Category Archives: Psychology

Do Bilingual Children Develop Better Social Skills?

“Being bilingual has some obvious advantages. Learning more than one language enables new conversations and new experiences…Now, two new studies demonstrate that multilingual exposure improves not only children’s cognitive skills but also their social abilities.” K. Kinzler, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Raising bilingual children. photo- zestnzen

Raising bilingual children. photo- zestnzen

Excerpt: The Superior Social Skills of Bilinguals by Katherine Kinzler New York Times

“ One study from my developmental psychology lab… shows that multilingual children can be better at communication than monolingual children.

Language image-expatchild

Language image-expatchild

We took a group of children in the United States, ages 4 to 6, from different linguistic backgrounds, and presented them with a situation in which they had to consider someone else’s perspective to understand her meaning. For example, an adult said to the child: ‘Ooh, a small car! Can you move the small car for me?’ Children could see three cars — small, medium and large — but were in position to observe that the adult could not see the smallest car. Since the adult could see only the medium and large cars, when she said ‘small’ car, she must be referring to the child’s medium.

Image- englishplus.ae

Image- englishplus.ae

We found that bilingual children were better than monolingual children at this task. If you think about it, this makes intuitive sense. Interpreting someone’s utterance often requires attending not just to its content, but also to the surrounding context.

app for language learning

What does a speaker know or not know? What did she intend to convey? Children in multilingual environments have social experiences that provide routine practice in considering the perspectives of others: They have to think about who speaks which language to whom, who understands which content, and the times and places in which different languages are spoken… Multilingual exposure, it seems, facilitates the basic skills of interpersonal understanding.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions:  Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Task: Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. There are less obvious advantages of bilingualism.
  2. Experiments were conducted in collaboration with other psychologists.
  3. We took a group of children from different linguistic backgrounds.
  4. We found that bilingual children were better than monolingual children at  certain tasks.
  5. If you think about it, this makes intuitive sense.
  6. Interpreting someone’s utterance often requires practice.
  7. What does  a speaker want to convey?
  8. Children in multilingual environments have  better social experiences.
  9. Children regularly exposed to another language were also talented.
  10. All  of the children were given a standard cognitive test.

Word Map Education Oasis

Reading Comprehension

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

Interestingly, we also found/find that children who worn/were effectively monolingual yet regularly exposed/expired to another language — for example, those who had grandparents who speak/spoke another language — were just as talented/talent as the bilingual children at this tusk/task. It seems that being raised in an environment in which multiply/multiple languages are spoken, rather than being bilingual per se, is the driving factor.

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Bilingual children enjoy certain cognitive benefits.
  2. One study were from a developmental psychology lab.
  3. Multilingual children can be better at communication.

II

  1. In the experiment Children could see all three cars.
  2. The adult could only see the smallest car.
  3. They have to think about who speaks which language.

III

  1. They was just as talented as the bilingual children.
  2. In a follow-up study involved the effects on younger children.
  3. Multilingual exposure, it seems, facilitates the basic skills.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Directions:  Have students use this advanced organizer from Write Design to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main idea and points from the article.

Main idea chart By Write Design

Main idea chart By Write Design

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them  discuss the following statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

  1. Many  High schools in the U.S.  still require that students learn a second language. In your opinion is learning a second language necessary?  Explain why or why not.
  2. If you are bilingual (or multilingual) what advantages have you experienced?
  3. Are there any group members who wish to learn another language? Why?

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Psychology | Tags:

Reading Tolstoy Increases Emotional Intelligence

A new study revealed that reading great literary works (as opposed to popular fiction or non-fiction) can actually improve a person’s  sensitivity level.  After reading excerpts from literary classics, participants found themselves scoring better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence.

Leo Tolstoy. Credit- Open Culture.

Leo Tolstoy. Credit- Open Culture.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: For Better Social Skills, Scientists Recommend…By Pam Belluck, The New York Times

“Say you are getting ready for a blind date or a job interview. What should you do? Besides shower and shave, of course, it turns out you should read — but not just anything. Something by Chekhov or Alice Munro will help you navigate new social territory better than a potboiler by Danielle Steel.

