Posts Tagged ‘AVANZADO 2’

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Insólito

June 20, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 20, 2013

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

REVISIÓN NO SE USA CON VALOR DIDÁCTICO, COMO EXPLICABA, JUSTAMENTE, PORQUE VA UNIDO A RECLAMACIONES, ES PARA ESO. ES PARA PROTEGER A LA GENTE QUE SUSPENDE, NO PARA DARLE CLASE A LA GENTE QUE HA APROBADO.
EL ANÁLISIS DE EXÁMENES SE HACE DURANTE EL CURSO, EN CLASE, Y CON EL TRABAJO QUE SE ENTREGA EN CLASE. EN CLASE ES DONDE EL PROFESORADO DE CLASE. PRECISA QUE LAS Y LOS ESTUDIANTES HAGAN ORALES Y ENTREGUEN ESCRITOS. Y SE LES DA FEEDBACK Y SE TRABAJAN LOS ERRORES. Nosotras y nosotros trabajamos el formato examen además en febrero-marzo, con ejemplos de examen que tuvimos que inventarnos y sacar de otras fuentes porque las autoridades de hoy nos prohiben usar exámenes pasados para entrenar en formato examen (!) (Esto sí es un derecho arrebatado, que conserva la gente que hace las PAU). (Mira, una lucha que no se entiende no hagan las y los estudiantes de EOI!) (Por cierto, al parecer, quieren ir a Revisión de aptos personas que en clase no han entregado los trabajos durante el curso… ? Yo creo que deberían haber querido aprender de sus errores entonces, no ahora, cuando no procede, ni es el momento. Además, este tema lo dimos en clase y lo escribí, para más inri, en una guía para hacer el examen.)
El profesorado no puede ponerse en REVISIÓN a dar clase. Y cuando lo hacemos (y lo hacemos con quienes suspenden, nos sentamos y les contamos por qué suspendieron, en lugar de sólo enseñarles los cuadernillos) es por AMABILIDAD, no por obligación, pues en Revisión no tenemos por qué hablar siquiera porque lo que hay que hacer es mostrar los cuadernillos corregidos.
POR CIERTO: no se pueden ver las notas de cada profe que corrige el escrito (de hecho en la mayoría de las escuelas sólo dan fotocopias al Tribunal y la compo del cuadernillo nadie la puede marcar, como en Francia), como expliqué en su día; lo que se puede ver es la nota que consensua el tribunal, por las áreas. Lo que pasa es que nosotras, a la gente que suspende, se lo contamos, en lugar de enseñárselo, porque los números esos no les sirven igual de bien que nuestras explicaciones.
Todo es por algo, claro: en EOI la nota del aprobado es IRRELEVANTE porque no cuenta para NADA (es EJERCICIO APTO/NO APTO), a diferencia de en secundaria, donde sí hace diferencia porque influye en poder o no entrar en la uni. En EOI te dan el certificado de nivel con un APTO. Por eso reclamar es ABSURDO, y por eso a Revisión no van las personas con ejercicios Aptos.
Espero haber podido hacer entender a la gente que sigue preguntando y comentando este tema, pensando que se enfrenta a una pérdida de derechos, que no es el caso. Se protege a quien lo necesita, no a quien no lo necesita. Existe una racionalidad democrática detrás.
Pero hay miles de derechos en educación y en el trabajo que estamos perdiendo y que requieren nuestra implicación! 😀
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Aclaración – Avanzado 2 Revisión

June 19, 2013

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

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

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

Y a disfrutar del oral!!!

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ORALES – A MUERTE! VAMOOOOS!

June 14, 2013

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

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

Communicative Strategies: Useful language
audios to listen & repeat – do Part 1 Part 2 and Part 3
Listen to the audios for Interactions, too
http://www.talkingpeople.net/tp/usefullanguage/langfunc/langfunc_conversation.htm

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

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

http://www.talkingpeople.net/tp/skills/speaking.htm

I’LL PUBLISH INTERMEDIO 2’S MARK ON THE SCHOOL’S WEBSITE ON MONDAY EVENING. I’LL DO THE SAME WITH AVANZADO’S, THE EVENING BEFORE THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION ON THE SCHOOL’S BULLETIN BOARD.

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

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

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Screenplay to work on your English!

June 13, 2013

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

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

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

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

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A listening for Avanzado 2’s

June 6, 2013

ON self-publishing. NPR – http://www.npr.org/2013/02/04/171103053/self-publishing-now-the-first-choice-for-some-writers

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

June 5, 2013

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

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

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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!

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Useful Language (+audios)

May 29, 2013

Some with audios to listen and repeat

http://www.talkingpeople.net/tp/usefullanguage/index.htm

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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.

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Workshop on Lexical Creativity (create words in English!!)

