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(Avanzado 1 & 2) Time to say goodbye

Well, you’d better pack up your stuff as the course’s finally over. Gone are the days of grief and sorrow. Now it’s holiday time.

I’d just written something to say goodbye but on second thoughts I realized I’d probably got a bit carried away and I’m keeping the text for when I retire, it’s so emotional and heart-throbbing you couldn’t possibly stop sobbing.

So I’m going practical- I’ve just uploaded different folders with photos from the course, the ones I got while you were making your speeches were used for my slide presentation but here’s a chance for you to look for the one photograph in which you were featured and then download it in good quality and/or print it, or do as you wish. The other snapshots you’ll find are those taken during last class.

As this time I didn’t want all of your photographs to get ‘public’, so to say, I’m going to explain how to get them:
You’ll get an email inviting you to download a web album from an application called ‘Picasa’. Maybe you’re familiar with or simply have heard of it. Only people who provided their email addresses will get it, obviously, as some people either don’t have one or just wanted to keep it top secret. If that’s your case, you’ll have to ask someone who’s already downloaded the photographs to copy them or give you the exact link.
Once you read the mail (it’s not spam, for fuck’s sake, it’s me, your teacher), you’ll be redirected to the link where you should be able to download a folder with the photographs. And that’s it.
If you’ve got any technical questions (this goes for the “computers-don’t-love-me” type of people) do not hesitate to contact me.
One thing I should warn you about is that we tend to be rather busy these days so it might take some time before I can actually do the whole thing. We’re in exams now, but I won’t forget.

To finish, I just wanted to thank you again. It was great. And I think we had a lot of fun, didn’t we?
Enjoy the summer. Actually, enjoy whatever it is.

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(Avanzado 1) Something to talk about

We’ve been listening to some beautiful projects by students for the last two months or so. Remember at first the uproar when I told you you’d have to speak for about 15 minutes? Well, you’ll have to admit now that 15 minutes were rather scarce and most of you have actually spent more than that, the lectures went on an on…
First, I’d like to congratulate you all, no exceptions. I know that speaking in public is no easy thing and you’ve done pretty well. Then, I have to say that some of the lectures were awesome. I didn’t know what to expect, but the general standard has been surprisingly good, interesting, very well prepared. Good job! I’m really happy that you took to it so enthusiastically and managed to put on such great projects. Thanks again.
Here’s a list of the best projects according to your peers :

-Avanzado 1, Group M:
·Patricia+ Marta+ Maite+ Cristina- “How to be an alien”
·Ainhoa- “Multicultural Malta”
·Natalia+ Laura-“Taiwan and cultural differences”
-Pili- “Ecology”

You’ll know by now that Best of the Bests was “How to be an alien” by Patricia, Marta, Maite and Cristina. Very funny when they acted out the archetypical English characters.

Group N:
·Eva-“Jorge Oteiza”
·Mertxe-“Herbal remedies”
·Joaquin+ Cristina-“News Bulletin”

Eva was the winner in this group. No wonder as her presentation was superb.

-Group L:
·Alejandra+ Anabel+ Gemma+ Rut: “Kamishibai”
·Ohiana- “Apple and Steve Jobs”
·Eneko+ Diego+ Laura+ Amaia-“Pink Heart-a debate about women and men”

And Alejandra, Anabel, Gemma and Rut were the winners after a technical draw (sorry, Alfredo). Great project with their dressing up, geisha-like costumes and the origamy thing involving all students.

Do you miss any that you expected to be among the best? After taking a vote on these projects the winners will get a well, er…mmm…whatever! I’m still racking my brains about some lousy prize for the best presentations.
And you can’t miss the slide show below with the photos taken during your lectures-

Thanks again! Bye for now.

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(Avanzado 1 & 2) Bank of podcasts

While I was having a beer with a few of you the other day I started whining as I didn’t have the time to cope with so much work. And I remembered that I still kept somewhere a list with the suggestions of podcasts episodes you’d been listening to when I first introduced you to podcasting back in November or so. I got some feedback about what it was you listened to, whether it had been any interesting in your opinion, difficult, easy to understand, if the podcast provided students or listeners with the transcript, how often it was updated and things like that.
I also surveyed what were the chances of having a podcast but unfortunately it didn’t come off. Not because you just couldn’t be bothered but because I wasn’t able to think how I was going to organize the recording sessions while in the classroom, the post-editing and that. Anyway, I got some very interesting ideas about what the contents might be, some people (especially from 1st Avanzado) sounded excited about the whole idea and I’ve made up my mind that we will have our own podcast next year, whoever my students are, whether I’m a teacher in 4th year or 5th or any other. So if I happen to be your teacher next year you’re in for trouble!
But I digress…back to the podcasts. As I was saying I got a list of podcasts, crossed out the ones you didn’t like whatever the reason and then chose a few of the best ones in your opinion, which are as follows.

