Y5’s – Change of plans!

As you remember, at the beginning of the course I announced we would be working with three documentaries but we only managed one, the one about how our senses deceive us, and now we were going to do the second, and I chose /chous/ Baby Human. Well, some students have watched Story of Stuff and have asked me if we could do this documentary next week instead of the Baby Human. I don’t mind, and the positive thing about the change would be that SoS is only 20 minutes, so we can watch it twice. Baby Human is one hour. On the other hand, Baby Human is easier to follow that Story of Stuff. But then — you are already used to US American accent, so I think that you could follow. So here’s what —

I’m asking people interested in documentaries to watch Story of Stuff over the weekend, so that you can make the most of watching it in class, and sharing what you understand. OK? Go for it! Be courageous English peacelings! The video is in the previous post, or the post below. Please, don’t read the transcript. Just listen/watch, as many times as you like! ❤

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FAQ – Where I get my Tees

The rest come from international pacifist meetings I attended throughout my life. (I tend to think clothes should last FOREVER! 😀 😀 :D) (I know, I know — they fucking don’t these days!! It’s called planned obsolescence – watch this very informative 20 min video with your friends/classmates and discuss it! We can watch this instead of Baby Human, too, if you like, bc it’s shorter. Still, I recommend BH now.)


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Open Friday Lesson

To Y5B and Y5CAL students: if you wish to come to class tomorrow afternoon, at 4.45 (for 2 hours), for Speaking or Listening practice, I’m sure Y5A’s will welcome you! Same room. Cheerio!

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Y5-Answers to the Matching Exercises

I’m posting this so you can do the exercises at home and then check. Please, write down your results, and your questions for me, if you wish to comment your mistakes, in case I can help you in terms of techniques or strategies. Because we won’t have much time, really!

Life… 1f, 2a, 3g, 4b, 5d, 6h, 7c – American… 1h, 2a, 3g, 4d, 5f, 6b, 7e, c is not used


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Y5 Listening – The True or False Handout

True or False (1 page) – this is the handout of listening exercises we’ve been using in class, with links to the audios, so you can do the exercises in British English at home, use the website I used to listen to more news, and design similar exercises if you like, following my examples. If you do, you can send them in for publication so that other people can do them. Remember to include the instructions, the statements and the key.

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About the C1 course

Today as people were practicing for their Speaking Test, I dropped by the School Office to say hello, and asked about how registration for the C1 course was going. Guess!

How many people have signed up for the course so far?

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Revising – common mistakes & confusing words

Revising_int-avan (1 page)

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What happened when she started a feminist society at school


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About Baby Human

Dear all, bad news: the documentary Baby Human. Geniuses in Diapers, on the development of human intelligence from 0 to 2 years old, is out of print. I wanted to get two copies, for Raquel and Iratxe, as a “Welcome, Oh Bay Bee!” present, so I found out.


This is one of the amazing experiments scientists design to find out when the human baby is aware of his or her Self.

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New video on One Crazy Summer!

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A short story on money, in Spanish

Dear all, over the weekend I managed to finish a story I had wanted to write for years and never could. I did write one called first “Carta a Sara” and then “Escribo en un cartón”, but the story was bland. Last Sunday as I was re-reading the beginning of it, written in 2013, after writing a few precious paragraphs and then trashing them, I suddenly crossed out stuff and wrote on and managed to find out what the hell I was wanting to say. I was wanting to chuck Carta a Sara and write a good story on the topic. I don’t know if I have managed it, but when I read “Dinero” (Money), it does move me, so for the time being, I’m sharing it. Also, Ana in Y5B is mentioned, for that day something powerful happened in the group and Ana in some way voiced it.

We’ll see if time allows me to see this story needs corrections, or chucking or simply some respect! 😉 ❤

I recommend you read it a few times before thinking. Read it like poetry — not trying to understand or judging (yourself or others), just letting yourself be taken places. I think it would be the best approach.