May 24, 2013

I need to fix the broken link on Talking People, but I published my workshop on Lexical Creativity in case you want to print it. It’s an interesting workshop, and great fun too. I did it with Avanzado 2 students at that school and they created amazing words. We published some of those here.

Yesterday I heard “frenemies,” and example of what we call “blends” in Linguistics (friends + enemies). This one is quite quite recent (less than a decade?)! Do you know it? You can post the ones you know, if you like. Actually, I believe “follamigos” (which does not have the same meaning as “frenemies”) comes from imitating not only this kind of word formation in English but also thanks to this word in English.

With the Lexical Creativity workshop I help students learn about word-formation (morphology) and how we create words in a language. Morphology helps you decipher the meaning of some of the words you might not know, too… And learning about linguistic creativity also helps you get some jokes because, it’s a fact, in all languages we make up words and expressions, but in English it’s mighty easy!

The book I’m recommending (pic) is expensive because it’s specialized, but if there are any language teachers out there, they’ll surely enjoy it!

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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!

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Updated Pages

May 21, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

😀

(I should really stop watching documentaries…)

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Timed Speaking Activities

May 20, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

May 18, 2013

Avanzados: Just published the Key of the Practice Test we did at the Advanced Level (C1)

It’s NOT here. It’s on talkingpeople!

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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.

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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

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5-min mon. on The Elderly

May 9, 2013

by an Avanzado 2 student, who practiced the monologue three times, avoiding the mistakes he had made previously, and who did not write it down, as I keep asking students! (because practicing Speaking is not practicing WRITING!! eek!)

http://www.talkingpeople.net/tp/skills/speaking/oralperformances/na2_elderly_mon.htm

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“to be worth” + -ing

May 7, 2013

For your List of Mistakes. This LoM material came up in Complaint Letters written by AVANZADO 2 students:

“to be worth” + -ing – IS it WORTH leanING?

“Consequently, we concluded it would BE WORTH boardING the plane first.” (Very formal, too risky to use because then you need to sound this formal in the rest of the letter. This is why I always recommend you use semiformal language.)

“So we thought it would BE WORTH gettING on the plane first” (This can be used also in semiformal letters, like semiformal complaints at the B2 level. And it’s also OK for informal conversations, of course.)

With “it” it is very common in informal language, when you know what “it” is referring to. “It” operates as a reminder of an action you have mentioned before (ellipsis).

“So we thought it would BE WORTH IT” meaning “So we thought it would be worth getting on the plane first.”

Discussion

Can we say “So we thought it would be WORTH IT TO get* on the plane first”?

Answer: In theory you can’t, but… It is common to hear (people speaking)/read (newspapers) — although not in British English

“So we thought it would BE WORTH IT TO get…” — The “it + infinitive” is not the case of…
“So we thought it would BE WORTH TO get…” — I think this is not ever heard anywhere.

So why do we hear “worth it to” if it’s meant to be wrong? Here is my guess: in this case people tend to combine it with the infinitive because (although this is not a grammar rule) intuitively they tend to associate the infinitive to present and future events (including future in the past), and the gerund to past events (as in “Hello” = Nice to meet you; “Good bye” = Nice meeting you” or the verbs that change their meaning depending on whether they are used with infinitive or gerund, like “remember”: Pres/Fut = “Remember to get the bread”, Past = “I remember spending hours with my cousins when I was a child”). This means that even though their Grammar Mind knows you should say “So we thought it would be worth getting on the plane first” considering “getting on the plane” is here a future in the past, they might then use “So we thought it would be worth it to get”

Then, there are more meanings and uses of “worth”, so post your questions if you have any on that.

Native speakers, linguists and teachers can also post freely to discuss the matters I address here!!! Thanks! 🙂

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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 mujerpalabra.net 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: http://www.mujerpalabra.net/novedades/2013_05.htm

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!

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Next week: Celebrating World Book Day

May 1, 2013

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

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

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

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

Mentioned before…

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

April 30, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

Exams represent a drop in that sea.

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

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

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

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

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

Which side are you on, then?

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

Trash the Exam Slave Mind.

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About May 9 – for Avanzado 2

April 30, 2013

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

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

🙂

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

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

April 30, 2013

Open the audio in a new tab

http://www.talkingpeople.net/tp/hotpot/TPlisteningactivities/l_reviews_reelwomen_scaredsacred.htm

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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

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Felicia’s mon on The Elderly

April 29, 2013

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

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Interaction by Avanzado 2 students: Free parking space at weekends

April 29, 2013

Thanks to Sara, Alberto and Fernando!

