Feedback

100% OF PEOPLE TAKING THE EXAM PASSED!

Dear all,

Class of 2017 will be remembered for a smashing result at Certificate Exams. In the C1 half, there were 15 students registered, and 14 followed the course and took the exam, and passed in June or in the September resit! The one who failed never came to class or took the exams. In the C1 CAL half, the 10 students in our list followed the course and also took the exams and passed. I wanted to congratulate you all and celebrate it here! Thanks so much for your work. Hopefully, the people who just reached the level this year (considering an advanced level requires two years of hard and joyful work, mostly developing the habit of using English in different ways, with original materials) should try to keep up their good work now, as resourceful and independent lifelong learners of English! ❤

You’re welcome to use all of our materials and volunteer OPs in class or contributions for talkingpeople.net!

Remember to re-read the C1 Resource Pack, for you may find it even more useful now! 🙂

Have a lovely bilingual life! ❤

2017-18 course blog: https://c1coursebymf2017.wordpress.com/

http://www.talkingpeople.net/tp/ra/c1/eval/statistics.htm

 

 

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Functional Translation Exercise

Post your questions or comments!

14. Look what bag I made. I made it myself. I’m really/very proud of myself.

15. Look what bag I made (for) myself.

Note: by myself, on my own, alone = physicall alone

16. How do you do that? (thinking in terms of a general truth)  or How can you do that? (thinking in terms of ability)

Note: You = impersonal; How is that made? = only if it’s not an action, but something you create, so to speak.

17. One never knows. (You never know)

18. He was arrested

Note: when “they” is uninteresting, obvious (boring, like here), unknown, in English the passive is a most likely option.

19. We were told you were away

20. We’re not on speaking terms / We don’t talk to each other / We don’t talk to one another any more

21. There used to be a cinema / movie theater over here

22. It’s close / It’s nearby / It’s near here

23. Probably, she won’t agree / She’ll probably disagree / She’s likely not to agree / It’s likely that she won’t agree

24. Instead (of that), hand me the stapler, please / Instead, pass me the stapler, please

25 Let’s hail/stop/get a taxi. Otherwise, we’ll never get there

Note: call a taxi (phone, or in/on the street)

 

(Edited) Diary for Wed May 3, C1 Pack Blues, homework & lesson plans

Today people kindly did a questionnaire on the Mediateque for the Head and because the two OPs were postponed, we also gave out some more Speaking Tests, and I explained how we will proceed in mid-May with registration for the Orals. I wonder if somebody knows whether the people not coming will be joining us in June, just for facilitating organization. But don’t worry because it’s OK if people come by surprise. It’s just to save copies and work out the orals (creating groups of three or not).

Then we did the June 2016 Listening test and I gave people the corresponding Reading and Writing Tests. (By the way, this Friday I’ll be in class from 4 to 8, so if people are interested in taking a listening test, you could come. Now, I’d have to look for stuff, or you could drop me a line with the info, cause I can’t remember what you wanted to do.) I thought people would want to evaluate their level, so I said they could do it timing themselves. For people more interested in using these tests for furthering their learning, I suggest the proceed like with the Speaking Tests you are preparing: have a look at the questions, read and listen on those topics, expand your vocabulary, review the theory on those kinds of writing tasks, gather ideas, knowledge, and then take the tests timing yourselves, too. Practice doing outlines too, and proofreading!, the before and after writing.

I forgot to ask you if you had passed this test, so please, let me know next day.

I also forgot to ask if anyone would like to donate 1€ and adopt a book! Incidentally, here is the brochure we’re presenting next Friday morning at the Education Fair (Expoeduca) in Málaga (Port 2, or something!) coed_diptico2017_conemail (4 A5 pages, to be printed in an A4 piece of paper so it looks like a leaflet, “díptico” in Spanish) It’s in Spanish because Coeducación uses this language to address the whole of our community and the general public. If you wish to translate it into English, that’ll be welcome! But first get in touch, because we could be changing the text, as I wrote this one for this ExpoEduca, a one-time thingy.

Last, I mentioned I was surprised by the fact that only 3 people in this course bought a copy of the C1 Resource Pack. I was told you had printed it. Well… I already knew, yes. You did so at the beginning of the course. Anyway, we’re in no economic trouble. So don’t worry.

For next week, we agreed our plans would be the following:

  • People bring their Functional Translation exercise and their transcription of the News Extracts, so that small groups can practice communicating for real purposes.
  • People bring their checked work to voice the “In class” notes I included, so we can review common mistakes to avoid.
  • We’ll have Romina’s and Sergio’s OP, if possible.

And on Wednesday…

  • we would work on morphology: using the Wordformation and Lexical Creativity workshop. Here is the page where you can download for free this amazing workshop: https://c1coursebymf.wordpress.com/creating-words/ Not as amazing as the work you’ll do in small groups. You’ll be surprised of how magical it is to create words together!
  • More on mistakes people made, if Gema and Encarni can make it to class, too. Or any other person’s, of course!
  • I would also like to watch an audiovisual, too, for subsequent discussion, and it could be something you suggested.

Homework:

  • Listen to radio program(me)s and use my podcast to improve your fluency and accuracy in useful language for speaking. I recommend the Communicative Strategies 1-3 episodes and generally speaking all the audios I have for advanced students.
  • Read the C1 Resource Pack, the cards on textual structure in dialogues and all of those on tests.
  • Consider the Writing File and whether you have questions on types of texts.
  • You should also read at some point the Guía PUC for students, the one they just published.

(Edited to fix mistakes!) Coordinating efforts. Homework, Lesson Plans & More Stuff!

Today we did some work in language awareness around the use of tenses.

We agreed on the following:

For next day: people will try to solve the gapped text, so that next day you can all work in small groups and reach agreements, and also develop awareness on choices. We will also do the two pending listening texts, on the back of the worksheet for the Richard Burton listening we did last. Then it’d be great to check your work on the Listening on Pets — please, search “pets” here and get the key, but I’d like to listen to you all on this gapped exercise. And we could also check some of the sentences I gave for translation, and/or to listen to people narrating stories in past, where they can use the different tenses and modals in the past!

For next Monday: people agreed they would transcribe the news items we worked on the listening exercise before the spring hols. In this way, you would practice real communication and all that.

