miércoles, 27 de septiembre de 2017

Ellen DeGeneres

Commencement Speech.

I am sure it is one of the funniest and most unusual speeches ever given at a university.  But it was uttered in a perfect Engligh, with a wide variety of grammatical construtions and vocabulary, and lots of irony and sense of humou, which I think will be an entertaining way to learn or review both aspects of the English language.

Link to text and video : Commencement Speech

viernes, 21 de julio de 2017

A Visit to CIFP Carlos Oroza

By Emma Vail 

Yesterday, the 4th B class of the high school IES A Xunqueira I traveled to the nearby culinary vocational school, CIFP Carlos Oroza, to learn about their recycling efforts. As we stepped off the bus, we were met with an odious stench that nearly knocked us back onto the bus. That stench, we later learned, was the compost made of the remains of the food the school produced, to be used in the future as soil in their vegetable garden. Those vegetables will be used in future dishes, which will in turn become compost. And so the cycle continues. 

The directorial staff greeted us as we entered the building, and they led us to a cafeteria room where we put on plastic gowns and shoe slips to cover our clothes, as well as hairnets. Everyone looked ridiculous, and the students were giggling and taking pictures with each other – probably for Instagram. Our guide, Ricardo Fernandez, explained the school’s mission and told us about the recent recycling initiative they had undertaken. Their efforts centered on an evaluation of different parts of the school and how well students and staff were following the pre-established recycling protocol. The consensus: there was ample room for improvement. We left the cafeteria and went on a guided tour of the school’s cooking classrooms and restaurant.  

Ricardo, a teacher at the school, wore a chef’s white jacket with his name embroidered on the lapel. He spoke in Galician, but I was able to catch most of it. Ricardo explained the recycling protocol everyone was supposed to follow, and lamented that they didn’t. In practically every classroom we entered there was a breach of protocol, though minor. The system was well laid out, the only problems seemed to be noncompliance and misunderstanding. One thing that did seem to be well established, however, was the compost system. We visited the site and learned about how the process works while standing alongside the steaming piles of refuse, which was comical for a few moments, then just turned gross. The poor man who works the compost must have a hard time making friends. 

One of the rooms Ricardo showed to us was a trash room, through which trash and recycled material come down through chutes and are transported out by trucks. The chutes’ openings were located a floor above the trash room in a small room off a kitchen. However, this innovative and efficient system was not used, he explained, because the school’s bureaucracy had to process the change before switching to this system.  

At the close of our visit, the school’s students generously provided us with an array of snacks and smoothies they had made in their kitchens, which we had just toured. Salpicón, croquettes, empanadillas, and Serrano ham are a few examples of the delicious spread we enjoyed. It was a treat to see how a Galician culinary school worked, learn about their recycling efforts, and taste their food at the end. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and give a hearty thanks to the students and staff of CIFP Carlos Oroza! 

sábado, 8 de julio de 2017

Sección bilingüe 3º ESO. Biología en inglés

This year our school started a new project, a bilingual subject in which a group of students of 3rd ESO studied Biology in English.  The project was carried out by biology teacher Elena Juíz.  I want to congratulate her, the students of the group and a wonderful speaking assistant- not my words, she collaborated very closely with Elena two hours a week and they did a great job - Emma Vail.  We were lucky to work with a reasonable sized group for a language - 16-, a motivated group whose only problem was being too worried about gook marks to risk doing the exams in English.  
Anyway, they had at least one biology lesson a week in English, we dedicated most of the weekly speaking lesson to speak about science topics, especially those related to the human body, health and disease, prevention and, as the final work of the year, the students created four stories about how body organs work and common diseases. That is what you will be able to see in this entry, and I think they are really brilliant and were very wonderfully represented in front of the class and other groups.  If the goal was to get students to speak English, they have reached it.  In addition, they became used to speaking in front of other people – serious problem they had in general-.  Most of them could do it without reading, in a very natural way, and they gained motivation and confidence to go on improving next year.
As coordinator of the project, I must say it has been really rewarding working with both students and Elena and Emma, and see that the students were able to do the exams in English- all of them were written in English- and see them become more and more confident when using this language.  I think the basic question is to create a relaxed environment during lessons and make them understand that making mistakes when speaking is not something to be punished, but a necessary step to improvement.  This way they are not afraid of taking part in conversations or presentations, it is part of the training, the practice, the only way to progress towards proficiency.  They do not feel they are being tested all the time and so they are willing to participate.


