Archive for the ‘EOI’ Category


free ebook! Stories from My Teacher… (at last!, we made it!)

February 2, 2015

Our first ebook, in case you are into stories told by teachers in class! 🙂 ❤

Stories from My Teacher. On the English Language, Lifelong Learning & Our r.evoL.ution!



New blog for my new students

September 15, 2013

I’ll keep this one, which I kind of abused when I used it for what I intend to use this new one — stuff happening in class. This blog of Michelle’s Projects… was for all kinds of people, not just my students, but last year I did not have the energy to create a particular one for that and used this one instead.

This year I have had the inspiration to create a kind of Classroom-Support Blog and it’s this one:

Hope they’re useful for whoever finds them useful! 😀


Beginning of the learning year – some tips for learning English

September 3, 2013

A two-page document I’ve written for my students



Another suggested reading for this coming learning year…

September 1, 2013

OneCrazySummerOne Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia, three girls travel to meet their mother and deal successfully with complex questions related to love, individual and collective.

One Crazy Summer at, with info on a 2011 documentary by a Norwegian director, on Black Power in the 60s & 70s.

Chapter 1 Kind of Glossary


Books. Rosa Parks: My Story (edited)

August 31, 2013

rosaparksmystoryIn our next 2013-14 school year one of my Reading proposals (in state-run adult language learning) will be this autobiography by Rosa Parks, the US American Civil Rights activist. I hope you can relate this to the 15M movement and all the (pragmatic, meaning nonreligious) nonviolent struggle happening today in the world. I have created three webpages on for this book.

  1. The first one includes links to the other two and a listening activity, where you will hear Rosa Parks’s voice, and find a little thought about nonviolence and violence, among other things. I should include links to a few places and some videos, and I will. Check the homepage out.
  2. Then I have selected some excerpts so students get a feel of the English used in the book, and the stories told in it! But I have also written an introduction aimed at helping students notice things they might miss. Please, let me know what you think. As you know, I’m very much into dialog and critical thinking! 🙂 Check out the excerpts.
  3. The third webpage is a Glossary of Legal Terms in Context: English/Spanish. Check the Glossary out.  I have to say I have just brainstormed a bit for the other Glossary I would like to include (see page 1), which is one on social/nonviolent struggle, perhaps even beyond the historic events depicted in this book.

Anyway, here are the links. Hope it’s useful and enjoyable!


Animal curiosities

July 28, 2013

by Rubén Mota (Source: COLLAGE magazine # 3: 2011-2012: article)

In the world there are approximately 1,250,000 animal species and there are many more to discover. Now I’m going to tell you some curiosities about animals that we know:
A mosquito can smell the human blood from 50 km away.
Animals can’t sleep on their backs.
The spider web is the most resistant material created by nature.
A giraffe’s neck has the same number of vertebrae as a human’s.
Worms have 10 hearts.
When an ant dies inside a house, it emits an odor that attracts other ants to find and bury it.
Ants don’t sleep.
The smallest fish in the world measures 8 mm.
A hippo can run faster than a man.
The quack of a duck hasn’t got an echo.
The koala is the laziest animal. It sleeps 22 hours a day.
Sheep don’t drink water when the water is moving.
A cow can go up stairs but it can’t down them.
Mosquitoes prefer biting children and people who have blonde hair.
An ostrich’s eye is the same size as its brain.
A crocodile can’t stick its tongue out and it can run as fast as a horse.
Dolphins sleep with one eye open.
The blue whale is the biggest animal in the world. It can measure 30 meters and it can weigh 180 tons.


Learning about the Osage Indian rez in Pawhuska

July 27, 2013

Olivia StandingBear is the 2011-2012 English teaching assistant at the Official School of Languagaes in Fuengirola, Spain. She is from the Osage Indian reservation in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, has a degree in anthropology and Italian from the University of Kansas, and has spent her last few years in Spain teaching English to a wide range of students.

Pawhuska – Read article from COLLAGE magazine # 3: 2011-2012


EOIs – Madrid vs Andalucía (edited)

July 16, 2013

So far I’ve learned a few things: EOIs in Andalucía are OK for teachers, as compared to the working situation in Madrid, which has evolved to all kinds of damage. For students, there are two very clear advantages: in Madrid the course costs about 300 euros a year, and in Andalucía, 50 euros. Most importantly, if you fail one of the four exams (skills) in June, you only have to do a resit for that skill. In terms of lessons, although it has been increased to 5 hours a week in two lessons (to have teachers working more teaching hours, as you know – 1 teaching hour = 3 hours of other kinds of jobs, according to the OIT, Organización International del Trabajo, at least what they used to say, wonder if that has been distorted too), LOGICALLY, there is a 15 min break per 2h30 lesson (so, yes, the lesson is 2h15′ — that’s ok, right?), which teachers and students can agree to take as best suits them. Another relevant issue is that in Andalucía they haven’t turned adult language education into a school-like thingy of exams every three months. They have February to teach about Exam Format and they CAN use past exams to do so, LOGICALLY!

Almost forgot: another key point is that Andalucía hasn’t imposed 6 years to certify a B2 or Upper Intermediate. They managed to establish Intermedio is just one year, so they have 5 years for a B2. As you probably know, 4 years is the usual time it takes to reach a B2 in English.

So it seems not all the Autonomous Communities have the intention of destroying public education…

😦 🙂

PS: Some things changed for the worse, too, though: some Fridays, teachers have to go to the school just to pretend they’re working (because the fact is that teachers work long hours at home, where they have their own resources), which is humiliating and absurd, and then, there is no lesson reduction if you have to be the Head of Department. That is why nobody wants to be HoD!!! That is why it’s going to be ME!!! 😀 (roughly speaking)



July 2, 2013


Asun (2 stories so far), Rosa, Ana, and Helena are intending to write stories as Guest Teachers for this little ebook project! So their names will be on the cover. We would be publishing it in October 2013. If any English-speaker wants to help with the proofreading, let us know!

One of Asun’s stories



Putting together my first e-book of stories as an English teacher!!

I’m collecting (selecting, writing down, proofreading…) stories and idea-stories I’ve been telling people in class in these last year! Thanks to the eCampus I had till this last year!, where I wrote follow-up stuff on things that came up in class!

