Archive for the ‘Other Stuff to Read’ Category


C1 Resource Pack!!

January 10, 2017

I just published / I’ve just published my notes to help advanced students learn to learn to become independent and resourcesful lifelong learners!

Check it all out on!

Direct link


Animal curiosities

July 28, 2013

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

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


Learning about the Osage Indian rez in Pawhuska

July 27, 2013

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

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



July 2, 2013


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

One of Asun’s stories



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

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

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

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

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


Some thoughts on learning (edited)

June 8, 2013

Learning should be like a journey, an event where exploration and discovery take place, this is, where limits dissolve and we move more freely and also beyond.

A learning year should never leave you untouched, as a person, as a Some One. It should allow you to be better, both as an individual and as a social being.

Exams turn out to be a thin slice of this cake. The least meaningful part. The red tape. ADDED LATER: Though, as you can see from my notes on and here, I use exams as excuses for some meaningful learning too! 🙂

Language learning is about communicating. Communicating is about learning about oneself and others, it’s about learning to live with oneself and with others, it’s about building realities (living, life) together. Whether we like it or not, whether we have such purpose or not, the fact is that through communication we build our society, the social mechanisms that have an impact on our lives. We should acknowledge such power and use it for the general good and also to improve the quality of our daily lives.

What do you think? What’s your experience? How do you relate to learning? How much learning do you think you do in life?


Writing Tests

June 8, 2013

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

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

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


US American and British Standards

June 8, 2013

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

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

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


Free ebook: Jokes

June 8, 2013

In case you want to read jokes in English


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

May 28, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


An open letter to facebook

May 22, 2013


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

May 21, 2013

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

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


Interesting article

May 20, 2013


Occupy Wall Street protest PDF
Robert Matthews

And it’s here:


Language Misperceptions in Spain. The language problem in monolingual communities

May 18, 2013

by michelle (

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

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

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

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

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

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


Protect girls from the Princess industry!

May 3, 2013

Mighty Girl Book Clubs: download the info on how to set one up! Avoiding fairy tales that educate girls in having the sole ambition of looking pretty and being saved by a prince!

Books for mighty girls and mighty teenagers!



Quotes by interesting people!

April 30, 2013

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


Timed Scanning Reading Activity – London Digs & Transport

April 29, 2013

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

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

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


Moving out, flying away!

April 28, 2013

Interinas Sin FronterasThis weekend I’ve spent all the time my back allowed me to going through papers, to see if I could throw away some, and organize them nicely for moving out next July! I’ve spent some precious time leafing through all the paperwork adults have to do in life. As some of you know, it took me 10 years to get my post as a civil servant, and two different Teachers’ State Examinations: first I tried to become a secondary teacher, and took exams every two years, passed them (except one, once) and never got the reward! Finally, I tried my luck at adult language education, where I managed to get my position as a civil servant. 15 years in all, from 1996 to 2013, in Madrid (the Autonomous Community). In this time I worked in 24 or 27 secondary schools as a substitute teacher, and then at EOI — where the employment situation used to be better — in 4 different schools. How many papers you get to pile up when you’ve been a teacher in the public system for 15 years! And how they varied, depending on who was in office! Kind of sci-fi. I’ve also found my passports, including my US American passports! And the paperwork involved in burying my mum, too. How time flies! I’ve trashed no more than 3 kilos of paper, and stuff has fitted into fewer boxes! So far, just in this house (I have a room in a house I share in Madrid, too, where I have more stuff!! eek!!), I have 7 big boxes full of paper: activities I have designed for my lessons!!! Can you believe it?, meaning, I’m not counting books, DVDs/CDs, realia (a have two boxes of that!), or boxes with textbooks and resource books. One of those boxes is called “My own language school,” which is something that could happen if the public system in the south of Spain is undergoing the same hardship and injustice.

The sticker is one some of us (“interinas”) secondary teachers who were substitute teachers made! Interinas Sin Fronteras (ISF, subs teachers without frontiers). It’s based on a cartoon by Nicole Hollander, the cartoonist I have on the Talking People Like Page, “That woman must be on drugs” (1981). I have linked the pic to her site.

Andalucía, do welcome us! We’re two adorable teachers, committed to the building of a fairer, happier world! (Demented laughter)


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! 🙂

About Spain (Forcades and Oliveres)

April 26, 2013

From Jeff Ngyen’s blog, Deconstructing Myths, “It’s harder not to“:

In Spain, a voice of conscience can be heard among the people. Sister Teresa Forcades and indignado leader, Arcadi Oliveres, published a manifesto that called for the “nationalization of banks and energy firms, housing rights and tough measures against corruption”. The indignado protests have risen as a nonviolent movement to speak out against the economic grenades being lobbed at the country by way of the austerity policies of the Troika (EU/ECB/IMF). As in other countries where austerity has been implemented, brutal economic mandates have led to social upheaval as wage and food insecurity and debt cripple families and individuals across the age, gender and ethnic spectrums. The indignados have sent a clear message what their opinions are on austerity for the many and prosperity for the few. Typically, the response to the encampment in public spaces by the protesters has been met with police force just as it was in America against the Occupy movement. Unlike Europe, the pepper spraying, mass arrests and beat downs of Occupy members was met with crickets in the United States as Americans just wanted to get back to some semblance of a normal life, i.e., watching Honey Boo Boo and shopping for GMO milk and honey. As someone who has been critical of the church for their deafening silence in the face of the financial coup staged by the bankers and billionaires, I must give props to Sister Forcades. Every voice is needed in the battle for the hearts and minds of the people.


