Thursday, December 03, 2009

End of Session Survey

Now that the session has almost finished, I would really appreciate some feedback from you to help me plan for future sessions. Please answer this survey and good luck on your final exams!

Friday, October 16, 2009

In Piazza San Domenico at the Centaur Theatre

You will be seeing Steve Gallucio's play In Piazza San Domenico at the Centaur Theatre. Check your MIO account for instructions to the theatre, a short summary of the play and your written assignment. If you would like more information about the play, you can read the review in the Montreal Gazette and an article about the playright in the Montreal Arts Rover.

Here is a synopsis of the play written by Spiridoula Photopoulos of Vanier College:
Steve Gallucio's one act play is set in Naples, Italy. The year is 1952 and most of the action occurs in a piazza named San Domenico. The play centers on the young and beautiful Carmelina Benvenuto. She is the daughter of a wido, Isabella Benvenuto, and the fiancéee of the handsome and always well-dressed Guido Mandolino. Carmelina suddenly decides to call off her wedding and a series of misunderstandings ensues. As a result, comedic havoc is wreaked on the lives of the various characters in Gallucio's play. In the end, the power of love prevails over everyone's need to "keep face." Also, the characters realize that they should "stop stalling and start living."

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

More about the Bitter Side of Chocolate

You read about Malick Doumbia's terrible experience as a slave labourer in the chocolate industry in Ivory Coast in the excerpt from the book Bitter Chocolate: Investigating the Dark Side of the World's most Seductive Sweet and you listened to the interview with the author, Carol Off. If you would like to learn more about the situation, here are some videos:
A Dutch man (from the Netherlands) named Teun van de Keuken was so angry that governments were not doing anything about slavery in the chocolate industry that he tried to have himself convicted of a crime for eating chocolate, saying that he was guilty of promoting slavery. This video shows some clips from this experience.

A montage called Blood Chocolate shows pictures from the slave industry with text to describe the situation. This report from Wales shows the positive effects of fair-trade chocolate grown in Ghana, which borders Ivory Coast.

What can you do about blood chocolate and child slavery? Write to your Member of Parliament to insist that farmers be paid fair wages and that the chocolate we receive is not produced by slave labour.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Who Are the Real Digital Natives?

How reliable are statistics? Do they accurately reveal common trends and practices? We are going to try an experiment to see if the same set of statistics could produce opposite conclusions. The first day of class you filled out a survey about Media Habits and Technology using the online tool Survey Monkey. Students in Longueuil answered this one and students in St. Hubert answered this one. The questions were exactly the same. You can find the results to most of the questions here and then click on the link marked Survey Results of Student Media Habits and Technology
The question is which students are more digital or Who are the REAL digital natives? You will work with a partner to analyze your data. Half the class will argue that Longueuil students are the real digital students (and the ENA students are only digital immigrants) and half the class will argue the opposite point of view. Use the statistics from this study to defend your side, and remember to think carefully about how you use numbers (as figures or words). Print your double-spaced survey analysis to hand in and post a single-spaced version on the collaborative blog.

Sample analyses: ENA vs Longueuil as the Digital Natives.

Images from and

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Wikipedia and Websites

About Wikipedia

Your reading this week was about Wikipedia. If you would like to see learn more about how Wikipedia works, you can watch this video of a speech given by the creator, Jimmy Wales.
Go to the English Wikipedia site to find answers to these questions:
1.How many English articles are in Wikipedia today?
2. How many languages have a version of Wikipedia today?
3. Look up a controversial topic (such as Abortion Debate) and see how Wikipedia deals with it. What happens if an article (such as this one) isn't cited clearly?
4. Look up a topic related to your program that is very current such as the Bombardier C-Series . How does Wikipedia treat it? Take a look at the Discussion to learn more about how the article is evolving. You will also see links for the Wiki Project Aviation.
5. Click on "History" for one of the articles. When was this article last updated?
6. Find out about Wikipedia's Five Pillars for articles and check out their Manual of Style. If you would like to write an article for Wikipedia, you should first follow their tutorial . Also, be sure to check out the Simple English Wikipedia which is an English wikipedia designed for non-native speakers. Here are instructions for writing Simple English articles.
7. Explore some of the other wiki projects related to your field of study and consider a topic for your research project that you could publish on Wikipedia. Here are links to some of the current projects: Anthropology, Archeology, Astronomy, Dentistry, Engineering, Fashion, Film, Graphic Design, Languages, Mathematics, Media, Medicine, Opthalmology, Nursing, Physics, Sociology, Technology, Visual Arts, and more here.