That is the conclusion of a study published Thursday in the journal Science. It found that after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence — skills that come in especially handy when you are trying to read someone’s body language or gauge what they might be thinking.

The researchers say the reason is that literary fiction often leaves more to the imagination, encouraging readers to make inferences about characters and be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity. People ranging in age from 18 to 75 were recruited for each of five experiments…

In one experiment, some participants were given nonfiction excerpts, but we’re not talking “All the President’s Men.” To maximize the contrast, the researchers — looking for nonfiction that was well-written, but not literary or about people — turned to Smithsonian Magazine. “How the Potato Changed the World” was one selection. “Bamboo Steps Up” was another…  The idea that what we read might influence our social and emotional skills is not new. Previous studies have correlated various types of reading with empathy and sensitivity. More recently, in a field called “theory of mind,” scientists have used emotional intelligence perception tests to study, for example, children with autism…

Dr. Humphrey, an emeritus professor at Cambridge University’s Darwin College, said he would have expected that reading generally would make people more empathetic and understanding. But to separate off literary fiction, and to demonstrate that it has different effects from the other forms of reading, is remarkable.” Read more 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours. 

Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing. 

I. Pre-Reading 

Can you Read People’s Emotions? Fun  New York Times Activity

 Photo NYT

Photo NYT

Directions:  Ask students to take this quiz from the New York Times. At the end of the lesson find out how many they got correct. The assessment tool was developed by University of Cambridge professor Simon Baron-Cohen.

Click here for the  Reading the Mind in the Eyes test.

II. While Reading Tasks

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance. 

  1. Say you are getting ready for a blind date or a job interview.
  2. Something by Chekhov is preferred to a potboiler by Danielle Steel.
  3. These tests measured empathy and social perception.
  4. Skills that come in especially handy when you are trying to gauge what someone  might be thinking.
  5. In one experiment, some participants were given nonfiction excerpts.
  6. Is the woman with the smoky eyes aghast or doubtful?
  7. Is the man whose gaze has slivered to a squint suspicious or indecisive?
  8. The idea that what we read might an influence on our social and emotional skills is not new.
  9. Previous studies have correlated various types of reading with empathy and sensitivity.
  10. Maybe popular fiction is a way of dealing more with one’s own self.

Word Map Education Oasis

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T.  If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer. 

According to the results, reading  something by Jerry Seinfeld will help you in new social situations more so than a potboiler by Danielle Steel.

  1. The  conclusion of the test  was written in a study published in the Journal Science.
  2. Reading classical literature  can also  help married couples.
  3. Amazon’s reading club was  used to find a broader pool of participants.
  4. Nicholas Humphrey is an evolutionary psychologist.
  5. According to the experts, the  results implied that people could be primed for social skills like empathy, just as watching a clip from a sad movie can make one feel more emotional.
  6. One of the novels used in the experiment was The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich.
  7. This research included an assortment of  books for children.
  8. The age range of the participants was  from 18 to 25.
  9. Scientists have used emotional intelligence perception  tests to study children with autism.

 Grammar Focus

Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I.

  1. Say you are getting ready for a blind date or a job interview.
  2. That is the conclusion published Thursday in the journal Science.
  3. People performed better at tests measuring empathy and social  perception.

II.

  1. People ranging in age from 18 to 75 were recruited for each of five experiments.
  2. They were paid $2 or $3 each to read for an few minutes.
  3. Some were given excerpts from award-winning literary fiction.

III.

  1. Is the woman with the smoky eyes aghast or doubtful?
  2. The idea that what we read might influence our social and emotional skills is not new.
  3. There is much the study do not address.

Reading Comprehension Check

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article. 

