Author Archives: dan

Video: Image, Beauty & Photoshop

C1 – Advanced

Unedited images of Beyonce have circulated over the Internet showing the famous singer’s natural looks.  Reactions to the leaked photos have been mixed, and discussions have begun anew regarding the representation of women in television and print media.

Click the link below and be ready to express your thoughts about this topic.

Beyoncé’s leaked photos: What’s the big deal?


1. How does photo editing in advertisements affect women’s self-image?
2. According to one interview in the video, what were the reactions to Beyonce’s unedited photos?
3. Why do you think celebrity photos are often edited?
4. Should we edit the selfies that we upload to social network sites? Why or why not?


Video: Does Playful Equal Productive?

C1 – Advanced

Rat race. Dog-eat-dog. Just two idioms that have been used to describe today’s corporate world. One design company, however, has decided to follow a growing trend among high-performing companies, that of fostering creativity through a less stressful office environment.

But can work and play truly co-exist? The employees at Pearfisher seem to think so. Watch the video, then come back to weigh in with your thoughts.

This office has a giant ball pit for its employees


1. What do the terms “rat race” and “dog-eat-dog” mean? Do these describe your workplace?
2. What big-name companies mentioned in the video have taken a different tack by designing creative spaces for their employees?
3. Based on the video, explain the “power of play.”
4. Would you prefer working in a “non-goal-orientated environment”?
5. What are the benefits that can be derived from working in a low-pressure environment? What are the drawbacks?
6. Are creative spaces suitable for all kinds of companies?

Beauty Around the World


B2 – Upper intermediate

Beauty. What is it really? Is it the shape of one’s eyes, an aquiline nose? Is it a slender waist, or tapering fingers? Or is it an inner quality, a contagious joie de vivre?

Click the link below and see the diversity of beauty as captured by one photographer’s lens. Read the short article and view the 18 photos included.

Photographer captures beauty around the world


1. How do you define beauty?
2. In the interview, photographer Mihaela Noroc said that “beauty means to keep alive your origins and your culture.” In your opinion, what is the connection between a person’s beauty and culture?
3. What do Noroc’s photographs say about beauty? How are the women the same? In what ways are they different?
4. If you could take a snapshot of beauty, who or what would you take a picture of?

Robotic Firefighter


C2 – Proficient

Some elements of science fiction are turning into science facts. Case in point,  the use of machines that have humanoid form to do tasks too risky for their Homo sapiens counterparts is slowly but steadily changing operations in various industries.

One such robot is SAFFiR. Read about this firefighting mechanical wonder and watch the video as well.

U.S. Navy unveils robotic firefighter


1. How do you feel about robots saving human lives in dangerous situations?
2. Do you think robots would do a better job than human beings in search and rescue operations?
3. Why do you think some robots are engineered to resemble humans physically?
4. Do you dread or look forward to the further rise of the machines?

Privacy Concerns in Social Networks


C1 – Advanced

Selfies and social networks have become ubiquitous in today’s modern world.

Just how secure are mobile phones and social media platforms?  With so much information being self-disclosed by millions of tech users globally, answers pertaining to data collection and use and safeguards for data protection should be everyone’s concern.

Read the article, and weigh in with your ideas on the issue.

The Biggest Myth about Phone Privacy


1. What information can hackers get from people’s use of smartphones and social networks?
2. Do you read the Privacy Policy of each social network that you sign up for?
3. According to the article, what can you do to safeguard your privacy online?
4. Do the advantages of using social networks and smartphone applications outweigh the risk of online information leaks?

Workaholic Fathers ‘Symbolically Absent’


C1 – Advanced

Recently, the leader of the Catholic Church spoke about fathers whose primary focus has been their work rather than their children.  He explained the important role fathers play in their children’s lives and why a patriarch’s being “symbolically absent” can be a problem not just for his family but society as well.

Read the article below and express your opinions regarding Pope Francis’ views.

Pope criticizes workaholic dads, says they’re ‘symbolically absent’


1. What are a father’s roles in a family?
2. What happens to children when their father is “symbolically absent”?
3. According to the article, some fathers used to practice authoritarianism. What does this mean?
5. Is an authoritarian father better than a father who’s always absent? Why or why not?

No More Playing Hooky


C1 – Advanced

Should attendance in class be mandatory, or should students be allowed to play hooky as long as they can keep their grades up?

Technology and financial uncertainty are two factors that have changed the methods of calling the roll in universities and colleges across America, all in the hopes of tuition well spent, student loans paid and higher graduation rates.

Read on, and weigh in with the issue.

Cracking Down on Skipping Class


1. What is meant by “playing hooky”? Have you ever played hooky?
2. Is attendance an accurate predictor of success in university?
3. What are the consequences of skipping classes to students? To parents? To the colleges and universities?
4. Can you suggest other ways of getting students to class on time and driving down absenteeism?

What’s your Dawn Wall?

C1 – Advanced

Imagine a 3,000-foot (900-meter) high rock formation. Now picture free climbing, or climbing up this gargantuan natural structure with just your hands and feet. Impossible? Not anymore. The Dawn Wall, an imposing rock structure in Yosemite Park, is possibly the world’s toughest free climb, and in 2015, Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell were the first free climbers to make it all the way up.

Sometimes challenges in life feel uncannily similar to a steep climb. Have you scaled your own Dawn Wall lately?


1. What “projects” are you currently taking on? Which one seems like a climb up the Dawn Wall?
2. In the video, Kevin Jorgeson is described as someone following his bliss. What does it mean to “follow one’s bliss”? Are you following your own bliss?
3. What qualities should a person possess to succeed in life?
4. How do you approach life’s difficulties?
5. What recent personal success are you most proud of? How did you celebrate this achievement?

Veggie Soup

B2 – Upper intermediate

When you hear the word “gratitude,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? How is gratitude expressed in the following short film?


1. In your own words, re-tell the story.
2. What is meant by the expression “debt of gratitude”?
3. When did you owe somebody a debt of gratitude?
4. When did somebody owe you a debt of gratitude? Should a debt of gratitude be repaid? If yes, how?
5. What is meant by “pay it forward”? In the story, how did one character pay it forward?
6. How is giving the best communication?

True Wealth

B2 – Upper intermediate

The relationship between fathers and sons can be complicated at times. The main characters in the video exemplify this.


1. What do you think makes a great man?
2. According to the video, what is true wealth?
3. What are some of the lessons you have learned from your family?
4. How is family viewed in your own culture?