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Monday, 5 December 2011

Being creative


After the recent Government change in Spain, I wonder if there’ll be another change in Education shortly. Changes are said to be changes for the better, nevertheless, do you think that it’s only a question of a new Education system? Well, at least some food for thought.  

Rather than Educational changes,  we need new ways of thinking and in terms of Creativity and Innovation.  It’s like going to the doctor for some pain-killers or something like that. At hospitals, you’re very likely to wish your doctor to be up-dated, fit for purpose and practical too, and Medicine has evolved to a greater extent. On the contrary, teaching has reminded the same in the last 60 years, with some reforms, but quite the same thing. Therefore, we firstly need to take into account that “Creativity is  been maligned, neglected, and misunderstood” by Society over the last decades. However, according to Sir Ken Robinson, who led the British government's 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education, “people see creativity and critical thinking as being opposed. It's partly because people associate creativity with being totally free and unstructured. But what we really have to get hold of is the idea that you can't be creative if you don't do something”. For further reading, please have a look at this blog.

Another author also deals with the topic of Creativity, Chaz Pugliese, writer of the book entitled  Being Creative and here he is, talking on the same topic.

I hope you find this post interesting or at least something to reflect upon for a while. Please, remember that all comments are well-appreciated. Bye for now and until next post on Education.

Sources:
http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept09/vol67/num01/Why-Creativity-Now%C2%A2-A-Conversation-with-Sir-Ken-Robinson.aspx
http://www.deltapublishing.co.uk/titles/methodology/being-creative

Saturday, 26 November 2011

After couple of listens...

After a couple of listens, you'll probably get the gist of Anna's podcasts easily. This is just a question of practice. As the English idiom goes: "Practice makes perfect". So, there's no time to lose, the more podcasts you listen to, the better listener you'll become. It's like the traditional tale of Little Red Riding Hood: "Grandma, what big ears you have! All the better to hear with, my child."

Ok, then, going back to present time, let's move on and listen to Anna's podcast on Chores, which is also very related to the class topic on how to express hospitality. Here's the Chores handout and the mp3 audio for you to use as many times as necessary.

On the other hand, we dealt with the theme of  Education all through the past unit, and Anna helped us with her podcast on Starting to read, where you can drew the conclusion that learning to read is quite complicated, even for native speakers. (Starting to read handout, mp3 audio)
Sources:  http://acupofenglish.libsyn.com/starting_to_read_ and http://acupofenglish.libsyn.com/chore-time-

To conclude, I hope you find this post useful for your English practice, if not, please feel free to drop some lines, telling me how you feel about it. Your comments will be very appreciated, specially the positive ones. Anyway, just let me know how your English is going on.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Misunderstandings

Have you ever misunderstood anything that made you laugh out loud?


If you have and you wish to tell us about, please just send us your misunderstanding anecdote. This is the right writing section for learners to share and have a great time too. Our first learner, Manuel, is telling us about Peter and Alice’s confusion. I hope you enjoy it. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s put your English into practice and send us your anecdotes.

Here's another writer, Enrique, who's telling us his personal language misunderstanding. This is full of fun and it's well-written too. Thanks so much for your writing contribution.

On the other hand, before you write your first words, you'd better think about some good ideas to write about. However, this is not so easy at first and sometimes, you'll have to read something about the same topic. So, do you need any inspiration for your writing? Here's a love misunderstading by the BBC. A little bit of British humour:

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The EOI-Santiago Book Clubs

Do you like READING?

Join the EOI-SANTIAGO BOOK CLUBS!

DISCOVER the pleasure of reading real books in English

SHARE your impressions and comments with other readers

IMPROVE your English and your language skills





GENERAL INFORMATION:

- The Book Club is addressed to intermediate 2 and advanced students. Former EOI students are also welcome. Meetings will be held once monthly.

Extensión de Noia: Tuesday, 22nd November at 8pm (language lab) jlago@eoisantiago.org

Extensión de Ribeira: Wednesday, 23rd November at 8pm (room 103) dpastoriza@eoisantiago.org

Extensión de Santiago (IES de Sar): Wednesday, 23rd November at 8pm (room 10) alosada@eoisantiago.org

Visit the book club blog: http://novelteaclub.blogspot.com/


  So, there's no time to lose. Why don't you read and comment on your best books ever? , exactly the same thing as the well-known movie: The Jane Austen Book Club. Come on, readers! Let's get your reading started.


