Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Message for Lola from Marisol (NI2 A)

One of my students, Marisol, wanted to improve her speaking and listening skills in English so she took an imaginary job in a hotel in California. She wrote to her friend Lola and described her duties on the job. Both Lola and Marisol are in our NI2 (fourth year) class this year having returned to EOI study after a 15-year break. During that time they have been busy with lots of over activities, raising children, teaching and doing development work. We are lucky to have them in class.

Hi Lola,
How are you? I haven´t written you because I didn´t have time. I´m fine although quite tired. As you know, I’m working at a hotel in California, at the beautiful seaside town of Long Beach. I decided that this summer I would improve my English, especially my speaking and listening skills, because I need it for my development projects.
My job in the Tamarindo Hotel which is interesting and exciting, but it´s really hard-work! I begin the working day very early in the morning, exactly at six o’clock. I thougth at this time there isn´t anything to do at the reception of hotels, but I wrong. The reception of my hotel is always very busy. I didn´t know when I arrived here, but the Tamarindo Hotel is the most important hotel in California! Its has 3300 rooms and 33 suites!! Uf! Really, it´s very huge!
Normally, at six o´clock, I start to supervise the notes that my workmates leave me. After this, I take note of the day’s news entries and I attend the phone calls too. While, the clients are having their breakfast and in a moment… the daily dance begins! : there are people coming and going everywhere! They ask me all types of questions: “Is there hot water in my bathroom?” “Could you give us another card? We lost the keys of our suite…” “Please, could you phone a taxi for me?” “Please, do you know the menu of dinner tonight?” “Please, at what time does the Art Museum open?”… And, yes, I practice my speaking and listening with this but it is very exhausting!! I end up feeling very tired when I get home.

But, in spite of it all, the job is very amusing. Every day something interesting or funny happens, or even crazy! So the days pass quickly.

In another way, tell me about you!! Is it all right there? Are you looking after Nalah, my favourite doggy? Have you seen Jose y María? Do you know if she had the baby already? Give them my fondest regards.

A lot of kisses for you and Nalah! I miss you!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fishing Blues (an old song)

We've been talking about how the Native Americans helped the Pilgrims settlers to fish and hunt. So here is a favorite fishing song which I learned from my hero Taj Mahal, a great blues guitar player and singer.
The Fishing Blues
Went up on the hill about twelve o'clock.
Reached right back and got me a pole.
Went to the hardware and got me a hook.
Attached that line right on that hook.
Says you've been a-fishin' all the time.
I'm a-goin' fishin' too.

I bet your life, your lovin'wife.
Can catch more fish than you.
Any fish bite if you've got good bait.
Here's a little somethin' I would like to relate.
Any fish bite, you've got good bait.
I'm a-goin' a-fishin', yes, I'm a-goin' a-fishin',
I'm a-goin' a-fishin' too.

Looked down the river about one o'clock.
Spied this catfish swimmin' around.
I've got so hungry, didn't know what to do.
I'm gonna get me a catfish too.

Yes, you've been fishin' all the time.
I'm a-goin' a-fishin' too.
I bet your life your lovin' wife.
Catch more fish than you.
Any fish bite, got good bait.
Here's a little somethin' I would like to relate.
Any fish bite, you've got good bait.
I'm a-goin' a-fishin', yes, I'm goin' a-fishin',
I'm a-goin' a-fishin' too.

Put on your skillet, don't never mind your lead.
Mama gonna cook 'em with the short'nin' bread.
Says you been fishin' all the time.
I'm a-goin a-fishin' too.
I bet your life, your lovin' wife.
Can catch more fish than you.
Any fish bite, if you've got good bait.
Here's a little somethin' I would like to relate.
Any fish bite, you've got good bait.
I'm a-goin' a-fishin', yes, I'm goin' a-fishin',
I'm a-goin' a-fishin' too.

If you would like to hear the (original) Henry Thomas version of this song taken from the Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music, go to:
This is probably the version that Taj Mahal worked with when he came up with his own version. You can find Taj Mahal in You Tube, I am sure. Good luck and keep singing! - David

Liverpool Light (Thanksgiving class song )

Here is the song we are going to learn for Thanksgiving Day. It is an old favorite of mine and tells the story of sailor who just wants to get back home from his long voyage at sea. The longing described in the song is emphasized by the very singable refrain. Bill Staines, the author, has composed many wonderful singalong songs. He is also a champion yodeller!

Liverpool Lightby Bill Staines

Cho: Singing, Shine, shine, Liverpool light
Shine on your children below;
Singing, Shine, shine, Liverpool light
Shine on your children below.

1) I've sailed this island for most of my life
All the way from the Minch to Dundee
And in Liverpool once I did take me a wife
And it's her that I'm longing to see (Cho.)

2) Three months ago April I left her with child
A child that was mine sure as she.
But she'd not complain, for she's gentle and mild
And it's her that I'm longing to see. (Cho.)

3) I've sinned a lot, for a sinner I be;
As a sailor, I've sailed in the storms.
But in Liverpool, that’s where I'm longing to be,
With her arms wrapped around me so warm.( Cho.)