Analyzing Websites
Before using an internet site for research, you need to determine whether the site comes from a reliable source. It is important to investigate who posted the website, whether the author or sponsor has appropriate expertise, when the site was created, how recently it was last updated, whether there are obvious errors in content or format, and so on.

Below is a list of links to various websites that are hoax sites or sites set up as a front organization. Imagine that you did not know that these sites were unreliable. Working with one or two partners, choose one of the sites and then, using the questions on page 34 of Insight as a guide, analyze the site to detect the clues you find that indicate it is not reliable. Remember to ask yourself the same basic questions a journalist asks: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How:
  • Who posted the website?
  • What is the subject matter?
  • When was it created and last updated?
  • Where does the owner/creator come from?
  • Why was the website created?
  • How is the website supported and arranged?
Print your analysis and post it on the Collaborative Blog.
Public Water Supply
Clones R Us
Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division
Friends of Science (read this after looking at the site)

Monday, September 07, 2009

How Well Do You Google?

Did you know that searching for information on Google in Canada is not the same as searching in Spain or China or even the United States? If you are looking for local information about a foreign country, you might want to use the Google search engine for that country, or you might want to do your search in another language. When your initial Google page opens, you can click "Go to" if you want to get out of Google Canada, or you can click "Language Tools" to access Google in foreign countries. Most of the time, the country code is easy to guess, for example takes you to the Argentinian Google and takes you to the United Kingdom. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the country you are looking for.

Google News is a good place to start to get recent news on an issue, and if you click Other News Editions at the bottom, you will have access to regional editions of Google News. If you want to search older articles, then go to Google Archives. You can always make your search more specific by clicking the Advanced News Archive Search.

Another good source of written information is on Google Books and for videos try Google Video in addition to YouTube. If you are collaborating with other students on your research project, you might want to try writing it using Google Documents--the document is secure, but any of you can edit it. You can talk to each other using Skype, YM or any other chat program, and collaborate on the document from your home computers.

Remember, you MUST cite all of the sources you used in your research using MLA documentation style. You can refer to your textbook for models or check these sites for guidance: OWL (Online Writing Lab), the Write Source and the Landmarks Citation Guide.
Be sure that your references are correctly formatted and that they are in alphabetical order.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Analyzing Commercials

You have read about and seen videos about some of the more manipulative aspects of advertising, and you may not like these strategies. Nevertheless, advertisers have a job to do which is to interest you in the product, and hopefully, persuade you to buy it. Some advertisements are enormously successful in entertaining, creating interest and leaving an impression. Watch the following ads and reflect on how successful the ad is at delivering a message.

Consider the following questions:
1. Does the ad tell a story? If so, what is the basic structure—what is the sequence of events or actions?
2. Is there dialogue? How do the actors interact?
3. Is there a narrator (a voice of someone that you do not see)? If so, is it a man or a woman? Old or young? Authoritative, playful or matter-of-fact?
4. What is the tone of the ad—is it humourous, playful, serious, informative, etc?
5. Does the ad use music? What role does the music play?
6. What other technical devices are used in the ad: Does the ad show close-ups of the characters or long-shots (a picture taken from a distance)? Is lighting used in any special way? Are there unusual camera angles?
7. Are printed words used in the ad? What effect do they have?
8. Who is the target audience? Who is the commercial trying to reach?
9. What is the message? Is the intention to convince you to buy a product, inform you to do something or something else?
10. Does the commercial succeed in delivering the message? Do you feel inspired to act?
Berlitz (Germany)
Use Seatbelts (USA)
Guinness Evolution (Ireland)
Molson Beer (Canada)
Funding for the Arts (Canada)
Rice Krispies (USA 1960's)
How do these ads compare to other ads you have seen? Why are some ads more successful than others? Take a look at a short video called How to Write a Boring Ad that makes fun of traditional commercials.

