Teaching English with Art: Winslow Homer

Teaching English with Art: Winslow Homer.  This eighth volume of our successful series of eBooks combining ENGLISH TEACHING AND ART is a wonderful supplement to any coursebook or extra materials your students may already be using in the English class. It contains 30 vocabulary,  speaking and writing activities for classroom use, based on some of the most striking works by the best American artist of the XIX century.

The objective of the eBook is to expose the students to art while teaching English, fulfilling therefore one of the tenets of effective language acquisition: providing a realistic context for the language to be learned and practiced as a means to an end. Your students will love to exercise their English discussing the works of Winslow Homer. This is a proven way to make language acquisition fun and effective by creating in the classroom an atmosphere of interest, motivation and emotion. Each activity is clearly correlated to the COMMON EUROPEAN FRAMEWORK OF REFERENCE (CEFR), and the level is stated next to it.

IMPORTANT NOTE. CUSTOMIZATION: if you wish to change the cover of any of the ebooks, add your school logo, negotiate a special price for a determined number of students, or make other suggestions of customization, do not hesitate to talk to us. We are VERY FLEXIBLE. Make your ebook UNIQUE!

Click on the image below to download the ebook:

Click on the image above to get your copy from the Kindle Store.

Click on the image above to get your copy from the Kindle Store.

Check out the video clip on the ebook TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: WINSLOW HOMER: https://vimeo.com/142028606

For other books of our series, click here: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lS

Teaching English with Art

Teaching English with Art

Au revoir

Jorge Sette

Interview with Jorge Sette about his successful series of eBooks TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART

Phil Wade (please refer to his biodata at the bottom of this post) has been very supportive of my series of eBooks TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART from the very beginning. Last week he asked me if he could interview me for the ELT EBOOKS BLOG (www.eltebooks.wordpress.com ) he’s in charge of. He is an eBook writer himself and understands that the more we talk about these new trends and educate people about the cutting-edge work we are doing, the more informed the English Language Teaching (ELT) community will be, and, as a consequence, school coordinators, teachers, parents and students will be able to make better choices regarding the materials they adopt. Ebooks and self-publishing are the future of the industry, and I’m glad we chose to be on board this early. Here’s the interview as published in his blog.

Teaching English with Art. Click on the picture above to get your copy.

Teaching English with Art. Click on the picture above to get your copy.

Phil: What is your opinion of the current ELT ebook market?

Jorge Sette: Like all the other markets, the ELT book market is undergoing a radical transformation. It’s becoming digital. However, there is still a lot of resistance to this new reality. Teachers and parents of course, because of their age, tend to be more conservative, and therefore will prefer the use of print materials as a rule. It feels more tangible to them. On the other hand, even more forward-thinking or younger teachers, and also students, are not used to paying for anything they get from the Internet, which makes it difficult for ELT publishers and writers to go fully digital, as the business model has not been fully established yet. However, I firmly believe there’s no going back, and in the very near future we will all be reading and studying from tablets, smartphones and other devices. I myself have been reading mainly eBooks, e-magazines and e-newspapers for the past 5 years or so. And paying for them too (laugh).

Phil: How do you write your ebooks?

Jorge Sette:  Well I love art and love English teaching, so it was only natural for me to combine both passions. I uploaded some free presentations involving teaching English in the context of art on SlideShare a couple of years ago and found out lots of other teachers liked the idea too. I realized then there was a market for these materials, as they were not common in the ELT world. So I decided to write a series of supplementary eBooks on vocabulary, speaking and writing which would tap into famous works of art as a springboard for exercises to be done in the language classroom. My writing process is the following: I tend to choose artists who are famous to start with. Then I go thorough their works on the Internet or print books I have at home to decide if their paintings lend themselves easily to the creation of classroom activities. Then I read a coupe of well-known biographies on the painter and watch videos about his works on YouTube, so I understand their life, style and motivations better. Even if very little of this homework is reflected directly in the books themselves, I know I will write better if I have this background knowledge and information about the artist stored in my head when I start developing the tasks.

