Help! What is a notion and how do I describe it?

Mis en avant

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Voilà la rentrée est faite et votre professeur d’anglais a commencé à vous parler des différentes « notions » que vous allez étudier tout au long de l’année. Il va peut être vous demander de trouver une définition pour chaque notion (sans regarder sur internet!) – mais comment donner une définition simple et claire pour chaque notion?

Vous trouverez ici des définitions pour les quatre notions que vous allez étudier- à vous de les utiliser et écrire à votre façon. Sous chaque définition vous trouverez également une liste de sujets qui pourraient  être utilisés pour illustrer cette notion.

Si vous avez d’autres idées pour illustrer les notions, des liens, des articles ou des vidéos que vous avez aimé, merci de les partager en bas de l’article et je les intégrerai dans l’article par la suite.

Je profite de la rentrée pour vous rappeler que ce blog reste (et restera ) entièrement gratuite et que j’aimerais que ça devient de plus en plus un endroit de partage de bonnes idées et de conseils – pour les lycéens ainsi que les profs!

Aussi si vous utilisez un bloqueur de publicité je vous remercie de le désactiver sur cette page, la publicité de la page étant le seul revenu pour tout le travail fourni. Thank you 🙂

Myths and Heroes

Myths are stories that are based on tradition. Some may have factual origins, while others are completely fictional, but myths are just as important to us today as in ancient cultures because they help explain the world and man’s experience. They help to answer questions, they reassure us and sometimes even give people hope. The subjects of myths are usually based on topics such as birth, death, the origin of man, good and evil and the nature of man himself.

Myths are not always optimistic – they can also be a form of warning. In this way we can consider them to be instructive and a sort of guide to social norms. They tell us how we should and should not behave. They can be used to justify choices when times are hard.

Just like myths, heroes can be real or completely fictional. A hero can be a mythological figure, a person who is admired for his or her achievements, a superhero or maybe a role model or an icon. Heroes are people we can look up to, people we would like to ressemble – whether they are sports personalities or political figures. A hero is not necessarily someone famous, it can be a member of our family or circle of friends. Someone we simply admire.

Heroes lead, inspire, and entertain the masses. This is why heroes, with all their mistakes and shortcomings, are vital to humanity. Heroic stereotypes can be considered to be unrealistic and outdated, but heroes show how vital they are to society when they inspire younger generations to do great things, and when heroes influence movements toward the improvement of humanity.

Here are just a few examples that could be used to illustrate this notion:

  • rags to riches stories : Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, JK Rowling, Oprah Winfrey, and others here
  • Founding myths of the United States (Pilgrim Fathers, the Constitution, Thanksgiving)
  • the American Dream – stories about those how have succeeded but also reasons to believe that it is simply a myth : the American Dream is dead
  • Heroes or fallen heroes of the Vietnam War that are portrayed in American films (Platoon, Born on the 4th July, Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket)
  • National leaders or figures who can be considered as heroes: Queen Elizabeth II, Obama, Mandela, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Malala Yousafzi …..
  • Pop stars or sports heroes (and fallen idols)
  • American movies : superheroes such as Superman or Captain America and their role in society: why do Americans love superheroes?
  • Famous British film characters: Sherlock Holmes, James Bond
  • British heroes or heroines: Churchill, Florence Nightingale, Stephen Hawking…..
  • British myths and legends: Robin Hood, King Arthur, the Loch Ness Monster

The Idea of Progress

The idea of progress is the idea that advances in technology, science and social organisation can bring about a positive change to our society. These advances help improve our daily lives and give us a better quality of life. Social progress, scientific progress and economic development are usually considered as having a positive effect on our society however there are some cases where this change can have a negative effect too. Very often progress is also accompanied by opposition because society isn’t comfortable with the changes being made (same sex marriage, women’s rights, minority rights to name but a few). We can ask ourselves whether progress is always positive?

There are many kinds of progress and they can be divided in diverse areas.

A. Technological progress

The technological advances of the last decades have totally changed the world we know today. If we take the example of the arrival of internet and access to computers and smartphones it is easy to see to what extent our lives and our relationships with others have been completely transformed. On the one hand we have access to far more information than before, we can easily communicate across borders, buy new products, be informed about the latest news events, share our opinions about different topics but on the negative side many people have become addicted to social media and this creates new problems such as depression, isolation, bullying, cybercriminality…..

Of course there are other types of technological progress that have a more positive impact on society – means of transport, robots, means of communication, energy production, protection of the environment.

