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                    [post_content] => Last February was Black History Month, or African-American History Month in the US. This observance was established in 1926 by African-American historian Carter G. Woodson. Back then it lasted only seven days and it was called Negro History Week. Woodson’s intention was to teach and celebrate the history of African-Americans. He felt that their contribution to civilization and to American history was ignored by historians and this, he claimed, led to prejudice and racism against blacks. Woodson believed that it was of paramount importance for African-Americans to know their history and traditions, and for these to be shared with all Americans. Woodson’s observance became Black History Month in 1976, and it later spread to other countries, like the UK and Canada.

 

Praise and criticism

Already in the 1920s, Woodson’s celebration became popular and raised awareness in the African-American community. This awareness became a force behind the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and ‘60s, when leaders like Martin Luther King and Malcom X fought hard against racism and segregation. Although Black History Month is still very popular today, it has also been criticized, often by some African-Americans themselves. The actor Morgan Freedman, for example, said: “You're going to relegate my history to a month? I don't want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.” Curiously, Woodson himself hoped that one day the celebration he founded could become superfluous and, eventually, could be eliminated. He hoped this would happen when African-American history would be rightfully integrated into US history.  

Black Lives Matter

The question is: has this already happened? Many believe that the struggle against racism and prejudice is not yet over. Since 2013 a new movement called Black Lives Matter (BLM) has emerged from the African-American community. Its members claim that African-Americans are still the victims of racism and unfair treatment. Their aim is very similar to Woodson’s: “[Black Lives Matter] is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.” The activists of BLM promote their ideas using social media, hashtag activism and more traditional direct action, such as protests and demonstrations. Their work has been effective and praised. For example, BLM activists finished fourth in Time Magazine’s 2015 Person of the Year list. Commenting positively on BLM, Time stated that “a new civil rights movement is turning a protest cry into a political force.”  

Black Panther

This year several official events celebrated Black History Month, but there was also a very popular ‘unofficial’ one: the premiere of the blockbuster Black Panther. This film tells the story of an African superhero, the heir to the throne of the fictional country of Wakanda. The screenwriters, the director and the majority of the cast of Black Panther are African-American, and this is an absolute first for a mega-budget movie. The director Ryan Coogler’s first film was about racial discrimination, and Black Panther touches upon similar issues in a different way. It goes beyond Western stereotypes of Africa and Africans and offers a complex and positive portrayal of black people. A New York philanthropist, Frederick Joseph, felt that the role models offered by the film were so important that he set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to help poor, black Harlem children see the film. More than 200 similar campaigns expanded the project to dozens of other US cities. As Joseph stated: “All children deserve to believe they can save the world, go on exciting adventures, or accomplish the impossible.”
USEFUL WEBSITES 1) Learn more about African-American History Month: http://www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/ http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-month 2) Who was Carter G. Woodson? Read about this important historian here: https://www.biography.com/people/carter-g-woodson-9536515 3) Here you can read about the Civil Rights movement: https://www.britannica.com/event/American-civil-rights-movement 4) Would you like to know more about Black Lives Matter? Here is their official website: https://blacklivesmatter.com/ 5) Check out the Black Panther GoFundMe webpage and look at the video on Frederick Joseph: https://www.gofundme.com/cause/black-panther-challenge
 
COMPREHENSION 1) Read the article and complete the sentences with the right alternative. 1. Carter G. Woodson believed that African-Americans
  1. did not contribute to American history.
  2. contributed to American history.
  3. were not interested in their history.
2. Black History Month is celebrated
  1. only in the US.
  2. in several countries.
  3. in North America.
3. Woodson’s Negro History Week
  1. was a success.
  2. was very unpopular.
  3. was superfluous.
4. Martin Luther King and Malcom X were leaders of
  1. African-American communities.
  2. Black History Month.
  3. the Civil Rights movement.
5. African-American actor Morgan Freedman
  1. criticized Black History Month positively.
  2. indirectly agreed with Woodson.
  3. criticized the Civil Rights movement.
6. Black Lives Matter is
  1. the new name for Black History Month.
  2. a political party.
  3. a movement that shares Black History Month’s concerns.
7. Black Lives Matter activists believe that
  1. it’s important to protest against injustice.
  2. racism belongs to the past.
  3. African-Americans are not the victims of discrimination.
8. The film Black Panther
  1. is a Black History Month event.
  2. came out during Black History Month.
  3. was directed by Frederick Joseph.
9. Black Panther has been praised because
  1. it promotes positive African role models.
  2. it is a blockbuster with a mega-budget.
  3. it has an African-American director.
10. Fredrick Joseph believes that black children
  1. should go to the cinema.
  2. should contribute to GoFundMe campaigns.
  3. should be exposed to black fictional role models.
  VOCABULARY 2) Complete the sentences with the following words. to accomplish * observance  *  portrayal  *  awareness  *  to relegate  *  segregation  *  heir  *  paramount  *  resilience  *  screenwriter 1. A ______ is a person who writes the script of a film. 2. The act of celebrating a special occasion is called an ______. 3. Her lecture gave a very good ______ of recent American history. 4. Public ______ on this topic is very limited: people know little about it. 5. In the past, women were wrongfully ______ to the role of second-class citizens. 6. ______ is the forced separation of a group of people from the rest of society. 7. He is the ______: he will become king when his father, the current king, dies. 8. I feel that social justice is ______. Nothing is more important. 9. The Civil Rights Movement ______ many of its objectives. 10. She recovered quickly from a tough situation. She has great ______.   GRAMMAR – Demonstratives 3) Complete the following sentences with demonstratives (this, that, these, those). Then indicate whether they are demonstrative pronouns (DP) or demonstrative adjectives (DA). 1. At the beginning of the 20th century, segregation was a brutal reality. ______ were hard times for African-Americans. (DP/DA) 2. Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize. ______ was an important event in the history of Civil Rights. (DP/DA) 3. Martin Luther King and Malcom X were assassinated. ______ events mark a dark chapter in American history. (DP/DA) 4. Look here. ______ are pictures of Civil Rights demonstrations. (DP/DA) 5. ______ poster over there lists the celebrations of this year’s Black History Month. (DP/DA) 6. Come here and meet ______ activists. (DP/DA) 7. ______ GoFundMe campaigns raised a lot of money. (DP/DA) 8. You are putting words in my mouth. ______ is not what I said! (DP/DA) 9. ______ is the director of Black Panther. (DP/DA) 10. ______ film is great. I’m really enjoying it! (DP/DA)   SHORT ESSAY 4) Carter G. Woodson believed that teaching African-American contributions to American history was an antidote to prejudice and racism. Reflect and explain why you think he believed this. (60-80 words) 5) Novels, films and other works of art can change our understanding of the world around us. Write about a work of art that changed your view on something important. (60-80 words)
  (Carlo Dellonte) (Image credits: Wikipedia and Wikipedia)         [post_title] => Black History Month [post_excerpt] => Black History Month, celebrated in February, promotes African-American heritage and history. Established more than 90 years ago, it has played an important role in the Civil Rights of the 1950s and ‘60s. Today its message is echoed in the Black Lives Matter movement, and this year in a Hollywood film: the superhero blockbuster Black Panther. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => black-history-month [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-15 10:53:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-15 08:53:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://aulalingue.scuola.zanichelli.it/?post_type=planet-english&p=13786 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => planet-english [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 13479 [post_author] => 10 [post_date] => 2017-12-21 11:23:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-12-21 10:23:44 [post_content] => Two hundred years ago, on 1 January 1818, the novel Frankenstein was first published. The author was a young English woman, Mary Shelley. She had come up with the idea for the novel two years previously, when she was 18 years old and spending the summer in Switzerland with some friends. The weather was unusually cold and miserable because of an extraordinary event: half a world away, in Indonesia, the volcano Tambora had erupted. It was the largest volcanic eruption in human history. The ash and gas spewed by the volcano blocked the sun’s rays and cooled temperatures around the globe. Mary and her friends found the weather that year, which came to be known as ‘the year without summer’, to be perfect for sitting indoors and reading ghost stories. They even decided that each of them should write one. For days Mary didn’t know what to write about. Then, one night, a vision struck her imagination: in it she saw a crazy scientist giving life to a monstrous creature. Mary’s vision became the novel Frankenstein.  

Monster literature

In the novel, the scientist Victor Frankenstein is obsessed by the idea of creating life. He builds a human-like creature, but becomes horrified by it. The creature, rejected by his creator, turns against him. The two engage in a battle to the death. Frankenstein was one of the first horror novels in history. It became the starting point of a specific horror genre: monster literature. The creature in Frankenstein is the first in a series of ‘monsters’ that populated 19th century British literature and that are still incredibly famous today. Here are two examples: Dracula, invented by Bram Stoker and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, by Robert Luis Stevenson. Another monster that was directly inspired by Frankenstein’s creature was the Mummy. After reading Shelley’s novel, another very young lady, Jane C. Loudon, wrote the novel The Mummy! Or a Tale of the Twenty-Second Century. Like Frankenstein before it, The Mummy contained not only elements of horror, but also of another genre: science fiction.  

Science fiction

Frankenstein is also widely considered to be the first science fiction novel. Although Shelley makes reference to ancient stories such as Greek myths (the subtitle of her novel is The Modern Prometheus), her protagonist, Victor Frankenstein, is a scientist, not a god or a classical hero. Victor is the first ‘mad scientist’ – a staple of science fiction – who uses the powers of science and technology to complete his overly ambitious and dangerous experiments. Frankenstein’s monster himself is the first of a long line of artificial creatures in science fiction; he is the forefather of modern robots, cyborgs and androids. Like monster literature, science fiction also found fertile ground in 19th century Britain. One of the most important authors of the genre was British writer H. G. Wells who penned such classics as The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds.  

