Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Butterfly Circus

The Butterfly Circus, clip with Spanish subtitles, provides us with an opportunity to come up with some interesting vocabulary and much more.

Gatsby: Where Tinsel Town and Tragedy Mingle

We have been studying the classic F Scott Fitzgerald novel, The Great Gatsby in fourth year. Our reading was enhanced by watching a few segments of the 1970s movie adaptation starring Mia Farrow and Robert Redford. Here are a couple of interesting, well-written essays by Alejandro from NI2B Thanks for the good work. I hope to post more.

Jay Gatsby seems to be a very mysterious figure in the book. Describe how this “hero” or “villan” develops as a character in the novel.

Many things are said about Gatsby in the novel. At the beginning of the novel, every reference about Gatsby is confused. People barely speak about him and when it happens, there are always short opinions or their conversations are interrupted. In this way, Gatsby´s figure is really mysterious. Reading forward you can find out why Gatsby is mysterious, nobody knows exactly who he is, he throws wild, raucous parties but he is often alone. People say a lot of different things about him. This “villain” could be a German spy, a killer, a bootlegger, a gambler... Others think he was in the American Army in the world, being a “hero.” Anyway, his figure is not clear at all.

As you carry on reading you realize he is not a bad person. Gatsby would do anything for love. His only aim is to be happy with Daisy.

I don´t really know if he is a villain or a hero, but as Nick says at the end of the novel, Gatsby believed in his dream. Everybody has a dream, and like Gatsby, we must all follow our dream wherever it takes us.

What is Nick Carraway´s role in the novel? How does he change as the story develops?

Although Nick develops a very passive role, I think he is the protagonist of the novel. He does not change anything in the book, he only tells us what is going on in the story. This is a good way to make and join different stories.

In spite of keeping this passive role, I think he´s the protagonist because it links the all figures. Apart from Nick´s role, I think there are different main characters in the novel (something like shared-main roles). Maybe, the most important of them is Gatsby´s one.

There are a few times when Nick does something important for the story. One of them is that he arranges a meeting with Gatsby and Daisy.

He could change the end of the book because he knew how Myrtle had really died, and he knew what Tom had told Wilson, but Nick did not tell anything to anybody. This further shows how incredibly passive Nick was in the novel.

Alejandro NI2

Friday, February 25, 2011

Bilingual Basketball Vocabulary (English/Spanish)

Here is some bilingual basketball vocabulary for my students!
Since its origins in the late 18th century in Western Massachusetts, basketball has become an international sport. But, especially at the professional level, it continues to be considered a US sport. So it shouldn't be surprising that much of the Spanish-language vocabulary of the game comes from English, and that among fans some English terms may be understood more readily than the Spanish equivalents. These terms vary not only between Spain and Latin America, but even between neighboring countries. Even the name of the game isn't uniform throughout the Spanish-speaking world. The vocabulary below represents some of the most common terms used by Spanish speakers.

air ball — el air ball
assist (noun) — la asistencia
backboard — el tablero
bank shot — el tiro a tabla
basket (goal) — el cesto, la canasta
basket (score) — la canasta, el enceste
basketball (ball) — el balón, la pelota
basketball (game) — el baloncesto, el básquetbol, el basquetbol, el básquet
box score — el box score, el sumario
center — el/la pívot
cheerleader — la animadora, el animador, el/la cheerleader
coach — el entrenador, la entrenadora
corner — la esquina
court (playing field) — la pista, la cancha
defend — defender
dribble (noun) — el drible, la finta, la bota, el dribbling
dribble (verb) — driblar
dunk (noun) — el mate, el dunk
fast break — el ataque rápido, el contraataque
forward — el/la alero
free throw — el tiro libre
half, quarter (period of play) — el periodo, el período
hook shot — el gancho
jump ball — el salto entre dos
jump pass — el pase en suspensión
jump shot — el tiro en suspensión
key — la botella, la zona de tres segundos
man-to-man (defense) — (la defensa) hombre a hombre, (la defensa) al hombre
offense — el ataque
overtime — la prórroga, el tiempo añadido pass (noun) — el pase
pass (verb) — pasar
personal foul — la falta personal
pivot (verb) — pivotear
play (noun, as in "three-point play") — la jugada (la jugada de tres puntos)
player — el jugador, la jugadora, el/la baloncestista
playoff — la liguilla, la eliminatoria, el playoff
point (score) — el punto
point guard — el/la base, el armador, la armadora
post — el poste
power forward — el/la alero fuerte, el/la ala-pívot
press (noun) — la presión
rebound (noun) — el rebote
rebound (verb) — rebotar
referee — el/la árbitro, el/la referee
rookie — el novato, la novata, el/la rookie
screen (noun) — el bloqueo
screen (verb) — bloquear
scrimmage — la escaramuza
season — la temporada
shoot — tirar
shot — el tiro
shooting guard — el/la escolta
team — el equipo
technical foul — la falta técnica
timeout — el tiempo muerto
tournament — el torneo
turnover — el balón perdido, la pelota perdida, el turnover
warmup — el calentamiento
wing — el/la alero
zone defense — la defensa en zona
zone offense — el ataque zonal
zone press — el marcaje en zona

