Archive for the ‘Lesson Plans’ Category


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! 😀


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)

When’s our last lesson together?

May 13, 2013

On the 27th and 28th of May. Then Exam Month begins for teachers, who will be giving the Written (Reading, Listening, Writing) and the Oral exams to everybody in all the levels.

In our last lesson together we can review Exam Strategies, if you need that, and mostly check you’ve got the right attitude to overcome the obstacle and even enjoy it! Most importantly, I hope people will  speak at plenary (instead of in small groups, so I can also listen/hear and spare the eavesdropping part!), tell us whatever they wish, their life stories, or develop topics we’ve been learning to tackle, whatever. (I’ll bring an audiovisual as a contingency plan, anyway.)

tumblr_m7kwwpmvL61ruy8aco1_500If you can’t control your fear and wish to insist in brainwashing yourself into failure (read Don’t buy exams, if you haven’t), please, don’t count on me for that, and spare us all of that kind of session. We’re lovable people who support you. Why should you do that to anyone? And me as a teacher, well, I’ve worked for your learning, so hearing it all about How you are going to fail, how little you learned or studied, and the like makes me sick and — more dangerously — furious. I’m a professional: I don’t need your final mark to know if you have reached a level, for the case of the people whose work and progress I’ve witnessed.

So please don’t come to me with Self-destructive stories or ideas. When I get pissed off, I start getting ideas about how pacifism is actually an option! 😀

So let’s celebrate… (not a party, no!!!, ugh!) knowledge!!!, the wonderful learning year we spent together! Celebrate by showing all you learned!  (Well, I had to try! 😀 My ideal final lesson is me sitting and just listening to students do things!)


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…


Resources collected by my admired colleague Rosa

April 28, 2013

Rosa and I worked at EOI San Fernando de Henares from 2004 to 2006. From her, I learned a great deal of things, and one of them was to organize the Writings with specific dates to be handed in each month. In this way, students would have  a month to learn to write a certain kind of text and then I would be able to jot down stuff for a List of Mistakes based on common mistakes in the groups. Most importantly, we would have a C-Day (Composition Day) where students would read out their work, and I would share info on Writing Strategies and for people’s LoM. Sometimes Writings were so many that we spent a few lessons doing this. And I tell you — people learned a lot. This year I haven’t followed this plan because of the teaching and learning circumstances at present. But if you’re a teacher and would like to learn a bit about that, download the Program/Syllabus I designed for Avanzado 2 when we were free to design courses — according to the Constitution we are still free, but the truth is Schools are imposing that all teachers pick the same textbook and stick to it so they can “teach the same things”!!! As if learning were that simple!

  • Anyway, Rosa uploaded some unit (listening) tests for Upper Intermediate (B2) over here:
  • And then she has some interesting notes on Formal and Informal language here: Just in case you can’t read it: For formal and semiformal texts, please avoid BIG (large, high, … it depends on context! A big problem = a SEVERE /sevír/ problem), HUGE (very large, considerable…), KID (child), STUFF (what do you mean?). In formal texts you should avoid MANY. Use “numerous” instead, for instance. Brainstorm on examples. Also in semiformal texts, you can also use “a great deal of” to avoid using “many” too many times!
  • And Rosa has some podcast listenings here:
  • I have some podcast listenings here: AND my apologies for Silvia for the delay in fixing the broken the links. I’ll be doing this right now. It might take me a few hours, but hopefully they’ll be working tomorrow! 🙂

Assessment Templates for Avanzado 2

April 17, 2013

Dear students (Javier’s and Michelle’s), here is a copy of the Assessment Templates that examiners use when evaluating the Avanzado 2 Writing and Speaking Tests. (Intermedio 2 Templates are very similar.) A minimum of two teachers fill in/out their own Template, and then they have to agree on the final mark. When they do so, they fill in/out the Exam Results Booklet. This Booklet is the only document you have the right to see on the day of “Revisión” if you have failed — not the individual Assessment Templates by each teacher. But here is a copy of those because you should know what they look like, what it is we consider to give you a mark.

These templates should be published on the Educamadrid EOI site, but so far they haven’t done so… Let’s hope they do so soon!!


Unit 6 – what we’ll do in class in next two weeks

April 3, 2013

Intermedio 2:

pages 86 & 87 (pages 3 and 4 in the unit) (as pages 1 & 2 deal with remarkable men instead of with remarkable people, I suggest you also read one of the stories on remarkable girls that we got from the pack of stories in I Am an Emotional Creature. Btw, history about men is history about Mankind, but now that we now more about the importance of language in our conceptual system progressist / sensitive people are using Humankind when wanting to refer to the whole group, not only men),
pages 90 and 91 (pages 7 & 8 in the unit) – more to come!

Avanzado 2:

pages 84 and 85 (Travel – first two in unit), pages 90 and 91 (Pets – 7 and 8 in unit, I recommend you do the Reading in the previous two pages to get vocabulary)


April is here! Two months left!

April 2, 2013

Dear students coming to our little state-run language school,

springIt’s April, and it’s May, and then June!!!, Exam Month for me (ugh! eek!) and when you will probably pass your final exam. (If you don’t, you’ll always have September, so move towards June with high hopes and a wise attitude: it’ll be your moment for Celebrating Knowledge!)

So — do as much as you can of unit 6 this month. Don’t do it all, select what is most useful. And considering the level is higher than the one you are required to have in your exams, skip whatever is harder. Ask me, in any case.

Remember to do your Writings too. One a month. I’m OK with two, but exceptionally. I get really dangerous if you make the same mistakes I corrected in previous work, so be careful: my new pair of Dr Martens have iron tips! For any extra writings, you need to talk to me.

Yes, we will work with the textbook, but this month I would like to listen to a monolog and a dialog or two interactions/dialogs in every lesson. This, done at Plenary, with my feedback which would be expanded to review language items, would take a minimum of half an hour. And if we have more performances than that, then that could become an hour! Then you would all be doing speaking exercises most of the days, and the rest would be for the textbook. Try to skip the listenings you think / see we’ll probably do in class. Ask me!

I’m still dealing with the requests of feedback and recordings, so please, bear with me.

I’ll be publishing more of your work: audios with transcripts and writings.


Happy spring holidays!

March 22, 2013

Dear all (to my students – the happy hols is for all, though! :D),

  • Remember we’ll be starting unit 6 when we’re back in class, and that we’ll be doing just part of the unit, for lack of time. So if you haven’t finished unit 5, try to do so. Remember using your audios should be your priority, because it helps you with oral communication and with your grammar and pronunciation! When we’re back, I hope we can listen to a few people holding timed conversations or timed monologues every day.
  • Remember to post your Installation, too (Avanzado 2) And Intermedios remember to listen to your classmates.
  • Here is some literature you can print and read, and there are audios for some of them.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday! Yaba daba doo!!!


Finished monologs! + Lesson Plans

March 10, 2013

I finally finished sending out recordings and feedback on your monologs (intermedio 2 and avanzado 2). To my knowledge, now I just have to work on the requested interactions.

Next week: bring textbook. We’ll check your work on unit 5 and every day listen to 2-6 people!


Publishing your work on

March 3, 2013

Hopefully in this upcoming week I’ll be working on the talking people website, to publish: the minisagas people sent me, some of the Writings people sent in for publication, and some of the speaking performances. All of these, would appear linked on the Thanks! (Credits) section which I would start up for this 2012-13 Course, my last in public education in Madrid!

So if you have a contribution for this space (whichever, on TP we’re very open to all kinds of things), make sure you send it in this week. On Friday I’ll be celebrating March 8 at the demo! But after collecting your pieces this week and thinking about how to proceed, this is, on Sat and Sunday I’ll be doing that. Unless there’s loads and I need a couple of weekends! 🙂

Apart from that, remember to do your Writings. And that tomorrow we’re starting the Interactions (oral pair work).


Dear Green Light, Red Light Group!

February 26, 2013

Today, the Avanzado 2 Martes group felt like a community!

yummyinmytummyÁngeles baked a cake for us all! I couldn’t believe my eyes! And then — it smelled just like a cake I used to have in my childhood! That’s a lovely experience, too, right? — experiencing a childhood smell! And well, we shared it at the end of the lesson, which included lots of (gastronomic) pleasure for us all, and Ana, Manuel and Alberto taking pictures of the group! Ángeles, I hope I can make enough money when I set up my little language school, to be able to have you as a guest teacher! You could conduct a cooking workshop in English!! My partner is enjoying the cake now! He says thanks!

Josemaría came back from Portugal. Hopefully, he’ll tell us a bit about this amazing country and its very civilized people! (And it was I who got the pressie! 😀 )

Oh, and Rubén wondered why should anyone want to quit being a civil servant, right? For me, being a teacher in public education was my life ambition and when I got the position in 2006 it was Happiness for me! Now I could work forever in my dream job! Yes!, although my life tries to follow the anarchist ideal of freedom and solidarity, I actually concluded that the best job for me was public education, because this system was paid by us all when we pay our taxes (people should pay their taxes and demand the rich paid more, because it’s them the problem! Why the hell do they need to amass such fortunes!! They are responsible for the crisis! Such demented egotism!! We’re a species on a planet, forgoodnesssake! Use your intelligence!!), and it included academic freedom, and it was free and for all, for every person who wanted to learn! But policies (against public education) continue to burden teachers with pointless / destructive issues: cutbacks in their academic freedom — it seems the authorities are following the model in the USA in non-university education — to turn them into tools voicing textbooks, increasing pointless paperwork and not allowing teachers anymore to do all the work they did in their own homes, making them do that in the schools, were we don’t have our materials and equipment, and certainly not enough hours!, and subjecting adult learners and teachers to a series of pointless exams (nowhere to be seen in quality adult education), following the worst possible interpretation of what evaluation is. (We used to be free to evaluate during the course, this is, to give feedback on skills, and we used to organize OPs for that, for instance, and nice activities like that.) Or perhaps the reason is simply that I’m tired of trying to give my best as a teacher and this costing me even more time and effort.

And well, we spent the lesson with people practicing the monologs on The Elderly, and The Beauty Myth, and then coming to the Exam Area to get my feedback. People were really good. I bet that if you found more time for your English, you would manage to reach a C1 or Advanced level in General English!

Next day it’ll be more on monologs and also practicing the interaction on The Economic Crisis and Volunteering, for next week performances.

Remember you need to send me an email with “av 2 martes mon” on the subject line, so I can send you the recording. And then, when you record it again at home, for a final improved version, remember to send it to me with “doublechecking” in the content box, so we make sure you can use it in May to gain confidence for your final Speaking Test. Create a folder called “monologs” so you can keep your final monologs! You could do something like that with your final Writings, too, so you have a selection of well-written samples of different kinds of texts.


