Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Music to grow up by

Do your parents' passions shape your own? Laura Barton, one of The Guardian's music writers, looks back on her formative years.,
In the evenings, after he had set down his briefcase and taken his first sip of gin and tonic, my dad would teach me how to rock'n'roll dance in the living room. I would be swooshed into the air, shown how to twist right down to the floor on one leg, while we played Chubby Checker, Chuck Berry, the Big Bopper up loud on the stereo.
Music was a constant presence in my childhood home, soundtracking Sunday lunches, housework, homework, afternoons in the garden. It was a rush of Graceland, Supertramp, Kate Bush; Sgt Pepper, Duffy Power, doo-wop. It was Tango in the Night and Jazz on a Summer's Day, and all four of us crammed in the car, singing a little ditty, 'bout Jack and Diane.
Some moments seem scored on my memory: my dad playing Sixteen Candles on my birthday; a school morning with my mum as she played Phil Collins's No Jacket Required. And when I stop to consider it now, I see how much music has fed and shaped and enriched my relationship with my parents.
I often think it was my mum who gave me lyrics, who gave me Leonard Cohen and Dory Previn: a delight in the sound and colour and weight of words. My dad gave me music: song as a physical experience, as rhythm, as the beat and the off-beat drummed against the car steering wheel. He gave me jazz, and blues, and rock'n'roll, Dion, John Lee Hooker and Thelonious Monk. He would take me to record fairs, where I would stand quietly among the rows and listen to the flick-flick-flick of the vinyl-hunters. He would make me compilations, send me messages about his latest musical infatuation, greet my return home with a casual, "Have you heard the new Kanye?"
My dad and I are still talking about music. When I went home recently we sat at the kitchen table sipping red wine while he explained what he loved about Wu-Lyf's intros. And when my parents went to see Bon Iver play in Manchester this autumn, he emailed me the following morning to rave and to rhapsodise, to try to articulate his awe at the previous night's show.
It was my mum who introduced my dad to the music of Van Morrison: some time around 1970 she bought a copy of Astral Weeks in HMV in Manchester and forced him to listen to it. Ever since, Morrison's music has been a beam, a bolster between my parents, our family.
For my whole life, this is music that has somehow shouldered our relationship; his music has become part of our family language every bit as much as bad puns, Monty Python jokes and references to I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. We'll talk about "gardens all misty-wet with rain" and of being "famished before dinner" and "meet me down by the pylons".
And still, now, some of the happiest sounds in the world to me remain those late-night murmurings – drifting up the stairs, pressing up between the floorboards, the sound of wine glasses, low voices, the muffled lyrics, rhythms, raptures of Into the Music playing on the stereo: "When you hear the music ringing in your soul," Morrison sings, "And you feel it in your heart and it grows and grows/ And it came from the backstreet rock'n'roll/ And the healing has begun …"
Laura Barton is a journalist and author
    Laura Barton and her Dad
    Laura Barton and her dad

Monday, November 28, 2011

B1 Online Listening Exercises

I recommend Level 2 students the following online listening exercises: (University / college life- goes with File 1A) (Daily Activities- goes with 1B) (Party Time! - goes with 1B-1C) (Immigration and Customs - goes with 1D)

Friday, November 25, 2011

IdI students at the cinema

We are going to the cinema! On Wednesday, December 7th I am taking you and other IdI students to the Avenida Cinema to see The Help, a very moving, entertaining film about the unfolding of the Civil Rights Movement in America in the early sixties. The film starts at 7.30, and we will meet at 7 pm outside the cinema, on 15 Marqués de Paradas Avenue, opposite the Plaza de Armas Hotel. Feel free to bring a friend, a housemate or a relative along and enjoy cinema in the original version!

The Help
is a 2011 comedy-drama film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's novel of the same name. The film is about a young white woman, Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, and her relationship with two black maids during Civil Rights era America in the early 1960s. Skeeter is a journalist who decides to write a controversial book from the point of view of the maids (known as the Help), exposing the racism they are faced with as they work for white families. The film takes place in Jackson, Mississippi, and stars, among others, Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain and Sissy Spacek. (Tickets with a student discount are €5.70)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

L3 Composition 3: Comparing Youth Cultures

Composition 3: Comparing Youth Cultures

Compare your parents’ youth culture to your own. Recycle what you have learned so far, incorporate some of the following expressions in bold into your text from Straightforward Upper Intermediate and use past tenses appropriately. Write 150 words, double-spaced. You may illustrate your contrastive essay with one or two photos. Here is an example of the first half of the writing task:

Frankly, this is the first time I’ve been asked to compare my own youth culture to that of my parents’. My father and I are not used to discussing his youth at home. Although the Spanish “Movida” didn’t actually reach his hometown, he told me he would often get on a train and spend weekends in Madrid going to concerts and having fun. He even remembers meeting the lead singer from Radio Futura, dressed in black and wearing dark make-up, backstage once. My father was in his twenties and he was such a fan! As he was not into drugs, he just enjoyed the sex and the rock’n' roll. Now, the more I learn about it, the more interested I become in that exciting period of my country’s history, the legendary eighties.

As for my generation, we are supposed to be

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Compound Adjectives

Compound adjectives that express the idea of with or having often end in -ed. For example, a a guy with blue eyes is a blue-eyed guy. These -ed endings are often known as "false participles":

A baby with curly hair is a curly-haired baby.
A cat with one leg is a one-legged cat. (Here notice the pronunciation and spelling of "legged".)
A girl with black hair and green eyes = a black-haired, green-eyed girl.
A robber with one eye = a one-eyed robber.
A model with long legs = a long-legged model.

Compound adjectives with expressions of time, quantity, weight, distance or measurement do not use the plural s in the noun of the compound:

A journey that lasts 12 hours is a 12-hour journey. (Note that "hour" is singular.)
A baby that weighs seven pounds = a seven-pound baby.
A walk of 20 miles = a 20-mile walk.
A holiday that lasts 2 weeks = a 2-week holiday.

Sentence Transformation Exercise:

1. My bag was stolen by a teenager with green hair
A green-...

2. Bruce Springsteen gave a concert that lasted four hours.
Bruce Springsteen gave a four-...

3. A man who was dressed in smart clothes came to see you.
A well-...

4. The competition was won by a model with blue eyes and blonde hair.
A blue-...

5. That job pays well.
That's a well-...