Monday, 4 November 2013

REBELLIOUS YOUTH: THE ROMANTICS & LIBERTY


In this BBC documentary Peter Ackroyd,writer, historian and presenter,   reveals how the radical ideas of liberty that inspired the French Revolution opened up a world of possibility for great British writers such as William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, inspiring some of the greatest works of literature in the English language. Their ideas are the foundations of our modern notions of freedom and their words are performed by David Tennant, Dudley Sutton and David Threlfall. 

The Romantics are important because they helped to define, and indeed to create, the modern world. They helped to fashion the way in which we all now think and imagine.

Friday, 4 October 2013

REBELLIOUS YOUTH - DEAD POETS SOCIETY (1989)


Carpe Diem: Seize the day. This is the lesson John Keating, an unorthodox teacher at an all-male prep school in New England, wants to convey to his impressionable students. Keating is an alumnus of the school, Welton Academy, and hopes to make his students as curious and iconoclastic as he was (as is). Keating encourages them to "suck the marrow out of life," pursue their dreams, and find their voice. He does so with unusual teaching methods, such as tearing pages from textbooks, kicking soccer balls while shouting poetry, and standing on desks to gain a different perspective. These approaches are frowned upon by the administrators at conservative Welton, whose creed is "Tradition, Honor, Discipline, and Excellence."

Sunday, 15 September 2013

FOCUS ON ... BEING A TEENAGER



Our topic for conversation classes has been what being a teenager means. Here is our worksheet for a reading, speaking, writing activity which can be rather involving since the focus of the discussion is the students themselves and their feelings. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

REBELLIOUS YOUTH - J.D. SALINGER, THE CATCHER IN THE RYE


Read the conversation between Holden Caufield (16), the protagonist of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye,  and his little sister,  Phoebe. He has just come  back home after escaping  from the last college he was expelled from and after wandering around New York City for a few days... "Old Phoebe", 10 years old, wants to know why he escaped and disappeared . She asks him if there is anything he likes in his life, because he doesn't seem to like anything...

The Phoniness of the World 


"You can't even think of one thing"


"Yes, I can, I can"


"Well do it, then"


"I like Allie", I said. "And I like doing what I'm doing right now. Sitting here with you, and talking , and thinking about stuff, and - "

Friday, 16 August 2013

SUMMER ACTIVITY 5 - MULTICULTURAL BRITAIN

1. Watch the two videos interviews with foreign students living in the UK and answer the questions in the worksheet HERE (task 1 is for 2scB/3scA/4scA task 2 only for 3scA/4scA-B) 



Saturday, 3 August 2013

SUMMER ACTIVITIES 4: HAPPY 50TH ANNIVERSARY DOCTOR WHO!


Matt Smith - the eleventh doctor
2scB/3scA/4scA/B


Reading Comprehension Task - Read the text below about the British TV series Doctor Who  and answer the questions in the worksheet  (Task 1 - click HERE)

Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a  Time Lord—a time travelling, humanoid alien known as the Doctor. He explores the universe in his 'TARDIS', a sentient time-travelling space ship. Its exterior appears as a blue British police box, a common sight in Britain in 1963, when the series first aired. Along with a succession of companions, the Doctor faces a variety of foes while working to save civilisations, help ordinary people, and right wrongs.
The show is a significant part of British popular culture; and elsewhere it has become a cult television favourite. The show has influenced generations of British television professionals, many of whom grew up watching the series, which is still incredibly popular after all these years

Saturday, 20 July 2013

SUMMER ACTIVITIES 3 - SHOCK AMONG GLEE FANS: CORY MONTEITH DIES FOR A MIXTURE OF HEROIN AND ALCOHOL

Cory Monteith
Reading Comprehension (3scA / 4scA-B)
Read this article about Canadian actor Cory Monteith's recent sudden death and answer the questions in the worksheet (Task 1.a HERE)

Reading Comprehension (2scB)
After very troubled teenage years, Cory became an actor and later on a very popular TV star thanks to his role as Finn in  FOX's musical comedy series,  GLEE. Read his biography (HERE) and answer the questions in the worksheet  (Task 1.b HERE)