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is a 2004 American romantic fantasy film about an estranged couple who have each other erased from their memories, scripted by Charlie Kaufman and directed by the french director, Michel Gondry. The film uses elements of science fiction, psychological thriller, and nonlinear narration to explore the nature of memory and romantic love. It opened in North America on March 19, 2004, and grossed over US $70 million worldwide.

Kaufman and Gondry worked on the story with Pierre Bismuth, a French performance artist. The film stars an ensemble cast starring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood, Jane Adams, and David Cross.

The title is taken from the poem Eloisa to Abelard by Alexander Pope, the story of a tragic love affair, where forgetfulness became the heroine's only comfort:
How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd;
The film was a critical and commercial success, developing a strong cult following and receiving a myriad of accolades, winning the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The film was lauded by critics as one of the best and most thought-provoking films of 2004. 


In class, we watched the first half of the film and after that, we drew our own conclusions: there're so many flashbacks that it's sometimes hard to be followed and perhaps a bit aggressive too. However, I think we need to wait for the second part to understand the whole film. Meanwhile, I'd like to drop you some more lines on the same topic of our mind and memory. The following notes were taken from Straightforward Advanced Teacher's Book, by Roy Norris: "Cultural notes: Alzheimer's disease is a serious illness affecting the brain, which makes it difficult to remember things. It gets worse over time and affects older people in particular. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is the film starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett. It presupposes that you can go to a clinic and have bad memories erased from your brain. In the film, Jim Carrey, whilst undergoing the treatment, fights against losing his memories. The moral is that memories are what make us what we are - even the bad ones.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Do you have a memory like an elephant?

Well, this question doesn't seem to be so easily responded at first. Memory is a quite complicated process, as it's depicted through this photo. There're many different steps and stages going on within the grey matter and thus, testing our intelligence quotient (IQ) may vary to a greater extent, depending on the assessing criteria to be applied. On the contrary, our mental capacities can be trained and improved. However, this is not only a question of numbers, tests or IQ, but taking into account that our brain is similar to another muscle of our entire body, though it's true that we need the right stimulations and environment to obtain our best potential and develop more talents and capacities. Finally, to quote an example, I'd like to recommend you to look for some information about Sir Ken Robinson. Here's a well-known video by him:


For further listening, (Handout, mp3), vocabulary, reading and speaking practice on Memory, please click on the appropriate words above.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Listen to this

Hey! Please, listen to this. Here's another listening task for Advanced learners of English. We're currently dealing with the topics of Mid-life crisis and Education. This time there's no noise at the background, but still some listening skills to be developed. So, there's no time to lose. Please, feel free to click on the handout and have a look at the activities, then, play track 7 and track 8 as longer as needed. Listening skills usually require time, patience and effort, therefore, that's exactly one of the benefits of this blog, that is, the classroom bell won't make you stop practising and you can also listen to it again whenever you feel like doing it, and thus you'll become a much better autonomous learner of English.

Word-building or Word-formation


Basically, we could start off by studying some basic word-formation suffixes and prefixes, which will help you to guess the meaning and grammar of English words.

So, here's your WORD-FORMATION theory and practice to do your best at your English school. Remember that there are not magical RULES for word-formation, and it's only a question of practice and loads of English exposure.


Let's put it this way...it's time for more words... - from Intermediate to advanced level.


Learning a language is like building a house. We need plenty of bricks to be able construct a venue with well-laid foundations and suitable enough for our living expectations: good sights, full of light, and comfortable for our family. By the same token, to produce a fluent speech, it’s necessary to manage a whole array of words, which must be assimilated, practised and used regularly, rather than only translated into the target language. Word-building takes time and what’s even more important: suffixes and prefixes must be recognized; otherwise you won’t make the most of your word-building. For further word-formation practice, you’d better click on words, words, words.