Lesson Plans (all our work) – this week & next week

February 25, 2013

Speaking Tasks. This week it’ll be intensive speaking practice in class, and coming to Exam Area for a monologue, in pairs. More work, in case you finish this: Try to practice the interactions too. Also, there’s the speaking tasks in unit 5 for Avanzado 2 and if you are in Intermedio 2, you have the March speaking tasks (units 1-5, book a date if you didn’t). More?: if you worked on cloze tests, you could use those to put together a monologue on the topic: Smart Phones, Burning Calories (Intermedio 2), Climate Change (Avanzado 2) + use the news extracts (2009, with my transcript, remember?) to learn to tell about those pieces of news!

I’ve finished checking the Intermedio and Avanzado writings I was given in class. So this week I’ll start with those which were sent to me by email.

Oral recordings: today I started recording people. I’m giving them feedback on the spot, but if they send me an email (Group, Day, mon) I can forward their recording. And if I squeeze some time, I’ll try to do that with some more feedback. The thing is, you should all try to create a SPEAKING TASK file, where you could keep a FINAL version of your speaking activities (mons.), to listen to them again in May. If you send me this FINAL version, write this on the subject line: Group, Day, + mon – doublechecking.

New Podcast episodes for… we could use some of your speaking tasks as podcast episodes, if I get the time to create a podcast episode with each. Of course, I won’t do that without people’s permission.

About me checking some translations unrelated to this course: A couple of students kindly requested I give them feedback on a translation each did. I’ll try to do this next week. Bear with me — even though people think that checking a translation is something we can do in a few minutes, this is not so. It takes some more time! But I’ll do my best, as I said when the request was put forward! For me, this is the same case as when people send me their CVs/resumes, and grant applications. I do it, as you know — happy to put my English into extra support uses — because I care about your learning, but I wonder if I should do it, really. Anyway, so far this year this kind of favors are still under 10 people, so well… But considering it would be good to publish people’s work on the podcast I’m afraid I should start saying I can’t, because I can’t squeeze more time out of my very squeezed time!! 😀

Next week you can request time for practicing the Interactions or dialogues in class, but even if we start unit 6 (or Your questions on unit 5), you should come to Exam Area to do the Interaction with a classmate that is close to your list number.

Deadline for your Sample Exam Writing – Task 1 (from Educamadrid): 2nd week of March.

YOUR MARKS – for people who did not take the tests last week. Please, remember to give me the marks of your Reading and Listening Educamadrid tests


PS Week 4Feb + Unit 5 – don’t forget to bring your textbook to class

February 23, 2013

Week 4 February

Both unit 5’s, for Avanzado and Intermedio, are great units, you will enjoy, and useful for your learning.

As next week is devoted to oral practice, just in case you start talking about your things instead of doing that, here is an idea: bring the textbook to class, and if you find yourself running the risk of not doing oral practice or using the lesson to work on your English, decide to work together a bit on the textbook, as usual, reading out aloud and then discussing your answers or the topics.

Let’s see if this week I can have the chance to listen to the greater number of people possible. This will give me enough information to comment on communicative, textual and language questions we could review in class.


Whoa! What a day today!

February 19, 2013

Life is a rollercoaster! 😀 One minute you’re sad and blue, the next you’re rising, like a wave, and having an orgasm in class! 😀

Today students remembered to bring their paper copies! 😀 So all my work preparing for Exam Format Practice Month seemed to be useful in some way! 😛 And the people who forgot were really sorry, I could feel it across the room! Anyway, results were also great. This means, this final test practice has hopefully shown you that it is possible to pass the Certificate tests, that , and also, most importantly, that if you learn to speak English, passing your finals will be but a logical consequence! So now let’s see how the other two groups do tomorrow! 🙂

I NEED EVERYBODY’S RESULTS OF THE READING AND LISTENING TESTS, OK? Please, if you’re following my course and you didn’t do this when the rest did, do them at home and come to me so I can jot them down. I need those results for two reasons: 1. as your teacher I collect information about group levels and individual levels, and this makes it easier for me to assist you all, 2. the February statistics the School issues (for all teachers): I have to type in the total number of people who passed, of those who failed and of those who did not take the exam. For me, it would feel really bad to have been working for two weeks with you all in class to train in Exam Format and then to have “No Presentadxs” corresponding to people who actually follow this course.

Now for the Speaking Test, English peacelings! Come on!!! And please, remember: practice SPEAKING (saying your mon. once and again till you can “improvise” it), DON’T WRITE THEM DOWN, that’d be READING! Nothing good for learning to speak! And as you speak, practice/practise listening to yourself, so you are quick to fix the mistakes you may make!


Weeks 3 & 4 February: moving on in Exam Format Practice Month

February 18, 2013

The agenda of weeks 1, 2 and 3 that is on the Bulletin Board in class is also here.

The new items are that today and tomorrow I’m explaining how we will proceed with the Speaking and Writing tests on the Educamadrid site.

Week 3 – Update

AT THE END OF THIS WEEK, you should have consolidated a knowledge of the kinds of Reading & Listening tasks (and Writing tasks, for the groups getting feedback in class about Politeness et al.) and you should have reduced your fears, developed your confidence in terms of Exam Format. Hopefully, you will have been using the underlining technique, notetaking including skeleton of meaning, some phonemic transcription, skimming and scanning, proofreading your work…


Get your copies of the sample tasks on the Educamadrid site. You will have time in class to prepare them with your classmates: practice/practise speaking about those topics freely, brainstorm on language, and then practice timed speaking at home. Meanwhile I’ll be calling out people’s names to come to Exam Area. YOU SHOULD NOT WRITE DOWN YOUR MONOLOGUES OR DIALOGUES. You should practice SPEAKING on the same topic over and over again, till you feel confident, using your detailed outline and your jottings from brainstorming on language.

Then, after you have done it again in Exam Area, when I call your name (I’ll use your list numbers), you can record your sample monologues, so that you can listen to them again throughout the rest of this course.

So now you have two areas of Speaking activities to work on in class and at home: the ones based on units 1-5, so that you use the language learned/learnt from using your textbook audios and other exercises; and the timed tasks covering all of the sample cards you have (work on one a week, for instance).


Once I’ve given you back your Practice Writing (Intermedio 2’s), work on your List of Mistakes, and start working on Task 1 of the Sample Writing test on Educamadrid. You should be handing it in in the second week in March. Once you get it back, work on your LoM and then do Task 2.

As unit 5 depends on your work at home, remember that you can also hand in your Writing corresponding to unit 5, but only once you have learned to do that kind of writing from your textbook. Considering dates, both Task 2 of the Sample Writing Test and Writing 5 will probably have their deadline just after the spring holidays, perhaps just before them! We’ll see.

Week 4 – Finishing Exam Format Practice Month

We’ll continue doing orals in class, I’ll comment on people’s mistakes, so we can learn to put grammar into use. And we’ll pay special attention to pronunciation, too.


Feb Exam Format Practice: What we did & upcoming lessons

February 7, 2013

Edited for Avanzado 2 Martes on the 7th of February at 21:50

All students should PRINT the PAPER COPIES of the ONE & ONLY EXAM EXAMPLE WE HAVE at the EDUCAMADRID WEBSITE. + DOWNLOAD THE KEY of the Reading Test, too. (There WON’T be any CLASSROOM COPIES for this, I’m afraid, so that is why you need to plan in advance if you are going to ask a classmate for help.) At home, timing yourself, DO the READING TEST in the time you’ll actually have in your June exam (follow the info on my Pack if you find differences). Then check your work, write down your marks.
♥ Last, BRING the PAPER COPIES (including the checked Reading Test) to class on FEB 18 & 19. ♥


Monday Feb 4

Tuesday Feb 5

  • Intermedio 2: Read /red/ Exam Format Pack. And…? OMG! Can’t remember!
  • Avanzado 2: same as Mon group.

Wednesday Feb 6

  • Avanzado 2: repeated the first animal listening (because of my Big Woops) and we did the Burton listening, at an Advanced level (Longman New Proficiency Gold Exam Maximizer). Then we finished (?) reading the Pack. 
  • Intermedio 2: Finished reading Exam Format Pack and suggested people work on scenarios of communication problems during the speaking test. Used the Exam designed by teachers to practice Exam Format: Reading Comprehension 45min (there is a mistake in the marks for one of the tasks, it’s not 1, but I’m not sure it’s 2 – I’ll find out on Friday and remind me next week, OK?), checked it on the spot. (You should analyze your mistakes at home, and see if you understand why you made a mistake.) We did the Writing (150 words, 20 minutes) – I took it home.

Thursday Feb 7

  • Intermedio 2: same as Wed group + I have to give you the two cloze tests (homework for Week 3 Feb)
  • Avanzado 2: Read Writing Test in our Pack, and reviewed what’s important about Reviews, Proposals, Reports. Tried to do first a B2 and a C1 listenings from FCE and CAE, but failed once more due to technological problems. I’m very sorry about this. It seems something in the installation of Windows is not working properly, or the VCL needs updating or something. I or the machine have failed us almost every day in February, so I think I should go back to our old machine… 😦 Anyway, we managed to do to C1 listening on friendship (which is certainly hard), but I’m not happy about things (methodologically speaking) because I wanted to do with you the two B2 listenings first, to help you gain confidence. Now things have turned out to be worse for your confidence — which was noticeable when people talked about how difficult exams were. Your June exam is not hard, even if there are questions you may not get right. This happens in any exam. But it’s simply not hard. In EOI’s the percentage of people passing the B2 is the highest. The lowest percentage of pass marks happens at the A2 level (Básico 2). Your B2 exam is an Upper Intermediate exam and I’m sure most of you have achieved that level in the very many years you’ve been learning English: you are ready! So please, let’s see how you do when you take the “real” exam in Week 3 February. If you fail it, let’s worry then, but just for a couple of minutes. Then you’d just have to get to work.


Monday Feb 11

  • Avanzado 2:  a B2 and a C1 listenings from FCE and CAE. The only sample the authorities sent us in 2009 of Listening Task 3 + working on its transcript (vocabulary from the news)
  • Intermedio 2: Your questions about the Reading Comprehension: did you understand why you made a mistake? Exam designed by teachers: We’ll do the Listening Test, check it and analyze/analyse if the techniques worked and what you need to do to improve. Extra time?: Working on the comm. problem scenarios.