Podcasts in English
Listen to English
6 minute English
English as a Second Language
Breaking News English
Talk about English
Better at English
City by city
Business English Pod
Travel with Rick Steves
National Geographic

These are all web-based so if you click on the title you will be referred to the site and then you’ll get all the information about the podcasts and the archives. Remember you can either download or listen to the episodes in streaming and also subscribe to them. For subscriptions you have three options- RSS, or else as they say ‘easy does it’: get the episodes via iTunes (strongly recommended application for downloading and managing podcasts). If you have problems you can also try Juice ipodder. If you still have problems, let’s face it, you’re a bit clumsy and state-of-the-art technology is not for you. Buy a transistor radio instead.

And last but not least, some of my suggestions, things I, to be honest, download-every-day-but- never-find-the-time-to-listen-to, well, sometimes when I go running listening to the Geoff’s show while I puff my way up the slopes makes being scant of breath a bit more bearable. Most of them are, I’m warning you, not specifically for teaching English as a second language or educational purposes, which might make it a bit too difficult as they’re aimed for natives. Actually it’s mostly radio programmes which have a podcast as a bonus. You might have a go, though. Here’s then a few of the things I sometimes, hardly ever, very few and far between, listen to but I still like:

Adam and Joe
Ricky Gervais
-Geoff Lloyd’s Hometime Show
The Larry King Show
This American Life
TED talks

I think that’s enough, isn’t it? Next year we’ll take over and our classroom-made podcast will be top-notch!
See you in class…

Posted in Avanzado 1, Avanzado 2, Podcasts | 3 Comments

(Avanzado 1 & 2) Here's The Caravinagres!

Bob ‘the badger’ (why ‘the badger’ and not ‘the beaver’, or ‘the skUnk’*, or ‘the squirrel’? You’ll have to explain, mate) Adamson has asked me to announce that they’ll be playing at the school. And I heard the former Tindersticks drummer has joined the band! Well, I’ve got three or four records by Tindersticks myself. I’m also looking forward to listening to that Hendrix-like guitar player rocking the stage. Well, this is his message to you anyway by Bob (1st on the right, that’s him):

Hi. We’re the CaraVinagres. Just wanted to say that we’ll be celebrating St George’s Day (the Patron Saint of England) with you at a concert in la Escuela on Thursday 23rd of April, 7.45pm. You can hear some of our songs on our myspace site.
See you!

*Sorry but I should have checked my spelling, I meant skunk, not skank, obviously you’re not that, I take, Bob.

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(Avanzado 1 & 2) Flying penguins (and other stuff)

Well, not so surprising, you might say. After all, vultures were supposed to feed on carrion but this bird of prey reportedly started attacking sheep here in Navarra, despite initial disbelief. Believe it or not, this video is living proof that there are some penguins that can fly. And it’s the BBC that provides the footage- camera crews filming near the Antarctic for its natural history series Miracles of Evolution offered a video clip of these flying penguins, which became one of the most viewed videos on the internet. Presenter Terry Jones explained that, instead of huddling together to endure the Antarctic winter, these penguins took to the air and flew thousands of miles to the rainforests of South America where they “spend the winter basking in the tropical sun.” Perhaps one of the consequences of global warming? Do you think we could see penguins mingling with the pigeons in the Plaza del Castillo? It may now sound as a stupid joke, but it might turn out to be too true in a few years!

What? You still don’t believe it?
Have a look at the calendar…What day is it today? It’s April 1st. Or… April Fool’s Day!! And of course, this is nothing but a hoax. Brilliantly conceived of and spectacularly filmed, isn’t it? Were you taken in by the flying penguins? Of course you’re not going to admit it, but I guess a few of you were actually tricked into believing the story.

Can you imagine the Big Ben being given a digital readout? The British National Anthem (“God Save the Queen”) replaced by the Euro Anthem, sung in German? And by the way, this video was downloaded from YouTube. Did you know that internal tests have shown that modern computer monitors give a higher quality picture when flipped upside down? Check out the explanation and be prepared to do the flip.
And did you know that this blog is going global? See for yourselves, as the other day I was watching the telly and found this programme and guess what the sentence to get the multimillionaire prize was. But he didn’t finally make it. Poor sod…It serves him right, for not reading the blog!

