Thursday, August 13, 2015

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

(Movie Review)

My History With This Franchise
I saw Mission Impossible 1 and Mission Impossible 2 back when they first came out (long before I started my movie reviewing project).  I didn't hate them, but I wasn't particularly blown away by them either.  (Mission Impossible 2 in particular got pretty ridiculous).  So I never bothered to catch up on Mission Impossible 3 and 4.

Why I Saw this Movie
It was playing at the cinema, and a friend invited me.

The Positives
* Competently made: the story, action sequences, chase scenes, and dramatic music are all quite serviceable.

* At this point in the franchise, they seem to have decided to make somewhat of an effort to imitate the spirit of the TV show by having an ensemble team, instead of just Tom Cruise out on his own.

* Speaking of which: Oh wow!  At some point in the movies I missed, Simon Pegg (of the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy Fame) had joined the series.  Bonus Simon Pegg point.

The Negatives
 * Am I allowed to complain about how the whole bad guy organization just wants to be bad and spread terror for no reason?  Or do I just have to accept this as part of the genre?
(Actually what am I even saying!  Of course it's just part of the genre.  See: every secret agent movie ever, going all the way back to Dr. No.  And even before Dr. No, there was the same thing going on in James Bond's literary antecedents, like Sax Rohmer.)

The Review
5 movies into the franchise now (and a franchise that had started off pretty cheesy to begin with).  You'd better believe my expectations were pretty low.
...And yet, it wasn't half bad.  Story held my interest, chase scenes were all decent, good suspense, good acting.  Simon Pegg.
It's nothing memorable.  (In 5 years time no one will remember this movie).  But a pleasant waste of time.

Rating
5 out of 10.  (Completely serviceable, even if it's also completely forgettable.)

Link of the Day
Democracy is a Threat to any Power System

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

(Book Review)

My History With This Book
So, I wrote all about my history with this series in my previous review of The Adventures of Tom SawyerBut for the purpose of making this blogpost stand independently, I'll recap it briefly here.

Around 3rd grade or so, I read this book in an simplified "Children's Classics" version that we had laying about my house.  So I've been familiar with the basics beats of the book's plot ever since then.  (In fact, in a previous post, I included The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in a list of classic books that I felt no urgency to read because I already had the plot spoiled for me in simplified versions.)

When I was 11 years old, I read the original text of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I moved on to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but found Huckleberry Finn to be much harder going.  I lost interest in the long meandering journey down the Mississippi that didn't seem to be going anywhere.  So I gave up on it.  (This also I've previously  mentioned in my commentary on the most begun but unfinished book list--in which The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was ranked 77th of all time.  Which indicates this experience was not unique to me.)

But since then, I've heard so much praise for this book that I knew I had to come back for it eventually.  It's frequently called the greatest American novel of all time.
Typical of the high praise this book usually gets from literary types is Hemingway's famous quote:  "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called 'Huckleberry Finn.' ... it's the best book we've had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since."

Or this quote from H.L. Menken:
"I believe that 'Huckleberry Finn' is one of the great masterpieces of the world, that it is the full equal of 'Don Quixote' and 'Robinson Crusoe,' that it is vastly better than Gil Blas, 'Tristram Shandy,' 'Nicholas Nickleby' or 'Tom Jones.' I believe that it will be read by human beings of all ages, not as a solemn duty but for the honest love of it, and over and over again, long after every book written in American between the years 1800 and 1860, with perhaps three exceptions, has disappeared entirely save as a classroom fossil."

Well!  With that kind of praise being bandied about by the literary greats, you have to come back and read this book sooner or later, don't you?

My Review
So, let me just start with a caveat here.  I'm a person of limited intelligence.  Much of the symbolism of this book probably went over my head.  And I don't expect to write the definitive review of Huckleberry Finn.  But I'll engage with this book at the level that I can.

 I'll start out by comparing this book to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer because, despite people always mentioning both books together in the same breath, they're actually quite different in narration style, focus, and plot.

Comparisons with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
This book is a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and starts out exactly where Tom Sawyer left off.  At the end of the The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and the rest of the neighborhood boys are forming a gang of robbers.  (One of the running jokes throughout this series is the inability of the boys to distinguish pulp fiction adventure books from reality, and the gang of robbers that they want to form is based off of fictional romanticized accounts of highwaymen (W) ).
At the beginning of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, we return right to this same scene.  Tom Sawyer is trying to explain to the group that they have to be gentleman robbers and do things "by the book", and the rest of the boys are reluctant to adhere to all the nonsensical codes of conduct, but nevertheless defer to Tom's authority on the matter.
(Although...if you wanted to nitpick this series for continuity errors, there are a couple of slip ups.  At the end of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the boys have pretty much figured out what a "ransom" is and how to do it.  In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, they've somehow lost this knowledge, and now they have no idea what a "ransom" is, but only know it's something they have to do because it's in all the books.)

However, despite continuing exactly from where The Adventures of Tom Sawyer left off, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is much different in tone and narration style.

Unlike Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is told in the first person, through the voice of Huckleberry Finn himself.  There's a really great line in the opening of the book (the kind of thing my college literature professors used to go nuts over) in which the character of Huck Finn comments on the previous book, and casts doubt on the reliability of the author Mark Twain.  "You don't know me, without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but that ain't no matter.  That book was made by Mr Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly.  There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.  That is nothing.  I never seen anybody but lied, one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary.  Aunt Polly--Tom's Aunt Polly, she is--and Mary and the Widow Douglass, is all told about in that book--which is mostly a true book; with some stretchers, as I said before." (Opening lines from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  I suppose you could use this to explain away the continuity errors mentioned above.)  

In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the presence of a 3rd person narrator allowed the author to escape from Tom Sawyer's perspective, and even to comment on things that Tom Sawyer did not yet understand.  For example, following the infamous white-washing scene, the narrator states: "Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all.  He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it--namely, that in order to make a man or boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain.  If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would have comprehended that work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to doAnd this would help him to understand why constructing artificial flowers or performing on a treadmill is work, whilst rolling nine-pins or climbing Mount Blanc is only amusement.  There are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line in the summer, because the privilege cost them considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work, and then they would resign. "  (From The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Chapter 2.)

But in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the narration is entirely confined to Huck's perspective.  The adult reader can infer and guess a lot of things which Huck cannot, but Huck himself is often not able to see the significance of what he is doing.
The most famous example of this (the one mentioned by every review ever) is Huck's conflicted feeling over helping a runaway slave.  Huckleberry Finn has so thoroughly absorbed the mores of his community (the ante-bellum South) that he believes it's wrong to help a slave escape, and he believes that if he does it, he will go to hell.  But since he can't bring himself to forsake his friend Jim, he helps Jim anyway, believing all the time that he's a terrible person for doing it, and hating himself for it.
The adult reader, of course, knows that Huckleberry Finn's actions are right, and it's the mores of the community that are wrong, but Huckleberry Finn himself is never allowed to reach this conclusion.  He just believes he's helping Jim because he's a low-down dirty person who can't ever do right.

