30 May 2013

The Book of Illusions

Paloma, a B2 ESL learner at EOI Luarca, recommends this book by the famous American writer.

The narrator of this story is David Zimmer, a literature professor who has recently lost his wife and two sons in a tragic plane crash. He escapes from the world and spends his days drinking and watching television. He divorced society, quit his job and broke all contact with the people in his life.
One day he laughed while he was watching a Hector Mann's movie on television. That moment made him realize that there was still something inside him that wanted to live and he realized he needed something to occupy his mind with. So he decides to write a book about Hestor Mann and his movies. However Davis is unable to explain Hector Mann's disappearance in 1929.
Aparently there was no reason to disappear, Hector Mann has a promising career, he was handsome and popular with women. After publishing the book a friend from the past called and asked him to do a traslation of a French writer, Chateaubriand. David Zimmer also received a letter from Frida Spelling claiming to be Hector Mann's wife. She said she had read the book and wanted to know if he would like to come to New Mexico and meet Hector.
David initially believed the letter to be a fraud, someone playing a joke on him. But he received more letters and he started thinking maybe Hector Mann was still alive. Soon a woman called Alma arrived at his house to take him to New Mexico to see Hector by force if necessary. Alma told David Hestor Mann's story and why he had disappeared, how he had caused the death of a woman he loved, he had run away and assumed a new identity. After several jobs he started working in his lover's family. That set him on the road once more.
At the same time we are following two different stories: the story of Alma and David and the story of Hector and Frida Spelling. Both Hector Mann and David Zimmer are caught up in tragic and destructive events and both are seeking to find peace, to find a way to live with themselves and the world.
It is a thought provoking and emotionally stimulating novel. Auster makes the story easy to read and the story holds your interest. 
On one hand I find the detailed descriptions of Hector Mann's films tiresome, on the other hand it is an enjoyable story. On the whole I found reading The Book of Illusions entertaining and stimulating.

29 May 2013

Around Europe

Do you want to know some European countries?

In this work, the students of 5th grade at CPR Barranco de Poqueira in Capileira (Granada) have been looking for information about language, flag, typical food and interesting places to visit. The have also added some photos.

I hope you like it!

Please, try the enlarged view and turn on your speakers.

28 May 2013

Travel broadens the mind. Let's travel together! (Comenius Project)

Third Cycle of Primary School
Colegio San Gregorio

On September 2011 we started with a Comenius Project at Colegio San Gregorio in Aguilar de Campoo. The title has been: Travel broadens the mind. Let’s travel together!

‘Travel broadens the mind’ is a long-standing and well-known saying in many societies. It is certainly true that travel really does widen horizons, broadens experience and enriches the soul.

By participating in the project, "Travel broadens the mind. Let’s travel together!", we want both students and teachers who are participating in it, to realize the above-mentioned truth. In carrying out the project activities, we will procure the necessary knowledge and skills for responsible travel planning, preparation and for the travel itself. Participation in the project - due to increased language, mathematical and ICT skills, larger geographical and historical knowledge, and above all, thanks to the experience gained through direct contact with representatives of other countries - will allow participants to reap the benefits of travel for the duration of the project and hopefully will instill a desire to carry on travelling in the future . In today's globalized world, and even more in our united Europe, the skills gained by participating in the project are important and necessary, not only because of the enjoyment of traveling. Increasingly, people in the United Europe move and travel as part of their job, that’s why it is so important to prepare our students for their future.

In this project are implied six european countries:
      Zespół Szkolno-Przedszkolny nr 3 im.Jana Pawła II, in the city Rynick, in Polond.
      Holy Trinity Church of England Junior School, in the city of Guildford, in England.
      Istituzione Scolastica Autonoma 6, in the city of La Spezia, in Italy.
      Tjarnaskoli, in the city of Reykjavik, in Iceland.
      Selcuk Yahsi Ilkogretim Okulu, in the city of Inegol, in Turkey.
      Colegio San Gregorio, in the town of  Aguilar de Campoo, in Spain.
Through the idea of a mascot who needs to travel around Europe to know it and show it to the Comenius partners we have tried to develop our students autonomy of travelling and preparing a trip. Also and the most important thing we have focused in the idea of: “we can learn something from each trip we have”.

In the website you can have a look to all the activities we have done along the two years it has been amazing because it has implied many teacher and many subjects in the different activities: Science, Arts and Crafts, English, Spanish, Music....

We have done many different activities such as:

     We created a “Talking dictionary” in where each Comenius partner read some basic words in their own language using Drive and Screencast-o-matic.
     During the last summer they had to create their own “NUBI” and send postcards and create presentations about their summer holidays.

