Monday, February 29, 2016

Supplementary Materials for Specific Textbooks

Complete IELTS Bands 6.5-7.5 

English World 2

Welcome Unit
p.4-5
Meet the characters
p.6-7
Various Activities
Present Continuous Questions
Present Continuous Scrambled Sentences Small Version
p.8-9
PowerPoint
p.10-11
PowerPoint
p.18-19
PowerPoint and questions
p. 20-21
PowerPoint
p.22-23
PowerPoint and Worksheet
Unit 1
p.24-25 Reading
PowerPoint, Vocabulary, Scrambled Reading
p.26 Grammar
Present Continuous: Question or Statement powerpoint
Present Continuous Question or Statement Scrambled Sentences
Various PowerPoints
p.27 Grammar in Conversation
Cut up and re-arrange sentences
p.28-29 Reading
* Various Activities
p.30 Listening
PowerPoint and Worksheet
p.31 Class Composition
Powerpoint and Worksheet
Unit 2
p.32-33 Reading
Various Activities
p.34 Grammar
Various Activities
p.35 Grammar in Conversation
Various Activities
p.36-37 Reading
Various Activities
p.38 Listening
PowerPoint
Unit 3 
P.40-41 Reading
Various Activities
p.42 Grammar
Various Activities
Jump the Line Game: Like / Likes
Like Likes Scrambled Sentences
like versus likes (3rd person singular "s")
P.43 Grammar in Conversation
PowerPoint and Cut up and Scramble
p.44-45 Reading
Various Activities
P.45 Phonics
Various Activities
p.46 Listening
PowerPoint and Transcript
p.47 Writing
Various Activities
p.48 Revision Units 1-3
Various Activities
Unit 4
P.50-51 Reading
Various Activities
p.52 Grammar
Does he like/ Do they like scrambled sentences
p.54 Reading
* Various Activities

English World 3

* Grammar p.42 PowerPoints to Drill Comparative Adjectives
Review Units 1-3
Quizlet and PowerPoint
Unit 4
* Vocabulary for unit 4
* Reading p.48-50
* p.52 Past Simple Drills
* Past Simple Karuta Game
Unit 5
* Vocabulary for Unit 5
* Grammar p.60 There was/ There were
There was/ There were Worksheets
Unit 6
Vocabulary for Unit 6
Grammar p.68
Review Units 4-6
Vocabulary crossword puzzle
Unit 7
Vocabulary
--p.78
Had Past Simple Drilling for PowerPoint
--p.79
*  Survey for school rules: Must
* LINK: British Council Materials for Must
Unit 8
Vocabulary
PowerPoint for Drilling irregular Past Simple: Statements and Questions
Past Simple Irregular Verbs Slideshow Presentation
Unit 9
Vocabulary
drilling comparatives and superlatives
Unit 10
Vocabulary
* Reading p.100-101 Scrambled Order and Quizlet
* What are you going to do tomorrow? (slidespub) (Mingle cards- drivedocspub)
* P. 105 Lead-in  Restaurants (slidespub) (Mingle Cards- docspub)
p.106 Transcript for Listening
* Unit 10 Review Naruto Game
Unit 11
Vocabulary
Unit 12
Vocabulary
Find Your Partner: Possessive Adjectives versus Possessive Pronouns
Possessive Pronouns Crossword Puzzle
Scrambled Sentences: Possessive Adjectives versus Possessive Pronouns
Slideshow for drilling Possessive Pronouns
Review Units 10-12
*  Vocabulary Units 10-12

English World 4

Unit 1
Vocabulary
 * Past Simple Irregular Verbs Slideshow Presentation
* LINK: British Council Material for "too+adjective"
Listening p.28
Unit 2
Vocabulary
Crossword Puzzle for Past Continuous
Google Slides for Drilling Past Continuous
Unit 3
Vocabulary
Writing p.45
Review Units 1-3 Vocabulary
Unit 4
Unit 4 Vocabulary
Speaking p.51
* Grammar p.52
When Clauses in Past Simple Board Race
Grammar in Context p.53
Unit 5
Vocabulary
Reading p.56-58
Speaking p59
* Grammar p.60
While + Past Continuous Slideshow
While+ Past Continuous Scrambled Sentences
Grammar in Conversation p.61
Either...Or: Slideshow and Worksheet
Either... Or Scrambled Sentences
Unit 6
Unit 6 Vocabulary
Reading p.64-66
Speaking p.67
* Grammar p.68
Slideshow for Will and Won't (for future predictions)
Grammar in Conversation p.69
Review Units 4-6