The narration style of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is also much different than Tom Sawyer.  There's a lot more literary descriptions in Huckleberry Finn than there are in Tom Sawyer.  In Tom Sawyer, the narration style was kept brisk and the action moved quickly.  In Huckleberry Finn, however, you get a lot more passages like this:

"The river looked miles and miles across.  The moon was so bright I could a counted the drift logs that went a-slipping along, black and still, hundreds of yards out from shore.  Everything was dead quiet, and it looked late, and smelt late.  You know what I mean--I don't know the words to put it in." (From Chapter 7)

Or

"I kept quiet, with my ears cocked, about fifteen minutes, I reckon.  I was floating along, of course, four or five miles an hour; but you don't ever think of that.  No, you feel like you are laying dead still on the water; and if a little glimpse of snag slips by, you don't think to yourself how fast you're going, but you catch your breath and think, my! how that snag's tearing along.  If you think it ain't dismal and lonesome out in a fog that way, by yourself, in the night, you try it once--you'll see." (from Chapter 15).

And many more similar passages.  (I won't type the whole thing up here, but the first two pages of Chapter 19 are pretty much just a long description of what it's like to raft down the Mississippi river.)
All these literary descriptions are no doubt why the literary types love Huckleberry Finn so much, but for us non-literary types it can make parts of the book a bit of a slog.  I'm fairly sure this is the reason why 11-year-old me gave up on this book.

The focus of Huckleberry Finn is also much different than Tom Sawyer.  In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the focus of the book is all about the world of children--going to school and playing hooky from school, learning verses in Sunday School, the schoolyard romances and rivalries, the childish superstitions, and of course all the games.
In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the adult world is much more the focus of the story, as Huck Finn travels to many small towns along the Mississippi River, and observes how the adult villagers act. It's the adult world as viewed through the eyes of a naive child, admittedly, but it's the adult world nonetheless that is front and center in Huckleberry Finn.

And finally, the plot structure is much different.
Mark Twain starts off his book by writing: "Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. 
by order of the author"  (Author's preface to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn).

However, as I wrote in my review of Tom Sawyer, this introduction really should apply more to the The Adventures of Tom Sawyer than to Huckleberry Finn.  Of the two novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer  was really the one that was truly episodic and plotless.  Huckleberry Finn does actually have an overarching plot--Huckleberry Finn teams up with an escaped slave named Jim, and they journey down the Mississippi River on a  quest to get to Cairo from where they hope to get a steamboat to help Jim escape to the free states.   (It's been pointed out by many a commentator the irony inherent in the story--the ultimate goal of Jim and Huck is to get North to the free states, but the whole journey consists of them going further and further South down the Mississippi River.)

But, within this over-arching structure, the book is a classic "journey" story.  The characters encounter random things along their journey, each of which is completely unconnected to the other, so instead of a plot building forward to its conclusion, we have a series of short encounters that don't advance the story at all.  (Since any commentary on Huckleberry Finn must, by law, make some sort of comparison to The Odyssey, I suppose here is as good as place as any to insert the mandatory reference to Homer.)

So if both The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are largely episodic, why did I enjoy Tom Sawyer so much as a kid, but give up on Huckleberry Finn?
I think it had a little bit to do with reader expectations.  In Tom Sawyer, you knew the whole book was just supposed to be a series of random adventures, so you didn't mind.
Whereas in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, there's this whole plot about escaping to the North which the author sets up, but then seems to forget about completely as he keeps bringing his characters on all these random diversions.  And, perhaps more so than Tom Sawyer, this frustrated expectation makes some readers think:  "Man, WHERE is this story going?"

That, plus a lot of the encounters in Huckleberry Finn don't really seem to have much of a point. While both The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are episodic, the episodes in Tom Sawyer are a lot more recognizable as episodes.  Typically Tom Sawyer plans some sort of scheme, Tom Sawyer executes his scheme, and hilarious consequences result.  The point of each story is the humor, and the humor is very obvious.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, however, is a lot harder to engage with, because there are all sorts of little encounters along the Mississippi River that don't seem to have an obvious point and don't seem to have an obvious punchline.  "Well, what was the point of that little bit?" I was constantly asking myself as I read through the book.   
In many of these encounters Huck Finn and Jim don't really even do that much.  They just act as observers on some piece of life along the Mississippi, and then move on.   "Was there some deeper meaning and symbolism that I missed, or did Mark Twain never really manage to fully develop that little bit?" I was constantly asking myself.

I think those reasons are why I lost interest in this book when I was a kid.  (And why, according to the completely unscientific Internet survey referenced above, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the 77th most begun-but-unfinished-book.)

As a full grown adult, however, I have a lot more patience, and can handle this kind of stuff in my reading a lot better than I could at 11.  (George Orwell makes the comment that Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are well-known under the guise of children's books, but are really completely not children's books at all.  [LINK HERE]).  And any adult reader with a bit of patience to stick with this book during some of the slower parts will be well-rewarded by the rich humor in other parts.

And there's some really great humor in some of the scenes in Huckleberry Finn.

I'll get to that in the next section.
Great Parts of this Book
Mark Twain is a comic genius, and the good parts of this book are very, very good.

There are brilliant little gems are throughout the book, but to me there are two episodes in particular which really make this book.

The first is all the parts with the King and the Duke.

For a large part of the middle of the book, Huckleberry Finn and Jim fall in with two con-men, one of them pretending to be the long lost Dauphin of France (W), the other one pretending to be a duke.  For much of the middle of the book, the schemes of these two conman dominate the plot, and Huck and Jim are mostly reduced to observers.

The tone of the book changes dramatically when these two conman take center stage.  Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer were never really angels, but they always had their hearts in the right places more or less, and they never set out to seriously defraud anyone.  The King and the Duke, on the other hand, are straight out villains.  But you kind of find yourself rooting for their various schemes anyway, just because the reader is seeing everything from their side, and not from the side of the people who are getting tricked.  (Technically the mind of Huck Finn is the reader's perspective, but Huck Finn listens in on all their conversations.)
At the same time, even though you kind of feel sympathetic for them, there's also a certain delight in knowing that their schemes are going to go wrong sooner or later, and that they will eventually get their comeuppance.

The best part is when the King and the Duke pretend to be the long lost brothers of a recently deceased man in order to get his inheritance, and they manage to con the whole town into believing it.
Even without benefits of spoilers, the reader knows this scheme is never going to work till the end.  I mean, you just know.  These characters never succeed in this type of book.  You know they'll pull off the scheme for a little bit, but then sooner or later it will all come crashing down on their heads.
So the whole time you, the reader, are eagerly waiting for them to get theirs.  But the suspense of the book comes in not knowing exactly when they're going to get found out.  And Mark Twain plays this whole thing expertly.  First it looks like they are going to get caught for sure, and then they scheme a way out of it.  And then something else will go wrong, and it looks for sure like they'll get found out, but then they'll scheme a way out of that.  And eventually you kind of admire them for their sheer audacity, and you even kind of half hope they'll get away with it, even as the other half of  you is eagerly waiting for them to get their just desserts.

In other words, it reminded me exactly of the same feelings I had reading the Flashman series.
The comparison is, of course, anachronistic.  I should say that Flashman is reminiscent of Mark Twain rather than saying that Mark Twain reminds me of Flashman, because it is Mark Twain who was the original.   But this is the order I encountered the books in.
At any rate, it's a compliment to Mark Twain's writing style that a book written in 1884 feels just as modern as the more recent Flashman books.

