Tuesday, August 31, 2010

433. Any piece of our work is a service

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, "A teacher I knew strove for making their students better persons, respecting their own freedom exquisitively. She reckoned they are children of God and she naturally used to have this idea as a natural background. She was forward, trying to set an example. Rarely did she set punishments or useless ones. She was nice and tried to put in their students' shoes. Just her solely presence, always attractive and friendly, prevented the rascals from doing wrong. A sincere smiling, a warm one, appeared in her face whenever she saw something good, achieved by the kids. Nevertheless a discreet, piercing, sometimes sad, and compassionate look, refrained the disobedient. With this simplicity and charming cordiality she was educating the young." / Photo:

co-collection%20split%20rear-loader swamper separates www gov chilliwack bc ca

Monday, August 30, 2010

432. Beautiful, but real?

Yesterday I wrote this letter to the director of Ideal, a local newspaper of eastern Andalucía, as a response to an article, a nice one, about the teachers a lady, Mariluz Escribano Pueo, used to have in her school, rather many years ago, I guess. / Photo: Dunluce – Castle – County - Antrim20Ir i187 photobucket com ireland

In your honor, my dear fellow-teachers.

These letters, you know, are sent to the paper to be published in the corresponding section of the paper assigned to the readers’ letters.

Acabo de leer, hoy domingo 29, el artículo de opinión escrito por Mariluz Escribano Pueo. Describe esta señora o señorita cómo eran su escuela y sus maestras. Me ha gustado el estilo con el que está escrito este artículo. Lo he leído con mucho interés y atención. Intentaré decir algo más, brevemente, pero no puedo abarcar, lógicamente, el contenido de esa columna. Me fijo ahora en dos aspectos de aquellas maestras con esta excelente vocación profesional, de enseñar y educar a los jóvenes. Me fijo en "sentido común" y "sabiduría". Dos palabras muy grandes para la educación de los alumnos. Dos aptitudes (quizá mejor decir actitudes, es decir, algo adquirido, con esfuerzo) claves para enseñar tal o cual asignatura, y para educar a cada alumno, a cada persona, dentro de esa asignatura. Esas maestras tenían muy claro que en sus manos estaba la formación de las personas que tenían delante. Hoy también, afortunadamente, veo profesores y profesoras con una dedicación y entrega a sus alumnos muy de aplaudir. Es más, la mayoría de mis compañeros procuran tener esta dedicación y entrega. Feliz inicio de curso.

Friday, August 27, 2010

431. Our aim: authentic communication, as you know

Here you go with a note I typed May 28, 2004, during my doctorate research. The quotation is from very useful OXFORD, Rebecca (1990) Language Learning Strategies. What Every Teacher Should Know. Boston: Heinle & Heinle Publishers. After that is a comment by me. / Photo from smart-board-600i-interactive-whiteboard-photo www ivci com

“The language teaching profession was still not ready for much real communication.” (x; the underlining is ours). We as teachers, as well, should foster real communication and not just always simulation. Think for instance of the warm-ups or warmers we practice at the beginning of the class: they usually deal with real things of thei students’ lives.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

430. Working together: that's the way

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “A teacher-trainer should combine different points, I’d say: methodology instruction, to the new teacher I mean, mere suggesting, listening and approving this teacher’s views when hitting on the target, even learning from him or her, letting this teacher implement things in the class however way he thinks better, praising the successes, and delegating responsibilities. Ah, and making clear to this teacher that he or she has persons before his or her desk. In other words: create an autonomous teacher, with his own tools and resources. You well know that the trainer should anyway carry on with lighting up the new way of this professional. Both training and listening to the new teacher are important. What is more: both of them should go along on a parallel way, working together.” / Photo from mastersofmedia hum uva nl

