This year I was asked to help out during a project called Childcare, organized by “Leopardi-Majorana” High. What they needed me to do was to prepare two groups of volunteers from the Human Sciences course to act out a little scene and then play some games with children from a Montessori school in Bray, Ireland. Along with their English teachers, we decided that one group would play out the short story The Rainbow Fish, a sweet novella for children that deals with integration and selflessness; the other group created a short nursery rhyme called A Rose with a Nose, which is aimed at teaching body parts and organs, but is delivered with a short comic mimed scene.
I was honored to be asked and felt a little nervous at first, since I had never done anything like this, but I’m usually up for a challenge, so I agreed with pleasure. Also, to be honest, the main reason that pushed me to accept was the fact that I was going to see some of the kids I had done the conversation lessons with the year before, and the group was awesome! I really had a lot of fun and was elated at how well they participated and how motivated they were. I know it’s easy to work with motivated kids and all that, but nobody likes to have to always do the hardest job ever, right?
In conclusion, I wanted to share this video, whish is a recap of the whole project, I hope you enjoy it. And if you spot a rainbowfish and a rose with a nose, well, tell them I’m proud of them.
This is the first of what I hope will be many more activities on this website. Something I have often noticed about you, my students, is that you have the potential of telling countless stories, but often don’t have the time or the proper grammar and vocabulary to do it the way you imagine, so you simply give up altogether.
With this section, I hope to be able to help you with you writing, as well as with expressing your opinions, debating with your peers, with a spirit of mutual enrichment and respect.
So, let’s get the ball rolling with this first, easy topic:
Why are you studying English? How do you think it can help you in your future?
There are no limits to length, language, style or anything. You may also use a pseudonym, if you prefer not to be identified.
Do you know that moment after dinner, usually on a Sunday night, when you’re done eating but you still feel there’s a little corner in your stomach that needs filling, and you feel like if you don’t do something about it you’ll end up getting up in the middle of the night and emptying the fridge, ice included? I’m sure you all do.
In full awareness of that and to nip this predictable problem in the bud, I popped my head into the kitchen cabinet hoping to find something up to the task. Well, I ended up finding this: a bag of mint and chili pepper flavoured chips. Mind you, I’m not too picky about food, so I thought What the heck… and dove in.
Now, you’re probably wondering how amazing or awful it must have been for me to be writing these words, and I’m going to tell you, in all honesty, that I was a bit puzzled by the flavour: at first it was quite balsamic and therefore baffling (it is a chip after all), not spicy at all, and I felt that my allergy-striken airways really benefitted from it. After a few seconds though, the aftertaste kicked in and reminded me of a very specific memory from my childhood. I was hanging out with some friends, and it was just after an unhealthy snack (peanuts and other high-cal stuff) and I thought it would be a great idea to “wash out the taste” by chewing some gum. As you can imagine (or know first-hand), the results of this experience were not great, so bad in fact to have scarred me for life. The bottom line is: in a nanosecond, this little chip made me travel through time and relive that moment with upsetting nostalgia.
And, in case you’re still wondering, it really is exactly like eating normal chips and then sticking a stick of peppermint gum in your mouth before even wiping the little pieces from inbetween your teeth.
I see a lot of adults who have a tendency to consider new generations as uninterested, unskilled and just generally bland, and though I may agree some people show these features (but who hasn’t throughout history), I am also a strong supporter of the fact that this is untrue for a large part of them. I see teens struggling with English, with school, with social relations, and this is probably a result of their constantly being connected with a number of human beings twice the ones we adults had at their age. All this just to say, let’s not underestimate the new generations, we have some peaks of brilliance, if only we’d let them shine.
At the 2016 Oscars Spotlight triumphs and it’s elected Best Picture. The director Tom McCarthy and the co-writer Josh Singer tell the Pulizer winning journalistic inquiry that the team Spotlight of the Boston Globe focused on, through 2001 and 2002, bringing to light the abuses of more than 240 priests. A real human and moral scandal: a Church that controls everything. The Church of a particular city, Boston, which is important to understand the huge power exercised by Catholicism. The gasping research of the journalists is told in an apparently analytical and sober way, but not resulting detached; actually, it manages to transmit the sincerity of facts at its best.
It is, maybe, a slyer violence, that reports with no filters and insinuates in spectator’s mind, leaving a mark. Journalists who give their lives, their nights, for a cause and for what makes that cause their passion. But it’s also a film about the fear of not receiving, at the end of the day, the space that ideals or ideas deserve: the fear that the piece is “buried in Metro” or that another paper burns the story, making days and days of sweat vain. A job that’s not limited to writing, obstinate on the desk, but, above all, to go door to door to find answers, shake both the victims’ and the guilty’s hand and doodle terribly cruel words on a small notepads. No doubt it is hymn to journalism. But still a very elegant and calculated hymn, with no exaggeration or particular acts of heroism. A great inquiry film, celebration of a virtuous, endangered journalism.
Boyhood opens on the 23rd October 2015 and it’s a movie by Richard Linklater. What probably will push people to enter the cinema convinced to watch this film is knowing that it’s been shot for 12 years. A huge and courageous project, but really simple at the same time. And why? Because Boyhood tells the story of life, of growth, step by step, it’s the simple narration of time passing by and of what experiences leave into us. And so Linklater decides to engage a cast for most composed by non-professional actors, asking them: “So, what do you got to do for the next 12 years?”
It’s this probably that fascinates most: watching the actors getting old on screen with no need of heavy make-up doses, bogus wrinkles, or forcing them to put on weight to show time has passed, they’re just asked to put themselves in front of the camera and live. This is, in fact, an universal story, a life like many others, there’s no complicated plot, no twist, no point of view, you’re not dragged through the story by the hand. Linklater lets time mold the story, shot after shot. The director, Silver Bear winner, says: “Boyhood is an experiment born after years of reasoning about narration, about time and life. Cinema got us used to think that there has to be a particular story there!” Instead Linklater, scorning all this, managed to turn simple daily things into an epic story, a cinematographic event. This is the story of how the boy, who on the cover appears lying on the ground, will learn to stand up and walk. Supported by a good soundtrack, the flow of memory will stream for 165 minutes, leaving in each of us something different, as it happens in reality.
So last week I told two of my students we would be doing a little contest with 120+ irregular verb paradigms today (past simple AND past participle), some of which I’m pretty sure “native speakers” generally consider regular. Here’s the final score:
As you may have noticed already (and as the title of this post indicates, duh!), the site is still under construction. It will take some time to get it up around 100%, but after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
So sit tight and, most importantly, be patient. I promise it’ll be worth it 😀
If you have any requests, feel free to comment, if they are reasonable, I will consider them.
I’m Peter David Medley, an Italian-American English teacher and tutor, and if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of my students. And if you’re one of my students, you’re hopefully interested in the things I will post on this site.
Feel free to bookmark it and come back even if you don’t have assignments: I’ll post any article, video or quote I feel suitable to reach the goal of making learning English a fun and effective undertaking.
Yeah, that’s right: it can be fun. After all, you’ve met me in person and know I’m a goofball, so don’t act all surprised.