Online talk with Adam Broughton about how to learn English

by Noureddine Charfeddine

On Friday November 26th at 1:00 p.m. (Madrid time), I attended an online talk delivered by Adam Broughton aimed at students and teachers from EOI Valdemoro. Adam is an English teacher who wrote a book titled How to English: 31 days to be an independent English learner. Adam’s book is an Amazon bestseller which everybody is talking about. Earning a lot of praise that has generated attention and a desire to read it.

Adam started his talk by saying “The learning process can be very frustrating”. The main goal of any learner is to continue making progress, which makes failing to achieve this target deeply disappointing, and could therefore put people off of the learning process. He highlighted that the learning process is not linear and each learner could show “flat learning periods”, but the most important thing is to keep improving your skills.

During his career as a teacher, the worst thing that he has had to deal with is learner frustration. He discerned three kinds of learner’s frustration:

  • Complete stagnation: students staying at B level for life
  • Slow death: students who have reached a high level of English, even if they have had an immersive experience in a native speaking country, and then stop improving upon their English knowledge.
  • The roller coaster: students with an irregular approach to learning.

It’s argued that living in an English-speaking country is the best solution for making progress, yet according to Adam that is an opportunity that some are able to take advantage of and some aren’t. The solution for making progress depends on what each learner does outside the classroom. This could include factors such as daily use of English and the opportunity to practice in their social environment.

Every English learner needs a foundation level of the language, which includes vocabulary, grammar, etc. Once a learner reaches that level he should start being an independent learner little by little. Indeed, what helps a learner to improve their level is to make everything they learn 100% relevant to them. He stated “Learn what you need to know”, that is the key point of his new way to learning English.

Thereafter, he gave some tips to help make progress:

Firstly, in Adam’s point of view, what prevents B level students to reach C1 level is their mistakes. According to Adam, if we ignore our mistakes we will not be able to make progress. Each learner should, as much as possible, identify and write down a list of their common mistakes and should map out a plan for correcting them.

Secondly, the learner should focus their effort on practising their weaknesses instead of practising their strengths. He also said, “simply look for what you most avoid, to identify what your weaknesses are”.

To improve listening skills Adam has recommended doing regular dictations. He said that Ted Talks could be a useful audio source that we can listen to and write down what we are able to understand and then we can check with the original transcription on the Ted Talk website. He stated that dictation is a perfect way to practice listening and spelling simultaneously.

Regarding how to improve speaking skills, Adam claimed that the easier way is to speak to ourselves about anything we are doing or thinking about. He said, “look around and describe everything you can see, if you don’t know how to say something in English, then ask your teacher”. When it comes to fluency, reading aloud an English text for 5 minutes each day could be very helpful.

To conclude, Adam reminded us that making progress is the best way to avoid frustration, which mainly depends on what we do outside the classroom. In other words, learning should not be done randomly, and should instead be related to our use of English. The key point is how we make the most of our contact with English to improve our knowledge of the language.

Sound of Metal

by Noelia Miralles

The fact that this film has been nominated for the Oscars Awards speaks volumes about its quality. The plot focuses on how the main character called Ruben, a heavy metal drummer, dramatically starts losing his hearing. At the beginning of the movie, he realizes that it is not a minor hearing loss but he is actually going completely deaf. Ruben was also a recovering addict who uses his drums as a relief to distract himself from his demons and makes him feel better. So, for him losing his hearing constitutes a dramatic episode in his life.

What is so interesting is how you can empathize and feel the protagonist’s anxiety. Thanks to the sound design of the movie, you can perceive the deafness of hearing through muffled sounds, unintelligible conversations or just silence. The exceptional performance of the actors helps to enhance this effect. Definitely, what I really enjoyed the most was how he starts to learn the importance of the acceptance of his deafness and how he learns to live with it as part of his life, finding calm and peace in it. All in all, in life there are things that you just cannot fix.

In conclusion, it is well worth seeing and it might change the way you perceive deaf people. Once you watch it, you will understand why it has been nominated. Don’t miss it!

Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins

by Tomás Díaz Mas

I recently saw the Oscar nominated film The Father and I am compelled to say that I got flabbergasted by Mr. Hopkins’ performance. In my opinion, his impersonation of an old man struggling with dementia in this film is the icing in the cake regarding his cinematic career. No wonder he has been nominated to the Academy Awards as best actor in a leading role, becoming the oldest actor to be nominated in this category. It is incredible how at 83 he is able to show us that he is still the best actor ever.

This outstanding actor, composer, film director and producer was born in Wales in the last day of the year 1937. In his vast career (he started in 1960), he has won a countless variety of accolades and awards. In 1993, he was knighted by Queen Elisabeth II for services to the arts. Later, in 2003 he received a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood.

Mr. Hopkins has proven not only an undeniable talent, high skills and versatility in his jobs along his life, but he has also shown us his wisdom, sensibility and quality as a human being.

