Outing to celebrate your achievement & Recalling Generation 1 & 2

Today quite a few people dropped by to say hello or have a look at their exam, and then we went out for dinner together. We missed the people who did not make it to this outing, so let me send them a big hug from us all. We hope you have a wonderful bilingual summer! 😀 ❤ It’s been a pleasure to meet you all, and have the chance to work with you. This third generation has had amazing results, really. So thanks for that! It will also be inspiring for newcomers!

I’d like to dedicate this post to you three generations of C1’s here because each and every year has been intense and fruitful in many ways.

The First Generation, where less people followed the course, was full of people who loved learning English with freedom, so perhaps that explains why they felt at ease with the methodology and made the most of it. I’d like to share here the videos I was allowed to shoot:

The first C1 video was by Rocío, a journalist, and she gave us this precious present:

Paco’s was the second video-donor! 😀 His English was amazing anyway, and he loved music and is a talented DJ. In case it helps other people, he failed the listening test in June but of course passed it in September. Here, he’s reading his favorite chapter of the Alexie Diary… because I asked people to read this book and share their highlights.

This year, small groups worked on an OP based on work listening to the news, for December. We have the video recording of an OP on Science, and I’m sure you will be surprised, interested and enjoy it a lot!

Miguel, a most passionate learner, allowed us to publish two of his amazing OPs:

Paqui, who loves books, prepared this power point presentation she used in class to celebrate World Book Day.

Paqui, Noelia, Marisol and María del Mar learned a poem for one of our assignments.

The Second Generation had a majority who had a lot of pressure to get their certificate for work reasons or because it was their second year taking the course, and this put a lot of pressure in replicating the methodology of Exam Culture. But we all worked really hard and people contributed amazing work. Here are the OPs we recorded.

Poetry: Silvia read a powerful poem by Ghada Al Atrash, “Imagine”, which I also posted on our blog English Women Writers…

And Natalia, also a music teacher in secondary, learned a complex poem, putting together this amazing OP: The Owl and the Pussy-cat.

Andrés, another secondary teacher, helped us conmemorate November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women.

Yolanda H, whose English was really good already, and in spite of that kept following the course, shared with us one of the assignments I suggested based on listening work on the news:

And here is an unprecendente project: the second generation of C1’s worked on Herstory and Feminist Analysis. Their research and analysis was impressive, I did suffer lots editing their video work for zillions of hours, to try and help many of them with fossilized mistakes and grammar mistakes. In any case, they all got their certificates except one who unfortunately decided not to take the September writing test, and that was mostly for their very hard work that year.

The other two feminist intelligence OPs were very interesting, too. I’m sure you will enjoy them:

They contributed more work: audios and writings you’ll find on Talking People.

What about yours? I need to finish some pending videos. And then I’ll post about you all! 🙂

So if you hear people say public language education is no good, remember these people and your own experience. The fact is language learning never ends, and that’s why this course makes the point of helping people broaden their resourcefulness on how to learn, how to use your English in various ways with all kinds of materials! Language learning depends an 80% on the learner. No teacher or course can teach, really. Language is very complex. But teachers and courses can offer some precious support, provided the person does love using the language and learning of course!

Hope you enjoy your summer! ❤


Lo and Behold: Reveries of the connected world

Hi, everyone!! How is it going? I watched yesterday a really interesting documentary about internet, technology and its impact in our future as human beings. I couldn’t make it to find the hole one, so I’m posting the trailer.

It would be great if anyone could find the complete version and post it here, in the blog.

Hope you enjoy it and find it as interesting as I found it.

Best wishes!!!!

Today’s lesson & Plans for next week (the last!)

Today we had to rearrange plans, but we’re experts in that, so it was OK!

I gave some feedback, based on writing I checked, on the differences between B2 and C1 sentence structure or wording, thanks to work by Encarni, Gema and Marina. I forgot to ask Luz to show you all her Writing File, which is great!

We just had one exam practice performance, by Marina and Sonia. I really congratulate Marina for the progress she’s made this year! You did good work with the task, and you did not make many mistakes. You need to be more confident, less hesistant, but that’ll come if you keep working, strengthening your connection to the language. Sonia also did great work with her assignment, and she would certainly pass a C1 test. Still, keep the good work up!

