* Present Continuous Questions Powerpoint
* Present Continuous: Question or Statement Powerpoint
* LINK: Present Continuous Fling the Teacher Video Game 
* Present Continuous: Question or Statement Scrambled Sentences
* LINK: Present Progressive Tense Use, Continuous, ESL Grammar Fun Game Online
* Present Continuous Slideshow
Kaboom--Present Continuous
Sentence Formation from a Scaffolding Device: Present Continuous
--Present Continuous for Future Meaning
Present Continuous for Future Arrangements Find a time to meet
* Present Continuous for Future Arrangements Schedule
* Present Continuous for Future Arrangements: What is my Schedule?
* Present Continuous for Future Arrangements: Schedule Mingling activity 
Present Perfect
* Have You Ever Game--Review Present Perfect for Experiences  
* Present Perfect Dictation
* Present Perfect for Experiences--Find Someone Who (student generated questions)
* Present Perfect for Past Experiences--Job Interview 
* I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by U2 
* Present Perfect for Experiences--Find Someone Who can say yes 
* Present Perfect Crossword 
* 2 Truths and 1 Lie (Present Perfect for experiences) 
* Present Perfect Form 
* Present Perfect Interview Survey 
* Present Perfect For Experiences Game With Partner
* What Have I Done This Year
* 27 Things to Do Before You Settle Down Buzzfeed Video 
* Present Perfect Board Game 
* The meaning of "Yet"and "Already" with Present Perfect (Movie Clip from High Fidelity)
* LINK: For or Since Exercise Worksheet (Present Perfect Tense)
Slideshow for just + present perfect
For and Since Slideshow
Classroom Survey Pre-Written Questions
Correct the Sentences: Present Perfect
Present Perfect Versus Past Simple
* Present Perfect Versus Past Simple Worksheet  
* Past Simple Versus Present Perfect Scrambled Sentences
* Past Simple Versus Present Perfect Dictation 
* Past Simple versus Present Perfect Sorting activity 
* Worksheet for Present Perfect versus Past Simple 
Past Simple Versus Present Perfect Board Race
Experiences in the Past
Present Perfect Continuous
Doraemon Game Present Perfect Continuous
Present Perfect Continuous Board Race
Scrambled Sentences: Present Perfect Continuous
Lesson on Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous
Present Simple
* Like versus Likes
* Jump the line: Like / Likes 
* Like / Likes Scrambled Sentences 
* Do they like/ Does he like scrambled sentences
* Present Simple Formation
* Bottom Up Listening Exercises designed to promote noticing of subject-verb agreement in the Present Simple
* Love, hate, enjoy, dislike Guessing Game
My Animal: Present Simple for Habits
Present Simple Conversation Prompts
Speed Dating: Present Simple Habits and Routines
Present Simple and Present Continuous
* Present Simple and Present Continuous Formation
* Rules for Present Simple and Present Continuous
* Human Bingo for Present Simple and Present Continuous
* Function of Present Simple and Present Continuous
Present Simple Versus Present Continuous
Present Simple Versus Present Continuous 2
Present Simple Versus Present Continuous Walk Around the Room Questions
Question Formation
* Question Formation Worksheet
Reported Speech
* Reported Speech Worksheet
* Reported Speech Crossword Puzzle 
* Reported Speech: Present Tense to Past Tense 
* Reported Speech Worksheet Past Tense
* Reported Speech Running Dictation
* The Letter by The Box Tops--Reported Speech
* Student Reported Speech
* Reported Speech Questions Grammar Rules
* Then He Kissed Me by The Crystals
* Reported Speech Memory Game
* Reported Speech Questions
Reported Speech Naruto PowerPoint Game
Joke Using Reported Speech
Tell Slideshow
* Say or Tell Slideshow
Reported Speech Crossword: am, is, are to was, were
Reported Speech Commands Board Race
Short Answer
* Find Your Partner--Short Answer
* Forming Short Answers
* Making Suggestions with How About, Let's and Would You Like To--Running Dictation 
* How About, Let's, Would You Like To--Scrambled Sentences
* Let's, How about, Would you like to: Find Your Partner
Guided Discovery for How about, let's, Would you like to
* Conversation Cards for Making Suggestions
Conversation script: Would you like to..? Lets... How about...?
Used To
* Find Someone Who: Used To
* Dictation: Used To
* Used To: Guess Your Partner's Answers
It’s All Over Now by The Rolling Stones--Use for "Used to"
Used To Sentences. Two Truths and One Lie
Slideshow for "used to"
Verb Forms
* Verb 1 to Verb 3 Irregular Forms Crossword
* Irregular Verbs Past Participle (V3) Slideshow Presentation
Verb Phrases
* Verb Phrases--Sorting Activity
* Dictation: Wish
* Story using "wish": 3 Wishes 
* Sometimes I Wish I Were a Boy by Leslie Gore
* Wish Board Game
* Wish Crossword Puzzle 
* Wish Scrambled Sentences 
Would+ base form (repeated actions in the past)
Son of a Preacher Man by Dusty Springfield--Use for "would + base form"