Presentaciónes 3º Bilingüe 

Science Stories 

viernes, 7 de julio de 2017

Projects & Works 2016-17

Apart from the official curriculum and all the good materials provided by textbook publishers, the members of our department came to the conclusion, quite a long time ago, that dealing with everyday topics and searching for information about them, elaborating a presentation or work and talking about it to their mates is one of the most complete and motivating learning task fro students, as it includes all four language skills and- according to the present education law-develops all the competences.
The students get used to looking up for information in the net or from their family or environment, organising it in a presentation, talking in front of people, which is something they find difficult to start with, managing their own time to meet the deadlines, working in a team; and they discover that learning is not a question of cramming what they find in a book or their class notes for the exam.  Knowledge is everywhere and ti is very easily accessible today, you only have to take advantage of the possibilities the new technologies offer.
This does not mean that the contents of the textbook are not necessary- they are basic actually- but these contents are all around us, and we will find them useful, motivating and worth the effort of studying them if we use them for our daily tasks or for learning about things.  In fact, learning by practising- for example watching O.V. films or series or reading books, magazines, etc..- and then studying grammar is much more efficient, easier and fun than the other way around.

Here are links to works our students have done all along the year following this learning method:

Final presentations 3C

Works 4th ESO

lunes, 12 de junio de 2017

Role Models

Role models
(modelos a seguir, ou mais ben ideas a ter en conta)
Since I wrote this contribution for this year's issue of our school magazine just 24 hours after the brilliant and touching graduation ceremony; a generation of good students and better individuals whom I was quite lucky to teach for one, two and even three years; I want to gather here some of the outstanding persons I used all along the year, so that, apart from learning English, they would have some enriching references, both personal and intellectual, even ideological, which can help them decide which path to take, how to deal with their lives, beyond their academic and professional occupations.
Como estou elaborando esta colaboración do Departamento de Inglés xusto 24 horas despois da entrañable cerimonia de graduación, dunha xeración de vos estudantes e mellores persoas, a moitos dos cales tiven a sorte darlles clase un, dous e ata tres anos; vou recordar algunhas das persoas que utilicei durante o curso para que, aparte de aprender inglés, tivesen unhas referencias persoais, intelectuais e mesmo ideolóxicas enriquecedoras, que lles poidan axudar a decidir que camiño tomar, e como afrontar as súas vidas, mais alá do puramente académico ou profesional.

Michelle Obama

1-" Empower yourself with a good education. Then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise. Lead by example with hope; never fear."

-Fortalecédevos cunha boa educación.  Logo utilizade esa educación para construír un país merecedor das vosas promesas ilimitadas.  Guiados polo exemplo da esperanza; nunca con medo.
 2-"If your family doesn't have much money, I want you to remember that in this country, plenty of folks, including me and my husband. We started out with very little. But with a lot of hard work and a good education, anything is posible”.
-Si a vosa familia non ten moitos cartos, quero que recordedes que neste país, moita xente, incluídos o meu marido mais eu empezamos con moi pouco.  Pero con moito traballo duro e unha boa educación, calquera cousa é posible.
3-"You see, our glorious diversity—our diversity of faiths, and colors and creeds―that is not a threat to who we are, it makes us who we are."
-Mirade a nosa gloriosa diversidade- a nosa diversidade de fes, cores e credos- esa non é unha ameaza para quen somos, fainos o que somos.
4- "To the young people … do not ever let anyone ever make you feel like you don't matter, or like you don't have a place in …history—because you do. And you have a right to be exactly who you are. But I also want to be very clear: this right isn't just handed to you. No, this right has to be earned every single day. You cannot take your freedoms for granted."
-Á xente moza… non deixedes que ninguén vos faga sentir que non importades, que non tedes un lugar na historia- porque o tedes.  Tedes o dereito a ser exactamente quen sodes.  Pero tamén quero deixar moi claro:  este dereito non se vos concede gratuitamente.  Este dereito ten que ser gañado cada día.  Non podedes tomar a vosa liberdade por garantida.