 

B. Scientific progress

Scientific progress has had a direct impact on the improvement of human life. Thanks to advances in medicine we can cure illnesses that could never have been cured in the past. Vaccinations protect millions of children from disease. Antibiotics, painkillers and other medical treatments have helped to improve our general state of health and survival rates. But could there be a point were progress come too far? What should be the importance given to ethics? What about scientific progress in the area of cures for illnesses, cloning, performance enhancing drugs,   genetically modified organisms etc?

 

C. Social progress

Social progress most often comes about when members of a population feel unhappy with their living conditions or their social rights. Change most often comes about following a fight for rights and this change sometimes accompanied by severe opposition.

Examples that can be used to illustrate this notion:

  • easy communication across the world via internet and the impact this information has on our daily lives
  • information from satellites warning us about severe weather conditions
  • robots and automation in the workplace
  • addiction to smartphones and video games
  • cyberbullying or cybercriminality
  • facebook and twitter and how quickly rumours can spread
  • the pros and cons of medical advances
  • performance enhancing drugs in the sports world
  • « designer » babies
  • the Space race
  • Euthanasia
  • Industrial pollution
  • Ocean pollution
  • the ethics of progress: tests on animals/abortion/cloning/genetically modified organisms
  • the «Suffragettes», an organisation set up by women in Britain to fight for the right to vote at the beginning of the 20th Century
  • the Civil Rights Movement in the US characterized by acts of non violent protest and civil disobedience
  • same-sex marriage in several countries across the world
  • access to education for women
  • the end to apartheid in South Africa

 

Places and Forms of Power (sometimes called Seats and Forms of Power)

Power is the ability to control others, events, or resources; to succeed in doing what you want to do in spite of obstacles, resistance, or opposition. Power can be held but can also be quickly taken away, lost, or stolen. There is usually conflict between those with power and those without. Power is also associated with authority and influence and certain places can be associated with the authority – for example the White House and the President of the USA, 10 Downing Street and the British Prime Minister,  A place of power can also be a country or a state –  for example the USA is a state which is powerful enough to influence events throughout the world (superpower) and China is a major economic power in today’s world. Power is exercised by states — through military and police, through political groups and bureaucracies, through legislation; it is exercised by corporations and organizations or by social movements within society.

Members of a community accept rules and regulations in order to live or work together but this can also lead to conflict and tensions.

Here are some ideas to help illustrate this notion:

  • America’s gun problem and the gun debate
  • The Civil Rights movement and political recognition (Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela)
  • Financial power: global financial crises and recession
  • The power of the media: influence over public opinion during elections, reality tv, 24h news channels, tabloid newspapers and scandal stories
  • The power of advertising: how demand is created for new products, designer brands, smartphones, sports clothes (sponsoring)
  • Cinema and power: how do films influence society? Movie stars using their fame to influence public opinion on certain topics (Leonardo Dicaprio, Schwarzenegger)
  • Arts and Power: using art for addressing political, social, and moral issues through paintings (Banksy)
  • The power of education: improving knowledge and education across the world and enabling access to education for all (Malala)
  • The power of music and the music industry: songs used to change people’s opinions on political subjects (vietnam war, US President, poverty, climate change), pop stars who use their fame to bring about changes in the world (Bono, Bob Geldof, Madonna)
  • Political power/terrorism/wars/monarchies/nuclear weapons

 

Spaces and Exchanges

This notion deals with the idea of giving one thing and receiving another in return    (exchange) and also with the places (or « spaces ») where  these exchanges take place. It is the idea that in today’s modern-day world there are more and more exchanges taking place, more and more interaction between different populations, business, students, families etc. These exchanges can take several forms:  economic – work exchanges, exchange of goods, trading across borders,  cultural – exchange of ideas, information, education,  movement of people – immigration, student exchanges, gap years…  Our modern-day world is changing quickly and seems to be a smaller place due to improvements in technology and communication. Information exchange has become easier thanks to the internet and international trade has enabled us to expand our markets for goods and services that might not have been available to us.

More and more people are crossing borders, leaving their countries to seek better lives elsewhere. This migration can be for several reasons: economic migration – moving to find work or follow a particular career path, social migration – moving somewhere for a better quality of life or to be closer to family or friends, political migration – moving to escape political persecution or war.