So that was one highlight of this book for me.  The other highlight was the rescue of Jim at the end of the book.

Near the end of the story, Jim is captured and imprisoned as a run-away slave, and Huck Finn is determined to free him.  At this point, Tom Sawyer re-enters the book, and commandeers the whole rescue operation.  Tom Sawyer is still obsessed with romantic adventure books, so he makes sure that Jim's escape happens just like it would in a book.  And so, just like the romantic miserable prisoners in an Alexander Dumas novel, Jim has to keep a prisoner's journal, and make friends with the rats in his cell, and take care to leave various clues for his pursuers to follow.
It's all ridiculous of course.  It's ridiculous first of all that Tom Sawyer would take these books so literally, and secondly that he would convince Huck Finn and Jim to go along with him.  But it's also hilarious. And once again, Mark Twain pulls it off brilliantly.

The really funny part is that although Tom Sawyer is nominally there to help Jim, all his plans just make Jim more and more miserable.  Jim gets tired of having to write in his journal, and leave clues, and hates all the rats that Tom Sawyer brought for him to tame.  And eventually Jim starts making comments about how he never would have become a prisoner if he had known being a prisoner was such hard work, and if he ever escaped, he would never become a prisoner again for a salary.

All that being said, Mark Twain probably stretches this joke out a little bit too long.  (It goes on for about 30 pages in my edition).  But it is still funny.  To quote from a small section of it, here's a small snippet of a conversation between Jim and Tom Sawyer.

"...I never knowed b’fo’ ‘t was so much bother and trouble to be a prisoner.”
“Well, it ALWAYS is when it’s done right. You got any rats around here?”
“No, sah, I hain’t seed none.”
“Well, we’ll get you some rats.”
“Why, Mars Tom, I doan’ WANT no rats. Dey’s de dadblamedest creturs to ‘sturb a body, en rustle roun’ over ‘im, en bite his feet, when he’s tryin’ to sleep, I ever see. No, sah, gimme g’yarter-snakes, ‘f I’s got to have ‘m, but doan’ gimme no rats; I hain’ got no use f’r um, skasely.”
“But, Jim, you GOT to have ‘em – they all do. So don’t make no more fuss about it. Prisoners ain’t ever without rats. There ain’t no instance of it. And they train them, and pet them, and learn them tricks, and they get to be as sociable as flies. But you got to play music to them. You got anything to play music on?”
“I ain’ got nuffn but a coase comb en a piece o’ paper, en a juice-harp; but I reck’n dey wouldn’ take no stock in a juice-harp.”
“Yes they would. THEY don’t care what kind of music ‘tis. A jews-harp’s plenty good enough for a rat. All animals like music – in a prison they dote on it. Specially, painful music; and you can’t get no other kind out of a jews-harp. It always interests them; they come out to see what’s the matter with you. Yes, you’re all right; you’re fixed very well. You want to set on your bed nights before you go to sleep, and early in the mornings, and play your jewsharp; play ‘The Last Link is Broken’ – that’s the thing that ‘ll scoop a rat quicker ‘n anything else; and when you’ve played about two minutes you’ll see all the rats, and the snakes, and spiders, and things begin to feel worried about you, and come. And they’ll just fairly swarm over you, and have a noble good time.”
“Yes, DEY will, I reck’n, Mars Tom, but what kine er time is JIM havin’? Blest if I kin see de pint. But I’ll do it ef I got to. I reck’n I better keep de animals satisfied, en not have no trouble in de house.”
(From Chapter 38)

Other Notes

Too Many Convenient Coincidences?
In order to advance the plot of this book, Mark Twain makes use of a number of rather unbelievable coincidences.  But then, Alexander Dumas was guilty of the same sin.  As was Charles Dickens.   So how hard should we be on Twain for this?
Perhaps in the 19th century, it was just more accepted that authors could get away with this stuff?  (I really don't know here, so I'm asking the question.  Anyone with any insight, feel free to leave a comment.)

The N-Word Controversy

So, it's impossible to talk about this book these days without mentioning the N-word controversy, and the censorship issue.

However, with apologies, I'm going to try to take a pass on this one.  I don't know enough about the historical use of the word "nigger" to comment on how accurately Mark Twain is representing it here.
Obviously in the 1840s, "nigger" was a lot less offensive than it is today.  That much I know.  But was it completely innocent, or was it a little bit offensive even back then?
From the text of Huckleberry Finn, the reader gets the impression that "nigger" was the only word available at the time to talk about black people.  Is that accurate?  Or were there alternatives that Mark Twain could have chosen?
Was there a difference in language between the 1840s (when this book is set) and the 1880s (when Mark Twain wrote it)?   Was the word becoming offensive by the 1880s?

If you could make the case that the word was not offensive during the 1880s, then I'd say that Mark Twain gets a free pass.  But I just don't know enough to comment.

As for the censorship issue:
I'm anti-censorship in general, but of course it's important to acknowledge there are all different shades of grey between mandating that a book be read, and out-right banning it completely.

It's one thing for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to be part of the mandatory school curriculum, and another thing for the book to be taken off of the mandatory curriculum but still usable at the teacher's discretion.  And another thing yet for the book to be outright forbidden in the classroom.  And yet another thing for the book to be removed from the school library.  And yet another thing for the book to be removed from the public library.

I'm sympathetic to the fact that the repeated use of the "n-word" in this book would make teachers reluctant to teach it.  Imagine, you've got a class full of 13 year-olds.  They're just looking for an excuse to say all the words that they know they're not supposed to say, just to fluster the teacher.  And then you've got some poor teacher who's got to get them to talk about a book full of that word without having them actually use the offensive word.
Taking this book out of the school library, however, would be another matter altogether.

The Racial Politics of this Book
The whole plot of the book, to the extent that there is a plot, is the story of trying to help a runaway slave to freedom.  So, this book is unmistakably anti-slavery.

But...if I had to quibble with the book, I might say that it doesn't seem to be anti-slavery enough.
I mean, compare this book with a film like 12 Years a Slave, in which the full horror and brutality and sadism of slavery is fully on display.  None of that comes through in Mark Twain's narrative.  Twain clearly believes that society is wrong to take away Jim's freedom, but the conditions of Jim's servitude are always portrayed as relatively benign.  The widow Douglas is not particular cruel to her slaves.  Uncle Silas is not particular cruel to his slaves.  And although the novel is sympathetic to Jim's conditions, Jim's misery is often played for comic effect in a way that sometimes seem to belittle the actual horrors of slavery.
(I've read some commentators say that since Mark Twain grew up in a household that owned slaves, he might have felt some complicity in it, and may have been reluctant to take on the full horror of slavery.)

But...perhaps it's being overly purist to complain that an anti-slavery novel is not anti-slavery enough.   Maybe I should just be happy that Mark Twain is on the right side of the issue, and just let it go.

The character of Jim himself is a bit more tricky, especially when we consider that in the 19th century you could be considered liberal and anti-slavery, and yet still believe that blacks were cognitively inferior to whites.
At various points in the book Jim seems like an idiot, and while I was reading, it was hard for me to avoid the thought that Mark Twain may have believed that black people were lacking in intelligence.

