Month: November 2016

About your work this week for next week

Here is a list of things you could be doing:

  • Print the human rights declaration I prepared for you, to bring to class
  • Bring your collocations worksheet on positive feelings
  • Bring your copy of Friends episode 2 season 1
  • Listen to me reading the handout I gave you to expand on Story of Stuff (things we can do) as you read the handout. Listen twice: once to underline things you would’ve pronounced differently, and the other to collect UL for your teamwork next week on Story of Stuff.
  • Post your descriptions if you didn’t
  • Post minisagas
  • Gather info for me, about your work outside class in the past two months: list your mons, writings, listening log…
  • Read blog posts and Pages (notice Our Work in class by Month)
  • Listen to English: news, radio program(me)s; TV
  • Prepare a timed OP

Next week our lesson plan for Monday is:

  • correct collocations worksheet + Questions on Friends, and then watch + dramatized reading

Then, small groups on Story of Stuff, watching a neuroscience documentary in two days, one for note-taking and another to do a fill-in the gap activity. And… let me know what. Just now I simply can’t keep thinking on this! 😀 But we’ll be reading the human rights declaration and discuss issues.

PS: Before we part, you need to tell us the poem Wild Geese, too. I forgot!

Diary for Wed Nov 30 – Blog updates, projects, an OP!

Today it was meant to be the last day I would be collecting your reports on your work in the past two months, you rascalls! But only Marina handed in something, her wonderful listening log. Laura has been sending me info on this too — by email. Anyway, I don’t want to make you feel bad! I promise! It’s just I’m afraid people won’t be giving me info on their work at home, and I’d rather get some info on that, to design more lessons taking that into account! So please, try to hand in some info next week, OK?

The lesson plan was far too ambitious, so we have actually split it into two different lessons.

I started sharing info on blog updates, which was good to remind people of possibilities, both to read and listen, and post. I also mentioned the multimedia online magazine we’ll be publishing this year (it’s our 25th anniversary), and that I’d love to send in some of your work for sharing there. And I explained two things related to human rights: I asked students to print out these four pages for next week, so we can read out the declaration of human rights (legal and administrative texts), and I explained the project. I also told people about a project we teachers have (where we would welcome your contributions). I mentioned you could use your December writing assignment, a formal letter (to hand in in Jan 9), to join a letter-writing campaign of your choice, and that I could share links on Amnesty International’s or Prisoners for Peace by War Resisters’ International (people imprisoned for religious or political pacifism, meaning Jehova Witnesses or people like myself, but in prison for Direct Nonviolent Action, for instance). I mentioned cases as famous as Chelsea Manning’s (the soldier who shared info on abuse in wars with Wikileaks) and Leonard Peltier’s, an American Indian. I told people they could send me emails or post or just let me know about their preferences whichever way suited them best. Finally, I mentioned you might all find this audio useful if you plan to prepare your individual contribution this week for next week’s teamwork project on gathering UL from Story of Stuff.

By the way, I just got the final version of the C1 Resource Pack from the printer’s (it’ll be orange) and will be sending it back to them tonight, after revision, which means we might get the 200 copies before the hols. If you are interested in getting a copy, let me know, so I can ask for them.

Today we managed to check the collocations worksheet on negative feelings. We did so at Plenary, so that always means longer time spent in the activity because I’m such a story-teller and I keep interrupting processes to tell stories and comment language items! Anyway, the stories were related to Housing, evictions and the Spanish citizens’ movement PAH, against evictions, that Ada Colau and her amazing team started off, the controversial question of escraches. Are they nonviolent direct action, or violent?, a Travolta movie, smells, Pulp Fiction.

And Sergio did a brilliant OP on politics: building everything on historical information, he expressed his views on why Russia poses a threat to the world. His English was great to introduce people into some of the language we hear on the news. This also gave us the chance to review the ideas that Conclusions cannot include new points / ideas or examples.

What’s for next week? (so you can work this work at home) – see next post!

Updates on the Ngozi Page above

I just included Cristina B’s review, and activated the “post comment” tool because it was impossible for you all to post anything there! Thanks, Cristina, for letting me know.

Now you can post away there, if you like. I’ll double-check your English. Cristina, I think I changed two words! Sorry! 😀 If you don’t agree, change it back! 😀 ❀

I’d like to ask if anyone coming to class can take a picture of the posters we made and have in class, so we can include it here! My camera is far too heavy and as you know I’m resisting buying a mobile phone that just allows me to make and answer calls!

The Human Rights Project (celebrating Dec 10)

human-rights-dayHere is a project you might be interested in. Let me know this week (in class or by email), in case we can use time in class for it.

human-rights-declaration-project (4 Word pages for you to print – if we read it in class and comment, I’ll have a few classroom copies)


Teachers at our school are planning to create a multilingual video where each will voice an article in this declaration in Spanish, English, French and German. Because they are 11 or so, they’ll probably welcome other people joining in, students, I mean! 😉

Mujer Palabra (an independent website) has sent the United Nations a request for updating the language in the Declaration of Human Rights in Spanish, to replace terms in the masculine singular with less excluding naming in terms of gender discrimination. If you wish to take part in this action, check out their Like page on Fb, where you’ll find a link to the UN email account in the post called “AcciĂłn derechos humanos”.

December Writing Assignment: Letter-writing

New podcast episode (for you!)

I just recorded / I’ve just recorded the handout I gave you today, from the essay Story of Stuff, so you can practice listening to English and learn to pronounce the words you don’t know how to pronounce. I recommend you listen to me, then read while you listen, and underline the words you would have pronounced differently!

Let me know which!

Books. Recommended Action, by the Story of Stuff Project

Lesson Plan for Wednesday Nov 30

So the plan for next day is the following:

OP by Sergio

Checking your Collocation worksheets in small groups + Plenary for questions. (Remember to get the new copies if you didn’t before. Some spares are on the bulletin board.)

Friends, episode 2 season 1.

  1. Your Language Questions on the script – it’s here. Read it to underline them!
  2. Watching the episode (?) – if necessary
  3. Dramatized reading: 2 or 3 times, so that everybody can read. Repetition might be less exciting, but it will help you remember more lines (fluency, accuracy, sounding natural!)

We also have to create the Reading Club groups (Reading a Book/Screenplay Project), but if we don’t manage it next day, we could use Small Group time next week for this. Just let me know what you prefer!

And if you haven’t posted your descriptions, remember to do it this week!

For plans next week check out today’s diary. Plus, we’ll watch another documentary, on the development of human intelligence.

Diary for Mon Nov 28 – The Story of Stuff Projects

Today we had an OP by Marina, on home education, which was great and allowed us to pay attention to the issue of how important it is to work on structure and transitions that help us change subjects and settings. We also talked a bit about this concept, new for most of us in Spain, and about how different the situation of home education is in the US as compared to Britain or what we could have of this in Spain.

Next day it’s Sergio‘s turn, if I remember correctly. And then anyone is welcome to speak!

Soluna suggested our listing useful language for ending OPs, and we did so. She’ll be posting on our work on that! Thanks so much!

We held our second viewing of Story of Stuff, so that small groups could work in reconstructing its information. That was meant to be 10 minutes, but people had so much to share that they worked on this for 20 minutes. I gave out a handout on Points of Intervention, the What Can We Do? part of what I’m suggesting you include in your individual OP project on Story of Stuff.