About more pending work, it’s up to you what we do in class. It all depends on what you manage to do. If time has passed, perhaps you could agree on your whatsapp group what you want to check the following day and then just send me an email so I know. I’m open to proposals. If there are no proposals, don’t worry, I’ll keep on as usual! Bombing you with activities you could be doing! 😀

I explained that the reason why we have pending stuff is because as I am shy to ask — because I always fear people did not do their homework, which is actually the case most of the time, or at least, nobody tells us in class, Hey, let’s check this or that — then I simply design more activities. But if we did half of what I’ve designed for you (I really need to stop working so hard at home, it’s mostly your turn now), it’d be great and enough, considering I work every week for you but never get to exploit that effort getting your work back! Of course, I’m generalizing, so if you do your homework, please, don’t take it personal.

For the rest of our time together my plans are:

  • Language awareness (doing the Lexical Creativity workshop, too) + Writing feedback and your LoMs or questions or sharing your work on how you worked to overcome fossilized mistakes!
  • Reading some more articles (crowdfunding, the internet, … )
  • Doing another C1 Reading and Listening test (not the one on the Junta’s website, so you can do it in May or June, just before your exams)
  • and Orals: you’ll work in pairs on an exam, and then come to class, do the monologues and the dialogues and getting feedback. I’ll asign a test for each pair. You decide who your partner is. And then we’ll book dates for sharing that work. If anyone had the time to coordinate all this, I could just print the tests and give them to that person. If no one has the time, it’s OK, of course! ❤ Listening to your partners will probably be as valuable as doing the exercise. We learn a lot from watching other perform! then, if any pair is willing to be videoshot, that’d be great for other students! Thanks!

Some tips are: if you feel you are not in the advanced level, now is not the moment to quit or fret. Just keep working, it’ll be good for your English and it’ll increase your chances to pass in June, or in June and September. In my view, to speak a language well takes having developed habits of using the language in various ways, on different kinds of topics. If you have managed to learn to learn, then if you pass and I think you haven’t reached the level, I wouldn’t feel bad, because I’d be sure you would keep the effort up and develop your command over the language. Of course, what I feel is immaterial, I just mean to say that the key to be a competent user of the language is a love for using the language and learning it, and not so much reaching a level. Levels change a lot throughout time depending on this, on use! ❤

And here is Querer a una feminista, in case you are interested! ❤
http://www.mujerpalabra.net/quereraunafeminista/index.html

Work in class tomorrow – Exam Training Work + Language Awareness

In case you can print the first 4 pages. Don’t look at the two last ones!

I prepared this language awareness workshop to review the use of tenses for your speaking and writing work and so you can be aware of the mistakes you make and overcome them (remember this needs oral drilling and finding examples in use, sentences, we can repeat out loud, because theory is not enough, you need to automatize accurate production and that’s why we work with lists of useful language too). I hope it’s useful.

We’ll read it out loud at plenary and you’ll discuss the examples and do the language awareness work in small groups, so you can also practice real communication for learning purposes.

C1spring_tenses01_reading (6 word pages)

If people have prepared oral work, they’re welcome to share it in class.

I’ll also bring your Writing Assignments, but my priority is we review these questions before handing them back to you. Then, we we move on to analyzing this work, we’ll continue reviewing language questions you need to master. But tenses comes first.

Diary for April 5 – lots of training!

Then I read out people’s marks for the term. Well, this symbolic thing we do. Without having no one in mind, my guess is that most people will pass, but some might need June and September. In any case, don’t forget to be positive about learning and your learning this year: if you don’t have enough time for your English, don’t evaluate your results as if you had had, OK? It just spoils all the fun! 🙂 ❤ (your relationship to English and to learning). Our guiding star is learning English at the advanced level, not passing exams, right? Becoming competent lifelong learners who love using their English! ❤

  • Today we checked the Ciclo Superior Reading Test 2006 and results were good!

Then I gave out two handouts with exercises:

  • Listening “News Extracts” – we did it and the homework is you try to get the transcription of at least one news item. The audio is here.
  • On the back you have two language exercises. Functional Translation and narratives in the past, I think.
  • Listening. Profiency gapped listening exercise. Richard Burton (list of some of the languages he spoke). We did this one. And I forgot to finish jotting down all the marks, I think!
  • On the back there are two exercises: an FCE (B2) exercise and a Proficiency (C1) exercise, which we will do after the spring hols!

There are spare copies in class, in case any of you wants to drop by to get them: tomorrow I’m there all afternoon, from 4.30 to 9.45 (you can just walk in and take them from the bulletin board) and on Friday plans changed so I’ll be in class from 16.00 to 20.00 checking your writing tests. My ambition is to start and finish (I just read them all) + take notes for language questions. Wish me the best! (The group that wanted to take the missed listening test will have to come on April 28 I think, because after the hols our teachers’ meeting has been moved to the previous Friday.)

If you want to pick up some common vocabulary in the news, check out this BBC website, Words in the News (some are articles, others audio or video)

Listening work – what I say on the TP website

A pacifist Belgian friend of mine (some of you listened to the story I wrote about her and me meeting one day in Madrid, “Dishwashers”) just send me news of a new antiwar network, World Beyond War, have a look at this: debunking myths justifying wars.

I’ll post more tomorrow or on Friday, so you get more ideas about working on your English. I hope you do find the time to do so, while enjoying it, of course!

Nightie night!

Comments & Questions – PUC workshops

Evaluation Sheet Exercises are not about you evaluating a classmate’s exercise. They’re about you getting acquainted with our evaluation criteria and tools, OK? Imagine your classmate’s exercise is your own. Don’t get distracted with what mark you’ll give the person. You’re not doing this for that. I’ll give them the mark. Just evaluate as if it were your own work and you’re just learning about evaluation.

About Dolores’s question on mistakes below level. The reason why there are no general lists by levels of mistakes that would mean someone has not achieved a certain level is that so far we cannot establish that. The mistakes I list in our pack are just examples, but they need a context, for instance, complementary info on how many mistakes, what kind of mistakes, how rich the language range is… Fossilized mistakes are those that are systematic, for instance, or mostly systematic, but we can say little more about them.

Examples. We can tell when people do not listen enough to English from certain mistakes, for instance, transfer mistakes in flawed structures coming from literal translation. Or when people forget their present simple 3rd person s’s. However, someone at the advanced level knows that native speakers can drop this suffix when speaking slang, like you hear in songs “she don’t love me anymore” and we use this kind of language in humo(u)r for instance! But this is also true: they would not be using this kind of language in an exam oral presentation, right?