I still think this is a serious possibility actually.  But there are a few other alternative explanations.

One is that Jim's ignorance is meant to reflect his lack of education and the limited opportunities for intellectual advancement available for slaves, and not his inherent genetic ability.

The other is that Jim is not meant to represent all the people of his race, but just meant to represent himself.  He plays the comic idiot because Mark Twain needs someone to play the comic idiot in order to pay off all of his jokes, and in this case, the comic idiot just happens to be a black man.

One of Mark Twain's favorite gags is to have one character be completely ignorant of the world, and to adopt various ignorant statements about how the world works.  Someone will try to correct them, but then the ignorant character is able to use such good logic and such good arguments that they are able to win the debate and out-argue the other person.  In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Jim plays the role of the ignorant person with astoundingly good logic, and Huckleberry Finn plays the person who knows better, but is never able to win the argument.

Interestingly enough, however, the roles get switched up in the sequel: Tom Sawyer Abroad.  In Tom Sawyer Abroad, Huck Finn now plays the part of the ignorant person who uses logic to argue nonsense, and Tom Sawyer plays the part of the educated person.  (The character personalities are not entirely consistent across the different books in this series, but I'll get more into that when I review Tom Sawyer Abroad in another post.)  This would seem to indicate it's not a racial thing, it's just that Mark Twain needs some character to argue the absurd in order to play out all the jokes.

And then there's one more saving grace.  There's a brief passage in the beginning of the book that indicates Mark Twain is aware that not all black people are ignorant and uneducated.
In chapter 6, Huckleberry Finn's father, an uneducated, illiterate drunk, is complaining about how awful the government is, and among his lists of complaints, he mentions the following:

"Oh, yes, this is a wonderful govment, wonderful. Why, looky here. There was a free nigger there from Ohio – a mulatter, most as white as a white man. He had the whitest shirt on you ever see, too, and the shiniest hat; and there ain’t a man in that town that’s got as fine clothes as what he had; and he had a gold watch and chain, and a silver-headed cane – the awfulest old gray-headed nabob in the State. And what do you think? They said he was a p’fessor in a college, and could talk all kinds of languages, and knowed everything. And that ain’t the wust. They said he could VOTE when he was at home. Well, that let me out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? It was ‘lection day, and I was just about to go and vote myself if I warn’t too drunk to get there; but when they told me there was a State in this country where they’d let that nigger vote, I drawed out. I says I’ll never vote agin. Them’s the very words I said; they all heard me; and the country may rot for all me – I’ll never vote agin as long as I live. And to see the cool way of that nigger – why, he wouldn’t a give me the road if I hadn’t shoved him out o’ the way. I says to the people, why ain’t this nigger put up at auction and sold? – that’s what I want to know. And what do you reckon they said? Why, they said he couldn’t be sold till he’d been in the State six months, and he hadn’t been there that long yet. There, now – that’s a specimen. They call that a govment that can’t sell a free nigger till he’s been in the State six months. Here’s a govment that calls itself a govment, and lets on to be a govment, and thinks it is a govment, and yet’s got to set stock-still for six whole months before it can take a hold of a prowling, thieving, infernal, white-shirted free nigger, and –” 
Pap was agoing on so he never noticed where his old limber legs was taking him to, so he went head over heels over the tub of salt pork and barked both shins, and the rest of his speech was all the hottest kind of language – mostly hove at the nigger and the govment, though he give the tub some, too, all along, here and there... 
(From Chapter 6)

The irony here is clear.  Huck Finn's father is illiterate, uneducated, and always drunk.  The black man is educated, and a professor, and yet the fact that the educated professor is allowed to vote makes the illiterate drunk think that the practice of voting has been somehow tarnished.  It's clear which side Mark Twain himself is on.

One a side note: although I've quoted only a small piece of it here, I love the whole anti-government rant from Huck Finn's father in chapter 6.  It's just perfect for illustrating that anti-government right-wing jerks were just as obnoxious in Mark Twain's day as they are in ours.
Because the government allows the black man some freedoms, Huck Finn's father thinks that he is somehow being oppressed by the government.  It reminded me of many comments I saw on the Internet recently after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage.  Many conservatives though that they were somehow being oppressed because gay people had been granted a freedom.

 Connections With Other Books I've Read
 * Several references are made to The Man in the Iron Mask.  Tom Sawyer has clearly read this book, and becomes obsessed with trying to recreate some scenes from Dumas's depiction of the imprisonment of the man in the iron mask, particularly the scene in which the man in the iron mask writes messages on the bottom of his plates.
(I'm unsure whether to count this as an anachronism or not.  I think The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are both supposed to take place sometime in the 1840s-50s.  The Man in the Iron Mask was, according to Wikipedia (W), first serialized in 1847-1850 in France.  I'm not sure when the English translation would have arrived in the small towns in Missouri.)

* In A Very Short History of the World, Geoffrey Blainey quoted from a section of this book, the conversation between Huck and Jim about the night stars, to illustrate how prominent the night sky used to be in the imagination of people in every era except our own.

* Several - of - the - books - I've - read on the English language have quoted from Huckleberry Finn to illustrate Mark Twain's documentation of the American vernacular.  (Although I've now forgotten which books in particular.  Possibly it was all of them.)
In the author's preface to this book, Mark Twain clams to have painstaking researched all the different dialects and variants of dialects he used in Huckleberry Finn.  

The Publisher's Introduction
 I don't want to say too much on the Publisher's Introduction, because there are tons of different editions of Huckleberry Finn floating around out there, and each one has their own separate introduction, and the introduction on the edition I read (Wordsworth Classics, Introduction by Stuart Hutchinson) is probably only of interest to me.

But I'll drop a few words here about a couple things that caught my interest.
Apparently Mark Twain had a hard time with this book, writing much of it in 1876, and then abandoning it for several years and finally coming back to it in 1879.  When Twain returned to the book, he had a different vision for it, which explains why the nominal plot of the book (Jim escaping to freedom) gets completely forgotten for much of the middle of the book as various other adventures take center stage instead.
 This could be considered a structural weakness of the book, although Stuart Hutchinson is able to use literary language to make the conflicting structures of the book sound like an intriguing literary device.  "As we now have it [the completed version of Huckleberry Finn], therefore, when the intention to 'go up the Ohio amongst the free states' duly comes along, it merely signals the possibility of one kind of Huckleberry Finn even as the book is already becoming another.  This latter Huckleberry Finn is inclusive of the realistic plot but not determined by it, because there is no authorial conviction that life in the overall sense can ever improve.  Consequently, the raft drifts in the current of a river mightier than human designs towards an ocean still mightier, a natural death (like life itself) in relation to which all other ends may be as contrived as Tom's games." (Stuart Hutchinson, introduction to Huckleberry Finn.)

