Recreational Cannabis Can Harm Children

“As more states legalize recreational cannabis, Wrigley and others are suing over look-alike THC treats. They’re protecting their brands — and also, they argue, your kids.” V. Safronova, The New York times, May 22, 2021

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Zombie Skittles, above, and their marijuana-infused doppelganger. The New York Times

 

Excerpt: Big Candy Is Angry By Valeriya Safronova ,The New York Times,May 22, 2021

“At first glance, the Skittles package appears to be just like the one sold in the candy aisle of a supermarket: It has block letters filled in with white, a flowing rainbow and a red candy that replaces the dot above the letter ‘ i.’

A closer look reveals some small differences: a background pattern of small, stylized marijuana leaves; a warning label; and numbers that reveal the amount of THC, the intoxicating substance in cannabis, in each piece of candy.

Fruity with a twist- Starburst Gummies, and a similar candy containing THC.

The images are included in a lawsuit that the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, owned by the candy behemoth Mars Inc., filed in May against five companies for selling cannabis-infused edibles that look like our old friends Skittles, Starburst and Life Savers. Though the suit focuses on intellectual property rights, the plaintiffs also argue that the copycat products could lead people, particularly children, to mistakenly ingest drugs. A spokeswoman for Mars Inc. wrote in an email that the company is ‘deeply disturbed’ by the products…Many public health officials fret that without proper regulation, accidental ingestion cases will continue to rise among children as the availability of edibles grows. Some poison control centers have already observed this trend in their data.

Life is sweet- Sugar high (above) and actual high (below).

For example, there were 122 cases of exposure to THC for children under 5 in Washington State in the first nine months of 2020, compared to 85 for the same time period in 2019. The most common side effects reported included vomiting, lethargy and chest pain…The spread of legalization has brought more players and consumers into the edibles market. “Edibles are easy. They’re portable. You don’t have to find a space to step aside and smoke,” said Sean Arnold, a founder of Terradigm Consulting, which advises cannabis companies on licensing, infrastructure and product development…To parents of a certain age, the situation may bring to mind the 1983 public service announcement ‘We’re Not Candy,’ in which a barbershop quartet of singing pills on television advises children “to have a healthy fear of us.”

 

Rainbow Cookies

“A bakery lost a client when it made rainbow Pride cookies. So others bought every item in the shop.”  By Sydney Page, The Washington Post, June 9, 2021

When a small Southern bakery made rainbow-themed cookies to celebrate Pride Month, there was a swift backlash. On June 2, Confections, a tiny store in Lufkin, Tex., shared a photo on its Facebook page of heart-shaped rainbow sugar cookies with the caption, “More LOVE. Less hate. Happy Pride to all our LGBTQ friends! All lovers of cookies and happiness are welcome here.”

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 60 minutes.


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 improving oral skills. 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: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and of the actual article.  Examine any photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. More states are legalizing legalize recreational cannabis.
  2. Companies like Wrigley and others are suing over look-alike THC treats.
  3. A closer look at packaging reveals some small differences.
  4. A background pattern of small, stylized marijuana leaves is evident on one box.
  5. There are numbers that reveal the amount of THC, the intoxicating substance in cannabis, in each piece of candy.
  6. Five companies  are selling cannabis-infused edibles that look like our old friends Skittles and Starburst.
  7. At one point in time Big Candy was vilified as a primary source of refined sugar.
  8. Many public health officials fret that without proper regulation, accidental ingestion cases among kids will increase.
  9. Many edible companies operating in states where medical or recreational cannabis is legal try to follow the rules.
  10. The situation has become more and more egregious.

Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition

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

Accidental consumption can/cans effect/affect anyone, but, Dr. Schauer said/say, ‘it have/has primarily impacted/impact  children/child because they can confused/confuse cannabis edible/edibles products with other edible products, because most edible/edibles look like candy or cookies/cookie or cake.’ She painted/pointed to reports compiled by poison control centers/center in/on Colorado and Washington, the too/two earliest states to legalize recreational cannabis use, in 2012.

Reading Comprehension: Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Read the following quotes from the speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.

