Smart Devices Can Hear Hidden Messages That We Can’t

“Researchers can now send secret audio instructions undetectable to the human ear to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant.” C. Smith, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

PCMag UK

 

Excerpt: Alexa and Siri Can Hear This Hidden Command. You Can’t. Craig Smith, The New York Times

“Many people have grown accustomed to talking to their smart devices, asking them to read a text, play a song or set an alarm. But someone else might be secretly talking to them, too.

Photo- Hypegram

Over the past two years, researchers in China and the United States have begun demonstrating that they can send hidden commands that are undetectable to the human ear to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. Inside university labs, the researchers have been able to secretly activate the artificial intelligence systems on smartphones and smart speakers, making them dial phone numbers or open websites. In the wrong hands, the technology could be used to unlock doors, wire money or buy stuff online — simply with music playing over the radio.

A group of students from University of California, Berkeley and Georgetown University showed in 2016 that they could hide commands in white noise played over loudspeakers and through YouTube videos to get smart devices to turn on airplane mode or open a website. This month, some of those Berkeley researchers published a research paper that went further, saying they could embed commands directly into recordings of music or spoken text.

Image- youtube

‘We wanted to see if we could make it even more stealthy,’ said Nicholas Carlini, a fifth-year Ph.D. student in computer security at U.C. Berkeley and one of the paper’s authors. Mr. Carlini added that while there was no evidence that these techniques have left the lab, it may only be a matter of time before someone starts exploiting them. ‘My assumption is that the malicious people already employ people to do what I do,’ he said. These deceptions illustrate how artificial intelligence — even as it is making great strides — can still be tricked and manipulated. Computers can be fooled into identifying an airplane as a cat just by changing a few pixels of a digital image, while researchers can make a self-driving car swerve or speed up simply by pasting small stickers on road signs and confusing the vehicle’s computer vision system.

The proliferation of voice-activated gadgets amplifies the implications of such tricks. Smartphones and smart speakers that use digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri are set to outnumber people by 2021, according to the research firm Ovum. And more than half of all American households will have at least one smart speaker by then, according to Juniper Research…There is already a history of smart devices being exploited for commercial gains through spoken commands.

Last year, Burger King caused a stir with an online ad that purposely asked ‘O.K., Google, what is the Whopper burger?” Android devices with voice-enabled search would respond by reading from the Whopper’s Wikipedia page. The ad was canceled after viewers started editing the Wikipedia page to comic effect.

A few months later, the animated series South Park followed up with an entire episode built around voice commands that caused viewers’ voice-recognition assistants to parrot adolescent obscenities. There is no American law against broadcasting subliminal messages to humans, let alone machines…Courts have ruled that subliminal messages may constitute an invasion of privacy, but the law has not extended the concept of privacy to machines.

Now the technology is racing even further ahead of the law. Last year, researchers at Princeton University and China’s Zhejiang University demonstrated that voice-recognition systems could be activated by using frequencies inaudible to the human ear. The attack first muted the phone so the owner wouldn’t hear the system’s responses, either.

The technique, which the Chinese researchers called DolphinAttack, can instruct smart devices to visit malicious websites, initiate phone calls, take a picture or send text messages. While DolphinAttack has its limitations — the transmitter must be close to the receiving device — experts warned that more powerful ultrasonic systems were possible…Mr. Carlini said he was confident that in time he and his colleagues could mount successful adversarial attacks against any smart device system on the market. ‘We want to demonstrate that it’s possible,’ he said, ‘and then hope that other people will say, ‘O.K. this is possible, now let’s try and fix it.’”

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

 

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 for assistance.

  1. People have grown accustomed to talking to their smart devices.
  2. Researchers can send hidden commands that are undetectable to the human ear.
  3. A group of students showed in 2016 that they could hide commands in white noise played over loudspeakers.
  4. The students wanted to see if  they could make it even more stealthy.
  5. Malicious people already employ people to give secret commands to phones.
  6. These deceptions illustrate how artificial intelligence  can be manipulated.
  7. With audio attacks, the researchers are exploiting the gap between human and machine speech recognition.
  8. There is already a history of smart devices being exploited for commercial gains.
  9. There is no American law against broadcasting subliminal messages to humans.
  10. Courts have ruled that subliminal messages may constitute an invasion of privacy.

