Friday, October 10, 2014

Another Idiomatic Expression from Lorenzo NA1

I received an email message from a student, Lorenzo, who offered another idiomatic expression for our class vocabulary. Here is the message:

" Hello David, I was reading about Formula 1 and I found this idiomatic expression:
  "... The German is reported to be heading to Ferrari where he will take Alonso's seat. Speculation, meanwhile, has Alonso returning to McLaren with whom he spent a troubled year in 2007.The double World Champion, however, is keeping his cards close to his chest.  ..."

The Spanish translation could be "... no muestra sus cartas." As you can see it's a very similar expression."

Thanks to Lorenzo for this offering. In fact, there are a lot of card-related expressions in English and in Spanish, too.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

"Who I am, what I do" (Carla NA1)

(This essay of introduction is very well-written. The author is a trained journalist, so she has quite a gift with words--and with the keyboard!) 

Everybody knows me as Carla but some of my earliest friends call me Camino –that’s my surname. I´m 26 years old and I have no siblings. I´ve lived in Gran Canary Island and in Madrid as well. When I came back from the capital I began dating my boyfriend and, one year after, we decided to live together in a flat. Nowadays a beautiful dog has been included in our family and we also have a leafy garden for her. We really get on well and soon we are going on holidays to Italy, such a romantic trip!
My daily life is like a crossroad with many challenges and several options. I´ve had different jobs in a short period of time –in this sense; I used to think that I was like the American people. On the other hand, I´m fond of studying whatever I like, for instance, idioms –English, French- and I hope I could do a degree to become a teacher in a primary school. But what I really seek out is to live abroad, form new friendships, talk with native speakers of English and know another culture. Probably, if I hadn´t had a fiancé I would already have gone. Nevertheless we don´t really deny that chance.
English had been a duty for me but now it is my passion. I try to keep in touch with that language and keep my ears open when I listen to Vaughan radio or something like this. It is a pity that we spend too many years studying a language and we still speak cannot likea bilingual person. Anyway, I´m enthusiastic about learning even more each day.
I don´t have too much free time but I do sport very often and I usually have a walk with my dog. Sometimes I go to the beach and the cinema. I admit that I have got a hectic life.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Happy October 1, the Day of the CT Scan

This is the anniversary of the CT or CAT scan.

The first Computed Tomography scan was performed on a patient on October 1, 1971. It's also known as a CT scan or sometimes a CAT scan, for Computed Axial Tomography. A CT scan produces images of cross sections or "slices" of the human body. It makes it possible for doctors to examine the soft tissues of the body, which are difficult to see with traditional X-rays. In 1971, the scanner took about five minutes to capture a single slice, and it took a couple of hours to produce a single image from the raw data. Today's scanners can capture multiple slices and return images, all in under a second.
The first diagnostic scan was performed at Atkinson Morley's Hospital in London, and the first patient was a woman who was suspected of having a tumor in her frontal lobe. The scan — quite blurry by today's standards — revealed what appeared to be a mass. When surgeons opened up the woman's skull, one of them remarked that it looked exactly like the picture. The CT scan had proved its usefulness.
Partial credit for the development of the CT scanner is due the Beatles, according to British radiologist Ben Timmis. That's because the band's recording label, EMI, heavily funded the research of the CT's inventor, Sir Godfrey Hounsfield. Because the Beatles sold so many records and made so much money for EMI, Hounsfield was able to devote four years of full-time work to the development of a commercial CT machine, which was called the EMI-Scanner.
There were five separate researchers working on tomography in the 1960s. Godfrey Hounsfield was the dark horse. He wasn't an academic and didn't publish papers. He didn't apply for any patents until very late in the process, and he was funded internally by his employer, so he never needed to apply for any grants. He had no medical background, and he completed most of his work in secret. The major drawback to his method was that, when the time came to approach practicing neurologists with his invention, he had no track record and was viewed as a crackpot. He finally found an ally in Jamie Ambrose, a consultant radiologist at London's second-best neurological hospital. They began working together in 1967 — again, under strictest secrecy.
Hounsfield tested his scanner first on a preserved human brain, then on a fresh cow brain. Before he tried it on a real patient, he tested it on himself. He performed his first clinical scan for the purpose of diagnosing an actual patient on this date in 1971. He used a prototype scanner installed at Atkinson Morley's Hospital, an old Victorian building up on a hill in Wimbledon. The first patient was a woman whose doctors suspected she had a brain lesion. The scan was pretty blurry by today's standards, but it revealed what appeared to be a dark, circular cyst. When surgeons eventually opened up the woman's skull, one of them remarked that the tumor looked exactly like the picture. The CT scan had proved its usefulness — especially in the area of brain imaging, where accuracy is of vital importance. The CT was about a hundred times more detailed than a regular X-ray. After the successful trial, doctors at Atkinson Morley's Hospital grew fond of saying, "One CT scan is worth a room full of neurologists."