Tuesday Feb 12

  • Avanzado 2: the Burton listening (C1) and then the only sample the authorities sent us in 2009 of Listening Task 3 + working on its transcript (vocabulary from the news). OR (pending): the two B2 listenings (FCE).
  • Intermedio 2: Intermedio 2: Your questions about the Reading Comprehension: did you understand why you made a mistake? Exam designed by teachers: We’ll do the Listening Test, check it and analyze/analyse if the techniques worked and what you need to do to improve. Extra time?: Working on the comm. problem scenarios.

[13, 14 BREAK: V-girls: stories of girls around the world]


Monday Feb 18

Avanzado 2 and Intermedio 2The ONE AND ONLY TRUE EXAM we have to practice Exam Format! bring copies YOU PRINTED AT HOME + checked Reading Test + Paper copies of Listening. We’ll do the Listening, and then analyze the Reading Test you did at home, and check and analyze the Listening.

Tuesday Feb 19

Intermedio 2 and Avanzado 2: same as Monday group.


  • Then we’ll check the different cloze tests you did at home (Avanzado 2, 1, on environmental issues, Intermedio 2, 2 – smart phones and eating habits (?)) And then we’ll try to see what we can about about UNIT 5 – THE FEBRUARY UNIT. Next Friday I’ll be meeting my colleagues to see if we can select a few exercises from the second half of the book, so we can skip stuff, but use the most useful exercises, so that we can do intensive timed speaking activities in May + listenings, or readings, depending on your needs/questions.

Ay mi mare!!! Fixed! (On Speaking of Pets)

February 4, 2013


Avanzado 2 Tuesdays, tomorrow you’ll get the paper copy, so ignore this message today! 🙂

About an hour before fixing things: Dear all, Rushed home, just got here, sat to do the listening again and… it’s all wrong!!! This audio is not for the Worksheet I gave you!!! No wonder we couldn’t work it out! It was not that it was difficult. It’s true I have designed stuff at a C1 level. This, however, was simply a mix-up! So I’m going to try to find the correct episodes… Sorry for that. Thank god I did the task as you did it, instead of reading out results! It would’ve been a traumatic experience! So — don’t discard the Skeleton of Meaning technique, please! I suppose it worked perfectly well in the second listening task, right?


Girls’ & women’s issues are not “side issues”

February 4, 2013

EmotionalCreaturepicWe’re over half of the population on the planet! One Billion Rising! (Mil Millones en Pie de Paz!) – Getting Ready for Feb 14! Print the poster OBR-POSTER_8.5x11pink and put it up wherever you work or study! Next week we’ll be uploading the pack we’ll use in class so you can print it for our lesson (public education has no money for copies for this, either 😦 ), which is three stories from I Am an Emotional Creature.  (Read A Teenage Girl’s Guide to Surviving Sexual Slavery. Get more info here.


Niveles de Certificados: Tablas de equivalencias

January 31, 2013

Notice what it says here:, which is the actual official situation — Ciclo Superior certificates (Old System) were demoted, I mean, although students took a C1 exam (which was not standardized as such in Europe), the authorities only acknowledged an Upper Intermediate level, or B2. The rest of the equivalences in English are OK, I think. When the new system started, I posted one of these tables of equivalences here. Let me know if you find inconsistencies.


Int2 Lunes y el síndrome de la no realización

January 30, 2013

Querido grupo!

Os escribo por aquí porque pienso que quizá podría deciros algo que ayudara a quienes llevan muchos años de inglés encima y sin la seguridad de poder hacer frases incluso sencillas sin un error. Primero deciros que eso es demoledor, pero que no se produce porque os falte inteligencia o habilidad, ni siquiera por el sistema educativo y sus adorables profes. Quisiera plantearos que sin alegría, disfrute, y sin algo de amor o pasión, no vais a hacer más que seguir machando vuestra relación con el inglés, porque digamos “el método” que usáis no es bueno. Pienso para estos casos, que el error está en no ser conscientes del daño que os hace insistir en cosas que no os han proporcionado la fluidez comunicativa que tras ese mínimo de 4 años de aprendizaje deberíais tener (no un nivel B2 o intermedio alto, pero sí un nivel intermedio, B1). Hay un síndrome que se nos produce en la mente que es el de la no realización: que nos impedimos llegar al nivel que podríamos tener, o en el ámbito laboral, que se discute y discute sin quererse (inconscientemente) llegar a la toma de decisiones reales, o sea, prácticas, que solucionen los problemas. Es como si (quienes estuvierais en este caso que describo) lo malo conocido, el estancamiento en el aprendizaje, os reportara algo bueno o como si os diera pánico abandonar ese lugar.

Un idioma no se aprende sin esfuerzo, pero justamente los idiomas son de las cosas que más claramente se pueden aprender disfrutando. ¿Qué alegrías os da poneros con el inglés? ¿Os apetece en algún momento? ¿Creéis que sin escuchar inglés todos los días, sin hacerlo parte de vuestras rutinas y disfrutes diarios, podéis “aprender inglés”? ¿Cuántos años más hacen falta? ¿Queréis o no aprender inglés?

Hay gente en vuestro grupo que disfruta usando el inglés y se lo trabaja también, sin renunciar a ese disfrute. Hay gente en clase que tiene unas ganas muy fuertes de mejorar ya en inglés, y aunque sin disponer del tiempo necesario o habiendo “perdido” meses de escucha, se mete de lleno en materia, quiere meterse, y tiende a estar a punto de dar el salto. Ese saltarse el miedo a conseguir el objetivo. 4 años de inglés significan que sois capaces de hablar y entender inglés a un nivel intermedio. Y tenéis que creerme, porque soy profesora de inglés, es decir, una profesional del aprendizaje y de la enseñanza de idiomas. Tenéis que salir de esa tierra baldía (quienes estéis allí), o de esa ciénaga de la no realización. Sabéis inglés: tenéis siglos de inglés en la cabeza. Saldrá cuando deis con el método adecuado, que es: desarrollar el hábito, la necesidad, la alegría de escuchar inglés todos los días. Hay miles de formas de trabajar y aprender escuchando.

Juntarnos en clase es una alegría también. Os da apoyo, orientación, inspiración, os sirve para comunicaros también, y cuanto mejor vayáis haciéndolo (sin traducir esforzadamente cada palabrita, sino sabiendo decir cosas de un arrancón, y encima bien, porque las habéis oído bien dichas por nativos millones de veces), más consolidaréis. Se puede de pronto saber mucho de golpe: basta con que os dejéis en paz el ogro de la no realización, os lo saltéis, y os lancéis a un aprendizaje con vida. Porque con las lenguas lo que hacemos es relacionarnos, llenar la vida con un montón de vidas y de vida!

Seguir por el camino conocido, que harta y aburre, que parece no llevar a ningún lugar comunicativo, es seguir destruyéndoos la confianza en vuestra inteligencia, en vuestra inmensa capacidad para aprender. Lo malo que tenemos en esta especie es que nos da miedo no ser inteligentes, y por eso los miedos, el aburrimiento y la violencia, y con ello logramos mutilar nuestra inteligencia. ¡Ya toca disfrutar un poco, no? Ya os lo habéis ganado, no? Vengaaaaa! Que se note que sabéis inglés, y que podéis aprender a aprender!


So… is the deal on?

January 25, 2013

Dear Avanzado 2″s,

Yesterday in class I made a proposal: if you learned by ear (by heart, like actors and actresses) audio 4.10, I”d give you a book marker!

How low can a teacher go to get students to learn grammar by using their audios instead of silence?! 😀

Once you know the piece, we could reflect upon its structures and all the rest…

So Monday”s, would you like to join them?

😀 😀 😀



About updating the Avanzado 2 and Intermedio 2 Pages

January 21, 2013

Dear all,

Just a note to let you know that I think I didn’t update these two pages last week, and that in these next days I’ve got tons of Writings to check, so I won’t be able to do so.

If any of you out there copied the lesson overview I wrote today on the whiteboard (where I mentioned what we would be able to actually do together in class, and what you should try to do at home), please, feel free to post it on its corresponding page!

In any case, the idea is: a unit a month. You can certainly skip the exercises that are far too academic or complex. Your exam is not about that, really. Then, your priorities should be learning grammar from listening and repeating your audios, and the Useful Language you underline in other exercises. Plus anything else you can manage, of course. List of Priorities: Listening to podcasts and past textbook audios (not to future audios!), Weekly monologue. And then, Reading exercises, Vocabulary exercises, Grammar Banks when you have practiced those language items. It’s a lot, of course — nobody can learn a language without long hours of personal work. Considering this, you should try to enjoy it. But it’s up to you how much time you have for this, so JUST DO what doesn’t make you develop hatred for the language! 🙂 And please, avoid feeling guilty and procrastinating. You can consolidate things you learn in class by simply reading them out loud in those little dead moments of the day — 5 minutes here, 10 minutes days. Guilt crushes people. Avoid it!

Considering we have 3 or 4 lessons till the end of January, I picked the Listenings and Speaking activities we could manage together. In Avanzado I suggested we did the pages on Mobiles and on Addictions together in class.

Remember please to tell me which answers you want me to post — by sending me an email or by posting here.


Join in!

January 18, 2013



I’m part of the revolution of people who will WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP (and us LEARN, DISCUSS, DEVICE) and DEMAND an end to violence against women and girls on 2.14.13. (We’ll also do it on the 13th Feb so that the other two groups that come to class get the chance of taking part in this.)

ONE BILLION RISING is a global call to human beings across the planet to gather in their communities to dance and demand an end to violence against women and girls. Will you join me? Sign up here: (sign this letter and post it on fb, whatever), or pinpoint and EVENT in their map of the world (ours is the only event happening in our town, so far! Check it out here: ).

Still today, the United Nations states that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped [BY A MAN OR MORE, THIS POINT MATTERS! How can we address the problem if we keep pretending the aggressor is not there? 😦 ] during her lifetime — that’s more than one billion women and girls alive today. V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls, refuses to watch as more than one billion women experience violence.

ONE BILLION RISING is a promise that on February 14th, 2013, we will ensure that millions of women and men rise up around the world to say, “ENOUGH. The violence ends NOW.”

Thank you!

(The pic is Martha Graham, not connected to this event, except for the wild dancing!)


Assessment on our work so far (leaving behind unit 3)

January 14, 2013

Dear students,

Although I have tried to help you all in keeping the plan of a unit a month (posting KEYS on your Pages here, and allowing some time in class for Small Groups to check their work), I can see that the groups that come from 4.00 to 6.30PM are managing, but that most students in the groups coming from 6.30-9.00PM are not managing. Should I just help students finish unit 3 whatever time it takes (especially the Intermedio 2 Mondays because it is harder for this lower level to work in teams, or isn’t it?), or should I stick to the plan a unit a month?