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Vote to stop the rise of the extreme right. An appeal in Europe

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Plans for the last lessons together

3ºC – we’ll continue as usual with time for Speaking Test practice


  • About the textbook, my plan is to do the Self-Help Books listening activity, and then practice Speaking Tests.
  • Then we could do a listening activity I’ll design tomorrow imitating the T/F exercise format in your Reading Test, based on an interview to a linguist on the extinction of languages. Plus some more practice on Speaking Tests.
  • I refuse to check Writings over the weekend, because I’ve counted the extra hours without pay I’ve been doing and I’m alarmed, so I’d be checking your Writings next week, after class, which means I won’t hand them back till the following week, which is the last. The problem here is for Y5CAL and Y5B because I have doctor’s appointments on the hours of our last lesson together (Thurs. 28 I think), so the day I give you your work back you would have to check you understand my corrections and have no questions, which means, we’d need to devote at least 20 mins. (supposing there were no questions, which I doubt) to that, but possibly more. And this will be the day of… the documentary! (see below)
  • The Grammar Bank is no priority for me, but we can check that if you like. Try to see or we’ll see where we can fit it in.
  • On the last lesson together, we would watch one of my favorite documentaries (1 hour): the episode “To Belong” in Baby Human. Geniuses in Diapers, by some Canadian (women) scientists (if I remember correctly).
  • As you can see, dear CALs, we wouldn’t have much time for recording the zillions of sentences, so I’m thinking of recording them at home. But I’m open to your suggestions!
  • Back to you all, if you don’t like these plans or can improve them, make your proposals next day in class!

🙂 ❤

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For CAL students! Zokorro! :D

Dear students, I’ve been gathering the General Useful Classroom Language everybody sent in, but my eyes are sore after 10 pages and I’m not sure it’s ready for publication and recording, so here’s what. If you find some time, can you have a look and then in class tell us all if you would be able to improve this before we record it?

calprojectALL (10 pages, Word) I haven’t done the pages by subject. I hope I can manage that too, but I might need some more work on this next year, or pops in June, after the Exam Craze. We teachers are being asked to do more work in less time (for less pay too) and even though I work every weekend this is never-ending, so I’m planning to take the weekend breaks hereafter! 🙂

The second thing I need is related to your names: some people were not in class when you all wrote down how you wanted to be named, so I’ve just included their first name. Anyone in this case, please let me know if you want something different to what I wrote.

Finally, the good news is I managed to work out how to publish it. It’s not what I had in mind but it’s similar. The audios would be at the bottom. If you browse the site, and watch the videos, please, let me know if you think they’re OK for your subject. Also, send in the “embed” address of any video in any kind of English you like for your subject.



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A positive approach to mistakes

Do not fear mistakes. There are none.
Miles Davis (1927 – 1991) – one of the greatest musicians ever!

Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts.
Jim Morrison

400px-Venus_Williams_WTTWhen you lose, you’re more motivated. When you win, you fail to see your mistakes and probably no one can tell you anything.
Venus Williams

My life is full of mistakes. They’re like pebbles that make a good road.
Beatrice Wood


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Y5: About your writing test

Dear all, consider I’ve been very demanding throughout the year, and that your Writing Test is not a C1 test, but a B2 or Upper Intermediate test. Play it safe, and then in the proofreading enrich! 😀

For people who have missed working on some kinds of texts, I have notes on Talking People (Writing), but you’ll learn a lot from reading the Writings EOI Getafe students got published, and the link to that is in the section called Your Stuff on tp.

You should know about letter-writing (formal: complaints, application letters, requesting info, replying to ads if you want to review what you learned in previous years or this year; informal); and then about reviews, proposals & (business) reports, articles for magazines… anything else you learned/learnt this year?

