Category Archives: Assignments

Key for the listening activity: How Art Made the World, episode 1

Here is the link to posts on this: Listening Activity: Advanced (Diary, documentary, handout)

And here is the key: howartmadetheworld_episode1_key (1 Word page)

Post your results and questions!


Beginnings & Endings! (Writing)

When we get back together, apart from sharing whatever it is you want to share, <3, and making the requests you want to make, we could read these handouts out loud in class, and then exploit them in whichever way we decide! ❤

  1. BnE_DorisLessing
  2. HerstoryProjectFeministWaves
  3. BnE_MargaretAtwood

Apart from your Writing Assignments, I’d also like some of you to read out loud Angela Davis’s essays on prisons! and / or practice retelling! And to prepare something to tell us about Orange Is the New Black. A conversation will surely ensue!


Diary for April 28

Today we had to say goodbye to Mónica, for good news because she found a full-time job, and, anyway, you are all bound to set up an English Working Group, right? So I’m not going to take this as the last day I saw Mónica! 🙂 ❤

We started the lesson with Miguel‘s presentation on surveillance. It was astounding, in every sense, and I promised to bring an activity on “By the time” so that we can drill a bit on its use. From here we moved onto the issue of learning languages almost nobody speaks, like the Navajo language, but we found out reasons can be dark and sinister!

I asked if we had any pending dialogues, and gave Mar B. one of the tests, but she needed a partner, so I have that’s been sorted out and we can listen to Mar B and somebody else soon. Mar A. and Somebody Else are pending. Whenever anyone working on a dialogue is ready, please, just do it! Orals are a priority of ours.

We had language questions, and listened to Paqui reading her 200-word assignment (THe most important things…), which was so literary and well-written and structured! People gave her feedback, too. Reminder: send your pieces for publication, OK?

I asked people to bring their “The most important things…” assignment and noted that it was amazing how each student had approached the task. Half of the people in class had used the line as a topic statement, and half had written personal narratives. I hope we can listen to all of them!

Rocío re-wrote her piece on Gender and it was great, but I managed to find something that could be improved, which related to topic sentences and transitions. I related that to Outlines too, in case it’s useful to help people improve their Before Writing and their content organization.

Language Workshop. Small Groups (we managed two: a 5-person one and one with 4 people) worked on noun modification and learning the order for adjectives while looking for Useful Language. We hope to have the same people next day in class, so that working groups can report to plenary on their work. And then I hope the resulting work is sent in for publication, for it’d be amazing to find examples of modification on our site!

I gave out the 9-page “Ways of” Resource Pack including the verbs posted here. (There are spares in class, if you missed the lesson.) The idea is for you to browse it and start gathering examples from the books you read mostly, for this kind of vocabulary abounds in narratives. Use your Alexie diary and the OITNB memoir.

I also explained how I, as a lifelong learner, keep learning, and this all relates to all of the things we do in class, the ways we are working.

Next day I hope we have a dialogue, and we’ll have a presentation on Galileo Galilei. Bring your writings too, to read out, and your language questions. Finally, small groups will have time to work on the above mentioned language points.

Remember to hand in your Assessment Sheet and your writings if you haven’t, OK?

Ways of… (making your language range richer)

As a follow-up to Mar’s handouts, here is a good resource gathering some useful words. First listen, then pick the ones you know, then pick the ones you would like to learn, find examples that would help you (to) remember and share in class!

Find some of these words in OITNB and other audio and written materials you are using.

Wordformation/Lexical creativity + noun modification. Playing to remember!


Small groups

Getting inspired by the table of Compounding in your Lexical Creativity Workshop, and following the formulas (!) for adjective and adverbial order in your Writing Workshop, find phrases where a noun is modified that can help you remember adjective order. We’ll consider your examples and choose the best ones!

Some other ideas:

Diary for April 20 + Assessing one-year C1 courses

Today I gave back more writing assignments, including the phonemic transcription exercise on page 1 of the workshop on phonetics. As we waited for people, considering a reasoned opinion I had given back for further work on it, we talked about sex and gender and gender stereotypes in patriarchal societies, what the Perfect Man and the Perfect? Woman were, say Prince Charming and Princesses? I gave my personal opinion on pressures on women, ilustrating this with a story that Mónica and I reconstructed together, “La historia del chico griego en la playa“. I’m mentioning this because I would like you to read Toni Morrison’s quote on the second floor, in our awesome multidepartamental exhibition to celebrate World Book Day. Rocío read her Letter to the Editor, on housing and evictions, which was great, and we reviewed that issue.

Paqui gave a beautiful OP on World Book Day, making the connection to her own relationship to books and reading. She brought a beautiful power point presentation to support her talk, too. We arranged she will record it, send it in for feedback, and finally try to create the video with that audio and the pics in her power point. If she doesn’t manage it, I have volunteered to try, too!

Then we finished checking the Redesign My Brain listening exercise, which was great. And people did really well. Some even did the part of taking the last bit down as a dictation. People, do practice telling what the documentary is about. A factual part, and then an opinion. If you record it, send it in for feedback and publication.

Finally, as nobody had been volunteering dialogues in class, I decided to make people do that! 😀 I gave out three tests: Miguel and Rocío, Maribel and Gema, and Mónica, Paco and Paqui. Their mission is to learn from preparing a good timed interaction. To learn about how to talk (conversation) about whatever the tasks asks them to talk about, to learn about the amount of info/ideas we can release in our turn, to make sure that we manage balanced turn-taking (interaction), textual structure, and communicative strategies.

My priority is you talking and analyzing/analysing that together, so we’ll try to fit in all the other activities around this. Because I’m giving you a copy of the true tests, if you also prepare the monologue, you are welcome to do that too, just like we will proceed in June, OK? I will bring my digital recording machine, in case you want to have a copy I can send you later on.

So — please, bring always our listening activities. Next comes… the Baby Human “rerun” 😀 for people who missed that awesome lesson. But this time we will just check your answers. BUT if nobody coming has done it at home, then we will need to check How Art Made the World, OK? So bring both! Bring also the Writing Workshop and the Lexical Creativity Workshop, because I’d like groups to work on noun modifiers, reading that info, discussing it, and finding examples you have heard or read /red/, or examples you can think of, too.

NEXT DAY – bring a book, so we can all share our favs and celebrate World Book Day talking about books and authors. We’ll visit the exhibition too, so if you have anything we can hang from the Knowledge Tree, bring it along!

THIS FRIDAY – we’ll watch a very special movie, Smoke Signals. Bring your Alexie novel, too. Then everybody will say something about the movie. I will bring the screenplay, too, which was what some of my students read instead of the novel you read. You might want to get a copy. It has a beautiful introduction by Alexie.

Marisol sent the answers to her listening activities and I’ll post them asap.


I also shared some reflections I have made on my own and with other teachers. We all agree it’s crazy to try to teach a C1 in one year. A teacher even mentioned a C1 should be developed in 3 years! Because a C1 level involves a command of the language which is clearly consolidated (one can improvise and still be fluent and accurate) and certain kind of mistakes do not happen.

Last July I had to study the Curriculum in Andalucía for this, and design this year’s course. Thank goodness I had a lot of experience in developing my methodology at the advanced level, too. This was key to allow me to design a course based on projects and workshops and avoid a textbook — textbooks are good, but they also have their cons. For my targets and aims, a textbook would not be a good idea. It’s been the first year, so there is lots of room for improvemente! Mostl obviously, I tried to jam into one year all the materials and projects that would actually be enough for two years! So it was overwhelming. And then this: we never count on the time it takes to learn to understand how we should work, the methodology, the techniques and strategies.

Still, I am happy with our work and I think you’ve made very interesting connections and very well-approached work at home. I hope you can value that because not everybody realizes how important it is to realize that we need to make a strong personal connection to a language to be competent users and lifelong learners — practical purposes are far from being enough or that powerful. This group has been exceptionally good at doing that — finding, reencountering or developing, and sharing that curiosity and passion.