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. Researchers in Japan and the United States have begun demonstrating that they can send hidden commands.
  2. Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant are the three major devices listed.
  3. In the wrong hands, the technology could be used to unlock doors, wire money or buy stuff online.
  4. Harvard researchers published a research paper  saying they could embed commands directly into recordings of music or spoken text.
  5. Nicholas Carlini is a  security  guard at U.C. Berkeley.
  6. Mr. Carlini believes that malicious people already employ people to give hidden commands.
  7. The bottom line is that artificial intelligence can be tricked and manipulated.
  8. Smartphones and smart speakers that use digital assistants  will not outnumber people by 2021.
  9. Amazon said it has taken steps to ensure its Echo smart speaker is secure.
  10. There is already a history of smart devices being exploited for commercial gains through spoken commands.

Grammar Focus:

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

This month, some of those ___researchers published a research ___that went further, saying they could ___commands directly into recordings of ___or spoken text. So while a ___listener hears someone talking or an ___playing, Amazon’s Echo ___might hear an instruction to add something to your ___list.

WORD LIST: shopping, embed, Berkeley, speaker,  orchestra, paper, human,  music,

III. Post Reading Activities

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

  1. Do you use Siri, Alexa and Google’s Assistant regularly?
  2. Do you feel secure about your information?
  3. After reading this article how do you feel about your smart devices? Do you trust them?
  4. Think of ways you can deter malicious outsiders from interfering with your iPhones and other devices.

 

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: Technology

Ex-Prisoners And The Tough Road Back to Society!

“In California, known for decades as one of the nation’s most avid jailers, the trajectory of law and order is shifting. Through litigation, legislation and a series of ballot initiatives, the state’s prison population has dropped 25 percent over the past decade… Those who have family tend to find their way. But long stretches behind bars leave many without support.” J. Rodriquez and N. Bernstein, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Former gang member Alfred Medina Jr., who served 17 years for drug-related crimes, lives at a residence for ex-prisoners in Los Angeles. The CSM

“Gretchen Newby, executive director of the Stockton-based nonprofit Friends Outside, which provides support to prisoners and their families, said the city was experiencing a ‘cluster effect’…It’s common to come out with untreated illness, chronic conditions due to age and neglect,’ Ms. Newby said. ‘How are they going to live?’ Friends Outside case managers work to answer this question, lining up job interviews and transitional housing.

Many ex-felons without a familial support system wind up homeless. Some of them live in this encampment called the Trenches. Credit Joseph Rodriguez for The New York Times

The roughly 600,000 men and women who leave incarceration nationwide each year are the long tail of the nation’s prison boom. Finding housing tops the list of challenges they face, followed by getting and keeping a job. These practical barriers are compounded by internal obstacles. Researchers report high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as histories of abuse and neglect among prisoners. These early wounds are compounded by the violence, humiliation and bone-deep isolation of the prison experience.

Jesse De La Cruz spent nearly three decades in and out of prison and now holds a doctorate in education. Credit Joseph Rodriguez for The New York Times

‘It’s a lot of work to unravel the garbage I created,’ said Jesse De La Cruz, who spent three decades in and out of California prisons. Former prisoners, he said, are expected to ‘change everything they’ve done all their lives in three months. It doesn’t work that way.’

Carl Adkisson a recovering drug addict, writes in his bunk bed at the Amity Foundation house. Tony Avelar:The Christian Science Monitor

David Eng was fortunate in this regard. He was sentenced to 17 years to life for second-degree murder…After 28 years, he left prison with the support of a handful of family members and friends. A brother in Stockton offered him a place to stay. A year and half later, he has a car, a new wife and a job helping other returning prisoners get on their feet at Fathers and Families, a Stockton nonprofit.

Alfred Taylor, a convicted murderer who served 41 years in prison, watches television at the Francisco Home-Leighton house. CSM

Mr. Eng is part of a wave of newly released lifers pouring out of California’s prisons — nearly 4,500 since Gov. Jerry Brown took office in 2011, compared with a handful a decade earlier…Results are typically measured in terms of recidivism, defined as a return to prison within the first three years out. Those who manage to stay free past this milestone — roughly half — are considered success stories.There is some logic to this form of accounting: The longer you are out, the more likely you are to stay out.”

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: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

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 for assistance.

