2011-2 OPs

AVANZADO 2 – Course 2011-12

OP 1: to present in class in December 2011. Pick one episode of season 1 of a TV series: Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Becker, Modern Family, Seinfeld, Fraisier, Futurama... Don’t pick series using lots of specialized language (Laws, Hospitals…) unless you can manage it. Shows about friends are a good pick. For more information, check the post called Language from TV Series Project. Apart from sharing the language you learned, you can put a show on (do a few scenes you learned!) or talk about the series, the actors and actresses, the plots, and your opinions or analyses. You can also design activities, like a discussion.

OP 2: to present in class in March or April 2012. An OP on a book or a documentary (Block 1). [If none of the first proposals suit you, check Block 2 & 3] You can pick any of these in groups of 3 (to 6) people. I recommend you read at least a couple, even if you have agreed on working on one of the books. The more English you learn, the better!

Block 1


  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (Andersen Press, 2008): 230 p.; about 6€. A narrative full of tenderness and humor to depict life on an American Indian reservation. A very special read, which will open your mind to a world and viewpoints we don’t usually hear about. It will also show you how in spite of cultural and situational differences, there are things we humans share. I read it in a very homey winter weekend. The EOI Getafe students published a Glossary and some other materials which you can check here: http:
  2. Kitchen, by Banana Yoshimoto (Faber and Faber, 1993 – original book written in 1988): 150 p.; about 7€. Translated from Japanese by Megan Backus. After the 2011 nuclear and natural disasters in Japan, I wanted to learn more about the Japanese culture. Like the previous book, this novel will open up new worlds for you, connected to the Japanese cultue, but it will also show you how close we all are. It is a book about dealing with the loss of our loved ones in the very ordinary context of daily life. I picked this book to show you one more use you can give your English — that of learning about different cultures via excellent translations.
  3. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith (Abacus, 2003 – book written in 1998): 233 p.; about 8€. Written by a Scottish man in love with Botswana. If you want to learn a bit about life in Africa — the stories are set in Botswana — and the lifestyle of its main character, a very interesting woman, while learning about how it is possible to relate kindly to others, and be entertained by detective stories, pick this one! It is the first of a series, and there is a TV series based on it, too. Check Valentina and Patricia’s OP: http:
  4. I Am An Emotional Creature. The Secret Life of Girls around the World, by Eve Ensler (Villard, 2011 – book written in 2010). This script can be accessed at http://www.vday.org/~assets/board/Emotional-Creature.pdf because it is there for girls to download it and prepare stand-up comedy shows, to raise awareness on feminist/women/girl issues, in the framework of an international movement called V-Day which fights against violence against women. The book version is 150 pages and includes Discussion Questions. It costs about 8€. In a patriarchal world where machismo and misogyny affect almost all of the women in the planet, in varying degrees of abuse, deprivation and terror, girls are the bottom of the social pyramid. This collection of monologues takes the form of: Girl Facts, poems, stories. It is a must read /a mast riid/ for people interested in developing an understanding of how deeply sexism affects how we view the world and what we consider relevant or trivial. It is a window to the unknown: how girls from different places see and feel things.
  5. The Daydreamer, by Ian McEwan (Vintage, 1995; book written in 1994). It’s 144 pages and about €7. This is a collection of stories around Peter, a boy that daydreams. “As each chapter of The Daydreamer was completed, I read it aloud to my children” because he wanted to “write a book for adults about a child in a language that children could understand”. This is extremely hard, but Ian McEwan manages it wonderfully. I think this is a book everybody should read. You can simply enjoy the stories, or find clues in them about… something? 😀
  6. All Alone in the Universe (children’s story about friendship), Criss Cross (children’s story about love) and Snow Music (read the Author’s note! Poems making music for living creatures!), by Lynne Rae Perkins
  7. Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns and CO women, by War Resisters’ International (downloadable)


  1. Story of Stuff (30 minutes). But you can watch others, too. Here is the list of downloadable movies. The download is free, but you need to register.

Block 2


  1. Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger (Vintage, 2010 – book written in 2009): 485 p., about 8€. Here is a ghost story set in a haunted house next to Highgate Cementery in London. But it is a modern ghost story. The title is a modified line from one of the most beautiful poems/etchings ever! “The Tyger,” by William Blake. Listen! http://
  2. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie (HarperCollins, 2002 – book written in 1926): 368 p, about 7€. This was the first novel that made Agatha Christie a widely read /red/ author! It’s in diary form, so it’s easier to read than other of her novels.
  3. (Delusions of Gender – finish this) – amazing essay! Neuroscience understandable for all! Do you think there is a male and a female mind? 
  4. Teaching and Learning through Multiple Intelligences, by Campbell & Dickinson (Pearson, 2004): 334 p., about 30€. A book primary teachers will be very interested in — although any of us can make good use of! I’ve used it myself for designing approaches and activities for your lessons.
  5. Dreams from My Father. Barack Obama‘s autobiography (Canongate, 2008; book written in 1995): 442 pages, but you would only read his childhood and first youth, which is Part 129 pages.
  6. The Unesco World Report on Cultural Diversity (Executive Summary, 40 pages), at http://www.unesco.org/new/en/culture/resource/report/the-unesco-world-report-on-cultural-diversity/
  7. The Joy Harjo Project – musician, poet, American Indian activist. 
  8. Assorted Short Stories – with a focus in reading women writers. We’ll read some of these in class, anyway. 

Movies/Screenplays or Books – for more info, check the post Language from Movies Project

  1. Smoke Signals (great follow-up on Alexie’s novel!)
  2. High Fidelity (British, contemporary world). Check the corresponding post on this blog.
  3. Robin Hood (A classic, in a 19th century retelling). Check the corresponding post on this blog.
  4. Farenheit 451 – a scifi novel by Ray Bradbury and an amazing movie (slow, not much dialog).
  5. Casablanca (harder) (A classic, in everyday language).
  6. Barefoot in the Park (what was life like for young couples during the 20th dictatorship in Spain? This Jane Fonda/Robert Redford movie shows what life was like for middle class heterosexual white couples in the USA). 


  1. The Baby Human. Geniuses in Diapers. (6 1-hour episodes, to pick 1) Experiments and analysis about how we develop our intelligence from 0-2 years old. Amazing! In class, we will work on the episode entitled “To Belong”.
  2. How Art Made the World. (4 1-hour episodes, to pick 1). In class we will work on the first episode.
  3. Life After People (predicting the future): What will Earth look like if humans were gone?
Block 3 – an extra! Still unconvinced? Well, you need to find something which makes your learning of English exciting and/or interesting!
  1. Interviewing an English speaker: you can invite this person to class, or record it in audio or video, to share with us in class and on the Net, if possible. You can find English-speakers everywhere, especially at the airport and in certain pubs and coffee shops in Madrid.
  2. Designing activities: another extra option is for you to design activities based on any of these materials, or a classroom discussion which should include time for work in small groups, round of reporting to plenary, and finally plenary discussion.

(So you see, this 2nd OP is very open. The important thing is that you pick what you feel like working on.)


  1. Would you like to suggest any Project?

  2. […] 2011-12 Projects […]

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