Friday, April 30, 2010

Describing people's appearance (practice)

Well, welcome to our new trimester... this is for level 3 students... on your first lesson you will learn about personal descriptions. The following video will help you learn to describe people.

Now, this is a challenge ...Make a video of yourself describing what people look like. You must have pictures of at least 4 different people. Describe what each person looks like.

This is an example...

have fun.. upload your video to you tube... smiles
Keep on shining love and peace!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Carolina's Pod Blog: A Venezuelan stuying English in the UK

Carolina is a girl from Venezuela, living in the UK, in Newcastle, in the north-east of England. She has been writing in her blog about her life there. Visit her blog HERE and read about how it is for her to live in the UK. We have to be very proud of her, because her blog is posted at the British Council Learn English Site. In her first post back in Sepember 2009, she wrote:

Hello, I'm Carolina del Barco and I'm from Barquisimeto, Venezuela. My city is about 4 hours drive from Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, but it is only one and half hours from the beach!! The most beautiful thing about my city is sunset because almost everyday you can see different colours on the sky like red, pink, yellow, green..!

On the cultural aspect Barquisimeto is call the “Musical Capital” of Venezuela. Music is very important in our education, it is even taught in schools as a compulsory subject. About 30 years ago a program to establish a youth orchestra in every state around the country founded by Jose Antonio Abreu (who by the way is going to get a Grammy soon due to this). Many important musicians were born there. Actually, Gustavo Dudamel, who was born in Barquisimeto was the Director of the “Simon Bolivar” Youth Orchestra. He is one of the youngest directors in the world with only 28 years old. His success is difficult to measure with words, you have to go and see it... I guess some of you have probably seen it because he was in London a couple of months ago!!

I speak English because my mother is English and grew up in England before going to Venezuela after she finished university. She was teaching English when she met my father, who is Venezuelan.

I am now living in the UK, in Newcastle, in the north-east of England, and studying at the university there. Newcastle is a very welcoming city. People from here (also called Geordies) have a quite strong accent which even native English speakers find it difficult to understand!! But I most say that they are some of the friendliest people I have ever met!! Plus the city is not too big, not too small but has all the facilities you need, even great nights out and is full of students which makes it a comfortable place to live in.

I am studying Environmental Science and I really enjoy my course, which is about how we, people, effect the natural world we live in, and what we can do to make things better. I think this is very important in today's world, because of all the problems with global warming and things like that. Most of the processes carried out to obtain food, technological equipments, electricity and other different things take raw materials from the Earth and/or produce waste, but not many disciplines take into account the consequences on the environment of doing this. It is a great subject because it gives me the opportunity to discover all the wonderful things that our planet offer us and at the same time I feel I can do something to keep it so that future generations can enjoy in in the same way as us. 

I'm living in an apartment on the university campus with four other girls: Emily, Charlotte, Jenny and Beth, who are all really nice. We all have our own rooms but we share a kitchen. That's OK, though, because it's really big and we share some things and have other things of our own and plus it give us the opportunity to get to know each other whilst having our own privacy. The girls are all lovely and funny people although I still have to work on trying to follow Charlotte when she’s telling a story, her Irish accent is just too fast!! Back home people tell me that I speak quite fast, and when I’m talking to my friends no one can understand us... but doing it in English is a different story!

The day I arrived in England I travelled up from London to Newcastle on the train, and I was sitting next to a boy called Jamie. It was a strange thing – a coincidence – because he was also a student at the university. He was really nice and made me feel 'at home', bought me lunch on the train and we agreed that I would get him lunch some time in Newcastle.

When I'd been in Newcastle for a short time I wanted to join the Conservation Society, because I thought it might help me with my course and also because I think it's good to do things that help the environment. Anyway, I went to the Societies Bazaar, which is a meeting where you can join the different student clubs at the university, and – another coincidence – Jamie was the Conservation Society president! So I took him to lunch, as we'd agree, and since then we've been out together a few times and have become really good friends. So far, life at Newcastle has been better than expected. At the beginning I was a bit scared about missing home, about coming to another country with different language, culture and even different weather than where I come from but it is definitely a unique experience to be here.

