Thursday, October 30, 2014

Spooky Narrative!!

Under My Bed by Gabriel NA 1
                Sometimes I've been asked, what are you afraid of? Spiders? Ghosts? Spooky skeletons? "Bah! Humbug!" I say "There is NOTHING that could possibly scare me!" But every time I say that I feel really uncomfortable and try to talk about other things. No one could possibly imagine what happens under my bed, no one would believe what happens down there!
                Since a few years ago, every 30th October I hear strange noises and if something falls under there it disappears. One 30th October, an important document  fell under my bed. "Oh, no!" I yelled "I need that paper, I have to get it back from d... down there..." For a moment I thought not to do it, but I had no choice. I took a long breath and ducked to fetch it . It was completely in shreds with claw marks everywhere , "I'm done being a coward" I stammered "I'm going to see what's wrong here!"
Once again I took another long breath but this time my body didn't respond, I couldn't move! After a few minutes frozen I realized that there couldn't be anything supernatural. I ducked with a torch and pointed to something that was moving, that thing tried to jump at me but I suddenly jumped.
                "It was the neighbors' cat all along! But how could it be?  And why did it come the same day year after year!?" In anger, I went to talk with them as soon as possible, I knocked on their door and I told them what happened. They said their cat died 5 years ago and that was impossible.
                The next day I decided to clean my room, especially under my bed. There were a lot of dust and some spiders, but more interesting than that... a box! On one side of the box it was written -Here lies Mr. Whiskers, a nice and lovely cat that unfortunately couldn't resist curiosity- inside the box there were the bones of the poor cat and a note which said "not even death will stop a cat from being a cat."
It was 5 years ago, one dark night, on the same date, the 30th of October, I was driving home when I hit something on the road, it was raining a lot so I thought it was a rock or something. But it was their cat and every year the day of his death he came back to life to scare me and ruin my night. The only thing I cannot answer is...  why under my bed!?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

If I could be somebody else for a day I would like to be Jane Goodall… (Silvia NA 1)

Jane Goodall is one of the world's most important environmental activists and a noted humanitarian, primatologist and UN messenger of peace.

Her fascination with animal behaviour began in early childhood, she spent her spare time watching birds and animals and making notes and sketches - something I also did on our roof terrace when I was 10. She dreamed of travelling to Africa and at the age of 26, Jane ventured to Tanzania from London with nothing more than a notebook and binoculars. Thus she set off to study the world of wild chimpanzees with the patience and optimism that would characterize her.

Many of her studies of chimpanzee behaviour have been successful despite the fact that she had no formal scientific education and lacked even any degree – she saw chimpanzees making a tool of tree bark to dig out termites. This was an important discovery because at the time, it was assumed only humans made tools. 

She has been concerned about environmental damage and, for this reason, campaigned for many causes. These problems are so serious that she has travelled all over the world encouraging people to do what they can to create a better world.
She is a fascinating woman, the type of person I have always admired: brave, good-tempered and involved in all types of worthy causes.


One day I read an article that impressed me a lot. A journalist was asked to participate in an experiment where he would not use his cell phone for one whole day. That experience taught him a sad lesson about our mobile addiction. I fancy living one day without a cell phone and not die trying. So, I thought that if I could invent a holiday, I would proclaim a “cell phone-less holiday.”
It may seem weird, but on this day millions of people might feel truly liberated, refreshed and rested – and what is the main objective of every holiday? Exactly, to take a break and to rest after our stressful rhythm of life! I know that many of us, like myself, who are old enough to remember how life was before mobile phones, will be pretty excited to become time travellers to the 1990s. It would be strange to start noticing people on the streets, instead of sending Whatsapps, checking e-mails or just surfing the Internet. I can hardly remember those days, when I needed a camera to take a photo, “used” my own memory to remember someone´s home number and had to make a call at a pay phone. Actually, I have not seen a proper functioning pay phone for centuries!
Our younger generation does not know what an Internet café is. It sounds like a café offering free WiFi! But I am old enough to remember how many e-mails I sent by this method, when we did not have laptops and cell phones. By the way, those places were not cheap at all! The cheaper and more advanced the technology is, the more attached to our gadgets we are. We feel connected to friends, business and news from all over the world and it would give us a false sense of security, but when the battery is low or we are out of range, we get lost and start to feel lonely even in the most crowded city of the planet.
The “cell phone-less holiday” could make us take aware of the anxiety than the lack of this piece of plastic during only one day can cause in our minds. I wish we were able to realize and admit that our phone addiction could be out of control soon, for example, all of us saw some couples spending a romantic evening and staring at the displays of their smartphones without talking to each other. It is true, I do not exaggerate.
In my  “cell phoneless holiday” reverie, such behavior will be forbidden by law in order to force us to recover something that, unfortunately, disappeared – the ability to look around, get surprised, say hello and smile at each other.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Kevin NI1, our favorite photographer!