So it’s not so much about not making mistakes. Or saying, If you make this particular mistake you fail. There’s room for mistakes, but you need to work during the learning year to make the least mistakes you can, and we have an excellent methodology for that. Here’re some examples:

  • It’s of paramount importance you learn to listen to your English to monitor your production and fix your mistakes on the spot. This is important both for exams and real life, because mistakes can hamper communication and all that. And that’s why I spend so many hours editing videos, so you watch them (anybody’s not just yours) and learn to do this because this resource helps you a great deal, mostly unconsciously, but also consciously when it comes to taking notes on what you learn and for your LoM. (And who offers English learners this resource? In private education this resource would make the course much more expensive for sure!)
  • It’s very important you learn to be good proofreaders of your written work because that gives you the chance to fix your mistakes on the spot, too, apart from giving you the chance to improve your language range. That’s why we have one assignment a month: so you do Before Writing work, and you develop the habit of proofreading after sitting to write the piece. This is, the During Writing and After Writing come in one same sitting. However, people tend to prefer to make clean copies of their work instead of learning how to be good proofreaders. Proficient proofreading involves reading the piece at least three times noticing different kinds of things in each. When you proofread your work you can also take notes for your LoM.
  • LoM’s are not about jotting down stuff, they are also about oral drilling. That’s yet another resource we have to work on overcoming fossilized mistakes and avoiding mistakes. When you know you make a mistake, that it’s fossilized, you need to do lots of listen-n-repeat so that your mouth, your ear, too, automatize accurate production. Because they have a memory and you have made that mistake zillions of time. (So I always wonder why people don’t devote some time a week to listen and repeat, really. It’s so easy and so efficient! And you don’t need to suffer, you can even be dead tired, or dead drunk! We’re so obsessed that only suffering indicates learning, that learning happens with that kind of effort, we forget that learning happens in all kinds of ways, including positive joyful ways!) And this also relates to gathering Useful Language. It’s all connected! It’s like this kind of maps.

Related image

OK, I think now I’m lost in outer space!! 😀 Please, feel free to ask or comment! Night night!

Some feedback. February Writing Assignment (& Language Wkshp 4 April)

Please, whenever you have the time, supposing you are not following this blog regularly, list what’s in the posts that you need to work on, and bring to class, or ask your classmates, and remind me! The language workshops depend on your initiative mostly.

Language Workshop to put together!

(Do you have enough info from learning from your mistakes, or the work you did in your assignments to make requests or share what you learned/learnt?) I’d like to hold some language workshops in April, OK? So give this some thought, please!

DUE TO: For the language workshops, we need people to gather examples of their use of “due to” and bring to class so we can hold a language workshop on this and related connectors.

There are more and more destinations that are now being classified as ecotourist DUE TO their biodiversity (NOUN PHRASE) and BECAUSE they implement (S + V) sustainable development policies.
(Original: due to their activities and biodiversity)

Useful Language for topics like employment, tourism, economy…

To qualify as an eco-destination / as an eco-friendly location, a certain place should consider sustainable development, in terms of environmentally-friendly measures but also encouraging respect for the local population and its culture and lifestyles.
(Original: To be considered as ecotourism,)

Obviously, Spain is undergoing a severe economic crisis and regular and quality jobs are hard to find, or even non-existing! In any case, the questions would be, Is employment under substandard conditions better than nothing? / Is working in substandard conditions better than nothing?
(Original: It is obvious that Spain is in crisis and there are not many chances to get a job in no substandard condition. In any case, is this kind of employment better than nothing?)

Temporary low-paid jobs
Season work – high season / peak tourist season, low-season, off-seasons, off-season periods, timing your trip to avoid…,

Reading Articles (informative, magazines)

Please, read and work on this article (useful language):
https://thesavvybackpacker.com/choosing-when-to-travel-high-low-and-shoulder-season-in-europe/

LoMs
Your LoMs should have a section for grammar mistakes you really need to overcome and avoid, like misplacing words like “still”, “also”, “usually”, “always”, or confusing “used to (do sth)” with “usually (do sth)”
You should also have notes on textual matters, like how to end a piece, depending on the kind of format. Can you brainstorm on this and list a few examples and bring to class or post here? e.g. I suggested Sonia end her piece (US) / should end her piece (UK) on Ecotourism with a question that would connect the topic she developed to where she lives. Her article is informative, with headings. She presents a definition and the benefits of this kind of tourism in general and then tackles the question of the principles underlying this activity to end her piece with an example of countries who are good eco-destinations. There is something missing. A true ending. If one cannot include a new paragraph to assess the information presented before, one can certainly include a question pointing to subsequent reflections, and it is always helpful to use our own reality to make that connection, e.g. Will Costa del Sol manage to face the challenge?

Diary for Mon May 6 – PUC Workshops + OP + Some Homework

Today it was sweet to have a little conversation on what this course is about and why we’re here and why we use the methodology we use. Dolores had a brilliant comment to share, to encourage people to face Exam Training Month positively. ❤ And as I totally agree with what she said, actually, that’s precisely what I wanted to speak about today, I’d like to ask her to post it on this blog, if possible! ❤ Perhaps we can use and re-use her words year after year!

I did explain you are underusing this blog, but that I didn’t want to put pressure on you. But that I think you should use it to share your questions, work, etc. You are authors! And although we use every minute in class for hard work, there’re always things we never find time to finish. This blog can help us there!

Exam Format Training Month. My presentation of this training month was about considering we need to keep fighting the Exam Culture by trusting our work, our learning, and protecting our relationship to English. I encouraged students not to use the tests we’ll take as level testers (but I know they’ll offer you info on this, yes, but you’ll have April and May to do some more work, so don’t take it as final), but as ground for putting into practice what we’ve been learning about being resourceful when working on the language. To use their curiosity, which is to say, to control their fear and complexes in a postive way, being this resourceful: knowing nothing is at stake, really. Meaningful learning gives us much more than certificates, and passing exams becomes a logical consequence.

Our conversation brought about a few things you need to mull over and write about for the end of this month, and as we make progress in our training:

SELF-EVALUATION. Deadline: end of month. Your strengths and weaknesses, in your own perception, allowing me later to give you feedback on this self-evaluation. Soluna suggested brainstorming using this framework: SWOT – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats. Do this work in layers, in different moments, like working on a draft.

LEARNING AWARENESS. I asked students to be aware of all the work we’ve done (materials and developing our resourcefulness in terms of techniques and strategiest to do different kinds of tasks), what they’ve learned, so they can use it when we take exams this month:

  • underlining what when in which different ways in listening and reading tests and note-taking, arrows, writing outside the boxes or spaces for answers until doublechecking;
  • outlines and brainstorming on language (I’ll create a page so that you can all add items you would think of for this) before writing or speaking;
  • considering the useful language you gathered from listening activities, speaking and writing activities we’ve done, and all the reading, too (blog included);
  • considering what you learned on mistakes (and oral drilling to automatize accurate production) in terms of grammar, and textual structure and format, also communicative strategies. Practice your proofreading skills, which you have probably developed unawares!

