Archive for the ‘Online Activities’ Category


On nonviolent struggle (2)

December 19, 2013

Interviewing Howard Clark – video 2
by Mujer Palabra (June 2013)


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! 😀


Learning about the Osage Indian rez in Pawhuska

July 27, 2013

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

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


In support of Turkish people. In your language!

June 10, 2013

Spread the word!



Speaking Tests (B2): Brainstorming on Topics and Language Functions

June 8, 2013

When you have to speak about a topic, it is generally expected you fulfill certain communicative aims and you perform certain language functions, too. Have a look at this and see what I mean:

You will find more ideas for working on your Speaking here:

But remember: listening to English is key. When you listen to English, you learn to speak, you consequently learn “grammar”, and you get used to understanding people, while developing comprehension strategies unconsciously too!


New video!: What Leads to Success?

May 30, 2013

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

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

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


Useful Language (+audios)

May 29, 2013

Some with audios to listen and repeat


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

May 28, 2013

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

* defense or defense?


Improved version of the World Book Day video!

May 22, 2013

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

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


A video on World Book Day (Av 2&co)

May 17, 2013

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

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

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


Avanzado 2 Interaction: Banning pets in city centres?!!!

May 15, 2013

I’m sorry about delays publishing people’s work. I’ve decided just to jot down SOME corrections. Otherwise, it takes me many hours!!!

Here is Ainhoa, Laura and Pablo trying to tackle the card-activiy on banning things


Asking Questions in Church

May 14, 2013

An audio story, for Upper Intermediate students on.

A childhood memory to inspire people to prepare theirs?


Monologue on sb you love & admire

May 9, 2013

Mónica got this year her first job as a sports journalist, and she’s a journalist because of her grandma, she explains, so here goes an affectionate homage to this amazing woman who the people who loved her miss so much today.


So how was your 3- or 5-day hol?

May 6, 2013

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

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

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

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

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


A listening exercise from Reel Women (Canada) – C1, Advanced

April 30, 2013

Open the audio in a new tab


Borrowings 1

April 30, 2013


Quotes by interesting people!

April 30, 2013

How many did you know? (notice the cross or the smiley face when you mark your answer)


Felicia’s mon on The Elderly

April 29, 2013

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


Interaction by Avanzado 2 students: Free parking space at weekends

April 29, 2013

Thanks to Sara, Alberto and Fernando!


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

April 29, 2013

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

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


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! 🙂

Speaking Activity – Spain on holidays – Audio

April 24, 2013

We recorded the Listen & Repeat of useful language at the Intermedio 2 group, so you can practice sentences about planning a holiday in Madrid, Spain for English-speaking people.


More audios (L&R)

April 17, 2013

Learn while you’re lying on a couch or bed! 😀

In case you missed this audio!
Useful Language for Speaking Interactions


Prepositions of Place & Movement (C1)

April 9, 2013

This is a listening and repeat exercise recorded in class and dedicated to Pablo, who wanted to avoid consolidating fossilized mistakes. The best way to avoid this is to create a section in your notebook where you can collect phrases where prepositions are used, or even complete sentences, like in this exercise. You can fish those from your audio transcripts in the textbooks. In this way, you will also have the chance to listen and repeat or consolidate.

Path: Talking People – Useful Language – Sentences for your Grammar – Prepositions of Place & Movement (1)


Listen to a bio, to practice your pasts!

April 2, 2013

It’s for Pre-intermediate students, but Intermedio 2 students might be interested:


New episode to help Intermediate/Advanced students in conversations!

April 1, 2013

Just recorded a little episode (listen & repeat) which will be particularly useful to English learners who may have to take part in (timed or real) conversations with any of these communicative aims: Organizing Events, Helping People, and Pros & Cons on Options. I have to say I kind of improvised the collection of sentences. Any English learner out there, if you want me to record whatever, you can post your own collection! 🙂

dowhatyouwantThis episode is found on the Talking People website, too. If you ENTER and then click USEFUL LANGUAGE and then USEFUL LANGUAGE FOR CONVERSATIONS, there you’ll be!

If you have any ideas on how I can tidy up the site, they’ll be welcome, too. The site wasn’t thought out but built as my own work as an EFL teacher developed, this is, all inspired in students’ needs! Hopefully, when I move south I’ll have more free time!


