Friday, October 02, 2009

Moving out!

Hi everyone. Who is everyone anyway? It might only be the two followers I have as students finished in June. Well, the thing is I've been racking my brains what to do next and I set up kind of a social network for students to foster communication and sharing among them, and I also moved to Wordpress, bought a domain name and am now hosting my blog in another platform. Besides, I'm beginning twitting. Well, to put it in a nutshell, as the title says, I'm moving out. Just in case you're interested, here's the links for the whole thing:
Not more homework, the place to be-
The blog -

That's it. Hope you can call in if you come to my place.
Thanks a lot for your feedback so far.

Monday, June 01, 2009

(Avanzado 1 & 2) Time to say goodbye

Well, you'd better pack up your stuff as the course's finally over. Gone are the days of grief and sorrow. Now it's holiday time.

I'd just written something to say goodbye but on second thoughts I realized I'd probably got a bit carried away and I'm keeping the text for when I retire, it's so emotional and heart-throbbing you couldn't possibly stop sobbing.

So I'm going practical- I've just uploaded different folders with photos from the course, the ones I got while you were making your speeches were used for my slide presentation but here's a chance for you to look for the one photograph in which you were featured and then download it in good quality and/or print it, or do as you wish. The other snapshots you'll find are those taken during last class.

As this time I didn't want all of your photographs to get 'public', so to say, I'm going to explain how to get them:
You'll get an email inviting you to download a web album from an application called 'Picasa'. Maybe you're familiar with or simply have heard of it. Only people who provided their email addresses will get it, obviously, as some people either don't have one or just wanted to keep it top secret. If that's your case, you'll have to ask someone who's already downloaded the photographs to copy them or give you the exact link.
Once you read the mail (it's not spam, for fuck's sake, it's me, your teacher), you'll be redirected to the link where you should be able to download a folder with the photographs. And that's it.
If you've got any technical questions (this goes for the "computers-don't-love-me" type of people) do not hesitate to contact me.
One thing I should warn you about is that we tend to be rather busy these days so it might take some time before I can actually do the whole thing. We're in exams now, but I won't forget.

To finish, I just wanted to thank you again. It was great. And I think we had a lot of fun, didn't we?
Enjoy the summer. Actually, enjoy whatever it is.

Monday, April 27, 2009

(Avanzado 1) Something to talk about

We've been listening to some beautiful projects by students for the last two months or so. Remember at first the uproar when I told you you'd have to speak for about 15 minutes? Well, you'll have to admit now that 15 minutes were rather scarce and most of you have actually spent more than that, the lectures went on an on...
First, I'd like to congratulate you all, no exceptions. I know that speaking in public is no easy thing and you've done pretty well. Then, I have to say that some of the lectures were awesome. I didn't know what to expect, but the general standard has been surprisingly good, interesting, very well prepared. Good job! I'm really happy that you took to it so enthusiastically and managed to put on such great projects. Thanks again.
Here's a list of the best projects according to your peers :

-Avanzado 1, Group M:
·Patricia+ Marta+ Maite+ Cristina- "How to be an alien"
·Ainhoa- "Multicultural Malta"
·Natalia+ Laura-"Taiwan and cultural differences"
-Pili- "Ecology"

You'll know by now that Best of the Bests was "How to be an alien" by Patricia, Marta, Maite and Cristina. Very funny when they acted out the archetypical English characters.

-Group N:
·Eva-"Jorge Oteiza"
·Mertxe-"Herbal remedies"
·Joaquin+ Cristina-"News Bulletin"

Eva was the winner in this group. No wonder as her presentation was superb.

-Group L:
·Alejandra+ Anabel+ Gemma+ Rut: "Kamishibai"
·Ohiana- "Apple and Steve Jobs"
·Eneko+ Diego+ Laura+ Amaia-"Pink Heart-a debate about women and men"

And Alejandra, Anabel, Gemma and Rut were the winners after a technical draw (sorry, Alfredo). Great project with their dressing up, geisha-like costumes and the origamy thing involving all students.