At the same time I feel a bit frustrated about the materials we haven’t been able to work on together in class. I have missed more time for small groups — in spite of the fact that absentism makes this hard to happen because people can change a bit too often. I know that you will be able to take advantage of it if you find it interesting. But using that together in class always makes it richer, and from the teacher’s viewpoint, offers her more information and feedback, to improve the materials further. So I do think we all share the feeling that in spite of our hard work in class every day (even doing extra hours!), and our work at home, we should’ve done more. But the fact remains: we’ve done a lot of different things (at times the more complex learning is so easy that one doesn’t realize it’s happening), even follow-up on a lot of things (this Onion Approach of mine is somewhat intentional, not just an “I’m hopeless” issue, because I know that frequent use or repetition relates to learning and consolidation), and you and I should be fair in this sense. Reaching for the moon shouldn’t involve ending up feeling frustrated or guilty. That’s not constructive, or fair. That’s turning something good into something negative, this is, doing what we have learned to do all the time, and I think that none of use are into that, really! 🙂

By the way, please, feel free to give me your Assessment Sheet. I just got 6 or 7, which are very valuable for me.

And I would certainly appreciate anything you want to write for me by the end of May, so that I can learn from this experience and use it to improve next year.

Training for Timed Interactions

This week I would like to register students in pairs,  with the assignment of preparing a timed dialogue based on the Speaking Tests published in La Junta’s website, or tests you might have designed following that format. I think we shouldn’t wait much longer. I’d like to have students performing a dialogue every week. Of course, timed monologues are also welcome. So — if you haven’t printed the cards, try to do so. I’ll have classroom copies in class, but cannot possibly make copies of all that for each student, OK? Please, review the structure of dialogues and the communication strategies that might come in handy! (Talking People – Speaking)

And we’ll combine this with Language Work in teams.

Incidentally, in the second half of May people taking the Speaking Test in June should register in class for the Oral. I’ll explain in the first week of May – just make sure you make it to class then.

Read/Think/Write. Follow-up on Brainstorming & Outlines

Just in case it’s of help. 🙂

Writing Tests. Statements (Some more tips)

The other day I gave you an extra assigment, which was understood as: Title: “The most important things are the hardest things to say”, 200-300 words. I should’ve worded the assignment more accurately: Use Stephen King’s opening line in his novella “The Body” as your own opening line in a 200-300-word narrative. But because I was not accurate, I’ve realized the task can be approached from very different approaches, which is great.

Still, there is a mistake some students made (but it’s OK for our activity of reading out what we wrote): When you are given a statement, read the instructions carefully to find out if you are told to use it as a topic, as a title, as an opening line, or if it doesn’t say anything. If it doesn’t say anything, we use statements as ideas for the topic, which means we have to write about that but we can choose — and probably should — our own wording. Here is an example of this issue of statements: A Writing Test for General English at the C1 level. What is similar and what is different if you think of our PUC exams?

In the assignment I gave you, I did mention: “Use it as an opening line“. An opening line is not a title, OK? I’d like you to be clear about this. And then we have “topic sentences“, “transitions“, “closing line or paragraph”. What are those?

Diary for March 26 + Lesson Plans and Assignments (edited)

Today we had a lovely lesson. It was just Mariana, Miguel, Rocío, Paco, Gema, Mónica, Mar and Marisol, and they all shared different kindS of things.

On the news. We started by talking about the plane crash, crime, and surveillance. (OK, I know, the mix sounds really nutty!) And we moved onto to finishing with…

Language Work. …Mónica’s collection of phrases introducing indirect questions and this brought up questions on the use and meaning of modals, e.g. “could” vs “would”. Some interesting words were: tentative, a helping (of food), dips and dressings (hey, you also dress wounds, when you apply a dressing to a wound, after you sterelize it first so that it doesn’t get infected), … Miguel mentioned two structures: was it “It’s time” and “…”? (oh gee! Sorrip! If you post it here, I’ll edit this!) and Mar mentioned a Saxon Genitive used with time I think (what was it? Shucks!)

Reading. We discussed how people could exploit their reading of Orange Is the New Black, and people agreed they would think about it all (some people would choose a passage and read it and then comment or ask/discuss with others; or favorite quotes, or their language work, or their opinion, or some might even prepare a 3-4-minute oral review of the book), and prepare something in teams or individually. They’ll also suggest a date for that lesson (and book it, on the Announcement Board), possibly towards the end of April. Once we do that, we’ll read Angela Davis and practice writing argumentative texts.

We browsed through the Writing Workshop, reviewing strategies for Writing Tests or for the composition of texts, when to give it a title and how, and we got to the page on a few literary resources or figures of speech. (About oxymoron, I’ll try to find the poem where it said “sal naranja”, my little poem about an instant of pleasure — while managing to have some steamy pumpkin soup when you are starved — in the midst of war. I have no clue of where that poem can be, now that I realize! It must be one of those I never thought could be of any value to anyone! 😀 )

Listening. We shared a few anecdotes, too. Incidentally, because I keep telling you stories about camp, you might wonder what that was, and here is a link. I’m shy about this but — after you pass, we need volunteers to translate the English bits into Spanish… and possibly the other way round to. (It’s a hint, yes!) (We also need time to write stuff for the empty sections! Sigh! Time is precious!)

PS: I can post the answers to Baby Human if you couldn’t get them from your classmates — just let me know!

PPS: Here is my answer to Básicos!


  • We talked about the March Assessment Sheet — I’ll be posting here some key words so you can identify which test is which. Bring a copy for me after our break, OK?
  • Upcoming Listening Exercises. AND we’ll be doing the C1 listening test and the Ciclo superior listening test in class the first week we’re back, so bring your paper copies, please, and don’t do those if you haven’t done so.
  • We AGREED ON a Writing Assignment for after the Spring Recess (Break): Write a story in 200-300 words that begins with the opening line by Stephen King in the novella, “The most important things are the hardest things to say”. You should also find a suitable title, of course! With this community task you’ll surely make it up to me — for me not having been able to have a proper C-Day in my two years here! 😀 ❤


About next year and my assessment to you all: I typed in Apto (a pass mark) in all of the slots of people who have come to class in 2015, regardless how often they make it. As you know it’s meaningless in terms of passing this course. Generally speaking, my feeling is that half of the total group could have consolidated a C1 level and the other half would need to keep working on their English. This is totally meaningless in any case. Last year I thought some people should do 5th year again but they performed beautifully in June and well, they passed. When I / we evaluate in June, I / we just evaluate your performance that day, and only when it’s a high flunk mark do we consider other sources of knowledge on your level (compare one test with another, or the teacher’s knowledge on the person’s level), and that can confirm the fail mark or help to give a pass mark. I expect to hear from you what you think about this in May. Certificate exams are not about effort and progress, but about outcomes, so you may have made progress and still, not consolidated the  level.

About me giving this course again, I have a feeling that I may be assigned this course again next year because I’ve been chasing colleagues around and no one has told me they are considering this option. But this is totally irrelevant for our business here, really. ❤

When you pass, perhaps next year you could set up a Conversation Group. You have a very long beach to meet up! And with your contacts and having developed resourcefulness and the necessary independency so as to learn on your own, this kind of gathering, once a month for instance, could be a perfect reason to keep reading and listening and learning — you would then share with the rest, a powerful source of motivation for human beings! Say you said, for next month, let’s read or watch this or that! And then you would get together and share what you learned. You could even prepare a teamwork project to be my Guest Speakers next year, for the new C1 group! ❤ We have no money to invite Guest Speakers, you see! 😀

Tricky vocabulary

Find examples in use of…

  • to benefit, to profit + its nouns.
  • Commodities, amenities, facilities, premises.

What’s to facilitate a meeting and a facilitator? And a mediator?

Reading Comprehension Exercises for your practice at home!

For Reading Comprehension practice, 3 exercises (the key is in the last page), for your work at home. You can ask about these  in class in April, or if you all have done them before that, say, in two weeks.

  • RC_reviews_Sade (learning vocabulary for reviews) – improving your language range in writing

For your Writing Assigments, argumentative texts, as you read essays and the OITNB memoir: Writing_ReasoningOutThings (argumentative texts – vocabulary)

Writing Assignments (Madrid)

This website was deleted when I left this school, so we lost the contributions over 300 people sent in for publication. But I have found a copy in the Wayback Machine!! So, Gema, here you can read some Proposals my students wrote. Hope they’re useful. Maribel and Gema, notice the headings. Proposals and reports need headings. If the intro and the ending (conclusion) are really short, you can omit that heading, but you should have a heading helping the reader spot “the problem” and “the proposal”.

