Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Secret Santa saves Christmas

Dec. 14, 2014. On behalf of a wealthy donor, police officers in Kansas City, Missouri, gave away money to unsuspecting drivers. Steve Hartman reports. (CBS News )


Watch the video and answer the questions. Alternatively you can watch the video here . (Click the CC button at the bottom of the video to turn on the captions but keep in mind they might contain a few errors.)

 Comprehension Questions

  1. Who is "Secret Santa"?
  2. What does he do every year?
  3. What has he changed this year?
  4. What sort of people did the officers choose?
  5. What were the people's reactions?
  6. How did Jessica Rodriguez' initial attitude change through her encounter with the deputy?
  7. What was the main objective of this operation?
  8. What else did "Secret Santa" want to achieve this year?


  • A sting (operation) is a clever secret plan by the police to catch criminals.
  • A deputy is a police officer in some parts of the US who does the sheriff's job when the sheriff is away.
  • When you deputize someone, you give them the power to do something in place of another person. e.g. The new system deputizes the nurses to perform some of the doctors' duties.
  • "Benjamins" is a common word for the United States one hundred-dollar bills ($100), which have Benjamin Franklin's portrait on one side.
  • Bondo is a trademark for a variety of materials used to repair automobile bodies.
  • If something blows you away, it impresses you a lot and makes you very happy. e.g. I was really blown away by her latest movie.
  • If you are caught off guard, you are surprised by something unexpected. e.g. He was caught completely off guard by her questions.
  • Law enforcement is the job of making sure that people obey the law.
  • The law-abiders are the people who abide by (=obey) the law.
  • If you are assaulted, you are attacked violently. e.g. An elderly woman was assaulted and robbed.
  • You surrender when you admit that you have been defeated and you allow yourself to be caught, taken prisoner, etc. The enemy finally surrendered after three days of fighting.


Now watch the video again and try the following quiz.

To view the video transcript click here .

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: http://www.berlin.de/mauerfall2014/en/25-years-fall-of-the-wall/the-berlin-wall/)

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 (history.com)

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: http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/jack-olantern-history)

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

  Download: https://www.scribd.com/doc/244246856/Halloween-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.

To download this game in powerpoint format, click the link below.
Passive Voice Jeopardy Game (powerpoint)

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)  

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bosnia and Serbia floods (video listening)

Residents face destroyed homes in Serbia's waterlogged Obrenovac

May 19 - Residents in Obrenovac, Serbia, examine the damage to their homes after devastating floods in the Balkans leave tens of thousands displaced and brace for more floodwaters. Mana Rabiee reports.



  • If an area is waterlogged, it is filled or soaked with water. e.g. They couldn't play because the pitch was waterlogged.
  • If you are bracing for something, you are getting ready for something difficult or unpleasant. e.g. The town is bracing for a busy tourist season.
  • When people are evacuated, they are moved from a place of danger to a safer place. e.g. During World War II, children were evacuated from London to the country.
  • Displacement is the act of forcing people or animals to leave the area where they live. e.g. The war has caused the displacement of thousands of people.
  • A swollen river contains more water than normal as a result of heavy rain. 

Now you can try the following quiz:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Natural Disasters (Quizlet / Word Dynamo / Worksheet)

Fun games and activities to study or revise Natural Disasters vocabulary

Click View this study set if you prefer to do the activities on Quizlet



Alternatively, you can try the activities below.


Natural Disasters | Word Dynamo

Natural Disasters Crossword Puzzle Worksheet 

To download the Natural Disasters worksheet click here .

Photos of Natural Disasters 

National Disasters and Weather - National Geographic
Natural Disasters Pictures - Discovery Channel
20 Amazing Photos of Natural Disasters - ODDEE

Natural Disasters (crossword puzzle)

Look at these photos of natural disasters and solve the crossword puzzle.

If the crossword doesn't appear, you should configure Java to allow this application from http://icrossword.com

Monday, May 5, 2014

Natural Disasters: Afghan Landslide (video listening)

Afghan Landslide Site Declared Mass Grave By Authorities 

May 3 - Afghan officials have declared the site where landslides buried thousands of people a mass grave, saying it's impossible to recover those trapped.

Watch the video and answer the following questions. 

  1. When did the tragic disaster occur?
  2. What caused the landslide?
  3. What happened to the villagers who rushed to the scene to help?
  4. Why have rescuers given up hope of finding any more survivors?
  5. How many people have been displaced by the disaster?


  • to pummel (v): to cause a lot of damage to a place e.g. Hurricane Mitch is pummeling the Atlantic coast. 
  • debris (n): the pieces that are left after something has been destroyed e.g. After the earthquake, rescuers began digging through the debris in search of survivors.
  • wreckage (n):  the broken parts of a vehicle, building, etc., that has been badly damaged or destroyed e.g. The pilot was trapped in the wreckage for almost seven hours. 
  • death toll (n): the number of people who die in an accident, disaster, war, etc. e.g. The death toll has now risen to 200.
  • to wreak havoc means to cause great damage e.g. The virus wreaked havoc on my computer. 
  • rubble (n): broken pieces of stone, brick, etc., from walls or buildings that have fallen e.g.
    Rescue workers managed to pull two injured people out of the rubble.

 SOURCE: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2014/05/afghanistan_landslide_rescuers_give_up_hope_o.html

Afghan Landslide (Vocabulary) crossword

Solve the crossword using key words from the video.

Related articles

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde (video)

Here is an animated film of The Selfish Giant, the famous story written by Oscar Wilde.

Comprehension Questions

  1. Where did the children use to play after school?
  2. How long had the Giant been away?
  3. What did he see when he came back?
  4. What did he do to keep the children out of his garden?
  5. Why didn't the Spring come in the Giant's garden?
  6. Who did the Snow and the Frost invite to stay with them?
  7. Where did the lovely music come from, which the Giant heard one morning?
  8. Where was the little boy standing and why was he crying?
  9. How did the tree try to help the boy?
  10. What decision did the Giant take?


  • A blossom is a flower on a tree. When a tree blossoms, it produces flowers.
  • A gruff voice has a rough low sound.
  • A trespasser is a person who goes on somebody's land without their permission.
  • When somebody is prosecuted, they are officially charged with a crime in court.
  • A linnet is a small brown bird that makes a pleasant sound.
  • A wicked person is an evil (bad) person.
  • If you are feeble, you are very weak, especially because you are old or ill.

  Irregular Past Forms Quiz

There is a number of irregular past forms in this story. Take the following quiz to check how well you remember them.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Weather Vocabulary Crossword

If the crossword doesn't appear, you should configure Java to allow this application from http://icrossword.com

Related Posts 

Weather Vocabulary (worksheet)