Phil: What feedback have you received?

Jorge Sette:  I have run some campaigns on Amazon.com where some of my eBooks are given away for free, as it’s important to get the word out, and have key teachers get to know and talk about them. These campaigns function in the same way publishers give free samples to teachers aiming at getting an adoption for their print materials. There have been hundreds of downloads throughout the world during these campaigns. However, not everybody who downloads the materials gives us feedback. Many teachers, though, have written to me directly saying they loved the books and that their students have been benefitting from the activities. Of course most people who care to write to us are the ones who have a positive opinion, so I still need to investigate more on how the books can be improved, as I haven’t received much negative feedback to help me in this direction.

Phil: Why does Art appeal to so many different kinds of teachers?

Jorge Sette: Well, teaching English with art is a powerful tool. I summarized all the advantages of using art in the language class in a post I wrote for my blog LINGUAGEM, which your readers can access by clicking here: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1jO

As a summary, though, I would say that teachers like it because it makes the lesson more fun and, therefore, more motivating. It allows the inclusion, in the English class, of other subjects studied in the curriculum, such as a history, geography, mythology, psychology and literature. In addition to that, art involves emotion, which makes language more relevant and memorable. And, finally, its flexibility makes it easy for teachers to personalize exercises and allows for open answers and freer practice, which is an important phase in the language acquisition process: if the students use the language to express their own reality, dreams, experiences and aspirations, chances are their development as language learners will improve.

Phil: Which is your favourite activity from your ebooks and why?

Jorge Sette: I myself love the storytelling activities, both oral and written. Everyone loves a good story, and if you can create your own version of a story based on a painting, you will certainly enjoy the process. I encourage the use of process writing in the eBooks, which shifts the focus to drafting rather than coming up with a final product immediately. The more drafts a student produces the better writer she will become. Having said that, I suspect different students will enjoy different kinds of activities, so we provide a huge variety of exercises to cater for different tastes and learning styles.


Phil has been designing, managing and teaching English courses in language schools, universities and companies for 15 years. He has also written numerous articles and elearning courses. His current passion is ebooks and has written 11 ebooks and co-written several others. He is currently working on a Business English ebook due out in January. Phil blogs about ELT ebooks at www.eltebooks.wordpress.com

Caravaggio and the Myth of Medusa

Medusa was a beautiful priestess serving at the temple of Athena. Her beauty attracted a number of suitors, but she had to turn them down, as, according to her vows, she was supposed to remain a virgin.

However, Poseidon, God of the Sea, fell in love with Medusa and appeared to her in the shape of a bird. Being a god, it was easy for him to have his way with the poor maid and sleep with her.

As customary in mythological tales, the victim takes the blame for this sort of incident, and Athena, in a fury, turned Medusa into a horrific monster with the skin of a corpse and poisonous snakes for hair. Besides, anyone who dared to look her in the eyes would immediately turn to stone.

Caravaggio's Medusa

Caravaggio’s Medusa

Perseus, son of Jupiter with the mortal Danae, grew up on the Island of Seriphus. For many years he longed to receive a visit from his father, but it did not happen. His mother would tell him to be patient, as time did not work in the same way for gods.

Danae attracted the attention of Polydectes, king of the island, who tried to force her to marry him. She refused, but the King imposed one condition not to marry her: Perseus must bring him the head of Medusa as a gift.

Perseus, although unprepared and young, did not hesitate to accept the challenge. He knew he had first to find the Grey Sisters, horrible old hags who lived in the forest and shared one eye between them. They kept taking turns at using the eye ball. In a moment of distraction, while one of them was passing the eye to another, Perseus snatched it and told them that he would keep the eye unless they told him where the nymphs lived. The nymphs would tell him where to find Medusa and would give him the necessary weapons to fight her. The old hags acquiesced.