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

  1. David Comer Kidd, one of the researchers stated the following as a way of explaining the results of the test, “Maybe popular fiction is a way of dealing more with one’s own self, maybe, with one’s own wants, desires, needs…really the author is in control, and the reader has a more passive role…In literary fiction, like Dostoyevsky, “there is no single, overarching authorial voice, Each character presents a different version of reality, and they aren’t necessarily reliable. You have to participate as a reader in this dialectic, which is really something you have to do in real life.” Do you agree or disagree with this idea? Provide reasons for your answers.
  2. In your own words restate the following idea taken from the article, “There is much the study does not address: How long could such effects last? Would three months of reading Charles Dickens and Jane Austen produce larger or smaller effects, or have no impact? Are the differences in scores all attributable to the type of material read? Would the results hold if the same person read all of the types? And would it matter if the literary fiction was particularly difficult?”.
  3. Do you agree with the idea that what we read might influence our social and emotional skills? Provide reasons for your answer.
  4. What type of books do you read? Do you find that certain books make you more (or less) sensitive to others? Can you explain why you feel certain ways after reading a particular book?

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the article,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class. 

ANSWER KEY: Classics and emotions

Category: Psychology | Tags:

Are Humans Better Lie Detectors Than Machines?

In the old TV series Lie To Me Dr. Cal Lightman and his colleagues assisted federal law enforcement in detecting liars mainly through body language. In a similar fashion the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has been training TSA staff to spot passengers who might be potential security risks. Through nonverbal signs such as facial expressions and body gestures “detection officers” are learning how to spot liars. The question is how efficient are they?

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.

2009 TV series Lie To Me. IMDb.

2009 TV series Lie To Me. IMDb.

Excerpt: At Airports, a Misplaced Faith in Body Language by John Tierney New York Times.

“Like the rest of us, airport security screeners like to think they can read body language. The Transportation Security Administration has spent some $1 billion training thousands of “behavior detection officers” to look for facial expressions and other nonverbal clues that would identify terrorists.

But critics say there’s no evidence that these efforts have stopped a single terrorist or accomplished much beyond inconveniencing tens of thousands of passengers a year. The T.S.A. seems to have fallen for a classic form of self-deception: the belief that you can read liars’ minds by watching their bodies.

Most people think liars give themselves away by averting their eyes or making nervous gestures, and many law-enforcement officers have been trained to look for specific tics, like gazing upward in a certain manner.

But this theory didn’t hold up when it was tested by a team of British and North American psychologists. They found no pattern in the upward eye movements of liars and truth tellers, whether they were observed in the laboratory or during real-life news conferences. The researchers also found that people who were trained to look for these eye movements did not do any better than a control group at detecting liars.

TSA officers observe facial and body gestures. CNN.

TSA officers observe facial and body gestures. CNN.

 Stephen Porter of the University of British Columbia says the poor success rate in studies is caused partly by the limitations of laboratory experiments in which subjects are often asked to lie about things that don’t really matter to them. Liars may show more stress in a real-life situation when much depends on being believed.

In a study last year, psychologists at the University of British Columbia trained professionals in forensics to look for an array of facial expressions and other signs of stress or inconsistency in someone telling a story. Then these professionals looked at news footage of people pleading for the return of a missing relative. Some of the pleaders were sincere, but others were lying (as eventually revealed by evidence that they had already murdered the relative). The trained professionals were able to identify the liars with an 80 percent accuracy rate.

Lie detecting equipment. Ted Talks.

Lie detecting equipment. Ted Talks.

The T.S.A.’s administrator, John S. Pistole, defended its behavior-detection program last year by saying it identified  high-risk passengers at a significantly higher rate than random screening. The accountability office report challenged the methodology behind that assertion and questioned the cost-effectiveness of the program. It noted that fewer than 1 percent of the more than 30,000 passengers a year who are identified as suspicious end up being arrested, and that the offenses (like carrying drugs or undeclared currency) have not been linked to terrorist plots.” Read more…

REMEMBER:

April is  Sexual Assault and Child Abuse  Awareness Month. In an ongoing effort to bring stronger awareness of sexual violence against women and child abuse  many organizations and universities are hosting special events during this month. Click on the icon below to see how you can support or get help.

Never Alone- Abuse Awareness & Support.

Never Alone- Abuse Awareness & Support.

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan

Level:  High Intermediate – Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Can You Spot the Liar? Fun Activity by New York Times!

Can You Spot the Liar? New York Times.

Can You Spot the Liar? New York Times.

Directions: Researchers say that your body language tells questioners if the words you’re saying are actually true or false. Click on the photo and have students see if they can spot the people who are  telling lies from the ones telling the truth.

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart by Freeology for assistance.