* Using the Transcript after Listening 
* LINK: tesolfilms
* TESOL Songsheets  (Just the Links)
* Using Youtube Videos for Listening
* Top Down and Bottom Up Listening Exercises: The Most Stressful Job
Write the Transcript
Listen and Draw
* LINK: Spotlight English
* Story Time: ESL Listening
The Grimm Brothers' Fairy Tales: Story Time ESL Listening
* Aesop's Fables: Story Time ESL Listening
* LINK: imagineigo ENGLISH
Story Listening in the Style of Beniko Mason--The King of the Golden Mountain



* LINK: Fox in Socks 
* Words ending with /nk/, /nd/, and /nt/ 
* Using TV and Movie Clips to Teach Pronunciation 
* Pronunciation Battleship


* Vocabulary Review After Reading
* Poetry: Nothing Gold Can Stay 
* LINK: Story-Telling Cinderella 
* LINK: Jack and the Beanstalk 
* For Whom the Bell Tolls: Upper-Intermediate Reading Lesson 
* Benefits of Extensive Reading (Listening Version)
* Peter Pan: Upper-Intermediate Reading Lesson
* Peter Pan Continued
* Reading Comprehension Questions 
* Graded Reader Survey Form
* Advanced Reading: Slime by Joseph Payne Brennan
* LINK: Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Aquilla Diamond
* Graded Reader Review Index
* Story Time Index
Extensive Reading Worksheet
* LINK: The Online Graded Reader Text Editor
Reference Pronouns: Reading Skills Lesson--2nd Version
Lesson on Nazis: For Upper-Intermediate or Advanced Students


* Seminar Evaluation Form
* Student Speaking Assessment Form
* Conversation Topics
* LINK: Silly English Conversation Questions
* Presentation Feedback Forms for English for Academic Purposes Classes
* Speaking Practice for Very Young Learners: Name, Age, Hobby
* LINK: Improv Role Plays for ESL Students by Diana Funtana
* Phone Call Situations 
* Persuasion Situations
* Gift Cards for Speaking Activity
Speaking for Pre-Intermediate Students--Topics about daily life--Speed Dating
* Request Cards (For Eliciting Ways to Say No)
* Describing Jobs
* Daily Routines
* Speaking Activity: Create Your Own School
* Discussing School Subjects
* Discussing Teachers
* Describe Everyday Objects
* Self-Introduction Speaking Activity
* Speaking Role Play: Calling Customer Service About Problems with an Online Order
* Mingle Activity for Talking About Free Time Activities
* Stages of Life Speaking / Writing Activities
* LINK: Questions for talking about Food
* LINK: At the Restaurant
* Circle Time: Conversation Topics for Young Learner Elementary Students (Just the Links)
* Famous Photos in History: Speaking Activity
* LINK: Let's Talk About Movies
Review Your Favorite Movie
* Speaking Lesson: Problems with Technology
*LINK: Conversation Questions Jobs and Technology
* LINK: Speaking About Inventions
Agreement or Disagreement: Discussion Questions
* LINK: CAT: A framework for Dogme by Ken Lackman
Telling Your Stories
* LINK: Conversation Questions for the ESL/EFL Classroom
Speaking Test Feedback Form
Ready, Set, Talk!
Forms for Peer Evaluation of Student Presentations
Guess Who
* LINK: Complaining in English
20 Questions Speaking Lessons
Expressions and Topics for Agreeing and Disagreeing
* Small Talk
Lesson on Turn Taking (Speaking)
* LINK: Speaking skills practice: Talking about your family (Elementary - A2)