Here you all have some examples of Letters to the Editor, Complaint Letters, Job application letters:

To you all, this website is full of good writings by students. Be PATIENT because it takes a few SECONDS to load the page. It’s the Students’ Corner on the old (disappeared) EOI G. website. I should download them all and publish them on, but I’m so short of time!!!

Oh, job-application letters at, too


Functional Translation: “Entonces, ¿en qué quedamos?”

In relation with the exercise I gave you of finding useful language for different communication problems, I’d like to ask you to find translations for this sentence, because it’s a typical sentence we use in Spanish and you are probably unaware of its translations — unaware, not incapable of finding quite a few! ❤

As you know, functional translation is what you all should be doing to learn English well, avoiding literal translation from Spanish, which creates transfer mistakes in syntax (word order), for instance. Functional translation is about considering the language functions being performed in the communication exchange. What does the utterance wish to make the person addressed do, think, feel? What’s the relationship involved? Consider this example:

Imagine you have a time limit for a problem-solving conversation and you are reaching the end of the time available for this performance. You find an excuse to “signal” your classmate you are running out of time (or you simply say that) and then you invite the person to do a brief recap, or you simply check with the person about what you agreed on or what needs to be done. What would you say which would be equivalent to “Entonces, ¿en qué quedamos?” Find as many sentences as you can!

The March Self-Assessment Sheet

For the people who couldn’t make it to class this week, here is a copy. But there are spares in class or I can print you a copy. You’ll be keeping a copy and giving me a copy, towards the end of the month or whenever we’re ready!

march-evaluation-sheet-for-the-2014-1 (3 pages)

About the poems you learned…

Why don’t you audio or video record the poems you learned in the first part of the course? It would be awesome to have you all saying a poem! We could start a playlist at the youtube channel, and add a pic of the author or of whatever you send when we only had a video. You could also finish with a comment on whatever!

Sleep on it and let me know! ❤


Diary for Feb 12 – And Lesson Plans

Today we checked the second Reading Test and results were really good. It was designed by teachers at EOI Leganés for Advanced students (sexto, Avanzado 2 – we also used C1 materials). People did well in the cloze test, too.

About the previous Reading test, I told people I had remembered that my students actually passed it because of the 6 points in task 4, the task you did not do. So I’m totally OK with the results you had the other day. Of course, there’s room for improvement! 🙂

We did the Listening test “News Extracts”  and results were AWESOME. Then people got a copy of the transcript and we listened again to see if people could catch gaps and mistakes in the transcript. Then each student read out an extract, and we managed to do page 1, so next day we’ll do page 2.

Handouts given out:

I gave out a C1 Ciclo Superior test and that is what you need to do over the weekend for our next lesson together: just the Reading Test. We’ll do the listening test in class the day we check the Reading.

I also gave out the following activity we’ll be doing: the only copy of a C1 Andalucía test. On Feb 17 I’ll ask you to do the Reading Test at home and not the listening. On the back of the listening test there is a copy of my notes on how to do cloze tests, which you can read before you do the Ciclo Superior test.

Next week is our last week on this kind of marathon on taking exams, and then we have a holiday and then the first lesson after that, the first March lesson, will be the workshop on wordformation and lexical creativity, so I hope you can make it to class, and that you bring those copies. I’m also dying to listen to you all doing OPs, so use the last week in Feb to work on that, too, if possible! ❤ If you don’t mind me videoshooting you, please, tell me in advance so that I can bring my camera!

After this, every month I’ll bring a Reading and/or Listening test I’ll design for you all in the format of the exam you’ll take in June, and/or we can also do some of the listening tests I have on TP.

But the rest will be about: Dramatized Reading of scripts (I’ll upload 1×1 or OITNB asap), your questions on the Writing Workshop (because you should be working on your Stories of My Life, and/or the Herstory project; and/or the monthly minisagas and 100-word reasoned opinions or descriptions; and on the monthly assignment — by the way, I think it’s not realistic to think we’ll manage to read the workshop in class, so go ahead and read it and if you have questions, ask in class. Mar could be right: I think I have designed far too much for one year, considering we’re an interactive course. But let me tell you, I think I’ve designed things for a C1, I mean, I think it’s clear we would need to years together!).

I also announced that I would like to see you all doing a teamwork OP in May, and that I think one team should tackle Orange is the New Black, another the Alexie Diary, or the Documentaries, I mean, materials we have been working on.

I’m unsure about the Herstory project. So far, just Yoli mentioned she had been working on something on a woman artist. The workshops I designed to allow people to understand feminism better, and discuss issues, are positive for your learning, in my view, but I think we won’t find time for that unless people want to prepare the presentation of one of these workshops to get everyone working on one of them. We’ll see. Think about it. There is a great interest in feminism in this group, so in some ways, I feel we would miss a good chance of sharing ideas and experiences on this.

Pending issues: I’ll be posting Mar’s answers to the Ways of Speaking exercise supposing we don’t manage to check that in class next week. I’d also like to ask you if you have read and worked on the Saxon Genitive handout.

I do hope you can make it to the Toastmasters session tomorrow, from 4.30 to 6.00. I think it’s useful and Mónica and Miguel will be performing.

And well, apart from reading the Memoir Orange is the New Black, you can also consider reading Stories of My Teacher, at least some of the stories! 🙂

Weeny Marathon (sic) to publish your work!

I’m trying to publish the contributions you all sent to my email account: mini sagas, 100-word reasoned opinions and descriptions, exams you designed for your classmates. It does help a lot when your subject line is informative! ❤

About the pages for your Dec OPs and the recordings of your mons, the ones I was told I could publish, we’ll see.  It’s time-consuming to gather what different people sent and work out what goes together and all that. But I will! 🙂 So that then I can request whatever is missing.

This is just to say that if you have mini sagas or reasoned opinions to share, please, send them to me! (Paco, you have one in the cardboard box! In December, I took it home to type it myself but didn’t manage that so it’s back to you!)

Yesterday’s Diary Entry!

Yesterday most people came to class, which was a really good thing for the group and me! 🙂 ❤

We tackled language questions, starting with questions on the use and omission of “the” and played the Speak for 1 Minute game, adding a rule to make things even harder: to manage to speak creating the structure, too, i.e. with an intro and an ending. People did quite well! It can be improved, so do practice/practise at home! 🙂

I suggested the first topic, and after that, it was the speaker who chose the topic for the next speaker: Cristina started with “Ways of having fun”. Miguel followed with “An interesting place to visit”. Then came Rocío with “Yunk food isn’t healthy food”, followed by Gema who spoke about reasons for learning a new language. Finally Mariana answered the question Why do you think people become vegetarians? We gave people some feedback, especially for their LoM, so that we could review language questions: pronunciation mistakes, uses of modals (can/be able to) and language functions (e.g., expressing ability in the past, or expressing possibility). Other language questions that came up were Why the “s” in “isle” or “island” is not pronounced and “speak/talk” and “gerunds / infinitives”. Can’t remember more now…

We also reviewed some exam strategies for Speaking Exams, especially the issue of Picture Speaking Exams and Non-Picture Speaking Exams! 😉

Then, because of the vocabulary that came up in Mariana’s performance, we decided to do a listening activity: note-taking on fact or fiction on an issue. The issue was the Full Moon, and human behavio(u)r. People listened twice to this 8-minute radio discussion panel and took notes, trying to work out which was factual info and which was just myths and legends, and the like. We didn’t have time for listening to people reconstructing the discussion, but I printed a gapped activity so that people could do it at home for next day. This meant we reviewed strategies for listening tests, too (underlining technique).

This homework involves you reading the text in two minutes while underlining a few words which will help you 1) identify the topic — and locate the question visually (ear+eye intelligences), and 2) get ready for the gap. When you listen, try to fill in all the gaps, with the beginning of a word you have recognized (you can finish spelling it later on) or with the transcription of the sounds if you manage to do that. I recommended you do this in a second listening.

I asked people to bring all the copies we all have every day, because we never know what we’ll end up doing as it all depends on who comes to class when!

