A Talk about New Zealand

by Guillerma Fiallegas

Kiwi, Kia Ora, Haka, Wellington, Nature… Do you know what I´m talking about? For the first time I attended a small talk session in our language school. I really didn´t know what to expect, but something was clear to me, I was willing to discover everything related to the topic: “New Zealand”.

As for the small talk session, Geoff Stagg was the speaker. He works for the Embassy of New Zealand. When he started talking the atmosphere changed and the session turned out to be fun and enjoyable. Obviously, as a native speaker, his level of English was great. However, I sometimes struggled to follow him because, as he warned us in advance, he could speak very fast when he talked about things he loved. Nevertheless, the videos that he used during the speech were fantastic and helped me to understand everything better.

Regarding New Zealand, this is a country located in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean and it consists of two main islands and many small ones. To get an idea, it’s about three hours by plane from Sydney, Australia. The capital city is Wellington, but the largest city is Auckland. Its territory is like half of Spain, while the population is around 5 million people. As for the official languages, English is the predominant one, but M­aori and sign language are also official. New Zealand is part of the Commonwealth. Its currency is the New Zealand Dollar. Some important features about this country are its marvelous natural landscapes, its rich mix of cultures, its great food products (lamb and seafood) and its high quality of life.

Finally, I would like to briefly describe some words which I think summarize the essence of New Zealand:

Kiwi: The word has three meanings. This is a species of bird that is only found there; People who come from New Zealand are also called “Kiwis”, and they are proud of this; Kiwi is a fruit as well. They renamed the fruit because it looked like the bird.

Kia Ora: It is an informal greeting in the M­aori language. It has a great meaning, it is like “Pura Vida” in Costa Rica.

Haka: It is a traditional dance or challenge in the M­aori culture. The most popular Haka is danced and sung by the national rugby team.

All in all, if you have the opportunity to attend these small talks, they enrich your knowledge about different aspects. At the same time, we improve skills like listening, and boost our vocabulary. For me it has been rewarding, so I hope to see you next time.

II Edición del concurso anual de deletreo en inglés de la EOI Valdemoro

Final del concurso del II concurso de deletreo en inglés

El 4 de diciembre tuvo lugar el segundo concurso anual de deletreo en inglés de la EOI de Valdemoro (Spelling Bee). En esta edición, participaron un total de 100 estudiantes de quinto de primaria procedentes del CEIP bilingüe Doña Leonor del Álamo (tres clases) y del colegio Nobelis (una clase). Participaron también algunos de los alumnos adultos del nivel A2.1 de la Escuela Oficial de Valdemoro. Queremos agradecer la participación a todos los estudiantes, a las cuatro maestras que vinieron con ellos y a las dos escuelas que han confiado en nosotros. Gracias, también, a los padres que se acercaron al concurso.

I Edición del concurso anual de deletreo en inglés de la EOI Valdemoro.

Ganadora de la I Edición.

Indian Restaurant Om: Delicious Indian Food and Friendly Service.

by Rosa Heras

A few weeks ago I decided to go out for lunch with some friends. We found the Indian restaurant Om by chance and I have to admit that, although at first we were reluctant to enter since from the outside it seems just a normal bar, we left there, after having lunch, pleasantly surprised.

It is located on Station Street in Valdemoro and, if it is Sunday and you have not booked in advance, maybe you have to wait for a while. The first impression was not very good because, when you come in, the only thing you see is a bar, but you go up some stairs and you run into the restaurant area, which has some decoration and pieces of furniture inspired in India. Do not expect to find a place with stunning Indian decoration or a luxurious salon because it is very austere, but not for this reason the atmosphere in this place is less cosy and pleasant.

What I value most is the wide range of delicious dishes they serve and the wonderful way the staff treated us. As most of us were vegetarians, they informed us kindly about the dishes that were suitable for us. For starters, I would especially recommend Samosas and Pakoras (a mix of battered vegetables), and for main course Tarka Dall (yellow lentils with a spicy sauce), Basmati Rice with nuts, aromatic spices and a sweet sauce, and Mushroom Rice, all served with Paswari Naan (bread stuffed with coconut and dried grapes).

We loved the food. All dishes were delicious, the flavours a bit adapted to Spanish tastes but, if you wanted, you could order the dishes a little spicier. Despite not being a spectacular place in terms of a traditional Indian decoration, this restaurant is worth it due to the quality of its food, the treatment you receive from the staff and the good value for money, certainly within everyone’s reach. In addition, for menus over 13€, you can order food for home delivery through the internet site Just Eat.

My Favourite Eating Place in Valdemoro

by Paqui Estepa Vela

La Fontanilla is a well-known restaurant situated in Valdemoro. It is run by two brothers with a long family tradition in the cooking world. One of them, Álvaro, the chef, has been trained in some of the most popular Spanish restaurants like “Martín Berasategui” or “El Bohío”. The other brother, Víctor, is the maître and sommelier.

