Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Fall of the Berlin Wall (25th anniversary)

The 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (November 9th, 1989) is being celebrated in Berlin this weekend.
Thousand illuminated balloons (along 15 km from November 7th to 9th) commemorate the division of Berlin.
(Image source:

Watch the following videos to find out about the rise and the fall of the Berlin Wall. (You can choose to turn the captions on or off)

Berlin Wall Built (1961) 

In August 1961, troops in East Germany began to seal the border between East and West Berlin. In doing so they blocked off the escape route for refugees from the East. The barrier ended up being 12 feet high and 66 miles long with a further 41 miles of barbed wire fencing. Over the years, nearly 200 people died trying to cross the wall. It became a symbol for the divided world.

Comprehension Questions
  1. When was the Berlin Wall built and by who?
  2. How many zones was Berlin divided into?
  3. What was the western powers' reaction to the building of the Wall?
  4. Why was the Berlin Wall built?
  5. What did it become a symbol of?

Fall of the Berlin Wall (1989)

On November 9, The Berlin Wall fell after nearly three decades of keeping East and West Berliners apart.

Comprehension Questions
  1. When did the Berlin Wall fall?
  2. Where is the Brandenburg Gate located?
  3. What did the guards at the Brandenburg Gate do when the first West Berliners climbed up on the Wall?
  4. What used to happen to the people who tried to cross the Wall in the past?
  5. How did Berliners celebrate the opening of the border between East and West Berlin? 

  • mystification (noun): When you are mystified, you are confused because you do not understand something. e.g. He looked at her in mystification.
  • A flagrant action is shocking because it is done in a very obvious way and shows no respect for people, laws, etc. e.g. He showed a flagrant disregard for anyone else's feelings.
  • If you act in contravention of a rule, a law, or agreement, you do something that is not allowed by this rule, law or agreement. e.g. These actions are in contravention of European law.
  • To make a dent (in something) is to decrease something slightly or to make it somewhat weaker. e.g. It's going to take more than a new law to make a dent in the city's drug crime.
  • If you breach a wall, fence, etc., you make a hole or opening in it so that you can go through it. e.g. The army breached the castle wall.
  • To straddle something means to be on both sides of something. e.g. The mountains straddle the French-Swiss border.
  • If you clamber up/over/into (etc.) something, you climb with difficulty, using your hands and feet. e.g. We clambered up the steep hill.

Deconstructing History: Berlin Wall (

Watch the following video to learn some more facts about the Berlin Wall.

This Day in History: The Fall of the Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall's 50th anniversary 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Halloween - History of the Jack O’ Lantern (worksheet)

Every October, carved pumpkins peer out from porches and doorsteps in the United States and other parts of the world.Gourd-like orange fruits inscribed with ghoulish faces and illuminated by candles are a sure sign of the Halloween season. The practice of decorating “jack-o’-lanterns”—the name comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack—originated in Ireland, where large turnips and potatoes served as an early canvas. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of Halloween festivities. (SOURCE:

Here is a reading comprehension worksheet based on an article about the history of the jack-o'-lantern and the legend of "Stingy Jack".



Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Passive Voice Review Jeopardy Game

Here is a game I have created using Jeopardy Style Review Game Creator.

Game Categories
  • Passive Verb Tenses
  • Active to Passive
  • Active to Passive Questions
  • Change of construction
  • Passive to Active

Click on the picture below to play the game.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Japan: 30 hikers feared dead on erupting volcano Mount Ontake

At least 30 people are believed to have died near the peak of a volcano in central Japan that erupted without warning on Saturday, trapping scores of amateur climbers and covering a wide area with thick ash. (The Guardian , Sunday 28 September)

Source: euronews

Study the vocabulary below and then watch the video.

  • The peak of a mountain is the top of a mountain. e.g. snow-covered peaks
  • When a volcano erupts, it explodes inside and flames, rocks, and lava come out of the top. e.g. The volcano erupted with tremendous force.
  • authorities [plural] : people who have power to make people obey rules and laws. e.g. Local authorities are investigating the accident.
  • If you are stranded somewhere, you are left in a place without a way of leaving it. e.g. Hundreds of passengers were left stranded at the airport.
  • If you fling something, you throw it in a sudden and forceful way. (fling-flung-flung) e.g. They flung their hats into the air.
  • When you take shelter somewhere, you go to a place in which you are protected from bad weather or danger. e.g. They took shelter in a cave during the storm.
  • If you resume an activity, or if it resumes, it begins again or continues after stopping e.g. After the rain stopped, the teams resumed play.

Now watch the video again and try the following quiz.

At least 30 hikers are feared dead in Japan after being found at a lifeless state near the peak of a volcano that erupted a day earlier.
Japanese authorities never confirm death until after a medical examination.
Others were injured or are missing. 
This amateur video was taken inside a mountain hut as people took shelter from volcanic ash and rocks.
Hundreds of people including children were stranded on Mount Ontake, some 200 kilometres west of Tokyo, after it suddenly erupted on Saturday.
Smoke and ash was flung hundreds of metres into the sky, and several kilometres down the slope of the volcano.
More than 500 emergency staff including the military resumed their work on Sunday morning, helping stranded victims and looking for those still missing.
“The volcanic rocks fell like hailstones,” he says. “We couldn’t breathe so we covered our mouths with towels. We couldn’t open our eyes either.”
At one stage on Saturday some 250 hikers were stranded on the mountain but most managed to make it down by nightfall.
More than 30 people spent the night in mountain huts, most of whom came down on Sunday morning.
Volcanoes erupt periodically in Japan but until this weekend no one had died for more than twenty years.

In Pictures

Escape from Mount Ontake (The Guardian)