People who booked for oral performances are welcome to do them even if it’s not their day. I’d like us to have a look at the Writing Workshop because it’s helpful for your Stories of My Life, and at the handouts on language that Mar and I gave you all.

We should also check the pending listening activities you did at home. Let’s not wait for people, if you agree. Let’s check things on request! Then if somebody misses that you can all help out via your wassap group, right?

About documentaries: I wanted to do Baby Human, but we lost our Fridays for a good reason. Don’t watch the To Belong episode, anyway. I would like to do a textual structure exercise in class one day, with a fill-in-the-gaps activity.

TV series: it’s still on that one day we’ll be doing a dramatized reading of episode 1 of HIMYM or Friends. So please, bring the scripts every day!

How to write reports & proposals

  • Just finished my new notes: Reports (2 pages) – it does include info on proposals, because these are considered here proposal reports. I need to upload this on
  • And here a revised version of Proposals (2 pages) – I need to update this one on, so chuck it if you downloaded it before.

Please, print it or order a copy in class, so you can read and learn before doing your January writing assignment. If you have questions, you can always make them in class or over here!

I hope this saves us the time of me explaining this in class!


Writing Proposals and Reports (Proficiency)

Dear all, on the second lesson this week I will explain what you can keep in mind when being asked to write what kind of proposals or reports, so you can take notes (it’s also a listening-notetaking activity!) for your Writing File.

This assignment should be handed in by the end of January, OK?

Today I’ll give you all back your December assignments. If any of you is overdue, hand it in if you have it, anyway. I’d also like to comment some language points for your LoM’s.

Diary for Jan 8: Overview beginning of second term (Jan, FebExamPracticeMonth + useful links)

Today we had a chat about our holidays, also to wait for people because the lesson started with 4 of us. Finally, about 10 people came, which is at least half of the group. ❤

Documentary: We were meant to check your Redesign your brain listening activity, but not everybody had it, so we decided it to leave it for next day.

Our next documentary will be to analyze textual structure, so please, don’t watch To Belong in Baby Human because that’s what I’ll use in class.

We started with Mar asking about Reviews, (Rocío’s handout pending publication, sorry) because she had a Writer’s Block. We talked about reviews on novels, places, and documentaries. Later on I asked Mar to tell the rest of the class about this, but we ran out of time, as usual, so she might give it a try next day, but… next day is supposed to be your deadline for handing in this December Writing Assignment, right? So, here goes: when you wrote reviews on books and movies in previous levels the body was mostly telling the plot in the present (dramatic present). Now you are expected to make it more complex by including your insight or analysis. Then the beginning is about factual info, and the ending is about recommending the whatever to whoever. If you write your review on the Alexie novel, this is perfect because you probably have an analysis, but it will be a long review, and you will desperately need to work on an outline first, to organize your ideas. If your review is on the documentary Redesign My Brain, you might find it complicated, like Mar, but you could simply explain the parts of the documentary and then share some analysis on what you find most interesting. This will lead you very naturally to the last part of knowing who(m) to recommend the documentary. I wanted Mónica to read out her review of the Alexie novel, because it is a great example of a good review on a novel, but again, things flowed in a different direction, so this, too, can be done next day! 😀 Miguel’s review on this novel is also interesting, but it needs more work because one thing you should avoid is repeating things. This is important to avoid, OK?

Mar was also meant to read her chapter of the novel, and also this: she prepared a wonderful handout on language she learned, so we could make copies for you all, so I hope we can do this next week, too.

I recommend you print another  contribution Mar has made: ways of speaking, because we can use it when we hold our Workshop on Lexical Creativity and Word-formation, which will happen in January, hopefully! Remember to print it and bring it to class every day! And this VERY USEFUL one, for your LoM’s: Parallel Structures!

For next week, we agreed we would tackle the two pending Language Workshops: finish the “the” workshop and comment the Saxon Genitive handout, to arrange group work for some other day. Today this langauge point came up in this: a friend of his / a friend of ours / a friend of Jane’s (this is a double possessive structure you should master at the C1 level). A mistake you should avoid is this, for instance: I visited my parent’s house. Where’s the mistake?

I asked people to leaf through the Writing Workshop and bring it to class every day, and this relates to something we talked about:

Writing Assignments. We had a look at my programación de aula here: C1 course at TP and I reminded people it would be good to get feedback. We should have groups working on what they know about writing this kind of texts one day, and then have a plenary so they can share what they learned and ask me questions. Can we do this soonish, do you think? (That’s why I wrote The Ideal Student).

Extra Writings. Although my course involve ONE writing assignment a month, for you all I have offered some extras: one or two minisagas a month, one a-hundred-word reasoned opinion or (extension now) description (of a person, place or object). These 100-word pieces are a warm-up for argumentative texts, and for story-telling.

Speaking assignments. We reviewed your work at home on monologues (preferably based on what you are listening to), and I suggested now you also had a look at the PUC Speaking Test tasks, so that you can simultaneously work on exam formats. They are here, click “Nivel C1 descargar”. The Guide below is also useful, but don’t worry. We’ll go through that in February, now forget about it. I also suggested that you started preparing a dialogue with a classmate (improvising in class tests your level, but preparing beforehand helps you learn more), and that you had a look at the dialogues in the exam tasks, to create your speaking card and stick to the time you’ll actually have in the exam. But we will focus on dialogues from March on, following what I explained about dialogues before, which is here: Tips for Speaking Tests. Remember it would be good you practiced speaking about the Alexie novel for 3, 4 minutes. I welcome your audios and videos! Vocaroo (audio recording: remember to download it as an mp3 because the link to the audio will expire at one point!) REMEMBER to have a folder with your oral work recorded there. If you collect your final monologues in May you will be able to listen to them all and this will give you confidence in exams, supposing you’re concerned with that. Don’t send me recording of monologues you haven’t practiced a few times before, and remember NEVER to write down your monologue: use an outline and simply speak!!

Then what? Do it in class, so I can give you feedback. If it’s 3, 4 mins, we can listen to 2, 3 people every day, plus feedback. My apologies. I have to apologize about my being overdue with giving feedback on your teamwork OPs. I’m quick when you send me a 3-minute mon by email, because I can listen a few times and type the info for your LoM, but your OPs are long and I haven’t managed enough time at home. Download the audio at least! You will also realize some mistakes!. I wanted to catch up during the holidays, but was in real need of some rest and didn’t. Still, I’m very sorry, and I promise to improve, and also to try to do that over this next weekend! ❤

About reading. You can start reading Orange Is the New Black, but first I’m asking you to download and read (as you look at chapter 1) my 4-page pdf handout on how I worked on the language in chapter 1. Please, ignore the other docs I have there. This is what we need to do next. Then you have this blog, of course! ❤ And the zillions of things you read, too, of course, but each has their own interests. (Language point: notice “EACH has THEIR own” (read Avoiding Sexist Language). We talked about what you can pay attention to in the Memoir, in terms of language: descriptions and narrating actions we don’t usually word. Oh, I’ll be publishing an ebook with stories by teachers, and we’ll be using some of those in class, too.

About reading and listening Comprehension exercises. We have February, when we will learn about Exam Format matters and practice exam tasks to see if our techniques and strategies work. I have some exercises I designed and tests from other communities. We’ll do the C1 test at the end, and you will tell me which was harder, OK? (So DON’T TAKE THE READING AND LISTENING C1 TEST IN THE JUNTA LINK ABOVE, PLEASE). Finally, you will all design a C1 test. We’ll have a group designing the Speaking and Writing Tests, another group designing the Listening Test and yet another designing the Reading Test. Miguel has done examples of this and we’ll use them too! (I’ll be publishing them on tp).

Just a note: the workshop on Phonemic Transcription will come in handy when we speak about fill-in-the-gap listening exercises in exams, so bring it in February.

About other listening exercises. You should continue with podcasts (news, interviews), TED Talks, and TV series, and documentaries. We’ll do too in class. Print the script of episode 1 of Friends and How I Met Your Mother, so we can have fun doing a dramatized reading soon!

Well… I think that could be all?

