Month: January 2017

Some homework: watch & learn!

Better late than never! Here is Gema’s work with my language notes. Please, use it to work on your Lists of Mistakes, but also in your UL to improve your language range! Thanks, Gema!

Oh, remember that when you work on listening and speaking, you are also working on improving your writing!

Feminist humor/humour


How would you translate it? I can’t. “Fed up with having to do all the work and being invisible”. We were called “revolting bitches” but I don’t see why we should have been insulted. It’s very funny! It’s a pun and the stick to turn the masculine “o” into a feminine “a” is a CLEAN tampon, so — why would it be revolting? (Demented laughter)

More humor in feminist political action: Elöne, German artist / artivist


And this humor is admirable — for all the violence women get in this planet.

Have you ever read this classic text by Gloria Steinem? It was based on things that were learned in the 20th century in philosophy and other areas of knowledge, really! “If Men Could Menstruate“. Can you feel how belittling and humiliating it is to be bombed all day with the messages patriarchal minds send women?

Antifeminist people say women also use violence when they make fun of men, or use psychological violence, or verbal violence. (We all use verbal violence — words as physical blows and conceptual violence every day.) As if women were not human or men did not use apart from physical violence all the other kinds, including, traditionally, deciding over women’s lives, locking them up to serve them, mostly, or exploiting their work as if women were machines. But about violence — this is what I want to write about — let me say: the fact that men are allowed and encouraged in patriarchal societies to use physical violence AND the fact that women are not allowed to use it (a woman who kills is perceived as more evil than a man who kills; we fear her more), both show that using violence is educational, cultural. Because any human being is capable of using any kind of violence, or use their conscience and intelligence and not use violence on a daily basis. The patriarchal idea of physical strength is rather misleading.

So — Why are feminists obsessed with the period? Perhaps because it’s nowhere to be seen in History. Perhaps because all women’s issues have traditionally been irrelevant or disgusting? (Have you seen a true picture of what giving birth looks like? Lots of feminists had to posts messages in support of a woman artist, Ana Álvarez-Errecalde, who wanted to be taken a picture with her newborn for all the violence she was getting in social networks. She looks so absolutely happy! Why are women’s moments like these disgusting to see?)

Why isn’t feminist humor understood, or women who are feminists when they make a joke? And what they say is taken as if they say it seriously, so the reaction is so wild, ridiculizing them as thinkers, when the fact is they are making a joke? A political joke most of the times. Often an admirable joke. And when women reason, they aren’t listened to or red, because people in patriarchy can’t accept, can’t take it that they reason (we would have to get really upset about having made it so hard for them to help organize the world and solve problems), they can’t say anything which is worth it for us all — not as valuable as what a man can say, in any case. This is what history has told us. This is what we’ve been told for centuries everywhere. Women are bad at heart, particularly when they don’t do what patriarchy expects from them, like wanting to study, wear the clothes she likes, have sex with people she also chooses, drive, play football, have or not have bay bees, travel the world, write books, fight violence…

But women have always been here, not only patriarchal-minded women, also women-persons, or differently-abled-women! ( 😀 ) — like men who refused to become patriarchal men, or couldn’t — , and if we hadn’t had to fight so hard, we could’ve contributed more and in more varied ways, and mostly: we could’ve had a life of our own, for ourselves too, not only to help our community or family!


Humor has a role in feminism, particularly in Nonviolent Direct Action, but also just because feminists are human beings, too, and humor helps us survive! ❤





Assessing our time together

Dear students,

As you can see, time flies. This part of the course is more intense, in that you need to intensify your work at home. Still, I hope you enjoy it, thanks to what we did before: develop or reinforce the habit of using the language and enjoying the language. In this part of the course you need to get organized, to make sure you work as I explain in your Resource Pack. Ask me for support and keep me informed, if you like.

The more you use English, and the more you enjoy learning to learn to become a lifelong learner, like myself!, the more you’ll learn and the more time you’ll find for it.

Ask, share, make proposals, we can adapt. In spite of the fact that we’ll always be short of time! Being short of time is positive: it means we have lots of thing to share. Then, I’m sorry we can’t listen to everybody every day. That’s the bad thing about public education. But you CAN practice speaking at home, and then record final versions for your Speaking File and for my feedback, OK?

It is likely we part after June, and then you need to be prepared to BE a lifelong learner. You need to have had developed the habit of using your English not only in some natural ways, but also as independent learners, because this is the only way to keep your level up, and to learn more, too.

So focus, make time for this course. It won’t last much more! 🙂 ❤

Adverbs & Adverbials

There are things some students need to review at home, when they are below the upper intermediate level, and you all have textbooks and materials, I’m sure. But anyway, I’ll share with you here some of my notes:


  • You cannot say “DO SOMETHING very good/bad” (adjective) but “DO sth very WELL/BADLY” (adverbs): e.g. He cleans very well.
  • You can say “I feel GOOD/BAD” and “I am GOOD/BAD at this or that” (adjective)

From Functional Grammar at TP, but there’s more in the C1 Resource Pack

Adverb order: How-where-when

Adjective or adverb

A worksheet we could read in class, if you like, is this:

Theory: Adverbs and adverbials (2 pages) – You can do this as follow-up: Practice with adverbials (2 pages, with key)

My post where you can spot the adverbs or the adverbials was this: Teacher’s UL on documentary

Feel free to post your questions, and remember: use your listening work to practice reviewing grammar, visualize the grammar as you listen!

Diary for Mon Jan 30 – Guest Speaker from Scotland! & Lesson Plans for Feb 1

Today, after some confusion, we had a wonderful lesson. We managed to do Part II of the listening activity on climate change, and people had amazing results. Now your follow-up work should include listening again and retelling (click to hear). Please, do the cloze test at the end of the pack, in case we can fit it in some day. We’ll do Part III whenever we can, too. Does anybody remember how long it took us today to do Part II? Thanks.

Then Cristina R and Catherine, from Scotland, gave us the wonderful present of a talk in Scottish English! Scottish English is hard to understand JUST BECAUSE we hardly ever get the chance to hear it! So now we’ll be able to get used to it, because apart from today’s talk, Catherine allowed us to videoshoot. Our guest speaker told us about her country, her hometown, what it’s like, what university is like, too. And answered quite a lot of questions by students! She’s looking for a language exchange English-Spanish, so if you are interested or know of anybody who might be, I’ve got the contact info.