  1. “When companies like these create headlines for doing what we’ve purposely avoided at Wana, I feel anger and frustration.”
  2. “The situation has become more and more egregious…The cannabis companies cannot and should not be allowed to tarnish existing brands at will. It creates consumer confusion.”
  3. “The spread of legalization has brought more players and consumers into the edibles market. Edibles are easy. They’re portable.”
  4. “Ten years ago it was the luck of the draw if you bought a brownie…You didn’t know where you would wind up.”
  5. “There are three main aspects of a candy that can be protected by trademark and copyright laws… Take Hershey’s Kisses. You have the name Kisses, which is a trademark, the shape of the candy itself, which is both a trademark and trade dress, and the packaging, which is protected by copyright.”

III. Post Reading Activities

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 Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. What is your personal opinion on legalizing recreational cannabis?
  2. Why are states legalizing recreational cannabis?
  3. In viewing  a package of Skittles candy, what are the small differences on the outside wrapping?
  4. What has been the outcome of some previous lawsuits against filed by other candy companies?
  5. Do you agree with health officials that accidental ingestion among children will continue to rise? What evidence does the article provide?
  6. What problems has the spread of legalization of edibles created?
  7. According to Dr. Schauer what are some ways to reduce the risks of accidental ingestion by children?
  8. Write down three new ideas  you’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things  that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing that you would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

How to Recharge from Burnout

Your inbox is an overflowing bucket of urgent requests. You are consistently asked to do more with less. Your mind is constantly reshuffling priorities, perpetually calculating the number of minutes left in the day…We’re all feeling a littlefried at work and home. But there are ways to stay sharp and recharge.” Catherine Zuckerman, April 30, 2021, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Image- Rescuetime blog

Excerpt: How to Beat Burnout — Without Quitting Your Job, By Catherine Zuckerman, April 30, 2021

“Raise your hand if you’re completely burned out…You’re not alone. The pandemic has left many people fried from trying to juggle work, parenting, caregiving and other responsibilities without enough support.

Though not a medical diagnosis, burnout — specifically job burnout — is linked to a range of health problems, from irritability to cardiovascular disease. In 2019, burnout was officially recognized as a work-related phenomenon by the World Health Organization…Some, especially younger, workers are simply quitting. But for those who can’t or don’t want to quit, there are ways to beat burnout.

Kira Schabram is an assistant professor of management in the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington, where she studies how to mitigate burnout in employees. Past research has focused on finding ways to help employers reduce burnout among staff, she said, but hers focuses on what people can do for themselves… Dr. Schabram’s research suggests that small, deliberate acts of compassion toward yourself and others can help reduce feelings of burnout, whether it is short-term or chronic…According to Dr. Schabram, burnout rates tend to be higher in people who view their work as a calling, and ‘not just a paycheck.’ Like teachers…No matter what your burnout feels like, it’s important to get help. Workplace cultures vary, butemployers are legally bound to offer some form of protection for people who might be suffering from burnout, said Steven Azizi, an employment lawyer based in Los Angeles who specializes in representing workers in claims against their employers.”

 

Celebrating Gay Pride Month!

Lesbians in Ballet: ‘Has Anyone Like Me Ever Walked These Halls?’ By Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, June 1, 2021

‘I want a Juliet and Juliet’

Two Juliets- Audrey Malek, left, and Cortney Taylor Key, rehearsing a duet with the choreographer Adriana Pierce. Credit- Yael Malka for The New York Times

“Ballet’s strict gender norms put pressure on women to conform. But dancers who don’t are finding they’re not alone.” S. Burke, The New York Times, June 1, 2021

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 60 minutes.


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 improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

Pre-Reading: Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and of the actual article.  Examine any photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. Job burnout is very common among office workers.
  2. Though not a medical diagnosis, burnout is linked to a range of health problems.
  3. We’re all feeling a little fried at work and home.
  4. Burnout was officially recognized as a work-related phenomenon.
  5. Christina Maslach is  an emerita psychology professor.
  6. Job burnout includes feelings of exhaustion and inefficacy.
  7. Burnout is rampant today.
  8. Some employees fear that they may be targeted if they complain.
  9. Dr. Schabram’s research suggests that small, deliberate acts of compassion toward yourself and others can help.
  10. Burnout rates tend to be higher in people who view their work as a calling.

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.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Raise you’re hand if you’re completely burned out.
  2. Your mind is constantly reshuffling priorities.
  3. You’re not alone.

II

  1. job burnout are linked to a range of health problems.
  2. Writing in a journal helps recharge the mind.
  3. Dr. Parangi realized she needed to do things that recharged her.

