Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Brooklyn Follies, by Paul Auster



Nathan Glass is our white 60-year-old hero, a deeply liberal Democrat retiree from the insurance business, who suffers from lung cancer in remission. After his divorce, he returns to Brooklyn, “looking for a quiet place to die”. And before checking out, he intends to writeThe Book of Human Folly, a personalized account of every stupid, wrong move he had committed during his “long and checkered career as a man”.
Nevertheless, as the novel goes on he meets characters from the Park Slope neighborhood, who will interrupt our wan protagonist’s solitude and spin him around, so life takes over instead, and his despair is swept away as he gets himself implicated in other people´s life.
Everything starts to turn on when Nathan accidentally gets together with his long-lost nephew, Tom, who has seemingly given up on life. After dropping out of University, he has resigned himself to a string of meaningless jobs. Both characters mix enthusiasm and desperation; “you love life, Tom, but you don´t believe in it. And neither do I”.
From a doomed atmosphere to the lively neighborhoods, Nathan discoveredBrooklynites are less reluctant to talk to strangers than any tribe, they butt into one another´s business at will.
 Nathan acquaints with Marina, a beautiful married waitress. He also befriends Harry Brightman a shady, likable, gay, owner of a bookstore. And it is when Lucy, nine-year-old Tom´s niece, who refuses to speak and reveal the whereabouts of her mother, Aurora, comes into their lives, that she suddenly opens a bridge between their past and their future, and gives some form of redemption to the characters.
The novel seems to go nowhere. The Hotel Existence in Vermont represents the promise of a better world. Harry dies after an extortion episode and leaves all his wealth to Tom and to his mate Rufus, a travesty known as Tina. Nancy, a jewellery designer, gets in love with Aurora, Nathan with her mother, Tom married Honey, and Raquel, Nathan´s beloved daughter gets in touch after some time of cold distance, and tells Nathan he soon will be grandfather and they will be close from then on. And so on the novel  gathers the characters in a big family. Paul Auster tends to show his liberal Democrat point of view. On the contrary, Lucy´s bad family situation is blamed on her Fundamentalist evangelical southern father.
The book ends up just forty-six minutes before the first plane crashed into the North tower of the World Trade Center, on 11 September, 2001. An incredibly loud finale, just before the smoke covered N.Y. with human pain and sorrow.
Under my personal point of view, Auster focuses the interest on happiness of ordinary human life, Brooklyn Follies is a book about survival, written for those who have suffered an unfortunate reversal, and wait for fate to turn direction.

Mercedes Martín Panero. Advanced level. Year 2

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days




Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dog Days, is the fourth international bestseller of the series Diary of a Wimpy Kid written by Jeff Kinney.
Firstly I have chosen this book because I read the second book, Rodrick Rules, last year, when I was told to read it at this language school.
A funny story set in modern-day American society, it immediately became an international bestseller for youngsters.

In this book tells the story of Greg, a young boy who spends all the summer in his city, with his family and Rowley, his best friend.
The way he likes to spend his summer holiday is in front of the TV, playing video games with the curtains closed and the lights turned off but his mother’s idea of the perfect summer holiday is totally different so she organizes many activities for Greg.

Talking about the context, Greg´s adventures are set in a small American city during his school summer holidays, and the book finishes the last day of his summer holidays.

As regards the plot, since Greg’s mum says it is not“natural” for a kid to stay indoors when it’s sunny out, she organizes some activities: at first, she keeps trying to get him to do something outside, such as going to the pool, and Greg spends the first part of the summer at his friend Rowley’s pool because he belongs to a country club, but at the end this adventure didn’t work out so well, and Greg has to go to the town pool with his family.
Greg does many activities during his school summer holiday such as trying to make his own company to solve his debts with Rowley’s dad, for instance.
The strong point of the book is the moment when Greg meets his pet, Sweety, but in a few hours the dog is driving him crazy.
Finally he goes with Rowley’s family to a week beach trip where Greg gets to ride the Cranium Shaker so he could call himself a man.

In this book the same main characters from the first books reappear, Rowley and the wimpy kid, Greg, who are eleven years old and he writes on his diary the teenager feelings and points of view of some “dog days”.
Another important character is Greg’s mum, too worried about her family.
Greg’s best friend is Rowley although they argue very often.

Not only is this a complex and funny novel, but it also tackles the real problems of a child in a modern society written in a diary.
The best part of the book is the few days when the protagonist is really happy when he gets his dog although he soon has second thoughts, since it is too hard to have a pet.

All in all, the Diary of a Wimpy is a book to spend a few  entertaining days while Greg gives you some guffaws.


GRACIELA SUÁREZ DÍAZ. ADVANCED LEVEL. YEAR 2

Monday, 28 November 2011

British and American English: Bones

Watch this extract from the American TV series Bones.



Can you think of any general differences you know between both?
Any differences as regards vocabulary, verb forms, phonetics, etc?
Which do you find more difficult to understand? Why?

Now, do the listening comprehension task below.