Thanks to Kevin of NI1 for the amazing photo of my favorite corner of this island.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Another Idiomatic Expression from Lorenzo NA1

I received an email message from a student, Lorenzo, who offered another idiomatic expression for our class vocabulary. Here is the message:

" Hello David, I was reading about Formula 1 and I found this idiomatic expression:
  "... The German is reported to be heading to Ferrari where he will take Alonso's seat. Speculation, meanwhile, has Alonso returning to McLaren with whom he spent a troubled year in 2007.The double World Champion, however, is keeping his cards close to his chest.  ..."

The Spanish translation could be "... no muestra sus cartas." As you can see it's a very similar expression."

Thanks to Lorenzo for this offering. In fact, there are a lot of card-related expressions in English and in Spanish, too.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

"Who I am, what I do" (Carla NA1)

(This essay of introduction is very well-written. The author is a trained journalist, so she has quite a gift with words--and with the keyboard!) 

Everybody knows me as Carla but some of my earliest friends call me Camino –that’s my surname. I´m 26 years old and I have no siblings. I´ve lived in Gran Canary Island and in Madrid as well. When I came back from the capital I began dating my boyfriend and, one year after, we decided to live together in a flat. Nowadays a beautiful dog has been included in our family and we also have a leafy garden for her. We really get on well and soon we are going on holidays to Italy, such a romantic trip!
My daily life is like a crossroad with many challenges and several options. I´ve had different jobs in a short period of time –in this sense; I used to think that I was like the American people. On the other hand, I´m fond of studying whatever I like, for instance, idioms –English, French- and I hope I could do a degree to become a teacher in a primary school. But what I really seek out is to live abroad, form new friendships, talk with native speakers of English and know another culture. Probably, if I hadn´t had a fiancé I would already have gone. Nevertheless we don´t really deny that chance.
English had been a duty for me but now it is my passion. I try to keep in touch with that language and keep my ears open when I listen to Vaughan radio or something like this. It is a pity that we spend too many years studying a language and we still speak cannot likea bilingual person. Anyway, I´m enthusiastic about learning even more each day.
I don´t have too much free time but I do sport very often and I usually have a walk with my dog. Sometimes I go to the beach and the cinema. I admit that I have got a hectic life.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Happy October 1, the Day of the CT Scan

This is the anniversary of the CT or CAT scan.