4) When the light from your tower is all that I see,
And her footsteps they run to the door.
Then I'll lift up my glass and for all men to see,
I will vow to go sailing no more. (Cho.)

Greetings from Fran in Brighton!

Hi Richard,

I am working at a seaside resort hotel near Brighton for one month. I am a receptionist at the front desk of a four-star hotel. I have to devote most every minute to the telephone. I give the room keys to the guests and recommend interesting places to visit. I work from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. three days during the work week and from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. one day each weekend.

I enjoy this work so much because I am meet a lot of amazing people. I have to tell you a lot of fun anecdotes but especially I like this job because I can brush up my English a lot!



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sara's Spooky Story

Here is Sara's tale of a nightmare that seemed so real, she couldn't believe it was a dream. This story won second prize in the Halloween Spooky Story competition. Victor won first prize and Jesus B came in third. Congratulations to all three and thanks for giving us a fright! -- Your teacher, David


This story happened to me some years ago… I was only seven years old and I was a very happy child. Since that horrible life that changed my life.

I used to go to bed at 10:30 every night (when my favourite TV series finished). That day I went to sleep at the same hour, more or less. It was too cold because it was winter and it had been raining all day.

Before going to my bedroom, I went to say good night to my parents and they gave me a kiss. I was really tired but when I got into bed I was wide awake. I couldn’t sleep a wink so I was trying to think of beautiful things so I could get to sleep. Suddenly I saw some people moving into my bedroom. I thought they were Native American Indians dancing around something. I closed my eyes because I thought it was a nightmare but when I opened my eyes again they were still there.

I tried not to make any noise and I only felt fear at this sight. After a few minutes, they started making a bonfire with the wooden chair I always sat in to do my homework. They continued dancing. I thought they were part of a tribe and they were doing a ritual or something similar. I only wanted to cry and call my mom but it was too far. If I wanted to go to my parents’ room I had to pass through this mob. So I decided to close my eyes and cry in silence.

The next day I told this story to my mom and dad but of course they didn’t believe me. Nobody believed me but I am sure that wasn’t a normal nightmare because my eyes were wide open!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Real Application Letter by Fran (NI2A)

Francisco saw this ad for a job and wrote a great application letter which he kindly shared with his class. Thanks Fran! -- Your grateful teacher

ps If you get the job in Holland, will you still come to class here in Sta B????

PHP DEVELOPER Eures reference: 4739811
The PHP Developer shall design, program and maintain software, offer support to the customers in relation to this software.
He/She is responsible for the design of the functionality in different layers of an application, responsible for reading, interpreting and translating functional and technical designs to an implementation, providing an accurate, well-tested and robust implementation in accordance with the system architecture and design. - Good communicative skills - Team player - Analytical and initiative - Enthusiastic attitude to grow in the position - Able to make good thoughtful decisions with a strong sense of responsibility. Experience with Javascript, XHTML, CSS, SQL is required.

Fran's Letter

Job application

Dear Sir / Madam

I would like to apply for the job of PHP Developer (reference: 4739811), last week advertised on Eures website in the international section.

At the end of 2007, I graduated in computing engineering and I developed a website about logistics distribution as part of my degree final project. I spent eight months programming in PHP, CSS and Javascript. As part of this job, I improved my communicative skills, because I needed to understand whole functional requests.

As you can see from my CV, I have worked as a software designer in Apple for two years. This job required to be well-organised, courageous and have capacity to work in a team. I am currently working as a freelance web developer. I implement complete websites with all types of characteristics such as chat, forum, database access, or virtual shop.

I believe that I possess good skills to make decisions with a strong sense of responsibility and I am hard-working and decisive. I can speak English at an intermediate level. Last year, I studied English in Dublin for three weeks. At the moment, I am studying in the official languages school.

I enclose my curriculum vitae. Thank you for taking the time to consider this application and I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Yours faithfully,

Francisco S

Monday, November 9, 2009

Jesus B's spooky story: lost in a dark night

Once, when I was a teenager, two friends and I decided to walk to the next village across the mountains. It was summer and it was very hot, so we set off late in the afternoon. When we were in the mountains the night fell and we soon got lost. It was a very dark night and we were wandering trying to find our path for a long time, but we could not. At about 12 we felt tired, thirsty, hungry and so frightened. Then we sat down on a rock and decided waiting there until sun rise. Suddenly, we heard some voices not very far away and we quickly stood up.
“Ehh, Ehh. Is there anybody over there?” we shouted.
No answer. But a little red light could be seen on the other side of the mountain. We ran fast to the light and when got there isn’t anybody and there is no light, but the path was exactly there. Voices could be heard again, farther.
“Wait for us, please”, we shouted, but we did not get any answer.
We still walking fast until the end of the path. There we met the owners of a house sit down close their front door home.
“Have you seen anybody going up or down this path a few minutes ago? “, we asked them.
“We have stayed here almost an hour and nobody have gone up or down this path”, they said.
“Of course”
We never knew what really happened that night, but I have never walked in a dark night again. Jesus B. NI2B.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Fran from NI2A wrote this lovely essay about a long-time friend.

