Archive for February, 2011


February 28, 2011

Had a lovely day out at Gibraltar.  Will blog about it lately.  Right now I’m very tired and just want to curl up by a fire in my pyjamas.


Saturday 26th February

February 27, 2011

Yesterday I practised some DELE exam questions.  It’s very hard.  Now I can fully relate to my students.  The dictionary was used excessively and notes were dutifully scrawled so that I remember for next time.  The boy helped me a lot, reminding me of the beauty of “pair work” and “scaffolding” with me being the weaker student being “scaffolded”.

Here are my top Spanish word for today.

1. de galimatias (with an accent on the last “i”) = gibberish/nonsense.

2. esta que trina (with accent on “a” of “esta”) = is hopping mad

3.  con ahinco (with accent on “i”) = with eagerness/eagerly

4.  hacer alarde de = to boast

5.  sin ton ni son = without rhyme or reason

Enjoy those pearls of knowledge.  I bet you were lost without them.


I also saw on the television how they make hair extensions with real human hair.  People in a part of India donate their hair.  There was a little girl who donated her hair and she was left bald!  It was a clean number one!  Why is it necessary to give a little girl a number one?  Why not just a crop?  Then the hair gets transported in a big box to a place where women sort it out into different colours and wash and disinfect in and brush it in to really nice bunches where it looks even nicer than hair on someone’s head.  I want them to make my hair like that!  Must I shave my hair off and buy it back as hair extensions?

Talking of human products, the Guardian reported that an ice cream parlour in Covent Garden (incidentally my favourite part of London;  it’s like a more upmarket Liverpool City Centre, though obviously not as amazing as Liverpool.  Nothing ever will be!) named Baby Gaga is selling icecream made from human milk.  Check the date, is it near 1st April?  Nope.  This is true.  Not sure it’d be my cup of tea, but then what’s the difference between human milk and cow milk which is a daily staple in my life, expecially in my cup of tea.  I just don’t like the idea of drinking milk from some strange woman.  Obviously, she’s not some 50-cigs-a-day, boozing alcoholic.  They test the donors’ blood and it all passes Food Standards regulations.  It’s just not something I’m ready to try.  I’ll stick with traditional ice cream, preferably Cornish, though really I’m not that fussy.

The programme where I learnt about hair extensions is called Galileo.  It had the air of being a German programme.  It reminded me of Bang Goes the Theory on BBC1, but about more every day things like Lego.  They took us on an adventure of Lego and how it is made.  Then they showed some fantastic Lego models of elephants and lions and one amazing giant spider.  I wish I’d stuck with Lego now, but the truth is, my enduring memory of Lego is that the sharp corners really hurt me and breaking the peices up was hard work for my little hands. The best use I could find for Lego was sellotaping peices of it to my school shoes to make high heels.  At the age of five, it was my dream to own a pair of high heel and have my ears pierced.  I thought this would all change my life, but it didn’t.  I got my ears pierced a second time, but that didn’t change my life either.  I can say that the nose piercing was a great acquisition and has made my life better.  It makes me seem slightly more edgy but in a pretty way.  No ugly hoops for my nose, just a small, inoffensive diamante stud.

That’s enough of general news, now for sports news.  Here are a list of Mourinho’s post match excuses/critiques/remarks.

1.  The ref is stupid.

2.  Barcelona* are in cahoots with the Spanish football association to ruin Real Madrid*’s performance.

3.  People are not violent enough to “other players”.

*If Mourinho changes teams, just replace football team names with more relevant ones.  The excuse will most likely remain the same.

Mourinho is our chief form of post-match entertainment here in Spain.

So that’s all, folks.  This post has been very random.  Welcome to my world!


Something Different

February 25, 2011

I just wanted to say that I had a nice experience at work tonight, giving a tutorial to a young girl of eight years old.  I’ve never taught anyone this young and at such a low leve, so I didn’t know what to do, but somehow, it worked out.

I talked a little bit in Spanish throughout, but less so as she revealed her comfort zone in English and I worked out what kinds of questions to ask her that she would be able to respond to, like “Do you like…?”, “Do you have…?”, “What colour is your… ?” etc.  I know that in our game, we’re not supposed to speak student’s L1, but I do with very weak students in one-to-one tutorials to establish a rapport before taking the stabilizers off.  It paid off this time, as we managed to break the ice and then move into basic English and go over free time activities vocab in the book.  Obviously, I encouraged her lots and was less wooden than I usually am.