  1. What does the outside life look like after a long stint in prison?
  2. California has been known for decades as one of the nation’s most avid jailers.
  3. Photographer Joseph Rodriguez has been documenting crime and punishment in California for years.
  4. Many inmates come out with chronic conditions due to age.
  5. A good number of women also leave incarceration each year.
  6. Humiliation and bone-deep isolation of the prison leave scars.
  7. Mr. Eng is part of a wave of newly released lifers pouring out of California’s prisons.
  8. Many lifers work hard to gain parole.
  9. Abstinence plays a major role in getting a parole.
  10. Fathers and Families is a Stockton nonprofit.

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. There are  roughly 600,000 men who leave incarceration nationwide each year.
  2. Many prisoners have family support.
  3. Some prisoners have family members in jail with them.
  4. Researchers report high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as histories of abuse and neglect among prisoners.
  5. Gretchen Newby is the executive director of the Stockton-based nonprofit Friends Outside.
  6. She loves her job.
  7. It’s common for prisoners to come out in good health.
  8. Jesse De La Cruz spent three decades in and out of California prisons.
  9. Jesse De La Cruz holds a doctorate in prison life.
  10. David Eng was sentenced to 17 years to life for second-degree murder.

 

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.

Mr. Eng describe/described a childhood marked/make by drugs and neglect. At 5 years old, he said, he witnessed/witnesses  his mother’s murder. This kind of early trauma is widespread behind/under bars, according to Daniel Silva, 60, who spent/spends 39 years in California’s prison/prism system. Mr. Silva was still locked up when he began to develop the curriculum for the Self-Awareness and Recovery program, which runs/run healing/heating circles inside several California prisons.

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 for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups Have each group list 3  questions they would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Groups share questions as a class.

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: Social Issues | Tags:

Biden The 2020 Candidate for President? There’s Still Hope!

“If the election were held today, Joe Biden would crush [Trump]. Almost any other Democrat — including one named Generic Democrat — would also beat the man who runs an administration of kooks, quacks, criminals, drunks, wife-beaters and grifters.” T. Egan, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Joe Biden-youtube

Excerpt: To Beat Trump, Build A Better Biden By Timothy Egan, The New York Times

“Sadly, there remains a sizable constituency for incompetency on this scale — the look-the-other-way evangelicals, the get-yours-while-you-can corporate class, the-ditch-your-principles Republican office holders. They’re with Stupid, no matter how much Trump debases the office. But you can’t beat nothing with better-than-nothing.

Quick: What are Democrats for? Continuity With Change? Stronger Together? A Better Deal? Two of those are actual slogans of the national party, and one is from the feckless politician on ‘Veep.’

Surprisingly, the Democrats are thinking big for once. The ideas being tossed around are risky enough to be called bold: a guaranteed-jobs program, universal health care, a public option for banking, free community college.

But the best-known carriers of that message have problems. Nancy Pelosi is toxic in many a targeted red-to-blue district. Chuck Schumer sounds too much like a party hack. The presidential contenders all have weaknesses… People were sick of it in 2006 — when Democrats won the House in part on campaigning against the ‘culture of corruption.’

Joe Biden- I’m leaving the door open | Boston Herald

They were sick of it in 2016, when Hillary Clinton could not shake the stink of big finance-connected profiteering. And they are sick of it today, when more than half of Trump’s cabinet has engaged in questionable behavior…Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook showed some promise until we all realized that social media had been weaponized to destroy democracy.

The entrepreneur Mark Cuban? Haven’t we had enough of a reality show star playing at being president? This gets you to the bench of elected officials. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the junior senator from New York, is a whirlwind of Big Ideas of late… She is coldbloodedly #MeToo, having shoved her former colleague Al Franken and the Clintons under the bus. And she has gotten ahead of the one-note socialist Senator Bernie Sanders on the idea of a job guarantee for everyone who wants to work. Sanders himself will be 79 on Election Day 2020 and is not getting any less cranky.

But don’t overlook the enthusiasm generated by the Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke or Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana. They’ve stood up for the basic right of health care, and against the wrong of more tax cuts for the rich — foundational positions favored by a majority of the country.

Former Vice President Joe Biden talks about his family and his life, Monday night at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. Photo-detroitnews

Another prospect is the Senate’s resident vegan, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. He’s got some Wall Street problems and is less populist than the mood of the country… That’s where Biden comes in, and why he cleans up against Trump in early matchups. The problem is that he will be 77 on Election Day…But maybe the current Biden is built to last, with just enough septuagenarian strut to end the dark age of Trump.”