I gave Karen, Lucía and Sergio my pending feedback. But I can’t tell you about it now, because I’m so tired and I’ve got so much to do! Excuse me!

I addressed the questions Soluna posed, and we analyzed a bit what happened in Soluna & Lorena’s performance, and it felt weird because none of you, dear women, came to class today. So — we considered what we can do when our role is mostly ask and the other person’s role is mostly to explain. I wonder if any of you can post ideas we mentioned or that you have as comments to this post! We mentioned: recaps at the end to allow the person speaking less to balance the amount of language offered, expaning points in questions by making personal comments or telling anecdotes (travel agency: questions, long answers, final explanation by customer on how happy she is because she booked that package holiday, for she loves the country, she’s read so much about it and … and they were saving for this for years! and so on).

Ideas for scenarios you could encounter while taking a speaking test: http://www.talkingpeople.net/tp/skills/speaking/commstratsindex.html

Particularly the following pages:

bullet Check out Useful Language for Conversations/Interactions + Communicative Strategies with audios
bullet Developing Communicative Strategies for various scenarios: Questions to help you find scenarios to develop useful language to overcome problems while communicating.
bullet Communicative Strategies: What’s the word for…?
bullet Beginning Dialogues
bullet Oral Textual Awareness & Communicative Strategies + Tips for Speaking Tests (madrid)

Orals: Karen and Lucía explained why they were sad I was taking Sergio away, so I suggested Romina take her oral with Mario. This means Dessi and Isabel would be together without Romina. I really think they’ll enjoy it. But — next Monday I’ll confirm things.

I’d like to comment something I told Germán, because I’ve witnessed his progress since 2013-14, when we met in NI (Intermediate). His work in this course has been extraordinary and his progress since we met, too. Now I know better because when we met in 2013 as he was so silent but did exercises so well, including speaking, of course (we used a textbook), I thought perhaps he already had a good level. Now I think you’ve made the most of your time with us. You’ve always worked really hard at home. I’ve seen traces of what I teach in your work throughout this year. Once you get your certificate, I think you’ll be free to make a more intimate emotional connection and enjoy the language even more! Well, I could be wrong, perhaps you already have it! It’s just an impression.

Some homework:

Read my Lexical Creativity workshop so that we can create words next Monday! https://c1coursebymf.wordpress.com/creating-words/

Read Fundraising – Crowdfunding before Wednesday next week, please. It’s here: https://c1materials.wordpress.com/articles/

I mentioned I thought you underused my materials, too.

Plans for next week – updated!!


  • I’ll bring the summonings to orals that will be published on the Department’s Board and in class. That’ll be it!
  • We’ll do a listening activity Maria José designed.
  • We’ll have two oral exam practice performances: Cristina and Clara and Dessi and Romina.
  • We’ll make up words! So please, read my lexical creativy workshop, all of it. And then small groups in class will use the affixes worksheets to review morphology and make up words. You can also use other wordformation resources to create words. This is such a beautiful workshop! I hope you can read it and read the work students did some years ago. And of course, if we manage to devote some time to this, I’d like you all to post here the words you created. I’d copy them some day on talkingpeople.net.


  • We’ll have three speaking test practice performances: Dolores, Marta and Cristina R.; Isabel and Germán; Gema and Encarni.
  • And then… I’ll speak about this book and each person will read one of the one-page stories! Then I’ll give away 4 books. I’ll present the book and then you can write a name on a piece of paper so that person gets it! I’ll see who has more votes and then we’ll give it to him or her.

Image result for good night stories for rebel girls
Image result for good night stories for rebel girlsImage result for good night stories for rebel girls

I’d be grateful if some of you allowed me to videoshoot your reading aloud. If you encountered a word you did not know how to pronounce, it would be OK to ask and I’d say it and then you could simply read the sentence again with the word. I also think we should try to take photos next week for the photo collage for this banner. But perhaps you could do that later. Whatever! But remember to send me the pics!

This book costs 20 euros, and I’ll be buying it with next year’s budget for our school. I want to buy three copies in English and one in Spanish, the languages the book is in. I’m telling you this in case you wish to collect 1 euro from different people and buy one, which you could all sign for our Biblioteca Desarrollando Inteligencia Feminista! but please, don’t feel obliged! I’m just asking in case you want to do that! 😀


Functional Translation Exercise

Post your questions or comments!