(From this year, I have Language Misperceptions, Don’t Buy Exams, So here’s a story about love, and The Casino Story... I’ll review these and see if I remember more… If you do, let me know! Oh, I’m improving these days Cruelty to Animals, too)

It would be downloadable for free but also with the request that if people like it they bought it for one euro.

I’ve designed the cover! Do you like it? 🙂



June 27, 2013

I can’t believe it — Exam Month is over and we’ve survived! Furthermore, my work for public education in Madrid is over for good!

Today I thanked my adorable colleagues for a wonderful year. And now…

I can’t believe I’m going to start a new kind of life!

I hope you all manage to join the protest in defence of public education, because teachers, students and the whole system are being severely harmed by all the changes/policies we’ve been undergoing in these last years.

In any case, never forget speaking a language is far more than getting a certificate/passing a test! Don’t buy exams! Don’t comply with the Shrinked Head Slave Mind!

bearebelBe a rebel – LOVE what you do!

My best wishes for all!


Nota final Avanzados 2

June 26, 2013

Just typed in your marks, so have a look!


For people who failed the oral, remember I’ll be tomorrow in class (at 7.30 pm, I think –NO! IT’S AT 18.00H, ACCORDING TO THE INFO PUBLISHED IN MAY ON THE ANNOUNCEMENT BOARD-– it was on the bulletin board), in case you want to drop by to know what the Examining Board thought of your performance. Please, endure. Life is struggle, and it’s not always fair, but when life throws you lemons (as the saying goes), we need to MAKE LEMONADE! Use this opportunity to listen like mad to English this summer, and use it! CONSOLIDATE WHAT YOU LEARNED, IMPROVE WHAT YOU NEED TO BE BETTER AT, AND PLEASE, PLEASE — take the test in September, I bet you can pass it!!


PS!!!! Thank you for a wonderful learning year, by the way! 😉


Nota final – Intermedio 2

June 24, 2013

He tecleado los orales en la web de la escuela y aunque la fecha de publicación de notas es mañana, ya están puestas en el tablón también.

Revisión de orales es mañana, para quienes hayan suspendido y deseen pasarse. Tras revisión, si tenéis motivos para reclamar, que sepáis que tenéis dos o tres días, y que podéis confirmar fechas en Jefatura o Secretaría.




Más preguntas (para gente que es o quiere ser profe)

June 24, 2013

¿Por qué en secundaria pueden reclamar un aprobado? Porque la nota puede afectarles poder hacer la carrera que quieren. Es decir, si tienes un 7.5 en algo y crees que eres de sobre, esa nota, 7.5, te puede estar impidiendo la elección de carrera. En secundaria cuenta la nota media numérica de esos años de estudio, por lo que es reclamable.

EOI no tiene ese caso: da igual la nota, sólo cuenta el Apto o No Apto y por eso en ningún certificado que se da en EOI aparecen las notas. Sólo aparece que tienes el nivel conseguido.


A most precious gift!

June 23, 2013

My colleague Asun has given me a most precious present which I’ll carry inside me from now on.
It’s not that usual that you get most precious presents, is it?


It’ll be included in the ebook we would like to prepare this summer for next year! Stories from My Teacher.

This means, yes, that at least she’ll be there as a Guest Teacher. She’s written another story, too, and I do hope she’ll write more!!


by Asun … (June 2013)

I love stories!! Far-away kingdoms, dragons and princesses, wizards and teachers… Teachers! Who is the most magical creature of all, who can turn emptiness into wisdom, or make Spanish students pronounce “vegetables” or say “people are”? Of course, teachers… So this is the story of one of those teachers.

Once upon a time there was a princess who lived in a castle. She went to balls, rode her beautiful white horse… One day, after a big party at the castle, she met a hadsome prince and immediately fell in love. They got married and lived happily ever after…

Oops, oh no, I got it all wrong… Let me start again…

Once upon a time there was a woman who decided to make her world better. She fought to improve women’s rights, people’s lives, and particularly, English students’ lives.

One day, after getting over an illness, she arrived at a school where people were impressed by her knowledge and her experience. Both students and teachers gaped at her storytelling and always asked for more. That was when she decided to write a book. And from that day on she lived happily in her town by the sea…

Aghrr… yes, this is the story but… Ok, my last chance.

Once upon a time there was a fairy-woman who inspired people and tried to defend what was right, putting her heart and soul into it. You might agree or disagree with her, but she always turned your world a little bit upside down. Her spells reached further that she probably knew, because a hardworker full of enthusiasm is the strongest potion to heal the world.

And that’s the end of the story, or… is it?


A joke I made up!

June 20, 2013

Last night in the midst of being exhausted and fighting all kinds of work hardship (in the context of my-horrifying Exam Month), I visualized my students and their orals and then the weekend and… made up a joke!!! Here goes, in case it makes you laugh!




June 20, 2013

Insólito que quien haya aprobado quiera revisar su examen y muy ignorante decir que de un examen de certificación, que es como una oposición, uno quiere ir a Revisión, habiendo aprobado, para ver qué errores cometió. ??? Revisión es una hora por grupo, considerando la ratio de estudiantes por aula… Y… y entonces a quienes suspendieran…?

Las oposiciones, el TOELF (EEUU), los certificados de idiomas de British Council, Göethe Institute, Alliance Française… emiten su dictamen sobre tu nivel y ¿te dejan ir a Revisión? ¿Te dejan reclamar siquiera?

Es lamentable que se insista en no querer comprender que en la enseñanza pública no se le regatean derechos a las y los estudiantes, sino todo lo contrario!! El ente público es donde mejor respetan los derechos! Y a eso se añade, el increíble compromiso del profesorado que hace más de lo que le toca hacer. Como por ejemplo dar explicaciones como ésta a pesar de que ya lo dimos en clase.