My best friend is Juan. We met at school when I was ten years old. We were in the same class. One day a teacher asked me a difficult maths question. I really hated studying that subject so I didn’t know the answer and I felt very nervous about this situation. Suddenly, Juan was standing up and he said the correct answer. I recovered and when the class finished, we were speaking two hours and that afternoon we met to play tennis. He won the game but that didn’t matter because that day was the first day of our friendship.

We look very similar in physical appearance despite the fact that I’m taller than Juan. We’re both thin although we like going to McDonald’s! Our hair is short and dark and our eyes are small and black, but we don’t have similar taste in clothes. He likes wearing bright clothes and I like buying dark clothes. He looks like 60s pop singers such as John Lennon. We’re very keen on playing sports. He’s good at tennis but he’s bad at football. I think he’s the worst football player that I’ve ever seen. We both like going clubbing and having lie-ins at the weekends.

Our personalities are different. He’s much more disorganised than I am but Juan is very funny. I think he’s the funniest person that I know. He has a really good sense of humour. He never looks worried about problems. He thinks all problems have good solutions. On the contrary, I get nervous about problems. He’s doesn’t mind helping people in bad moments. He’s a very good person and I hope we will be friends forever. I think I should learn a lot of things from him.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Victor's Very Scary Halloween from Lomo Espino

My scary tale happened in a dark classroom with an electronic white-board. No lights... well, one or two soft lights, no more. No moon and two dogs howling: “Ouuuhhh!!!”.
The teacher, Dracked Shea... from Rumania, was speaking about... about... I don't know about what … but everyone in the classroom understood what he was saying. I really tried but I couldn't.
Suddenly, he lift up his right arm and began to extend it. He was pointing in my direction with his extremely long, bony finger. So, I hid myself behind Rodolfo.... from La Palma. I was frighten, really frighten. I started to tremble. My legs were trembling. I was trembling with fear. My hair stood on end and a cold sweat dripped down from my forehead.
The teacher, Dracked Shea... from Rumania, wanted my blood. His eyeteeth were raising... two or three centimeters long. I couldn't breathe.
Then, Dracked Shea said with a deep, calm and horrible voice:
-“Víctor... from Lomo Espino, what do you think about my opinion?”
-”Aaaahhhh..... Aaaaaaahhh”. I tried to pronounce a word, any word but it was impossible. My throat and mouth were absolutely dry.
He asked again but with no results. I couldn't look up, my eyes fixed on on my book. Then, he shouted very angrily: “Wake up and answer!. Wake up and answer!. Again and louder: “Wake up!. Wake up!
Finally, I opened my eyes and saw my wife. At once, Uufff!, I could breathe. What a nightmare! by Victor NI2B (from Lomo Espino)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Louis Armstrong Language Exercise

To my Intermediate Students, Here is a portion an article by jazz critic David Lida taken from the California Review (to read the entire piece, see called “A Tour of Louis Armstrong’s Unconscious”. Try to fill in the gaps with the words in italics below the text. Or, if you are daring, try to fill the gaps without any assistance. Good luck and enjoy the Satchmo film clip below. -- David

A musician friend once told me a story about Louis Armstrong. It is one of those anecdotes that, while possibly apocryphal (fictional), ought to be true. Waiting to go through customs in an airport, Armstrong found that Richard Nixon, then vice president, was standing in the same ¬_____________. He approached the politician, exchanged a little _________ talk, put on his famous smile, and asked, “Mr. Vice President, would you like to carry my trumpet through customs?” Nixon replied that it would be an _________, and took the case _________ containing the instrument in his hands. Legend has it that Armstrong packed his marijuana – he smoked it every day of his adult life – in his trumpet case.
The story ought to be true because it is _________ of Armstrong’s humor, shrewdness and the slyly complex nature of a man who appeared to be absolutely straightforward. He was often said to have _________ jazz, and while this is hardly the case, he was the most emblematic and influential exemplar of that most American of musical _________ .
Sidney Bechet, Bix Beiderbecke and Armstrong were jazz’s first great soloists, but the trumpet solos recorded by Armstrong with his Hot Five and Hot Seven groups in the mid 1920s were those that all jazz musicians of the time aspired to emulate. Few could dream of _________ his high notes. He became so famous for them that the saxophonist Lester Young referred to all high notes as “Armstrongs.”
Answers (but not in order!):
honor // reaching // forms // invented // emblematic // supposedly / small / line /

Friday, October 16, 2009


We are traveling in the footsteps
Of those who’ve gone before
But we’ll all be reunited
On a new and sunlit shore

Oh when the saints go marching in
When the saints go marching in
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

And when the sun refuse (begins) to shine
And when the sun refuse (begins) to shine
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

When the moon turns red with blood
When the moon turns red with blood
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

On that hallelujah day
On that hallelujah day
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

Oh when the trumpet sounds the call
Oh when the trumpet sounds the call
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

When the revelation (revolution) comes
When the revelation (revolution) comes
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

Thursday, October 15, 2009

HOW TO BEHAVE IN MY COUNTRY: Sabrina's Suggestions

If you are invited to someone’s house in my country, there are some things you should remember to do:

First of all, you should salute without kisses, you say “hello” and that’s enough. People here don’t like having contact with people that are not from the family.