I also suggested the outline for this 3-5 min OP everybody should work on at home this week:

Story of Stuff – use key words to explain what you learned/learnt + illustrate with an example + remember the first part is a summary, not a personal analysis. This would come in the final block.

The Materials Economy

  • Intro:
  • Extraction:
  • Production:
  • Distribution:
  • Consumption:
  • Disposal:

What can we do? / Points of intervention – include your highlights in the handout or from the documentary

  • Your selection

Personal Opinion

How are we going to proceed?

Individual projects. We agreed people would work on speaking at home, following their final outline. People will also read the handout this week, underlining useful language, keeping in mind we can exploit all of this language for different reading/listening/writing/speaking topics: economic crisis, environmental issues, human rights issues, democracies, employment, consumerism, health, education, social movements…

Teamwork. Then, next week small groups will listen to each of its members doing this timed speaking practice, and give them feedback. They will also share their UL work to send me the final copy for publication on this blog.

Small Groups (that will “adopt” people not coming today to class, max. 2 per group): Soluna, MarĂ­a JosĂ©, Luz, Lorena; LucĂ­a Dessi, EMilia, Laura; Marina, GermĂĄn, Clara, Cristina B)

Questions for Plenary later on.

Individual Project & Sharing. Finally, each student will record at home a final piece on this documentary, for your Speaking File. This Onion Approach we are developing will have helped you use the same material over and over again, to ease the path of learning how to present info on various topics with relevant vocabulary work.

Students will send me their recorded work, for feedback, and if you like, for publication on our Vimeo channel, which is where I collect examples of timed speaking performances for our exams.

Language Tip: Soluna mentioned “consumption” used to be the way “tuberculosis” was called! Today it’s called TB, and that is why it’s crucial you get your V right in “TV”!!

I’m posting our Lesson Plans separately now.

Last, about handing in your reports on your work at home in the past two months. I can start collecting them next Wednesday and give you a complete week to hand in this work, OK?


1. Iceland travel guide.
Resting on the edge of the Arctic Circle and sitting atop one of the world’s most volcanically active hot spots, Iceland is an inspiring mix of magisterial glaciers, bubbling hot springs and rugged fjords, where activities such as hiking under the Midnight Sun are complemented by healthy doses of history and literature.

2. The adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
He was a large man with rounded shoulders, a massive head, and a broad, intelligent face, sloping down to a pointed beard of grizzled brown. A touch of red in nose and cheeks, with a slight tremor of his extended hand, recalled Holmes’ surmise as to his habits. His rusty black frock-coat was buttoned right up in front, with the collar turned up, and his lank wrists protruded from his sleeves without a sign of cuff or shirt. He spoke in a slow staccato fashion, choosing his words with care, and gave the impression generally of a man of learning and letters who had had ill-usage at the hands of fortune.

Updates on Talking People

Dear students,

I just updated / I’ve just updated your In class page on, which is this one:

Path: – Enter – In class – C1 Course

Some things need revision but I think the basics for this course are there, including the School’s syllabus. In any case, if you find mistakes, or have proposals, please, let me know.

(edited) Diary for Nov 23 – Sharing Stories & a documentary

Edited: I corrected some mistakes!

Today was the deadline for the November writing, a reasoned opinion. Next week when we deal with the workshop on rational discussions, I’ll comment why reasoned opinions are a very important exercise.

We had two students doing a 3-4 minute OP, Dolores, with an OP on Marie Curie, and Sonia, with an OP on Language & Communication. Both were very well put together (structure, language range, register; pronunciation too) and I hope they can record their final versions for their Speaking File.

We enjoyed a session where most students read out their October writing assignment. Thanks for making this possible! ❀

We watched Story of Stuff, took notes, and then talked a bit about it. I gave some tips on how people can use it to learn more English and gather ideas to address topics.

A student found the documentary oversimplified at times, particularly when comparing our level of happiness or leisure time to leisure in the Middle Ages. I had never thought of that! It could be the case, certainly. It’s hard to compare today to such a distant past.

About the info in the documentary, checking the sources is always good advice — and  the information given on political/economic decisions can be checked, it’s not an opinion the presenter has. Also the figures we’re given on consumption. So about possible biased views, I doubt this documentary is biased. I find examples of what it states everywhere around me, and I have also checked what she says about obsolescence — about the fact it was planned. It’s like Low Intensity Warfare. When you find out how our leaders plan life on earth, or how much money some hyper millionaires has, you really wonder why people trust them so much and mistrust people informing of this so much! Then, we need to consider this documentary created a world movement of people who are working to protect people’s lives (our production system does not respect everybody’s human rights) and protect the planet (our production system is resulting in the deplention of natural resources). If its views were biased, the question would be, Who wins? Just consider what people are working on, their projects: protecting people’s health and human rights, labo(u)r rights, developing projects on sustainable development, or sources of energy… But if you find where it is biased, I’ll be grateful to learn about it!

It would be great everybody spoke a bit on this documentary in class. Retelling or giving a reasoned opinion on what’s told.

Handouts to bring to class next week: Friends (episode 2, season 1), my workshop on rational discussions, and your collocations worksheets (positive and negative feelings).

Today people not coming to class the other day took their new set of collocations, which was pinned on the bulletin board.

Finally, Sergio booked for next Wednesday and Marina might speak on Monday, or Wednesday too. Please, feel free to book from now on.

REMINDER: Next week I hope I can collect your info on your work outside class since you started the course!

On the Page above for Ngozi Adichie

Dear all,

As you have probably noticed, I created a Page (on the navbar above) dedicated to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’m publishing there the final versions of work you did around what we learned/learnt in our crosscurricular feminist month of October!

Today I just published LucĂ­a’s review on Ngozi’s essay!

I wanted to tell you all that when I publish your work I use your first name, and that if you want me to include your family/surname too, you need to let me know some way, so I can fix it or do like I did today, publish your full name (LucĂ­a’s).

About the gender worksheets, don’t expect me to give them back this week, OK? I haven’t finished reading them all and I need to take notes, and there’s more work to do first, so please, bear with me! ❀

Teacher’s Diary

Today Karen told me something beautiful, that she was starting to consider language from a different point of view! ❀ Learning is about discovery, so that’s one of the most beautiful things that can happen! And how it does when we simply put our heart-mind into learning! ❀

The other thing I wanted to share with you is that I’ve been working like a maniac on the final version of the C1 Resource Pack. I wanted to express my deepest gratitude to you all who worked on the Gender Worksheet. You see, as a pacifist and a feminist, I’m in a very good position to do what I’ve been endeavoring to do all my life: find common ground so that people with different ideals, ideologies, lifestyles, passions, can agree on something that will enable us to move to a better stage of development, in terms of avoiding violence and injustice. So reading your work is allowing me to clarify what I need to be explaining in the pack on gender. Of course, there’s more to this: your English and finding out all the follow-up work we can do. And I found something that will help you start doing that at an individual level. On the C1 Materials blog, where I collected all the gender work we’re doing, I included an article with interviews to trans people, transgendered people, who are in an extremely insightful position to speak about gender, gender in patriarchy, and how gender feels. I hope you can find some time to read it. ❀

Apart from pulling my shit together on gender, for the pack, I’ve also done something which looks easy but has taken me many years. Because going simple is the hardest, like learning to see what’s there! I’m attaching the card, my very-much-loved ficha because I can’t wait to show you!