Para el Writing, por ejemplo, lo que se establece (y lo he explicado en clase varias veces) es:

  • que no se corrige la compo real, sino en una fotocopia. (Por eso aparece sin marcas. No se pueden ver las marcas de corrección porque son de cada cual.) Sí, si veis el cuadernillo del Writing, entonces, no hay nada. La nota estaría en el cuaderno de resultados, como pasa con la del Speaking. (Este año por la crisis y el recorte en fotocopias drástico, decidimos sólo fotocopiar algunos, según necesidades de corrección, por lo que sí hay compos con notas del profesorado, pero ésas no tenéis derecho a verlas, aunque a la gente con ejercicio suspenso se las enseñemos por DEFERENCIA/amabilidad.)
  • que cada persona del Tribunal tendrá su fotocopia de las compos, corregida, y privada para sí, y que con eso rellenará una Hoja de Evaluación que será propia, privada, y que llevará a la reunión con la otra persona del Tribunal para luego consensuar una evaluación y nota final.
  • que cuando se consensúe la evaluación, se rellenará la tabla del cuaderno de resultados con la nota atribuida a cada área evaluada.
  • que sólo esto tendrá derecho a ver la persona que venga a revisión (que necesariamente será quien quiera comprobar que el examen está corregido y anotar lo que pudiera servirle para hacer una reclamación). Es decir, no podrá ver las notas personales de cada persona del Tribunal, porque éstas no son la nota consensuada, es decir, porque para mayor justicia, se os ofrece un Tribunal, en lugar de una persona evaluando sola.

Es más, para mayor justicia, después de haber hecho esto, el profesorado de la pública va a las y los compañeros con “Dudosos” para que otras personas corrijan esa compo y se verifique si coinciden en la evaluación.

Entonces, ¿de qué correcciones de profes va a aprender la persona que viene a revisión, para mejorar su inglés para la próxima? ¿No sería mejor que aprendiera cuando le toca, y no en el momento que no procede, ni legal ni racionalmente?

Y todo esto, no vayáis a pensar que es porque hay muchos suspensos. De dos grupos de Avanzado, en las tres destrezas que llevamos evaluadas, hay 3 suspensos, lo que es extraordinario y explicable por lo que comentaba abajo: el examen de certificación de Avanzado 2 este año estuvo ajustado a un B2. Como la gente lleva 6 años en lugar de 4 para alcanzar el nivel, y de hecho damos un C1 en clase, eso hace que la mayor parte de la gente apruebe tranquilamente en junio. Los ejercicios suspensos pueden ir de 6-8 por grupo cuando las cosas no se dan tan bien! O sea, qué hace la gente “preguntando” que por qué no puede ir a revisión? Es incomprensible!


Más explicación sobre Revisión (lo que yo no sé es por qué la sociedad nos trata tan mal)

June 20, 2013

Revisión de certificado es para ver si hay que poner una reclamación. Y NO SE PUEDE RECLAMAR un APTO! 

EL ANÁLISIS DE EXÁMENES SE HACE DURANTE EL CURSO, EN CLASE, Y CON EL TRABAJO QUE SE ENTREGA EN CLASE. EN CLASE ES DONDE EL PROFESORADO DE CLASE. PRECISA QUE LAS Y LOS ESTUDIANTES HAGAN ORALES Y ENTREGUEN ESCRITOS. Y SE LES DA FEEDBACK Y SE TRABAJAN LOS ERRORES. Nosotras y nosotros trabajamos el formato examen además en febrero-marzo, con ejemplos de examen que tuvimos que inventarnos y sacar de otras fuentes porque las autoridades de hoy nos prohiben usar exámenes pasados para entrenar en formato examen (!) (Esto sí es un derecho arrebatado, que conserva la gente que hace las PAU). (Mira, una lucha que no se entiende no hagan las y los estudiantes de EOI!) (Por cierto, al parecer, quieren ir a Revisión de aptos personas que en clase no han entregado los trabajos durante el curso… ? Yo creo que deberían haber querido aprender de sus errores entonces, no ahora, cuando no procede, ni es el momento. Además, este tema lo dimos en clase y lo escribí, para más inri, en una guía para hacer el examen.)
El profesorado no puede ponerse en REVISIÓN a dar clase. Y cuando lo hacemos (y lo hacemos con quienes suspenden, nos sentamos y les contamos por qué suspendieron, en lugar de sólo enseñarles los cuadernillos) es por AMABILIDAD, no por obligación, pues en Revisión no tenemos por qué hablar siquiera porque lo que hay que hacer es mostrar los cuadernillos corregidos.
POR CIERTO: no se pueden ver las notas de cada profe que corrige el escrito (de hecho en la mayoría de las escuelas sólo dan fotocopias al Tribunal y la compo del cuadernillo nadie la puede marcar, como en Francia), como expliqué en su día; lo que se puede ver es la nota que consensua el tribunal, por las áreas. Lo que pasa es que nosotras, a la gente que suspende, se lo contamos, en lugar de enseñárselo, porque los números esos no les sirven igual de bien que nuestras explicaciones.
Todo es por algo, claro: en EOI la nota del aprobado es IRRELEVANTE porque no cuenta para NADA (es EJERCICIO APTO/NO APTO), a diferencia de en secundaria, donde sí hace diferencia porque influye en poder o no entrar en la uni. En EOI te dan el certificado de nivel con un APTO. Por eso reclamar es ABSURDO, y por eso a Revisión no van las personas con ejercicios Aptos.
Espero haber podido hacer entender a la gente que sigue preguntando y comentando este tema, pensando que se enfrenta a una pérdida de derechos, que no es el caso. Se protege a quien lo necesita, no a quien no lo necesita. Existe una racionalidad democrática detrás.
Pero hay miles de derechos en educación y en el trabajo que estamos perdiendo y que requieren nuestra implicación! 😀

Aclaración – Avanzado 2 Revisión

June 19, 2013

Efectivamente, ayer posteé que hoy publicaba las notas en el tablón, pero me he adelantado un día, por lo que aunque podéis ver las notas en internet y en el tablón desde hoy (o anoche, para la web), Revisión es cuando dice en el anuncio que pusimos en mayo, mañana. Venid si habéis suspendido alguna parte, para que analicemos la situación además de que veáis que el examen está correctamente corregido.

Felicidades, con todo. Los resultados de los grupos son extraordinarios. Es cierto que este año el examen ha estado más ajustado al nivel B2, pero también que muchas y muchos estáis ya en la franja del C1.

Con todo, mucho ojo con cometer errores de gramática en el examen. Fix them if you do! Miraros los audios que he posteado en Orales a muerte ! Vamoooos!, y acordaros de todo lo que habéis aprendido estos años.