These different cultural, economic, sociological and language interactions have transformed and characterised our modern-day world – sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

Here are some ideas of topics that could be used to illustrate this notion:

  • Globalisation: what is it and what are the positive and negative effects? (BBC link)
  • How internet is changing international business exchanges (product availability, prices, demand…)
  • How internet is changing cultural exchanges (access to information across borders, easier and faster communication but also negative effects)
  • The brain drain: migration of personnel in search of the better standard of living and quality of life, higher salaries, access to advanced technology and more stable political conditions in different places worldwide
  • Student exchanges – work placements and gap years in foreign countries
  • Social media – the advantages and disadvantages of increased access to sites such as Facebook and Twitter
  • Cybercriminality, identity theft, cyberbullying, internet scams….
  • Immigration: the reasons why people migrate and what effect this has on the countries they migrate to and migrate from
  • Immigration to the USA – the problem between Mexico and the USA
  • Immigration to the UK – the migrant problem
  • The reasons for Irish immigration to America
  • The first Americans/ the pilgrims
  • Exchanges across borders – how the European Union was created and how it has developed
  • The Brexit – why and how did it happen and what effect will it have on Europe?
  • The influence of wars and conflicts on the world economy and population
Publicités

Happy Thanksgiving

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On the fourth Thursday of November, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, a national holiday honoring the early settlers and their harvest feast known as the first Thanksgiving. Today Thanksgiving is a very important holiday in the USA, families get together around a traditional meal and give thanks. 

What are the origins of this holiday?

Native Americans

Long before settlers came to the East Coast of the United States, the area was inhabited by many Native American tribes. The area which is now known as southeastern Massachusetts and eastern Rhode Island was the home of the Wampanoag people for over 12,000 years . The native people knew the land well and fished, hunted, and harvested for thousands of generations.

The Settlers

A group of English Protestants wanted to break away from the Church of England. These ‘separatists’ initially moved to Holland and after 12 years of financial problems, they received funding from English merchants to sail across the Atlantic to settle in a ‘New World.’ The ship spent 66 days crossing the Atlantic Ocean, intending to land where New York City is now located. Due to the windy conditions, the group had to cut their trip short and settle at what is now called Cape Cod.

Settling and Exploring

As the Puritans prepared for winter, they gathered anything they could find, including Wampanoag supplies. One day, Squanto, a Wampagnoag who knew how to speak English, visited the settlers.  After several meetings, a formal agreement was made between the settlers and the native people and they joined together to protect each other from other tribes in March of 1621.

The Celebration

The first  harvest celebration took place between the Wampanoag natives and the English men, women and children. The meal consisted of deer, corn, shellfish, and roasted meat, far from today’s traditional Thanksgiving feast. They played ball games, sang, and danced. Although prayers and thanks were probably offered at the 1621 harvest gathering, the first recorded religious Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth happened two years later in 1623. On this occasion, the colonists gave thanks to God for rain after a two-month drought.

The Myths

Unlike the pictures we see, the settlers didn’t have silver buckles on their shoes. Nor did they wear somber, black clothing. Their clothes were actually bright and cheerful. Many portrayals of this harvest celebration also show the Native Americans wearing woven blankets on their shoulders and large, feathered headdresses, which is not true. The Englishmen didn’t even call themselves Pilgrims.

Here are a few links to videos about Thanksgiving:

– kids explain what Thanksgiving is about on Newsround

– President Obama makes his last turkey pardon with a lot of jokes!

– a cartoon about the story of Thanksgiving http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faUYJ9fMiGg

– a song by Nicole Westbrook about Thanksgiving (I didn’t say it was a good song!! but it’s very funny!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSBq8geuJk0

– things you maybe didn’t know about Thanksgiving here: http://www.history.com/videos/bet-you-didnt-know-thanksgiving#bet-you-didnt-know-thanksgiving

– learn all about Thanksgiving Day (with vocabulary and text on screen) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uG4XyNqUQxg

– The American Thanksgiving story (with subtitles) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BQSOkkoDjc

Modern Day Thanksgiving Traditions

Today Thanksgiving has become an important family occasion. Many people live far from family members and travel long distances by car, train, or plane to be with their loved ones. Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year!

Thanksgiving dinner almost always includes roast turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes, pumpkin pie. Before the meal begins, families or friends usually pause to give thanks for their blessings, including the joy of being united for the occasion. Some families include breaking the turkey’s wishbone as part of their celebration. The wishbone is found attached to the breast meat in the turkey’s chest. After the meat has been removed and the wishbone has had a chance to become dry and brittle, two people each take one end of the bone, make a wish, and pull. Whoever ends up with the larger part of the bone gets their wish!