Do you miss any that you expected to be among the best? After taking a vote on these projects the winners will get a well, er...mmm...whatever! I'm still racking my brains about some lousy prize for the best presentations.
And you can't miss the slide show below with the photos taken during your lectures-

Thanks again! Bye for now.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

(Avanzado 1 & 2) Bank of podcasts

While I was having a beer with a few of you the other day I started whining as I didn't have the time to cope with so much work. And I remembered that I still kept somewhere a list with the suggestions of podcasts episodes you'd been listening to when I first introduced you to podcasting back in November or so. I got some feedback about what it was you listened to, whether it had been any interesting in your opinion, difficult, easy to understand, if the podcast provided students or listeners with the transcript, how often it was updated and things like that.
I also surveyed what were the chances of having a podcast but unfortunately it didn't come off. Not because you just couldn't be bothered but because I wasn't able to think how I was going to organize the recording sessions while in the classroom, the post-editing and that. Anyway, I got some very interesting ideas about what the contents might be, some people (especially from 1st Avanzado) sounded excited about the whole idea and I've made up my mind that we will have our own podcast next year, whoever my students are, whether I'm a teacher in 4th year or 5th or any other. So if I happen to be your teacher next year you're in for trouble!
But I digress...back to the podcasts. As I was saying I got a list of podcasts, crossed out the ones you didn't like whatever the reason and then chose a few of the best ones in your opinion, which are as follows.

-Podcasts in English
-Listen to English
-6 minute English
-English as a Second Language
-Breaking News English
-Talk about English
-Better at English
-City by city
-Business English Pod
-Travel with Rick Steves
-National Geographic

These are all web-based so if you click on the title you will be referred to the site and then you'll get all the information about the podcasts and the archives. Remember you can either download or listen to the episodes in streaming and also subscribe to them. For subscriptions you have three options- RSS, or else as they say 'easy does it': get the episodes via iTunes (strongly recommended application for downloading and managing podcasts). If you have problems you can also try Juice ipodder. If you still have problems, let's face it, you're a bit clumsy and state-of-the-art technology is not for you. Buy a transistor radio instead.

And last but not least, some of my suggestions, things I, to be honest, download-every-day-but- never-find-the-time-to-listen-to, well, sometimes when I go running listening to the Geoff's show while I puff my way up the slopes makes being scant of breath a bit more bearable. Most of them are, I'm warning you, not specifically for teaching English as a second language or educational purposes, which might make it a bit too difficult as they're aimed for natives. Actually it's mostly radio programmes which have a podcast as a bonus. You might have a go, though. Here's then a few of the things I sometimes, hardly ever, very few and far between, listen to but I still like:

-Adam and Joe
-Ricky Gervais
-Geoff Lloyd's Hometime Show
-The Larry King Show
-This American Life
-TED talks

I think that's enough, isn't it? Next year we'll take over and our classroom-made podcast will be top-notch!
See you in class...

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

(Avanzado 1 & 2) Here's The Caravinagres!

Bob 'the badger' (why 'the badger' and not 'the beaver', or 'the skUnk'*, or 'the squirrel'? You'll have to explain, mate) Adamson has asked me to announce that they'll be playing at the school. And I heard the former Tindersticks drummer has joined the band! Well, I've got three or four records by Tindersticks myself. I'm also looking forward to listening to that Hendrix-like guitar player rocking the stage. Well, this is his message to you anyway by Bob (1st on the right, that's him):

Hi. We're the CaraVinagres. Just wanted to say that we'll be celebrating St George's Day (the Patron Saint of England) with you at a concert in la Escuela on Thursday 23rd of April, 7.45pm. You can hear some of our songs on our myspace site.
See you!

*Sorry but I should have checked my spelling, I meant skunk, not skank, obviously you're not that, I take, Bob.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

(Avanzado 1 & 2) Flying penguins (and other stuff)

Well, not so surprising, you might say. After all, vultures were supposed to feed on carrion but this bird of prey reportedly started attacking sheep here in Navarra, despite initial disbelief. Believe it or not, this video is living proof that there are some penguins that can fly. And it's the BBC that provides the footage- camera crews filming near the Antarctic for its natural history series Miracles of Evolution offered a video clip of these flying penguins, which became one of the most viewed videos on the internet. Presenter Terry Jones explained that, instead of huddling together to endure the Antarctic winter, these penguins took to the air and flew thousands of miles to the rainforests of South America where they "spend the winter basking in the tropical sun." Perhaps one of the consequences of global warming? Do you think we could see penguins mingling with the pigeons in the Plaza del Castillo? It may now sound as a stupid joke, but it might turn out to be too true in a few years!

What? You still don't believe it?
Have a look at the calendar...What day is it today? It's April 1st. Or... April Fool's Day!! And of course, this is nothing but a hoax. Brilliantly conceived of and spectacularly filmed, isn't it? Were you taken in by the flying penguins? Of course you're not going to admit it, but I guess a few of you were actually tricked into believing the story.

