Category Archives: Language Learning and Teaching

The first 20 hours — how to learn anything

  1. deconstruct the skill: Euskera- listening, reading, pronunciation. Decide what you want to be able to do.
  2. learn enough to self-correct: Get books. Don’t procrastinate. Learn just enough that you can self-correct/self-edit as you practice
  3. remove barriers to practice: television, internet
  4. Practice at least 20 hrs: feeling stupid is a barrier to us, causing frustration and stopping us practicing.
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Potter

I would say this is one of my top words in English… The sounds, the sense. Ta ta.
Google says:
potter1
ˈpɒtə/
verb
gerund or present participle: pottering
  1. occupy oneself in a desultory but pleasant way.
    “I’m quite happy just to potter about by myself here”
    synonyms: do nothing much, amuse oneself, tinker about/around, fiddle about/around, footle about/around, do odd jobs; More
    • move or go in a casual, unhurried way.
      “I might potter into Nice for the day”
      synonyms: amble, wander, meander, stroll, saunter, maunder; More
Origin
mid 17th century (in the sense ‘poke repeatedly’): frequentative of dialect pote ‘to push, kick, or poke’ of unknown origin.
Also features in this lovely little remix of Harry Potter:

Speaking different languages, living in different countries, having many lovers, is a beautiful and at the same time terrible thing. Beautiful, in that you discover many things, and sad, because you find something really great (food, an expression, a custom, a personality trait, a body part) and then you miss that thing. In Buddhism, they call this sensation Impermanence. I’m no expert on the matter, but what I understood after my time at a 10 day silent meditation retreat (referred to by a dear friend of mine as Meditation Boot Camp) was that in trying to cling on to pleasure and being afraid of future pain is a cause of deep mental suffering.

 

 

 

How has a masters in Feminism changed my ESL teaching?

Completing a masters in Feminism and Gender, in my second language, while working part time, is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. My family and friends were mostly against it. “It won’t improve your job prospects” they told me, not realising that many jobs simply require a masters in a range of subjects, not just in a specific area.

Whether it is my pass into the upper middle class and financial stability or not, the masters changed me so much. I started out knowing that things were basically unfair, but the masters gave me specific tools to measure that unfairness, while the reading of various philosophers opened my mind to unthought of possibilities.

I make money to pay my rent through teaching. I started to notice the theory in real life. How boys readily answer questions more in class, how girls seem to like dancing and not play football.

Here are some practical things I do in my ESL classes now, since the masters:

I don’t treat all students the same

There is nothing more unequal than treating men and women the same. Women are discouraged from playing football, men singing and dancing. So I try to encourage each group in what their normally discouraged from.

Fancy dress is for everyone, as is singing and dancing
I have a big box of old fancy dress stuff to use in class to motivate younger kids to read. I let the boys pick first, and I also do their make up first for special events like Halloween.

I play football/soccer with the kids at break time

I’ve played football a handful of times. But when I’m teaching little kids, I make sure they see me playing football with them for a few minutes of their break.

I ignore the boys

When I’m answering a question from a girl, boys very often interrupt to ask their own question. I ignore them or say: Wait!

I let everyone answer

Every class when we are correcting, we go round in a circle and everyone gives one answer

I ask the girls what sport they did today

I believe that sport (or lack of access to sport) is a major part of modern female oppression, affecting physical and mental health, as well as with social and self-esteem implications. That’s why I ask the girls what sport they’ve done today.

I use a pink ball in class, with skipping ropes that have “boy” colours

Studies have shown that girls are more likely to use pink balls, while boys don’t necessarily associate skipping ropes with being “for girls”.

I don’t criticise myself

I don’t allow young women to hear me saying I’m on a diet or anything like that. Firstly, because I’m not, and secondly, because that’s harmful to them. I dress casually and spend a short amount of time each day on my appearance.

 

Do you think about gender equality in your classes? What things do you practice daily?

El mito del matriarcado*

“Es un matriarcado. Por eso, nadie folla” te dice el machuno. Es un machuno, pero si lo dices tú, sus amiguitos le defienden como “chico normal”, como si su clase social fuese excusa para comportarse como gilipollas. Soy güiri, entonces a los varones en País Vasco les encanta explicarme cosas, como las mujeres aquí son tan malas, etcetera.

Let’s break this down. Por qué no deconstruyamos la “lógica” de esta propuesta.

Primero, la definición de matriarcado. Vamos a utilizar el diccionario Real Academia Español, aunque cambiaron la definición de femenino como “débil” en el año 2014.

1. m. Organización social, tradicionalmente atribuida a algunos pueblos primitivos, en que el mando corresponde a las mujeres.

2. m. Predominio o fuerte ascendiente femenino en una sociedad o grupo.

Ahora bien, históricamente, Euskal Herria es una sociedad en la que mujeres pueden heredar, y administran el dinero de la familia. Pero siempre bajo la supervisión del cura. Para los vascos hoy en día, la definición moderna del matriarcado suele ser que la mujer controla el dinero del hombre, mientras los hombres juegan cartas y las mujeres se quedan en sus jaulas doradas con los críos.

Los vascos no follan por razones simples y que pasan en muchos sitios. Como mujer dentro de un patriarcado, para ganar en el juego con las reglas tal y como están, debes encontrar el hombre con los más recursos para ti. Si follas mucho, y es sabido que follas mucho, pierdes tu valor social, tanto aquí como en cualquier otro sitio. Las propias mujeres hacemos esto cuando llamamos a una chica “slut”, y tiene toda la lógica del mundo. Son principios económicos básicos. Si tu único poder es el sexo, si alguien lo da gratis, tienes menos poder, tu moneda tiene menos valor.

Euskal Herria es catolico, y también tiene cuadrillas. He estado igual 10 veces con una cuadrilla clásica, y experimente de primer mano como los varones controlan con quien las mujeres hablan. Me cogieron por el brazo si hable con alguien fuera del grupo para controlarme. En el momento, no hice nada, igual por shock, igual por coerción.

Luego, parece que muchos hombres de aquí no saben como ser amigos (o igual fingir serlo…) con las mujeres. A veces, hablar casualmente con un vasco tengo la sensación de que, psicológicamente, me está pegando en la cara. Me dicen que hablo con una voz demasiado alto, que debería comportarme mejor, que debería compartir cartas con mi pareja… En fin, queda claro que no tienen experiencia de jugar con las niñas, que no tienen ninguna idea de como relacionarse con las mujeres.

Y no follar? Pues, si fuese un matriarcado, habrá mucho más sexo, ya que las mujeres pueden tener orgasmos multiples y que nuestra sexualidad no es limitada a una erection que dura muy poco tiempo.

One love bonobos!

 

*Escrito en castellenglish. Va a haber errores. Deal with it.

The Marshlands (La isla mínima)

Director: Alberto Rodríguez
Writers: Rafael Cabos, Alberto Rodríguez

One of the most well made films I’ve seen in Spanish. A police drama rich in sociopolitical commentary, reminiscent of True Detective.

The ending is bitter sweet; some criminals walk free.

Director: Alberto Rodríguez
Escritores: Rafael Cabos, Alberto Rodríguez

Una de las mejores hechas películas en castellano. Una drama policiaca que recuerda de True Detective.

Eo final es agridulce; algunos criminales están libres.