Diary for Nov 21 – C-Day!

Today we had our first C-Day, and I went through the list of feedback on your October Writings. It’s here.

This took up all of our time!! But we managed to listen to Lorena and Clara, reading out their pieces.

I gave out two new handouts on collocations, based on things you need to learn: intensifiers and mitigators, and one on speak, talk, tell, say. If people do it before the winter hols, we might check it in class, but we might not, and then do it in January. In any case, I’d post the key here.

I also reminded people I’m expecting info on your work at home by the end of this month: LoMs (with request for language workshops, if you like), listening logs, learning diaries, whatever it is you worked on and want to tell me about. List your orals at home, and in class. And your writings so far, too. Also your reading work, if you like. I’m particularly interested in knowing if the C1 Resource Pack has helped you in any way (areas) and if you follow this blog and if it helps.

Next day: we’ll listen to people reading out their work, and then watch Story of Stuff for note-taking and retelling. Then if we manage it, we will check your questions around the collocation worksheets on positive and negative feelings. There might be one or two OPs too. Ambitious! ❀ Reaching for the moon! ❀

Excuse my not replying yet to your emails. I’ll be on that soon!

Remember next day is the deadline for your reasoned opinions, and for posting your descriptions — though for descriptions you can post them throughout this week.

Dinner’s ready and it’s “gambas al ajillo”!!!! ❀ ❀ ❀ Yummy!!!!

Laura’s Descriptions

A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud. By Carson McCullers

It was raining that morning, and still very dark. When the boy reached the streetcar cafĂ© he had almost finished his route and he went in for a cup of coffee. The place was an all-night cafĂ© owned by a bitter and stingy man called Leo. After the raw, empty street, the cafĂ© seemed friendly and bright: along the counter there were a couple of soldiers, three spinners from the cotton mill, and in a corner a man who sat hunched over with his nose and half his face down in a beer mug. The boy wore a helmet such as aviators wear…

My Son the Murderer. By Bernard Malamud

He walked at a fast pace up the broad avenue. In the old days there was a bridle path at the side of the walk where the concrete bicycle path was now. And there were fewer trees, their black branches cutting the sunless sky. At the comer of Avenue X, just about where you can smell Coney Island, he crossed the street and began to walk home.


Literary descriptions

This post is about descriptions, literary descriptions in particular. I’ve chosen two examples, one is a painting description from Tracy Chevaliers’ novel The Girl with a pearl earring, while the other describes a room, Maudie’s room, from The Diaries of Jane Somers by Doris Lessing. I hope you enjoy them.

From Chevaliers’s The Girl with a Pearl Earring, describing a painting

A woman stood in front of a table, turned towards a mirror on the wall so that she was in profile. She wore a mantle of rich yellow satin trimmed with white ermine, and a fashionable five-pointed red ribbon in her hair. A window lit her from the left, falling across her face and tracing the delicate curve of her forehead and nose. She was tying a string of pearls around her neck, holding the ribbons up, her hands suspended in the air. Entranced with herself in the mirror, she did not seem to be aware that anyone was looking at her. Behind her on a bright white wall was an old map, in the dark foreground the table with the letter on it, the powder-brush and the other things I had dusted around. (p. 36).


If you are curious about the painting, visit Vermeer’s website

 The Diaries of Jane Somers by Doris Lessing

We walked along it to the ‘kitchen’. I have never seen anything like it outside our Distress File, condemned houses and that sort Of things. It was an extension of the passage , with an old gas cooker, greasy and black, and old white china sink, cracked and yellow with grease, a cold-water tap wrapped around with old rags and dripping steadily.  A rather nice old wood table that had crockery standing on it, all ‘washed’ but grimy. The walls stained and damp. The whole place smelled, it smelled awful
 She did not look at me while she set down bread , biscuits and cat food.  The clean lively colours of the grocery packages and the tins in that awful place. She was ashamed, but wasn’t going to apologize. She said in an offhand but appealing way , ‘You go into my room, and find yourself a seat’. (p. 12)


If you are interested in this author, please check her site.


The history of love by Nicole Krauss

Bruno, my old faithful. Is it enough to say he is indescribable? The soft down of your white hair lightly playing above your scalp like a half-blown dandelion. I should begin with your height,which is very short. On a good day you barely reach my chest. Or shall I start with the eyeglasses you fished out of a box and claimed as your own, enormous round things that magnify your eyes.


A Prisoner of Birth (Jeffrey Archer):

“A moment later, a tall man, not much older than Danny, dressed in a blue pinstriped suit, white shirt and mauve tie, entered the courtroom. How different he looked from when they’d first met.”


“Our absorbent towels dry you quickly and comfortably, while our bath mats keep your feet away from the cold, hard floor. You’re worth a bit of pampering, especially in the bathroom. These soft, everyday treats come in different sizes and colours so you can pick something comfortable and stylish for yourself and your bathroom”.


“Mellieha Bay is a low-key place perched on the north coast of Malta. The sleepy old town sits up on the hill and comes with a smattering of churches, restaurants and shops — not to mention a great coastal view. And at the bottom of the road is the piece de resistance — a lovely sandy beach, one of just a few of the island”.


Crowdfunding project!

In case you didn’t see the post at our CoeducaciĂłn blog “Desarrollando inteligencia feminista!” There are no board games like this one anywhere, I think!!


My Sister lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher: Our cottage is the complete opposite of our flat in Finsbury Park. It’s white not brown, big not small, old not new … . My new school is tiny. It is surrounded by mountains and trees and a stream runs past the front gate so if you are in the playground you can hear this gurgle gurgle like water running down a plughole. In London my school was on a main road and all you could hear or see or smell was traffic.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll: Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage, not much larger than a rat-hole: she knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw. How she longed to get out of that dark hall, and wander about among those beds of bright flowers and those cool fountains …

The King and Queen of Hearts were seated on their throne when they arrived, with a great crowd assembled about them – all sorts of little birds and beasts, as well as the whole pack of cards: the Knave was standing before them, with a soldier on each side to guard him; and near the King was the White Rabbit, with a trumpet in one hand, and a scroll  of parchment in the other. In the very middle of the court was a table, with a large dish of tarts upon it: they looked so good, that it made Alice quite hungry to look at them.


  1. Hard Times by Charles Dickens

It was a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents of smoke trailed themselves for ever and ever, and never got uncoiled. It had a black canal in it, and a river that ran purple with ill-smelling dye, arid vast piles of building full of windows where there was a rattling and a trembling all day long, and where the piston of the steam-engine worked monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness.

  1. Room by Emma Donoghe

On the other planets it’s mostly persons that hundreds can fit into the screen, except often it gets all big and near. They have clothes instead of skin, their faces are pink or yellow or brown or patchy or hairy, with very red mouths and big eyes with black edges. They laugh and shout a lot.

