Archive | March, 2011

Tragedy hits Home

20 Mar

Wreaking havoc atop the tectonic expanse known as the Ring of Fire, the fifth most powerful earthquake in recorded history struck off the east coast of the Oshika peninsula on the 11th of March, 2011. In addition to a massive amount of physical structures and lives being toppled by the seismic vibrations, as well as swept away by the tsunami, effected nuclear plants face or are dealing with meltdown scenarios. These tragedies also beg to question the economic aftermath of Tōhoku in the world’s second-most financially wealthy country after the United States. In our fair Mallorca, Japanese-born attacking mid-fielder and winger Akihiro Ienaga took a moment of silence during a press conference this past week to pay respect for those amidst the chaos abroad.

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Día Internacional de la Mujer Trabajadora

10 Mar

Biking home from class this past Tuesday I happened upon a Plaça Cort brimming with spectators. Being as my Catalá is not the bé-est, I couldn’t grasp much beyond the fact that the manifestation was being held for International Womens’ Day, reinvindicando all the social achievements that have occurred since the Womens’ Suffrage movement, as well as throughout history before the 20th century, evidenced by authors such as Sor Juana  Inés de la Cruz and Plato to name a few. I’ve found feminism and its history to be great subject matter for my older classes.

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High-Tech High

3 Mar

The high school where I work is siempre más hi-tech. They’ve recently installed SMART Boards in many of the classrooms. Some teachers, including me, still don’t know how to make use of the electronic and interactive whiteboards, but others have ingeniously incorporated the new technology in their lessons. In my Social Science class with 1ESO, the professor always plans an activity using the school laptops which she demonstrates on the whiteboard. The students are instructed to access her blog, Arxisocial’s Weblog, and complete the activity of the day. They are currently learning about Prehistory, so last week they played games on a educational website maintained by the Generalitat de Catalunya. I got to try them out as well and found I probably would have starved if I had lived in the Prehistoric era. The games, a bit reminiscent of The Oregon Trail and with an outstanding musical accompaniment, can be found here: No badis!, under La prehistòria in the Cicle Superior column. Click on Poblat 1 and try your hand at La Recol·lecció. You can also fish for the pueblo in Poblat 2, get initiated into adulthood in Poblat 3, and barter chickens for goats in Poblat 4. The page is in Catalan; it’s a good way to get more familiar with the language and learn vocabulary to impress your amics.

Monkey Sí, Monkey Du

2 Mar

“…and they’re not in too many zoos because of their sexual behavior. Their sexual behavior is too human-like for most of us to be comfortable with.”   This quote is taken from the beginning of a lecture by Susan Savage-Rumbaugh on the vast parallels between the bonobo and man; (the talk is hilarious and can be seen HERE) one is which being this species’ remarkable capacity to understand human speech, which is seemingly better than some of my homo sapien English students. Regarding language acquisition,  Savage-Rumbaugh and her researchers have concluded that “…the most important thing for permitting bonobos to learn language is not teach them, it’s simply to use language around them because the driving force in language acquisition is to understand what others that are important to you are saying to you. Once you have that capacity, the ability to produce language comes rather naturally and rather freely.” To me this suggests two things: 1) We cannot force somebody to learn something. The successful absorption of knowledge must be willful or originate from the students’ sincere curiosity. 2) As language teachers, we must keep in mind the significance of speaking exclusively in English, especially in a manner replete with emotion and gesticulation. Although many may not see our profession in this light, we are essentially entertainers who generate the biproduct of intelect. I think bearing this is mind we can help deconstruct the classic dichotomy between student and teacher and gain our pupils’ respect, making them genuinely intent on understanding us when speaking our native tounge.