Can you imagine the Big Ben being given a digital readout? The British National Anthem ("God Save the Queen") replaced by the Euro Anthem, sung in German? And by the way, this video was downloaded from YouTube. Did you know that internal tests have shown that modern computer monitors give a higher quality picture when flipped upside down? Check out the explanation and be prepared to do the flip.
And did you know that this blog is going global? See for yourselves, as the other day I was watching the telly and found this programme and guess what the sentence to get the multimillionaire prize was. But he didn't finally make it. Poor sod...It serves him right, for not reading the blog!

Fascinated by the hoaxes? Go to this link, read through the best hoaxes and send a comment with the funniest or the most ridiculous one.
See you in class.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

(Avanzado 1 & 2) This lion can't be a pet peeve

What are my pet peeves? A pet peeve is an idiom that means a cause of annoyance, like, for instance, the English teacher's pet peeve is not having any entries when he posts something and students can't be bothered to answer. It's not that I'm going to tell you off, anyway. By the way, to learn a few animal idioms go to this page and try and match the missing words with the pictures of animals. And anyone who is the teacher's pet? Just kidding...
Since we're dealing with animals and pets (or we're about to, for students in Avanzado 1, that's next week's topic), I just wanted to share a story with you.
This is two friends who along with their girlfriends cared for the lion where they lived in London until it was a year old. Believe it or not they had bought it at Harrod's! Christian's increasing size and cost of care led them to understand they could not keep him anymore. Eventually they asked some conservationists for help, who agreed to reintegrate Christian into the wild in the Kora National Reserve, in Kenya. Christian would even become afterwards the head of his pride.
When friends Rendall and Bourke were informed of Christian's successful reintroduction to the wild they travelled to Kenya to visit Christian and were filmed in the documentary Christian, The Lion at World's End. According to the documentary, they were told that Christian might not remember them.
A video edited from the documentary received worldwide attention more than 30 years after the event, and several versions have been viewed thousands of times. Basically they're all the same but for the music in the background. I'm not a member of RSCPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), but to avoid further damage I deliberately avoided the video with corny Withney Houston's "I will always love you"!!!. Aerosmith is the poor second best...The video below shows the lion at first cautiously approach and then quickly leap gently onto the two men, standing on his hind legs and wrapping his front legs around their shoulders, nuzzling their faces. What did you expect? Some gory footage?
It seems that for some reason I just don't understand some people are experiencing problems to watch the enclosed video. It that's so, just click on this link and enjoy it.

Isn't it emotional? It is indeed... Sorry about that final sentence in the video, though, which spoils the whole a bit.
See you!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

(Avanzado 2) Ted talks

Ted is not a person. Actually, I don't even know if it stands for something, I reckon it's probably an acronym, as originally the name is in capital letters, TED. I've been listening to some of these lectures for a few years. I stumbled upon one excerpt featured in another video podcast, got interested and found out about the source.

The first talk I listened to was awesome, very inspiring and exhilarating, by Sir Ken Robinson, especially if you are a teacher. I have to admit that after that the thrill has gone a bit as sometimes the lectures drone on an on unless you're a fanatic or are really into, say computer engineering, or advertising, or anthropology or whatever. But there are still some very good lectures. The Jane Goodall talk for the class is a good example. I think it all depends what your field of expertise is.
Talks are about-25-minute- long videos and the page has got a stunning collection in the archives. Do you remember the how-does-the-news-shape-the-way-we-see-the-world listening exam back in December? You might as well figure out now where the heck I got it from.
Besides the TED page the lectures are also edited as a video podcast, so you can easily subscribe to it via iTunes. Check it out if you want to know about what the eggheads of the world are musing on.
See you.

(Avanzado 2) Places to see before you die

If you've already read the Guardian Weekly article, you now know about some of the 500 hundred places to see before they're spoilt.
Not that I think the Tower of London can compare to Machu Picchu, or the Battersea power station (remember Pink Floyd's 'Animals' album cover? Not likely, I presume) to Halong Bay in Vietnam, or the Greenwich museum to the Taj Mahal, a few of the most beautiful places I've ever been to -way way back when I used to travel indenpendently. Long gone days...

If you want to see photos of some of the places and wildlife (in Britain) mentioned in the book 1000 Places To See Before You Die you've got the link here. If you want to go global find out about any other places in the world in this page. There's one in Spain, guess which.