Diary for Nov 16 – HOW TO not do a single thing we planned!! (& a poem)

Language tip: It’s “how not to do” (to be or not to be), but because there are “how-to’s”, it is also frequent to do this in this context: “How to + not do”

😀 Well, today lots of people came to class, and brought work they’d done (minisagas, November writing, Gender handout) and all, and we were all ready for C-Day, but —

I congratulated Cristina B for her in-depth analysis on the Gender questions and she agreed to share it when I give it back on this blog. I’m thinking of including a card on that, because I think feminism has done amazing analysis on this question and it seems that few people know about it, which is a pity, because knowing about it does not equal being brainwashed or anything, it’s just considering informed insight. Again, the problem is not disagreeing, the problem is — I believe — feeling threatened or attacked by viewpoints which are different. This hampers dialogue, and we should all fight hard to help people develop the ability to share their worlds respecting diversity and even realizing that diversity makes everybody’s life richer, more interesting.

For some reason I cannot recall, we started the lesson talking about the future, the ways English has to approach naming future events, and well, it’s one of the most amazing issues in grammar, along with the use of modals, so I sort of took people on a journey which included reviewing what they had learned about “the future” (on Functional Grammar at, there are some notes on this in case you want to have a look, “Expressing the future“) and reflections to understand why that happened, in the English-speaking mind (likelihood of occurrence; how different tenses and verbal and prepositional phrases are used to express different degrees of likelihood of occurrence). Two C1 items to master this year in connection to this language point are the “to be to-” structure, for announcing future events, and the future continuous for announcing plans we have kind of scheduled. Well, check this out in your possibly innumerable grammar notes everywhere! I’m trying to forget it all! 😀 Anyway, this led to modals, too, and we reviewed some uses of “will” as a modal, which is a universe, really, and some of “can” (mostly for requests) and “could” and “will” and “would” (for hypothetical). Well, have a look at “The Amazing World of Modals“, too, in case you find some proposal for work in class.

We agreed on the following (future projects: Language Workshops): people will pay attention to how futures are expressed in English and collect those examples, so one day we can hold a workshop on that, or develop a project for publication, like we did with our first session on Useful Language. You could do the same with modals, and in general with tenses.

Then Karen reminded us we hadn’t dealt with sharing our reading plans, so we did that, and 7 people are going to read PIF (they may place an online order for the books; groups organize themselves as they like), I’m so sorry! I can’t remember names now! And about 4 the Sherman Alexie Diary (Lorena will join in because she already read it/she’s already read it), same apology. Two plan to read High Fidelity, GermĂĄn and Dolores, I think. Cristina might join Romina, because Romina took the Feminist Stories, which Cristina read, or she might do a project on her own on a book she’s reading, unless she invites people to join her. Cristina R., you need to tell them about the book! (It’s certainly immaterial if I’ve read it or not, so please, your reading likes are the priority — feel free to read what you like!). I think Sergio took Orange Is the New Black, but I may be wrong, though he hasn’t decided yet. Please, people post about your groups or plans, if possible.

GermĂĄn reminded us we had to check the collocations worksheets.

When we were about to watch the documentary Story of Stuff, we remembered the Poem project, and well, I ended up playing Wild Geese and we ended up learning it by ear by heart on the spot (well, the first step!). I was somehow overwhelmed, because one cannot improvise reading poems in class. That needs getting ready for public reading, because poetry is so powerful it can move you deeply and that’s just what happened! Not that I cried, but visualizing all that beauty and being lulled by the music in the poem and its message, plus all the life experiences I connected to the poem was like an orange tree in spring! 😀 ❀

POSTING ON BLOG. We had a look at how you can all post as authors, but I think we’ve got some mysteries to solve, once everybody tries to post (not only comments, but posts). I wrote about this in some previous post here.

Anyway, we decided on plans for next week, and

  • I extended the deadline for the November writing to next Wednesday (descriptions to post here, and writing an-about-100-word reasoned opinion on a controversial topic, any, from deep and hypersensitive, like Is being a woman/man something cultural or biological?, to Are you for or against plastic shopping bags?).
  • On Monday we’ll do what we planned to do today: C-Day (my feedback, your LoMs, your sharing your work / reading aloud) + screening the documentary Story of Stuff, which, incidentally, you can all watch over the weekend if you like. I know some of you won’t be able to wait for so long! 😀 So you get acquainted with using the C1 Materials blog, the link is in “Other Audio & Video” (and then you’ll have the chance to see which other documentaries we’ll be watching).
  • On Wednesday we’ll listen to Sonia and Dolores, giving a 3-4 min oral presentation, and give them feedback. If somebody else has never given an OP in class, PLEASE, volunteer for this lesson. Book next Monday so we know how many of you we can fit into that lesson!. We’ll check the collocations handouts. And then whatever else you wish to do! Let me know on Monday!

LAST. I’m very grateful to your work, your questions and reminders in class, because you are helping us to do things we planned to do! Please, keep this up! I’m so flexible in class I can totally forget about other things we wanted to do! By the way, Cristina R., although I told you I would not number my fichas-fitzcherald, thanks to your proposal I realized I had to explain why, so I included a note in the card with the table of contents! ❀ I have also reflected on your gender worksheets to try to improve some of the things I explain in the C1 Pack when sharing my feminist intelligence. So thanks for that.


1.- Do Not Send Flowers to Your Mother (Dionisio MartĂ­nez)

Her coat was draped over her shoulder, she had her laptop computer under her right arm, a red handbag in one hand and a heavy shopping bag from the supermarket in the other. She leaned against the wall, clasped one of the straps of her bag between her teeth, balanced the bottom of the bag on her thigh, which she raised, crossing her calf over the other knee and she thrust her hand inside it, trying to keep her shoulder up so that her coat would not slip to the ground.

2.- Great Expectations (Charles Dickens)

The marshes beyond the churchyard were grey. The river beyond the marshes was a darker line of grey. A bitter wind was blowing across the marshes from the sea. The graveyard was a dark and frightening place.


How to Post!

Type “admin” just after the web address of this blog: =

Then you’ll get a slot for “username” and another for “password” and that’s what you surely know, right? Because you use that to post comments and digs, right?

when you post, remember to click Category and type Tags, if you like!


Diary for Nov 14 – OPs and Lesson Plan for Wednesday

Today I gave your checked writings back and reminded people of how to work with my corrections and suggestions today/tomorrow, and what to bring to class next day, so we can hold C-Day with my feedback (posted below) and your LoMs. Remember we can publish your work on – Your Stuff – Writing! And be grateful! ❀

We went through the ticks to the work you handed in or shared in class (Sept., Oct.) and people handed in the Gender Worksheet (here on Handouts, in case you want to do it), or a minisaga. Remember they’re not for evaluation, just as a reminder of what you worked on.

We had five wonderful OPs with feedback on language points.

Emilia spoke about unemployment, which allowed us to review useful language on the topic.

Karen spoke about mixed cultural backgrounds, and that was very interesting!

Image result for irish ringLucĂ­a gave a talk on an Irish ring in a true storytelling mode, with great work on language. I’d like to send you all of our support for your upcoming mission! ❀ ❀ ❀

GermĂĄn spoke on consumerism and happiness, and this triggered a new lesson plan for Wednesday: after the C-Day session, we will watch a 20-minute documentary which was key to educating everybody around how our economies and societies work in terms of production and human wellbeing.