Sunday, 30 October 2011

More exceptions than rules

Today's question is related to the grammar of English. As I've been teaching the article usage for Intermediate 2 learners, we've found out that it's not only grammar what we need to study, but also a bit of general knowledge is even more useful for the true understanding of the language. Grammar rules must be always accompanied by common sense, current language usage and some broad culture.

No wonder you've got some trouble with the article usage, simply because in English we need to take into account that there're many exceptions to the grammatical rules and regarding the article, we could put the following examples:
You write the article the for a group of islands (The Canary Islands) and you don't write it for some countries (Spain). Exception: Polynesia is considered to be a country by itself, so no article there; unless we'd like to refer to individual islands within its country. Other exceptions are countries like the USA or the UK. As you can see now, be careful with rules in English, 'cos there're many more exceptions. For more information, please click on here.

Still obsessed with Grammar RULES, please have a look at this teacher, talking about the Present Perfect in English:

For further practice on the article and the topic of Tourism, please listen to Anna talking about The Alps. (Handout, key & script. Audio)


On the other hand, let us now consider the matter of GRAMMAR from the opposite point of view, and think about part of Luke's podcast comments as follows: "James is a normal educated professional Londoner, but as a native speaker, I wanted to ask him some questions about Grammar, because often learners of English are very surprised that native speakers don’t really know anything about the RULES of Grammar, even though they speak the language perfectly.” For the complete Luke’s podcast about grammar, please feel free to enjoy his useful clarifications by playing the whole podcast below:


Saturday, 29 October 2011

How to write a leaflet

Today, we've gone through some steps to design and write a tourist brochure and we've become aware of the fact that there are many decisions to be taken. This is not like following simple instructions of any activity from the textbook. On the contrary, firstly we need to think about a country and a city. Secondly, we have to decide the type of details and data to be used for our leaflet, whether we'd like to help tourists with some culture shocks as they arrive at our country or even, if we prefer to promote a certain city. In both cases, we have to describe and explain some cultural habits and customs. Thirdly, we need some useful words and expressions and common vocabulary about the same topic: Tourism. Finally, we could have a look at some real leaflets written in different languages, so that we can have a model to follow, though there's no other way for us to start writing in English, rather than our everyday writing practice.

For further information about writing skills, please have a look at these documents about writing techniques and examples.
 
As the English set-phrase goes: Practice makes perfect, let's now put our English into practice and take a butchers at our first writer, who decided to send us her leaflet about Burges. Thanks so much, María. I'm sure that we'll read your excellent leaflet before going to there. For more leaflets' samples, please click on here. Thank you very much indeed, dear writers. Well-done and well-written too for all of you. 

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Wind of Change

As you can see through these two photos, I've decided to talk about a well-known song by a heavy metal band called Scorpions. This song is mainly based on some historical important events, especially related to Germany and it's also around the topic of a change for the better. Wind of change is a wonderful ballad from the early 90's and it makes me think about my past teenage years. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. However, before we listen to the song, here are some questions for you to answer. Then, you could check them with the KEY. For further information on the same topic, please click on here; or you can always post your comments, right at the end of this post and have a look at some You Tube clips.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

More or less


More or less is one of the most common expressions for Spanish people speaking in English, however, do we have other different ways of expressing Approximation? Of course, we have. In conversation, we may need to talk about figures and numbers or even something which is only approximate, so for that reason, we'd better have a look at the following approximating expressions and sentences:

This book cost me four pounds something.
I took around two weeks or something like that.
There were just under / over / roughly / very nearly / upwards of / somewhere in the region of / some two thousand people there.
I've been here for twenty odd years. (odd= approximately, colloquial; Spanish: y tantas, -os; y pico)
I've been working as an accountant for something like five years now.
About; around.
Sort of, kind of, -ish...

To conclude, I hope you like this post and thus, you satisfy some of your language teaching expectations about Approximation and for the next time you need to express yourself broadly or generally speaking, you'll have, at least, some expressions to use and incorporate into your everyday language.