Secondly, during the meal, all the food you serve, handle it with spoons, here people don’t use knives or forks, and if you need to eat something tough, use your hands, as in the case of meat, chicken, etc.

When you invite some people to your home, please, use plastic crockery, so you can throw it very quickly and you don’t have to worry about cleaning. On the other hand, if you are invited to someone’s house, you should avoid helping the owner with the cleaning up, you just must enjoy yourself.

Finally and above all, when you have lunch or dinner in someone’s house, and you don’t like the food they serve, you can stop eating if you want and also you can drink a toast with water and are not obliged to drink wine, you can drink whatever you want, there’s no problem with that. By Sabrina NI2A

Monday, October 12, 2009

Report about the important rules of behaviour for a guest in my country

If you are invited to someone’s house in Canary Islands, there are some things you should remember to do. First of all, you should bring a little present or even a meal, preferably a delicious, sweet dessert.

When you arrive, you never take off your shoes, because you can look like a homeless. This is very different in Sweden where guests at a dinner party will often take off their shoes and walk around in socks. If you feel hot, you should ask about a clothes rack and your hosts will tell you.

During the meal, it’s a good idea to be as relaxed as possible. You should try to talk friendly about most subjects such as the weather, sports, politics but you should avoid talking about money. Please don’t ask about the price of the house or the car. In Britain you shouldn’t discuss serious topics and you never should talk about money as you can in Spain..

If you don’t like food, you can say it respectfully and your host will try to change the food. You must avoid eating food with your hands, it is considered very rude, even when you eat pizza. Don’t worry about the use of cutlery, it is less important here than other countries. In Germany you can’t use a knife to cut potatoes or fish and in Italy you only can eat pasta with a fork

Above all, the most important thing is the guests should feel as if they were in their own home! FRANCISCO NI2A

Manners Matter: Sara's Advice

If you are invited to someone’s house in my country, there are some things you should remember to do.

First of all, you must give two kisses (one on each cheek) to your host and it is very polite if you also give them a small present like a bottle of wine or some chocolates or biscuits (they should be a little expensive in order to make a good impression).

When you arrive at the house it is a good idea to say how beautiful their home is (whether this is true or false) they will answer you: Really? or Do you like it? After that, the host family well insist on showing you all round the place, all the rooms, the kitchen, the bathroom….even the garage.

During your tour, you will find many televisions ( the biggest one is in the living room but there is one in every bedroom too because the Spanish generally watch some series before sleeping) only a few of us read before falling asleep.

Do not worry about taking off your shoes at home because we usually use them inside or, maybe, we wear slippers. During the meal, it is normal talk about many subjects but the main things are football, the lives of the famous and your neighbour’s life too.

In Spain the most important meal is lunch (between 1 and 4 pm, more or less), for breakfast we only have a cup of coffee or an orange juice and, sometimes, some toast, but we do not often eat a lot of food at breakfast because at 10 or 11 am, people often eat something like a sandwich or, it is very common eating sugar-donuts.
At 9 in the evening, it is dinner time and, please, do not phone anybody after 10 because it might be considered a little rude.

Finally, if you come to my country in January, you will receive many presents because on the 6th of this month we celebrate the Epiphany or Little Christmas!
-- Sara of NI2B

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Polly Wolly Doodle: Pronunciation Practice Singalong

To my students,
Singing along with a nonsense song is a good way to concentrate on improving pronunciation. Shirley Temple rewrote this children's ditty for a film she starred in when she was just a little curly-haired girl. Good luck and enjoy!

Polly Wolly Doodle

Oh! I eat watermelon and I have for years,
sing Polly-wolly-doodle all the day;
I like watermelon but it wets my ears,
sing Polly-wolly-doodle all the day.

Maybe grass tastes good to a moo cow's mouth…
But I like chicken 'cause I'm from the south…

Fare-thee well, fare-thee well,
Mister gloom be on your way,
If you think you're gonna worry,
You can stop it in a hurry,
Sing Polly-wolly-doodle all the day!

A woodpecker pecks till he gets his fill…
But the woodpecker pays 'cause it's on his bill...

Oh! I feed my pigs with molasses yam…
They should be sweeter than they really am…

Ev'rything went wrong but it turned out right…
The skies were gray but the future's bright…

A polly is a parrot, we all know well,
But just what a wolly is I can't tell.
I wouldn't know a doodle if one came along,
But polly-wolly-doodle
Makes a darn good song!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Chely's Trip to a Wind Mill Home

Nine years ago, I went with Paco, my husband, and my sons, Javier and Álvaro, to Amsterdam, a charming city with many canals and bridges, and, of course, with many bicycles throughout streets.

We took an excursion or day trip to Edam 8 Km from Amsterdam and saw the mill houses like the one in the photo. My son Álvaro, who was ten years old at the time, was amazed and we decided to get out of our car to have a closer inspection.