If Anything Happens I Love You

by Irene Calero

The reason for the success of some films is that they are based on real life. This allows the spectator to empathize with the characters and be part of the story somehow. This happen for sure with this animation film.

The plot of the story focusses on some grieving parents who are coping with the death of her daughter in a high school shooting. As you can imagine there are some many aspects to reflect on if you watch this film. First and foremost this short film makes you think about life, the sense of it and how easily it goes. Further to this, it makes you think about how to deal with the death of a family member. Moreover you reflect on how amidst bad moments we have to try to support each other to keep on living. According to experts, there are some specific phases that everybody pass through because it is a natural process. Despite of this, those parents whose daughter or son have died share a deep sorrow which is extremely difficult to live with. It has to be hard to get over that kind of deaths. Nevertheless, there is a bright side in this darkness. The film shows the importance to bring back memories of this person because by doing this we maintain them alive somehow.

I strongly recommend this animated film because it is quite emotional, stirring and touching. Still further, it goes without saying that all of us have lived the death of a family member, so we can connect with the story easily. Eventually, you could think that it is a sad film to see but, believe me, a lot of emotions would come to your mind in twelve minutes. It is definitely worth seeing.

The Father

by José Antonio Sánchez Mingorance

Florian Zeller adapts his successful play Le père to the cinema eight years after its premiere in French theatres. The story is a drama with thriller overtones since you cannot trust the information you are seeing at any time because there is no reliable narrator, and they keep confusing us so that we feel we are in the protagonist’s shoes.

Anthony, an 80-year-old Londoner who suffers from dementia of which he is unaware, insists on living alone. His daughter Anne tries to help him, first by finding a nurse to stay with him in his flat and then by taking him to her own home.

Regarding the cast, Olivia Colman does an exceptional job and is nominated for best supporting actress. Anthony Hopkins is nominated for best leading actor and does a sublime job. He has always been pigeonholed as a bad boy, yet throughout this film he makes us laugh, get angry, get mad and we end up empathising with the character so much that we feel his pain. It could be said that the role has been tailor-made for him. Both the character and the actor share name and date of birth. In fact, Zeller sent Hopkins the script in 2017 and waited for a reply. The soundtrack is not remarkable. However, together with an excellent photography, they manage to create that living-in-the-past atmosphere.

I would like to finish by saying that diseases and catastrophes in general are very recurrent topics in drama films. In this case, the story is not original; the way it is told is, though. It reminds me of the movie The Others by Alejandro Amenábar, where everything that happened disconcerted you until the end when you become aware of the reality. A good work that undoubtedly deserves the BEST PICTURE award.


By Ismael Moreno Serrano

Next April will bring another special night for all of us who enjoy films. Despite the fact that COVID-19 is changing the way awards are given, this night will be such a special one, above all for one of the nominees, Glenn Close.

Glenn Close was born in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA, in March 1947 so she is 74 right now. Her father was an important doctor and she has two sisters and two brothers who were adopted by her parents when they lived in Africa. She herself has a son. Glenn Close studied theater and philosophy in USA and even studied in Switzerland for some time.

The first steps acting were in theatres, where she was training as an actress, combining her work for television and acting in important theatres of Broadway. After that, she started her film career in The World According to Garp, where she got a chance of playing the role of Robin Williams´ mother, getting her first Oscar nomination but not the prize.

During the 1980´s, she was trying to play other roles because she wanted to avoid being pigeonholed with maternal roles. Thus, in 1987, Glenn Close played what is considered the best role in her career until now, when she starred in Fatal Attraction, a psychological suspense movie with Michael Douglas. She was nominated for the Oscars due to the memorable performance in the movie, but again, she didn´t get the award.

Later, in the 1990´s, she played her first role in a film adaptation of Hamlet and participated in the cast of The House of the Spirits, with Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep among others figures. However, in this decade, she did radically opposite jobs, participating in eccentric movies like Mars Attack and movies based on fairy tales like Hook.  Nevertheless, the most important work that she did in that time was when she played a leading role of Cruella DeVil in 101 Dalmatians.

From 2000 until now, Glenn Close has been working steadily in film, theatre and television. She has numerous awards under her belt and nominations such as eight Oscar nominations for best actress and best supporting actress, three Golden Globes´ awards, two Bafta nominations for best actress and so on. But what has impressed me the most is neither her talent nor her accomplishment but her solidarity because she plays an active role in defending women’s rights and mental health as well.

On a personal note, with this play she has stepped out of her comfort zone, overcoming any type of stereotype due to his age. Needless to say, by running for this award against actresses younger than her, Glenn Close shows that there is nothing to be afraid of, let alone winning the Oscar for the first time after 8 nominations. There is no doubt that old-school acting has a lot to say in this Oscar edition, where the target audience, like population, have undoubtedly matured.


by Vanesa Martínez Tamargo

Before the Oscar Awards nominations, I watched the movie by chance. Nevertheless what attracted me the most from the movie was the fact that it was based on a true story. I must confess that I love those movies.