Some formal alternatives (verbs) to ordinary words you could also use in semiformal texts:

  • ask for – request
  • look for – seek
  • buy – purchase


  • lots of (informal!!!); (for all) a lot of, many – (formal) a great deal (of), numerous
  • huge (informal!!) – enormous, very large
  • kid (informal!) – child; kids – children
  • my stuff (informal!) – my belongings

Plus, covering some language functions & register:

  • informal letters: Keep me posted! (to say goodbye, and say: I’ll love to get news from you)
  • all kinds (for proposals, asking people to do you favors): Let me know what you think.
  • The aim of this proposal / report is …
  • The job involves + -ing : involves getting up early…
  • (semi/formal) I am writing to inform you about my dissatisfaction…
  • (semi/formal) I am writing to request some information about…
  • In response to your advertisement published in (name of paper) on May 3, 2004 (show you know how to use dates) / in today’s morning issue/edition, I am writing to apply for the position/post of…
  • (polite request) Could you possibly send me some information (on this)?
  • (all) That was very kind/sweet/thoughtful of you.
  • (informal) I’m really grateful
  • (formal) Thank you for your time and consideration.
  • (informal) Thanks for a lovely stay. I have very sweet memories of my time over there / with you.
  • Congratulations! (for your achievement!) I’m so happy for you. / I’m so happy to hear you got the grant!
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European Elections (2): Plans & Voting

In case you wish to have a look at their Plan (programa político), and you can also print the ballot supposing you wanted to vote for them, here is the site of Iniciativa Feminista: http://www.iniciativafeminista.es/iniciativa/, the party I plan to vote to! Surprise, surprise! / OF COURSE, right?! 😀 ❤ In English: http://www.iniciativafeminista.es/iniciativa/?page_id=503

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CO Day – May 15


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The verb “Suggest” in structures (Avanzado – writing, speaking)

Here is the explanation I’ve been giving lately in my Fifths. I couldn’t find it on talking people.net and then remembered I might’ve posted it on the blog I had last year for my Intermedio 2’s and Avanzado 2’s in Madrid!


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Making Suggestions (Intermedio – Writing, Speaking)

Here you will find 8 examples of letters by Intermedio 2 students in Madrid, who used the language function of making suggestions to write an email to their teacher. Enjoy!

By the way, thanks for a lovely lesson! That was FUN!!! ❤


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European Language Portfolio Video

13 minutes

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Beautiful teaching/learning idea!

My dearest sister Carol sends me this video you might all enjoy! ❤

Can you understand it all? Let me know!

Over here, there were two teachers who took part in a similar experience, but face-to-face. The project ended last year, unfortunately.

Our societies need to bridge gaps between “groups” of people formed by Market, mostly, I believe. It’s like we’re always being pushed into pigeon holes. I still remember that when I was a child the groups of underaged had kids of all ages — from the little ones to the bigger ones, and they all seemed to manage well without adults! 😀 (And it was not always older girls in charge of the little ones, by the way!)

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Underneath the Apple Tree, by Carmen McRae

This song always makes me laugh

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Why should we always vote? (European Elections 2014)

Because the people who always vote in Industrial Societies belong or support political parties that do not respect everybody’s human rights. And when the other people don’t vote, their representation and influence in Parliaments rise, which explains the rise of extreme right-wing groups in Europe. Consider the case in Spain, with a strange right-wing political party that encompasses also extreme-right people. Not only has the reproductive right to a wanted motherhood not been decriminalized / not only hasn’t the reproductive right to a wanted motherhood been decriminalized, but the few cases where abortion was legal are now threatened, threatening women’s health and freedom to chose a wanted motherhood. And this is just one of the most tragic examples.

Because if we want to change the world and we are critical with the system RENOUNCING a right we had to fight for is not our best option. It’s unnecessary. Voting is not much, because we need to do much more, but not voting, renouncing rights nobody gave people but that cost brave generous people their lives, their happiness, their well-being, is ill-focused. It’s not a good answer to the problem. It’s a kind of misconception on what social struggle is and brings.

European Elections 2014

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In case you don’t know Chet Baker…

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Love you more than you’ll ever know (Live), Amy Winehouse

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You’re Undecided, by Ella Fitzgerald

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Fifths: Three projects underway

  • 5A is working on a 10-point Manifesto — peeps, I need someone to send me the text once you finish.
  • 5CAL is working on the audio project of Useful Classroom Language — I’ll try to upload the checked sentences asap, and then I need you to tell me how we should proceed in terms of the recordings.
  • 5B has started the Wassap Interviews today — please, practice speaking about this — I’ll be making questions next day.

