Romance, is it dead?

It’s summer. Classes are scarce and topics are light. I haven’t been very active writing this blog, but now I switched into summer mode and the few classes I do have are relaxed and easy-going.

I chose a song to do with my 15-year-old student. It’s a song from my teenage years. I loved it then and have discovered that I still like it. However, what really made it my choice for the class was the comment under the exercise which read:

“I’m Gonna Be ( 500 miles)  was originally written and sung by the Scottish group The Proclaimers in 1988. It was the favourite song of Ling Hsueh,who lives in south-east China.When her boyfriend,Liu Peiwen, asked her to marry him in 2011,she accepted. However,she joked that it was on condition that he walked to her door from his home in Henan Province-1000 miles away. To her surprise, he did exactly that.”

( English file 3rd edition Teacher’s Book Intermediate)

I asked her what she thought about the comment,not hiding my delight that a young man would do anything like that in the 21st century. I was quite sure that romance had been buried away together with poetry books and had no place in the time of Internet-based relationships,speed dating and Twitter. Unfortunately, neither the song nor the comment provoked any reaction  from her.So here’s the song and the lyrics:

I was a bit frustrated  by the girl’s lack of interest. Fortunately, I found  a live version of the song from 2014 which proves that romantic songs still have their many admirers. But what do you think, is romance dead? Summer seems to be the right season to ask such a question!

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50 Shades of Air

“Air hasn’t got any shades”, you’d say. Of course not, but only by chance, while I was looking up words and idioms  related to the word AIR for my FCE class, I found that my favourite online dictionary http://www.cambridge.org  had exactly 50 entries, related to this word together  with examples and even a translation into Spanish, which will make most of our students more than happy.

Here’s the first and most general definition:

The mixture of gases we breathe; the atmosphere

You might have noticed , if you are a music lover, that song writers are quite often inspired by nothing, that is to say, by air :

What seems to blend very well is LOVE and AIR. Here are two music videos but if you are interested you might want to explore the countless variations on the topic and let us know which one is your personal favourite.

Air keeps inspiring young artists as well ( I guess this one will be happy to find he’s been linked to aanyone’s blog, have you heard of him? );

http://www.directlyrics.com/shawn-mendes-something-big-lyrics.html

not to mention poets;

http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/april/

http://hellopoetry.com/words/335/air/poems/

So  if you’d like to find out which the remaining 49 shades of air are, here is the link to the dictionary entry that triggered this post. Mind you , there might be another post coming up inspired by nothing, as spring  and love are in the air!

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english-spanish/air_1

 

Dream on

The year is coming to its end. Time for checking out if we’ve  managed to  make some of our last New Year’ s resolutions come true and  making a brand new and, at the same time, desperately old resolution list for the year to come.

I know that most  language students have ” Study English” on their lists every year . It’s always there, just under “Do more exercise” or “Go to the gym”. But that doesn’t matter.

What is important is its presence. The moment it’s not on the list is the moment when you’ll start forgetting what you have learned. It’s important to stick to your dreams and mastering English is a dream easy to fulfill. All it needs is a little patience and time.

“Dream On Dreamer” The Brand New Heavies, the link to the video clip is just under the lyrics.

The autumn rain is falling down

Through the clouds, hits the ground
Wash away, traces in the sand

Yesterday, so far away
You disappeared, love was here
I close my eyes to be with you again

You’re still alive, the world is in your hand

Dream on dreamer
And the sun will always shine down on you
Keep on dreaming
It’s alright, feel alive

Dream on dreamer
And the world keeps spinning
Round and round you go
Don’t stop dreaming
It’s alright, we’re alive

(We’re alive)

I write your name, across the sky
I’ll be with you til the end of time
Don’t wake me up, I’m reaching for your hands

I’ll never go to break your heart
No matter if you’re near or far
Just close your eyes to be with me again

You’re still alive, the world is in your hand

Dream on dreamer
And the sun will always shine down on you
Keep on dreaming
It’s alright, feel alive

Dream on dreamer
And the world keeps spinning around and around you
Go, don’t stop dreaming
It’s alright, we’re alive

Dream on dreamer
And the sun will always shine down on you
Keep on dreaming
It’s alright, feel alive

Dream on dreamer
And the world keeps spinning around and around you
Go, don’t stop dreaming
It’s alright, we’re alive

The other New year’s resolution on our lists is often “Travel more”. Here is a link that should spark off your imagination.Dream on!

Ice and Fire

Fire and Ice  by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
SOME SAY THE WORLD WILL END IN FIRE,

SOME SAY IN ICE.

FROM WHAT I’VE TASTED OF DESIRE

I HOLD WITH THOSE WHO FAVOR FIRE,

BUT IF IT HAD TO PERISH TWICE,

I THINK I KNOW ENOUGH OF HATE

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/11/lima-climate-talks-fail-agreement-single-paragraph-deal

TO SAY THAT FOR DESTRUCTION ICE

IS ALSO GREAT

AND WOULD SUFFICE.

