We’re always hearing about the downsides of social media, well this time on the podcast Katy & Tim discuss some of the good things that being connected online has made possible. Check it out on SoundCloud, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts!
2Ts in a Pod are back with a great new episode on the topic of endurance challenges. Katy and Tim talk to Mike Coppock, the long distance mountain runner, about his experiences completing the Island Munros Triathlon and setting a new record for crossing the Pyrenees mountains from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean coast.
If you want to read more about Mike’s adventures, or watch the excellent short film of the Island Munros Triathlon, follow the links below:
cutt.ly/xA5ypvm – Island Munros Triathlon & The Martin Moran Foundation
This is the first of a series of blog posts I plan to write on a little pronunciation project I’m going to run with a C1/C2 group of Catalan/Spanish speaking students. If you’d like to try to run the same experiment with your own groups, you can download the materials I’m going to use at the bottom of this post.
How much can high-level students’ spoken pronunciation be improved by explicit focus on connected speech during class time? The plan is to use both reactive teaching/error correction and explicit, mini-lessons on specific elements of connected speech to work on students’ spoken output. Their progress will then be tracked through the use of submitted voice recordings.
In order to gauge students current level of spoken pronunciation, I wrote a text, which you’ll find below, that contains many elements of connected speech:
I have always wanted to play in a rock and roll band but I can’t seem to find the time to practice enough. If you don’t put in the hours, you’re always going to put off fulfilling an ambition. I want to do it, but the harder I try to pick up the guitar, the busier I get, and at the weekends I tend to go out most nights and those dreams are left back in the corner gathering dust with my guitar.
In class today I collected their baseline recordings. They completed a simple comprehension task on the text, then each recorded themselves reading the text on their own mobile phones and sent me the resulting audio file.
I will also have them record themselves completing a Cambridge “long turn” task during the next class in order to gather a non-scripted sample of their spoken output.
The pronunciation work students will complete will take a number of forms:
Explicit teaching of sentence stress, weak forms, and other elements of connected speech.
Use of tubequizard.com in their free time as ear-training/decoding.
Exposure to a “model” version of the target text, read by me, for students to compare/mimic.
The idea is to spend 15-20 mins a week explicitly focusing on pronunciation and then have students rerecord the original “Dusty Dreams” text in 6-8 weeks and compare the second recording to their original. I will also periodically collect long turn attempts to track the progress of more spontaneous/authentic speech. I also plan to use other texts or dialogue transcripts for later recordings as well as tracking students’ scores on C2 Proficiency reading comprehension tasks.
This is my first real attempt at action research, I’m probably doing a bunch of stuff wrong, but it’s exciting and my students seem to be up to the challenge! I’ll keep you posted.
If you’d like to follow along with your own students, you can download the first lesson plan, with the baseline text and a micro-lesson on weak forms of “to” and “for”, below:
This is a guest post by Soleil García Brito just in time for Halloween. This lesson plan is for C1 students. They will discover the spooky origins of the jack-o-lantern and then learn about the new phenomenon of “spoopy” by doing a gapped text reading exercise. Download the handout and teacher’s notes below:
Watch the video (x2) until 5:17 and fill the gaps (1 to 3 words):
Once you think about the name “Jack-o’-lantern”, it becomes evident that this tradition comes from ____________.
Stingy Jack’s personal qualities made the devil ____________.
On his way home Jack saw _______________ on the ground.
The mutilated corpse’s voice was _____________ Satan himself.
The devil was surprised by Jack’s ______________.
Jack prevented the devil from climbing down the tree by surrounding it with ___________.
The devil gave Jack a glowing ember as a _____________.
According to the legend, Jack walks around _____________________ on October 31st.
Reading and Use of English (Part 7)
Read the text and choose the correct paragraph from [A]-[G] to fill in the gaps -. There is one extra paragraph, which you do not need to use.
ADAPTED FROM CULTURE DESK – San Francisco Chronicle
What is spoopy? Your guide to the Internet’s favorite Halloween aesthetic
For the past few years, October has not only heralded the return of Halloween and pumpkin spice lattes, it has also marked the dawning of spoopy season. For a small group of people who belong in the center of a Venn diagram of mellowed-out goths and the “extremely online,” the spoopy aesthetic has become a source of joy and comfort in turbulent times.
“Spookiness is campy, but spoopiness is campy in a very specific way,” says John Paul Brammer, a New York City writer and advice columnist whose popular memes about the demonic goat from the movie “The Witch” are more of the former. “Spoopy’s whole thing is that it is not frightening. It’s not threatening, not arcane, but uses the trappings of the threatening and the arcane to make the joke: OoOoOooOo!!! SpoooOOoooOOooky!!”
Its origin is much more straightforward than its meaning. In 2009, the word was spotted on a skeleton-theme sign displayed at a Ross Dress For Less store. Though its ascent took some time, the term gained popularity on niche social media communities like Tumblr until it finally reached escape velocity to spread even further.