Mr. Stuart Hutchinson also picked up on all sorts of symbolism in this book that I never picked up on.  Some of it struck me as a bit far-fetched, and at times I thought this might be a classic example of a literature professor trying to justify his job by picking a lot of nonsense out of thin area.  But I'll admit that there was probably a lot in this book that I probably just missed. Which brings me to my final point:

There's a Lot More In this Book
So, as I said in the beginning, it is not my ambition to write the definitive review of Huckleberry Finn.  There's a lot more themes in this book, but I'd be writing forever if I tried to cover everything.

For example, just like in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, there's a lot of satirizing of the European monarchy and aristocracy system.  (This apparently was one of Mark Twain's major pet peeves).

There's also a lot of religious commentary in this book.  Mark Twain was a life-long vehement critic of Christianity, but the criticism is pretty mild in Huckleberry Finn.  Much of it just rests on the humour of Huckleberry Finn misunderstanding the religious instruction he's being given.  Or the humour of how unappealing the traditional harps-in-the-clouds portrait of heaven is to a 12 year old boy.
The most damning criticism against Christianity, however, is also the subtlest.  Mark Twain never makes a big deal of emphasizing it, but it's noticeable that all of the most pious characters (Miss Watson, Uncle Silas) are also portrayed as slave owners.

There's 16 pages in the middle of the book which is just a re-telling of the Hatfield and McCoy saga.  (I was glad I had watched the History Channel Mini-series on the Hatfields and McCoys, so I had a pretty good idea of which details were straight out of history, and which details were made up.)

As Huck and Jim travel through several small towns along the Mississippi, there's all sorts of commentary on small town life, on the Southerners inflated view of their own bravery, on mob mentalities, et cetera.
There's some sexist remarks in this book (and in the previous book Tom Sawyer) that probably require the reviewer to make yet another caveat before recommending this book to someone.

Oh, and I haven't even gotten to the most important theme of the book: the idea that our conscience might not be based on an absolute universal sense of right and wrong, but based on conditioning by society--as when Huck's conscience tells him it's wrong to help a slave escape.

But since The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is arguable the most written about book in American literature, I'm sure someone has covered all of these topics and more elsewhere.  I'm going to leave off here.

Link of the Day
Who Controls the U.S. Government and the Gap Between Rich and Poor: Noam Chomsky

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Relative Clauses: Who and Which Grab the Card Game

(TESOL Worksheets--Relative Clauses)
Google (Drive, Docs, Pub)
[This is a standard "grab the card" game.  It was designed to supplement an lesson from Lifestyle Elementary textbook, which was emphasizing only "who" and "which".  
Although this game can be done as a standard "grab the card" game, I had a class of students of which I needed to get moving to keep them awake.  So I did this game as a "grab the card" race.  I put the cards on different color paper, and assigned each team a color.  I read out the prompt, they had to run across the room to find the matching card, and then run back across the room to give it to me.  The first team to win the race got a point.]

…which has a long neck.

…which you can drive.
…which makes a web.
…who has to study all the time.
…who collects the garbage cans from the street.

…which catches mice.
…who gives you a lot of homework.
…who can give you a ticket if you drive too fast.

…who has children.
…which has a long nose.
…which you can swim in.

…who is very, very big.
…which you can read.
…which lives in the water.

…which can fly through the air.




Teacher’s Script:
1. A giraffe is an animal…
2. A student is someone…         
3. A teacher is someone…
4. An elephant is an animal…
5. A book is something…
6. A car is something…
7. A garbage man is someone…
8. A police officer is someone…
9. A river is something…
10. A dolphin is an animal…
11. A spider is an animal…
12. A cat is an animal…
13. A mother is a woman…
14. A giant is someone…
15. An airplane is something…


Wednesday, August 05, 2015

quizlet.com

[In an effort to keep track of useful materials--so I can find it again when I need it--I'm collecting links to stuff that I've had good luck with using in class. I'm indexing it, along with my own materials, over here and here.]

A colleague recommended this website to me the other day.
I suspect I'm coming late to this party.  Everyone already knew about this website already except me, right?
Well, better late than never I guess.  Anyway, I've been very impressed with it so far.  It's a great way to encourage students to practice vocabulary items.  I can create card sets, invite my students with the link, and then there are multiple games the  students can play with these vocabulary items.  It's really cool.
I've been trying to emphasize vocabulary more in my class ever since I read The Lexical Approach by Michael Lewis.  (Review coming...eventually.  I'm really behind in my book review project these days.  But anyway...)  But I've found that just giving the students a vocabulary list every lesson has not been very motivating for them.  This quizlet.com website looks like it could be the answer to get my students studying more vocabulary.

The colleague who recommended this website to me recommended it for IELTS classes specifically.  One of the great things about quizlet, he said, is that you can search it for vocabulary cards other people have already created and just use those.  And indeed a quick search of quizlet reveals lots of IELTS flashcards already made, as well as many cards based on the Academic Word List.  (The Academic Word List, a list of all the most common words that occur in academic writing, is usually recommended studying for IELTS.)

So far, however, I've just been using quizlet for my intermediate general English class.
Up until now, I had been giving them a vocabulary list to review at home at the end of every class (the vocabulary words were all words from the textbook page for that day's lesson.)  But now I've also been putting these words up on quizlet, and encouraging my students to study the words there.

Since these specific vocabulary selections are chosen as review from the lesson, this particular selection is probably of interest to no one outside of my class.  But for whatever it's worth, below is the link to the card set I've created.  If I end up creating any more sets on quizlet in the future, I'll also link to them from this post.
UPDATE: Actually as it turns out, in the few short weeks since I discovered quizlet, I've gone quizlet crazy.  So below is the full index of every thing I've created.

Stuff of General Interest 


The Academic Word List
There's a lot of stuff for the academic word list already on quizlet, which means that me creating my own quizzes is somewhat re-inventing the wheel.  However, creating my very own versions had certain advantages.  First of all, it meant that there were no previously saved high scores on the games, so my students could compete against each other directly on a blank slate.
Secondly, it allowed me to increase the word load gradually by 5 words per day.  (The common assumption in TESOL is that 5 new words at a time is the perfect amount of new vocabulary to introduce--I'm not sure if that's scientific or if it's just dogma, but whatever.)
Instead of just adding new words into the same set, I chose to create an entirely new set each time I added 5 new words.  This is because the scores on the games don't reset when you add new words, and I didn't want my students to be stuck with the high score mark from the first 5 words when they were trying to do the games for 70 words.
I followed the Academic Word List by the various subsets, alphabetically within each subset.