One of the most important activities has been the visits to the different schools. We had the opportunity of sharing points of view about education and methodologies. But the most amazing trip was the one to Guildford, England with six students. They really enjoyed. And, as my collegue said, we were flabbergasted to see how can our student could speak and communicate in a foreing language and with foreing people.

Here you can watch a summary of the visit (It was done by @julisanzmamolar):

We will go to Poland with the students from 3rd to 7th June.

This kind of project offers many benefits to our students:
     They will open their minds to other cultures and ideas.
     They will improve their skills in the foreing languages,
     The can share time and spaces with foreing english students.
     They work on short projects in English, and they are really motivated.

But it also offers many benefits to the teachers:
     They can share time talking about educational topics.
     They can observe different schools during the visits.
     They can improve teaching skills learning from good working practises of other school.
     They can improve English or feel the necessity of learning it.

Here you have the summary of the last visit our partners did to our school last month. It was a really enriching experiences for students and teachers.

I hope you like it. And I want to give a very big thank you to my colleague, @julisanzmamolar, who has supported me a lot along the two years this project has lasted. 

Javier Ramos Sancha

27 May 2013


Here you are a Wix Presentation to explain Structures to 2 ESO students that @MfMonse, a C1 ESL learner at EOI Luarca, has designed in order to explain these contents to her own learners, in English.

24 May 2013

Playing to be wikipedia editors

Elvira, a student of 4ESOB at IES "La Zafra" invites us to take part in the Project they are currently doing in their English classes:

This term, my class is editing  Motril's Wikipedia article as part of a class project.
We are improving the older entry by looking for information about several topics, the ones we consider the most relevant about our town and this way, getting to know a bit more about it too. We're also trying to spread the word of this project on the net and get some help from our readers.
We have already got a lot of information and we've searched the web in order to get references. We've also learnt how to edit a Wikipedia article and have practiced editing in the sandbox.
Now, we're asking for help on the net: if you want to help us, you can visit the page and edit it by yourself, or  maybe you prefer contacting us via twitter. If you choose editing by yourself, you just have to sign up on Wikipedia and once you reach our page, click on the tab 'edit'.
You can play with us to be a Wikipedia editor. Are you gonna miss this opportunity??
                                                       Elvira Jiménez. May, 23, 2013   

23 May 2013


22 May 2013

Music at school

How to use a song?
In my school, I am used to singing and dancing with children. They like to mime the actions and enjoy to learn by acting (Total Physical Response). 
Last month I prepared two of their best known songs this year because they had been regularly listening to them during beaktime, but they didn't know the meaning of  the lyrics.
Some recommendations about how to use a song:
- Play it three times at least, the first time they will be puzzled, the second, with some guide they will start to understand, at the end they will enjoy and repeat.
- Don't worry if they don't fully understand all the lyrics. Depending on the level you could translate some parts or maybe just the chorus.
- They will help you to teach vocabulary easily.
- When you use songs that can be taught through gestures, very little pre-teaching is necessary. I try to prepare some of them in advance, but you can also ask your students to invent new ones.

Here are the songs and the suggested lesson plans for them:

Good luck and, enjoy!!!
Pilar The Moon. 

21 May 2013

Teaching phonics: A children's passport to literacy

Developing phonological awareness 
Year 1 students.
Colegio San Gregorio.

A couple of years ago I started to teach English to Year 1 students through a new a method for me, Synthetic Phonics. Most of you maybe know the Jolly Phonics method . What I want to present today is more or less the same but I have prepared all the materials and lessons to teach this without the “official” method and materials.

PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS: It is the ability of listening to the sound of a letter or a group of letters (phonics). Then students will manipulate them to read and form words.

It is a very important ability to know for our bilingual students because it will be the foundations of the following abilities as recognizing words, or reading.

To achieve these skills in our students it is very important to be systematic and work with this as a daily basis in our English lessons. I follow these steps during the first cycle of Primary School (6-8 years old):

     Teaching phonics with the flashcards of sounds.
     Reading sounds inside words.
     Reading words and introduction of the “sight words” in the cloud. This is the word which doesn’t follow the pattern.
     Write simple words through the teacher’s dictation.
     Write sentences through the teacher’s dictation.
     Write paragraphs following the grammar pattern the teacher should offer them.
     Free and creative writing.

In the project, I have created a plan for teaching each sound, I introduce a group of sounds each week to the students during the twenty two first weeks of the school year when they arrive in Primary School. I teach them through a group of flashcard I have created as support material. 

Then, when they have achieved some groups of sounds, I start to write short paragraphs for them to read on the blackboard. Here you can watch an example about what the students can achieve with five weeks dealing with phonics.  She is Andrea, this video was recorded two months after she started working with Phonics. 