The first Computed Tomography scan was performed on a patient on October 1, 1971. It's also known as a CT scan or sometimes a CAT scan, for Computed Axial Tomography. A CT scan produces images of cross sections or "slices" of the human body. It makes it possible for doctors to examine the soft tissues of the body, which are difficult to see with traditional X-rays. In 1971, the scanner took about five minutes to capture a single slice, and it took a couple of hours to produce a single image from the raw data. Today's scanners can capture multiple slices and return images, all in under a second.
The first diagnostic scan was performed at Atkinson Morley's Hospital in London, and the first patient was a woman who was suspected of having a tumor in her frontal lobe. The scan — quite blurry by today's standards — revealed what appeared to be a mass. When surgeons opened up the woman's skull, one of them remarked that it looked exactly like the picture. The CT scan had proved its usefulness.
Partial credit for the development of the CT scanner is due the Beatles, according to British radiologist Ben Timmis. That's because the band's recording label, EMI, heavily funded the research of the CT's inventor, Sir Godfrey Hounsfield. Because the Beatles sold so many records and made so much money for EMI, Hounsfield was able to devote four years of full-time work to the development of a commercial CT machine, which was called the EMI-Scanner.
There were five separate researchers working on tomography in the 1960s. Godfrey Hounsfield was the dark horse. He wasn't an academic and didn't publish papers. He didn't apply for any patents until very late in the process, and he was funded internally by his employer, so he never needed to apply for any grants. He had no medical background, and he completed most of his work in secret. The major drawback to his method was that, when the time came to approach practicing neurologists with his invention, he had no track record and was viewed as a crackpot. He finally found an ally in Jamie Ambrose, a consultant radiologist at London's second-best neurological hospital. They began working together in 1967 — again, under strictest secrecy.
Hounsfield tested his scanner first on a preserved human brain, then on a fresh cow brain. Before he tried it on a real patient, he tested it on himself. He performed his first clinical scan for the purpose of diagnosing an actual patient on this date in 1971. He used a prototype scanner installed at Atkinson Morley's Hospital, an old Victorian building up on a hill in Wimbledon. The first patient was a woman whose doctors suspected she had a brain lesion. The scan was pretty blurry by today's standards, but it revealed what appeared to be a dark, circular cyst. When surgeons eventually opened up the woman's skull, one of them remarked that the tumor looked exactly like the picture. The CT scan had proved its usefulness — especially in the area of brain imaging, where accuracy is of vital importance. The CT was about a hundred times more detailed than a regular X-ray. After the successful trial, doctors at Atkinson Morley's Hospital grew fond of saying, "One CT scan is worth a room full of neurologists."

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Milwaukee Blues, another great singalong song!


One Tuesday morning and it looked like rain, round the curve come a passenger train
On the blind sat old Bill Jones,  he's a good old hobo and he's tryin' to get home
Tryin' to get home, he's tryin' to get home, he's a good old hobo and he's tryin' to get home

Way down in Georgia on a tramp, roads are gettin' muddy and my legs are gettin' damp
I got to catch a freight train to leave this town,
'Cause they don't allow no hobos a-hangin' around.

I left Atlanta one morning 'fore day,  the brakeman said, "You'll have to pay."
Got no money but I pawned my shoes,  I want to go west, got the Milwaukee blues

Old Bill Jones said before he died,  "fix the roads so the folks can ride
When they ride they will ride the rods,  put all their trust in the hands of God.

Old Bill Jones said before he died, there's two more roads that he'd like to ride
Fireman said what can it be?
Southern Pacific and the Santa Fee.

From Charlie Poole ( also known as  Jay Gould's Daughter)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Minority Languages in Mexico

You may be interested in reading about the fate of native languages in Mexico.  Click on the link to read the entire article.  Minority languages in Mexico 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Knocking on Heaven's Door

This is a cover version (a singer and guitar player performing Bob Dylan's song, Knocking on Heaven's Door) . Although it does not include lyrics, it is a convincing rendition. I hope you like it and again, thanks to Wilmer Torres.

Knocking on Heaven's Door

Knocking on Heaven's Door

Thank you to Wilmer Torres for sending me this link to a Bob Dylan song. 

We could try to sing this in class, perhaps. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

English Onion and Leek Soup by Jamie Oliver

In addition to his skills as a chef, Jamie Oliver also makes cooking fun. 

"Crisis sees rise in number of youngsters out of work and not studying" -- El País article

On September 11, 2014, El País, the national daily newspaper published a worrying article about unemployment among young people in Spain. Click here to access   this article.

Although the term crisis is used for our current economic woes, I encourage students to use the word slump.