Boston: Keeping up with my Homeland

In the last few years I have visited Boston in summer holidays. Although I come from Western Massachusetts, the Bean Town was always dear to my heart. I am pleased to report that going back to that city more recently has proved to be very interesting and fun. I recommend Boston to my students who plan to tour the USA. You can keep up with the city and its environs at the following web site which is linked to the hometown newspaper, The Boston Globe: I also use this link to keep up with my favorite basketball team and my hero Rondo!!!!! (pictured here on a layup).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Expedito Recommends the Guardian (London)

My NI 2 student Expedito from Cuatro Caminos (near San Mateo) recommended a couple of web sites for his colleagues at the EOI Santa Brigida. I thank him for his suggestions and include the Guardian link in the Recommendations sidebar.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Slang with a Twang!! Scrum with Rum!

As we start our second novel in the fourth year class, I notice we are going to get into a lot more slang. Here below (taken from the English Club site) is a link to some US slang, although in the archives there are slang terms from many lands.
The Irish travel Pete McCarthy once declared Australia the unchallenged capital of slang and swearing in the English speaking world. He noted that the Australian rugby team could defeat opponents "just by swearing at them!" Ouch!! ***%%% ! (expletive deleted).

Banana English! English Banana!

I found this fun site for learning English with lots of materials for teachers and students of English and also drama.

I also happened upon a scrumptious recipe for banana pancakes ... which apparently is a delicacy of the Canary Islands. To avoid wildly unhealthy cholesterol and fat levels, I will keep the recipe to myself!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Learn English at Home or Abroad?

This is a recent writing assignment from the Flo-Joe link ( which you may find of interest.

Writing Paper Part 2.
Task Type: Discursive Composition
Question: In your English class you have been discussing different ways of studying English. Your teacher has asked you to write a composition with the following title:

The advantages and disadvantages of learning English abroad compared to learning in your own country. Write your composition for your teacher (around 120-180 words). What you need to do to pass is to understand what the examiner wants you to do.

Ideas for writing. Ask yourself the following questions to help you get started:
What are the advantages of learning English abroad, especially in an English-speaking country?
What are the disadvantages? (E.g. Cost? Being homesick?)
What are the advantages of learning English in your own country? (E.g. Being with friends and/or people who have similar language problems to you?)
What are the disadvantages?
What is your final conclusion?
Drafting and proofreading your workYou should look at your first draft of the task and decide:
Have you answered the question?
Is the composition organised in a clear and logical way?
Is the language correct with a good range of structures?
Will the reader enjoy reading your composition?
Is the style OK?

If the answer to any of these questions is 'no' you will need to do some more drafting!

English Forum and other links

You will find many interesting links in one of the "recommended" sidebars on this blog, including the English Forum. With these links you can sail the seven seas in your English studies!

News in English: El Pais Offers Assistance

There are many ways to get local news in English now. Here is one example, taken from the national Spanish daily, El País. Hope you like it.

