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! 😀 ❤

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