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.