For the winter holidays: Homework (minimums) and other possibilities

  • Listen/Speak. This one’s a must!: Listen to radio programs/programmes (the news, interviews) almost every day. And do some speaking work of the re-telling kind because you have watched a TED video, a documentary, a TV series, a movie/film, or heard the radio or something.
  • Writing Project: Write one, two, three… chapters of Stories of My Life in the 3rd person.
  • Writing File Project: Gather your notes on how to write different kinds of texts.
  • Watch your classmates videos and (it’s coming next) check out mf’s page where your audio will be uploaded so you can downloaded and then get your LoM.

Other ideas:

  • Review your notes, to consolidate your learning and find out if you have questions
  • Think about how we can improve our list of what the course was about in the first term. You can send me your thoughts or feedback or share in class when we meet again.
  • Watch a Baby Human episode and notice its textual structure. Practice explaining what the documentary says. Record yourself and listen to that. Send it in when you feel happy about your work.
  • Try to re-tell what you learned/learnt from Redesign My Brain, or How Art Made the World. Think about how those documentaries can relate to 3-min mons.
  • Watch a TED video a few times and re-tell. (You can also record yourself and send it in when you’re happy about your work.)
  • Listen to the stories and poems on the TP Podcast or elsewhere! Learn the poem, or practice telling the story. (Record it!)
  • Work with TV series: you can include your family and/or friends! It’s fun! Doing dramatized readings, or even learning the lines! Then you can go to the beach and bask! 😀
  • Reflect about how much News language you learned/learnt these months, and try to gather a list or high frequency used words for our second term together, only if you enjoy doing that!
  • Write your Review if you didn’t hand it in in December.
  • Start reading OITNB (?)

Important: on our C1 Course!

As I work as if in onion layers (The Onion Approach!), just now I’ve been working a bit more on what I wrote here in About this course, and started gathering this info and the materials we’re creating for this course on the page at

I think it’s more organized, but it is still unfinished.

What’s new: I have also included a proposals for sequencing your writings and your work with the writing file.

Please, have a look in these two weeks we’ll be apart! 🙂 ❤

I hope we can talk about all of this today, and that you can spread the word among students who don’t make it today to class! 🙂

Diary for Dec 9 (Post 200 here! Can’t believe it!)

BEGINNING: MISC. Today people registered for our Friday lesson with Toastmasters! Please, do so if you haven’t yet! Miguel left because there was a Students’ Rep meeting, but then he came back! I’m really curious about what happened and hope he can tell you/us all next day. Consider that if you have a Students’ Association once you pass this course, you might need it to keep in touch with English here, in some way you organize! I mentioned a cons of blogs versus elearning platforms, because I’m considering going back to my elearning platform on next year, for over there we can print all my letters and bind them in book format at the end of the course, and over here that’s not possible. We need to print one post at a time. If anyone knows anything about this…

WRITING ASSIGNMENTS. I started giving back people’s writings, which were good work. If you didn’t come to class today and you handed in a piece, please, check our cardboard box, where I put those.

LoM. We started going through the posts I have here for your LoM: Dangerous mistakes, assist/attend, client/customer, doubling or not of “l”. We reviewed Proofreading techniques or approaches to proofreading. There were questions about hyphens, and hyphenation, too.

CONSTITUTION. I mentioned the new Listening Assignment I have designed for you all, on Constitutional matters and news related to this. You can do it whenever you like, and tell us in class about it. Also in January. I also spoke a bit about what happened to Spanish exiles from Franco’s death to 1978 when the Constitution was passed.

POEMS & STORIES. Then we had María del Mar telling us a poem by Sylvia Plath. Related topics: how now many suicides triggered by depression (including post-maternal depression) and mental illnesses are avoided thanks to our advancement with drugs.

PENDING NEWS OP. Then Gema gave her OP on Chores Wars, which included a listening activity and a plenary discussion  a lot of people took part in! I hope I got this right: We seemed to agree on this: that some men need to take the initiative of assuming their responsibility in housework, that some women need to learn to stop doing it or preventing men from doing the house chores and that it is very positive to talk about this with the people one lives with. We agreed we would take the test and comment in class! The article Mar mentioned is here: Do you wanna clean your apartment? If someone reads it and wants to teach people in class its vocabulary by offering an OP on this, you are certainly welcome! (January)

NEXT DAY we hope to have the Saxon Genitive / Use and omission of “the” workshop, poems and stories, the novel and if time allows, start checking the Redesign My Brain listening activity. If Yoli comes, she might want to do her OP, so we’ll adapt to whatever, as usual! 🙂 ❤

NEXT WEEK it’ll be about all this again, and we can also videoshoot if you like. We also have the phonetics workshop and part 3 of Global Warming if we need more stuff.

ORALS. About your recorded orals, I’ll try to send people some feedback and their recorded oral throughout this week, including the weekend. I’ll also try to finish editing the video Paco and I started editing last Friday, on the News OP by his group. I hope you can keep on working in listening to the news and to the documentaries and TV series to pick up useful language among other very good things you’ll be doing for your English. You also have the December Writing Assignment, which is a review, and minisagas and reasoned opinions if you wish to practice/practise some more.

REMEMBER you can always record your oral work and email it to me for feedback, but please don’t be spontaneous, meaning I want texts you have been working on ORALLY (though you might have collected useful language before), without having written them down (just an outline to follow as you speak and time yourself) because the process is not about evaluating but about your learning as you work, and then with my feedback. When you haven’t worked on the piece first, you learn much less from everything.

HOLS. I’ll be publishing a post on what you can do during the weeks we won’t be together!

EVAL. My evaluation of your participation and learning so far is very positive. Just remember that my corrections are not incompatible with a “Well done!” or “Excellent” or “Good work”. Your assignments are not exams, but excuses to learn, and the process you follow with your Before-During-After and my aims when marking your work are about learning, not assessing a level. So believe me if I say the work is good, please. I’m not very much into lying! 😀 I’m actually noticing people’s progress, and that is hard when it comes to noticing progress by upper intermediate and advanced students. But I think I’m noticing it because you are actually working on your English really well. As you know, this weekend I’ll be giving Aptos and No Aptos to people, but this does not have any importance because the only exam you have this year is in June. (The exams we’ll take in February are just to practice the exam format and the techniques and strategies in a timed setting, which means not for evaluation either.) My initial idea is to give Apto to people who have handed in Writing Assignments and done Oral Presentations, but I’m wondering about people who haven’t but have always taken part in discussions in class, considering I have enough info to guess their English is in shape! 😀 In any case, this is just red tape, kind of humiliating for me to fulfill, really, because it’s pointless, so well, whatever I do, it’s totally irrelevant. You all get feedback about your English in class or by email or here, and that’s what guides our learning now.

LoM – Danger! Problems you shouldn’t have

  • Dates.
  • Capital letters!!! Monday, November, October, on Thursdays, English lessons, my English is… Can you speak French?
  • Numbers. A thousand uses a comma, not a dot: 1,000. Years don’t use anything: 1978 (like in Spanish).
  • Other/ANOTHER – a typical fossilized mistake among Spanish-speakers is to use “other” instead of “another”. Please, jot down your mistakes in this and remember to oral drill, so you can help your mouth/ear to remember.
  • Everyday chores (modifying nouns) – I go to work every day (time phrase)
  • You cannot possibly mix up HAVE and HAS
  • If you use the POSSESSIVE PRONOUNS (mine, yourS, hiS, herS, itS, ourS, yourS, theirS) you have to remember they are PRONOUNS, they cannot be followed by a noun because they include the noun in themselves! If you are going to add the noun, you need to use the POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVES, and adjectives in English NEVER ADD an “s” to form the plural because they are INVARIABLE (except the demonstrative adjectives: this (is)/these (are), that (is)/those(are)).
  • You cannot possibly add “s” to ADJECTIVES!
  • arrived IN/AT – not “to”. We go to and we get to, but we arrive in a big place (city, country, continent) or at a small place (airport, town). Yes, it’s true native speakers can be heard saying “arrived to” and this will probably consolidate and make us forget the “at/in” difference, but for formal communication and academic examinations you need to stick to “at/in” so practice/practise throughout this year. It will never be wrong to use “at/in” and when you don’t know if the place is big or small you can always say “got to”.
  • You CALL and PHONE people (not “to people”)
  • Contractions in formal letters. Avoid them.
  • Hyphenation. Don’t hyphenate. I know the curriculum includes learning to hyphenate but only publishing houses hyphenate because books have justified margins. Formal letters don’t use a justified right margin because in English it is better not to hyphenate. It’s complicated and words are not that long. Only hyphenate if the word is a compound, if you insist in doing so. Hyphenating feels pedantic.
  • PROOFREADING & CHECKING SPELLINGS! One thing you cannot do is not check the spelling of words that are hard to spell. And another thing you cannot do is not proofread your piece at least 3 times, to chek on the one hand if it makes sense, if the reading flows, if the text develops logically, and on the other hand, the spelling and grammar.