 

 

Parody, Satire, Irony

Even after years of study, most students find it quite hard to understand parody and satire. Very often I  have an embarrassingly lonely laugh in the classroom while watching a video  clip or movie with students, often having to explain what is so funny. Being a teacher I most patiently do so, but still feel somewhat upset that language students, or speakers of  foreign languages in general, miss a great deal of  meaning just because we don’t know the language well enough, not to mention the ignorance we show towards certain cultures.

In a way, learners of English have a huge advantage over  any other language learners, as English is the easiest to access not only in its  numerous dialects and versions, but also in all shades of register.

Surfing the Internet you are likely to spend hours just jumping from one to another funny song parody, movie parody or political parody. It’s been a difficult task to choose some for this post!

First of all, let’s see the definition of the two words in  The Cambridge online dictionary:

Parody
writing, music, art, speech, etc. that intentionally copies the style of someone famous or copies a particular situation, making the features or qualities of the original more noticeable in a way that is humorous.

Satire

a way of criticizing people or ideas in a humorous way, or a piece of writing or play that uses this style . Example:

The next link is a video explaining hashtags . The presenter’s style is also quite ironical and therefore very funny! But first the definition:

Irony

situation in which something which was intended to have a particular result has the opposite or a very different result.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/video/2014/dec/05/hashtags-rule-video

Hashtags are being ridiculed in this parody video of a Robin Thicke’s song. WARNING strong language used

And to some up here are The Britishes a parody of Downton Abby, which has recently been mentioned in one of our posts.

Have fun!

 

 

Heart and Soul vs. Heart in Boots

Today I’ll just  have to pour my heart out to you and admit  that this is exactly what I’ve been afraid of when starting this blog – I’m blocked! I  have put my heart and soul into today’s post, but it just isn’t working out they way I’d want it to!

I thought talking about THE HEART would be an easy guideline.Not so. I’ve been struggling to put together a string of songs, poetry and idioms as well as serious articles on heart conditions or heartless acts and it just won’t work out! It made my heart sink.

However, in my heart of hearts I know you have spent the week in heartfelt expectation to hear what’s been near to my heart these days, so I just don’t have the heart to let you down.

Don’t lose heart! Read on! This just must work out somehow. I know you guy’s have your hearts in the right place and won’t take  one lousy post too much to heart.Nevertheless, I will be eating my heart out waiting for your likes and if there aren’t any,that would definitely break my heart.

Have  a heart! Check out this link with the idioms I’ve used and try to learn some by heart.

Please don’t set your heart against idioms using the word HEART. For a moment, you might even feel your heart beat faster or you might  have a hearty laugh!

http://www.idiomconnection.com/heart.html

P.S. I had a lot of fun in the end trying to use as many idioms as possible with ony one word. You can try it out with another word. For example ,FOOT. It seems like an interesting group of idioms to play with!

http://www.idiomconnection.com/legfoot.html

 

Nature’s greatest masterpiece

You might have noticed that we like TED talks and TED-Ed. The other day I received another TED-Ed  video, which I would like to share with you. It’s about  elephants and memory. In a recent blog we talked about repetition and memory, so today’s focus is on elephants.

In the video, the following John Donne’s quote is mentioned:

” Nature’s greatest masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great thing”

I found the explanation about why elephants attack villages fascinating. They actually remember the people who have hurt them. Therefore the expression: to  have a memory like an elephant.

As I myself am a great elephant lover, I stubbornly watch every documentary on elephants that’s on, even though the information often repeats. If you feel like finding out more about elephants as well as practicing your listening comprehension here’s an excellent documentary from BBC :

Elephants have formed a part of our childhood. Many of us cried  and felt sorry for poor Dumbo. Do you  remember the scene with pink elephants? You might not know that it relates to an idiom: to see pink elephants, which means to be intoxicated; recovering from a drinking bout; having the delirium tremens.

e.g. When I got to the point of seeing pink elephants, I knew that something had to be done.The old one who’s shakinghe’s probably seeing snakes. (N.B. You can also see snakes and spiders.)

Here they are: pink elephants on parade.  Just be patient and wait for the  lyrics to start.

There are some more idioms and expressions mentioning elephants. I came across this blog, which explains them very well:

http://the-english-spot.blogspot.com.es/2009/08/idioms-slang-elephants-from.html

I can go on and on about elephants, from serious to silly and back. And I will:

Serious: The Elephant man.

I remember watching this film when I was really young. The whole atmosphere was so oppressive and gloomy that I couldn’t fall asleep that night. I was thinking about the cruelty this person had been treated with and how little kindness he had received, just for the fact of being ugly and different. Here is the story of the real elephant man;

and  a documentary about the studies of his remains, which may eventually help us find a cure for cancer.

To finish off lightly, I ‘ll quote Dr. Seuss: ” I meant what I said and said what I meant, an elephant’s faithful one-hundred percent.”  (from “Horton hatches an egg”)

When we teach children English we start off with colours and shapes and family members, often forgetting the beautiful rhymes  from our childhood. If you started learning English late and never had an opportunity to read or hear any children’s books, give this story a go.  You will surely enjoy it!