Emma Watson

1-"People associate feminism with hate – with man hate – and that’s really negative. I don’t think that’s what feminism is about at all - it’s really positive. I think that’s why women became reluctant to use the word."
-A xente asocia o feminismo co odio- co odio ós homes- e iso é realmente negativo.  Non creo que o feminismo consista niso en absoluto- é realmente positivo.  Penso que iso é polo que moitas mulleres son reticentes a utilizar esa palabra.
2-"I think it is right I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decisions that will affect my life. I think it is right that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men."
-Creo que é xusto que se me pague o mesmo que ós meus colega masculinos.  Creo que e xusto que tome decisións sobre o meu corpo.  Penso que é xusto que as mulleres se involucren por min nas políticas e decisión que afectarán á miña vida. Creo que é xusto que socialmente, se me conceda o mesmo respecto que ós homes.
3-"For the record, feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.'"
Quero facer constar que, por definición, feminismo é a crenza de que os homes e as mulleres deberían ter iguais dereitos e oportunidades.  É a teoría da igualdade de xénero tanto política, coma económica e social.
4-“It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals.”
É tempo de que vexamos o xénero como variedade, en vez de coma dous grupos de conviccións opostas.
Oprah Winfrey

-Os libros foron o meu pasaporte á liberdade persoal.  Aprendín a ler ós tres anos, e pronto descubrín que había todo un mundo por conquistar, que ía máis alá da nosa granxa en Mississippi.
2. "You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job and not be paid for it."

-Ti sabes que estás no camiño do éxito cando estarías disposto a facer o teu traballo sen que che pagaran.
3. "The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you're willing to work."
-O gran segredo da vida é que non hai tal gran segredo.  Calquera que sexa o teu obxectivo, podes conseguilo si estás disposto a traballar.
4. "With every experience, you alone are painting your own canvas, thought by thought, choice by choice."
-Con cada experiencia, ti só estás pintando o teu propio lenzo, con cada pensamento, con cada decisión.

5. "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough."

-Sede agradecidos polo que tedes; acabaredes tendo máis.  Se vos concentrades no que non tedes, nunca xamais teredes suficiente.
6. …... Don't put a ceiling on yourself."
-… nunca vos poñades un teito.
7. "Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment."
-Dar o mellor en cada momento, colócavos na mellor situación para o próximo momento.
8. "..don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness."
-..non teñades medo ó fracaso.  Fracasar é outro paso cara a grandeza.
9. "Turn your wounds into wisdom."
-Transformade as vosas feridas en sabedoría.
10. "I don't think of myself as a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good. I think of myself as somebody who, from an early age, knew I was responsible for myself, and I had to make good."
- Non penso en min coma unha pobre nena dun gueto que o fixo ben.  Penso en min coma alguén que, dende unha idade temperá, sabía que era responsable de min mesma, e tiña que facelo ben.

Martin Luther King

 Cando miramos o home moderno, enfrontámonos ó feito de que o home moderno sufre un tipo de pobreza de espírito, que está en evidente contraste coa abundancia científica e tecnolóxica.
Aprendemos a voar no ar coma os paxaros, aprendemos a nadar no mar coma os peixes, sen embargo non aprendemos a camiñar na Terra coma irmáns e irmás.
Malala Yousafzai

-Si queremos alcanzar o noso obxectivo, entón fortalezámonos coa arma do coñecemento e protexámonos coa unidade e a solidariedade.
-Si un home pode destruír todo, por que unha rapaza non pode cambiar todo?
-Un rapaz, un bolígrafo e un libro poden cambiar o mundo.
-A xente pregúntame ¿que ten de especial a miña educación que fixo a Malala tan valente, tan atrevida, tan sincera e tan equilibrada?  Eu dígolles, non me pregunten que fixen.  Pregúntenme que non fixen.  Non lle recortei as ás, iso é todo.