What are the most beautiful places you've ever been to?

*Photo by Carl, believe it or not

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

(Avanzado 1) 78 differences

Scientists decoding the human genome have discovered that just 78 genes separate men from women. Only 78?
So Europe is a country and they speak French there, says the bimbo. No wonder then that women can't read maps, or... can they? But, mind you, men can't do two things at the same time, can we?
If you want to read a light-hearted research into the genetic differences between women and men make sure you check out this page, which features some brilliant entries by readers. Then send in your comment either saying which remark was the funniest or feel free to contribute by giving some other differences that you think haven't been mentioned in the article.
For some fun, be sure to check out this video. It features some just slightly different habits when it comes to having a shower.

Are we really like that at all? Next time I have a shower I'll refrain myself from doing those things I usually indulge in...and you'd better, too.
Bye, lads and lasses.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

(Avanzado 1) London Calling!

London Calling to the faraway towns...said The Clash. London is calling and we're just going on a trip. Collect the few quid you managed to save the last time, rehearse your cockney accent, as we're off.
The only thing we're going to do today is plan our trip. Some of you will look for accomodation- What do students prefer? A hostel? A low-budget hotel? Some Bread & Breakfast?
Some will watch out for bargains so we can fly cheaper- Easy Jet? Ryanair? British Airways? Where from? And how are we going from Luton/Stansted/Heathrow to central London?
Some others will schedule-are we going sightseeing? Just go and hit the bars? Zoos? Museums? A musical perhaps? A stroll in a park? Shopping in a market? Or rather Harrod's? Do you want to see David Beckham in wax at Madame Tussaud's? The London Eye?
To make things easier, visit London.
To put things in common, we're going to chat so you can make instant decisions. Don't think it over and make up your mind, as we're running out of time.
To finish today's activity, this is the homework:
You have to answer a few questions and facts about London. Go to this webquest and follow the instructions. Who will manage to find all the answers? Solutions next day in class.

See you!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

(Avanzado 2) I love to read

If you're into reading (not much, I presume sadly...) one of the things that you might do to improve your skills is make the most of the possibilities that the Internet offers. Too skint to afford that thick book you were craving for, desperate to find out what happens? Not willing to waste any more money on books?
Well, you're not likely then to read the latest fiction but if you just want to read for the sake of it, because it broadens your mind and to learn more English, these are a few websites where you can either download books in pdf. format or else read them online or even get them in e-format if you happen to be one of those early adopters who buy the latest gadget, the newest in-thing, and you have one of those e-book readers that -I foresee- one day will take over paper books, then a relic of the past.
Freebookspot is an online source of free e-books download. You can search and download free books in categories like scientific, engineering, programming, fiction and many other books. No registration is required to download free e-books.
Free-eBooks is an online source for free e-books, you also download free magazines or submit your own e-book. You need to become a Free-EBooks.Net member to access their library. Registration is free, though. You can read Moby Dick by Herman Melville or some Dickens too.
ManyBooks provides free ebooks for your PDA, iPod or eBook Reader. Why not read Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë? This novel is a must! Of course you can find Jane Austen too. And if you're an anticapitalist you can handle The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels...
Planet PDF A small collection of classic novels all in PDF format. You've got some Hawthorne, Fenimore Cooper, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Oscar Wilde, D.H. Lawrence. Ever heard of them? Classics of British and American Literature they are!
Planet eBook -Free classic literature to download and share. You can read 1984 by George Orwell (Big Brother is watching you!) or Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (don't even think for a second it's a book for children, even though you probably read one adaptation when you were little.)
Scribd is just a bit different. It's actually an online document sharing site which supports Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF and other popular formats. You can download a document, a slideshow, a book or anything that someone has just uploaded to share with the rest of the world. You need to register to have access to the materials, but it's free. Try typing down, for example, English Advanced Grammar in Use in the Search box and hey presto! What d'you get? 350 pages of free grammar practice.
You might also be interested in Audiobooks. If reading is such a drag just prick up your ears for the words of well-known fiction writers while you're commuting or gone for a jog or a stroll down the park. I'll be supplying you with some stuff next...
That's all.
'I love to read' photograph by Carlos Porto. See his gallery at flickr

Monday, January 26, 2009

(Avanzado 1) Elllo elllo, you say elllo I say goodbye...