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:

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about Joe Biden.  Next, have students look at the pictures in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article.  Regroup as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Brainstorming chart by UIE

 

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 for assistance.

  1. There’s a sizable constituency for Joe Biden.
  2. The look-the-other-way evangelicals are still present.
  3. Nancy Pelosi is toxic in many voting districts.
  4. We need a guarantee that jobs will be available for everyone.
  5. Another prospect is  Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.
  6. But don’t overlook the enthusiasm generated by the Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke.
  7. Some candidates wouldn’t need a slogan.
  8. Many rookie politians will attempt to run for the presidency in 2020.
  9. There are a vast number of voters that suffer from economic anxiety.    
  10. Biden has just enough septuagenarian strut to win.

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

Another ___is  Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey…In the same ___is the rookie ___Kamala Harris of California. She’s sharp,___, with the right balance of ___and intellect. But how would a California liberal play in Scranton, Pa.? A new study suggests that ___of cultural ___was a greater driver for Trump voters than economic anxiety — identity politics for aging___males.

WORD LIST: ego, displacement, prospect, white, Senator, class, dynamic, fear,

 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. That’s where Biden come into the race.
  2. The problem is that he will be 77 on Election Day.
  3. There is that fear of cultural displacement.

II

  1. Surprisingly, the Democrats are thinking big for once.
  2. The ideas being tossed around is risky.
  3. The presidential contenders all have weaknesses.

III

  1. All candidates would need to be ethically clean.
  2. It might help if candidates was not from the political class.
  3. Surprisingly, the Democrats are thinking big for once.

 

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 for Comprehension /Writing

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 topics mentioned.

  1. The article states: “If you were to go into a lab and create a perfect candidate for 2020, along with a popular policy prescription for this anxious decade, what would that look like?”
  2. In your opinion is Joe Biden the right candidate to run in 2020? Provide reasons for your answer.
  3. In your opinion what are the qualities that make a good  presidential candidate?

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: Political Issues | Tags:

Japan’s Kyoto University Welcomes First African President

“On a beautiful spring Sunday during cherry blossom season, the new president of Kyoto Seika University welcomed students for the start of the Japanese school year. ‘You have left your home,’ he told the 770 first-year and graduate students gathered in a gym on the hilly campus. ‘But this is also your home.’ In Bamanankan — the lingua franca of his native Mali…Dr. Sacko, who is believed to be the first African-born president of a Japanese university, segued elegantly into fluent Japanese, invoking Hannah Arendt, Edward Said, Eleanor Roosevelt and the Malian writer Amadou Hampâté Bâ.”  M. Rich, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: In Homogeneous Japan, an African-Born University President, By Motoko Rich, The New York Times

“In this island country that is sometimes less than welcoming to immigrants, Mr. Sacko is an outlier. A resident for 27 years, he obtained Japanese citizenship 16 years ago and worked his way up through the ranks of a Japanese institution.

With a declining population, Japan is being forced to confront its traditional resistance to taking in foreigners…Obtaining Japanese citizenship is extremely difficult. Since 1952, just over 550,000 people have managed to naturalize as Japanese citizens, most of them ethnic Koreans whose families have lived in Japan for several generations since the colonial occupation of Korea. Dr. Sacko says he believes Japan needs to allow in more outsiders, simply as an act of self-preservation.

‘Japanese people think they have to protect something,’ he said during an interview in English before a reception recently to celebrate his appointment. But, ‘someone who has a broad view from outside on your culture can maybe help you objectively improve your goals,’ he said, occasionally interrupting the interview to greet his guests, switching effortlessly between English, French and Japanese.

Dr. Sacko, the eldest son of a customs officer and homemaker, grew up in Bamako, the capital city of Mali. A strong student, he won a scholarship from the Malian government to attend college abroad.

Dr. Oussouby Sacko.

He had never been anywhere other than the neighboring country of Senegal. With 13 other students from Mali, he was assigned to study in China and landed in Beijing in 1985 to study Mandarin before embarking on a degree in engineering and architecture at Southeast University in Nanjing.