Perseus set out to meet the nymphs, who gave him three weapons: the sword of Jupiter, his father; the shield of Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom; and the winged sandals of Hermes, the Messenger of the Olympic Gods. He was also told not to look Medusa in the eye or he’d be turned to stone.

As he approached the lair of the monster, Perseus noticed a number of statues of men scattered in the garden. These were probably men who had tried to get to Medusa before him and were dully petrified. All was rock and desolation around the cave of the monster.

Perseus turned his back to the entrance and walked backwards towards the inner chambers of the cave, looking into the reflection on his polished shield for orientation. This way he would not have to look Medusa in the eyes directly. As he located her, he turned around with his eyes shut and struck her neck with the powerful sword of Jupiter, decapitating the creature.

Using Hermes’ sandals, he flew back to the Island of Seriphus, arriving right at the moment when the wedding between his mother and King Polydectes was about to take place. He shouted: Here’s your gift! And held the head of Medusa in front of the king. The King looked into the eyes of the dead monster and, as a result, was turned immediately to stone. And so Danae was free to go and live with her son again.

Caravaggio’s work, inspired by the myth of Medusa, was painted on an actual shield. It was not meant to be hung, but passed from hand to hand when viewed.

Note: the text above is from the ebook: TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: CARAVAGGIO. For further info on the series please CLICK HERE:  http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lS

Check out the video:

Au revoir

Jorge Sette





Teaching English with Art (video)

Teaching English with Art: the ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNING materials you have been waiting for:



TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: MATISSE. Click here for more info: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1kP


TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: PICASSO. Click here for more info: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lA


‪#‎matisse ‪#‎picasso ‪#‎fauvism ‪#‎cubism ‪#‎moma ‪#‎tate ‪#‎teachingenglish ‪#‎language ‪#‎learningenglish

The pleasures and horrors of wearing “OCULUS”

The future looks bright. Or not. It also looks very individualistic, but not lonely. Like all new things, the amalgamation of Facebook, this powerful social media platform counting more than 1 billion people as members, and the new Oculus Rift 3D gaming tool (even the latin name imbues the product with an aura of respectability and awe) bringing the possibility of adding a virtual reality touch to basically all its social pages, is, at one time, breathtaking, humbling, inspiring and terrifying.


I’m sure you are already sensing Orwellian connotations everywhere. You are not alone, but let’s give it some time before we judge. Oculus may indeed sound a bit ominous, but the dual nature of things is ubiquitous (good and evil are in all things and people, but let’s not get too philosophical on a blog post)

Oculus is already great news for couch potatoes. Besides, this will surely push couchpotatoness to a whole new level, inspiring and attracting hordes of newcomers. As you will be able to do almost everything without leaving your living-room, shy of maybe having to deal with the call of nature now and then, your life will be restricted by the boundaries of your sofa. As for bodily functions, if you take your tablet to the toilet, the problem is solved. You will rule the world from the porcelain throne.

As cities like São Paulo get increasingly violent and uncomfortable – traffic jams, heat, overcrowded subway, etc –  you may wish to put on your glasses (cross that out, Google may charge me for using this word), Oculus, for things like:

1. Shopping for groceries: being able not only to see what the fruit and vegetables look like that day, but also maybe feel them with your hands for texture and softness before sending them to the shopping cart for delivery by the 2:00 pm drone.

2. Visit museums and galleries: now you don’t need to line up before getting to the latest exhibition at MASP, simply take it from the comfort of your bathroom. Walk around, get as close as possible to the paintings, touch them, go around 3D volumes like sculptures, stare at their bottoms closely, if you are that kind of person.

3. Bored in the middle of the work day at the dreary office downtown? Click on the Facebook page of any beautiful Northearstern beach of Brazil,  and go for a long virtual walk along the sea, let’s say, in Porto de Galinhas. At some point in the near future I’m sure you will even be able to feel the warm waves licking at your feet. Then click out of the page and start the video conference call with the sales team with renewed vigor and energy.

