30th January: School day of Non-violence and Peace

In two days' time, we will be celebrating the School Day of Non-violence and Peace which has been celebrated in schools in Spain for a long time. It was founded by Lorenzo Vidal Vidal, a teacher and poet, who started this project in 1964, in Majorca. He proposed this date because it is the day on which a great pacifist died, Mahatma Gandhi. Nowadays, many other countries celebrate this day too.

I think it is important to teach our students that each of them can and should make a difference; we should make them understand that trespassing certain limits is a micro-violence; for instance, not respecting others' spaces and decisions can hurt other people and mates a  lot.

What do you think of bullying? Is there bullying at your school?
Do you think it is important to celebrate this day at your school?
What are you doing to celebrate?


Learning vocabulary: Numbers

Astonishingly enough, that is, to my surprise, many of my students do not know how to read numbers, so every time we come across one in a sentence they start sweating and wait for my help so that they can read it properly; this does not usually happen with dates which are divided into pairs to be said, for example: 1976 is read "nineteen seventy-six" and, normally, there is no problem. But when it comes to figures...
That is why I have decided to write this post so that you eventually get to know them. The first chart shows the main patterns:
A hundred
A thousand
Ten thousand
A hundred thousand
A million
Important things to remember:
  • When saying numbers, we do not use the plural of hundred, thousand or million. They only use it in the plural when they talk about an indefinite quantity (for instance, "there were hundreds of animals before me", is it two hundred, three?, we do not know)
  • They use commas instead of points, they use points for decimals.
  • You have to use "and" to link hundred, thousand or million to tens or units.
  • They can use a or one before million, hundred and thousand but not in any other position.
Let's see some examples:




A hundred and seventy-eight

two thousand, two hundred and fifty-nine.

Eighteen thousand, six hundred and fifty-four

Five hundred and eighty-nine thousand, two hundred and thirty-six

Six million, seven hundred and eighty-nine thousand, five hundred and forty-one.
Now it is your time to work on it, check out the following links:
I hope the post gives you a clear idea of what you should be doing when you read numbers.

PS: I will not publish the comments on the animal description post until Monday, so more of you get the opportunity to do it. Good work!


Learning vocabulary: Animals' descriptions

Knuthenborg Safaripark, Denmark
In order to improve our vocabulary, one of the best ways is to use new words or expressions in context. There are many activities to do so, I am going to present you one I like doing in my classes.

 When talking about animals, we can teach all the vocabulary related to where they live (geographical features, countries, continents...), what they eat (smaller animals, plants, insects...), the parts of their bodies (beak, tail, wings, legs, arms, feathers, fur, colours...), what they can or can not do (swim, jump, crawl, fly...), their colours and special features (endangered species, use for humans, superlatives ...) and then make our students use it in context.

 I really like to play guessing games with short descriptions of animals; that is, first you give them a model to write a short description of an animal. It is important to let them choose the animals. Then you give them some minutes to choose an animal and write down a short description following the model, then students read out loud and the rest guess the animals.
Model composition for oral expression game:

It is a/an (amphibian, mammal, bird, reptile, fish).
It is (colours) and it has got (parts of the body).
It lives in (place).
It can/ can not (verbs).
Do you know what is the name of the animal in the photo? Can you make a short description of it? Please try and send your description in a comment!!


Love English Awards at MacMillan Dictionary blog

It is only three days for the closing of the votes of the Love English Awards at MacMillan Dictionary blog and I would like to thank all the people who have already voted for my blog. 
I would also like  you, my readers, those who come often but don't leave any comments, those whose this is the first time, those that visit here every now and then, or any other, that I would be honoured if you decided to click on the link and vote for me as well
You would be recognizing hard work by a teacher who works at a public high school and that loves her work which is teaching English. If you think that this blog really helps people to learn English and love English in the same way that I do, please vote for it, I would really appreciate it!!!


How to become a follower of a blog.