The family who lived in this house mill, were working crushing cereals to make flour and to sell it. We went into the house to have a look around. Although it was quite noisy inside, because the mill was working, it was fantastic. It was a rustic house, with small rooms and a huge granary. Álvaro told us he would like to live in a mill!
(by Chely, NI2A)

Side by Side, Harry Woods Hit from 1920s

To my students, I now I am not great at keeping up with pop music trends but here is a hit single that put Harry Woods on the map in 1927! Although the clip I include here does not exactly capture the message of the song, I think the guitar strumming troubador does a great job. Looking back on the historical aspect of this ditty, it must have been an inspiration to folks when the roaring 20s gave way to the economic crash that ushered in the 1930s. Anyway, enjoy the song, keep singing and see you soon! David Shea

The lyrics: Oh we aint got a barrel of money,
Maybe we're ragged and funny
But we travel along, singing a song
Side by side

Oh I don't know what's coming tomorrow
Maybe it's trouble and sorrow
But we travel the road, sharing our load
Side by side

Through all kinds of weather
What if the sky should fall
Just as long as we're together
It really doesn't matter at all

When they've all had their quarrels and parted
We'll be the same as we started
Just traveling along, singing a song
Side by Side

We have been talking about houses in NI2. Nira wrote a nice essay describing an amazing house in Holland. Unfortunately for us, Nira is leaving this week for the USA for three months. This talented young doctor will be working in Los Angeles on a temporary basis till around Xmas time. We wish her much success and look forward to seeing her when she returns to class in 2010. Happy trails, Nira! -- David

The Most Amazing House I Have Ever Seen (Nira)
The house I remember most was not here but in Rotterdam, Holland. In 2002, I travelled to Europe with five close friends. One of our destinations was Rotterdam. There, we visited cube houses or cubic houses, the most amazing house I have ever seen! These houses were built in 1984. I remember this date because it is the year of my sister´s birthday.

When you are outside the house you cannot imagine how someone can live over there. They look like geometric trees with a crown like a yellow cube held up by a grey tube. Inside the house you have a strange sensation. In the first floor you can find the living room and kitchen. The living room look likes a spaceship and the sofas are very small.
When you look through the window you can see the street below your feet because the walls and windows are angled. On the second floor there are the bedrooms and the bathrooms.
The bedrooms are cozy. It seems to be a cabin. You feel safe inside the room. The top floor is a beautiful living space with French windows.

I think it is an original house but not functional. There is a lot of wasted space and empty corners. Besides, it is very rare to look at one side of the house and realize that the wall is not vertical. It is interesting to visit it but in my opinion, it is not the best home to live in.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tito's Ideal Home

One of our students, Prudencio (or Tito, as he prefers to be called!) from Llanos de Maria Rivera, wrote a nice essay about his ideal home. Good work, Tito! -- David

My ideal home would be very huge. I would like my house to have very big windows, because this would allow more light to come in. My ideal home needs a very good central heating system because I am very sensitive to the cold. I would prefer that my home has a roof, and of course, it will be a detached house. I would like it to have a big garden and a garage. I would also like my ideal home to have a big swimming pool, because I like swimming very much. It would be nice to have a lot of enormous trees around my home and I would like to have a gym so I can do lots of exercise in the morning and after work.
By Prudencio (Tito)

Jose Luis Goes on Holiday

In the NI2 class, Jose Luis wrote a wonderful, detailed note to an imaginary friend Mary. He is going on holiday for a while and Mary has offered to look after his place during his absence. Of course, Mary gets to have a wonderful vacation in the Canary Islands. This is a nice first assignment for Jose Luis, a very cheerful student. Good work, Jose Luis! -- David

Dear Mary,

Just a few words to tell you some tips about the house. As you know, houses like this, by the sea, need some extra work on it, because of the humidity and salty atmosphere that deteriorate everything, especially metals and wall paint.

I lend you my home because I know you are a careful person like me. Anyway, please remind the following:

First of all, leave the windows and doors closed and set the alarm anytime you go out.
Remember to feed the dog twice a day. Its food is in the cupboard in the kitchen. There you will also find the food for the fish. Once-a-day should be enough for them.

I hope you will find everything you need. Just in case, there is a little shop at the corner where you can find almost anything you need.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any problem.

Have a nice stay and I hope you find a beautiful weather.

Jose Luis

P.S: Please water the plants twice a week.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Classroom Perceptions

To my students,
You may have noticed that I prefer to have the desks arranged in a semicircle so that you are looking at each other and not just at the teacher. (NOT like the woman teaching in the class pictured here, by the way!)
Students have been kindly helping with the process of moving desks at the beginning of class. At the end of the class sessions (at 9) we need to re-arrange the desks again so they are back in their usual place and ready for the high school classes the following morning. As we share this classroom space with the high school, it is important to be thoughtful of the other folks, teachers and students, who also use this space.
The way we perceive our class has a big influence on how we learn. In a communicative language learning environment, we look to each other for many social activities in the classroom.
Thanks for your cooperation.