Popular literature with a message

Although today Frankenstein’s monster is one of the most recognizable figures of popular culture, one must not forget that Shelley’s novel was not just a genre novel. Like many other horror and science fiction works, it offers a deep reflection on culture and progress. When Frankenstein was written, science and technology were advancing quickly and many believed that soon anything would be possible. This, though, was also raising many fears, because progress without a moral direction can be dangerous and destructive. Frankenstein encapsulates these aspirations and fears: Victor uses science and technology to play god, but ends up creating a creature he fails to control and who turns against him. Frankenstein also suggests that the monster in the story might be Victor, because of his reckless ambition and his irresponsible actions. The endurance of Frankenstein, as well as that of the genres it helped create, lies in the successful use of adventurous thrills to convey a deep moral message.  
Useful links 1) Learn more about author Mary Shelley: https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/f/frankenstein/mary-shelley-biography 2) Here's a video summary of the novel Frankenstein: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRppXdKDY_c 3) Watch this other video to learn more about Frankenstein, its author and its themes (you can add subtitles in English): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDgu25Dsv34 4) What is Frankenstein's monster really like? Learn how Shelley imagined him: https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankenstein%27s_monster 5) Would you like to know more about science fiction? https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_fiction 6) Learn about the incredible eruption of Mount Tambora that caused "the year without summer": https://www.britannica.com/place/Mount-Tambora
 
COMPREHENSION 1) Read the article and complete the sentences with the right alternative. 1. Mary Shelley invented the character of Victor Frankenstein when she was in
  1. England.
  2. Switzerland.
  3. Indonesia.
2. The novel Frankenstein talks about
  1. a year without summer.
  2. a volcano.
  3. a scientist who creates a monster.
3. Dracula and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde are the protagonists of
  1. horror novels.
  2. science fiction novels.
  3. the novel Frankenstein.
4. Frankenstein’s monster
  1. directly inspired the Mummy.
  2. was inspired by the Mummy.
  3. was Jane C. Loudon’s creation.
5. A recurrent character in science fiction is
  1. an overly ambitious scientist.
  2. a god.
  3. a classical hero.
6. 19th century England produced
  1. both horror and science fiction classics.
  2. very little science fiction.
  3. novels about robots and cyborgs.
7. Two important genre authors are
  1. Stoker and H. G. Wells.
  2. Hyde and R. L. Stevenson.
  3. G. Wells and Dr Jekyll.
8. Science and technology are central to
  1. science fiction.
  2. horror literature.
  3. genre literature.
9. Frankenstein’s monster
  1. is a friend of Victor.
  2. becomes an enemy of Victor.
  3. is controlled by Victor.
10. Good science fiction
  1. is based on cheap thrills.
  2. offers a moral message.
  3. can be destructive.
  VOCABULARY 2) Complete the sentences with the following words. to convey  *  to encapsulate  *  staple  *  endurance  *  to come up with  *  thrill  *  to pen  *  indoors  *  to spew  *  overly 1. I don’t have the ______ to run a marathon – I’m out of breath after only one mile! 2. A ______ of English food is fish and chips. 3. In the past, authors used to ______ their novels, now they type them on a computer! 4. Authors often use metaphors to ______ complex ideas. 5. You can ______ all his philosophy in three words: ‘Do no harm’. 6. He was really, really angry. He shouted and ______ insults at us. 7. You can’t play with a football ______, you’ll end up breaking something! 8. He ______ lots of ideas for how we should organize the party. 9. He’s ______ confident: he thinks he’s the best at this game, but he’s not. 10. Something cold gives you a chill; something exciting gives you a ______.   GRAMMAR – Adjectives of nationality 3) Write the correct adjective of nationality to complete the following text. Mary Shelley was ______ (Britain). She was inspired by the ______ (Germany) ghost stories she read during a holiday spent in a ______ (Switzerland) villa. This happened during the ‘year without summer’ caused by the eruption of an ______ (Indonesia) volcano. The protagonist of Shelley’s novel is Victor Frankenstein. He is born in Naples, but he is not ______ (Italy): his family is ______ (Switzerland). The novel has many settings: Germany, Switzerland, England, a ______ (Scotland) island, and even the North Pole! Frankenstein was a success. A ______ (France) translation was published a couple of years after the first ______ (England) edition. Today you can find Mary Shelley’s book translated in many different languages, including ______ (Spain) ______ (Turkey), ______ (China) and ______ (Japan), to name but a few. Frankenstein was re-imagined by Hollywood. ______ (USA) films often set the story of Victor and his creature in the ______ (Romania) province of Transylvania. SHORT ESSAY 4) Why do you think Frankenstein is still famous today, 200 years after it was first published? Do you think that this novel is still relevant to a modern audience? (60-80 words) 5) Do you like genre literature or do you prefer mainstream novels? Explain why you prefer one over the other. (60-80 words)  
(Carlo Dellonte) (Image credits:    [post_title] => Happy 200th Birthday, Frankenstein! [post_excerpt] => Twohundred years ago, the novel "Frankenstein" was first published. The story of the mad scientist and the monstrous creature he creates has become a classic for many reasons. "Frankenstein" is a revolutionary book that helped create two literary genres: horror and science fiction. But it also conveys a deep, moral message still relevant to modern readers. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => happy-200th-birthday-frankenstein [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-03-01 10:53:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-03-01 09:53:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://aulalingue.scuola.zanichelli.it/?post_type=planet-english&p=13479 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => planet-english [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 10 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 13374 [post_author] => 10 [post_date] => 2017-11-30 12:24:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-11-30 11:24:39 [post_content] => If you celebrate Christmas, your celebration probably owes a lot to an English novella written more than 170 years ago. Since it was first published, it has never been out of print, and it has been adapted countless times into plays, films, radio dramas, operas, musicals, comics, cartoons…. There are theatres that play stage adaptations of this novella every year. The Glendale Centre Theatre in California holds the record with 52 years in a row. In London you can take a tour to visit the places described in the story, and this Christmas you can watch a film at the cinema about the author of the novella and the difficulties he had in writing it. The film is titled The man who invented Christmas, and although this might sound like an exaggeration, it is safe to say that this man was instrumental in shaping modern Christmas. The man in question is Charles Dickens and the novella he wrote is A Christmas Carol.  

Social injustice

The year was 1843. At the time, Christmas was not considered an important holiday, but something was changing. Queen Victoria had married the German Prince Albert, and they had brought from Germany the tradition of the Christmas tree. Other customs, such as the Christmas card, the exchange of presents, and the singing of carols were slowly becoming popular. Dickens felt that Christmas was the time of year when people were willing ‘to open their shut-up hearts freely’. He wanted to write a story that could touch those hearts with a specific, strong moral message. Dickens was concerned and appalled by the conditions of the British poor and especially the conditions of poor children. In order to survive, many of them had to work in factories under horrible conditions. At first, Dickens wanted to write a political pamphlet denouncing this situation, but eventually he decided to write a short novel instead, which he titled A Christmas Carol.  

The power of literature

A Christmas Carol tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a rich old man who is rude, bitter and dreadfully selfish. On Christmas Eve he is visited by three ghosts who show him what a horrible person he has become and the terrible impact that his actions have had on other people. Scrooge realizes that he must change in order to save his soul and to help the people in need around him. On the following day, Christmas, he starts behaving in a generous and kind way. A Christmas Carol is a story of redemption, and it became immediately popular. Dickens had succeeded in touching the hearts of his readers. His novella delivered its moral message so well that there was an increase in charity around the country. Dickens received many letters from people who were inspired by his story. Its message has continued to affect millions of people around the world to this day.  

The Christmas spirit

Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has remained popular since it was first published, and it is probably the most famous non-religious Christmas tale. It has become a cultural icon, and it is one of those stories that people know well even if they have never read it. The expression ‘Merry Christmas’ was popularized by it. The name ‘Scrooge’ ended up in dictionaries as a word describing a miser or a grumpy, unfriendly person. The story promoted the idea of associating Christmas with family gatherings, songs, games and seasonal food. But the novella’s main contribution to the celebration of Christmas was its message. Dickens himself writes in the preface of the book: “I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea […] May it haunt [my readers’] houses pleasantly.” This ‘Idea’ is that Christmas should be a time of celebration and reconciliation, a time to be generous and kind. Dickens did not invent modern Christmas, but he surely helped to define the Christmas spirit.
Useful links 1) Learn more about Charles Dickens: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/famouspeople/charles_dickens/ 2) Learn more about A Christmas Carol: https://www.charlesdickensinfo.com/christmas-carol/ 3) Read the plot of A Christmas Carol on the Simple English Wikipedia page: https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Christmas_Carol 4) Browse this website about Charles Dickens and his writing: http://charlesdickenspage.com/ 5) Read about the Christmas Carol Walk and the story that inspired it: http://www.dickenslondontours.co.uk/dickens-christmas-carol-walk.htm
COMPREHENSION 1) Read the article and complete the sentences with the right alternative. 1. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is
  1. a film.
  2. a short novel.
  3. a play.
2. Charles Dickens
  1. invented modern Christmas.
  2. influenced modern Christmas.
  3. wrote The man who invented Christmas.
3. The tradition of the Christmas tree began
  1. in 1843.
  2. in Britain.
  3. in Germany.
  1. Dickens felt that, during Christmas, people were
  1. kinder.
  2. poorer.
  3. happier.
5. Dickens wanted to write a Christmas story to
  1. denounce a social injustice.
  2. celebrate Christmas.
  3. earn money for charity.
6. The three ghosts who visit Scrooge
  1. praise him.
  2. criticize him.
  3. give him presents.
7. At the end of A Christmas Carol Ebenezer Scrooge becomes
  1. a ghost.
  2. rude and bitter.
  3. a better person.
8. Considering Dickens’ objective, A Christmas Carol was
  1. a failure.
  2. a success.
  3. a disappointment.
9. Before A Christmas Carol the term ‘Scrooge’
  1. meant an old miser.
  2. could be found in dictionaries.
  3. could not be found in dictionaries.
10. The novella helped to associate Christmas with
  1. ghosts.
  2. the Christmas tree.
  3. celebrations and seasonal food.
  VOCABULARY 2) Complete the sentences with the following words. Put the verbs and nouns in the right form, if necessary. novella  *  appalled *  miser  *  countless  *  to deliver  *  pamphlet   *  to endeavour  *  to haunt  *  instrumental  *  to owe 1. He’s a ______: he’s stingy and in love with his money. 2. It’s my favourite film – I’ve seen it ______ times. 3. That castle is ______ by ghosts. 4. I am ______ by the horrors of war. 5. This informative ______ tells you all you need to know about this historic building. 6. The manuscript of A Christmas Carol was ______ to the publisher just a few days before Christmas. 7. A short novel is called a ______. 8. She ______ to teach good manners to her naughty children. 9. Interesting characters are ______ in making a novel successful. 10. Why did you treat me like that? You ______ me an explanation!   GRAMMAR – Indefinite determiners 3) Choose the correct indefinite determiner (some, any, no) to complete the following sentences. 1. There is ______ truth in saying that Dickens is ‘the man who changed Christmas.’ 2. Dickens wrote ______ of the world’s most famous novels. 3. Did you read ______ of Dickens’ novels? 4. Dickens wanted to help people who had ______ money. 5. Dickens felt that a lot of rich people, like Scrooge, had ______ mercy for the poor. 6. There aren’t ______ copies of A Christmas Carol at the library. 7. Would you like ______ Christmas pudding? 8. Could I have ______ mulled wine? 9. I don’t have ______ stamps for my Christmas cards! 10. Are there ______ tickets left? I really want to see this play.   SHORT ESSAY 4) How do you celebrate Christmas? Which is your favourite Christmas tradition? (60-80 words) 5) Did you ever do any good deeds for Christmas? Describe. (60-80 words)
(Carlo Dellonte) (Image credits: Wikipedia and Wikipedia)           [post_title] => The story that changed Christmas [post_excerpt] => Modern Christmas celebrations owe a lot to an English novella written more than 170 years ago: Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This story of redemption has touched the hearts of millions of readers around the world. It has helped to redefine what we mean by the Christmas spirit. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-story-that-changed-christmas [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-12-21 11:22:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-12-21 10:22:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://aulalingue.scuola.zanichelli.it/?post_type=planet-english&p=13374 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => planet-english [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 9 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 13230 [post_author] => 10 [post_date] => 2017-10-30 15:53:37 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-30 14:53:37 [post_content] => On 23 June 2016 a very important referendum was held in the UK. British people were asked whether they wanted Great Britain to leave or to remain in the European Union (EU). The EU is a group of 28 European countries that co-operate together and have strong economic ties. Their citizens can move and work wherever they like in the EU. The origins of the Union can be traced back to 1957, when 6 nations formed the European Economic Community (EEC). Over the years, other nations, such as Britain, joined, and the EEC became the EU. No nation had ever left the Union… until recently. The British referendum had an unexpected result: more people voted ‘leave’ (51.9%) than ‘remain’ (48.1%). Britain’s exit from the EU – also called Brexit – is not going to be easy. Britain is currently facing a difficult ‘divorce’.  

