Category Archives: News

Paul Krugman on the Greek democracy and the Troika


Interesting for your English!

¿How do you say “denunciar en la comisaría”?

Silicon Valley hires an old woman! (known for mostly hiring young men)

rise, arise, arouse (finding examples!)

Rise – this verb has a lot of meanings, literal and metaphoric. Here are some common uses.

  • to assume an upright position especially from lying, kneeling, or sitting. Typical in narrative, because when we tell stories we name the acts of movement: When he heard the door bell he rose
    In descriptions: a tower rising above the little town (You can see it); The wind rose in the afternoon.
  • to take up arms. Typical in the news: The … rebels have risen up… (Also: great rising of the people was all it took to bring down a regime that imagined that it would endure for a thousand years)
  • to move upward :  ascend; to increase in quantity or number, height, size, volume, or pitch: Tensions have risen significantly in the past two weeks…; Concerns have risen…; Civilian casualties have risen…; Sales have risen at last…; (Also: rising prices) Gas prices/Salaries have risen…; The energy bills of the poorest 10 per cent of households have risen…; Rents have risen fastest in the East Midlands and Scotland…; decline in the all items index, which would have risen 0.1 percent had the gasoline index been unchanged…;


Can be a synomym of rise… But this is the meaning you need to learn:

  • come up, come into existence, happen, occur: difficulties have arisen to pay the salaries of young teachers…; These problems arise when people…; Discrepancies have arisen among government employees due to the occasional salary increments and circulars that have been issued; the general anti-law enforcement feelings that have arisen in the U.S.; Some feelings about that must have arisen.

Arouse – you won’t be using this one much. In reviews, perhaps: It’s mostly about causing emotional or mental states (the book aroused debate; The report aroused a great deal of public interest), or exciting sb sexually (turn on). In poetry and drama (say Shakespeare), you do have “arouse” meaning to wake sb from sleep.

Vocabulary Sheet by C1 Going Viral

Just published it

Amazing News: Old Students

Today I read an email Allegra sent. Hiya, if you’re there! ❤ She was in 5ºA last year, and was really good at English. Although she couldn’t make it to class regularly, she did follow the course in many ways. I still remember her amazing writings, and oral presentations! ❤ Well, she’s written to let me know she passed a Cambridge C1 test and that she has continued listening to English every day as I so insistently request my students to do! ❤ ❤ ❤ I know I did not teach her English, but I’m really happy I was of some help. ❤

Here is an OP Allegra did

Last year I did tell students that we were including some C1 work in our course, and that if they worked along those lines, and had the money to pay for the C1 exam with any of those companies, some of them could actually pass (I know students don’t believe teachers when we assess their levels, just “exams”, but the truth is teachers also know about levels! 😀 ❤ Qué lucha mari :D).

So here is another reason for you all to relax about certificate exams. Supposing you failed in June and in September, you can always pay for taking the C1 exam elsewhere! 😀 Just consider that this course costs about 60 euros a year, and if it were private education it would cost a minimum of 300 euros a month! So paying, how much is it?, about 300 euros for just taking the test, supposing you failed, is affordable, from this point of view, right?

At last! Hope you enjoy it!

C1 Going Viral: Science as a Tool to Help People. Intro + Part 1, “Premature Babies” ( a documentary)

I have to give a special and warmest thanks to Paco, for his help in the editing of this video. I also regret having forgotten to include a comment on how entertaining his intro was!!

As you will see, I’m still an amateur editor, and I missed a couple of mistakes, but I hope the mistakes I managed to correct in the subtitles help you all!


“We are Charlie Hebdo”

(0_0 I can’t understand why political leaders take part in demonstrations, when street protest is for citizens, for the people who do not have the press behind to publicize what they want to say, and the Parliament to say and pass whatever it is they want to say and pass!)


Blogging: Annual Report 2014 for this Blog! Thanks, WordPress!


  • This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2014.
  • The busiest day of the year was October 14th with 280 views. The most popular post that day was About methodology.

Blogging: Annual Report 2014! Thanks, WordPress! <3

Last year’s blog still in use!!!