English World 5

Unit 1 
Reading p.22-24
Various Activities
Grammar p.25
Past Continuous Mingle Activity
Write Your own Sentence: While + Past Continuous + Past Simple
While + Past Continuous + Past Simple Scrambled Sentences
While + Past Continuous + Past Simple Slideshow
Grammar in Conversation p.26
Find Someone Who: Used To
Dictation: Used To
Used To: Guess Your Partner's Answers
It’s All Over Now by The Rolling Stones--Use for "Used to"
Used To Sentences. Two Truths and One Lie
Slideshow for "used to"
Phonics p.27
Wh-Words
Unit 3
Grammar
Active Passive Scrambled Sentences
Passive Forms Crossword Puzzle--Present Simple
Active and Passive Meanings
Tom and Jerry Active and Passive Present Tense
Unit 4
Grammar
Have You Ever Game--Review Present Perfect for Experiences  
Present Perfect for Experiences--Find Someone Who (student generated questions)
Present Perfect for Experiences--Find Someone Who can say yes 
Present Perfect Crossword 
2 Truths and 1 Lie (Present Perfect for experiences) 
Verb 1 to Verb 3 Crossword--Irregular Verbs
Present Perfect Form 
Present Perfect Interview Survey 

IELTS Express Intermediate Second Edition

Unit 1 Reading p.10-14
Treasure Hunt
Unit 1 Speaking p.15-17
Board Race
Unit 2 Listening p.18-21
Board Race
Find Your Partner: Review IELTS Listening Section 1 Information and Strategies
Unit 2 Writing p.22-25
Various Activities
Sample Essay
Unit 3 Reading p.26-30
Board Race
Unit 3 Reading p.31-33
Board Race
Unit 4 Listening p.34-37
Various Activities
IELTS Listening: Synonyms, Hyponyms, and Paraphrasing PowerPoint
Find Your Partner: Review IELTS Listening Section 2 Information and Strategies
Unit 4 Writing p.38-41
Various Activities
Find Your Partner: Review IELTS Writing Task 2 Information and Strategies
Sample writing
Unit 5 Reading p.42-46
Treasure Hunt
Unit 5 Speaking p.47-49
Board Race
Unit 6 Listening p.50-53
Board Race
Unit 6 Writing p.54-57
Treasure Hunt
Sample writing
Useful Language for Describing Changes in a Line Graph: Find Your Partner Game and Slap the Board Game
Unit 7 Reading p.58-62
Board Race
Unit 7 Speaking p.63-65
Board Race
Unit 8 Listening p. 66-69
Board Race and PowerPoint
Unit 8 Writing p.70-73
Various Activities 

IELTS Express Upper Intermediate Second Edition

Unit 1 Reading p.10-14
Board Race and Various Activities
Scanning Race Game
Unit 1 Speaking p.15-17
Treasure Hunt and Model Answers
Unit 2 Listening p.18-21
Board Race and Transcripts
Write Your Own IELTS Listening Part 1 Dialogue
Unit 2 Writing p.22-25
Board Race
IELTS Scores (Sample Writing)
IELTS Liz Task 1 Writing Video Lesson
How to Write a Formal Paragraph
IELTS Task 1 Self-Edit Check List
IELTS Task 1 Peer-Edit Check List
* IELTS Task 1 Teacher Feedback Form
IELTS Task 1 Process Writing--2nd Teacher Feedback Form
Unit 3 Reading p.32-36
Board Race and PowerPoint
Unit 3 Speaking p.37-39
Various activities
Part 2 or Part 3?
Unit 4 Listening p.40-43
Various Activities
Unit 4 Writing p.44-47
Various Activities
IELTS Writing Task 2 Self-Edit Check List
IELTS Writing Task 2 Peer-Edit Check List
Unit 5 Reading p.54-58
* Board Race
Unit 5 Speaking p.59-61
Various Activities
* IELTS Speaking Part 3: Hypothetical Questions for Practicing Language Used for Speculating
Unit 6  Listening p.62-65
Various Activities
Unit 6 Writing p.66-69
Board Race
Sample Answer
PowerPoint Presentation for IELTS Task 1 Describing a Process Writing
Progress Test 3 p.70-74
Various Activities
Unit 7 Reading p.76-80
Treasure Hunt, PowerPoint
Unit 7 Speaking p.81-83
Various Activities
* IELTS Speaking Part 3: Hypothetical Questions for Practicing Language Used for Speculating
Unit 8 Listening p.84-87
PowerPoint and Transcripts
Using The Great Dictator Speech to Listen for Stress, Varying Speed, and Pauses
Re-arrange the cards in order: Game to practice IELTS listening strategies
Unit 8 Writing p.88-91
* IELTS Writing Task 2 Discussion Activity

