Monday, 28 June 2010

Open or opened? Welcome or welcomed?

When do we use 'open' and when do we use 'opened'? Do we say 'You're welcome' or 'You're welcomed'?

These questions often pose problems to even advanced learners, let alone beginners. I've also seen teachers making mistakes with these.

The reason for this confusion is that the adjective form of some verbs is exactly the same as their verb form. "Open" and "welcome" are two examples. Look at these following sentences:

There's a shop around the corner that is open for business 24 hours a day.
Who left these windows open?
He was slumped in his armchair, fast asleep, snoring with his mouth wide open.

'Open' in the above examples is used as an adjective. However, in the sentences below, it is used as a verb. Remember that both the past tense and the past participle of 'open' is 'opened'.

Do you mind if I open this window?
The school gates are opened at 8.25. (Passive form)
The shop around the corner first opened in 2009.

'Welcome' is used in the same way:

You know that your friends are always welcome here.
You are welcome to that last piece of cake; I'm too full.
Everyone is welcome to attend tomorrow's meeting.
'Thank you!' 'You're welcome!'

'Welcome' in the above sentences is used as an adjective. These below use it as a verb:

They all welcomed the new proposals put forward at yesterday's meeting.
Visitors to this hotel are always so warmly welcomed. (Passive form)
I always welcome comments from my readers.


Although close exists as an adjective, as in 'We can walk to the cinema from here; it's quite close', when used to mean 'shut', the past participle form is used.

This shop is closed on Mondays.
Who left these windows closed?

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Does education kill creativity?

If you're an educator, you must watch this video! If you're a student, watch and see if you agree with the speaker. Subtitles are available in several languages, but I'd suggest you try English first.

Now that the school year has ended, you can spare these few minutes to listen to what Sir Ken Robinson has to say. And, he's so hilarious! To be a good public speaker is a great talent, but to be a funny one is even more admirable.

Those who have heard Sir Ken before know that he's rather wonderful with quotes, and here he makes no exceptions, and uses Yeats' Cloths of Heavens (1899) and Abraham Lincoln's message to congress just one month before signing the Emancipation Proclamation (1862) to great effect.

"Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."
- William Butler Yeats (The Wind Among the Reeds 1899)

"The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise -- with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disentrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."
- Abraham Lincoln's Annual Message to Congress -- Concluding Remarks, 1862

Now, after watching that, you must be curious about his other talk, so here it is, the one he gave in 2006:

So, what are your opinions? Is Sir Ken right? Is education too academically orientated? Are we stifling creativity in our children? Your opinions, as usual, will be most appreciated.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Win a two-week trip to Cambridge!

Cambridge University Press is celebrating the 25th anniversary of one of the most popular grammar 'bibles', Raymond Murphy's English Grammar In Use. Who hasn't used this at one time or another? Perhaps, if you're a student, you might not remember hearing about it, but you can bet your bottom dollar that you'd have done some exercises from it!

Well, they're running a competition for students, and the prize is a two-week study trip to Cambridge! They're giving away 6 tickets to the winners of a grammar test, and the course will be held at the Bell International School in Cambridge, where else?

The test consists of a total of 75 multiple-choice questions at three different levels: Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced.

The closing date is 30th June, so hurry! The link is:

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Improved Categories Menu Using Dynamic Tree Control

I'm in the process of improving the categorization of my posts (For Your Browsing Pleasure on the left), especially with the games and quizzes as this section is getting bigger and more awkward to browse. If you've got any comments to make with regards to this; if you like to see something in some way, or if you don't like what you see, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy browsing!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

How to draw basic cartoon characters - Students' examples

It gives me great pleasure to post these examples of the work done by the students of 1ºA (non-CLIL) and 1ºB (CLIL) from Los Tarahales after the lessons on human proportions and cartoon characters. See the following links:

Bear in mind that a lot of these students consider themselves bad in drawing.

To see the names of the "artist", hover the mouse over the slide.

To see the slides full screen, click on the slide. A new window will open, then choose the 'full screen' option.

Slides scanned and uploaded by José Alberto.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Are you game for some meat idioms?

Word cloud by
Word Cloud by
Here is a wonderful video to help you learn some of the more common idioms related to meat. The presenter speaks slowly and clearly, so it's quite easy for learners to follow.

Don't forget to have a look in my Cooking Verbs post, too.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Should more technology be used in the classroom?

UPDATED: 13 June 2010 to include a new video.

Original post by Sue Lyon-Jones can be seen here.

This video is especially dedicated to those from 'the old school' who stubbornly hold firm to their paper-bonded ideas, but since they would be the last people to come here, I would like to hear the opinions of the students themselves!

What do you think?
Should more technology be used in the classroom?
How? In which subjects?
How often are you brought to the computer lab? Which subjects?
Does technology help you learn better?
What is the most interesting subject? Why?
What is the least interesting? Why?

All comments are welcomed! If you aren't confident of writing in English, you can write in your native language. I don't mind!

Thank you!

They tried to make me teach with Edtech,
I said No! No! No!
Yes I'm old hat, don't care about that,
I don't want to know,
I ain't got the time,
And if the students think I'm fine,
They tried to make me teach with Edtech,
I don't want to know!

I ought to be at home, marking essays,
My week has only got seven days!
And there's nothing, nothing you can teach me,
That I can't learn from Mr Thornbury!
Don't need no edtech in my class,
It's such a load of faff - no thanks! I'll pass...

They tried to make me teach with Edtech,
I said No! No! No!
Yes I'm old hat, don't care about that,
I don't want to know,
I ain't got the time,
And if the students think I'm fine,
They tried to make me teach with Edtech,
I don't want to know!

