Friday, October 24, 2008


It is funny. I have just arrived from school today and there was an unusual situation there. I've started teaching two new groups - students who are preparing for the ECCE Michigan Exam. The unusual situation was my arriving 5 minutes late for the very first time in my career. I don't mean to criticize anybody who has problems with being punctual but I feel miserable if for any reason I happen to be late for an appointment. So maybe this was life teaching me we can't have everything under control 100% of the time. It's difficult for me , the medicine did taste bitter but I guess the patient needed. To make matters worse I had another surprise in one of the groups. One of the students, who shall be nameless here, was the last person I could imagine seeing there because we had had some problems in the past.Two lessons on the same day?? Knowing me I am sure there's room for a lot of investigation here. On my way back home I was listening to Barbra (as usual) and this song seemed quite appropriate. The song is about difficult relationships. I guess we should all agree we face a number of difficult situations everyday because of the career we have chosen. There are wonderful days -not a shadow of a doubt and hopefully that's why most of us have been around for so long. Speaking of our careers..."in a very unusual way you've made me whole..."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I have just arrived from a friend's house who has just had her first baby. This friend, who also happens to an EFL teacher/educator, is a very sensible and sensitive person. It was sheer pleasure the couple of hours we spent together. As I was driving back home I was thinking about a song that could be used to describe this experience. As we are celebrating Teacher's Day tomorrow I started thinking about our very first teacher/educator/guider - you name it : our moms. I think if I tried to be politically correct I should mention our parents but I'll follow my initial inspiration and my heart and just write about our moms. I am sure no one can deny this is the purest kind of love one can think about. There was another very special friend there - another amazing, very devoted mother. So, this is my opportunity to share with you this lovely song which best (or very well) summarizes the kind of love I'm talking about. I, for one, have no doubt any mother would certainly mean each and every word here. As a teacher myself I should also take the chance to congratulate you all out there and once again connect it to this homage to our moms - definitely our very first instructors, role models for the years to come.
Trust me I'm sure if they could, they would - just like us teachers/educators.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


More often than not I have been talking with friends and colleagues about this crazy world we live in. Only now did I realise I have this wonderful tool (blogging) to hear from more and more people. Am I alone or do you also feel the days, the weeks, the months, the years have been passing way too fast? It is scary, IMHO. I still perfectly remember what I did last December for Christmas and we are now in mid October!!! Remember the good (??) old days?? It would actually take for ever from one Chritsmas to another. I could mention all the other events - Carnaval, Easter,Mother's day...our blessed vacations... What's going on?? I have some explanations which I have gotten from my religion but I do not want to influence anybody's opinion. The only thing I cannot help is adding a song - awesome, IMHO to help you stop, take a deep breath and reflect. I'd love to hear from you all. Now...enjoy Sarah Brightman /Bee Gees (it can't get any better than that).

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


This is another song I have used many times with my groups and they always respond very well to the message. Once again it's been used with Exam Classes and those Advanced groups that for some reason come to the point of thinking "Enough is enough - I've got more than I should/could". The song came to my mind and I think it could also be used as a motto to our group. We all knew how challenging, time consuming and a bit disorienting (to quote Carla) this journey could be. So...DON'T GIVE UP! Enjoy the clip and Josh's awesome voice.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lessons to be learned

I have already said Barbra Streisand is my favorite singer. I have used many of her songs throughout all these years in the classroom. I usually choose those songs that lead to some reflection, discussion - some food for thought. This song here has always been succeful. I remember sending it to a group of students I prepared for the ECCE Examination from the University of Michigan. I knew some of them would not be successful but even after having a very sincere talk with them they insisted they wanted to try. I got home and started to think how frustrated they'd probably feel if they really had to face "failure". Well, to make a long story short again, in the middle of the night this song came to my mind and I sent it to the group. It proved to be really helpful as I got a number of emails thanking me for the support and specially for the song. They really got the message and realized we do learn from our mistakes if there is such a thing because as Barbra puts here "there are no mistakes...just lessons to be learned..." How about you? Is there any personal experience you would like to share? A "mistake" which turned out to be a good lesson to be learned. I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Power of Music

I have always been interested in the use of music (songs) in language teaching/learning. I consider myself a very "musical" person. Some of my friends make jokes because they say I always have a song for any situation. I must admit it's quite true and more often than not I find myself saying " reminds me of a song..." I have even been thinking about singing. Some say I have a strong "powerful" voice and they may be right. However, I have never tried singing and as a perfectionist I'd certainly have to spend hours with vocal lessons and all that. I believe no one can deny music is a very integrating tool if I can put it that way. It is a way to connect people and many times I think people do get together thanks to music. Now that we live in this globalized world it's even easier to actually get to know a lot more about other cultures and musical manifestations. I try to be kind of selective whenever I use music in the classroom. Honestly I don't like the idea of giving the students a song because it's been playing on the radio(sounds so old-fashioned)or because I would have nothing else to do in those last/first 10-15 minutes of the lesson. Whenever possible I try to find something connected to whatever subject we've been studying and if it's not the case I like to show them things they'd probably not come across if they were doing things by themselves. I must admit it's risky because you may simply choose something they "hate" and the whole idea would be a failure. So far I have been quite lucky. I have never ever expected to please everybody all the time - this is totally utopian,IMHO. I am a true believer that people surrender to real talent and quality. It may not be the kind of thing you would personally look for and when we think about music maybe you would not buy the CD/DVD let alone pay for a concert but as you are introduced to it you have to recognize its quality. And this has, as I said before, happened quite often throughout these almost 20 years I have been in the classroom. The video you find here is an example of the kind of music most of my students (teenagers and young adults) would not see if I had not found the appropriate time to share. Recently I had been teaching a lesson about storytelling and I remembered Loreena Mckennitt had this wonderful song (IMHO) called Penelope's Song based on the story of Penelope who waited for her beloved husband for more than twenty years- from The Odyssey by Homer.We had a brief discussion about the story and in every class there were 3-4 students who knew a lot about it so they could share with those who knew less or nothing. I prepared a short summary for the whole group, we listened to the song and had a traditional "fill in the gaps" activity with the lyrics and concluded with a group discussion about dedication, faithfulness, patience and other aspects which are clear in the story. The same has happened many times with some other artists like Barbra Streisand, Josh Groban, Alanis Morissette and some others. Now, enjoy another fantastic song by Loreena and also her reflections about a historical event which led into the composition of Dante's Prayer.


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