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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! http://www.talkingpeople.net/tp/ra/avanzado2/index.htm

  • Anyway, Rosa uploaded some unit (listening) tests for Upper Intermediate (B2) over here: http://ficus.pntic.mec.es/rgoc0026/Index_A.html
  • And then she has some interesting notes on Formal and Informal language here: http://ficus.pntic.mec.es/rgoc0026/Index_A.html 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: http://ficus.pntic.mec.es/rgoc0026/Index_A.html
  • I have some podcast listenings here: http://www.talkingpeople.net/tp/audio/podcasts/episodesinclass.html 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! 🙂
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About EOI & Cambridge language exams in Madrid (Autonomous Community)

April 27, 2013

The EOI Intermedio exam is equivalent to the Cambridge PET exam. They’re both testing a B1 (CEFR) level exam. Scenario in June: If you failed your exams at EOI after having followed the school learning year and after having used a B2 level textbook, the problem is obviously the EOI exam, so you might want to try taking the equivalent Cambridge exam if you NEED the certificate. Some people in class have taken it recently and passed it! 🙂
The EOI Avanzado exam is equivalent to the Cambridge FCE exam. They’re both testing a B2 (CEFR) level. Scenario in June: If you failed your exams at EOI after having followed the school learning year and after having used a C1!! level textbook, the problem is obviously the EOI exam, so you might want to try taking the equivalent Cambridge exam if you NEED the certificate. I mean, don’t quit!

Why am I saying this? Because since 2009 EOI legislation and rules are upsetting all the system, presumably because the political intention is to close down EOI schools, to profit private language teaching schools. Certificate Exams have been targeted, of course: the four tests used to be evaluated individually and you had to get a 60% of correct answers to pass each. If you did pass the four, you got your certificate. If you failed one, or two… you could take the test of that part again in September. Considering the complete tests in June last two days, this was a relief, and fair. Nowadays failing one part in June involves having to take the four parts again in September. However, the new regulations impose, against all informed criteria, a very negative thing: The percentage of correct answers you need to have in each individual part is the same, a 60%, not less (not a 30 or 40%, which would be understandable, to make sure the person had a mininum skill in each of the 4 skills), which means examinees are subject to a DOUBLE evaluation system which no educational body ever requires or imposes. Let me illustrate with a typical case: Say you have a total of 78/100, a 78%. Well, if you have a 14/25 in one of the four parts, instead of a 15/25 (the 60%), which is the pass mark, you will fail even if your total is between 60 and 99/100!! Consequently, you’ll have to take the complete exam in September!!! Does that 1 point out of 100 mean the person has not achieved the tested level? No way. We could even consider a 10 point margin. Some schools do not publish the marks people get in their Written Part (Reading, Listening, Writing Tests) just in case they can avoid these cases: the case where the person has one 14/25 or two, or one 13/25, and could get a good mark in the Speaking Test, provided, of course the total is above the 60%. Because flunking people in this case would pose an ethical problem, and in terms of respecting the law, this measure can be defended, for very obviously they wouldn’t be giving a certificate to someone who does not deserve it.

The question is, How can a student feel when after learning he or she can’t pass an exam which is even under his or her actual level considering Intermedio 2, Avanzado 2 students use higher level textbooks because a B2 can be achieved in 4 years and 6 is far too many? Why don’t the authorities improve this situation? It’d be enough to ask for a min. 30% in each one of the four parts and a 60% in the four together. Well, informed analyses point to the fact that free adult language education in Spain is bound to extinction. Spain is the only EC country offering this amazing service, so for the past 10 years, politicians have been meddling with the law to prepare things for future privatization. A clear event hinting as this is that EOI language teachers are not called EOI language teachers anymore in recent legislation, but just “language teachers”. The idea is that when EOI close, if the authorities manage it, they’ll transfer these civil servants in secondary schools.

EOI = Escuela Oficial de Idiomas, State-run Adult Language Education in Spain

CAMBRIDGE EXAMINATION CENTRES IN COMUNIDAD DE MADRID

*ECUS Educational Development
*International House Madrid
British Council Madrid
Cambridge Schools Centre Madrid
Centro de Idiomas Universidad Carlos III  sólo estudiantes
Centro Superior de Idiomas Modernos Universidad Complutense sólo estudiantes
CESMA Business School

2013 DATES for EXAMS given by the BRITISH COUNCIL in MADRID: For PET (B1), for FCE (B2), for CAE (C1). Remember other places above also give them, and that you can also take online exams.

NOTICE that TAKING those EXAMS COSTS between 200-300 euros, approx., and that nowadays, what used to be free language course at EOIs cost 300 euros.

REMEMBER SOMETHING IMPORTANT FOR ANY TEST TAKEN ANYWHERE: You cannot bring your phone or any other electronic devices to your desk in the exam. Your centre will tell you where to put them during the exam.

