{February 19, 2009}   “Gran Slang”

I came across this link which I thought was interesting to share with all of you since it talks about a mismatch in language between two different generations.


{February 17, 2009}   Thoughts may affect us

At today’s welcome meeting, the head of the English Department at school introduced us to the marvelous world of Dr. Masaru Emoto. He has been doing some research on the effect of positive and negative thoughts on water, stating that “human thoughts are directed at water before it is frozen, images of the resulting water crystals will be beautiful or ugly depending upon whether the thoughts were positive or negative.”

I’m sharing here the video Lucrecia brought to school today, hoping that you also love it!

More info (In Spanish)

Video Explanation

Downloadable material on Dr Emoto’s work

I think, therefore I am.
I teach, therefore I learn.
He who dares to teach must never cease to learn.
Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths pure theater.
The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.

{February 15, 2009}   Learning Students’ Names

Now that we are so close to the new school year here in Argentina, I wanted to share one of the best web findings I’ve ever made.
Every single year, we teachers start working with new students, and it’s really interesting the effort we do to learn students’ name as fast as possible. For example, I used to draw a plan of the classroom, and write each students’ name in the drawing as they introduced themselves. This was useful for some time, until I started working in a school were students were allowed to change places, so the second time I was in that classroom I couldn’t relate my drawing with the classroom I was in front of.
Some other teachers may have other interesting ways of learning students names, perhaps they make their students wear a name badge during the first classes, but what this teacher makes, is really outstanding!

{February 15, 2009}   Funny Valentine’s Poem

A colleage of mine, Linda, found this funny poem by Joanna Fuchs, and after reading it, it reminded me of a poem by Les Luthiers on the same lines.

Hope you had a nice Valentine’s!

Since My Valentine Got A Computer Since my Valentine got a computer
My love life has taken a hit.
Nothing I say is important
Unless it’s a byte or a bit.

Before she got her new laptop,
Everything was just fine;
Now she says we can’t talk
Unless we both go online.

“But honey,” I said, “I’m attached to you;
Love is what I feel.”
“That keyword isn’t relevant,”
She said, with eyes of steel.

She clicked the keyboard furiously;
The screen was all she could see,
And then to my horror and shame,
She started describing me:

“Your motherboard needs upgrading;
Your OS needs help, too.
And you definitely need a big heatsink
To cool your CPU.”

“Don’t flame me, my sweet,” I pleaded.
“Not on Valentine’s Day.”
“Fix the bugs, and I’ll see,” she said,
While looking at me with dismay.

“What ever you want, my darling;
Whatever you need; you call it.
I’ll upload or download anything,
And then I’ll go install it.”

(Her hostile CD keeps replaying,
And though I don’t want to fight her,
Is this what I want for a Valentine?
I’ve been burned; can I rewrite her?)

“Are you all hard drive now,” I asked
“Is there no software in you?
Don’t you remember the good times?
Let our memories see us through.”

“LOL,” she said to me, chuckling.
“You’re nothing but adware.
“I’ve got four gigs of memory;
I’ve got no problem there.”

“Please, honey, we can save it,” I said.
“Our love means more than that.”
“That’s not in my cache; we’re going to crash,”
She said, as she turned me down flat.

(This woman has really changed;
Do I really want to chase her?
More and more I’m thinking
It might be nice to erase her.)

“Aw, honey, don’t talk like that,” I said.
“Can’t we just plug and play?
I hereby accept default,
And I’m yours, my love, come what may.

My goal is to make you happy;
I want to be your portal,
But your sudden, distant coldness
Would test the strongest mortal.

If we need a brand new interface,
So we can FTP,
I’m your go along, get along guy,
And I want you to stay with me.”

“If you want to get into my favorites,” she said,
And you want to get past my encryption,
If you want to get through my firewall,
Here is my only prescription.”

“First, put up your own Web site,
And e-mail me when it’s done.
I’ll check your page rank with Google,
And tell you if you’re the one.”

My life has become a real trial,
Since my Valentine got a computer.
If I want her to care about me again,
I guess I’ll have to reboot her.

By Joanna Fuchs


{February 9, 2009}   Summer Reading

Due to my college’s requirements, I’m reading some short stories for in-class discussion. Today, I went through Angelica Gibbs’ The Test.

The story goes around racial and gender discrimination. It was written in the 1940s and bluntly shows how African-American people were treated at this time. I can’t imagine the effects this story had among the middle classes at the time it was published!

From the very beginning, images come easily to your mind, so I won’t say anything else about it: Just click here and enjoy reading it!

And if you are interested, here you can find some questions to work with the story.

{February 6, 2009}   First day’s frustration

As some of you know, I moved recently to Buenos Aires and I had to finish my course of studies in another institution. I had just 4 subjects left, and now, I have to sit for an entrance examination at -as it is said- the most important institute in Buenos Aires. (That’s not all, they acknowledge up to 30% of my former course of studies, and that’s up to 10/11 subjects out of 32)

You may think why I am frustrated.

The idea of sitting for an entrance examination was not nice, since I was almost finishing my course of studies, but I knew that if there was no examination of this kind, anyone would enroll just to learn or to polish their English.

And today we had the first meeting for the entrance summer course and I was completely frustrated. I don’t mean to criticize others, but I can’t understand what do some people think we learn at teaching training colleges. We were supposed to talk about our partners, and more than half of the people in my classroom were not able to say two words together. The woman sitting next to me told me she had enrolled in that institution to learn English and to speak English with other people. Then, we had to paraphrase 10 sentences and most of my mates couldn’t finish.

Sitting there, those two hours seemed endless. And then, I remembered Ms María Lidia Camporro’s article, “A Toast on Professionalism” in The Teacher’s Magazine #109 and I also remembered what I wrote here after reading that article, and I thought:

What would I do if some of these people were my children’s teachers? They were not confident enough to talk in English to their mates, nor could they answer easy questions (for example, one girl asked “how old are you?” to her mate, and the answer was just a number in Spanish. So, they go into the course of studies, struggle to pass every single subject and get their degree, they then start working at different schools, and they are teaching our children something they still don’t know.

Of course it is not that I am a know-it-all, but, as far as I know, to teach English (or any other thing) you have to know English and you have to know about English (the culture of its speakers, its history, the history of the countries where it is spoken, and so many different things I wouldn’t have enough space to write them here).  I though about the people who were in charge of the meeting (there were three teachers in charge of it) How did they feel when they listened to such outrageous grammar mistakes? And when I say outrageous I mean outrageous. It was something like you teach your students how to write the numbers and after weeks of practice they write 1 as “wan”, 2 as “chu” and 3 as “tri” because they just can remember how they pronounce these words. I felt it that way, could the teachers have felt the same? Or are they so used to the situation I’m describing that they just don’t care?

Is is like this everywhere? I don’t understand how this works, I studied English since I was a little girl, then started university knowing I had some knowledge on the language. Is it just here in Argentina that people go to teaching training colleges to learn English?

The thing is, after this first meeting, I see why these people make you sit for an entrance examination. The summer course lasts 3 weeks (6 meetings)  and I think that, at this level, it’s enough time for students to practice for an entrance exam. I wonder how many people will pass it.

et cetera