Life Beginner

Life Elementary 

Unit 4
p.45
Quizlet, transcript
Mingle Activity for Talking about Free Time Activities
4A 100% Identical p.46-47
* Quizlet
4B Free Time at Work p.48-49
Quizlet
4C Extreme Sports p.50-51
Quizlet
4D In Your Gap Year p.52
Youtube Authentic Listening: Gap Year
* Various Materials
4E You Have an Email p.53
* Quizlet
* In, At, On Prepositions of Time--Doraemon PowerPoint Game
4F In My Free Time p.54-46
* Various Activities
Review Unit 4 p.56
Quizlet and Doraemon Game
Unit 5
p.57
* Various Activities
5A Famous for Food p.58-59
Quizlet
5B Food Markets p.60-61
* Quizlet
*  Too Much, Too Many, Not Enough
5C The Seed Vault p.62-63
Quizlet, Matching Headings to paragraphs
5D At the Restaurant p.64
Quizlet
* LINK: At the Restaurant
5E What Do I Do Next p.65
Quizlet, PowerPoint, Lead-in, Writing
Board Race for Punctuation
* LINK: Recipe Plan for Using Youtube Recipe Clips
5F Gelato University p.66-67
Quizlet
Unit 5 Review p.68
Quizlet, Doraemon Game
Link: Conversations about Food
Unit 6
* Page 69
Unit 7
7B Animal Migrations p.84-85
* PowerPoint for Drilling Comparative Adjectives
* Quizlet
7C The Longest Journey in Space p.86-87
* LINK: ESL Conversations Superlative Adjectives
* Naruto Bomb Game With Comparative and Superlative Adjective Forms
* Quizlet
the + superlative
7D How was your trip p.88
* Quizlet
7E The Digital Nomad p.89
* Quizlet
* LINK: ESL Quiz - So or Because (Lettia Bradley) I-TESL-J
7F Woman in Space p.90-91
* Quizlet
Unit 7 Review p.92
* Topic Lesson: Plan Your Own Trip
* Quizlet
Unit 8
Unit 8 Appearance p.93
* Quizlet
8A The Faces of Festival p.94-95
* Quizlet
8B Global Fashion p.96-97
* Quizlet
p.97 Grammar Questions I Can't Answer: "who is" versus "who are"
8C In Fashion or for Life p.98-99
Quizlet
8D The Photos of Reinier Gerritsen p.100
* LINK: Describing Photos
Famous Photos in History: Speaking Activity
* Quizlet
8E How R U? TKS p.101
* Quizlet, Board Race
Unit 8 Review p.104
* p.104 
Unit 9
p.105
* LINK: Let's Talk About Movies
* Review Your Favorite Movie
9A All Roads Film Festival p.106-107
* What am I going to do next year?
* What is your favorite movie? (driveslidespub)
Naruto PowerPoint Game "Going to"
Mingle Activity for "Going to"
Unit 10
10A Technology has Changed Our Lives p.118-119
Present Perfect Form
Have you ever game
Find Someone Who
Find Someone Who: Student Generated Questions
10C Why Haven't Scientists Invented it Yet p.122-123
* LINK: Speaking About Inventions
10D Problems with Technology p.124
* Speaking Lesson: Problems with Technology
10E Please Leave a Message After the Tone p.125
Discussion questions about e-mail
Doraemon PowerPoint Game: Imperatives and Let's
10F Memory and Language Learning p.126-127
various activities
Unit 11
p.129
Lead-in questions
11A Going on Holiday p.130-131
* Should: Scrambled Sentences
* Problem Cards: Using Should for Advice
* Should and Shouldn't: Advice for Classmates
Doraemon PowerPoint Game: Should
11B Planning a Holiday p.132-133
Modal Board Game (must, can, have to) 
Modal Verb Karuta
Modal Verb Guessing Game
Modal Verb Story 
Survey form for Modal Verbs
11C Should I Go There? p.134-135
Various Activities
11D A Holiday in South America p.136
Making Suggestions with How About, Let's and Would You Like To--Running Dictation 
How About, Let's, Would You Like To--Scrambled Sentences
Let's, How about, Would you like to: Find Your Partner
Think about your next holiday
11F Mecca and the Hajj p.138-139
Lead-in and Transcript
Unit 12
p. 141
Lead-in and Transcript
12A Climate Change p.142-143
Will for Future Prediction: Shouting Dictation
Que Sera Sera by Doris Day--Will for Future Predictions 
Will for Future Prediction Karuta 
Fortune Cards: Will for Future Prediction
12B Exploring the Earth p.144-145
Various Activities
How Questions: Matching Words
How Questions: Practice With Partner
How Questions: Class Survey
Naruto PowerPoint for Articles
12C Looking for a New Earth p.146-147
Backs to the Board Game
Youtube Videos Authentic Listening: Living on the Moon
Naruto Bomb Game With Comparative Adjective Forms
PowerPoint Presentation to Drill Comparative Adjectives
Naruto Bomb Game with Comparative and Superlative Adjective Forms
drilling comparatives and superlatives
12F Volcanoes p.150-151
Transcript