By the way, the article makes reference to "ninis" which are young Spaniards who do not work or study. This popular expression comes from the Spanish "ni trabaja, ni estudia" = ni + ni. It is often used in the press to describe this depressing situation.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Succumb (English) = Sucumbir, ceder (Spanish)

This blog features a hyper link to the Spain's national daily newspaper's on-line English version. If you click on the hypertext today, Sept 10, 2014, you will find an article on Madrid's mayor, Ana Botella, who has "succumbed" to public pressure and decided to step down from her post. Here is the article on this politician

The featured verb, succumb, is commonly used in English journalism when a politician makes this sort of decision. 

Merriam Webster defines succumb as

intransitive verb \sə-ˈkəm\
: to stop trying to resist something
: to die

Full Definition of SUCCUMB

1:  to yield to superior strength or force or overpowering appeal or desire <succumb to temptation>
2:  to be brought to an end (as death) by the effect of destructive or disruptive forces

Wordreference offers this translation into Spanish
  succumb  =  sucumbir, ceder (= YIELD), fenecer

Lightning Hopkins: a Blues Legend

was a blues singer and musician who became associated with his homestate of Texas through his enduring guitar style. When people describe Texas blues style, they always start with Lightning Hopkins. I have been a fan of Lightning for many years. Here are some biographical data .

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Technical English: GLOBAL (Unit 1) NI 1

One interesting aspect of the English language is that it is used by many people as a lingua franca. That is, people whose native language is not English will use the language to communicate with other non-native speakers in specific situations. 

For example, a medical congress in Belgium may be attended by doctors from 20 or 30 different countries, but English is the official congress language so all the papers, workshops and posters are presented in English. This international English possesses certain characteristics, including a lack of phrasal or compound verbs and, of course, limited slang. 

It is impossible here to cover all these characteristics here but you might find these vocabulary lists of interest, from a Technical English website: 

GLOBAL INTERMEDIATE NI 1 Textbook for 2014-15 Academic Year

We are using the Global Intermediate by Lindsay Clandfield and Rebecca Robb Benne (MacMillan Publishing) for this academic year. It is  a very complete textbook which encompasses 10 chapters with a variety of topics and materials. If you are signed up for this course, please purchase this textbook soon. Good luck and see you in class!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

NA 1 2014-15 Practice with Idiomatic Expressions (in Spanish, modismos)

Our NA1 class will use the Third Edition of  New English File Upper Intermediate this academic year. 

I recommend you check out the on-line resources offered by this publishing house. You may find the section on Idioms and Collocations useful. Here is the link.

Click here

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Welcome Back!

Hello! I am back to my blog after a summer break. Although most of the summer was spent close to home, we did have a wonderful adventure in the Azores, just three hours north and west of our Canary Islands home. We visited the main island of Sao Miguel and also spent some time in Pico, a lush green island famous for its whaling tradition. I hope you are all well. Best wishes and watch this space for new developments! David Shea

Pico Island Information link. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Paula (NA2) on Early Years Education

            If I had the chance to make school rules, I would use different methods and teach questions that are useful in life.
             First of all, there would be a maximum of ten children per class so teachers could provide a certain individualized attention. Secondly, at nursery school and primary school the learning must be based in the experimentation so as to train children´s senses and common sense and, on the other hand, have the chance to learn in a more active and fun way.
Furthermore, they should train the ability to identify their emotions and how they might manage them, such us: breathing, doing exercise or meditation, because, in my opinion, this is absolutely necessary to ensure self-confidence, a well-balanced person and face the problems they will have to get over in the future.
Another factor to take into account is if we want to have conscientious adults, we must always be a model for our children and show them the importance of values such as respect, persistence or generosity, among others. And last but not least, throughout the learning, teachers must encourage a critical attitude so the students reach the capacity to think for themselves in every situation.
             In conclusion, education, as far as I am concerned, should provide a solid base to create a mentally healthier person and achieve more complex knowledge in our life.