On a vacation to Japan after obtaining his undergraduate degree in 1990, Dr. Sacko found himself enchanted by what he observed as strong community ties and the hospitality toward guests. Although he had begun graduate studies in China, he was frustrated that a government minder always shadowed him when he conducted field research in local villages.

Dr. Sacko moved to Osaka, Japan, for six months of language lessons before enrolling in a master’s degree program at Kyoto University…  Dr. Sacko said he had hoped to return to Mali someday, but after a military coup in 1991, his employment options were limited. As he pursued a doctorate in Japan, he worked to understand a culture where people can say the exact opposite of what they mean. ‘You don’t always catch things from the meanings of the words,’ he said. ‘You have to go deeper.’

Along the way, there were some misunderstandings. After hosting a few parties at his apartment, his neighbors remarked that he and his friends always seemed happy and that they were envious. Dr. Sacko urged them to join his next party. Instead, they called the police. ‘The police said, ‘You are too noisy,’ Dr. Sacko recalled.  ‘And I said ‘But my neighbors like that!’

Dr. Sacko’s appointment could help Kyoto Seika appeal to more foreign students at a time when many Japanese universities are struggling to maintain enrollment.

‘He deeply understands Japanese culture and the way of thinking,’ said Emiko Yoshioka, a professor of art theory whom Dr. Sacko appointed as vice president at Kyoto Seika. ‘But he also is able to poke fun at the fact that he is a foreigner.’

In a practical sense, Dr. Sacko’s appointment could help Kyoto Seika appeal to more foreign students at a time when many universities across Japan are struggling to maintain enrollment.

Already, 20 percent of its student body comes from abroad, much higher than the 4 percent overall ratio of foreign students in Japanese higher education. Dr. Sacko said he hoped to raise Kyoto Seika’s level to 40 percent within a decade…Dr. Sacko said he had not experienced racism in Japan but said he was treated differently simply because he does not look Japanese. Despite his Japanese citizenship, for example, he says he is automatically routed to lines for foreigners at the airport when he returns from trips abroad. ‘It’s not because you’re black,’ he said. ‘It’s because you’re different.’

He said he considered it his mission to foster differences beyond race. When recruiting Ms. Yoshioka as vice president, he told her he wanted her for the job because she was a woman and a single mother.”

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: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

KWL Chart

The K-W-L chart is used to activate students’ background knowledge of a topic in order to enhance their comprehension skills.

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about Japanese culture. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

 

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 for assistance.

  1. There has been a decline in population in Japan.
  2. Students were amazed when the African-born president segued elegantly into fluent Japanese.
  3. Mr. Sacko is an outlier.
  4. Dr. Sacko found himself enchanted by Japanese culture.
  5. There was a military coup in Mali in 1991.
  6. He pursued a doctorate in Japanese culture.
  7. Along the way, there were some misunderstandings.
  8. But he also is able to poke fun at the fact that he is a foreigner.
  9. Many universities across Japan are struggling to maintain enrollment.
  10. Dr. Sacko said that it was his mission to foster differences beyond race.

 

Reading Comprehension: Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

In___with___, he was often ___to take___, which helped him improve his ___comprehension and ___ability. At night, he watched___television shows and socialized with ___classmates.

WORD LIST:  Japanese,  listening, Japanese, minutes,  asked, colleagues, meetings, writing,

 

 Grammar Focus: Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Prepositions:  in, for, of, with, by,  on, at, to, as, into, across, around, over,  through, from, during, up, off,

Dr. Sacko says he believes Japan needs ___allow ___more outsiders.

Many Korean families have lived___ Japan___ several generations.

___13 other students___ Mali, he was assigned___ study ___China and landed ___Beijing___ 1985___ study Mandarin.

Dr. Sacko  went ___a vacation ___Japan ___obtaining his undergraduate degree ___1990.

Dr. Sacko moved ___Osaka, Japan, ___six months___language lessons___ enrolling ___a master’s degree program ___Kyoto University

 

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?

KWL Chart

Directions:  Have students  fill in the last column of the KWL chart if they used one in the pre-reading segment of this lesson.

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups  and  have each group compose a letter or note to a  person mentioned in the article telling her/him their thoughts on the topic. Share the letters as a class.

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.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Social Issues

Meet Capt. Tammie Jo Shults: A Real American Hero!