Installations by Avanzado 2 students

March 20, 2013


 Avanzado 2 student can post here the installation they imagine about themselves. It’s a beautiful exercise showing some beautiful things about art and human beings. So come on! Don’t be shy! And if you think you are not creative, give it a try, too. A human mind can learn all kinds of things — just think of how very well we’ve learned the gender-system lesson of what a man and a woman are, in spite of the irrefutable fact that we’ve all got human minds (as if genitals were our prison!). Then we could publish them all on the website! IMAGINATION TO POWER! 😀 TIPS: To post your “comment” click on the title of this post. Remember it’s better to write your message first in your computer and then just copy and paste. If you have any trouble posting your comment here, send it to my email and I’ll post it for you.


Inviting Av2 (B2 – Upper Intermediate) students to do Oral Presentations

March 4, 2013

Some years ago, Raúl gave an OP on his Learning to Listen experience. I hope he inspires you!

Raúl mentions “garden paths” but that is not the name of the kind of mistake. My wrong, so sorry about that! What happened to him, what he misheard, that kind of mistake is called “mondegreens” in linguistics. Here is a worksheet I wrote a few years ago explaining Mistakes by Native Speakers, to cheer students up! Anyway, in some group this year I mentioned a very famous mondegreen, based on one of Dylan’s songs, “Dead ants are my friends, they’re blowing in the wind” 😀

lexical_mistakesbynatives (1 Word page)

Oh, you can base our OP on your adorable textbook, on the language you learn from it, I mean!


Quvenzhane Wallis

March 2, 2013

give your daughters difficult names. give your daughters names that command the full use of tongue. my name makes you want to tell me the truth. my name doesn’t allow me to trust anyone that cannot pronounce it right. – Warsan Shire


Listenings. 2 BBC podcasts

February 25, 2013

60-second ideas to improve the world. Have a go at listening to this wonderful podcast by the BBC. Notice that each episode can just be downloaded for a number of days.

If you listen to any, feel free to come to class and tell us about it! (re-telling speaking exercise!)

For Avanzado 2 (B2, C1 level students): I just discovered this amazing podcast, “Forum – A World of Ideas,” where you have a panel of guests discussing a topic. They are a great of example of what it is to hold rational discussions, and conversations where people share their insight, knowledge and impressions!

Notice that each episode can just be downloaded for a number of days. If you listen to any, feel free to come to class and tell us about it! (re-telling speaking exercise!)


Thank you for rocking the world!

February 22, 2013

ilovefeminismThe Biggest Mass Global Action To End Violence Against Women & Girls In The History Of Humankind

One Billion Rising is the beginning of the new world ignited by a new energy. It is not the end of a struggle but the escalation of it. NOW is the time to enact change. This is NOT an annual holiday, we are not waiting until 14 February 2014. NOW is the time to harness the power of your activism to change the world! We celebrate these victories, and we hope you do too. Now ask yourself WHAT CAN I DO IMMEDIATELY TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS – and then go out and DO IT!

One Billion Rising was always conceived to be a catalyst and a wind rather than a new organization. So use it to fuel your next activities. Plan local actions for International Women’s Day, 8 March. Stay tuned for tips and actions!! If you want to know where to direct your energies right now, you can stage a V-Day benefit in your community – visit today!


  • Brought together people across movements and causes – mobilizing communities such as migrants, women in prison, domestic workers, urban poor, LGBTQI, farm workers, the disabled, and many more.
  • Created the opportunity for councils of indigenous women to participate in global problem solving.
  • Created global solidarity and strength cutting across borders, races, class, religions, sexual orientation, ages, genders. Reignited solidarity between women’s organizations in various countries. Rekindled the ethos of sisterhood amongst women on a global scale.
  • Brought to the surface the intersection of issues both causing and affecting violence against women: patriarchy, poverty, corporate greed, environmental plunder, imperialist policies, religion, militarization, interventions of outside countries, immigration, labor export policies, nationalization of industries, political repression.
  • Engaged masses on a deeper, more embodied level through dancing, poetry, singing, and art.
  • Produced massive media exposure, discourse, and advocacy on violence against women issues. It also created or was the catalyst for the development of millions of women citizen social media journalists telling their own narratives by picking up cameras.
  • Created solidarity and safe and free space, through our creativity and numbers, for violated women to tell their stories, many for the first time, and heal their trauma by dancing in public, communal open spaces.
  • Inspired millions of men to stand and rise as our allies, deconstructing patriarchy alongside us.
  • Galvanized and empowered legislators to generate legislation in support of ending violence against women and girls globally. Created an opportunity for globally linked women’s councils to lobby at all levels of government and UN.
  • Made violence against women impossible to ignore and never to be marginalized again. Reminded the world that women united will never be defeated.
  • Generated the best collection of worldwide dance videos ever!