We’re now in mid-January and we’ll be starting (future continuous; future arranged plans) unit 4 in our next lesson together (you should do all the Readings/Grammar exercises in the unit at home whenever you can regardless our work in class), which means that we just have two weeks to try and learn from this unit in the textbook.

But I do not want to follow this plan if people cannot find ANY TIME to work at home on their textbook. What should we do, then? Please, Intermedio 2 Mondays (and Avanzado 2 Tuesdays?) say something in class! If you don’t, I’ll understand you are going to try and catch up (devoting more time at home/work to your English, OK?)

Check your work with the Keys published here Page Key Int 2 and Page Key Av 2 — this evening I’ll be posting (future continuous) some more. Can you make sure you’ve done the listening activities, and the grammar/vocabulary work? You can certainly ask me in class or here if you have any questions.

You see, after the winter holidays it’s apparent the people coming from 4.00 to 6.30 PM are going to be ahead of the other two groups, if the other groups can’t catch up this week at home. Today I could also sense how very tired you all are, with a busy day and the freezing weather and our long hours in class plus so very late, but…

I’m going to select the exercises in unit 4 we can do in these two weeks, and hope for the best!! In our first week in February you will learn it all about Exam Format, and that’s a fixed interruption. And I was wanting to do two exam practice exercises instead of one… But we won’t be able to do this is we can’t keep up the course plan, OK? Perhaps, with groups that are behind we could do the second exam practice later on… Dunno!!!

PS: Something else, some extra support I’m going to do here, on this blog, is post some explanations and some exercises to check you learned/learnt what you needed to learn from each of the 3 first units, OK?


December absent marks

January 11, 2013


Just typed in December absent marks, so you can check out the school’s website to see if there are mistakes. I didn’t check the register the week before the holidays, I think, so there aren’t as many as there were, I think.

Have a lovely weekend!


Key (1) to exercises in unit 3 Avanzado 2

January 10, 2013


Next week I’d like to listen to some of you, including the people who seldom or never speak! This means we have one more lesson to finish up unit 3 together. We’ll have the same thing as today: first part teamwork on textbook, second part listening/speaking, incl. questions.

3B p 40: 1F, 2F, 3L, 4F, 5F, 6L, 7F, 8L, 9F, 10F
A8, B4, C6, D7, E9, F5, G3, H10, I1, J2
p 41: 1 móving /múvin/, 2 thóught-provóking, 3 héavy-góing, 4 grípping, 5 entertáining, 6 intríguing (pronunciation /intriigin/), 7 impláusible /implósibl/, 8 fast-moving, 9 depréssing /diprésin/, 10 háunting /hóntin/. 3GRAMMAR: 1B, 2A, 3D, 4C, 5E
Inversion: We use it for emphasis, so check your examples make sense!
1. Not only the last moment did I realize I had got on the wrong train.
2. Never in my life had I found myself in the company of two drugdealers!
3. Not only was I struck by this fact — I was also about to panic!
4. Only after the wedding were the guests informed that it was all pretend!
5. No sooner had the police left than I jumped out of my compartment for some fresh air!
If you like, we can check 5 Reading on p.42 next day — just read out the answers, sort of.
Lexis in context: 1 barely, 2 profoundly, 3 arguably, 4 vast, 5 bland, 6 awkward, 7 quirky 😀 , 8 lowly, 8 staccato, 10 neatly, 11 smooth, 12 faithful

p. 43 You should have done this listening pretending it’s an exam listening activity! (underlining key words before listening) 1c 2c 3b 4c 5b 6a 7c 8a. If you are interested in the topic of translation, you could practice a monologue on ex. d. If you are interested in writing, as a writer, give some of your time to 7 Writing, and you might enjoy some info on Talking People: on Literature (Workshop, it’s fun) and Writing (beginnings and endings)

p.45 c 1 I’m broke (penniless is too formal), 2 a loan (a mortgage is on the house), 3 in the red (in the black is when you don’t owe any money), 4 in debt (not on), 5 loaded (informal; affluent is too formal for that context), 6 a better exchange rate (currency is the kind of money of a country), 7 standard of living (learn this, it’s useful!), 8 We can’t make ends meet.
You can do exercise d (speaking) in class next day, in pairs, if you like. Let me know!
p. 47 5 Grammar: IMPORTANT: not the theory, I mean: it’s important that you visualize the time and notice the tenses used – 1 past, past, 2 hypothetical future, 3 hypothetical present, 4 past, 5 hyp pr, 6 hyp fut, 7 hyp past, 8 hyp past. I would like you all to read the sentences out loud and visualize the grammar and the real situation. GRAMMAR BANK 3C: please, do it if you haven’t, and please, underline the clues you get to know what to add (if you know it because you know what sounds right, anyway, look for the clues in the sentence).
Answers (and clues): a1 It’s time … realized, 2 ‘d rather … lived, 3 I wish … were able, 4 Would you rather … we didn’t discuss?, 5 it’s time… stopped, 6 If only I had saved (great sentence to repeat out loud! and learn to say fluently, because of its structure and tenses), 7 I’d rather … paid, 8 If only we knew, 9 Do you wish… you had gone / you had been to
b 1 I’d rather you didn’t smoke in here, 2 I wish I could afford to travel more, 3 If only we hadn’t painted the room blue!!, 4 it’s (high) time you started to look / started looking / looked for a job?, 5 If only he were less tight-fisted!!, 6 would you rather we came another day?, 7 I wish we had bought…

5 Grammar (cont.) Q&A c.- you could do this drill with a classmate next day!

This listening is like exam listenings, so do it one day pretending you’re taking an exam! (underlining): 3.15: 1b, 2a, 3c, 4b, 5a

TOMORROW I’LL POST SOME MORE – the Revise and Check, and the Vocabulary bank. Any questions on the Grammar Banks? Feel free to ask me to post answers, and also to ask any questions you might have in class!


Woof! Woof! (to intermedio 2’s)

January 9, 2013

Liebe Studenten!

Intermedio 2 students can send in their mini sagas for publication, yes! When I have a few, I’ll create a webpage on Talking People (Your Stuff – Your WritingMini sagas) and publish them there. You can type them and send them to my email michelle at talkingpeople dot net. I’ll just write your (first) name, your level and group, and the year, OK? You can also tell me to use a nickname of yours. Whatever!

I think I have sent you all your recordings with my feedback, but I’m not totally sure. If you did a recording in class and I haven’t sent you my feedback, that might be because you didn’t send me an email with your group (day) and level on the subject line (and in the message box whichever message you wanted to send me) or because I forgot! So please, send me an email. And sorry for the hassle! 🙂 Finally, if you did a recording at home and sent it to me for feedback, to my knowledge, I’ve replied to all of them. Get in touch if that’s not the case! About publishing your audio recordings on Talking People, I need your written permission, so send me an email allowing me to do that. So far, I created this web page on Skills – Speaking: Oral activities by learners with feedback from their teacher.

Pronunciation. One of the questions today was about the difference between “good” and “would” or “wood.” We did some barking (dogs in English go bow wow, but also woof!) and people with previous problems with this managed to get it! Well done! But now you need to practice lots! Say “good” and “would” tons of times. Try also this: de paraas, end it in “ud”, paragüud, güud.

This week all Intermedio 2 students should be listening to audio 3.13 (and the others on page 43, if you like) a few times every day, OK? I would like you to discover that what I say is true: in listening exercises you are not expected to understand the bits that are harder for your level, but you can understand other bits if you don’t work against your mind — you just need to practice being relaxed as you listen, focusing on the words that are more clearly pronounced, and learning to know if any of those can help you reconstruct an answer! I love this audio because it’s very clear that he’s harder to follow except on the key words in his message. The technique I call Skeleton of Meaning is truly useful here (I’ll write it down and publish it on How to LearnHow to Listen on TP… soonish…). And this in turn will help you understand people better. The other benefit of doing this exercise is that you’ll learn to say/explain things, just because you’ve heard it 20 times! And this is the joy of learning to listen: it helps you stop translating. When you hesitate it’s mostly because you are translating things, and that means you don’t listen enough! Good listeners can utter chunks fluently just because they’ve heard so many times and in so many different situations the same combination of words!

The other thing you should all do is try to finish unit 3 this week (the answers to some of that is here on Key Intermedio 2, thanks to Sil’s request a couple of weeks ago) and try to be clear about what you need to ask me to do in class, or just ask me about. Each group is free to tell me, “No, michelle, we want to do the complete unit in class,” even if this means we won’t finish the textbook. That’ll be OK. However, the present proposal is that you work at home on a unit a month, as I suggested at the beginning of the course, leaving key listening exercises for us to do in class (not the ones in unit 3 anymore, for the month has passed).

I cannot teach you, really, but I can help you learn. You should be getting excited about learning English, you should start enjoying it, wanting to listen to it every day because it helps you so much! It’s 2013!! 😀 Come on! (link to Chuck Berry’s song) Go for it! You can make it! (this means “Puedes conseguirlo”. More: You can make it happen = Puedes hacer que ocurra. You can make it true = Puedes hacerlo realidad)

There is no way you can learn a language without making it part of you daily life. That’s why it’s such a good idea to start loving it.


About February Exam Practice Month

January 9, 2013

I made a mistake in yesterday’s post. Today we checked on the school calendar on the bulletin board and the week for Exam Format Practice is the first week of February. I don’t want to speak about all this in class because it’s not the time for that. I’ll speak about all this in February. Anyway,

But read yesterday’s mail, please, so you can relax. We’re going to be doing exam format exercises throughout the month, for sure a minimum for 4 lessons. And I hope people will take speaking test in the Exam Area so we can analyze different performances at Plenary. (I need to save energy in this, please, so volunteer, OK? Stop being shy, we just need to do some work!)

In our holidays, another teacher and I have designed a complete test for Intermedio 2, considering the problem I mentioned in yesterday’s post. And if the Avanzado 2 groups start 2013 working a bit harder on their English — especially the adorable Tuesday group!, who is not really good at working with their textbook at home, right?, and/or allow me to know what they’re up to — especially the adorable Monday group, whose work and insight on the Alexie novel are a mystery to me!) I might use some of the energy I’d save there in designing a whole exam for them to practice more.

