Wednesday, 30 April 2014

national public radio to help you with your english

The BBC offers great choice for speech on the radio:
Jay Doubleyou: bbc radio 4 to help you with your english...

There are plenty of other places to go to hear English on the radio:
Talk radio - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the United States, talk radio is traditionally very 'political':
Expressing and debating political opinions has been a staple of radio since the medium's infancy.
Talk radio in the United States

Here are the top ten in the USA:
Top 10 Talk Radio Stations in the U.S. | Cision

An alternative is NPR, but, again, there's the question of 'politics':

Conservative critics have long complained that the long-format news programming on National Public Radio (NPR) shows a liberal bias, although this is disputed by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a progressive media criticism organization, which found that, for example, "representatives of think tanks to the right of center outnumbered those to the left of center by more than four to one: 62 appearances to 15."[8] NPR itself denies any partisan agenda.[9]
Politically oriented talk radio in the USA

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

exploring gender: masculinity and 'fight club'

Taboo subjects can get us talking:
Jay Doubleyou: stimulating discussion: the politics of...
Jay Doubleyou: discussing issues in the classroom

For example:
Jay Doubleyou: a history of violence part two

There is the subject of violence in film:
Hollywood and movie violence debate: Where do the filmmakers stand? - Movies News - Digital Spy
Gun Violence In U.S. Movies On The Rise; PG-13 Levels Exceed R-Rated Films: Study -

Many have criticised 'Fight Club' (1999) as 'too violent':

Parents need to know that this movie is wayyyy cool in terms of style and flip cynicism, and it's also wayyyy lurid, twisted, and violent. Older teens can hopefully take the over-the-top, R-rated cult hit as a dark-humored novelty act. It derives from a novel by trendy author Chuck Palahniuk. You wouldn't want kids to use either as a blueprint for behavior, which includes hazing-style beatings, vandalism, and bombings.
Fight Club Movie Review
Fight Club Violence Guide!

Fight Club Trailer - HD - YouTube

There have been complaints that the trailer just highlighted the violence to get the film out to audiences:

The violence of the fight clubs serves not to promote or glorify physical combat, but for participants to experience feeling in a society where they are otherwise numb... The director and the cast compared the film to Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and The Graduate (1967). Fincher intended Fight Club's violence to serve as a metaphor for the conflict between a generation of young people and the value system of advertising.

Marketing executives at 20th Century Fox faced difficulties in marketing Fight Club and at one point considered marketing it as an art film. They considered that the film was primarily geared toward male audiences because of its violence and believed that not even Brad Pitt would attract female filmgoers... Instead, the studio financed a $20 million large-scale campaign to provide posters, billboards, and trailers for TV that highlighted the film's fight scenes. The studio advertised Fight Club on cable during World Wrestling Federation broadcasts, which Fincher protested, believing that the placement created the wrong context for the film.

Another newspaper charged, "Fight Club is shaping up to be the most contentious mainstream Hollywood meditation on violence since Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange."

Fight Club - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

But, actually, the film explored the issues around 'masculinity':
Masculinity, Violence, and the Postmodern
Fight Club »
Fight Club and Masculinity :: Neutral Magazine
Fight Club: Materialism, Masculinity and Maturity - Unsung Films

What would you say are the issues around 'masculinity'?

Here's a PowerPoint presentation which explores some of the issues:
Masculinity in Fight Club
With some of the themes:
> "We’re designed to be hunters and we’re in a society of shopping”
Traditional male roles: Cowboy; Hunter; Defender; Achiever; Warrior; Breadwinner Exposed as myths by the feminist movement Men left without a clear identity after Feminism questioned the role of man
The Feminization of Man and an increase in ‘consumption’ Repressed ‘Raw’ Masculinity The dehumanizing effects of corporate consumer culture
The ‘New Man’ The ‘new man’ has lost touch with his masculine ‘core’ 
Charismatic, Sexually Dominant Aggressive, Powerful, in charge of his own destiny
Occupies shadowy underworld Outlandish, Flamboyant, Unique, Original – link to Anti Globalization themes
Masculinity in Fight Club

But this seems to be too much from a 'male' perspective...

At this point in the film (41:30 actually) it's rather 'violent':
00:43:40 - OK, now it gets gory. Still good natured fighting, but it's pretty visceral, the sights and the sounds, and in the end one guy is left with a pretty bloodied face (even though he's happy about the experience). This goes on for about 30 seconds.
Fight Club Violence Guide!

