Month: July 2016

Learning This Year – Sept 8

This course is free education for everybody. It’s quality education, too. However, the reality we face is that when something is free, it is systematically undervalued, underestimated, distorted. Another way of putting it is that people work harder, the more expensive the course is. I hope you understand what I mean. We’re very lucky to have public/state-run language education for adults, and if you follow this course, you’ll realize it’s quality education, too. You’ll also realize that passing an exam is just a small part of what will happen this upcoming learning year if you care to follow our guidelines, and that when exams are well-designed & you’ve worked hard, passing tends to be just a logical consequence!

There are three axis for your learning, more important than the equipment and materials we use:

  • You, your willingness to learn (all kinds of things, not only what you think you are bound to learn), your openness to learning, your personal relationship to learning a language (more important that practical motivation for lifelong learning like finding a job) and all this learning entails, your skills, knowledge, likes, passions, fears, complexes, time… (Note this, we’re always short of time, and this cannot therefore pose an obstacle. Practice problem-solving: make the most of each learning experience you develop in class and outside the classroom.)
  • The teacher, what she brings to you to help you learn, the support she offers, the knowledge and skills she has.
  • The group dynamics in class: the role of your classmates is crucial. You don’t need to be friends to make the most of your chance to relate and support each other. It’s an amazing possibility because people coming to public schools come from all walks of life, are of different ages, cultural backgrounds… and where in life do you get such an extraordinary chance to relate? It’s a bit like the internet. People are not in a group according to how much money they have or traits they share, they are all together!

A group that develops mutual support in all kinds of things, teamwork, mutual respect, collaboration… instead of a group into individuality of the isolation kind, who gossips negatively, who practices ill-understood competitivity, exhibits lack of respect or appreciation to what each person and their potential bring to class… a communicative respectful group is sure to boost your learning and make your life interesting, rewarding, fun. It will be an extra incentive to come to class. So come to class to practice all of those things we all know would change the world: generosity, courage, solidarity, cooperation, exploration, discovery, opening your mind to learning about everybody, different minds and lifestyles, and you are sure to grow as a person and a language learner. Because a true learning experience changes our lives for the better.

Materials will be of all kinds, from notes and activities designed by your teacher, and hopefully by you all, to original materials of all kinds, in paper, audio, audiovisual, online, that will allow us to learn about the world, too. Your work at home and shared in class will be MATERIALS, too! So if you decide to follow this course, please, share your work at home, and take part in all of the activities we create. In the first months, lessons will start with a narrative of how you used your English since the last time we met here, and you can include highlights of your learning.

Lessons will be about getting input from you all, then, and from the activities I’ll bring for you. You will be using your English in integrated skills, for various purposes, working in small groups, at plenary, in projects and workshops.Everything we do is an excuse to use your English, so please, never speak Spanish, always explain things in English, even if people know what you mean, because we’ll be communicating naturally but also practicing our English.

Overview by Month

September will be about presenting the course and people presenting themselves. Story-telling and Learning to Learn. We have 4 lessons. Unfortunately, because we don’t start in October like everybody else in Spain, there will be people joining us gradually, so I’ll try not to explain much, but it will be hard, because the first things we do in courses is show people how they need to be working throughout the learning year, so I’m bound to be repeating things in October.

Anyway, we’ll devote September to story-telling. I’ll tell you stories about myself, and I each of you will tell stories about yourselves, too. And we’ll listen to amazing people telling stories about themselves. Learning to tell and write stories as advanced users of the language is crucial this year.

The last two September lessons are when I’ll start explaining our methodology this year. And this will continue (or start! if we use September for intensive story-telling!) in the first lessons of October.


  • Diagnosis (self-assessment): Listening activity: the September Avanzado 2 Listening Test, with tips on how to learn to listen. + Reading Test as homework.


From October to January lessons will be intense, based on getting input and then practicing integrated skills.

In October we’ll devote the following lessons to the following topics. Notice how we often use the strategy of integrated skills.

1 or 2 lessons. How-to’s for this course. Using a Reading and a Listening Log, Your Learning Diary, Your Weekly Learning Plans, Using Lists of Useful Language (ULs), Lists of Mistakes (LoMs), creating a Speaking File and a Writing File.

1 lesson. Working with TV Series: Friends 1×1. PLEASE PRINT SCRIPT! BUT DON’T READ TILL YOU WATCH THE EPISODE IN ENGLISH WITHOUT SUBTITLES A COUPLE OF TIMES! (if you want to improve your ability to understand people).

  1. Notetaking of Useful Language as we watch + jotting down the sound of something you didn’t catch
  2. Reading the transcript to work on language
  3. Dramatized Reading – two or three groups – for future show or videoshooting

1 lesson. Workshop on Holding Rational Discussions. PLEASE PRINT Workshop_RationalDiscussions (6 PDF PAGES) &  BRING TO CLASS.

We’ll read about how to hold discussions, and discuss two controversial topics in small groups and later at plenary.

2 lessons. Workshops on Feminism:

  1. Reading a book in class (1 or two lessons) – GET THIS BOOK get it asap!! I have some copies that cost me almost 6 euros this year, in case you can’t find it.
  2. (another lesson) Watching a TED talk by the author of the book we’ll read.
  3. Plus small groups work on paper copies I’ll bring with a workshop I dessigned for you. Final plenary to share our work. (If you wish to have your own paper copy you can print them here:

1 lesson. Writing Workshop 1: minisagas (storytelling) and reasoned opinions (argumentative texts). (See my C1 Resource Pack).

(more to design in October depending on diagnosis) — Resource Pack to print (version to put to test with you all this year, to be published in Feb 2017) on the blog for C1 Materials.

February will be Oral Presentations Month, a kind of climax to all the learning we share before.

At the end of November, and at the end of February, I will collect your learning diaries, or logs and schedules, where you will have recorded your attendance, your work on your productive skills (writing, speaking), and on your receptive skills (listening, reading). (So start keeping records now!)

March will be Exam Training Month, so that you realice how much you’ve learned while putting into practice all the learning developed in previous months.

At the end of March you and we will assess your learning and I’ll hear your proposals for the remaining two months.

April & May will be planned once we have spent the previous months together, so we can assess what you need to do in our two last months together. I do have contingency plans, and suggestions, but I don’t want to decide the lesson plans till our interaction gives us more information.