Month: February 2008

Audio books

Today in class I mentioned that audio books could be the answer to your problem of trying to find time to read. You can listen to them when you are exercising, lying in bed resting after finishing your homework, or travelling. This way, you can multi task, and even give your eyes a rest. At the same time, you will be picking up essential language skills.

I’d like to add here that this is not a substitute for reading, because that involves a different set of processing skills. However, when you really are strapped for time, listening to a book is better than nothing. And  the fact is that in today’s world, the auditory processing skills are vital too.

An additional benefit is that you can hear how words are pronounced, and this may help you with your oral skills as well.

Check out the websites below:

mainimage_bookstack.jpg– This is a very good site, but admittedly a little expensive. There is a wide range of prices though, and you can get recordings for as little as US$5. You will need your parent’s credit card.

learnoutloudhomepagegif.gif– You will find plenty of free recordings here. So go nuts.

kids_lollogo.jpg– This is part of the previous site, but I thought I’d make it easier for you by putting the link here. There are wonderful educational resources that you should take advantage of.

There is no way that we can cover every single thing that you need to know in class. Doing some of this on your own will give you an extra edge. Grab it. Use it.

As with all content on the internet, even that recommended by teachers, please exercise caution and discretion. I will never direct you to a site that I know to be unsafe, but only you can protect yourself completely.


Comprehension Test on Culture

I know- killer test! Some of you looked really worried today when you saw what was expected of you in terms of answers. But rest assured- with enough practice, it will get easier. You have to really want to do well, though. Otherwise it’s really going to be uphill all the way for you. As promised, here are the slides showing the answers.


Argumentative essay: human activities and the state of the environment

Here is the presentation I used in class to share with you some of my thoughts about your essays. I have also uploaded here the presentations that I linked to: run-on sentences and dangling participles.

Like I told you in class, I would like you to redraft your essays, but you can do this over the March break. This gives you time to meet up with me if you need to, to go through your essays.

The redraft should be done by rewriting the essay, making the suggested changes. If there is something you do not agree with, then write your own sentence in again, but include a note in brackets explaining why you prefer that to my suggestion. This develops your critical thinking ability, and also ensures that you do not just blindly accept what is told to you. At the same time, being required to explain your decision means that you do not blindly dismiss what is suggested to you.


run-ons.jpg run-ons.ppt


3E1 Debate 4: Schools should not have a dress code


Pre-debate votes: For- 16; Against- 10; Undecided- 8

Post-debate votes: For- 5; Against- 21; Undecided- 9

I think it is quite clear that the Opposition succesfully overturned the motion.

Proposition: Uniforms stifle self-experession, and students try to express themselves in other ways that may not be acceptable, such as jewellery and make-up. A uniform is an additional expense, and is useless once one leaves the school gates. Teachers waste time enforcing the dress code when they could actually be focussing on the lesson. Also, the uniform does not address individual comfort needs- comfort maximizes learning. Students modify their uniforms anyway, so the purpose of standardization is not met. At this age, there is a need to express oneself through forms of dress, and uniforms take away that outlet. The argument that dress code equates with academic performance is not valid because not all schools that use uniforms do well academically. Whether there is a dress code or not, students do discriminate against each other, thus proving that there are other reasons for the discrimination, unrelated to the dress code. (I like the way George Orwell’s ‘1984’ was brought in at this point, to highlight the lack of freedom that a uniform represents!)

Opposition: There are other ways for students to express themselves- not just through their dress. Teachers provide plenty of such opportunities through their lessons, and if there were no dress code, then teachers would have to spend more time addressing the issue of inappropriate outfits. Students can spend more time on their work if they do not have to waste time picking out the perfect outfit, and they do not have to worry about looking fashionable. There will also be less discrimination, as the uniform will be a social leveller- less time will be spent on maintaining social status, and more time on character development and learning. The uniform is also an important tool for security, allowing places such as arcades to close their doors to students, while at the same time helping school personnel to differentiate actual students from trespassers. In any case, the uniform only needs to be worn for a few hours a day. It promotes a sense of self-discipline and a good self-image. In addition, if a student faces financial difficulties, the school will pay for the uniform. However it is difficult for the school to pay for any other clothes as they may not actually be used in school.