But on the double-DVD there is a commentary on this scene from the main female actor, Helena Bonham-Carter - and she says she's not in favour of 'gratuitous violence' gratuitous adjective - definition - Cambridge Dictionaries Online.
That it is not about 'violence for violence's sake' but it's 'more to do with the sensation of being alive'. And that this is a 'desperate statement to say about society' - that people have become so 'dead spiritually', that they have to hit each other 'to feel truly in the moment'...
FIGHT CLUB audio commentary [director and cast] - YouTube (from 38:30)

But others think that 'Fight Club' is all about Hollywood just playing with the issues around 'gender':

Few movies have been analyzed as thoroughly as Fight Club (1999). Chuck Palahniuk's book of the same name has been a staple of college syllabi in gender or postmodern studies since its publication in 1996. Often thought of as a movie about men and masculinity, Fight Club's true meaning as a critique of socioeconomic structure is unfortunately obscured. The movie Fight Club deplores capitalistic consumerism, yet it falls short of truly challenging any assumptions.

At the box office, Fight Club didn't do very well for several reasons, mainly the Columbine shootings earlier that year. But never has a movie so quickly gained cult status in the short amount of time. Campuses across the country had free Fight Club viewing and discussion meetings. Tyler Durden's quotes slipped into free periodicals and onto bathroom stalls. Web sites popped up all over the Internet. The "revolutionary" movie was condemned for its graphic violence while it simultaneously became the focus of numerous term papers.
It's not surprising that people lament that Fight Club is about pounding people's faces in. And certainly, feminist and Freudian analyses of the film abound as well. But all this gender analysis is missing the point. Although Fight Club will be remembered as a film about masculinity, it has nothing of any interest or coherence to say about it. The real focus of its concern is the dehumanizing impact of the three big Cs: consumerism, corporatism and capitalism. Fight Club is a political and philosophical film about human identity, a condemning critique of the way most Americans live meaningless, half-dead lives. Perhaps framing that in a gender context was the only way a) to garnerHollywood interest in the film and b) to make trashing the American way of life palatable to a mass audience.
The Movie Fight Club Uses Aggression and Masculinity as a Vehicle for Class Warfare - Yahoo Voices -

Monday, 28 April 2014

a history of violence part two

Are we getting less violent?
According to the latest news about crime on the streets in the UK, this does seem to be the case:
Jay Doubleyou: crime statistics - and the perception of crime

And certain scholars think the trends show a decrease in violence among humans generally:

Jay Doubleyou: a history of violence
BBC Radio 4 - Things Ain't What They Used To Be (from 18:18)
A History of Violence Edge Master Class 2011 |

But here's a very critical view of this thesis:

"Picture a band of 150 or so hunter-gatherers, among whom the murder rate is five to six times that of contemporary New York. One's image will undoubtedly resemble that famously coined by Hobbes: nasty, brutish, and short. However, because of the tiny social scale, that sky-high murder rate pans out to about one murder every fifteen to twenty years--once a generation. Thus, despite the statistically high murder rate, "the general tenor of daily social relations observed by the ethnographer can readily be a strongly positive one of friendship, camaraderie, and communal sharing that is very rarely disrupted by argument or physical fighting." (Raymond C. Kelly, Warless Societies & the Origins of War)" [[...]

To pretend that tribal warriors who used to travel hundreds of kilometers to capture one or two individual enemies as part of their ritual raids are more violent than modern societies who invented large-scale processes of human annihilation such as concentration camps or atomic bombs reveals a state of complete disconnectedness.

If this contrived nonsense appeals to you, seriously consider making friends with at least one person who lives at the other side of your town... Customer Reviews: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

And others see the 'primitive' which we have 'evolved' from as actually less violent:

Fortunately, a far more plausible outlook has emerged, one that corresponds to the overall version of Paleolithic life in general. Food sharing has for some time been considered an integral part of earliest human society (e.g. Washburn and DeVore, 1961). Jane Goodall (1971) and Richard Leakey (1978), among others, have con- cluded that it was the key element in establishing our uniquely Homo development at least as early as 2 million years ago... One of the telling arguments in favor of the cooperation thesis, as against that of generalized violence and male domination, involves a diminishing, during early evolution, of the difference in size and strength between males and females. Sexual dimorphism, as it is called, was originally very pronounced, including such features as prominent canines or "fighting teeth" in males and much smaller canines for the female.

Though of course the much-maligned Neanderthal has been pictured as a primitive, brutish creature - in keeping with the prevailing Hobbesian ideology - despite manifest intelligence as well as enormous physical strength (Shreeve 1991).