Next Wednesday we agreed to do this: Devote the first 45 or 60 mins to small groups checking the Collocations Worksheets (one at least). I’d like to ask you to share with your group which Useful Language you chose from that work. Remember that you need to say those sentences out loud to count on your ear and mouth memories too! Then, the rest of the lesson would be for Reading Projects. Please, don’t let your group members down! I posted here some of the questions I need answers too, so please read! ❤

The deadline for your January Writing is next Feb 8, but today some people already handed in their work. Next week you should ask me about the February assignment if you have questions.


LoMs. Remember you should be good at knowing which your weak points are in terms of mistakes, so work on your LoM with feedback and corrections to oral and written work.

Listening to radio program(me)s. News and interviews. There are lots of podcasts you can download, to select one every now and then and listen to it again and again to improve your comprehension, fluency and accuracy. Now it’s the time, and until the end of course.

Weekly Learning Plans. Not to hand in, but to maximize your learning time! OK?

Today Dolores told me she had finished reading the C1 Resource Pack and that she found it helpful for her learning. She said she had arranged different groups of cards, to meet her needs. Thanks so much! Feedback on this is precious for me, so I can improve things, or at least know what’s most useful to students. I’d like to remind you all that the version which is now for a free download on TP (link above) is not the same as the one you have. And — I know I wrote it, but — I think you should buy the paper copy, because it’s only 12 euros and it’s a very special thing that might go out of print for lack of resources in public/state-run education! (There are only a hundred and something copies, and that’ll be sold in not that long!)

Finally, I’m getting orals people have been working on (retellings of Story of Stuff, Redesign My Brain…). Well done! I’ll reply with my feedback asap, and if you don’t hear from me, please, remind me of that. Video editing and preparing articles and listening exercises is taking up a great deal of my time these days!

March 8. International Women’s Strike! <3

8marzoparoMore and more women in the world, individually and in groups and network, with some men joining in, too, like those supporting women in a hunger strike in Sol, Madrid, are growing in numbres. So far it’s 48 countries!


Old news: The Confederación intersindical changed its mind and they are not calling for the strike anymore, that is, trade unions are not joining in the 24-hour strike. They’re expressing their solidarity by doing what everybody can do everywhere: 10-minute, 2-hour strikes.

Uine, uidit, uincit! – not quite!

Today Charo, another English teacher, and I were designing more stuff for the English Departament’s video channel while uploading new videos by her Básico 2 students and suddenly it was eight pm and we weren’t ready to leave, but we managed to at around 8.15, so I rushed to María José’s exhibition, “Aventureras”, and I actually got there at 8.35, in spite of not knowing the shortcut, all sweaty and excited, and…

I went, I couldn’t see, so I left!

The exhibition room was absolutely PACKED! You could actually smell people! SO–

CONGRATULATIONS TO MJ and all the women artists whose work has created the exhibition “Aventureras”. I’m sure to visiti the gallery again, but — hopefully — when there’s actual physical space to see their works! 😀 We’ve got a month for that so, people, make sure you check this out. Here’s more info on the event.

For Cristina B on the use & omission of “the”

Here are my notes to help you with the use and omission of “the”, which you need to improve. I’m posting it here because more people might want to check on this.

Hope it’s useful!

About speaking in public

I’d like to share with you some insight on speaking in public, as a teacher and a researcher on the topic, in case it can help you re-consider any trouble you might have with this issue.

Most people suffer a lot when they have to speak in public. However, most of us speak in public very often in the day — teachers, particularly, as part of the demands in their job.

So the question is: why do we consider ourselves unable to do it at times?

Overcoming fears and complexes are all efforts that, when successful, make us braver, more courageous. When we consider that people in class are unthreatening, our equals, nice people who will not harm us, it’s much easier to speak to them all in class, and this training allows us to control our fear when we need to speak in public in examinations or in particularly threatening work situations.

There’s also this other issue: we need to assess how private or emotional it is what we are saying. If it’s just an exercise, where our intimate world is not presented, we should really find enough strength to control our fear.

But perhaps the fear comes from being told we’ve made mistakes. In this case, we need to rationalize the situation and understand that mistakes are opportunities for learning, not something that belittles us, or humiliates us.

Sometimes we feel bad about our mistakes for transfer reasons: we transfer the feeling of guilt, or the shame, or the uneasiness we feel for having made certain mistakes in life that relate to our relationships or inner life, to other fields which would not have triggered that shame or uneasiness. It’s like in dreams: sometimes we change the image of the person the dream is about, because we cannot cope with that being the person we’re actually dreaming of. When we realize this is so, we liberate the burden on this other arena, and open up the opportunity to do something about the mistake we made that really hurt.

Guilt has never been a good resource in problem solving, because it freezes us. We don’t do anything about it because we’re overwhelmed, we feel so bad! In contrast, acknowledging mistakes encourages us to work more positively to avoid them the next time that could happen. In this way, it makes us better, more human, more intelligent.

donotfearmistakes_milesdavisWe need to learn to be confident and humble at the same time. We need to stop putting this pressure on mistakes. Researchers, artists, creative people in all walks of life KNOW mistakes are crucial for learning and discovery and exploration and making progress!

Learning to learn, to perceive others as equals, to use mistakes positively, all of this works to our advantage in every way, in every realm of our life.

We should transfer our ability to speak in public in certain scenarios, to other scenarios which we feel are threatening. And above all, we need to learn to trust others. If we refuse to learn all the violence our culture teaches us, our being together can simply be a gift, a possibility to keep each other company the time we spend together, making the most of it all!

Change your viewpoint, your approach — you may discover things are way easier than you thought, that your skills and knowledge are greater than you thought, that people are nicer than you thought, that life is sweeter when we help!

On Elva, the Icelandic Guest Speaker!