Off the coasts of Europe

Brexit is the latest chapter in the long-running drama between the UK and the Continent. Many British people believe that their country is different from the rest of Europe. They say that Britain developed for hundreds of years as a separate entity, producing its own special and unique culture. They feel that even geographically Britain is not really part of Europe. This perception is so common, that some dictionaries, like the Collins Dictionary, have a special ‘British’ definition of the term ‘Europe’: ‘the continent of Europe except for the British Isles’. Yet history tells a more nuanced story: Britain was never fully isolated from European affairs. In the last century, for example, it participated in two World Wars on the Continent.  

United in Diversity

The second of these conflicts, World War II, was so destructive that many European politicians wanted to find a way to maintain lasting peace in Europe. The EEC (later the EU) was their solution. The concept was simple: if countries co-operated and became dependent on each other, they would not fight any more. As Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister during World War II, said: “We hope to see a Europe where men of every country will think as much of being a European as of  belonging to their native land, and that without losing any of their love and loyalty of their birthplace.” The EU’s motto sums it up: ‘In Varietate Concordia’ – United in Diversity. The EU has been so successful in putting into effect its original intentions that in 2012 it received the Nobel Peace Prize for having ‘contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy, and human rights in Europe’.  

Britain at a crossroad

So why Brexit? Those that voted ‘leave’ in the referendum feel that the EU did more harm than good. Perhaps it ensured peace, but they claim that it also took away the right of the British people to govern themselves. They blame the EU for their social and economic difficulties. Leaving the Union, though, will not be a short and painless process. Britain will have to pay a ‘divorce bill’, and negotiations will go on for months (the UK will officially leave the EU in March 2019). The first phase, on the ‘principles of the divorce’, was concluded in October. The second, more complicated phase is starting now. Current British Prime Minister, Theresa May, finds herself in a difficult situation. She has to negotiate a deal with the EU, and then have the British Parliament approve it. But what if it rejects the deal? Nobody can say what will happen then. Certainly, the Brexit vote has caused great divisions within the UK. Most Scots (62%) voted to remain in the EU, and now they’re asking for a referendum to decide on whether or not Scotland should remain in the UK. There are similar talks in Northern Ireland. Could the Brexit vote, ultimately, lead to the end of Great Britain?
Useful links 1) Do you want to know more about every aspect of Brexit? Read this webpage: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-32810887 2) Do you want to know more about the EU? Check out this official webpage: http://europa.eu/kids-corner/index_en.htm …or watch these short videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywJS7swbqeE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fhbYuPT-rw 3) Do you know the member states of the EU? Take this quiz: https://online.seterra.com/en/vgp/3022 (Try the other quizzes on the same page. Guess European cities, capitals, flags…) 4) Look at this video about Scotland and its independence movement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gqZiJEYRhI
 
COMPREHENSION 1) Read the article and complete the sentences with the right alternative. 1. A citizen of one EU country
  1. cannot live in another EU country.
  2. can decide to work in another EU country.
  3. cannot work in another EU country.
2. Britain
  1. was a founding member of the EEC.
  2. is not the first nation to leave the EU.
  3. joined the EU when it was called the EEC.
3. In 2016 the British people decided to
  1. leave the EU.
  2. join the EEC.
  3. remain in the EU.
4. Some dictionaries claim that the British Isles are
  1. part of Europe.
  2. off the coasts of Europe.
  3. Isolated from European affairs.
5. To say that Britain developed for hundreds of years in isolation is
  1. absolutely true.
  2. totally false.
  3. inaccurate.
6. Winston Churchill
  1. thought that a united Europe was a good idea.
  2. gave the EU the Nobel Prize.
  3. founded the EU.
7. The EU was formed
  1. after World War I.
  2. to promote peaceful relations between nations.
  3. to win the Nobel Prize.
8. Brexit succeeded because
  1. British people lost their love and loyalty for their birthplace.
  2. many British people felt damaged by the EU.
  3. the EU did not ensure lasting peace.
9. Leaving the EU
  1. is a long but cheap process.
  2. is a short but expensive process.
  3. is a long and expensive process.
10. Brexit might lead to
  1. other countries joining the EU.
  2. Scotland leaving the UK.
  3. Scotland becoming part of the UK.
  VOCABULARY 2) Complete the sentences with the following words. Put the verbs and nouns in the right form, if necessary. tie  *  lasting  *  to trace back  *  to blame  *  harm  *  chapter  *  nuanced  *  to sum up  *  to belong  *  loyalty 1. He’ll never leave: he has too many family ______ here. 2. Don’t ______ me, it’s not my fault! 3. Could you ______ everything you said in just a few words? 4. Your description is too simple, the issue is more ______ than that. 5. I can ______ my family to the 17th century! 6. That writer left no ______ impression; he was quickly forgotten. 7. This book has very short ______. 8. Many British people felt they didn’t ______ in the EU. 9. A country cannot leave the EU without causing ______ to itself and the Union. 10. Her ______ to her family is very strong: her relatives can really count on her.   GRAMMAR – Subordinating conjunctions 3) Choose the correct subordinating conjunction to complete the following sentences. 1. Churchill was in favour of a united Europe ______ (if/because/when) he knew the horrors of war. 2. ______ (Before/After/Until) I vote, I’m going to ask for your political advice. 3. ______ (If/When/That) the referendum was over, the Prime Minister resigned. 4. Many people voted ‘leave’ ______ (because/so/that) they dislike the EU. 5. I heard ______ (when/that/where) Scotland might hold a referendum. 6. ______ (Whenever/If/Because) Scotland leaves the UK, Great Britain will no longer be ‘Great’. 7. ______ (Wherever/Whenever/Where) I go in Europe, I feel at home. 8. ______ (If/Because/After) Brexit, Europe will not be the same. 9. Many British people have been critical of Europe ______ (when/if/since) the UK joined the EEC. 10. Countries join the EU ______ (so/when/since) they can be part of the common market. SHORT ESSAY 4) Each country is unique in its own way. What do you think makes the UK special or different from other countries? What about your own country? What do you think makes it unique? Explain your ideas in a short text of approx. 100 words.
(Carlo Dellonte) (Image credits: EU2017EE, flickr and fernando butcher, flickr) [post_title] => Brexit, a complicated divorce [post_excerpt] => In 1973 Great Britain joined the European Economic Community, which later became the European Union (EU). Last year it decided to leave. Britain’s exit from the EU – Brexit in short – is a long and difficult process that will end up taking years to complete. Brexit is the latest chapter in the long drama between the UK and the Continent. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => brexit-a-complicated-divorce [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-30 12:24:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-30 11:24:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://aulalingue.scuola.zanichelli.it/?post_type=planet-english&p=13230 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => planet-english [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 7 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 13050 [post_author] => 10 [post_date] => 2017-09-26 17:02:25 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-26 15:02:25 [post_content] => This year’s Columbus Day, on October 9, will be the most controversial ever. Many Americans believe that this national holiday, dedicated to Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) and his arrival in the Americas, should not be celebrated. Some have expressed even stronger opinions: over the past couple of months, statues of Columbus have been vandalised across the United States. Often the vandals splashed the statues with red, blood-like paint, and sprayed anti-racism slogans such as ‘hate will not be tolerated’ on the statues’ pedestals. To understand this recent wave of attacks, one must look at another historical figure: Robert E. Lee (1807-1870).  

The events of Charlottesville

Lee was a general during the American Civil War. He fought for the Confederacy, which wanted to maintain slavery, against the Union, which wanted to abolish it. There are many statues of Robert E. Lee in the United States. One was in Charlottesville, Virginia. A local 16-year-old high school student, Zyahna Bryant, started a petition on Change.org to take it down. Bryant, who is African-American, argued that the statue is a symbol of slavery, and it made her feel unwelcome in her own city. Charlottesville city council agreed with the young Bryant. Before the council could remove Lee’s statue, groups of neo-Nazis and racists organised a rally to defend it. They marched in Charlottesville on August 11 and 12, and they attacked counter-protesters, who had come to oppose them peacefully. They injured several of them and killed one woman.  