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

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

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

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

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

17. One never knows. (You never know)

18. He was arrested

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

19. We were told you were away

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Diary for May 15, International CO Day! (nothing to do, though!)

Today it felt really good to have some time to get a feel of your psychological emotional state in the face of the end of course and exam month. Thanks! I’m so happy the Lorena-alarm was not our Lorena! ❤ Phew! My mind was blown to pieces! I couldn’t understand a thing! This comes from students not informing of their level or group! So now I’ll try to solve the other crisis! My adorable other Lorena must be wondering who Soluna is! 😀

We reviewed what June 8 will be like, and I could see the group is offering mutual support, so I hope everybody can feel confident on what is to come and on our performance! I reminded students of some key things they should bear in mind while doing the Reading, Listening and Writing test. We can talk some about this as you find your questions and also your suggestions.

So we couldn’t do Functional Translation and unfortunately Soluna left and I hadn’t realized, so we had to move her and Lorena’s performance to some other day.

I was very happy to learn that you had all considered coming to our dinner party. Now I can tell teachers C1’s did consider, but decided not to join us because it was a bit too dear! See? I suppose it was a coincidence but my Básicos are not coming either so it’s like I had not told my groups or something! 😀 Not that anything would happen to me, really. My colleagues are adorable! But because I’m so anti-socializing people could consider I had a role there! 😀 AnywayS!

We had a speaking test practice session with Luz and Germán and it was really good. I gave them a souvenir too.

I recommended EM-PHANATICALLY (lexical creativity) total exposure to the language from now on, diversifying the kinds of oral texts, and also some time every day to listen to my Useful Language episodes at the Talking People Podcast (another path is to go to TP – enter – Useful Language, where the transcripts are), so you can improve your fluency and accuracy, particularly for conversations!

I asked people to consider allowing me to videoshoot their performance, particularly the conversations, because we have no sample of that and it would be helpful for other students.

People booked for their performances, and also registered for the June oral. Unregistered people can also do this next Wednesday. Then, I hope I can give the Head of Studies the summonings on Friday, instead of waiting till next day.

I suspect the HoS will be publishing dates tomorrow. In any case, if your Written part is on Juen 8 (right?), the oral would be on the following Monday, but she needs to confirm this first, so this info is not official yet.

Plans for next day are: first oral practice (we have some people there) and then Functional Translation, but I’d also like to read the intro to the lexical creativity workshop so that the following week you can start creating words (Monday) in small groups. I’d also like to do Maria José’s listening activity, but I suppose that needs to move to next week now. I’m sorry! ❤

Finally, please, keep in touch with worries and joys, because I need that kind of communication to avoid worrying when I get panicky emails, OK?

We also talked about going out for a drink, Publicación de Notas y Revisión, and about next Friday, the climax of our celebrations around our 25th anniversary. I hope you can join us before the dinner party, at our School. There’ll be so many things going on! You can take part in any of them.

And help me with the lesson plans, because this month your needs are a priority.

Romina, here is the link to some examples of how I learn vocabulary when I read (the C1 Resource Pack has examples too).

From this page: https://c1coursebymf.wordpress.com/read-n-watch-prisons/This doc: Chapter 1 (Resource): How to work on the vocabulary of the first three chapters: OITNB_chapter 01 (4 pdf pages)

When I find some time, I’ll include that on this blog I created precisely for that kind of work: learning language from reading: https://languagelearningfromreading.wordpress.com/

I welcome contributions, for once you’re in outspace without a teacher! 😀

Last, some LANGUAGE IN THE NEWS, in case you are listening to the news, but don’t forget to listen to panels, interviews, on the radio:


Who owns your data?

Hi everyone!!! I would like to share with all of you a video I found on Youtube today about our online data. I think it’s really interesting to know this issue, that’s becoming a real one, better. Moreover, it has useful vocabulary and expressions about internet, digital world, digital data, big companies, apps, cookies…

Hope you enjoy it!!!!

Dutch Election / Election in the Netherlands

Why the Dutch Election Matters (radio program, 28 minutes, with a panel of experts who discussed issues before knowing the results)

You could exchange views here! Post your thoughts, if you like.

Reading & Audio Materials to work on

On the C1 Materials blog I have been posting interesting stuff throughout the year, in case you wanted to use it. I’ll repost a few of those materials, but let me know suggest some other reading and listening work.

