So much ado...

... and yet I`m gonna talk about nothing.
A gruesome twin  attack in Norway that shocked and saddened me much more than the death of  a junkie singer; my working life turning upside down, bringing frustration and hope at the same time; the void left by stopping seeing some friends in my day-a-day; personal goals on the verge of being achieved - none of these have actually inspired me to produce a decent text.

I just wanted to write but there was too much ado to decide on what to say. I didn`t want to wax either philosophical or political, thus I decided to write about nothing. And here you are: a short post about nothing; the sheer writing for the sake of writing.

Maybe another day, when polemical and depressing topics become scarce, I might write about something useful. For the time being, nothing will do way much better.

Now, if you excuse myself, I`ll watch the South American Cup finals.


Rock and roll isn't dead, unfortunately.

     I remember being about 10, shamefully holding a Barbie doll - once I was too old for that - playing with my sister and a haven’t-seen-her-for-ages friend when the recently arrived MTV Brazil started to show Metallica’s Enter Sandman video clip. Much as I had always been keen on music, I had never really felt it, it had never really touched me. Well, as it was Metallica, touch is inaccurate. I had never felt a song rip my innocent young skin, get deep into my guts and make me want to spit them out in excitement.
     It was like the first sniff of coke – not that I’ve ever had it in my life – exciting, energetic, brutal. Of course after a short while I discovered that the Black Album was far from being as brutal as rock and roll could be, but to my pop-ballad-used ear it was a huge shock. The rough voice, the drums, the deep riffs, everything: I just knew it. I knew I should, I had to look for more. I was already addicted, and it had only been my first dose.
     From that moment on, thanks to some neighbors, friends and even my father, who convinced me Sepultura was one of the best bands ever (thanks, Dad! They are!), my heart has beat rhythmically, following Lars’ and Igor’s drums and Harris’s and Burton’s bass lines. I went further to any kind of rock that was at hand: classic, hard rock, heavy metal, death metal (even its name was aggressive!), punk, gothic rock, gothic metal. All that senseless teenage aggressiveness had a way out; it could finally get out of its den.
     Yet… It was not enough… It was too powerful a sensation to stay still in my bedroom just listening. There had to be more. There had to be a place, a moment, anything, to let all that energy explode and become a virus and spread itself and pulse and gain more strength and … there was. And I discovered it, again with Metallica, in the early ‘90s: a rock concert. There, me and my sister, two teenage girls, on the ground, standing shoulder to shoulder with long-haired tattooed fetid bruisers, ogres and trolls, who would pointlessly hit each other and look happy… That was it. That’s where we should have always been, where we should have been born.
     As time and concerts went by, getting as nearer to the stage as possible was the challenge. Elbowing our way through such peculiar and violent fauna was our biggest achievement and we would brag about it for ages. Well, we have been. Year after year, concert after concert, song after song, we lived happily, energetically, meaningfully.
     Eventually, of course, we grew older, but that addiction never grew weaker – it only grew more expensive. From that on, concerts only of the Monsters, of the Gods or of the Best. Too much money, too much age, too much adulthood to go.
     Good old habits die hard, though, and Ozzy Osbourne, the lord of darkness, the mad man, the bat biter, was announced to play in our city. That’s it, we’re going! On the ground, at the front, not even showering before going. Faded rock and roll tees and worn out sneakers on, let’s rock!
     That thrill, nonetheless, lasted till we got there. We were at a stone’s throw distance from the stage, but again – and this time unfortunately – it wasn’t enough. The trolls were gone, the ogres, vanished. Instead there was scent, high heel and party make-up. People looked healthy and neat and you could stretch yourself between them without even touching anyone. And if you would, they would apologize.
     Sepultura’s concert then started and to my utter surprise there wasn’t even a single fight, let alone a hitting-each-other-pointlessly group. Nothing. I tried hard not to care and started jumping, swearing and singing along with the band. That was when I was interrupted by a girl politely asking me to stop, for I was on a puddle and she was getting wet. What shocked me the most, however, was that she looked terrified when I politely asked her to fuck off. I could have been ripped into pieces if I had done that 15 years before. Well, she would have been ripped, actually.
     By the time Ozzy stepped in the stage, I was already in pieces, devastated, miserable. Rock and roll is not dead, as it has been said for ages. I wish it was dead. I wish it was six feet under. I wouldn’t be disappointed if that was the case. But those people – and they were actually people, civilized people – liked rock and roll, they were happy and they could even sing the songs. But they couldn’t rock. And I could understand: God (or the devil) gave rock and roll to all of us, but put it in the soul of a select few.


