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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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dutch Man Cleans Up Entire Riverbank on his Way to Work


Tired of having the beautiful river view along his route to work spoiled by mounting trash on the bank, a Dutch man decided to start picking up litter during his daily commute.
“It took me about 30 minutes to fill one garbage bag with trash, but one bag doesn’t make a dent in a place as polluted as this,” Tommy Kleyn said of the stretch of river in Rotterdam, Netherlands. “I vowed to fill one bag of trash each day as I passed this spot.”
trash-picking-litterommy-CC-ThomasKleynKlein photographed his progress, mapped it on a Facebook Page. He was able to clear a short stretch of the river bank by himself in six days and, soon, people on the nearby bike path were joining him and his friends to collect a total of 22 bags of litter.
“The idea is to motivate people to fill one garbage bag with litter each year,” he posted to Imgur. “It only takes 30 minutes, it really makes a difference and you will be amazed about how good you feel afterwards.”
After reading his posts about cleaning up the river bank, people in Skagen, Denmark, picked up more than a ton of plastic waste from their beach. And back along the riverbank, Kleyn got an unexpected reward — a Eurasian Coot started nesting in the stretch of the river he cleaned.\
Coot-nest-Tommy Kleyn-Imgur

Thursday, April 23, 2015

ESL Song Activity : Be the Change - An Environmental Rap Song

Here's a rap song activity  about the environment and what you can do to save the earth. It was written and performed by a group of young people called Earth Warriors.  To learn more about Earth Warriors, read the previous post, or go to the group's website to watch the group-'s many videos. 

Practice your speaking by discussing the questions at the end  of the listening activity. 

Teenager Rallies Youth to Protect the Planet

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by Cameron Ready, Huffington Post  April 22, 2015  

Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez is only 14 years old, but he's committed to changing the world.

The Colorado teen is the youth director of Earth Guardians, a nonprofit that encourages young people to connect and become involved in environmental activism.

Through a variety of demonstrations and projects -- including an eco hip-hop duo that he created with his younger brother -- Xiuhtezcatl works to engage other youth leaders and share important environmental issues. The brothers have produced songs like “What the Frack?” and “Speak for the Trees” to deliver these messages in a way that is fun and accessible for other young adults.

There are Earth Guardian teams in 25 different countries around the world, each working on projects specific to their own region but focused on the planet as a whole. On Sunday, the Earth Guardians crew in Togo, West Africa, organized a tree planting and community celebration in anticipation of Earth Day. Last summer, the Australian group held a Youth Environmental Awareness Day. The New York crew holds a weekly youth open mic night at a farmer’s market. All of these projects seek to join young people together to make the Earth sustainable.

“As young people we have the advantage that the world will listen to us more so than adults,”
Xiuhtezcatl says. “Because we’re vulnerable and we’re innocent.”

His work has led him to speak in front of world leaders at United Nations forums, and earned him the 2013 “Youth Change Maker of the Year” award from President Obama. This summer he'll travel National Geographic on an Arctic expedition to study glacial recession.

“The biggest challenge we face is shifting human consciousness, not saving the planet,” Roske-Martinez says. “Because the planet doesn't need saving; we do.”

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.