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Travelling

Traveling gives us an insight of how important it is to speak English with confidence. I´m in Amsterdam this week, a multi-cultural city, where locals are just as comfortable speaking in their own language as in English.

I still feel foreign but welcomed too, I can communicate, manage, get by… Habits are different, of course! It´s still a struggle to get a decent cup of “café con leche”…

But I´m joining a Meetup group tonight, in the same way I organize conversation groups in Bilbao for visitors to join in with locals, I´m now a foreigner wishing to mix with the local folk, I´m definitely in for a great night!

The story so far

“…well, we´ve come to the final chapter of the second part, the bit where the girl, once again reinvents herself and stars afresh with nothing, from nowhere, barefoot and spotless white…”

Stories picture different landscapes and backgrounds, circumstances and conditions, settings and drives… We are transported and listen carefully… This is the best part of my job, the chatting that both my students and me enjoy so much… Last week I was telling them how my second baby was born in an inflatable pool in our kitchen in London, because, after a traumatic time in hospital with my first baby (emergency caesarean section and baby being put on a drip), I was prepared to take the risk… They loved to hear!

But giving them the chance to speak is the best, letting them improvise their speech, talk with as much spontaneity as possible, allow them to be themselves, regardless of the language, that´s what it is about, being comfortable expressing yourself, neither embarrassed nor afraid…

 

Better to burn out than to fade away

The time comes when we have to grab the bull by the horns, to confront the much dreaded moment of having to end something, for good… We wander, we get comfortable, we get upset, then the feeling again fades… But it turns up again and there´s no point dragging it on for much longer… Time flies!

It is difficult to give up things that make us feel good, to detach ourselves from the floating ring we´ve been grabbing onto for however long… To stop lingering and face reality…

People come and go through our lives, some leave deeper marks, others just happen to pass by. Our perception of how they interfere with our paths makes us wonder if it´s just a coincidence or if it was all bound to happen whatsoever… But despite all of this, we are affected! However, when we look back, with time, we understand how well all the pieces fit in the final puzzle of our lifelines

Driftwood

Everything follows a pattern, a rhythm that we just can´t begin to understand, to acknowledge, to absorb, to view… We are stuck in confusion, a cloud of fog surrounding us, blurring the path to follow… It´s all part of the game, picking up something here, dropping down something else there, trying and testing, non stop stretching us, to see how far we can get, how much we can give… and what else we can liberate ourselves from…

Ironic, isn´t it? To see that, no matter how well we might think we are able to forecast what´s to come we still end up getting surprised…

Our time on earth might be short, insignificant in comparison with the universe age, but for us, the journey can be full of turbulence and therefore unending…

Like driftwood, the storm might take us far, but without a doubt, we´ll reach, eventually, a peaceful shore to rest and from which to start a new episode in our stories…

 

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