III

  1. No matter what your burnout feels like, it’s important to get help.
  2. Letting others know your not OK is also key.
  3. In some places, if you’re not 150 percent, you’re seen as  weak or defective.

 

Reading Comprehension: Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Read the following quotes from the speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.

  1. “Burnout, is rampant today, partly because many workers feel they can’t say ‘no’ to their employers without being targeted, demoted or punished in some way.”
  2. “For a long time, the assumption was that when you reach burnout, others need to pull you out of it…employers are ultimately responsible for conditions that drive burnout, but…employees who cannot leave and are not getting support can still help themselves.”
  3. “It’s overwhelming…It’s a lot of layers of trauma without very many resources.”
  4. “I literally couldn’t move out of my chair. It took every last bit of energy for me to change out of my scrubs.”
  5. “No matter what your burnout feels like, it’s important to get help.Workplace cultures vary, but employers are legally bound to offer some form of protection for people who might be suffering from burnout.”

III. Post Reading Activities

Graphic Organizers: Finding The Main Idea

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.

Cerebral Chart by Write Design

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Do you feel as if you’re completely burned out these days? Where do you feel the most stressed, at home, school, work or all three?
  2. What are some health issues related to burnout?
  3. Which organization declared burnout as work-related?
  4. Aside from exhaustion, what are some other feelings that define burnout?
  5. According to the article, why are some over-worked employees afraid to say “no” to employers?
  6. Discuss some of the ways to beat burnout. Can you think of other means to beat burnout that the article doesn’t mention?
  7. Why is it important to share your feelings with colleagues in the workplace?
  8. This article primarily  discusses burnout among office workers.Recently, there was an article in the news about tennis champ Naomi  Osaka who mentioned a need to preserve her mental health” during matches, which is why she declined to meet with the news media in between tennis matches. Do you think there is burnout among professional athletes?  What about students? Singers? Ballet dancers? What other professions or situations  can you think of that might cause a person to burnout?
  9. Discuss three new ideas  that you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you would like to know that the article did not mention.
  10. Choose one profession in which you’re interested and write about the ways burnout can be avoided in that particular occupation.

ANSWER KEY

Back in the Spotlight: Higher Salaries for All Teachers

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, debates over school closures and student safety grew in an understandable way… Covid-19 revealed how teachers — in addition to nurturing, protecting and mentoring our children — are essential to a smoothly running society. It’s time to pay them accordingly.” C. Coleman, The New York Times, May 28, 2021

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Teachers protest. – Credit: New York Times

 

Excerpt: The Case for Paying All Teachers Six Figures, By Colette Coleman, The New York Times, May 28, 2021

“Significant raises can keep more people from ending up like me and countless others: a passionate educator who turned to another line of work largely in response to what I saw as incommensurate pay.

Image-credit- Pete Gamlen. The New York Times

In 2019, Kamala Harris, then a Democratic presidential candidate, said at a rally on the campus of Texas Southern University what teachers sadly know to be true: ‘We are a nation and a society that pretends to care about education.’In a PDK poll from that year, most educators reported that they don’t want their children to enter the profession. About half of teachers surveyed said they had seriously considered quitting. A troubling number follow through.

During her campaign, Ms. Harris proposed something that, if enacted, could reverse this trend and prove we do care about education: federally subsidized $13,500 teacher raises.

This would be a sound prescription for our near-term teacher shortage and serve as a long-term investment in our children’s futures, increasing our nation’s lagging productivity.

Ms. Harris’s plan to use federal and state funds to boost educators’ annual salaries to an average of $70,000 or more would be good; getting them to six figures would be even better.

Teacher salaries protest in Miami, Florida | Joe Raedle: Getty Images

After all, entry-level Facebook engineers earn well over $100,000. On average nationally, teachers start at under $40,000… Research collected by the Center for American Progress found that ‘the teacher labor market is responsive to changes in pay just like other occupations and that changes in pay can affect not only teacher attrition, but also the pool of candidates choosing to enroll in teacher preparation programs.’

Years ago, when I quit my Wall Street job to teach in the Los Angeles Unified School District, I thought — as the culture has taught us all — that a pay cut was just the cost of following a calling, a reduction taken to do meaningful work. I soon learned I was wrong…After I left that role because of pay that didn’t make up for the burnout I felt and went to teach in Indonesia, I got those nice gifts, too. But more crucially, I got better working conditions and objective confirmation that my time and expertise were valuable: It came in the form of money. The school paid me like the well-educated professional that I was.