Save Paper and Energy (Ahorrar papel y energía)

To my students,
I hope the announcements I post on my blog for class will help save paper and energy. This should make our learning experience more efficient, too. Let's hope it works! -- David

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

"There was an old woman
Who lived in a shoe
She had so many children
She didn't know what to do"
- Children's Nursery Rhyme

We are studying homes in our NI2 classes. This unit brought to mind a nursery rhyme I learned as a child. Fishing around on the Net, I found this photo which may inspire an essay. Here's a title:
Describe the most amazing house you have ever seen.

Write as many words as you like, but don't get carried away (¡no te pases!)
Regards and best wishes

Friday, September 18, 2009

Intermediate 2 Groups (IUNIT ONE: HOME COMFORTS)

Dear students of Intermediate 2 (both groups),
We are busy getting to know each other, learning names and making the most of our class time. We have sung a few songs and did some public speaking which should help us conquer our nerves.

In the Premium B1 textbook we are working on Unit 1 about HOMES. Here are some essay titles for you to write about if you need extra writing practice. Write 150 words for each:

1) Describe your ideal home.
2) Describe your favourite room in your house.
3) A friend is going to stay at your house for three weeks while you are on vacation. Write her a note with instructions about how to care for the place.

Good luck and keep studying!
- David

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


To my singing students!

I don't know much about this old cowboy song, except that it is a family favorite of us Sheas. It also has a lilting melody that is clearly Irish in origin. By the way, I don't think many cowboys actually used expressions like "I bid you adieu" but that's okay!

Hope you enjoy singing it. -- David

From this valley they say you are going,
We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile.
For they say you are taking the sunshine,
That has brightened our pathways awhile.

Come and sit by my side, if you love me,
Do not hasten to bid me adieu.
Just remember the red river valley,
And the cowboy who loved you so true.

I've been thinking a long time, my darling,
Of the sweet words you never did say.
Now, alas, must my fond hopes all vanish?
For they say you are going away.

Do you think of the valley you're leaving?
Oh, how lonely and dreary it will be.
Do you think of the kind hearts you're breaking?
And the pain you are causing to me?

(Irish Cowboy Song by James Kerrigan, apparently from the 1850s)

I'm - not - scared-- overcoming fear in the classroom

To all my students,

We have already begun to stand up and speak before the class. Addressing an audience, whether big or small, can be a formidable experience. Here is the wonderful Bob Blue song to help us overcome our fears. Relax and enjoy yourself in class. -- David

I'm - not - scared
I'm - not - scared
See this smile upon my face
That proves that I'm not scared.
I went into a big, dark house
I went there by myself.
It seemed to me as if it had
a ghost on every shelf.
A friend of mine was hiding there
and then I saw his head.
He jumped right out and shouted "Boo!"
and this is what I said:
One night when camping in the woods,
I heard a spooky sound.
I slipped out of my sleeping bag
to take a look around.
The night was dark, the shadows deep
A spooky, creepy night.
And this is what I shouted out, while shivering with fright.
When I go out on Halloween
the spooks will be out, too.
And so I think I'll watch my step,
and so, I think, should you.
And if I get a little scared,
I'll keep in mind this song.
We're gonna sing it one more time,
so you'd better sing along:

Note: spooky and creepy are roughly synonymous!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sherman's March to the Sea (Film Recommendation)

If you are a keen to watch a quirky film, Ross McElwee's classic Sherman's March. McElwee is a professor of film studies in Boston, Massachusetts but he is originally from North Carolina. In this semi-serious documentary, he chronicles the great tragedy that was General Sherman's march through the Southern USA during the Civil War of the 1860s. I plan to use the clip attached to help students come to terms with different variants of English. In this case,
we get a healthy dose of the US Southern drawl.

The Noted Rider

(Yikes! Here is a story that needs an ending. Please send me your ideas about how this very ancient tale reaches its logical conclusion. Thanks for your suggestions and imagination. -- Delmar Lemming, EOI resident story teller)
Once a famous nobleman galloped through...

    the forest on his horse. On one side of him, his wife was riding along on another horse and on the other side rode his trusted servant. They rode through the night as the moon was full and lit their way. Suddenly the moon disappeared behind some clouds and the three riders slowed their horses to a trot. Just then a gang of bandits jumped out from the bushes and attacked. They pulled them off their horses and chopped off the heads of the nobleman and his servant. Then they took the horses and all their money and rode off into the night, leaving the woman alone in the forest beside these two dead men. The woman wept in agony but the moon came out again and revealed a tiny stream that she had not noticed. As the moonlight danced in the flowing water two birds landed on a low branch just above the woman’s head. One bird tells the other that the mud of this stream is magic. If the woman takes the mud from this stream and rubs it in her hands with three leaves from the tree where they are perched, then spits into the mixture three times and chants the magic spell (the hocus pocus variety) she can then run the mud onto the dead men’s necks and put their heads back on. They will, the bird assures his mate, then be perfect well again. The birds fly away and the woman rushes to do as instructed. After carrying out the procedure she puts the heads back on.As predicted, the men are right as rain. The trouble is, in her excitement, the woman put her husband’s head on the servant’s body and the servant’s head on her husband’s body. My question is: who is her real husband?

Welcome Back!