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

429. Just at ease

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, "When the students are adolescents they discover their innerhood, feelings, ideas. Don't break in that innerhood tactlessly. Some teachers have told me they get to help their students after or before the class, when the teacher and a few students are at ease, not in a formal class-mood. They tell the teacher just things. Important things to them. And if this teacher listens with authenticity and patience, that student or those two students will tell him things that those kids would never tell their hectic parents. This is not anything against the, say, established tutorials. Even at these latter ones you can apply the same mood and interest." / Jules Verne. Photo from ageofsteam files wordpress com

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

428. Even you can drink it

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, "Using realia can somehow immerse our students into kind of small environment where English is used naturally. Assign one day as homework to bring packages, round cartons, etc., to the school-room, with the names of the ingredients of foods, in English. It's authentic English. If the students are adolescents, they can just write the ingredients on their notebooks. Besides you all in the class can read instructions, like Keep in the original packaging, well closed in a cool dry place. One activity: all of you work on the ingredients of different boxes or foods. You are writing the ingredients on the board. O, this game takes next to no extra-class preparation. Afterward, you ask the kids what ingredients they think are in a chocolate. Bringing real packages provides a special mode of dealing with authentic English, colorful objects, everyday food and drinks, smells." / Photo from quedificiles wordpress com

Monday, August 23, 2010

427. Do you know what this is?

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, "I've been thinking lately that we teachers of English could teach and present cultural and enriching aspects (content-based instruction) in our classes. We could teach our students to research and work out on the heritage of Europe (so as to take an example of a topic). What is Europe? What's the basement of our culture and way of living? What's the connection with other continents? Where is Romania? We could include contents of history, traditions, geography, the members of the EU, the history of the euro, the roots and history of our ideas, some philology of the languages (Indo-European super-family), Christianity, institutions, wars, climate, the diversity of Europeans and the owed respect to each other and the why of this respect."
Photo from losmiller com - The Roman Theatre in Mérida (province of Badajoz, within the Autonomous Community of Extremadura; these communities are regions of Spain, with some transferred institutions of goverment from Madrid).

Friday, August 20, 2010

426. The primary and unique educators

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, "The way the parents see work, it's mostly the way the kids will see work. Call on those parents to a tutorial with you. Listen to them, carefully, with an authentic interest. Take mental or written notes about the things they are telling you. Nod. Paraphrase. Intently I repeat, with a warm concerning, not as a hole technique. If you learn how his or her parents see the kid's education, how they may be merely repeat that the kid has to study, has to do his homework... Be wide with those parents: make friends with them, suggest things a teacher your kind knows about studying, speak about his brothers ansd sisters, his gang and friends, the amount of time he spends in his room contacting through Tuenti or any other social network, what is inside his mind, what he says, what he doesn't, any possible eccentric behavior lately, what he drinks and smokes... in no way is this police-like controlling. It's the love both parents and teacher have to that adolescent." / Photo from www celini 5 region cl

Thursday, August 19, 2010

425. Building a mall?

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, "Do not spoonfeed your students - otherwise they'll never make an effort. For example, assign them tasks or problems which they've got to solve. This is a sound training for their future careers. A pair students are ordering their lunch at a burger place. Or a small debate between two big wheels: one wants to build a mall on a specific place, while the other guy wants to devote that large spot of land to a park. Each realtor defends his position. A lead-in activity can be two halves of the class brainstorming pros to support their leader. You can be writing on the board the things each half proposes, in few words. One point that will help the students to develop their ideas: your small joking or smiling at their proposals, and your stirring them up to say more things." A bulldozer, in English. From www outdoor-perspective com

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

424. They notice all you do

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, "Something else about management of the class that might help you? Well, right what you are doing: you attend the class day after day, you prepared activities and some objective, you try and be authentic yourself with regard to teach them and fulfill your ordinary duties, you go to the classroom to help them out with their learning process, you love your students, your presence commands a feeling of respect because of everything just said, you are concerned for each of them, you rectify your errors, you listen to them with a sincere interest, you try to be coherent... They see this, they reckon this, ultimately. And this makes for a working ambience in the classroom; there will be problems nonetheless. But you and the students will manage them." / Photo from fc95 deviantart com

