A TOUR AROUND THE WORLD
Did you know that there are specific hospitals and ambulances for koalas in Australia, or that there is a Woodfest in Wales in which artists create wooden sculptures using chainsaws? These are just a few examples of the many interesting facts that students from 1º B, C and E have discovered and shared with their classmates lately.
Our students-travellers-explorers have recently prepared and delivered oral presentations on a wide variety of English-speaking countries. Before starting their research, however, they were offered guidelines and theoretical advice on how to create a formal, academic presentation; basic notions regarding contrasting of information and referencing, for example, were tackled. Then they were presented with a map and list of countries in which English is the/a main/official/co-official language and given the name of the country to research.
The aim of the project was threefold: 1) (fully) open their eyes to (some of) the (implications behind the) predominance and great importance of English in today’s world; its use in everyday life certainly trespasses the frontiers of the UK, and well-known countries like the USA, Australia or New Zealand, for example 2) learn about different countries and their cultures from various perspectives (the ones students chose: sport, history, food, environment, flora, fauna, music, etc.) 3) offer them the tools to approach, in a very basic manner, the world of academic research.
I include below a brief summary of the work carried out by the students in their tour around the world, and some of their presentations:
Australia: Ángel Y., Cristian and David taught us about Captain James Cook, a British explorer who established the first European settlement on the island. They also told us about the Great Barrier Reef, and commented on some interesting facts about Koala bears and Kangaroos, for example.
Bahamas: Carla explained that The Bahamas is an island country which actually includes over 700 islands. Bahamas is the place where Christopher Columbus first arrived in his 1492 expedition to the New World. Well-known for its beautiful beaches, Bahamas is a rich state whose economy is based on tourism and finance.
Botswana: Javier and Julio told us about Botswana, an interesting yet unknown country with a population of about two million people. One of the world’s largest reserves of diamonds, Botswana is also an interesting country in terms of fauna, yet it is also one of the hardest hit by HIV and AIDS worldwide.
Canada: Alex B. and Daniela showed us some of Canada’s beautiful natural landscapes. They also explained about the predominance of French over English in the State of Quebec and talked about very important cities such as Montreal or Toronto.
England: Ángel T. and Paula talked about Saint George (England’s Patron Saint), about England’s National Football Team, and referred to the importance of English airplanes during WWI. On the more cultural side, they taught us about Freddy Mercury and John Lennon.
India: As Alex S. and Andrea explained, India is a country full of contrasts. Its flora is one of the richest in the world and its fauna is likewise varied and exotic: there you can find elephants, Bengal tigers, leopards, sloth bears, and rhinos, among others.
We were taught about Gandhi and its role in Indian history, and about the fact that “the Jewel of the Crown”, as the British used to call India, is extremely rich in spices and tea production. Its links to the UK are also clear in the world of sports, as cricket and polo are still very popular there.
Ireland: Alba, Maksim and Natalia told us about Saint Patrick and the origins of this festivity and made us hungry by explaining about typical dishes like Boxty and Coddle.
Jamaica: Laura and Lucía R. explained about the Jonkanoo and Nine Night traditions of this former British territory. We also learnt, for example, about the differences between plantains and bananas, two typical types of fruit grown in this country.
Malaysia: From Maricruz we learnt that Malaysia became part of the British Empire in the 18th century. Today, it is a constitutional monarchy and the majority of the population is Muslim.
Malta: Daniel G. and Leymar told us about this very small country of just over 316Km2; it is a trendy tourist destination where English is very predominant for historical reasons. Its capital city, Valletta, is especially popular.
New Zealand: with Estefanía, Leyre and Nayra students learnt about the origins of New Zealanders (European and Maori). They also learnt about Pakeha culture and about the meaning and importance of tattoos for Maori people; we also learnt about explorer Sir Edmund Hillary, and kiwi birds.
Northern Ireland: Enrique, Lucía L., Marcos, Marta L. and Roberto talked about The Titanic Museum, about poet Derek Mahon, and about actor Liam Neeson, among other things.
Pakistan: Ángel O., David and Mario talked about Pakistan, a member of the Commonwealth once under British rule. They especially focused on the conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.
Scotland: As Alberto, Daniel B., Estela, Inés, María, Nicolás and Sofía noted, traditionally, Kenneth MacAlpin has been considered the first king of Scotland. As they also pointed out, this land of beautiful castles was an important industrial power in Europe during the Industrial Revolution.
Singapore: As Hiba explained, if you are willing to see amazing skyscrapers or can afford to swim in the Infinity Pool –a luxurious swimming pool on top of a 57-floor building-, that’s definitely the place to visit!