It is great to be back here at the EOI Santa Brigida Blog where you will find lots of interesting information about activities and information to improve your English. You will also find some stories and songs you might enjoy whether you are learning English or not! Thanks for coming to the blog. David Shea (alias Delmar Lemming!)

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Tribute to Ebe's Grandmother

To my Students:

We have been talking about our ancestors in the second year (NB2) class. Here is a very nice piece by Ebe. I look forward to receiving more essays. David


My grandma was born in 1900, in Tejeda, in a small village way up in the mountains of the island of Gran Canaria, her name was Pepa, just like my sister.

Pepa married when she was sixteen years old and had three daughters and two sons, she worked very hard during the Civil War cultivating the land, doing housework and taking care of her children.

Curiously, she never went to the seaside until she was approximately ninety years old, when she went to live in the capital of Las Palmas. It was the first time she ever went up an escalator (or mechanical stairs) an amazing experience for her. She had never gone up steps like that before.

She only left the island once to go to Madrid and the flight by plane was exciting.

She was never in hospital for disease, up until 97 years old, when she died.

All our relatives remember her as a happy person.

By Ebe

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Delmar Lemming's Version of an Old Folk Tale

The Thief (for my Advanced Communication Students, Dario, Arminda, Pilar, Pili, Vicente, Víctor, Yeray, Ana, Carolina, Ana Sofía, Fayna, Ignacio, Beatriz and Javier, among others!)

Once upon a time there was a thief. Not just any thief,...

    this man was the best thief that had ever lived. The amazing thing is everyone knew who he was and that he was a thief. The police knew he was a thief but couldn’t catch him. The judges knew he was a thief but couldn’t try him. Even the king himself knew him but nothing could be done because no one managed to catch him red handed. Also he never left behind any evidence. He was a very clever thief indeed.
    But thieves are like any other person and they grow old. So the Thief realized that his best days were behind him, he decided to retire to a quiet part of town and give up his thieving ways.
    One day the Thief was shopping for spices in a local shop and as he reached for his wallet to pay, he realized he had left it behind and had no money on him. “What do I need money for?” the thief thought to himself. “After all, I’m a thief!” With a smile he slipped the jar of spice up his sleeve and wandered out of the shop. As he walked down the street, a hand caught him by the shoulder and spun him around: It was a young police officer. “I saw you steal that jar of spice as I looked through the shop window,” and as he spoke he exclaimed. “Wait. I know who you are. You are the thief. My father always wanted to catch you.”
    So he was taken directly to the magistrate. “You! What did you steal?”
    “A jar of spice worth about five copper pennies.”
    “Well, for your sentence you will pay me 5,000 gold pieces.”
    The thief looked at the judge in shock. “I don’t have 5,000 gold pieces.”
    The judge smiled. “Then you will spend 5,000 days in prison.”
    “I am an old man. That could be the rest of my life.”
    “I hope so,” said the magistrate.
    The thief was taken to an old prison, high up on a mountain. Its walls rose as if to meet the sky. His cell was cold and damp, the bars so thick as to almost blot out the sun so once you were inside you had no idea whether it was night or day. A heavy oaken door creaked as it opened inviting him to a lengthy stay. In its squeal, he could hear the murmur of “eternity.”
    “I am going to escape,” the old thief said. The guard laughed. “No one has ever escaped from the King’s Prison. If they did whichever guard was on duty would have to take their place and serve out their sentence. No one escapes.”
    “Watch me,” whispered the old man.
    Next morning when his bowl of gruel was brought to him the Thief asked if he could be brought to see the King. The Thief told the guard he had a wonderful gift for the King and would like to give it to him himself. The guards laughed and teased the old man who turned away and seemed to speak to the wall as he half whispered, “What a pity! I wonder what the King will say to these guards when he finds out they kept him from receiving a wondrous gift.”
    Before you know it, the Thief found himself in the throne room of the royal palace. There the King sat, his Prime Minister next to him, the General of the Army next and finally the bishop of the church. The King looked impatient. “I haven’t got much time. Let me have this wonderful gift.”
    The thief held out a small golden box, covered with ornate carvings. The King smiled as he held it but upon opening the box his mood darkened. “This is a peach pit. A dried shrunken peach pit.”
    “But, your Highness, this is a magic peach pit. If you plant it, it will grow into a tree in one day. The second day it will be covered in fruit. The third day each piece of fruit will turn to solid gold.”
    “If that is so, why haven’t you planted it?” demanded the King.
    “Well this is very powerful magic. Part of the magic is that you must have a pure heart. You must have never lied, or stolen or cheated or hurt someone. I’m a thief. It can’t possibly work for me. But you, you are the King. I’m quite sure you can make the magic peach tree grow.”
    The King looked down at the peach pit and thought of all the times he had lied to his people, all the times he had hurt them needlessly. “No, I am not the one,” he muttered, handing it back to the Thief.
    The Thief then gave it to the Prime Minister. “Now then, the Prime Minister,” exclaimed the thief. “The man who runs our government, I should think you can make it grow.” The Prime Minister looked down at the pit and thought of all the bribes he’d taken over the years and all the people who had suffered because of it. “No it’s not me.”
    The Thief then gave it to the General saying “I’m sure the General can make the magic work. The brave leader of our armies,” The General looked down and thought of all the weeping widows who had lost their loved ones over a scrap of land or a forgotten idea or misplaced word. “No, I can’t do it.”
    Then the Thief handed it to the Bishop. “I’m sure the Bishop, the holy man, can make it grow.” The Bishop looked down at that peach pit and thought of all the money that should have gone to the poor and hungry but instead went into his pockets. He saw the splendid cathedrals with beggars in the doorway. “No,” he muttered. “I’m not the one.”
    These four powerful men all bowed their heads and couldn’t even look at the Thief. “Isn’t it curious,” he declared. “The four most powerful men in the country cannot make the magic happen and yet they live lives of wealth and luxury. While I, an old thief, sit condemned to a cell for stealing a jar of spice. Does this seem fair?”
    There was a long silence until the King finally spoke, “No, Thief, it isn’t fair. The lesson you taught us has bought your freedom. Go home.”
    The Thief bowed and as he left the room he looked at his guard and winked “I told you I’d escape.” (Traditional tale from Korea)

