Sunday, June 26, 2005

 

Our Corpus Day with Hawaian people

After a long night working as a waitress in the disco in which I usually work, I've only slept three hours when Maria send me a sms saying that Hawaian had just arrived to Toledo. I got up very tired but, as I have promised to some of my mates, I went to meet them.

The Corpus Christi, considered as the most important festival of the city of Toledo, has in the procession its main exponent. This ancient tradition, it's supposed to start in the fifteenth century, requires a lot of preparation. The preparations begin five weeks before the date, covering the streets of the itinerary with lanterns and wreaths, and awnings so that the Custody always be under cover low. The previous day the adjacent streets are decked with old tapestries, bedspreads, banners and shawls in the walls, balconies and windows. The floor is covered with aromatic herbs as cantueso, thyme or lavender that will contribute to perfume the procession. The stately houses and palaces open their doors this day, to allow the visitors to contemplate the beauty of the patios that harbor inside.

The people crowded both sides of the street when I got to arrive at Cardinal Lorenzana, and the fact is that just then was passing the procession. When the procession finished I met with Maria, my class-mates and the Hawaian people. Then we divided into groups so that we can practise the language more effectively. Lorena, Elena and me had to do of guides with three Hawaian boys and show them the old part of the city.

The boys were very nice and it was very easy to us to connect with them. We showed them the Cathedral and the City Hall square, later we visit the Mosque of the Christ of the Light, the Synagogue.. While we were walking we told them some legends of the history of Toledo and we laughed a lot. But some hours later, the heat and the exhaustion made us to look for a place where we can eat something and sit down to rest. During the meal we all were speaking on our different cultures and telling curiosities... We ate several typical tapas so that they could know something about our gastronomy. They liked a lot the spanish omelette.

Once we replaced forces we went to show them the Fortress and Tajo River, later as barely we had time to visit any other monument we went to a bar when, as it's common here, the waiter gave us a big dish with fried potatoes, meatballs, etc. and they stood amazed because it was free.

It was a short but a nice day, the experience was a great idea, I learnt a lot about their culture and also something of vocabulary, I hope they learnt spanish too; anyway when I finish my exams I will write them, they're very interesting boys...


 

May in Córdoba


The arrival of the Spring decks Cordoba of flowers, light and color that cause a great pleasure to our senses. The city, generous, becomes protagonist indisputable in a full month of festivals and established traditions; the crossings, the patios, the wine-tasting and the fair fill of magic and happiness to all who visits the city. The city Patrimony of the Humanity, full of tracks of a peaceful contact among cultures, boastes about the hospitality that since ancient ages characterizes it and receives millions of visitors. May in Cordoba signifies an explosion of vitality...

After a long search of accommodation we finally found a triple room in a small hotel placed in the business quarter of the city. Miriam, Dolores and me stayed in the hotel while Elena had to stay in a flat of a friend of her. When we arrived to the city the first thing we did was going to the tourist information office where a beautiful assistant gave us a lot of maps and pamphlets of the most important events for that days. Elena's friend, a girl from Toledo who is studying there, helped us to find the hotel and also the Faculty where the course took place. The Faculty of Philosophy and philology was placed in an anciant psychiatric hospital, it's an enormous and mysterious building that encloses an endless of legends.

We crossed almost all the city on food althoug it was worthwhile because during that walk we saw most of the monuments, the big avenues with its impressive buildings, the narrow streets with its precious cobblestones and full of flowerpots, the squares, the balconies, the whitewashed walls, the taverns, the music that can be heard out of nowhere accompanied by the murmur of fountains...

The course took up the most of the day, so we got up very early in the morning in order to visit some monuments or erytime we had a break we used that time going around the judería, eating in the patios, visiting traverns. We visited the Mosque with its impressive cellars, the Fortress of the Cristian Kings and its gardens, the Calahorra Tower, the Synagogue, the Walls, the typical patios... Córdoba entire is culture and its art is declared even in its gastronomy.

