Sunday, October 30, 2011

CHARLES DICKENS: Great Writers series

According to the university lecturer in this week's lesson, Charles Dickens is one of the greatest writers in the English language. She mentions, in passing, that there are more than 2,000 characters in the author's novels and stories. Many of these fictional figures have been taken into the popular consciousness: the scheming Uriah Heep, miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, Serjeant Buzfuz the bullying barrister who gets Pickwick falsely convicted and David Copperfield, whose perilous life seems to reflect the many twists and turns of Dickens himself.
If you would like more information on Dickens, here is a great link:

For the CD track 12, these are the answers:
1. 1812/ 2. 1814 / 3. 1817 / 4. 1817 / 5. 1818 / 6. 1822 / 7. C / 8. A / 9. 1838 / 1840 … bicycle

Friday, October 28, 2011

14 Kilometros: Highly Recommended Film!

A couple of years ago, Gerardo Olivares filmed an incredible drama depicting the hardship and determination of three young people from central African who depart for Europe in search of a better life. They eventually get stranded in the desert with little hope of survival. Buba (Adoum Moussa) is an auto mechanic who lives with his brother Mukela (Illiassou Mahamadou Alzouma) in a poor village in Niger. As Buba is a talented soccer player, they decide to travel to Spain, where Buba might play professionally. They pay a smuggler $1,000 each for passage in the back of a truck headed for Algeria, where, they are told, they can find safe passage to Spain. En route, Buba and Mukela meet Violeta (Aminata Kanta), a teenage girl from Mali who is escaping an arranged marriage to an old man she hates. During the trip into Algeria, the three begin to have doubts about the smugglers, and their fears become reality when they're dumped in the desert fourteen kilometers from their destination. Buba, Mukela and Violeta are told they're only four hours from their destination on foot, but with no compass, they get hopelessly lost in the sandy plains with no idea of how to make their way to civilization. But with the help of Tuareg horsemen and unbelievable luck and courage, two of the travellers are able to push on.

As one reviewer commented, this film pays tribute to the bravery of many Africans who venture to Europe. It is also incredibly moving.

Going up?

I read this proposal somewhere and it tickled my fancy. It is drawn from the urban myth department.

Next time you are crammed in an elevator with three or four people. Address the passengers with this measured announcement.  "I am sure you are all wondering why I gathered you together here today."

La Gomera?

My new photography guru and Canary Island afficionado, Tachy affirms that you can actually see the distant peaks of La Gomera (beyond Tenerife) from Tejeda. Here is his evidence. Wow! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spooky Halloween Song by Bob Blue

I'm - not – scared

See this smile upon my face
That proves that I'm not scared.

1 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:

2 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.

3 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 going to sing it one more time,
so you'd better sing along!


Bob Blue was a songwriter, singer, musician and primary school teacher who died a few years ago but left a legacy of wonderful, thoughtful and hilarious songs. I hope you enjoy this song which is taken from The Bob Blue Songbook.


Old Mr. Johnson had troubles of his own
He had a yellow cat that would never leave him alone
He tried and tried to keep that cat away
He gave it to a man going far, far away

But the cat came back the very next day
The cat came back,
They thought he was a goner
But the cat came back,
He just wouldn't stay away
They put it in a cotton sack and gave it to a girl
Who'd started on her bicycle to ride round the world
Well, over there in China a terrible wreck was found
She's singing now in heaven with the angels all around

They gave it to a man going up in a balloon
They told him to give it to the man in the moon
The balloon it burst and everybody said
Ten miles away they picked the man up dead

The man on the corner said he'd shoot the cat on sight
He loaded up his shotgun with nails and dynamite
He hid in the garden until the cat came round
And 97 pieces of that man were all they found

The Cat Came Back: Our New Class Song

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cave dwellers?

If you tell people you live in a cave ... they might get the wrong idea. This cave (from Fuerteventura) is quite spectacular but it is not for habitation, just for a visit. But be careful of the tides!

My Favourite Room is a Cave!

Visitors are surprised to find that some Canary Islanders, up in the hills, live in caves. In fact, these cave dwellings may be quite pleasant, as Tachy from NI2A, points out in his essay about a favourite room.

