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

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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

CHALLENGE

“Pick your own” shed, where you are given a basket to take to the strawberry field and once you´ve picked up some strawberries return to, in order to have them weighted and pay for them so you can take them home and eat them!  
Newcastle, UK, December 2015



Obeying rules, nodding without wanting to, copying others´behaviors… We´re bored of abiding to the system, of doing what is supposed to be correct, of sticking to the book…

Challenge should be at the top of our “must do” everyday list. Always present, always in mind… Surprises and unexpected events do appear, it´s true, and we´re taken by them, but we shouldn´t be just there, waiting…

My students participate freely in the whatsapp groups, they´re excited with them! I remember the post I wrote on January 1st about New Year Resolutions and now, seeing how things are turning and how they are using English as a normal thing in their life, fills me with such joy…!

We´ll take it forward, set a limit high enough to never be able to reach it, learning can never be complete! We will carry on learning day in day out, there´s just so much for us to enjoy!!….xxx…More next week

RESPECT

 

My house in London, from 2002 to 2011

 

Points of view differ, what seems ok to me might not be so for you… Some people seem to find faults everywhere, even where there´s nothing wrong at all…
Respect is a powerful word, an extraordinary word to keep in mind at all times. We all seem to know the theory but putting it into practice is another story.
My students are wonderful, the advantage of spending so many hours with them is that they get to know you and are confident enough to ask you more direct questions. I was happily surprised when I asked a group to form a sentence with the word “unique” (a false friend in Spanish) and one of them replied: “our English classes are unique!!”
My dedication during a class is complete. If I see a student checking his/her mobile, I would direct the next question to him/her, as a way of showing that, for me, this is a lack of respect, and definitely not something you should do in class!
If we were to list the number of cases of respect and lack of it we witness everyday, would you say there is an imbalance between the first and the latter? Should we be more aware of the way we behave?….xxx… More next week.

NO FUSS ABOUT IT??

 

Street sign of an English famshop, Kent, December 2015

 

My students don´t want our English classes to finish, they ask me about the summer break, many want to continue, they don’t want to stop with their English learning, I´m delighted!

Some have booked extra classes for the summer, others are already talking about September, they´re always grateful for the emails I send them with articles, the whatsapps with info to check, I love keeping in touch! And they do too!

The world keeps turning, events happening every day, news bombarding us with atrocities taking place in every part of the world, there´s no time to sit down and relax, we can never stop!

Knowledge is king, the more we learn the more powerful we feel, the more prepared we are to challenge whatever might come… We just have to stand up to it, roll up our sleeves and confront the world!…xxx…More next week

THE SWING OF THINGS

A swing on the land of an English farmshop

 

We drift, we move, we get stuck, we continue… And it´s nice when we finally get into the swing of things. When it certainly seems that we´ve found the path, the light at the end of the tunnel, the spark that finally lights the fire…

We live at a time of constant movement, of unpredicted changes, altering our day to day lives, disturbing our calm, diverting us from our routes but eventually, it all comes clearer and our eyes get ready for it…

It´s weird how some of my English classes go very smoothly, some others not so, how experience pays, and improvisation rules…

Students like spontaneity, they accept that we, as teachers don’t always have all the answers, we are human, but with their great attitude we thrive and so do they…xxx…More next week

(the title for this entry was inspired by one of my favorite songs by A-ha)

DISCIPLINE

English learning at my office, in Cruces-Barakaldo

 

We talked this week, me and my students, about the importance of attending classes when learning a language, about keeping a routine, a structure, a way to force yourself to do it, in order to continue advancing with English learning.

On my first year in UK, I lived in a small town and was unable to attend English lessons due to my working timetable. I could see how my level of listening improved by being surrounded by english people at work and watching TV. Also, my reading skills got better, thanks to my interest in reading newspapers and magazines. But my speaking and writing didn´t improve at all. Once  I moved to London and started to attend English classes twice a week my level progressed very quickly. I had tasks to complete, I was shown ideas by my teachers to enjoy the language in many different ways and all these motivated me to advance further.

A teacher can change your life. A teacher can direct you back to the right track. Many people can learn alone but for most of us, a teacher will walk hand in hand with us and show us everything our minds are willing to take…xxx…More next week

TRAVEL

A pause on my journey after seeing this sign of an English farmshop in Kent, December 2015

 

Often misused, but this is a word that everyone loves… It brings a smile to my students when I ask them to speak about traveling. Learning about new lands, customs, people, places…

Hans Rosling talks about the changes in traveling patterns in our world in recent years on his Ted talk, about how easy it is nowadays to move around our globe and cover many plans, schedules, sightseeing visits and non-stop discovering…

Also, in another Ted talk,  Thomas Hellum shows us the beauty of Norway when traveling by train or ship on his Slow TV programs, so soothing and entertaining at the same time…

I´ve always loved traveling, it was easy while living in London to get away for a weekend anywhere in Europe. Quickly arranged journeys, short trips to visit friends I had met in London, oh, the beauty of living in such a cosmopolitan city, of having the chance to meet people from every corner of the world…

Now is the time of year to get your TRIPS organized, for many they´re already sorted, I´m sure! The beautiful summer just invites us to get lost somewhere….xxx…More next week

 

 

TEMPTATIONS

Products for sale in an English farmshop, December 2015

 

We´re faced with temptations every day. Treats, brief joys, the tiniest satisfaction to which we easily succumb… It´s hard not to give in with all these little pleasures available, sometimes too easy to reach, sometimes making us take risks…

We live at a time of pretty-easy, of wanting-getting, of no waits, just shop around from home or work and get it delivered the next day, even buy a few pairs of shoes to try on at home and return the ones you don´t want without extra charge, so simple!!

Convenience is very convenient in many ways but everything up to a point! Keeping a conscious mind of everything that goes behind, for instance, who´s getting rich by me doing this? What happens to the local people in my town struggling with their little businesses? It might be worth thinking about all these too…xxx…More next week

BLOCKAGE

Street sign found in many places in UK, this one is in Newcastle

Invisible energy surrounds us. Inertia, tendency, attraction, fear of disappointing others… We don´t see it but we feel it, and wonder why it´s happening to us…why things don´t progress, advance…why we can´t prevent actions from taking place despite trying as hard as we might…

The environment affects us in a way that we sometimes can´t control what we end up doing. We tend to make the same mistakes again and again…

Everything happens for a reason and we are here to learn non-stop, full stop!

We never stop learning, because when we think we have, a new challenge appears putting us to the test again.

Life is a journey on which we encounter barricades from time to time, blocking us from proceeding but, with patience, we find a new way to continue, in a stronger and better position…xxx…More next week