One really nice thing was that I got to help her go over the telling the time at the end.  She was already comfortable with “o’clock” and “half past” but the rest were difficult for her, and I realised that even in Spanish, she didn’t have a good grasp of it, so I drew her a clock and labelled the “minutes” and elicited most of it from her.  I felt good teaching something useful rather than trying to force grammar through a student’s head.  It felt like something that mattered.

Just thought I’d share.  The lady who had brought her (I think it was her mum’s friend) had watched  us on the television screen (we have a camera in one classroom, that’s really nuts!) and she seemed quite pleased with how the tutorial had gone.

Being Kind

February 22, 2011

So, I’ve been very negative about Spain.  We’ll cut to the chase: I don’t LOVE it.  It’s okay.  But I’m not going to stay here forever.

The parents have told me to try to be more postive, so here it is.  Something positive.

1.  You can say “hola” here.  To total strangers.  That might not seem like a lot, but it’s really nice to be a small part of their story.  When you’re people-watching, you have a small extras role in the action.  With a line, which is nice.

2.  I thought how nice it must be for those who work and live on the same road as their kids school.  Imagine how I would have loved that when I was a clingy six-year old with a phobia of being sick: being on the same road as mummy and daddy.  Lucky Cadiz children.

3.  There is a stationery shop over the road from me.  Bad for the wallet.  Good for my seretonin levels.  The boy says I’m always happy when I’ve bought something or had a meal out.


That’s your lot for today.  I’m all out of niceness.



Teacher Talk Time

February 20, 2011

Those in the profession know that “Teacher Talk Time”, often shortened to TTT means that time spent clarifying, explaining, inputting or however you want to describe it.

Here, it simply means talking about teaching, and my teaching to be more precise.

I’m trying to be adventurous in my classes.  As a new teacher, I have to find out what works best for me and my students in class.

I have many, many days where I feel nothing is changing and I’m not getting better and better.  I long for the day where I feel more confident and able to do it.

Every week I try new things.  Last week I tried a bit of drama and a bit of dictoglossing and using poetry.

When all goes pear-shaped (as it often does!) I comfort myself with the knowledge that I am experimental.

When do you get good at this?

Some more “Book Talk”

February 20, 2011

One of my biggest regrets is not having read more books.  I feel ill-informed on a number of subjects because reading is, for me, hard work.

At the moment I’m trying to read more on my current subject, which is EFL.  It’s terribly boring, sometimes.

I also like to read fiction, just for fun, and to let off some steam after (or even before) my working day.

I’ve just finished reading Adrian Mole’s latest diary, The Prostrate Years, so now it’s time to finish a book I started in March of last year, Around the World in Eighty Days.  I also have The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and a book called One Day by David Nicholls.  I shall be busy for a while.  Of course, these reading endeavours mean that I shall be watching less television and trying to spend less time on the computer.

What are you reading and what helps you concentrate?


February 20, 2011

I’ve just finished reading Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years.  It is a comical novel in parts and has many bittersweet moments.  It had the power to depress me and cheer me up in my twisted, tortured philosopher kind of way.   What I love about it is Townsend’s ability to capture the essence of being a Brit in our era, or rather, being a 20th-21st century Briton outside of London: a provincial Brit who doesn’t live life the London-way.  Not that I live in Mangold Parva in Leicestershire or anywhere like that, but I can relate to the importance given to little things and the pain of things not working out the way they should.  Townsend always manages to capture the “zeitgeist” in all her books which is a comfort to an ex-pat feeling homesick.  So now, I don’t know what to do with myself while I pine for the idiocyncaries of the country I’ve realised I love and call home.

As I explained to my American colleague while we were comparing notes about our respective homes, I miss living near a big city.  Nipping out for coffee in a big city feels different to nipping out for coffee here in Cadiz.  The busy atmosphere of a “working” city (although not so given recent government cuts causing mass unemployment in my home region) as you’re sipping a vanilla latte and staring out the window, is to me, the stuff of great artistic inspiration.  Walking to the waterfront, glancing the wears in an animated shop window and breathing in the air of a real city is what I call home.  I miss popping to Liverpool on a Saturday afternoon.  I could potentially do it if I lived near to a bigger airport than Jerez.  Imagine popping home for a weekend?  As it is, I’m forcing myself to stay here until my contract ends in June, as I have to get used to being away from England.  It’s a form of abstinence.  The hardest part is that my dad turns fifty in April and I won’t be able to celebrate it with him.