Dictations: improving in gap-filling activities

February 19, 2013

If you wish to improve in gap-filling listening comprehension exercises you could follow my advice:

  • Choose a podcast episode you enjoyed, or any other audio recording you like. Make sure you have the transcript, so that you can check your dictation later on.
  • Play it once, just listening to it. Then start pressing pause after each chunk of language that makes sense as a chunk of language! (like I do in class — well, I think I just did this once, with the Avanzado 2 groups.) It’s hard to be good at this at the beginning (that is why it is also good you listen once or twice to the complete piece), but you improve at knowing when to pause with practice.
  • If you can’t get the complete chunk down, leave a blank and continue! Just go on, leave blanks. You will fill them up in subsequent listenings. Once you’ve filled in/out your own gaps, play the complete piece again, to check you got everything down. And then play it again to check punctuation and spelling.
  • Finally, check your work with the transcript — use a red pen for mistakes. (And keep a record of your work, so you notice how, in a couple of months, you’ll have improved! including in reducing your fear of this activity!)

love-bubbles-vectorThis exercise will make you better at this kinds of listenings, but it will also make you a better speller!! But there’s much more!!!: it will help you learn vocabulary and most importantly, ways to say things, so remember to use this exercise also to collect Useful Language for your conversations! (you can also Listen & Repeat those bits). AND… it will make sure you listen to different kinds of audios, because you will be looking for one for your dictation! which means it will help you develop the habit of listening to English every day!!

Here is a link to a slightly different activity: dictations online. The teacher says “period/full stop,” “comma,” all that! It’s great and it’s sorted out by levels! But I still recommend you use news, interviews, “authentic” texts, I mean, not only texts designed as dictations. So plan your learning week! You could do one of these, and one with authentic news and interviews (from podcasts or textbook audios every week!


Avanzado Jueves! On the C1 recording…

February 8, 2013

Last Thursday (omg, was it yesterday?!) the machine failed us again and we didn’t manage to do the B2 recordings as I had planned. Instead, unluckily (we shouldn’t have, considering what we talked about), we did the C1 listening (Friendship) that I had planned for you to do after the two B2 pieces. I only played it twice, and didn’t expect anyone to get more than 3 answers right, out of 5, due to the level of mental processing (elaboration) we have to reach at the C1 level. Anyway, people couldn’t understand why their answers were wrong. (I should’ve reminded them that they had only listened to it twice, and that even if they felt they understood everything, these kinds of listenings are tricky even for careless native listeners.)

carita_beatingheartSo I’ve recorded the complete answer by the psychologist to the questions they had on their copies, plus the correct answer. And I’m asking you all, Thursday’s, to please listen to it with your paper in front of you and see if you finally understand why we’re right. Both if you do and if you don’t, I’m interested.

noassbiting(But please, mercy! Put things forward critically, not in the Complaint Mode, or believing the people who designed this are totally wrong, because we teachers are exhausted from the demented working conditions the authorities are imposing on us, and if you complain instead of just reason out why you disagree, I might bite your ass!!)


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.


Stories for Feb 14: A Teenage Girl’s Guide to Surviving Sex Slavery (in 2 pages)

February 3, 2013

Foto 132Here is one of the stories in I Am an Emotional Creature, inspired in girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And this is one of the stories we can read in class on Feb 13 & 14. In case you are afraid to read it, please consider this: we need to listen to the people who know about violence and are never listened to, not only to the people who tell about “the victims” (and keep in mind this book is informed by girls). The difference is clear: when you listen to people who were subject to violence, you not only learn about violence — you learn how to survive violence, and with this lesson you become more human, so to say, and you also become more aware of what to do about it all.

The minimum respect people who have always been ignored by HiStory is to listen to the direct source, and here is a 2-page story, a good chance!

A Teenage Girl’s Guide to Surviving Sex Slavery, 2 Word pages: LessonPlan14Feb2013


If you product was any good, you wouldn’t need sexism to sell it

January 29, 2013

sexismproductsConditional Sentences Type 2.

As you can see, English-speakers ignore the subjunctive (Ir your product were any good…). And their English is perfectly right!