Cruelty to Animals – read, listen, speak!

April 17, 2013

Our societies are incapable of living together with other animals, of respecting animal rights. Although I am an omnivore (and do not feel guilty or ashamed for that) I believe that vegans are raising very important issues we should all consider, meditate, discuss. It’s true it’s annoying when they resort to guilt-tripping, like religious leaders did in the past to keep people obedient and quiet. Vegans shouldn’t resort to that because their reasoned points are powerful. On the other hand, I think “ordinary citizens”, this is, the majority that understands things in the exact same way, should stop insulting and making fun of vegans — they’re fighting for a world where the rest of the animals are on an equal footing with humans, they’re not fighting to abuse anyone(I’m not linking to the most famous animal right group in the USA because in my view their campaigns do not respect women’s rights and they refuse to overcome their sexism. I would like to see the men in those groups playing the part the women in those groups play in their poster campaigns. They — the men — are animals, too.)

Some vocabulary:

  • I’m a vegetarian: I don’t eat any kind of meat (beef, chicken, fish, seafood…, jamón serrano or Spanish ham). I have dairy products (vegetarian cheese, milk, butter), honey, this is, food coming from animals that remain alive, and then all the things a vegan eats.
  • I’m a vegan /vígn/: I don’t eat anything from animals, whether dead or alive. Furthermore, I don’t use products that have been tested on animals, I don’t use clothing and footwear made from animals. I consider myself an animal, like the rest of the animals on the planet, so I don’t feel I have the right to mistreat them, exploit them, or kill them.

What do vegetarians and vegans eat?

  • I’m an omnivore: I eat anything, everything. Still, I don’t agree with cruelty against animals, and our food production system is extremely cruel to animals. To make matters worse, we kill to throw away, and this is immoral towards animals and other human beings who are starving in the world. The meat industry is also a main cause of damage to the environment.
  • And what’s a ‘freegan‘?!

More informed definitions: What do ‘vegetarian’ and ‘vegan’ mean?

A blog with informative articles on Animal Topics

Animal rights vegans raise important issues in society, about our relationship to (other) animals:



Oral & Writing Assignments by students

April 9, 2013

EOI (state-run adult language schools in Spain) students at the Intermedio 2 level take a B2 level Certificate Examination in June but use a B2 level textbook, which is crazy, yes, but that’s how things are! Similarly, EOI Avanzado 2 students take a B2 level exam but use a C1 level textbook!

Some students have kindly shared their work so anyone interested can learn from it. Throughout this evening I’ll be adding links to this post as I publish their pieces. Enjoy!

Thanks for the digs — good it’s useful for more people! 🙂


Speaking – Collecting info over the weekend

April 7, 2013

Last week I gave out this handout for an activity this week. People are meant to have found some info on these three countries, to share in class.


In case you didn’t do your homework, some links, with info on tourism and info on their news.

Greece in crisis  – Is Greek tourism riding out the crisis?

Iceland on The Guardian (travel news, and then latest news)

Cyprus (see travel, and news)


In Madrid…

April 3, 2013

In Madrid, the PP (Spanish right-wing political party) government has attacked the public healthcare system and workers’ rights, for instance, by making pensioners pay for their meds, and discounting money from the salary of workers who are on a sick leave!! It’s all about the cuts. However, how can this be explained?! the Treasure/Department of Treasure — the tax department, so to say — will allow “discounts” if you have gambling debts!!! — which means, that it’s more important to protect people losing money in gambling than to protect people’s health and people’s labor rights.

What does this have to do with a democracy? The people who have amassed fortunes their families would never in a million years be able to spend are consistently protected by our political leaders, in spite of the fact that they are destroying people, culture, civilization and the planet. It’s like back to Medieval Ages!

How is this going to solve the crisis? Madrid will be EuroVegas, a place, as we know, that won’t be about offering jobs respecting human rights and labor rights, but about creating that kind of underworld which has also attracked all kinds of crimes and exploitation of human beings. This is their idea of measures to overcome the crisis. I feel sick, with such lack of ethics and commitment to human beings.

Let people be evicted from their homes, go without healthcare, let public education become a place where teachers are objects voicing a same textbook at the same time (good for publishing houses, again, bad for connecting education to life outside because it’s impossible to develop projects!), and protect the decent abusers. Shame on them!

This is the new war — no weapons, no battlefields, but all about sheer violence.