Columbus Day

The events of Charlottesville caused national indignation. The violence and racial hate were condemned. Many statues of Lee and other controversial figures were vandalised. Some were removed by local governments. The Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, set up a commission to find out if any of the city’s statues were potential ‘symbols of hate’. Some of these are statues of Christopher Columbus. But why Columbus? On Columbus Day he is celebrated as a symbol of courage, initiative and determination, the great sailor who ‘discovered’ America. The critics of Columbus claim that this is only half the story. They point out that the Genoese sailor behaved horribly towards Native Americans. Columbus himself wrote about the Natives: “they do not bear arms, and do not know them […] With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.” This, historians confirm, is what happened: Columbus enslaved and killed the peaceful Natives he met. He was the first in a long line of greedy and bloody European conquerors.  

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

The debate over Columbus is not new in the rest of the continent. Many Latin American nations, where a large percentage of the population is Native American, consider Columbus a foreign invader. Columbus Day has been replaced with other celebrations such as Indigenous Resistance Day (Venezuela), Cultural Diversity Day (Argentina), Decolonisation Day (Bolivia) and Day of Interculturalism (Costa Rica). This trend is spreading to the United States. Many cities are replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day to honour Native North Americans, the victims of European colonisation. This year, Charlottsville and Los Angeles (the second largest US city),  joined the movement. Promoters of this new holiday claim that statues are meant to represent the values in which we believe. They say that if there are conquerors, colonialists, and slave owners on pedestals, it’s time to remove them. Perhaps, as the American comedian Lee Camp suggests, we should move them all to ‘the museum of values most of us have evolved beyond’.
Useful links 1) Here’s Zyahna Bryant’s petition on Change.org: https://www.change.org/p/charlottesville-city-council-change-the-name-of-lee-park-and-remove-the-statue-in-charlottesville-va 2) Read about Christopher Columbus: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/famouspeople/christopher_columbus/ 3) Learn about Native Americans and their culture: http://www.historyforkids.net/native-americans.html 4) Read more about Columbus Day: http://www.history.com/topics/exploration/columbus-day 5) Read more about Indigenous Peoples’ Day: http://time.com/3495071/indigenous-peoples-day/
  COMPREHENSION 1) Read the article and complete the sentences with the right alternative. 1. On Columbus Day
  1. all Americans celebrate Christopher Columbus.
  2. statues of Christopher Columbus are vandalised.
  3. some Americans celebrate Christopher Columbus.
2. The vandals’ slogans want to suggest that Columbus was
  1. not the discoverer or America.
  2. racist.
  3. anti-racist.
3. The Confederacy was a group of American States
  1. where African-Americans were slaves.
  2. that wanted to abolish slavery.
  3. where African-Americans were free people.
4. Zyahna Bryant says that Robert E. Lee’s statue should be
  1. less racist and more welcoming.
  2. moved to a different city.
  3. removed.
5. The statue of Robert E. Lee was defended by
  1. the city council.
  2. African-Americans.
  3. racist groups of white people.
6. Many people were hurt in Charlottesville and one person
  1. died.
  2. disappeared.
  3. almost died.
7. After the events of Charlottesville some local governments
  1. defended their statues of Lee and other controversial figures.
  2. questioned whether their statues should be removed.
  3. Vandalised Lee’s statues.
8. Critics of Columbus point out that he
  1. had Native American servants.
  2. favoured violence and slavery.
  3. did not discover America.
9. To Native Americans in Latin America, Columbus is a symbol of
  1. interculturalism.
  2. European colonisation.
  3. indigenous resistance.
10. Promoters of Indigenous Peoples’ Day believe that
  1. statues should inspire positive values.
  2. statues should represent history.
  3. all statues belong in museums.
  VOCABULARY 2) Complete the sentences with the following words. Put the verbs and nouns in the right form, if necessary. to argue  *  to point out  *  greedy  *  trend  *  controversial  *  vandalise  *  to abolish  *  initiative  *  slavery  *  to injure 1. People strongly disagree over this issue: it’s very ______. 2. He was ______: he stole all the gold he could find. 3. ______ was a horrible institution: it allowed some people to own others. 4. President Lincoln ______ slavery and made it illegal. 5. During the American Civil War more than a million people died and many more were ______. 6. Zyahna Bryant took the ______ and started a petition on Change.org. 7. The ______ is clear: more and more people are critical of Columbus Day. 8. He ______ that Columbus is a symbol for Italian Americans. 9. Using lots of historical facts, the historian ______ that Columbus was more of a violent conqueror than a noble explorer. 10. The young man ______ the statue, hitting it repeatedly with a hammer.     GRAMMAR – Possessive case and double genitive 3) Use the words in brackets and the possessive case to complete the following sentences. 1. ______ (Columbus / boats) were called Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria. 2. Columbus named the ______ (Natives / island) Hispaniola. 3. ______ (Zyahna Bryant / hero) is not Robert E. Lee. 4. ______ (Columbus and Lee / statues) were vandalised. 5. The ______ (children / history teacher) told them good and bad things about Columbus.   4) Use the words in brackets and the double genitive to complete the following sentences. 1. 'Robert E. Lee is a hero ______ (mine)!’ shouted the man at the rally. 2. That friend ______ (Lucy) is a Native American – he’s a Cherokee! 3. A friend ______ (Zyahna) is also a friend ______ (Nicholas). 4. ______ (many / friends / Zyahna) signed her petition. or ______  (many / friends / Zyahna) signed her petition. 5. ______ (two / John / sons) attended the counter-protest. or ______  (two / John / sons)  attended the counter-protest.   SHORT ESSAY 5) Do you think Americans should celebrate Columbus Day? Give reasons for your answer. (60-80 words)  6) Think about the public statues you know. Is there one that represents your values? Write about the statue and the values it represents. (60-80 words)
  (Carlo Dellonte) (Image credits: Wikipedia and Turinboy, flickr ) [post_title] => Christopher Columbus: hero or villain? [post_excerpt] => Columbus Day, the American national holiday that celebrates Christopher Columbus, is becoming increasingly controversial. Over the past few months, statues of Columbus have been vandalised across the United States, and many American cities have stopped celebrating the Genoese explorer. These events are part of a larger story that deals with history, culture, racism and changing values. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => christopher-columbus-hero-or-villain [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-04-13 12:53:15 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-04-13 10:53:15 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://aulalingue.scuola.zanichelli.it/?post_type=planet-english&p=13050 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => planet-english [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 6 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 12615 [post_author] => 10 [post_date] => 2017-05-03 18:37:51 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-03 16:37:51 [post_content] => In 1969 an accident happened on an oil rig off the coast of California. Between 13,000 and 16,000 cubic metres of crude oil spilled into the sea. The oil polluted the water and killed fish, birds and other marine animals. It was an ecological disaster, and it wasn’t the first one. Modern industrial society had been causing more and more damage to the environment. After the oil rig accident, American senator Gaylord Nelson decided that it was time for a great rally in defense of mother Earth, so he helped organize the first Earth Day, which was held on 22 April 1970. Some twenty million people participated. The organizers claimed that the world – our only home – was in grave danger. Famous journalist Walter Cronkite summarized their message: “half-way measures and business as usual cannot possibly pull us back from the edge of the precipice. […] What is at stake, and what is in question, is survival.”  

The precipice

Even though humanity was (and is) heading towards a precipice, not much has changed. People have continued to injure and ruin the very world in which they live, extracting and consuming its resources without thinking of the consequences. Pollution is worse than ever. For example, it was recently estimated that 500 billion plastic bags end up in the sea every year. 15 billion trees are lost each year. Human activity is also causing the extinction of many plant and animal species. Scientists claim that the last time so many species disappeared was 66 million years ago when a huge asteroid hit the Earth and killed all the dinosaurs. This time, we are the asteroid! Over the years something else has become apparent: not only are we making our planet dirtier, we’re also making it warmer. This will cause the climate to become unpredictable and dangerous. According to most scientists, global warming is the greatest threat humanity will face in the 21st century.  

Hope

Ecologists, though, have not given up. Earth Day has been celebrated every year since 1970, and in 1990 it became a global event. More and more people around the world are taking action to protect the environment. Even politicians are slowly responding to the pressure of scientists and concerned citizens. Last year, during Earth Day 2016, 175 countries signed the Paris Agreement, a commitment to fight global warming. (See our January 2016 article “COP 21 Trying to save planet Earth”.) This year, Earth Day was accompanied by another event: the March for Science. This was a series of rallies and marches held in more than 600 cities around the world aimed at reminding politicians, and people in general, of the importance of science. Science can tell us what we’re doing wrong, and it can help us find solutions to save the environment.  

Tomorrow’s leaders

Earth Day 2017 was celebrated in more than 200 countries. Festivals, rallies and all kinds of events encouraged people to be more environmentally friendly. Earth Day organizers stressed the importance of supporting politicians with a ‘green’ agenda, and they encouraged the development and use of green forms of energy, like solar and wind power. They also suggested some simple actions that everybody could take to help the environment, like planting a tree (or donating money to help someone else plant one for you), eating less meat, and stopping using disposable plastic. Education, they claim, should also play a part: a school is the perfect place in which to learn how to become more environmentally friendly. As the organizers of Earth Day write: “today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders.” This is a great responsibility but also a great opportunity to make the world a better place.
Useful links 1) Here is the Earth Day official website: http://www.earthday.org/ 2) Help Earth Day reach three billion ‘acts of green’: http://www.earthday.org/take-action/ 3) Learn about green schools and what you and your school can do for the environment: http://www.earthday.org/campaigns/education/ 4) Here are five more things you can do to help save the world: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/apr/19/earth-day-five-things-to-make-a-difference-plastic-paper-towels 5) How much do you know about the environment? Take a quiz: https://www.infoplease.com/science-health/environment/earth-day-quizzes-games-activities?gclid=CKiZ24GmwtMCFVAQ0wodBWoOyQ 6) Do you want to know more about the March for Science? Here’s its official website: https://satellites.marchforscience.com/
 
