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!




My Apologies: Bob Dylan IS a Poet, & Other Stories! (edited)

Due to my ignorance, I was surprised Dylan had been awarded the Nobel Literature Prize because I thought he had not written literature, but he has. My partner has a poetry book Dylan wrote in the 60s: Tarantula, experimental prose poetry, which is a merit (I have a prose poetry short story if you want to read it, and see how dangerous it is to write) And it’s hard for poets to get prizes.

I would have given him the Peace Nobel instead, really, because his songs were key for the peace movement (the so-called hippies), and to spread ideas, not violence, but well — I take back my words in class the other day. I have nothing to say about his getting the Literature Nobel Prize. Well —

I think of Joan Baez… She would have been a good candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, as good as Bob Dylan, in any case. And both probably better than other people who were awarded this prize! Were Baez’s lyrics poems? Dylan’s were. Actually, he said of some of those that he didn’t intend to write a protest song (Blowing in the Wind). A great many people in the 60s, who loved literature and the arts, acknowledged Dylan as a talented writer. It’s true that the 60s were full of patriarchal ideology, in spite of feminism being at full blast (as compared with other times, in the USA at least, an extremely patriarchal country, full of patriarchal ideology, this is, violent ideas of superiority-inferiority). Just watch the movie “Hair” if you have a developing feminist intelligence and see what I mean. Women were invisible most of the time, in spite of it all. It was the time when you were considered “estrecha” (not that kind of girl) if you decided to choose who you had sex with, and rejected a proposal. (Include women, and the history of humankind is slightly different.)

And then —

It’s telling that the 10 nominees were men. Not a single woman. But I don’t want to say now that it would have been great if women writers had been considered because I didn’t say that in previous cases where traditionally-minded men were awarded a prize.

I’m glad progressist-minded people are taken into account, because progressist ideas are what have helped us humanize our violent cultural upbringings. That’s my view. People always have questions about whether progressist people DESERVE the (few) awards they get, but I’m critical of this, obviously. (You can disagree with me, anyway — I’m into freedom of expression and find that dialogue is positive for everybody! 🙂 )

Now listen to these people. Bob Dylan IS actually considered a talented poet.

At the same time, I always regret women are nowhere to be seen. Still, there’s no stopping a feminist, there’s no stopping social change for the better, also because quite a lot of women are managing to keep alive and free — particularly, provided people start considering ideas instead of fueling the defamation/slander and misinterpretation of kind people, instead of demonizing  those who care about human beings.

And here is a very telling (significativo, que significa cosas) poem by Anne Sexton, who like Hemingway, committed suicide, but who, unlike Hemingway, instead of being considered a Hero (in the anti-hero version, like he was), was considered a bad mother for abandoning her children, something men writers who committed suicide never were — as if suicide were a frivolity when done by women.

Her Kind –

Incidentally, I’d like to invite you all to learn a poem by ear by heart! ❤ ❤ ❤ I recommend Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver. But this poem may also keep you company, at times. Here are videos with students who learned a poem in our C1 course, in previous years: songs & poems playlist.

Diary for Oct 19. Two more OPs & Upcoming Lesson Plans!

Today some people came back to class, which was good news.

Some people wrote the lesson plan on the whiteboard, and when I got back from my break I completed it. I loved this experience, so I hope we can do this in every lesson, OK? Feel free to jot down stuff when you get to class!

We started with people voting for the group reps. Karen and Lucía volunteered and got their classmates’ support! ❤

Then Lucía did her OP on How to work on your monologues at home, and it was very interesting and she also allowed me to videoshoot! Please, watch the video, you all, when I manage to publish it, OK? It’ll be good for taking notes on the topic, and working on Lists of Mistakes. I would like to see some work of yours on that towards the end of November (use the C1 Resource Pack for reading a bit about it).

Germán gave an OP on the oral book review I suggested you prepared (the Ngozi essay), and it was very well put together. I hope he can record it for his speaking file taking into consideration the feedback I gave thim. Lucía took a pic of this outline and we’ll be publising it because it’s a great example of how to speak from outlines in timed OPs.

LoMs: some language questions came up, and Sergio contributed a good example for us to discuss “worth”, “worthy”, “worth it”.

I misunderstood a language question, but fortunately other students realized where I was making the mistake and helped clarify! Thanks!