Dear all, Elva just wrote. She’s brought maps from Iceland! She’s asking when you would like her to come, and what you would like her to speak about. I sent her the links to all the posts here with the word “Iceland” and said you were adorable and would ask her questions, but that you would probably prefer she chose the topic. Still, please, let me know next week WHEN at least, and if you have questions or suggestions for topics she can talk about. Perhaps we could also invite the Avanzado group?
The links here I sent her:

About your talk, well, we prefer you choose what you want to tell us about your country.
They’ve been reading these articles on Iceland:
And here are more posts where Iceland comes up: (a student’s post)
And a documentary we haven’t watched, but that I suggested:
It’s awesome you brought maps!
Perhaps you can design, or we can do it in class together, an activity based on the maps!
Feel free to do whatever because the group is adorable!
Oh, this post was after we spoke last:
When can you come?
Not next week, because we’ll have someone from Scotland, and they want to finish some of the things we should’ve already done!
When then? After that, whenever, till the end of May. Whenever suits you best. Lessons are on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 7.10 pm to 9.15 pm. You can use as much time as you need, or as little!
I can make copies of whatever you like, if you need them, for all. If you send it to me beforehand.
Any questions or help, please, let me know!
Thanks so much!!

We have a little pressie for you. Olive oil from local producers in Coín!
Hey, just thought of it: I’ll ask them on the blog. If I’m not back to you by the end of next week, it’s that they prefer you choose, ok?
Night night

Tips for your work. Overview of Lesson Plans by month

I’d like to ask people who make grammar mistakes (word order, morphology) or don’t listen enough to English, or who can’t follow this course well (= are not doing almost any of the activities they could be doing), to please use my podcast, or any podcast to practice Listen-n-Repeat with Useful Language.

Then, if you haven’t… Learn a poem by ear, practice retelling, re-using the audios we’ve already worked on, please! Repetition might be boring, but not if you focus on learning as many sentences as you can! So please, give it a try if you haven’t. Your English will improve a great deal in about a month.

Finally, one reason why we don’t use more classroom time for small groups is because whenever this is going to happen, people don’t seem to make it to class. Please, remember February 1 is for your Reading Projects, teamwork. On this day, you could also check one of the collocations handouts in teams, or we could do Part II of our listening activity on climate change.

The other reason why I ask you to speak at plenary individually is because if you do that in small groups, I can’t listen to you and give you feedback or at least know how you are doing. But if people are feeling they cannot speak in class because they’d rather do it in small groups, we can do that. No problem. Let’s do it!

On the second February week, we’ll be doing the same: small groups will check the second collocation worksheet and I HOPE YOU CAN ALL share in your small group the retelling of something you worked on with an audio, or a poem. Then we’ll finish the listening on climate change, and then people will train at home in the retelling of this radio programme.

If you need more classroom time for your Reading Project, please, ask! Don’t suffer in silence!

I’ll bring a reading exercise, too. Because in this part of the course, I’ll always be bringing reading and listening exercises for us to do in class. But this needs to be combined with YOUR SPEAKING AND TALKING ACTIVITIES. (Block letters for emphasis, not intended as shouting.) So please, let us know what you are ready to share in class.

Remember February includes your teamwork OPs. Next Feb 1 you need to work out when you’ll do your OP (last two weeks in Feb, but you can also book in March if you are not ready before that).

March will be Exam Format Training Month. (And pending OPs)

April: it depends on your needs. If there are not requests, I’ll come up with things. I’ve got tons of ideas! But I’d rather you suggested things or shared your work.

May will be Focus on Interactions, intensive practice in timed dialogues based on previous speaking tests.

Tutorías: please, book a counselling session if you are lost, feel down, or simply to talk to me.

Diary for Wed Jan 25 – Guest Speaker

warrenToday we had the great luck to listen to a very knowledgeable speaker on the topic of Visiting Cambodia, for he is a tour manager who lived in Cambodia for years. Previously, I had asked students to watch these videos as a warm-up.

As not many C1 students made it to class today, I rushed upstairs and — sorry about that — forgetting to ask them first, I invited Avanzado students in Juan’s class to join us. And that was great! Suddenly the room was full of life! There was such an atmosphere! (I wish this were so each single time we organize events!)

I was wearing my super girly-girly dress and after doing the catwalk (well, my “pintillas” version of that, after a 30-second tutorial on how to spot a feminist when in a girly disguise), I acknowledged María José a<3 s the person who made this event possible, and invited her to tell everybody about the exhibition she’s also on, “Aventureras”, whose opening is this Friday at 20.00 near Glorieta Ford. (More info here.) Incidentally, she gave me a poster I put up on the door and for just me an autographed bookmark (well, I had to beg her to sign it for me! 😀 ). 😛 Ana, the janitor, while Juan’s group moved to the first floor, wrapped up a bottle Lola, one of the French teachers in our school, bought this week from local producers in Coín with school money. It was our little present for Warren because he was not going to charge us (a fee) for his talk.

Warren Garber, who allowed me to videoshoot his talk, introduced himself (a Londoner) and started off by telling us about his relationship to Cambodia and Andalucía. Then he moved onto the topic of Cambodia. He had prepared a wonderful power point presentation, which offered visual support to the topics he spoke about, and this made things easier for the audience to follow. I particularly loved the way he explained things, because he often paraphrased things so that people could follow better, as if he knew which words might pose trouble to students. And because he knew well what he was speaking about, and easily related things to his own thoughts and experiences. On top of that, he knew where the audience came from, too, I mean, that he was speaking about Cambodia to us, people living in Costa del Sol.

Students and Juan the teacher were wonderful because whenever they had a question or comment, they posed it, so the talk had very interactive moments!

Warren told us about the country’s location, what it’s called, what its weather is like, what people’s lives are like in terms of everyday details (TVs powered by car engines in huts; mobile ringtones heard in rice plantations) and also general occupations (women workers, mostly, in fields or sweat workshops), including the gender problems that patriarchal society has. He gave information on health concerns and transport/transportion. He showed us bits of landscape and key tourist sites… He gave us some key hints on history, and international relations in Asia and with international superpowers. And ended the talk bringing up the issue of food, this BIG cultural question. (By the way, I would have wanted to ask him why British people find eating squid repulsive, well, if that’s right.)

We had fun, too, because Warren has a great sense of humor/humour!

And my right hand was totally numb midway, so if I manage to edit the video (chop it up in different video clips by topic, like this one we did on Trinidad and Tobago! It’s 8 in all) you’ll see the image’s rather wobbly (unsteady) at times! Sigh!

After Warren left, Juan’s group left, cheerfully thanking us for the invitation. And those of us who were left reviewed the issue of word order in questions. I suggested people collected questions and did some oral drilling to improve their accuracy and fluency. More on this on my next post. Please read.

Last, I told students I could publish their human rights letters on our brand-new multilingual Human Rights blog.