  COMPREHENSION 1) Read the article and complete the sentences with the right alternative. 1. The oil spill of 1969 was
  1. caused by Gaylord Nelson.
  2. the only ecological disaster of its kind.
  3. one of many such events.
2. Walter Cronkite said that
  1. we can continue with business as usual.
  2. we are in grave danger.
  3. we are falling down a precipice.
3. The cause of pollution is
  1. industrial society.
  2. oil rigs.
  3. plastic bags.
4. Scientists say that we are as dangerous as
  1. an asteroid.
  2. dinosaurs
  3. global warming.
5. Scientists claim that
  1. global warming is very dangerous.
  2. global warming will be solved in the 21st
  3. global warming is not as dangerous as pollution.
5. Scientists are saying that we are
  1. extracting and consuming resources.
  2. unpredictable and dangerous.
  3. polluting and heating the planet.
6. Earth Day was celebrated in
  1. 175 countries.
  2. 200 countries.
  3. 600 cities.
7. The March for Science
  1. always accompanies Earth Day.
  2. was celebrated this year, for the first time.
  3. was celebrated in 1990.
8. Earth Day is organized
  1. by politicians with a ‘green’ agenda.
  2. by schools.
  3. by ecologists.
9. Earth Day organizers in the importance of schools because schools
  1. can teach the importance of ecology.
  2. can organize rallies.
  3. can support politicians.
  VOCABULARY 2) Complete the sentences with the following words. Put the verbs and nouns in the right form, if necessary. to injure  *  unpredictable  *  to respond  *  agenda  *  precipice  *  claim  *  oil rig  *  rally  *  commitment  *  to pollute 1. The politician’s ______ is the list of things he plans to do. 2. The workers got together in a ______ to protest against the government. 3. The edge of a steep cliff is called a ______. 4. The smoke from that factory ______ the air. 5. A ______ is a formal agreement. 6. ______ means to answer. 7. Scientists can prove their ______ with very detailed evidence. 8. I never know what she’ll do next. She’s ______. 9. ______ means to cause harm. 10. An ______ is a platform that has machinery that drills oil from underground.     GRAMMAR – Interrogative pronouns 3) Complete the sentences choosing the correct interrogative pronoun (who, whom, whose, which, what, where, when, why, how).   1. Who/Whom helped organize the first Earth Day? 2. When/What and where/how was the first Earth Day held? 3. Where/Why do scientists claim that the environment is in danger? 4. How/Where was the oil rig that caused the oil spill? Whose/Who fault was it? 5. How/Which successful was the March for Science? 6. Who/What was the message that the event tried to convey? 7. Which/Whom animals are risking extinction? 8. Who/Whom are you going to invite to the rally? 9. Who/What caused the extinction of the dinosaurs? 10. What/Where is the Paris Agreement and when/why is it important?     SHORT ESSAY 4) Look at the ‘acts of green’ listed on the Earth Day official website. Which ones can you do or are you already doing? In what way are these actions important for the environment? (60-80 words)   5) Do you think it’s easy to be ecologically friendly, or is it difficult? Explain. (60-80 words)
(Carlo Dellonte) (Image credits: NASA, flickr and Tom Hilton, flickr ) [post_title] => Earth Day 2017 [post_excerpt] => On April 22, Earth Day was celebrated in more than 200 countries around the world. This yearly event was first held in the US in 1970. Earth Day wants to promote the protection of the environment. Its organizers say that we all have to act, and act now. We stand on the edge of environmental disaster and what is at stake is our very survival. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => earth-day-2017 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-26 09:50:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-26 07:50:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://aulalingue.scuola.zanichelli.it/?post_type=planet-english&p=12615 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => planet-english [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 4 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 12372 [post_author] => 10 [post_date] => 2017-03-31 11:26:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-31 09:26:21 [post_content] => Last month, the most famous family in the world was probably that of Robert Kelly, an American professor of Political Science at Pusan National University in South Korea. On 10 March Kelly was speaking on Skype from his home office, giving a live interview on BBC World News. The BBC was asking him about the dramatic political situation in Korea when, all of a sudden, a different kind of drama began. Kelly’s 4-year-old daughter Marion gatecrashed his home office. “I think one of your children just walked in,” said the interviewer. Kelly tried to push his daughter away, but into the room strolled his 9-month-old son James. A moment later, Kelly’s Korean wife Jung-a Kim ran in and frantically dragged the two little intruders out of the office. Kelly, clearly embarrassed, apologized and finished his interview.  

From family blooper to global sensation

Kelly was convinced that no television network would ever call him again to speak. He was wrong. The BBC chose Kelly’s interview as its favourite live TV moment of the week. The video quickly went viral on Twitter and became very popular on YouTube. Kelly and his family became internet memes. Media outlets around the world showed or posted the video of the blooper. Probably hundreds of millions of people saw it. Professional and amateur comedians did spoofs and parodies of Kelly’s BBC interview. Comedian Trevor Noah even called it “the greatest moment in the history of television. Ever.” Noah also said, jokingly, why he thought Kelly did not get up from his desk to lead his children out of the room: because he probably wasn’t wearing any pants!  

Press conference

Kelly and his family returned to BBC News for another interview to talk about the blooper, their sudden fame and their family life. They also spoke to many other journalists. “I made this minor mistake,” said Kelly about not locking the door to his home office, “that turned my family into YouTube stars. It’s pretty ridiculous.” Kelly assured everybody that he and his wife do not mistreat their children. Maybe Kim had been a bit forceful in getting them out of the office, but that’s because she was trying to save the interview. He also said that he did not fight with his wife after the blooper and they did not punish their children for gatecrashing his office. Kelly also said that the event was not staged, as some people had suggested. The interview, he added, simply caught “a regular family off guard.” At the end of the day, he and his family were happy that their blooper had made so many people laugh – it was “pretty hysterical,” he admitted. Kelly, answering another question, also added: “yes, I was wearing pants!”  

Harmless assumption or outright racism?

Besides laughter, the family blooper sparked some serious social debate. Many people believed that the Korean lady in the video was the nanny, not Kelly’s wife. For some it seemed a reasonable assumption. They claim that Kim’s attitude seemed that of a nanny who had lost control of the children and who was worried she might lose her job. For others, making this assumption was a clear sign of stereotyping, if not of outright racism. They argue that if you think that an Asian woman in a white man’s house can only be a nanny, then you are jumping to a racist conclusion. Would you have thought the same if the woman had been white? Kelly himself said that the assumption that Kim was the nanny made them “pretty uncomfortable.” For sure, the video offers an opportunity to reconsider one’s assumptions: are they based on facts or on stereotypes?  
Useful websites: 1) Here is the video of Robert Kelly’s interview and an article on the social debate it initiated: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/12/viral-video-hijacked-by-children-sparks-fierce-debate-on-social-media 2) Here’s an excerpt of the follow-up interview with Kelly and his family. Check out the ‘read more’ link too: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/feb/15/winston-churchill-essay-alien-life-discovered-us-college-are-we-alone-in-the-universe 3) Here is the transcript of their press conference: https://asiansecurityblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/kelly-family-press-release-on-the-bbc-dad-viral-video/ 4) Here’s comedian Trevor Noah’s comment on “the greatest moment in the history of television. Ever.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_kV994hurQ 5) What if it had been a woman in Robert Kelly’s place? Check out this funny parody: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ojvk-4IcOE 6) Here’s a parody of the Kelly interview that plays on racial stereotypes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RvyNP_RSN0
 
COMPREHENSION 1) Read the article and complete the sentences with the right alternative. 1. Marion and James
  1. were invited into the office.
  2. entered into the office without asking permission.
  3. were already hiding in the office.
2. Robert Kelly is Jung-a Kim’s
  1. interviewer.
  2. father.
  3. husband.
3. Kelly believed that his BBC interview was
  1. a success.
  2. his last television interview.
  3. the best TV moment of the week.
4. The BBC
  1. helped Kelly’s interview become viral.
  2. tried to stop Kelly’s interview from becoming viral.
  3. did parodies of Kelly’s interview.
5. The BBC called Kelly again because
  1. they wanted him to apologize.
  2. they wanted to ask him personal questions.
  3. they wanted to ask him about South Korea.
6. The family blooper happened because
  1. it was staged.
  2. Kelly hadn’t locked the door to his home office.
  3. his wife mistreats their children.
7. Kelly said that after the interview
  1. he got angry with his wife.
  2. he mistreated his children.
  3. he didn’t get upset at his wife or at his children.
8. Kelly admitted that
  1. his children were hysterical.
  2. the failed interview was hysterical.
  3. the people who found the video funny were hysterical.
9. Kelly considers his family
  1. a normal family.
  2. a special family.
  3. a troubled family.
10. Kelly’s failed interview proved that
  1. most people are racist.
  2. Asian women usually work as nannies.
  3. some people made incorrect assumptions.
  VOCABULARY 2) Complete the sentences with the following words. blooper  *  forceful  *  to spark   *  spoof  *  stereotype  *  off guard  *  to stage  *  to gatecrash  *  to jump to conclusions  *  frantic  *  hysterical  *  outright  *  media outlet  *  intruder 1. A humorous mistake on television or in a film is called a 2. I admire her very much: she has a ______ and determined personality. 3. You are judging them too hastily. You are ______ . 4. She was ______, acting out of desperation. 5. ______ means both very funny and emotionally uncontrolled. 6. A light parody is called a 7. An example of a ______ is saying that all Chinese people are good at kung fu. 8. ______ something means to produce it for public view; for example, you can ______ a play, an event or a protest. 9. The ______ got into the house through the window and stole the television. 10. He was not invited! He ______ the party. 11. ______ means completely and openly. 12. Lightning hit the tree and ______ a fire. 13. Newspapers, radio, television and the Internet are all ______ . 14. You caught me ______. I was not expecting to see you here.   GRAMMAR – Making questions 3) Look at the statements that Robert Kelly made during his press conference. Write the questions he was answering:
  1. ______________________________________________________
The woman in the video is my wife, Jung-A Kim, not my nanny.  
  1. ______________________________________________________
The first child to enter is our daughter, Marion.  
  1. ______________________________________________________
The second is our son, James.  
  1. ______________________________________________________
No, Jung-A did not use too much force in removing the children from the room.  
  1. ______________________________________________________
No, I was not shoving Marion out of the way.  
  1. ______________________________________________________
Yes, I was wearing pants. I choose not to stand, because I was trying to salvage the interview.  
  1. ______________________________________________________
No, this was not staged.  
  1. ______________________________________________________
No, we did not fight about the blooper afterward.  
  1. ______________________________________________________
Our floors are hardwood, which is why Jung-A slid into the room.  
  1. ______________________________________________________
We have no comment on the many social analyses of the video. SHORT ESSAY 4)  Do you think it’s acceptable to assume that Jung-a Kim was the children’s nanny, or do you think that such an assumption is an unfair stereotype? Explain. (60-80 words)   5) Kelly’s interview is just one of a long line of TV bloopers. Is there one that you know of and that you find particularly funny? Describe it. (60-80 words)
(Carlo Dellonte) (Image credits: screenshots from BBC)   [post_title] => This year's most epic live TV fail [post_excerpt] => Last month, the most famous family in the world was probably that of Robert Kelly, a previously unknown professor of a South Korean university. Kelly and his family were the protagonists of one of the most viral TV fails in history, viewed around the world million of times. Interestingly, their family blooper raised not only laughs, but also some serious social debate about racial stereotypes. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => this-years-most-epic-live-tv-fail [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-26 13:03:23 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-26 11:03:23 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://aulalingue.scuola.zanichelli.it/?post_type=planet-english&p=12372 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => planet-english [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 12148 [post_author] => 10 [post_date] => 2017-02-27 20:55:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-27 19:55:01 [post_content] => Winston Churchill was one of the most influential politicians of the 20th century. He was the Prime Minister of Britain during the Second World War, from 1940 to 1945. He became famous for directing the war effort against the Nazis, but also for his powerful, inspiring speeches. These radio broadcasts helped keep up the morale of the British during the war. Churchill was also a prolific writer. He wrote articles, biographies and histories, and he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 “for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values.” Incredibly, one of his articles was discovered a few days ago inside a box in a museum in Missouri. The article, written in 1938 and never published, is not about politics or history, but about science. It is titled “Are We Alone in the Universe?”  