Life Pre-Intermediate

Unit 1
p.9
Transcript
1A How Well Do You Sleep p.10-11
Transcript
* Sleep (slidespub) (Mingle Cards- docspub)
Present Simple Formation
1B The Secrets of Long Life p.12-13
Present Simple and Present Continuous Formation
Rules for Present Simple and Present Continuous
Human Bingo for Present Simple and Present Continuous
Function of Present Simple and Present Continuous 
Present Simple Versus Present Continuous 2
1C Health and Happiness p.14-15
* Feelings (slidespub) (mingle cards-drivedocspub)
Lead-in
Human Bingo with Feel
1D At the Doctor's p.16
* Being Sick (slidespub) (Mingle Cards- docspub)
Transcript and PowerPoint Game
1E Medical Advice Online p.17
Lead-in
So/ Because Game
1F Slow Food p.18-19
Transcript and PowerPoint
* Restaurants (slidespub) (Mingle Cards- docspub)
Unit 2
2A Competitive Sports p.22-23
* Sports (slidespub) (Mingle cards -docspub)
Gerunds Running Dictation
Gerunds Crossword
love, hate, enjoy, dislike guessing game
2B Crazy Competitions p.24-25
Modal Verb Board Game
2C Bolivian Wrestlers p.26-27
Doraemon PowerPoint Game for "like" and "as"
2D Joining a Club p.28 & 2E Advertising for Members p.29
Create Your Own Club
2F Cheese Rolling p.30-31
Vocabulary, transcript, Backs to the Boards
3A Transport in the Future p.34-35
Naruto Bomb Game With Comparative Adjective Forms
PowerPoint Presentation to Drill Comparative Adjectives
Naruto Bomb Game with Comparative and Superlative Adjective Forms
drilling comparatives and superlatives
Board Game for Comparative and Superlative Adjectives
3B Animal Transport p.36-37
Card Game for Comparative Adjectives
3C Last Days of the Rickshaw p.38-39 
* How do you get to school? (slidespub)
Lead-in, Vocab Cards, Backs to the Board
3D Getting Around Town p.40
* lead-in, transcript, vocabulary
3F Indian Railways p.42-43
Various activities
Unit 4
* Quizlet and transcript
4A Adventurers of the Year p.46-47
4B The Survivors p.48-49
Transcript and Quizlet
4C The Right Decision p.50-51
Various Activities
4D A Happy Ending p.52
* Quizlet
4E A Story of Survival p.53
4F Alaskan Ice Climbing p.54-55
* Various Activities
Review p.56
Quizlet
Unit 5
P.57
5D Online Shopping p.64
Quizlet, transcript
5E Problems with an Order p.65
5F Coastal Clean-up p.66-67
Unit 5 Review p.68
Unit 6
6B World Party p.72-73
Quizlet and Mingle Activities
6C Masai Rites of Passage p.74-75
various activities
6D An Invitation p.76
Quizlet
6E A Wedding in Madagascar p.77
Various Activities
Review Units 4-6
Quizlet
Unit 7
p.81
* Transcript
8F Wind Power p.102-103
* Various Activities
Unit 9
9B The History of Writing p.108-109
10A Holiday Stories p.118-119
10C A Tour Under Paris p.122-123
Lead-in
Youtube Videos Authentic Listening: Party in the Paris Catacombs, But Don't Tell
10F: Living in Venice p.126-127
Lead-in and transcript
Unit 11
11B Modern History p.132-133
11F The Lost City of Machu Picchu p.138-139
Lead-in, Transcript
Unit 12
12B The Power of Nature p.144-145
12C Changing Greenland p.146-147