Well, thanks to everybody for today! Life is much more interesting when we work together! ❤

(edited) Documentaries. Where to Invade Next

Michael Moore’s 2015 documentary has a somewhat misleading title (the title is good, of course, but if you don’t know what it is about, you think it’s about a different issue!). I’ve just watched it and I think you would be really grateful to this course just for this, supposing you haven’t watched it before. 😀

I’ll try to get a copy, but the truth is, it’s two hours. Our lessons are a bit over two hours or perhaps we could watch it in two day: the first day the first hour, which is on amazing things we have in Europe, like the Finnish Education system or free university for all (it’s the case of Slovenia, but in Spain we’ve got that too), or our prison systems being against the death penalty (Portugal/Norway). Or perhaps each of you could find their own way to the documentary. Or if any of you has a copy, you might want to meet at somebody’s house for a group viewing, which is always more fun! ❤

Here’s a clip of when he went to Iceland

Diary for Jan 23!

Today we had a very productive and communicative lesson! It was fun, too, because we had some time to speak. (People, I’m watching Michael Moore’s latest documentary and it’s just on the bit on Education in Finland, and how I wish we had that! Do you know Fuengirola has one of those schools? If we could only find someone there who spoke English and wanted to come as a guest speaker.)

We started off by recording 4 articles of the human rights declaration. (I might have to ask for more volunteers if the French teacher who is now ill isn’t back next Monday, OK?)

Then María José told us about her upcoming exhibition. Check this out.

Then I told people about our Coeducación work and our need to attend things we organize because attendance is so terribly low most of the time! So here, how can you not attend these upcoming events? Read on

We talked about fundraising: online platforms like teaming and crowdfunding projects, and then Cristina asked about public schools and their own fundraising to make up for all the underfunding. I suggested a classic: when we are told that something cannot be done (as civil servants) I always ask where that is said. People might interpret this as me troublemaking, but the truth is we need to know what the law says because public schools are all subject to law in all they do.

Last we moved onto language questions and checked page 3 of the Redesign My Brain worksheet.

Oh, and in case someone is interested, here are my notes and exercises on the Saxon Genitive (opens a word doc).

UPCOMING PLANS. We forgot to establish a deadline for your January writing but considering some people have already handed it in, I’d say February 1, the day you all need to gather in small groups for your Reading Projects. I suppose you already know but Cristina B won’t be making it to class till April. Still, she intends to audio record her work on that.

NEXT DAY. We’re priviledged to have a British man who lived in Cambodia and is married to a Cambodian espouse. I don’t know how long things will be, so just as a contingency plan, bring your worksheets on collocations. Depending on how long he plans to speak for, or your questions (please, interact, OK? ❤ ), we might be into checking one of the worksheets with him!! ❤ ❤ ❤ I’ll also bring small-but-strong video camera in case he allows us to shoot!

Outing to the movies?: “Hidden Figures”, Don’t miss it!!! (Lucía’s proposal)

Today Lucía told me about this movie. She was deeply impressed. ANd I replied that if people knew about Women’s History, or Herstory, they would all be feminists, for sure! Gerda Lerner, who studied both these topics, says so, too, in her book “The Creation of Patriarchy”. I’m reading it in English, and it’s on our wish list for the Feminist Library we’re trying to put together. Anyway, here’s the info Lucía also sent me for you all:

“Hidden Figures” takes us back to 1961, when racial segregation and
workplace sexism were widely accepted facts of life and the word “computer”
referred to a person, not a machine. Though a gigantic IBM mainframe does
appear in the movie — big enough to fill a room and probably less powerful
than the phone in your pocket — the most important computers are three
African-American women who work at NASA headquarters in Hampton, Va.
Assigned to data entry jobs and denied recognition or promotion, they would
go on to play crucial roles in the American space program.

Info on the movie at Miramar Cinesur – wonder if it’s OV

USA: News on Manning’s & Peltier’s Cases

Whistleblower Chelsea Manning will be set free on May 17, after Obama reduced her sentence from 35 years to seven.

❤ Well done, Obama!

President Barack Obama has denied clemency to Native American activist Leonard Peltier, dashing what may be his final hopes to ever see freedom again. Edward Snowden was not granted pardon.

Shame on you, Obama

Collage. Reblogging 2 pages

Dear all, I’ve sent these blog pages to the editors of Collage 25 years, the multimedia magazine our School will publish at the end of this year to celebrate our 25 anniversary. This is the contribution called “Women Writers” and your page here dedicated to Ngozi is included. If you learn or read poems by women writers, we can include that too, later on.

Reading for Before Writing (Jan Assign.)


People, if you have too much work (reading project, listening, retelling… this writing assign.), we can extend the deadline of the January assignment to mid Feb. I can rearrange plans for Wr. Assign. later on.

Diary for Wed Jan 18

Today checking your answers to the two first pages of the Worksheet for Redesign my Brain took up the whole lesson because we also talked about techniques and the language items I had selected for the questions.

We have arranged the following plans for next week:


  • Finish page 3 of the Redesign My Brain activity
  • Do Part 2 of the Climate Change listening activity
  • Small groups to check the collocations handouts (8, 10)
  • We should also agree on a deadline for the January writing assignment. Considering it’s a book review, a travel guide entry or a travel brochure, or a brochure like the one I gave you on Women in Black, you might need the deadline to be in February? Just let me know what you think next Monday.


We’ll have the pleasure to welcome an acquaintance of María José’s, who is British but has lived in Cambodia. So he will be talking about whatever he likes in connection to his country or Cambodia. I’d like to ask you all to think of questions on these two countries, or language questions, too, the kind a someone who is not a teacher can answer. It seems he’s a tour operator, so this would connect really nicely with descriptive texts and brochures, and travel guides!

I’ve asked for a gift vochure for Teseo or olive oil for our Guest Speakers, considering we cannot pay them if they don’t have a CIF number or something I don’t understand they need to have to get paid.

I’m asking students to please prepare questions for our speakers, OK?

(Updated Jan 20) The Human Rights Declaration!

LATESTS NEWS: C1 English students can just choose now between: art. 24, 27, 28. If any of you is interested, please, let me know which you want to do next Monday!

Listen, people, this is what we have, in French and German (by students): preamble, 1, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 29.