War of the Worlds

Churchill was interested in science, and he wrote articles on biology and physics. He was also a fan of science-fiction writer H.G. Wells, author of “The War of the Worlds”, a novel about Martians invading Earth. Shortly before Churchill wrote his article, Wells’ novel was adapted into a radio drama. Some of the listeners thought that the Martians’ invasion was real, and panicked. While many ordinary people believed in Martians, few scientists did. Most claimed that planets were extremely rare in the universe and that, probably, life existed only on Earth. Churchill disagreed. In his article he writes: “I am not sufficiently conceited to think that my sun is the only one with a family of planets.” He also writes that he is not “so immensely impressed by the success […] of our civilization” as to believe that we are alone, or that we represent “the highest type of mental and physical development” of life in the universe. His answer to the title of his article is therefore “no!”  

Exoplanets

Today we seem to be on the verge of confirming Churchill’s hypothesis. The first step has been to find ‘exoplanets’, planets outside the solar system. The first confirmed exoplanet was found in 1992. Since then, thanks to powerful new telescopes, more than 3000 exoplanets have been discovered. It is too early to say if there is life on any of them. Surely, not all of them can harbour life, or at least life as we know it. As Churchill wrote, quite correctly, life can exist “between a few degrees of frost and the boiling point of water.” Some exoplanets are too hot, while others are too cold. An exoplanet needs to orbit in the so-called ‘Goldilocks zone’, a habitable zone around a star where the conditions are just right for life to exist. Scientists now estimate that our galaxy, the Milky Way, might contain between 11 and 40 billion habitable Earth-sized planets. Quite a change from when they thought planets were extremely rare!  

Trappist-1

One of the most exciting discoveries was announced on 22nd February. “New record!” tweeted Nasa. “We’ve found 7 Earth-sized planets around a single star outside our solar system; 3 in habitable zone.” The star is called Trappist-1, and it is 39 light-years away. Although only three of its planets are in the Goldilocks zone, all seven could be habitable if they have the right atmospheric conditions. This means that all seven could harbour life. In the coming months, the Trappist-1 star system will be studied in greater detail using space telescopes. These high-tech instruments will study the planets’ atmospheres and find out what chemicals they contain. Astronomer Michael Gillon, the leader of the international team that discovered the seven planets, says that if certain chemicals are found in the right proportions, then it “would tell us that there is life with 99% confidence.” The time for speculations seems to be over. The discovery of life in the universe is probably just around the corner.
Useful links 1) Learn more about Winston Churchill using Wikipedia Simple English... https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winston_Churchill ...and the Nobel Prize website: https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1953/churchill-facts.html 2) Read about Churchill’s article “Are We Alone in the Universe?”: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/feb/15/winston-churchill-essay-alien-life-discovered-us-college-are-we-alone-in-the-universe 3)  Listen to “The War of the Worlds” radio drama: http://www.mercurytheatre.info/ 4) Read about the 7 Earth-sized planets orbiting Trappist-1 and get a  free poster! https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/news/1419/nasa-telescope-reveals-largest-batch-of-earth-size-habitable-zone-planets-around-single-star/ 5) Explore the exoplanets discovered by Nasa: https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/ 6) You can follow Nasa on social media: https://www.nasa.gov/socialmedia

COMPREHENSION

1) Read the article and complete the sentences with the right alternative.

1. Winston Churchill became Prime Minister in
  1. 1938.
  2. 1940.
  3. 1945.
2. Winston Churchill won the Nobel Prize for writing
  1. fiction.
  2. non-fiction.
  3. newspaper articles.
3. Winston Churchill
  1. wrote “The War of the Worlds.”
  2. adapted “The War of the Worlds” into a radio drama.
  3. admired the author of “The War of the Worlds.”
4. “The War of the Worlds” radio drama
  1. scared Winston Churchill.
  2. scared many people.
  3. scared scientists.
5. In the 1930s most scientists believed that
  1. we were probably alone in the universe.
  2. the universe was full of life.
  3. the universe was full of planets.
6. Looking at human civilization, Churchill reflected that
  1. we could not possibly be the highest form of life in the universe.
  2. we had to be the highest form of life in the universe.
  3. we could be the highest form of life in the universe.
7. An exoplanet is a planet
  1. with the right conditions for life to develop.
  2. orbiting our sun.
  3. orbiting a star other than our sun.
8. When Churchill wrote his article, the first exoplanet
  1. had just been discovered.
  2. still had to be discovered.
  3. was found in the Goldylock zone.
9. The seven planets of Trappist-1
  1. have liquid water.
  2. are approximately as large as the Earth.
  3. are in the habitable zone.
10. Michael Gillon declared that
  1. there’s a 99% chance that there’s life in the universe.
  2. there’s life in the Trappist-1 star system.
  3. a specific atmosphere points to the presence of life.
 

VOCABULARY

2) Complete the sentences with the following words. Put the verbs and nouns in the right form, if necessary.

to harbour  *  conceited  *  oratory  *  to exalt  *  prolific  *  mastery  *  hypothesis  *  habitable  *  to estimate  *  influential

1. You can’t say that this house is ______ (habitable): it has no roof! 2. A ______ (conceited) person is vain and egotistic. 3. An unproven theory is called a ______ (hypothesis). 4. She has complete ______ (mastery) of English, but she knows very little French. 5. He wrote 30 novels. He is a very ______ (prolific) writer. 6. The art of public speaking is called ______ (oratory). 7. ______ ( To harbour) means to provide a safe place for something. 8. Many historians ______ (exalt) Churchill, claiming he was the best British political figure. 9. Scientists ______ (estimate) that only a very small percentage of exoplanets is habitable. 10. H.G. Wells was an ______ (influential) writer: he is considered the father of science fiction.  

GRAMMAR – Prepositions of time

3) Complete the sentences choosing the correct preposition of time.

1. Winston Churchill was born in/at November. 2. Churchill made many inspiring speeches during/since the war. 3. Churchill was Prime Minister for the second time in/from 1951 to/by 1955. 4. “The War of the Worlds” was published on/in 1897. 5. “The War of the Worlds” radio drama aired in/on Halloween: it aired at/from 8 pm on/in 31st October 1938. 6. The discovery of the 7 planets was made public on/at Wednesday, 22nd February. 7. “We will discover life in the universe by/since the end of the decade,” said the scientist. 8. My friends arrived in/on time. 9. From/Since ancient times, humans have dreamed of reaching the stars. 10. I love watching the sky at/during night at/in summer.  

SHORT ESSAY

4) How would you answer the question: “are we alone in the universe?” Give reasons for your answer. (60-80 words)

5) What if scientists discover life on another planet? What if they discover another advanced civilization? What do you think the reaction and consequences would be on planet Earth? (60-80 words)

(Carlo Dellonte) (Image credits: Wikipedia and NASA) [post_title] => Are we alone in the Universe? [post_excerpt] => Winston Churchill was an influential politician, but also a prolific writer with an interest in science. A lost and unpublished article by Churchill was recently found in a museum in Missouri. It’s titled “Are We Alone in the Universe?” and the timing of its discovery seemed perfect: astronomers might be on the verge of finally answering that question. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => are-we-alone-in-the-universe [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-31 11:26:01 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-31 09:26:01 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://aulalingue.scuola.zanichelli.it/?post_type=planet-english&p=12148 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => planet-english [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 11875 [post_author] => 10 [post_date] => 2017-01-26 10:10:29 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-01-26 09:10:29 [post_content] =>

Just five days into 2017, London exceeded its annual air pollution limit. This means that in those five days dangerous quantities of pollutants were found in London’s air more times than is legally permitted for the whole year. Besides damaging the environment, air pollution causes several health problems. In the short term it produces conditions such as coughing and asthma, and in the long term it can lead to lung damage and serious diseases. Approximately 9,000 Londoners a year die prematurely because of air pollution. MPs called the situation a “public health emergency” and the new mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, promised to take action. He wants to make London one of the world’s greenest cities. But can he truly solve a centuries-old problem?

 

London particular

The problem of London’s polluted air goes as far back as the thirteenth century. At the time, the problem was coal smoke from chimneys: Londoners burned coal in their homes to cook and keep warm. This problem worsened as London became more populous. In 1661, writer John Evelyn said that the burning of coal had turned London into ‘Hell upon Earth’. In the nineteenth century, industries began pumping even more smoke into the air. This smoke mixed with the fogs of the Thames Valley and formed what became famously – or infamously – known as smog. London’s smog was full of soot and poisonous gases. This smog was so typical of London that it was called ‘London particular’, and it was so thick that it was also called ‘pea soup’. Attempts were made to pass laws to solve the situation, but without success. Then disaster struck in 1952.