Though it might seem random, the delight of this sort of banal creepiness stems from the desire to look an object of fear in the eye — and laugh.
In political discourse, Prevas points to anti-transgender activists using the image of Frankenstein’s monster to demonize transgender people. Historically, monsters have often stood in for types of people who were undesirable: racial minorities, immigrants, queer people, anyone outside the “normal.” “I love the unsettling part of (spoopiness),” Prevas says, “that disconnect between seeing the creatures which we expect to see in a horror scenario in a perfectly quotidian scene.”
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it resonates so well right now, at a time when marginalized people’s status feels extremely fraught and political rhetoric insists on estranging us from polite society. This aesthetic defies the imperative to be afraid: Instead, we embrace the monsters as part of ourselves, as neighbours. To let the monster out is, in a sense, letting oneself out.
When we look at the skeleton riding a bike, it almost feels aspirational: This is what life could look like if our cloistered selves were set free. As it turns out, spoopiness might be just what we need right now.
[A] Because I’m a restaurant critic, my gauge of whether or not something has hit the mainstream is “The Great British Bake-Off.” In the 10th season, currently airing on the British Channel 4 and Netflix, Spanish contestant Helena Garcia has emerged as a fan favourite thanks to her memorably macabre but cute creations like a chocolate orange tarantula flanked by macadamia nut spider eggs, eldritch horror pies and bloody green “witch finger” biscuits.
[B] What is “spoopy”? It’s the coupling of wildly absurdist humour with terror — an aesthetic unto itself that, like camp, can be hard to articulate.
[C] Spoopy is a reclamation and reframing of these monsters, a mind-set that boasts, “You say I should be scared of this? Hilarious!”
[D] In fables and literary fiction, monsters are the embodiments of everything that society represses: a “warning system” of sorts, says Christine Prevas, a Columbia University Ph.D. candidate whose research focuses on applying queer theory to contemporary horror. The monster is a taboo made flesh: A prepubescent girl turned foul-mouthed, vomiting demon in “The Exorcist”; a bad sexual encounter run amok in “It Follows.”
[E] When I look at this stuff, it reminds me of how I like to “watch” horror movies by reading their plot summaries on Wikipedia: a digital version of peeking at Medusa’s face by holding up a mirror.
[F] This disruption of the narrative of otherness mirrors the way people actually want to be seen. For instance, queer people can be queer outside of designated contexts like gay bars and the privacy of one’s bedroom, Prevas says. “We’re also queer in the grocery store. We’re also queer on a bicycle.”
[G] Much easier than defining it is sorting through what is and isn’t spoopy. As a start, think of it as friendly and somewhat sarcastic horror: A skeleton isn’t, but a skeleton riding a bike? Definitely spoopy. The Babadook isn’t, but the memes that claim that the monster is a proud gay man? Super spoopy.
Language focus (15 min)
Look at the words in bold in the text and discuss the meaning with a partner:
Next, fill in the gaps with the vocabulary words in the correct form to fit the context:
Jack saw a mutilated corpse with a(n) _____________ look on its face.
His mood ___________ the gloomy weather on that Halloween night.
Between risking being tricked and facing Jack’s grumbling stomach for the rest of the trip, the devil chose the _________.
Some consider him the very _____________ of evil.
The devil was ____________ confused by Jack’s request to pay the bill at the bar.
Jack ___________ a mutilated corpse on the ground on his way home from the bar.
Use the trappings of (sth) Stem from Run amok In a sense
After Jack __________ the level of danger he was in, he decided to trap the devil by using crosses.
What are the similarities and differences between these two images?
Which of these images do you find the spookiest?
Reading and Use of English (Part 2)
Adapted from Merriam Webster – Words We’re Watching
The Inside Poop On ‘Spoopy’
Spoopy might startle people, especially around Halloween season. Perhaps it’s the resemblance (1) ______ spooky, which could lead you to believe the formation is nothing more (2) ______ a jaw-dropping typo. Or it could also be that it has poopy in it, which makes the spelling amusing to people (3) ______ enjoy bodily humour. This Internet sensation’s origin was a comical misspelling of the adjective spooky spotted on a department store’s Halloween sign written in a “skeletal” font and photographed. The image was (4) ______ uploaded to the Internet; in short order, spoopy (5) ______ viral. Essentially, the word is used to describe something that typically would be spooky, (6) ______ an image of a skeleton or ghost, but is actually rather comical. The word has other connotations (7) ______ well: it is sometimes used for things that are intended to be spooky but simply fail to scare, or it could describe something that blends cuteness (8) ______ spookiness in a grotesque way.
For episode 52 we spoke to Oscar/Lana Vuli a drag performer based in Barcelona. We spoke about his/her route into drag performance and experiences performing live and on the Youtube Channel “Science Queers”. You’ll find a link to the channel below.
It was a great episode and a really enjoyable interview, we hope you like it!