Alexandra Francisco just made this one, so I though I'd add it.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Analysis: End of School Year 2010 Survey, CLIL & Non-CLIL Classes

Last updated: 15 June 2010

Complete details of the survey can be seen here:

I'd be lying if I said I was pleased with the number of students participating in the survey. A total of only 140 students from 3 schools completed the questionnaire. Here's the breakdown:

Los Tarahales:

1ºB (CLIL) --> 27
1ºA (Non-CLIL) --> 24
2ºA (Non-CLIL) --> 27

Total --> 78

Alonso Quesada:

1ºB (CLIL) --> 9

School X:

1ºA (CLIL) --> 18
1ºC (Non-CLIL) --> 6
2ºA (CLIL) --> 17
3ºA (CLIL) --> 11
4ºA (CLIL) --> 1

Total --> 53

In the case of Los Tarahales, I personally had the opportunity of bringing one class to the computer lab, and the other classes were brought by other teachers.

The turnout from Alonso Quesada was severely disappointing, to say the least.

It was rather difficult since I was no longer in the schools to remind the students to do it. I managed to cajole some of them through the various social webs I happen to find the students in, and I was hoping the teachers would be reminding the students about the survey, but I suppose they had more important matters in their minds, or they hadn't attached as much importance to this survey as I had.


It is worth noting that an overwhelming majority like being on the project and believe that their level of English has improved since they started on it. It is also hardly surprising that most would like to have more class time with the linguistic assistant.

Those who said they do not have the assistant in their English class unanimously agreed it would be a good idea if they did.

Since I started this project, my English has _____

I like being on this project.

To some, perhaps the most popular answer to the question, 'What do you like most about your English class?' will come as somewhat surprising. Games are, naturally, very popular, but significantly, 'grammar' scored quite high, too. For me, it's perfectly understandable as grammar provides a learner with confidence to use the language. This also explains the popularity of the grammar activities I have in the blog.

This leads us to the usage of the blog as a teaching resource. Unfortunately, teachers don't bring the students to the computer lab often enough, either due to lack of availability of computers, or the lack of belief on ICT as a resource, or, quite simply, they don't consider my blog activities as useful enough. I'm inclined to plump for either of the last two reasons as, significantly, half of those who responded said that their teachers never set the blog activities as homework.

Does your teacher set the blog activities as homework?

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Analysis of performance between 3 CLIL groups: should CLIL students be selected?

UPDATED: 11 Jun 2010 - carry on reading, please.

This year, I was assigned to three secondary schools. As luck would have it, each of them had a different method of choosing their CLIL group of students, so I thought it would be interesting to do a study on their performance. Since my services were terminated with at the end of May, I can only compare the figures obtained from the first and second evaluation. I analysed the students' performance in the CLIL subjects, which varied from school to school, and in the non-CLIL subjects.

I studied the rise or fall in the number of failures from the first to the second evaluation, and calculated the average number of passes for each group (three groups from each school were analysed).

Finally, I compared the average performance between the CLIL groups of the three different schools.

School X

School X has remained steadfast in refusing me permission to use its data, insisting that I have no right to use it, even if I were not to use the name of the school.

So, I must apologise to all of you who have expressed interest in this study, but I have no choice but to remove its part. It does undermine the study somewhat, but, I think something still can be learned from it.

Method of selection: Each potential student, prior to enrolment, was given a note telling them to present themselves for an examination if they were interested in joining the CLIL program.

It is worth noting, however, that generally, the attendance for this examination is not very encouraging, and all the students who do it are almost guaranteed a place in the CLIL class even though they might have scored very poorly. The fact that there is a wide gap between the handing of the note and the examination (a whole summer) may account for the poor attendance.

IES Alonso Quesada

Method of selection: Students were selected based on their results in the CLIL subjects in their final year in primary school. Even though there was objection from teachers not involved in the CLIL project, the backing of the school management team allowed the possibility of this selection method.

IES Los Tarahales

Method of selection: Heavy objection from non-CLIL teachers prevented any method of selection from being implemented, other than that the CLIL class had to be chosen AT RANDOM.


It came as no surprise that the best performance, by a significant margin, came from Alonso Quesada, given their method of the process of selection. It is worth studying, however, the rate of progress of the CLIL groups in comparison to their non-CLIL peers. From first-hand experience with the various classes and the students, I have found that there is a certain level of motivation present in the CLIL classes, and that it rubs off on especially the weaker students.

These very students would very likely sink rapidly if they were placed in a less motivated class. The stronger students would, most likely, succeed in any group, but it is useful to ponder on the varying possibilities of the borderline students.

Another thought provoking strategy would be to provide all classes with similar resources and possibilities. Certainly, I have seen positive results from my time spent with non-CLIL classes in Los Tarahales and School X, especially at the entrance level.

Whether the Canaries would one day begin to have at least one CLIL subject in all classes remains to be seen.

What do you think? Would you like to see this happen? Do you have CLIL in your school? How does it work? Do you think it is better to have more CLIL time per school or more schools in the project, but with less CLIL time in each?

Your opinions would be most appreciated. Click on 'comments' below, if you don't see the form for sending in comments.

Please note: if you would like a copy of this PowerPoint, email me.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The ocean is not a grocery store

Those were the words of renowned underwater photographer Brian Skerry, who talks on the destruction of ecosystems, the destruction of life in the oceans, accompanying it with stunning shots of both above and under the sea, but ends on a rather positive note. Watch the video - I'll say no more. Retweet and retweet, please. Let's do our little bit.