Listening Comprehension (2scB/3scA/4scA-B) Watch the video interview below and answer the questions in the worksheet (task 2 - Listening Comprehension)

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

SUMMER ACTIVITIES 2 - YA FICTION & MOVIES


Young Adult (often abbreviated as YA) Fiction  or Literature is fiction written for adolescents or young adults.   It is a very popular genre nowadays, read and appreciated  by many adult readers.  Several YA books have successfully been adapted  for the screen:  Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Twilight, The Chronicles of Narnia, Percy Jackson, Beautiful Creatures, Hunger Games. There are a few new films coming out soon following the popularity of the books. Are you looking forward to any of them? However,  remember, it is always better to read the books before watching the movie. You risk being disappointed of course,  but ... who would read a book already knowing what happens from start to end? Strange as it is, I would do it, I wouldn't  mind spoilers if I liked the story but, you know, I'm a weird, old teacher!

TASK 1 - Reading & Writing (4scA-B/3scA/2scB)

Read " Five Young Adult Books You Must Read Before the Movies are Released" and  answer the questions in the worksheet HERE  

TASK 2 - Listening & Fill in the gaps  (4scA-B/3scA/2scB)

Sunday, 30 June 2013

SUMMER ACTIVITIES 1 - FAME

READING COMPREHENSION & WRITING
Reading Task for 4scA-B (Upper Intermediate) - read the given text then summarize it in 10-15 lines. Finally write your answers to the Discussion Questions in the pink box on the right (5/6 lines each). Change  question 3 as follows : Think about your friends and schoolmates  for evidence of a generational need to be famous or, at the very least, distinctive. What events or influences in your life contributed to your own desire /lack of desire to become famous CLICK HERE
Reading Task for 3scA - (Intermediate)  read the given text,  write a short summary of the article in your own words, add your personal opinion (10-15 lines)  CLICK HERE
Reading Task for 2scB - (Pre-intermediate) Read the text and complete the tasks in the worksheet, "Do fame and money bring happiness?"  CLICK HERE

WATCHING & WRITING  - HALL OF FAME


Thursday, 13 June 2013

SUMMER READINGS - WORKSHEET

 (2scB, 3scA, 4scA, 4scB)


Here's the worksheet  you should fill in to prepare your oral report about the book you've chosen as your summer reading.

Don't forget to

- complete all the exercises at the end of each chapter
- read the texts about the author, themes, and context you'll find in your book
- listen to the audiobook once you've finished reading or while reading 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

POSTS ABOUT VIRGINIA WOOLF AND MRS DALLOWAY

                                                   
Click HERE for the list of posts about Woolf and Mrs Dalloway

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

DEFOE VS SWIFT



The two great prose writers of the Age of Queen Anne stand out as representatives of two worlds, of two cultures in conflict: the last of the aristocrats and the herald of the middle  class.
Here are just a few hints to reflect on the differences between them


DANIEL DEFOE

JONATHAN SWIFT

English

Irish

Liberal ( Whig)

Conservative (Tory)

Dissenter

Anglican

Optimistic

Pessimistic

Exalted the use of reason

Satirized the use of reason

Championed individualism

Condemned individualism

Realistic novels

Imaginary voyages 


 And now a closer look at SWIFT's GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
SATIRE
Gulliver’s Travels has been considered a satirical masterpiece. But what is SATIRE?

Monday, 13 May 2013

THE AGE OF THE KNIGHT: THE LEGEND OF KING ARTHUR. NOTES & ACTIVITIES.

Minstrels and Knights

Up to the Norman conquest scops composed poems and performed them, usually with the accompaniment of a harp. Later, however, they were replaced by minstrels. Minstrels were a kind of professional entertainer: they would wander from court to court or had a fix abode at the court of a noble. They sang and recited lyrics and narratives, including ballads and romances.