  • This blog was viewed about 24,000 times in 2014.
  • The busiest day of the year was June 1st with 303 views. The most popular post that day was WRITING FILE.

Your recordings!


Please, download them. I’m leaving just now (driving to the north, to an aldea or tiny town in Galicia, hoping not to freeze to death!), and will be back on the 30th or 31st. If you have sent me an email saying: “I downloaded my recording, please, remove it from our webpage”, I will. I haven’t edited any, but if you donate them for publication as part of students’ oral work, I will.

When I’m back I’ll start sending out some feedback for this work, like the feedback you’ll find on Mariana’s indiv. OP.


US American Foreign Policies: possible why’s explained?

When I heard about the civil war breaking in Ukraine, I couldn’t understand why US American policy makers were doing that, fueling that war – except for the obvious, that US American Foreign policies include fueling civil wars outside their country, like we can see in the painful cases of African countries.

Well, today’s news brings an answer, in my view. The reason was powerful. They were trying to weaken Russia to make a historic move regarding foreign politics in Cuba.

In case you want to discuss this or do some listening to news in English!

An interesting article

Scroll down because it continues quite a bit. Interesting because the story is not very common! Someone who’s good at making money but who doesn’t like fame and its petty miseries.

Apart from that, she’s the only musician, singer, songwriter who’s dedicated a song to paramecios… Para-para-para-mecio… Para-para-para-mecio… Amazing!

😀 😀 😀


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)

Writing letters in English can save lives!

+ Learning to write letters to defend human rights

Here is December 10’s Amnesty International campaign. Write for rights! If you wish to read about some of the people in prison, whose human rights are being abused, and then write to any of them, I’ll be happy to correct your draft, if you like.

You can also organize/organise a writing session with your friends, colleagues, family, students! AI Spain has the same campaign in Spanish! Each person can bring a postcard, an envelope and a stamp (after choosing the country!) and you can have the writing session together! We could’ve also done it, but I think we should stick to our plans, and then if you’re interested we can do it later on in the year — read out our selected cases and write away! Because we will be reading about prisons, too. Writing to people in prison is really important for prisoners.

MODEL LETTERS. Apart from that, Amnesty also collects signatures for its own letters.

War Resisters’ International also organizes/organises the Dec 1 Prisoners for Peace Campaign. Here you can get some TIPS ON DO’S AND DON’TS when we write to prisoners, plus info on the cases: These people have been imprisoned for Direct Nonviolent Action and for refusing to bear arms, for CO (conscientious objection to the military service) and total resistance (insumisión) and for religious reasons (Jehova witnesses, Quakers).

How are we going to exploit in class the Memoir of OITNB?

As some of you are reading it or finished reading it, in case you want to leaf through it again, so you consolidate the learning of the vocabulary and descriptions etc you underlined, in March or so, I think, after our month devoted to Exam Training, we’ll relax a bit with projects like this: you’ll form 4 groups and work on exchanging info on language you learned/learnt — language items or way to do descriptions, narrate events, or tackle transitions, for instance.

Then you’ll need to consider what you want to do with all of that, for the day of your teamwork OP on Having Read /red/ the Memoir! 😀

At the moment, I’m preparing a workshop on legal language too (because it does come up in the news, and for more abstract aims, too), but mine has a larger scope and I want to present that after you have done what I just mentioned.

This will also be connected to reading an article by Angela Davis on the prison system in the USA and if we manage it to having our second Guest Speaker, a teacher who happens to belong to the roma people (pueblo gitano) and who speaks English and will make us remember the Alexie novel, too.

Listening to the news a minimum of twice a week

I hope doing the News OP doesn’t make you think that you should stop listening to the news at least twice a week. 😀 Learning the most common vocabulary in the news requires a lot of listening to the news! 🙂

I can see from your work you have been listening to the news, of course. But doing this project is not enough. This is just a precious exercise. The key thing, one of your fundamental aims this year should be to develop the habit of listening to English every day, knowing you can exploit those audios in different ways depending on what you want to do.

There’s a good podcast by the BBC called Words in the news. Here is a listening activity I designed for a B2 course with this podcast. You can check your answers on the BBC site and then show me your results and ask your questions. If you wish to design some like this, we can collect them and share them online. I’m sorry I didn’t upload the Word version. I might, if I find it!