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Milwaukee Blues, another great singalong song!


One Tuesday morning and it looked like rain, round the curve come a passenger train
On the blind sat old Bill Jones,  he's a good old hobo and he's tryin' to get home
Tryin' to get home, he's tryin' to get home, he's a good old hobo and he's tryin' to get home

Way down in Georgia on a tramp, roads are gettin' muddy and my legs are gettin' damp
I got to catch a freight train to leave this town,
'Cause they don't allow no hobos a-hangin' around.

I left Atlanta one morning 'fore day,  the brakeman said, "You'll have to pay."
Got no money but I pawned my shoes,  I want to go west, got the Milwaukee blues

Old Bill Jones said before he died,  "fix the roads so the folks can ride
When they ride they will ride the rods,  put all their trust in the hands of God.

Old Bill Jones said before he died, there's two more roads that he'd like to ride
Fireman said what can it be?
Southern Pacific and the Santa Fee.

From Charlie Poole ( also known as  Jay Gould's Daughter)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Minority Languages in Mexico

You may be interested in reading about the fate of native languages in Mexico.  Click on the link to read the entire article.  Minority languages in Mexico 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Knocking on Heaven's Door

This is a cover version (a singer and guitar player performing Bob Dylan's song, Knocking on Heaven's Door) . Although it does not include lyrics, it is a convincing rendition. I hope you like it and again, thanks to Wilmer Torres.

Knocking on Heaven's Door

Knocking on Heaven's Door

Thank you to Wilmer Torres for sending me this link to a Bob Dylan song. 

We could try to sing this in class, perhaps. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

English Onion and Leek Soup by Jamie Oliver

In addition to his skills as a chef, Jamie Oliver also makes cooking fun. 

"Crisis sees rise in number of youngsters out of work and not studying" -- El País article

On September 11, 2014, El País, the national daily newspaper published a worrying article about unemployment among young people in Spain. Click here to access   this article.

Although the term crisis is used for our current economic woes, I encourage students to use the word slump.

By the way, the article makes reference to "ninis" which are young Spaniards who do not work or study. This popular expression comes from the Spanish "ni trabaja, ni estudia" = ni + ni. It is often used in the press to describe this depressing situation.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Succumb (English) = Sucumbir, ceder (Spanish)

This blog features a hyper link to the Spain's national daily newspaper's on-line English version. If you click on the hypertext today, Sept 10, 2014, you will find an article on Madrid's mayor, Ana Botella, who has "succumbed" to public pressure and decided to step down from her post. Here is the article on this politician

The featured verb, succumb, is commonly used in English journalism when a politician makes this sort of decision. 

Merriam Webster defines succumb as

intransitive verb \sə-ˈkəm\
: to stop trying to resist something
: to die

Full Definition of SUCCUMB

1:  to yield to superior strength or force or overpowering appeal or desire <succumb to temptation>
2:  to be brought to an end (as death) by the effect of destructive or disruptive forces

Wordreference offers this translation into Spanish
  succumb  =  sucumbir, ceder (= YIELD), fenecer

Lightning Hopkins: a Blues Legend

was a blues singer and musician who became associated with his homestate of Texas through his enduring guitar style. When people describe Texas blues style, they always start with Lightning Hopkins. I have been a fan of Lightning for many years. Here are some biographical data .