South Africa: Adrián, Carmen, Nerea, and Nicolás E. told us about Nelson Mandela and apartheid. They also focused on the rich and varied biodiversity of this country.
USA: Candela, Catalina, Daniel J., Iida and Miguel gave us a tour around some of the country’s best-known landmarks: the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Mount Rushmore, The Empire State Building and The White House. They also explained about the origins and meaning of Thanksgiving Day, a deeply rooted American tradition, and about some of the best known American Presidents: Lincoln, Kennedy, and Obama.
Wales: Aitor and Diana offered a tour around some of Wales’ most important castles: Beaumaris, Harlech, Caernarfon. We also learnt about a festival called Woodfest and, on the culinary side, we discovered all about Welsh faggots.
Esther Pérez, English teacher.
Mediaeval castles, fortresses, maps and intricate natural landscapes are some of the settings that students from 1º B have recently recreated and explored in the English class. Students were requested to work in small groups to design a place -real or imaginary- to shelter a treasure. Then they wrote texts on their poster boards with instructions and clues for the members in the other groups to follow if willing to find that treasure… And all of them turned out to be successful treasure hunters!
Ángel, Cristian, Nacho and Ramón made us travel to a far away imaginary location full of castles, dragons, and dungeons. Jhoel, Leyre, Maksim and Miguel took us on a trip to a castle-fortress with a myriad of doors; Julio, Leymar and Reda designed an imaginary universe which mixed natural and urban spaces, while Daniel, Lucía and Unai made us travel to an ‘Ice Mountain’.
This group activity aimed to encourage the students’ creativity, develop their skills to negotiate meaning and reach agreement as a group. Grammatically, this task allowed students to work on simple narratives and descriptions, on giving directions and revising the use of prepositions.
I include below photos of the students and their work.
Esther Pérez, English teacher.
TRAVELLING WITH (THE) ENGLISH
Students from 3º B have been travelling both in time and space to learn about different cultural and historical aspects and characters from countries connected to the UK in one way or another. Their journey has entailed doing research on a given topic, preparing a presentation and delivering it in class. Prior to this, some theoretical sessions were devoted to address different issues concerning the creation of formal presentations. Special emphasis was placed on the importance of research and contrasting of information, on ‘signposting’ through verbal language to guide audiences, and on correct referencing.
Presentations were prepared individually in order to allow each student to specialize in a particular topic. Sharing of more general knowledge took place when the students delivered their presentations in front of their classmates and teacher.
The topics covered by students were the following:
Language and Literature:
Alba offered a diachronic journey through time to tell us about The Origin of the English language. As she showed, English owes much to Roman and French travellers-conquerors who settled in Britain and highly influenced the evolution of this language.
Gabriela made us travel back to present times and talked about The English language in the world today. Among other things, she offered a mapping of where it is spoken, and explained the main differences between British and American English.
Alejandro delivered a presentation on Shakespeare, the greatest English writer ever and certainly a big influence on the evolution of English. The life and work of two other important writers (and experienced travellers!) were also the subject of two more presentations: Daniel R. worked on British writer George Orwell and Daniel S. talked about American author Ernest Hemingway.
History and Politics:
María R. delivered a presentation on the Relationship between Ireland and the UK. She taught about Oliver Cromwell, Northern Ireland, Ireland’s republicanism and process of independence, and the IRA.
Juan made us cross the ocean with his presentation The Birth of the USA while Andrés’ interesting work addressed different aspects concerning The British and the American Political Systems –he talked about political institutions and main parties, and about the current political scenario in both countries.
Eva travelled even further away to offer her research on The Origins of Australia and New Zealand. She explained about aboriginal culture and the isles’ subsequent white settlers, among other things.
Jara talked about the already mentioned countries and added many more to the list, as she delivered a presentation on The British Empire.
Culture, Society and Tourism:
Antonio took us on a trip around the UK to talk about The British Educational System. He focused especially on Secondary and Higher education.
We remained in the UK for a little longer to hear María S.’s presentation on Traditions and festivals in the UK, and Beatriz’s work about Religion in the UK. She told us about the Church of England and its origins, and about some other popular Christian groups; she also made references to the new faiths that immigration has introduced in Britain.
Senén travelled both in time and space to explore the world of British and American Popular Music, and María José, Sonia and Isabel served as efficient ‘tourist-guides’ and took us all on a tour around some of the Most interesting Places to visit in England, Ireland and Wales, respectively.