This article is interesting because it’s about someone getting awards of late, and connects politics (the dramatic situation of democratic people in the USA today, with Trump’s election), to the role of art (critical thinking, solidarity) and gender issues (women’s status in society), the media /mi-die/ and TV series. It’s far too short, just 300 words, but there is a link to a long interview with the writer. Link: Margaret Atwood Cautions America “Against Dictators of Any Kind”. Notice that titles in English capitalize all the letters except articles and prepositions. This title, however, could also be considered a quote from the text, but as you will see the Huff Post treats it as a title. (Gather UL with “as” and “like”, for the April Language Workshops! ❤ )

Here is a radio program/programme you can listen to. Don’t read the transcript, if possible! It’s about a 2007 book she got published then, which people are talking about today. 5 mins. Take it down as a dictation! ❤

Last, here is a 2-page Reading Comprehension activity I prepared on Multiculturalism. I can post the answers when you are done, just let me know. We can also read it aloud in class, so we are sure you know how to pronounce all the words, and check it, of course! Enjoy!

This video is about something Coral talked about when she mentioned the role of the media in this bombing on what men and women are, the patriarchal stereotypes — and links to multiculturalism. Have a look


In case you want to be able to explain something about Brexit, here are some Questions and Answers (reading)

Remember what our Scottish speaker said about it? Watch her video, if you haven’t. And get used to the Scottish accent!

Read Brexit causes more stress to young, well-educated Scottish women. Brexit caused more stress to women, young people, better educated people, Scots and Londoners, according to The Physiological Society.

I certainly feel the UK have made a terrible mistake… But this is what you get when you mistrust progressist people and think conservatives are safer. Truly irrational.

Read How might Brexit affect the touring industry?

Audio: Scottish independence after Brexit (8 min)

If you prepare a 3-4 min OP on any of this, let me know, so we can find some time in class to do that! Enjoy!

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?

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

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

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

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

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

Reviews: Writing Methology Affecting Structure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on Language Range for Descriptions

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Writing Articles

As I explained we have two kinds of articles:

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

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

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

Diary for Mon Feb 6, Events & Feb Writing Assg.

Today we did lots of things! Elva can come any day, but Lorena would rather have her on Feb 13. Everybody wanted to go to the movies next Wednesday, and students will be meeting at the Miramar Movie Theater by seven. I’ll get there at 7.05 and if I’m not there then, Marta will leave the ticket for me at the ticket office.

Wed is the deadline for the January writing assignment, and people not coming to the cinema can leave it with Ana, the janitor.

Feb Assg in next post.

We re-arranged the Lesson Plans, deciding to leave the lesson on Rational Discussions, scheduled for next Wed., for further on, which means the lesson we scheduled for Monday is still on.

Some Reading Groups gave me their work for fellow students on their OP to check and prepare copies.

First we heard Part 1 & 2 of the Climate Change radio program(me), so sts could take notes for retelling. Then we did Part 3, as a fill-in-the-gap activity. We checked it and had some comments on language questions (register, useful language, cleft sentences for emphasis, ending prepositions). Next we checked the cloze test on Environmental Issues, too. Finally, people worked in pairs or groups of three to see what they had learned in terms of language and ideas to develop monologues on the topic. So now sts should try to find some time for an outline and speaking practice on a timed exercise, for a final version for their Speaking Files. You are all welcome to do this final exercise in class, or send it in for feedback.

Sts’ OPs: Germán spoke on Violence & Sports, and sts took notes. I gave some tips on Speaking Tests and topics of violence.

And mentioned that March would be about Exam Format Training.

Some homework: watch & learn!

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

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

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!

Improving your vocabulary range (edited – adv)

Other ways to say… high frequency used words!

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


A different model with a same intention!


(6 pdf pages)

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


About Today’s Lesson & BH Key

Today we had few people, some important questions and a lovely activity around BH – To Belong.

Reading Projects: people wrote their names and projects and I’ll be creating a Page above for you all to complete the info, and with info on the projects, too. Ideas and the schedule we agreed on.

Winter Hol work: I’ll post about this this week, OK? But working on listening is a priority, and I’ll post on two documentaries.