So, now you know a bit more about me. I'll be writing this blog regularly, so I hope you'll come back and read it again and find out more about what it's like living and studying in the UK. Also, if you have any questions you'd like to ask me, or comments about anything I've written, please send them to me and I'll try and answer them.
Here you can read more about her:

Well, hope you go and visit Carolina'a blog and leave her a comment... we are very proud of her...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Always keep the faith! Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language

Andrea Moreno is one of our students in URBE. She's 18 years old,  and she's from Maracaibo. She goes to Public Accounting School at URBE and she  hope to graduate by the end of 2010 or mid 2011!

She's on the 8t level and wrote the following:

Always keep the faith!

It's been kind of a long time since my last post... but here I am again! This time the post is about writing a complete three paragraph essay following an outline, this is a practice before the final essay so I hope I can do it properly in order to write a good one at the end of this trimester
Title: Benefits of learning a foreign language
I. Languages connect people
A) Socially
B) Professionally
II. They make people more open minded and culture sensitive
A) Enables the achievement of a more profound cultural understanding
B) Makes a difference in the way of seeing the world
C) Makes people more open toward ideas and ideologies
III. Helps people develop their mental ability
A) Accelerates cognitive development
B) improves analytical and interpretative capabilities
C) Turns people into more effective problem solvers


At one point or another we have all faced interacting with someone in a different language than our native one, taking myself as an example I realized that I have never really taken any time to analyze just how important it is, and so I came up with a very important question, how can learning a foreign language benefit you? 
Well first of all, languages, what is language? we can establish that language is the systematic use of sounds or symbols in order to communicate with other people, so one of the most important reasons to study and learn a second language is obviously because it connects people, they connect us not only in a social way but also in a professional way; they connect us in a social way as well , because when looking for ways to practice the new acquired language we might meet people who speak it as their native language, we can also socialize with the group of people who are also new to the language and try to learn it together!, there is always need for practice so the interaction with others is practically inevitable: In the professional sense having knowledge of a foreign language will always give you the upper hand when it comes to competing for a work position, professionals who speak a second language are called for travel and business purposes . Moreover such people also get to use new technologies and ideas; speaking a second language also helps you gain the trust of international business people making the job of convincing them into a business venture all the more simple. If one speaks in native language to a foreigner then it’s easy for the foreigner to get comfortable with such sales or business person
Following this train of thought, we can name another benefit of learning a new language, and that is that it makes you more open minded and culturally sensitive. How does learning a new language change you way of thinking?, well it does, first by allowing you to experience another culture and enabling people to achieve a more profound understanding of their own; nowadays the new generations have become more and more interested with traveling and experiencing different parts of the world, which is something our forefathers couldn’t have even imagined!, certainly there is no need and it would be basically impossible for people to learn the language of every place in the world they wish to visit but it's an undeniable fact that the traveler who knows the language of their travel destination has an easier time solving everyday problems associated with the travel , but they will most likely have a more pleasant experience and greater understanding of the foreign country and their culture, therefore there will be no frustrations or isolation as you travel around the world, in the end it's just more fun to vacation somewhere and know the language, not only do the locals treat you better , because they see that you made an effort to learn their language but you end up getting better service in shops and restaurants because you can read the signs, understand the menus, and converse with the staff. this learning process also makes a difference in the way you see the world and the way you see other people, of course that knowledge of a foreign language is not guaranteed to create empathy with the native speakers of the language, however the desire to understand and empathize with the members of a certain society is greatly facilitated by language study. Furthermore, foreign language study helps dissolve misconceptions and often leads to the creation of feelings of sympathy for native speakers of the language especially if the study is begun early and continues for a long period of time. Another popular believe is that bilingual people are more open minded towards ideas and ideologies this is based in the fact that people take interest in the customs and rituals of the culture to which the language they study belongs to, there's also the case when people take interest in the culture of a certain country in the first place, and after being fascinated by the music, the literature, their history and culture, wish to learn the language in order to have a deeper knowledge in all aspects of such a culture.
The benefits of learning a foreign language are not limited to social aspects such as socializing and learning about culture, there's a more scientific and physical benefit to it and that is that it helps to develop an individual’s mental ability. It is said that studying a foreign language accelerates the cognitive development of the brain; there was a time when learning a foreign language was regarded primarily as a mental discipline for developing intellectual capacity. Even though it is now clear that learning a new language has numerous applications of both a practical and a humanistic nature, researchers recognize that it is also helpful for other academic areas, for many decades researchers have tried to find evidence and there have been studies that show how students in elementary, middle, and high school as well as those in college that study a foreign language have a tendency of having a higher average score than those students who do not take any sort of additional study, the average level of grades would increase depending on the time they had been studying a certain discipline .For example if they had dedicated special studies to certain areas such as math, biological sciences, physical sciences, and social studies, the average score would be higher but with the difference that with each additional year of language study brought a further rise in scores, so the scores of students who had taken four or five years of a foreign language were higher than scores of students who had studied any other subject for an equal length of time. Impressive isn’t it? But that is not all when it comes it the mental development that comes with language studies. It is also said that people become more effective problem solvers ; bilingual subjects in various tests have outperformed similar monolingual subjects on verbal and nonverbal tests of intelligence; this discovery has led some researchers to speculate that bilinguals may have a language ability that enables them to achieve greater mental flexibility, this , along with the certainty that people who know more than one language and culture can communicate more effectively with people of other countries and cultures, it is indeed possible that through learning another language and culture, people gain the ability to solve problems in an easier and more logical manner and are closer to achieving solutions to social problems because of an increased awareness of a wider set of options.
Whatever may be the reasons to learn a foreign language the bottom line remains that second language acquisition is an incredible experience, with incredible benefits, this learning process is one of the most satisfying ones because you can use it on your day to day activities, not only for understanding what a block of text says but it changes you as a person not only in the cognitive and perceptional way but it makes you aware of other cultures and other people.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Final Project January-April 2010

