PRETENDING

An old carriage turned table.
Noia, Northwest Spain, July 2017

 

Is it right to pretend and not show your real feelings? To hide what you´re actually thinking at this moment? In order to achieve a natural way of expressing ourselves in English, we must pretend, exaggerate, act and sound very different indeed from when we´re speaking in Spanish. If we don´t, we´ll force our listeners to make a huge effort to understand us, and in many cases they won´t.

It takes some practice to achieve this, it doesn´t come overnight. We must rehearse, and get used to sounding odd to our own ears. I´ve seen it in my students, the transition from speaking English with a strong Spanish accent to a more natural, rhythmic way of pronouncing…

It can be achieved, believe me, it´s a game. Don´t we all like games? Pretend you´re someone you´re not, build that character, your own self in an English version. It´s fun, try!!…xxx…More next week

 

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TAKING THE RISK

Killyfole Lough, County Fermanagh, Ireland.  July 2017

 

It´s funny how we sometimes behave. I have friends from the conversation groups who frequently attend the regular meetings but when a new group is formed would not go unless I accompany them…

Why so shy? What´s the danger? Afraid of dissappointing if your discourse is not entertaining enough? Too conscious of the grammar mistakes you could make? Please, relax! We´ve all gone through it, it´s no big deal!

I also see students sending me writings in preparation for September official exams and playing safe, too simple, too easy… But we must take risks! We must know that in order to improve we´ll trip, fall, trip again…

Taking the risk is always worth it, don´t hesitate! As they say, with time, you only regret what you didn´t do…xxx…More next week

(the photograph used on this entry was kindly donated by my dear friend and colleague teacher Grainne Maguire. Thanks Grainne!)

 

EXPECTATIONS

Fireplace in an English pub, Newcastle, Christmas Eve 2015

 

The world around us molds us into the persons we become. We learn things, study one course or another and look back thinking if we´ll ever use all that knowledge in our lives…

Nowadays society expects us to be perfect, perfect house, perfect partner, perfect job… For youngsters not having a university degree is unthinkable. On a telephone class, one of my students told me about how some members of his family felt obliged to study History at uni, for the sake of having a degree. He explained to me how they struggled with it and how happy they are now developing careers in jobs which have nothing to do with their studies. Was it pointless to waste 5 years at uni? Yes and no.

I read an interesting interview with Naomi Watts about how circumstances in life shape us, how her need to adjust to many different schools as a child turned her into a great actress… It´s all part of the plan, some of us stay in our “cosy prisons”, some others strike, break the mold, the rules… and don´t give a damn about what others expect from us…xxx…More next week

CONNECTING

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Tube stops sign at Tottenham Hale station, Victoria Line, London

 

We connect with people in many different ways. Without being aware of it, we feel affinity towards some and none at all with others. We can open up and share our thoughts without effort when the right person is around but, with others, it´s a lost cause, just impossible…

The English conversation groups are great to meet and mingle with new people, apart from being the best way I know to practice and improve our oral skills. One of my students asked me this week whether those are just an excuse for some people to find partners and, yes, I must admit they can be, as there is always the odd person who tries to find love at any given chance… But in general, this is not the case, and the majority of the folk attending these meetings are genuinely there to practice and to make new friends…

But this can happen anywhere, it shouldn´t be an excuse not to participate in the gatherings. We all have great fun at them and I will never tire of inviting my students to take part. None of them has come so far but, I´m not giving up!!…xxx….More next week

FEELINGS

An English pub, Newcastle, December 2015



A combination of feelings last week, from saying goodbye to my students and, at the same time, seeing how much they enjoy our English classes, and how willing they seem to continue practicing in the summer months… I had them promising that they´ll keep in touch by email and through the whatsapp groups and I have no doubt that they will, they´re amazing!

We had laughs, moments of confusion, high pressure to answer questions quickly and correctly, complete concentration… We were very stressed at times and cracking up at some others… But looking at the big picture, it was mostly a lot of fun from which we all benefited…

Life is a rollercoaster, Ronan Keating sang, it´s true! One day you´re hyper, the next you´re deep down… Emotions and feelings overwhelm us, we need both, to be confortable and at ease and to be itching in order to not get stuck… We must accept everything as it comes, be calm and carry on….xxx….More next week