As regards violence among gatherer-hunters, Lee (1988) found that "the !Kung hate fighting, and think anybody who fought would be stupid." The Mbuti, by Duffy's account (1984), "look on any form of violence between one person and another with great abhorrence and distaste, and never represent it in their dancing or playacting." Homicide and suicide, concluded Bodley (1976), are both "decidedly uncommon" among undisturbed gatherer-hunters. The `warlike' nature of Native American peoples was often fabricated to add legitimacy to European aims of conquest (Kroeber 1961); the foraging Comanche maintained their non-violent ways for centuries before the European invasion, becoming violent only upon contact with marauding civilization (Fried 1973).

Future Primitive--John Zerzan


Even today some people who should know better confuse primitive agricultural societies with hunter-gatherer societies and argue, from such confused evidence, that hunter-gatherers were violent and warlike. For example, one society often referred to in this mistaken way is that of the Yanomami, of South America's Amazon, made famous by Napoleon Chagnon in his book subtitled The fierce people. Chagnon tried to portray the Yanomami as representative of our pre-agricultural ancestors. But Chagnon knew well that the Yanomami were not hunter-gatherers and had not been for centuries. They did some hunting and gathering, but got the great majority of their calories from bananas and plantains, which they planted, cultivated, and harvested. Moreover, far from being untouched by modern cultures, these people had been repeatedly subjected to slave raids and genocide at the hands of truly vicious Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese invaders.[1] No wonder they had become a bit "fierce" themselves.

How Hunter-Gatherers Maintained Their Egalitarian Ways | Psychology Today

On the other hand, whilst there maybe a decline in violence on the streets in Western societies...

[but not elsewhere:
If you ask a Bahraini, Iraqi, or Congolese scholar about violence, my guess is you'll get a quite different take. Ask a Haitain or Chinese sweatshop worker about the violence of being paid $3-$4 for a 14 hour work day. Ask Indian farmers about the violence of debt slavery that leads to suicide plagues. Ask Filipinos and Cambodians about the decline in sex slavery. Ask a Chilean, Bolivian or Indonesian economist about having your country's future sold off into debt at outrageously inflated prices for the benefit of dictators and multinational corporations and sent to offshore bank accounts. Just because they don't go in an beat the workers and citizens over the head with clubs on a daily basis doesn't mean it's not violence, and to make generalizations implying otherwise is a blinkered analysis. Customer Reviews: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined]

... we still have a big problem with domestic violence:
Domestic violence - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In Australia:
The brutal price of domestic violence

In India:

Acceptance of domestic violence: The Reuters TrustLaw group named India one of the worst countries in the world for women this year, in part because domestic violence there is often seen as deserved. A 2012 report by UNICEF found that 57 percent of Indian boys and 53 percent of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 think wife-beating is justified. A recent national family-health survey also reported that a sizable percentage of women blame themselves for beatings by their husbands.
“When a boy grows up seeing his father assault his mother, he starts to accept such a behavior and repeats it,” Anuradha Gupta, mission director for India’s National Rural Health Mission, was quoted as saying.
10 reasons why India has a sexual violence problem

And of course, there is our love of Hollywood violence:

Jim Carrey's decision to withdraw his support for Kick-Ass 2 following the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school last year has re-opened an old debate that's been around in Hollywood for decades. That is, do violent acts depicted on screen have a direct influence on reality? Carrey's decision to make a stand against screen violence (he is a staunch advocate of gun control) is admirable, even if the timing of his announcement seems odd.
Hollywood and movie violence debate: Where do the filmmakers stand? - Movies News - Digital Spy

study out today in the journal Pediatrics examines movies as a potential source of the so-called “weapons effect” whereby the presence of guns can increase aggression. American and Dutch university researchers found that in a 20-year period, gun violence in PG-13 films has more than tripled. 

Gun Violence In U.S. Movies On The Rise; PG-13 Levels Exceed R-Rated Films: Study -

Sunday, 27 April 2014


It can be fun to pour over maps.
Jay Doubleyou: Schools are taking this seriously

For example, a Medieval manor:
17_medimanor.jpg (488×709)

And these can be supplemented by aerial photography - with some more Medieval stuff:
Jay Doubleyou: Tintagel

This can provoke a few questions - such as 'What exactly are we looking at?'
Jay Doubleyou: A field trip

Here we are in Roman Devon:
Jay Doubleyou: Something from the air…

And Roman Exeter (pages 43 and 59):

Here are some great maps showing how the Industrial Revolution affected the British landscape - right out in the middle of the countryside:
Power in the Landscape - Home
Power in the Landscape - Water powered mills in the Upper Calder Valley

... especially Hebden Bridge, 1907 Ordnance Survey Map:
Design ideas final - chopup

Looking at any map of a town or city today, what can you say about:
> the history of the streets (their names, their shape),
> the layout of the districts (which were built first and what were they for?),
> the bits of natural geography (underground streams, old trees)?