I’m serious about the energy bit. Working is less effort than trying to talk people into working! 😀 And 5 hours of teaching plus my All Bran moment to hell on Friday mornings are sucking out my energy. And I hate exams. I just design exercises for you all because the educational authorities just allow us to use the educamadrid exam to train you in exam format, which is outrageous and makes me really mad! It’s unfair and crazy, I mean.

Hopefully, I’ll quit this post and set up a language school next year. It’s very sad, but this is a result of all the poisonous policies against public education.


About unit 3 – Intermedio 2

December 29, 2012

How’re you doing, people?

Today I finished doing (and checking with the teacher’s book!!) the complete unit 3 plus all 4a, which is what you should try to do during your present holidays, supposing you want to follow my beginning-of-course proposal of “a unit a month”. The unit is very interesting. I really enjoyed it. Tons of language items, but really good. With a couple of very important language items: conditional sentences and time clauses.

My idea for our first lesson after the holidays is to give you the first half to check in small teams your answers and/or practice your monologues and/or prepare a dialogue on one of the very interesting issues (questions and answers), and then devote the second half to your questions on language items or whatever. That day you can also hand in your Writing 3 at the beginning of the lesson, especially if you see I’m totally bored doing nothing!

And what about your audio work? The more you listen, and listen & repeat, the better you’ll get at English. Trust me! I’m trying to catch up on my German! Listening to 5 episodes of my German podcast every day! This way takes you longer — the Learning by Listening Way — but it allows you to be more spontaneous and pronounce better!)

Some people haven’t sent me an email so I can send them feedback on their orals, so I’m thinking of setting expiry dates! Then I think I just have two more students to go, in terms of sending them my feedback with their audio: Isabel (Int2 Martes! I got you mixed up with Isabel 1 Lunes) and Silvia S. Or am I forgetting someone?

Nightie night!


Today’s work (Same tomorrow) & some reflections

December 10, 2012

Avanzado 2 Lunes: there were no questions on unit 2 and no monologs, so we started unit 3. We worked on the first page and then on the 2nd column of the 2nd page, plus we did some Vocabulary work (Voc Bank at the back). Homework: People will be working on a monolog on Noise Pollution by using the language in the various exercises on noises including the audio. They’ve got tons of work for next day because I’ve asked them to do the 3rd and 4th pages, plus fill in the gaps of the Voc Bank, plus listen to the audio we did today a few times, so next day we can check people’s answers and do dialogs on noise (last bit on the second page of the unit).

About me as a feminist and your Writing 2: I’m delighted with the fact that both men and women are picking this subject – changing gender roles. You should not be afraid of what I’ll think. I’m a veteran feminist and this means exactly the same kind of thing as this: I’m a veteran teacher. On top of everything, I believe freedom of speech is a fundamental right. And I also believe transformation (a betterment of society) can mostly be achieved through communication. I’ll just check your English and textual structure, not your ideology. But if you are open-minded about this very important social movement that has changed our lives dramatically getting no acknowledgement whatsoever, I might be of help — beyond my role as an English teacher. Thinking right is not that easy, because our mistrust of women is almost genetic. In my view — and I have coined language for this, for instance “feminist intelligence” — we are all cultural products of a patriarchal social system (that’s why in the streets we are saying “The father of all systems is patriarchy, and it has proven extremely violent against all kinds of people” and there is no way out of machismo and misogyny unless we use feminism as a critical thinking tool we use to improve the way we think, feel, speak and relate. I’ve been a conscious feminist since 1989, and I know lots about this. About how deep patriarchy is in our value system and how deeply it affects all we do. Actually, I’m thinking I might record a podcast episode on this… Whenever I have some time and get the necessary inspiration to do so! 🙂 But I’d like you to understand this: in our professional relationship, never feel afraid of expressing what you believe. And never be afraid of critical thinking. Critical thinking is not about hurting people, it’s about dialog and about opening windows, doors to improvement. And I’d like you to understand this, too — supposing you wonder. All teachers transmit their ideology — the thing is many have the “by default” ideology — the ideas/beliefs that prevail in society. Mine is obviously not the by default mentality. 🙂

Intermedio 2 Lunes: the same — just one question on exercises in unit 2. We did the Listening exercises in Unit 2 Test, and then listened & repeated bits of the last audio exercise. And we started unit 3: I introduced the passive (I was told, I was given, I was arrested, I was mugged) and vocabulary related to crime (rob, steal, mug, burgle, robber, thief, mugger, burglar, pick-pocket). In pairs, people did the questionnaire and checked it later with the Communication activity. Your homework is: (anybody else to hand in Writing 2?) Please, try to do 4 Grammar on page 38 and the Reading on page 39. Don’t do the listening 3.1 because we’ll do that in class next day, OK?

About Erik el Belga: well, today I mentioned him because he was a criminal who made a deal with the police to get out of jail sooner, and I’d love to interview him. Watch a video

News: this past weekend I posted the answers to a few exercises. Please check out Answer Key Av2 and Answer Key Int 2. If you need more answers or if you have any questions, I’ll be delighted to explain whatever.

About your oral exercises: sorry for taking so long to send you my feedback. My intention this week is to work faster, meaning, send private feedback. If you think I have completely forgotten about your work, you can remind me — no problem. Just please type in your group in the Subject line (en el título del email).

About your Writings and minisagas: I won’t be giving them back this week, but if I manage it all, you’ll get them next week.

About our last December lesson(s) together: I explained it all OVER HERE. Please, have a look and comment in class.


Intermedio 2 Lesson Plans Dec 10, 11

December 7, 2012

As I’ve posted the answers to what we haven’t checked in class yet, my idea is to finish Unit 2 on Dec 10 or Dec 11: you would do the communication speaking activity (page 117), we would do the listening in the unit test, and then you can make your requests or practice speaking activities. In this lesson you should also tell me if you agree with the plan for our last December lesson.


About your Learning Plans

December 6, 2012

I hope you have a lovely holiday in the rest of this week, if you do have a holiday!
tp_bearebelIn case you want to use part of it to enjoy your English, I’ve updated the Pages here for Intermedio 2 and Avanzado 2 students.

It takes me 2 hours to do a complete unit, without the Writing. It might take you a minimum of 4 hours, I think. Let me know if you work this out. You should try to work out how to fit your language learning activities into your week:

  • everyday listening work (textbook audios, videos, podcast episodes, TV series episode),
  • when to practice speaking (Listening and Repeating, Listening and Re-telling, preparing a monologue…)
  • how to learn about language by doing your textbook exercises (readings, language exercises: vocabulary, grammar)

You can all finish unit 2 and begin unit 3 (don’t do the listenings yet).


Scenes of Smoke Signals

December 6, 2012

If you enjoy the upcoming lesson (see this post) where you’ll, share your thoughts and work on The Absolutely True… we could watch “Smoke Signals“, the movie (don’t know when or how or where, though). I have a copy of the screenplay in class, which I’ll donate to the school’s library at some point. But I think it’s worth having a copy in your personal little English mediateque, right? — it’s about €5. Of course, screenplays have some technical English, but that just means you’ll have the chance to learn more! 😀

Sherman Alexie: “This is not the first feature film written, directed, and produced by Native Americans. It is the first such film to ever receive national and international distribution by a major studio. It’s an important distinction. Natives have made tons of films over the last few decades, but sadly, Smoke Signals remains the only Indian-created film to ever receive this much attention. Also, looking at the trailer, this film could have easily been titled Bad Wigs.”



News for all

December 4, 2012


Absent Marks: I just typed in your November absent marks on the School’s Website, so please, don’t forget to check the site out for possible mistakes — this week! By the way, I don’t use the email I have over there, mostly because I don’t know how to use that platform, but also because I just check it out at the beginning of the month, when I have to type in your absent marks.

Message for Beatriz H (Intermedio 2 Lunes): I have your audio file + my written feedback saved on October 30. I thought I had sent it to you. I have searched the forlder in my email account but I can’t find your email — sorry about that. Can you send me an email, with your Group Code (or this “Int 2 – Lunes”) on the Subject Line (título) and your name, Bea H, plus a note about what it’s for (e.g. my Oct audio), so I can send you both files?

For People following this blog: First of all, thanks for subscribing. If you are not students of mine, double thanks! I’m not sure what you might expect from this little blog — I understand it might have to do with activism or with learning about people in Spain! Anyway, I have good news for you all. Clicking here and there I failed to find the list of who is following this blog 😦 but I managed to set this blog to send out just one message a day, a message which would include the things I posted in the last 24 hours. This also means you won’t get the info in real time, but it’ll be daily. It’s set to send the message out at 4.00 am (Spain).

Feedback. Considering I’m an explorer (meaning I improvise a lot) and multi-chaotic (meaning I improvise a lot), if you find anything here which you find useful or like, it’d be great if you digged it (for my students, “I dig it” means “I like it”) and/or even posted a comment. Don’t feel obliged (no os sintáis en un compromiso), in any case — I am using the widget “Top Posts…”, which helps in this way.

Designing the Avanzado 2 course Together: Although people didn’t comment in class the proposal I posted a few weeks ago, I think, today, in Avanzado 2 Lunes, we’ve talked a bit about it. People will be thinking about the two possibilities I think we have, and we’ll talk about it again next Monday.

The favo(u)red option, it seems, is: you students work with the textbook at home every week (a weekly learning plan would help you lots!), doing one unit a month. (There’s no way we manage that in class.) The textbook is a very good resource, and then you can have our time together to interact and exploit me on language questions, and techniques and stuff. As you would be getting the same input at a similar pace, you would be free to ask questions in class, including making the proposal of checking together some of the exercises. But you would be responsible for learning from the textbook and selecting what to do in class, or asking questions on that.

Then I’d pick the speaking activities and the most important listening activities, and we’d do that in class, plus me checking your writings and oral work.

This would allow us — people working in overcrowded groups — to spend the lessons interacting — while putting into practice what you learned/learnt in the textbook –. And then we would also have more time to listen to selected podcast episodes I’d bring (news, interviews), documentaries, or other. Of course, I’d tell you about language, and culture, and other stories.

Now we’re trying to do it all, but it’s not practical. It’d be amazing for your English if you could find more time to devote to your learning at the advanced level.

In any case, I’m scheduling December to include a lesson on the Alexie novel (I’ll bring a listening, you bring the novel and your willingness to speak about it and share stuff), another on TV series (including dramatized reading), and perhaps… ? another based on viewing a documentary.

