Michelle's independent resources for ESL Students at Vancouver Community College

This is a Canadian ESL blog for Intermediate and Advanced Students who want to learn and improve their English. Each PAGE above contains thousands of free English lessons, tutorials and practice exercises to help you learn and improve your English grammar, reading, listening, pronunciation, speaking, writing and editing. Some of the resources are Canadian. Others are from around the world.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

The Devastating Effects of Bullying


 Bullying can cause devastating results that range from making children feel lonely, unhappy and frightened to causing them to commit suicide.  

It can make them feel unsafe and think there must be something wrong with them. 

Children can lose confidence and may not want to go to school anymore. It may even make them sick.
 

Some people think bullying is just part of growing up and a way for young people to learn to stick up for themselves. But bullying can have long-term physical and psychological consequences. 
Some of these include:
  • Withdrawal from family and school activities, wanting to be left alone.
  • Shyness
  • Stomachaches
  • Headaches
  • Panic Attacks
  • Not being able to sleep
  • Sleeping too much
  • Being exhausted
  • Nightmares 
Children who learn they can get away with violence and aggression continue to do so in adulthood. They have a higher chance of getting involved in dating aggression, sexual harassment and criminal behaviour later in life.

Bullying can have an effect on learning 

  
Stress and anxiety caused by bullying and harassment can make it more difficult for kids to learn. It can cause difficulty in concentration and decrease their ability to focus, which affects their ability to remember things they have learned.

Bully Related Suicide
Bullying is painful and humiliating, and kids who are bullied feel embarrassed, battered and shamed. If the pain is not relieved, bullying can even lead to consideration of suicide or violent behaviour.

In recent years, a series of bullying-related suicides in the US and across the globe have drawn attention to the connection between bullying and suicide. Though too many adults still see bullying as "just part of being a kid," it is a serious problem that leads to many negative effects for victims, including suicide. Many people may not realize that there is also a link between being a bully and committing suicide.  

The statistics on bullying and suicide are alarming: 
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it. 
  •  Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University
  • A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying 

  • A new review of studies from 13 countries found signs of an apparent connection between bullying, being bullied, and suicide. (Yale School of Medicine)

  • Suicide rates among children between the ages of 10 & 14 are very low, but are "creeping up." (Ann Haas, Director of the Suicide Prevention Project at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)
Amanda Todd Suicide 

The story of Amanda Todd, a 13 year old Vancouver girl who committed suicide in November 2012 after being bullied, brought international attention to the problem . 
Before she died, Amanda's posted a video on You Tube in which she used a series of flash cards to tell of her experiences of being blackmailed, bullied and physically asssaulted.  The video went viral after her death,  and resulted in an international discussion about the issue and potential laws to deal with it. 



A motion was introduced in the Canadian House of Commons to propose a study of the scope of bullying in Canada, and for more funding and support for anti-bullying organizations. Todd's mother, Carol, established the Amanda Todd Trust, receiving donations to support anti-bullying awareness education and programs for young people with mental health problems.

Amanda's story also resulted in another viral video of teenagers reacting to the bullying that caused her to commit suicide.  




More Resources on Bullying 
  • Student bullying - infographic
    "The statistics show a student is bullied every seven minutes in the U.S.A., and that most of the time, bullying occurs on playgrounds.
    77% of students are bullied and cyber-bullying is rapidly approaching this percentage as well."

  • The high price of bullying in the US "A global report on school violence identifies bullying as the biggest problem in US school playgrounds...
    It's a short walk from schoolyard bullying to school violence."
    (BBC)


The True Effects of Bullying




Bullying: An Increasing Social Disease

Bullying has become a major problem in our classrooms, playgrounds, workplaces, and over the Internet.  But an increasing number of people and organizations have begun to fight back in order to educate as many people as possible about the devastating effect bullying can have.   

 February 27th is anti-bullying day in Canada - better known as Pink Shirt Day - a day set aside to bring awareness to bullying issues and the devastating effects it can have. 

 What is bullying? 

Bullying is a form of repeated,and aggressive behaviour directed at children, teenagers, or adults. The behavior is intended to cause fear, distress, or harm to another person's body, feelings, self-esteem or reputation.  Bullying usually involves an imbalance of power. 

 Bullying can come in a number of different forms 

 Verbal bullying: name calling, sarcasm, teasing, spreading rumours, threatening, making negative references to a person's culture, ethnicity, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, unwanted sexual comments. 