Y a disfrutar del oral!!!


Notas parciales de Avanzado 2

June 18, 2013

Dear all,

I managed to type in your marks this evening, in case you have access to the School’s website. At our School, I’ll publish them, as announced, tomorrow afternoon on the 1.3 announcement board. Don’t take pictures of them. It’s illegal. We need to protect people’s personal information, and exam marks are very personal!

Most people have passed the three parts of the Written Test, as is usual in Avanzado 2. Congratulations! I hope you keep listening to English every day, anyway!! For the case of people who have failed any of the parts, please, come to Revisión. The info about this has been on the board sin the end of May and still is!! 🙂 You’ll be able to have a look at your exam paper, and see if you want to file a complaint or not. (Read post underneath this one.)


Revisiones (ni caso de lo que “dice la gente”, aquí una fuente directa)

June 18, 2013

Aunque escuchéis a gente decir que se puede ir a revisión de exámenes de Certificación cuando se ha aprobado esto no es así. La gente dice todo tipo de cosas y lo mejor es siempre escuchar lo que dice quien os lo explica porque conoce el tema. Que existan profesoras o profesores que hayan enseñado el examen de certificación aprobado a alguien (si esto ha ocurrido, que yo lo dudo, pero si ha ocurrido será algo muy poco común) ha sido una deferencia de la persona. REVISIÓN significa “comprobar que el examen suspenso está correctamente corregido” (VER la prueba), como he explicado en clase varias veces, y se viene a Revisión con boli y papel para anotar respuestas incorrectas que se podría pensar que sería defendibles en una Reclamación. El hecho de que las y los profesores expliquemos por qué se ha suspendido un ejercicio se produce porque si sencillamente os enseñamos el cuadro de valores de cómo se ha calificado la prueba no os ayuda mucho a comprender, no porque sea nuestra obligación, ya que el derecho que da Revisión es a ver los cuadernillos.



Notas parciales de Intermedio 2

June 17, 2013

Publicadas en el tablón de la 1.3 y en Internet (área privada, darle a Junio porque de entrada sale “No Apto”, el ejercicio, pues falta la destreza oral, es decir, ni caso y darle a JUNIO para ver las tres notas parciales). Quienes suspendan alguna pueden venir a Revisión a la hora indicada en el tablón.

Recordaros que la fecha oficial de publicación de notas es la fecha de cuando publiquemos las notas de oral, es decir, cuando en lugar de la copia guarrindonguis que hay ahora con tres destrezas veáis una copia fashion con las 4 destrezas, y firmada por mí y sellada con fecha. Es esa fecha a partir de la cual tendréis tres días para presentar una reclamación formal. Pero antes de eso, también podéis ir a Revisión de oral cuando indica el tablón.



June 14, 2013

These days, total exposure to English (listenings) and as much LISTEN & REPEAT AS YOU CAN. IT’ll help you a lot!

The most important thing: avoid making mistakes you know you can avoid making! And if you make them, yes, relax, it’s ok if you… FIX THEM! Practice Useful language for that, in case you make a mistake. “Sorry, I mean…” (corrected version)

Communicative Strategies: Useful language
audios to listen & repeat – do Part 1 Part 2 and Part 3
Listen to the audios for Interactions, too

Learning to monitor your production as you speak
Watch the videos with my corrections, and repeat out loud the corrected sentence. By watching videos os this kind, you’ll learn unconsciously to fix your mistakes when you make them as you speak. Here are some audios too with corrections on the webpage:
Here, I didn’t do the Intermedios, but I did the Básicos and Avanzados (click on their Reproduction List and watch the ones with my comments)

More, here: including a mon on bullfighting for Avanzado (by me) and some ideas for potential problems during the interaction, so you can prepare useful language to be fluent and accurate (grammatically) while doing something to fix the problem!


This has been the first year when the Avanzado 2 Reading and Listening Tests were at the B2 level, with no C1 questions. As people did their Writing test some teachers corrected the Reading and Listening of one of my groups (because I don’t have enough days to do all the work I have this week – even though I’ll be spending this weekend checking Writing Tests), and everybody has passed those two parts (Avanzado 2 Tuesday).

Anyway, when people see their marks, if they have failed some part, they should come to revisión. Check the time and the date for that, and come, if you fail any part. I could be late for Revisión because I’ll be part of an Oral Examining Board the hours before, so wait for me keeping quiet if you are in the corridor.


Screenplay to work on your English!

June 13, 2013

best_exotic_marigold_hotel_ver2At last!!! Finished preparing the screenplay of the movie called The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel!

It’s taken me two months because I did it whenever I had some free time!

I’ve prepared this screenplay for me to use in class next year with Upper Intermediate and Advanced students. Teachers are welcome to use it, of course. And if you are a lifelong learner, you might want to use at home to work on your English.

the-best-exotic-marigold-hotel-bk13 (44 pdf pages – the two last are ideas for activities!)


Permission for the YouTube Video

June 12, 2013

Dear students,

As you know I published some videos of yours and do not have your written permission. Here is the link to the Form, in case you can print it, fill it in/our, and bring it to the school. If you can’t I’ll try to make some copies to leave in Conserjería, or in the Department if janitors refuse to be in charge of that.

If I weren’t at our school, and you bring it, you can leave it at Conserjería (each of us teachers have a tray). Thanks so much! I really need: Silvia’s, Laura’s, Roberto’s (minimum) but also that of Roberto’s classmates, except Juancar!

Thanks, Teresa, for reminding me of this! I had TOTALLY forgot!!! eek!!! 🙂


Dear Intermedio 2’s!

June 12, 2013

Well, it’s over! Congratulations for coming to the exam, and surviving the experience! 🙂 Fortunately, it was not too hot!! I was dreading that!

Let’s hope you get the results you expect to get. I’m also hoping the people I believe are ready for a new course pass, of course! I have my own little professional opinion! 😀 (It’s most of you, of course!)

Anyway, the exam is like a mined field. How I hate it!

I’m sorry I couldn’t be talkative and friendly. We’re exhausted, and this week is going to be my worst.