It seems to me that many people might have something to say about this. teenager.jpg

3E1 Debate 3: Keeping fit and healthy is more important than getting good grades


Pre-debate vote: For- 14; Against- 5; Undecided- 12

Post-debate vote: For- 6; Against- 13; Undecided- 11

Proposition: If one is not fit, one cannot concentrate on one’s studies, and may fall sick easily. Main aim in life is to live comfortably. There are many benefits to being fit and healthy.

Opposition: main goal at this stage of life is to get good grades. Better medication can prevent frequent illness (!). Grades are very important to students- more so than fitness. Advances in technology and better diet means that there is no need to place so much focus on health- better to focus on grades at this critical point in life.

I wonder if anyone out there can supplement these points with more points, as well as with some examples… keeping-fit.jpg

3E3 Debate 4: Sharing and downloading of files should be legal


Pre-debate vote: For- 26; Against- 5; Undecided- 1

Post-debate vote: For- 11; Against- 15; Undecided- 6

A very surprising result. Who would have thought that by the end of the debate, the side that proposed making it illegal to share files would sway so many voters! This testifies to the persuasive power of the Opposition, though I must say that the Proposition put up a good fight.

Proposition: Sales increase when customers can sample music online, and quality of music produced also goes up when customers have more options and therefore become more discerning. It is human nature to share, and many artistes do in fact put their music up on Youtube, proving that they expect sales to go up as a result. Also, it is holding double standards to say that one can buy a CD and send it to a friend in the mail, whereas one cannot buy a file online and then share it with a friend via e-mail. The law is too subjective, in this case, and the entertainment industry will come to a standstill if the ability to share music is curtailed.

Opposition: Sales cannot be boosted when the whole album can be downloaded and shared. Many small stores have closed down because their sales have gone down with the proliferation of file sharing. There are other ways of promoting an album and CD stores do allow customers to sample music. Many artistes are against filesharing because they feel they are being forced to work for free, and so creativity will suffer eventually because there is no way the record industry can compete against free downloads. It is like saying that it is alright to steal.

These are all good arguments. Any comments?handcuffs.jpg

3E3 Debate 3: Abortion should not be legalized


Pre-debate vote: For- 8; Against- 14; Undecided- 6 (3 people abstained. Not cool, man! 😦 )

Post-debate vote: For- 4; Against- 24; Undecided- 3

The negative wording of the motion confused many in the audience, which may explain why 3 people just decided to keep mum till they had figured out, by the end of the debate, what was going on.

Proposition: comparison with the US- we think we are morally more sound than them, but actually our abortion rates are higher. Abortion being an option may promote unsafe sex, and even a foetus has a right to life. There are also medical implications for the mother, and when so many other viable alternatives exist, abortion is not necessary. Some women may even use it as an easy way out and not use other forms of protection- in fact teenagers may take sex too lightly if they know that they can have an abortion should anything go wrong.

Opposition: having the choice to abort the foetus is a human right for the woman- the unborn child is not a human being, and therefore does not have any rights. Human rights are based on the ability to make choices, and since the unborn cannot articulate any choice, it does not have  the rights. Pregnancy and childbirth can be dangerous processes for women, who should therefore be able to exercise the option of not going through with it if they feel it might endanger them. Furthermore, especially in the case of rape, no woman should have to live with a constant reminder of her trauma. Unwanted children have very sad lives- it is more cruel to give birth to them and then discard them. They will develop very low self-esteem. Parents should have children they really want and can look after. Young people and rape victims may not be able to deal with the children. Ina  way, legalizing abortion ensures the rights of the child- it has the right to be wanted and loved.

A real hot potato, this topic, and superbly argued! Now over to you…pro-choice.jpg