Academic Word  List--the first 5 words
Academic Word List--the first 10 words
Academic Word List--the first 15 words
Academic Word List--the first 20 words
Academic Word List--the first 25 words
Academic Word List--the first 30 words
Academic Word List--the first 35 words
Academic Word List--the first 40 words
Academic Word List--the first 45 words
Academic Word List--the first 50 words
Academic Word List--the first 55 words
Academic Word List--the first 60 words--All the words in the first Subset
Academic Word List--the first 65 words
Academic Word List--the first 70 words
Academic Word List--the first 75 words
* Academic Word List--the first 80 words
* Academic Word List--the first 85 words
Academic Word List--the first 90 words
Academic Word List--the first 95 words
Academic Word List--the first 100 words
Academic Word List--the first 105 words
Academic Word List--the first 110 words
Academic Word List--the first 115 words
Academic Word List--the first 120 words--All the Words in the 1st and 2nd Subset
* Academic Word List--the first 125 Words
Academic Word List--the first 195 Words
Academic Word List--the first 200 Words
Academic Word List--the first 205 Words
Academic Word List--the first 210 Words
Academic Word List--the first 215 Words
Academic Word List--the first 220 Words

Once I completed the Academic Word List, I continued by adding in some of the word families

The Complete Academic Word List Plus 5 additional words from the word families


Vocabulary 
* Tell the Time
* Irregular Verbs V1-V2


Proverbs--These quizzes are designed to supplement these lessons HERE
Quizlet Folder: HERE
Lesson 1 Quizlet
Lesson 2 Quizlet
Lesson 3 Quizlet
Lesson 4 Quizlet

Grammar
* Active and Passive Sentences: Present Simple and Past Simple
Irregular Verbs V1-V2

Stuff that is only of interest to specific classes that I taught:

* Complete IELTS Bands 6.5-7.5 Unit 1
Complete IELTS Bands 6.5-7.5 Unit 2
Complete IELTS Bands 6.5-7.5 Unit 3
Complete IELTS Bands 6.5-7.5 Unit 4

Something I started doing for the Life textbooks was giving the students all the vocabulary for the lesson in advance of each lesson, so they could study all the vocabulary before hand.  These also work equally well as review.

Life Elementary Unit 4 Free Time p.45
* Life Elementary 4A 100% Identical p.46-47
* Life Elementary 4B Free Time at Work p.48-49
Life Elementary 4C Extreme Sports p.50-51
* Life Elementary 4D In Your Gap Year p.52
* Life Elementary 4E You Have an Email p.53
* Life Elementary 4F In My Free Time p.54-54
* Life Elementary Unit 4 Review All Vocabulary
* Life Elementary Unit 5 Food p.57
* Life Elementary 5A Famous for Food p.58-59
* Life Elementary 5B Food Markets p.60-61
* Life Elementary 5C The Seed Vault p.62-63
* Life Elementary 5D At the Restaurant p.64
* Life Elementary 5E What Do I Do Next p. 65
* Life Elementary 5F Gelato University p.66-67
* Life Elementary Unit 5 Review All Vocabulary
* Life Elementary Unit 6 p. 69,
* Life Elementary 6A The Face of Money p.70-71
* Life Elementary Units 4-6 (Review for test)
Life Elementary Unit 7 p.81
Life Elementary: 7A Flight of the Silver Queen p.82-83
* Life Elementary 7B Animal Migrations p.84-85
* Life Elementary 7C The Longest Journey in Space p.86-87
* Life Elementary 7D How was your trip? p.88
* Life Elementary 7E The Digital Nomad p.89
* Life Elementary 7F Women in Space p.90-91
* Life Elementary Review Unit 7
* Life Elementary Unit 8 Appearance p.93 
* Life Elementary Unit 8A The Faces of Festivals p.94-95
* Life Elementary 8B Global Fashion p.96-97
* Life Elementary 8C In Fashion or For Life p.98-99
* Life Elementary 8D The Photos of Reinier Gerritsen p.100
* Life Elementary Textbook 8E How R U? TKS p.101
Life Elementary 8F Festivals and Special Events p.102-103
* Life Elementary Review All Vocabulary from Unit 8
* Life Elementary Review All Vocabulary from Unit 7 & 8

* Life Pre-Intermediate Unit 4 p.48-49
* Life Pre-Intermediate Unit 4 p.50-51
* Life Pre-Intermediate Unit 4 Lesson 4d A Happy Ending p.52
* Life Pre-Intermediate 4E A story of Survival p.53
* Life Pre-Intermediate 4F Alaskan Ice-Climbing p.54-55
* Life Pre-Intermediate Unit 4 All Vocabulary
Life Pre-Intermediate Unit 5 The Environment p.57
Life Pre-Intermediate 5A Recycling p.58-59
* Life Pre-Intermediate Unit 5 p.57 and 5A Combined
Life Pre-Intermediate 5B The Greendex p.60-61
Life Pre-Intermediate 5C A Boat Made of Bottles p.62-63
Life Pre-Intermediate 5d Online Shopping p.64
Life Pre-Intermediate 5E Problems with an order p.65
Life Pre-Intermediate 5F Coastal Clean-Up p.66-67
* Life Pre-Intermediate Unit 5 Review All Vocabulary
* Life Pre-Intermediate Unit 6 Stages in Life p.69
* Life Pre-Intermediate 6A Changing Your Life p.70-71
* Life Pre-Intermediate Unit 6 p.69 and 6A Combined
* Life Pre-Intermediate 6B World Party p.72-73
* Life Pre-Intermediate 6C Masai Rite of Passage p.74-75
* Life Pre-Intermediate 6D An Invitation p.76
Life Pre-Intermediate 6E A Wedding in Madagascar p.77

Lifestyle Elementary Coursebook Unit 3 Lesson A--A Dream Job p.16-17  (This was an experiment that was started after my elementary students requested I give them the vocabulary to study before we did the unit in class.  I tried this for one unit, and then abruptly stopped once I realized almost none of my students were actually doing it.)
* Lifestyle Elementary Coursebook Vocabulary Units 1-4
*  Lifestyle Elementary  Coursebook Vocabulary Units 13-16 

* Lifestyle Pre-Intermediate Coursebook p.13
* Lifestyle Pre-Intermediate Coursebook Units 1-4 Vocabulary
Lifestyle Intermediate Coursebook Vocabulary Units 4-6

Since I discovered quizlet has pictures built into it as well, I've also created picture to word vocabulary sets for my young children classes.
* English World 2 Unit 4 Vocabulary
* English World 2 Unit 5 Vocabulary
* English World 2 Unit 6 Vocabulary
* English World 2 Review Units 4-6 Vocabulary
* English World 2 Unit 7 Vocabulary
* English World 2 Unit 8 Vocabulary
* English World 2 Unit 9 Vocabulary
* English World 2 Review Units 7-9 Vocabulary
* English World 2 Unit 10 Vocabulary
* English World 2 Unit 11 Vocabulary
* English World 2 Unit 12 Vocabulary
* English World 2 Review Units 10-12 Vocabulary

* English Word 3 Unit 1
* English World 3 Unit 3
* English World Units 1 and 3
English World 3 Unit 4
* English World 3 Unit 5
* English World 3 Unit 6
* English World 3 Units 4-6
* English World 3 Unit 7
* English World 3 Unit 8
English World 3 Unit 9
English World 3 Unit 10
English World 3 Unit 11

* English World 3 p.100-101 (Another experiment with student generated questions).

English World 4 Quizlet Folder
* English World 4 Unit 1 Vocabulary
English World 4 Unit 2 Vocabulary
English World 4 Unit 3 Vocabulary
Units 1-3 Review
English World 4 Vocabulary
* English World 4 Unit 11 Vocabulary
* English World 4 Unit 12 Vocabulary
* English World 4 Reading p.56-57  (This was a fun little experiment we did in class one day.  After completing the reading, the students came up with their own questions and answers about the reading, which I typed up on the computer at the front of class.  Then they competed to see who could get the best scores in the games.)