Anyhow, lifelong learning activities are also an excellent source for learning and this year you need to practice those before you are left without a teacher! 😀

Third & Fourth News OPs (edited!)

Social Problems & Reactions. Scheduled for Tuesday, Nov 25th. POSTPONED FOR DECEMBER. BUT — Mariana will give an OP about Nov. 25th, the international day against violence against women and I will bring a listening activity on Global Warming (c1 level).

Gender Equality Nowadays. Scheduled for Thursday, Nov 27th, with Mónica (the human mind in diapers), Maribel (forced marriages in South Africa), Yoli (?), and Gemma (chore wars). About 25 minutes + a 15-minute listening activity (10′ listening + 5 answers) + 8 min listening


Second News OP: World in Danger

Geopolitics, energy, global warming… by Miguel, Marisol, Alba, Paqui

About 30 minutes. Questions and handouts for the audience!

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?) 😛 😀 ❤

This week, Working Groups highlight!

Hopefully, this week WGs will be working on the News OP and the Writing File. Bring your work, resources and ideas for that! ❤
We’ll also tackle your questions on LoM and we’ll read a chapter a day of the novel.

Diary Oct 28

I posted the November and December schedules, so you can book a date for your individual or teamwork OP’s.

Today I gave the Oct Writing assignments back to people, and explained C-Day, which would be next day. You need to study my corrections and comments, work on your LoM and then re-write your piece if that is what you need to do. Finally, check with my LoM here: Oct List of Mistakes. When I talk about this next day, I need you to tell me, “Hey, I had that mistake, so here’s the example!”

Writing File Project. Next I asked people to bring their past notes or textbooks where they have info on how to write different kinds of texts. You’ll work together in small groups, trying to work out which texts you wish to practice this year. Consider we’re talking about the ONE text a month. It’s not all the writing you’re doing, but its the Everybody hands in at the same time and we have a C-Day to work on LoMs (and to listen to people reading out their work). You can leave out story-telling, or telling real or fictional stories because you will be writing minisagas, Story of My Life and a story for Herstory. You’ll have to include an argumentative text (article or essay) and an article (we’ll list the different kinds and let’s see which you wish to practice together). I would also include a Letter to the Editor. We have Writings from Oct to May, so that’s 8. I usually leave the last month for people to pick freely.

We moved onto a round of What have you been listening to? It was a warm-up for working groups (lots of different issues!), who gathered after this and started working on their News OP.

Then Paqui read chapter 3 of the Alexie novel, and she mentioned some language points.

And as usual, we didn’t have time for more! 😀

I forgot two things: for us to check your workshop work on Due to/Because of and to jot down the names of the people who would want to buy a copy of the Baby Human documentaries, which is just 8 euros!! (unless the price has gone up, of course!)

Project for Working Groups: November OPs – Focus on the news

OCT 13: Project for Working Groups: Nov OPs – Focus: the news.


As you know, I’m asking you to listen to the news and radio interviews (use podcasts and other) every day, and then to pick one of those items and listen to it a few times to practice/practise re-telling and expand in this way your ability to speak, too, while noticing “grammar”, this is, reviewing grammar by using your ear and your mouth and the visualization technique. You can also turn this activity into a monologue, by first telling yourself about the news and then making a personal comment (e.g., reasoned opinion). Then you know you can come to class and tell us about that piece of news or give a monologue, this is, practice/practise one of these re-tellings with us and sometimes practice/practise giving a reasoned opinion.

Well, I would like to push a bit more in this direction, so here is an idea:

I’m going to give you the rest of OCTOBER to listen and listen to the NEWS. Then choose one news item or a few you found really interesting and/or good for your English — which allowed you to learn or practice useful vocabulary, structures, and helped you to learn things about what goes on in life!