At the end of each paper (e.g. the Writing paper, the Reading paper, etc.), the invigilator will tell you to stop writing. You must stop immediately.

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More oral performances by students

April 25, 2013

with teacher’s feedback to read as you listen

Gema, María and Elena (Avanzado 2) discuss the proposal of closing pubs at 10.30PM (well, they turned it into a law, but well — the dialogue is great and there are a few mistakes on complex structures that will give you ideas on where to improve / oral drill)

http://www.talkingpeople.net/tp/skills/speaking/oralperformances/ni2dialpubs.htm

This week I’ll keep publishing orals and written pieces, so remember to check us out!

The Table of contents for Oral performances is here, at talkingpeople.net – enter – skills – speaking.

The audios with Listen and Repeat material (Useful Language) are at talkingpeople.net – enter – useful language – for conversations/interactions.

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MisUsing Democracy

April 23, 2013

LEY DE PROTECCIÓN DE DATOS DE LAS PERSONAS!!

ES ILEGAL

SACAR FOTOS DE INFORMACIÓN CON DATOS DE OTRAS PERSONAS

HAY QUE RESPETAR LAS LEYES QUE NOS PROTEGEN (no sólo las que protegen la propiedad…)

ES RESPETAR A LAS PERSONAS

Si no, al final los centros van a tener que publicar las convocatorias con códigos y no con nombres.

La comodidad de no molestarse en anotar algo no debería tener un precio tan alto.

Que “todo el mundo lo haga” no es razón racional! Que no haya dinero para infos en internet protegidas no implica que debamos pagar ningún precio respecto a nuestra información personal. Y el desconocimiento de la ley no exime de su cumplimiento!

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Lesson Plans! Getting ready for an orgasmic end of course!

April 19, 2013

Hiya! Just now I updated the Pages here for Avanzado, Intermedio, Learn2Learn and Topics, but I might’ve forgotten to link some posts. You can post them there if you like!

We have next week and two days of the following week to finish UNIT 6, OK? Select what you are most interested in! We won’t be able to do it all in class. I will also pick some exercises. freebooksThen, there’s a holiday (May 1, 2) and when we’re back it’ll be May 6 and 7. We’ll use these lessons to finish up UNIT 6 and raffle the books we have in class, because… May 7 is World Book Day, a very special date!! You are all welcome to bring books (in English) to give away! Reading is like travel(l)ing and like space voyaging! In Avanzado 2 we’ll take our Practice C1 Test in May 8 and 9. We’ll do the listening in the second part of the lesson so that people who are always late can get the chance to do those, but we need to take the break a bit earlier.

Over THIS WEEKEND you could try to do the unit writing assignment and practice speaking on the topics we worked on. And then if you love English and want to do some more, do all you think we’ll probably skip in class of UNIT 6! We’ll only have two weeks for unit 7!!bearebelCome on! Cheer up! Enjoy your English! You’re LEARNING something complex and amazing! Have a pleasurable weekend! Hurray for orgasms! 😀

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Phrasals – audio to L&R

April 18, 2013

Here is a listen & repeat exercise so you can learn a few phrasals in context! (language in use). This web page is located in the Useful Language section on talkingpeople.net — Sentences for your Grammar!

A warm thank you to the Intermedio 2 students who allowed us to record this lesson.

Irene, “But CAN WE USE…?” 🙂 (not “We can use…?”)

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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:

Videos:

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Oral tasks by students

April 17, 2013

with teacher’s feedback:

http://www.talkingpeople.net/tp/skills/speaking/oralperformances/listofperformances.htm

I’ve almost finished, just 2 recordings more by Avanzado 2 students and 1 by Lara, I think.

If you did a recording in class and want to see it published on Talking People, send me an email to get the recording, then take it down as a dictation, send it back to me with the transcript and I’ll work with the transcript and publish it on the web. You see, the doctor says I have to cut down on the amount of hours I work at home! 🙂

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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

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Indirect Questions – audios – L&R

April 17, 2013

Listen and repeat while visualizing the grammar of these indirect questions. You will improve your fluency and accuracy with this kind of structures!

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Example Brainstorming for Language (Unit 7, C1) – Productive Skills

April 14, 2013

When learning a language, you should collect useful language based on the language items you are learning. I did this with the language items in the Grammar Bank of Unit 7 (New English File Advanced – the textbook being used by Avanzado 2 students) to show you what I mean. The “brainstorming” part comes in when you pick the sentence which will remind you of the structure. So, yes, it’s not a true brainstorming exercise — words just do what they can! 🙂 Most of the times, it’s useless to jot down words in isolation equalled to a single word in your own language. Useless and misleading and unreal. You should write down the word in English you want to learn, and then look for sentences where it is used and you understand its use (underline the word so it stands out). You should not depend on dictionaries for this, for in real life (and in exams) you cannot use them, and you have to have developed enough skills to work things out in spite of unknown words, at least for many of the times.