Updated Jan 18: + Dessi, art. 10
Friday Jan 20: New volunteer!!! Mónica is recording art. 30!!!
News Jan 20: French students: art. 2, 3, 5; 19, 21, 23, 24, 25

Would you C1s pick an article and post here the info, so others know what’s left? You could record it with my recording machine in class, by reading it out loud, after having practiced at home. As soon as possible (I can work on the video next Friday, or on Fridays, or a bit on this or that day), but if you’d do it, I’d wait, of course!

Looking for volunteers!

Who wants to take part in the Human Rights project = record your favourite h.r. article, after asking me which are already taken? (by German and French students)

Who wants to help me with the Gender project = write a new text (brief or long, it’s up to you) on why you are a man/woman/person for an Identity blog we’re putting together?

Get in touch by email, please, with the subject line: “human rights” or “gender”, or after the lesson! Thanks! ❤

Teacher’s UL on episode 1, Redesign My Brain

Why did I jot down most of the sentences below? Yes! It’s more expressive language! Intense, expressive of emotions! Can you say these sentences spontaneously and accurately? Watch again and practice!

  • to win or draw
  • holding moves in his mind
  • a remarkable achievement
  • I’m on a quest for a better brain!
  • I’ll be pushed to my limits!
  • I’ll try to expand my mind power!
  • I’ll try to turbocharge my brain / to turboboost it!
  • Strap yourself in!
  • Down to work!
  • … how you operate at your limit
  • Brain training
  • The more practice the better you get
  • The better you get, the harder it’ll get
  • juggling – increasing thinking speed
  • Balls look more achievable (than knives!)
  • If you say it, it’s easier!
  • I seem to be getting the hang/feel of this!!
  • Practice is the key
  • Aiming your eyes at something doesn’t mean we see it
  • There’s room for (significant) improvement
  • It’s been years since we lost anybody!
  • They can even get away with magical murder!
  • Sneaky magicians!!
  • Multitasking is a phallacy
  • You’re walking through the world with blinders on
  • We see with our brains!
  • You can improve peripheral vision and also get better at what you see
  • the food in front of them
  • What kind of name is that?!
  • Rumour has it that you actually memorized two whole decks!
  • this is the person-action-object technique
  • It’s easier to recall a strong visual scene than numbers…
  • This is really doing my head in!!
  • To be honest, I’m slightly (:D) stunned! – oxymoron
  • I’m completely shocked!
  • The thing I’m most amazed at is —
  • You worked really hard at this to get this advancements!
  • I’m feeling so anxious!!
  • mental athletes
  • This is a collection of some of the most interesting people I’ve ever seen!!!
  • Look at them! You can see the mental toll this seems to take on people
  • No admittance (reminds me of No attendance – No pude asistir a clase)
  • I’m absolutely thrilled!
  • It’s been amazing for me to do this
  • He experienced it first hand – a first hand experience
  • I feel so energetic!
  • Even my sleep has gotten better!

(edited) Diary for yesterday!! And lesson plan for tomorrow!

Sorry about that!

We listened to Soluna giving a very informative talk on Corpora, so that our advanced students are able to learn how to use words, and then we watched episode 1 of Redesign my Brain. We had time to comment a bit.

Next day (tomorrow!) small groups will check their worksheet on this, and we’ll have a plenary for questions and comments.

I hope we can also arrange a deadline for your January Writing, and that some people can read their amazing letter (Dec Writing). I also have your work records in the box, to give them back to you (diaries, LoMs I think).

Contingency plan? We could do Part 2 of our ongoing mega listening activity, too!

More things to check? the human rights brochure I gave out? Any questions or a retelling of what it is about? The collocation worksheets? Any OP on Story of Stuff? or other?

Skin Color in the Human Race

Visual Dictionary Blog (EFL Learning)

Human rights, that young notion, told us there’s only one race, which may change our perception. Can we really speak about races? Can’t we just quit and speak about human diversity? Still, we continue to speak of races. Here is a pic of some of the colors of human skin. It’s Humanae, an on-progress project by Brazilian artist Angelica Dass. What word would you choose to describe your skin color? Can we really say we’re white, black, red, yellow…? (use the traditional names, traditionally meant to hurt, on top of everthing because these colors were used for that!)

Graphics from Writing with Color, a writing guide for Skin Color (avoiding words that could offend)



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Improving your vocabulary range (edited – adv)

Other ways to say… high frequency used words!

You may be finding them as you read your book/screenplay, so pay attention to jot down and repeat them in context as you find examples of their use! ❤


A different model with a same intention!

Click to access shadessynonyms.pdf

(6 pdf pages)

I’m adding these collocated adverbs, so you also gather useful language like this for your Vocabulary section or in your collected sentences. Remember that an adverb is to the verb what the adjective is to the noun, so we say “I’m a good girl” (!) good modifies girl, a noun, but “I behave well”, well modifies behave, a verb. He cleans very well. I’m slow (I = slow). I eat slowly (eat = slowly).


Blog Updates & More on the gender identity project

A little post to let you know I just updated / I’ve just updated your Reading Projects!! page above.

Have a wonderful bilingual weekend! ❤

Oh, and I was thinking… about this Gender Worksheet… I’m creating a Gender Identity Blog and I was wondering, What if instead of me making a summary of all of your answers, I just ask you to write your own answer again for this public project? If you think that’s too cheeky on my part, I’ll go ahead and make the summaries, so no problem! OK? The questions would be the same: Why are you a man/woman? (and optional: Why are you human?)

In case you missed it, here is this exercise but suggested by Coeducación for all the groups in our School.

Feedback on Formal Letters of Request. Human Rights Project

In December, people had a formal letter of request (announced on Writing File above) and we decided to write a letter requesting or demanding somebody’s release from prison for human rights reasons.

December Writing Assignment – with resources

Next week I’ll be giving you your work back. You have one week to re-write it, if necessary or to type out your final copy to send in for publication! And after that, it would be good people who made mistakes told us about those, so we can check we are all OK with that or making good progress!


Considering this Writing Assignment was so special, because it was based on real cases and on fighting for a respect for human rights, I’d like to ask all of you to send your pieces for publication. But please, feel free to say no. No problem.