Photo- American Enterprise Institute

Here in America, although they’re not paid like it, teachers are in high demand. Covid has made what’s known as the broken teacher pipeline worse, but it has been around since long before the pandemic. A large survey conducted in 2020 found that 67 percent of teachers ‘have or had a second job to make ends meet.’

A 2019 report revealed that fewer college students are studying to become teachers and that because of ‘low salaries, difficult working conditions and a lack of career pathway opportunities,’ teaching generally cannot compete ‘with other high-status professions such as medicine and law.’

My dissatisfaction and that of many other former teachers extended beyond compensation. Attracting and retaining highly qualified educators will also require, for instance, improvements in working conditions. Meaningful raises are a strong start, though. Competitive salaries would lower attrition rates and attract fresh talent that would push everyone to do better.”

 

Celebrating Gay Pride Month:

Frank Kameny

Franklin Edward Kameny (May 21, 1925 – October 11, 2011) was an American gay rights activist. He has been referred to as “one of the most significant figures” in the American gay rights movement. n 1957, Kameny was dismissed from his position as an astronomer in the U.S. Army‘s Army Map Service in Washington, D.C., because of his homosexuality,[3] leading him to begin “a Herculean struggle with the American establishment” that would “spearhead a new period of militancy in the homosexual rights movement of the early 1960s”.  Wikipedia

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 60 minutes.


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


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with afocus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. 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: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine  any photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be used.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. During the Covid-19 pandemic, debates over school closures and student safety grew.
  2. There was no conversation about lagging salaries for K-12 educators.
  3. Each week brings more vaccine jabs and more news of school districts fully reopening in the fall.
  4. Covid-19 revealed just how important educators are to our children. 
  5. Significant raises can keep more people from ending up like me.
  6. Vice President  Harris proposed a solution.
  7. Ms. Harris’s plan is to use federal and state funds to boost educators’ annual salaries.
  8. Entry-level Facebook engineers earn over $100,000. 
  9. High-quality teachers can boost student performance on reading and math tests twofold.
  10. I left that role because of pay that didn’t make up for the burnout I felt.

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.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Attracting highly qualified educator will also be required.
  2. Competitive salaries would lower attrition rates.
  3. Significant raises can keep teachers from leaving.

II

  1. A pay cut was just the cost of following a calling.
  2. I got grown-up goody baskets from parents.
  3. Many teacher get nice gifts.

III

  1. Here in America, although they’re not paid like it, teacher are in high demand.
  2. The cost of living and the price of raising a family is  higher than ever.
  3. Even before Covid-19, many students lacked permanent teachers.

 

Reading Comprehension

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

“After I left/leave that roll/role because of pay/paid that didn’t/don’t made/make up for the/an burnout I felt and went to teach in Indonesia, I get/got those nice gifts, too. But more crucially, I got better working conditions and objective confirmation that mine/my time and expertise were valuable: It came in the form/from of money. The school paid/pay me like the well-educated professional that I was.”

 

III. Post Reading Activities

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Why did the issue of increasing educator’s salaries stop receiving attention?
  2. The author mentions three important areas teachers deal with when teaching. What are they? Can you think of other areas educators cover?
  3. The author states, “Significant raises can keep more people from ending up like me and countless others…”  What situation was she referring to?
  4. Vice President Kamala Harris  once stated, “We are a nation and a society that pretends to care about education.”  Why do you think she said this?
  5. What solution did Vice President Harris propose? How could her plan help our education system?
  6. According to the author what is the average starting salary for teachers? For all of the work that teachers do is this a fair figure?
  7. What function does the RAND corporation serve?
  8. What idea did the author have about taking a ‘pay-cut’?  What do you think about teachers taking a cut in pay?
  9. In which country did the author find satisfaction as a teacher? Why?
  10. What is the ‘broken teacher hotline’?
  11. Which two professions compete with teaching? Why?
  12. What are your personal thoughts on becoming a teacher?
  13. List three new ideas  that you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention.  Share your responses with your class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Education

Are We Socially Awkward After Covid-19?