When students have to do a writing assignment or when they have a few minutes to think about what they are going to say on a given topic what I recommend they do is that they brainstorm for language: what tenses can I use?, what kind of clauses? (if– clauses, because, although, time clauses: before + –ing, while past cont. then past simple, relative clauses without the relative pronoun…), infinitive / gerund / participle structures, what about modals? A little Saxon Genitive here, other possessives, –ing/-ed adjectives, comparatives, superlatives, “It” subjects, indirect questions preceded by “I don’t know”, “I can’t remember”… Of course, then you have expressions, vocabulary, to make your range rich, but you should also consider morphosyntaxis = grammar.

Two Intermedio 2 students who did this very well in an oral performance are Laura and Isabel, so check out their work! And adapt it to your level! More oral performances by students + videos by Avanzado 2 students with teacher’s written feedback. More videos by Avanzado 2 students: Pedimos el C1

So here’s the example of Brainstorming for Language at a C1 or Advanced level with the items learned in a unit. Once you know how to pronounce it well, you could record it saying each sentence twice, so that you automatize production and achieve fluency and accuracy!

Unit7_Brainstormingforlanguageitems_c1 (1 Word page)

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Announcements – Important!

April 11, 2013

TEACHER’S ABSENCES: CONFIRMATION: dear all, I’ll be missing our lovely lessons together 😀 on Thursday April 11 and also next Monday April 15 (this one’s because the neurologist wants to see me).  In case anyone goes to the school for their Writings, I keep the checked Writings in the first drawer, so you can ask the janitors to get them for you. If you are in no rush, see you next Tuesday and Wednesday, then. Keep working on your very entertaining textbook and/or the activities I suggest (like a monolog a week?!).

I hope you have a lovely weekend, and also that you enjoy your English! 🙂

Tomorrow Thursday I probably won’t be able to make it to work. This evening, as I left the school, a headache turned into a migraine, and for the past 6 hours I’ve been suffering excruciating pain! Right now the medication is finally starting to work, but this might be the beginning of a three-day war with my head!

I’ll CONFIRM this tomorrow at 15.00 pm by ringing the school and by posting here. PLEASE, don’t ring the school till 15.00 pm, because I won’t be back from the doctor till then. At that time, I’ll ring the school if I can’t go, and I’ll also post a confirmation here. I won’t ring the school if I CAN make it to work.

This announcement is just for this week. Next week I’ll be OK. It’s just a migraine crisis.

Apologies to my evening Intermedio 2 group

I’m very sorry I sounded as if I was telling you off. I didn’t mean to.

The truth is that I have worked hard to create a safe atmosphere in class and give you the materials and help you with developing the skills you need to feel confident to communicate, and we’re in April and it’s still really hard to develop an ordinary language lesson, which is — a lesson were as many people as we manage get the chance to speak at plenary and gets feedback. I’ve also recorded audios to help you. But each time we have Plenary speaking work it’s all about fear and fear and fear. Considering you’re not afraid of me, and considering most of you have improved your English in spite of this, my guess is you’re afraid of your classmates’ opinion of your English! If this were the case, please, be sensible and fight back, 😀 , work more on listening and repeating at home, so that you can feel more confident when you interact. You should all feel as part of a team, really, and you should not feel threatened by other classmates. If I’m wrong about this, then — why can’t you do the most logical thing to do in a language lesson, which is speak the language at Plenary? Please, accept my apologies but also mull over this, OK?

Over the weekend

Remember to use your textbook to learn English, and also my audios as support material.

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About your recordings and my feedback

April 9, 2013

I have 25 recordings to go, still! Yes. I’m fast at doing some but really slow at doing others, like those where Avanzado 2 students speak fast and speak at the same time…

This figure doesn’t include the recordings we’re doing now after the spring holidays.

So bear with me.

🙂

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Talking about the crisis

April 9, 2013

EFL students should not say

The main responsible for the crisis is the government

The responsible is…

Also the responsible are business people / multinationals / the wealthy (“the wealthy” is correct, yes)

This is WRONG in English

What can we say?

Post freely! We’ll appreciate! 🙂 And you could also be helping us improve this section on Talking People. Thanks!

http://www.talkingpeople.net/tp/usefullanguage/everydaylang/responsibility.htm

Apart from this I have a question:  There’s widespread corruption among politicians, apparently. Well, that should be fixed, and we should fight to get that fixed. And get the money back. Then the political system needs relevant improvements. Consequently, we should put pressure so that this happens. But if we discard Politics as our way of organizing societies, which are the options? Should we go back to the military organizing our society (dictatorships)? Or further back to having religious leaders organizing society (they still have too much a say considering we are meant to respect women’s human rights. Anyway)?