And Dessi spoke about how to work to improve our listening comprehension performance in listening tests, based on the C1 Resource Pack and on another source I can’t mention because I didn’t catch its name! So we talked a bit about this crucial issue and I reminded people that to fulfill our learning plan, in these first months it’s crucial you listen to English every day for as long as you can, and practice re-telling. I forgot to give Dessi some feedback on her English: it was really good, so now I’m not worried about her not being able to make it to class as often as she’d like to.

By the way, she asked if she would be allowed to post things, so I’m telling you all: OF COURSE, you’re AUTHORS!!! Please, post away! ❀

Finally I updated people on the C1 Resource Pack. I really need to find time to finish its revision this week, to send in for publication! Wish me luck! 😀 ❀

Lesson Plan for next Wednesday

I’ll word the feedback I posted below, and you can add to that, ask, explain.

Then we’ll listen to people reading their piece.

We’ll watch Story of Stuff, a documentary, and then, depending on time available, you’ll reconstruct what you learned in small groups or we’ll do that at plenary. We’ll need volunteers as note-takers on the whiteboard!

Some people will hand in their Gender Worksheet or minisaga. Some groups will send in their pending Useful Language project. No rush but don’t forget to share! Optional writing: a review on the Ngozi essay.

Remember next Monday is the deadline for the November Writing Assignment. You should avoid making the same mistakes you made in the October piece. Next week we’ll watch our first neuroscience documentary, too, for note-taking and re-telling, but if you like, I could bring a listening activity I designed based on it. We also need people to book to do an OP next week. Please, people who have not done it should try to volunteer so that everybody has done at least a timed speaking exercise by the end of November!! If they don’t, other people are surely welcome!


  1.  From The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon:” I looked up and saw Mrs Shews running towards me from the patio. She was wearing pyjamas and a housecoat. Her toenails were painted bright pink and she had no shoes on”.
  2. From Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert: ” Those Caravaggio paintings always make me feel weepy and overwhelmed, but I cheer myself up by moving to the other side of the church and enjoying a fresco which features the happiest, goofiest, giggliest little baby Jesus in all of Rome”.
  3.  From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl : “It was a large open row boat with a tall front and a tall back (like Viking boat of old), and it was of such a shining sparkling glistening pink colour that the whole thing looked as though it were made of bright, pink glass”

Teacher’s Feedback (LoM) for Oct Writings

We can include other mistakes you made, if you tell us about them!

Today I’ll give you your checked work. Work on your personal LoM and bring to class on Wednesday, OK? Then I’ll go through this list, to check we all learn from what happened, and you can make your own questions. Finally, people will read out their checked work. You can make a clean copy now, typewrite it, and send it in for publication!

lom2016_10 (4 pages – Word)

News about our prospective Guest Speaker from Iceland!

Dear all,

I just called / I’ve just called Elva, a woman from Iceland who I wanted to invite to class, as a guest speaker, so we can learn about the people in this country first hand! And she just told me / she’s just told me that she’s leaving for Iceland again in a week / in a week’s time, but that she would be delighted to come to class in January. We arranged we would get in touch then to arrange for a date and the kind of lesson we would have that day!

I had the pleasure of listening to Elva’s English last June, when she registered for the Avanzado Certificate Test. I was part of her speaking test examining board. Her English was consolidated at the advanced level, so a B2 certificate less than she could have actually certified. But as you know, it’s not possible to take the C1 Certificate Test as a freelance student (Libre). Yet (let’s cross fingers!). Anyway, although we don’t evaluate ideology, or ideas, just the language and textual and communicative matters, I was deeply impressed and moved by her monolog(ue), which was about refugees. So after the tests, I asked her about this idea of visiting our School to talk about Iceland. And she was generous in her reply! She’s even brought us some maps, already!

As you know, you have a reading assignment, which is two articles on Iceland which I posted here (Reading Articles, a Course Project). You should read them for January and work on ideas and language for your productive work (speaking, writing), which will also be positive for your reading tests!

Diary for November 9 + fun training!

Today we worked on the lesson plan and this was what came out of that:

UL. We reviewed sentences for apologies.

OPs. We listened to Cristina giving her timed OP, on dieting! And gave her feedback on pronunciation, language, structure. It was good work! Encarni didn’t make it to class. So in order not to waste a lesson, LucĂ­a said she would volunteer to fill in that gap, if time allowed at the end of the lesson.

Next we dealt with my reading suggestions, reviewing Novels and Movies on the C1 Materials blog and people said they would consider that and come with the information of what they want to read so next Monday we can make a round to learn about that and then see if groups are formed, for teamwork on the same book (for an OP in January).

Next came a one-minute listening activity I had for you. I asked people NOT to do the listening activities I have on, so that whenever we feel like it we can improvise doing one in class. Here is the audio, so you can do follow-up work on this: taking it down as a dictation, or jotting down useful language, or practicing telling this piece of news, so you can record it for your Speaking File. The Questions people answered, after some time in small groups (for one was kind of complicated) were: 1. (fill in a gap), 2. Definition of what qualifies as a planet, 3. Why was Pluto demoted?

Outlines (training). Finally, I gave out my one-minute speaking cards, so we could practice hearing a topic and improvising an outline. People had to choose a victim and give her/him their topic. I was Emilia’s victim. She gave me the topic: Songs, and I did the outline I would do, as an example of how we brainstorm on ideas as we create the outline to organize the information. People were reluctant to volunteer. This is what I call treason. But Lorena saved their asses and volunteered to explain how she used outlines to work on her writing and speaking assignments, and it was great. Karen took the picture! Thanks! ❀


Romina made a language question I don’t recall just now and well… In spite of the distraction strategies, because I’m good at pursuing things, relentlessly, I kept at it and gave everybody 10 minutes to draft an outline on their card topic for a one-minute speaking exercise. And iI was amazing! Almost everybody spoke. Here’s what on! Thank you so much. It was fun and interesting and very good training in various /veriĂ©s/ ways.

Lorena – bicycles, Sonia – crowds, Marina – moustaches, MarĂ­a JosĂ© – laughter, Karen – old shoes, Romina – one-way tickets, Sergio – falling, GermĂĄn – sanitary pads/towels, Laura – spoons, Emilia – songs, Clara – ice-cream, Gema – breaking the ice.

Next day 4 people booked to give timed OPs. You will have time to speak about your book preferences, I’ll bring your checked work so we can hold C-Day on Wednesday, and we’ll do something else. Bring your proposals. We’ll always have listening activities to fill in spare time.

About tomorrow’s (today’s) lesson!

Dear all,

I don’t think I’ll manage to finish checking all of your writings. I’m really sorry about it, though I know you were very kind about it the other day. I’m just letting you know in case I don’t manage it and you would mostly come to class to get your checked assignment.  We’ll do a listening exercise I designed, instead. If I don’t manage it finally! Or anything you like, of course. Remember you can always request things.

Meanwhile, remember to listen to English every day and keep a diary of your work for the end of month. To improve accuracy and fluency use the Useful Language segment of the Talking People Podcast and check out your classmates’ work, which I posted just before!

Night night! (Need to watch the news on the elections!!)