Life Intermediate


Unit 1
1E About Us p.17
Lead-in
Unit 2
2B Dance Across America p.24-25
Lead-in
Gerunds Crossword Puzzle
2D What's On p.28
PowerPoint Game
2F Taiko Master p.30-31
Lead-in, transcript, vocabulary cards
Unit 3
3C Love and Death in the Sea p.38-39
Writing
3E What a Weekend! p.41
My Life in Vietnam: Student Writing
12B The Man Who Ate His Boots p.144-145
3rd Conditional Formation
3rd Conditional Mingle Activity
If It Hadn't Been for Love by Adele (re-purposed for emphasizing the 3rd conditional)
3rd Conditional Brainstorm Activity
3rd Conditional Naruto PowerPoint Game
12D I'm so sorry! p.148
Various activities

Life Upper Intermediate

Unit 1
p.9
* Lead-in
1A Unlikely Friends p.10-11

Lifestyles Intermediate Textbook

* Interaction: Choosing a Candidate p.54-55

Market Leader Pre-Intermediate 3rd Edition


Market Leader Intermediate 3rd Edition

Unit 1: Brands
Starting up p.6
Transcript
Vocabulary p.7 
Vocabulary Cards
Listening p.8
Transcript
p.10 Present Simple and Present Continuous
Present Simple and Present Continuous Formation
Rules for Present Simple and Present Continuous
Human Bingo for Present Simple and Present Continuous
Function of Present Simple and Present Continuous
Present Simple Versus Present Continuous
p.11 Skills: Taking Part in Meetings
Agreement or Disagreement: Discussion Questions
Unit 2: Travel
p.14 Starting Up
Transcript
p.15 Vocabulary
Vocabulary Cards
p.16-17 Reading
Vocabulary Cards
p. 19 Skills
cards, board game
Present Continuous for Future Arrangements Find a time to meet
Present Continuous for Future Arrangements: Schedule Mingling activity 
Unit 3
p.23 Vocabulary
Vocabulary Cards
p.26-27 Managing Meetings
Useful Language Cards and Transcript
p.30-31 Socializing
Transcript
Unit 4 Organisation
p.37 Vocabulary
vocabulary cards
p.38-39 Reading
Various activities
p.40 Listening
transcript
p.42-43 Listening
table and transcript

A bit of background here before I get to the main point.

My school is now switching everything over to Google Docs and Google Slides.  No more Microsoft word.  No more PowerPoint.  And no more space on the school computer for teacher's to save their materials.  Everything is now going to be online at Google Drive.