Source: Paraphrased from Straightforward. Advanced Student's Book by Roy Norris

Friday, 14 October 2011

How to write through Finding Forrester

Generally speaking, there are several writing techniques available for writers to apply, however, depending on the type of text and the number of words, you may need to use one method or another. We have just learnt how to do some Free writing, but this is just part of the first steps to write about 5,000 words, as you could see throughout the film: Finding Forrester. For any shorter writing production, you'd rather do some thinking and brainstorming first, and then drafting and editing before you provide your final writing version. In short, writing is more like rewriting, rethinking, rereading, editing and improving your words and expressions to create something interesting to be read and what's more remarkable, to catch the reader's attention, and thus, hopefully, readers will read your writing again.

At last, we've got our first writers with their reviews. Thank you very much indeed for all of you. Here's Manuel with his paragraph about the movie above.

For further information and writing practice, please have a look at this writing section.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Loud and clear, please

We were listening to some people on holiday as a part of a listening task at the classroom and there was too much noise at the background. In theory, Advanced students are supposed to understand most of it even with some background noise, but in practice, it wasn't loud and clear at all. Oops, we need more practice, me myself included. On the contrary, I'd just like to point out that in other everyday situations, inside a Pub, for instance, we may feel very unconfortable, unable to get what's going on there in any social encounter. So, let's listen to Jackie and Christine with some background noise. (Handout, 1st Part MP3, 2nd Part MP3, Key, 1st Part Transcript, 2nd Part Transcript)

A song Project


After reading through all the speaking TIPS below, you'll probably be totally prepared for a little project about music. Firstly, you need to have a look at some vocabulary on music, together with an outline on the different musical genders throughout the history of music. This outline was taken from a book entitled Music and Song by Tim Murphey, written in 1992, so that's why some types of music are missing. New genre-bendings have appeared since then. As you can see, there's no time to lose. Wade in and enjoy your music selection and preparation. You may feel like podcasting, that's great, but please share your recordings with us.

On the other hand, whether you're a bit stuck, unable to think about any song or simply you don't understand what you have to do or how to start, you may need to have a look at this post, which will guide you all over the processes to create the final Song project, together with the whole preparation. Through this post, I hope you find it a bit easier to begin with, or at least you'll have a model to rely on.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Roughly speaking,

You should interact with people who speak the English Language fluently. You'd better make sure that you converse with these people regularly and get a feedback on areas where you need to improve. At periodic intervals, you should also record your voice which will help you gauge the progress you are making. Podcasting seems to be an appropriate option and you could also exchange your recordings with other podcasters.
Right before podcasting, make sure that you immerse yourself in English just before any speaking task, test or lesson. Try to read books, magazines and newspapers in English. Watch British or American films, TV or even listen to the radio if possible.
Paraphrased from:
http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/forum-topic/how-improve-speaking-listening
For further reading on Speaking tips, click on the word TIPS.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Let me your ears and...

I sing you a song. Yes, alright, these are some lyrics from the well-known song by the Beatles: With a little help from my Friends. So, perhaps you haven't got excellent ears for music, however, this is not a problem at all. To learn English, all you need to do is simply train your ears as longer as possible. The more you listen to, the better English you'll produce. No matter how fast or difficult English may be for you. All you have to do is just practise and listen to songs, talks or any snippet of English information or conversation. Since practice makes perfect, there's no time to lose. So, first let's listen to some people talking about their family. (headings, mp3, solution). For further information, please have a look at this article on Listening tips by the BBC.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Please do not panic...

Please do not panic about prepositions in English. This is not so complicated. A. V. Martinet and David Crystal will help us to understand our last doubts about the Prepositions on and to for location, whether they are on a absolute position (the room) as in on the left, at the back of, at the front of, on the right of, in the middle of, or to a relative position (the girl) as in to the left, behind, in front of, to the right of. So, first of all, take it easy and then, please have a look at these two grammar books.

On the other hand, you may find prepositions difficult to use when you've got to decide whether you write them, you don't or even both cases. Here's a good example: I'll meet you and I'll meet with you.

Finally, for some Youtube videos about prepositions, you could always check out these prepositions.

Believe it or not...

Believe it or not, we sometimes use the pronoun it talking about a baby, especially when its name is known. For further information, please click on here to read Leech's explanations about it.