What are you doing? Present continuous

If any beginning students are still unclear about the present continuous tense, you should visit this link put together by Isabel Perez:

The Typewriter

A dear Canadian pal of mine, found an abandoned typewriter beside a trash can in our city. He took it home where his nearest and dearest asked "what are you going to do with that?"
Thus I inherited the ancient artifact and now I am poised before the keyboard, ready to write a message to a friend back home, Wid and his family. It is a custom that used to take up a considerable part of my week, tappìng out friendly letters on a Smith Corona. The portable I typed on for many years was a high school graduation present from my sister Neal. I still cherish that machine and all its memories.
Unlike a PC, you have to really think before you tap away. You can cross out, but your errors and slip ups are all your own and out there for all the world to see. It can be a daunting prospect. Anyway, it is all part of the writing process from another era. I read an interview with the English novelist Penelope Lively who shuns the use of word processors in the novel-writing process. She much prefers pen and paper, it is a custom that has produced wonderful literature and even earned her success. Alan Bennett, the playwright, also avoids PC use, I read, and prefers a typewriter. That was his habit until very recently, anyway. Writing is a sacred act however we compose our thoughts. -- Delmar Lemming

Do you want to improve your writing skills? Then, write!!!

Many students complain that they find it difficult to express themselves in English. Some say they even have qualms about expressing themselves in their own mother tongue, Spanish, when it comes to paper and pencil.
I cannot help you with your Spanish, unfortunately, but there are some general considerations which might help you in any language you want to write in.
Putting pen to paper may be a challenge but I know from experience that the best recipe for overcoming this dilemma is to practice, to keep at it.
Here is a place where you can visit for assistance:

qualms = misgivings (in Spanish, reparo)
keep at it = carry on, perservere (in Spanish, seguir dándole)


Here is an on-line thesaurus:

I love the thesaurus, a bulky index of words, words, words... their friends, enemies, relations, linkers.
Words are wonderful.
Words survive when we think they are dead!
Words serve our purposes when we are precise and betray us when we are vague.
Pete Seeger once quoted someone else (I am not sure whom) who said "never speak more clearly than you think."
Words are verbs, adjective, adverbs, nouns, pronouns, conjunctions and loads of other stuff. Words are tools!
Pete Seeger once wrote a song called Words that says

"Words, words, words,
In Tom's old Declaration
How much of truth remains?
If I only understood them
If my life pronounced them,
Would not this world be changed!?"

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Drunken Sailor

This is one of the most amazing sea shanties of them all. A work song which serves as a standard singalong for the British Navy. As it has gotten institutionalized, it has also taken on loads of bawdy verses which I will not share with you here! Enjoy!

What shall we do with a drunken sailor (3x)
Early in the morning
(chorus) Way Hey and up she rises (3x)
Early in the morning

Pull out the plug and wet him all over (3x)

Shave his belly with a rusty razor! (3x)

Tie him by the leg in a running bow line (3x)

Wake him up and shaken him up! (3x)

Early in the morning!!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Patience is a Virtue.... Help for Beginners!
In class yesterday with the beginners' group, we were considering thedifferent pronunciation of
Writing -- (long "i" sound)andWritten -- (short "i" sound)
and your teacher explained that the two consonants (TT) were thereason for the short "i" sound.
"But this is too difficult," a wonderful student named Floryannounced. "How will we ever learn this!"
Well, I advise patience but also recommend getting as much exposure toEnglish as possible.If you would like to prove or disprove my observation about the doubleconsonants' effects on preceding vowel sounds, you can consult anon-line dictionary of English with prounciation options.I recommend the EFL vocabulary and grammar page cited above and alsolinked in the sidebar here.
Good luck and keep plugging away -- (plug has a short "u" sound, by the way!!!!)
David Shea, your teacher

Monday, February 14, 2011

Yikes! Cold Weather! Let's Serve some Soup!

Jung at Heart!

Carl Jung: Dreams and Symbols

We are studying dreams and imagination in our NI (fourth year) classes. Somehow I got onto the subject of Carl Jung, one of my heroes, so here is some information. There are hyperlinks to many terms which may interest my students. Have fun and, as Jung advised, take your dreams seriously!

Dickens and Trafalgar Square: Lucia´s London Recommentations

London's city is one of the most important cities in the world. It is interesting for its museums and its history. Many tourists visit the Tower of London where you see are the magnificent crown jewels. Shakespeare lived and worked in and near this city. Although a native of Portsmouth, Charles Dickens, another famous author, wrote about the lives of the rich and poor people of London in his day. You can tour many impressive places in London such as the banks of the Thames, or you can visit the old Royal Observatory. You can visit the Imax movie or you can go to the London Eye and from there see the whole city. You can find many art galleries, in Trafalgar Square, you can visit the most famous, the National Gallery, with many famous paintings. London also has famous churches including St Paul's Cathedral. At night there are many festivals, pubs and club bars where you can have a good time with your friends. (Lucia)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A London Adventure with Patricia and her friends!