I will admit to being very frustrated with this change.  I liked PowerPoint and Microsoft Word.  I knew how to use PowerPoint and Microsoft Word.  And, it appears that there are certain features I use regularly on PowerPoint and Microsoft Word that are not supported by Google Docs and Google Slides.  (This last point is something I'm still figuring out, however.  It could be that I just haven't fully discovered how to utilize Google Docs and Google Slides.)
There's also some rumors around the staff room that the reason for the change might not be purely altruistic.  The company is apparently saving a lot of money by making this change.  (They don't have to pay licensing fees to PowerPoint and Microsoft anymore, and they don't have to host all the teacher's resources on their own computers).
So, you can imagine that there's a fair amount of grumbling around the staff room about losing Microsoft and PowerPoint.

And yet...there's a generation gap around this issue.  I've noticed that many of the younger teachers--the ones under 25--are completely unaffected by this changeover, because they were already using Google Docs and Google Slides as their primary tools, and they actually prefer it.

And, although the motivations of the company management may be mixed, there does appear to be a genuine belief on the part of the company management that Google Docs and Google Slides are the way of the future, and that the company is being progressive and forward thinking by jumping on this bandwagon sooner rather than later.

So, despite the fact that I hate change, it's looking like Google Docs and Google Slides are actually the wave of the future.
...Or are they? Given how quickly fades change on the Internet, who knows what will happen.  Will Google Docs have completely taken over everything in 5 years time, or will it be eclipsed by the next big thing?  (If anyone has any predictions, let me know in the comments section).

Anyway, all that rambling is just the background to this new blogging project I'm starting.

I've decided that since all my classroom materials are going to be online anyway, I'm going to index them all here on this blog.

For the past couple years, I've already been posting a lot of my teaching materials. But up until now, I've been trying to only post general stuff that wasn't limited to a specific textbook--for example, a generic activity on adjectives.
By far, by far, the majority of materials I make, however, is designed to just supplement a specific lesson from a specific textbook--discussion questions that are based off of a specific reading lesson from page 36 of a textbook, for example.

Going forward, I'm going to just start posting all of this stuff on this blog.  My reasons for this are as follows:

1). Since it's all going to be online now anyway, I figure why not.
2). It will allow me to index and keep track of my own material.  In some cases, it will allow me to quickly find material again when I'm re-teaching the same lessons.  In other cases, material designed for one textbook could be adapted for another textbook.
3). To the extent that all major ESL textbooks are a mass publishing industry, lots of other people around the world will also be using them.  It may be of use for other people out there in Internet land who are teaching out of the same textbooks.  (Or maybe not.  It's not for me to judge the usefulness of my own material, of course.  It could just be all bunk, but there's no harm in throwing it out there and letting other people decide for themselves.)
4). And, of course, the primary reason for any sort of blogging--the desire to have some sort of interaction with a larger world.

From now on, I'll be posting on this blog any material that I design on Google Docs or Google Slides.  Material that is generic, I'll index on my TESOL Ideas and Worksheets Index.  Material that is designed to supplement a specific lesson from a specific textbook I'll index on this post here (at the top of the post).  Material that could fit either description will be indexed in both places.

Link of the Day
Noam Chomsky Talks About Universal Grammar [Video]

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

For a while now I've been trying to make sense of Donald Trump's popularity with Republican voters, and to figure out what it all means.  How can so many people be so stupid?

I've been thinking more and more that Donald Trump's campaign reminds me of George Wallace's 1968 Presidential campaign.  (Something I'm too young to remember personally, but that I learned about in history class.)

And then I saw the headline:

Donald Trump Expresses A Desire To Punch A Protester And His Supporters Go Wild


...and the George Wallace parallel was cemented in my brain.  (George Wallace was also famous for threatening violence to people who protested him.  He once threatened to run over any student protester who would try to sit down in front of his car.)

I was going to write a post on this, but then I thought: actually, this is just too obvious.  I can't have been the only person who's thought of this.  

So I did a quick Google search, and, sure enough, lots of other people have been making this connection for months now. The New York Times, Slate, Salon.com, The Daily Beast, Democracy Now, Politico, Buzzfeed: they all have articles making this connection.

Rachel Maddow has a whole show on the topic.



Of course, it's one thing to identify a historical parallel.  To figure out what it all means is something I'm still sorting out.  But Rachel Maddow makes the good point that there's nothing unique about the year 2016.  It was always thus.  Or at the very least, every few years this kind of thing rises up again.

