PS: on How to use the Oral Exam Assignment

When you get your Speaking Test card (Modelo ___ [un número], Candidata/o ___ [A, B, C]) the idea is that for a week you listen and read on the topic, to gather knowledge, useful language, and expand, thus, your knowledge…

Then, sit and prepare the mon one day, using an outline to complement your speaking test card (you can use both things in the actual exam), and practice speaking while timing yourself. Adjust ideas, wording. Make your range richer. DON’T WRITE DOWN YOUR MONOLOGUE PLEASE! You can only jot down Useful language, not the actual monologue.

For the dialogue, please, consider language functions. Check out my cards where that is explained. Check out my card on Structure in Dialogues, and use my podcast episodes on Communication Strategies too. To expand your knowledge, and train in speaking (being accurate and fluent).

Each speaking test lasts about 15 minutes: two mons + dial. So when you book, we can have 4 groups per lesson, and then a discussion or other activities for the second hour.

By the way, if someone wishes to buy the C1 Resource Pack remember to do so before you leave the School!

Downloadable pack here:

My podcast episodes that can help: Useful Language (Comm. Strats is 3 episodes and way at the back – older posts)

In “Categories”, you also have the segment: Everyday Language at

and the segment Travel Phrasebook


At last! Wonderful Presentation on Orange Is the New Black & On Prisons and Learning

This presentation is a great example of what an advanced learner is capable of. I want to thank students who, like Marta and Isabel, have allowed us to record their work because it is truly precious for everybody’s learning! ❤

Although our speakers make some mistakes, it is obvious their relationship to the language is very natural, at the advanced level, too, that they are able to analyze their experience with it, in complex ways. I mean, apart from the interesting points they make, apart from bringing in their worlds to the analysis (this indicates they understood what they were reading beyond “the language problem”), they can explain it all, complex ideas, in a natural way, and when they can’t find the words, they manage to find a way to make their point anyway.*

Use this to learn to listen to yourselves as you speak, so you can fix the mistakes you make which you can actually fix! And enjoy! It’s very enjoyable!

  • (except with one word Isabel utters very quickly and probably makes up! 😀 😀 😛

I’d also like to invite you to listen to some writing by Angela Davis, one of the most brilliant and honest thinkers I have read, socially committed, too, because this philosopher is an expert in the prison system, and also an activist fighting it, to humanize our world.

  • Are Prisons Obsolete? – a collection of essays on the topic. Here is one of the essays
  • Chapter 1 of OITNB, which I recorded, in case you want to see how the memoir starts
  • Also, here is a page where I share my work on language when I read this work by Piper Kerman, and some resource material I created for a workshop on “Crime and Punishment”, one of the topics in C1 tests

Finally, I believe the topic should be called “Crime and Justice”, really, but this is the world we have: we think that if we don’t use violent words or behave violently that means we are not doing anything against violence — a very patriarchal piece of thinking, in my view! Fighting violence and crime is rooted in VALUES and when the values a certain culture chooses are violent, then it’s all about nurturing the same problem. The only “punishment” a prison should offer is privation of freedom, and only for certain crimes, crimes against people (not so much property — if people were not subject to poverty, the only criminals we would have in prison are those corrupt people who steal and never get to prison), not all the other humiliating and terrible things it involves. While preventing those criminals to harm other people, prisons would be places to learn good things, to learn. But then, here and now, many of us would want to go there because of unemployment! 😀

Anyway… I hope some year we can have this workshop in this course. The kind of education based on not seeking becoming independent and resourceful, and absentism* have terrible impact every year, because we cannot count on people’s initiative, work, participation and collaboration. Teamwork is always utopia and there’s like no hope because it’s so justified we don’t have the time to work with others.