PUBLICACIÓN NOTAS ESCRITO + REVISIÓN. Remember I’ll publish the marks of the Written Part (Reading, Listening and Writing) at 19:30 (or later on in the evening, depending on the oral exams I have to give before!!! So please wait in class or in silence in the corridor if I’m late, OK?) on June 18. (BUT I’ll probably type in those marks on the private area of the school’s website the night before. This is not announced because I’m not sure I will be able to do that and as you know I have no legal duty to do that at this point, OK?) If you had failed any of the parts you would have to come to Revisión at 20.00. I’ll be in our classroom.

Then the orals are on the 20th, 21st, and 24th. You don’t have to come if you have failed any of the other parts, because the new law says you have to take the four-part exam again in September.

Please, prepare your oral well even if you think you might not pass the Written part. You’re here to learn English to communicate in life, not just to study a certain set of days “to pass an exam”. (I know this sounds crazy, but it’s a typical misperception among Spanish language students!) Total exposure to listening to English + listen & repeat (textbook audios, podcasts) + practice timed speaking. And practice fixing your mistakes as you speak, or better still, not making them! 😉 Think about scenarios where you might have communication problems and prepare sentences to fix them, too.

Hugs to all, congratulations again, and hopefully… see you soon! For those of you I won’t be seeing again (like wonderful Alba, who can’t make it to the oral anyway, or Felipe, who is on his end-of-course school trip), best of luck in life, tons of loving and solidarity!


Writing Tests

June 8, 2013

In Writing Tests, like the ones that are given at Spanish EOI’s (standardized in Europe — A2, B1 and B2 CEFR certificates), you are required to respect the TOPIC you are given and the KIND of text (e.g. a letter or email, an article, etc.) and the WORD LIMIT (non-complying pieces cannot be checked by examiners). About the three points you need to mention, whenever required to do so, if you don’t mention one, for instance, that lowers your mark, but examiners can proceed to check your work. In any case, ALWAYS mention the three points, even if you don’t know how to develop one properly.

All EFL textbooks from Britain have wonderful explanations and exercises on how to write each kind of text, and with Useful Language for formal and semiformal letters, for instance. So browse through your textbooks, just to consolidate a few ideas about what you are expected to write for each kind.

Here are some of the notes I give my students, especially at the Upper Intermediate (B2) and Advanced levels (C1).


US American and British Standards

June 8, 2013

Here are some notes on differences between US English and UK English. As you know, there is no “correct English”, just different varieties generated by the sociological and geographical fact of communities in their locations (culture). In Spain, for instance, Andalucian Spanish (the variety used by Lorca, the poet, for instance, Victoria Kent, politician during La República española, and María Zambrano, philosopher) is as correct as Castellano Spanish (the variety used by Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio, the writer and thinker, for instance, or Rosa Montero, the journalist and writer). In both regions there are people who speak badly and write worse, and people who speak and write perfectly well!

Back to English, then there’s the linguistic fact of a kind of International English, which is always about picking the most understandable choices in particular contexts.

Because there is no “correct variety” you can use any, but you should try to be consistent, particulaly in Writing Assignments or Exams, of course. Have a look. (I’ll improve these notes some day — it’s a complicated issue, language and identity — but for the time being, it’ll make do!)


Shipping and Transport, an Intermedio 2 interactive presentation!

June 6, 2013

Thanks, Roberto, and thanks to the students in his group, for taking part!


A listening for Avanzado 2’s

June 6, 2013

ON self-publishing. NPR –


Interactions (dialog, Intermedio 2). Again! But they did so well!

June 5, 2013

I’m surprised I didn’t include more “Well done!”‘s  and “Awesome”‘s!

(At the moment I’m finishing Roberto’s interactive presentation, which I hope to upload in a couple of days.)



June 3, 2013

Got a very bad back, but hopefully my PT will put me in shape again. The earn-a-living-week is about to start and I need my body!!!!

From our adult language school in public education, got still a few Writings to publish and a few videos to edit, with Students’ work, but it’s Exam Month, and we’re all day at the School wasting time (and me hurting my back with all the not-possible-to-lie-down-a-bit every 5 hours) and doing the most horrible thing on the planet (in the educational context) which is Murdering a Love of Learning, sorry, I mean, giving and checking exams.

Away from paid work…

My friend Hilal from Turkey is here, so I’ve videoshot an interview to her on her activism (feminist antimilitarist) and events in Turkey. It’s about 100 minutes! So I might not be able to edit it as fast as I’d like to. This week I’m also interviewing Howard, the chairperson at War Resisters’ International, in English, too. I’ll be able to use this video in my future English courses, so it’s exciting. Once I videoshot a (pragmatic) pacifist friend of mine from London, and here is what we came up to! He came to my groups at the state-run school where I worked to tell adult learners about this all:

More… it’s spring. People are popping up everywhere, like mushrooms after the rain.

I’m also in touch these days with old friends from Blue Gate (the only anarchist-working social place I’ve ever been in, and I tell you, it was all about nonviolence, freedom, respect and cooperation) in Greenham Common Wimmin’s Peace Camp. We’re working on this project:
(to leave a track of its existence, because History is full of omission of good things we humans did, and very especially women)
Apparently, the peace movement is being “colonized” or “infiltrated” by “spiritual/religious” people who have the mission to spread the word that feminism is evil and we should stop raising issues because everything is all right. The bad thing about this is not that they think so. It’s that they try to defame, hurt adorable nonviolent critical thinkers like feminists, who have never in their lives tortured, killed or abused anyone, but just posed their criticism, and decided to live the life they wanted to live.

As a species we’ve always been into ignoring or murdering people with great ideas for us all, so it’s not new. But since the 20th century we’ve realized we can be much better, and that our past gods were far too violent to follow. Anyway,

Will they wipe us out as usual, or will rational empathy survive and turn us into the cooperative peoples we should be, instead of the violent peoples the exploiters push us into being for their own benefit? It’s scary. Why can’t people keep living their own chosen lifestyle and allow the rest of us to lead our own? Why are those believers so hostile and aggressive to non-believers? Supposing they’re right, they’ve just got it all on their side to win and we to burn in hell for not not believing…? I really think that if there is a god of some kind, it can’t possibly be this cruel.


New video!: What Leads to Success?