And for the countryside, here is a useful list -  but only if you're in Britain!

The scope of landscape history ranges from specific individual features to areas covering hundreds of square miles.[6] Topics studied by landscape historians include:

Landscape history - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Saturday, 26 April 2014

how to be dynamic in the esl classroom

A very important question from a teacher - and some very helpful tips from colleagues - all posted at the British Council's website 'Teaching English':

How to make an ESL class dynamic?
I have some trouble in making my ESL class dynamic. I'll be very appreciative if you are kind enough to offer me some teaching theories, tips & practice.

 59 194 12 12K

Rahma 09's picture
Rahma 09
Submitted on 24 December, 2008 - 14:21
Love is the key to success...
In order to make your Esl classroom very dynamic and high-motivated, you need to make your own students love english language's learning process. They should be interested in what you're teaching them. and they want to improve their skills in english. In order to achieve this, as a teacher, before you begin your lessons explanation, you should begin by a motivated warm-up that help your pupils to be more familiar with new words, grammar rules or writing skills. the warm-up can be a simple game, or song with a catchy tunes so that the students remember it the whole year, or using different pictures or flashcards,animated posters;so, your pupils will be in touch with the real world.
Try to vary your teaching's tips, don't make your english classroom a boring place where ideas are repeated, otherwise; it should be an environment of innovation and creation. For example, ESL students have to learn different animals' names  and where they live, you can use animals' pictures in the first session,using funny drawing of animals in the board in the second session, working via interesting videos about the wild life in the third session;As a result, when you vary the way you teach, the learners will be so dynamic and they make progress.
Finally, using teamwork in ESL classroom is so useful and fruitful.It encourages all students to participate,working together and cooperate with each other.teamwoerk have many aspects: 1)Role play: when the students writing dialogues, and conversations together in order to act it out in front of their classmates. 2) competition: 3)creating teams 4)making mini-projects
I hope that my humble ideas could be useful for u and u esl students. Good luck. An english teacher Rahma.

Amir A. Ravayee's picture
Amir A. Ravayee
Submitted on 28 December, 2008 - 07:33
Dear Friend,
It is very important to find out why your students are studying English? How will they use English in the future? What do they need to learn?
Be prepared to make changes to your lesson plan. If the lesson you have prepared just isn't working, don't be afraid to change it.
Teaching materials are very important, too. Most students are dissatisfied with some course books and activities. It is essential that you choose activities which are truly communicative and meet the needs of your students.
A good way to motivate students and liven up your classroom is to change usual activities into something fun, e.g. games. Students can also be motivated by giving a variety of interesting topics and activities.
Some teachers keep correcting students’ mistakes and errors and that’s like a poison to an EFL class. If you over correct your students they prefer to be silent. You can ignore some mistakes.
Amir Abbass Ravayee

amazinanian's picture
Submitted on 28 December, 2008 - 13:41
Dear colleague,
While teaching ESL to students, many teachers believe that preparing a warm & friendly atmosphere for minimizing students' anxiety is the first step. Students react well when the anxiety is removed .Second step is bringing joy and laughter to the classroom by choosing competitive teaching materials suitable for every class level , I mean students should be able not only to digest them well buy enjoy the activities too. Finally finding out student's interests is of high importance as it motivates them to participate eagerly in class activities.
The following site's materials have been designed especially for ESL learners where you can find astonishing lesson plans and related programs.
Hope above suggestions meet your inquiry. A Mazinanian

liuyanli's picture
Submitted on 3 January, 2009 - 08:34
I am an English teacher of primary, my students like my class.  Because in my class they have enough chances to listen and speak English in an intersting task. Every class, they can sing and chant. I think this kind class is dynamic!