Social bullying: mobbing, scapegoating, excluding others from a group, humiliating others with public gestures or graffiti intended to put others down. 

Physical bulling: hitting, poking, pinching, chasing, shoving, coercing, destroying or stealing belongings, unwanted sexual touching. 

Cyber bullying: using the Internet or text messaging to intimidate, put down, lie, spread rumours or make fun of someone. messaging to intimidate, put-down, spread rumours or make fun of someone. 

 How common is bullying? 

According to the National Education Association, it is estimated that 160, 000 children in the United States miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students.  


  • 1 in 7 Students in Grades K-12 is either a  bully or a victim of bullying
  • 56% of students have personally witnessed some type of bullying at school.

  • 15% of all school absenteeism is directly related to fears of being bullied at school.
  • 71% of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school.
  • 282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month.

  In Canada
  • Approximately one in 10 children have bullied others and as many as 25% of children in grades four to six have been bullied. 
  • A 2004 study published in the medical Journal of Pediatrics found that about one in seven Canadian children aged 11 to 16 are victims of bullying. 
  • Studies have found bullying occurs once every seven minutes on the playground and once every 25 minutes in the classroom.
  • In the majority of cases, bullying stops within 10 seconds when peers intervene, or do not support the bullying behaviour.
  • Students are most vulnerable to bullying during transitions from elementary to junior high school, and from junior to senior high school.
There is a correlation between increased supervision and decreased bullying. Bullies stop when adults are around.  

To find out more about bullying: 
  • Words in the News: Cyber Bully
  • "The Daily Mail leads on a mother who has won a landmark legal case against Facebook after being sent death threats by so-called internet ‘trolls’." Full story
    + VOCABULARY + LINKS
    (englishblog.com)

  • Bullying - Mindmap           
  • Bullying (Wikipedia)
    "Bullying is the act of intentionally causing harm to others through verbal harassment, physical assault, or other more subtle methods of coercion such as manipulation..."



Videos 
A  PSA is  a public service announcement, a type of commercial about important social issues. PSAs are meant to educate people and make them aware of the problems these social issues can cause  
How does bullying affect people?   Read my next post

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Facts of Love: A Valentine's Day Reading Quiz

Valentine's day is big business in North America.  Every year North Americans spend billions of dollars on everything from candy, flowers, jewelry and many other gifts for their loved ones. 


In fact, many retailers would not survive unless they could count on  Valentine's Day sales, which in some cases make up the greatest part of their business. 

Read the following infographic and do the reading scanning quiz. How fast can you go? How much can you learn and tell your friends about this "magical day, "
You can  print out both the infographic  you see below as well as the scanning quiz by clicking on the links below.  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Idioms of the Heart for Valentine's Day


 Happy Valentine's Day! 


Valentine's day is a day when lovers wear their hearts on their sleeves, so I thought it would be fun for you to learn a few idioms of the heart so that you could tell your loved one that your heart skips a beat every time he or she walks into the room.  

Of course, not all idioms with the word "heart"  send a message of love. In fact, sometimes the meanings can be very surprising.

Learn the following idioms and practice with the three quizzes and conversation questions below 
wear your heart on your sleeve: When you wear 
your heart on your sleeve, you show your feelings about someone, or something very openly. . 
   
Example:  Everybody knew that Tom really wanted to go out with Maire because he wore his heart on his sleeve every time he was around her. 



pour your heart out ( to someone)"When  you pour your heart out to someone, you tell them them all your problems, fears, hopes or dreams.  You have a very intimate conversation. 

Example:  My daughter poured her heart out to me when she broke up with her husband. 





Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?



BEFORE YOU LISTEN

  • Read each line and try try to predict the missing word. 
  • Use common sense (what words logically go together. 
  • Use some grammar context clues: what's missing, noun, verb. adjective? 
  • If it's a verb, what tense should it be? 

LISTEN: 
  • Listen  as many times as you need to and fill in the missing words. How good were your predictions. 

   

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

ESL Listening: A Charlie Brown Christmas



50 years after it was created, one  of the most beloved Christmas holiday TV specials continues to be the animated cartoon  "A Charlie Brown Christmas"  

Why is it so special? According to Robert Loyd, film critic for the Los Angeles Times, " it isn't about any invented crisis in the life of an imaginary  creature. There are no elves, no reindeer, no Santa. It's just about us. 

