Monday, January 12, 2015

A Minute of Language

Twenty four hours after the barbaric killings of the cartoonists and journalists from Charlie Hebdo by religious terrorists in Paris, I had my first class of the year with my students of English. I told them that, instead of observing a minute of silence as a tribute to the victims, I would teach them a few expressions that the fanatic yihadists would not have wanted me to teach them nor them to learn. I took a piece of red chalk and wrote in capitals on the blackboard:

8th January 2015

I pointed out to them that, although they were not strictly A2 or B1 language items, they would always need to know such terms, as they summarize some of the values our democracies stand on. I asked them to write them down on their notebooks in red and in capitals, which they did with great solemnity. It was a very emotional moment in my teaching career.

The great Voltaire said: "I don't agree with what you are saying, but I will die for your right to say it." 



Vive la Republique! Vive la Liberté!

El yihadismo es fascismo. 

Love is stronger than hatred.

Sunday, January 11, 2015



Creo que lo que ha ocurrido en París en estos días es no sólo un hecho horrible que pone los pelos de punta por su crueldad y salvajismo sino también una escalada en lo que es el terror. Hasta ahora mataban personas, destruían instituciones, pero el asesinato de casi toda la redacción de Charlie Hebdo significa todavía algo más grave: querer que la cultura occidental, cuna de la libertad, de la democracia, de los derechos humanos, renuncie a ejercitar esos valores, que empiece a ejercitar la censura, poner límites a la libertad de expresión, establecer temas prohibidos, es decir, renunciar a uno de los principios más fundamentales de la cultura de la libertad: el derecho de crítica.

Lo que pretenden con este asesinato colectivo de periodistas y caricaturistas es que Francia, Europa occidental, el mundo libre, renuncie a uno de los valores que son el fundamento de la civilización. No poder ejercer esa libertad de expresión que significa usar el humor de una manera irreverente y crítica significaría pura y simplemente la desaparición de la libertad de expresión, es decir, de uno de los pilares de lo que es la cultura de la libertad. Creo que Occidente, Europa, el mundo libre deben tomar nota de que hay una guerra que tiene lugar en su propio territorio y que esa guerra debemos ganarla si no queremos que la barbarie reeemplace a la civilización.

Hay que actuar con firmeza, sin complejos de inferioridad frente a los que representan el fanatismo, pero también respetando rigurosamente la legalidad que es tan importante como la libertad. Uno de los riesgos más graves de este horrible ataque terrorista es que va a estimular la xenofobia a los partidos extremistas que son tan peligrosos para la democracia como los fanáticos islamistas.

Este asesinato colectivo va a ganarles adherentes a organizaciones como el Frente Nacional y a todos los grupos y grupúsculos que quisieran destruir a Europa y retroceder a los países europeos a la época de los nacionalismos intolerantes y xenófobos. Hay que hacer un esfuerzo para impedir que esto ocurra y que Europa sea destruida tanto por sus enemigos como por quienes pretenden defenderla a través de otras formas de intolerancia y fanatismo.

Francia es un país que fue uno de los fundadores de la cultura de la libertad con la declaración de los derechos humanos que estableció constitucionalmente una libertad de expresión que sus ciudadanos, sus intelectuales y sus políticos han ejercitado de una manera ejemplar a lo largo de toda su historia. Por eso la tragedia que vive Francia en estos días es una tragedia que nos afecta a todas las mujeres y a todos los hombres libres de este mundo quienes debemos repetir como lo están haciendo millones de franceses todos los días: "Je suis Charlie Hebdo". El País, 11 de enero de 2015

Mario Vargas Llosa es premio Nobel de Literatura.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

A2 Reading: Clothes

The world of clothes and fashion is changing. In the 1950s, men wore a suit for work and women never went out without a hat and gloves. Today, people can wear jeans and a T-shirt in the office and young men only wear a suit for interviews or weddings. Colours are also different today. People wear blue, green, yellow, and red as well as more formal colours like black, grey, and brown. My boyfriend works in an office and today he’s wearing jeans and a pink shirt!
Sports clothes are very popular today. I’m wearing jogging trousers, a T-shirt, and trainers today, but I don’t go jogging! I wear them because they are fashionable and comfortable. People sometimes wear ski jackets and walking boots or trainers when they go to the pub!
Children are also very interested in fashion. In the past, parents chose and bought clothes for children and teenagers. Now, children choose their own clothes and often like to have designer labels. My sister’s children are wearing Paul Smith jeans, Donna Karan T-shirts and Nike trainers at the moment. I think she spends more money on clothes for them than I spend on my clothes!
I like today’s fashion because it is more informal and men and women can wear the same things. I often borrow my boyfriend’s trousers, shirts, and T-shirts −but he doesn’t borrow mine!

After reading the text aloud for pronunciation practice, answer these questions:

1. How is today’s fashion different from the one in the 1950s?
2. What clothes and colours can people wear for work?
3. Does the writer wear sports clothes to go jogging?
4. Do parents choose clothes for today’s teenagers?
5. Why are children’s clothes expensive?
6. Why does the writer like today’s fashion?

Write questions for your partner:

1. How often/go shopping for clothes?
2. like/today’s fashion?
3. What/favourite clothes shop?
4. buy clothes/on the Internet?
5. How much/spend on clothes?
6. buy/designer labels?
7. What/wear for work/school/university?
8. What/wear/now?
9. What/favourite colours?
10. borrow/other people’s clothes?

Gay couple thrown out of Uber cab for kissing


Gay couple 'thrown out of Uber cab for kissing and cuddling'

Corey Watts
The couple were allegedly asked to leave the cab after kissing on the backseat. Credit: Corey Watts

By Jamie Roberton: ITV News
A gay couple have claimed they were thrown out of an Uber cab in London for kissing and cuddling.
Corey Watts and Jordan Sloan were travelling from Covent Garden at around 8pm on New Year's Day when the cab driver ordered them out of the vehicle.
"We were kissing and cuddled next to each other when a minute or two after picking us up he pulled over and told us to get out," Mr Sloan told ITV News.
When the couple asked why they were being evicted from the cab, the driver allegedly replied: "I take gays but they don't normally do this."
The driver has been suspended by Uber while the incident is investigated.
Watts, a 23-year-old hair stylist from Cardiff, said he was a bit "hot-headed" when he heard what the driver had said, accusing him of "disgusting homophobia".
Sloan, from Toronto, Canada, said: "I've never had any homophobic stuff happen to me so I was caught off guard. You don't expect it to happen in one of the world's biggest cities."
"I wanted to understand what he was thinking so I asked the driver: 'Would you do the same thing if it was a guy and a girl?'"
Sloan said the driver then drove away.
The couple were charged for the brief journey but later refunded.
Watts said he is "adamant" that he will never use an Uber cab again.
Asked whether the incident had put them both off moving to London in February, Sloan said: "No, London is a gorgeous city."
An Uber spokesperson told ITV News: “Uber does not tolerate any form of discrimination either by our partner drivers or towards our partner drivers.
"We opened an investigation from the moment we learned of this unacceptable incident and have been in contact with the rider to extended our sincere apologies and get further information.
"The driver concerned has been suspended from the Uber platform.”

Isabel Allende on How to Live Passionately

HAPPY NEW YEAR, dear readers.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year from London

Watch the awesome New Year London Fireworks in HD on full screen. HAPPY NEW YEAR