BACK!!!! (bye bye spring hols! ♥)

March 31, 2013

Hiya, dear all! Just back from being locked up in nature due to non-stop rain! I couldn’t even go for a quick stroll!!!

ghoststoriesmarujamalloshirleymanginiBUT — I’ve been reading a bit: ghost stories by women writers (I’ll bring a few copies of this one for the end-of-course goodbye raffle! because they are GREAT and the weeny presentations of the authors are like pebbles shining in crystal clear river waters! 😀 !) and about the Spanish painter and revolutionary (!) Maruja Mallo and the Avant Garde in Spain (you’ve got to get a copy of her bio by this US American woman. In Spanish it’s published by Circe but it costs about 30 euros!! It’s originally in English, yes! BUT IT COSTS 70 EUROS!!!). Then I’ve done a bit of translating for social activism: on Feminist Curiosity (bits of the intro) by Cynthia Enloe (it’ll get published on Mujer Palabra, in Activismo – Pacifismo feminista). Finally, I’ve been doing some writing (a poem on friendship lost, which turned out to be feminist as an accident, 😀 , well, when you develop a feminist intelligence it’s like when you understand something: you cannot stop using that understanding!) and a new feminist postcard (you can color it: 1 pdf page: cartel_colorear. I’ll do it in English soon-ish) which I think will help humanity to overcome all the hurt patriarchal values have done to human intelligence!).

Yes! Yes! And done a bit of work for you! I’ve written 1,000 words on Mainstream or Alternative Medicine so that Avanzado 2 people can listen to an example of a monolog on that (I need to record the audio now).  Then, I’ve prepared two special speaking activities. (Btw, remember to bring the handout with Three Proposals.) Here’s one: Next Tuesday, when we’re back to school (eek!!!!!!!!) I’ll order 50 copies of this one-page handout for a Timed Speaking Activitiy in the Avanzado 2 groups! I’ll give it to people in our first lesson together and you’ll do the looking up stuff before the lesson when you’ll actually “improvise the interaction.”

I hope you’ll enjoy it, and I also FUCKING HOPE YOU WILL FOLLOW MY INSTRUCTIONS!!! 😀

TIMEDSPEAKINGACTIVITYFORAVANZADO2  (FIXED LINK) – traveling to Greece ♥, Iceland ♥♥ or Cyprus

Hope you all enjoy your Sunday and hope it’s not a Rainday! Next Monday I’ll try to send my feedback on the recordings I did not manage to finish working on last week!


Two more interesting articles — and have a nice weekend!

March 16, 2013

No, you’re not entitled to your opinion

The exclusionary language of inclusion


How to be a feminist man

March 16, 2013

Posted: 16 March 2012  – Source

Recently a man friend asked me if I thought he was being a feminist in his behaviour, and if not, how he could improve. That conversation led to me writing this post. My ideas below are all indebted to conversations with feminists, including those at Feminist Action Cambridge. There are so many more we could add.

A note on gendered language. I use ‘men’ and ‘women’ here to refer to the cultural categories of gender, and not the biological categories of sex. By saying ‘men’ I do not mean biologically-born male people, but people who call themselves men and act as men in the world. This works for my use of the word ‘women’ too, and I explicitly include trans women under the umbrella term ‘women’. If my trans sisters and comrades can help me make this blog post less cis-centric in any way – please do.

Also, this list is pretty specific to the groups of people I know, many of whom are activists and/or academics, single or multipartnered and normally childless people, often queer, sadly mostly white and mostly middle-class. So the list needs extending and diversifying.

I would like to date feminist men. I would like to live with them and work with them and stand by their side in political struggle. I haven’t met that many feminist men, and neither of the men I have had relationships with has described himself as a feminist. They were hot but being feminists would have made them hotter. I also date women and gender-queer people, and I can’t remember ever dating a woman or a gender-queer person who has not been explicitly and actively a feminist before, during and after our relationship. This is, obviously, mind-blowingly hot.

A friend suggested that calling feminist men ‘hot’ was itself a patriarchal statement, because even if feminist men were not hot the moral imperative to be feminist would remain. I think the friend might also have been worried that my using categories of ‘hot’ or ‘not hot’ remains within the bounds of a normative discourse of ‘sexiness’ that feeds straight back into patriarchal practises. I both agree, and still find feminist men hot. They are counter-patriarchally hot.

How to be a feminist man:

1. starting the struggle

– we live in a patriarchy. Patriarchy and capitalism are close friends and it is important to fight both. The first step to being a feminist man is to fight patriarchy in your community and in your own behaviour. Because fighting the patriarchy is a high-energy struggle, this has to be an explicit goal and an ongoing priority.

– fighting capitalism will help here, but it is not enough. Therefore: feminist men should recognise that far left politics do not make them default feminists. Far left politics are a basic condition for hotness – but excluding feminism from these politics leads directly to manarchism. Feminist men avoid manarchism.

– I take it as given that feminist men are outspoken pro-choice activists, that they believe survivors of sexual violence, that they don’t even know any rape jokes let alone tell them. Feminist men are aware of feminist history and believe in the urgency of revolution.

2.  sex and relationships

– the personal is political. If you are not sure what this means, read ANY feminist book or blog and you will know. To be a feminist man, make your relationships a site of political struggle. Do not be an activist on the streets and a patriarch in the emotional world of your relationships.

– be good at consent. Be interested in consent and aware of how it works. I recommend reading this article. Consent is complicated and, as the writer of that article argues, it might only be possible to have more consensual sex, rather than fully consensual sex, under patriarchy. Be aware of this and check consent anyway, as often as you and your partners need and want to. In the words of a legendary Cambridge feminist activist, consent is sexy. Ask your partners how they like to do consent.

– if you have a penis and/or penetrative sex, be open to mutual penetration. This can be a radical feminist stance which asserts the potential for violence in all acts of sexual penetration. It can also be a queer feminist stance, asserting the shared vulnerability and jubilant changeability of all bodies. Both are hot.