Finally, when you are ready, check your progress with this answer key sheet.

MY ORIGINAL SANTA CLAUS


I do hate Christmas! I look at other people, and I think “I must be a freak in this too”. But, I really hate Christmas! No matter how hard I try, I can’t see the point of being happy while celebrating Christmas. Moreover, I also hate the terrible cold weather, how much it rains or how early it gets dark at Christmas time. To make things even worse, during these days my house is always full of people, so I have to share my room with my stupid brother. Like in previous years, all my uncles and cousins are going to come and I’m afraid they will destroy my poor toys as usual. At least, last year I still had my dog Whisky with me for chatting.  But this time, I know it’s going to be horrible.
Nevertheless, the worst thing is the way all my teachers behave when Christmas is approaching. Everybody, all at once, seems to agree to ask for something special for the hateful Christmas. My Arts teacher wants us to design some original Christmas cards for everyone; my Music teacher asks us to compose a carol with an original melody; my Language teacher demands to draft an original Christmas story; my Technology teacher wants us to create an ornament with an original design to decorate our classroom; my French teacher invites us to sing carols in French,… I think I will go nuts!
         At least, last Christmas I had my Christmas gifts (I always get lots of toys those days). However, yesterday my mom saw me reading a brochure from a large toy store and she gave me one of her “lectures”; She explained to me that we were going through a global crisis, so we don’t have money for Christmas shopping this time, and she forced me to watch the television news with her to understand what she was talking about. All moms are a real bore, but this time I had to agree; they repeated hundreds of times words such as crisis, debt, global recession, unemployment or financial problems. The good thing for me is that I saw a happy man with a white beard that inspired me for the original work for my teachers. In the end, the punishment was worth it. I have found my secret original idea: I could have this man dressed up like Santa Claus... 

By Vicky, Advanced level. Year 2


Thursday, 24 November 2011

Imaginary holidays

Ana Belén, one of the That's English Elementary ESL students, is sharing her experience in London.

The perfect family

Thinking of revising modal verbs? 
Feeling like speculating about the present and the past? 
OK, then meet the Joneses, the perfect family for your purpose.



Remember that to be able to view the lesson properly, you need Java and the Malted Web 2.0 plugin installed in your computer.

What is Thanksgiving?


Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Discursive essays: a balanced argument

Here you are several guidelines on how to write a discursive essay of this kind.



Key success factors when writing this type of essays:

Ö        Being able to build up an argument
Ö        Being able to link points together in a logical sequence
Ö        Using appropriate discourse markers to connect, contrast, and balance points.

Introductions and conclusions

In an essay it is important that the introduction engages the reader’s attention. It should introduce the topic, but should not include the specific points that you are going to mention in the body of the text.

A good introductory paragraph describes the present situation and gives supporting evidence. It should refer to the statement or question you have been asked to discuss. This can often be done in the form of a question to the reader which the subsequent paragraphs should answer.

The conclusion should briefly sum up the arguments you have made, and can include your personal opinion.
The opinion you express should follow logically from the arguments you have presented.

Useful words and expressions

Ö        Expressing the main points in an argument:
o       The greatest benefit …
o       First and most importantly, …
o       One disadvantage of …
o       Another drawback to ….

Ö        Adding supporting information to a main argument, or introducing other related arguments:
o       In addition, …
o       What is more, …
o       Not only … that, but …
o       Another point in favour of …

Ö        Describing cause and effect
o       Result in / lead to
o       Because of / due to

Ö        Weighing up arguments
o       On balance,
o       On the whole,
o       All in all,

Planning what to write

Brainstorm the content

When provided with an essay title, look at it carefully and brainstorm the pros and cons of it. Then decide the main arguments on each side which are relevant to the title.

Write an introduction for the essay, following this pattern:

v     Write an introductory sentence about the topic.
v     Write a second sentence supporting the first one, or describing the result of it.
v     Ask a question that you intend to answer in the essay

TIPS for writing a discursive essay where you put both sides of an argument

v     Brainstorm points for and against and decide which two or three you think are the most important.
v     Use a neutral or formal style.
v     Write a clear introduction, which engages the reader. You could end with a question that you are going to answer.
v     Link your ideas together with varied discourse markers and linking phrases, e.g. due to, this can lead to, etc. because an essay should show the development of a logical argument; it is not just a list of random ideas and opinions.
v     Make sure your conclusion is a summary of what you have previously said and refers back to what you were asked to write about. It is important that this is not just a repetition of your arguments. It is a summary of what you believe your arguments have proved.

PROPOSED TOPICS

Low cost airlines have revolutionized travel – but at what price?

The growth of online shopping has greatly improved life for the consumer.

Write an essay about one of the proposed topics in about 200 words.

DRAFT your essay in four paragraphs:

  • Introduction
  • Arguments in favour
  • Arguments against
  • Conclusion, saying whether you think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, or the other way round.
EDIT the essay, cutting any irrelevant information and making sure it is the right length.

CHECK the essay for mistakes in grammar, spelling, punctuation and register.