Later I start to dictate them some short sentences or paragraphs. But I dictate the paragraphs with phonics. Here you can watch an example about how we do the dictations and how they can write with seven years in the past without any problem. They are Edgar and Andrea, two of my Year 1 students.

And in this last video I will show you what they have achieved after two years working with phonics. They are Diego and Eva, two of my Year 2 students. They are eight years old: 

I hope you like it. And if you want further information you can contact me:

Javier Ramos Sancha

20 May 2013

Spanish Talent Show

At CEIP San Miguel. Armilla the second, third and fourth graders have just taken part in a very special show, a Spanish Talent Show, as part of the activities they are carrying out for their 2012/2013 Comenius Project.

Have a look at their talented video clips!

From The ESL Times, we'd like to thank @yolanda_egea for her contribution and wish Armilla the best of lucks in this European contest!

17 May 2013

Wild animals

From Capileira (Granada) the students of 5th Primary have made this vocabulary work about wild animals.

You can use the zoom to look it better.

Enjoy it!

16 May 2013


15 May 2013

Developing English with plays

Every year at school we prepare some plays during the English lessons with our native speaker teacher. She teaches our students of Year 2 an Year 6 once a week and we use this time to rehearse the play.

As a bilingual school we teach Arts & Crafts and Science through English so we use time of these subjects to prepare the play. We use Arts & Crafts for Scenography and Science to deal with the topic of the play. Our native speaker teacher usually writes the scripts.

Using Theatre is your lessons you will:

     Reinforce the academic task of reading and Literature.
     Help the students to socialize, mainly the ones with communicative difficulties.
     Improve students' attention.
     Promote the thought of our kids.
     Transmit values.
     Encourage the use of pupils' senses.
     Stimulate creativity and imagination.
     Increase students' self-confidence.
     Help our kids to play with their fantasy.

This year we have created two new plays with Year 2 and two more with Year 6. I am presenting to you two of the four.

Year 2B performed the play: THE LION AND THE RABBIT. A play about a group of animals in the jungle who are afraid of the Lion and want to solve that problem. Nobody wants to talk with the lion, so a group of three little brave rabbits solve the problem. So not only are we performing the play but we also talked and learnt about animals at the Science lesson. Here you are the final performance: 

YEAR 6A performed the play: CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS. A play about the history of the Great Traveller Christopher Columbus. From the moment he asked for money to the Catholic Monarchs to when they arrived in the New World, America.  Students also prepared the scenography and we could deal with this topic in Science. It was also great because we could show a part of the history of Spain to our Comenius Partners from the project: Travel broadens themind. Let’s travel together!  Here you are the final performance. 

I hope you have enjoyed both!

Javier Ramos Sancha

14 May 2013

Kant: an illustrated biography

Listen to this biography of Kant, narrated by @juanatt, an ESL learner and Philosophy teacher.

13 May 2013

Project: The Dreaming Corner (Literacy Development)

This is a new project we began this school year. In this project are implied the Spanish and English teachers of the school. And also the students of Year 1 and Year 2, and the Year 5 and Year 6 ones.

The main aims of this project are:
       Awaken interest  on reading.
       To Discover reading time as a time of enjoyment.
       To establish personal relationships among primary school students.

In this video you can watch a brief summary about what this project is:

Since the beginning we have linked the groups of Year 1 with the groups of Year 5, and the groups of Year 2 with the groups of Year 6. So each student of Year 6 and Year 5 has a “friend / partner” from the other school groups.

Every week they have one lesson in which the oldest students go and read with the youngest one. One week they do it in Spanish and the other week they will do it in English.

Before that lesson the oldest students have to prepare the “Reading moment”:
       They have to read the book previously.
       They have to look for the vocabulary.
They have to prepare some Reading Comprehension Activities to do in the reading journal.

You can look for all the information about the Project in the following website.

Contact me for further information
Javier Ramos Sancha

9 May 2013

QR Codes at school

Pilar The Moon is starting a QR Code Campaign at her school, CEIP Rafael Altamira.

Here you are the beginning, a lovely poster with the first advertisement.

8 May 2013

Metaphors in American Literature

Commentary about metaphors used by Anne Bradstreet and by Jonathan Edwards.

In order to establish the metaphors used by Anne Bradstreet and Jonathan Edwards I have selected the excerpts in which they showed the figurative language.

A. Bradstreet poem The Author to Her Book contains an extended metaphor because it goes along the text. We can see how she intentionally controlled the imagery through the poem which related her book to the birth of a child. The vehicle is her fatherless child. In this way she calls the attention to her authorship without help of men, she apologizes for the “ill-formed offspring of the feeble brain” (line 1). It is a recognised strategy to show true humility and modesty expected from a honorable woman. In line 2 “Who after birth didst by my side remain” the tenor can be interpreted as the delay of her publication and “My rambling brat should mother call” (line 8) as it were a spoiled child, justifying that is going to be published by her brother.