3. feminist redistribution and the politics of care

– if you are a non-monogamous feminist man, be aware that patriarchy puts you in a position of power over your partners and metamours. Different kinds of power can come into play here, including economic power; if you are a man who works, you are likely to earn more than your women partners and metamours and so be able to afford different kinds of dates or properties. If this is the case, share your money as well as your bed. There are other power problems, such as the distribution of emotional labour in relationships (see my next point). I’m not sure how we non-monogamous feminists can solve the power problem without full-scale revolution, but being aware of it will help for now. I’ve found feminist men to be amazing metamours. Being a feminist man will make you better at polyamory and other kinds of consensual non-monogamy, and it will be hot.

– for this point I am indebted to of one of the members of FAC who told us that when she is upset she turns to feminist men friends to care for her, because she believes that women have done enough work in this area already. Under patriarchy, the large proportion of emotional work is carried out by women. Feminist men should actively address this. So to be a feminist man, seek out emotional labour tasks. Request them: ask the feminists around you how you can take care of them and support them in their struggles and their lives. Follow their lead enthusiastically. When you have found the emotional labour tasks that need doing, take them on at compensatory levels in relation to their uneven distribution under patriarchy. This is a Marxist-feminist analysis of emotional labour. I find it incredibly hot.

comrades, this is about redistribution. If you want children, do the childcare. When our loved ones are dying, do the palliative care. Take on these responsibilities and lead on them with the support of your partners and communities. Activists would call this bottom-lining. Feminist men bottom-line care.

– this is also about simple economic redistribution: feminist men demand to be paid at the same level as or less than their women colleagues.

4. doing your feminism and (not) talking about it

– know what mansplaining is and be allergic to it. If you think that you risk mansplaining then privilege women and trans people’s voices and expertise over your own. This is especially important in capitalist workplaces. Also at activist meetings and in theoretical discussions. And feminist potlucks. Mansplaining is the opposite of hot. Ask more questions and listen to the answers.

– as a feminist said to me this week, feminist men should not make a big deal about how you are both a man and a feminist as if other feminists are supposed to be impressed by that. Especially not if you are trying to get a feminist to have sex with you. That is mactivism. Instead, if you are a feminist, do your feminism. If you are an anti-objectification feminist, describe your objection to sexist images and remove them. If you are a queer feminist, campaign beside your trans sisters and comrades in their struggle for recognition and safety in our world. If you are a socialist feminist who feels solidarity with sex workers, do work that supports sex workers and their struggles. Just do it. There’s so much feminism that needs doing.

– be aware of your privilege and of the different positions and backgrounds of others. Feminist men should be ‘intersectional’ feminists, meaning that they support and fight for black, differently-abled, working class and queer feminisms among others. This is selfless feminism for men. It is hot.


– found a men’s feminist group. Feminist men understand the need for women’s-only spaces, and they build their own groups where they educate one another in being feminist men, and train themselves up to stand beside their sisters in our struggle. You will be our allies.

Maybe if you do all of these things then other hot feminists, women or men, will want to have sex and conversations and do the revolution with you. Good luck comrades, and fuck the patriarchy.


15 Things Feminism Has Done For Men

March 16, 2013

Katherine Klaus lists fifteen reasons men should be downright enthusiastic about the feminist movement.


May I present, then, 15 upsides of feminism – for dudes. (And no, not one of them is ‘basic fairness’, although you can have that as a bonus #16 if you want.)


At work

#1. Did you know that the minimum wage for men was originally set with reference to the fact that he was expected to support a wife and three children? That sounds like a lot of responsibility and stress. With equal pay resulting from feminism, your partner can support herself, and together you could have six children, or, more likely, buy a plasma screen!

#2. Hate opening doors for people, or standing awkwardly at the front of the lift while you wait for the women from the back (always so slow in their high heels) to exit? Feminism says you don’t have to because we’re all generally able to handle the strength of a door. I open doors when it’s convenient for others, and I’m grateful when others hold it open for me. With feminism, courtesy can be a thing for both/all sexes.

#3. With feminism, you earned that promotion by being the best person for the job, not because of societal oppression of others. Hello to a clear conscience! And getting the best people for the job is better for business, which is ultimately better for keeping you employed, or so the capitalists tell me.

#4. More women in the workplace means more of them to check out, while being treated as equals means the ladies may be checking you out too, instead of worrying that a lecherous boss is going to feel them up in the lift.

#5. Don’t want to work? Feminism says that your partner can be the breadwinner while you embrace your inner domestic god.

In the world at large

#6. Feminism doesn’t buy into the silly gender stereotyping of alcoholic drinks, so go ahead and buy that pink cocktail with an umbrella that you have always secretly wanted to try.

#7. Sick of men being normalised as nonstop horndogs (oh god, how dated does that sound) who will sleep with anything in a skirt? In an equal society, your sexuality has no bearing on your perceived “manliness”, whether you are gay, straight, bi, questioning, lacking libido or any combination of the above.

#8. Ever been denied entry to a bar because they “need” more women, even though you’re just trying to have a drink with your friends? When women aren’t used as a tool to sell more drinks, bouncers won’t be tools to you.