With a little help from my friends


Hello my friends! I'm sure this song rings a bell for the most of you. Yes, it's by the Beatles and I think it's quite easy to be followed, isn't it? Well, let's compare it with Bon Jovi's version. Can you see the differences? Here's the solution for you. But, hey! hang on! You should first try to write it after you've listened to Bon Jovi:

On the other hand, you may need to have a look at some speaking on friends that we did at the classroom. In case you'd like to practise a little bit more, here you have the two handouts. Finally, I'd like to encourage you to keep on speaking in English as long as possible, simply because practice makes perfect and thus, the more you speak and practise, the better English you'll get at the end of the day.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Free Hugs in London

Last day, we were listening to Anna's podcast entitled Free Hugs in London. Students found it a bit long, however, I think it's an excellent listening on friends and social encounters. Good vocabulary explanations too.

After having heard about London and how to spend the day hugging around, we could have a look at these words on friends and family.
Yes, exactly! You know, those words that you may think about, once you're talking about your last weekend with your friends or family.

Welcome to all EOI learners and let's get the learning started

Hello everyone!

This blog will guide all through your English learning, though I'll be here full-time, writing, selecting, planning all the activities accomplished. So, any question, comment, suggestion or even complaint is well-appreciated. Please do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail at any time.
Ok, then, there's no time to lose. Let's get it started.



Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Stereotypes about Spain


Today, we've been talking about some stereotypes all over Spain. We were practising for the Speaking test and the teacher wrote these comments on the same topic for us to use:
"Do you agree on the following statements?
-Spain is only paella, bull-fighting and flamenco.
-People in Spain wear clothes more casually.
-Spaniards like criticizing the others so much!

As a conclusion, we could state that..."


On the other hand, since Stereotypes seem to be an adequate topic to talk about, I've asked Anna to  write a Podcast on the same issue. She's marvellous, you know, she didn't take long to post an entry on her blog. Specially addressed to all of you, dear learners. Well, just right for your ears. Please click on the word Stereotypes to get the podcast.

What do you think about this podcast? Useful, perhaps?


Wow! Time flies! I'm back here editing this old post. Today is the 14 november 2013 and I'm teaching Basic 1 and 2. We're talking about Stereotypes in class and we think they are a great topic to discuss among all of us, but, of course, just generally speaking, that is, Stereotypes. Here's the handout about Stereotypes for Basic 2, just a good task for speaking.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Carnivals all over the world





It's Carnival time and we'd like to see the different ways of having fun at Carnivals in various countries such as England, Brasil, Spain and so on. Starting by the UK, we've realized that Carnivals take place in the summer and not in February as you may think if you're from Spain. Let's google the following question: "When are Carnivals held?" Apparently, February is the standard month to celebrate Carnivals and other countries like England "have developed their own traditions. In the United Kingdom, West Indian immigrants brought with them the traditions of Caribbean Carnival, however the Carnivals now celebrated at Notting Hill, London; Leeds, Yorkshire, and other places have become divorced from their cycle in the religious year, becoming purely secular events, that take place in the summer months". (wikipedia source)

Today, we've felt uncomfortable talking about Carnivals in class, I mean, we need more vocabulary to explain how to enjoy oneself at these festivities, on top of that, how on earth are we going to be able to explain about Xinzo's Carnivals to someone from the UK? It's not just a question of lack of vocabulary, but a tremendous culture change, which could be only understood by being there, and living such a traditional and ancient Carnival in Xinzo de Limia (Ourense)

In order to find out more about festivities and old traditions, we could read something by John Barlow. He wrote about the Galician tradition of Pig slaughter and its different dishes. His book is entitled: Everything but the Squeal: Eating the Whole Hog in Northern Spain, highly-recommended for you to appreciate the differences among cultures and difficulties when talking about them.

Finally, there's something more you can do, apart from having a look at Barlow's excellent book, why don't we start writing a document on Useful language on Carnivals and other festivities? Yes, why not.


Carnival resources for the language classroom:
http://www.esolcourses.com/topics/carnivals.html

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Pleased to meet you all


Welcome to this blog. Here's your section to keep your English up. Follow some of my learning tips and by doing so, you'll turn your English inside out. The door is open for all of you, however, you can lead horses to water, but you can't make them drink. So, the learning door is open for you and then there's no time to lose. Let's get it started.