English World 5 Quizlet Folder HERE
Quizlet English World 5 Unit 1 Vocabulary
Quizlet English World 5 Unit 2 Vocabulary
Quizlet English World 5 Unit 3 Vocabulary
English World 5 Review Units 1-3
Quizlet English World 5 Unit 4 Vocabulary
Quizlet English World 5 Unit 5 Vocabulary
Quizlet English World 5 Unit 6 Vocabulary
English World 5 Review Units 4-6
English World 5 Unit 7

* More 4 Reading p.69-70  (The word definitions are taken directly from the textbook.  The reading comprehension questions are student generated).

* English in Mind 5 p.91

* Market Leader Pre-Intermediate 3rd Edition p.75-77

Quizzes to Supplement Movie Worksheets
I've also started using Quizlet to review vocabulary introduced with movie worksheets.

Here are the quizzes to supplement Peter Pan (1953).  For the movie worksheets that these quizzes are designed to supplement, see HERE.
Quizlet Folder HERE,
* Peter Pan 1
* Peter Pan 2
* Peter Pan 3
* Peter Pan 4
* Peter Pan 5
* Peter Pan 6
* Peter Pan 7
* Peter Pan 8
* Peter Pan 9
* Peter Pan 10
* Peter Pan 11
* Peter Pan 12
* Peter Pan 13
* Peter Pan 14
* Peter Pan 15
* Peter Pan 16
* Peter Pan 17
* Peter Pan 18
* Peter Pan 19
* Peter Pan 20
* Peter Pan 21
* Peter Pan 22

Here are the quizzes to supplement The Jungle Book (1967).  For the movie worksheets that these quizzes are designed to supplement, see HERE.
Quizlet Folder HERE
* The Jungle Book 1
* The Jungle Book 2
* The Jungle Book 3
* The Jungle Book 4
* The Jungle Book 5
* The Jungle Book 6
* The Jungle Book 7
* The Jungle Book 8
* The Jungle Book 9
* The Jungle Book 10
* The Jungle Book 11
* The Jungle Book 12
* The Jungle Book 13
* The Jungle Book 14
* The Jungle Book 15
* The Jungle Book 16
* The Jungle Book 17

Here are the quizzes to supplement 101 Dalmatians (1961).  For the movie worksheets that these quizzes are designed to supplement, see HERE.
Quizlet Folder HERE
* 101 Dalmatians Part 1
* 101 Dalmatians Part 2
* 101 Dalmatians Part 3
* 101 Dalmatians Part 4
* 101 Dalmatians Part 5
*101 Dalmatians Part 6
*101 Dalmatians Part 7
* 101 Dalmatians Part 8
* 101 Dalmatians Part 9
* 101 Dalmatians Part 10
* 101 Dalmatians Part 11
* 101 Dalmatians Part 12
* 101 Dalmatians Part 13
* 101 Dalmatians Part 14
* 101 Dalmatians Part 15
* 101 Dalmatians Part 16

Here are the quizzes to supplement The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad (1949).  For the movie worksheets that these quizzes are designed to supplement, see HERE.
Quizlet Folder HERE
* The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad Part 1
* The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad Part 2
* The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad Part 3
* The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad Part 4
* The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad Part 5
* The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad Part 6
* The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad Part 7
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad Part 8
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad Part 9
* The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad Part 10
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad Part 11

Here are the quizzes to supplement The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977).  For the movie worksheets that these quizzes are designed to supplement, see HERE.
Quizlet Folder HERE
* The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 1
* The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 2
* The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 3
* The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 4
* The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 5
* The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 6
* The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 7
* The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 8
* The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 9
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 10
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 11
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 12
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 13
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 14
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 15
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 16
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 17
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 18
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 19
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 20
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 21
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Part 22


Here are the quizzes to supplement Robin Hood (1973) lessons HERE.
Quizlet Folder HERE
Robin Hood Part 1,
Robin Hood Part 2,
Robin Hood Part 3,
Robin Hood Part 4,
Robin Hood Part 5,
Robin Hood Part 6,
Robin Hood Part 7,
Robin Hood Part 8,
Robin Hood Part 9,
Robin Hood Part 10,
Robin Hood Part 11,
Robin Hood Part 12,
Robin Hood Part 13,
Robin Hood Part 14,
Robin Hood Part 15,
Robin Hood Part 16,
Robin Hood Part 17,
Robin Hood Part 18

Designed to supplement this lesson HERE.
Aladdin Part 1

Here are the quizzes to supplement Princess Mononoke lessons HERE.
Quizlet folder Here
Princess Mononoke Part 1,
Princess Mononoke Part 2,
Princess Mononoke Part 3,
Princess Mononoke Part 4,
Princess Mononoke Part 5,
Princess Mononoke Part 6,
Princess Mononoke Part 7,
Princess Mononoke Part 8,
Princess Mononoke Part 9,
Princess Mononoke Part 10,
Princess Mononoke Part 11,
Princess Mononoke Part 12,
Princess Mononoke Part 13,
Princess Mononoke Part 14,
Princess Mononoke Part 15,
Princess Mononoke Part 16,
Princess Mononoke Part 17,
Princess Mononoke Part 18,
Princess Mononoke Part 19,
Princess Mononoke Part 20

These quizzes were designed to supplement my lessons on Crash Course World History.  See HERE.
Quizlet Folder HERE
* Crash Course World History #1: The Agricultural Revolution
* Crash Course World History #2: The Indus Valley
Crash Course World History #3 Mesopotamia
* Crash Course World History #4 Egypt
* Crash Course World History #5: The Persians and the Greeks
* Crash Course World History #6: Buddha and Ashoka
Crash Course World History #7: Chinese History
Crash Course World History #8: Alexander the Great
Crash Course World History #9: The Silk Road
Crash Course World History # 10: The Roman Empire or Republic or...Which Was It?
* Crash Course World History # 11: Christianity from Judaism to Constantine
Crash Course World History #12: History Fall of the Roman Empire... in the 15th Century

Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics

I decided there was no sense in letting my students have all the fun on quizlet, and so I started created some study sets for my own benefit and professional development.  I've been gradually entering (and studying) all the terms in the Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics.  I've done this also in 5 word increments, for the same reasons mentioned above on the Academic Word List.