In the past, it was an expensive restaurant. For that reason, we couldn’t afford to go there. Fortunately, few years ago, they added a new sort of menu with more reasonable prices, a gastro bar menu. Due to the change, we had the possibility of trying their cuisine. Besides every working day, a fixed menu is offered. In addition, La Fontanilla has facilities for business meetings and private parties. From time to time, they also organize some wine tasting events, normally at dinner time or for brunch. It is a different way to meet with family or friends.

When you arrive at the restaurant, the first thing you find is a nice terrace, which is a perfect place to enjoy in the summer time. The restaurant is divided in two different areas: on the ground floor, the staff welcome the costumers in a little bar with a charming decoration next to the one informal eating place. They combine a cosy atmosphere and a friendly hospitality. The dishes are tasty, you can try a delicious vegetable pie, the original black noodles with seafood or a succulent tartar made with beef from León. If you like desserts, there is a wide variety that you can’t miss. A creamy torrija or a delicious apple pie with vanilla ice-cream could be a good election. However, if you prefer a more formal environment, you can go to the first floor. The menu is more elaborated, and the wine menu has a good list of national and international wines. They cook fresh products, both meat and fish, and the lamb roast should have a especial mention here.

We love eating in this place when we have to celebrate something special, because they know how to satisfy their customers. The waiters are nice, and they dress more casually in the gastro bar than in the restaurant on the first floor. If you want to have a good time, you must just book a table and enjoy.

Restaurante Cardinal

by Guillerma Fiallegas

One of my favourite restaurants is Cardinal. It´s one of the best Andalusian restaurants in my town. It´s located in a new lively area in Valdemoro, where there are also some fast food restaurants, a bowling alley and some pubs to have a drink. There is also a parking lot in the area, which is very useful.

This establishment is quite big and it is spacious between the tables. The colours and furniture of the restaurant remind you of the sea and the beach. As a result, the atmosphere is very cosy. It has a terrace as well, which is highly recommended in summer or when the weather is warm.

Sometimes the restaurant is so overcrowded that you have to book a table in advance. In case you do it using an app, you can get a discount on the bill. Despite the crowd, the waiters are really kind and friendly to the customers.

Regarding the food, in my opinion, every dish you order will be tasty. The menu has a wide variety of main courses, as well as dishes to share (raciones). In relation to this, the dishes that I do like most are marinated dogfish, cuttle fish, roasted octopus and especially fried squid. Moreover they also make some chicken fingers that children love. As for desserts, I would like to mention that they are sweet and yummy.

I strongly recommend Cardinal restaurant because of the quality of all their products and their affordable prices. If you want to have a great time with your family or friends, I have no doubt that you will be satisfied.

An English Course in Dublin

by Luis Tobaruela

My course at the Everest Language School in Dublin was from 8th to 12th of April 2019. I knew about this school through the Official School of Languages in Valdemoro. I needed to do a test online only about English grammar so that the teachers of the Irish school could know my level and put me in the correct class.

When I came to the school in Dublin I was interviewed by Mary Ann, the director of the school. She asked me which skill I was best and worst at. In this case, I suggest your being honest because they are there to help you more than testing you, and if you want to improve your English level, I think it is good to tell the truth.

There were thirteen students in my class including me. Four Spanish, one Italian, two Chileans, one Mexican, three Brazilians and one Korean. We could only speak in English, and it is a very important rule inside the school. The timetable of the classes was from 9 am to 2 pm every day, except the first class on Monday, when we had to arrive at 8:30 am in order to have the interview with Mary Ann. We had a twenty minutes’ break around 11 or 11:30.

We had two teachers, MacDara in the first class and Katrina in the second. MacDara´s class was more dynamic than Katrina´s. We had more games and activities. However, we learnt a lot in both. Katrina explained more things about grammar and we did more exercises. We had more homework with her too. Moreover, our final test with MacDara was through a game and Katrina did it through a written test. We had to write a short composition.

The school usually organizes a lot of trips to different places in Ireland. In my case I chose to go to the north of Ireland. I saw the Dark Hedges and the coast of the north, where some parts of the TV series Game of Thrones were filmed. However, I chose this place because I knew something about the conflict of this part of the country during the last thirty years of the twentieth century and I wanted to see how the situation was at the moment, now that Brexit could divide the country again. I asked different Irish people and they told me they are worried because they are divided again because of Brexit. They told me this situation is terrible for them because in Dublin they speak in English, the newspapers are English, like The Sun, The Financial Times, The Irish Daily Mail, The Irish Daily Mirror. They drive on the left, they have double decker buses as we could see in London. The architecture of the houses is practically the same in the north and in the south of Ireland too. If you have a credit card you could pay in euros in the north but if you pay with cash you need to have pounds. The financial and fiscal system is absolutely connected with the United Kingdom and it is practically the same one.

