Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Welcome, And Let's Get Started!

Greetings, English learners! I'm so glad you've stumbled on my learning English through American TV blog! I hope this blog enables you to expand your vocabulary and general knowledge of English, while widening your cultural perspective and laughing a little (or a lot!).

My goal for this blog is to give you the opportunity to observe and appreciate English spoken in the way we casually would each day. So much of your English education is based on formal and often archaic ways of speaking and writing, and I would like you to recognize, and put to use, the constructive language elements you will find here.

As the background picture of this blog would suggest, the first show we're going to watch is The Simpsons. Now, there's a very good chance you've heard of this series. It is the longest-running American sitcom, with twenty-six seasons since 1989, and it is aired worldwide.

Basically, the show is a parody (and, in many ways, an accurate one) of the middle-class American lifestyle. If you're looking for a show that glorifies the United States and its culture, policies, and politics, this is definitely not the one! However, the satirical aspects of the show make it extremely funny, but that, of course, may depend on your sense of humor!

The first Simpsons episode we're going to watch together is from the program's seventh season. It's called King Size Homer, and as you might expect, it will focus on the show's main character, Homer Simpson, and his rapidly increasing weight.

Before we begin the episode, I would like for you to think about and discuss these questions:

1. The United States is known to have quite an obesity problem. Why do you think this is the case?

2. In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of working from home?

Now, unless you have the season seven DVD, you're going to need to find a website from which you can stream this episode. Since I don't condone streaming the show illegally, I will leave finding a copy, whether on DVD or online, up to you.

Memorize these questions before you watch, and answer them during the episode:

1. What new activity does Mr. Burns organize at the nuclear power plant?
2. How much must an employee weigh to qualify for disability? Is Homer able to "achieve" this?
3. What are Homer's responsibilities at his new "job"?
4. What happens to Homer at the movie theater?
5. What does he allow to happen at the nuclear plant? How does he save the day?

Now that you've watched the episode and hopefully answered the questions, discuss them with a partner, if you're studying with other people.

We will conclude this episode with two final questions:

1. What American stereotypes are shown in this episode?
2. Do you think they are accurate? Why or why not?

I hope you've enjoyed the first installment of Leaning with American TV! I look forward to learning with you again.

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