May 30, 2013

A wonderful presentation by Juancar, who in spite of being an Intermedio 2 student (B1), shows an Upper Intermediate or B2 level in this outstanding exercise! You will learn or clarify some key concepts that lead to a good life! Come on, listen to him! And if you like it, remember to send the link to more English learners! The exercise of listening and reading corrected mistakes helps you develop the skill of listening to yourself and fixing your mistakes as you speak.Thanks, Juancar, impressive work!

Btw, I posted a note under the video, on the correction included about the phrasal.

PS: I’m not sure I’ll manage to edit the videos I videoshot in the Avanzado 2 group… 😦 But I’ll try my hardest. I’ll keep you posted, don’t worry!


Farewell, best of luck & thanks for a wonderful year!

May 28, 2013

Well, the course is over. Our amazing shared journey of discovery has come to an end. But there’s no time for heartbreak. Exam month is here and we have to fucking survive the experience! So come on!!! Go for it! If you haven’t developed the habit of using English every day, esp. by listening to it, start your intensive two weeks now till the exam, and then keep it up, to move into LEARNING FREEDOM, into becoming an INDEPENDENT AND RESOURCEFUL LANGUAGE LIFELONG LEARNER! This kind of people, :D, can also sign up for courses, but when they do, it’s just to meet other people and work with them, not because they really need any excuses to use their English! (love bubbles – pompitas de amor). 🙂

Yesterday and today were my last lessons as a teacher in public/state-run education in this Autonomous Community, where I have been a teacher since 1980 whenever I was in Madrid, and since 1996 in public education, first secondary and then adult language education.

I never go out with students for drinks till they get their certificates, but today I did, with the very interactive Avanzado 2 evening group, my dear  wild ones. We had a couple of drinks, a couple of laughs and got a drive home!

I would like to thank you all for a wonderful journey this year. It was hard for me physically, after being ill last year, and being new again (yet again! I’m the oldest newbie everywhere!), and in the context of very hard working conditions for public teachers, but thanks to your work and our relationship I have been able to get in touch again with my old-new self. And this has been very important. I have to say that being ill had almost pushed me into depression (I had one once, years after my mum’s death, and it’s hell, nowhere anyone should ever be), but I was lucky enough to avoid that and just keep it all in the physical area of migraines. Well, this year, the fact that my work was a source of curiosity, and passion, and fun, I’ve managed to avoid migraines for most of the time, and I wouldn’t have without you all making my professional life meaningful, rewarding and again fun!! 😀

togetherSo enjoy your English, enjoy preparing the exams and the exams themselves, and then don’t give importance to the results, whether they are good or bad, because they have no true importance. The important event was the journey, and the ways in which learning and sharing have actually changed your lives.

Biggest hug (but I’ll keep posting for you because I have Juancar’s, Ana+Ángeles+Bea’s and Oscar+Chema’s video to edit!) 😀

Oh, the links to the YouTube channels where you can find videos by students with teacher’s comments are EOI Getafe YouTube and EOI Leganés YouTube.

dreamtimedreamworkPS: The book I’m using to learn about dreams and how to work with dreams is “Dreamtime and Dreamwork. Decoding the Language of the Night“, edited by Stanley Krippner (Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 1990). It’s very expensive (specialized book) but I bought a few much cheaper copies via Iberlibro from the USA — second-hand. If you don’t spend over 100 euros, you pay no taxes, so it’s just the price Iberlibro shows: the cost of the book, which might even be less than one euro (for some) + the shipping costs (which range from free to 3 euros to 7 euros), and the longest time it’s taken for a book from the West coast in the USA to reach my home has been a month, but it’s usually 1 or 2 weeks.


An interaction (a friend’ll visit Madrid) with teacher’s comments!

May 28, 2013

With all my love, as usual, and hoping you’ll all enjoy it. If you find it useful for learning English, remember to share the link. In this way, people will see that it is possible to learn languages in public/state-run adult language schools! In defense of public education!

* defense or defense?


En defensa de las Escuelas Oficiales de Idiomas (EOI, EEOOII)

May 25, 2013

I’m pasting a message a student has sent me. Tere is asking you all, people using EOIs, to sign if you agree with the petition. It’s about the fact that course fees in Madrid are about 300 euros a year when in other Autonomous Communities they are around 50 euros because it’s still PUBLIC EDUCATION! Public education is not a business. It’s contribution is CULTURE not MONEY.

People, please, spread the word among people living in Madrid or using EOIs. The more signatures you get, the more chances there’ll be of achieving CHANGE!


He generado y firmado una petición dirigida a la Comunidad de Madrid para que los precios por estudiar idiomas en nuestra comunidad no sea 4 veces mas caro que en la comunidad Andaluza, por ejemplo, en

Me parece un tema muy importante, y me gustaría que tú también lo apoyases. Aquí está el enlace:

Por favor, si es posible, extiende a traves de tus contactos esta petición para ver si es posible conseguirlo.

¡Muchas gracias!



Improved version of the World Book Day video!

May 22, 2013

Please, spread the word. The more visits the video gets, the more people will want to see it, and the more we’ll be spreading good ideas for the classroom experience, linking academic learning with LiFE!! I included the pics of Cake Days!

If anyone appearing in the pics did not sign the permission, and doesn’t want to appear, I will downloaded and blur his or her face, OK? No problem!


Updated Pages

May 21, 2013

I have tried to update the following Pages (right-hand column):

  • Avanzado 2
  • Intermedio 2
  • Learn 2 Learn
  • Topics
  • Music

(For Avanzado 2’s who are still looking for the Sample C1 Exam, it’s not here, it won’t be here. It’s where we say in class, ok? I can write the path again on the whiteboard. Just ask.)

I’m really bad at using blogs. Kind of hopeless. All this should be easier. The tags, I think, and the categories… those are the keys, I think. Mine are in a total chaos!