In her elegy On My Dear Grandchild Simon Bradstreet she uses the figurative language of flowers to express the beginning and end of a life in a short time. And also to enhance the deception for an almighty God. One example of the vehicle is in line 3 “three flowers” and the tenor are the children who died. In this sense the flowers are something extremely beautiful and pure which died suddenly because of the natural cycle of life.

J. Edwards sets out the rhetorical strategies to give a new set of images that were very familiar in his time. But, how? Eliciting emotional responses to sermons, they are an example of eloquence partly because it is filled with tension and suspense 2. He communicated his ideas in a language of sensory experience. Producing an impression in their minds. In the first extract from Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God we can identify the vehicle “bitter and poisonous fruit” (line 6) with the tenor of the sin if we go to the imagery of Adam and Eve in the paradise. A second metaphor is extended along the vehicle of “great waters” (line 78), “floods of God's Vengeance” (line 82) which tenor would talk about the abysm which follows God's wrath. Following the metaphorical structure of the text, there is only one way of “holding the waters back” and it is with conversion and God's help.
(397 words)

2Gibert, Teresa. American Literature to 1900. Editorial Universitaria Ramón Areces: Madrid, 2009. Page 82.

By Pilar The Moon

7 May 2013

An essay on American Literature: Autobiographical Elements


Comparing and contrasingt the use of autobiographical elements in the writings by John Smith, William Bradford, Anne Bradstreet and Mary Rowlandson.

This essay sets out the terms which put forward the contrast points of the autobiographical aspects of the four authors. These authors were pioneers as they started literature tradition in America. The american literature found evidence that the colonial discourse as settlers had provided them a new vision of the world different from other authors of their times. Differences in their works are because of their life experiences.

Firstly, I point out a contrast showed by their relation to religion. In that sense, Smith is the only one whose role as adventurer and hero has secular concerns. He had been payed by the investors in London, so he had economical intentions and enhanced his work in the colonies with a mixture of fact and fiction. In spite of this, Bradford and the two women referred to a spiritual concern, related to their condition of Puritans, which made them to tell the true facts from a perspective of a Puritan reality. The sources they used are influenced by this condition: classical authors are present in Smith, and essentialy biblical sources are basic in Puritan authors' references. This passages or quotations were directly related with the background of their audiences. Also that made them to convey a didactic and plain style.

Secondly we distinguish differences in the gender, they were influenced by the social behaviour of the times. Women were considered to have little to say in men's society. Consider their role belonging to a Puritan organization of society were mere caregivers and beloved wives. Converserly, they went further and expressed their own opinions in their works. William and John1 wrote back to England as a mission to inform their investors and society about their fisrt impressions of the New World. Following these argument the roles influenced directly in their way of writing.

The perception we have about Purintan thought is that women should be discreet and passed a certain censure in their writings. Having said that we stress some common elements the two women had in their autobiography, material losses and psychological hardships. Their daily life in colonies are reflected in their discourses, living hand by hand with Natives made them their own opinion about what was happening, speaking about the death of children, the crude vision of war, the survival personality of human being. In most occasions troubled by religious thoughts which seemed not as close as they wished.
1Gibert, Teresa. American Literature to 1900. Editorial Universitaria Ramón Areces: Madrid, 2009. Pages 15 and 29.

By Pilar The Moon

6 May 2013

Developing Communicative Skills

Year 1 of Primary School
San Gregorio School.

As an English teacher I try to improve not only the vocabulary and grammar of my youngest students but also their use of English.

Sometimes when we try to deal with communication and conversation in our lesson we just ask questions to our students and we wait for their correct answer. But in my opinion I think it is very important to have time for talking with their classmates in English. This is when they are really using English because they are looking for information about something real and important for them .

This is why I spend nearly fifteen minutes everyday to develop these communicative skills with them since they start Primary School. In the following photos you can see all the support material. 

In each English topic I introduce one or two of them which usually are related with it. In this way students are learning:

     How to make questions.
     How to have a conversation, and the rules of it. (Greetings and farewells, taking turns)
     To use the vocabulary of the topic. And also to revise the previous vocabulary.
     And in most cases they are learning new vocabulary because they want to say something more than what they have learnt in the lessons.
●    They also feel really confident with the English speaking skills if you use it as a daily basis.

In the following video you can see how two of my 7 year-old students have an eight minute conversation about their personal things following the patterns they have learnt. 

I hope you like it and you have found it useful for your lessons.

Javier Ramos Sancha

3 May 2013

The Big Lebowski

Aurelio, a B2 ESL learner at EOI Luarca, is telling you all you'd like to know about this well-known film.