A5Farmacia's blog
Many of you find it difficult to become a follower of any blog, but it has some advantages, especially if you found a blog you like and you don't  want to miss it. I am going to try to explain it to you in the easiest way I can.
As you can see in the  picture from a good friend's blog (about skin care and products) and great health professional, it says "Participar en este sitio", or, in mine, (top right) in English "Join this site", you click there and a new window opens as you can see in this second picture:
In the new window you have some different options, first we are going to follow those that  have a Google (Gmail) account; if you do not have one, you can create it, it only takes two minutes or you can do it with any other account. With a google account, you log in with your username and password and you find the following window which asks you if you want to follow the blog privately or publicly, the only difference is that you appear on the display of the blog (public) or not (private). Then, you click on "Follow this blog" or "Seguir este blog"

To do it with any other account, you have to"Create a new Google account " or "Crear una cuenta de Google nueva" (this is not a Gmail account) by clicking on the button below the square and a new window opens in which you have to write your email account (hotmail or any other), your password, your date of birth and a strange word to prove you are not a robot (word verification), you have also to agree on the terms of Service and Private Policy and, finally, click on Create my account (it is a Google Friend Connect account) as in the window of the photo:
Also in this case, you would have to choose to follow publicly or privately, as in the other photo, and continue by clicking "Follow this blog"
Once you have done that, it congratulates you and tells you you already follow that blog, then you have to click on "done" or "hecho", as in the following picture:

If you have done everything correctly, your profile photo or avatar should appear along with those of the rest of followers, now you form a community with them and can get in touch with all of them within this  community:

Don't you think it is easy? Try and make yourself a follower of this blog!

PD: Thanks to all of you have already voted me (votes close next Monday 21st January) at the Love English Awards at Macmillan Dictionary Blog.


What do you use Twitter for?

Quetius Blog
What is Twitter?
Twitter is a social network created in 2006. Last year, it got up to 500 million users around all the world. The greatest difference from other social networks is that you can only write up to 140 characters in each post. Posts are called "tweets", which is the sound birds make in English. You can also find information and tweets by people you do not follow if you use "hashtags", that is, the symbol # followed by a word or sentence usually not separated (you only have 140 characters and you do not want to waste any on spaces!)

What are Twitter's main services?
There are many uses for this social network; the main one, is microblogging, that is, you tell your "followers" (people that have pushed a "follow" button on your profile because they want to know what you "tweet") what you are doing while you are doing it (present continuous is pretty used is this service)..
There are lists of up to a hundred uses of Twitter in the internet, taking one of them, we find that it is mainly used for finding quick answers, finding a job, keeping up with the news, arranging meetings with friends, to express anger against any issue, to find out what people really think of the latest movie or book and also for fun and games.

What do I use it for?
I have been in Twitter for only two months or so now, I was afraid I would have to be all day long taking care of it and I resisted myself to register, but I must say, I am really happy I did. My top 5 uses' list:
  1. Share articles and my own posts from this blog.
  2. Keep up with news (especially educative ones)
  3. Learn from people in a professional way.
  4. Be in contact with my students.
  5. Create a professional network.
I have found this social network very rewarding both professionally and personally; for instance, yesterday one of my students created the hashtag #APorEl3Puesto, to help me win at the Love English Awards contest by the MacMillan Dictionary Blog (if you want to vote, it only takes a few seconds and no data is required from you). I was quite moved.

What do you use it for?


How to write a composition (basic guidelines)