EVALUATION QUESTIONNAIRE: we talked about what I mentioned above and Emilia made some interesting questions I answered. Then I explained that I always give students a questionnaire of my own in May, for feedback to design future courses, improve things, or find new ideas, and as I listened to people an idea came up: I’ve asked you all to tell me which questions you would like to be asked in a questionnaire assessing your learning in a certain course, particularly this one! So I’ll create a page here for that, but to protect your privacy, if you like, you can all send me your questions to my email in mid-April and I can just paste the question here, and then I can improve my questionnaire with your feedback.

OP on Pay It Forward, by Catherine Ryan Hyde: Marina, Emilia, Clara, Dessi and Soluna told us about this novel, its author and the movie, and shared a reflection on the question of stereotypes that we need to pick up later on. They also brought a fill-in-the gap activity and someone inthe group will be posting the answers because we won’t be meeting next Wednesday!

I’ll post an LoM in a separate post, OK?

I asked the group to send their work for publication on Talking People (other groups are also invited to do this, of course! I might have forgotten to tell them!), so we can also add Cristina’s work (which she sent as an audio from the UK!) and also so we can develop the topic of stereotypes by publishing your thoughts on that.

STEREOTYPES. Deadline: End of this month? (We can negociate this one.) As you think about it, remember to read and listen to materials on this, to pick up some useful languge. Then write (about 100 words is OK) or record something on this topic (1-4 mins is OK) and post it here or send it by email. Remember to tell me if you want to have your name (and which!) or a nickname or something.

Homework this month: plan your listening week! Apart from whatever it is you are doing, and considering future work, I’d like to ask you to include in your listening work (news, interviews minimum) my TP Podcast segment Useful Language, particularly episodes focused on Language Functions, because dialogues, conversations, discussions require you are good at those we need in conversations. And you will be working on your grammar, too (for speaking and writing). You might have already done this, then move on, there’s much more, but here is the start:

Part 1 external link listen Read here the sentences:
bullet Asking for Clarification & Getting More Info,
bullet Checking for Comprehension

Part 2 external link listen Read here the sentences:
bullet Inviting People to Speak
bullet Agreeing
bullet
Sitting on the Fence
bullet Showing You Follow & Making Comments

Part 3 external link listen Read here the sentences:
bullet Defending a Position
bullet Disagreeing & Challenging a Position
bullet Problem-solving, Reaching an Agreement, Recapitulating, Moving On

bullet Making Suggestions & Proposals
bullet Asking for and Giving Advice
bullet Giving Feedback

And if you collect more UL and you want me to record it, we can publish it as a podcast episode. Perhaps you could do it in small groups. Or you can start a post on that so other people contribute… Whatever suits you best!

Look! I also have episodes called Sentences for your Grammar! based on oral drilling I would do when making a certain mistake:

If you consider your mistakes and list sentences to overcome them, I can also record it as an episode.

Last, I did this for Intermedio, but you might find it a good consolidation tool and useful for brainstorming on language items for your speaking and writing work:

  • The passive and tenses

 

Reminder next Monday / next week

Dear all,

I hope you’re enjoying your use of English!

This is just to remind you that next week we’ll just have the Monday lesson, for I’ll be going on strike on March 8, to join the International Women’s Strike. The Monday lesson is important because it’s our intro to Exam Format Training month, so I hope you can all make it to class if you want to learn about this issue.

What you need to do/bring:

  • Please, read the last diary or the Guía because next Monday you can pose your questions on that Guía PUC. (See post below on this.) We’ll check the Junta’s website and the School’s website as part of resources with info on exams, and go through how Announcement Boards operate in June!
  • Bring the “Some Extras” section of the C1 Resource Pack, because we will have a look at the materials it contains about the PUC exams, to prepare our Exam Format Training this month, which will be focused on taking Reading and Listening C1 tests not so much to test your level as to get acquainted with formats and test if you are good at the skills (techniques and strategies) you’ve been working on as you followed this course. (The C1 Resource Pack this month will be a valuable resource, too.)

This month we will also consider some Speaking and Writing points addressed throughout this course, as revision, and I’ll introduce dialogues and you’ll practice the theory (but it’s all in the Pack, too and Focused Dialogue Practice comes in our last month together).

Because we’ll be taking sample tests all the time, you will be freer to decide what your work will be like at home, so consider this:

You need to work out a learning plan to be clear about what you wish to suggest and ask, make sure you know what you want to work on and that you find the time you need to do so. Ingredients: audios on news and interviews, tidying up your Speaking File and Writing File, to review things you learned/learnt, list your reading and useful language work, consider your List of Mistakes and what support you need for overcoming them.

Last, about your work outside the classroom and sharing your work, in class or on this blog, I’ll try and explain why we have a course blog, too, in case it helps. But if you’ve been following this blog there won’t be much new! 🙂

Have a lovely weekend and see you (on) Monday!

Feedback Jan Writing Assig.: Descriptive Texts (Reviews, Travel Guides, Articles)

Based on work done by Marina, Dessi, Clara, Marta, Lucía, Lorena, Sergio, Karen, Gema, Encarni, Germán.

Out of a lack of time, I’ll focus in mistakes, OK? So please, read this with a constructive spirit! 🙂 Use what you need, I mean. If it’s not about what you do, simply read it for consolidation. ❤

LoM-Methodological Approach to Tasks. Walking in the Readers’ Shoes

  • Some people are still not allowing the reader to get all the relevant factual information on the assignment at the beginning of the text: full name, date, group, task description including word number. I think this should change.
  • It’s hard to write down corrections when there is no space between lines or no margins. Please, keep this in mind. Teachers always complain about it, but it’s like women’s invisibilization as human beings in patriarchy, consistently, people forget! 😀 (I couldn’t stop myself from introducing a cross-curricular point with Education for Equality! 😀 )

Reviews: Writing Methology Affecting Structure

Some people chose /chous/ to write a review (using a brochure format or in regular writing), but – excuse me for saying this – I wondered if they had read /red/ about writing reviews AND if they had actually read /red/ a few reviews before setting down to write one. Or supposing they did, it seemed they had missed the point of Why We Do that — what we need to pay attention to.