After you have watched the commercials, work with a partner to write a short analysis of one or two of these ads by answering the questions above in a well-structured paragraph. Print out your paragraph to turn it in (double-spaced) and post your analysis on the collaborative blog (single-spaced on the blog). Read what your class mates wrote and leave them constructive comments. Click here to see some student samples.

Is there a commercial that you really dislike? If you can find a link for the commercial, leave a comment with the link. You can also leave a comment with a link for commercials you do like.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Survey on Technology and Media Habits

Welcome to a new year and a new session! This session we will be using the textbook Insight: English Skills for Academic and Professional Purposes and we will be discussing topics such as the media, social networking, global warming, language protection, and preparing for professional careers. Since the first theme will deal with Media Literacy and Interpreting Media Messages, I would like ENA students to fill out this survey about Technology and Media Habits . Longueuil students please click here for your survey.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Debates and Faulty Logic

As you research the arguments for your debates, you want to be sure that your logic is sound. During the debates, listen carefully to your opponents to be sure there are no flaws in their logic. This slideshow is designed to help you avoid using faulty logic.

(Unfortunately, the slideshow was hosted at Bubbleshare which has since closed.)

Watch the video below about Global Warming, paying attention to the arguments the speaker gives and determine whether you think his reasoning is solid or flawed.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Doubt: A Parable

You will be seeing John Patrick Shanley's play Doubt: A Parable at the Centaur Theatre. For instructions to the theatre, a short summary of the play and your written assignment, click here and then click on the document The Centaur Theatre H09 Doubt. If you would like more information about the play, you can read the review in the Montreal Gazette or in the National Post.
Watch the trailer to the film version of Doubt to reflect on the differences between cinema and stage presentations.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Oral Presentations

What makes a great oral presentation? To answer this question I would like you to take a look at a few excellent presenters. The TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference is an annual event that brings together innovative people to give 18-minute lectures on "ideas worth spreading" including topics on science, politics, culture, technology, entertainment, art and other areas of high interest. You can view hundreds of these talks by going to the TED website. I have selected two speakers I would like you to watch.

In this first presentation, Ed Ulbrich uses compelling visual aids to enhance his talk about making a computer-generated 80-year-old Brad Pitt. Pay attention to how his use of gestures and body language help engage the audience:

In this second presentation, Barry Schwartz talks about the importance of wisdom. Although he is reading from a text, his eyes spend more time contacting the audience than glued to his text. Notice how his facial expression and intonation enhance his talk:

The third presentation is not a TED talk. This is a presentation about giving presentations by Garr Reynolds, an authority who keeps a blog on presentation zen.

In conducting research for your presentation, you might find some interesting podcasts related to your topic. Check here for some academic and radio sources. Here is a list of useful dictionaries to help you find the specific terminology. Google News assembles articles from 25,000 news sources. For archived articles, I recommend you become a member of the Bibliothèque nationale (near the Berri-UQAM métro). You will have to go in person to get your membership and bring proof of residency in Quebec; once you have a membership, you can search a wide range of archived periodicals online for free, and, of course, check out their catalogue for books, magazines and recordings. Finally, remember to cite all of your references using MLA documentation style.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The U.S. Bailout, NGR Shoes and Reported Speech

This week's homework assignment is from the October 20, 2008 issue of Maclean's. The questions, which were distributed in class, refer to the essay by Steve Maich on page 47 entitled Facts and Fairy Tales of Paulson's Bailout. The other article, on p. 73, is So You Never Have to Go to the Gym. The questions for the second article deal with Reported Speech. If this is not clear, then refer to page 17 in your Course Manual.