The next step would be, getting together in Working Groups. In our last October week, I’ll give a lesson to these Working Groups so that each member can tell the rest about what he or she was working on. The other group members can take notes on what they can learn from their classmates, and they can also offer feedback. At the end of each person’s performance you have to review what you learned/learnt from that activity. After everyone has told their* news story, the group will create a list of topics they have worked together as a group by selecting those news items (for instance, so far, I’ve posted stuff to encourage you to learn to speak about Ebola, Bilingual Education, Money). Then they will decide if they wish to look for more audios on which of those topics, for instance, to expand your vocabulary, review structures that come up in the wording, and learn more about the topic. And this so as to make their OP richer or whatever! They will also consider selecting one item to design a listening activity (designing multiple choice questions together is FUN!) or a speaking activity for the whole of the class (small groups+plenary discussions). We can use the Listening Activities for Exam Format Practice in February, or as regular exercises throughout the year.

A next step is to decide what kind of project the WG wants to develop, to be presented at an Oral Presentation. We can start with the most obvious and simplest task, and if you do well, we can tackle what I also mentioned above.

For NOVEMBER, unless you want to prepare something more elaborate:

  • Book the date (1 WG per lesson): Nov 4, Nov 6, Nov 11, Nov 13, Nov 18, Nov 20, Nov 25, Nov 27.
  • The OP would be:
    • Presentation of activity (as a WG)
    • Each team member re-telling the news, making a personal comment, and/or making comments on what he or she learned/learnt from working on this particular news item. They should use the whiteboard for words or issues they want people in class to remember. People in class take notes and make questions.
    • Some time for comments on how you all worked together and what you learned/learnt (as a WG).


  • you need to integrate (joint) self-assessment of what you learned/learnt throughout the process — from getting organized to your public performance.
  • you can use this blog for ideas.
  • you should have a list (a checklist) of language items to master at the B2 level and at the C1 level, so you can develop language awareness as you listen and speak.

Diary for Oct 9 (edited)

Today I had lots of announcements, so we didn’t manage to have a full hour to listen to students — just 15 minutes to listen to a mon!

Getting Organized. Anyway, we passed the list of emails and phone numbers around, I gave out copies of Orange Is the New Black The Memoir (€6 euros, there are 2 or 3 spare copies, in case someone else needs one).

Listenings. I mentioned I’m working on designing listening exercises from news items, for us to learn about that language together in class, and to learn techniques and strategies for listening tests.

Reading/Language Awareness. I mentioned you can find an example of how I exploit reading a book on the previous link (the Page on Prisons), in case you want to get ideas for selecting language as you read the Alexie novel. As people had finally gotten / got their copies of the Alexie novel we agreed to bring that to class to start reading it together, every day one or a few chapters.

People handed in their first writing assignment, which I hope to bring to class in a week’s time. We talked about writing assignments and I explained mini-sagas and I didn’t mention you can also hand in one 100-word reasoned opinion a month, based on the news for starters. There was a question about counting words for word limits in exams, and I explained what you should train in this year — knowing your averages in handwriting. I explained how to work with outlines instead of writing drafts. We read two pages of the Writing Workshop and talked about them.

Nobody had borrowed my documentary, but two students are trying to get a copy of the episode To Belong — hopefully the 60-min one, but the 50-min one would do, too. I mentioned we could start with the Australian documentaries on neuroscience experiments! 😀

I explained a few things, like your homework every day: listening to English (the news, podcasts, TV series, documentaries, the radio), and practicing speaking (l&r, re-telling, mons, reading aloud, saying poems).

Speaking. I spoke a bit about accents, in Spain, the USA and the UK.

While analyzing/analysing the monolog(ue) we had the pleasure to listen to, we came up with three relevant strategies for speaking exams:

– If you’re going to use technical language or words or expressions that you think are likely to not be known by the listener, try paraphrasing. The simplest paraphrasing technique is, “I mean,”. You should make sure the examining board is aware of your rich language range but at the same time you should facilitate communication.

– If you’re going to use words in Spanish or another language, remember to translate their meaning, through translation or a descriptive phrase in English, as in “We’re going to Plaza Mayor — that’s a popular tourist site, … / that means Main Square, literally, and it’s a popular…”

– Oh gee. I forgot the third. Or was it just two?

Ebola (listen)

Spanish nurse tested positive for ebola (audio in US American English; video in British English). Listen to both and learn to notice if the accent is US American or British! Notice the tenses also in the different kinds of headings. Practice/Practise re-telling.