So here the mistake I’m particularly critical of is that you might not be using the month to prepare Before Writing working sessions (see Writing File here: all the texts are announced from the beginning of the course and you are always welcome to ask; when I post about them it’s just to arrange the date for a deadline or when there are changes in the plans) for a particular kind of text. This includes finding resources to write it well, and to use the assignment to learn MORE, to improve your structure and language range and accuracy. I suggest – if you know you did not do this – you review (bare infinitive for subjunctive with “suggest”) my video on How to work on your Monthly Writing Assignments. What I teach there will allow you to learn on your own once you stop having a teacher.

So — When you do research, consider my notes, I always post them when you ask, or old textbooks, or reliable websites, and consider jotting down things on structure (ingredientes for an outline in good order) and language items, and then put it into practice, I can give you the feedback of whether that worked or didn’t, apart from correcting the grammar and so on.

What’s a Descriptive Text, e.g. a Review? (Consolidation)

A review is a descriptive text that includes a recommendation. When we start it off, we have descriptive info for the title (e.g., the title of the work (obra) or place) and then basic factual information about it (no “Introduction” heading because it’s really shor and it’s obvious from the text).

Then comes the plot (for books and movies) in the present tense, to make the telling more vivid, or the description of the place (e.g., if it’s a restaurant, an exhibition).

Next comes an analysis of your own, that does not need to have expressions like “I like”. It needs rich descriptive language. I’ll develop this below.

Finally, a recommendation, including the closing line, of course (something that sounds like the ending of the article if it’s an article).

Articles and Novels include descriptive texts (descriptions of people, objects, places), not only narratives (actions), so training in this kind of texts allows you to improve a great deal of other kinds of texts! ❤

More on Language Range for Descriptions

Reviews/Travel Guides/Brochures…, articles including descriptions, mostly need lots of rich vocabulary and expressions for descriptions, so we really need to find different kinds of modifiers, as I mentioned:

  • adjectives like “it is enticing” or “uninteresting”, “dull” or “reliable”; adjectives modified by some other word: “somewhat tedious” “extraordinarily fast-paced” or noun phrases like “her parents’ home”, “a fast-paced thriller/narrative/evolution” which can also include prepositional phrases like “the woman in red” in “the times before the draught”…
  • relative clauses with or without ending prepositions, like “[didn’t expect] the girl WHO would be waiting for her”, “[had found dead] the person they were talking to”
  • present (-ing) or past particles clauses, particularly good for merging two simple sentences together and showing you understand transitions, like “Ushered into the L.M.A. Laboratory in 1935 to shoulder the burden of number cruchngin, they acted…” or “Growing up in H., V., in the 19702, Shetterly lived” from Luz’s homework on The True Story of Hidden Figures). Another example, consider this: “Pay It Forward was written by C.R.H. who is an American novelist with notable success. Her novels have won many awards and some have been bestsellers. / Pay It Forward was published in 1999 and is the extraordinary story of a perfect idea.” How can we improve this text?. Can you please post how you would improve it here? For instance, can we avoid starting the two paragrahps with the exact same structure/words: “PIF was…”? (Answer this one, OK?) Then, can we merge things?: “PIF (it’s good for the opening line to clearly state the topic of the text, yes!), written by CRH, an American novelist…, is the extraordinary story of a perfect idea”. Can you see what I did? What do you think? Can you come up with your own improvement?

Noticing collocations in reviews is really useful (collecting this kind of Useful Language), but for this we need to read quite a few reviews, to see which are typical collocations, like “breathtaking scenery”, “soaring mountains”, “outstanding performance”).

In the part where you analyze the work (and this part in the review is similar to reasoned opinions, or argumentative texts, of course, the difference is reviews use lots of modifiers, i.e., descriptive language), instead of saying you like this or that, in that way, you could explain reasons for using certain words to express you like/dislike the subject matter, to explain how interesting / funny / unsettling something was. Let me illustrate, as a follow-up on my point above: in the analysis in our review we usually point out what we liked and didn’t, but we’re advanced students and saying “I liked this because of that” is rather simply worded. If you read reviews, noticing language and its meaning, you’ll probably improve a great deal in this: instead of saying “I really like the actors. They were great” you would probably look for more sophisticated wording, “Most performances in this intriguing movie were outstanding”. Am I not saying that I liked it? But here my language range is richer.


Titles: all words are capitalized except prepositions and articles: Pay It Forward, Orange Is the New Black, Hidden Figures, Visiting Fuengirola, the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel…

Reference & Paragraphing: watch your use of pronouns, particularly at the beginning of paragraphs (something to avoid, because a paragraph needs to state the topic explicitly — it’s called the topic sentence, which can come first or second but needs to be at the very beginning), sometimes the referece is confusing, unclear, or simply wrong.


About Writing Articles

As I explained we have two kinds of articles:

Informative articles, like Travel Guides (descriptive articles) require HEADINGS, so if you are going to write about Fuengirola, for instance, for tourists, you need to visually sort out your topics by using a heading. This is better than bulleting. Just notice articles in magazines, OK? Bulleting is used for listings, not for sorting out topic sections.

Balance in topic presentation is key. You cannot write about Bioparc for more than 2/3 of the text and then mention some other topic, briefly. You have been writing minisagas and 100-word reasoned opinions to train in managing to fit things to a specific number of words.


I’m running out of time, and I’ve still got the LANGUAGE POINTS to go. But I want to give you your work back today, so I might have to ask you all to please prepare your LoM for after the holiday and please share your language points in class, for everybody to learn from them. Is it on? (That’d be C-Day, Composition Day, OK?)

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!

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!

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!

Contributions

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.

Addresses

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

Prepositions

  • 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

Adverbs

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…

Celebrating and Making Questions about the HR Declaration

Today the reading aloud of the HR declaration took up the whole lesson, and we didn’t even get to the end. I hope you can all finish reading it and comment next day, if you like. You can also feel free to exploit this activity as you like. You could also practice/practise speaking at home to put together a personal opinion of the document or the activity. If you record it in the mp3 audio format, you could send it to me for feedback.

I really enjoyed us talking a bit about some of the articles. I love reading in groups, and just talking, because lots of things come up that allow me to expand my world! I hope the activity was useful for you all, too, in this way. Remember to collect some useful language typically used in this kind of legal texts. And thanks so much for celebrating human rights today! ❤

The plan for today included watching a one-hour documentary. Considering the plan for next day is this:

Wednesday Dec 14

Last week: Please, feel free to make requests or proposals!

… next day we’ll start with the documentary, adjusting to just note-taking instead of doing the listening activity, and depending on the time Reading Groups need, we’ll do or not do the listening activity, OK?

Check the overview of our upcoming lessons to express your preferences next day, OK?

I published your Aptos on the announcement board in class, and if you have any questions about feedback on your English please let me know. These Aptos are just saying you are following the course in some way. What’s important for assessment is the feedback I give you, the feedback you get from classmates when you communicate, and your own assessment.