#9. As friend of the blog Jacky puts it, “The patriarchy is bad for EVERYONE – men, women and children. It robs women of their autonomy and humanity; devalues the lives and wellbeing of men; and places unnecessary stress on everyone in the process.” With feminism, it’s cool for you to be whoever you want to be, without having to try and perform your gender “correctly” 100% of the time. (That sound you can hear is a collective sigh of relief from every dude who doesn’t know how to change a tyre.)

In sex & relationships & everything in between

#10. Women who don’t believe in feminism can be so frustrating to date, amirite? While they may make the effort to look stunning on dates, they also have this idea that they need to be treated like princesses, which largely translates to “spend a lot of money on me and you might get laid”. Given, pre-marriage, these women often earn much the same as you, this might seem unfair. Feminists, on the other hand, will split the bill with you (or take turns paying) and will sleep with you when they god damn feels like it, not because you’ve approached some magical monetary figure. And this could very well be on the first date/a one night stand, because (sex-positive) feminists understand that sex isn’t shameful, or a transaction, or somehow devalues them.

#11. Feminism means better relationships for all – as proven by science! (via)

#12. Do you find your girlfriend sexy as hell, but find your mates are dicks about it because she doesn’t look like (Google’s “sexiest woman on earth”) Miranda Kerr? Maybe she complains about her looks, too, and whines that no one could ever find her attractive. Not only does that make you seem like a terrible judge of partner, but it means you have to have sex with the lights off. With feminism, your mates and your girlfriend would be exposed to a more diverse range of shapes and colours and levels of hairiness and even, god forbid, personality traits that are portrayed as “attractive”, giving your woman lights-on confidence, and stopping your mates from trying to make you feel as if your attraction to non-Miranda Kerrs is abnormal.

#13. A feminist girlfriend will go buy beers for both of you at a soccer match (see above re: not needing to be treated like a princess) and you will be the envy of other soccer-goers. (This has actually happened.)

#14. She will also teach herself the offside rule while you get to concentrate on the game.

#15. Finally, even if you’re a more traditional guy who wants his wife to stay at home, and have dinner on the table when you get there, you can still have that. It’s just with feminism, you’ll be able to find a woman who actually wants to do it, instead of one who resentfully does so because she wasn’t allowed to be an astronaut.


So there you have it, a bunch of little reasons why feminism can make men’s lives more awesome. Sure, none of them are as groundbreaking as the movement can be for women, but I hope you will take away that feminism doesn’t hate you and won’t actually bring about the end of your sex life/career advancement/bro-ness as you know it.  Turns out, when everyone gets treated like people, everyone wins.

RESULT: Come over to the dark side. Actually, we’re definitely the Jedi, but regardless, you should come over because this side has drinks and I’m buying.


When men are oppressed…

March 16, 2013


When men are oppressed it’s a tragedy.

When women are oppressed it’s tradition.


So who needs feminism?

March 10, 2013

So men can talk about women in horrible terms, as if they were rubber dolls, but women cannot analyze the rape problem, this war against women that is “biological and inevitable” in patriarchal societies…–vile-clever-women-like-Cambridge-undergraduate-tells-shocking-abuse-male-students-elite-university.html


“The arc gets longer” from Deconstructing Myths

March 9, 2013

Further, it is imperative to grasp the concept that you control the narrative by controlling the discourse. Every word (sequester, grand bargain, fiscal cliff) is analyzed, vetted and studied, like the candidates themselves, before rolling them out to the public sphere to test the limits of what the public will endure. Fortunately, for the ruling class, the American public has shown they will put up with a whole hell of a lot as long as it doesn’t interfere with their NFL/MLB/NBA/NHL seasons. For Main Street and the mainstream media, there are no lessons to be learned or warnings to be heeded from the economic (austerity) crises in Greece/Spain/Ireland/Iceland. America is an exceptional country filled with exceptional people that will never suffer the same fate as the rest of the world. Too bad the ruling class doesn’t care about us any more than they care about one single person outside of their sphere of inbred influence.


Because its all connected, this week Bradley Manning finally spoke on his behalf at his court-martial hearing in Fort Meade, MD, and took full responsibility for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks. Let that sink in, in a country where our leaders in government, business and the military have difficulty taking responsibility for anything, a 25 year-old former Army Private First Class, facing the possibility of the rest of his natural born life in a cell, willingly admitted to his actions before the world. This, dear readers, is what courage looks like. Journalists present in the courtroom reported on Manning’s statements, here is an excerpt regarding the infamous helicopter gunship attack on civilians in Baghdad in 2010 that involved reporters and children:

The dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote “dead bastards” unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers. At one point in the video there is an individual on the ground attempting to crawl to safety. The individual is seriously wounded. Instead of calling for medical attention to the location, one of the aerial weapons team crew members verbally asks for the wounded person to pick up a weapon so that he can have a reason to engage. For me, this seems similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.”

Read the complete article here


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


Learning to notice “Useful Language” – technology & awards

March 1, 2013

When you read texts in English, use that to collect Useful Language, too, remembering to pronounce out loud the sentences or chunks of language you jot down!

Below, I have underlined some Useful Language for topics like awards, or technology, in a news article found on the PoA Awards website (formal English):

Prince of Asturias Awards: Technical & Scientific Research 2009

Oviedo, 17th June 2009. At its meeting in Oviedo, the Jury for the 2009 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research, made up of (members of Jury), chaired by (chairperson) and with (secretary) acting as secretary, has unanimously decided to bestow the 2009 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research on the U.S. researchers, Martin Cooper and Raymond Samuel Tomlinson, respectively considered the fathers of the mobile phone and e-mail.