The first draft of this post (Ph. by Ana García)
When writing a composition, we may feel scared of the blank paper, that is, a white paper in front of us which we have to fill with 100, probably 120 words. That is the reason why I always tell my students to write a draft beforehand. There are some questions that can help us get started on our composition:
  • What is the composition about? What vocabulary will I need?  Do not hesitate, write down all the words or expressions you may remember on that topic, maybe you won't need them all, but you will be able to choose and have a more varied vocabulary.
  • What time-line should I follow? Is it present, past or future, or maybe a mixture of all?  Try to figure out what the real time of the composition is, for instance, if you have to narrate something that has already happened, it will be in the past (past simple and continuous, past and present perfect, used to...); however, in the conclusion we may use a future (to say that we will never do something again because we have learnt from it). If possible, draw the time-line and remember the verb tenses and expressions used.
  • How many paragraphs should I write? What should each one contain?   Depending on the type of text we are dealing with, we may use three or four paragraphs (probably not more if we have to write only 100-120 words). Normally texts have an introduction (1st paragraph), a body (1 or 2 paragraphs- like in "for and against" compositions) and a conclusion (last paragraph). In the introduction, the topic -person, action, setting- is presented. In the body, we find the more specific information, in "biographies" we normally find different events in a chronological order; in "for and against" compositions, we find one paragraph with reasons for the main topic and another one for reasons against the topic and so on. In the conclusion, you should support a decision for or against the topic or say why you have chosen a particular person, so as to round up the text. Take notes.
Now you have something on the paper, it is time to put it all together and start writing, that will be your first draft, once you have finished, I recommend you to:
  • Read your composition slowly and look for grammar or vocabulary mistakes.
  • Revise repetitions or redundancies, that is, you do not want to get less marks because you have repeated the same word once and again, look for a different one, you probably know it. Besides, if you have said the same thing twice, try to take it out, it will make your composition redundant and you will miss words to talk about something else which will make your composition richer.
  • Try to add connectors, now that you have finished, see if you can make your composition more coherent with the help of connectors of addition, of sequence, of contrast, of reason, of result, of example, of purpose...
Now you are ready to rewrite it in a clean way and hand it in. Was this useful for you?


What did the Three Wise Men bring you?

In Spain, the tradition is that during the night of the 5th to the 6th of January, the Three Wise Men bring presents to those who have behaved well. In my house, we often leave our shoes so that they know whose presents they have to leave at our place.
Getting back to work is hard for adults, but even more for children and students who have had some days off after a great last effort, so we should try to have some interesting and entertaining ideas for the first class.
They love talking about what they have received and about what they have done in the past days, so we should take advantage of that:

  • Give them some vocabulary to talk about the presents they have received and some minutes to organize themselves and ask structures or vocabulary; then ask them to make a conversation of two friends that meet on the 6th and tell each other what they got.
  • Ask older students to choose the best day of the holidays and talk about it in the past.
  • For younger stuedents it is easier to use prompts of the things they have received and help them to make a short description: I got a big/small (present) to play at home/in the street, to play alone/with friends...
If you are a student, say what activities would you like doing on the first day?
If you are a teacher, say what activities do you like doing on the first day?

Remember to vote for me if you have not already done it, that would be my best present this year!! ;)


Union Street by Pat Barker

I have just finished reading Union Street by the British author Pat Barker. She is very well-known for her trilogy on the effects of World War I, called Regeneration ( after one of the three books, the other two are called The Eye in the Door and The Ghost Road), I strongly recommend these too. 

This is her first novel, published in 1982. The novel is set in Union Street, street home to the seven women who are the protagonists , neighbours, and each of them, name to the seven sections of the novel:
  • Kelly Brown: preteenage girl who is raped.
  • Joanne Wilson: factory worker pregnant before marriage to a boyfriend who would not marry her.
  • Lisa Goddard: pregnant to her third unwanted child married to an alcoholic man that beats and steals her.
  • Muriel Scaife: married to a young dying husband whom she loves.
  • Iris King: mother to all of them,  has her own teenage daugter taken to get an abortion. As all mothers, is both loved and hated.
  • Blonde Dinah: old prostitute.
  • Alice Bell: 80-year-old lady who leaves her house on a winter day when she is about to be taken to an asylum for the sake of dignity.

As you can see, it is not light reading nor chick lit, the novel is set in a Northern British city during the miner's strike in the 1970s. It represents the harshness of life in a city beaten by poverty and unemployment. Through these women, she represents society and also how social hierarchy was established at the British homes at that time without victimizing. For me, it has been emotionally exhausting, because of the issues that it treats. Nevertheless, she is a great author and you should read her once in your life.

Did you know her?