Topic Lessons


*Vocabulary Practice
* Vocabulary Game
* 4 Seasons
* Action Verb Powerpoint
* Action Verbs: Match the Verb to the picture
* LINK: Computer Game for Practicing English Ordinals 
* Telling the Time: PowerPoint and Quizlet
* Academic Word List on Quizlet
Make and Do Collocations
Human Bingo with Feel
Human Bingo with Take
Human Bingo with Make and Feel Collocations
* Proverbs
Different Meanings of "Old" Slideshow
Better vs Had Better
Let vs Let's Slideshow
Vocabulary Games for IELTS
Grade, Tier, Class
meanwhile, whereas, while
* Delexicalised Verbs in the Context of Daily Routines--Online Version
Collocation with Delexicalised Verbs Daily Routines


* Peer Editing Guide 
* Draft Evaluation Sheet 
* Self-Editing Guide 
* Writing Evaluation Sheet
* Collaborative Research Essay (Misleading Statistics)
* Introduce Your Country to the World 
* A Typical Day in the Life
* Pros and Cons
* Advantages and Disadvantages Essay: Feedback and Advice
* Writing Corrections
* Problems and Solutions Essays: Advice for Writing 
* Problem and Solution Essays: Common Mistakes 
* Error Correction Codes
* Correcting Students' Writing
* What do you do in your free time?  Sample Essay and Practice
* Describing a Journey
* LINK: Fortunately by Remy Charlip ESL Activity
* Writing an Adventure Story
* Board Race for Punctuation
My Life in Vietnam: Student Writing
How to Write a Formal Paragraph
Collaborative Story Writing Activity
Interview a Celebrity
Write a Biography Project
Lesson on Writing an Email (in the context of complaining about a restaurant)

English for Academic Purpose Research Essay

* Step One: Choosing a Topic
* Step Two: Using Wikipedia  
* Step Three: Background Reading--Acquiring Sources
* Step Four: Background Reading--Summarizing Sources
* Step Five: Sample Academic Paper
* Step Six: Brainstorming and Outlining
* Step Seven: 0 Draft Feedback Form


* Interview Your Partner Activity
* Name Memory Game--First Day Ice Breaker Activity
* Free Conversation
Get to Know Your Group
2 Truths and 1 Lie: Icebreaker

Time Killers and Time Fillers

* Stop The Taxi
* Floor Scrabble
* General Knowledge Quiz
* Hurricane
* Charades 
* LINK: Shapes, Colors, Sizes ESL Vocabulary Game – Catapult Game
* LINK: Werewolf Game 
* Taboo

Learner Autonomy

* Learner Autonomy Discussion Questions
* Advice for Further Study 
* Advice for Independent Study
Tutorial Form for Self-Reflection
List of Independent Study Resources
* LINK: ESL English Language Learning--Listening and Reading--Audiobooks--Stories


General IELTS

* IELTS Quiz 
IELTS First Day Setting Expectations
* IELTS Worksheet for Pre-Test and Post Test
IELTS Needs Analysis
How Many Hours Does It Take To Move Up One IELTS Band Score?
Make IELTS Fun Workshop
IELTS First Day Lesson
Staging an IELTS Lesson

Listening IELTS

* IELTS Listening Quiz
* Find Your Partner: Review IELTS Listening Section 1 Information and Strategies
* IELTS Listening: Synonyms, Hyponyms, and Paraphrasing PowerPoint
* Find Your Partner: Review IELTS Listening Section 2 Information and Strategies
* LINK: Re-arrange the cards in order: Game to practice IELTS listening strategies
* Using The Great Dictator Speech to Listen for Stress, Varying Speed, and Pauses
* Using Crash Course World History Videos for IELTS Listening
Write Your Own IELTS Listening Part 1 Dialogue
Ways to Make IELTS Listening Lessons More Interesting
Story Time: ESL Listening

Reading IELTS

* Scanning Race Game
Make Your Own Test Game: IELTS Reading
* Lesson Plan for Practice IELTS Reading Test
Hurricane for IELTS

Speaking IELTS

* IELTS Speaking Part 2 Cards (Just the Links)
* Speaking Part 2 Checklists
* IELTS Speaking Part 2: What to do with questions you can't answer?
* Part 2 or Part 3
* IELTS Part 3 Hypothetical Questions
* LINK: IELTS Speaking Part 2 Game
* LINK: IELTS Part 3 Worksheets
* LINK: More IELTS part 3 Worksheets
Using Writing to Practice IELTS Speaking Part 2