*(I do wonder why people think that you can tell people in one course you signed for that you cannot join them because you have to attend another course. I know I get to learn about this reason for them not coming to class only from people who appreciate me and respect my work, but it always hurts to see how anything is more important than learning in a course you wanted to do, right? I mean, if you have enrolled in a course, and don’t find time to follow it, why would you find time to follow another course? It’s funny how we find the most positive things for our learning, the least interesting to pursue, really. It’s like when we learn without suffering: people truly believe in practice that they learn more when they suffer in the process. Well, excuse my sharing this insight. Feel free to disagree! It could bring us hope! 😀

(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! ❤

Designing Exams – A teamwork project

Today I presented this new workshop. The class will split up in two groups. Each group will design a minimum of 1 Reading or Listening Task, chosing the format of one of the tasks in your C1 Test.

Everybody should listen to audios and read articles, and then pick one to bring to class on April 24th. Bring the transcript of the few selected audios and the paper copy of the articles, but also remember to keep at hand the links that people could use to check those items.

Groups will gather and after assessing what you have, we’ll have a plenary to make this decision:

Can each group design different tasks, so that we can get a final complete Reading Test and Listening Test? If both groups just want to do the multiple choice format, then it’s OK, but it’d be grand to have a complete test designed by you all.

You would be the first generation of C1’s here to design C1 Exams for future use by other students!

Why design tests?

  • Because walkin in your “enemy’s” shoes is a great source of information.
  • Because this is a great excuse to use your English more at home, because you really need to increase your time with English from now on.
  • Because teamwork is fun and its results are always amazing!
  • Because it’ll be fun to take the test the other half of the group gives you! 😀 Then you can tell me whose is harder: the ones we give or the ones your classmates design!! 😀

To end this first session, groups will decide among of all their materials, agreeing to work on one audio and written text, and what to bring for the second session.

Post your info on team members and your questions here, please. I’ll make it a sticky post!

Proud about this project!

Marianela, the head of studies, put together this video we contributed to! Enjoy!
We are the only ones who re-worded the declaration as it will or should be worded asap!, including women! ❤

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):

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?

(Edited Worksheet 2) For your homework on Questions

Based on people’s mistakes, I asked students to improve their spontaneity, accuracy and fluency in questions, but I got no news anyone was doing any work on this, we’re always so busy in class!, so to encourage you all to do so, just in case, because it’s an issue you should be good at, here is a worksheet.

The ideal thing is you go throught this worksheet together in small groups and then tell me what you reviewed and all that because I might have the role of clarifying points or expanding your knowledge or understanding of the whys, too.

Remember you have the Talking People Podcast for listening and repeating different kinds of structures, including indirect questions. It’s the segment called Useful Language.

About Next Wednesday: Iceland & High Fidelity

As Elva is coming at 7.10 to start her talk, and people in Spain are rarely punctual, I’d like to request students to try to be in class by 7.10 (“by” means “at the latest), please, or to pretend the talk is at 7.00. I’ll be in class at 7.00 sharp.

Also, I’ll ask you this evening, but… I think we should invite other groups, too. What do you think?

Elva’s talk would be from 7.10 to 8.10 (I think it could take up to 8.30 or even 8.45, where I’m setting the limit so we can listen to the High Fidelity OP by Germán and Dolores, OK?)

OPs (videos) by Students

I just created a page above, on our course navbar, so that you can find your videos on TP

This includes SSB’s page for her OP on Corpora! Part 1, for Part 2 is not ready yet!

Oral Presentations on the Reading Projects

Here is our latest info on Reading Groups and the dates they booked to present their work in class. More info on this project on our Reading Projects !! page above.


  • OP DATE FEB 15. Dolores and Germán will work on High Fidelity. There is a screenplay and a movie too.
  • OP DATE: FEB 20. Karen, Lucía and Sergio will work on the screenplay The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – the can also use the movie/film in their project.
  • OP DATE: FEB 22. Isabel and Marta will work on Orange Is the New Black. My work on this in case it helps in some way!
  • OP DATE: MARCH 6. Clara, Mª José (pending), Marina, Emilia, Dessi, Cristina B, Soluna (pending) will work on Pay It Forward. The movie is different in some ways to the novel, and can also be used in the project.
  • OP DATE: MARCH 15: Sonia, Gema, Encarni, Luz and Lorena with the Alexie Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. I have Smoke Signals, a related movie for this project and the screenplay in book format.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

March 8. International Women’s Strike! <3

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


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

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!