Minstrels sang about romances whose main character was the knight, a central figure in the Middle Ages. This figure grew in importance as a result of the prosperity achieved by the courts, particularly in France, where the nobles wanted to hear stories about heroes, adventures and chivalry.

The knight was an idealised figure in literature. He was expected to uphold a code of chivalry which was usually associated with ideals of honour, courtly love and virtue. He was expected to be loyal to his king or lord, fight for him in battle and, if necessary, sacrifing himself for honour. 

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

SEBASTIAN FAULKS ON ROBINSON CRUSOE



DOWNLOAD THE WORKSHEET WITH THE COMPREHENSION TASKS RELATED TO THIS VIDEO - WS FAULKS ON CRUSOE IS AVAILABLE FROM  THE FLASH WIDGET BOX IN THE RIGHT SIDEBAR.

Monday, 29 April 2013

THE FREEDOM OF KNOWLEDGE - GEORGE ORWELL, 1984: IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH




Watch the video,  listen to Sebastian Faulks's presentation /analysis of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and answer the questions in the worksheet HERE


Thursday, 25 April 2013

COMING SOON! ROMEO & JULIET AND THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS

 Movie trailers can be fun and  they may contain simple useful language. Let's try to improve our skills in English as a foreign language working on these two new trailers. 

Romeo & Juliet (2013)

The first  is related to our English literature syllabus and your task is to recognize in the trailer as many scenes as you can from the play we studied few months ago. There's a new Romeo and Juliet film coming out in October, shot in Italy last year (main locations Subiaco, Mantova, Verona).  Carlo Carlei is the director of a stellar cast including Hailee Steinfeld as Juliet and Douglas Booth as Romeo, along with Paul Giamatti (Friar Laurence), Damian Lewis (Lord Capulet), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Benvolio), Stellan Skarsgard (Prince Escalus).

So,  ready to recognize familiar scenes from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and familiar places from beautiful Italy?

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

A JOURNEY INTO THE HEART OF DARKNESS - JOSEPH CONRAD


Joseph Conrad
“. . . No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one’s existence—that which makes its truth, its meaning—its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream—alone. . . .”
These days we are reading some pages from Joseph Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS (1899) and, as usual, I'll try to help you study and understand both the novel and its author better providing you with useful materials and links.
Let's start with some links to know more about
THE THEMES

NIGHTMARES OF THE CONGO

The story of HEART OF DARKNESS is connected to Conrad's personal experiences. In 1890 he went to Africa to command a vessel on the Congo river for a Belgian company. His predecessor had been killed by native Africans. Conrad was partly there simply to get a living but, at the same time, he was a romantic for whom sailing was a spiritual vocation, as many of his novels testify. However, this time his travelling experience was extremely painful. His four-month adventure left him near death, devastated by fever. In 1891, after his return to Europe, he wrote in a letter to a friend :" I am still plunged in deepest night, and 
my dreams are only nightmares".

Saturday, 30 March 2013

WATCHING ROBIN HOOD + NOTES


After reading an example  of  medieval ballad  (Lord Randal),  we discussed about Robin Hood and  how much the original legend of the prince of thieves from the medieval cycle of ballads was later on contaminated by other literary works  (for example, Walter Scott's Ivanhoe)
The heroes of the Cycle of the Outlaws have been more than once characterized and transformed for contemporary young or family audience in  recent years. These are clips from BBC Robin Hood series 1 (ep. 7-8) and the questions you have to answer as your homework.

CLIP 1 - THE HANGING

Watch and answer the  questions below

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

SOCIAL ISSUES IN VICTORIAN BRITAIN - THE WOMAN QUESTION

"Conventionality is not morality"
(Charlotte Bronte , Preface to the second edition of "Jane Eyre")


Mia Wasikowska as Jane Eyre - 2011

(see also THE WOMAN QUESTION  ppt in the widget box on the right  

We already discussed about "The Woman Question" studying Jane Austen's novels. Unfortunately, things hadn't changed in time and Victorian women still had to bear a subordinate social role.
Queen Victoria, "the mother of the nation", personified 19th century middle-class femininity and domesticity perfectly. Supported by her beloved husband Albert and surrounded by her nine children, she presented a kind of femininity which was centred on the family, motherhood and respectability.