It’s all very exciting and I hope to manage to publish everything before the end of course.

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Intermediate Practice Test (cañero)

Dear all,

I designed a very hard Intermediate exam for Exam Practice and I wonder if the Fifths would be able to do the listening in Part 2! It’s designed so you can use the Skeleton of Meaning technique, the technique we naturally use when it’s hard to understand people and we try to make do (expression: to make do) with the words we do understand, which tend to be, actually, key words to identify the topic and the most important points of what one says.

I made a terrible mistake which was The answers were included! But here is the corrected version. The links to the videos are included and work. But on TP you’ll find the audio version, too.

icep14 (6 pages) pdf

icep14key (posted at Silvia’s request <3)

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Weird day but good ending

Last night (this morn!) I had a nightmare, so I woke up feeling sick (meaning, literally, wanting to throw up). I wrote a poem I would have rather not written. I had this nightmare because of the past, not the present. Sometimes we have things we never solved locked up inside, and something can trigger their surfacing. In my case it was reencountering some old friends, and reading the poems one of them had written. We had shared a very hard period in our lives, the deaths of our parents, and memories were stirred, making me feel very weak and vulnerable. Back to real (present) life, a few things went totally wrong in my first half of the day, so that didn’t help. I thought I would have to stay home but then I thought of you all and that gave me strength to pull  my shit together! So I went to work. The lessons were good, and a good thing to be doing in this weird state of mind. Constructive! Few people came to Y5A (I started the lesson with 1 person!) but the lesson was interesting and participatory, which I love because I’m an interactive teacher! 🙂 In spite of the fact that in Y3C we underwent some panicky moments, 😀 , it all went well in the end, really well, and I think we all learned. It was not the best moment to do that particular exam practice but life is about managing in non-ideal scenarios, don’t you think? 🙂 And we did!

I haven’t been the best teacher I can be this year, for a number of reasons, but I also think I’ve done my best to help you learn. Still, yesterday when I received the results of the Questionnaire you all filled out (US) / filled in (UK) about your teacher’s work with you, I felt surprised, consoled, happy and thankful.

In this last part of the course together, it’ll be mostly you doing what you need to do. Y5s, review past exams, to consolidate you know about the format. Y3s keep working with your textbook, and if you can listen to Revise & Check listening exercises and to the Practical English recordings (and if you want more, to the radio / podcasts), but don’t worry much, I’ll be bringing exercises so they can practice Reading & Listening Comprehension exercises, and then you’ll be practicing speaking with the tests.

Everybody read the Guía del Alumnado 2013-14 (link to the info on the School website), to feel more confident about the process. The more you revise what you know (trying to learn new things is not the best option), the more you consolidate. Listen to as much English as you can every day, to make your ear stronger, so to say.

And just to take a break, I’m posting a short story I wrote, that might make you smile. It’s in Spanish, though! Something reminded me of it, when I was with the fifths today. I think the beach I mention might’ve been in this region!

La historia del chico griego en la playa. (4 pages)


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Hilma af Klint, a pioneer of abstract art, by Teresa (Y5CAL)

Go to our youtube channel to read the info on this video, if you like! ❤

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Follow-up for the Writing Assignment on Life Without Teachers

Isaac-AsimovThe reason why I gave you, my fifths, this writing assignment is because I had just read this lovely story by Isaac Asimov, The Fun They Had. Enjoy!


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Learn this poem! Wild Geese, & expand your horizons while you’re in rooms!

Telling yourself this amazing poem will soothe you, like a lullaby, and help you get ready to focus before getting your exam papers! (Demented laughter!) 😀 😀

It also helps when you have to stand for hours in a line! It helps you avoid feeling like you wanna strangle the person who eventually asks you what you want!



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Are you going to survive the exam or not? (audio)

Listen to this message first! Then read on, if you like!


Sometimes survival is all about understanding a good idea, that allows you to develop the correct attitude. It’s not about competing and cheating, but about focusing and collaborating. It’s not about shrinking psychologically in the face of fear, but about controlling fear, expanding curiosity and focusing on the task before you, first one then the next.