Remember

  • To ask any questions about the December writing assignment in class or here, under the post for that.
  • To publish your mini sagas or other writings here, if you like.
  • To listen to English every day and try retelling or listen-n-repeat. This is very important, OK?
  • There are checked writings in our cardboard box in class.
  • And to check out the Story of Stuff page above during the time we won’t have lessons!

Timed OPs: Balanced Diets, by Cristina B

Dear all,

I just finished / I’ve just finished recording Cristina’s work. We hope it’s useful. Find this and other OPs by students here: http://www.talkingpeople.net/tp/skills/speaking/oralperformances/listofperformances.htm

Talking People is chaotic, there are also OPs (teamwork, mostly) here: http://www.talkingpeople.net/tp/yourstuff/texts/oralpresentations/index.html

On this page I included both links, to remind me of the need to merge these pages or something: http://www.talkingpeople.net/tp/skills/speaking/oralpresentations.htm

So I really need to spend time tidying up the site! But I never find the time!!! Sigh! Any ideas will be welcome!

Anyhow, bear with me! 🙂 ❤

Evaluation & Exams: Why We Should Fight Exam Culture, & Some Practical Info!

Hi, dear students! I’ve been mulling over the obstacles to gathering info about your work outside the classroom. Although I agree people have far too much on and our lives are complicated, I think that if our ideology were not that of Exam Cultures I would have gotten more info on what I requested at the end of November. So just in case this helps to improve that, I’m writing this post, OK? I hope it’s useful in some way! Just let me know what you think – with no fear!

One of the things we need to do to change the world and make it better is change our approach to learning, our awareness, the things we do and the things we don’t do. In Exam Culture systems and societies, learning is associated to pressure and fear, to a self-destructive way of relating to knowledge and the development of our skills. But learning should be related to passion, enjoyment, curiosity, to a positive construction of the individual and social self, to a source of self-confidence and a love to lifelong learning.

In spite of all we’ve learned/learnt from the second half of the 20th century on, in spite of relevant progress made at times in classrooms and education laws (always harmed by a true political will to allow that to become a reality because in politics priorities for money-spending never include education – anti-human rights and anti-planet ideologies and millionaire businesses are not into allowing the construction of wise societies), we are still blind, and just trusting what we know – the old system of fear and destruction of knowledge. We even praise it, mostly because, yes, we’ve survived it and learned. What we don’t want to imagine is how much more we would have learned in a different system. Of course we can learn with everything against us, the malleability of our human mind is astounding! But we need to develop our intelligence and wisdom much more if we want to overcome the patriarchal organization of society, with all of its systems of violence, starting from the violence imposed on human identities, the foundation of all. Humans are diverse, humans are intelligent, and if we could respect this instead of always creating systems where some humans, mostly the ones with less scruples to use violence, any kind of violence, get all the support and credit, then we could evolve along the lines of the precious idea of human rights (that seed we planted recently).

Evaluation is not about testing, giving and taking exams whose aim is to quantify our knowledge and skills to determine how much we know: pass or fail? In education, this is done at times, but evaluation is far more complex and diverse, is done all the time, and it doesn’t need to quantify a level because most of the time we need to be doing a great many different things to facilitate learning, not only testing. Evaluation also refers to self-evaluation, co-evaluation (among peers, with teachers), and has different aims: collect information so as to design action is one of the most important, to help individuals, to facilitate group dynamics. Information can be collected without giving an untimely test, and that can even include the results learners get from taking the test at home, without fear, timing themselves to practice an exam format!

The reality we face when students are free from “objective marks/grades” telling them, like an oracle, if they know or don’t know — if they are valid or not, really, to construct their learning is habits. And the habit of just doing work before “Exams” is more dramatic than we understand. Lifelong and positive learning is related to doing things that sustain in, and should not be related to fear, at least not so often! 😀

I have a very different experience with my Básicos. Although on my first years doing this few people finished the course, I have witnessed how people developing the habit of listening to English every day did and are doing much better in their learning. My “exam” in Básico 1 is never to offer the oracle mark/grade: people hand in their listening logs at the end of the month, and during the month I do check they are doing just that because we do orals every week, orals they prepare by listening-listening-listening + listen-n-repeat (as many times as they like) + listen-n-read (to check they got it all, and to learn to read) + listen-n-speak! We start with the Writing File in spring! And they do it on their own. Their English is much better than people who start writing when they can’t say a word in the language, of course, because things (grammar) sounds right or wrong thanks to all their listening work throughout the year. (And in class we read the textbook of course, we listen (I read) and repeat (they repeat).) That’s a strategy for Elementary. Last night I posted an exam for them, in case they want to do it and tell me about it. But I’ve already given them pass marks in the four skills, as I’m forced to do in the system. Because they handed in their listening logs and I know they’re learning well because I’ve heard them do the orals they’ve done. In spring I teach them about exam formats, and although I give them an exam and Evaluación continua people don’t have to pass it, they pass it with flying colours (this is British English, right?).

Traditionally, at EEOOII (our schools of public/state-run adult language education), we never gave traditional exams, like they never do in private language schools: when people trained in exam format, they simply worked on doing the exam, they didn’t do it for a pass mark. The only exam happened at the end of a cheerful and hard-working learning year, logically. The nightmare of exams of this destructive kind every two or three months was unimaginable. But it’s here now. And I’m resisting. But I can’t do it if the pressure is people will only find time for destructive things! 😀 It’s teamwork, right? This said, just remind you that I’m extremely happy this year, because you come to class, and do good work, and you share it — even if it is not regularly, you are not quitting, you’re trying to do your best. And this is precisely the kind of attitude that contributes to changing the system! So yes, you’re already doing something to change Exam Culture. Now we can improve a little task that is very valuable for me as a teacher and coordinator of this course! That’s all!

I have been collecting all the info you shared in class and am really grateful for your work. ❤ Without that info I could certainly go on and give My Course, but as I told you this is an interactive course, and I’d rather stick to that idea: to meeting your learning needs, and helping out there. You don’t need to tell me which they are in the sense that I can diagnose (of course you are welcome to, yes, if you like). I’m just asking, How have you been using your English outside class-time? If you only used it to do “homework”, well, that’s OK, but tell me what you did, how you worked, if possible, OK?

 

Consequently – I’m extending the suggested deadline of November to our last lesson together before we part for the winter holidays ( 😀 , aha! this was the point!) in case you can share with me information about your work with English outside the classroom, OK? I need to know what you’ve been listening to (topics, kinds of texts), and if that is what we did in class, but you kept working on it at home, great. No problem. This is not to give you an evaluation mark. It’s just to facilitate our and your learning.

