Idiom: High and Dry

e.g. Jake was meeting his friend at the cinema, but he was left high and dry because his friend never showed up.

Meaning: be left in a difficult situation without any help; abandoned, stranded.

Origin: The phrase originally appeared in a “Ship News” column in The London Times, August 1796, and referred to ships that became stranded on dry land due to the rise and fall of the sea levels. While it was initially used for boats that had become grounded or beached, later on it was applied to situations where people felt abandoned.

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Thirteen Days (2000)

Story

The movie narrates the Cuban Missile Crisis, a 13-day (October 16-28,1962) standoff between the USA and the Soviet Union for deploying missiles in Cuba, from the perspective of Kenny O’Donnell (Kevin Kostner). He was special assistant to the US President John F. Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood) who alongside Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (Steven Culp), Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (Dylan Baker) and other members of JFK’s cabinet as well as military officials meet and argue in favor of or against an invasion in Cuba.

Η ταινία εξιστορεί την Κρίση των πυραύλων της Κούβας, μία αντιπαράθεση 13 ημερών (16-28 Οκτωβρίου, 1962) με την Σοβιετική Ένωση που τοποθέτησε πυραύλους στο νησί, από την οπτική γωνία του Kenny O’Donnell (Kevin Kostner). Ήταν ειδικός σύμβουλος του Αμερικανού προέδρου John F. Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood), ο οποίος μαζί με τον Γενικό Εισαγγελέα Robert F. Kennedy (Steven Culp), τον Υπουργό Άμυνας Robert McNamara (Dylan Baker) και άλλα υπουργικά μέλη καθώς και στρατιωτικούς αξιωματούχους επιχειρηματολογούν υπέρ ή κατά της στρατιωτικής επέμβασης στην Κούβα.

New Line Cinema

Steven Culp, Kevin Kostner, Bruce Greenwood © 2000 New Line Cinema

Review

Regardless if the movie is historically accurate, it provides insider’s look into the Cuban Missile Crisis as it contains some newly declassified information. However, the film fails to be a nail-biting political thriller –not because we know the outcome- but because the tension is not shown in a way the viewer can relate. This could be explained because Bruce Greenwood is not convincing as JFK -although Steven Culp makes a good Robert Kennedy- or due to the lack of military scenes; most of the plot is set inside the White House.

Ανεξάρτητα από το αν η ταινία είναι ιστορικά ακριβής, προσφέρει την δυνατότητα στον θεατή να γνωρίσει για την Κρίση των πυραύλων της Κούβας αφού περιέχει πληροφορίες από αποχαρακτηρισμένα έγγραφα. Παρόλα αυτά, δεν είναι ένα αγωνιώδες πολιτικό θρίλερ –όχι επειδή ξέρουμε την κατάληξη- αλλά γιατί  η ένταση του Ψυχρού Πολέμου δεν προβάλλεται με τρόπο που θα ταυτιστεί ο θεατής. Ίσως να φταίει η χλιαρή ερμηνεία του Bruce Greenwood ως Tζον Κένεντι, παρόλο που ο Steven Culp είναι ένας πειστικός Ρόμπερτ Κένεντι, ή και η έλλειψη στρατιωτικών σκηνών αφού το μεγαλύτερο μέρος της δράσης εκτυλίσσεται στον Λευκό Οίκο.

Favorite Quote

What kind of peace do we seek? I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living. Not merely peace in our time but peace for all time. Our problems are manmade – therefore, they can be solved by man. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.

 

Starring: Kevin Kostner, Bruce Greenwood, Steven Culp, Dylan Baker

Written by:  David Self, based on the book “The Kennedy Tapes – Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis” by Ernest R. May and Philip D.Zelikow

Directed by: Roger Donaldson

Idiom: Shake the Dust off One’s Feet

e.g. I couldn’t wait to leave my awful job and shake the dust off my feet.

Meaning: depart in a hurry, especially from an unpleasant situation; leave with disdain or contempt.

Lost in Space (1998)

Story

Professor John Robinson (William Hurt) takes his wife Maureen (Mimi Rogers) and their three children to a space voyage with the mission to secure a future for the human race. Major Don West (Matt LeBlanc) is the spaceship’s pilot and Dr. Smith (Gary Oldman) is the saboteur.