Tips for your work. Overview of Lesson Plans by month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diary for Jan 23!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Collage. Reblogging 2 pages

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

(Updated Jan 20) The Human Rights Declaration!

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

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

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

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

Teacher’s UL on episode 1, Redesign My Brain

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

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

Blog Updates & More on the gender identity project

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

Have a wonderful bilingual weekend! ❤

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

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

Feedback on Formal Letters of Request. Human Rights Project

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

December Writing Assignment – with resources

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


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

My Feedback

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

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

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

6 paragraphs, or more, but with this structure.


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

Useful Language


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


  • 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!

The Story of Stuff Project – from Nov to Jan

Here is the plan, after events in class. Make it your key mission over the hols! 😀 ❤

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:

Talking People is chaotic, there are also OPs (teamwork, mostly) here:

On this page I included both links, to remind me of the need to merge these pages or something:

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! 🙂 ❤

About your work this week for next week

Here is a list of things you could be doing:

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

Next week our lesson plan for Monday is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Updates on the Ngozi Page above

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

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

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

The Human Rights Project (celebrating Dec 10)

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

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


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

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

December Writing Assignment: Letter-writing

New podcast episode (for you!)

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

Let me know which!

Books. Recommended Action, by the Story of Stuff Project

Lesson Plan for Wednesday Nov 30

So the plan for next day is the following:

OP by Sergio

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

Friends, episode 2 season 1.

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

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

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

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

Diary for Mon Nov 28 – The Story of Stuff Projects

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Materials Economy

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

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

  • Your selection

Personal Opinion

How are we going to proceed?

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

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

Small Groups (that will “adopt” people not coming today to class, max. 2 per group): Soluna, 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?

Updates on Talking People

Dear students,

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

Path: – Enter – In class – C1 Course

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

On the Page above for Ngozi Adichie

Dear all,

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

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

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

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

Teacher’s Diary

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Germán reminded us we had to check the collocations worksheets.

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

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

Anyway, we decided on plans for next week, and

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

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

News about our prospective Guest Speaker from Iceland!

Dear all,

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

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

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

Diary for November 9 + fun training!

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

UL. We reviewed sentences for apologies.

OPs. We listened to Cristina giving her timed OP, on dieting! And gave her feedback on pronunciation, language, structure. It was good work! Encarni didn’t make it to class. So in order not to waste a lesson, 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, so that whenever we feel like it we can improvise doing one in class. Here is the audio, so you can do follow-up work on this: taking it down as a dictation, or jotting down useful language, or practicing telling this piece of news, so you can record it for your Speaking File. The Questions people answered, after some time in small groups (for one was kind of complicated) were: 1. (fill in a gap), 2. Definition of what qualifies as a planet, 3. Why was Pluto demoted?

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


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

Useful Language Projects (teamwork)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today people had the chance to work together!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reminders: Lesson Plans for Today & Planning November

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

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

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

Improving Teamwork

Next week you’ll be working in small groups. I have some feedback for you all, based on the info I gathered after the second part of the feminist workshops, when small groups reported back to plenary on what they had been working on.

I think you can and should improve the process. Teams need to learn to monitor time and move on to meet the task requirements.

First of all, team members need to start off by wording what the task is, so that everybody knows what you need to be doing. Questions, proposals on how to do it should follow. Consider who does what when, for how long. It doesn’t have to be mathematical, but turn-taking is crucial practice for dialogue (and speaking exams). For instance, you can organize two rounds: in the first people speak with no interruptions, for a certain amount of time. Only clarification questions allowed. And the second round can be for suggesting discussions, topics to discuss, and/or present one’s reactions to things heard.