Language item: acquaintances and friends, to be acquainted with something/someone, to get acquainted with something/somebody. To be familiar with. The more acquainted you are with a documentary the better your outline becomes. For instance, my first outline of BH – To Belong was with key words on experiments, mostly, but have a look at my latest outline:

My second outline (much more about the points, not so much about the experiments — evolution to a deeper understanding!)



BH – To Belong:

Key (though pops next day we could go through it, in case there are some interesting items): belong / a sense of self / seeing – off / attachment / hooked up / naked / mirrors / monitored / grow up / price / crawling / consoled / unhealthy / is about to / engage / subside / initiat / engrossed / Research’s shown / fades / receive / encourages / how / emerge / fit in / milestone / as a / examine / solve / preventing – from / further / it’s the mat’s fault / she is standing / roll up / concluded.

We reviewed the work we did the other day, for newbies to this activity. Then we watched twice.

Then people spoke and talked. Although they were initially reluctant, they finally did so and I’m very grateful for this! 🙂 ❤ : Germán and Sonia made a great summary, and together! — without having planned it beforehand! Karen and Maria José, Dolores and Sergio discussed their highlights, which included childhood memories, thoughts on learning processes, education and mistakes, and bonding in the family. (Please, feel free to post your comments below, because it was all really interesting. It was a very C1 thing to relate the input to one’s own world, with that depth.)

Here’s the cartoon Karen mentioned (good for this post, too):

I mentioned how strange some mainstream connections are, such as if you ask somebody to do you a favo(u)r, without allowing a natural yes or no, this is, expecting the person just to say yes, because if the person says no that means (and here is the strange connection, some consistently taught in society) the person does not love you. The kind of connections that lead us all to lie and justify lying.

Clara borrowed Baby Human, Sonia borrowed Sherman Alexie’s novel, and Sergio the printing of a screenplay for his reading project.

I asked about our last lesson together this year, and Germán suggested we did nothing! 😀 Lucía will bring a song, and I will bring a story. NOW THAT I THINK OF IT, IT’S THE DAY FOR YOUR POEMS!!! SHIT! I FORGOT!

Oh well. We’ll see if a kind soul tells us a poem! ❤

Remember all to check out this blog for info on our plans for the hols! 🙂 ❤

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: http://www.talkingpeople.net/tp/skills/speaking/oralperformances/listofperformances.htm

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

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

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

Anyhow, bear with me! 🙂 ❤

The Question of Violence against Women and Human Violence

Dear all,

In Coeducación (Education for Equality) we have been visited by a group of men (contra la violencia doméstica) who have posed questions which were ill-founded, placing feminists in positions they do not have. You can read that discussion on our Like Page on Facebook (check out the group’s side post, with an external link) and also in comments to some of the latest posts we have on our blog Desarrollando inteligencia feminista.

I’ve tried to write something to see if this could help people control our culturally-learned antifeminism, to make some progress in the question of how we understand we are addressing violence in the cases where this understanding requires some development of a feminist intelligence. I welcome any kind of comments, provided they don’t intend to hurt me personally or defame adorable people who could be wrong, but then they would just need to know why! 🙂 ❤ I can also adapt this text to collaborative writing, so feel free to analyze, too, if you like!

Human Rights and the Overcoming of the Patriarchal Sex-Gender System

The Question of Violence against Women and Human Violence

What we now call “gender violence” or “gender-based violence” is one of ways in which humans inflict violence. Violence among humans is justified and persecuted in different ways. With the feminist notion of “gender violence” we have come to understand that there is a kind of violence in patriarchal societies that women’s promotion to the status of human being has made us think is unacceptable: the violence men have been encouraged and justified to use against women to make them serve them,, obey them, or simply to use their bodies as objects.

Although Spanish laws are groundbreaking for there is a law addressing the social problem of gender violence, the feminist notion has been distorted to only include the cases in the sphere of domestic violence and personal relationships. The result of this is people’s general confusion about terms and concepts, and considering we have all been brought up in century-old patriarchal societies, the verbal lynching of people with a developed feminist intelligence, who try to clarify the situation. Feminists are mainly told, in rather violent ways, that women also kill and murder.

Because this is just a pedagogical text trying to clarify some of the key concepts, I will not discuss when killing or murdering people is justified or not. I will focus now in clarifying the following:

Gender violence is the violence patriarchal societies have told Man he can inflict upon women, as the master and leader of the group. In other words, gender violence is learned and relates to who has a say in human affairs, who leads their organization, and determines things that affect the group.