Ο καθηγητής Τζον Ρόμπινσον (William Hurt) μαζί με την γυναίκα του Μωρήν (Mimi Rogers) και τα τρία παιδιά τους ταξιδεύουν στο διάστημα για να εξασφαλίσουν το μέλλον της ανθρωπότητας. Ο ταγματάρχης Ντον Γουέστ (Matt LeBlanc) είναι ο πιλότος του διαστημόπλοιου και ο Δρ. Σμιθ (Gary Oldman) ο σαμποτέρ της αποστολής.

New Line Cinema

© 1998 New Line Cinema

Review

This sci-fi movie is a disappointment.  It is a shame to watch actors wasting their talent in bad-scripted dialogues. The movie does not even have entertainment value as it fails to deliver the adventure one would expect. Even the film’s villain (Oldman) is more funny than fearful!

Το φιλμ είναι απογοητευτικό. Είναι κρίμα να παρακολουθείς ταλαντούχους ηθοποιούς να “χάνονται” σε ένα κακογραμμένο σενάριο. Θα περίμενε κανείς η ταινία να είναι τουλάχιστον περιπετειώδης. Ακόμη και ο «κακός» της ιστορίας (Oldman) είναι περισσότερο διασκεδαστικός παρά τρομακτικός.

Starring: William Hurt, Mimi Rogers, Gary Oldman, Heather Graham, Matt LeBlanc

Written by: Akiva Goldsman , based on the TV series by Irwin Allen

Directed by: Stephen Hopkins

Idiom: The Lion’s Share

e.g. My son is upset that his sister got the lion’s share of the cake but I explained this was fair because it was her birthday.

Meaning: the largest part or most of something.

Origin: It derives from the homonymous Aesop’s fable. According to the fable, the lion asks the other animals (the fox, the jackal & the wolf) to hunt along with him, but when the killed ones should be divided, the lion kept the major part for being the king of the jungle, while the other animals received a very small part.

Adaptation. (2002)

Story

Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep), journalist for the New Yorker, writes the book The Orchid Thief, the story of orchid-stealer John Laroche (Chris Cooper). Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage), writer of Being John Malkovich, is hired for the movie adaptation, but he faces a writer’s block.

Η Σούζαν Ορλίν (Μέριλ Στριπ), δημοσιογράφος για το περιοδικό New Yorker, έγραψε το βιβλίο The Orchid Thief για τον κλέφτη σπάνιων ειδών ορχιδέας Τζον Λαρούς (Κρις Κούπερ). Ο Τσάρλι Κάουφμαν (Νίκολας Κέιτζ), σεναριογράφος του Στο Μυαλό του Τζον Μάλκοβιτς, προσλαμβάνεται για να μεταφέρει το βιβλίο στην οθόνη αλλά αγχώνεται για την ακριβή απόδοση.

Columbia Pictures

Nicolas Cage © 2002 Columbia Pictures

Review

This movie is not your typical book-to-film. Instead of a faithful adaptation of the book, Kaufman created a script of his experience in writing it. He even invented a twin brother, Donald, to intensify the struggles a writer faces to be original and true to the book. Chris Cooper won an Oscar while Cage lost to Brody for his performance in The Pianist (2002).

Αυτή η ταινία δεν είναι η τυπική μεταφορά βιβλίου σε οθόνη καθώς ο Τσάρλι Κάουφμαν εξιστορεί την προσωπική του εμπειρία συγγραφής του σεναρίου. Μάλιστα, δημιούργησε τον δίδυμο αδελφό Ντόναλντ για να καταδείξει τις δυσκολίες του σεναριογράφου να είναι πρωτότυπος και πιστός στο πνεύμα του βιβλίου. Ο Κρις Κούπερ κέρδισε Όσκαρ ενώ ο Κέιτζ το έχασε από τον Μπρόντι για την ερμηνεία του στον Πιανίστα (2002).

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Tilda Swinton

Written by:  Susan Orlean (novel), Charlie Kaufman, Donald Kaufman

Directed by: Spike Jonze

Self-esteem and Teaching

by Dr. Tony Humphreys

Teaching has become the most stressful social occupation and this is part due to the fact that many children and adults are threatened by learning. Other contributing factors are a rising tide of discipline difficulties, low motivation, poor staff relationships, large class sizes, poor psychological and social back up services and teachers’ own self-esteem problems.

Teachers and parents typically make the mistake of viewing students’ avoidance of or rebelliousness around learning as the challenging behaviours that need to be confronted. However, such an approach only serves to escalate these difficult responses.