4. Shopping for clothes: no more cluttered and disheveled fitting rooms to gain access to. Try everything and anything on for hours on end without being disturbed, and then pick only a t-shirt on your way out, or nothing at all, without even being frowned at by the shop assistant, who has been waiting on you for the whole morning. She is probably only a bot, anyway, without any civil rights – for now! Chances are, however, you will be chased after by their re-marketing ads and notifications for the rest of your life.

For number 5, I was going to add you may even create and live with your own virtual family – and shut them down or click out of their page whenever you feel you deserve a night out (well, not really OUT, but on a different website) with the guys. But I don’t want to sound too iconoclastic at this point.

The possibilities are endless. The fun and the horrors incalculable. Let’s just wait.

Au revoir

Jorge Sette.




21 thoughts that might cross your mind while you’re sitting on the beach in Ipanema

Cheer up, you are in Rio. Thoughts…

1. Why didn’t I go to the gym more regularly for at least six months before I decided to come here?

2. Oh my God, can this water get any icier? Impossible to swim here.

3. I’d love to have two bags of these GLOBO chips.

4. I’ll have the açaí with muesli and banana.

5. Why is everybody running away while these dark-skinned boys are chasing after them?

6. I’ll ask the nice lady sitting to my right if she would mind looking after my stuff while I go for a quick swim.

7. Don’t they mind my overhearing their private conversation about how they’re cheating on their wives? Turn it down.

8. Has marijuana been legalized in Brazil? I can’t see anyone NOT smoking.

9. What a view they must have from Vidigal.

10. Those three must be from São Paulo.

11. Isn’t that Chico Buarque walking along the sidewalk?

12. I have never seen these gringos this happy when they are at home.

13. I must stop after this one. I believe this is my fourth caipirinha.

14. Maybe I will get the beach towel with the Christ the Redeemer on it.

15. Jesus, they should get a room.

16. OMG, that wave was a little tsunami and washed all that guy’s clothes and belongings away.

17. Are they really going to try on the speedos right here on the beach before buying them?

18. Wow, it looks like we are going to have a beautiful sunset today. Will be standing on Pedra do Arpoador in 30 min.

19. Will go ITAU biking later on.

20. Time to shift position and stare at the Two Brothers now.

21. How many more years do I still have to teach English to be able to buy that penthouse over there?


Ipanema, Rio.


Storytelling with Winslow Homer, the famous American Painter

Storytelling with Winslow Homer, the famous American Painter

Winslow Homer.  Click on the picture to access the SlideShare presentation. You might want to check  out our post on the mythological structure of storytelling as well:  http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-F2

Note: you might want to check out our new book TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: MATISSE   available  from AMAZON.COM as an ebook.  Click here for more info: 



My 5 favorite TV villains and why I love them

Television is changing. Its shows, especially after the advent of HBO, Netflix and Showtime, are becoming more and more sophisticated and nuanced. I would  even dare to say that TV shows in general are a lot more fun than the average Hollywood movie, one reason being that they are shorter and therefore able to pack a lot more punch into their compressed 30 or 60 min length. Of course, you can, and probably will,  binge watch whole seasons of Breaking Bad on a single weekend, but the experience is usually more satisfying than spending 3 hours at the movie theater. I know, I’ve done it.

That’s why I’ve decided to narrow my choices and include only TV villains in this post. Maybe in the future I will have another go at it, and focus on the big screen baddies.

Here’s the list of my favorite TV villains. They are NOT listed in order of preference. All of them are contemporary, so the reader will hopefully know who I’m talking about. I also understand that my choices may not be terribly original, but I’m sure some of my reasons might surprise you.