Dear friends:

Almudena, Esther, Angel and I are going to travel to London this summer. If you like, you can travel with us. There are many interesting places in London!! We have travel plans already! The first day, on Monday, we can go on a boat trip from Tower Bridge to Westminster; so, we see the town from the Thames which is a big part of London’s history. It has always been at the centre of the city. In the evening, we can visit The British Museum, one of the largest museums in the world. There are thousands of exhibits and over five kilometres of galleries, it is fantastic!

The Second day, on Tuesday, let's visit South Bank, there we can see The Royal Festival Hall and The Tate Modern. We can also see art galleries and we will have lunch in their restaurants or bars. In the afternoon we can visit the Imax Cinema.

On Wednesday, we visit Buckingham Palace, the London home of the Queen. The most famous old buildings are north of the river. The houses of Parliament and of course, Big Ben. This is the name of one of the bells.

London is well know for its parks so in the afternoon, we can visit some of them. We will go to walk through Hyde Park and Regent´s Park to see more than six thousand animals in its zoo. Then, we can attend an open–air theatre and we can watch Shakeaspeare’s plays.

On Thursday, we go shopping. London is world famous for its shopping. We go to Oxford street, Selfridges and Harrods. Surely there are sales!

On Friday, in the morning, we visit The London Eye, This is a big wheel that takes you 135 metres above London. We can see for forty kilometres in all directions. We can see St. Paul Cathedral, Windsor Castle and new buildings like The Milenniun Dome and Gherkin. In the afternoon we visit Canary Wharf, that is a new centre of business in London. On weekend mornings (Saturday and Sunday) we can take the tube to two well known markets, at Porto Bello Road and Camden Town. There they sell exciting things (and some junk).

On Saturday evening we will visit Covent Garden and have a coffee. Covent Garden is famous for its street performers. At night we will go to Soho to frequent the old pubs. On evening Sunday we return home. Oh well, it was a wonderful trip! Best wishes from Patricia NB1c

Visiting London with Nieves from NB 1C

Our NB1 students are planning an imaginary holiday week in London. Here Nieves offers an itinerary.

London town is very nice to visit. When I go there I want to see many interesting places. You can visit Imax Cinema or the London Eye, the biggest wheel in the world. From up there you can see the city for forty kilometers in all directions above London. Another very important feature is the Houses of Parliament with the clock tower or Big Ben. You can visit many parks, palaces or art galleries and museums for example The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square (one of the most famous places visited by everyone), The British Museum (with many ancient Roman, Greek or Egyptians pieces of art), Buckingham Palace where Queen Elizabeth lives or Hyde Park.

I love shopping so let's go to the most famous shop in London, Harrods. Another famous place for shopping is Covent Garden which, in the past, was a fruit and flower market although there are many more markets in London, two of them are in Notting Hill. This neighbourhood is also famous because it has the largest carnival in Britain.

When night falls on London, you have thousands of pubs where you can eat and drink. The Prospect of Whitby was built in 1520 or The Lamb and Flag in Covent Garden. In Soho there are many restaurants and cafes for a range of fare from more expensive to cheap meals. So you have Chinatown zone or very different restaurants, with French, Spanish, Indian Japanese food. If you want to go to the theatre or cinema you can go near Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.

In short, London is an incredible town to visit… so come on, let's go!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Irina's Unforgettable Holiday in Fuerteventura

Yes, I was there! I saw these enormous waves while sitting on the sand. All
morning, I walked along the sea shore. The sailing boats were beautifully located
just a few metres away. I checked into a hotel very near the beach and started my holiday in Fuerteventura.

There I practised surfing, kayaking, kitesurfing, canoeing, and diving. I was very proud of my progress in those activities. I started without knowing how to dive nor to surf but at the end of my vacations I enjoyed the feeling of being good at those sports. Furthermore, I met my boyfriend when we were canoeing, where I had the luck to explore the coastline, to smell the extraordinary nature and to gaze at the birds, trees, the blue sea and sky, and so on. That was the most unforgettable holiday of my life. Irina NI 2A