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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)

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Closing down the house and coming back

April 8, 2013

Today Irene Gu. (Av2) asked about how to name the things we do when we close down (or close up) our houses before leaving for a holiday, and then when we get back. I’ve been surfing a few websites to fish some Useful Language, in case it helps! Let me know what you think, and also feel free to post more sentences!

Turn off – Turn on, Unplug – plug…

Prevent water damage while you’re away.

  • Shut off the water: Shut off the water supply to your entire home when you leave for overnight or longer.
  • Turn off individual valves: Turn off valves for water-using appliances like dishwashers, washing machines and icemakers.
  • Shut off the water to exterior faucets

Save Energy While You’re Away

  • Unplug appliances that consume electricity even when they’re not in use such as DVD players, microwaves, coffeemakers and computers (also make sure to disconnect the computer from the Internet). This is both a cost savings and a safety issue. It’s not unheard of to have a cat tiptoe across a counter and unwittingly turn on the coffeemaker.
  • Turn the water heater down to the “vacation,” “low” or “pilot” setting.
  • If you’ll be gone for an extended period, clean out the fridge (and freezer) completely, shut it off and leave the door propped open.

Source: http://www.familyhandyman.com/

  • Arrange with a neighbour, relative or friend – someone you trust – to check your house from time to time. Leave them a set of house keys. Give them the telephone number and address of where you’re staying abroad in case they have to contact you urgently.
  • Pull out all electric plugs for safety reasons.
  • Make sure all windows are closed and the front and back doors are securely locked before you leave.

More, source: http://blog.netflights.com/things-to-do-before-going-on-holiday/

  • Turn off the main water supply to your home.
  • Turn off the water heater.
  • Unplug and defrost your refrigerator.

Read more: How to Close Down a House for Winter | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_6566837_close-down-house-winter.html#ixzz2PuFjJ8Q7

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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.

TIMEDSPEAKINGACTIVITYFORAV2 (1 page)

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)

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About Job-application letters

April 5, 2013

Eduuu (A2Martes), just checking your job-application letter. Why don’t you check out the examples written by students of mine, and notice the kind of info they include in which moment of the letter?

I have more stuff on Talking People – Writing, but it really needs some organizing, so it’s better for you (all) to notice what each paragraph is about and collect some useful language.

More here: a little post on job interviews 

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Chufings! (chú fings)

April 5, 2013

I have just typed in people’s absent marks for March. Next the Head of Studies will issue the lists of people who would lose their Old Student status if they had missed over a 30% of the lessons (pérdida de la oficialidad). I know you know, but just in case — In no case do people lose their right to take the exam, so don’t panic.

List of Mistakes. I can’t remember if I shared this with you. I wrote it in the English Department while talking to my colleagues, and getting their feedback. It includes Politeness issues, too. List of Mistakes (2 Word pages)

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The Casino Story

April 5, 2013

By michelle (April, 2013) – 1,250 words – I’ll record it for the Talking People podcast when I find some time! (EDITED AT 1:11 April 5 to fix stuff)

Today in class I told a story that suddenly my memory brought back to me! I have to say I was not totally accurate, so that’s why I’ve decided to write it down – so you can get the Complete True Casino Story!

When I was a college student I had become independent. I shared a flat with two other people. One was an older friend of mine – a misfit just like me! — and the other a young business man who smoked dope non-stop and loved a Spanish singer that I hated! 😀 All of my other friends lived with their parents, so our rented flat was very much booked for all kinds of events, and populated by all kinds of people!

Those were wild days, really. Not like people imagine “wild” – I just mean, days full of youthful ideas and actions! I used to paint my forehead instead of my eyes, with stars and planets or with a tree! I used to walk barefoot and wear all kinds of clothes, from African tunics to a leather jacket! I used to host people who needed a house for a few days, pay everybody’s drinks, organize poker games (we played with “duros”, 5 peseta coins, and “cinco duros”, 25 ptas.) and give away books. I used to walk in the city night and talk to people I met, and I met a lot of very special people. I also had all kinds of friends – friends from my mum’s neighborhood, and from college, from left-wing political parties and from the right-wing, believers, non-believers, cheerful people, depressive people, rich people, homeless people!

One day I was meeting my friend K., her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s best friend. After our last meet up, we wanted to find a new hang-out spot, because in our usual place we had got poisoned for eating river crabs! (And what a night that was!) So that afternoon we went to a different area and walked into an extremely crowded and noisy and smoky pub because it had good music – jazz & blues – and a pool table. After a few beers and a few games, I had to go to the toilet. The Beer Emergency, you know. So that was that!

