We are back! And with some changes….

After a not so long summer break I’m back here in the blogosphere ready to disrupt my students’ world!

This year I’ve been given the honour of teaching both senior courses at my school. This is great but it also means that my students will have to work really hard to prepare for their final exams to be taken in June.  There will be many grammar points to cover, many essays to write and tons of homework… so I know you won’t be able to spend as much time helping me writing for this blog.

However, I’m planning on still using the blog to communicate with you… both as a sort of notice board for assignments as well as for reading recommendations.

Whenever my students have to write a new essay, I will post the topic and due date here, together with any necessary instructions. Once the essays have been marked, I will make a list of common errors and mistakes and post them here for their future use, as a sort of writing guide.

And of course I will try and get my students to read something in and out of the classroom… and we will recommend books as well, and maybe even enlist some help from my advanced students… we’ll see!

PLUS I have been reading awesome amazing YA books this summer, the last one being the beautiful and poetic SLAMMED by Colleen Hoover… I recently contacted the author on Facebook and I have the most amazing news! But that will have to wait until next post!

So take a deep breath…

fasten your seatbelts…

and get ready for the ride!

The school year is taking off!

Before I fall

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I was actually planning on not posting new entries for a while… given that the summer holidays are here and I won’t be able to tell my students to do homework online any longer… But I recently finished reading the wonderful YA novel Before I fall, by Lauren Oliver, and I just knew I had to give it to Elise, a bilingual student from Holland who is in 3rd year ESO  B. And she just handed me her review today, and I just had to post it!!!

So here it goes, all in Elise’s own words… Highly recommended from Elise and from me… I just love Lauren Oliver, she is one of the most gifted writers in youth literature today.

This book is about a girl named Sam, a popular girl enrolled in a typical American high school. It’s a Friday, Cupid’s Day. A guy that she was once friends with, Kent, throws a party and invites the whole school. Naturally, Sam and her friends, Lindsay, Elody and Ally, show up. The party passes by like any other would, except for that it ends in a rather unfortunate way: the girls end up in a car crash, in which Sam dies.

However, Sam wakes up the next morning. It’s Friday, again, another Cupid’s Day. The days passes, Sam blames the feeling of familiarity, of having done all of it before, on deja-vus. They visit the party again, she dies in the car crash a second time.

She spends the next days, all Fridays, trying to avoid dying in the car crash, finding out that her friends aren’t exactly who she thought they were, falling out of love with her airhead boyfriend and getting closer and closer to her childhood friend Kent.

She also finds out that Juliet “Psycho” Syke, a girl they used to make fun of at school, commits suicide every single Friday that she is stuck reliving over and over again. Sam and her friends might very well be the cause of it. Now she isn’t only keen on on getting herself out of the cycle of endless Fridays, but she is also trying to talk Juliet out of taking her own life. She ends up sacrificing herself for the girl, and is finally able to free herself.

I loved this book. It took me a few tries to get into it… Sam’s popularity and shallow ways of doing everything are terribly annoying when you first begin reading… but when you finally get past the first part, t’s hard to put the book down. I like how the story itself is kind of a sad one, but it isn’t written that way. Instead it’s funny, and incredibly moving towards the end.

This novel is highly recommended!

So hurry up and read it!

And if you are still not convinced you can watch the book trailer for this novel on Vimeo!

Summer holidays

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Summer’s here and this is our last post before the holidays start!

Today in class I want my students to answer some questions for me, as a sort of final evaluation… this is personal so please take your time an d do it on your own!

1. Did you enjoy working on the blog this year?

2. Do you think working on the blog improved your English?

3. Would you like to continue working on it next year?

4. Are you going to read any of the books we reviewed this summer?

Enjoy your holidays and don’t forget, reading on the beach is a really relaxing activity!

Reported Speech homework & sweet treats!

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Happy Monday! The weather is unusually hot for this time of year and my students are exhausted, so here is a treat for them!

No, I’m not talking about cupcakes!

And it’s not ice cream either!

It’s some reported speech homework!

Most of the sentences are quotes from the novels that we have reviewed this year, and some are from books we will hopefully review in the future!

I promise I’ll post the answers soon… Just a tip: if there is more than one sentence, use “and”!