Domestic violence includes all the kinds of violence happening in the home, in the place where people who love each other are meant to share. This means domestic violence relates to gender violence (most cases are actually gender violence), but also the violence inflicted by a woman towards a man or a child, by a child or teenager towards an adult or elderly, and viceversa…

Violence against a person by another person who is not allowed to use violence (a citizen, for example) has always been punished by law. So the contention that gender violence should include the violence of women towards men is simply an antifeminist stance full of irrationality and hostility. If women kill, they go to court and if guilty, are sentenced for murder.

The fact we need laws addressing specific kinds of violence results from identified social problems: our society today perceives that gender violence, the violence of men towards women (at least in the domestic setting), is unacceptable AND a social problem. Our society today also finds we need specific laws to address other problems from violence: racist motivated violence, violence against children and teenagers.

But the existence of these more specific laws is not unfair to other groups, because violence by anyone [by people not allowed to use it in the scenarios our society allows (mostly by men, for women in the military are not allowed to work in “combat positions”)] is punished in our law system: we punish people killing other people, regardless their sex, gender, ideology, age, cultural identity… The fact that we need to reinforce these laws with others addressing certain kinds of motives or situations cannot possibly be considered unfair towards any human group, certainly not the group Man in patriarchy, who does not get almost any physical violence from women (the question that women are human and therefore capable of using all kinds of violence too, particularly if allowed, like Man in patriarchy, cannot be addressed here. Simply say that how women have developed the ability to inflict violence through words and attitudes is relevant information for an analysis of human and patriarchal violence). It is a questioning of the patriarchal gender system, and that is initially we reject it, but this challenge is consistent with us having finally understood the idea of Human Rights in the 20th century, this is, for a POSITIVE REASON — we’re trying now to help our society make progress towards a kind of social organization that respects everybody’s human rights, and this means abandoning the patriarchal sex-gender system which established a superiority and an inferiority in terms of two perceived genders and which ignored the diversity in human identities.

Just as a note to help people control antifeminist reactions in favo(u)r and to encourage the use of rationality and empathy: overcoming the patriarchal sex-gender system does not mean abolishing human identities. A man can feel he is a man beyond what patriarchy defines as a man. The same applies to women. Today we know not everybody has or feels their sex or gender identity as what patriarchy defines as being a man or being a woman. We are all kinds of things: men in different ways, women in different ways, humans in all kinds of ways, and we should stop feeling we can force people to BE the kind of identity we understand or have. Everybody deserves respect, unless their identity is built in torturing or murdering other people. Then we need to intervene, but not for reasons of making a certain identity compulsory, but for reasons of not allowing violence.

Useful language to end(ing) OPs


Dear All,

This is the compilation, or at least the one OPs_cartoon.gifthat I made, about the “brainstorming” exercise we did on Monday 28th in class, do you remember? The issue was that ending the OPs seemed to be a tough task for more of us, so we were thinking together useful sentences or tips for ending the OPs, in order to give a “decourous” closing to our talks. Please, feel free to add or comment on anything I would have missed or got wrongly. (Note to the teacher, I’m not sure if the ellipsis can include the auxiliary (have), i.e. I would have missed or (have) got wrongly, thanks)

Here it is what I wrote:

  1. Thank you for listening (to me). If you have any questions I’ll be glad to answer them/don’t hesitate to ask.
  2. That’s all. Would you like to pose a question? Would you like to ask something  anything? (polite)
  3. To sum up (after this you have to summarize what you have said, i.e. to give the audience a summary)
  4. To conclude/finish/to end my presentation I’d like to mention/add/share with you  my personal opinion
  5. All things considered, I’d say that [home-schooling] is a very interesting topic.
  6. I’m running out of time, so just let me say this final words….
  7. My thoughts on this topic are…..
  8. I think that’s just about it.
  9. That’s all I have in mind about this topic/issue.
  10. I’m sorry I’m not an expert on this topic (I think this is very honest, but I don’t like it very much because it makes you feel less confident).
  11. I hope you have enjoyed my presentation/talk, please do not hesitate to ask any question or doubt you have
  12. With this story/thought/quote I finish my presentation

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!