Friday, 22 February 2013

ANONYMOUS - WAS SHAKESPEARE A FRAUD?

READ THE ARTICLE + WATCH THE VIDEOS AND ANSWER THE QUESTIONS IN THE WORKSHEET HERE

Scholars and intellectuals have argued the subject for centuries. Was William Shakespeare, the man from Stratford-upon-Avon, the “true” writer who penned the scope of work attributed to him? Or, was the name “Shakespeare” merely a cloaked facade to shield the identity of the works’ authentic author? Have we all been “played”?

Those who believe William Shakespeare did not pen the work are called Anti-Stratfordians; these scholars believe that Shakespeare’s “life doesn’t link up to his work.” They hold that only an aristocrat would have been able to pen such articulate and elevated prose.


Anti-Stratfordian scholars that hold to the “Oxfordian Theory of Shakespeare Authorship” believe that we’ve been “played” by a very talented, stealth Elizabethan courtier named Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. These specific scholars call themselves “Oxfordians.”


Oxfordians maintain that Edward de Vere’s biographical life matches that of the author of Shakespeare’s canon (at least more so than the biography of William Shakespeare of Stratford).


Tuesday, 12 February 2013

BUILDING A CATHEDRAL - THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH



THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH by KEN FOLLETT (1989)

In a time of civil war, famine and religious strife, there rises a magnificent Cathedral in Kingsbridge. Against this backdrop, lives entwine: Tom, the master builder, Aliena, the noblewoman, Philip, the prior of Kingsbridge, Jack, the artist in stone and Ellen, the woman from the forest who casts a curse. A sensuous and enduring love story and an epic that shines with the fierce spirit of a passionate age.

The Historical Context (The Anarchy or The 19-year Winter 1135-1154)

Empress Matilda (c. 7 February 1102 – 10 September 1167), also known as Matilda of England or Maude, was the daughter and heir of King Henry I of England. Matilda and her younger brother, William Adelin, were the only legitimate children of King Henry to survive to adulthood. The death of her brother in the White ship disaster in 1120 made Matilda the last heir from the paternal line of her grandfather William the Conqueror.
As a child, Matilda was betrothed to and later married Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor, acquiring the title Empress. The couple had no known children. After being widowed for a few years, she was married to Geoffrey count of Anjou, with whom she had three sons, the eldest of whom became King Henry II of England.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

LEICESTER, THE QUEST IS OVER: RICHARD III HAS BEEN FOUND

Philippa Langley admires the facial reconstruction of King Richard III based on his skull
Looking for Richard was a project financed by private Ricardians and carried out by experts from Leicester University which aimed to find the remains of King Richard III, the last of the Plantagenet monarchs of England. The real aim of the quest was to demonstrate that the myth created by the Tudors and Shakespeare wasn't historically true. Read Was Richard  III the Villain Shakespeare portrayed?, then go on reading the post below.

Monday, 4 February 2013

WUTHERING HEIGHTS BY EMILY BRONTE



Emily Bronte was a clergyman’s daughter. She grew up in a remote part of England. She didn’t like to travel. When she left home she became ill. She never married and she died at the age of 30 having published her only novel and some poetry. It was one of the most shocking novel in English literature. When it was first published 1847, it created a firestorm of protest. It was called one of the most repellent book ever published. One critic said it should be burnt. The protest only settle down when the second edition came out and the author was revealed to be the daughter of a parson from west-Yorkshire. How had a parson’s daughter created such a threat to civilized society as Heathcliff, a   hero driven by sexual passion and vengeance and instead of a proper Victorian heroine she gave the world a married woman who runs around on the moor in her nightgown with her lover. The reading public was shocked. Shocked. But the novel has never been out of print and has had many film/ TV adaptations:  WUTHERING HEIGHTS.

