Sunday, December 22, 2013

Speaking Topics for Advanced Level (NA2, Jan 2014)

The speaking tests in January will 
include the topics we have covered in class
but other areas as well:

Employment and Working Conditions 
Techology and Multi-tasking
Revenge of the Heart (Men and Women)
Human Possibilities vs Special Needs 
Faith and Family 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Collage from a friend

The Great Columbus Enigma

The Italian explorer Christopher Columbus reached the New World on October 12, 1492, one of the sailors on the Pinta sighted land, an island in the Bahamas, after 10 weeks of sailing from Palos, Spain, with the Santa María, the Pinta, and the Niña. Columbus thought he had reached East Asia. When he sighted Cuba, he thought it was China, and when the expedition landed on Hispaniola, he thought it might be Japan. Legend has it that only Columbus believed the earth was round, but that's not true; most educated Europeans at the time knew the earth wasn't flat. However, the Ottoman Empire had cut off land and sea routes to the islands of Asia. Columbus became obsessed with finding a western sea route, but he miscalculated the world's size, and he didn't know the Pacific Ocean existed. He called his plan the "Enterprise of the Indies." He pitched it first to King John II of Portugal, who rejected it, and then to the Spanish King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. They also turned him down, twice, before they conquered the Moorish kingdom of Granada in January 1492 and had some treasure to spare. Columbus led a total of four expeditions to the New World during his lifetime. And over the next century, his discovery made Spain the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth. 
Columbus would die ten years later, having sailed back to the Caribbean three times. He apparently died impoverished and his passing was so ignored, no one knows where he was buried. This is indeed an incredible enigma.

Ramon Montaigne's Columbus poem (a personal favorite)

Columbus sailed the ocean blue...

Columbus sailed the ocean blue
Back in 1492.
He sailed across and spotted land,
A beach, and people on the sand.

He called them Indians because
He had no idea where he was,
India was just a guess.
When in doubt, declare success.

"Columbus sailed the ocean blue..."

by Ramon Montaigne


MAKE vs DO (useful examples)

I got this chart from my pal Canadian Chris (in his facebook links as Chris Eoi or Christopher Paetzold). 
If given my druthers, I prefer DO but MAKE, it must be said, provides for pleasant diversion. Sloth and inactivity are not generally associated with these active verbs. So some might suggest that MAKE/DO as a team keep us from a multitude of sins, including turpitude (moral or otherwise), which is the downside of extended periods of sloth. I can see you yawning, already, so I will get back to making Christmas cookies. Thanks for your links, Chris.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Singing Teachers (Answers)

Here are the answers from the magazine article about five singing teachers:
16 C / 17 E / 18 D / 19 E / 20 E / 21 C / 22 B / 23 C / 24 B / 25 D / 26 C / 27 B / 28 E / 29 A / 30 D
 from our last lesson (16 December 2013) 

Adriano’s Story

Adriano was brought up in a small town in northern Italy. Although his family worked in the clothing industry, he had no interest in this and even when very young, he considered cooking to be better than sewing. The aroma of freshly roasted garlic and homemade tomato sauce meant more to him than the finest fabrics. His passion for food grew, so after leaving school, Adriano went on to study cookery in a nearby city. Later he became apprentice to a celebrated cook in Paris, staying there for two years before moving to London. There he got a good position in a top hotel, cooking for such famous guests as the Queen of England and the President of Italy.
In 1991, he moved to San Francisco to take over the kitchens of a famous restaurant, and two years later, fulfilled his life-long dream of opening his own restaurant. It did very well and when a small building next to his restaurant became available, he also opened a lunch-time pasta bar.
For Adriano, running a restaurant is about hospitality, and, of course, eating. He still works in the kitchen to ensure that the customer gets good food prepared with the best ingredients.

Further sentences with these structures, expressions and verbs:

  1. Where were you brought up, in the country or in the city?
  2. When you left school, did you go on to do further study right away?
  3. Picasso never considered painting as a career. It was his passion.
  4. What is involved in running a small hotel in the country?
  5. How can you ensure good teeth? By brushing them everyday and avoiding sweets.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