Oh sweet... nothing!

So I am back, in a much better mood and still nuts about Top five lists.

I've been having a difficult week: too much work, low self steem brought by PMT, late nights and early mornings, some flirtation with insomnia...

Anyway, it's almost Thursday, which means almost Friday and the wild amount of work I had is tamed. Too good a perpective to be mourning for little things. 2 episodes, however, reminded an unpleasant Top 5 list:

Top 5 Worst Things That Can Happen To You When Your Self-Steem is Low Because Of Your Weight
1. Somebody stands up on the bus to allow you to sit because that gentil bastad thinks you're pregnant.
2. A man comes to you to give you the business card of a lose-weight-now-ask-me-how products shop. And adds he himself has lost 20kg in 6 months!
3. A passer-by whispers something about you being hot and chubby, in a vain attempt of making you feel desired.
4. Your mother points out how fat you look, even if you are only swollen as a result of suffering from PMT
5. The chair you are sitting on breaks down noisily and you collapse on the floor

After having experienced 2 out of these 5 situations in a 24h interval, the only thing I could do is go to the gym every day. Let's see what top 5 list THAT will generate...

Soundtrack: Oh, sweet nothing by Velvet Underground


I’m Wrong About Everything

Yeah, yeah, yeah... Long time no read, I know. Loads of news, but since this is not my Dear diary, I'm not updating anybody about my life. Wanna know any news? Ask me. Period.

Actually, what has driven me to updating my blog was just PMT and my mother. And the fact that I am reading High Fidelity - a book that makes you want to go around creating Top 5 lists.

So, here goes the first, in a teenage tone.

==> Always having a nasty comment about your weight.
==> Always knowing the right moment to utter that: when your self-steem is at the lowest.
==> Always giving that I-told-you-so look when things go wrong - your diet included.
==>  Always having something 'alternative' to take: juices with lettuce, homeopathy, good vibrations and crap like that.
==> Never complimenting in a clear way. When doing so, making sure it sounds like an offence.

There, I made my first High Fidelity list. I'm only half way through the book, hence there will be more lists. Hopefully made by a better mooded writer.


Soundtrack: the title of this post, by John Wesley Harding


Spending cold Winter days indoors writing...

Back posting! In a some kind of vacation, which has given me the opportunity to do something I've always wanted to do: write an article about ESOL - for either practicing writing and reviewing teaching theory.
So, PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE, fellow teachers, comment on the language AND on the content.

What’s the drill for getting our students’ month around language?

As many other techniques in the ESOL area, drilling is a quite controversial one. Some teachers say it is pointless and boring whereas many say it is old-fashioned. However, a point has to be clear in our minds when planning a drilling exercise: What is our aim when making our students repeat ourselves?

What is drilling?
According to the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, a drill is “an activity which practises a particular skill and often involves repeating the same thing several times, especially a military exercise intended to train soldiers.” Well, now I am absolutely sure many teachers are frowning upon the idea of using a military technique in the classroom (although I also can spot some mean grins). Gently tucking the dictionary away, drilling as a teaching resource is to make the students repeat words or utterances for a given period of time.