Córdoba at night doesn't lose neither an apex of its charm, even is more beautiful. Our two nights there were too intenses to be told. The only thing I can say it's that we danced a lot, we drank a little (pale cream: it's a drink made of fino wine and sprite that tastes very good), we sang a lot... you can imagine the remainder (the only thing we didn't do was to sleep). We were in several pubs, discos and disco-patios, but the party was also in the streets... There people didn't stop singing and playing guitars and we joined them as if we were from there.

To finish I'll only say that it was an unforgettable weekend...


Saturday, June 25, 2005

 

VI Jornadas CETA

When we decided to travel to Córdoba, we didn't know very well what we would learn there, but I must say that it was much more than we can expect...

If I had to describe this convention, tittled Dramatise your class, with an only word it would be helpful. Well, actually I can't say so little, it was also useful, interesting, funny, thoughful...

Well, now I'll tell you something about the sessions we attended: the first of all was an opening session introduced by Victor Pavon -the director of CETA and a nice person- who made a discussion about the foreing languages teaching, the most important thing he pointed was the need of improve Oral skills among the students, and a reflection about the causes of that lack.
The second session in which we took part was called Materials development or how to make materials work in our primary classrooms, there Marina Arcos from the University of Sevil talked us about theoretical and practical elements related to materials development as a way to provide students with the most suitable materials. I found very interesting this sessiopn because of the amount of real material (as home-made books) she brought, her way of explaining and also her intonation.
Besides the speakers, we also learnt, through all of the sessions, by listening to some young -and no so young- teachers who attended the course and spoke about his experiences in teaching children.
The next class was leaded by Mariela Silvia from Oxford University Press; she made a Children's Creative Theatre and we could learn how to teach our students through playacting stories in order to they be totally inmersed in the language (real communication). We discovered that Creative Drama provides many benefits to the students like development of imagination, independent and critical thinking, social growth and the ability to work with others, fun, recreation and an introduction to the theatre. Some of the techniques and games she used were acting out, theatre games, role play, crafts... It was really funny.
After the not less interesting than tiring sessions everybody needed a rest, at 21:00 hours there was a Opening cocktail in the cafeteria; there we were drinking some soft drinks, eating some omelette and salmorejo (a typical sauce from Cordoba similar to gazpacho that we never had tasted before). There we also met María who introduced us many friend and old-mates of her and we were talking for a while.

On Saturday morning I were so sleepy that the first session seemed very long to me, it was a practical class where Enda Francis Scott taught us some general ideas which can be used with many levels and which require virtually no preparation: warmers, change of pace, simply fillers or techniques for dealing with material and skills.
At midday we attended to a Plenary session leaded by Mark Levy (from the British Council) tittled Teaching: it's no joke!. There that man told us a few jokes and used that to point how we might make the teaching learning process more successful through issues as diversity, inclusion and motivation. It's true that we didn't understand some of the jokes because of the different connotations of some words that are unknown to us, but we laughed a lot...
After having luch, as Maria had recommended us, we made an interview to Mark Levy about the functions of the British Council in Spain and also about some of the problems in primary education nowadays; he was very kind agreing our request and even allowed us to record the conversation... It was very interesting.
The following class was focussed on how to encourage our students to read. Jennifer Murray, a very little communicative woman, explained us the benefits of a good reading habits since early ages. I would point a sentence which shocked me: Reading is like an infectious disease: it is caught not taught. Well I can't say much more because, to be trust, I was too tired and I spent most of the class time talking with Miriam...
Later there was a Plenary leaded by David Gray a very interesting man with whom we had a talk and who has more than 25 years' experience in the field of ELT in both Europe and Asia. He has taught, trained teachers and written materials in a wide variety of contexts including Spanish Secondary schools, private academies... In his lecture tittled How explicit teaching/learning goals help deal with diversity, he suggested us (as young or future teachers) not spending a lot of time explaining grammar for instance, instead of that we must motivate our students, we must always do the best, and in my opinion the most important thing he said, we must be happy and Happiness it isn't doing what you love, it's loving what you do!
Finally, we got our diplomas and we were talking with another students who had attended the course... After that all of we took part in a Theatre by Sticking out where we had to perform several actions and make word games... It was really funny and relaxing too.

Of course I would like to thank to the organization its amability and reception, we were a bit lost when we arrived to the faculty but the conference hostess helped us with everything...