“If I were you” will probably persist, just because it’s so very often said. Try to see if you hear any “If I was you”. And then compare this particular case, with all the rest.


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.


Money matters! (and a dedication to Alberto) :)

January 8, 2013

Today in Avanzado 2 we dealt with a video on money matters. People who have done unit 3 will have felt confident with this kind of vocabulary, for there is great vocabulary work in the unit on this, including a Vocabulary Bank. Come on, everybody! Catch up this week! Come on!!

I learned about microcredits when I was working at EOI Goya. There was an amazing OP on India, and here is Encarna’s piece on this precise topic! Click on the link she included (Nobel Prize) to watch a video.

Btw, Alberto told me that my posts are too long! More people believe so, and I’m glad this came up. But I tell you, dear people, I won’t be deterred! 😀 😀 The spirit goes on and on and on…! 😀 (click on the previous link to listen You Can’t Kill the Spirit! – No podrás con mi ánimo, to do a free translation, “spirit”, ánimo. This is a song that was also sung at Greenham!) So I’m dedicating this one to you, people who think I should write less, right? Why should I? (empiric question, meaning Please tell me, if you like. I wonder why) I know your intentions are good, but you see, the Internet is the only space which welcomes us all! I’m not making anybody read me, I’m not taking away anything from anyone. I can write away, freely, and I do so! I write for you students, but I also write for anyone who’s interested. And I love the Net for allowing us to communicate and share in this way! It’s a nonviolent r-evolution and I love it. I believe we should learn to share and learn to be lifelong learners of everything. This is what happens when people are empowered — they might think they have things to share! 😀 😉 😛 And I do, I certainly do! 🙂 So just get organized if you are interested! When we’re really busy we can still find time (never enough) to do the things we love or believe in. But if you haven’t got much time to spare I think it’s better to use it listening to the textbook audios and podcasts than reading me! 🙂 Just find ways to use your English every day, OK? Learning a language takes zillions of time but it also opens the world to us!

Anyway, remembering the OP on India and how much I learned that day. It was amazing. There were so many team members that they amounted to half the people in class that day. They each prepared a different aspect on India, they brought spices and sandalwood and slides! I think I told some group of mine this story: on the day of this OP, we were all so engrossed watching the slide show they put together that we forgot about time. As we were in silence and in the dark, the school janitor thought we had left and closed the school!!! People were so adorable! They were organizing our survival till the following Monday (it was Friday, 9PM!) But heroically, I rushed down the stairs (from a third floor) and shouted my guts out and banged the doors and well, hahahah, the janitor realized what was happening! 😀 We had a laugh!

Sweet dreams, bay bees! 🙂


Telling stories – Using the Mentalist

January 8, 2013

mentalist2x5Here is the link to the narration of episode 2, Season 5 of The Mentalist, possibly my favo(u)rite (except for how the victim gets/is murdered!)! I actually wrote a poem based on the final scene!  If you read my first post on story-telling, this’ll be a good follow-up. Read it — notice the tenses, especially, the fact that the present tenses are used for dramatic effect. Then, orally, re-word the narration (a bit, all of it, whatever!) switching to the past tenses and see how it feels and what needs to change and the kinds of changes that take place. Then come to class and tell us about it!


How will you rise? (Getting ready for February)

January 7, 2013


On February 14, the Vagina Warriors or V-Day activists — I am a member of this global network to end violence against women — are calling us all to join an international action called “One Billion Rising” (Mil millones en pie de paz, in my own translation). Check out their site to learn more about this: One Billion Rising!


I joined this particular action at the beginning of the learning year in 2012 by helping spread the news, this is, helping people learn about this event — from on social networks mainly.

As a teacher in adult state-run/public language education in Spain I will devote a lesson, on Feb 13 (Wednesday) for the Monday groups and on Feb 14 (Thursday) for the Tuesday groups, to learning about this movement and their activists — we might read a Vagina Monologue (TP website) and/or something from I Am an Emotional Creature (pdf file), or watch a video, or do a listening activity on the issue of violence against women on this planet plus, hopefully, something on students’ part — questions, a discussion, sharing info, dramatized reading of some part. It’ll depend on their initiatives.