These two discoveries are among the greatest technological innovations of our time, revolutionizing the way that thousands of millions of people communicate worldwide and contributing decisively to the advancement of knowledge. In particular, they are key elements for achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals that will enable every citizen on the planet to exercise their right to communicate.

Their impact on society is reflected by the more than 4,000 million mobile subscribers and the 1,500 million users of e-mail and other Internet services. All this constitutes an important aid to the Developing Countries, for which it supposes a source of equality and opportunities, bringing nearer basic services such as health and education.

With this Award, the Jury also wishes to recognize the effort and work of all those people who have contributed to fostering and developing the mobile phone and e-mail services, forms of communication that give rise to a connected world, free from geographical or temporal barriers.


Some politics around cows! You have Two Cows…

February 25, 2013

twocowsSOCIALISM. You have 2 cows. You give one to your neighbour. The government charges a gift tax.

COMMUNISM. You have 2 cows. The State takes both and gives you some milk.

FASCISM. You have 2 cows. The State takes both and sells you some milk.

NAZISM. You have 2 cows. The State takes both and shoots you.

’BUREAUCRATISM.’ You have 2 cows. The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away.

TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM. You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.

VENTURE CAPITALISM (Goldman Sachs style)
You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in- law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company.
The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more.
You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows.
No balance sheet provided with the release. The public then buys your bull.

AN AMERICAN CORPORATION. You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. Later, you hire a consultant to analyse why the cow has dropped dead.

A GREEK CORPORATION. You have two cows. You borrow lots of euros to build barns, milking sheds, hay stores, feed sheds, dairies, cold stores, abattoir, cheese unit and packing sheds. You still only have two cows but owe millions.

AN AFRICAN CORPORATION (or FRENCH). You have two cows. You go on strike, organize a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows.

A JAPANESE CORPORATION. You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create a clever cow cartoon image called a Cowkimona and market it worldwide.

AN ITALIAN CORPORATION. You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are. You decide to have lunch.

A SWISS CORPORATION. You have 5000 cows. None of them belong to you. You charge the owners for storing them.

A CHINESE CORPORATION. You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity. You arrest the newsman who made up the story and sold it to the Americans.

AN INDIAN CORPORATION. You have two cows. You worship them.

A BRITISH CORPORATION. You have two cows. Both are mad.

AN AUSTRALIAN CORPORATION. You have two cows. Business seems pretty good. You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate

A NEW ZEALAND CORPORATION. You have two cows. The one on the left looks rather attractive…


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!



Speaking about Elderly People

February 21, 2013

At the CEFR B2 level people may be asked to speak about The elderly / Elderly people.

Old people’s homes can be nursing homes or retirement homes. From wikipedia: “A nursing home provides a type of residential care. Residents include the elderly and younger adults with physical or mental disabilities”, “A retirement home is a multi-residence housing facility intended for senior citizens” (another way to call elderly people).  Now — retirement communities and retirement villages are further options (see below). Then — younger generations can take care of their elderly, too. Finally, some elderly people want to live in their own houses while they manage, and even when they don’t! There are personal care aides /aids/. Some more useful vocabulary: retirement benefit / (old-age) pension; pensioner(s).

About opening sentences connecting the issue of elderly people and the economic crisis, here is an example: “Due to the rising rates of unemployment and the consequent economic crisis, the elderly in Spain are actually providing food, shelter, or money for their younger relatives — children and even grandchildren!”

  • Article: Pro’s and Con’s of Living in a Retirement Village (Australian English: spelling like in the UK). Two interesting points they make: Security. Elderly people are particularly vulnerable to home invasion and if they do not feel safe in their home or neighbourhood, it can cause a great deal of stress. Social life. Retirement communities are full of like-minded people who generally want the same things out of life that you do. This can make for a busy social life, if that’s what you want!
  • Brochure, 2 pdf pages, great read /riid/ to pick up vocabulary and practice “timed scanning”) in Canadian English (UK spelling, too).
  • Video, 1 min., British English. Social care worker working with the elderly, 3 min.
  • Video Personal and Home Care Aides Job Description, 2min, US American English

grannywantedOnce I was given this topic in a Writing exam. We were asked to write about pros and cons of having elderly people in an elderly people’s home or in their children’s home. Examinees wrote an argumentative essay. I thought of something different: I wrote a news story about an elderly woman who had gone into hiding because her children wanted to take her to their home, or take her to an old people’s home, and she refused to accept any of those two options. She wanted to be left alone! I had lots of fun writing the piece, and examiners checking it too! 🙂 The headline was: GRANNY WANTED, and I quoted her like journalists do! (a good journalist would never disclose its sources!)


Useful Ideas to Analyze Rape (edited)

February 16, 2013

Well, after this week’s pioneering attempt 😀 for us to analyze/analyse rape in an adult education classroom, I’d like to share a few ideas — for in feminism there has been in-depth analysis for quite a few decades now.  After reading these ideas, do you think it would be easier to come up with ideas on how each of us can contribute to striving to stop rape?