  1. Airport security screeners look for facial expressions and other nonverbal clues that would identify terrorists.
  2. Critics say there’s no evidence that these efforts have stopped a single terrorist.
  3. The T.S.A. seems to have fallen for a classic form of self-deception.
  4. Most people think liars give themselves away by averting their eyes.
  5. There’s an illusion of insight that comes from looking at a person’s body.
  6. This theory didn’t hold up when it was tested by a team of British and North American psychologists.
  7. There is no Pinocchio’s nose — no one cue that will always accompany deception.
  8. Liars may show more stress in a real-life situation.
  9. Trained professionals in forensics to look for an array of facial expressions and other signs of stress.
  10. That’s an impressive record, but it’s only one experiment.vocab Freeology

Reading Comprehension

 True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading. If a statement is true they mark it T.  If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.

  1. TSA stands for Transit State Authority.
  2. TSA is training thousands of behavior detection officers.
  3. There’s evidence that these efforts have stopped  terrorists.
  4. Men lie the most.
  5. Liars usually give themselves away by averting their eyes or making nervous gestures.
  6. Law-enforcement officers are not consistently better at it than ordinary people.
  7. There is one cue that will always accompany deception.
  8. John S. Pistole is the The T.S.A.’s administrator.
  9. Some researchers believe that you get so much more information by just by talking to people.
  10. It is difficult to tell if children are lying or not.

 Grammar Focus

Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I.

  1. Like the rest of us, airport security screeners like to think they can read body language.
  2. They looks for facial expressions and other nonverbal clues.
  3. But critics say there’s no evidence that these efforts have stopped a single terrorist.

II.

  1. They belief that you can read liars’ minds by watching their bodies.
  2. Most people think liars give themselves away by averting their eyes.
  3. In scientific experiments, people do a lousy job of spotted liars.

III.

  1. There’s a illusion of insight that comes from looking at a person’s body.
  2. There is no Pinocchio’s nose — no one cue.
  3. Trained professionals were able to identify the liars with an 80 percent accuracy rate.

 

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

 Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

  1.  Can you always tell when someone is telling the truth. How? For example are there there certain body gestures or facial expressions that you look for?
  2.  In your opinion, is there ever a time when lying to someone is good? Provide examples.
  3.  Do you always tell the truth? Explain why or why not.
  4. Do you think people are better at detecting lies than machines (e.g., a lie detector)? Why or why not?

 IV. Listening Activity   

Video ClipPamela Meyer: How to spot a liar. TEDTalks

 “Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting, shows the manners and “hotspots” used by those trained to recognize deception — and she argues honesty is a value worth preserving.”

LIESPOTTING by Pamela Meyer. MacMillan.

Book LIESPOTTING by Pamela Meyer. MacMillan.

 While Listening Activities

Directions: Students listen for the correct word or phrase to complete the dialog taken from the video. They are to choose from the options presented.

Video Link

  1. Lie spotters are people armed with scientific/science knowledge about how to spot deception.
  2. The faze/phrase “Lying is a cooperative act” means someone chooses to believe a lie.
  3. There are times when people are unwilling participants/party in a lie.
  4. Some infamous people involved in public deception/perception were Robert Hanson, Aldrich Hanes and Bernard Madoff.
  5. According to studies most of us encounter nearly 10-200 lions/lies a day.
  6. According to research, we lie more to strangers/strange than coworkers, extroverts/extras lie more than introverts, and men lie 8 times more about themselves then about other people.
  7. Women lie more to protest/protect other people.
  8. According to Meyer the two patterns of deception are speech/speak and body language.
  9. The video of two mothers/moths were used to demonstrate the difference between truth telling and lying.
  10. According to research lying is a part of our historical/history and culture.

Post-Listening Activities

Questions for Discussion

Directions:Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions.

1. After listening to this video has your personal idea of humans as lie detectors changed in any way? If yes, describe in what way. If no, describe your original opinion.

2. Did  you agree with everything  Pamela Meyer said? Discuss which comments you agreed with and which ones you tended not to agree with. Explain why.

3.  With your group members, make up questions that you would like to ask Ms. Meyer.

 

ANSWER KEY: Human Lie Detectors