A1 · A2 · Practical videos

A1- A2 How To Say and Understand Phone Numbers in English

As a teacher that has taught all levels of English (or almost all levels, anyway), I realised that teaching beginners can be as challenging as teaching C2s students. The first reason for this is that adult learners usually feel very shy and self-conscious about making mistakes in front of their classmates so they need to be able to practise a lot before producing new structures. At the same time, they usually have very little time to do English homework because there are a lot of other things that they need to do like: work, take care of the kids, household chores, etc., just to mention a few. Finding a balance in everything can be very a difficult task indeed and for this reason, on many occasions beginners quit English classes before they see any progress, which is a real pity. But on the other hand, if a beginner manages to stay on, they very soon notice that they are having fun, learning a lot and making new friends.

This year, with A1s and A2s in mind (or the groups that I’ve had anyway), I want to create a collection of videos with some tips and practical information on how to do something like for example, how to give and ask for a price, or how to congratulate somebody, etc. Sort of something very short, simple and clear that will allow learners to focus on very little content and have the opportunity to practise so as to gain some confidence with new structures and chunks of information.

I am aware that the videos are and will be in English (as usual), and that this can seem a bit off-putting for a beginner, but it is also true that all the audio files also appear in writing, so at the same time, learners are doing a listening activity where they can associate the written form of the word to the sound of it.

Here’s the very first video of this project that I’m really enthusiastic about, hoping that they will be useful for A1 and A2 English learners and that I may (only may), get some feedback.

Template and animations by me (sometimes being a graphic designer can come in handy)

Serena’s blog

C1 · C2 · Idioms

Idioms English Idioms and Expressions that Include Blue

Hi there! I’ve just finished a video that includes quite a few idioms and expressions that have blue in them. I’m gradually getting better at animating and putting all the bits together, but still need to do some work on editing audio files (sorry about this, but I know that I’ll finally get it right 🙂 ). Anyway, I hope you find the video useful. You can also do a short quiz after watching the video.

Photos from Pexels and drawings and animations by me on Krita.

Serena’s blog

A2 · B1 · B2 · phonetics

Silent letters in English words

When you have a phonetic language like Spanish, for instance, it is quite easy to say the words you have learned from a book or  a dictionary because if you know the sounds of each letter you can do quite well when speaking the language and everybody will understand you. But this is not the case with English, which for a lot of people seems like a `crazy´language with its own rules. I already mentioned this feature of English in a post on phonetics and here I’m going to mention another feature that will also look pretty strange to many language learners, that is, letters that appear in the written form of language but should not be pronounced. These letters are called ‘silent letters’ because we do not pronounce them. About two years ago I created a slide lesson, but now that I (unfortunately), have a lot of time, I have also made a video where you can see and hear the examples some of the most typical silent letters.

There’s a quiz button at the bottom of this post.

Serena’s blog
C1 · C2 · Idioms

Idiom Between the devil and the deep blue sea

I was wanting to start creating videos that cover English idioms so much, that I’m thrilled to announce that here’s the first of, hopefully quite a few. If you have been learning English for some time, you will already know what an idiom is, but if this is not your case, an idiom is an expression or rather, a group of words whose meaning is not related to what the sentence seems to communicate. In this video, you’ll find the idiom “Between the devil and the deep blue sea”, which means to find yourself in a difficult situation where the alternatives that can allow you to escape from this situation, are not very good. In my second language, which is Spanish, this idiom would be something like ‘estar entre la espada y la pared’. Do you know a similar expression in your language? If you do, I’d really love to hear about it.

PS. I need to improve the audios as it sounds as if I were speaking on the phone.

undaunted · undeterred

A teacher will always be a teacher

A teacher will always be a teacher, despite all the odds against her. This is true for me as on August 6, the very same day that teachers were to be assigned a teaching post in the Balearic Islands, I was denied the possibility to continue my teaching career in Spain. This came in the form of a law that was aimed to make it impossible for British teachers to continue getting posts in public schools in the Balearic Islands and I ignore if this has been the case in all the autonomies of Spain.

This ban is a direct consequence of Brexit, and I must admit that it came as a shock, as not only have I been living in Spain for nearly three decades, but all my qualifications are from Spanish universities. Apparently, there is nothing I can do about it, as teacher labour unions go along with the policy in a tone within the lines of ‘like it or lump it mate!’

I could rant and rave at the government for passing such an unfair law, for using teachers as a scapegoat and applying a mean blackmail strategy to improve the relationship between the United Kingdom and Spain, but I can’t be bothered, and prefer to focus all my energy in another direction, reinventing myself. I’m not saying that I have been stopped in my tracks, what I’m actually saying is that this situation will come as an opportunity to better myself, as the saying goes ‘what doesn’t kill you, makes you strong.’

So here I am. The government of Spain has taken away classrooms, students and salary. The government has wiped away, in the blink of an eye, the years I have devoted to my career. However, what the government cannot take away, is my passion for teaching. The government of Spain said, ‘You’re no longer a language teacher at the EOI.’ (Official Language School), which is basically true, but the government doesn’t seem to be aware that a teacher who loves her job, will teach anyway, be this at the EOI, at secondary or in a virtual environment. What the government also fails to acknowledge is, that there is no such thing as placing boundaries to teaching and learning in the Digital Era, and that people like me have the tendency to grab opportunities with both hands, and continue with their life, despite having all the odds stacked against them.

This blog, will continue and will even improve in due time, so you can bet your last dollar, that you’ll be seeing me around with some very good stuff. Just let me take a breath and get back on my feet, and I’ll be back.

A big hug to all the people that throughout these years, have visited my blog, over 60 thousand visitors, can’t be wrong!

Serena

Sin categorĂ­a

C1-C2 Bad habit vocabulary crossword

Scene from the Body Snatchers (1978)

The picture is from the final scene of the 70s version of The Body Snatchers and one of those really disturbing movies that sort of scares me out of my wits. I couldn’t help using the picture for this post because I somehow feel that many smokers must feel this way as they see themselves gradually cornered into kicking the habit. It’s a wonder that smokers still exist as many are almost made to feel that they are commiting a crime against humanity everytime they put a butt between their lips. Obviously, we all know how bad tobacco is and that public health expenditure could be used in other ways, but I also feel that some non-smokers go a wee bit beyond the limit when they expect, for instance, a host to stub out a cigarette in their own home or when a neighbour asks somebody stop smoking in their OWN patio because somehow some naughty, mischevious smoke floated up two floors and then made an agressive dip back to ground level invading somebody’s kitchen. Amazing what some tobacco brands can do!

In this activity, you’ll find a crossword for some words related to ‘bad’ habits.

C1 · C2 · Vocabulary

C1-C2 Selling and buying vocabulary crossword

Happy dosh

We’ve just finished the unit on consumerism, and then ooops! I start panicking. Does my group know all the words they need to know? Just in case, here’s one of those crosswords they seem to absolutely hate, along with some coins that insisted on saying hello (just to cheer them up a bit). You’ll also find the keys to the crossword below.