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, María José, Luz, Lorena; Lucía Dessi, EMilia, Laura; Marina, Germán, 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?

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!!!!

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 talkingpeople.net – 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 ringLucía 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! ❤ ❤ ❤

Germán 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!

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, Lucía 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 talkingpeople.net, 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! ❤

lorenasoutline

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 /veriés/ ways.

Lorena – bicycles, Sonia – crowds, Marina – moustaches, María José – laughter, Karen – old shoes, Romina – one-way tickets, Sergio – falling, Germán – 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.

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 Andalucía 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: https://c1coursebymf2016.wordpress.com/2016/11/23/new-video-how-to-set-up-a-business/

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!

 

 

 

Trouble with the present & the past in narratives?

A strange exercise that can help (if you don’t get obsessed and just do it inaccurately!!): visualize/visualise colo(u)rs: red for the present, blue for the past, and listen to yourself while you use these colors when you use these tenses. Tell us what happened.

First exercise you can do: https://projects4englishlearners.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/writing-tips-narrating-past-events-cf-story-telling-jokes-articles/

One based on The Mentalist: https://projects4englishlearners.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/telling-stories-using-the-mentalist/

Here is another exercise you can do or adapt to your own texts (OP work at home: Lorena, I encourage you to prepare your OP on patriarchy for a recording for your Speaking File, and then you can send it to me for feedback): https://projects4englishlearners.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/functional-translation-unit-2-avanzado-2/ (Avanzado 2 in Madrid is 6th year and we learned/learnt at the C1 level, though they just certified a B2)

LoM for yesterday’s speaking activity

The Origins of Patriarchy, by Lorena

The outline was very clear, and I invite Lorena or anyone to post here a copy. The way our speaker presented the points orally and her use of the whiteboard were very good. The content was very well organized, particularly considering the complexities of speaking about the question. She simplified things to manage to allow people to remember a few key ideas that can allow us to reflect further on.

Language

the society – omission of “the”. Complex topic. I have a handout on this, in case people want to have a look and work on it in small groups. Let me know.

What does this mean? – Perfect! Fluent and accurate, but then…

This meanS – missing “s”

Some missing “ed”s, too, particularly of the kind that also need a vowel support: protected (but no mistake in hunted, so it was not systematic).

When do we add a vowel support when forming the plural? /iz/ as in  villages, differences. Can somebody explain in class?

Tenses: there was a general problem. Sometimes the presentation was in the present, and other times it was in the past. I suggest Lorena (should) record her work (structures with suggest to review?) to train in learning to monitor this.

A question for you all: “I forget” is not an option in the context we used it. One should say “I’m forgetting” or “I forgot”. Why?

Improving the wording in key questions, to make them more accurate: What happened? — What changes took place?

Syntax & Morphology: how different HUNTING WAS (the mistake: how diff were hunting); COULD HUNT (mistake: can hunted, non-systematic)

Self-correction in: HAVE-HAS. Good. But then one mistake with the past form. Everybody, watch out for your HAVE verb forms!

Useful Vocabulary: hunting, gathering, settlements, decision-making, magic/magical (can you find examples of their use? Can we say: It’s magic! It’s magical!), egalitarian/equalitarian, a one-day thing. But more useful than this is to set these words in context. Feel free to post examples here! Thanks!

Problem-solving Proposal: Discussing Controversial Topics,

Or Learning to Exchange Views on Sensitive Topics

Today somebody felt bad about an activity we were doing, and expressed it as a strong complaint. We welcome feedback, but in my view, it could have been presented as ordinary feedback after the activity, or as a polite interruption reminding us of our time limits. Fortunately, some people helped overcome the tension by not feeling discouraged to speak. But others felt discouraged to speak. So I am asking students coming to class next day to consider the questions I posed around gender identity and human identity. (It could also be of use when you have to write a reasoned opinion on gender issues) I hope we can listen to everybody. Considering the criticism was focused on time, I suggest we agree at the beginning of the lesson a maximum amount of time for each speaker, say 1-3 minutes.

Here are the questions so you can put together a description or a reasoned opinion:

  • What makes you a MAN/WOMAN? Which are the traits that construct your FEMINITY/MASCULINITY?
  • What makes you HUMAN? Which are the traits that construct our identity as human beings?

Today’s activity was a lecture by a History teacher on the origins of patriarchy and that deserved a follow-up exercise, like any lecture we attend to. Moreover, topic OPs have the aim of encouraging follow-up in-depth discussions, so that people can practice their English, exchanging views in complex ways, through argumentation, learning vocabulary and ideas about a topic. Today’s OP was not training in exam format, but I gift we got because we were lucky to have an expert on a topic which is key to learn to analyze many of the gender issues.

Our school is public. We teach languages while encouraging the development of democratic values, that people open their minds to different cultures, lifestyles, views, we encourage coexistence. As Spanish educational laws establish we address all the social matters that need addressing for the construction of a democratic society, where tolerance and diversity are allowed in the construction of identity, where people are able to coexist regardless their identity or believes. As a public school we also protect freedom of expression, and try to educate along the lines of helping adults be able to hold rational discussions also on sensitive topics, precisely because we work for a nonviolent world.

At the advanced level, students need to be able to analyze topics, not only manage in everyday life. Argumentative texts, oral and written, involve students need to learn to construct argumentations, explaining their views in complex ways, analyzing ideas and their experiences and wording things in nonviolent ways, avoiding treating people with different opinions as aggressors, and just learning to explain why they think a certain idea is bad.

As a reminder, your speaking exam cards include topics you might not know anything about, or you might not want to speak about, and they always ask you to express your views, too. As it’s a language exercise, if you feel bad in some way, simply practice saying something about why, or if you prefer not to express your true ideas or experiences, you can simply make them up. Actually, you can even defend an opinion you don’t share. It’s a wonderful exercise!

OPs: Learning to speak from Outlines

Germán shared with us his work on the assignment: Oral Book Review, on the Ngozi essay we read in class. It was timed, to fit the speaking exam format called “monologue”. As you can see in the photo of what he wrote on the whiteboard, he had an outline to speak from, which is a very valuable exercise I hope all students do regularly this year, so they can feel more confident in June, and so they learn a relevant skill for everyday life — how to speak in public from an outline.

As you can see, he started out with factual information on the essay and the author. In his intro to the book, he assessed the kind of reading it was and its value, and moved on to sustain these ideas by sharing with us the anecdotes and ideas the author shared, his highlights. He also paid attention to the language he learned/learnt. What’s missing on the whiteboard is the final recommendation, which he actually did, anyway.