My Feedback

  • After reading and correcting your work, I’m very happy you worked on your Before Writing stage. I can see you read various letters, because most people have used the “useful language” you collected correctly. Also, your selection of language was appropriate and well used in every other sense. So congratulations!
  • Some people had trouble with the structure, and you could see they hadn’t worked on a previous outline. Outlines are crucial to organize the info, also in paragraphs.
  • Some people did not do a good job proofreading their work, this is, in the After Writing stage.
  • About language mistakes, most people did not make many, and a few people had mistakes below the level. Mistakes in verbal phrases, for instance, including passives. Another area of mistakes was reference: be careful when you use your pronouns, because at times the noun it refers to is further back than some other noun, and that creates great confusion. One particular mistake: Meanwhile is not While, it stands on its own, so you cannot use it in sentences like this: “WHILE the legal procedure carries on…”
  • Most language ranges were very good, and a few were a bit more like a B2 or upper intermediate level, which is OK because we’re doing a C1 course now.

Outlines for Polite Letters of Request/Demand! / Human Rights Letters

  1. Address someone
  2. To-the-point beginning: Why you are writing: ask for somebody’s release/protection.
  3. Describe/Explain the case
  4. Pressure 1: Reminder of laws / commitments
  5. Pressure 2: your request again, considering previous paragraph
  6. Thanks/Goodbye

6 paragraphs, or more, but with this structure.


A just-in-case note: We never include addresses in exams with a word limit. But read the instructions carefully because you should if there is a space for that or it is requested.

Useful Language


  • instigation to delinquency
  • accused of (a crime / sth: taking part in a peaceful demonstration)
  • charged with (doing sth)
  • sentenced to (a sentence)
  • put in isolation
  • held in solitary confinement
  • subject to an unfair trial
  • (sb) is opposed to violence / the use of violence
  • based on this evidence / events
  • commit to your promise/pledge
  • comply with art. … of … / respect art. …
  • was transferred to


Opening lined after the salutation (Your Excellency, Dear President …)

  • I am writing to request your assistance concerning (sb’s case) …
  • I am writing to request protection for (sb)…
  • I am writing to express my disapproval of the police misconduct in a demonstration for public education which was legally organized last Friday Jan 2 by the 15M citizens platform.

Firmer language (more pissed off!/wound up!):

  • I call on you to immediately and unconditionally release(full name) imprisoned solely for his/her peaceful political expression.
  • I urge you to immediately free prisoner of conscience (full names) imprisoned in … for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression / speech.
  • I urge you to free (full names) without delay.
  • I urge you to release (sb) immediately and unconditionally with all charges against him/her dropped.
  • I call on you to immediately halt the construction of a hydroelectric dam in…
  • Your country is known worldwide for the appalling treatment of albino people…

IMPORTANT, please read! Working on Gender Issues: Urgent Questions!

Sorry for this. Let’s see…

I’m preparing a little overview of this activity, where I would offer a statistic based on who did the questionnaire (16/…) and with info on the answers given by those who allowed me to share (I’m not mentioning your names) – just write summaries of ideas presented (in general, I mean).

I need to check with you all if this is correct and clarify some questions:

I have a copy that says “for next Monday, repartida el lunes 7 de marzo 2016” but has no name. Whose is it? Because this person answered positively about sharing her work. It has no answers, I understand it came together with another page, but… I don’t know…

People who replied YES : 9
People who said No: 3

People who didn’t answer: 4. You can answer now here or send me an email if you like. Two of them are Gema and Encarni and because of the work they shared I presume they would be OK if I used their answers to create a text with answers to the question.

If any of you wants to write about it and didn’t you can send it in until next Saturday, OK?

Diary for Wed Jan 11 – Reading Projects & Listening + Lesson Plans Next Week 1

Today we had an hour of work in small groups, on the reading projects. I forgot to collect (here “gather” is not an option, or at least I wouldn’t use it here) the group info from each group! But at least I updated group members on the page above called Reading Projects! We did agree on this: next February 1 we will hold the second session for Working Groups to finish up their OP. So on that date you should bring your contribution for the OP, to coordinate with the team. Then you will alll book a date for your OP and inform me about whether I can videoshoot someone or not.

Thanks, Karen, for your precious work contacting the three students we had questions for! ❤ And for the pics of the posters! I’ll be sending our Chimamanda Ngozi page and those pics as contributions for the multimedia magazine we’ll be publishing in the last months of the school year! Thanks to all, and if you wish to send something for this page, you can do so until Sunday this week.

Then we did our first listening in our Listening Techniques and Strategies workshop. I gave some tips, and people did well. There’s room for improvement, of course, but it was a good start. See this post if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Because people will be wanting to practice retelling of what can be learned/learnt from this Part 1 of the radio program(me), I’m posting the link to the mp3 audio. If you know where that is, hahaha, please, remember: don’t listen to part 2 and part 3 because those will be listenings to do in class in upcoming lessons, whenever we want to fit them in, OK? (probably, next Wednesday, when we check the Redesign My Brain worksheet and discuss the documentary, as Monday will be for an OP on Corpora and watching the documentary).

Reading & Listening Kit on Climate Change

I just prepared / I’ve just prepared a kit, for 20 students, that includes a reading comprehension activity (of the kind Cloze Test) and a listening comprehension activity (fill-in-the-gap) in 3 parts (for three different lessons, starting tomorrow).

If you miss the lesson tomorrow, you could ask a classmate to get a paper copy for you. If we run out of copies, don’t worry: I’ll tell you where you can print it. I’ve also got the audios online, so if any of you misses a lesson, you would be able to do it at home, anyway.

I’d like to ask you not to do the listening activities I designed in previous years without checking with me first, in case I’m planning to use it in class, OK? 🙂 ❤

Watch your Story of Stuff documentary! It’s related. But now we’re moving on to Environmental Issues. Did you know that one of the most important causes of climate change is meat production? There’s a documentary on that somewhere! 😀


As a business-as-usual kind of follow-up activity I’d like to remind you all taht we can use these activities, as well as all the audios we use, to train in different kinds of skills. I hope you can use my exercises to practice READING ALOUD AND RETELLING, so you can consolidate a good grammar, a good pronunciation, and learn about the topics we work on.

First Jan 2017 post! We’re back!!!

Today it was a wonderful lesson because 18 people came back! ❤
We celebrated the publication of the C1 Resource Pack and 2 people bought a copy!