The exam is not the moment for regrets, or evaluating yourself or others. You haven’t done enough. We’ve never done enough. We’re never good enough. Well do something about it next time, but now, if instead of a victim you are a survivor, focus on the task! Just do it!

The exam is the moment when regardless what your body does, your mind focuses on each problem and tries to solve it, the best way you can.

Exams can help you develop your survival skills. You don’t have to use them to destroy your self-esteem, your love for learning, your ability to understand why you are taking it — to learn a language to communicate with other human beings, to learn a language and train all of your kinds of intelligences, and learn to grow and learn about yourself in this very special and constructive way.

You cannot disappoint teachers, either. Not me, for sure. I have no respect for exams. I’m a professional survivor of exams. I know exams cannot tell me anything about my knowledge or skills, because I know what I know and because I’m always learning and fighting to improve. That’s like when you are at court for nonviolent direct action in a military base and they tell you that you have committed a “crime”. I simply cannot believe that. War is a crime against humanity, for its murders, destruction and taking away of vital resources. I know how much I love learning, and how much I learn, and learn to learn, and no Oposición (State Teachers’ Exam) could take that away from me. I also knew I was not the best teacher in the world, but that I was a good teacher – with my ups and downs, obviously, but good. I also knew I could reach for the moon. And one day I did! I managed to touch the moon! Me, the hopeless student in primary, the very mediocre student in secondary, the university dropout, got two 9.7/10 in the Oposición! I had been so crushed by the system for so many years, till I realized I was not into obeying that. I was into growing and reaching for the moon.

Most of the times we help the system a lot by not respecting ourselves. You don’t have to be brilliant to deserve some (self-)respect. Your value as a person does not come from market values. But culture is all about brainwashing us to believe this message, to execute, perform this cruel terribly unintelligent idea.

Taking pressure off you is fundamental, because piling up pressure is what makes everybody suffer a great deal when they have exams, and what makes some people fail exams. EXERCISE: So think about what gives you pressure, write it down, and do some problem-solving: find a reason why you shouldn’t feel that pressure. Problem-solving develops your intelligence and takes you away from the path of self-destruction and other kinds of violence. Do you want to change the world? Well, here is what you can do: start with what is at hand, yourself. Stop exerting violence against yourself and others, in the ways exams push us to do that!

Don’t listen to urban myths on exams. Check with the knowledgeable source, for instance, me! A horribly violent urban myth: “I failed because of my partner”. PLEASE! Come to your senses. (And don’t offend teachers like that. We’re professionals.) If you have to take the speaking test with someone whose English is not as good as yours, cooperate and work WITH the person, because YOUR English will shine and you won’t be harming the other person, you will be collaborating for successful communication. Our speaking test is not about YOUR English. It’s also about your ability to communicate with other people, including when there are communication problems, in all kinds of scenarios where communication encounters obstacles. We are professionals. We know what your English is like, as we listen. We are able (and trained) to work out that the two people can have different levels. As professionals we are listening, to check that regardless the different levels, the two people can certify the level they’re being tested on. If your partner does not perform well, you won’t necessarily fail. You will fail if you don’t try to make communication possible in the face of a problem, for instance, by speaking on your own all the time or by remaining silent. You have to use language to solve the communication problem: paraphrasing, asking in different ways, for instance. The things we have been working on and that you should be practicing at home as you listen or collect Useful Language for Communicative Strategies.

Teachers have no interest in people failing exams, forchristssake! The more people pass, the better we feel because it indicates people have been learning and you helped! Thinking that one fails because the teacher is unprofessional reflects an ignorant attitude/thought, full of disrespect or dislike towards teachers. Actually, the authorities already think we’re very bad teachers because of their statistics: all of those absentists who flunk or never take the exam count as cases of teachers’ failure to facilitate learning, which is a faulty analysis. The authorities do not count percentages considering WHO took the exam (less still, considering who followed the course). Their percentage includes a lot of people who never even came to class and who never took the exam. That’s why absentism hurts so much the public system. It’s telling society: public education sucks. If you want to learn, pay. Market is best, not the public system. But the truth about public education is not that. Teachers are qualified professionals, and on top of that they have valuable working experience, because working in public education is very demanding in various ways. We teach everyone. We try to help every kind of person learn. We have to study all kinds of things, and train in all kinds of things. Non-stop.