Useful Language Projects (teamwork)

Thank you so much for sending in your work. Thanks for writing on the subject line “Useful Language Project”. I could use the search engine and find it all!! ❀ If you find changes, that’s me! I’ve corrected mistakes at times (very few, congratulations!) and at times I’ve added things. If you don’t agree, just let me know!

The first project that was sent in needed some more work, because it was just the vocabulary, with no context. So I’ll add that project to our list here.

I’m linking this post up there, on our Page R / L: UL, OK?

And I have added ideas and examples, too, from lists other students or I did. One day, when I find the time (!!) all of this will be published on – Your Stuff!

  • ulforenvironmentalissues (1 Word page) – by Clara & Laura, on environmental issues
  • uclbyc1oct2016 (2 Word pages) – Useful Classroom Language, by Luz, Lorena, MarĂ­a JosĂ© and Cristina B.
  • ultvclass (2 Word pages) – by Karen & Sergio, UL from TV series and language notes in class
  • ulforjobs (1 Word page) – by Sonia, Marina & LucĂ­a, UL for Jobs

Joy Harjo, The Creation Story (poem)

Joy Harjo plays the saxophone and writes, poetry and more.

And here’s Joy Harjo saying, singing her poem, and playing.

I created a webpage on for her, to let people know about her. I also asked her if I could record one of her poems for The Talking People Podcast, “Strange Fruit”, which you can also read or listen to. I also comment on the power of poetry in the poem.

You should all learn a poem, or two! 🙂 ❀

Vocabulary Questions: illness, disease

Someone in healthcare explains why although these two words are used as synonyms, it would be helpful to make a distinction.

Apparently, the distinction was established in 1978, so this might explain why in everyday language people keep using them as synonyms.

Collocations with DISEASE

Collocations with ILLNESS

Post your Useful Language here, if you find sentences where these words are used in articles or audio texts. Example:  and

Vocabulary exercises (though I think reading articles is much better and you learn more, too)
I just did the first, and it works. If you do any other, post your mistakes so we can double-check, You can also post the words you learned/learnt!

Diary for Nov 7 + lots of stuff! + hmwk & plans

The impact of students listening to teachers should never ever be underestimated. It’s so inspiring and positive it simply makes the world a better place, just like that!

Soluna brought candy, and that is surely not to be underestimated!!! One of the pack was that kind of vitamin C soft center, you know? Yummy!

I gave out the handout I published today on our page here: Handouts, which is homework for next Monday, OK? Please write your name. I forgot to leave a space for that! I would like you to be absolutely articulate when addressing any kind of text on gender issues! 😀 ❀

800px-mileva_maricToday we had two wonderful OPs: on a mathematician, Milena Marich (who married Einstein /ain-stain/, by Luz, and on Teaching, by MarĂ­a JosĂ©. I asked both students to record their final version after the feedback they got in class, for their Speaking File, and to send me that final version for doublechecking. I also invited them to exploit this good work in a written exercise of their choice. We should publish Luz’s on the Herstory blog! As both students used audio material to learn to improve their English (Luz a documentary and MJosĂ© a TED Talk), I would like to ask them to post it on this blog, so other students can also have some follow-up on what we learned/learnt today from their talks in class.

We reviewed a great many how-to’s, too.

The importance of monologue structure, including signalling beginning and ending, and the power of endings.

I explained how to work on LoMs. Perhaps people who have not posted yet would like to post here what I said about this!

Another question was Communicative Strategies in Speaking exercises in tests and in life (e.g., clarifying, rephrasing, asking). You are all invited to post on what we said! I’d like to link here to an example of what I explained on brainstorming on scenarios.

A language point we tackled was around making your language range richer in terms of sentence structure: using noun phrases and participle clauses as I do here with a proposal for LucĂ­a (previous post).

Collocations and synonyms came up: listing synonyms is not enough. Browse their collocations. Use online dictionaries and select those you might be more likely to use or remember.

Syntax. I explained how hierarchical word order is in English, to encourage people to notice the importance of the S-V-O heart of the matter! There’s always a love story going on here, so don’t break their heart! 😀 Place the other stuff before or after!

I introduced the idea that you all need to work on improving your use of modals, too. This including the telling of an anecdote. The pack has two cards with a table that can be improved for sure! I have about two weeks to brush it up, so if you have any ideas, please, post away here, or create a post called Feedback for the Pack!

I also mentioned how boring indeterminate “they” subjects are and how they offer you a chance to show you know how to use passives! Direct and indirect objects in the active can be subjects in the passive. Indirect objects are a fav in English because they often relate to people, and people are interesting as subject matter! Cf. They arrested me – I was arrested / I was given a beautiful raincoat.

We reviewed the doubling of ending consonants, and the pronunciation of -ed endings with dentals and of -es endings after sibilants. And practiced pronouncing words we need to master and the linking of words. (ai lav dit)

The use of “the” and mostly its omission was reviewed, too, introducing the subjective approach of when we say: People in this class are really nice – The people in this class are really nice. Never: the society (in general).

Comment adverbials. I encouraged the use of “Apparently,” to complement passives like “It is said/believed”.

Plans for November!

Reading. We just managed to mention that next day you should all tell me which book you would like to read, from the blog C1 Materials. I’m open to other possibilities, of course, but I’d like several people to be reading the same book so that you can help each other with ideas and language. Karen is reading the screenplay of the Marigold Hotel, which is an annotated script I worked on one summer! — meaning, you can also pick that! I recommended Pay It Forward for people who need to improve their accuracy, although it’s great too for people interested in descriptions and everyday language, and I recommended Orange Is the New Black for people interested in Law, Crime, Prison… (And you can download essays by Angela Davis on prisons!). Of course, I also recommend any of those. You can ask me next day.

Writing. I explained why this year my suggested assignment for November is not a format your Writing Tests ask you to use. You see, doing it will help you improve in two kinds of texts you should master: story-telling (descriptions) and argumentative texts (reasoned opinions). People agreed on this plan:

  1. Everybody looks for a description (a paragraph, a few lines) or a collection of sentences describing a person, a place and an object, and then you post it here. For persons, use literature — writers language range is impressive. For places, use travel guides. And for objects, you can use shopping websites or the like.
  2. Then people write a (more or less) 100-word reasoned opinion on a controversial topic. But remember — it’s YOUR opinion, not the presentation of the sides involved in the controversy.
  3. Optional. If you feel confident, try to write a description based on your work on 1. (Please, check out my ficha on Learning to Write from Reading Novels. It’s based on Pay It Forward, if I remember correctly.)

Deadline: Monday Nov 21. Please, remember the requirements!

Next day we have two OPs, and people have booked for Monday next week. Make sure you book as soon as possible if you have not done the 3-4 min OP. We need you to find excuses to learn more!

I’ll try my hardest to give you your October writings back, so you can work on your LoM over the weekend. And start off your Writing File.


Would you like to do a very active exercise on how to do outlines? If you are interested — it’s like a game — we could do it soon!

LoM’s: Combining two sentences to make sentence structure richer / more varied /variid/

Based on a review on the book we read in class, written by LucĂ­a. I hope you can send it in for publication, because it’s insightful and very enjoyable! ❀


What comes before:

Review of Ngozi’s We Should All Be Feminists
In this essay Ngozi Adichie offers a moST inclusive definition of feminism. Drawing on anecdotes from her adolescence and adult life, she attempts to strike down stereotypes and unpack the baggage usually associated with the term.

