In order to celebrate Peace Day, some of our students wrote about the idea of peace. Here we have some of their best compositions:
“Peace is a very important issue. Some say that if we all work together we will achieve world peace, but I think it´s impossible. The human race is violent by nature. There will always be a fight somewhere”. Victoria.
“We must fight for peace and for wars to end. May we all live free and without fear, that guns and bombs are only used in video games and not to kill other people for their colour, religion, regions or opinions”. Lidia.
“Peace Day is one of the most beautiful days, because the most beautiful thing is peace. But it is something unusual; that is why we have chosen a day to remind us that we should all be in peace”. Álvaro.
“In my opinion, peace is a very difficult thing to get because in this world there are many types of people and it is impossible that we don´t find conflicts. Then, it is impossible to find peace.” Aritz.
“It is important for everyone, because you live better. A world without peace would be a disaster. Many people die if there is war and with peace that would not happen. War is bad for living beings and for the Earth.” Nerea and Carmen.
“In my opinion, peace in the world is a very important issue. Many countries do not know what peace is since they are always at war. I think that every country should agree to avoid confrontations that cause many deaths and many social problems. The truth is that it is very difficult but not impossible, since Trump presides…” Kevin and Nerea.
No doubt, our students know peace is a serious matter. Their future depends on it.
Our students had a great time few days ago. Arroyo de la Luz high school celebrated its Halloween week. The corridors and the doors of most classrooms were decorated with posters, masks, cloths and everything useful to recreate the magic and atmosphere of Halloween. The two best groups of the decoration contest got a big breakfast and everybody got some candy after taking photographs and writing and reading some terrific micro horror stories, which were also a great success. Here we have some of my favorites…
“…We were playing on the porch when we saw that the sky was getting dark. A great storm had begun. We went into the house. A strong wind had started blowing and the windows and the doors opened and closed making a horrible noise. The water was entering everywhere. The electric light went on and off. Shadows floated across the darkness of the porch like ghosts looking for human shelter…” Nuria.
“I always like to read in quiet places, so I used to sit by a nameless grave in the local cemetery and spend hours there until the sunset. On 31st October I did the same, but when I stood up to leave I realized a name had appeared on the gravestone. It was my own”. Victoria.
“My sister died when we were little in a car accident. Every month I have a dream where she appears. I´m in a dark place, and she is in front of me. Little by little she gets closer and closer. He stares me in the eye, and while she is crying… she asks me to go with her”. Nerea.
We don´t have a world of music and dance festival in Arroyo de la Luz like the one that takes place in the capital of the province every spring; however, we do have a week of music and dance in our little village.
During the last English week, apart from many other activities, our students of third and fourth year of ESO had the opportunity to sing many karaoke songs in front of their fellow partners as well as sing and dance on the stage of the theatre room. They spent a lot of time on the rehearsals outside high school, but they enjoyed every minute of it and saw that cooperation and fun are also good ways to improve another language.
Something drew my attention when I received the first message about the activity in the youth center of Arroyo on last 8th November: Why did they include English terms in the title? Wasn´t the presentation in Spanish? I asked the messenger and she told me she did not know anything about it: it was just the title of the workshop. So I went to the organizer of the event and asked him the same question: Why did they include English words in the title of that extracurricular activity? Did they pretend to make it more attractive to young people? Did they want to look modern? Or was just the typical inferiority complex we Spaniards feel before having been abroad? It looked absurd to say “valley” instead of “valle”. Why not saying “Valle de la Dehesa”, much more literary, although not so trendy as “Dehesa Valley”, of course? Did they want to look superior to the rest of us by using English terminology?
Isidro told me that everything new comes from California. Also that Maker Movement that they wanted to present to our FP students. That fact would explain the reference to that area near San Diego, Dehesa Valley. I did not insist much on the issue, but when the day came and I had to accompany my students of Grado Medio to the youth center I understood better what my colleague had told me. The schedule was full of English terms: Hacker Spaces, DIY (do it yourself), Fablab, Maker Fair, Fab Academy, Maker Movement… Undoubtedly the origin of all that was in America and from America it had spread all over the world.
Then I asked one of the speakers why did they use such an exaggerated quantity of English terminology. Wouldn´t it be more sensible to translate all those words into Spanish rather than leave them untranslated? He explained to me that it was more practical to leave them in English. They needed to speak and write to people from many other countries to help each other. By leaving all those words in their original language they could instantly know what they were talking about.