When you get to the exam room, focus. It’s not the time to send yourself stupid messages, like “It’s so hot”. It’s going to be fucking hot. Imagine you are in the jungle, forchristssake and forget about the sweat. You’ve got better things to do now! You’re an English warrior, or peaceling. You’re a survivor! You’re going to give your curiosity a chance, and focus on the tasks, and later on see what comes out of it!

Please, don’t play the victim. You’re consolidating the learning Culture tells you to do. Simply do your best. It’s just an exercise. It’s not about your value as a human being, not even as a learner. It’s red tape. Paperwork.

Still, you can make lemonade (“If life gives you lemons, make lemonade”). You can get the most out of this experience. Approach the exam with curiosity. “hey, let’s see what happens! I’m going to do this task!” See if you can apply what you learned. Review the steps for each task. This helps you to focus! And enjoy the journey. Enjoy the fucking exam! It’s just a click inside you have to do. A click that will change your life!! 😀

Exams are like all the things in life we don’t like. If you learn to deal with them constructively, you will be developing skills, an attitude that will help you in more important matters in life.

Take exams, like mistakes, as opportunities to discover and explore things, as small exercises that help you build something big in time.

This improvised text is inspired in talk in class, in case you missed it, for my 2013-14 students checking out the blog at https://plansnwhatwedid.wordpress.com/

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Common Core Curriculums: Killing teaching/learning processes

Curriculum – Curriculums/Curricula; syllabus – syllabuses/syllabi

I just read /red/ I’ve just read /red/ this by Jeff Nguyen, a primary teacher in the USA, where the Common Core curriculum suffocates teaching and learning processes with even more harshness than here — “imperfections” here seem to offer more spaces for freedom, I would say: “I have also realized that children do love to learn, play and talk but it has to be within a context of authentic experiences that are carefully constructed so as to shape their thoughts and ideas in a meaningful way“.

With  few changes in wording, this idea would perfectly apply to teaching adults!: “I have also realized that adults do love to learn, cooperate and talk but it has to be within a conext of authentic experiences that are carefully constructed so as to inspire the development of their thoughts and ideas in a vital & meaningful way”.


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Very Important: 2 Reminders!

Reminder 1: in the FIRST 3 lessons in May I’ll jot down the names of people who know who they want to take their Speaking test with. (The rest will be summoned to the oral, too, of course. No worries. I’ll find a partner for you, following the usual procedure.) So, if you know who is willing to be your partner, both of you should come to me DURING the lesson so I can collect that information. The final list will be published on the Tablón del Departamento, segunda planta, in the third week of May.

Reminder 2: from 5-20 March (I think, check at the School) you should be dropping by the School Office IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO TAKE THE C1 COURSE NEXT YEAR. (That’ll depend first on whether you pass your Exam, and then o whether there are any vacancies, but you should request “pre-inscripción”). Baremos explicados en la web del centro, como expliqué aquí.

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For CAL students! Our project on Useful Classroom Language!

Dear CAL students! I have just published a Page where I have included the Useful Classroom Language I have collected from you all so far (black navbar above, first line)

*CAL – The Useful Language Project! (Page here)

Please, check it out, and let me know how we can improve it before we record the sentences. I’ll give you your notes back so you can see what I changed.

If any native-English speaker out there is a teacher and would like to give us any feedback 😀 on Useful Classroom Language for different subjects in primary and secondary, teachers in public/state-run education in Spain will be grateful! (Latest educational policies are working against public education). You see, learning a foreign language is not having access to the same kind of language you learn when you go to school as a kid.

Anyway, we’ll survive!! 😀

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30min of flowing river water!

In case you can’t get anywhere near one!

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And the Mississippi and AfroAmerican struggle… Old Man River

performed by Paul Robeson in the movie Ol’ Man River

Hardship: You and me, we sweat and strain… Tired of living, scared of dying… but Ol’ Man River he just keeps rolling along!

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