As I was squatting and aiming my pee flow, next to my right foot I spotted a wad of notes! A WAD of MONEY NOTES! I couldn’t believe my eyes!

Once out, we flocked together and counted the money excitedly: 80,000 pesetas! Nowadays that is 500 euros. I wouldn’t be able to pay my monthly rent, which is 1,200 euros. (By the way, my salary is 1,900 euros after 15 years in public education. Regardless of what ordinary people think, this salary is not much for all the qualifications and work we are required to do. Which doesn‘t mean I’m not happy. I know I could earn more in many other places, but it’s the public service I’m interested in! Anyway!) However, in the 1980s, 80.000 pesetas was Big Money! At the time, the rent of the house we lived in was 24,000 pesetas. We just paid a third each, which, plus shared expenses, was like 10,000 pesetas a month. At that time I earned 100,000 pesetas a month for eight months and managed to get by the rest of the months without having to find another job. I was earning a living teaching English in private language schools. Considering the figures I just mentioned, I’m getting vertigo just thinking of inflation! Aren’t you?

Going back to my story, I had found enough money to pay my rent for 8 months! But those were sweet times in terms of finding jobs. I used to find a job whenever I needed money, so I was carefree. On top of that, I was young and eager to experience things. So this is what happened with the money.

We were really excited about the wad of banknotes and started making wild proposals on how to spend it! It didn’t cross my mind to give it to homeless people, because it all felt so merry and so unreal! It was all like a joke, until someone said: “We could go to the Casino!” It was on!!! Never in a million years would we have dreamed of being able to go to the casino TO GAMBLE!! So that’s what we did! We rushed to my house to borrow the business man’s car and then drove to the Casino. We were allowed in, which amazed me – I was sure I wouldn’t be allowed in – because we were wearing our usual clothes! I actually looked like a hippy. The two boys were wearing casual clothes, and my friend looked a little bit better. She actually made up and wore rings and bracelets. We were an odd-looking gang, and there we were!

I can’t remember all we did. I mostly remember the feeling it was all intensely exciting. But I do remember a scene or two. I remember our friends, the men, playing Black Jack and winning. And I remember my friend K and I spending our wads in different kinds of games. Then I remember the boys giving us their winnings. Apparently, they thought we were putting it away, keeping it safe! Instead, we ran joyfully to the roulette, to lose it all in a second! So we went again to our friends, and they kept winning and passing us the money they had won, and we kept betting and losing! Obviously, our intention was to become rich, but the roulette was fast as lightning and had no mercy on us!

After tons of gambling and after having the hell of a time, which included some flamenco dancing in the spectacular toilets, meeting and talking to weird people and giving a hard time to some waiters, the boys came up to us and said:

–Let’s go and have dinner at the Ritz Hotel!

K and I looked at each other, “Did you win more?”

–More? We have won enough to buy a meal for 4 over there! You’ve got the money, haven’t you?

–Well… we did have it! We lost it all at the roulette! But it was fun!

“What?!” Well, they got really upset, but they couldn’t show it too much because the fact was that I could have kept the money for myself after finding it.

K and her boyfriend split up some days later. They had issues. He was constantly feeling threatened by our friendship, by her friendship to other people, too, to anyone! He was so jealous of everything she shared, instead of feeling happy for her.

So here was the inaccuracy in my story today in class: it’s not both of us lost our boyfriends after that! I just said that to make it shorter and to make you laugh. At that time, I would have never ever had a boyfriend. I just wanted to have lovers. I didn’t want to start up a monogamous relationship – it felt suffocating. I had just left my mum’s house and I wanted to live my life, and travel!

In any case, I’m quite sure that if any of the other three people who I spent that day with doing fun things were asked about this night out today, they would probably smile and have a very good memory because we did have great fun!

It’s true nowadays I would not spend any money in a casino. That was my first and last time in one. The world around casinos is an underworld, full of crime (today very much protected by democratic governments behind the facade of “fighting the crisis” — puke, puke, puke!), tragedy and abuse, even if “ordinary” people might go there and just have a drink and a laugh, like we did when we were young.

Today I would probably give the money to homeless people, or keep it for my old age. But the best and the worst things about youth is that — the tons of mistakes you make!

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Spanish speakers and the use of ‘will’ – or the question on expressing the future

April 4, 2013

“Spanish speakers and the use of ‘will’ – or the question on expressing the future” by michelle ford[1] (talkingpeople.net, 2013 – copyleft, just quote this line: authorship and website project)

This article is meant to be one in a series intended to explain why Spanish-speakers, particularly Spanish people, may sound impolite in English, particularly in Britain or Ireland – my explanation being it’s a language (& culture) problem. For EFL Spanish-speaking learners this article will help them improve their use of English and overcome this communication problem.