The real problem is hidden behind these ingenious protective devices and is about individuals’ worth not being determined by academic and other learning performances. The clever purpose of the so-called challenging behaviours is to reduce or eliminate further blows to self-worth and security in relationships.

Unless there is a clear separation between loving and learning and person and behaviour, children and adults will wisely maintain their defences in situations when teaching threatens their emotional and social well-being.

Dr. Tony Humphreys is a Clinical Psychologist, Educator, Writer, Lecturer,
Consultant for teaching professions and International Speaker

The Hours (2002)

Story

Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) is writing Mrs. Dalloway (1925), her most famous work, while fighting her mental illness. Modern-day Clarissa (Meryl Streep) is preparing an award party for Richard (Ed Harris), her AIDS-stricken poet friend, and Laura (Julianne Moore), an 1950s housewife, is making a birthday cake for her husband while contemplating suicide.

H Βιρτζίνια Γουλφ (Νικόλ Κίντμαν) γράφει το πιο διάσημο έργο της ‘Η Κυρία Νταλογουέι’ ενώ παλεύει με την ψυχική της νόσο. Η σύγχρονη Κλαρίσα (Μέριλ Στριπ) ετοιμάζει πάρτι για την βράβευση του ποιητή φίλου της Ρίτσαρντ (Εντ Χάρις) και η Λώρα (Τζουλιάν Μουρ), μία νοικοκυρά στο 1950, ετοιμάζει τούρτα γενεθλίων για τον άντρα της ενώ σκέφτεται την αυτοκτονία.

Paramount Pictures

Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman © 2002 Paramount Pictures and Miramax

Review

Even if you have not read either Mrs Dalloway or Michael Cunnigham’s Pulitzer-prized novel The Hours, you can easily follow the plot as Stephen Daldry shifts through different eras with ease and no confusion. The movie got nine Oscar nominations; among them for performances by Moore, Harris and Kidman who won it for her fine portrayal of Woolf.

Ακόμη κι αν δεν έχεις διαβάσει το βιβλίο Η Κυρία Νταλογουέι ή το βραβευμένο με Πούλιτζερ βιβλίο του Μάικλ Κάνιγχαμ Οι Ώρες, μπορείς να ακολουθήσεις την πλοκή του έργου καθώς ο Στίβεν Ντάλντρι κινείται ανάμεσα στις διαφορετικές εποχές με ευκολία και χωρίς σύγχυση. Η ταινία προτάθηκε για εννέα Όσκαρ, ανάμεσα σε αυτά για τις ερμηνείες από Μουρ, Χάρις και Κίντμαν η οποία το κέρδισε ως καθηλωτική Γουλφ.

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Ed Harris

Written by: Michael Cunnigham (based on his novel), David Hare

Directed by: Stephen Daldry

Selecting Reading Texts & Tasks Appropriate for Young Learners

by Vasso Barbati

Reading is considered a very important skill. McDonough and Shaw (1993:101) point out that “in some instances around the world we may argue that reading is the most important foreign language skill” as learners may never have the opportunity to practise speaking, listening or writing. However, it is taken for granted and some readers – and even teachers – regard it mainly as a decoding process which involves simply putting meaning on the marks of the page. In order to make students effective readers, teachers should employ a number of criteria which have to do with the selection of the appropriate texts and tasks.

The selection of texts

As regards the selection of the texts these criteria are:

(a) the issue of authenticity

Students need to be acquainted with a variety of texts. Urquhart and Weir (1998) stress the existing consensus that authenticity should be one of their essential features. The term authentic is used to refer to “a text not specially produced for language learners” (Williams and Moran, 1989: 219). Authentic texts are considered a very important language source because they represent real language. Grellet (1981) claims that exposure to them contributes to better understanding of texts in everyday life as they represent real world and are more interesting and motivating especially if their topic is within the learners’ preferences.

However, this notion of “authenticity in nature” has been challenged by certain researchers. Instead, they see “authenticity of purpose” as lying in the interaction between text and reader and not in the text itself (Wallace, 1992; Williams and Moran, 1989). Authentic texts are difficult to use at low levels due to the lexical and grammatical restrictions imposed by the students’ language level. On the contrary, at intermediate and advanced levels more and more coursebooks include them treating in that way learners as real audience (Beaumont, 1996: 28).