Below you can find some of these presentations:
Esther Pérez (English Teacher)
THE TOURIST PRAYER
Travelling is fun, exciting, a highly recommended learning experience… but it does not always necessarily come smooth. That is especially the case when you travel abroad; you can have some of your greatest life experiences in foreign countries, but you may also find yourself in rather funny situations (in both senses of the word). This may happen when you put your foot in it because local customs are alien to you, or because you don’t speak the natives’language, for example.
In a comic manner,The Tourist’s Prayer explores some of the funny (and not so funny) experiences that domestic and foreigntourists may experience when travelling. This is a real text which was written on a wall in a Backpackers Youth hostel in Dublin years ago –perhaps it is still there. When I first read it I couldn’t help smiling and decided to write it all down on a piece of paper and bring it home with me –weird as it may sound, mobile phones were not widely available then and therefore taking a ‘screen shot’ of the text was not an option. I have recently learnt that there are alternative versions of this Prayer available elsewhere.
The Tourist´s Prayer seems an appropriate source in the classroom for its formal, rich and varied use of vocabulary, among other reasons.We worked on a Spanish translation of the text, which students found quite challenging, as they are not used to working with this type of formal, ‘poetic’ texts. We likewise explored other issues, such as its outdated technological references, and its (potentially funny for some, potentially offensive for others) gender stereotypes. Finally, students were requested to reflect upon their own experiences and anecdotes as tourists/travellers and write their own Tourist’s Prayers. Some of their (great!) productions are included below:
Have you ever considered taking a journey to the ‘insides’ of cinema and becoming a star? Students from 3º B have already taken that trip and have really enjoyed it!
We first devoted a few theoretical sessions to talk about cinema and filmmaking. Aided by a Powerpoint presentation, we tackled issues regarding script-writing, framing (camera movements, types of shots, camera angles) and editing, among others. We also devoted some time to travel in space and identify some characteristics ‘typical’ of different national film traditions.
Once this theoretical exploration was complete, students got into small groups and started the challenging yet fascinating journey of creating their own short films! They wrote their own original scripts and submitted them for correction and feedback. Then they explored the next steps in the process: recording and editing.
When their short films were finished we were then ready to devote a couple of sessions to watch all of them and discuss about them.
And, the winner is…
Finally in our journey, in a cozy ‘Oscar-like’ ceremony, award certificates were issued and given to the winners of the following categories–Best Film, Actress and Actor (successful candidates were chosen by students) and Best Script (winners chosen by the teacher):
Best Script: Darling
Best Actor: Juan
Best Actress: María José
Best Film: Full-time Screen.
To conclude, here is a summary of all the students’ impressive work:
Abuse (by Beatriz, Jara, María R. and María S.): it is a politically-committed piece which addresses the problem of gender abuse and male violence against women and, especially, against female teenagers. It includes a theoretical/technical approach to the meaning of abuse and its causes and a clear message to abused women: don’t delay in any way your journey to FREEDOM!
Darling (by Eva, Gabriela, Isabel, María José and Sonia): this complex short film is full of flashbacks and takes us on a trip through the inner world of the protagonists’ feelings. It explores the consequences of the past in the characters’ present lives and relationships, as well as the negative power of revenge as a driving force in life.
Full-time screen (by Andrés, Antonio, Juan and Daniel R.): outstanding in terms of formal editing, this short film is also remarkable in terms of content. In fact, both form and content coherently offer a mature, reflexive exploration of new technologies and their effects on human relationships. The loneliness experienced by individuals (in spite of/partly because of the existence of social networks, for example) is well expressed not only through script but also through mise-en-scène. The film also invites spectators to embark on the journey of undertaking more quality, face-to-face interaction.
This Mean War (by Alba, Alejandro, Daniel S. and Senén): this black and white short film takes us on a tour to 1920s America and the world dominated by Mafia gangs. It successfully explores some of the conventions typical of film noir.
Well done, all of you! I’m proud of your work!
Esther Pérez (English Teacher)
En el aula de 3ºC bilingüe, se ha leído “Exploring places”, un recorrido desde los primeros pueblos que se dedicaron a explorar sus alrededores hasta llegar al espacio exterior y las profundidades marinas.
A partir de esta lectura los alumnos han realizado distintos proyectos en grupo que han sido expuestos en clase: grandes viajes, aventuras y exploraciones desde las antiguas civilizaciones hasta la estación espacial.
Además se han visionado trocitos de películas y documentales en los que se reflejaban todos estos hechos y los alumnos han comprobado cómo los típicos tópicos que rodean a estos pueblos aventureros a lo largo de los tiempos aparecían reflejados en los audiovisuales.
A continuación os mostramos algunos de los trabajos realizados por los alumnos.
Isabel Maluenda, profesora de Inglés.