The Spirit of Christmas 
 Charles Schulz, the creator of "Peanuts"  wrote a little fable  about how a meaningful  holiday such as Christmas has become so commercialized that it has  lost any meaning. The only magic Christmas now allows  is the kind we create ourselves when we pay attention to someone besides ourselves.  

"A Charlie Brown Christmas" remains true to both the spirit of Christmas and to the spirit of "Peanuts."

Although it t emphasizes the need for hope and love, it still reminds us that for many people around the world the Christmas season can bring anxiety and a feeling of being alone and unloved. 

 "I know nobody likes me," sighs Charlie Brown in the animated special.  "Why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?"

The Charlie Brown Christmas Tree 

The sad little Christmas tree he buys for the school play stands for all the world's underfed, unseen, unloved, ( trees, animals, people...) .Yet, it is not beyond rescue. 

In fact, with a little love, care and attention, it can truly be something special and even magic. 

Subtle, slow and quiet — absolutely silent at times — the special is remains as satisfying today as it was when it was first shown in 1965. 

In addition to the wonderful score by Vince Guaraldi's famous jazz piano score, 
the production features the voicers of real children rather than adult actors trying to sound like children. "


Watch the special and learn about one of the most popular idioms about Christmas that comes from the story: A Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. 
;




How Well did you Understand? 

Watch the film as many times as you need to. Then see how  many questions you can answer in the quiz below. 

Also, can you answer the question: What is a Charlie Brown Christmas tree?




Now, try this song.






For more information  on Charlie Brown 's christmas as well as other Charlie Brown stories go to  Jennthebenn's Peanut Page

For the complete transcript go to:  Transcript Charlie Brown Christmas


Sunday, December 21, 2014

ESL Christmas 2014: The Nativity Story


Christmas has become a fun filled holiday for people all over the world - regardless of whether they are Christian or not.  As a result many people are very familiar with the idea of Santa Claus, gift giving, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Jingle Bells and Christmas dinner of turkey and all the trimmings. 

However, some people are not familiar with the reason practicing Christians celebrate this special day. 

The following video tells the story of Christmas that comes from the Bible.  It does not matter if you believe the story or not, but IS is important to know the story itself if you want to understand Christian beliefs and culture.


Instructions
  • Try to listen to the story several times WITHOUT reading the subtitles. 
  • Then, try to answer the questions. ( Do NOT check your answers)   
  • Next, go back and listen to the story while you read the subtitles.  
  • Answer the questions again.  Check the answers. 
  • Read along WITH the speaker - at the same time, NOT after him. When you speak at the same time as the speaker, this is called shadow speaking. 





 Read about the Nativity Story 



Traditional Christmas Carols: 

I'm including some traditional Christmas carols  that focus on the real meaning of Christmas.  People have sung these carols for hundreds of years, so it is useful for you to know some of them. 

Silent Night

Silent Night ( German Stille Nach, heilige Nacht) is the best known Christmas carol in the world.  It has been translated into more than 140 languages and sung by every singer who has ever released a Christmas album.  Composed in 1818 in Austria, it was declared an intagible cultural heritage by UNESCO in March 20111. 

In 1914,during World War 1,  soldiers on both sides called a Christmas truce for one night when one side heard the other singing silent night.  All soldiers on both sides began singing the song in their own language as it was one song they all knew. That night, the enemy troops spent the evenig celebrating Christmas together singing, getting to know each other and talking about their loved ones.  The next day, they went back to shooting and killing each other. 


Silent Night and the Seven O'clock News 

In 1966 Well known singers Simon and Garfunkel  recorded two contrasting recordings: a simple arrangement of the Christmas carol "Silent Night", and a simulated "7 O'Clock News" bulletin of the actual events of 3 August 1966.




                                          
Breath of Heaven

This song focuses on how frightened Mary was and her hopes that she could live up to the responsibilities she was going to have as the mother of God. The video features scenes adapted from the 2007 film "The Nativity Story" by New Lines Productions Inc. 




O Holy Night 

This song was originally written in French and is often sung at Christian services on Christmas eve. More than 100 artists have recorded this song,  This version by Canadian singer Josh Groban is very powerful.  


Do You Hear What I Hear?

This song  focuses on what the shepherds in the field heard and saw on the first
Christmas when Jesus was born.






What Child Is This 




The next two songs focus on the joy Christmas is supposed to bring and reminds us that we need to remember to keep some of that joy in our heart even when things in our life are bad. 
 

Try to sing along with this next song as loudly as you can. Make sure you really open your mouth wide. It will help with your pronunciation, your phrasing and your speaking fluency.