Final comment:  as we can see, there is no magic recipe, no big words, no deep philosophical thoughts:  illusion, effort, enjoying good moments, believing in yourself, solidarity, equality, courage, no fear for failure, ...... and the most common idea of all: knowledge is the basic ingredient which can lead us to a world which can be described with all these words.  Utopic?  Perhaps, but if we do not try, we will never know, and the outcome of not trying does not look nice.  Furthermore, it is much more satisfying trying to change things than standing the whole mess only regretting how awful everything looks.

Comentario final:  Como podemos ver non hai receitas máxicas, nin grandes palabras, nin pensamentos filosóficos profundos e complicados: ilusión, esforzo, gozar dos bos momentos da vida, crer nun mesmo, solidariedade, igualdade, valentía, non ter medo ó fracaso, ...... e a idea máis común de todas, que o coñecemento é o ingrediente básico que nos pode levar a lograr un mundo que poida ser descrito por todas estas palabras ¿Unha utopía?  Quizás, pero se non o intentamos, nunca o saberemos, e o resultado de non intentalo non ten boa pinta.  Ademais, é moito mais satisfactorio intentar cambiar as cousas que quedarse lamentando o mal que está todo.

miércoles, 29 de marzo de 2017

Salón do Libro

Next friday, 7 April, a group of our pupils will enjoy the opportunity to listen Polish Poet, Grażyna Wojcieszko, who wil visit our school as an activity promoted by Salón do Libro de Pontevedra.

She will be accompanied by Galician poet Yolanda Castaño, director of the event.  

Grażyna Wojcieszko

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gra%C5%BCyna_Wojcieszko (Wikipedia in English )

martes, 28 de marzo de 2017


A couple who fought to change things  (and they got it)
“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” is a Drama which takes place in the USA in the 1960s.  The film was made just in the year 1967, when the Supreme Court abolished the laws which still banned interracial marriages in some southern states. 

In this social background, 23-year-old Joanna Dreyton returs home from a holiday in Hawaii with her smart fiancé, 38-year-old Dr. John Prentice, who happens to be a negro.

To Joanna’s parents this represents a shock, because, although they had brought her up in the idea that black and white people were equal, they were not really prepared to see their daughter marrying a black man, even though he was the son-in-law any family would fancy for their beloved girl (“We told her it was wrong to believe that white people were superior to black people.  But we never added,’ never fall in love with a coloured man’).  He was a doctor who was carrying out some really efficient health programme in Africa, which was saving thousands of lives, and was travelling around the world giving lectures about this matter.  Not to mention that he was handsome, sensible, gentle and educated.

One of the most surprising reactions is the Draytons' black  servant’s, who cannot even believe that a black man can be a doctor and she happens to be the most racist character in the film. -‘I don’t want a man of my own race getting above himself’.

A major point in the film is the coincidence between both fathers and both mothers in their point of view on the marriage.  Both mothers appeal to feelings and they support the couple because they are very much in love with each other, whereas the fathers are more worried about the huge difficulties the couple will have to face in a society which has changed their laws, but not the way they think about interracial marriages.  - ‘Have you thought what people will say about you?  And say they changed the law,  that will not change the way people feel about these things.’

On the other hand, it is also basic to highlight the different views of the racial situation between the younger generation and the older generation.  Doctor Prentice tells his father,’ you think of yourself as a black man, I think of myself as a man’.  The change has started for the young generation and, despite the fact they know they will have to face social contempt, they are optimistic and believe the change cannot be stopped.

Finally, a curious coincidence.  Joanna dreamt her son would be president- quite a wonderful mother’s dream.  Curiously enough President Barak Obama was born in 1961.  A whole generation were fighting for equality, they had faith in it, some black leaders like M. Luther King and lots of other anonymous people were killed for it,  and it seems that eventually they reached it.

They lived in a racist society.

      They struggled for real equality.

                                       It seems they have finally reached it.

  Written in 2011: Arturo Neira.