  1. Edward said: ”I’m trying. If it gets to be… too much, I’m fairly sure I’ll be able to leave” from Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer.
  2. My mother said to me: “Remember. I love you. They cannot take it”, from Delirium, by Lauren Oliver
  3. He said to me : “Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it”  from Divergent, by Veronica Roth
  4. She said to me : “This is the time of the night I like best, when most people are asleep and it feels like the world belongs completely to my friends and me, as though nothing exists apart from our little circle: everywhere else is darkness and quiet” from Before I fall, by Lauren Oliver
  5. Tatiana said to him: “You will fall away from me in just a while, and I’ll be whole again, and I will go on and feel for someone else, the way everybody does”, from The Bronze Horseman, by Paullina Simons.
  6. Jamie said to Claire: “Don’t take life too seriously, no one gets out alive.” , from Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
  7. I said to my mother: “Why do you have to use me to show off?” from The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan.
  8. I wondered:“What must it be like, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button?”, from The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
  9. Anne asked: “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” from Anne of Green Gables, by L.M Montgomery
  10. She asked Jace: ‘Have you fallen in love with the wrong person yet?’ …. He replied: “Unfortunately, my one true love remains myself” from City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare

Enjoy these quotes, and just think, soon enough, you’ll be picking seashells by the seashore! And, if you have the time and feel like having a sweet treat, you can find the recipes for the cupcakes and the ice cream at http://www.objetivocupcake.com and http://www.larecetadelafelicidad.com!

Groucho Marx this week

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Our quote this week is by the great Groucho Marx… this quote is funny but true too!

Groucho Marx was born in  New York in 1890, and died in LA in 1977. He was a famous writer, comedian and actor, best-known for his films as a member of the Marx Brothers team.

This quote is one of his most popular ones. I bet it will make you smile! And hopefully it will also make you think!

The short second life…

This week our avid reader Miriam brings us her review of a novella written by Stephenie Meyer that is also part of the Twilight Saga. The short second life of Bree Tanner is not so well-known as the rest of the saga but Miriam says it’s addicitive so we’ll have to take her word for it…

The short second life of Bree Tanner is a Twilight saga novella centred on the newborn vampire Bree, who was introduced in Eclipse. The novella tells the story of Bree Tanner’s life as a newborn vampire and her experiences as a member of the Seattle newborn vampire army.

Bree goes out hunting and she meets Diego (another newborn) and they fall in love. Together they learn that it is possible for them to go out in the sunlight (contrary to what Riley, another vampire created by evil Victoria, has told them).

Diego confronts Riley about this and doesn’t return leaving Bree very frightened and confused. She asks Riley about Diego and he tells her that he is “running an errand” for him and that they will be reunited….

When you read this book you understand the other books better. You get a new insight into Edward’s character… you see that he isn’t the kind of person that he seems. This book isn’t a romantic book, it is more a vampire book with action scenes… but there is also a love story… for all of these things it is my favorite book in the saga. I recommend this book for everyone who loves love storyies and magical scenes.

 Some questions for you:
1. What do you think about Riley?
2. Do you remember the names of the Volturi members?
3. Are you interested in this book?
4. Do you think Bree will live in the end?

The Well at the World’s End

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This week my students have to read another fairy-tale and do their homework online answering some questions. One of my goals in the English classroom is to encourage my students to read actual texts in English, not abridged versions, and reading tales written for children is a good place to start.

This tale is about a girl who has to get water from a well…

The fairy-tale The Well at the World’s End is very popular and there are many different versions of it in English, Scottish and Irish folklore. They usually involve a girl travelling very far and meeting a number of strange creatures on the way…

Our version is from a book of Scottish fairy-tales and features a beautiful princess with a very cruel stepmother and an extremely ugly stepsister… I’m sure that rings a bell!

Here are the questions:

1. Who did the fair princess meet on her way to the well?

2. Why do you think the stepsister didn’t meet the same fate as the fair princess?

3. Why do you think the fairytale is about a “the well at the worl’d end”?

4. What is the moral of this story?

5. Did you like this story? Why/why not?

Eve, by Anne Carey

This week it’s Evelyn’s turn to bring us a review of another dystopian novel, Eve, by Anne Carey.

Imagine living in a world where boys and girls never see each other…imagine finding out everything you have been told is a bunch of lies…

The day before her graduation, Eve discovers something horrible, the reality of which is unlike anything you have ever been told.

She lives in a world where teenagers are supposedly separated to learn different professions. But their fate is not really to learn a profession, it is something far more terrible. So she decides to run away, preferring to die rather than follow the fate that has been marked for her.