In conclusion I recommend everyone who can attend any similar course, do it. It's a very good way of learn english and mainly of learn and know about the innovation in the field of education. Personally, I think that a teacher must be a very active and dinamic person because they're working with new minds every course and each of these pupils needs a different treatment... We must know HOW to teach each pupil before than know what to teach!


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

 

The Stress Age

This could be a good name for this, our era. Since the Industrial Revolution took place the societies of almost the whole world have progressed in such way that it's difficult that someone find a moment of peace along the day.

Everything happens quickly, men and womens spend the day working, everything needs a lot of paperwork, besides that the noise, the pollution, the traffic jams... make people feel they have too little time and this influence in our health and life's quality. Sleep lack, tobacco, caffeine drinks, fast food, worries about everything, lack of leisure time or angers are some of the consequences of the stress; and when one know all of this wonders himself: It's the effort worth?

Personally, I think we should think carefully about this because such an important things like the education of our child bring into play... May be to start reducing the working day into a continuous timetable without luch break could be a possible solution...

Think about it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

 

Cervantes and Shakespeare

With two personages that not even they had existed, Cervantes raised us to the higher ranking of the culture. The inventor of the modern literature created a disturbed, a divine lunatic, model of virtues, a symbol of justice and liberty... Don Quijote de la Mancha. In other hand Shakespeare is also a creator of other two genial personages, Falstaff and Hamlet nevertheless Cervantes has besides priority on him since, as is known, influences in Shakespeare. Shakespeare there was read the first part of the Quijote, translated by Shelton; while Cervantes had never heard to speak of Shakespeare.

I haven't read enough of these authors in order to can compare them, well, actually I've only read The Quijote and a part of Hamlet (in English), but, in my view, while Hamlet is infinite, Don Quijote is something more than the prince of Denmark; the dimension which Cervantes reached seem me incredible, different and over everything that we can find in the literature, mainly just then in which says: “I know who I am and I know what can become... ”

Cervantes seems to invent the tenderness, a real love, a real friendship between Sancho and D. Quijote, and adds, the greatness of Cervantes and of Shakespeare are crossed on that point, because in Shakespeare nobody listens really al another, while in Cervantes, on the contrary, there are two people that listen themselves truly and that they discuss the things. For it there is not more than thinking about the scene of the Cave of Montesinos, in the adventure on Clavileño, or in the best moment of the novel, at the end, when supposedly by feather of Cide Hamete, Cervantes affirms: “For me alone was born D. Quijote and I for him; he knew to do and I to write, alone the two we are one for the other”.

I do not know if this is the moment more impossible to encompass of the novel, but turns out to be very difficult to find somewhat similar in Shakespeare. Of Cervantes we know the hard and difficult life that had. Nothing we know about the interior life of Shakespeare and almost nothing of the outside. For that reason the Quijote influence in the life of its author and modify the own Cervantes.

In conclusion, I believe that is possible to understand what signify Hamlet. I believe that is possible to understand what signifies Sancho, but I am not sure to understand what signifies D. Quijote and each time that believe to understand it I realize that flat a false floor under which there is another and another. And here is the main difference with Shakespeare and the admiration of the better critics, even English, in favor of Cervantes.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

 

The concert.

Since I was a child, I used to listen my idol John Bon Jovi and maybe that's the reason why I started to like English songs and English as language as I became adult. Actually, I must thank to my older brother my weakness for Bon Jovi and for music in general cause I used to spend a lot of time with him (I have always had a very close relationship with my older brother but I will tell you about that on another moment).
My brother taught me that there's something else that sound behind a song, each song (whatever was the topic) tell us a story and each story has some feelings implicit... And I realized of that with Bon Jovi, I have been buying all of his records for ages and all of his songs make me feel a different sensation and remind me a different period of my life...
At last, on thursday the 22nd of May two years ago, I was in the Bon Jovi's concert in Madrid. I've heard about the concert on the radio two months before and I knew that by those days I would have my final exams but anyway I booked the tickets inmediately. Well the friday following the concert, the 23rd, I had two exams, a history one and a physics one but none of them prevented me to enjoy the concert. I was almost three hours in the queue and it took me about two hours to go out of the enclosure after the concert, however I didn't care to arrive at home at four in the morning, the effort was worth (well, my mother doesn't think the same).
I don't find words to describe what I really felt during those two hours... I'd been so many time waiting for that moment that I didn't believe I was there, he was there... I only can say that it's incredible how so many people (about fifty thousand) can meet in the same place with the same intention: to feel. It was so wonderful that I wasn't be able to sleep along the whole night, so much emotion had made me nervous, but also there was a little of remorse inside of me for not to have studied at all that made me even more nervous...
Do you want to know what happened with my exams? Fifty-fifty; I passed history and I didn't physics (I did in September), today I always remind that day laughing but finally I will say that if I could do it again, I would do.
Here is one of my favourite songs, try to read behind the letters and you'll feel the sense.
Living On A Prayer. Bon Jovi