LoM (Nov Wr) – assist / attend / assistance / attendance / attention

A common mistake is to use “attend” instead of “assist”.

Attend” relates to “attendance”, be present at an activity somewhere regularly. A typical use for this verb is “Sorry. I was attending a meeting” (Tenía reunión). Example of “attendance“: Two criticisms often made by town meeting skeptics are low attendance and poor quality of decision making. “Low attendance” at school relates to skipping lessons or missing lessons, and it does not mean the kids cannot pay attention. “Attention problems” can be attention disorders like the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). You attend a conference, a meeting, a workshop, a training. You mostly go to class, or to school, but of course when you are a child/teenager you attend school and later you attend college (US) or university (UK).

Assist” relates to “assistance” and — see if this definitely helps! — “assistant” as in “shop assistant”. It’s like helper, and “assist” is “help”. (But yes, we say “flight attendant” which makes things confusing. A flight assistant is the co-pilot, so when they replaced “air-hostess” and “steward” for a shared neutral name, they used “flight attendant”. Imagine the focus is that they are there regularly instead of that they are there to help you!)! Now, people working in a bank are office workers, bank tellers (not assistants), financial analysts, loan officers, financial managers…

LoM (Nov Wr) – customer, client

Both can get goods or services. The problem arises from this: there are like two meanings to these words: from one point of view you get this distinction:

One is a “customer” at grocery stores / shops, at malls / shopping centres, at restaurants… and when skilled tradespeople give you a service, like carpenters, plumbers, electricians… One is a “client” when seeking the services of lawyers, financial advisers, real estate agents, stock brokers…

But then there’s this other point of view: As said before, if you are in a restaurant, you are a customer, but if you go to that restaurant on a regular basis, you are a client, too! The same happens with banks, for instance.

LoM (Nov Wr) – Spelling: ending “l” – fulfill/fulfil, travel + trip/travel, job/work

  • fulfil (UK) fulfill (US) – the stress is on the last syllable
  • fulfilled, fulfilling (UK, US) – British English doubles the ending “l” following the general spelling rule of the doubling of the last consonant in ending syllables with one stressed vowel.
  • fulfilment (UK, US) – fulfillment (US)
  • You fulfill/fulfil duties, a contract, expectations, wishes, ambitions, needs, requirements
  • travel (UK, US) – the stress is on the first syllable
  • traveled, traveling (US), doesn’t double the last consonant because the stress is on the first syllable
  • travelled, travelling (UK), doubles the last consonant because words ending in “l” are an exception — they all double the last consonant regardless where the stress is
  • travelling – adj. Tends to double the “l”, as in “a travelling experience” also “travel experiences”

Same case as “cancel”

a trip, a journey – Travel, as in “travel tips” or the heading “Travel” in travel websites! (The verb is “travel”)

Similar to COUNT – NON-COUNT
a job – work
What’s your job? – What kind of work do you do? (What do you do?)
I don’t have a job – I’m out of work (unemployed)

Speaking Assignment: Legal Language, Spanish politics, the news

As follow-up work on listening to the news (for now or for your winter holidays), here is a 4-page handout with three pieces of news on recent events in Spain and some info from the 1978 Spanish Constitution. This will acquaint you with administrative texts and legal language, and this is also connected and useful for the news, for a great deal of news are about politics. If you practice monologues with these materials, as I suggest, make sure you time yourself and also remember you are welcome to do those monologues in class. (This year it’s no so much about me evaluating your level as it is about you using your English all the time. The C1 level requires a bilingual everyday life.)

LEGALDOCUMENTS_talkingpolitics (4 pages)

Your Mini-saga Page

Dear students,

Few people have sent in their mini sagas (your monthly writing assignment), so this is just a reminder, in case you find a few minutes to send me your work. Remember they will be Anonymous, so you are all freer to write away! They need to be 50 exact words. If there are mistakes, I’d send them back and expect you to fix it and send it again to me! If you don’t want to publish yours, just mention that in your email. It’d be OK.

The webpage I prepared is this:


Listening activity: advanced

This is your new listening assignment. At home, try to watch the documentary a few times as you fill out / fill in the gaps. Use phonemic transcription if unsure, and then work out the spelling. If you all have done it by our last December week together, we could check it. If you have far too much on, we can check it in January. I think this would be best, really.

Next day if we don’t have enough time to check the Redesign My Brain assignment, don’t worry. We’ll move it to next week, so we can do it properly! And I’ll also comment a few things about the Global Warming listening.

Today’s OP! and your Writing assignments

Paqui has prepared an impressive OP to present the documentary we’ll be watching!

I have to say that your OPs have been impressive so far.

About your complaints, I have finished checking them but I think that considering the obstacles to holding C-Day with everybody being there to remind me of the points I want to address in class, I’m going to keep them so as to post those points here this eve and tomorrow evening. If I finish, this means I’ll give you your work back next Thursday.

Writing: Essays & reasoned opinions (argumentative texts)

The difference between an essay and a reasoned opinion is that the latter /látr/ is just about your opinion but the essay requires information and more solid arguments.

M., a student, had a great idea for an argumentative text or essay: getting married or not?  I hope she can work a bit more on the text, to share it later on in class. But I’d like to share some thoughts to help her and you all, in case you need a hand!

I recommend that when you decide what topic you want to analyze/analyse, you read a bit about that topic IN ENGLISH, with a double purpose in mind: to see at least what the usual words are when native speakers address that topic, and to get more information and ideas so later on you can work on your brainstorm and outline, and decide on your approach and what main ideas you really wish to develop. Whenever I have to write a text, I don’t naturally go ahead and write it. I read similar kinds of texts before, to notice the language, the structure, and then decide what mine should look like and sound like.

To illustrate a few things, when you write “naturally” you just start with an idea and then go with the flow. This is not a good idea for an essay or an advanced argumentative text. You need to practice your Before Writing much more. M. found her title “Getting Married or not?” and after a promising intro on the trend of people getting divorced, poses the question: why marry if you’re bound to get divorced? The problem is that the body is a comparison between married and not married couples. De facto couples are missing, and this makes the reader feel a fundamental lack because when she compares the legal situations the reader knows that with info on this she would have probably written a somewhat different piece. Her conclusion is a personal assessment about how little important status is when it comes to love. But this does not fit in well with the previous part. She has great ingredients but she needs to find better content structure.

Well, I hope this is useful for M. and all. M., I’ll bring your piece tomorrow, so you can read my corrections and continue working on it.

Exploiting the Alexie novel

I know most of you have already read the novel. The exercise in class is so everybody has a chance of practicing/practising reading aloud in class (and sharing some). Once everyone has done so, the reading in class will be over.

In December, you can use your Writing Assignment to write a Book Review on this novel. But you have more choices, so this might not happen.

How are you going to remember this novel? Well, I have a proposal. Over the winter holidays (or right now!) you can send me a 2- to 4-minute ORAL review of the novel saved as an mp3 file if you want to make sure I can open it! I’ll listen to it throughout January and then send some (hopefully really brief) feedback!

I’m open to any other ways you may come up with to exploit this very special novel. Actually, if you send your glossary I can find a reason to rescue a past glossary by students (which we published on an EOI website in Madrid — but the Directiva deleted all the contributions by students explaining that a new website was needed… ?!) and add your work!

The Redesign My Brain handout

Although people took the paper copy, there might be people who missed the lesson and getting their own, so here is the handout.