“You might have a knee-jerk reaction to withdraw sharply when someone goes to hug you. If so, this is a byproduct of your highly plastic brain having been trained to protect you from COVID over the past year but is something you have the agency to rescript with time.” L. Johnson, Popsugar, May 20, 2021

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Photo- Popsugar

Excerpt: I’ve Really Missed People, but Has COVID Made Us Socially Awkward? By Lacey Johnson, Popsugar May 20, 2021

“For more than a year, many of us have felt alone, together. And no matter if our professions kept us home or on the front lines of the pandemic, I think we’ve all dealt with losing the daily rhythms, freedoms, and lifestyles that collectively defined us. Early in the pandemic, therapists reported an urgent rush of mental health crises in the midst of such swift change, isolation, and grief…Perhaps we didn’t realize how much we valued a friendly smile in an elevator or the sound of a barista shouting our latte order from across a noisy cafe…The coronavirus pandemic left us fumbling with our uncertainties about the future from the privacy of our homes, feeling a lifetime away from many of the people we love most.

Image- Marc Rosenthal, The New York Times

There’s no question that the sudden, dispiriting changes that swept across our communities and social infrastructures have since dug their roots into our internal landscapes, too. In fact, the data has become clear: scientists have tracked a massive surge in depression… So as the world slowly begins to reopen, it raises an important question: after having spent so much time away from each other…logging into Zoom to celebrate a milestone birthday with friends, being counseled and consoled through apps, and keeping at least six feet of distance while roaming the produce aisle, what if it feels weird to engage with each other in real life again?

‘This summer is going to be lit!’ one of my friends said to me recently after I recited some items from my overzealous post-COVID bucket list.

The New York Times

But as the vaccine numbers continue to rise and America’s case numbers go down, allowing more American cities to swing open their social doors, others are grappling with mixed emotions about postpandemic reentry…we called upon the experts to explore ways that we might not yet realize we’ve changed, with guidance for how to be compassionate with ourselves and each other as we reenter the world… Dr. Kevin Gilliland, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist and executive director of Innovation360, said that as we slowly transition back into a pre-COVID pulse of life, we should prepare ourselves for some level of awkwardness and bouts of self-consciousness…Therapist Arien Conner, LCSW, and owner of Clear Path Counseling, said that, in the midst of our social reawakening, when we notice that someone appears uncomfortable, we might pause to give them empathy and patience within their respective comfort level… So once your city opens up and you feel it’s safe to roam about it, slide on your most fabulous attire and venture out for a swanky happy hour with your friends. Perhaps wander into a cozy poetry reading or trivia night.”

 

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 60 minutes.


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 improving oral skills. 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: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and the actual article.  Examine any photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities: Word Inference

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

  1. We’ve all dealt with losing the daily lifestyles that collectively defined us.
  2. We found ourselves craving lighthearted office banter, harmless gossip fizzy cocktails.
  3. Perhaps we didn’t realize how much we valued the sound of a barista shouting our latte order from across a noisy cafe.
  4. Since COVID-19 gripped America, it’s been a ruthless, scary, and consequential year.
  5. You might have a knee-jerk reaction to withdraw sharply when someone goes to hug you.
  6. It might seem weird to engage with each other in real life again.
  7. I made my overzealous post-COVID bucket list.
  8. Humans are a profoundly adaptive and resilient species.
  9. Some people saw their once-thriving business being swept clean.
  10. Others realized they couldn’t wait to monetize their ideas.

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.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. For more then a year, many of us have felt alone.
  2. We found ourselves craving lighthearted office banter.
  3. We didn’t realize how much we valued a friendly smile.

II

  1. It’s been a ruthless, scary, and consequential year.
  2. The coronavirus pandemic left us fumbling with our uncertainties about the future.
  3. After the year-plus that we’ve had, it’s safe to say we deserve a celebration.

III

  1. Typically it take three to six months to form a habit.
  2. Humans are a profoundly adaptive and resilient species.
  3. For some individuals, the pandemic pointed them toward power they didn’t know they had.

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Read the following quotes from the speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.

  1. “Typically it takes three to six months to form a habit, and this includes behavioral and thought habits.”
  2. You’ve likely been masking, social distancing, and closely following the reports for more than a year now, so your brain is naturally going to stop you from doing certain things you may have once done on a daily basis.”
  3. “… in the midst of our social reawakening, when we notice that someone appears uncomfortable, we might pause to give them empathy and patience within their respective comfort level.”
  4. “With few opportunities for socializing and outward distraction, we’ve each had a huge mirror held up in front of us.”
  5. “In my practice, I work mostly with women, and many of them started the pandemic by setting clear, firm boundaries around COVID for their immediate family’s safety.”
  6. “For some, their lockdown experience was hell in every way possible. For others, it was the transformative pause that they needed but never would have given themselves.”
  7. “We need to be mindful that our experience might look nothing like our colleague’s or neighbor’s.”
  8. “We found that the tremendous self-reflection experienced in the pandemic led Hinge users to reassess their priorities in love.”
  9. “According to our most recent research, 75 percent of Hinge daters are no longer looking for something casual but seeking a meaningful relationship.”