Otherwise. You see, if we don’t agree on something, what will happen is this (the other option): we won’t be able to finish unit 3 in December (we’ve got so few lessons together!), and it would take us January too. We’d start unit 4 in February, but — I’d like you to practice exercises in the exam format, esp. listening and reading exercises… Considering they don’t allow us to use previous exams, just the June 2009 example (!), I’m designing some more exercises. And I’d also like to show you at least one of the Ciclo Elemental and Ciclo Superior (old system) exams, to see what you think about the level tested in each kind. So we’d finish unit 4 in, say, mid March, and then we’d have a month for unit 5… Then there’s the spring holiday, right? And then — I think our last month together should be devoted to intense speaking activities (timed monologs, timed dialogs)– which also might include listening (documentaries for discussion in small groups and at plenary).

So — you see? Please, don’t take me wrong: I’m an experienced teacher, a professional, I mean. I can organize all of this on my own. But I believe in teamwork and also in human communication! 🙂 I think what we do together is kind of amazing, as compared to what we can do on our own. I can certainly assist you in your final year with a teacher, I can also help you to become independent and resourceful lifelong learners, to understand the importance of language and languages and how culture is connected to individuals and groups. But in the end it’s all about you and your English. 🙂


December Avanzado 2 Dramatized Readings

December 3, 2012

You are meant to have been watching a TV series episode a week, so as to learn not to be afraid of spoken everyday English, and train in deciphering meaning with a few words here, a-few-situations-I-understand there!

If you are interested in doing a dramatized reading of one of the Friends or HIMYM‘s episodes just before the winter holidays, bring up the issue in class, so we can agree which script people should print at home. (I managed to fit 30 pages into 4 in a few here, which you would print at home.) If some people cannot get their copies, you can order yours in class. I’m requesting your help with copies because our budgets are non-existing, but I can certainly make copies for a few people, so that’d be ok.)

There’s also the option you people get together in your homes and do a video we can publish somewhere! 😀 (Talking People has a YouTube channel but I’ve forgotten how to get in!)


December Lesson Plans for Avanzado 2

November 29, 2012

Dear students,

Check out the * Avanzado 2 * Page here for upcoming lessons (including novel and TV series projects), and if you know which exercises are pending correction, please post that info mentioning your Group on the Key for Avanzado 2 Page here or tell us in class.

Remember, if you have little spare time, use your audios to practice speaking!

Have a lovely weekend!


Love Matters

November 28, 2012

(The subject of this post has two meanings, one coming from “matters” operating as a name (a noun), and the other coming from understanding “matters” as a verb.)

This week in Avanzado 2 we’ve had the first session on the topic “Love.” I wondered why the Love & Revenge stories were all by women — I mean, it was women taking revenge on men they’d been in love with — considering revenge has always been a Big Issue in men’s lives. Wording aloud this question made me realize: revenge by men has traditionally involved beating up women, mutilating them, burying them alive (so to speak but also literally), terrorizing them publicly, raping and murdering them, and then also killing men — but honorably, for honor, like the use of violence, is a Man’s Business in patriarchal societies — in those honor rituals of death they set up. So picking those stories wouldn’t be fun. (I can’t understand why gender issues seem to be so invisible to the world, especially when the world we’re enjoying today in some parts of the world and only some of the people is so NEW in social terms, really, when we have so much to learn from their analysis if we really want to improve things including our human mind. I should note here that in Spain there are about 100 women murdered a year by men who were supposed to love them and thousands abused in their homes — the safest place for women some say. That’s real. On the other hand, I should note that we’ve managed to make society aware of this gender fact, this gender violence (the name is a scientific term based on the analysis of the patriarchal system whereby just for reasons of sex, men have enjoyed the right to “educate” and “punish” or “take revenge on” “their” women), to the point we now have a Law against Gender Violence — which we desperately needed to make society aware of this great invisible issue, as desperately as we needed the laws to protect children from violence, or immigrants running away from poverty and war from racism! Strangely enough for any rational human mind, feminists in our society are ignored or despised — always thought to be “excessive, bitter, man-hatters, intimidating, undeserving our trust, incapable of being fair and doing analyses”! And that’s why as a teacher I’m committed to offering information and insight from this social movement.) The lesson was fun and interesting and students shared interesting insight on the three stories: one was an Art Project by over 100 women based on a break-up fax one of them had received, another’s revenge was pretending to be a stunning-looking woman interested in dating the lover who had dumped her, and the third was about destroying the man’s most cherished belongings. There were some interesting comments, too, on the Top 10 Lines to Break Up! We had a laugh. 😀

I here I go!!! 😀 I do have some crystal clear advice for people in connection to love. In my half a century on this planet, I’ve come to realize that love, understood as a monogamous relationship involving living together all the time, should not go first in our list of things to “get” or experience or enjoy. It should come once we’ve learned/learnt to live and are able to stand on our own feet. My advice is people should experience the joys and miseries of human relationships with friends and lovers (they seem to get more respect from us than a partner or a family member). They should also learn from becoming independent (in the UK or the USA people leave their parents’ house when they’re 18, but in Spain this is not very usual: people tend to leave their parents’ house when they’ve bought their own house) all the important things we need to learn in life, basically, to stand on our own feet. Need and dependance (emotional, material) are not the only paths for loving people. I think it’s good to learn to be resourceful and independent. Because if you don’t do this, I believe your ability to appreciate what matters most in life is kind of crippled. Of course, I could be wrong. Anyway, love — in my view — is about love. And we don’t get many images of that in our very visual societies. Love is not about manipulation, abuse, neglect, revenge and the like! TV is nauseating on this topic. In the same way that passion is not about all that. We learn the wrong kind of passion in our societies. Passion is not about desperate need and total annihilation either. But there’s TV to refute all this I’m saying! Fortunately, then there’s always people. And we are learning faster since the 20th century. And whether people acknowledge it or not, socially and individually, feminism (and its sister, the GLBTI movement) has brought about a much better world for us all, where love and passion have greater chances of developing nicely! 😀

I was surprised to find a writer who had this idea I learned from living of We need to learn to love, so we shouldn’t start with the hardest kind of love! (My theory is different, but they share the approach, I suppose.) Here is the short story: A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud. (I mispronounce “Cullers”, it’s the /a/ in “some”, not a /u/, and I read trying to mark the pronunciation of the -ed ending so students practice this!) It’s written by Carson McCullers, a very special writer in my view (reading her novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter I felt like submerged in the world of the two deaf men and the independent girl. I can’t remember the story but I still remember that feeling!). She was actually born in the same year as Jane Bowles and Leonora Carrington, two of the other writers I have loved to read! What was it about 1917? 😀


Sorrip! Some editing…

November 26, 2012

I’m sorry. I have edited the plans I published this morning, so check out the Avanzado 2 or the Intermedio 2 Pages here. There’s no major change, just some additions.

Night night, sleep tight, don’t let the crisis bite!


Lesson Plans for last lessons in November

November 26, 2012

Dear all, I have just updated your Pages: Avanzado 2, Intermedio 2. Those are the plans, but, as usual, we can be flexible to include whatever you need. I haven’t copied any answers to your exercises on the Key Pages here because I don’t know which answers you need. Anyway, ask in class — this week I’m allowing some extra space so we can check things we might’ve skipped. And then — you can always post your requests on the Key Pages. Have a wonderful week!


“Going on an adventure”, Speaking in Public & Textbook Blues

November 20, 2012

In today’s monolog(ue) by Ana (Avanzado 2), on Childhood Memories, we wondered about how to word this amazing childhood experience of “going on adventures.” Ana’s sentence was something like “We used to have many adventures” (sorry if I’m misquoting). This sentence of Ana’s is correct. Still, we wondered. Jorge suggested “get into many adventures” and I mentioned “get into trouble” was quite common but wondered about “getting into adventures”. Well, Jorge, look what I found!:  “Harry and his friends get into an adventure with Voldemort.” (Harry Potter book review) Well done! Then, I don’t understand why I didn’t think of this!!: “We went on very many (childhood) adventures”, because when I was living at the wimmin’s peace camp in England (Greenham Common, remember?) one of the questions we were all often asked was “Do you feel like going on an adventure?” or “Shall we go on an adventure”? (meaning “Should we trespass on to the airbase?”).

Talking about adventures, do you miss that feeling? Well, if you like, I can tell you about how to get it! I’m kind of an expert in this! 😀 When you have to speak in public — in a Speaking Test, a speaking activity at Plenary, at an international meeting representing your company, at a meeting of any kind, in an assembly in Sol, whatever! — if you are a Spaniard and you see that you’ve got to speak in public 😀 you should count of the fact that your body is going to follow a different path to that which your mind will take! Your body will tremble, your heart will beat faster, your hands will feel icy cold and sweaty, your mouth will go dry, and generally speaking, you won’t be the best looking You! But if you practice, you’ll feel how your mind, this amazing organ we have (that becomes more intelligent and kinder the more you learn and work with it — and not against it!!), becomes amazingly focused on the activity you have to perform. Your only world at that moment is the task, not your looks, what people think of you, or the typical self-destructive assessment of “I should’ve –.” I know it sounds like scifi to the people who have not been often confronted to this arduous task, but it’s true. And this means that your mind will rapidly take over your body. You might still have a dry mouth, but your body will feel much better. I even think your body feels gratitude then, a kind of admiration to its mind! Perhaps just a minute or two will have passed, but all that body storm will be nothing because your mind will be TOTALLY ABSOLUTELY FOCUSED ON DOING THE TASK! Obviously, once the event is over, your knees will feel weak, and you will need to drink some juice and eat some chocolate or some crisps, but then you won’t care about it anymore. You’ll have succeeded in your mission, your Mission Possible! (I always visualize athletes at the Olympic Games when I have to speak in public. Well, that’s with Oposiciones, so that’s over, and when I read poems and stuff at events or in squats. I do have a hard time, in spite of being a teacher — an earthling who spends her days speaking in public. But practice helps so much! You’ve got to experience it this year!

Don’t forget this — speaking in public in class is not like speaking in public at work or in an exam. It’s much safer, it feels much safer, so please — give it a try. We’re all there to learn! You’ll be sharing your world with people and offering language material for us all to work with. You should never feel ashamed of making mistakes — that’s arrogant. When we are learning, the natural thing is we make mistakes, till we master that language item. And most importantly, mistakes — in my view — are opportunities for exploration and (self-)discovery! Mistakes are open doors to improvement. (Work on your List of Mistakes, will you?! Check above, the Page called Learn 2 Learn) Mistakes at Plenary are acts of love! because you’re offering people the chance to remember how to avoid that mistake just because you made it and they remember! (Sometimes I sound a bit demented! 😀 It’s exclamations in English! 😀 Plus, I suppose, the passion teachers are able to bring out when trying to help people understand something.) (But don’t be afraid — I’m a harmless! A pacifist!)