But just imagine we’re hit by a meteor!!! I mean, I can’t possibly spend more time working on this blog. Time flies!! (Demented laughter)


(I should really stop watching documentaries…)


Activities you might’ve missed! (Listening / Speaking, Reading)

May 21, 2013

Audio Listen & Repeat based on a Speaking activity – Spain on holidays (Today in Intermedio I said I hadn’t recorded this audio, but I did!! It’s the paper classroom copies I’m giving away)

Timed Scanning – Reading Comprehension Test – On London digs and transport


Timed Speaking Activities

May 20, 2013

this week in class, at Plenary. You can do any of the activities we worked on throughout the course, both in the oral presentation (monolog) or interaction (dialog) format. You can also do the ones I designed for you. These two will be announced on the whiteboard, both for Avanzado and Intermedio students:

1. Two English-speaking friends of yours are coming to Madrid for a visit. Draft a plan for their one-week stay. Mention:

  • things you can do together
  • food and drinks
  • souvenirs or things to take back to remember the trip

2. Your (adult language) School is going to publish the end-of-course issue of its English magazine. Plan what needs to be in it. Mention:

  • Events, stories… to include (things happening in the School, in the city/town, abroad)
  • Sections (and fundraising, if relevant)
  • Contributors (people who could write the pieces)

Language Misperceptions in Spain. The language problem in monolingual communities

May 18, 2013

by michelle (

Because for 40 years we were told that in Spain people should speak Spanish, and people who belonged to bilingual cultural backgrounds were persecuted and banned from speaking their other language (which terrified everybody all the same), there is a Spanish-nationalism tradition in monolingual communities in Spain that exhibits (and exposes) this fact: those people’s very-aggressive hostility to bilingual communities. Why should they feel like that? Why such self-justified bellicose outrage? And what if there is resent among people’s whose language was banned? (Obviously, those who feel that need to overcome it, after decades of language revitalization policies and the end of past persecution.) What’s the big deal their heart warms more when they speak the language that was once persecuted? (If you were forced to stop speaking your family’s language, how would you feel?) Why should their heart necessarily love more Spanish than their community’s language? (I don’t mean to justify intolerance on anyone’s side, of course. I’m a free thinker and as such, I’m critical of all nationalisms, because nationalism is not — in my view — about collective identities but about collective impositions.)

In monolingual communities we are confronting a problem and people consistently refuse to tackle it: we need to consider, at least in Madrid, the kind of monolingual people who are always accusing bilingual people of intolerance are not aware that they are perpetuating a tradition which we should have already long overcome — the Spanish democracy re-started in 1976 and the 1978 Constitution included the acknowledgement that Spain was a multilingual country, a country where different cultures coexisted with the Spanish culture.

The 1978 Spanish Constitution recognizes the linguistic diversity in Spain in Article 3.3 where it states: “The richness of the linguistic varieties in Spain is a cultural heritage that will receive special respect and protection”. Co-official languages in Spain: Aranese (in danger of extinction), Basque, Catalan/Valencian and Galician. Other languages in Spain

Since the 1990s I’ve been bringing up this issue in my lessons, especially when I had Advanced level English students. I’ve tried to make people think critically about the biased opinions monolingual people help spread, distorting in this way the educational process of language and cultural respect to diversity in Spain. To this day (2013), I’m still shocked at the strength of people’s misperceptions, at how they defend these biased opinions as if this was a fundamental ideological issue in their lives, yes, a question of patriotism… Why should someone living in Madrid, an Autonomous Community in Spain, have a say about whether a Catalan person should not prefer to speak Catalan in Catalonia, another Autonomous Community in Spain? Why should they feel they can actually say / they have a “right” (!) to say that Catalans have to speak Spanish in Catalonia, when we’ve had Autonomous Communities – protecting cultural diversity – since the 1970s and 80s? From a democratic or linguistic stand, there is no way language and cultural diversity can be seen as threatening or negative for any community or any part of a community.

2009 Languages of SpainBy-default-mentality people (“ordinary” people) in monolingual communities in Spain say things as false, unfair and openly impolite as this — and it makes me feel so ashamed and overwhelmed that I can’t even react properly in spite of my knowledge and my role as a language teacher: “Galicians don’t know how to speak / write Spanish” (!! against ALL evidence!), “Catalans / Basques have to speak Spanish whether they like it or not because we are in Spain” (!! Francoist mentality!). Just two grotesque examples (grotesque, if we consider it from an informed and democratic standpoint). The fact is that monolingual communities speak only one language, and bilingual communities speak two, and they do. Why should monolingual people be unable to understand that there exists bilingualism in Spain? And that speaking your mother language or languages is a human right? And that languages that have been banned (!!) have needed language revitalization policies – which we have fortunately had since democracy started? Shockingly enough, in Madrid the educational authorities are pursuing bilingualism – not Quality Foreign Language Education, bilingualism they call it — with… English!, a language which is not in people’s cultural background, except people like myself, children from culturally-mixed marriages at the time when Franco, the dictator who isolated Spain from being in touch with the world (with the social movements in the 1960s for instance) welcomed US American airbases in the country. Except minority cases like my own, English is and will be a Foreign Language in Madrid (which doesn’t mean people can’t learn it well and also in the public education system, where we have qualified teachers like myself!)

People in monolingual communities in Spain like the Autonomous Community of Madrid should stop making the ignorant “jokes” and comments on bilingual people we hear every day. This shames us all. This speaks of people’s ignorance and prejudice, it does not “defend” any legitimate Cause. When we tackle the language issue we should exert some minimum respect, and express our questions and comments as such, rationally and with empathy (tactfully at least), because in our past there has existed a terrifying language reality that has made a lot of people suffer and we should not pretend Nothing happened. We should not use our questions and ideas as weapons for showing despise for a different language community. We should question our own perceptions and feelings (in monolingual communities), too, admitting we also have a trauma, the trauma of believing there are languages which are more important than others and should be imposed, if necessary.


A video on World Book Day (Av 2&co)

May 17, 2013

Our second 5-minute video on the School’s YouTube channel!

I learned so much!!! I’ve learned to edit videos with iMovie!!!

If anyone wants any changes, I can download it and fix things, so just let me know.


Watching Old Movies!!