Actually The Beatles said Hello, Goodbye, but they might as well wanted to use this terrific website that I came across a couple of years ago, just by chance, probably browsing through the web expecting to find something else.
The page is called elllo (it stands for English Language Listening Laboratory Online) and offers a wide array of listenings, ranging from interviews to listening games. It is probably the best website for improving your listening skills, in my opinion.
I have just prepared a screencast to show you about how it works and the contents you will find there. Now, don't get me wrong. It's not that I think you are clumsy when it comes to dealing with computers, it's just in case you are one of those who say that computers 'don't love you'. If after watching the screencast you still don't know how to use the page, you're in for trouble in this increasingly technological world...
You'll see a slideshow embedded below. Just watch it. You'd better change to the Full Screen mode so you can read my notes. Eer, yes, if you're one of those the full screen is the icon with the arrows...
Then send a comment for feedback- what do you think about the page? Did you like it? Did you do a lot of listenings? You'll have to anyway, as I'll tell you to do some homework about it quite often from now on.

Clear? Then you know what to do next...
See you in class! You say elllo, I say goodbye, elllo elllo...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

(Avanzado 1) A turning point

For some gossip...ok, here's my turning point (roughly): When I was living in England after university I broke up with my girlfriend, a girl I had been going out with, it must have been six years or so!!! I felt miserable, honest.
If I hadn't broken up with that former girlfriend of mine I would probably have stayed in Britain longer. Not that I was having the best of times, broken-hearted as I was, but I'd probably tried to make up for the time I'd lost with some girls I had developed a crush for...Anyway, I decided to come back sooner than expected. If I hadn't come back, I could have met someone back in England. If I'd fallen in love again, I might have looked for a job to earn my living. If I'd started working there, I'd have started looking for a flat to live and perhaps I would even have got married there, and my children would have had red hair and freckles.
But...well, I would never have met you! Sob, sob...
Can you send in a post about a turning point in your life which made it be different from what it used to be before? Something that make you start all over again?
Another thing to do is: There is an interesting dilemma faced by the main character in a film. There is a little girl who gets kidnapped, but she is taken to live in a much better home than her own (her mother is out doing drugs all the time). Patrick, the lead character, finds out about who took her and is the only who knows where she is. He then has to decide whether to turn the kidnapper in and get justice, or keep quite and give the girl what might be a better life. What would you have done?
That's all. Send your comments!

(Avanzado 2) The art of displacement

You might as well have been practicing the flip, the roll, the tuck and strange body movements. Not that free running is popular in Pamplona...yet, so you might become the pioneers.
As you noticed the other day in class, the DVD player was going a bit haywire. I've just been checking the DVD at home and it just worked great. That means it wasn't really my fault (you know I'm a tech-freak). Just in case today 20/Jan we can't possibly watch the video again, here's the homework: just follow this link and then do the listening exercises that I gave you out the other day.
For some jaw-dropping, awesome performances, just watch this video.

Can you beat that?
See you in class...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

(Avanzado 1 &2) I elfed myself

Cor Blimey, it's Christmas again! Doesn't time fly? Not that I like Christmas that much or I'm dying to get the tinsel or the mistletoe wreath, but just for a bit of fun and to wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year you might as well have a laugh at these triplets on the dance floor. Mind you, one of them is more like the Grinch, what with that face...
Enjoy your holidays and I'll see you after Christmas. Any New Year's Resolutions, e.g. little lies, like "I'm going to study English!"?
See you!
Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Thursday, November 27, 2008

(Avanzado 1) Too old for rock'n'roll, too young to die

That's the title of a song by Jethro Tull, a 70s group. Do you feel you're too old for some things and too young for others?
Well, to know (roughly) how old you will be, this website has a life expectancy calculator that will work out yours after answering questions about your health and lifestyle. The vocabulary may be a bit difficult so if you need to, use a dictionary.When you get the results, check what the website suggests you could do to improve your life expectancy. Then, send a comment into the blog telling the others about how old you're supposed to turn and some advice they gave you to live longer.
And going back to the title of the post, these people below are probably not too young to die, but they're certainly not too old for rock'n'roll! Watch them sing a cover of The Who's "My generation" and ask yourself if you expect you'll be doing these things when you are their age!!! What do you think you are too old or too young to do? Dancing to pop music in public? Have babies? Start it all over again? Get drunk? Settle down? Watch or read comics? Do you feel a bit embarrassed because you like doing things which are not considered suitable for your age? Tell your partners.
See you after the loooooooooooooooong bank holidays, when we'll all be a bit older.