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

423. Like a treasure hunt

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, "A teacher should be, IS a humanist. He or she should continuously read, study, catch up with the last contributions of other teachers of English, for example by reading forum comments, like the ones which appear in the site of British Council - BBC, http://www.teachingenglish.org , as well as books on adolescence, education, on the family. Thus he or she makes himself or herself a better educator. As Georgina Hudson says, you cannot give water if your bucket is empty; well, sorry, at least this is the idea she means." / Photo from www divinglore com

Monday, August 16, 2010

422. You are rowing not alone

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of Engilish B, "I see you wish to deepen into education. Remember when you were taking your first steps? Probably your mom and your dad were right behind you, just letting you staggering, your arms like trying to balance your body. Now you are a novice teacher, or you could be a veteran. You have a Dad and a Mom behind you, when teaching. All good, from them come. Plus your effort, for granted. That said, this thought may give your entire career a meaning: otherwise, is it worth burn out solely for a castle in the air? Educating is beautiful, but add the also nice realizing that we teachers are not alone in the classroom. This is a nice basement for our optimism. Moreover, you and I are seeking the ultimate truth of our lives." / Photo from teamsingapore com sg

Friday, August 13, 2010

421. Sharpening the pencil of accurate grammar

A teacher of English, below is his (or her? sorry) name, asked in the

Forum of teachers of British Council – BBC about the usage of “good at” and “good in”. I found an answer on http://www.bbc.co.uk/ Intenational Service – Learning English. / Photo from prontooffice com

Submitted by divakar3368 on 11 August, 2010 - 21:10

Dear friends ,

Can anybody help me by explaining the difference between the usage 'good at and good in'.

Thanking you in advance,


Fernando M Díez

Usage of 'good at' and 'good in'

Submitted on 12 August, 2010 - 12:40

Hello Divakaran,

I've found this, which can be a good answer. It's from BBC International Service - Learning English, http://www.bbc.co.uk/ . I don't have anything to add.

Best wishes

Fernando M Díez Gallego

Teacher of English. Teacher-trainer.


Granada (Spain)

“Lim Chiu Lan from Malaysia asks about prepositional phrases:

Would you be good enough to explain to me what is the difference between these prepositional phrases: good at and good in?

Which of the following is correct: 1) 'I'm good at English' or 2) 'I'm good in English' and 1) 'I'm good at football' or 2) 'I'm good in football'?

Roger replies:

To be good at and to be good in are often interchangeable, Lim, and there is no easy rule to follow. In simple statements, like the ones you have quoted, the standard form appears to be good at as in 'I'm not very good at football'.

However, in this following sentence, to be good in seems more likely than to be good at, i.e:

'He was the best in the class in French, but in mathematics and chemistry he was not so good.'

This is perhaps because with other expressions or verbs denoting assessment or ranking, the preposition in would be required, thus:

'In pharmacology she obtained/scored/gained/attained the highest marks.' “

Thursday, August 12, 2010

420. He had a good monitor

One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, “The extra-class interviews in English, better if male teacher and male student, may achieve farther than tutorials in L1. There can be a teacher that picks up the students one by one, out of the classroom, to make an interview, as a reinforcement to speaking. That teacher, for example you, teases the student in English, you ask him questions, and each student, at his correspondent level of English – I’m referring to adolescents – will tell you some things about his own interests and circumstances.