Hello, there! Well, we have got to the end of the trimester and it's time for us to find out how much we have achieved during our time together. Our final project is an interesting assessment exercise... Where we will working different skills:

  • How to work in groups to collaborate, cooperate, share, teach and learn together.
  • How to integrate different technological tools: creating and designing a power point presentation, audio recording, power point uploading, posting to a blog,  
  • Transferring the knowledge got during our classes and using it to talk about different topics from the ones discussed in class.
  • Reflecting on what we have achieved.

Visit these links to see some examples of students work...:
For the oral part of the final project:

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    April Fools' Day or All Fools' Day

    April Fools' Day or All Fools' Day is a day celebrated in various countries on April 1. The day is marked by the commission of hoaxes and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, family members, enemies, and neighbors, or sending them on a fool's errand, the aim of which is to embarrass the gullible. Traditionally, in some countries, such as the UK, Australia, and South Africa the jokes only last until noon, and someone who plays a trick after noon is called an "April Fool".[1] Elsewhere, such as in France, Ireland, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Russia, The Netherlands, Brazil, Canada, and the U.S., the jokes last all day.

    Iranians play jokes on each other on the 13th day of the Persian new year (Norouz), which falls on April 1 or April 2. This day, celebrated as far back as 536 BC, is called Sizdah Bedar and is the oldest prank-tradition in the world still alive today; this fact has led many to believe that April Fools' Day has its origins in this tradition.[4]

    The April 1 tradition in France and French-speaking Canada includes poisson d'avril (literally "April's fish"), attempting to attach a paper fish to the victim's back without being noticed. This is also widespread in other nations, such as Italy (where the term Pesce d'aprile (literally "April's fish") is also used to refer to any jokes done during the day). In Spanish-speaking countries, similar pranks are practiced on December 28, día de los Santos Inocentes, the "Day of the Holy Innocents". This custom also exists in certain areas of Belgium, including the province of Antwerp. The Flemish tradition is for children to lock out their parents or teachers, only letting them in if they promise to bring treats the same evening or the next day.

    Taken from: wikipedia

    Level 4 Unit 12 Movies (workshop)

    Hi, there! Level 4 students.... will be working on their unit 12 lesson. The topic is Movies. For this lesson they are supposed to work in groups and have fun researching ad putting together an oral presentation. What do they have to do? well, here we have the checklist: (make sure you include all of these in your presentations))

    1. Get in groups of 4, 3, 2 or just 1 student.
    2. Go to and select a movie that your gruop like.
    3. Get the poster of the movie and the trailer.
    4. Get the facts fact of the movie: 
      • Director, 
      • Release Date, 
      • Genre (key words), 
      • Tag line
      • Plot, 
      • Cast (the main actors and actresses, short description of the character in the movie) 
    5.  Fun stuff
      • trivia: some interesting fact about the movie
      • quotes: Select a scene of the movie and write the dialog of the scene... be ready to perform the scene in class.
      • soundtrack. Get the lyrics and the song of the movie. Point out what part of the song do you like the most and how the song relates to the movie.
        Review of the movie: read several reviews of the movie.. quote some of them and add your group's review...