We’re meant to check it and people are meant to talk about this documentary at the end of this month, which means, this week or next week. We’ll agree on when next Tuesday. You can also write your December Writing Assignment (Reviews) on this documentary!

redesignmybrain_1 (3 pages)

Dialogues: Complaints

For those little dead moments of the day, like when you are waiting for something/someone, when you can think of this.

Just a reminder: use the listening activity I designed along with the recording Miguel provided to practice fluency and accuracy with the useful language we collected. Notice the music of the language and do some listening-n-repeating! 🙂 Then think about situations we can use to design speaking exam cards! You can also think about the structure of your dialogue, and about scenarios where you encounter communication problems and what language to use to overcome those! (see what I mean here)

Nov Indiv. OPs + Poems & Stories for December

I just saw / I’ve just seen Rocío booked for today for her presentation of Articles. This is wonderful. We’ll have the Going Viral WG and her, and then we might get some time for groups working on the Writing File Project, as follow-up on Rocío’s work. We’ll finish the lesson with the novel, as usual! ❤ But if it’s Noelia’s chapter (the longest) we might move the WFP to the following day.

Paqui’s presentation of the documentary How Art Made the World was moved to the first week in December, when we will watch episode 1.

Mariana will have her individual OP on Nov 25th, on the same day when we’ll be listening to the News OP entitled “Social Problems and Reactions”. Mariana’s will be about this date, the international day against violence against women and girls.

Allow me to remind people that we can actually have 2, 3 individual OPs at the beginning of each lesson.

WG News OPs will be announced before the lesson they’ll take place in. There’s one for each Nov lesson.

Finally, for December we have poems and stories. If you cannot learn the story by memory, anyway listen and listen because you can learn to TELL THE STORY, and please do! It doesn’t matter other people have chosen the same. I recommend, Carrington’s The Debutante, American Indian story-telling Coyote Killed a Giant, Asimov’s The Fun They Had, or any other here:

Remember you need to book your day!

Recap (edited)

In class, what we need to fit in whenever we can:

What you are working on at home:

  • Planning your listening activities weekly  – Listening log/diary
  • Writing a learning diary
  • Following this blog (esp. Classroom Diary)
  • Watching the documentary and doing it’s listening activity (for the end of Nov)
  • The learning of a poem or a short story (for December)
  • Continue listening to the news (I don’t want to do listening activities on news items until you feel more confident in this)
  • Watching a Ted Talk every two weeks
  • Practicing/Practising a timed mon. a week with material from your listening activities
  • Mulling over your Stories of My Life
  • Reading the Alexie novel — and fishing some Useful Language for your story-telling
  • Watching a TV series (Friends, HIMYM) — a same episode several times, to collect useful language for everyday situations and getting used to this kind of more natural language.
  • Writing minisagas and 100-word reasoned opinions (Gemma extended this to include 100-word descriptions, which is a great idea! She needs to tell us in class one day!)
  • Working on your LoM
  • Sending contributions to

Do we have more stuff going on?! (So why are you worried about things we don’t want to deal with right now?) 😛 😀 ❤

Diary Nov 4

Just back from my night out with colleagues and kinda tipsy still!! I’ll do my very best to remember all we did today, adorable students!

NEWS: OUR FIRST GUEST SPEAKER. But first, Olejohan Von Ely, a Canadian friend of Lola’s, the French teacher at our school, has accepted our invitation and will come next Friday, Nov 21, to give a talk on N.L.P. (Neuro Linguistic Programming)! And he is also allowing us to video record him, so I’ll bring my camera and tripod and hope to count on your help! Then you will all have the chance to ask him about Canada and Canadian English, or N.L.P. or whatever you want. He’s been all kinds of things, including an elite sportsman and a sports teacher. He speaks several languages including Swedish and Norwegian.

Today we welcomed a new student, another Carmen!

I gave out copies of Cristina’s complaint letter, which we will work on next Nov 11 from 8 to 9 (she’s booked for this because she won’t make it to class next day — please, double-check I got the numbers right!). Make sure you all bring your notes and old textbooks this day, so you can work before this on your Writing File.

We started talking about the day’s lesson plan, to see what we could agree on. I asked what working groups (WG) would be up to doing, the News OP or the Writing File, and Mar wanted to get some ideas about what was expected from the News OP, so we had a spontaneous conversation where WGs that worked on the News OP reported to plenary on what they did the other day. People who had missed that lesson created a new WG for this project. Some had a title for the project and a clear format, others had been exchanging info on the news they had been listening to. The Gender WG did not talk about news, but about radio programs/programmes and today they realized why — they explain in their OP! After that, WG met and worked for half an hour on their News OP. Hopefully, they’ll be booking a date soon on the bulletin board.

While that was happening I rearranged the lesson plan, crossing out the second session on our first LoM — we’ll try to do a bit of that next day. Bring your writings so you can illustrate with your examples. I also gave back writings people had handed in recently. And replied this morning to people who had sent in a monologue. I also gave out two spares copies of the listening activity I designed for you all to do at home as you watch Redesign My Brain.

Miguel had booked for an individual OP on gambling and after giving us all a lottery ticket he proceeded to present his research on gambling matters in Canada, the USA, the UK and Spain, if I remember correctly. I gave him some feedback and hope to post here some more.

Miguel has sent in a reading test and listening test he designed on gambling for follow-up and I’ll try to check that this week to see if we can use it next week, or publish it on for you to do it at home. I should tell you that I’ve seen Gambling in two EOI certificate exams in my life as an EOI teacher. That’s because it relates to the larger topic of Money. Remember the topics for Andalucía’s Speaking Tests one year?

Then we had Maribel reading a chapter of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, by Sherman Alexie. She did well, and mentioned some of her favo(u)rite lines and a language point.

I announced I would be posting your NOVEMBER ASSIGNMENTS here.

So far, Sept/Oct + NOVEMBER Assigments

September/October – at home

  • Listening: develop the habit of listening to English every day in various way, exploiting a same audio for different learning purposes. Highlights: listening to the news (and re-telling)
  • Speaking: practicing a weekly mon, which could just be for starters a re-telling of the things you are listening to, so that you can avoid making silly mistakes and “recycle” useful language you learn from listening.
  • Writing 1: an open text on your expectations for this course.
  • Reading: a novel and this blog – till December

NOVEMBER – at home (Speaking later in class to test how well you worked at home!)

Listening: the Redesign My Brain documentary with the listening activity I designed for you. You have to watch a few times to complete it. Bring it to class at the end of Nov-beg. of Dec.

Writing 2: Interaction. A formal complaint letter in 175 words (50 minutes for this task in the exam, but here it’ll take you more if you do a BEFORE writing, to expand your knowledge. In any case, you can time yourself FROM the moment you brainstorm for ideas, you do your outline -Before- and then while you write your piece only once, and then -After- while you proofread your work in at least 3 readings, and see how long it takes you. If it’s over 50 mins, don’t worry. You’re training, you will improve. DEADLINE: NOV. 18. (Remember one week before we’ll analyze Cristina’s complaint letter and have WG working for the first time in your Writing Files.)

Last Y5’s notes for working on a Writing File, in case they help this year’s groups.


  • Mon. 3-4 min: Relationships. Talk about the different kinds of relationships human beings might establish throughout their lives and how that builds their personality and lifestyles.

Please, don’t write down your mons. Use and outline, and before that you can jot down useful language you get from your listening (preferably) and reading work to put together your text.
How to work on your mons at home (from last year’s blog for Y5 students)

  • Interaction (Dial.): 5 min for 2 people; 7 min for 3 people. A conversation about complaints in your life. One person starts with hotels or holiday packages, the other contributes the issue of things that didn’t work. Prepare for this conversation by gathering useful language (reading/listening)

Notes on about Dialogues

Proposal: coordinating your work on Mons & Dials at home

So that all of you work on the same TOPIC, I was thinking we could have a shared monthly assignment for your practice of monologues at home. If you agree, I would post a speaking test and you would work on that, volunteering after booking a date, something you can do every month (just let me know, if there is no timetable on the bulletin board). If a mon a month is too little for you, feel free to practice more, of course, changing topics or around the same topic.

Sharing your work in class. Regardless what you are doing in teamwork OP, the good thing about sharing a topic is that when you volunteer to give your monthly mon in class, people will learn much more, because they will have worked on it. They will check you all handled a same kind of vocabulary and learn to appreciate the language items the speaker is using and the structure the speaker is creating for his or her text.