Vocabulary Questions: illness, disease

Someone in healthcare explains why although these two words are used as synonyms, it would be helpful to make a distinction.

Apparently, the distinction was established in 1978, so this might explain why in everyday language people keep using them as synonyms.

Collocations with DISEASE

Collocations with ILLNESS

Post your Useful Language here, if you find sentences where these words are used in articles or audio texts. Example: http://www.naturalnews.com/illness.html  and http://www.naturalnews.com/disease.html

Vocabulary exercises (though I think reading articles is much better and you learn more, too)
I just did the first, and it works. If you do any other, post your mistakes so we can double-check, You can also post the words you learned/learnt!

LoM for yesterday’s speaking activity

The Origins of Patriarchy, by Lorena

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


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

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

This meanS – missing “s”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OPs: Learning to speak from Outlines

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

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

A final outline could have been:

Book Review

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

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


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

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

Diary for October 17, Women Writers’ Day! and second OP! (edited)

Today we had a very tight lesson plan, but universal balance had a say, and we managed to do what we could actually do in the allotted time, except for the Students’ Reps elections! (next day).

Minisagas kept coming in, which is great. Remember to post your final work, if you like, on the page here for that!

OPs: I explained what I expected you could all do in terms of OPs. And Lucía will bring the issue up again next day, based on the video on Speaking File here and on her own research!!

Handouts. Collocations. I gave out the first two handouts for you to work on, to improve your vocabulary. They’re handouts 57 and 58. Spares are on the bulletin board in class, OK? Do it for the first week of September, and please, remind me we need to check this. If we have lots of OPs, I can always post the results, and we can save time in this way — class just for particular questions.

Soluna did a 5-minute OP on How to Work on your Monthly Writing Assignments, based on my video here on the Writing File, but processed very personally! And she gave us a lovely present: she allowed me to videoshoot (I need to give her the form so she can do that in black and white), so you will be able to watch her as soon as I manage time to edit the video! Then because the other two OPs were cancelled, we had time to hear questions on your writing assignments and ways of working on that, which was superb! We analyzed the October task and agreed on a deadline everybody committed to respect! (I explained why that was so important for me). I’ll write the deadline on the page Writing File as soon as I find the scrap of paper I scribbled it on! (Or you post it here! 😀 )

We had the second part of the Feminist Workshop, with small groups reading out quotes or statements and talking about them. We didn’t get the chance to hear one of the groups, but the rest agreed the ideas were a bit old, which was good news because it shows how much society has changed, how fast in the last decade! Just to acknowledge all the feminist people who posed those ideas, and had to pay a price in their personal lives for doing so, wish that society will also realize some day all the good things feminist activists have brought to everybody’s lives. There were no comments about depictions of women’s minds in patriarchal culture, but when I got to offer an overview of the gender problem, people understood very well what I meant — and this indicates, once again, how things have changed in very few decades (in evolutionary terms — fortunately Lorena will tell us about when patriarchal societies begun, so we realize the implications of a great deal of factors around the Gender Question). People also talked about language they had learned: education vs child rearing, or bringing up children, abased and belittled (“She must live and die with this secret self-knowledge which abased her, gnawing at the heart”, The Butterfly HouseMary E. Wilkins Freeman; “Women ‘belittled, underappreciated and underpaid’ in tech industry” – proposal: find time to work on this article and let’s comment in class what you learned/learnt!), dyke (when to use it or not, or who uses it and what for, like other sensitive terms, e.g. nigger)… – complete when I go downstairs for my notes?! 😀 

I’m going to post on what I said about GENDER later on, because I think it can be of use for people in exam time. You see, to my knowledge, gender questions have kept being speaking exam topics for the past 10 years (but some years ago I was working in Madrid).

Finally, some people remembered and brought quotes — or wrote them down — for our posters for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Women Writers’ Day. when people left, I glued the bits and I’ll show you next day. Please, if you wish to take part (we’ve got more pieces of cardboard paper) remember for next day, because after our next lesson together I’ll put the posters up. If you like and people agree, perhaps you want to appear on a picture next to the posters!

Next day, we might have two OPs: Lucía’s and Romina’s. The Elections, too. And bring the script of episode 1×1 of Friends, for whatever it is we do with it (today we considered the options, but it will depend on who comes to class next day!).

Please, if I forgot something, do feel free to comment! Thanks! 🙂

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?