Friday, 25 January 2013

HAMLET

  




Imagine you are a young university student ... Imagine you love Philosophy and Poetry ... You've got friends as well as  a beautiful girl you start fancying about...But your happy ordinary world is suddenly turned upside down by the news of your father's death. You grieve and mourn but you can cope with it...What you really can't stand is ... your mother's behaviour...After just few weeks,  she gets married again, with your uncle, your father's brother...You find it unbearable but nobody else seems to notice that unacceptable exhibition of joy and love. Then something even worse happens: your father's ghost comes back from hell, reveals you the tragic truth of his death and orders you to avenge him! Your uncle Claudius has murdered him and now he is your mother's new husband!

What would you do? Would you respect your father's will? 

This is what happens in the first act of Shakespeare's "Hamlet", one of  the most popular tragedies of all times.

CHARLES DICKENS (1812 - 1870)

Dickens (1812 -1870) was a great prolific writer and entertainer who portrayed a vivid picture of Victorian England. He created a vast range of characters, especially eccentrics, vagabonds, criminals and orphans. In his own life Dickens was extraordinarily popular and he is still the best-known English novelist. He profoundly influenced many of his contemporaries and successors, even abroad (Dostoyevsky and Kafka for instance). Earlier critics tended to regard him as a great comic writer and entertainer, whose plots were implausible and whose characterization was superficial. Contemporary critics now tend to see his works - especially the later ones - as combining social realism with the poetical devices of metaphor and symbolism. These allowed him to explore the depths of the human psyche and to represent social conflict and evil.

If you want to know more about Charles Dickens, download 
the Power Point Presentation from the Widget_Box on the right. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

VOICES FROM THE FRONTLINE - FIGHTING FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Front Line Defenders is the International Foundation for the protection of human rights defenders. They work to provide fast and effective action to help protect human rights defenders at risk so they can continue their work as key agents of social change.

Voices from the Front Line, performed on 9 December 2012 at 8 pm GMT, was a celebration of the courage and determination of human rights defenders around the world.  Voices from the Front Line was hosted by Martin Sheen and featured Andrea Corr, Robert Sheehan & Amy Huberman.


Video 1 . Robert Sheehan reads Liu Xiaobo


WORKSHEET FOR VIDEO 1

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

INTRODUCTION TO THE VICTORIAN AGE - POWER POINT PRESENTATION

Queen Victoria's family in 1846 by Franz Xaver Winterhalter
You can download the

 POWER POINT PRESENTATION,   THE VICTORIAN AGE
  (HISTORICAL/SOCIAL/CULTURAL BACKGROUND )
from the Flash_ Widget Box on the right sidebar (The Victorian Age 2011)


Wednesday, 2 January 2013

BEOWULF, GRENDEL AND THE DRAGON - NOTES AND ACTIVITIES BASED ON VIDEOS

The epic poem



The word “epic” come from the Greek noun ├ępos, which means “the poets’ oral exposition”. The two major epic poems in the Western tradition are The Iliad and The Odyssey, attributed to the Greek poet Homer. Later examples of epic poems are Virgil’s Aeneid and the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf.


  •  The main features of an epic poem are:
  •   Long narrative
  •   Elevated style
  •  Celebration of the deeds of a hero
  •  Presence of supernatural events and characters
  •   Description of an aristocratic, military societ
  • Typical scenes: the banquet, the battle, the voyage, the funeral

Beowulf 



It is a poem of 3, 182 lines. It is the longest surviving poem in Old English, the name given to the language of the Anglo-Saxons. It is also the first important example of poetry in a European language that is not Latin or Greek.
There are a couple of references in Beowulf to historical events in Denmark from the 6th century, but almost all the poem is based on legends, not history.
The version of the poem we have now was probably composed between 700 and 750. It was composed in England but the story takes place in Sweden and Denmark. This means the Anglo-Saxons went on telling traditional stories from the Germanic world even after they had invaded England.
Like other early poetry in other cultures, Beowulf was first transmitted orally, for centuries, before finally being written down. In Anglo- Saxons times only very few people could read or write, and there were very few books, which all had to be written by hand. Printing books in Europe was only invented in the 15th century.