About dialogues, I would also like to practice a dialogue on a situation or topic a month. That would be pair work in class, based on previous individual work at home. You should collect Useful Language for different kinds of purposes, so that you can expand your knowledge and train your skill.

If you all agree, let me know and I would post the Nov Shared Speaking Assignments, OK? 🙂

Diary for Oct 30

Gee, today we stayed on and on!!! 45 minutes more!, which is to say, 30 minutes more than usual! 😀 Please, people, if you have to go or something, feel free to do so! I’m simply lousy at time management! Funny I teach people to time themselves for orals! 😀 I don’t mind staying on, of course. I don’t mean that. For me it’s kind of lunch time when we finish. But I know you all are tired and I don’t want you to feel this issue is a burden. So just remember you’re free to part whenever! 🙂

I don’t know whether I’ll remember all we did.

I do remember we agreed on something: next week you’ll be working in small groups around the Writing File Project. We’ll start off with Cristina’s complaint letter, which she allowed/has allowed me to copy for you all with my corrections. We’ll analyze that and then you’ll use your notes and textbooks and lovely working minds to share your knowledge and design your project: which texts will you be reviewing (jotting down things on structure and language)?

We also agreed the November Writing Assignment will be a complaint letter, to hand in by mid-November. And before splitting up our cosmos in microcosmos 😉 people will say what kind of complaint they want to work on, goods or services, like things that don’t work, misplaced orders, hotel service, airports.

We talked a bit about the differences between files complaints and suing people. OMG!!! I just realized / I’ve just realized I didn’t tell you about a classic!!! adding the -ing ending: today I reminded people -ing endings don’t modify the word, as in studying. I said the only exception was verbs ending in a single -e but… there’s another exception, and I realized as I typed “suing”!! Verbs ending in “ue”, like “continue” > continuing. Sorry about that.

We checked the sentences in the Due to workshop.

Then we reviewed the language points in the October LoM. Highlights were speak/talk/tell about, noun modification, comparatives (check this out — it’s Word docs — because apart from the cases of disyllables in -ow and –ed, there are more: like -ful, -ous: theory & exercise. I used it with COU, ESO and Bachillerato and it’s comprehensive. Poor kids, can you imagine? 😀 ) the modals, esp. “might” and “must”. Mónica told people a story we shared last year, which has helped her to avoid using “you must” for obligation! Well, this was our first official session on modals! I hope you can start noticing them and using them more. Mar, you might want to post here as a comment your paragraph with “might, could, may”! 🙂 ❤ I hope you all can jot down your questions about modals, too. Oh, we also talked about capitals (the “on the internet” case”) and this brought up Eponyms, proper names that have become nouns or adjectives. Sometimes a word starts having a capital letter and then becomes a true common noun. Look here, some examples.

But we didn’t finish and I forgot to print the “The” handout for grammar groups. I’ll print a copy for you if you haven’t done so next week. The workshop is fun and we can assign the different Grammar Teams a bunch of the 55 sentences for analysis! In this way, each group will be interested in listening to other groups, too, at Plenary AND we can have a plenary! Next week you can work on that in Working Groups, though I also hope we can get the chance to listen to some people speaking for 3-4 mins.

We passed a piece of paper around, so people would jot down their names if they wanted to get a copy of the Baby Human documentary — supposing it’s still 8 euros.

Beli read her chapter of the novel and told us about her language highlights, and even gave me a copy! Thanks! ❤ I’m really happy about you all reading a chapter in class. It’s not an individual OP but it’s a fabulous project. Reading aloud is very good for your English. And it’s an ice-breaker for your speaking in public.

Next week we also need time for the News OP, or else — what would you suggest? Writing File, LoM, Novel, Individual OPs, News OP… But you might want to communicate via your whatsapp group about the News OP and then ask me for time when you have a clearer idea? The thing is, because we didn’t have a plenary I don’t know about your needs, so let’s see if we can at least talk about it a bit at the beginning of a lesson! 😀

(Remember to keep a diary on your listening activities. Btw, I have to tell you why I’ll be giving a pass mark in December to people following this course and involved in individual and teamwork and how the mark will be fail for the rest, and why this is irrelevant for everybody because there is just one exam at the end of the course — and those “pass marks” cannot be taken into consideration — , which most people following this course will probably pass, in my experience — which is not to say that if you’re not following this course you can’t. It’ll all depend on your level, strictly speaking. We can only evaluate your — you all — June performance.)

PS!!!: There are some mistakes I made when preparing the listening activity I designed for you to do at home while listening to the documentary. But I’m sure you’ll track them down!

Well, have a lovely bilingual weekend! Keep up your astounding work and interest! ❤

Mulling over it (Nov wr. assign.)

I’m considering two possibilities for the November writing assignment: one is a formal letter of complaint (but I would like people to say in class what situation they would tackle because it’d be great to have at least three different kinds of situations, e.g. airports, hotels, shops) and another, considering you are listening to the news, though this relates to reading newspapers, is a Letters to Editors.

I can give you notes on both kinds, though you have tons of sources for the first (complaints), so I think you could handle that yourselves, and then just expand your knowledge from our C-Day on that.


Listening & Speaking: monólogos

I have just created a Page collecting info on past speaking tests. This is to help you gather ideas from all the news stories or items you listen to during the week. The good thing about listening to the news is that you are learning to understand the news, but also that you develop your vocabulary on this kind of issues. As you will see, all of the materials we’re using can be sources of good ideas for all kinds of topics. Think about that too.

In class, we’ll work on strategies and all. This is just to get you started.

PAGE: Monólogos

Diary for Oct 16

Leonora Carrington: “If young people tell me I’m young at heart, I take offence — I’m OLD at heart.” Love it! 😀

Questions and announcements: Documentaries (watch TED Talks if you like, but don’t watch Story of Stuff, the Australian documentaries, and the Test your brain documentaries; you can also watch Friends and How I Met Your Mother, plus Orange Is the New Black. We’ll probably do a dramatized reading of Friends 1×1 one ordinary day in class), contact info (handed out your emails etc.), designing listening exercises (Miguel’s activity; when it’s ready we’ll do it in class, and later publish it so other people can use it. Miguel, if you can send me the link to the actual program, that’d be great), writing assignments (some people handed in their first minisaga, and/or reasoned opinion), grammar teams (for next week, on due to), preparing the OP on the news (end of month; Marisol needs to join a team that picks a date she can handle). Capitals and titles: how this goes in English (a more comprehensive explanation: Capitalize the first and last word and then… all the other words except for a, an, the, and conjunctions and prepositions of four letters or fewer.)

Reading Alexie’s diary

1. Yoli read /red/ chapter 1
2. Small Groups discussed:

  • Voc you learned (practicing definitions)
  • Language items useful for your English (from grammar structures to ways to describe)
  • Fav Lines
  • Lines or passages that help you learn about American Indians, and human beings in general

3. Plenary: not much time but we listened to Yoli and some other people bringing up language matters, mostly (short/long-sightedness; weirdo; seizures; to be supposed to; brain grease; safer… — and how the meaning of safe can also be bestowed from cultural perceptions! 0_0). I’d like to mention some pronunciation issues next day (linking, consonant clusters).

Elections – Congratulations! You’ve got two Students’ Reps, Miguel and Paqui! ❤

Next week: Grammar teams and our first Friday lesson, when we will watch (don’t you watch it!). Hopefully, I’ll give you all your Writings back, with feedback if I haven’t sent you an email doing that. Then, if you wish to publish any of those on, you need to type it and send it to me with the name you want to use on the internet. Please, don’t format your text (no fancy fonts or indents, no block letters, just bold and italic if you need to use those).

This week, well, this month, keep listening to the news, and practicing re-telling and reading aloud (it helps you learn to punctuate, too!). Go for learning the poem, if you remember. Keep reading the Alexie novel, picking useful language, favorite lines… Keep your listening diary. I’d like to have a look when you’re ready.

Other October Writing Assignments

Remember you can hand in a mini-saga (a story in 50 exact words) and a reasoned opinion in 100 words (10% above or under 100)

Writing Assignments – and ask any questions you may have.