Once upon a time
Not so long ago
Tommy used to work on the docks
Union's been on strike

He's down on his luck...it's tough, so tough
Gina works the diner all day
Working for her man, she brings home her pay
For love - for love
She says: We've got to hold on to what we've got'
Cause it doesn't make a difference
If we make it or not
We've got each other and that's a lot
For love - we'll give it a shot
We're half way there
Livin' on a prayer
Take my hand and we'll make it - I swear
Livin' on a prayer

Tommy got his six string in hock
Now he's holding in what he used
To make it talk - so tough, it's tough

Gina dreams of running away
When she cries in the nightTommy whispers:
Baby it's okay, someday
We've got to hold on to what we've got'
Cause it doesn't make a difference
If we make it or not
We've got each other and that's a lot
For love - we'll give it a shot
We're half way there
Livin' on a prayer
Take my hand and we'll make it - I swear

Livin' on a prayer
We've got to hold on ready or not
You live for the fight when it's all that you've got
We're half way thereLivin' on a prayer
Take my hand and we'll make it - I swear
Livin' on a prayer

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

 

Are native teachers better than non-native?

Teaching languages isn't always an easy issue. Some of the many factors that influence in that process are the context, the age of the participants, the previous experience, and also the teacher's nationality.

When English is the target language and if we have to choose between a native or a non-native teacher I will say that, in my opinion, what really counts is not the amount of time a teacher has spent in the target language country, but the amount of energy he has dedicated to studying the English language and its teaching methodology.

Personally, I've been trained for three years with an american teacher, well, an american woman who had studied spanish. It was wonderful for me to have a native teacher. Every learner dreams of practicing conversation with a native speaker because he can provide a lot of colloquial vocabulary items, besides helping with special usages and pronunciation problems. As my native teacher also spoke my mother tongue, she never has the fear of not knowing a mispronounced word, I realized of that when I was in England for a month last summer and my teacher or my host family didn't understand me if I made a little pronunciation mistake...

Nevertheless, I think that the non-native teacher also has advantages, especially if he is an experienced teacher who has knowledge of both English and the student's mother tongue. He can, for instance, make comparisons between the grammar of English and the grammar of Spanish in order to help students overcome difficulties in understanding and/or producing new structures.

The major problem, however, is that native teachers many times are not "real" teachers. Many of them have little or no training in teaching. Therefore, they might have problems in explaining some features of the English language. Activities such as planning a unit or a lesson, or establishing teaching objectives might become in complicated tasks, and they might not know anything about "learning strategies" or "communicative competence"...

Finally, there is no doubt that native teachers attract students, but eventually they may let their students down. In my view good language schools are made of good language programs, good materials, and good teachers. Thus, I'm in favor of the experienced non-native teacher over a native non- teacher, mainly cause I would like to spend my life in my country and I think isn't probably that I am a native teacher of Spanish, I prefer to be a good non-native teacher of English...


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

 

Without sense...

Now I'm going to talk about me, my feelings and sensations...
Sometimes, I become a very lonely person and I stay at my beedrom for hours thinking about nothing special and about everything in general. I think it is in this moments when I find myself and when I indeed feel well with me...
And it's then when I find myself so far down, away from the sun that shines to light the way for me... I'm over there, I've got to make this life make sense and I wonder if anyone can see me down there...

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