“About 20 minutes after takeoff on Tuesday, Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was steering a Southwest Airlines plane toward cruising altitude, generally considered the safest part of a flight. But then the left engine exploded. The blast hurled debris into the side of the plane. A passenger window shattered. The cabin depressurized. A woman was partly sucked outside the plane. Passengers panicked and flight attendants sprang into action.In the cockpit, Shults remained calm as she steadied the aircraft, Flight 1380. ‘Southwest 1380 has an engine fire,’ Shults radioed to air traffic controllers, not a hint of alarm in her voice. “Descending.” M. Haag, The Boston Globe

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Captain Tammie Jo Shults. —photo- Kevin Garber

Excerpt:  Who is Tammie Jo Shults? By Mathew Haag, The Boston Globe

In an instant, Shults found herself in a situation most pilots face only during training: having to land a plane after an engine goes out.”

For the next 40 minutes, she displayed what one passenger later called ‘nerves of steel,’ maneuvering the plane, which had been on its way from La Guardia Airport in New York to Dallas Love Field, toward Philadelphia for an emergency landing.

In the seats behind her, passengers sent goodbye text messages to loved ones, tightened oxygen masks around their faces and braced for impact. Flight attendants frantically performed CPR on the critically injured passenger, who later died at a hospital.

But Shults, 56, was in control. She learned to fly as one of the first female fighter pilots in the Navy three decades ago, piloting the F/A-18 Hornet in an era when women were barred from combat missions.

At 11:20 a.m., Shults steered the plane, a two-engine Boeing 737, to a smooth landing on Runway 27L at Philadelphia International Airport. The left engine looked like it had been ripped apart.

‘This is a true American hero,’ Diana McBride Self, a passenger, wrote in a Facebook post. ‘A huge thank you for her knowledge, guidance and bravery in a traumatic situation. God bless her and all the crew.’

She enrolled in Navy flight school in Pensacola, Florida, in 1985 — the start of a decade of groundbreaking service…She flew the F/A-18 Hornet, the twin-engine supersonic fighter jet and bomber. After flight school, in 1989, she was assigned to the Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 34 in Point Mugu, California. During the Gulf War, her squadron was led by the first female air commander in the Navy.

Shults later became a pilot with Southwest Airlines, as did her husband, Dean M. Shults. Southwest Airlines declined to comment about her on Wednesday.

After her name started to appear in news reports on Tuesday, fellow female fighter pilots started to message one another about Shults. Christine Westrich, who flew the F/A-18 in the Marine Corps in the late 1990s, said she was struck by her service.

‘She is undoubtedly a pioneer, being a Hornet driver well before the combat exclusion law was lifted,’ Westrich said in an interview. “She kicks ass in my book.”

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

 

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 for assistance.

  1. In the cockpit, Shults remained  very calm.
  2. Shults radioed to air traffic controllers for help.
  3. passengers tightened oxygen masks around their faces.
  4. Flight attendants frantically performed CPR on the critically injured passenger.
  5. One passenger said that Tammy had nerves of steel.
  6. Another passenger said that she was awesome.
  7. The pilot remained clam in a traumatic situation.
  8. She then spent about a year in reserves before leaving the military in 1994.
  9. The blast hurled debris into the side of the plane.
  10. The cabin depressurized.

Color Vocabualry Map by Enchanted Learning

 

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

While ___still make up a small ___of commercial pilots, Shults took up___ when there were far fewer in the ___and when women were often told to find other careers.

At her___year at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas, she attended an ___event and spotted a woman in a piloting class, she told an alumni publication.

WORD LIST:  Air Force,  junior, industry, flying, percentage, women,

 

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.

But desperate/despite her accomplishments, she come/came up against the limits/limited  placed on women in the military. She left activity/active service on March 31, 1993 — two days before the Navy asked the Clinton administration to/about open combat/combative assignments to women. She then spent about a year in reserves before left/leaving the military in 1994, reaching the rank/rankle of lieutenant commander.

 

III. Post Reading Activities

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. Have you ever been in a plane when something went wrong with the engine? Describe your experience.
  2. Why do you think the pilot Tammie Jo Shults was able to guide the plane to safety in a calm manner?
  3. If you were on that plane  as a passenger what would you reaction have been? Would you have remained calm?
  4. Have you ever considered training to become a pilot? If so, explain why.
  5. Each group compose a letter or note to any  person mentioned in the article telling them your thoughts on the topic. Share the letters as a class.

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

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