The explanation was reasonable. You may share it or not, but it seems a good idea to have common terms that students and inventors from everywhere can understand easily. What happens in many fields of our present-day society happens in the field of technology, too. The Maker Movement has democratized modern technology but it has made English even stronger: you can do nearly everything no matter where you are with a few gadgets and a bit of help, but still, you will need English to get that help and do it yourself.
I used to think that modern poets were nasty people, but not any more. Apart from being a good person and a good friend, Mario Lourtau writes excellent poetry, and the literary prizes he has got is proof for that. The first time I read one of his books I felt a strange feeling inside. I could see the quality of those verses, but that little man did not regard himself a god, he didn´t boast himself or looked down on me as many arrogant poets tend to do with those who are not expert at what they do. Then I told him about the images of his poetry, and the words that reminded the childhood in Extremadura and the vocabulary that surprises once and again. No doubt Mario masters Spanish. But he also writes English poems. I did not know that until Carmen, the language teacher in our high school, asked Mario to talk about his literary work to our students. Then I discovered another advantage of being bilingual: I could appreciate and compare both the beauty of the Spanish version and the English one of TWILIGHT OF SHADES. Thank you Mario. We will not be afraid of literature, as you advise us, I promise.
Every Thursday, during the second break, a few of us will be talking in English in the staff room. Maybe with some tea and some biscuits, like real English men and women. The time and the venue are provisional. We might even join together after school if our idea becomes a success. Also, we can get in touch with other high schools in the area around Cáceres and see if they are interested in the experience. The more participants, the better.
As for our students of ESO, Iḿ afraid they are not crazy about meeting during breaks to talk in English. They must think that our conversation club needs some special commitment, or perhaps they just prefer to relax before going to classes again. In any case, they might change their minds if we show them that idle chatting is fun as well as a good way to learn and improve.
By the way, in our conversation club we can talk about anything, but it seems sensible to avoid political and religious issues in order not to hurt anyone`s feelings.
And last, but not least, our high school has just been subscribed to SPEAK UP, an English magazine that will be at our disposal whenever we want. Apart from their articles, this magazine offers a DVD every two months that can be used for our purpose. That powerful resource will make our club far more interesting: everybody enjoys a good film.
Sometimes we are so shy that we don´t really know how much we know.
Last Thursday, to make up for the loss of our conversation assistant this year, I offered myself for chatting: I told a fellow-worker to speak to me in English every time he wanted. Of course, my English cannot be as good as the one of a native speaker, but we can learn from each other and improve just by practicing a little every day.
My new friend and I had been talking for a few minutes when all of a sudden he confessed a secret to me: despite feeling rather insecure when speaking in English, he had published excellent articles in prestigious scientific magazines. I could not believe my ears. However, he helped my unbelief and switched on one of the computers in the staff room and showed them to me. To my surprise, I found a lot of articles full of specific terms related to the world of chemistry too difficult for me to understand, but certainly written in the language of Shakespeare.
How could that be possible? He could write decently, but he hardly spoke a few words? Well, in fact, that is exactly the same problem that many students need to sort out after finishing high school or university. They have the knowledge, but not the courage. They are so afraid of making mistakes and look silly and ridiculous that prefer not to say anything and remain silent and quiet. They become excellent writers, but poor speakers.
Then I told him how I became bilingual. It did not happen abroad, in the United Kingdom, Ireland or the States. It happened in the classes of English Literature at university, when our teacher asked for comments on the novels that we had to read. I used to write those comment on a small piece of paper before raising my hand and saying anything. One day I realized I did not need to write them down any more and started speaking what came out of my mind.
I asked one of my students in fourth year of ESO what type of person he was, and he told me he was a competitive one. Then I asked him why, and he explained to me that we live in a competitive world. That answer reminded me of the American idea of success: being a loser, a winner… And all that crap. They learn that from very early in life. If you do well at sport, you will be popular. If you get good marks at primary and secondary school, you will be able to go to a good university and get a good job later on. if you overcome a difficult situation you become an overcomer and an example for everybody around you. They prepare you lo live in an individual society of self-made men and women. It may seem cruel, but that´s the way it is, my student came to say. Who knows, he maybe be right, we speak another language, but in the end, we are not so different.
Wow! At last I become a blogger. What a wonderful tool for showing what we do in our high school Luis de Morales. Next, with the help of some colleagues , I´ll add photographs and videos to my writings. I hope so. Must not be so difficult if everybody does. And if I can, I,m sure you can, too. Join us. Ask Juan Pablo, our technology expert, or Pepa, our Chief of Department, for help in case you need it.