A few days ago, in an interview with me, one student could manage only to say very, very few words. Another student, one of a higher-level group was telling me about the past Football World Cup, for about twenty minutes, with specific technical aspects I didn’t know about: I asked him to explain to me the play of his national team and he eagerly wished to tell me everything. Awesome.” / Photo from www mundounido com mx

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

419. Essential for education

"Nobody can totally know the essence of another human being if he does not love this other. By the spiritual act of loving one makes himself capable to discover the essential strokes and traits of the human person; moreover, he makes himself also capable to discover the other's potentialities: what still has not been shown, what is to be shown. Moreover, by his love, the person who loves makes possible the loved person to show his potentialities." By Victor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning. The translation is of mine; I tried my best, sorry if any errors. Photo from nmm ac uk

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

418. The road of teaching-learning English

One day teacher of English B said to teacher of English A, "The student must be his own engine on the road of learning English. You can help him, but ultimately he is responsible of his learning, and not you. You can help him by providing self-assessment. Ask your students in the class to question each one: How can I speak more in the class? How can I participate more in the class? For some high-achievers the class may be a bore, so, make them aware that it's them who 'cook' the class with their contributions. This is part of a sound methodology of teaching-learning English." Photo from conocextremadura com. This road leaves from Herrera del Duque, a nice 3000-inhabitant village in Extremadura, SW of Spain, next to Portugal.

Monday, August 9, 2010

417. Are these adolescents like the ones I treat?

Below is the source where I took this photo from. It's just wonderful, well outfitted, and I don't want to look down on the photo, but I personally wonder if it shows the adolescents I treat with. - One day teacher of English A said to teacher of English B, "Some months ago in a tutorial with one of my students, I asked him what characteristics belong to adolescence. His responses were (I've translated from Spanish):

1. Adolescents seek meeting with the group of friends, guys and girls. - By the way, I forgot it, this adolescent is 17 years old.

2. The adolescent seeks to detach from their parents.

3. His parents, the ones of an adolescent, often detach themselves from their children.

4. He, an adolescent, can already make use of his reasoning.

5. He begins to think about what has happened to him, about something harmful that has happened to him, and why it has happened.

6. He gets upset with his parents, friends. This getting upset is something more psychological than material.

7. Everybody thinks of making a family. Every adolescent thinks of this sometime.

8. He is concerned about himself: how to be easy with himself.

9. He thinks less of God. Now it's more important than ever before the way the teacher of religion teaches. This teacher is more important than the former books the kid studied, in which Jesus Christ appeared, in an catechetical way, with drawings and vignettes, etc.

Photo from titulate blogdiario com

Sunday, August 8, 2010

416. Any regular day-work is a great thing

Today I offer you all a comment I sent to Georgina Hudson, and her reply. The link to her blog is on the right column of mine. Photo from www ecoalimenta com

Fernando M Díez Gallego dijo...

Hello Ms. Georgina and colleagues,
Definitely motivation... of the teacher hits big for his/her students. I've seen it many times: an enthusiastic teacher sustains and make his or her students love the subject. The teacher is the main resource for the classes. And whatsoever he or she does, definitely influences the students. His or his personal struggle to better as a person too. We teachers set an example. Even, even, even, I'd dare say, and I've seen this, his or her private life, though it's hidden, affects the students. We are educating persons, not manufacturing screws.
Best for everyone!
Fernando Diez Gallego
Granada (Spain). Oh, by the way, just an anecdote, we had Mrs. Obama here in Granada these days. Why Granada, you think...? Interesting point, isn't it?

7 de agosto de 2010 04:47

Georgina Hudson dijo...

Thank you Fernando for your thorough answer.
A colleague said to me "your bucket needs to be full to be able to give to others".
It's a great metaphor of how important it is to feel good with ourselves and our teaching and learners to be able to give our best and enjoy the teaching process.
All the best!

7 de agosto de 2010 10:28

Saturday, August 7, 2010

415. Encountering different cultures

Agata Zgarda asked for help to teach students of different countries. This post of hers appeared on www.teachingenglish.org.uk , the site of BBC – British Council. Underneath is my response to her post. Photo from Farsi Crop.

How diferent is it to teach students from different countries?

Submitted by Agata Zgarda on 26 July, 2010 - 23:08

I've been invited to take part in a webinar with a title (that's not the final title yet) "Cross-cultural communication". One of my ideas was to look at the communication from a different point of view: teacher-student communication, provided that a teacher is of a different nationality than a student. I am one of the examples - a Polish person teaching English in Brazil.