vaginamonsTo my students, yes, I know that’s Exam Practice Week. I decided not to join the international strike and stay in class with you. Instead, I’ll be contributing to this hard and loving struggle doing something special in class: working on ideas that are helpful for the struggle against violence against women and respect towards their activists! So, don’t worry — we’ll do the first part of the Practice Exam on the first lesson that week (the Exam Practice Week), and then move the second part to the following week, its first lesson. No problem! The aim of Exam Practice week is for you to learn about exam format, not for you to pass an exam and get official marks! You’ll do that in June, not in February. February is just to learn about exam format and exam strategies and also to see if the techniques you’ve been practicing/practising are actually useful for your tests (For super extra mega preparation, I will publish here a Guide I wrote, so don’t fret — just be patient!) You can jot down your results, of course, and also tell me about them. But this is useless/pointless in terms of certificates, because in our system, the only mark that allows you or not to get your level certificate is the mark you get in June, when Certificate Exams are held.


FAQ on EOI exams: This is not how exams work in the first years of a level — in your cases, Intermedio 1 and Avanzado 1. In those first years you had real exams now that could help you out if you failed any of the parts in the final exam. Those exams, unlike Certificate exams, are designed by teachers in your school and just allow you to pass to the second year of your level. In contrast, Certificate exams are designed by the local authorities and held every year for the second learning year in each level – as you know, we only have three levels: A2 (in Básico 2), B1 (in Intermedio 2) and B2 (in Avanzado 2). The exam is the same for all the schools in the Autonomous Community of Madrid and is therefore held the same day at the same time in all of the EOI schools.

Last, if you wish to contribute any kind of effort to this global event, you can count on me for info on materials (for instance, you can borrow one of the books and prepare the presentation of an activity!). But start by clicking on the images here and reading a bit, so you get the picture! 🙂


Your work being published

December 19, 2012

On Talking People there a few places where you can get your work published. Why would you be interested in doing this? A good answer can be “Because if we all share what we know, what we think, we’ll be taking part in the building of a society of Knowledge”! 🙂

Send your work with “Contribution for TP” in the subject line, and then in the message, include the name you want to use, or nickname. If you don’t say anything, I’ll use your first name.

Section: Your Stuff (right-hand navbar)

Section: Speaking (Skills – top navbar)


Selecting podcast episodes from BBC 6-min English

December 17, 2012

I’m posting links to episodes which Intermedio 2 students can listen to. Please, don’t read! Just scroll down a bit and listen! You have to practice learning to listen!

I’m picking episodes where human lexical creativity shows! We’re always creating words, and giving words new uses. Human language is AMAZING AND AWESOME!



Your Listening Activities on Talking People

December 15, 2012

Hiya there!

I just finished / I’ve just finished putting together a new section in Your Stuff! at Talking People thanks to Edu’s work (Avanzado 2 Lunes). He designed a listening activity based on a TED Talk. Thanks, Edu! and, people, enjoy! 🙂

PS: Recordings If you have a recording pending of my feedback, and you haven’t sent me an email (with your group on the Subject line), you should be sending me one asap, for I only do this kind of work once I have the person’s email, OK? I’m trying to finish them all this weekend, but as I should also take some time off to have a rest, I might not make it! (lograrlo) Answers I don’t remember what people ask for in class, so please, if you have requests for me to post the answer to any of your textbook exercises, please, post your request here (on the correponding Page). Ta!

Have a nice weekend!


Defend the Healthcare system

November 29, 2012

Healthcare in Spain is (was!) a universal right, but the new law (Real Decreto-Ley 16/2012) does not consider healthcare a universal right. So here we are, political leaders are dismantling not only the education system, but also the healthcare system.

On this site if you are a doctor, a nurse, a paramedic you can download texts about becoming a CO (conscientious objector) to this new and antisocial system. There are also civil disobedience handbooks. There are examples of different kinds of letters you can send your friends, the authorities, NGOs… you name it!

Spread the word! (Pásalo) We need to defend universal education and universal healthcare!


Life Out of the Box

November 24, 2012

A great project — 2 people quit their Western-like life in the USA and moved to Nicaragua to set up a business trying to earn a living while avoiding the exploitation of others!  Perhaps it’ll give you some perspective of what we people can do and cannot do! 😀 Life is Living!

Life Out of the Box has two main goals:

1. To inspire people to live their ideal life, go global and make their dreams come true by living Life Out of the Box
2. To give others in developing countries the same opportunity to live a better life by giving an educational product back to them for every product sold

Watch the two videos on the About page (past in the USA and getting to Nicaragua + Living in Nicaragua):
Read about their work:

About tags: Remember I use “America” to name the continent, not the USA. America is a continent full of diverse cultures and peoples (pueblos). And this explains why I say US American English, too.