A final outline could have been:

Book Review

  • author, title: factual info
  • intro: feminist approach, entertaining, own experience
  • body: analysis – highlights sustaining intro:
  • anecdotes + misconceptions – show value of feminist analysis (bulleted points possible within this point)
  • language highlights
  • Final comment + Recommendation

I also add key words to outline points, to remind me of the particular ideas I want to mention, e.g. misconceptions (feminists hate…)

outline_ngozi

Germán, remember to record your work, for your Speaking File, so you can review it later and remember/consolidate.

I hope this great example helps you all to undertake your work at home on monologues. Remember you can watch my video here on Speaking File, and Lucía’s upcoming video!

On the Useful Language Project Agreed in Class This Week

The other day we talked a bit about lists of Useful Language, and I asked students to find the examples and explanations I included in our C1 Resource Pack (Section “Understanding Language Learning”).

We agreed on this:

Each student* will gather a collection of sentences they* use or need to use every day (so to speak) [in their professional fields or areas of expertise] and bring them to class, with a threefold purpose:

  • find out if other students share the same field, so you can read out your sentences and put together a more comprehensive List of UL for that field (but small group can be eclectic!)
  • learn English from other students
  • check that your sentences are correct, and that your pronunciation and intonation are good.

In two weeks you should have put together something, a few sentences at least, so you can work with your classmates, OK? If I forget, please, remind me of this! I understand we can schedule it for the first week of September.

Then we might be able to create new podcast episodes for the Talking People Podcast “Useful Language” segment!

Diary for Wed. Oct 5 – 1st OP!

WRITING. Today I gave out the checked minisagas I had, and explained I had made some suggestions to some students and expected them to work on them and hand me the resulting piece next week. (I think someone who was late, did not get hers! I hope next Monday people remind me of this, OK? I have a cardboard box where I leave your checked work so that you all can simply have a look. I’ll show it to you.) I mentioned there were two minisagas with a strong literary flavo(u)r, and I mentioned that some other minisagas needed more work on modifiers, to make the story more compelling or expressive. Three more people gave me their minisaga.

I created a page here so you can post your final minisaga. And if you want it to be Anonymous, just send it to me and I’ll do that for you.

QUESTIONS. In the round of questions, someone asked about the Learning Diary and I replied it was optional and explained how I would do it. We also reviewed where the listening log, the reading log and the example of a weekly learning plan were (here) now under Course Basics & Materials.

OVERVIEW OF WORK SHARED IN CLASS. I showed people a table where we will tick your work shared in class and writing assignments. I’ll pin it on the bulletin board, so you can complete it whenever, or jot down what I miss!

We had a round of “How have you been using your English these days”? as initially there were few people. Fortunately, more people came, so the round was a bit long but I didn’t want to interrupt it because I was gathering info for some future feedback I’ll give you all on mistakes I heard, so we can introduce the session on How to work with your LoMs (any volunteer to explain this some day?). Apart from that, I think it’s wonderful to listen to you all also because in this way we get to know each other better.

In that round Sergio asked me about the riots in the USA in connection to the issue of police officers shooting black people, but I couldn’t answer just then, so perhaps some other day. I’ll try to find some audio or audiovisual on this, so people learn some of the most common vocabulary on the news, because it turned out most people did not know the word “riot” (I think we can always hear it on the news).

We decided not to check the Reading Test, considering many people were missing. So I’ll post the key here so you can check it over the weekend, and tell me your results, and prepare your questions for next Monday or perhaps for the following week as…

Next Wednesday is a holiday. A sad celebration, where we should have just a conmemoration which also included acknowledging genocide. Anyway, this helps us get to the next point.

YOUR MONS. Germán gave an OP on Christopher Columbus. It was very informed. He managed to tell us about the times, the man, and about the controversies around him (was he a killer or a hero?), around colonization or the European invasions, and about the October 12 celebration. Not only this, he also included a final personal assessment. This monologue was a great example of wonderful textual structure, so I’d like to congratulate Germán for that.

About his accuracy and language range I have to say it was fairly good! The vocabulary was rich and correctly used, the wording (how to put things) was not the result of literal translation. Germán might have translated from Spanish, but he included wording that was English-minded. He made few grammar mistakes.”ar(m)s” (weapons), an agreement and tense mistake with “have” (The Portuguese …), mispronunciation of “Mediterranean” “savagery” (?), great items like using “was supposed to” correctly!, as well as tenses in general, and comparatives (much further than he had calculated), sometimes mispronunciation in the “-ed” ending, using well hard items like “as slaves” (cf. “like slaves), using “the” correctly (the British) and also its omission! (though there was a mistake in “the Colombus Day”). “A way of rememberING”, OK? We can also use “conmemorate” (I’ll post Reconsider Columbus Day next week, a video Germán also watched backed in 2013, I think!).

About a very personal insight on the topic, I feel Germán can improve the wording so that it glows. Not “We think depending on…” See if you find alternatives, OK?

Where I believe you can improve is in the speed (although controlling shyness with determination! I have the impression that being nervous about speaking in public made you/him speak a bit too fast, which along with some misplacing of stress, made it hard to follow at times. I could surely not keep up taking notes! So — as I told you/him, you/he can improve the “music” of the language and a good exercise for this is doing Listen-n-Repeat, and practice reading aloud at home, after listening to stories with a transcript. Thank you, Germán, for breaking the ice with students’ monthly monologues in class!

About “a big disagreement”, the stress was misplaced, so I couldn’t understand. Then a question for you all to mull over! What collocates better with “disagreement” for this context?: “a major disagreement” or “wide disagreement” would be better I think. Have a look here: collocations. “Big” is too ordinary here, it almost sound childlike. Jod down “big” in your List of informal language to avoid in semiformal and formal texts (register), OK? I’ll create a Page for this. At times presents or pasts were used instead of pasts or presents. Not often, and I may have made a mistake (they sometimes forgot/forget). There was a mistake of the kind: forgetting about passives (History are (oops mistake, right?) writing > History is written)

YOUR MONTHLY MONS IN CLASS. Which leads me to remind you all that I expect each of you to give a 3-4 min mon in class every month, which you should select from your weekly work on monologues at home, which is an activity for the exploitation of your audio and audiovisual work. I mean, we “recycle” efforts done in other skills to use the same materials again for practicing other skills or connecting skills. See what I mean?

And we watched Ngozi’s TED Talk on the book we’ll read in class next Monday (link).