III. Post Reading Activities

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 Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. The article states, “The coronavirus pandemic left us fumbling with our uncertainties about the future from the privacy of our homes, feeling a lifetime away from many of the people we love most…In fact, the data has become clear: scientists have tracked a massive surge in depression.”  Did you miss being with certain family members and friends? Which ones? Did you experience depression during this time? Was there anyone close to help you?
  2. In your opinion, is it strange to engage with people again? Please explain why or why not.
  3. The author states that they have a “post-COVID bucket list.” Do you have a list of things you want to do this summer? What are they?
  4. Some people feel anxious about leaving their homes and meeting people. Have you or someone you know experienced these feelings?
  5. Write down three new ideas  that you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you would like to know that the article did not mention.

ANSWER KEY

Learning (and Teaching) English Can Be Rewarding…and Frustrating!

“Last month, we published a story in collaboration with the NPR podcast Rough Translation…Dozens of readers wrote in with their own stories about how challenging — and frustrating and rewarding — it can be to learn and teach English.” C.McCusker, NPR, May 16, 2021

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

The Word You Never Heard. Image By Marc Silver/ NPR

 

Excerpt: Prepone That! Your Accent Is Funny! Readers Share Their ESL Stories, By Carolyn McCusker,NPR, May 16, 2021

“We’re featuring three responses that we found especially insightful: an English professor from India shares an English word she’s used for years — not found anywhere in the dictionary; an author points out the politics behind terms like ‘native language’ and ‘mother tongue’; and an engineering professor discusses why stereotypes about ‘accented English’ are totally hypocritical.

Brave new word

Aparna Gollapudi is a professor of English at Colorado State University who grew up in New Delhi. She used a word in her classroom one day that made her see her relationship to the English language in a totally new way.

A month or two after I began teaching in the U.S., I had to make some changes to the class schedule. ‘We’ll need to prepone the quiz, I’m afraid,’I said, steeling myself for the groans from students that were sure to follow. Instead, there was deafening silence.

I looked around to see blank expressions on my students’ faces — that look of ‘I have NO idea what you just said,’ which stops any teacher worth their salt mid-lecture to backtrack and explain a concept further… I believed that prepone meant the opposite of postpone — moving an event to an earlier time rather than putting off something to a later time. So when I realized it wasn’t ‘proper’ English, I was dumbfounded…I was an English major with a robust vocabulary, a ‘convent school’ accent and fondness for reading Dickens, Austen and other such august writers…But that day in the classroom, my incomprehensibleEnglish taught me that being an linguistic “have” is unstable and delusional at best. It is a lesson I have learned many times over since then.”

Who gets to have the label “native speaker”?

Srikanth Chander Madani is an author with interests in climate change, social equity and the creative arts… Madani shares his experiences being asked to prove his language proficiency time and time again.

The words we use to describe the many ways to speak English — like ‘mother tongue,’ ‘native’ and ‘non-native’ speaker — are often fraught.

Srikanth Chander Madani is experienced with many languages: “My ‘mother-tongue’ is Hebbar,” Madani says, ‘a language specific to a certain group of Indians who moved between two linguistic regions centuries ago, with words from Sanskrit, Tamil and Kannada.’ He speaks English, Hindi, German and French fluently. He’s in the process of learning Italian and trying to improve his written French…Madani has found it frustrating to be so frequently asked to credential his ability to speak languages he is both proficient and prolific in… The whole concept of “mother tongue” is a political construct to keep certain people out, says Madani. According to Madani, the hoops that many non-American or non-British English speakers are forced to jump through in order to credential their English seem nonsensical when their American and British counterparts with equal or lesser proficiency are never asked to prove it.

‘Having lived in the U.K., I know many whose first (and only) language is English and who make routine errors when speaking and many more when writing,’ says Madani. ‘Why should they get a free pass and not be forced to go through a TOEFL [Test of English as a Foreign Language] or IELTS [International English Language Testing System]?’