teacherjoe's picture
Submitted on 23 January, 2009 - 17:19
I struggled a long time with this question, especially when I was in Japan facing 40 very shy high school students. Here are five general principles that worked for me:
1. Give positive feedback, even for the tiniest successes at first.
2. Provide clear goals and instructions, so students are absolutely sure what is expected of them.
3. Use the element of surprise in your lessons to keep students alert. (See for some specific ways to do this.)
4. Try a variety of techniques in class so students do not become bored.
5. Try FRIENDLY competition to encourage participation. (Warning: I would NOT recommend basing grades or the giving of any other rewards on the outcome of classroom games!)
Good luck and let me know if these ideas work for you.

girishseshamani's picture
Submitted on 12 October, 2009 - 14:25
The English Language is all about innovation. You need to ensure that each session is a challenge for the students and you should generate an innate desire within each student to raise their level. Set a culture in the class where students can make mistakes without getting insulted. Have a combination of individual and group activities. Keep a contest each month where the top 3 teams are given prizes and a certificate of merit. Treat all your students as adults and ask them to come out with their suggestions also. Never be tempted to have favorites in the class. You need to be unbiased and ensure that the entire class is treated as one unit without any kind of discrimination whatsoever.

divakar3368's picture
Submitted on 13 August, 2010 - 09:23
Hi dear,            I 've been working as an esl teacher for the past 6 years. Initially i felt as what you feel now. The students were very bored and they even started hating English. I realised one thing that it is repetition of the same tasks that makes the esl classroom very boring. let's try some innovative ideas to facilitate learning in esl classroom. We can start the class with an ic-breaker or an interesting game. It will surely work out. But be careful ,it should only be for sometime and try to make it related to the topic. It is better to provide some interesting puzzles and word games .Visit puzzle You can design puzzle related to the topic.esp- to teach vocabulary. Create  a friendly atmosphere in the class. Take the class according to the mood of the students sometimes .Best of luck Divakaran.

vkwing's picture
Submitted on 2 March, 2011 - 18:56
Thanks Teacher Rahma for your advice about making our ESL classroom dynamic.

How to make an ESL class dynamic? | TeachingEnglish | British Council | BBC

crime statistics - and the perception of crime

Again, the number of crimes committed in the UK have fallen:
Crime rate in England and Wales falls 15% to its lowest level in 33 years | UK news | The Guardian
Crime falls 15% in a year to the lowest level since records began in 1981, with big drops in violence and thefts | Mail Online
Crime is down – does the Government deserve any credit? | Conservative Home

As reported in a previous blog entry:
Jay Doubleyou: the media

There are different opinions as to what to do about criminals:
Jay Doubleyou: crime and punishment

And there are very different explanations as to why the number of crimes have fallen:
Six reasons for the fall in violent crime | UK news | The Guardian
Cost of alcohol credited for drop in serious violence in England and Wales | Society | The Guardian
The link between lead poisoning and violence | @guardianletters | UK news | The Guardian
Crime figures: is this the end of the age of violence? - Telegraph

But do we want to believe this?

Crime rate in England and Wales fell 15% in 2013, the largest annual drop on record, but will the public accept it?

But despite this sustained and historic fall in crime, the pollsters tell us that the public refuses to believe it has happened or that their chances of becoming a victim of crime are at a 33-year low.
This is partly because that with an estimated 7.5m crimes each year there are still plenty of victims of crime about, but that does not explain the persistent poll findings that nearly two-thirds of the public believe national crime rates in England and Wales are going up, despite the official figures. This may partly be due to large swathes of national media coverage of the crime figures that seem incapable of highlighting the simple story that crime is falling and instead seize on the most minor sub-set of offences to claim that the country remains in the grip of a massive crime wave. It certainly remains in the grip of a media which finds it impossible to live without a diet of murder, mayhem and soaring crime headlines.
Interestingly, the public gives a far more accurate account when asked about crime in their own neighbourhoods. Then only 28% report that it is going up. But the widespread public belief that national crime rates continue to soar means people often have a far more punitive attitude towards crime, and it is fuelled by their misinformed belief that their chances of becoming a victim of burglary, car crime or violent crime are far higher than the actual rates.
Does it matter? The last ONS national well-being survey showed that only 56% of women feel "fairly or very" safe walking alone after dark – the same proportion as five years ago – despite the fall in crime rate. New forms of crime – whether it is online fraud or official recognition of different kinds of domestic abuse – will continue to emerge that the official stats do not necessary capture but that does not negate the fundamental underlying trend.
Falling overall crime levels are no one-year wonder | UK news | The Guardian

On the other hand, there's been a rise in fraud - or 'white-collar crime'.
This is from the US:
Report: Local law enforcement struggle to keep up with cybercrime | 89.3 KPCC