(And I’ve got sweets/candy for people who volunteer to speak at Plenary!)

(We could even buy a box of chocolates! /chóklits/ I’ll check prices!)

Last, I’m going to start skipping pages in the textbook, if you allow me to. But you should do it all, and ask me to post this or that. If I don’t start skipping stuff, or selecting what we WILL do together and what you need to do on your own, we will sink into the traditional lesson of learners not using their mouths or ears much and all that. In my defense I have to say that if we spent (we will not, it’s a hypothesis) all of our time together just listening to people speaking and analyzing their performance in terms of language use and in terms of textual structure and communicative strategies, and to people reading out their checked writings and we doing the same sort of thing, you would probably forget about exams and learn so much that then you’d pass the exam. Because all of this would also bring up sociocultural issues that would give you a richer knowledge of your own culture and some of the English-speaking cultures.

But academic freedom, this Constitutional right, has been crushed by an issue that should not even affect slightly academic freedom — that “parents” (really?) complain about the prices of textbooks (or that textbooks are very expensive)! What does that have to do with teachers?! Why do people who have houses and cars and all kinds of gadgets and fancy clothing complain about how much they spend in BOOKS?! This does freak me out! (What can I say? I’m a teacher!)

How much do people spend in books a year? I WONDER! (Incidentally, how many books a year do people read?) So teachers are not allowed to pick the methodology they work best with because parents can’t afford textbooks or because publishing houses are just interested in money-making! Hello, humankind in Spain: can we solve the problem rationally? And allow teachers to use the methodology they choose because transmitting knowledge and helping people learn skills is fucking difficult, and double hard if you cannot pick your method!! (We’ve got the National Curriculum, and the Local Curriculum to make sure teachers teach the same stuff in the same levels, so why can’t we let them do their job?!) I’m so angry! And so sad. Because I don’t really want to set up my own language school. I love public (state-run) education. I think it’s beautiful! Hard but beautiful. (Hard as hell in primary and secondary, but beautiful.) Just think of the people you relate to in class: it’s people from all walks of life! That is what free education for all creates: the chance of meeting all kinds of people, which is to say, the chance of learning about people, about ourselves, and also about the world. All gathered around the  shared interest in language learning. Who do you relate to in your private life? Like-minded people? Well…

OMG! I gotta go. I should be listening to your audios! 😉 Nightie night


Booking a date for the Dec OP’s

November 18, 2012

To Michelle’s students – Dear all,

You should start thinking about what you want to share with us in class, in terms of the language you picked up while watching TV series (the listening exercise, not a reading exercise!) and your thoughts, useful language learned/learnt, fav passages, a book review to read out or research on the Sherman Alexie novel. You should also consider talking to other people in class, in case you want to do some teamwork on any of these two projects. I’m very open to the kinds of things you can do — the most important thing is that you learn English and about English-speakers or their cultures, on your own or in the good company of other people in class!

If you want to do some work on your own, think of 5 minutes, though we can negociate for more time. Teamwork could get 15-20 minutes depending on needs. You can post your ideas here, if you like.

Here are some examples of activities by Avanzado 2 students:

Considering working on the textbook takes so much time, you can also record your Useful language and/or send me your selected sentences so we can put together a podcast episode. In previous courses, people sent me their selected language and I created a new segment on the Talking People Podcast called “Everyday Language” (Incidentally, “every day” as an adverbial (time phrase, complemento circunstancial de tiempo) is in two words; and “everyday” in one word operates like adjectives (it’s a modifier that goes before the modified word). We got to episode 4.

I need to know who needs how much time when because 1) I need to plan the lessons allowing time for that, 2) because if nobody is going to do anything then I’ll try to book ONE only lesson where you can just put up your hands and share your weeny bits! 😛 If nobody says anything in class or by email, I’ll understand we should just stick to the textbook, OK?

Have a lovely week!

PS: Browse below! There are some amazing audios / audiovisuals!


Lesson Plans for Intermedio 2 – Nov Week 3

November 12, 2012

Today in Intermedio 2 Mondays (Int 2 will get here next Thursday, I think) we worked on 2a — pages 20, 21, and Gr Bank 2a. First I gave out people’s school ID card, so you can use it to borrow a B1 (Intermediate) level book with an audio CD and start this little project so you can learn to read out loud and speak. Then I explained the pronunciation of the -ed ending (the shortcut version, and then the Pro version!). We also finished the listenings on page 20 (2.2) — btw, did you do the exercise of imitating those accents?! Next, we did L&R (listen & repeat) with useful language + noticing textual structure for a monolog on Stereotypes that you should all practice and home and do in class some day (pleeeeease!), or that you can record and send me. (If you have a microphone, you can download Audacity, record it, and then “export it” as an mp3. If you have a digital recording machine, it’s even easier, right?/isn’t it?) Then I presented the Reading Comprehension technique called Skimming and Scanning, while relating it to Reading Tests: I asked people to create a section in their notebooks to keep track of the time it takes them to do a Skimming of a whichever-number-of-words text, and then Scanning 1 and then Scanning 2. You got a copy of this a couple of weeks ago. Just do it, and one day you’ll see more clearly why! 🙂 And people read out loud the text on page 21 and we tackled the questions in the previous page, and the questions on p. 21 and the Grammar Bank.

We didn’t have time to do the Speaking activity on page 21, so please, practice speaking about that at home, on your own, or better still, meet your classmates somewhere and practice!

People’s homework for next Monday is doing pages 22, 23, and listening to audio 2.1 to learn to speak, and practicing a monolog on stereotypes. I’ll bring your checked Writings and we could listen to a few of them, pleeeeease!
Extra homework: If you have more time, listen to a podcast episode at the Talking People podcast. Here are some suggestions:


News – re: your Writings and Audios

November 11, 2012

Hiya! Just a note to tell you that I hope to finish correcting all Writings next week, not this week. You see, I use your Writings and Audios to identify Common Mistakes (see the previous post, where I started adding some of the mistakes people have made in the Writings I’ve checked so far), and that is why I only give you back your work when I’m done with everybody’s.

Consequently, the Monday-Wednesday groups will get theirs in a week’s time (for they’ll only have tomorrow’s lesson this week), and the Tuesday-Thursday groups will get theirs next Thursday, I suppose! 🙂

Once I finish your Writings, I’ll continue editing your audios to create podcast episodes or sen them back to you with feedback.


About your textbooks and possibilities for our course together

November 9, 2012

Your textbooks are very good, one can see that they’ve been designed by professionals.

However, they have far too many activities and topics in two pages (a lesson — which include back pages, to make matters more complicated!). This doesn’t allow us to interact more freely.

  • I miss time for us listening to, say, 4 people at the beginning of the lesson (you are 28, so we should have 4 people in every lesson, and that would only be 3 weeks or 1 month! You would be speaking at Plenary just once a month!! Fortunately, you also speak when we read together and when you work in small groups, which is brilliant! But you also need Plenary feedback every now and then, right?) and analyze their performances (to increase your knowledge of the language, improve your exam strategies, and develop your listening skill, including learning to listen to others’ English and to your own then, at home).
  • There’s not much time for me to explain things or for you to pose questions. When someone explains, there are various factors that make it more likely for you to remember, than if you read something in silence. Today, thanks to Alicia I realized that I was getting stressed about being so “slow” (this is why people did not repeat, I think, as if they were going to sleep!*) while checking the grammar exercises, when what I was doing — adding explanations, examples, related issues — is precisely, as she said, more enrichening for you all than just checking the answers with the key! True!
  • Moving on with the exercises doesn’t allow us to spontaneously tell stories about things, or comment pieces of news

Then I know that in December (Alexie’s for Av2, a B1-level book with audio for Intermedio 2), in February (Exam Format Month!), and in April (Spring OPs or Plenaries on books and documentaries: South Pacific, for Intermedio 2’s, Story of Stuff, and Baby Human or How Art Made the World, for Avanzado 2’s), we’ll need a few lessons to do special activities!

In December:

  • a couple of days for the novel (you should decide if you want to prepare OPs – teamwork – or if we just share at Plenary; we can have a Plenary and then 1 or 2 days with different teams doing their OPs)
  • a couple of days for sharing the language you picked up while watching TV. (Again, if you wish to prepare something in teams, you’re welcome)

So how on earth are we going to do the 7 units! What do you think?

So this is why I try to design Lesson Plans, but this plan depends heavily on you being ahead of us in class (skipping the listenings till we do then in class).

Here is what I would do, if I could and were a student:

  • I’d work on the textbook in one or two sittings at the weekend (e.g. two hours on Sunday evening)
  • I’d work on listening to English and practicing speaking tasks at home during the weekdays. And also read a bit in bed.

Another possibility is we forget about TV, documentaries and books, and focus on the textbook. Just with that you have more than enough work to do!

A third possibility is that we skip pages in the units (which people with more time could do on their own at home, and still ask questions in class).

A fourth, that we don’t finish the book, because we’ll have been working on other things as well.

What do you think? Post your thoughts, if you like, or comment in class!


Dear Intermedio 2’s! (after the Monday lesson)

November 6, 2012

I know — I’m asking you to develop the habit of listening to English every day. This is BIG.

However, consider reality: there are many little “dead moments” in the day you can turn into audio moments. You can VERY EASILY fit listening to English every day into different moments in your day! Developing the habit of listening to English every day means you need your daily dose of English! And this pushes you quite naturally into speaking English on your own! And this means you end up listening & repeating, and preparing speaking activities SPEAKING OUT LOUD (not writing and in silence!! Eek!!) And all of this makes you feel great, and — it helps your learning in various ways.

The reason why I designed the routine of Small Groups doing work independently was also because I was trying to create a safe space in the Exam Area, so you wouldn’t have to speak in front of everybody (at Plenary). But here’s the fact — no one comes to me when Small Groups are working together. So… What should we do?

You are in Intermedio 2, which means you have reached a level when it’s appropriate to develop some independency from the teacher. PLUS you have an intermediate level in English, this is, you’ve been learning English for years! When are you going to put it into practice?! Next year? Once you fail? Only when you travel? (carita turulataaaarrrggghhh)

My proposal is you start now, with your 1. textbook audios, 2. with the ESL Podcast and the Talking People Podcast and/or any of the many BBC podcasts, 3. with the project of watching TV at least once a week. And can you please start speaking in public, at Plenary, or more privately in the Exam Area? It’s embarrassing at first, but I SWEAR it gets better with PRACTICE! Can’t you control your fears a weeny bit? What is so terrifying about speaking English in your language lesson?!