1. Dexter Morgan (from Dexter): strong organizational skills, love of kids, sense of humor and irony are some of Dexter’s virtues I respect and relate to. He also cleans after himself and has an elegant method of avoiding leaving behind a messy crime scene. We could easily be flatmates. I also really like the cool thermal shirt he wears when he goes on killing jobs. I’ve been looking to buy one. I will have to lose a few pounds to fit into them though. Quote: “People fake a lot of human interactions, but I feel like I fake them all, and I fake them very well. That’s my burden, I guess.”

Dexter Morgan

Dexter Morgan

2. Frank Underwood (from House of Cards): yes, you love him too, I know. But I even love his wife better, she’s next on the list. Single-mindedness, strong sense of purpose, ability to focus and to design well thought-out strategies, in addition to a very keen sense of politics are all enviable treats of  Francis’s (as his wife calls him) personality. He is also a great reader of peoples’s feelings and emotions. He knows when to back off. Excellent at prioritizing his battles. Quote: “There are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain. The sort of pain that’s only suffering. I have no patience for useless things.”

Frank Underwood

Frank Underwood

3. Claire Underwood (from House of Cards): extremely beautiful, proving that you can still be stunning in maturity, Claire has a great sense of fashion and style. She also has total control over her feelings. Like Frank, she picks her battles carefully, has strategic vision, and doesn’t mind  being upstaged by her husband, as she knows she is really the boss. Besides, she goes jogging regularly: I wish I had that kind of determination. Quote: “Now tell me, am I really the sort of enemy you want to make?”

Claire Underwood

Claire Underwood

4. Walter White (from Breaking Bad): fearless trend-setter: he’s fifty years old and looks cool wearing only a long-sleeved green shirt, white underwear, socks and leather shoes. The ultimate entrepreneur.  Manages his business like a proper CEO. Highly intelligent. A perfectionist in every sense of the word: he is very proud of the purity of the the blueish product he puts out with the utmost care and dedication. I’ve read somewhere that watching the whole Breaking Bad series is equivalent to taking a business course at Harvard. I got my degree last month! Quote: “What I came to realize is that fear, that’s the worst of it. That’s the real enemy. So, get up, get out in the real world and you kick that bastard as hard you can right in the teeth.”

Walter White

Walter White

5. Bart Simpson (from The Simpsons): you may not even realize he’s a villain, but don’t be deceived by his innocent looks and strange feminine voice. Bart Simpson is evil. However, I like the fact that he is very cold in his decision making process, when necessary. Outcomes are what really matters for him. He’s great at practicing his calligraphy (at the beginning of every show you will always see him writing the same sentence – a different one per episode- on the blackboard hundreds of times). Take Steve Jobs, for instance: didn’t he study calligraphy and allegedly applied his knowledge in the making of the beautiful fonts available on the first Mac computers? So, Bart deserves brownie points for his efforts too. Another career option for Bart would obviously be teaching, given all this expertise handling the chalk (not sure if this will be a widely sought-after skill in the profession in the near future, though). Finally, he’s one of  the few major TV characters who tries to speak Spanish: ¡Ay, caramba! Quote: (to his sister Lisa) “You got the brains and talent to go as far as you want and when you do I’ll be right there to borrow money.

Bart Simpson

Bart Simpson

Well, I hope I’ve been persuasive in explaining why I love these guys. Now it’s your turn. Share with us the list of baddies you care about.

Au revoir

Jorge Sette

What it takes to be Michael Jackson

I’ve never been a huge fan of Michael Jackson’s music, although his gift as a performer and dancer has always impressed me. I grew up hearing his songs, like many of the readers, so he felt like a distance cousin, far away but still part of my life.

Despite the fact that THRILLER (1982), his second solo album after he left The Jackson 5, sold more than a 100 million copies, making it the best-selling album of all time, I was never really interested in mimicking the steps and choreography of the promo video clip, and was left sitting alone with my rum and coke at the parties of that era, while all my zombie friends took over the dance floor.