Our Cave: My Favourite Room

I live in Utiaca, in a detached house with a small garden. When you go inside the house, you can see a big cave which is my favourite room in the house. 

In fact, we use the cave as a living room. The temperature is constant all year long, so when the weather is cold or hot outside, can always find a pleasant place to be in our cave.

The cave has a door and a window but there is not much natural light inside. We keep many souvenirs in the cave. These bring back memories from our travels to India, Morocco, Papua New Guinea and other lands.

There is a large television in the cave, plus a bookcase, sofa and old pieces of furniture.

Best of all, in our cave living room, we find peace! (by Tachy)

Friday, October 21, 2011

NI2 Update

NI Students: 

We will finish the second unit in our text book next week.

To date, we have covered home and weather vocabulary in unit 1, as presented in other blog postings.  Now we are studying outdoor activities and descriptive language

 In the related grammar sections we have considered the different uses of present simple and present continuous, countable and uncoutables and the use of the definite and indefinite articles (the vs a/an).

We have also gone over postcard writing (informal letter) and descriptive language.

We noted the differences between interesting and interested, with several examples, including

thrilling  / thrilled
boring / bored
exhilarating /exhilarated
relaxing  / relaxed
annoying / annoyed

Thanks for visitng the blog and please comment whenever you have any doubts or suggestions.
Best wishes with your studies!
David Shea

CD Answers (Tracks 8/9/10)

ATTENTION: Students from NI2 

Here are the answers for tracks: 8, 9, 10 on the class listening CD:

Track eight: 1. B / 2. B / 3. B / 4. C / 5. B / 6. beyond the limits / areas of industry / 8. 100 vehicles / 9. collapsing / 10. work and scores 

Track nine: 1. 5 weeks / 2. have a party  / 3. September / 4. on holiday / 5. 2 weeks / 6. Saturday / 7. B / 8. C / 9. B / 10. A

Track  ten: 1. range / 2. the list / 3. catch him / 4. B / 5. C / 6. A / 7. B / 8. A / 9. C / 10. work and scores

Thursday, October 20, 2011

By the seaside...

A friend sent me this lovely photo of my favorite beach in the whole world: Las Canteras, the municipal beach of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Juan's favourite room: his artist studio

Juan, a local artist with international recognition, describes his favourite room for us.

My life is developing in different aspects, I feel good in every corner of my house, but I spend many hours in my studio. I bought my current house because I wanted to link the basement to the house. So, for the first time, I could have my home and studio in the same space!
The house has two floors from the main front view but has three floors from the rear façade, the surrounding hillside is sloped. The basement is very large and I connected it to to the house with steps that had not existed before. The original owners had to go around the block to get to the basement.
I removed the large doors to the old garages and built a glass wall to let in enough natural light. There are two spaces of 70 meters each that I connected. Beyond the stairs is the garage and storage area, and on the other side is my studio space.
How to furnish an artist's studio?
I have several artist's easels, which allows me to work on several pictures at the same time. I have a long rustic wooden table for painting procedures, I made it as a giant artist's palette, in the study there are many brushes and pigments everywhere, and there are many points of light according to the work to be done, the studio floor also serves for painting. Imagine how dirty it can be sometimes! But sometimes I'm watching and photographing it also because it looks like a painting.
I also have stools, drawing boards that I did myself also, running water taps and stuff that are good for nothing but join me in my adventures of creation. Oh!, I have a radio, really I need it!, I tune into classical music programs, I find that inspires me. Sometimes I work at the same pace as a conductor.
The back street is an old rustic road and leads through a wooded area known as Las Magnolias so I can indulge my artistic emanations. I rarely see anyone there, perhaps a neighbour walking the dogs. Ah! I forgot, riders often go with their beautiful horses taking advantage of the rustic surroundings.

The Fair for Somalia, thanks to all!

To EOI Sta B students and staff: 

You have probably heard that last week's fair for Somalia (Médicos sin fronteras) was a big success, raising almost 1,400 euros for the cause. I want to thank all the students who contributed items and "shopped" generously for their solidarity. Also I take off my hat to all the staff, Rafael, Liz, Alvaro and Ana and most particularly our new head of English Diane Boggs, for making this event such a success. Here is a photo of recent Medicos Sin Frontera activity in strife-ridden Somalia.

