Author Archives: dan

What Schools Should Do About Bullying

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C1 – Advanced

Used to be that bullying ended when one was off school premises. However, with the ubiquitous nature of social media and mobile technology, more and more students are subject to bullying even within the confines of their homes.

Read about one country’s educational system’s efforts to address the problem that is bullying.

What you should expect your school to do about bullying

Discuss:

1. In your opinion, which is worst: bullying in person, or bullying online? Why do you think so?
2. Do schools and universities in your country have a clear policy in regard to dealing with bullying among students?
3. Do schools or universities in your country educate or inform children about bullying?

A Tattoo Done on Holiday

C1 – Advanced

The BBC recently interviewed a young man who spent a holiday with friends. Rather than post photos on social media to commemorate the event, he decided to get a tattoo done on one of his legs.  What was it a tattoo of? It’s not what you’d expect.

Read about Banjo, then share your opinion regarding the questions below.

‘I got a tattoo done of 17 mates’ names on holiday’

Discuss:

1. What do you think about tattoos?
2. What can you say about Banjo’s choice of tattoo?
3. Should the decision to get a tattoo be taken lightly, or should it be given serious thought?

Pop Music Can Be Good for You

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C1 – Advanced

At one point in our lives we’ve been guilty of liking a song that was just too mainstream pop. We’ve secretly danced to Backstreet Boys and sang along to Britney Spears.

Watch the the video then read the article to get an understanding of the psychology behind music.

Newsbeat explains: Why ‘bad’ pop music can be good for you

Discuss:

1. What kind of music do you secretly enjoy listening to?
2. According to Dr. Williamson, what are the factors that shape our taste in music? Can you add to the doctor’s answers?
3. What is meant by nostalgia? How does it relate to a person’s music choices?

Pig Hearts Transplanted into Humans

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C1 – Advanced

A team of scientists who’ve successfully transplanted a genetically modified pig’s heart into a baboon is hoping someday to do the same procedure for human patients desperately in need of replacement organs.

Read the following article then be prepared to answer some discussion questions.

Pig hearts could be transplanted into humans after baboon success

Discuss:

1. According to the text, what are the risks of xenotransplantation, or transplantation using an animal organ?
2. What are the scientists doing to address these risks?
3. Is it right to alter an animal’s genome for the purpose of using its organs for human patients?

Video: Falling Behind in Women’s Rights

C1 – Advanced

A recent report showed that while women in the United States are generally treated better than women in other countries, there are still a few areas where gender inequality exists.

Watch the following video then express your opinions.

Is the United States falling behind in women’s rights?

Discuss:

1. According to the video, in what specific areas do American women lag behind their foreign counterparts when it comes to gender equality?
2. Based on the video, what countries are leading the way in terms of women’s rights?
3. On a scale of 1 to 10 (ten being the highest), how would you rate your country’s efforts to provide better opportunities for its women?

 

Video: Woman Sues Over Weight-Loss

C1 – Advanced

Some people argue that we live in a world were people are judged by their looks. There are many qualities by which physical appearance is deemed acceptable by modern society: body shape, skin complexion, height and even weight.

Recently, a student sued her own university for allegedly denying her the chance to apply for the dance troupe.

Watch the video then express your ideas on the matter.

Woman sues university over weight-loss suggestion

Discuss:

1. Are there any circumstances when a person’s weight should be factored in for consideration in an organization or activity?
2. Can the situation described in the video be considered an example of discrimination?
3. What adjectives can you use to describe the woman’s feelings? Would you feel the same if you were in her shoes?

 

Doomsday Kit on Sale

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C1 – Advanced

The prophecy of the Mayan Calendar became such a hype when it predicted the end of the world in 2012. Thus, a Siberian company cashed in on the panic and came up with a survival kit.

Read this article from 2012 and express your thoughts about it.

Doomsday kits go on sale in Siberia as ‘end of the world’ looms…

Discuss:

1. How did you react when you heard about the Mayan Prophecy of the world ending on the 21st of December 2012?
2. Should people preoccupy themselves with predicting when the world will end?
3. If you knew the exact date the world would end, would it change the way you live? If so, in what ways? If not, why?
4. If you had to prepare your own Doomsday kit, what would be in it?

 

Exhaustion Not a Status Symbol

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C1 – Advanced

Getting tired and working too hard is now being equated to productiveness. And there is a growing sense of pride in being too busy to do anything else but work. Should this be the case? Is this the better choice?

Read the following article and express your thoughts about it.

Exhaustion is not a status symbol

Discuss:

1. What is Professor Brown’s attitude toward work?
2. Does she think it’s possible to achieve work-life balance? What do you think?
3. With the range of office technology available to workers, are we truly able to do more with less?
4. Why does Brown think giving five minutes of feedback spells a difference in today’s office culture?
5. If you had full control over your schedule, what changes would you make? What items in your timetable would you prioritize?

 

A Personal Air Vehicle

C1 – Advanced

The futures is now. That is, if we go by the timeline set by the iconic sci-fi movie “Back to the Future.” So where are all the flying cars? According to Professor Missy Cummings in this BBC feature, there are only a few hurdles to the development of personal air vehicles. And technology is not one of them.

Watch the video then read the article and be ready to express your thoughts about the topic.

Why everyone may have a personal air vehicle

Discuss:

1. Would owning a personal air vehicle simplify or complicate our lives?
2. What are the hurdles that prevent the full realization of the flying car?
3. If personal air vehicles will essentially be robots, what can be done to ensure that they will be hacker-proof?

Runcible: A Circular Smartphone

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C2 – Proficient

We live in a world of quadrilateral architecture and design. Gadgets may have developed curve corners, but they are still predominantly four-sided.

Has living in a world of four-cornered tangibles affected the human thought process? Would developing a circular smartphone be the first step toward rethinking?

Read the article below and express your thoughts.

How a circular smartphone could help us rethink tech

Discuss:

1. What could be Monohm’s motivation in working on the circular “anti-smartphone” called Runcible?
2. The article suggests that the shape of an object’s frame impacts its use. Can you think of an everyday object that people would approach differently if it were round instead of rectangular?
3. The author notes the rise of circular avatars in apps and various interfaces. Does this design choice make any difference at all to gadget users? Why or why not?