In the early 90s, before the advent of cable television in Brazil, when regular TV still had the power of unifying people, making most of us watch the same shows and discuss them at the water cooler the following day, I waited excitedly for the release of every new computerized video clip featuring a Michel Jackson hit, just like everyone else at the time. To say nothing of the fact that, in Brazil,  a lot of kids from the generation after mine were named by their parents MAICON, in honor of the King of Pop. They couldn’t get it right.

Obviously, I was shocked by his untimely death and saddened by all the allegations of child abuse he had to confront (hoping that the verdict of not guilty was fair and right after all). The Oscar-winning Danish movie THE HUNT presents us with a nightmarish scenario of what it must feel like to be accused of this sort of crime if you are innocent. Once the doubt is planted in people’s minds, it will not be uprooted.

This evening, however, I watched a documentary about Michael Jackson on Netflix, and it was fascinating to be reminded of how talented and mature he was at the age of 10, an old soul. Nevertheless, in a scene in the film, someone comments that whatever he missed in childhood due to his extreme professionalism, he made up in adulthood. Of course, he was referring to the toys he got as an adult, to Neverland, and to the obsession of physically transforming his body through plastic surgery, rather than only in his imagination, like most kids do.

But what really resonated with me was all the evidence that, besides being a naturally gifted person, he was a workaholic, and added much to his innate talent through a lot of studying and dedication. It was said that even after his voice changed in adolescence he could still carry on being a great singer, as he had learned what to do technically with his voice when rendering a song, from analyzing famous singers from the past. So, what does that teach us about how to become a Michael Jackson, or a John Lennon, or a Bill Gates? Or, in other words, an extremely successful person in our career.


Michael Jackson

Work and drive

I’m a great believer that hard word and dedication are the most important levers for success in life – whichever standards you choose to measure success by. Malcolm Gladwell, in a book called OUTLIERS (which I strongly recommend) speaks of the magical number 10,000, as the minimum amount of hours necessary for someone to dedicate to a specific task if they are to excel in it. Not all of us had or will ever have the opportunity and drive to do this, let’s face it.

Of course, being endowed by nature with a special talent, such as a higher than average IQ, amazing kinesthetic intelligence, or the looks of Scarlett Johansonn, will already place you ahead of the pack. But you cannot dismiss the effort that all real celebrities – as opposed to the Paris Hilton type – must have put into building their careers. There are odds working for them, that is undeniable, but in general, this is accompanied  by unusual amounts of time and effort invested in accomplishing their endeavors.

A Mentor and team work

Also, in all interviews I read and documentaries I watch about people who have done amazing things, there is a strong element of team work and mentoring involved. You just can’t make it on your own. Talent needs coaching, support and help with the hard decisions to be made along the way. Surround yourself with friendly and supportive people, who maybe complement your skills, and get yourself a mentor. Today.


I know a lot of talented people who do not advance further in their career for lack of resilience and toughness. They shy away and quit at the prospect of every obstacle (and there will be many) they face. If you ever have the chance to watch a couple of episodes of the popular series HOUSE OF CARDS, you will understand that it is impossible to get ahead without single-mindedness and a very thick skin.

Emotional intelligence

This is what hindered Michael Jackon’s success in terms of longevity and balance. His instability, due mainly to growing up under an overbearing and controlling father – whom he never called Dad, but Joseph, his Christian name. Besides, the pressures of living and working in an unbelievably competitive environment must have played a strong role in his unravelling. Also, he never developed sophisticated interpersonal skills, such as being able to read people beyond their words and superficial behavior – he is said to have been naively trusting of everyone.

Basically, I should say that, in a very simplified way, the characteristics listed above translate into success. In the sense that they get you where you want to be in the corporate world, in show business, academia or politics.

Let’s continue the discussion later. In the meantime, please let me know what your views are on this post.

Au revoir

Jorge Sette.

Teaching English with Picasso

Teaching English with Picasso

Suggested writing activities based on these Picasso paintings are meant as a guideline for revision of grammar, vocabulary and functions, and also as practice of Process Writing. We indicate the language level based on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).