All accents welcome

Sergio Serrano is a professor of engineering science and applied mathematics at Temple University.

Having lived in North America for 40 years after growing up in Bogotá, Colombia, Serrano shares his experience speaking English in academic settings and dealing with accent stereotypes.  Sergio Serrano has participated in many international scientific conferences across the globe. ‘In a typical situation, a group of foreign researchers are discussing a complex technical issue with very precise and elaborate formal English,’ Serrano says, ‘until an American joins the group.’  The research found that communication is inhibited in part due to native speakers’ use of language not held in common, like culturally specific idioms…Serrano also discusses his experiences being singled out for his accent.

‘After 40 years living in North America,’ he says, ‘I still encounter the situation when a stranger interrupts me after a few words I spoke to interrogate me: ‘You have a strong accent. Where are you from?’ It is a continuous reminder that you are forever an alien in your own country.’

‘I politely explain my origins, and then I add, ‘I cannot catch your accent. Where are you from?,’  says Serrano. Indeed, those who single out Serrano for having a strong accent  seem to be unaware that everybody (themselves included) has an accent.”

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 60 minutes.


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 improving oral skills. 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: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine  any photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be used.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. There was deafening silence after I asked my question.
  2. Any teacher would backtrack and explain a concept further.
  3. It is believed that  all legitimate words in a language must be found in a dictionary.
  4. When I realized it wasn’t ‘proper’ English, I was dumbfounded.
  5. It was akin to a paradigm shift in my linguistic self-image.
  6. I had grown up in India, where fluency in English is synonymous with education.
  7. I was an English major with a robust vocabulary.
  8. But that day in the classroom, my incomprehensible English taught me a lesson.
  9. I would sometimes use my Britishisms in class.
  10. Leaving India took me out of my insulated and privileged linguistic bubble.

 

 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.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. I begin teaching English in the U.S 20 years ago.
  2. I looked around to see blank expressions on my students’ faces.
  3. I had grown up in India.

II

  1. Their are many varieties of English.
  2. Many words [from these languages] have stayed with him.
  3. Madani is asked to prove his language proficiency time and time again.

III

  1. Sometimes I stumble while pronouncing some word.
  2. There are  words we use to describe the many ways to speak English.
  3. Sergio Serrano has participated in many international scientific conferences.

 

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Read the following quotes from the speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.

  1. “A month or two after I began teaching in the U.S., I had to make some changes to the class schedule.”
  2. “We’ll need to prepone the quiz, I’m afraid,” I said.
  3. “I was an English major with a robust vocabulary, a convent school accent and fondness for reading Dickens, Austen and other such august writers.”
  4. “The words we use to describe the many ways to speak English — like ‘mother tongue,’ ‘native’  and ‘non-native’ speaker — are often fraught.”
  5. “I grew up with three languages, as my parents did not share the same ‘mother tongue’.”
  6. “Having lived in the U.K., I know many whose first (and only) language is English and who make routine errors when speaking and many more when writing,”
  7. “On the contrary, communication ends because [the foreign researchers] cannot explain to the American, in simple language, the advanced topics they were discussing. Yet, the American takes over the conversation.”
  8. “After 40 years living in North America,… I still encounter the situation when a stranger interrupts me after a few words I spoke to interrogate me: ‘You have a strong accent.”
  9. “I politely explain my origins, and then I add, ‘I cannot catch your accent. Where are you from?”

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Have you ever used an American English word that made perfect sense to you but was not in the American dictionary? What was the word and it’s meaning?
  2. After explaining the meaning of ‘prepone’ does it make sense to you? Why?
  3. Which two letters of the English alphabet did Professor Gollapudi have difficulty pronouncing? If English is not your first language, do you have difficulty with these two letters?
  4. Give an example of a Britishism.
  5. According to Professor Gollapudi was she better off leaving her privileged linguistic bubble? Why?
  6. Why are there so many varieties of English?
  7. Why does Srikanth Chander Madani say English is his mother tongue? Do you agree?
  8. According to Sergio Serrano, what happens when an American joins in  a conversion? Have you ever experienced this with American speakers?
  9. Make a list of other words  that you think should have meaning in an American dictionary (e.g., prepone). Share the list with the class.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions:  List three new ideas  that you’ve learned from the reading,  two things that you  did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention.  Share your responses with your class.

ANSWER KEY

 

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