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English Detective #25, Choices-- and how choices make heroes: Nov. 5,2013
November 05, 2013

English Detective #25, Choices-- and how choices make heroes: Nov. 5,2013

The current investigation (Introducing this issue):

Chiune Sugihara worked for the Japanese government before (and during) World War 2. He was Japanese consul in Lithuania in 1940, at a time when the Germans were approaching Lithuania. Lithuanian Jews knew their lives depended on escaping from Europe, but they had few places to go. A couple of Dutch territories in South America agreed to accept them if they could get there, and Mr. Sugihara persuaded the Soviet Union to let them pass through-- but his own country refused to let them go quickly through Japan on their way to South America.

Mr. Sugihara decided people’s lives were more important than obeying his government, so he started issuing (officially giving) them transit visas-- papers that allowed them to pass through Japan. After making that courageous choice, he found himself racing against time to prepare the necessary paperwork before his consulate closed. By working night and day, hardly stopping to eat, he prepared and stamped visas that saved thousands of lives.

The full story about Chiune Sugihara is here.

The second reading (and listening) activity is a TED talk about choices.

Most Americans believe that individuals should have as many choices as possible. We want to get to choose for ourselves, according to our own preferences. Choice is good, and more choice is better.

This young researcher learned that many people in other cultures do not feel the same way about choice. She discusses different views about choice and the advantages of learning other perspectives.

I found her ideas and intercultural perspective very interesting. I did not even realize that she is blind until she mentioned it. (It makes some choices more complicated for her.) One finding of her research: ten or more options make choices hard.

You can find the TED talk and read its transcript here.

In addition to these discussions about choices and consequences, there is a short vocabulary review and information and practice with the Latin verb ponere. (The link is below the picture and vocabulary discussion.)

In case you are interested in reading more about the desperate Jewish situation in Europe during World War 2), I added this link. to a 2001 New York Times article about why they did not provided much coverage of those killings at the time. There is also a page to practice vocabulary that may help you understand the article.

Your First Clue: Vocabulary we’ll Emphasize in this Issue

Review vocabulary: assumption, encounter, expose, generation, immigrate, impose, individual, interpret, label, options, paradigm, participants, reluctant.

New meanings for AWL words we have already studied:

To issue can mean to formally give out visas or other government documents, etc.

Transit visas are temporary permits to pass through a country on the way to somewhere else

A few notes about the vocabulary:

Encounter can be to find, to meet, to come across-- all without planning or looking for someone or something.

We can use the word 'individual' as a noun to mean 'person,' but it emphasizes the uniqueness of each person-- that we are not all the same. It is also an adjective meaning distinct or different: "How many individual puzzle pieces are there?"= how many separate or different pieces? Individuality is what makes a person unique-- personality traits that are only found in that particular combination in one particular person.

To Label is to describe or classify something-- to say what kind of thing (or person) it, he, or she is. A label is a piece of paper, cloth, or other material attached to something and providing information about it. Clothing labels may give the type of fabric, the manufacturer, or care instructions. Medication labels give the name of the medicine, dosage instructions, and cautions. In the U.S. Processed foods in cans or packages must have labels giving the weight and the ingredients, as well as some nutritional information.

Reluctance means a person would prefer not to do something. It is not refusing or saying no, but doing something without enthusiasm

Read this paragraph for a quick vocabulary review:

Individuals often immigrate to new countries because they want better opportunities-- new options in life-- for their children and grandchildren and the generations following. Immigration is not easy. Immigrants will encounter new problems and need to adapt to very different environments. They may need to learn a new language-- or ask their children to interpret for them. They will be exposed to new foods and participate in new kinds of work and social interaction, but more than that, they will be exposed to different ways of thinking. Their new neighbors will challenge them to exchange their old assumptions-- even the paradigms they grew up with -- for a completely new way of looking at things. Those who are reluctant to change should not even consider immigration.

Word Family Investigator: Ponere (component, dispose, exposure, positive, and more)

Study and practice the Latin root ponere.

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Coming in the next issue: Optimism: “Look on the Bright Side”

In case you missed these: Earlier issues of English Detective have articles on a number of topics, plus practice with all 570 words from the Academic Word List. You can check them out with the link to the back issues page below (or find what words were practiced each issue here.

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