Each year at Thanksgiving, the President of the United States receives a gift of a live turkey . At a White House ceremony, the president traditionally « pardons » two National Thanksgiving Turkeys , allowing them to live the rest of their lives on a farm!  Or so they say!!!

Television also plays a part in Thanksgiving celebrations. Many families watch the New York City Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade includes marching bands, floats, songs and performances from Broadway musicals, and giant helium-filled balloons!

Watch about it here:http://live.wsj.com/video/macy-thanksgiving-day-parade/5F923FFE-A2AF-408E-81D6-7D73D9F1FFA9.html#!5F923FFE-A2AF-408E-81D6-7D73D9F1FFA9

and learn about the history of the parade here: http://video.about.com/travelwithkids/History-of-the-Macy-s-Thanksgiving-Day-Parade-in-NYC.htm

 

Understanding the US Presidential Elections

One of the most covered topics in the news at the moment is the US Presidential Elections. So to start off this new school year let’s take a look at the process:

An election for President of the United States occurs every four years on Election Day, held the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The 2016 Presidential election will be held on November 8, 2016.

The election process begins with the primary elections and caucuses and moves to nominating conventions, during which political parties each select a nominee to unite behind. The nominee also announces a Vice Presidential running mate at this time. The candidates then campaign across the country to explain their views and plans to voters and participate in debates with candidates from other parties.

During the general election, Americans head to the polls to cast their vote for President. But the tally of those votes—the popular vote—does not determine the winner. Instead, Presidential elections use the Electoral College. To win the election, a candidate must receive a majority of electoral votes. In the event no candidate receives the majority, the House of Representatives chooses the President and the Senate chooses the Vice President.

The Presidential election process follows a typical cycle:

  • Spring of the year before an election – Candidates announce their intentions to run.
  • Summer of the year before an election through spring of the election year – Primary and caucus debates take place.
  • January to June of election year – States and parties hold primaries and caucuses.
  • July to early September – Parties hold nominating conventions to choose their candidates.
  • September and October – Candidates participate in Presidential debates.
  • Early November – Election Day
  • December – Electors cast their votes in the Electoral College.
  • Early January of the next calendar year – Congress counts the electoral votes.
  • January 20 – Inauguration Day

 

Here are a few links to articles and web sites to learn more about the Presidential elections and also the candidates

  1. The road to the White House – what influence do the media/social media have on the election? Why is money so important during the campaign?
  2. Meet the candidates
  3. Simple videos about the Presidential Elections
  4. Full description of how the election works on the BBC news page
  5. The latest results and a poll tracker : The Telegraph
  6. Donald Trump’s speech outlining his immigration policy: Arizona speech
  7. Where Hilary Clinton stands on immigration: immigration issue
  8. Where both candidates stand on immigration: video  (could be used for the notion spaces and exchanges)
  9. Detailed articles and debates on the CNN website
  10. The US presidential election explained : Euronews
  11. The electoral college: definition
  12. The power of the social media in the presidential debate: social media

Has the US media helped Trump get where he is?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year to you all! I wish you success in all your projects and for those sitting their BAC this year I hope you pass with flying colours!!

To start the year off let’s look at a topic that is very much in the news at the moment: climate change, particularly after the COP 21 – the United Nations conference on climate change in Paris.

This topic can be linked to the notion of idea of progress : how is our world changing, what effect does increasing pollution have on our environment? How can we predict the sort of weather we are going to have and the impact the extreme weather conditions can have on our planet? It can also be linked to the notion of spaces and exchanges as well as places and forms of power: how can developed countries help developing countries to cope with climate change? How can the different countries work together to reduce the impact that pollution has on our environment?

Here are a few articles and videos about it:

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  • A BBC article about the impact El Nino is having on the world’s weather
  • A BBC article about the current flooding in the UK
  • An article from the Guardian on the floods in the UK and extreme global  weather

 

The crisis in Calais – why do migrants want to reach the UK?

Copyright:Kerry Davies/Daily Mail 2/08/2015 Immigrants last night made another attempt to rush the Channel Tunnel but were beaten back by police with tear gas. They then staged a sit-in on the main lorry route to the tunnel blocking vehicles for the entire night until they were dispersed by riot police. picture shows: Immigrants staging the sit-in blocking lorries.

Copyright:Kerry Davies/Daily Mail 2/08/2015
Immigrants made another attempt to rush the Channel Tunnel but were beaten back by police with tear gas.
They then staged a sit-in on the main lorry route to the tunnel blocking vehicles for the entire night until they were dispersed by riot police.
picture shows: Immigrants staging the sit-in blocking lorries.