So in the meantime, I have to endeavour to experience life here in a way I can’t at home.  that means enjoying lying in the morning (because nowhere else will I get to lie in and have a full-time job at the same time) and start reading my books on the beach.  Who cares about sand in the spine.  And I will try surfing at least once.  And I might even try running.

My Life Through Friends

February 20, 2011

When it comes to friendship, I’ve always been a bit out of the loop.  My friendships (if they can be called that) have always been transcient.  Throughout my school life, it was clear that I wasn’t the typical popular girl that all the girls wanted to be and the boys wanted to be with.  At primary school, my humour was interpreted as “weird” and my attempts to build lasting friendship were rendered useless.

When I was in reception, we had a mixed class of reception and year ones.  I remember being on a table with one other reception child and the rest all year ones. They used to say things like “Put your hands in the middle if you want to come to my party”, so naturally, we all put our hands in the middle.  The year ones would say “Lucy (the other reception) can come, but you can’t.”  I can’t understand why.  I never did anything to make them dislike me.  Perhaps I was a slow child, and I’m a slow adult.  Completing a task takes time for me, but the result is more often than not absolutely fine.  I’m intelligent, but I take my time.  I remember one such incident causing me to snap the table crayons out of anger.

In year 2, I had a friend called Michelle.  She left our school later that year to move to another part of the country.  Then there was Faye.  Faye and I were best friends for a good two or three years until she left school to move to Wales.  We stayed in contact, but we changed and those changes left is with relatively little in common.

In secondary school, you had to find a group.  The groups were either from rough Birkenhead or posh Heswall/Gayton.  They were nicey-nice “We love Ronan from Boyzone” or “We’re impatiently waiting to be grown-up”.  I couldn’t find anyone to fit in with.  I joined the slightly naughty but still reasonably clever group.  This group was my home on and off for a few years until the little bouts of trouble and the general back-stabbing got too much for me to handle.  I preferred to be alone than with people who would give me grief for being myself or having my own opinions.  Then, sixth form.  I hung out with the year above every lunch-time in Scoffs, the little cafe across the road from our school.  Then, the girls left to go to university or wherever, so I spent lunch-times in clubs or with different people.  Thanks to A-level English lit., I developed a close friendship with Alison, who I am still in contact with and who I meet up with when it’s possible (ie when we’re both on the Wirral.  She’s now doing a PHD in Oxford and I’m here in Spain).

University was odd.  I had friends, but nothing profound.  There was a group in halls that I was on the periphery of, but I didn’t get on well with all of them.  I think they found me intense.  I had a couple of friends who I have on Facebook and who I’ve got time for, but that enlightening chemistry between friends has never really taken its grip.

This has been a pattern throughout life, that I have acquaintences, but we don’t really hit it off long term.  This feeds my intrinsic paranoia that people don’t like me.  People often don’t get in touch when they say they will, or make an effort to maintain contact, and I feel this is because they pretend to my face to like me, but really they can’t be bothered to spend time with me.

But now I remember those who do like me.  The Erasmus placement in Tours, France, gave me a solid group of friends for those short few months, and in final year university, the Muslim girls at the mosque made me feel genuinely appreciated. There’s also Caroline from youth fellowship who calls me from time to time to arrange a coffee date.

Of all the people on my Facebook account and of all the people whose numbers I have collected, there remains a precious few who have lit up my life: the genuine ones worth hanging on to wherever our individual paths may lead.

What I’m Reading

February 13, 2011

I’ve been meaning to blog for a while but don’t seem to have the energy to type.

I have just received a couple of books I ordered through my work place.  I wanted to include a picture, but couldn’t.  One is called Being Creative by Chaz Pugliese.  I look forward to starting that one, but have a tonne of other things to read in the mean time, including Teaching Unplugged by Scott Thornbury.  These are only small books, but reading, for me, is often a chore.  I am a slow reader, I don’t take it in the first time, I get distracted, have to start the paragraph again.  So it may be a while before I can post my reflections on here.  For fun, I’m reading Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years, although it has had me close to tears at times.

Protected: Thinking Aloud: My Notebook Scrawl Published II

February 13, 2011

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