The information I’m getting (sensing) is that you want us to spend the time in class filling in gaps in silence and then reading out your answers. Trying to keep up with the textbook + doing the Speaking/Listening activities is challenging, yes, hard work, but if you don’t work at home in the way I explained it’ll simply be impossible. So should we give my proposal a try or should I stop reaching for the moon? 😀 😛


A few important reminders for Michelle’s students

November 4, 2012

YOUR TEXTBOOK AUDIOS: If you want to learn to understand and speak — spontaneously or without translating, fluently, with a good grammar — you have to listen to your audios every day! and you have to use them (listen to them) many times, and in different ways, so that certain language sticks to your brain! You should always learn from your textbooka audios a collection of sentences and expressions that will help you improve your English. If you have no time, you shouldn’t be doing this course. If you have little time… Get organized!

GETTING ORGANIZED. If you don’t have enough time for your English, get organized. In this way you’ll maximize your time, you’ll get the most of your time for that. I know most people don’t believe this, but it’s true. As you know, you can also show/send me your Weekly Learning Schedule for feedback.

PUZZLING. Walk in my shoes. If I ask you not to use subtitles until you’ve watched the episode quite a few times, why should you watch the episode once and then use subtitles and tell me about it? Can’t you trust me a little? Don’t you think I might have reasons to ask you to do this? If I ask you to practice speaking out a monologue at home every week without writing it down (till you perform it in class so I give you some feedback), why should you write it down and ask me to correct it?! Please, if you don’t understand why I’m asking you to do this or that, just ask in class, at Plenary and not simply discard what I’m saying. I’ll be happy to explain the hows and whys. OK?

SENDING ME EMAILS: If you send me an email, please, write in the subject line your group code, or at least this: In2 Mon, In2 Tues, Av2 Mon, Av2 Tues + first name (nombre de pila usado en class). Then write your full name in the message. I do organize myself — because I always have a lot of things to do, precisely! –, so I have to maximize the time I’ve got! (You see, I have folders for the different groups, and I cannot move your message to its corresponding folder if I don’t know what group you’re in.) Likewise, if you send me an audio, please, give the file a name that allows us both to know whose it is, e.g. NI2Mon_Pepito (for “nivel intermedio 2 + día + nombre de clase)

Finally, enjoy your English. Working hard doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy language learning. You cannot learn a language without working hard on it. You cannot learn a language without listening zillions of hours to it. Last, your learning will be more effective, the more you enjoy sitting down to work on your English — making the personal connection of enjoying the time you spend in touch with the language.


Updated! Nov 6 (well, 7) Intermedio 2: Lesson Plans for November Week 2

November 4, 2012

Monday Nov 5: Hand in your Writing 1.  Pronunciation 8 page 11 (just check you did it and you understand). We’ll watch the video (page 16) and then do Oral Work (using the language you learnt on page 13 (stories+audio), 12 & 14. Homework: do the unit test and then check your results on this blog. Use the underlining technique and prediction in the Listening test.
We also read the jokes, I explained “Fun/Funny”, we checked the Reading on Stress. Pending?: Grammar Bank 1b and 1c?

Tuesday Nov 6: Hand in your Writing 1. We’ll watch the video (page 16) and then do Oral Work: Illnesses (using the language you learnt on page 13 (stories+audio), 12 & 14 (if you didn’t listen to these jokes before, do so this evening). Your homework is to do page 15 (on stress), and to listen to the unit audios and/or practice saying Useful Language. Do the unit test whenever you like, at home and check it on this blog. Well… we’ll see what needs checking or further practice, or if we can start unit 2. It’ll depend on your questions and work, OK? Just feel free to comment in class.
We checked Grammar Bank 1a. And… We had Irene doing a monolog at Plenary! Thanks so much! So I gave her feedback and everybody in class was able to learn from her exercise! She’s allowed me to put together a podcast episode with her work, so —

Wednesday Nov 7, Thursday Nov 8:

  • Finish Unit 1: Questions/Pending stuff/Orals in Exam Area.
  • After the break, I’ll present unit 2. INTENSIVE PRACTICE IN NARRATIVES IN THE PAST*
    FYI (for your information)DON’T DO the listenings: 2.1-2.2, but you can do as much as you can with the rest on page 20 + pages 21-26 including the mentioned back pages; DON’T DO 2.6-2.7 (p. 27), 2-11-2.14 (pages 30-31), and don’t do the video (p. 32). As you can see, there are far too many Readings, but that’s because you have to learn to tell stories in the past, using different past tenses and modals.

* Support material/ideas:


November Lesson Plans for Avanzado 2 + Reminders for December

November 4, 2012

Reminders: here are the plans for our lessons together, not for your work at home. Remember you should be ahead of what we do in classskipping the kind of listening activities which resembles your Listening Test, so you can do it in class pretending you are in the exam and using the underlining & prediction techniques on the spot!). It’s important you have a Weekly Learning Plan, to fit everything in nicely!

LET’S SEE IF THIS PLAN WORKS WELL FOR US ALL… 🙂 If you have any idea on how to improve this, please, do tell us in class!

Mon Nov 5, Tues Nov 6: finish unit 1.

  • Handing in your Writing 1 (the deadline is Nov 7, 8, which means, I will only accept Writings this week)
  • You should pose your questions, e.g., we could read out (choral repetition, so that you notice grammar as you repeat) our answers to 1A-C Grammar Banks!
  • Listening/Speaking: We’ll be doing (Fut. Cont.) L 1.12, 1.13 on p. 14 (ideas for mons are on p. 13, exercise f) and we’ll be watching the video on Family Secrets (p. 18) (1.18 is for you to do at home).
  • I’ll post the Answers to Revise & Check 1 here, and remember to ask in class the following day if you have any questions.

Wednesday Nov 7, Thursday Nov 8: start unit 2 in class. Childhood Memories

  • You’ll read out the Reading texts (and check your own answers to those little exercises on p. 20, 21)
  • Then in Pairs, you’ll pay close attention to 2 Grammar (you should’ve read at home and done Grammar Bank 2a, p. 139), the narrative tenses, used to and would on page 21. + Plenary to check your answers.
  • Last, we’ll listen to 2.1 and you’ll speak about your childhood to a classmate. WE DID THIS NOV 12, 13, TOO

Monday Nov 12, Tuesday Nov 13:

  • Listenings 2.2 – 2.4 + Speaking (Childhood) at Plenary
  • Today or next day: Reading out answers to p.23 + Grammar Bank 2b (p. 140) + Questions/Comments
  • Pairwork – Multitasking: p. 24 + Text for B on p. 25: both read out 1 Reading & Speaking, and then each person reads her/his text, to present it to the other following the outline (pink for A, green for B).
  • UPDATED ON NOV 12 MONDAY: On this lesson I explained the Skeleton of Meaning Listening Technique, which is the technique you’ll use with Listening Tasks where the recording is only played once. It’s similar to the instructions you get in 2.4, page 22

Wednesday 14, Thursday 15: I’ll join the European strike!(We have an extra lesson for Orals at the end of this unit, and we can use it to catch up, if you prefer that. Just let me know.)

  • Time Listenings: 2.6-2.9
  • Checking 4 Voc on p. 27 and Voc Bank on page 159. (Remember to do p. 160 Voc “get”, too)
  • Speaking exercise around the Questionnaire p. 26.

I’m skipping 2C pages 28 and 29 (I can post here or read out the answers), it’s a Reading (again, another!), so please work on it: It’s about — it seems — nonviolent ways of “revenge”, and they’re very creative! Unfortunately, they quote Nietzche without saying it’s him! (He was a well-known mysogynist, as you can find out if you read, for instance, what he thinks of Women and Friendship) The quote is from Beyond Good and Evil: In revenge and in love woman is more barbarous than man. What’s wrong with this easily accepted idea? Well, on this planet century after century women have been tortured, locked up, mutilated and assassinated because they had “offended” Man, according to the men who were/are meant to love them. Why sexist mentalities perceive women can be “more barbarous” is not because of the crime (sending out emails exposing a man’s bad behavio(u)r cannot equal being beaten up and murdered!), but because women are not allowed to fight back, according to patriarchal tradition. It’s a taboo women use violence, so it’s perceived as more evil than violence enhacted by men (who have the right to use it, in patriarchy). Just try to walk in women’s shoes in regards to violence/revenge (exerted or subjected to it?), overcoming the patriarchal prejudices we are taught. You could write 100 words about your views! and I’ll just check your English.

Monday Nov 19, Tuesday Nov 20: Love by numbers!

  • Checking Grammar Bank ? 2c ?, Questions/Comments on skipped pages:  28, 29
  • Listening 2.13, 2.14 (p. 30)
  • Speaking: The Get Questionnaire (p. 31)

Wednesday Nov 21, Thursday Nov 22:

  • Check p. 32 (How to write an article) – Homework for the weekend: Writing 2 (an article, p. 33).
  • Pairwork: p. 33
  • Video Interview on p. 34
  • I’ll post the answers to Revise & Check 2 on this blog.

Extra Lesson. Monday Nov 26, Tuesday Nov 27: for unchecked bits and pieces in unit 2, and/or for Intensive Oral Practice: students practice mons and dials with a classmate and then come to me, to do it again and get feedback.

Wednesday Nov 28, Thursday Nov 29: I will present unit 3, mentioning the most important activities, and then we’ll organize the December Oral Presentations or Plenary Sessions (book a date):

In December we’ll devote some lessons to listening to your work on TV series and the Alexie novel. We’ll listen to you all telling us the Useful Language you learned/learnt by ear while watching your TV series episodes and/or you can  join other students to form a group and do an Oral Presentation, maximum 20 minutes (e.g., Intro on series & characters, Useful Language), and we’ll also devote a lesson or two to the Alexie novel — your Writing 3 is a book review, and I hope you do it on this novel. You can hand it in in the first week of class after the Winter Holidays.

This Oral Work in class will mean that you should try to do unit 3 on your own at home throughout the month of December + the January week we’re on our Winter Holidays. Or do you have a better suggestion? Please, comment in class if you do! I could post here the answers to the exercises you did…


Re-scheduling Lesson Plans – Avanzado 2

October 30, 2012

Dear students, I just moved / I’ve just moved the Writing Assignment to this week, so people can work on it at the weekend, as it is then when they have more time. I’ve also arranged things for us to finish unit 1. The Plans are on the Avanzado 2 Webita here.

And remember… A “listening” a day keeps your English in shape! 😛

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