Writing IELTS

* Sample IELTS Writing (Just the Links)
* Find Your Partner: Review IELTS Writing Task 2 Information and Strategies
* Useful Language for Describing Changes in a Line Graph: Find Your Partner Game and Slap the Board Game
* PowerPoint Presentation IELTS Writing Task 1 Describing a Process
* IELTS Writing Task 2 Discussion Questions
Student Feedback in the form of an IELTS Task 2 Essay
IELTS Liz Task 1 Writing Video Lesson
IELTS Task 1 Self-Edit Check List
IELTS Task 1 Peer-Edit Check List
* IELTS Task 1 Teacher Feedback Form
IELTS Task 1 Process Writing--2nd Teacher Feedback Form
IELTS Writing Task 2 Self-Edit Check List
IELTS Writing Task 2 Peer-Edit Check List
IELTS Writing Task 2 Teacher Feedback Form
IELTS Writing Task 2: 2nd Teacher Feedback Form
IELTS Writing Task 2 Brainstorming Game
List of Controversial topics for IELTS Writing Task 2

 Classroom Management

* Classroom Rules
* Cheating Quiz

Learner Needs Analysis

* Learner Needs Analysis Form
Needs Analysis: High Level Teens class

Incidental Learning/ Comprehensible Input

* A Joke a Day
A Joke A Day Part 2
* A Joke a Day Part 3
Lesson on Jokes
* Showing Movies in the Classroom
* A Poem A Day (Just the Links)
* Comprehensible Input in Young Learner Classes
Lesson on Lazy Jane by Shel Silverstein
Input Workshop (Upgrading Your Input)
* Poems ESL Listening
English Reading and Listening Practice

 Class Evaluation

* Class Evaluation

Word Patterns

            The other day I was trying to think of a new way to review vocabulary with my young learners classes.
            Up until now I had been doing just work sheets where the students matched the word to the definition, and after several months of this my students were sick to death of it.
            So, after thinking for a few days about what else I could do, I hit upon a card game I could use to review vocabulary.
            Actually this card game wasn’t completely new.  It was something I had used for years in Japan with elementary school students.  But after leaving Japan, I had largely forgotten about it. 
            It struck me then that I was constantly forgetting most of the activities I used in the classroom.  I would discover a new activity, I would use it for a few months, and then I would get bored with it and move onto other activities, and completely forget about it. 
            Or I would be assigned to teach a certain grammar point for a certain class, and then several months later, when I had to teach the same grammar point to a different class, I had completely forgotten what activities I had used before.

            I was constantly re-inventing the wheel in my classrooms. I’m sure many TESOL teachers can identify with this.

            It wasn’t that I didn’t keep written lesson plans, or didn’t save my old activities, but I didn’t have these activities organized into any sort of easily usable index.

            After thinking for a while about various options, I decided I want to experiment with using this blog as a way to save and index activities and worksheets I use in the classroom.  The ability to link between different posts on this blog makes it potential very useful as an index.  And it also has the advantage of allowing me to share my ideas with other people.  (Whether other people will find any of these ideas useful or not is another question.)

            There are also potential disadvantages to this approach—the fact that many of my teaching ideas are not really all that great, the fact that this will be of no interest to 99% of the readers of this blog, et cetera.
            But, I want to give the experiment a run anyway.  If it works, great.  If at a certain point I decide it’s more trouble than it’s worth—well, it wouldn’t be the first time I  - havestarted a project on this blog and thenabandoned it.  But I want to give it a try. We’ll see how it goes.

            At the moment I have somewhat of a backlog of worksheets from the past 3 years.  I’ll be posting them in the days and weeks to come, and trying to start creating an index from the materials I already have.
            The ideas will be a little bit more slow in coming, as I try and sort through my jumbled brain to remember what I’ve used in the classroom before, and what worked and what didn’t, but I’ll try and post some of those as well.

            I’m going to post just generic ideas and worksheets, and not worksheets I created for specific materials (i.e., I’m not going to post worksheets I created for a specific reading from a specific textbook).

            Almost all of the worksheets I’ve created were made using Microsoft Word.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to post Microsoft Word documents directly on this blog (or is it?  Techie friends help me out here?) so I’ll just copy and paste the documents.  Hopefully anyone else who wants to use the same worksheet will be able to copy it onto a Word Processor with minimal difficulty.  Some difficulty in formatting may occur in posting them to blogger, but we’ll see how it goes.  (Blogger has actually gotten a lot better in handling tables and charts than it was 3 years ago, so I think most of my worksheets will be postable.)

            Everything will be indexed on this post.  With every new post, I’ll be going back and updating this post so that it can serve as an index.  I’ll put the index on the top of the post.

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