The school organized the place where I could sleep. I stayed with a couple. The woman, Maureen, was a very good cook. When I wanted to take a shower, the water was very warm. In the house there were two Italian girls around twenty and a Brazilian teenage boy. I didn´t speak so much with the boy but the girls were very funny. They didn´t study in my school but at Trinity College. I could talk a lot with them and Maureen at the house, so I could speak English not only at the school but at home too.

In conclusion, it was a very productive trip to improve my English and my cultural knowledge about the country. I could visit The James Joyce Centre, the Irish Writers Museum, the Christ Church, Saint Patrick´s Cathedral, the Prison Tower, among other places. I suggest my classmates should go if they can. The restaurants in the city are expensive so it is better you buy something in the supermarkets such as Tesco or Londis. Tesco is the cheapest one in Dublin. For those people who wish to go I wish them a nice trip.

Learning about Finland

by Susana Becerra Martínez

I must confess that I had never heard of Finland before other than its wonderful panoramic views and majestic forests. And not long ago, my daughter told me about her desire to see the Northern Lights live. And then, two Finnish people came to our classroom at the language school. They were teachers from a multidisciplinary cultural center like ours, but in Finland. To be honest, I was tremendously excited and, at the same time, I was curious about whether their customs would differ greatly from ours. To my surprise, when they started speaking, I understood most of the information they provided.

I was most astonished at their teaching system, which differs so much from ours. It should be considered that their teaching system does not depend on which government rules at that time as it happens to be in Spain. Instead the decisions of the teachers and furthermore the parents´ decisions are taken into account. Therefore, teachers are allowed to organize their own teaching programmes and so, in what way the course is going to be taught. For example, it does not matter for the Finns to give children information that is being repeated until it is memorized but it is more important to learn by thinking instead of memorizing.

Probably, most of us in the classroom were pleased by finding out that in Finland Spanish was surprisingly taught as a second language more often than English. People are becoming more and more interested in Spanish. In fact, in Finland some of the series on TV like Los Serrano are shown in the original Spanish version because it is very expensive todub them into Finnish. However, the success of the teaching of English lain on the fact that most of the foreign programmes, series as well as movies are shown in English with Finnish subtitles.

All in all, it certainly looks like the teachers from Finland got a good impression of many facts about Spaniards. It was obvious, though, that everybody sees the difference between the Finnish education system and the Spanish one. Some attempts have been made to improve the way of teaching in Spain but I wonder whether the Spanish education system needs some urgent changes.

BILINGUAL EDUCATION SESSIONS

by Eva Moreno Neila

‘You may say I’m a dreamer; but I’m not the only one’. With this motto, the first promoted trip on bilingual education in Valdemoro Escuela Oficial de Idiomas was launched by Fernando Martín Pescador, our EOI beloved director.

The experience took place on a weekly basis in three three-hour sessions, on Wednesdays, 16th and 23rd September, and on 28th Monday. There five dreamers shared their teaching English experiences:

First session – Fernando Martín Pescador.

Fernando led a participatory session where we all talked about the Spanish Education system and the meaning of bilingual education, such a controversial topic in our society. A clear example of a teacher as a facilitator assisting the group and granting us space to get involved. Terms like skills, active participation, and collaboration emerged to profile the requirements to be met by a quality education, all of which were accomplished in this session.

Second session – Belén Galera and Joaquín Domínguez, bilingual coordinators and teachers at Doña Leonor del Álamo Bilingual School in Valdemoro.

Belén and Joaquín made a presentation on their non-canonical bilingual teaching project development: CLIL, Content and Language Integrated Learning, after the Willi Cano lessons. A real experience based on content and language integration through a unique off-book Project-Based Learning (PBL) experience, through which the scaffolding of language learning in primary education is built. In order to allow teacher and students alike to evaluate criteria in scoring they use rubrics in assessments.

Third session – Isabel Andrés Domínguez, Valdemoro EOI’s head of studies and teacher and Beatriz Chaves, English Teacher at Jesús María Secondary School.

Isabel showed the need and suitability of the incorporation of technology in teaching, promoting dynamism, adaptation to change, fluency, adaption to different teaching needs and fostering digital competence, hand in hand through ITC and gamification. She shared with us several practical examples: Educaplay, Playsbuzz, Classtools, Quizzlets… and the way she uses them in her Wiki Space.

Beatriz talked about her GBL (game-based learning) experience. Getting their students engaged in learning and certain surprise effect seem to be her know-how keys: She connects in her practice what she’s teaching to her students’ real life, she hooks their interest with games, quizzes, mysteries and even changing the place where the class is taught, and she teaches students other skills as self-assessment, peer assessment

To sum up, a few days were enough to reveal the buzzy educational trends (bold in this text) and how passionate and enthusiastic teachers try to take advantage of them to improve the school experience and empower their students in their future-professional-real-life new needs.

Confirmed: Teachers (and teaching) don’t have to be boring, let alone bored!

Here comes the sun!’

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