We will begin preparing for your final oral presentation: a formal debate. You should review all of your Maclean's magazines to get some ideas for current controversial topics, but you may also want to take a look at the wiki Debatepedia produced by IDEA (International Debate Education Association). This page lists Past Daily Debate Digest topics and this page lists Popular Debate topics--but you should try to find a topic that is current rather than one that has already been debated over and over.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Reflections on SCORCHED

After you have seen the play, reflect on the following points:

What would have been the advantages and disadvantages if Nawal had decided:
1. to tell her children that they were the offspring of a prison rape
2. to tell her children about their father after the war-crimes tribunal
3. never to tell her children about their father or half-brother

Instead, she refused to speak after the war-crimes tribunal and led her children to find out about their father and half-brother on their own after her death. Was this the best decision?

Consider the quotes below. Who says them? What is the significance in the play? How do they relate to the overall theme of the play? Why are these lines repeated?
Childhood is like a knife stuck in the throat.
Now that we are together everything is better.

Although the setting is presumably Lebanon, the specific country is never mentioned. What elements of Nawal's story are universal? What are some other countries that this story might have taken place? Look through your Maclean's magazines to find current stories where similar tragedies and struggles are taking place today.

How does live theatre differ from cinema? Consider the use of space, lighting, setting and props, character changes, music, etc. What effect did the play as a whole have on you? Do you think a movie would have the same effect? Be able to explain your observation.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Scorched at the Centaur Theatre

The play you will see at the Centaur Theatre is Scorched written by Wajdi Mouawad. The playwright was born in Lebanon in 1968. His family fled the war torn country and settled first in Paris, then in Montreal. He graduated from the National Theatre School in Montreal and has had a career as an actor, writer, director and producer.

Scorched is a story about loss and redemption. It follows the mythic quest of twins Janine and Simon Marwan as they attempt to uncover the mysteries of their past. The play opens in a notary's office with the reading of a will--that of their mother Nawal, whose past is filled with silence and mystery. Janine is a mathematician who teaches at a local college and Simon is training to become a professional boxer. At the reading of the will, the twins are each given a letter with instructions to find the rest of their family. One letter is addressed to their brother and the other to their father. At first, Simon is angry with his mother and refuses to comply with her last wishes. Janine embarks on a journey to her mother's homeland to find out the truth about the past. She learns of the violence and turmoil of Nawal's tragic life.
Although the location of Nawal's homeland is not directly named, Wajdi Mouawad uses his native country of Lebanon as a setting for his play. The past is related through flashbacks to Nawal at the ages of 14, 19 and 40. Scenes of the past are juxtaposed with the present-day reactions of Janine and Simon as they realize the harsh realities of their origins. Each twin attempts to deal with problems in their own way: Janine through logic and mathematics, and Simon by fighting. The twins experience firsthand what their mother meant by having a knife stuck in the throat of childhood and this leaves them forever altered.

Directions to the Centaur Theatre: 453 St François-XavierOld Montreal Directions from METRO: Place D'Armes Metro Station Take St-Urbain exit. Once outside turn right (south) towards the Notre-Dame Basilica. Walk up 2 blocks to Notre Dame Street.On Notre-Dame street turn right.Walk 1 block to St François-Xavier and turn left. The Centaur Theatre is on the left hand side.
From AUTOROUTE VILLE MARIE: Take Berri/St-Laurent Exit. Stay Left - Turn Left on Rue Viger. Left on St-UrbainRight on St-Paul. Right on St François-Xavier. The Centaur Theatre is on the East side. From DOWNTOWN: Take St-Jacques going East. Right on Peel St. (at Dow Planetarium). Left on Notre Dame. Continue until Notre Dame Basilica. Turn Right on St-Sulpice. Right on St-Paul. Right on St François-Xavier. Centaur Theatre is on the East side.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Preparation for Midterm Exam

To prepare for your midterm exam, you should read through the five articles in the September 29, 2008 issue of Maclean's on the different candidates in Canada's current leadership race (Stephen Harper p. 18-22; Stephane Dion, p. 23-26; Jack Layton, p. 28-30; Gilles Duceppe, p. 31-32 and Elizabeth May, p. 33-34). Also read Andrew Coyne's essay on p. 12 entitled "How Journalists Get in the Way of the Election" .
Bring the magazine with you, along with your course manual and a dictionary. The second part of the exam is open-book.

The first part of the exam is closed book. You will need to study the vocabulary and language elements listed on the handout I gave in class.