WRITE the essay under the Comments section below this entry.

Source: New English File Advanced Student’s Book. OUP




Modal verbs: permission, obligation, necessity.

 

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Entertainment tonight. Baby Pressure on Kate Middleton

Listen to the extract below:



Now, read and answer the comprehension questions. You can also listen to the mp3 again by clicking on the audio button placed in the page below:




When you feel ready to check your progress, click on this answer key sheet and check.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Science

Does the picture below look familiar?

Christmas short stories

Here we are, once again, opening the Christmas Short Stories School Contest and looking forward to welcoming all your imaginative productions.

From today, 21 November, until 12 December 2011, I'll be collecting all your short stories and submitting them to the contest.

Read all the information about the contest on the school website and blog.

Good luck to all!

Famous Firsts: Fernando Alonso

Read the article below extracted from Sky News and answer the comprehension questions:



When you are done and feel sure about your answers, check your score and how well you've done.

10 Ways Twitter Will Change American Business

Read this article from http://www.time.com/ and answer the comprehension questions.

After doing the task, check your score with this answer key sheet.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

People and animals

If you are looking for more topics to practise your speaking skills, here you are a new one.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Mental powers

Do you believe in mental powers? Why/Why not? Let us know your viewpoints following the tips below:


Thursday, 17 November 2011

Cast Away



Cast away edicion2 by josesugo

Mental health

Ready for some discussion in English? Here you are a few tips on mental health.


Giftedness

Let's interact in English, this time about giftedness. Here you are a few suggestions to get started.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Dealing with fear

Ready for some speaking practice about phobias? Here you are some tips to get started.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Gifted children

Listen to this video clip from ABC news talking about some challenges gifted children may face:


Then, answer the comprehension questions; finally, check how well you've done with this answer key sheet.

Learn English as a celebration

Listen to the podcast below and then answer the following comprehension questions.



After doing the task, check your score with this answer key sheet.


Task by Mª Jesús García San Martín. Podcast from Effortless English Podcast.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Nelson Mandela, by Merche

The best way to learn English

Watch this ESL teacher talking about the best way to learn conversational English.


Then, have a look at these comprehension questions and try to answer them. You can leave your comments in the corresponding textbox and I'll let you know how well you have done.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Cork, by Tony Wheeler

Watch this slideshow about Cork by Tony Wheeler from Lonely Planet TV.



Then have a look at these questions about the slideshare and try to get as many details as possible. Answer  them under the Comments textbox below if you like and I'll let you know how well you have done.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

The four old friends

These four old friends are meeting after a long time. Come on and find out about their past and present.



It will be good for you if you are an A2 ESL learner and want to practise the following items:

Grammar: present perfect simple, simple past, past progressive, used to. Functions: talking about the past, establishing a relationship between the present and the past. Vocabulary: famous people and events. Phonetics: pronunciation of regular past verbs.

Candy Apples





Friday, 4 November 2011

Christmas Card Contest

It seems that Christmas is coming to EOI Luarca once again!

Well, then get ready to take part in the brand new 2011 Christmas Card Contest that we are holding from this very moment until 21 November.


I am looking forward to welcoming all your imaginative creations and registering them for the School Contest.


Don't forget: deadline 21 November!!!!!!


You can mail your cards to me if they are digital or hand them in class if you are drawing them in paper; it's up to you, but remember the race for Christmas is starting, so READY? STEADY? GO!!!!!




Thursday, 3 November 2011

Quesada, by Margarita

A traditional Cantabrian dessert



Ingredients for 4 people
2 eggs
75 g. butter
4 wineglass milk
2 wineglasses white sugar
2 wineglasses all-purpose flour
Some shaved lemon rind


1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease a rectangular pan.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, the milk, the butter and the sugar. Add the eggs, mix until blended, and the lemon rind. Beat all this with a mixer until it looks like a cream.
Pour the mix into the pan.

3. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven. A toothpick inserted into the cake should come out clean. Cool the cake on a wire rack before removing from pan.

A kind of Spanish bread pudding, by P. Neira

From 1NI, That's English, Patricia is sharing this nice recipe with us.


Ingredients:
150g of bread
4 eggs
A pinch of salt
1 cupful of milk
4 tablespoonful of sugar
1 teaspoonful of grated lemon rind
1 teaspoonful of anisette
1 tablespoonful of vegetable oil


Cut the bread into small pieces
Mix the milk and the bread in a large bowl.
Mix the sugar and the eggs and beat them.
Add the eggs with sugar to the bowl and knead the dough for a few minutes.
Grate the lemon and add it together with the tsp of anisette to the dough.
Let it rest for ten minutes.
Heat up the frying pan with the oil; lay your dough on it. Set it at medium heat. After five minutes turn it over with the help of a plate, wait five more minutes. Now it is already to be served. Eat it warm.



Talking about technology

The truth is out there on the net

You are going to read three extracts which are all concerned in some way with computers.



For each of the questions, choose the best option. When you think you are done, check your answers with this key sheet.