Fascinated by the hoaxes? Go to this link, read through the best hoaxes and send a comment with the funniest or the most ridiculous one.
See you in class.

Posted in April Fool's Day, Avanzado 1, Avanzado 2 | 21 Comments

(Avanzado 1 & 2) This lion can't be a pet peeve

What are my pet peeves? A pet peeve is an idiom that means a cause of annoyance, like, for instance, the English teacher’s pet peeve is not having any entries when he posts something and students can’t be bothered to answer. It’s not that I’m going to tell you off, anyway. By the way, to learn a few animal idioms go to this page and try and match the missing words with the pictures of animals. And anyone who is the teacher’s pet? Just kidding…
Since we’re dealing with animals and pets (or we’re about to, for students in Avanzado 1, that’s next week’s topic), I just wanted to share a story with you.
This is two friends who along with their girlfriends cared for the lion where they lived in London until it was a year old. Believe it or not they had bought it at Harrod’s! Christian’s increasing size and cost of care led them to understand they could not keep him anymore. Eventually they asked some conservationists for help, who agreed to reintegrate Christian into the wild in the Kora National Reserve, in Kenya. Christian would even become afterwards the head of his pride.
When friends Rendall and Bourke were informed of Christian’s successful reintroduction to the wild they travelled to Kenya to visit Christian and were filmed in the documentary Christian, The Lion at World’s End. According to the documentary, they were told that Christian might not remember them.
A video edited from the documentary received worldwide attention more than 30 years after the event, and several versions have been viewed thousands of times. Basically they’re all the same but for the music in the background. I’m not a member of RSCPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), but to avoid further damage I deliberately avoided the video with corny Withney Houston’s “I will always love you”!!!. Aerosmith is the poor second best…The video below shows the lion at first cautiously approach and then quickly leap gently onto the two men, standing on his hind legs and wrapping his front legs around their shoulders, nuzzling their faces. What did you expect? Some gory footage?
It seems that for some reason I just don’t understand some people are experiencing problems to watch the enclosed video. It that’s so, just click on this link and enjoy it.

Isn’t it emotional? It is indeed… Sorry about that final sentence in the video, though, which spoils the whole a bit.
See you!

Posted in Animals, Avanzado 1, Avanzado 2 | 18 Comments

(Avanzado 2) Ted talks

Ted is not a person. Actually, I don’t even know if it stands for something, I reckon it’s probably an acronym, as originally the name is in capital letters, TED. I’ve been listening to some of these lectures for a few years. I stumbled upon one excerpt featured in another video podcast, got interested and found out about the source.

The first talk I listened to was awesome, very inspiring and exhilarating, by Sir Ken Robinson, especially if you are a teacher. I have to admit that after that the thrill has gone a bit as sometimes the lectures drone on an on unless you’re a fanatic or are really into, say computer engineering, or advertising, or anthropology or whatever. But there are still some very good lectures. The Jane Goodall talk for the class is a good example. I think it all depends what your field of expertise is.
Talks are about-25-minute- long videos and the page has got a stunning collection in the archives. Do you remember the how-does-the-news-shape-the-way-we-see-the-world listening exam back in December? You might as well figure out now where the heck I got it from.
Besides the TED page the lectures are also edited as a video podcast, so you can easily subscribe to it via iTunes. Check it out if you want to know about what the eggheads of the world are musing on.
See you.

Posted in Avanzado 2, Podcasts, Video | 1 Comment

(Avanzado 2) Places to see before you die

If you’ve already read the Guardian Weekly article, you now know about some of the 500 hundred places to see before they’re spoilt.
Not that I think the Tower of London can compare to Machu Picchu, or the Battersea power station (remember Pink Floyd’s ‘Animals’ album cover? Not likely, I presume) to Halong Bay in Vietnam, or the Greenwich museum to the Taj Mahal, a few of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to -way way back when I used to travel indenpendently. Long gone days…

If you want to see photos of some of the places and wildlife (in Britain) mentioned in the book 1000 Places To See Before You Die you’ve got the link here. If you want to go global find out about any other places in the world in this page. There’s one in Spain, guess which.

What are the most beautiful places you’ve ever been to?

*Photo by Carl, believe it or not

Posted in Avanzado 2, Travelling | 1 Comment