Unfortunately, we did not have time to listen to everybody today, which was my ambition, :D, but the lesson was full of different kinds of things, and here goes:

1. We planned lessons for this week and next week and clarified questions on work people had.

Reminders on the Speaking File and proposal you audio record your classroom oral performances for your saving or remembering better the feedback we give you. What do you have in your Speaking File? Well you should have your timed OPs (orals you did in class at least), and the same-length or longer pieces, the orals where you retell things, like the summary of the Story of Stuff documentary. And then I suggest you learn a poem by ear by heart, or a story (stories on TP; or any other, but with an audio!). I suggest: Coyote Killed a Giant (American indian humo(u)r is something I love. See what you think?) I know it’s possible because last year África did so. We were thrilled and impressed. If more people did this same exercise we would also learn about oral storytelling. Or The Fun they Had. Cat in the Rain. A Telephone Call. The Debutante (Surrealism story). A Tree, a Rock, a Cloud. Or a challenging one, Black American English by a 13 year old. Finally, remember some of you also have videos, these count, of course!

Plan your listening-to-speak time, so you can get more done — always use listening time to practice speaking (L&R, retelling, reading aloud). Planning helps!! You can listen to a few stories, and then decide which to choose.

Questions on the Writing File: a descriptive kind of text: a review, a brochure, a travel guide. I gave out a brochure, which is on human rights work by a women’s group, but it was intended for human right month (Dec.) Anyway, it may serve you as inspiration for designing a brochure. But look at other models, particularly those on exhibitions, or tourist sites. Next week, when I give you your Dec Writing Assignment back, we can agree on a deadline.

The plans for upcoming lessons are:

Next Wednesday: last day for handing in the December Writing Assignment. People will be bringing their reading materials and groups will be gathering and brainstorming and all. I posted a first draft on this (I think it’s on the Reading Projects! page above), but things might change, depending on ideas we bring up next day. I suggested Cristina R. and Romina to work together, because they both borrowed the feminist storytelling book and might be able to communicate and design a joint OP! Then Isabel will be working on her own on Orange Is the New Black, in case anyone else wants to join her or something. I’ll include these two case on the Page above as an update. I’ll bring a listening activity which is hell to make sure you realize how important it is to listen to English every day! (demented laughter)

Next week: On Monday Soluna will give a very interesting OP on Corpus/Corpora. This is a key resource for advanced language learners, so don’t miss it. She’ll bring a handout which she’ll previously send me for corrections. And then I’ll say, it’s all perfect, and she’ll make copies for you all! ❤ She’s allowing us to videoshoot so more people will be able to profit from her talk. Thanks so much, Soluna!

Then we’ll watch Redesign My Brain – Make Me Smarter, the documentary you might have been watching over the hols. As I hope you’ll experience, you’ll see how watching the same thing again and again helps your English greatly. Just imagine why I know! ❤ Because everybody will bring the listening activity I gave out in December and which you can print if you check out a Page above on this documentary,  as people watch they’ll be doing different things: doing the listening for the first time, doublechecking their answers, taking notes on useful language, practicing taking notes to create an outline to speak from… Never feel bored: find ways to profit from the activity! This will last an hour, so that might be it for the day. But we could have some time to listen to Germán, who did some outstanding work on this over the hols.

On Wednesday we’ll be listening to you all retelling, talking about the documentary, whatever. And of course we have the worksheet to check, too, so bring it! this will have me wanting to comment on language questions till the end of time, so let’s hope you can help me manage time — that’s why I’d rather leave it for later, after people have finished sharing their work! Think of what you want to do this day and bring something to share: you highlights of useful language, your retelling, your anecdotes on trying some of the exercises, your thoughts on things…

2. Something else we did was listen to people telling us about their holidays and their work with English.

We listened to Dolores, who told us about Napo ❤ and then shared with us great work on explaining a primary teacher’s job, students’ learning and their classroom routines. Soluma told us about her new home and how she misses a garden now, and about her awesome holidays, spending quality time in the good company of her family, somewhere nice so they could all relax. Lorena, told us about her stay in Asturias, how it feels to be back home, how the body adjusts so well to the Andalusian weather, the joy of meeting her feminist friends, and her grandma’s 91st birthday, and here we had an interesting conversation about monarchy and republicanism! It was interesting and well conducted by participants: we managed to listen to different viewpoints without anyone getting upset, as always happens in most other contexts in life! (or is that just my impression?) And what’s most interesting about this is that people also shared relevant info they had on things. Most often, a different viewpoint implies we can’t listen to the info shared either. ❤

Language Questions: I’m sorry, Lorena, for having corrected you because yes, it’s what Soluna checked, and Romina wondered, the word has two very different meanings. People, check this out: Republicanism in the UK. Note points 4 & 5 to train in argumentative texts! (About the issue of monarchy being expensive, remember Karen’s research on the cost of different monarchies in Europe.) Read about Republicanism in Spain here.

You might want to prepare a 3-4 min OP on Monarchy/Republicanism. And I’ll try to prepare some reading or listening activity for later on, as a follow-up thing.

We continued the “sharing what we did” activity with María José, who told us about how much her mind and body needed a rest, and about her trouble understaning not Colin Firth but Colin Farrell (I had to look him up! I’ve seen him, yes, in some movie or other). Cristina R told us about her having just bought a house and moved in and told us she might be preparing an OP on the topic! dangeroustapaAnd Laura told us about an exhibition she had greatly enjoyed, that showing Mark Ryder’s work in Málaga. He designed Michael Jackson’s cover for Dangerous and I mentioned it reminded me of Bosch’s Garden of Delights, and yes, look what it says on his website: “Blending themes of pop culture with techniques reminiscent of the old masters, Mark Ryden has created a singular style that blurs the traditional boundaries between high and low art.” Precisely, yes, pop art is also there!

Here’s the amazing animation I saw based on Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights!

Laura came to say goodbye because she’s cancelling her registration, as she’s moving out and about to have her bay bee! Best wishes, dearest Laura! Keep as happy and outraged with injustices as you are! And see you some other year. ❤

Cancelling your registration is a good idea to keep all your exam opportunities. Now Laura has enjoyed learning about what this C1 course is about, but will keep her two course years for whenever she wishes to join us again! I wonder if Beatriz N. cancelled, because she told me she would (she couldn’t make it to the course), but I think she still appears in my lists. This comment is not so you all cancel, hahahah. It’s just to say that depending on situations, it’s often better to cancel registration because one might waste one or two years. So just remember to talk to me if in doubt.