(b) topic familiarity

Special attention should be paid to the relationship between the content of the text and the learners’ background knowledge, Urquhart and Weir (1998: 143) say that “when the content is adequately familiar, then it can be mapped into the students’ existing schemata making them capable of deploying the appropriate skills and strategies to understand it.” Having this in mind, textbook writers and teachers should seriously consider what students bring to the classroom and always try to associate this knowledge with the appropriate texts. When background knowledge is activated, the distance between the learners and the text is reduced and comprehension becomes easier as learners know what to expect while they read.

(c) purpose

Beard (1990) mentions that purpose in reading can be divided into three categories:

  • recreational which relates to leisure reading
  • functional which has to do with everyday reading and
  • occupational which focuses on one’s work.

Teachers can motivate students and give them a purpose for reading if they provide them with an interesting text. As Williams (1986: 42) points out in his “Top Ten” principles for teaching reading, “in the absence of interesting texts very little is possible.” Teachers should not be indifferent to their students’ interests if they want to draw their attention and succeed in their goal that is making them effective readers.

The selection of tasks

Apart from choosing the appropriate texts, the tasks are of great importance too if the aims and objectives of the lesson are to be accomplished. They will be examined in terms of the following categories:

(a) purpose

It has already been stated that motivation arises from interesting texts. However, it should not be overlooked that it arises from the tasks too. An interesting text can very easily become boring if students are assigned tasks without a specific purpose in mind. Teachers should create tasks that are authentic-based and represent real life. As in everyday life people know why they read something before they actually read it, the same should occur in classroom. According to Greenwood (1981: 84) the golden rule of any reading activity is “that learners should know the purpose for their reading before they read.”

Readers employ four different approaches when reading a text:

  • skimming (to get the main idea)
  • scanning (to find specific information)
  • intensive reading (slow and careful reading) and
  • extensive reading (for recreational or educational purposes)

Extensive reading cannot be applied in a classroom since it involves reading lengthy texts (Greenwood, 1981; Williams and Moran, 1989; McDonough and Shaw, 1993). Teachers should not simply ask learners to read whole texts and then answer comprehension questions because this is not considered reading. Effective readers are those who can employ different approaches when coping with a text so as to “select specific information at the expense of other” (McDonough and Shaw, 1993: 114) and that is what teachers should teach their students to do.

(b) skills and strategies

Williams and Moran (1989: 223) define skill as “an acquired ability which has been automatised and operates largely subconsciously” and strategy as “a conscious procedure carried out in order to solve a problem.” The terms are also used interchangeably and are considered synonymous.

According to Davies (1984) students should learn to develop the following four skills:

  • identifying word meaning
  • drawing references
  • identifying writer’s technique and recognising the mood of the passage and
  • finding answers to questions.

They should also learn to anticipate content, make predictions, identify the main idea of a text and generally process information successfully. The selection of tasks that allow the performance of appropriate skills and strategies is therefore, very crucial.

Conclusion

The teacher’s role is to assist learners to adopt a more positive attitude towards reading and develop good lifelong habits concerning this skill. The existence of the previously mentioned criteria when selecting reading texts and tasks helps learners gain confidence and satisfaction from reading and eventually become effective and autonomous readers.

References

Beard, R. (1990) Developing Reading 3-13 (2nd edition). London: Hodder and Stoughton

Beaumont, M. (1996) “The Teaching of Reading Skills in a Second Foreign Language Distance Programme, Manchester University of Manchester interferences in ESL reading” in Carrell, P.; Devine, J. and Eskey, D. (eds) Interactive Approaches to Second Language Reading. New York: Cambridge University Press, 102-103

Davies, A. (1984) “Simple, simplified and simplification: What is authentic?” in Alderson, J. C. and Urquhart, A. H. (eds) Reading in a Foreign Language. London: Longman, 181-195

Greenwood, J. (1981) “Comprehension and reading” in Abbot and Wingart (eds) The teaching of English as an International Language. London: Collins, 81-111

Grellet, F. (1981) Developing Reading Skills. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

McDonough, J. and Shaw, C, (1993) Materials and Methods in ELT. Oxford: Blackwell

Urquhart, S. and Weir, C.J. (1998) Reading in a Second Language: Process, Product and Practice. New York: Addison Wesley Longman

Wallace, C. (1992) Reading. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Williams, E. and Moran, C. (1989) “Reading in a foreign language at intermediate and advanced levels with particular references to English in Language Teaching” in Language Teaching Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 217-227

Williams, R. (1986) “Top Ten Principles for Teaching Reading” in ELTJ 40/2, 42-45