Learn English in Canada!

November 23, 2012

I just found a great site and thought you might want to learn about it! The website is about the University of Victoria, in Canada. It’s got an English Language Centre, in case you’re interested!


More Health Videos

November 15, 2012

Remember: this is about listening and understanding, not about reading and understanding (you’ve done that zillions of hours more than you have practiced listening, I bet!)

How to stop a nosebleed 2 minutes
How to treat minor burns and scalds 5 minutes
How to cope with panic attacks 3 minutes
How to bandage a hand 5 minutes
How to take care of a bruise 2 minutes


Avanzado 2 – Skeleton of Meaning (SoM)

November 15, 2012

REMEMBER LISTENING TO ENGLISH EVERY DAY, DEVELOPING THIS HABIT, IS YOUR PRIORITY. It’ll be of great help in your Certificate Exam in various different ways. Work on your monologues using your audios and podcast episodes.

If you want to start working on the SoM technique (see exercise audio 2.4), you can use interviews or audios where people are speaking naturally — not news, for that is not natural connected speech — for 45 seconds or a minute. I have a selection of podcasts where they do reportages and interviews

This technique is good for the last task in the Avanzado 2 Certificate Listening Test, where 6-8 speakers speak for 45” or a minute each on some topic. You will have to match each speaker to a heading. In February we’ll work on the lay-out (where you can take notes and where you need to write down your answers), but it’d be good now that one of the ways in which you exploit your daily listening activities were this one, the SoM — jotting down the words that are most clearly pronounced, the stressed words, the words that are repeated, and then looking at those to see if you are able to identify the topic. (Think of what you naturally do in Spanish when you are half-listening to the news or to someone in a noisy establishment.)

In the test, the headings will give you a hint/clue, of course, because they contain the topic information, so when you read them before the listening starts (underlining key words as you read), you will have some notion of what is most interesting to jot down, of what kind of topic you are looking for. There are people who have succeeded in this task without taking notes, because a minute is quite enough time to scan the headings up and down and up while a speaker speaks! and decide then which best matches the speaker. But it’s always a good idea to jot down some key words, in case you do not solve the match once the speaker has finished. Still, you should always try to match things while whichever speaker is at it, so that once the last speaker has finished you can write down your answers, as you will just have 30 seconds to do so.

It sounds worse than it actually is. But it’s crucial you have a strong ear, an ear capable of not panicking, and you can only have that if your ear listens to English every day!

Designing Exam Exercises: unfortunately, the authorities do not allow teachers to use past exams in Exam Format Training. They only allow us all to use the 2009 June Exam, which is published in Educamadrid. This goes against all logic and also against the transparency principle of the Public Service — which, in contrast, is respected in PAUs, for instance; that’s why universities publish the PAU exams, to show the world what they are like; and that provides teachers and learners with materials to practice and learn about exam format. Anyway,

1.- We are allowed to use the exams of the old system, the ones for Ciclo Elemental (which was a B2, even though it hasn’t been acknowledged as such when standardization took place) and Ciclo Superior (which was a C1 even though…) — I kept a copy precisely for this, for our “February”. They’re not exactly the same, and the Ciclo Superior ones are harder than the exam you’ll take in June.

2.- If you like, I’m willing to prepare similar exercises if you send me a 45”-1′ audio with its title or heading, where one person speaks about something. I need 6 of those to put together one Task 3. (Best if different people sent in one or two each.) Then I’d add a distractor, and perhaps change your headings to adjust things. And then we could play the final exercises in class.


First Aid

November 3, 2012

Intermedio 2 students have been working on Useful Language for Health, Illnesses, Treatments…

  • Learn the jokes on page 14, audio 1.17 – in this way, you learn vocabulary and how to use it in context!
  • Use the two stories on page 13 + their audios, 1.15 and 1.16 to learn to describe a very common accident: choking — though typically, we all choke in New Year’s Eve when we have the 12 grapes as the clock strikes 12 (midnight)!
  • Pick up some more language (especially the sound!, how to pronounce things, and how to use words in sentences) from watching FIRST AID videos whenever you have a few minutes! It will also help you learn how to help in emergencies!


Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2012

A song and its lyrics:

This is Halloween (song + lyrics)

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