RAPE HAPPENS EXTENSIVELY IN PATRIARCHAL SOCIETIES and it is related to LIMITING WOMEN’S FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT — patriarchal societies accept as “natural” that women’s freedom of movement should be limited instead of tackling why they can’t and educate men to change that. The underlying ideology here also shows a belief that it is “natural” there exist men who rape (in “peace situations”, mostly because women provoke, when they comply with what patriarchal values establish as sexy or pretty; at war, because they need to “fight the enemy humilliating Him by raping His women”).

RAPE IS GENDER VIOLENCE, this is, a particular form of violence that “men” use against “women” and men they feel don’t “deserve” the honor of being a man. (Can there be other reasons why a man would get raped by… other men?, women?, a person?)

RAPE IS UNRELATED TO SEX (to having sex). It is a form of torture.

RAPING IS NOT A BIOLOGICAL NEED — It’s cultural. Women, for instance, do have sexual needs and they don’t rape. A lot of men also have sexual needs and they don’t rape. Rape has nothing to do with sexual needs.

WE NEED TO PROTEST THE MARKET SYSTEM THAT CONNECTS RAPE TO SEXUAL INTERCOURSE because rape is not about pleasure but about torture and power-over: this happens extensively in the underworld of prostitution, pornography, advertisements, movies and TV series, teens magazines (consider all the market addressing little and older girls), with their pop icons, etc.

WE SHOULD MAKE QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT WE FEEL, HOW WE VIEW RAPE SURVIVORS because they are victims of one of the most horrible crimes in humanity and should be listened to, treated with respect, and supported. We should also stop this silence around rape, because it traps these victims in a world of isolation and loneliness.

WE SHOULD LEARN FROM FEMINIST ANALYSES AND STOP SUSPECTING ANALYSES BY WOMEN WHO USE THEIR MINDS TO TRANSFORM INJUSTICE IN OUR SOCIETIES. We should stop obeying the patriarchal dogma that Women are Evil/Dangerous/Incapable of human intelligence. Also, intellectual activity cannot develop healthily without freedom of thought, without an openess to listen, without dialog/dialogue. We can learn from women, not only when they are transmitting patriarchal ideas.


Thanks to the conversation we’re having in the comments posted here, I’m including another useful point:

WHEN YOU DISCUSS RAPE, be aware of this: are you bringing up topics that divert our attention from focusing on the proposoed analysis of why men rape women, of why it is widespread on this planet that men rape women — and not that ANY person rapes ANY person? Check if you have had enough of analyzing the most widespread gender problems, problems affecting most people and you can really move on to focusing on less widespread but connected problems.

Not in order to give them less importance, of course, but to be able to develop a rational analysis. For instance, it is terrible men rape men, too, but if we are speaking about an invisible widespread problem of men raping women, can we speak about this first? Then, we can analyse more things! It is very common when you bring this issue up that people react mentioning exceptions like: men raped by men, women raping men (??), women helping men to rape (but not men helping men to rape, which is one of the most widespread and terrifying realities women face in the world!)…


Resources on Talking People for February Exam Format Practice (direct links)

February 5, 2013

Different people have different needs – you all amount to over 100 people so bear this in mind! I have to try to help all of you, right? And you all have different kinds of intelligences and backgrounds and you name it!

Here is a list of a few different resources. Establish your priorities and work on your weekly learning plan. Then just be patient and work a bit whenever you can.

  • Skimming and Scanning for Reading Comprehension: you all know about this, but if you are unsure, please have a look at my notes.
  • Notes on Communicative Strategies (& Oral Textual Structures): check out the page called “Developing Comm. Strats.” where you will find a list of possible scenarios & useful language to overcome those communication problems.
  • Just uploaded “How to do cloze tests.” (Btw! I need to link to that also from the How to Learn section) Both In2 and Av2’s are welcome to download it. It’s on the Talking People page with exercises we’ll be doing in Avanzado 2 during this month of February. Read it and if you come up with more ideas on how to improve the explanation and list of words that can be analyzed, let me know. Av2’s should note that the kind of cloze test they’ll take is not the one-word type but the phrase-type. There is an exercise there like that, but please don’t do it yet. Int2 Lunes got a copy the other day and Int2 Martes will get it next Thursday.
  • Avanzado 2’s can do the two listenings on animals (pets, nature). If you made a mistake in the Listen-Once activity, you should listen again, using the Skeleton of Meaning technique (SoM). Please, give the technique a chance. You should be open to learning new ways of doing things. Then, once you have tried to master it (you need to practice a bit to master it, of course), you can decide you don’t want to use it, of course. Actually, I don’t recommend people to use techniques they have not trained in before in their Certificate tests.

The follow-up exercise for these two Listen-Once recordings is this:
– Listen again to gather Useful Language for a re-telling of each episode. You will learn new words and expressions, and above all, how things are worded in English.
– Listen to jot down chunks of language you don’t understand. Use the sounds to write them down, and if possible, phonemic transcription. Then try to see if by repeating aloud those sounds, you manage to work out their spelling. Keep in mind your chunk might be one or several words! Then share your work in class, OK? You can also hand it in, if you like, for feedback.


On witches

January 29, 2013

witchestea“By being pretend-frightened of fictions, we can shrug off real threats. It might be fun to pretend to be frightened by plastic creepy-crawlies; but we should be frightened for real creepy-crawlies.