She flies to Califia, a place where she has been told she will be safe. On her way she  meets Caleb, a rough and rebellious guy living in the wild. Eve is suspicious of the entire male gender, having been taught to do just that. But Caleb does not look anything like the monsters who had been described to her.

He is kind, he protects her and cares for her … and soon Eve trusts him completely. She is then sure that everything she has learned so far is a lie and she has to discover the new truth for herself.

And quickly, because the king’s soldiers very soon begin to pursue her. And they want her at all costs….


I loved the novel, it is true that the plot is a little fast, but I liked it that way. At first I hated the main character, Eve, but when I read more and more and she starting to change I could not help liking her and I started to feel like I was going through everything with her. I also liked Caleb. He lives wildly, having run away from school when he was enslaved. He is also a fighter, and he is charming, attentive and friendly.

I liked their love story, it was is beautiful. The story is short but not short of anything.

Harry Potter here…

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This week Iván brings us a review of a book that quickly became a classic in 20th century children’s literature… the first book in the Harry Potter series!

These books are so popular it’s hard not to have heard about them, but if you haven’t actually read them yet, what are you waiting for? We promise you, they are like nothing you have ever read… And if you have, make sure to introduce these books to the younger generations! 

Welcome to the world of Harry!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, first published in 1997is the first book in the Harry Potter book series written by British author J. K. Rowling.

Harry Potter is an orphan and lives with his abominably unbearable uncle and aunt and cousin Dudley. Harry feels very sad and lonely, until one day he receives a letter that would change his life forever.

The letter, delivered by an owl, informed him that he had been accepted as a student at Hogwarts Boarding School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

 

From that moment on, Harry’s fate takes a spectacular turn. At this school he learns spells, tricks and fabulous defense tactics against bad magic. He will become the school’s Quidditch champion … Quidditch being a sort of football that is played in the air mounted on broomsticks. He will make a handful of good friends… although some fearsome enemies too.

But above all, he will learn the secrets that will allow him to fulfill his destiny. Though not apparent at first glance, Harry is not an ordinary boy. He is a true magician!


I like this book and the movie too. Both of them are fun but, apart form that, they also teach us not to judge people by their physical appearance or dress, because what we see in these characters is their personal characteristics, their values and personality. The concept of friendship is also very important in this book. There will always be good friends who will help, support and accompany Harry, both in good times and in difficult times.

 

 

Some questions for you:

1- Have you read a Harry Potter book or seen a HP movie? If so, do you like them?

2- Do you know why Harry Potter lives with his aunt and uncle?

3-Is Harry happy to live there?

4-Would you like to have the opportunity to go to Hogwarts?

The Seal Woman: a fairy-tale

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This week we have something different, evocative and romantic…

My students have a couple of days off due to the town festivities so I decided to give them some extra reading homework.

They have to read a short Scottish fairy tale about the famous seal folk, or selkies. Selkies are an important part of Scottish and Irisk folklore. I’ve always liked these legends about creatures who are part seal, part human, ever since I visited Scotland and had the chance to go on a boat trip to visit a colony of seals living at Loch Scavaig, off the shore near Dunvegan Castle, on the Isle of Skye.

It was the first and last time I’ve seen such beatiful animals living in the wild… The way they look at you reminded me of humans, in a way, so I can understand the legends!

 

There is also a beautiful film based on this legend. It was directed by John Sayles and called The Secret on Roan Inish. It tells the story of a young girl who moves to a small island in Ireland to discover that years earlier her baby brother was taken away in a cradle by the sea folk… Highly recommended!

After reading The Seal Woman, my  students have to log in and answer the following questions:

1. Give a summary of the story, in about 50 words.

2. Do you believe in the existence of these creatures?

3. Why do you think the woman left her husband and children?

4. Do you think the man chose a good hiding place? Why?

5. Find out the origin of the word “selkies”

    If you are interested in these legends, there is a tale in Scotland concerning people of the clan MacCodrum, who were seals in the daytime, but men and woman at night. No man of the MacCodrums, it is said, would ever kill a seal. I think the story we read in class is based on this clan.

You can read more about this here:

http://chestofbooks.com/fairy-tale/Fairy-Ghost/Tom-Moore-And-The-Seal-Woman.html#ixzz1vaZJCamO

Happy reading!