What would you take with you if you crashed on the moon?

October 24, 2008

Dear all,

Here´s a great idea for a group dynamic with lots of opportunity for fluency practice:

What would be important for you in the event of a crash on the moon?

You are a member of a Lunar flight scheduled to land at an established base on the Moon. Due to mechanical difficulties, you and your teammates were forced to land at a spot approximately 400 km from the base. During the landing, much of the equipment was severely damaged.

Your survival depends upon reaching the base, therefore only the most critical items of those remaining must be chosen for the 400 km trip. Below are listed the 15 items remaining operable or undamaged after the forced landing. Your task is to place them in rank order in terms of their importance for assisting you and your teammates to the safety of the base.

Place the number 1 by the most important item, number 2 by the second, and so on through the number 15 for the least important. Keep in mind that you are wearing a space suit. First, do this ranking for yourself, then consult with your teammates for a discussion and consensus ranking.

List of Supplies
Item Your Rank Team Rank
Box of matches
Food Concentrate
50 ft. Nylon rope
Portable Heating Unit
45mm Caliber Pistol
Case of dehydrated milk
Two 10-lb. tanks of Oxygen
Moon Constellation Map
Self-inflating life raft
Magnetic Compass
Five gallons of water
Self-igniting signal with flares
First aid kit with Hypodermic needles
Solar powered FM transceiver

This is an activity used in management training for testing a team´s capacity to negotiate effectively with an established time-frame. Therefore VOTING IS NOT ALLOWED – decisions should be made by consensus.

By filling in the comparative tables of individual results against team results and then an expert result, the groups can see how much improvement they made when they moved from an individual activity to a team activity. The ones with best results (from A to B) demonstrate that they have the best abiolity to work as a team.

Doesn´t it sound like fun?

In order to get all the information needed to conduct this activity, check this website:


Cheers everyone!



the MATRIX does exist (2) !

October 24, 2008

This 2nd Life/Matrix thing is bound to get out of hand: An angry ex-wife has been jailed in Japan after murdering her ex-husband’s avatar!

You can read the full story here.


Let’s hope it’s as effectively real at improving our learners’ fluency through online interaction.

Have a nice day


Second Life and EFL: the MATRIX does exist!

October 22, 2008

As I was looking for different gadgets used for EFL purposes for our (Fernando and I) speech at CIENTEC this friday 24th ( all invited =) ), I found this weblog with a testimonial of an expert in e-learnig who took some English lessons through the Second Life game. The full text is here,but I selected the best pieces of it:

This weekend I attended an English as a Second Language (ESL) class. (…) The instructor, Kip, separated the attendees into two groups and then asked a series of questions in English using slides and then the participants answered with written English sentences. (…) It worked surprisingly well. The students raised their hands with questions and there was good rapport between the students and the instructor. Many of whom used that medium as their only method of learning English. (…)

The instructor could move the class to a restaurant and have the students order a meal or go to a train station and have them buy a ticket or ask for the restroom or walk down a street in Paris and ask a policeman for directions. The SL environment provides a great opportunity to immerse the learner in the language and the situation. A guided tour designed to help learners speak the language.

How do you see this new ‘gadget’; in a positive or in a negative way? Does it make you think about the future of ‘real’ second language schools, or it sounds just a hype? Answer in the comments!


October 19, 2008

As I was writing yet another e-mail, I remembered the conversation Dyêgo and I had had in the Cultura Kitchen this last week about question tags … He said he thought we Americans didn’t use them much, but rather said “yeah?” in place of them, since it’s much easier to say. I had disagreed, but wasn’t really sure why …. until just now!!!!

I just remembered – through authentic materials: an e-mail, of all things – that he WAS right (at least partly) We don’t like using question tags much (I admit: we’re pretty lazy in our speech …. or is it that we have so much to say that we just hafta say it quick?!) …. however, instead of adding on a “yeah?” at the end, we stick on a “huh?” in that special way to get the OTHER ONE(s) (our audience) to respond with a resounding “YEAH!”

For example:

Dyêgo: “So … I was right after all, huh?

Kel: “Yeah, I guess so.”

(sorry … was that a bit too philosophical? My sts say I do that quite often! he! he! he! he! he!)

Recent photos with teachers in!

October 16, 2008

We missed Carmem, Fernando and Isabel at the teacher’s dinner – it wasn’t the same without you. Here are the photos of the time. This is a flickr slideshow and it can be quite slow loading the photos the first time you watch it – just be patient it will get there eventually. Click here to see those.

And, here is another flickr slideshow of the Children’s day trip to the orphanage – starring especially Dyego and Sr. Ricardo. Click here to see those.

Mad Dogs and English

October 13, 2008

A bit of a shameless advertisement for a website I started a few months back aimed at “celebrating the daftness of the English language”. To be fair, it has been picked up by some ELT websites out there on the internet and is gaining some momentum so I thought it may be useful for you guys. Basically, once a week I draw a simple cartoon based on an idiom/phrasal verb/homonym which could create confusion to a non-native speaker… its supposed to be funny but it probably appeals more to my slightly warped sense of humour (its like “The Far Side” if anyone used to read that?). You can see it at maddogsandenglish.wordpress.com. I’ve drawn 35 already and add a new one each Monday. Some of them you might find useful in explaining a language point, especially for higher learners. I used NUMBER 9 in an Advanced 1 class to explain a phrasal verb and they seemed to like it.

ALSO: The 101 IELTS questions I mentioned a few posts back have now all been printed and neatly cut into strips (thanks to Giane) and have been stored for safe keeping in the back of the Advanced Blue folder of resources in the Teachers Room. Help yourselves! (and then return them, please!). I used them in my conversation club with great results… feedback from the students suggested that they liked having a guideline for what they should say. Happy conversing!

Innovation: Johny Lee and his $40 IWB!

October 6, 2008

As some of you may know, I’ve always been very keen on innovation in ELT. During my researches last week, I stumbled upon a talk by this guy Johnny Lee on TED.com (which has a myriad of grand downloadable talks in various areas). Lee is a graduate student in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. This very charismatic 28-year-old genius  is not an English teacher, but he’s done something which should be especially interesting to us in the Cultura Inglesa circle: transforming a $40 Wii remote into an interactive whiteboard, a touchscreen and a head-mounted 3-D viewer.

I was just wondering whether Steve – being so forward-thinking as we all know he is – would be willing to give it a try!

“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” Woody Allen

A penny for your thoughts!

Fernando Guarany Jr.

“A pilgrim and a stranger in this world”