Quizlet Folder HERE

Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 60 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 65 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 70 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 75 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 80 words
* Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 85 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 90 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 95 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 100 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 105 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 110 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 115 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 120 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 125 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 130 words
*  Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 135 words
*  Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 140 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 145 words
*  Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 205 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 210 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 215 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 220 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 225 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 230 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 235 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 240 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 245 words

From this point on, I decided I also wanted to learn Practical English Usage by Michael Swan, and so decided to put both books together into the same quizlet.
Quizlet folder HERE

Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 345 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 30 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 350 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 30 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 350 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 35 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 355 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 35 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 355 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 40 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 360 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 40 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 360 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 45 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 365 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 45 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 365 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 50 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 370 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 50 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 370 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 55 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 375 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 55 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 375 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 60 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 380 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 60 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 380 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 65 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 385 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 65 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 385 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 70 words
* Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 390 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 70 words
* Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 390 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 75 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 395 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 75 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 395 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 80 words
* Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 400 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 80 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 400 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 85 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 405 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 85 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 405 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 90 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 410 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 90 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 410 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 95 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 415 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 95 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 415 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 100 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 415 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 105 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 415 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 110 words
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics-first 420 words Plus Practical English Usage the first 110 words

Studying Vietnamese

English to Vietnamese (These are actually mislabeled, because in this set I see the Vietnamese, and type the English.  But with 120 sets, I'm not going to go through and re-label them now.
2 words ,
3 words ,
4 words ,
5 words ,
6 words ,
7 words ,
8 words ,
9 words ,
10 words ,
11 words ,
12 words ,
13 words ,
14 words ,
15 words ,
16 words ,
17 words ,
18 words ,
19 words ,
20 words ,
21 words ,
22 words ,
23 words ,
24 words ,
25 words ,
26 words ,
27 words ,
28 words ,
29 words ,
30 words ,
31 words ,
32 words ,
33 words ,
34 words ,
35 words ,
36 words ,
37 words ,
38 words ,
39 words ,
40 words ,
41 words ,
42 words ,
43 words ,
44 words ,
45 words ,
46 words ,
47 words ,
48 words ,
49 words ,
50 words ,
51 words ,
52 words ,
53 words ,
54 words ,
55 words ,
56 words ,
57 words ,
58 words ,
59 words ,
60 words ,
61 words ,
62 words ,
63 words ,
64 words ,
65 words ,
66 words ,
67 words ,
68 words ,
69 words ,
70 words ,
71 words ,
72 words ,
73 words ,
74 words ,
75 words ,
76 words ,
77 words ,
78 words ,
79 words ,
80 words ,
81 words ,
82 words ,
83 words ,
84 words ,
85 words ,
86 words ,
87 words ,
88 words , 
89 words , 
90 words , 
91 words , 
92 words , 
94 words , 
95 words , 
96 words , 
97 words , 
98 words , 
99 words , 
100 words , 
101 words , 
102 words , 
103 words , 
104 words , 
105 words , 
106 words , 
107 words , 
108 words , 
109 words , 
110 words , 
111 words , 
114 words , 
115 words , 
116 words , 
117 words , 
118 words , 
120 words , 
121 words ,  

Type Vietnamese. The quizlet folder for these sets is labelled Type Vietnamese.  Which is accurate (Thankfully).  But the individual sets are labelled Vietnamese to English, which is actually a misnomer.  All of these sets are seeing the English, and typing the Vietnamese.  But because I had labelled the first set wrong, and this set was a reverse of the first set, the mislabelling carried over.
2 words ,
3 words ,
4 words ,
5 words ,
6 words ,
7 words ,
8 words ,
9 words ,
10 words ,
11 words ,
12 words ,
13 words ,
14 words ,
15 words ,
16 words ,
17 words ,
18 words ,
19 words ,
20 words ,
21 words ,
22 words ,
23 words ,
24 words ,
25 words ,
26 words ,
27 words ,
28 words ,
29 words ,
30 words ,
31 words ,
32 words ,
33 words ,
34 words ,
35 words ,
36 words ,
37 words ,
38 words ,
39 words ,
40 words ,
41 words ,
42 words ,
43 words ,
44 words ,
45 words ,
46 words ,
47 words ,
48 words ,
49 words ,
50 words ,
51 words ,
52 words ,
53 words ,
54 words ,
55 words ,
56 words ,
57 words ,
58 words ,
59 words ,
60 words ,
61 words ,
62 words ,
63 words ,
64 words ,
65 words ,
66 words ,
67 words ,
68 words ,
69 words ,
70 words ,
71 words ,
72 words ,
73 words ,
74 words ,
75 words ,
76 words ,
77 words ,
78 words ,
79 words ,
80 words ,
81 words ,
82 words ,
83 words ,
84 words ,
85 words ,
86 words ,
87 words ,
88 words ,
89 words ,
90 words ,
91 words ,
92 words ,
93 words ,
94 words ,
95 words ,
96 words ,
97 words ,
98 words ,
99 words ,
100 words ,
101 words ,
102 words ,
103 words ,
104 words ,
105 words ,
106 words ,
107 words ,
108 words ,
109 words ,
110 words ,
111 words ,
112 words ,
113 words ,
114 words ,
115 words ,
116 words ,
117 words ,
118 words ,
119 words ,
120 words ,
121 words ,
122 words ,
123 words ,
124 words ,
125 words ,
126 words ,
127 words ,
128 words ,
129 words ,
130 words ,
131 words ,
132 words ,
133 words ,
134 words ,
135 words ,
136 words ,
137 words ,
138 words , 

 Addendum:

Here is a sheet I created for my one of my classes when I was using the quizlet as an independent study while I was conducting one-on-one interviews with the students.  The link on the sheet is of course unique to that particular class, but can be changed.  Google drive, docs, pub.

The Quizlet challenge

Step 1.  Go to the vocabulary for Intermediate B: https://quizlet.com/_1gc5i5

Step 2.  Log-in to quizlet.  (You can either sign in with your Facebook or Google account, or you can create your own quizlet account.)  You will need to log-in in order to save your scores for the various games.

Step 3.  Click on learn.  Complete all the words.

Step 4.  Click on speller.  Complete all the words.

Step 5.  Click on test.  Complete the test, and check your answers.

Now, you’re ready to play the games.  See if you can get the highest score in the class.

Step 6.  Play scatter.  Did you get the top score?  If yes, brag to all your classmates.  Do a victory dance.  Run around the room and tell everyone how great you are.  Tell them you have the highest score, and challenge them to beat you.
          If no, try again to get a higher score.

Step 7.  Play space race.  Did you get the top score?  If yes, brag to all your classmates.  Do a victory dance.  Run around the room and tell everyone how great you are.  Tell them you have the highest score, and challenge them to beat you.
          If no, try again to get a higher score.






Second Addendum

I recently got some feedback from my manager, who observed that I was putting way too much work into these quizlets.  In addition to being a lot of work for me, he said it wasn't good for the students because it didn't give them any control over the words that were being studied.  In order to encourage learner autonomy, I should have the students create their own quizlets.  

In response to that, I created a class account that all the students had access to.  (I shared the login name and password with them).  Then after each unit, the students were instructed to choose 3 words that they wanted to learn from the textbook, and enter those words in the shared quizlet.  I would start each quizlet out by writing down the first three words.

A generic version of the instruction handout (docs, pub) I used to is below:


Step 1: choose 3 words that you want to learn


Step 2: log into quizlet.
Username: ****INSERT USERNAME****
Password: ****INSERT PASSWORD****


Step 3: Go to: ****INSERT SETNAME****
****INSERT URL****


Step 4: Enter your 3 words.
You may use any dictionary you wish, but I recommend http://dictionary.cambridge.org/
I recommend you change it to “Learner’s Dictionary”
Try to put in one example sentence for each definition.  But blank out the actual word.
Try to choose a picture, if possible.  (Quizlet has a limited choice of pictures, so if you can’t find a good picture don’t worry about it.)


Step 5: Log out, and then log in again under your personal quizlet account.

Complete Speller, Learn, Test, Scatter, and Gravity.