So for that I need to collect characteristics of English students from different countries. Have you ever had an opportunity to teach people of a diferent nationality? How would you characterize them as learners? What kind of difficulties (that come from cultural differences) did you face in the classroom? Did you need to change your approach because of cultural diferences? I'd be really grateful for your help.

Teaching students from different countries

Submitted on 4 August, 2010 - 15:42

Hello Agata Zgarda and everyone,

This circumstance of having students from other countries is increasing, as you well know.

There may be students whose L1 is Arabic, like it happens in Spain more and more. Nevertheless these children and teenagers admirably learn or acquire Spanish quite easily or early, I'd dare say. You can hear them on the street, talking either in Arabic or with their friends in Spanish.

You know a joining and making-friends activity? Ever-present football.

In my school we have had Magrebi students. You know what? They mastered Spanish! I think the necessity helps a lot, evidently. They have got to earn daily food.

A suggestion. First try giving them physical instructions in the class, aided with your gestures and movements, even somehow acting out, don't worry. An instruction like, 'Nazli, take the paper bin and put it onto this desk.' Don't mind he or she doesn't understand at first. You can fulfil the instruction yourself. With emphasis on your words, and slowly, and in a repetitive way. Praise their hit on the target when achieved.

Repeat this instruction or others on the following days, as a revision. They for granted will get glad they are able to receive messages in so a strange language like English.

Tell one student to give one instruction to the Arabic student and let that Spanish classmate do whatsoever action or prompt so as to monitor his Arabic classmate. Both students get roped more intensely in the conducting of the class.

Afterwards you can write 'paper bin' on the blakboard. And then ask the Arabic adolescent or child to fulfil the famous instruction, but you now omit saying the word 'paper bin', while tapping on that written word, on the blackboard.

Little by little the Arab will recognise the shapes and forms of that word in clear Roman characters: that's the object he or she has to pick up to fulfil the instruction.

This may be the beginning - You will need a big patience, but also you will obtain a big satisfaction when you see his/her progress. It's important for the boy, for the girl, to see you smiling and content. Non-verbal language of communication makes a good role! At that very moment you two, learner and teacher, are communicating with each other.

Then, I'm trying to finish this comment, make a student write 'paper bin' in clear big letters, on the board. Call the Arab and ask him or her just to copy the word under the English word, as better as possible.

With the passing time they may be able to write the instructions in full sentences.

So, basically, and this is the logical and psychological process to learn a foreign strange language: listening massively and trying repeating-speaking by the learner, and secondly reading and writing.

Best wishes for you. One more thing: let the Arabic student just tell things in Arabic, for the rest of his or her classmates to listen to a foreign and nice and different-texture language.

Fernando Díez Gallego

Teacher of English. Teacher trainer.

I live in Granada!, Spain. This was the land of Muslims only 500 years ago!


I appreciate the above helping comments by you, other teachers. My congrats.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

414. How to obtain the best from a person

Habits are engendered by the repetition of singular and same actions. Therefore we can see the importance of repeating good actions. Thus, acquiring good habits since the person is young has not little importance, nor does it have a paramount of importance: it does have an absolute importance. - By Aristotle, on Ethics to Nichomacus. The translation is mine. I'm sorry: I didn't save the site which I took the pic from.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

413. The staff playing together like an orchestra

A useful activity, and a reinforcement to foster the speaking skill, in a summer-camp of English, for example, is to have one teacher, either native or a fluent speaker, who would pick up the students, one by one, out of the classrooms, and hold an interview with him. A really interesting dialog, starting for example from the score table which his team is on. This chart could include the points won at soccer, visiting the sick, volley-ball, participation in the class... We, the staff, are concluding, in this course of English, that the main skill to practice is speaking, definitely. Roughly stating, the speaking capability is low in a lot of Spanish schools, improving little by little nonetheless. Maybe your school is one otherwise the level, and the standard is high. Photo from www clemson edu. I guess the conductor is Emil de Cou.