May 13, 2013

Alberto (Avanzado 2) has sent us this email, with the info that they’ll be showing Old Movies in Original Version here:

Buenas, van a echar en cines algunas películas antiguas los martes y jueves de aquí hasta Agosto. Michelle estaría totalmente en contra porque están subtituladas 😛 pero bueno… es lo que hay…es una oportunidad de poder ver en pantalla grande algunas películas muy buenas o de las que tengáis nostalgia por ver en cine. 
Para quien le pueda interesar: saludo !
It’s true I don’t recommend watching movies with subtitles, even when these are in English, in this context: when you need to develop your listening skill, because when you read, you are reading, and your ear is not exposed in the same way to the language. It doesn’t develop half of the intelligence it could! 🙂
I use subtitles in English when I want to learn new words and expressions, for instance. (Same case as that of Avanzado students.) I also use subtitles in English when the sound is not that good (To Kill a Mokingbird) or when different ways of speaking (e.g., characters that speak inarticulately) or the language they use (e.g., police slang), or cultural information (historic period, crazy political plots that I never understand!! – oh how I hate spy movies for this!) won’t allow me to enjoy the movie AND I know I won’t be able to watch it again.
Thanks, Alberto!

So how was your 3- or 5-day hol?

May 6, 2013

I wonder. Did you get a holiday? Did you manage to have a good rest and enjoy yourselves? If unemployed, did you fight depression and made the most of the May Holiday?

I traveled/travelled to the Mujer Palabra planet: locked up in a room I worked like a maniac  in the good company of my adorable cyberfriends. We were getting people’s work published on the site. It’s been really intense, and tiring, but also exciting and interesting. We managed to collect some good ideas for analyses on our “Cuaderno de ideas”, on very tricky issues like feminist NVDA (nonviolent direct actions, like those by Femen), and the “accusations of islamophobia” around the support to Amina, and on how to defend social struggle from ill-focused or distorting ideas that seem to spread like wildfire. But we got more stuff done. Have a look if you like:

We’re way behind in terms of publishing pending materials, but at least we managed a 5-day workload this time, which was good for a change. If only we could win the lottery or something!! Then we would be able to quit our bread-winning jobs and devote all our time and efforts to trying to spread ideas that can make the world a safer, less violent, juster, kinder, more interesting and enjoyable place!

Anyway, back to teaching and learning at the School. Just two months to go. The bad thing is that the whole of June is Exam Month and I do HATE exams with all my might!!

Next Friday we’ll have a Teachers’ Meeting and I’ll find out when the lessons end, exactly. I don’t know if we teachers need to assist the Level 1 exams in the last week of May. But hey people, I’m new in this School. You might know better than me!


Next week: Celebrating World Book Day

May 1, 2013

Next May 6 and 7, after this week’s 3-day holiday, we’ll celebrate World Book Day. Here is all the info on the raffle: May 6 & 7 Raffle (2 pdf pages)

I’ll bring varied podcast episodes / the episode “To belong” of the Baby Human Geniuses in Diapers documentary, for the first half of the lesson, for we’re done with unit 6, right?

Avanzado 2 Martes englishlings!, please remind me of giving you the stapled paper copies! Remember I’ll be on a strike on May 9!

Have a lovely 3-day holiday! 🙂
(In Spanish we call them “puentes”, “bridges”, when they connect with the weekend, but if you say “I’m on a bridge” English-speakers will never ever guess what you mean! :D)

Mentioned before…


Protect your intelligence & your learning: don’t buy exams!

April 30, 2013

Do them, there’s no way out. Survive them, you can! But don’t give them credit! Don’t let them tell you anything about how much you know or you can.

In my view, exams, the kind we’ve always had to bear, are useless in terms of informing about people’s knowledge or skills because they’re not about that – they’re about selecting people. That is why they’re so badly every-thing.

The thing is, we could easily develop ways of assesing our learning if we could simply trash exams as anachronic methods of evaluation.

This is why we should not buy exams, believe in them, I mean, give them credit. If we pass them, sure, we can celebrate. But we should also know this: they do not preserve anything, nor prove anything. We should be aware of what it is we’ve learned, what it is we know, what skills we’ve developed, how much passion or enjoyment or interest in fitting learning into our daily lives we’ve developed… all throughout the learning year. You should have assessed this before taking your exams.

A learning year is a journey of exploration and should never leave us untouched.

Exams represent a drop in that sea.

Except in the sense that they become huge obstacles and constraints in the learning year.

When we fail, exams should not make us doubt what we know.

If we pass, we’ve certainly overcome a troublesome obstacle – that’s all.

We should never allow exams to ruin our relationship with knowledge, with learning, and when you don’t develop the right attitude towards exams, it’s that you’re doing just that – ruining your (potencial) love for knowledge and learning.

Intelligent ideas are less popular on the planet, but they build kinder, more knowledgable and enjoyable worlds!

Which side are you on, then?

Get down to using your English like mad! Because of all it gives you! Train, learn, use your intelligence and your body in learning all you can.

Trash the Exam Slave Mind.


About May 9 – for Avanzado 2

April 30, 2013

Last week I found out in class that trade unions are calling for a strike on May 9. For the past 15 years I’ve supported them all, but the other day in class, because we had scheduled taking a C1 Practice Test on that day and it’s my last strike in Madrid, I thought I might just forget about it.

But I can’t. It’s my last chance to formally protest, and I should stick to that! I wish I could take it differently. I did try. But I can’t.


Tomorrow I’ll tell the people coming to class. The good news: I’ve found a way for Avanzado 2 Martes students to take the test on that day anyway! Can you guess?!


Timed Scanning Reading Activity – London Digs & Transport

April 29, 2013

At EOI Certificate Exams there is a 10-15 minute scanning activity similar to this one, but just with 6 questions. You should read the instructions and the questions carefully, but then just kind of skip to find the answers to the questions.

I designed it really fast, so if you find mistakes or if you have any feedback, please feel free to post or send me an email (with “feedback” on the subject line). I’m very much interested in knowing how long it took you, so time yourself!

Reading Test Practice – Timed Scanning (4 pages) – Lodging and Transport in London


Felicia’s mon on The Elderly

April 29, 2013

Avanzado 2. Listen to her 5-minute February Exam Practice exercise! Thanks, Felicia!


Interaction by Avanzado 2 students: Free parking space at weekends

April 29, 2013

Thanks to Sara, Alberto and Fernando!


Monica’s monolog on her grandma (Intermediate, B1)

April 29, 2013

Well, I was waiting for pics and the transcript, but Mónica found a job as a journalist!!! So I’m publishing her wonderful two-minute monologue so that you can all enjoy it! It’s inspiring!!

A little tip: if you have to say (when you’re talking to people) “continue (doING something)” say “KEEP (doING something)” — it’s more natural!

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