One thing is certain: English speakers, especially British speakers, have a way of approaching the notion of future action that is completely different to the Spanish-speaking way of approaching the future! For one thing, English speakers do not have future tenses (except the “Future Simple” or “Will” future), just different ways – based on verbal and prepositional phrases – to indicate – mark my words here – the degree of likelihood of occurrence of a future event. In other words, whether we can expect an event to happen and to which point. This entails a kind of commitment, too – when expressing plans or intentions, English speakers indicate a commitment to that happening. And that is actually why English speakers have this sophisticated system of expressing things about future events.

For the Spanish-speaking mind, none of this applies. In Spanish grammar, there exists a complete set of future tenses, but Spanish speakers do not feel committed to the future happening or not for their choice of tense! The use of a tense doesn’t mean anything in terms of how likely it is for the action to happen – at least as if compared to the case in English. The use of futures in Spanish is similar to the use of prepositions in Spanish: we have a great deal of prepositions, but manage with a few, which means, we’re not particularly concerned with accuracy. And this is something that relates to culture: if English-speakers rely on language uses and structures to mean a great number of things, Spanish-speakers rely on paralinguistic features (stress, rhythm, pitch, intonation) and body language including facial expressions. To illustrate this, in Spanish we can use the imperative with social relationships (the woman working in the neighborhood/neighbourhood bakery) and be perfectly polite, even affectionate.

So let us now consider what happens when Spanish speakers confront the task of having to express a future event. Even if their teachers explain how the “system” works for the futures (see my notes for Elementary/Pre-Intermediate students at http://www.talkingpeople.net/tp/func_gram/gramwebs/future01.htm), it will take them time to assimilate the information, time and practice! – which is understandable, because the frame of mind in terms of understanding “the future” is completely different in both languages. Until they reach the stage of deep understanding, they will tend to use “will” for expressing any kind of future. This puts them in awkward situations:

British host family: “Would you like to visit the British Library tomorrow?”

Spanish reply: “Yes, I will go.”

This is puzzling to hear for a number of different reasons. First, the way to reply to Invitations/Offerings (this is the language function that we need to consider) is not correct. For “Would you like…?” questions we can use “I’d love to,” “I’m terribly sorry. I can’t,” “Yes, please,” “No, thank you,” but not “Yes, I will.”

Then – what does this “Yes, I will go” mean? Is it indicating a spontaneous decision? The context is not quite right, so that’s not what would be understood in a first impression.  Is it indicating a promise? “Yes, I promise to go.” It doesn’t sound right either! It’s kind of extremely dramatic! For the Spanish-speaking mind this is the future tense, just indicating a future, but for the English-speaking mind this, if sorted out it must be a future, is a future for predictions, and replying with a prediction on your involvement in the action when you are invited or offered something sounds awkward, or impolite.

Spanish student in Britain, to British host family: “What will you do tomorrow?”

This can be puzzling to hear, because it could be interpreted as connoting things the Spanish speaker doesn’t really want to mean! The unmarked question for adults about their future actions is always with “going to” because we know that adults have plans and intentions. If we use “will” this could feel like we think those adults are incapable of having plans or intentions! These are OK sentences:

To a child: “What will you be when you grow up?” (here, “will” is not exactly about a future very much ahead, as Spanish speakers tend to interpret when they manage considering proximity in time, but as a future we know is just wishful thinking! (Actually I think adults should never ask this question to children!)

To a teenager in her/his last year of secondary education: “What are you going to do when you finish your studies here?” If you ask them, “What will you do when you finish here?” it’s because you know the person has no plans and intentions and you just want to know about her/his predictions!

To an adult: “What are you doing tomorrow?” or “What are you going to do tomorrow,” never “What will you do tomorrow?” if we’re thinking of ordinary life situations.

My mother to me when I told her I was going to travel the world when I was in my twenties: “Where will you sleep?” etc. This meant she knew I did not travel like tourists do, but like wanderers do!!

Well, I’ll stop here. Please post your comments, especially if you disagree with any of this, or you wish to add to it in some way, and feel free to post your questions, too!


[1] I am an EFL teacher in Spain, in public/state-run adult language education, and although I’m a Spanish/US American English speaker, as a I live in Europe, I have to include British English in my curricula.

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An OP on Working Abroad

April 4, 2013

with written corrections (few, so it’s mostly a black screen!) by teacher

María tells us about a lecture she attended on Working Abroad

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A monolog on Beggars with visual corrections by teacher

April 4, 2013

and a final comment

Telling people about things we read /red/!

Spiro Freire, a woman writer in Spain, had written an article on beggars with was totally uppity and cruel, and which is what Rebeca, an Avanzado 2 student, tells us about. I write a final comment on that, but you need to press PAUSE the moment you see it because there won’t be enough time for you to read it.

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