Unintended Talk by teacher! Then something happened and I got carried away speaking about something. Something I would like to write about, for sure, in the book I never get time to write on violence and nonviolence from a feminist understanding. It’s about how we are taught to build our identity in patriarchal societies. In Spanish I call it “la ideología de los binomios contendientes donde uno debe prevalecer”. It’s this obsession with reducing life, reality to two blocks, which exclude each other, and whereby one needs to prevail. Day/Night, Man/Woman, Coke/Pepsi… Well! My thesis is we build our identity by comparison and pretending to be in the right group. We cannot simply live and let live. Take gender. Why is it so terribly important to stigmatize people who don’t share their view on gender, or whose bodies are not like most people’s, or whose sexuality is different? Why are you a man/woman? There are so many answers to this question. Life is diverse, and human identity is as diverse as life, because it’s nature, nature is like this, very varied. It plays all kinds of games. I think a classroom is a priviledge space where people are more likely to listen to people who have different ideas than what happens outside the classroom, mostly because people are in the mood of learning, come here to learn, to expand their worlds.

By the way, print and bring the Workshop on Rational Discussions (see Handouts above) because some day we should be reading that and choosing a few topics to work on in a few sessions.

Oh, yes, just remembered, all this came up because Laura told us about a painting where the person depicted was wearing a meat dress, like Lady Gaga once. I asked about the meaning and it was a message about how we treat animals. So I spoke about veganism and the animal rights movement, and put it as an example of this: even if one doesn’t share the view of other animals being our siblings (for instance, Romina posed a question I’ve also made in our discussion on facebook), it is undeniable that vegans are doing relevant research on a great many topics which should be of people’s interest For instance, we should all be really worried about meat production, the food industry, for the torture it imposes on animals, all the suffering, and for our health. Or learn about animal testing, because it seems there is a great deal of suffering that has no justification. But we can’t even listen to them, these people who devote zillions of time to doing research on how we treat animals (they’re like feminists, do tons of research, but people rather listen to a biased opinion and just take it in, than to a vegan or a feminist, because they’re perceived as dangerous people. When will people come to their senses!) because our identity group involves not listening to other identity groups. Well, I’m not making much progress in explaining this! But I’ll keep trying!

I’ll prepare some listening activity on veganism and animal rights, so we can train in just listening, making questions instead of being judgemental, and reasoning out things. What do you think?

A tip on Approach. When Dessi asked about saying the poem she’s learning instead of doing an OP because she had such a hard time doing OPs in public, I suggested she replaced thinking she’d be speaking in public, with thinking she’d be sharing something with adorable people. And somehow this lead me to a related idea. When I am afraid, I switch into (the) Curiosity Mode. It’s helped me lots in life, because life is dangerous and we often have good reasons to fear! Think of a situation where you feel fear, and try to see how on earth you could switch into the curiosity mode. Share in class! 😀

Oh my gosh! It’s 2.00!!! That’s all! 😀 ❤

Marygold Hotel

Once a beautiful building, once possibly even luxurious, it is clearly in the process of being given at least half the face-lift it badly needs. Parts of the building are freshly painted, some of the ornate balconies are crumbling, and one wall is clad with crazily skewed bamboo scaffolding.

A huge old tree towers an untended garden, its branches poking into the windows of the building.

The courtyard is not without charm, although somewhat dilapidated. A fountain at the centre does not look as if it has seen water in years, and faded awnings are strung up haphazardly.

This is a building of the utmost character which means that perhaps not everything will function in the way you expect it to. The building has stood for centuries, and will stand for many more, in 100% shipshape condition. The room is very small, comfortable, and tastefully decorated, but there´s no door.


That´s my King


The Bible says, my King is the King of the Jews
He´s the King of Israel, He´s the King of righteouness,
He´s the King of ages, He´s the King of heaven,
He´s the king of Glory, He´s the King of Kings and He´s the Lord of Lords.
That´s my King, I wonder Do you know him
My King is a sovereign King, no means of measure can define his limitless love,
He´s enduringly strong, He´s entirely sincere, He´s eternally steadfast,
He´s inmortally graceful, He´s imperially powerful, He´s impartially mercyful.
Do you know him?
He´s the greatest phenomenon that has ever crossed the horizon of this World,
He´s God´s son, He´s the sinner´s saviour, He´s the centrepiece of civilization,
He´s unparalleled, He´s unprecedented, He´s the loftiest idea in literature,
He´s the highest personality in philosophy, He´s the fundamental doctrine in Theology,
He´s the only one qualified to be an all-sufficient saviour,
I wonder if you know him today?
He supplies strenght to the weak, He´s available for the tempted and the tried,
He simpatices and He saves, He strengthens and sustains, He guards and He guides,
He heals the sick, He cleans the leppers, He forgives sinners, He discharges debtors,
He delivers the captive, He defends the feeble, He blesses the young, he serves the unfortunate,
He regards the aged, He rewards the diligent, He beautifies the meek,
I wonder if you Know him?
He´s the key to knowledge, He´s the wellspring of wisdom,
He´s the doorway of deliverance, He´s the pathway of peace ,
He´s the roadway of righteouness, He´s the highway of holiness, He´s the Gateway of Glory,
Do you know him?
His life is matchless, His goodness is limitless, His mercy is everlasting, His love never changes,
His Word is enough, His grace is sufficient, HIs reigns is righteous, HIs Yoke is easy,
HIs burden is Light,
I wish I could describe him to you,
He´s indescribable, He´s incomprehensible, He´s invincible, He´s irresistible,
You can´t get him out of your mind, You can´t get him off of your hand,
You can´t outlive him and you can´t live without him,
The pharisees couldn´t stand him but they found out they couldn´t stop him,
Pilate couldn´t find any fault in him, Herod couldn´t kill him, death couldn´t handle him,
And the grave couldn´t hold him.
That´s my King.

“Change fear for curiosity” MF

This is just to praise Michelle’s extraordinary sentence. It brought to my mind something thfear-for-curiousityat was said in Madrid’s parade last 5th January, called precisely “Ode to the Curiosity”. One of the wise men ended his speech asking children to keep their curiosity alive. Sometimes I feel that the amount of information that bombarded us every day makes it difficult to remain curious, mainly curious about little but revealing things. I’m worried about children growing in a screened-world, where everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) can be seen with just a click. How they couimages.jpgld be curious after hours and hours watching and listening in front of a screen? So, fear for curiosity is a fantastic option. Let’s do it. Thanks Michelle!