Blog

New beginnings

Spring brings new colors and light to make us shine again. We dearly welcome the new season after a time of cocooning, shying, sheltering, hiding from the outside… We are now ready to show our new plumage and shades, all our brand new ideas on offer, available at long last, to the world…

This winter has been specially cold and long, unending… Last week I was destroyed, in bed for 3 days… the lack of appropriate rest or diet has taken its toll… But I´m a new me now, on the go to take on whatever comes now…

They say spring makes your blood move your body (at least this is what we say in Spain…), and I believe it´s true. Like offspring, like chicks and bunnies, egg-hatchings and newborns, new blood is emerging, bright and sparkling, free-flowing and full of life… xxx… More next week

Detachment

There comes a time when we all need to take our own paths, a way of releasing from something, somewhere, someone… Thrilling at first, scary when we picture it, frightening when it´s definitive that we are not going back but… such a relief when it´s done!!

For some reason beyond understanding, circumstances push us to take one route or another, events unfolding in a way that just block us from concentrating on anything else, finally forcing us to make decisions… Decisions which would have otherwise been delayed again and again…

There´s nothing wrong with getting detached, it´s indeed necessary more often than not, we should take it as it comes, without fear. If it´s coming, it must be that we are ready for it… xxx… More next week

(photo was taken in Germany, in April 2016, at a dear friend´s garden)

JOY

I meet students with very different needs. Some have an amazing level of English but are convinced that this level is not good enough… I used to feel the same way, yes, not a long time ago! But I know now that this has to do with the way we think, with WHO we compare our level to… And in many cases it´s not real…

Some of my students have wonderful pronunciation skills but make basic grammar mistakes, some others, exactly the opposite, know their grammar from A-Z but have had nobody telling them how to pronounce properly…

But it´s such a joy when I find exactly how I can help my students!!! It might take some sessions, weeks, it´s a matter of time and getting to know them but once I reach this point, my elation is PURE JOY, and the satisfaction I feel is just indescribable… xxx… More next week

SUDDEN TURNS

Very often we are taken by surprise, a sudden turn of events happens and voila! We´re transported to a completely new situation, amazingly bright and shiny, almost blinding us!!

Can´t seat too tight for too long, no matter how much we might want to, it´s ironic! At other times, we are desperate to see things moving but somehow, we must resign ourselves to wait, let them rest, unfold, untie…

I have students very willing to progress but extremely busy at work and unable to attend as many classes as they would like to. Others wasting precious time, not taking full advantage of the hours we dedicate to their learning…

Then an unforeseen event appears, an announced morning with a twist and a shock that makes you wonder…. “how on earth has this turned into that?”… and you´re wonderfully overwhelmed by the sudden turn… xxx… More next week

 

RESOLUTIONS…

We all start the new year full of hopes and wishes of a happy new year full of new energy and success. Learning, improving, getting fluent at English is so often on the list of us spaniards New Year´s resolutions… And we usually start strong! But this eagerness must persist and we should really set our minds to it if we want to be successful. My wish for this year is to be dynamic, continue learning… I learn English everyday, I communicate in English with every single one of my contacts who knows at least a little bit, friends, family…By whatsapp, email… I invite you to do the same, use English in your everyday life, treat it as a normal thing, we are surrounded by this language in so many ways these days! News, TV, radio, videos on Facebook, ads on LinkedIn… Truth said, it´s practically imposible to avoid it!! 2018 will bring us lots of good things, I´m sure! So,let´s make the English language enrich our lives! And don´t give up if you try one method of learning English and it doesn´t work for you, everyone has their own way of learning, the key is to NEVER give up!… xxx… More next week

ONE NIGHT IN HEAVEN

 

A night of dreams is coming, of visions, of joy… Of hopes to be fulfilled, of wishes to make true… The magic on the night of the 5th of January is present in our country. We treasure these memories from our childhood, from our kids´ childhoods and expect with eagerness to feel the same emotions…

I wish you all to sense that magic around in your life, however often it appears… The drive that moves you to experience success, in every possible way you understand that word…

Best wishes and happy Reyes!… xxx… More next week

RENEWING

Christmas and New year are a time to reflect and renew. A time to look at our lives, the way they´re going, and consider the turn of the year as a date to start putting into practice changes to redirect, straighten up, aim, align our paths onto the desired direction…

The truth is that whether we want it or not, our lives are constantly changing, despite unwillingness, resistance, coziness… There will be unannounced events taking us by surprise and forcing us to react and make a move…

It´s always good to have a plan, a setting off idea of what we would like to do, combining what we already have and what we want to achieve.

I have many plans for the new year, I know some will materialize and some will turn into something completely different but I´m looking forward to being confronted with new challenges and opportunities in order to further renew my life. Are you?…xxx… More next week

ENGAGING IN A CONVERSATION

In my job I can see how much we all like chatting. Any topic can trigger us to begin a discussion. The same piece of news will give us a chance to express an opinion while the person sitting next to us could have a completely different one…

To be an English teacher is a wonderful opportunity to talk to many different people about as wide a range of topics as you can imagine. An amazing way to enrich your life, the language is just an excuse! The fact that you can learn so much from sharing some hours with students from such assorted backgrounds is incredibly rewarding and satisfying…

Some students tell me how they find chances to practice chatting in English while doing the St. James´s walk, on the way to Santiago. It´s a well known fact that this pilgrimage can be a relief for the soul… Do you chat much in your everyday life? Can you find ways to practice your chatting and at the same time improve your level of English speaking? I invite you to look for opportunities to do it, you´ll enjoy it, for sure!!… xxx… More next week

(this photo was taken in mid-November at my weekly conversation group in Cruces-Barakaldo, Bizkaia)

 

 

NAILING IT!

It´s tough sometimes to get it right, to find the accurate words, the best explanation to a question, query, doubt…

Finding the perfect definition to clarify a point takes practice.  Experience plays the part here, it helps when you have done it before but very frequently, we teachers, are faced with brand new tests that make us wonder what the appropriate way to making something clear is. The funny thing is, the same explanation doesn´t always work for everybody!

I have students rehearsing speeches and very often, struggling to repeat the exact words they have prepared. Others finding resources in grammar books to explain a rule that doesn´t always go by the book… or can be twisted somehow…

It´s great when we nail it! Superb! But until we get there, until we have the confidence to reach that point, there´s no harm in asking for help. A second opinion will reassure us and will always be worth the time… xxx… More next week

 

 

 

IMMERSION

My students ask me what the fastest way to get fluent in English is… Well, no secret formula really, persistence, tenacity, being constant and dedicating time to it…

It´s often said that the best way to learn English is by living in an English speaking country for a while; “total immersion” they call it. The truth is that we can simulate this experience here, in Spain, if we really want to improve our level. How? By being exposed to the language as much as possible, either by listening to the radio or tv, by reading, by attending conversation groups…

While living in UK, I forgot most of the Euskera I had learnt in my previous years in Bilbao. Since coming back, little by little I´ve recovered my level by doing interchanges with local people (weekly hour coffee breaks, 1/2h speaking in English and 1/2h in basque), attending conversation groups and listening to the radio and tv as often as I can. Anyone living in Pamplona or Bilbao will tell you that getting immersed in an Euskera environment is actually a personal choice but if you´re really willing to, you have many chances to do so.

So please, think about it this way, imagine that every day you could be transported to London, New York, Sydney, Otawa… Dedicate at least 20-30 minutes a day to get immersed in the English language, as if you had to do it in one of these countries, forcing yourself to manage, to get by, to make a living…. Give it a go and see what happens….xxx… More next week