As for my Donald Trump predictions from a couple months ago, I don't know what to think anymore.  As it looks like Donald Trump might now seriously be the Republican nominee, I may have to eat my hat and admit I was wrong about him not being a serious candidate.
...but on the other hand, when I listen to all the things that are coming of his mouth, I still have a hard time believing he's taking his own presidential campaign seriously, in spite of all his successes.  It still seems to me that he's doing everything he can to sabotage himself.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Zootopia

(Movie Review)

Why I Saw This Movie
If left to my own devices, I probably wouldn't have seen this.  But the girlfriend wanted to watch it, so I agreed to go along.
(Apparently this is one of the few movies which is getting an international release ahead of the US release.  So it's in theaters in Vietnam already.)

Negatives
* As you would expect from a children's movie, the humor is not subtle at all.  The jokes are a bit too obvious, and the characters stand around and mug with cute faces to emphasize all the jokes.  (To be fair, this is only a problem for me as an adult--it probably works perfectly fine for the movie's target audience).

* The soundtrack: bland generic pop songs.  (Again, to be fair, it probably went over fine with it's target audience.)

* Boy, does this movie ever hit you over the head with its main themes! Those first 10 minutes especially you really really got hit over the head with the "believe in yourself and follow your dreams" set up.  Which of course, made the pay-off at the end of the movie incredibly easy to predict.

* If you're going to make an allegory about peoples of different races and cultures living together in a multi-cultural city, than using different animals to represent different races is the obvious choice.  I mean, the story and situations just write themselves, don't they?
The problem with this analogy, however, is it has a limit.  There's no biological difference between the different human races, but there are significant biological differences between a rabbit and a fox.  It's wrong to assert that there are biological differences between black and white people, but you would not be wrong to say that a rabbit and a fox have a different biology and that this biology makes them behave in different ways.
I would have been content to overlook the biological science issue if the movie hadn't called attention to it, but the movie went deliberately out of its way to have a scene in which a fox was offended because a rabbit said that predators and prey have a different biology.
The analogy was presumably meant to imply that it's wrong to talk about different human races in this way, but I wonder if the movie didn't shoot itself in the foot by shining such a spotlight on the biological issue.

Positives
* Although I said above that the humor was too obvious and too cutesy, this applies mainly to just the verbal humor.  The visual humor I quite liked actually.  The animators were able to get a lot of mileage from imagining all the ridiculous situations that would result from animals of all shapes and sizes living together in a city--little mice driving little cars underfoot, for example--which I quite liked.

*Also, the other exception was Jason Bateman.  I thought his character worked quite well, and Jason Bateman's deadpan comic delivery was spot on.  Also, the animators did an excellent job of creating a cartoon fox which looks exactly like Jason Bateman.

* You know, 20 years ago I would have thought that a movie editorializing against racism was out of date.  The civil rights movement had been a success, overt racism was on its way out, and it was time to focus on the more subtle forms of discrimination.
...But with the rise of xenophobia in the US, I'm not so sure anymore.  Maybe we do need movies with messages like this.  It's not subtle, but that doesn't mean it's wrong.
Also, to the extent that all Hollywood blockbuster movies are now international releases, I think that there are many areas of the world where this message still needs to be heard.  For example, Cambodians feel no shame in vocally expressing how much they hate the Vietnamese people living in Cambodia.  In Vietnam, the Vietnamese hate the Chinese.  In Thailand, the Thais hate the Cambodian migrant workers.
So I'm happy knowing that this movie is now playing in theaters in places like Cambodia.  Hopefully it might even alter attitudes over there.

The Review
This movie will play absolutely fine with its target audience.  (My 6 year old students absolutely loved it).  Adults can expect the message to be too obvious, the jokes to be too telegraphed, and the pop songs to be predictably top-40 bland.
But, the visuals are funny, and Jason Bateman's character is good.  Altogether, not a bad waste of time.

Rating
4 out of 10.  (Although admittedly, it should play fine with its target audience).

Other Notes
* The scene with the Sloths working at the DMV got huge laughs in the theater I was in here in Vietnam--I'm assuming because the Vietnamese government bureaucracy is just a nightmare to deal  with over here, so the joke easily crossed cultural boundaries.

Link of the Day
Noam Chomsky - The Herd of Independent Minds