 

The Great Killer Fog

In December 1952, due to special weather conditions, Londoners were trapped in the worst air-pollution event in the history of the UK. The Great Smog, or the Great Killer Fog, was so bad that flights were grounded, traffic restricted, and various events had to be cancelled. Firemen had to walk in front of their vehicles to see where they were going. The smog even seeped indoors. A performance of La Traviata at Sadler’s Wells was suspended because the audience couldn’t see the stage. The Great Smog lasted less than a week, but it killed 12,000 people. This tragedy made health and environmental concerns so urgent that parliament was forced to do something. In 1956 it passed the Clean Air Act, which introduced measures to clampdown on pollutants that caused smog. London’s air began to clear up, but over the years the old, visible pollutants, such as coal smoke, were replaced by new, invisible ones.

 

Clean Air Now!

Some people think that politicians are once again taking too much time to solve the problem. A group of artists, photographers and 16 to 25-year-old volunteers decided to take action themselves, and they set up the Clean Air Now campaign. Over the course of the last few months, they have used large posters, billboards and street art to raise awareness about the illegal levels of London’s air pollution. They hung their posters and art in some of London’s most polluted areas. “The idea was to take billboard space for something other than advertising,” said one of the organizers. “Billboards, due to their size and scale, are a great way to talk about this issue – they hover over London just like the pollution itself.” Although today’s pollutants can’t be seen, 20 x 12-foot posters can! The activists hope that their action will support the mayor’s plan to clean up London’s air.

Useful links

1) Read about London’s current air pollution problem:

http://www.clientearth.org/london-breaches-annual-air-pollution-limits-five-days/

2) Look at these pictures of the Great Smog of London and read the captions:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2012/dec/05/60-years-great-smog-london-in-pictures

3) Watch this video to learn more about the Great Smog of 1952:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtjBz_es4wU

4) Watch this other video to learn more about today’s situation:

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-20615186

5) Explore the Clean Air Now website:

http://cleanairnow.org.uk/home/

 

COMPREHENSION

1) Read the article and complete the sentences with the right alternative.

1. Air pollution is bad for
  1. people.
  2. the environment.
  3. both people and the environment.
2. Sadiq Khan said that
  1. London is one of the world’s greenest cities.
  2. London’s air is a public health emergency.
  3. he will do something against air pollution.
3. Back in the thirteenth century London was
  1. ‘Hell upon Earth.’
  2. a polluted city.
  3. a city with clean air.
4. John Evelyn lived in the
  1. thirteenth century.
  2. seventeenth century.
  3. nineteenth century.
5. The Great Smog of 1952 lasted
  1. just a few days.
  2. a whole year.
  3. a month.
6. ‘London particular’ and ‘pea soup’
  1. are two different kinds of smog.
  2. both refer to the same thing.
  3. are a mix of soot and poisonous gases.
7. Unlike the new pollutants, the old ones
  1. produced a very thick smog.
  2. killed people.
  3. were not produced by human activity.
8. The activists of Clean Air Now
  1. want to tell people about the problem of air pollution.
  2. use billboards to advertise commercial products.
  3. think that politicians are doing a good job reducing air pollution.
9. The activists of Clean Air Now chose to use billboards
  1. because they hover over London just like the air pollution.
  2. because they can be found in London’s most polluted areas.
  3. because they are huge and easy to see.
10. The activists of Clean Air Now
  1. work for the mayor.
  2. hope to help the mayor.
  3. are against the mayor.
 

VOCABULARY

2) Complete the sentences with the following words. Put the verbs and nouns in the right form, if necessary.

hover  *  to seep  *  populous  *  to exceed  *  MP  *  to ground  *  billboard  *  to clamp down  *  soot  *  mayor

1. Yesterday, a police helicopter ______ over the street demonstration. 2. This roof is not waterproof: water is ______ in and dripping all over the place! 3. You’re driving too fast! You’re ______ the speed limit! 4. The most ______ countries in the world are China and India. 5. ______ is an abbreviation that stands for Member of Parliament. 6. That’s it young man! No more coming home late! You’re ______ for a week! 7. Today, advertisements are everywhere. Look at all the ______ along this road. 8. The police promised ______ on crime and make the city safe again. 9. I cleaned the chimney and now look at me: I’m black with ______. 10. The ______ is the head of the government of a city.  

GRAMMAR – Future forms (present simple, present continuous, will, shall, be going to)

3) Complete the sentences choosing the correct future form.

1. Hurry up. Your flight for London will leave/leaves in one hour. 2. I’m sure you will have/have a wonderful time in London. 3. Shall we join/Are we joining the Clean Air Now campaign? I think we should. 4. The demonstration is going to start/starts at 3 pm – don’t be late! 5. It’s very cloudy today. Shall I get/Will I get my umbrella? 6. The pollution problem is so great that it is going to take/shall take ages to solve it. 7. Who knows if the mayor will succeed/is going to succeed in making London a green city? 8. I am meeting/meet the mayor tomorrow to tell him about our campaign. 9. She is coming/shall come tomorrow. We arranged to meet at the train station. 10. London’s air pollution is getting worse and worse. We are never breathing/are never going to breathe clean air in this city!  

SHORT ESSAY

4) Do some research on one ecological disaster caused by humans. What caused it and what was done to remedy it? (60-80 words)

5) What could be done to fight pollution and/or improve the air quality of your town/city? (60-80 words)

(Carlo Dellonte) (Image credits: Iain Buchanan, flickr and shirokazan, flickr)   [post_title] => Young Londoners' war on air pollution [post_excerpt] => Just five days into 2017, London exceeded its annual air pollution limit. London’s polluted air is a centuries-old problem. A group of young activists believe that too little has been done for too long. With their campaign Clean Air Now they hope to raise awareness of the problem and to pressure politicians to improve, once and for all, London’s air quality. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => young-londoners-war-on-air-pollution [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-27 20:56:06 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-27 19:56:06 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://aulalingue.scuola.zanichelli.it/?post_type=planet-english&p=11875 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => planet-english [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 11782 [post_author] => 10 [post_date] => 2016-12-30 11:44:51 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-30 10:44:51 [post_content] =>

On 20 January the presidency of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, comes to an end. Many Americans, as well as many people around the world, will miss him. Obama’s slogan, when he campaigned for the presidency eight years ago was ‘Yes we can.’ He believed that when people come together anything is possible. He is the living proof of this: he is the first African American to be elected President, and this was possible because millions of people, for decades, fought against racism and for civil rights and social justice. His policies as President were aimed at a fairer society. For example, he wanted to provide health care to those who didn’t have it. He also fought hard against unemployment and climate change. In foreign policy he favoured negotiations rather than aggressive action. In 2009 he won the Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

 

President-Elect

Obama’s successor is New York billionaire Donald Trump. Trump comes from a very rich family. He will be the richest American President in history. He will also be the oldest: Trump is 70. He has been a businessman and real-estate developer. He built skyscrapers, palaces, parks, casinos, golf courses. Trump Tower is probably his most famous building: a very luxurious 200-metre building in Manhattan. In recent years Trump was also a television personality, hosting the popular programme The Apprentice where he judged the business skills of a series of contestants. Trump’s interest in politics grew over the years. He wanted to run for President already in 2000, but eventually decided not to. Few took him seriously when he decided to run again in 2015. Could a celebrity businessman with no political experience really compete against professional politicians?

 

Campaigning

Donald Trump was one of the Republican Party’s 17 candidates for President. Trump campaigned with the slogan ‘Make America Great Again’, appealing to the patriotism of Americans. Trump claimed that Washington was ‘broken’, run by corrupt politicians and controlled by lobbyists. He presented himself as an outsider who could ‘shake up’ the political system and give it back to the people. Despite being a billionaire, many of his electors said about him: “he’s one of us.” His critics said that he was just talking to the ‘belly’ of the nation, appealing to the fear, anger and pride of the Republican electors, often making unrealistic promises. Over the course of a few months, though, he emerged as the most popular Republican candidate, and he won the party’s nomination.

 

Person of the Year

At the general election Donald Trump faced the candidate of the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, the first woman to be nominated for President by a major US political party. She represented continuity with Barack Obama. They both belong to the same party, and Clinton’s slogan – ‘Stronger together’ – recalled the solidarity of Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’. Clinton’s critics said that she was part of the political elite, no longer in touch with the everyday problems of Americans. Most polls, though, said that she was going to win the presidency. They were wrong: Donald Trump won instead. Waiting to see what he will do as President, Time Magazine elected him ‘Person of the Year 2016’. Time gives this title to the year’s most influential person, for better or worse. “So which is it this year,” asks Time, “better or worse?” America is divided on the answer. Will Donald Trump, a person known for his unpredictability, be a good President? Only time will tell.

Useful links

1) Here’s a short biography of President Barack Obama: https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/barackobama

2) Explore the White House, where the President lives and works: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about/inside-white-house

3) Take a tour of the West Wing of the White House, where the President has his office: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about/inside-white-house/west-wing-tour

4) Learn more about President-elect Donald Trump http://www.timeforkids.com/news/meet-donald-j-trump/415956

5) Learn more about the election of Donald Trump: http://www.timeforkids.com/news/election-remember/496771

COMPREHENSION

1) Read the article and complete the sentences with the right alternative.

1. Barack Obama’s slogan promoted
  1. a solidarity.
  2. personal success.
  3. racism.
2. Barack Obama fought hard to increase
  1. unemployment.
  2. climate change.
  3. employment.
3. Trump was
  1. of humble origins.
  2. very rich.
  3. very poor.
4. Trump was
  1. the host of The Apprentice.
  2. a contestant on The Apprentice.
  3. the creator of The Apprentice.
5. Many Americans think that Donald Trump should not be President because
  1. he is too rich.
  2. he has no political experience.
  3. he is a television personality.
6. Donald Trump’s slogan is
  1. ‘Make America Great Again’.
  2. ‘Stronger Together’.
  3. ‘He’s One Of Us’.
7. Donald Trump’s critics said:
  1. “He’s one of us.”
  2. “He speaks to the belly of the nation.”
  3. “Washington is run by corrupt politicians.”
8. Hillary Clinton was criticized because
  1. she represented continuity with Obama.
  2. she doesn’t know the problems of Americans.
  3. she doesn’t believe in solidarity.
9. The polls said that the next President would be
  1. Clinton.
  2. Obama.
  3. Trump.
10. Trump was elected Time’s Person of the Year 2016 because
  1. he won the presidency.
  2. he is unpredictable.
  3. he was the most influential person of the year.
 