This book is a very short adaptation of the TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie of the same name, it’s a great introduction into the topic of feminism and gives a brief insight into how it can go unnoticed in society.

A short adaptation of a TED talk of Ngozi’s by the same name, this brief essay / We Should All Be Feminists is a great introduction to the topic of feminism and how sexism can go unnoticed in society. (Merging two sentences by means of noun or participle clauses. Can you find examples in your own writing? Can you merge two sentences by using this resource?)

News on the C1 Resource Pack

Dear all,

Last Friday Ana, the janitor, Marianela, the head of studies and I drove to our printer (printing business) to check materials and sort out how to proceed next.

I hope you can all finish reading the pilot edition I sent you, because it’s full of ideas on how to organize yourselves and how to work this year. And I hope you can explain what you learn from the pack in a timed OP, and/or ask questions in class whenever.

Here is the cover I designed today. I’m totally overwhelmed with work, but have had a migraine these days (my neighbours have spent the last month making horrible noise early in the morning including weekends! and I’m reluctant to taking drugs, so I’m exhausted, really! Not a single day’s rest!!), so I haven’t finished checking your October writing assignments. I’ll try to have that ready for next Wednesday, so we can have C-Day the following week!

So do you like the outside of the box? How can I improve it?


We forgot something! + Feedback on Romina’s OP

I’m very forgetful of late! I just saw this text I’m pasting with the feedback I wrote the other day for Romina. I think it is unfinished, but as she sent the audio and I’ll be putting together a video for our vimeo channel, I’ll just post it now so as not to keep her waiting.

Hey, we forgot to do the speaking exercise on why I am a woman / a man and a human being and nobody remembered!! Does this mean nobody wants to do it? Well, it’s OK, of course. But if you want to do it, just let me know! If you are shy, I can create a page here so you can post away!

As Romina came back to class, after having been ill for over a week now, we decided to give people more time to prepare the 1, 2, 3 min speaking exercise on gender identity (start volunteering whenever we meet, as usual with 3-4-min OPs, OK? Everybody needs to share one of these a month in class), and listen to her instead. And it was great. Her OP was How to Set Up a Business, and it was not in the timed speaking test format. She will be sending me the audio so I can prepare it for publication on our EOI Teacher Sharing C1 Work, which is where I publish audios in video format. (Our School’s YouTube Channel has videos by students, which I encourage you to watch, particularly if you wish to work on your LoM, Lists of Mistakes.)

Her language range was really rich, and natural, fluent. Her use of the past was consolidated at the advanced level, for instance, and she could change from past to present and viceversa accurately. She also included varied tenses in the passive too, e.g., “I was going to be told what to do” (future in the past in the passive), showed a consolidated use of verbal structures like “I was used to working on my own”, “half of what I was earning” (partitive + indirect question + “earn” + past cont. for a descriptive mood, instead of past simple for factual completed past), connectors (comment adverbials) such as “Obviously, I have bills to pay”, “non-refundable funds” (lower level indicators: ), “It’s really funny” (correctly used!).

When she encountered a language problem (on 3 occassions, in a highly fluent and accurante 11-minute presentation), she managed to make her points. This is a crucial indicator of a command of the language at the advanced level. So make sure you all practice re-telling this year (with the audios your work on at home and record in your listening log) and also communicative strategies (“I mean”, “How can I say this?”, “What’s the word for this? Well,”.

Romina’s outline / content structure was consistent. She spoke from experience, so she started offering the setting: she spoke about her previous job and the circumstance of her finding herself out of work, but she also reflected upon it all so as to lead us into understanding some of the strengths that played to her advantage when having to become an entrepreneur (e.g. being used to making decisions and working on her own). She also shared the feelings involved in all of that (e.g. the hurtful feeling of humiliation we get when being sacked and offered jobs that do not fulfill our career expectations). She was describing facts and assessing them all the way. Then she described the transitional situation she’s in at the moment and her present job. And how the law has changed, which was a precious tip for people in her position. She moved on to offer more info and tips on where to begin, where to go and it was really interesting because that included local projects (the AndalucĂ­a Lab, a subsized project where people help each other (at this point I started having a mild migraine so people, feel free to correct or complete my description), or the benefits offered or more precisely the cuts on benefits (economic assistance). Finally, she addressed the marketing issue and all the resources one needs to have on the internet. Her final block was great, too: she described the point she was in now, in terms of work, and her future plans and ambitions. I have to say that her content development was very much at the advanced level: so train in this, combining factual info with assessment, but organize the whole in blocks that make sense. So her structure and transitions were very logical and natural (cohesion, coherence).

About her mistakes: She started off making a mistake you should all avoid, “The first (THING) I want to say” and “take this decision” — but later on she used “made this decision” so this means it was not systematic. Once she didn’t say “ON () the internet”, or “looking at” instead of “for” or the other way round. Considering she did not make mistakes like this later on, and that these mistakes were very few, the interpretation is that she was nervous. Oftentimes people say they did badly because they were nervous, but everybody is nervous when speaking in public, and students who enjoy the chance of practicing throughout the year should take advantage of this opportunity to train and become more resourceful and confident. What is clear to me is that, yes, when we are nervous we make some mistakes we wouldn’t when relaxed, but the quantity and nature of those mistakes can indicate our advanced level is not there, so make sure you all practice your weekly timed monologue at home, learning to listen to yourselves, and learning to fix your mistakes. To learn to do this, it is precious to watch the videos where I have included written corrections to people’s presentations. (Our youtube channel).

So as you can see, there’s not much on mistakes. But I do have comments on how she can improve some wordings, or simply some alternatives to make your language range richer. You need to find these alternatives in use in what you read and listen to!

the situation that I was living – the situation that I was experiencing / going through / undergoing

Her video:

Diary for Wed. Nov 2 – Small Groups & Getting Organized!

Today people had the chance to work together!

First they dealt with sharing their work on Useful Language, and we agreed they would send their contributions to a team member, that this member would organize/organise them as a whole and then send it to me for corrections and publication on a page here: Lists of Useful Language by Sts. Lourdes’s team maximized their time and effort, for they did all that as they shared work! Bravo!

Then people checked the Collocations worksheets, here is the Key with comments, and I gave out two more, because I’ll be giving out two every month. Bring it to class in three weeks or so. After two weeks you can suggest when!

PACK. I reminded people everybody needs to read the C1 Resource Pack, at least the cards that speak about how to learn this year. And we agreed people would make sure the had done this by the end of this month. Meanwhile you can always ask in class.

COPIES. I know you have to do some printing, but this course gives you a lot of things for free, and you can always count on asking me for copies if you can’t afford it. Do so, if you need me to do that! Ask in advance, OK? In any case, I’ll always try to bring COPIES FOR USE IN THE CLASSROOM.

UL. I reviewed why we work with lists of Useful Language, too. But the pack makes all this clear, I think, I hope! You need to tell me!

