Try something new for 10 days

Highbrow

Highbrow can help you learn something new — in just 5 minutes — every day.

HIghbrow2

First, browse the courses, and then sign up. It’s free but you do need an email address. Every morning, you’ll get an e-mail with something new to learn. You can only sign up for one course at a time. They want you to focus and to stick to just 5 minutes every day, because they know that small, everyday goals lead to success.

Highbrow1

Here’s the one I started with, last year: “Ideas that change the world” (which unfortunately is now a “premium” course. But here’s a similar one that’s still free: “Most Important Historical Events Of The 20th Century”.

Ideas that changed the world

I continued for the full 10 days, and while I can’t say I really learned anything (my fault for choosing this course), it was satisfying to accomplish that daily 5 minute ritual for 10 days (plus an additional few minutes for note-taking). Many of these courses would be excellent for EFL students. The content they probably already know in Japanese, so it’ll be good practice for reading in English.

I’m not sure if this is true for all the courses, but this one has a collection of quotes at the end of each episode.

Here’s what I did (using Evernote) and will encourage students to do, to practice note-taking skills:

Right now there are 127 courses, some of which are not free. To access these courses, you need to sign up for premium access, which costs $7 per month or $28 per year.

Women and war

This post from Brain Pickings describes and recommends a book about women who fought in the American Civil War. These women weren’t doing “typical” (stereotypical) women’s jobs like nursing or cooking. It’s a great reminder that women have so many more options in life today. Well, in many societies, anyway. It’s also a chance to think about why countries go to war, with other countries or within their own borders, and why citizens choose (or choose not) to fight.

“Oppression by Omission: The Untold Story of the Women Soldiers Who Dressed and Fought as Men in the Civil War”

Can you make some good language usage questions and discussion questions using this post? I think this excerpt is full of ideas:

“So why did women do this? For some, like their male counterparts, the motivation was purely patriotic. Others did if for love, taking to the battlefields in order to remain close to a husband, lover, fiancé, father, or brother. But for many, the reason was economic — an army private made $13 a month, roughly double what a seamstress, laundress, or maid would make. At the time of the Civil War, women, unable to vote or have bank accounts and still subject to Victorian ideals of homemaking and motherhood as the sole purpose of female existence, had neither personal nor political agency. In fact, these female soldiers tended to come from particularly marginalized groups — immigrants, the working class, farm girls, and women living below the poverty line.”

Why knot?

Here’s a short explanation from NPR about why shoelaces come untied and what you can do to prevent it. You can read the article, and listen to the story with or without the transcript. To listen click on the “play” button you’ll see in the top-left corner of the article.

The last paragraph in the transcript has one vocabulary we used in Week 1’s class. And the bad joke which I used for the title of this post.

The article mentions this TED Talk about tying your shoes. This talk has been popular with past students, probably because it’s short and easy to understand. It’s also one of the very first TED Talks. Here’s the link to the TED site, where you can watch with a transcript.

Language usage question:

What does the word “nailed” mean in this context? (This is the second paragraph of the transcript.)