When the sharks are disappearing from the seas and the ice caps are melting, it is time to be frightened. When today’s witches try to scare you, they mean it. Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

Germaine Greer: 21st century ‘witches’ offer a warning to us all


Eventful workday! (edited to fix a few mistakes and add link)

January 23, 2013

(the common phrase is: “an uneventful trip/day”, which means, nothing happened, nothing worth mention/mentioning.)

eventfulWhat an intense day of work! In the first half, I had made the decision I would use Critical Thinking on Writing Assignments with the adorable Intermedio 2  students. (Btw, I have to say that no one in the other group handed in their monthly writing. It’s OK, but try to practice your writing a bit more! I’m just asking for a composition a month, because I know you are all short of time!) Only two Writings had complied with the requirements. At the beginning of the course, I explained the had to do a Task Description — type of text, no. of words being the minimum description I needed to be able to check their work (read Writing Guidelines). If I don’t know what type of text you’re writing, what on, in what register (formal, semiformal, informal), and in what number of words, HOW can I check if its correct?!! People keep insisting in believing that language learning is about learning grammar, but language learning is about MUCH more! Even if you don’t know it, you are learning MUCH more! Right? (For example, to learn about Textual Format and Structure – read Hiya, potential boss! I’m not even giving you these explanations because your textbook is so GOOD. But when I don’t use a textbook, I put together my own notes, as in HERE.) Four units after only 2 people in the group complied with the requirements — after 3 or 4 compositions, with my corrections asking for the missing “Description of the task.” Well, of course everyone was upset because people are very busy and they never walk in teachers’ shoes. I believe people don’t appreciate teachers much. In Madrid, there’s the urban legend of them being “very cheeky” (!) because they “work less” or “have more holidays” than other people. (It’s a urban legend. Today, but also in the past. Perhaps that is why so many teachers fall in love with other teachers!! love-bubbles-vectorThey understand the value of their work very well, and also the hardship they endure. Plus the love for their work, for helping people learn, which means, helping people be better human beings!) So today was the classical lesson we teachers know about, whereby there seem to be two contendants, as if in an arm-wrestling. Sometimes, when you teach adults, you simply stop trying to help them learn, because learning to listen is hard, and for adults too, and it’s kind of embarrassing to insist in correcting a mistake they keep making. If non-adult students have a hard time listening to their teachers, adult students have a hard time, too, due to different reasons. Adults feel they know better. Plus something else: overall, adults are overwhelmed by fear and complexes, so they insist in doing things they way they do them “naturally” or “they know.”

In the end, all was well! After our arm-wrestling, we found some peace. Now we’re all back home, meditating, trying to learn from this experience. In my own experience, this kind of fights end up helping people understanding in more depth what language learning is about and strengthens the relationship teacher-learners. 😀 Then we love each other so much, and then, the heartbreak: our lives drift apart FOREVER! (Scary, huh?) So let’s live it up!! 😀 (Love bubbles – pompitas de amor)

pokergamesFor you to mull this over: How would you feel if you were explaining things and people ignored them?
Shouldn’t teachers be listened to (esp. when explaining methodology, procedures), be paid attention to? — and then when you’ve actually learned what they wanted you to learn, you’re free to choose if that is useful or not? Perhaps they did not get the job because they won it at a poker game!! (Oh, how I love poker!) Perhaps they had to work very hard to get the job. It’s good to listen and be critical. But not listening is not good. Perhaps language learning can teach us all something which is a treasure in Real Life: to listen to others and to ourselves. So this is what teachers do when students behave as if they totally ignore what the teacher had said: “OK, they might’ve not understood. I’ll try again,” and again, and again… no positive response? So then what? Should we quit? Or should we persist in our endeavo(u)r? The fact that teachers earn a living with this work doesn’t make up for this, for not paying attention to what they say. Actually, what sometimes happens is that teachers are made (forced) to quit trying. (Then people complain freely about having had bad teachers. I know nobody wants to feel he or she does that, so I’m just thinking of my own behavio(u)r as a student and later as a learner.)

Language learning is about learning to listen, and learning to listen is about pursuing a better life, for oneself and for others, too.

So — first half of the workday, intense! and second half…

With the Avanzado 2 Tuesday group (where people “forgot” to hand in their work, too! And I forgot to correct Oscar’s unit 2 writing, just because he had sent it in by email! My apologies!!!), we had a couple of laughs! There were some very funny moments today (AND embarrassing!!) 😀 And I tell you, people, if the L&R (listen and repeat) exercises in Básico and Intermedio are perfectly executed 😀 (here is some positive feedback for Intermedio!), in Avanzado it’s like people want to show each is a unique individual, hahahah, and there’s no fucking way of getting them to fucking repeat at the same fucking beat!! 😀 (I’m imitating Pulp Fiction peeps.) In Intermedio when people repeat is like listening to music, in Avanzado it’s like listening to that kind of futuristic opera singing, you know? hahahaha…. Ayayayay! Message to Avanzado 2 earthlings: Dear unique individuals, let yourselves go with the group’s beat. It’s not incompatible!!! Take example from kindergarden beasts!! 😀

Some good comic strips for you all to have a laugh!: Flippin’ Comics

Hugs to all!

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