More CD answers for NI 2 students (tracks 6,7,8)

To the NI 2 students, here are the answers to the next three tracks on our first CD:

Track 6: 1-4 H,F,E,B (in any order), 5 A/ 6 A/ 7B / 8B/ 9A / 10B
Track 7: 1. Five / 2. 50%/ 3. 18 / 4. 14 / 5. In the first tutorial / 6. relevant / 7. (very) elegant / 8. not possible/ impossible / 9. excellent / 10. much better
Track 8: 1. B / 2. B / 3. B / 4. C / 5. B / 6. beyond their limits / 7. areas of industry / 8. 100

My thanks to Rafael, our CD guru, for the master sheets and prep time. You are a sage! -- David


Charlie who? Another pop icon from yesteryear!

If you have never heard of Charlie Poole, do not fret! But you can find a lot about this wonderful singer and band leader from the 1930s by scouting around in Google. For now, let's just concentrate on one song: The Baltimore Fire, although it is not my favorite.  The top of my Charlie Poole list is Milwaukee Blues although I am not sure if his version is the definitive one. Anyway, we will sing Milwaukee Blues another day!

Baltimore Fire: a Charlie Poole classic

This is a classic old song popularized by the great Charlie Poole from North Carolina. Charlie is long gone, but his wonderful songs live on. I hope you enjoy this tune. Let's sing it together!

1. It was going to a falls by a narrow
That I heard a cry I ever shall remember.
The fire sent and cast its burning embers
On another fated city of our land.

"Fire, fire," I heard the cry, from every breeze that passes by;
All the world was one sad cry of pity.
Strong men in anguish prayed, and calling loud to heaven for aid,
While the fire in ruin was layin' fair Baltimore, the beautiful city.

2. Amid an awful struggle of commotion,
The wind blew a gale from the ocean.
Brave firemen struggled with devotion,
But their efforts all proved in vain.

For more information about the song, go to this page on-line

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pay Me My Money Down!

This is Sam Love's wonderful version of our class song. Wow, I love her ukulele playing and singing! I hope you do too!


Here is a song we sing in class. I hope you like it! The G (sol) and D (re) are just suggested chords. It is quite simple.
[G]  I thought I heard the Captain say,
Pay me my [D] money down,
Tomorrow is our sailing day,
Pay me my [G] money down
[G] Oh pay me, oh pay me,
Pay me my [D] money down,
Pay me or go to jail,
Pay me my [G] money down

The very next day we cross the bar,
Pay me my money down,
He knocked me down with an iron spar,
Pay me my money down

I wish I was Mr Howard’s son,
Pay me my money down,
I’d sit on the fence and watch work done,
Pay me my money down

I wish I was Mr Jackson’s son,
Pay me my money down,
I’d sit in the house and drink good rum,
Pay me my money down
(This is a work song from the Georgia Sea Islands. The slaves there lived in isolation from the culture of the Southern United States and retained much of their West and Central African heritage. Even today, they speak an English-based creole language containing many African words and using similar grammar and sentence structure to those of African languages.)

Watch this space for CD stuff

We are making the most of the wonderful CD collections that Rafael prepares for every level. At the end of each week I will post the answers here and you can check your own work. Listen carefully!
Improving your listening skills will help your speaking and general command of the language.

CD 1 Answers for NI 2 Clases

To my Intermediate Students,  Here are the answers for the first four exercises of CD 1:
Track one: 3443/SE18PB/43/1963/Moore/ B/ C/ C/B / C
Track two: B/C/B/ July 1st/ cutting down / bad headaches / exciting adventure / expected/ determination/ road
Track three: 3 years/ job / Wales / A / C / C / B / B / A / C
Track four: Techniques and training / British economy / awareness / impossible / replying or responding / answering the telephone / respect / email code / brainstorm / countered 

Monday, October 3, 2011

First Tests This Week! October 2, 2011

On Thursday of this week, NI2B, the fourth year group will have a test on Unit One. The NI2A group (Monday and Wednesday) will have a similar exam on Friday. Study the vocabulary related to weather, home and also uses of "make vs do".

Likewise my NB1 groups will also have a short test on Thursday and Friday covering the simple expressions we have covered so far along with numbers. 

Good luck to all! -- David Shea