The Other Side of Town

Paraisopolis, Sao Paulo

Resources for an ELT class on ghettos and ghettoisation

A recent class I have done that worked well with adults and undergraduates was on the theme of ghettos. Indeed, the picture above, for which I do not have a photo credit, was actually shared with me by a student who responded well to the material. Showing the vast social divide between the shanty towns and luxury apartment complexes of Paraisopolis in Sao Paulo, it captures evocatively a modern form of ghettoisation which even many comparatively egalitarian countries experience to lesser or greater degrees.

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Tar and Cement

“Nail house” in Shanghai: Lucas Schifres/Getty Images

Film, music and photography-based ESL/EFL lesson about urbanization and nostalgia

My last post featuring Frank Sinatra’s It Was A Very Good Year reminded me of a grammatical structure I have seldom had cause to teach. Twice in the song we see the modal “would” used not in the conditional context that most students will encounter first, but rather to express habits in the past (“We’d hide from the lights / On the village green”, “We’d ride in limousines / Their chauffeurs would drive”). To build on this, as well as the structure “used to + verb”, to talk about our past routines, there is fantastic song which is also a rich basis for discussion about our relationship to the past, particularly as concerns urbanization and the irrevocable transformation of the natural environment into the built one. The song is Tar & Cement, a one-hit country-soul wonder by Verdelle Smith, written by┬áLee Pockriss and Paul Vance. Continue reading