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
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The story behind Halloween – Myths and Legends

 

 

 

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Halloween is celebrated every year on the 31st October, but do you know the origin of this celebration?

Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of « Samhain », when people used to light bonfires and wear costumes to scare away ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as « All Hallows’ Eve » and this later became known as « Halloween ».

Over the years, Halloween has evolved into a fun and family event with activities  for children such as trick-or-treating, when children dress as monsters, ghosts and witches and knock on neighbours’ doors to ask for sweets and candy.

The story of Halloween can be used to illustrate the notion of myths and heroes (the different myths and legends surrounding the Halloween celebration) but also the notion of Spaces and Exchanges: Halloween started in America when immigrants came from Ireland (potato famine) and Scotland, bringing their customs and traditions to the United States. They were proud of their Celtic origins and they called Halloween « Oidche Shamhna » (Night of Samhain) and kept the traditional observances. The Jack-o-lantern is the festival light for Halloween and is the ancient symbol of a damned soul. Originally the Irish would carve out turnips as but when they emigrated to America they could not find many turnips. They found however an abundance of pumpkins and they have been an essential part of Halloween celebrations ever since. « Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century.

Here are a few links to help you learn about this day:

The history of Halloween explained – link to a video with transcript and vocabulary explanations

The real story behind Halloween – link to a video on the History channel

Monster Quest – Are ghosts real? This is a 46-minute video about an investigation into the most haunted houses in America (don’t watch it alone!!)

– Read about the history of Halloween here and some Halloween superstitions here

– A reading comprehension about the history of Halloween with questions to check your understanding

– Myths and legends about Halloween

Global migrants

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In this episode of 6 Minute English, Rob and Jennifer talk about why people move around the world to find work. These people are known as « global migrants ».

Some 214 million people are international migrants, living in a different country from the one in which they were born. There are plenty with high-level skills who end up working for at least part of their careers outside their home country.

Some take work they are overqualified for, because it still pays better than what is available at home. This has led to a brain drain from some developing countries.

Watch the BBC 6-minute English report to learn more about global migration

 

Read more about the topic here

and here

Definition of spaces and exchanges

An exchange is the act of  giving or receiving something in substitution for something else. In today’s modern-day world 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.  These different cultural, economic, sociological and language interactions have transformed and characterised our modern-day world – sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.  We can illustrate this notion with the following examples :

Exchange or movement of money:

– international trade is now much easier thanks to modern communication systems and faster transport. Foreign products are easily available in our supermarkets and on internet. Certain brands are known all over the world. We live in a huge global economy – this is otherwise known as globalisation.     – Watch the video to find out more . What are the advantages and disadvantages of  globalisation? – Watch this ad on youtube: 

http://youtu.be/t6gwfMBkWQU  – What do you see? What are the disadvantages of globalisation? – Link to the BBC website : what is globalisation?  and a BBC video about globalisation – Don’t forget to mention the downsides of globalisation: for example child labour, exploitation of people and resources interbrand

Exchange of information and communication

– One of the major developments in the most recent years is the internet and the different social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Skype…they are changing the way we live and communicate today. These networks make it easier for us to stay in touch with friends and family abroad, they open up borders and enable us to communicate with people abroad. However there are also disadvantages to this fast development of internet: there is a lot of false information available, people can become addicted and spend less time with friends and family, there are other dangers such as bullying , pornography, identity theft….. – School and education  – there is more and more social diversity and more knowledge than in the past. Thanks to internet information travels faster than before (but this can sometimes be negative especially when the information is false). We can compare the different educational systems across the world.

Movement of people

– Immigration: how and why it began? Why did people emigrate to the USA, what is the American Dream ….. The impact of  Mexican-US migration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5sF1I_lBbQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KvG8BwhSUs – Cultural interactions: the movement of people across borders  – Gap year, student exchange programs…. What is a gap year? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajTtOKuEnZg – What impact has the movement of people had on the different countries? Who benefits from these exchanges? What are the new emerging powers?   For more information here is another « prezi » to help you find some ideas to illustrate the notion of spaces and exchanges http://prezi.com/l-0odniubs6n/spaces-exchanges/

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