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 María José. 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 MJosé 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 Lucía (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!


  1. To the question: Would you like to do a very active exercise on how to do outlines? If you are interested — it’s like a game
    I am interested in doing this excersice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s what we did, remember? When you told me a topic and I started brainstorming and drafting the outline! I thought, “Hey, we could do this in class!! It’d be fun and very useful to help people train in outlines”. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

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