Homework

Homework can be a drain. We are busy, we have hectic lives, work, family, friends…We all do! And then if we think the task assigned is not appropriate for the level, we just can´t find the motivation to do it! But there´s always a way to do it. I appreciate the effort when I see it, considering how easy it can be to copy and paste from the internet these days. I have to say I always value a piece of work genuinely produced from a student.
When I was at Uni in London I was recommended a book called “The manager´s good study guide”. It contains a piece of advice I often tell students to try: Sit down for 5 minutes, only 5 minutes and start…so often you get hooked…
I like to thank students for their homework, it gives me the chance to help them, and that makes me very happy…xxx More next week

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BBC radio programme on Basqueland and our food

Here´s a really good programme to listen to, from the BBC, about Basqueland, our food and our history. Mark Kurlansky is interviewed during the program, an American writer who has written many books about us: “The basque history of the world”, “Cod”, “Salt”…I´ve read these books myself and I eagerly recommend you reading them! They´re very well written and so interesting!!
Here´s the link to the radio programme: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0829dcq
Definitely worth listening!!!….xxx More next week

Spelling

What a headache spelling in English can be for us Spanish!! We struggle with a, i, e… and many consonants too!…The fact that so many letters are not pronounced makes it just so tough! Someone mentioned in one of my classes this week the UK TV program University Challenge, and how the spelling challenge task couldn´t be copied into our Spanish system, well, it would just be so easy for us! Because spelling, even for native English speakers, is indeed very hard!
I recommend picking up words from a text that contain these letters we find harder to recognize when heard: a, i, e, v, y… Everyone has different problems but these 3 vowels in particular are a common issue to us Spanish…Write down a few words and practice spelling: remember i as the first person of the singular I, e for English, a for the alphabet song a,b,c…and always pay attention to v, completely different from b or v in Spanish…
Listen to yourself, you can record yourself and listen to check you´re doing it right. You´ll get better at it if you practice this routine regularly…xxx More next week

Writing

The best piece of advice on improving writing skills I´ve ever received was in London in 2002. My English Proficiency teacher told me that if I produced at least one piece of writing a week, I´d pass my exam without a problem. And she was right! Some of us are lazy when it comes to writing, but for me, as a teacher, it´s a delight to receive a few lines from my students. Somehow, it reminds me of my late teens-early twenties, when I had so many pen friends I kept in touch with. Friends who no longer lived nearby or non-Spanish speakers I had met during my holidays. I remember how happy I was receiving their letters. I still have them, they´re my little treasure!
So please, practice writing, just a few lines every week, get inspired by what happens in your life. Believe me, you´ll see your writing skills improve considerably…xxx More next week

Being shy

It´s not easy for some of us to speak in public and when it comes to speaking in English in public, well, we can be so shy!!… I hated the idea of popping up to the pub after my English lessons in my early years in London… I was too conscious of the mistakes I was making and I didn´t want to make a fool of myself but… once I started going regularly, I realized that I wasn´t the only one making mistakes! My classmates and pub friends were Italian, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish… and every single one of them was making mistakes!!
As well as this, I noticed how much I was progressing by practicing every week (in a relaxing atmosphere, with friends!) and I know that this is definitely the best way to improve your speaking skills. Of course you can travel to an English speaking country, even live there for a while, but for the ones of us who stay here, conversation groups, coffee mornings, coffee breaks and any other kind of English speaking meetings are a great option for improving your English oral skills while having an enjoyable time…xxx More next week.