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One of the topics that is very much in the news at the moment is the problem of migrants fleeing their country and trying to reach the UK. An excellent topic to illustrate the notion of spaces and exchanges!

What are the reasons behind this problem?

Why are they so desperate to cross the Channel?

Here are a few articles and videos on the subject

Why is there a crisis in Calais? – BBC news website

Would Calais immigrants really be better off in the UK? – BBC News Website

The migrant crisis in Calais

The truth about immigration in the UK (BBC tv programme)

The impact of immigration in UK

Les oraux approchent….. quelques vidéos utiles pour répondre à vos questions

Des vidéos très utiles et très claires avec quelques exemples pour l’épreuve d’expression orale.

(Source France TV Education)

Méthodologie expression orale

Places and forms of power

Myths and heroes

Spaces and exchanges

Idea of Progress

Des idées de problématiques pour présenter les notions

Mis en avant

Question Mark and Thinker

Vous êtes nombreux à me demander de vous aider à trouver des idées de « problématique » (key questions) pour vos oraux. Il n’est pas évident de proposer une problématique qui pourrait être utilisée par tout le monde car vous avez tous étudié des textes et documents différents. Je vais donc plutôt vous donner quelques idées de problématiques simples par notion… à vous de les adapter à vos textes et documents utilisés en cours.

Je vais mettre à jour l’article régulièrement – comme toujours sur le blog n’hésitez pas à proposer d’autres problématiques dans la partie « commentaires » – ça pourrait toujours inspirer les autres!

Myths and Heroes

What is a modern-day/contemporary hero? What impact do they have on our lives?

How can an ordinary person make the world a better place?

Why are sports heroes so important in today’s society?

To what extent does Barack Obama represent the black American dream?

To what extent did Rosa Parks/ Martin Luther King/Malcolm X contribute to the improvement of black American’s rights?

To what extent do myths represent society’s values?

In today’s society to what extent is there a need for myths, something to believe in that is greater than we are?

What is the role of the media in the making of heroes?

Is it useful for society to have « superheroes »?

What is the role of the media in the rise and fall of certain « heroes »?

Why are myths and heroes so important to our society?

In what way are heroes portrayed in Hollywood movies? How does this reflect our society today?

From rags to riches: Self-made men/women – how did they do it?

The Queen of England : why do the British love her so much?

 

Spaces and Exchanges

What drives people to leave their country to go and live in another country?

Is the American Dream still alive? What attracts immigrants to live in the USA?

Has the Olympic ideal of fair play and tolerance been now replaced by money, drugs and politics?

What are the different conflicts that have shaped the US society? What effect have they had on the USA as we know it today?

What are the advantages of moving to another country to study or find work?

To what extent does travelling to a foreign country broaden our horizons?

What impact does globalisation have on international exchanges?

Why do refugees choose to leave their countries? What difficulties do they face?

In what way does travelling broaden the mind?

What difficulties do immigrants face when they arrive in a new country?

 

Idea of Progress

To what extent does new technology isolate people?

Are social networking sites a threat to our private lives?

How has the internet modified our social behaviour and changed the way we communicate?

To what extent does progress change our vision of the others and of the world?

To what extent has technological progress made an impact on our environment?

Working from home – is it the end of productivity or the future of work?

How does modern technology affect today’s society? Does it have a positive or a negative effect?

To what extent has social progress over the past century led to an improvement in women’s rights?

What sort of social progress was made in the 20th century? How did it come about?

In what ways has progress made modern-day life better?

How has the internet changed today’s world?

How did the Civil Rights movement bring about progress in the USA?

What major technological/scientific breakthroughs have been made in the last decades and how have they changed our lives?

Are peoples rights progressing or regressing?

 

Places and forms of power

In what way does sport have the power to unite people in a way that little else can?

« Whoever controls the media controls the mind (Jim Morrison) » – how much power do the media have over us?

When power is misused how do people rebel against it?

In what ways do the social networks have power to influence public opinion?

To what extent can we say that schools and universities are instruments of power?

How powerful is the NRA (National Rifle Association)? How has it consistently succeeded in defeating new gun control legislation in the USA?

How have civil rights activists used nonviolent protest to bring about change in the USA?

Money is power and rare are the heads that can withstand the possession of great power (Benjamin Disraeli) : how far is this quote true?

What are the limits to power? In what ways can power be abused?

To what extent can education be a key to power?

With social networks and internet is it possible to limit the power of the media?

How do people exercise their power? What are the different tools used?