      Recent research has shown that young people are not so interested in getting married as a few years ago. Religion and traditions were considered very important and controlled people´s life.
     I think nowadays couples who live together and have not gotten married, have the same rights as couples who are married. Has the society accepted the change?
      Firstly, woman work very hard to earn a living, so they do not need protection, as in the past. In fact, girls used to dream of the wedding day and they thought about the comfortable life they would live. In the past, if the woman did not work or had not studied, marriage was an opportunity to change her life. Also children grew up thinking that getting married was a good idea because they would be accepted in society.
      I remember the first time a boyfriend proposed to me. I was terrified, I only wanted to disappear and I had to hold my breath and say no. It was one of the most embarrassing situations I have ever had.
     There are people who oppose to it. They still think marriage is the only way that a couple has to live together. According to them, something different from marriage is a terrible mistake because you are living against society´s rules and traditions. There are people who still believe that young people over 30 who are not married or have a partner are weirdos. What strikes me is that people still gossip if, for example, a woman has a child without getting married.
      Taking everything into account, fortunately society is freer than in the past and people try to find their own way to happiness, without bearing in mind ancient beliefs.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Report 'Music and the Counterculture in the 1960s' by Alberto NA 2

The aim of this report is to summarize the main points of the talk titled 'Music and the Counterculture in the 1960s' given by  Dr Daniel Fyfe, ULPGC lecturer, in our school. As the talk covered a wide range of topics and presented an important amount of information, this report will focus on the first half of the talk, the one with regard to 'Censorship and Mass Media: The Ed Sullivan Show'.
The Ed Sullivan Show
Ed Sullivan was one of the most important and influential personalities in USA, and by extension, in the world. His Sunday night broadcast reached an average audience of 40 million people. In fact, he was known as the 'starmaker' because the ability launched artists to instant fame. However, Ed wanted his show to remain conservative and clean, that is to say, suitable for all audiences, from children to their grandparents.
Elvis Presley
However, this attitude confronted with the new batch of artists that started to become popular in the 1960s. That is the case of Elvis Presley, whose 'pelvic shake' was considered by Ed to have a sexual connotation which did not match with his idea of the show. But an artist with such popularity had to be in Ed's show, so, he eventually invited Elvis, but showing just a waist-up scene of him on screen.
Bob Dylan
A different story happened with Bob Dylan a few years later. The most important troubadour of the era was invited to the show, but the song he wanted to perform was banned by the CBS sponsors because it made fun of conservators. When asked to change the song, Dylan refused and walked off the show.

The Beatles
After that event, The Beatles landed in grief-stricken USA,  the recent death of JFK and the Vietnamese War. Their melodic hits took people away from their problems in a way that reached its peak when they played on the Ed Sullivan Show in front of 73 million people. It was a historic live performance.
The Rolling Stones
When The Rolling Stones were invited to Ed's show, the censors asked them to change one of the lines from the lyrics. When they sang 'Let's spend the night together', they were 'politely invited' to sing 'Let's spend some time together'. The Stones agreed, and they performed that song with the lyrics changed. However, as a sign to their fans and disapproval of the censorship, Jagger clearly exaggerated with face gestures the censored line while he was singing it.
Jim Morrison and The Doors
Things got more controversial regarding Jim Morrison. The Doors were also asked to change one of the lines of their song, specifically the one that said 'Girl, we couldn't get much higher', because it was considered a reference to the use of drugs. In the rehearsals, the group agreed to change the line. Nevertheless, Jim did not keep his word and sang clearly and provocatively the original line. Ed was furious after that and promised that Jim would never appear again in his show. Morrison’s eventual suicide, not long after that appearance must have seemed poignant even to Sullivan.
All these are examples of the mainstream of the era, sex, drugs and politics were topics liable to be censored. It was the way the mainstream culture had to sabotage this counterculture, trying to bring it in, but without hiding or changing all aspects that did not match with their ideology.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Marriage, an Old-fashioned Tradition (by Juan Daniel NA 2)

            Marriage has been one of the most important traditions in our society for centuries, but is it today on the verge of extinction or maybe just suffering a deep metamorphosis?
            For our parents’ generation, marriage was not only an option, in fact it was a duty. For most Catholics, it was the proper way to build up a family and the wedding had to be held in a church. Even those non-religious ones, used to get married in order not to be criticized by an extremely strict society. Furthermore, couples used to join each other very young, sometimes being perfect strangers, leading to unhappy and unstable lives.
            Today, things have changed dramatically. Marriage has become a secondary concern. Youngsters’ biggest priorities are their careers and of course, living as many experiences as they can. Most times, this is against being “tied” to some one.
            In my case, if I had followed my mother’s steps, I would have been married for ten years now and I also would had had three children, which sounds a little crazy for a guy in his thirties!
            What is more, many couples choose to live together without being married, what is fully accepted by today’s society. In my opinion, this leads to more mature and responsible relationships and at least, if things go wrong, you haven’t got to spend a lot of money and time trying to get divorced!
            Taking everything into account, it would seem that marriage is condemned to disappear; but in fact, weddings are rising day by day, (so are divorces), owing to an unexplainable desire which remains very deep in our souls, or maybe, it is only because getting married is fashionable and trendy and it has lost its original meaning.