ORALS. I undertook a persuasive approach this time, and managed to find 4 volunteers for next week. This means two people per lesson. Please, let’s do something: if you realize you’ll miss a lesson where you would be giving a presentation, tell your classmates so someone else can prepare work for that day! ❀ I reminded people that each lesson without students doing timed OPs is a lesson lost in this valuable sense of you getting the chance to get feedback on timed speaking test formats. You see, if this were private education, you would be doing this once a week. Because we’re twenty-lots, and there are from 5 to 8 lessons a month… I’m not good at maths but, counting on not everybody volunteering, this means we should be listening to 3 people in every lesson for you to do ONE timed mon a month in class. Of course, at home you can do more, and practice the one you share many times, so that when you come to speak in public you feel more confident, and so you practice speaking at home. So please, watch my video on how to work on monologues at home, watch LucĂ­a’s OP, too, read the part on the Speaking File in the Resource Pack. In any case, everybody should have done a timed OP in this first term, please! And in any case, remember that you can use part of your listening work to practice retelling! This would be a minimum if you want to improve your English.

REMEMBER I need to collect info on your weekly work at the end of this month, OK? As important is that you tell us about it in class, and ask questions, and make requests.

HOMEWORK: The importance of planning should not be underestimated, particularly if you don’t find the time for this course!

Your weekly learning plans should include reading blog posts & pages (the once-a-month shared reading of articles: see here), and watching our edited videos. Then the listening log is key (our videos, podcasts, radio, TV, movies…), to support your learning and speaking work at home, weekly. Finally, monthly writing assignments would be your writing minimum. If you didn’t manage to do the October Writing Assignment, make sure you don’t miss out on the next! Be patient, do what you can, and never quit!

POSTING ON THIS BLOG. I encouraged people to use the blog as Authors. You can post work, resources, questions. You can make comments, hold “conversations”, and you’ll get a free correction!! 😀 ❀ It’s great support for your learning outside classroom time!

Next week… Lots of decisions to make. Bring your ideas!

Worksheets on Collocations: 57 & 58 (Key & Lang. Comments)

Key 57

  1. 1 bright, 2 give; mean, 3 up; decent, 4 travels, 5 bad; sleep, 6 know
  2. 1 really/absolutely delighted, 2 been on the go, 3 a great pleasure, 4 really/very much looking forward, 5 came as a bit of a shock, 6 brutally honest, 7 didn’t have much luck, 8 cause (trouble), 9 We very much/sincerely hope, 10 (It) occurred to me that, 11 don’t go to any trouble on my account, 12 Give me a ring (Drop me a line/Drop me at the next traffic lights).

Key 58

  1. 1 broke his promise, 2 offer any explanation, 3 reaffirm my commitment to, 4 rejected the charge, 5 dodge the question, 6 betrayed the trust
  2. 1 (he) gave repeated assurances, 2 (He) went back on his promise to, 3 rarely give a straight answer, 4 (he) made a (firm) commitment to, 5 for keeping your promise, 6 (he) fielded a number of hostile questions, 7 better channels of communication, 8 I take your point but, 9 He gave a full apology – mostly he’s! Beat that!
  3. 1 Alex 2 Brona 3 Simon 4 Arlene 5 Finn
  4. We need to confront the issue of rape, With all due respect I think your view is biased because, Establish communication is step number 1 in problem-solving, OK, that’s a fair comment, The football player issued a denial after reports in the papers that he had raped an underaged, The student put an interesting question to the lecturer

As I worked with these sheets, I thought of mentioning these points, for more language awareness on different kinds of issues:

Extreme adjectives don’t use “very” but “absolutely/really” and the like!, e.g., I’m absolutely delighted to announce… As this issue came up in Intermedio, I asked GermĂĄn to review that and share what he knows about it.

Expressing emphasis: That’s a feeble excuse, if ever there was one! (if ever…)

MEAN: He didn’t mean any harm. / I didn’t mean it that way (when you’re misunderstood)

DESCRIPTIONS: thick-skinned / blue-eyed, wide-shouldered, hard-headed… She has blue eyes / Her eyes are blue / A blue-eyed woman came to me and said…

ON: from “I’ve been on the go all week”, I just thought we might review “on” phrases of this kind: I’m on a business trip / on a holiday, We went on a day-trip to Gibraltar, The kids went on an excursion to the mountain.

Is it (still) on? = Sigue vigente el plan? (informal) or also, Siguen poniendo la peli/serie?

Key says: Are you still UP for a night out? Check this out: (focus: want to do it) But you can also say, Are you still in? (we’re in and out of plans when we decide to join or not to join people) (but not followed by “for” because that means sth negative:


Framing questions is not like “I’ve been framed!” Do you know why?

To become accountable: hard wording for Spanish speakers. Related to responsibility. Who is responsible for this? Who should be held accountable for this? You need this kind of language to speak about politics and democracy. Check this out:

Watch my monologue on Politics and Honesty.

skilful = British English; skillful = US American English

Reminders: Lesson Plans for Today & Planning November

  1. Who speaks next week? – booking a date
  2. Small Groups: creating groups (with similar occupations or heterogeneous) and sharing your individual work on Useful Language.
  3. Small Groups: checking your answers to the two worksheets on collocations (spares on bulletin board) – today I’ll give you another two.
  4. Plenaries for reporting on your work and questions

Plans for November (to discuss next week) – Getting Organized (bring your weekly learning plans!)

  • Your timed OPs (book) – retelling with a time limit or putting together your own OP
  • C-Day on the second lesson in the second Nov week (on the first you’ll get your checked writing so you can work on your LoM) + Agreeing on what for the Nov Writing
  • (pending: Wkshop on Rational Discussions – print it, please)
  • Check things: Who is reading what? (C1 Materials), anyone for the Movie/Film Project?
  • Documentary
  • Friends 1×2: Dramatized Reading (print it, please)
  • New collocations worksheets
  • (At home: listening/speaking, planning, reading blog posts+materials, training with course videos, minimum if you want to actually follow the course!)

Reading Articles (1), a Course Project

Here is the idea: it includes an article suggested by Knitting Words and another one I found interesting too, on the same topic. I have underlined interesting language for you to learn, and included a Task Description on page 4. Please, print it and read the Task Description. Then it’s up to you all if we work on it in class, OK?

I recommend reading articles to people who don’t generally do! Because it takes a long time to get acquainted with the kind of language in the news, in press articles, in analysis magazines, and articles are always part of your Certificate Reading Tests.

So if you are not considering reading a book or more of those I suggest on C1 Materials, do consider reading articles at least! 🙂

news_iceland_genderrevolution (4 pages) – Connecting Skills: the language and info/ideas here will help you write and speak about gender issues, the construction of democracy, grassroots and social change, laws, employment, equalitarian societies… Consider how you can use what you learn from reading, for instance, in other kinds of exercises. Consider using other kinds of sources, here audio sources, for instance, (e.g., google news on gender issues) to check your progress and expand your knowledge.

As you can see, with one item or task we can build a whole unit, so to put it.

New Video: How to Improve your Writing – learning about the writing process!

Here is M’s outstanding work, explaining how you should all proceed with your monthly writing assignments. Feel free to post your feedback for her here or on our youtube channel! ❀ I hope it inspires you!! ❀ Use this video to work on your language awareness and LoM, too! Gather Useful Language for Explaining Things (language function), notice how she uses the strategy of Recapitulating on what she previously explained, to check the main points are clear!