Finally we watched 1×1 of Friends, and people agreed to read the transcript at home (download it following the links on “Handouts” here) and come to class with language questions. After that session, we’ll do a dramatized reading. We’ll see in what way!

We have lots of plans for next week, but you need to help me out of this. The priority will always be listening to people who have prepared 3, 4-min OPs, OK? I reminded people they should practice this format once a month, in class, for feedback, provided they worked on the piece as I indicate in my video and the resource pack.

Romina couldn’t make it to class today either. So I deeply regret having postponed her OP the other day! Romina, whenever you come back you can do it!!! 🙂 ❤

We have Lorena who will be offering a longer OP (a project OP, really) on Patriarchy or the Origin of patriachal societies. I have to say that this is a true precious talk and hope everybody will take notes and comment or ask questions after her performance.

AND — consider that after October-Feminist-Workshop-Month, you should be able to speak and write about gender issues and social change including awareness of the role feminism as a social struggle has played in the very different lifestyles some of us lead today. You could write a reasoned opinion in 100 words answering a question of your choice, for instance, for the November Writing Assignment which involves two brief writings.

Then we’ll work on language used in Friends 1×1, and the following day we’ll do dramatized readings of the script. It’d be great that some group allowed videoshooting, but if you don’t want to, even if it’s just one person, please, don’t feel obliged.

What’s for the first week in September? The collocations handouts (pinned on the board in class if you don’t have a copy) and the Useful Language project to share in class.

For the overview of what we did, remember to check out my previous post on this!

Oral Presentation by Students: Science to Help. Parts 1-3 (2014-15)

In course 2014-15, our first year of giving a C1 course, people prepared Oral Presentations based on their listening work on the news (or documentaries), and the flocked up in groups, so it was teamwork, too. This group was called “C1 Going Viral”! ❤ And they were the only group that allowed me videoshoot, which is something to celebrate. Just watch and see why! I hope you like it!

I also created a webpage on Talking People to upload the handouts they brought for their classmates, and that’s here:

Tricky word pairs!

The other day in class (btw, when Sonia read the other day she was well aware of this: “the” is pronounced “i” when the following word begins with a vowel, remember?) I mixed up “moral” and “morale”, as I tend to do because I have issues with “morals”! 😀 (Notice the pun, because “morals” has two meanings on its part: “lessons” we learn from stories and standards of behavio(u)r that in my view tend to be more based on tradition than on ethics and a love for coexistence! 😀 ) Well… going back to our topic here!

Can you find examples that will allow us to remember the word(s) better?


Hurricane Matthew Lashing the Bahamas


65 ° Washington, DC

Hurricane Matthew Lashing the Bahamas
Posted: Oct 6 2016 12:00 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 6 2016 01:39 PM EDT
Meteorologist Danielle Banks gives us the latest update as Hurricane Matthew moves through the Bahamas and towards the U.S.

Next Monday: Reading Aloud! & a Question for you all – Looking for Volunteers!

I’ve thought out a plan, to make sure you all know how you should be working on your Monologues at home and on your monthly Writing Assignment.

I’d like to ask you, dear Authors, can you volunteer to explain next Monday How to Work on your Mons (my video on the Speaking File page), and How to Work on your Writing Assignments (my video on the Writing File page)? Post your willingness, if so, and we can hold this conversation here through posting our comments, OK? Let’s organize it! Don’t be shy and volunteer! If we have more than 2 for each explanation, I can find other tasks for the following week, so it’d be all right! ❤

Next Monday we will read Ngozi’s book. Today we watched that same talk on TED.

Tomorrow I’ll post a follow-up listening and translation exercise in case you want to do it over the weekend. I’d like to know, if possible, how many of you are coming to class next Monday.

Sergio, if you’re reading this, can you send me an email? Thanks! 🙂

Lourdes, Lorena, I forgot to give you your Student’s Card!!! (Asociación Estudiantes)

We Should… on the C1 Materials blog (link)

Resources I mentioned: Maths, Disability, History

friedan.jpgBook TV. In this video, Zinn speaks, a key thinker in the 20th century, but before that the reporter interviews people about the books they enjoyed that year (1998) and there is the presentation of a program(me) on a feminist classic by Betty Friedan (not intended by me!), a middle-class suburban feminist who made the point we didn’t have the language to speak about what was wrong!