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Technical English: GLOBAL (Unit 1) NI 1

One interesting aspect of the English language is that it is used by many people as a lingua franca. That is, people whose native language is not English will use the language to communicate with other non-native speakers in specific situations. 

For example, a medical congress in Belgium may be attended by doctors from 20 or 30 different countries, but English is the official congress language so all the papers, workshops and posters are presented in English. This international English possesses certain characteristics, including a lack of phrasal or compound verbs and, of course, limited slang. 

It is impossible here to cover all these characteristics here but you might find these vocabulary lists of interest, from a Technical English website: 

GLOBAL INTERMEDIATE NI 1 Textbook for 2014-15 Academic Year

We are using the Global Intermediate by Lindsay Clandfield and Rebecca Robb Benne (MacMillan Publishing) for this academic year. It is  a very complete textbook which encompasses 10 chapters with a variety of topics and materials. If you are signed up for this course, please purchase this textbook soon. Good luck and see you in class!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

NA 1 2014-15 Practice with Idiomatic Expressions (in Spanish, modismos)

Our NA1 class will use the Third Edition of  New English File Upper Intermediate this academic year. 

I recommend you check out the on-line resources offered by this publishing house. You may find the section on Idioms and Collocations useful. Here is the link.

Click here

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Welcome Back!

Hello! I am back to my blog after a summer break. Although most of the summer was spent close to home, we did have a wonderful adventure in the Azores, just three hours north and west of our Canary Islands home. We visited the main island of Sao Miguel and also spent some time in Pico, a lush green island famous for its whaling tradition. I hope you are all well. Best wishes and watch this space for new developments! David Shea

Pico Island Information link. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Paula (NA2) on Early Years Education

            If I had the chance to make school rules, I would use different methods and teach questions that are useful in life.
             First of all, there would be a maximum of ten children per class so teachers could provide a certain individualized attention. Secondly, at nursery school and primary school the learning must be based in the experimentation so as to train children´s senses and common sense and, on the other hand, have the chance to learn in a more active and fun way.
Furthermore, they should train the ability to identify their emotions and how they might manage them, such us: breathing, doing exercise or meditation, because, in my opinion, this is absolutely necessary to ensure self-confidence, a well-balanced person and face the problems they will have to get over in the future.
Another factor to take into account is if we want to have conscientious adults, we must always be a model for our children and show them the importance of values such as respect, persistence or generosity, among others. And last but not least, throughout the learning, teachers must encourage a critical attitude so the students reach the capacity to think for themselves in every situation.
             In conclusion, education, as far as I am concerned, should provide a solid base to create a mentally healthier person and achieve more complex knowledge in our life.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Conversation topics for NA 2 speaking exams

DIY: one partner likes to do DIY around the house activities and has to convince the other partner that this is a great hobby to take up. It saves money and also provides satisfaction, for example, but requires carpentry, plumbing and other skills.
Global Warming: Discuss what can be done to improve our environment, both on an individual or neighbourhood level and in terms of government measures.
Guests Again!? Your partner has received a phone call from some US relatives who are going to come to stay. But they are quite a crowd and there is not enough room. Also you have had guests recently.
Social Networks: Discuss the pros and cons of social networking at both a personal and business level. Include in your discussion its usefulness in keeping people connected, how it helps some shy people overcome their fears, but also how addictive it might be for some users and also how it wastes a lot of time.


Here are the monologue topics for the NA 2 May speaking test:

1   Which person has inspired you the most?
2   What kind of work would give you job satisfaction?
3   Which three adjectives best describe your personality?
4   When you argue with friends or family, what do you argue about?
5   Why is it important for you to be good at English?
6   ‘It is not possible to be both successful and happy.’
7   What has been the most important historical event in your country?
8   Which famous sights in the world would you really like to see?