In the 1960’s, during the Vietnam War, many American citizens, mostly the younger ones, were drafted. The film epitomizes the reality that Americans were facing: the death of their younger generation without any remorse from the government.

Several non-profit organisations wanted to express their disagreement and protest against the situation. Furthermore, they wanted to do it in a peaceful and therefore non-violent way. They asked for permission through the legal procedures, yet all of them were denied.

Seven of them were put on a trial that in fact was a political one. During the trial, it was remarkable that the supposedly future sentence given was served beforehand. What is more, all the extenuating circumstances fell on deaf ears by the judge that also dared to refuse a key testimony from former United States Attorney General. As a consequence, the doom and gloom of the defense attorney and the accused increased. As the trial continued, they foresaw no hope acquittal.

To conclude, I highly recommend watching the movie. It has an outstanding cast (I fell in love with Eddie Redmayne’s performance in The Danish Girl) that is able to unleash your emotions of feeling helpless against the powerful.


by Claudia Molina López

According to some experts’ opinions, the films that have been nominated for best movie, intend to raise awareness about social problems and to contribute to a higher acceptance of several forms of social exclusion that they deal with.

The plot of the majority of these nominated movies is about social activism, health disease or representative events in history. In my humble opinion, only one of these films invites the audience to dream and escape from reality: and it is Nomadland.

To start with, this amazing film presents the life of a nomad woman who lives in a van as she decides to travel and to live experiences in order to create fascinating memories. Furthermore, she defines herself as ‘houseless’ and she explains that she adopted this way of living from her father.

This story reminds us of the hippie movement that took place in the 1960s, when people travelled all around the country and, moreover, enjoyed of landscapes, met different people and went through different adventures.

The actress and the spectacular setting attracted the reviewers apart from the millions of viewers that have seen the film. I highly recommend Nomadland because not only is it one of the judges’ favourites, but it also encourages us to experience unique feelings and places. I strongly believe that watching Nomadland is a must.

Berlin, The City of Memory

By Yolanda Torrijos López

Those who attended the “30 years of Germany reunification. Berlin: History and Cinema” talk by Celia Martínez García, Doctor in History of Cinema, could witness how it is possible to know the history of a town through cinema. On this occasion, the leading character was played by the German city of Berlin.

       On September 2nd, 1945, Germany surrendered unconditionally, which meant the end of World War II. Nevertheless, it also meant tremendous material, human and emotional destruction.

       Shortly after, the whole territory was divided into four zones of occupation: Soviet, American, English and French. The capital, the city of Berlin, though technically part of the Soviet zone, was also split, with Soviets taking the eastern side of the city and The United States, England and France sharing the western side. The relationship between both parts would dramatically end up with the construction of the wall, which will be crucial for the city economic and social development. English historian Tony Judt in his work “Post-war” recalls a sentence that Germans exchanged days before the end of the war: “Enjoy the war because peace will be terrible”.

       In 1948, Italian director Roberto Rossellini, in Germania, Anno Zero, makes visible a city sunk in misery and despair. However, German citizens took that situation as a starting point to start from scratch.

       On August 18th, 1961, after years of disagreements with two currencies and two politic ideals, the wall is built, keeping families and friends separated for 28 years. That new tragedy for Berlin inhabitants will be the main topic in films as Escape from East Berlin (by Robert Slodmak, 1962), produced from Eastern Germany’s point of view and Funeral in Berlin (by Guy Hamilton, 1966), with a westerner’s viewpoint.

       Later, in the ‘70s, the differences between the two Berlins regarding Architecture and, above all, ideology will be clearer as it is reflected in Die Legende von Paul und Paula (The legend of Paul and Paula, by Heiner Carow, 1973).

       During the next decade appears a new model of German cinema which searches for its own identity, making it clear that what best defines Germany are its ruins, perfectly exhibited in Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of desire, by Win Wenders, 1987).

       On November 11th, 1989, the wall is knocked down so it is time for eastern citizens to rebuild the country from inside. At once, the appearance of certain “order” disappears when this side is, literally, swallowed by the western side. The film Good Bye, Lenin! by Wolfgang Becker, 2003, sets out some critics to the German Democratic Republic State’s Socialism just as Capitalism established after the wall’s fall.

       The film-documentary Der Duft des Westpakets (The Scent of the Western Package, by Brit-J. Grundel and Maja Stieghorst, 2019) is one of the latest manifestations of its longing for the old Democratic Republic. On it, we are the eyewitness of a new narrative that faces this topic. This film has a specific purpose: “to build bridges”, because it transmits more positive than negative thoughts toward the past.

       I would like to finish with the same sentence with which Celia concluded her speech:” Despite all the things lived during those years in the eastern side, a lot of people were happy”.

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