The other day when small groups reported to plenary, a few mentioned the materials were “old-fashioned” but none explained or illustrated what they meant. I actually thought you meant that the feminist ideas in cards were old-fashioned, till I realized no group had said anything about the definitions of what a woman is, according to Men of Knowledge in patriarchal cultures. And today I realized your “old-fashioned” comment might have been about those brutal misconceptions on women. In a nutshell, you need to improve your reports to plenary, because people at plenary have not been following your discussions and what you think is obvious might not be obvious for listeners.

Good tip for communication: never take for granted what listeners know. Explain things. Offer basic info, before sharing your insight.

Whatever you do in small groups: sharing info, discuss, please, pay attention (even discuss) how you are going to report back to plenary! 🙂

Diary for Wed Oct 26 – 1st Dramatized Reading + Homework & Lesson Plans

Today I was fearing people would miss the lesson due to the approaching holiday and due to the fact that when adults have communication problems they feel discouraged and rather quit trying, but most people made it to class: thanks so much! ❤ And it was a wonderful lesson, too!

We welcomed Isabel, who comes from a different school, and will just join us on Mondays, unless her rota of teachers on duty is convenient. (For people gathering Useful Language for teachers: any other alternative to “profes de guardia”?)

People asked more language questions on the Friends 1×1 script and then, volunteered for roles and we had a wonderful Dramatized Reading of the whole episode! People’s performance was outstanding, so congratulations!We had Lourdes as Narrator, Marta playing the role of Chandler, Sergio as Paul the Wine Guy, Cristina R as Ross, Karen as Rachel, Lucía as Mónica, Germán as Joey, Clara as Phoebe, and Cristina B filling in for some smaller parts.

In the upcoming month, when you plan your week, find time to watch episode 2 at least once a week, to prepare for our next session! Underline your language questions and your fav lines! I hope we can have new volunteers then — but of course, anyone volunteering on the spot is welcome! Remember to print the copy I created (shrinking tens of pages into 4!) Path: It’s on – Enter – Scripts.

I hope in the future, some day, we can record sts doing this amazing teamwork exercise! ❤ In this way, others might get the chance to read the script some other day, too. Just let me know if you decide to do this, or want to! 🙂

The other project of this kind is that you all form groups around a movie (preparing a scene or something). That’s on our C1 Materials blog, and Lucía has been having a look at that. We can talk about it next week, too.

Feedback on Romina’s OP

see next post next day – can’t finish it today!

Cristina R. gave Romina some feedback + best wishes (I’m sure you’ll succeed) and made a question: mass lay-offs = ere.

NOW, WHAT’S FOR NOW & NEXT WEEK? We have several things in store:

  • 3-4 minute OPs by you are always welcome. Actually, if everybody is going to speak once a month, we should be having two in every lesson? (I’m bad at maths!)
  • individual Useful Language projects, to share next week when you find out who’s worked on what;
  • checking the handouts on collocations (but I can post the answers, too);
  • reading out the Rational Discussion workshop, to mull over how we can improve discussions on controversial topics.
  • C-Day…

But just one lesson next week due to the Monday hol.

MORE AT HOME. You also need to post your minisagas, if you like, read posts here and comment, watch videos here and re-tell… It’s your pick! If you feel you want to improve your grammar, I recommend you use my podcast and do some Listen and Repeat with the Useful Language episodes. They will also inspire you for your Useful Language projects.

Writing Reminders & Posting your checked work

Minisagas can be posted here (Page above): just enter and post it in a comment.

October Writing Assignment can be posted here, if you like, once you get it back with corrections. But you need to ask me to send you an invitation, OK?

Remember in November we’ll hold C-Day, which means that after getting your checked work you need to work on your mistakes (LoM) and bring them to class, to tell us about them and what your plans are, or what work you did to overcome them. Then we can listen to people reading out their work, because it helps us learn a lot! Finally, send it in for publication if you like!

Writing File Project: your WF should include first the final copy (handwritten or typewritten), with all the info on the top right corner including Task Description (type of text, no. of words…), next the OUTLINE you used to write it, then the rest: the LoM, the other work you did in the Before Writing section (gathering ideas, useful language) and your checked piece.