VOCABULARY

2) Complete the sentences with the following words.

to campaign *  policy  *  unemployment  *  billionaire *  to appeal  *  elite  *  lobbyist  *  outsider  *  influential  *  to recall

1. Youth ______ is a big problem: 20% of young people don’t have a job. 2. He travels the state to speak to the people and to tell them what he would do if they elect him: he’s ______ to become President. 3. To ______ means to bring back to mind, to remember. 4. They are wealthy and privileged; most people consider them the country’s ______. 5. Powerful companies try to have a say in politics using ______, people whose job is to influence the decisions of politicians. 6. A ______ is a person who has at least a thousand millions. 7. Nobody thought he would win the race, everybody called him an ______, but he defeated the champion. 8. That politician ______ to me: he’s offering solutions to my problems. 9. Her foreign ______ was this: international disputes must be solved through peaceful means. 10. Everybody does what he says. He’s incredibly ______.  

GRAMMAR – Modal verbs (may/might for possibility)

3) Complete the sentences using the modal verbs will, may, might

1. Barack Obama ______ remain in politics, but he ______ decide to do something else. 2. Donald Trump ______ be President at the end of January. He ______ be reelected in 2020. 3. Trump ______ be a good President, but I doubt it. 4. I’m sure that many of Trump’s electors ______ vote for him again in 2020. 5. There’s a rumor that Michelle Obama, Barack’s wife, ______ run for President in 2020. 6. Barack Obama said quite clearly that he ______ not write a book about his presidency, and I believe him. 7. He ______ not know much about politics now, but I’m sure he ______ learn quickly. 8. Trump declared that he ______ make America great again. 9. ______ you vote for Trump in 2020? 10. I ______ vote for him in 2020. It depends on what he does as President.  

SHORT ESSAY

4) According to you, what qualities should a political leader have and why?

5) Do some research on Barack Obama and Donald Trump, then compare and contrast them.

(Carlo Dellonte) (Image credits: The White House, YouTube and Gage Skidmore, flickr) [post_title] => Exit Obama, enter Trump [post_excerpt] => On 20 January the presidency of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, comes to an end. His successor is businessman, television personality and billionaire Donald Trump. Few took him seriously when he decided to run for President, but his campaign proved very successful. Learn more about the American general elections and President-elect Donald Trump. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => exit-obama-enter-trump [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-01-26 10:10:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-01-26 09:10:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://aulalingue.scuola.zanichelli.it/?post_type=planet-english&p=11782 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => planet-english [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 10 [filter] => raw ) ) [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 13786 [post_author] => 10 [post_date] => 2018-03-01 10:52:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-03-01 09:52:44 [post_content] => Last February was Black History Month, or African-American History Month in the US. This observance was established in 1926 by African-American historian Carter G. Woodson. Back then it lasted only seven days and it was called Negro History Week. Woodson’s intention was to teach and celebrate the history of African-Americans. He felt that their contribution to civilization and to American history was ignored by historians and this, he claimed, led to prejudice and racism against blacks. Woodson believed that it was of paramount importance for African-Americans to know their history and traditions, and for these to be shared with all Americans. Woodson’s observance became Black History Month in 1976, and it later spread to other countries, like the UK and Canada.  

Praise and criticism

Already in the 1920s, Woodson’s celebration became popular and raised awareness in the African-American community. This awareness became a force behind the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and ‘60s, when leaders like Martin Luther King and Malcom X fought hard against racism and segregation. Although Black History Month is still very popular today, it has also been criticized, often by some African-Americans themselves. The actor Morgan Freedman, for example, said: “You're going to relegate my history to a month? I don't want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.” Curiously, Woodson himself hoped that one day the celebration he founded could become superfluous and, eventually, could be eliminated. He hoped this would happen when African-American history would be rightfully integrated into US history.  

Black Lives Matter

The question is: has this already happened? Many believe that the struggle against racism and prejudice is not yet over. Since 2013 a new movement called Black Lives Matter (BLM) has emerged from the African-American community. Its members claim that African-Americans are still the victims of racism and unfair treatment. Their aim is very similar to Woodson’s: “[Black Lives Matter] is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.” The activists of BLM promote their ideas using social media, hashtag activism and more traditional direct action, such as protests and demonstrations. Their work has been effective and praised. For example, BLM activists finished fourth in Time Magazine’s 2015 Person of the Year list. Commenting positively on BLM, Time stated that “a new civil rights movement is turning a protest cry into a political force.”  

Black Panther

This year several official events celebrated Black History Month, but there was also a very popular ‘unofficial’ one: the premiere of the blockbuster Black Panther. This film tells the story of an African superhero, the heir to the throne of the fictional country of Wakanda. The screenwriters, the director and the majority of the cast of Black Panther are African-American, and this is an absolute first for a mega-budget movie. The director Ryan Coogler’s first film was about racial discrimination, and Black Panther touches upon similar issues in a different way. It goes beyond Western stereotypes of Africa and Africans and offers a complex and positive portrayal of black people. A New York philanthropist, Frederick Joseph, felt that the role models offered by the film were so important that he set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to help poor, black Harlem children see the film. More than 200 similar campaigns expanded the project to dozens of other US cities. As Joseph stated: “All children deserve to believe they can save the world, go on exciting adventures, or accomplish the impossible.”
USEFUL WEBSITES 1) Learn more about African-American History Month: http://www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/ http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-month 2) Who was Carter G. Woodson? Read about this important historian here: https://www.biography.com/people/carter-g-woodson-9536515 3) Here you can read about the Civil Rights movement: https://www.britannica.com/event/American-civil-rights-movement 4) Would you like to know more about Black Lives Matter? Here is their official website: https://blacklivesmatter.com/ 5) Check out the Black Panther GoFundMe webpage and look at the video on Frederick Joseph: https://www.gofundme.com/cause/black-panther-challenge
 
COMPREHENSION 1) Read the article and complete the sentences with the right alternative. 1. Carter G. Woodson believed that African-Americans
  1. did not contribute to American history.
  2. contributed to American history.
  3. were not interested in their history.
2. Black History Month is celebrated
  1. only in the US.
  2. in several countries.
  3. in North America.
3. Woodson’s Negro History Week
  1. was a success.
  2. was very unpopular.
  3. was superfluous.
4. Martin Luther King and Malcom X were leaders of
  1. African-American communities.
  2. Black History Month.
  3. the Civil Rights movement.
5. African-American actor Morgan Freedman
  1. criticized Black History Month positively.
  2. indirectly agreed with Woodson.
  3. criticized the Civil Rights movement.
6. Black Lives Matter is
  1. the new name for Black History Month.
  2. a political party.
  3. a movement that shares Black History Month’s concerns.
7. Black Lives Matter activists believe that
  1. it’s important to protest against injustice.
  2. racism belongs to the past.
  3. African-Americans are not the victims of discrimination.
8. The film Black Panther
  1. is a Black History Month event.
  2. came out during Black History Month.
  3. was directed by Frederick Joseph.
9. Black Panther has been praised because
  1. it promotes positive African role models.
  2. it is a blockbuster with a mega-budget.
  3. it has an African-American director.
10. Fredrick Joseph believes that black children
  1. should go to the cinema.
  2. should contribute to GoFundMe campaigns.
  3. should be exposed to black fictional role models.
  VOCABULARY 2) Complete the sentences with the following words. to accomplish * observance  *  portrayal  *  awareness  *  to relegate  *  segregation  *  heir  *  paramount  *  resilience  *  screenwriter 1. A ______ is a person who writes the script of a film. 2. The act of celebrating a special occasion is called an ______. 3. Her lecture gave a very good ______ of recent American history. 4. Public ______ on this topic is very limited: people know little about it. 5. In the past, women were wrongfully ______ to the role of second-class citizens. 6. ______ is the forced separation of a group of people from the rest of society. 7. He is the ______: he will become king when his father, the current king, dies. 8. I feel that social justice is ______. Nothing is more important. 9. The Civil Rights Movement ______ many of its objectives. 10. She recovered quickly from a tough situation. She has great ______.   GRAMMAR – Demonstratives 3) Complete the following sentences with demonstratives (this, that, these, those). Then indicate whether they are demonstrative pronouns (DP) or demonstrative adjectives (DA). 1. At the beginning of the 20th century, segregation was a brutal reality. ______ were hard times for African-Americans. (DP/DA) 2. Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize. ______ was an important event in the history of Civil Rights. (DP/DA) 3. Martin Luther King and Malcom X were assassinated. ______ events mark a dark chapter in American history. (DP/DA) 4. Look here. ______ are pictures of Civil Rights demonstrations. (DP/DA) 5. ______ poster over there lists the celebrations of this year’s Black History Month. (DP/DA) 6. Come here and meet ______ activists. (DP/DA) 7. ______ GoFundMe campaigns raised a lot of money. (DP/DA) 8. You are putting words in my mouth. ______ is not what I said! (DP/DA) 9. ______ is the director of Black Panther. (DP/DA) 10. ______ film is great. I’m really enjoying it! (DP/DA)   SHORT ESSAY 4) Carter G. Woodson believed that teaching African-American contributions to American history was an antidote to prejudice and racism. Reflect and explain why you think he believed this. (60-80 words) 5) Novels, films and other works of art can change our understanding of the world around us. Write about a work of art that changed your view on something important. (60-80 words)
  (Carlo Dellonte) (Image credits: Wikipedia and Wikipedia)         [post_title] => Black History Month [post_excerpt] => Black History Month, celebrated in February, promotes African-American heritage and history. Established more than 90 years ago, it has played an important role in the Civil Rights of the 1950s and ‘60s. Today its message is echoed in the Black Lives Matter movement, and this year in a Hollywood film: the superhero blockbuster Black Panther. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => black-history-month [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-15 10:53:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-15 08:53:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://aulalingue.scuola.zanichelli.it/?post_type=planet-english&p=13786 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => planet-english [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) )
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