PS: I’d like to tell you about something. In countries at war pacifists are considered people with no patriotism, no love for their people, and “therefore” public enemies. Ask Women in Black Belgrade, what they learned/learnt from the war in the Balkans in the 1990s. And being a pacifist is considered a great violence towards their Fatherland. Because in the USA patriotism is as strong as classism in Europe, or perhaps much greater, really! (It’s so extreme!) — and I don’t mean all the progressist people from the USA we know about in Europe but about the general trend, the public opinion so to put it — pacifists are seen as very bad people. (Yes, imagine the hippie movement and their peace work against Vietnam, that was exceptional and actually resulted in the putting into practice of Low Intensity Warfare, with Reagan on, in 1980.) And what about “reds”? Just remember the witch hunt. Just consider the US Congress has no leftwing parties in it. Being someone with leftwing ideas in the USA is being a suspect of the worst kind, for the general population. In the same way, not having religious beliefs in the USA equals being a suspect of being a bad person. (Ironical that freedom of religion would rule out the option of not having a religion.) Religion in the USA is intimately linked to Patriotism and War, for tradition says they are the chosen people. And that is why aliens in scifi movies always contact the US president! 🙂 Well, this is my view, as a US American-Spaniard who lives in Europe because I feel there is more freedom in many ways that matter to me.

Our Stories: Being Arrested & Singing the Muppet Show

Today I told a personal story. I didn’t mean to, but it just came out when Lorena mentioned Peggy, a star in the Muppet Show. I sang a bit of the tune “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady” Peggy used to sing in the show, and said — oops — that that was one of the songs we sang when we were arrested! 😀 It’s inaccurate. We sang this song once, in a very risky action! The song we USED TO sing while waiting to be processed was “I Will Survive”! 😀

Well, the story goes like this:

From 1989 to 1992 I was on and off at camp, meaning at Blue Gate, in Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, in the west of London, at about half an hour by bus, if I remember correctly. We practiced nonviolent direct action (NVDA, ADNV in Spanish), wrote newsletters on a wheel under the rain, and got arrested for all kinds of actions, mainly trespassing but also blocking convoys so they couldn’t carry weapons on conventional roads and stuff. In England, you can defend yourself at court, so we would prepare our court cases by the fire, out in the open, and by going to the Newbury library, Newbury being a town near camp. I learned a lot about zillions of things. And enjoyed it, too!

Image result for metal ladders buildingI remember an action which was really scary because we climbed a building but going down was simply terrifying, so we asked the MODs (ministry of defence police) to bring a helicopter to take us back to earh! 😀 Or “Simon” (but we were far too high), the crane. Anyway, they wouldn’t. They decided to climb the steel ladder running along the wall and carry us on their shoulders! And we feared we could be dropped! So we were refusing to be carried down. So we sat on the floor, in a line, drawing a circle: each of us had her legs around the woman in front, as well as our arms, holding really tight. The MODs were trying to separate us, but didn’t manage to. And well, it was hours like this, so we sang all the whole repertoir of the Muppet Show, including Lydia, of course!

When I came back to Spain, I tried to create a webpage for all this at but failed. Women’s herstory is of no interest to “the general public”. And I suspect it’s always been so, which is to say, I believe a lot of adorable people have done amazingly good things for humanity, that the best things we have today come from this saga of anonymous people, and that we don’t know about it, or don’t care to find out because patriarchal culture tells us it’s not a good idea. Funny all the nonviolent strugge doesn’t ever make it to history and how people doing it are perceived as dangerous, as if war, corruption, discrimination, etc. were not violence because they are so natural. Nonviolence is natural too, and harms much less! (Here you have another topic to mull over and discuss!) So this is why the site is half-way through and it’s been so for over 15 years, I think (?) Anyway, here’s the link. If you have spare time, you can read. But do so in English! Actually, I didn’t manage to translate that much, anyway.

Story-telling (video 1)

Amanda Duffy: A Picture of My Brain (12′)

Listen twice: once for the story, the second time, to focus on language. Then as you listen for a third time, takes notes on useful language and on ideas for a re-telling. You need to experience if in the second and third time you understood more, and tell me. Enjoy!