Jose Prefers Beaches with Few Sharks!

A good beach is a very big one with yellow sand. It is very important that the grain is fine, because the thick grain is very more annoying for our feet. Its sense of touch is terrible for me. The cleaning sand also is very more important, in my opinion.
The water quality is important, too. Dirty or toxic water is very bad for our skin and health. In the good beach, the water is clean and crystal clear… and obviously salty.
Most people prefer small waves and a calm tide. But the sports people enjoy big waves and those most adventurous ones prefer a strong, wild tide.
The best beaches have qualified life guards. They are very important and necessary in case of danger. They save many lives. Most beaches, but not all, have got a Red Cross station, too. Some small beaches haven't got life guards nor any Red Cross facilities but, yes, they are crowded with many people. The perfect beaches have also got good restaurants, a big parking space, big, clean bath areas and hotels, too.
Also, a good beach does not usually have lots of jellyfish and sea urchins in its waters, but it is more important and necessary, in my opinion, to have few sharks. These can really ruin your day! Jose

Ana's Essay about Beaches in Gran Canaria (NB1)

(In the Canary Islands we are surrounded by so many different beaches. In fact, many Europeans, especially from the far North, consider these islands as exclusively a beach destination. So some of our students asked:WHAT CONSTITUTES A GOOD BEACH? Here is one essay on the subject.)

I wonder what constitutes a good beach and the answer seems clear and easy. In general, people like a beach with clear, calm water, clean and white sand; a beach with facilities such as umbrellas and deckchairs, cheap restaurants and, of course, a good parking lot not far from there. And, if people could also order the weather they liked, they’d ask for a sunny day, not very hot, without wind, just the ideal temperature to get a nice suntan.
But I think it’s not so easy to answer because if we make the same question to young people who like sports and activities with friends, they’ll answer they prefer a beach where windsurf or any other sport can be practised . They like beaches where the wind blows and with a lot of big waves. Beaches with an open-air cafe or a refreshment stall with music and a lot of people shouting and laughing and with a parking area to leave their cars because they have to carry their windsurfing equipment.
On the other hand, if we make the same question to a young mother, she’ll probably prefer a very calm beach with clean sand where their children can make sandcastles, while she’s lying down on a deckchair reading a magazine or doing crosswords. And she’ll be more quiet and sure if there were some lifeguards or the Red Cross near her.
At last, if I have to answer this question with my own opinion a good beach is one that is calm, with not many people. With some rocks where I can sit on and stay there, in silence, looking at the sea and relaxing. I like a beach with clear water, some waves but not big ones, with clean, white sand and of course, without umbrellas or deskchair, I prefer just my towel. The sound and the view of the sea is, for me, one of the most relaxing things.
Now, perhaps you agree with me when I say that your question about this subject is not so easy to answer. I think what makes a good beach depends on who you ask the question to, don’t you? Ana J. NBA1

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Delmar Lemming Saluda a la EOI de Sta B

Delmar Lemming Saluda a la EOI de Sta B!

Learning about the Cape Verde Islands by Miriam NB2

In our last class day we were speaking about our Christmas time. More or less all of us had had a good time. We were speaking how our holidays had been, but one of our classmates told us his journey to Cape Verde and we learned many aspects about this place.
First of all we learned that there were ten Islands San Antao, San Vicente, Sta Lucia, San Nicolas, Sal (where is the airport) Boavista, Maio, Santiago(the most important island of all them) Fogo(where there is an active volcano) and Brava. Many of these Islands are desert; it means that nobody lives there. These Islands are quite like the Canary Islands because they are of volcanic origin, but they are drier than our islands.
They speak Portuguese and Creole Cape Verdian that is a dialect. The name of our classmate is Javier he works as a piano teacher. He told us that he would like to teach piano to people in Cape Verde but nobody was interested. This is not his first time in Cape Verde, he first went there ten years ago and fell in love with the place.

I’m very happy about to know of his journey. I would like to visit too.