It first appeared in the scenario of language teaching in the 60s as one of the central pillars of the audiolingualism approach. There, drilling was used to “promote mechanical habit-formation”* in order to develop accuracy on pronunciation and command of the structures. Those would end up leading to fluency. Cutting a long story short, supported by structural linguistics and fiercely attacked by Chomsky, this approach, thus the drilling technique, started falling from grace.

So, why drill?
In contrast to the aim of drilling in the audiolingualism approach, it is possible to face it as a tool to model and memorize the target language, as a way to fix pronunciation and as an important resource to get rid of fossilized mistakes. When repeating words or utterances, features like intonation, stress, linking sounds can be internalized.

Especially in lower levels, in which students have not acquired enough autonomy yet, drilling is useful to make them confident enough to use the new language in a less controlled moment of the lesson. By getting their mouths around, students might feel more comfortable before experimenting what they have just learned.

It is important to outline, though, that drilling is not, by all means, a tool for grammar or lexis internalization. First of all, because it is not a communicative exercise; it is the repetition of a model aiming the restrict practice of something new to the learners. Secondly, a teacher can only state her students have internalized the target language after seeing them using it different contexts and freer activities.

How can I drill?
There are some different drilling techniques. As far as practicing is concerned, choral and individual drilling are more efficient. Choral drilling consists in the teacher modeling and the group repeating in unison. At that moment, the teacher is able to listen for pronunciation/structure mistakes without exposing her students. Repeat it twice or more, depending on the response, correcting if necessary. To prevent students from dubbing in large groups, drill in groups of 3 or 4.

After having drilled in choral, it is less likely one of them make a mistake, thus the teacher can ask one or two students to repeat alone. If a mistake pops up, it is advisable to ask one or two students to repeat it properly and then come back to the one who has mispronounced. For example:

Teacher: vEgetables
Student 1: vEgetables
S2: vegetAbles
S3: vEgetables
S4: vEgetables
S2: vEgetables

It a way of not exposing the mistake and raise S2 awareness about his own mistake.
There are other ways of drilling like the substitution drilling, which is recommended for grammar and focus a little bit more on the structure. For example:

Teacher: Ski. I can ski. Play tennis. I can play tennis. Ski...
Student 1: I can ski
Teacher: play tennis
S 2: I can play tennis
Teacher: ride a bike
S3: I can ride a bike**

If you are drilling longer sentences, an alternative to not lose the pace of the sentence is drilling backwards. For example:

Teacher: a rug.
Students: a rug.
Teacher: a rug and a big TV.
Students: a rug and a big TV.
Teacher: there’s a rug and a big TV.
Students: there’s a rug and a big TV.
Teacher: In my living room there’s a rug and a big TV.
Students: In my living room there’s a rug and a big TV.

Again, it is crucial the teacher bear in mind why she is drilling for. The technique will be chosen according to the language being taught.

Drilling can be an useful technique to make students comfortable in the presence of a new language item. It helps to build their confidence by giving them an accurate model to follow and not exposing their mistakes.

What can hinder the learners in their effort to reproduce the language accurately is the improper moment of the lesson in which the drilling takes place. Repeating something meaninglessly will not help as much as a meaningful repetition. Drilling has to (I would say must) happen after the clarification of meaning, so it does not end up being a mere parroting, but an effective and far-from-being-old-fashioned way of practice.

* Bowen, Tim. Teaching approaches: what is audiolingualism?

** Russel, Alex. Drilling - Judicious Use of Brute Force in the ESL Classroom.

*** ESOL teaching skills taskbook. Unit 2 – Drilling techniques.

**** Kerr, Phillip. Minimal resources: drilling.


Connemara, Kylemore Abbey and The Cliffs of Moher

Trying to spend as less time as I can at the internet house, so I`ll post only the photos as the comments.
See ya soon!

The Kylemore Abbey:

The lake in front of the Abbey

The Goth Cathedral of the Abbey
The abbey from the bottom

The abbey and the lake

The Cliffs of Moher


still the Cliffs

A detail from the Cliffs

I'll try to post as much as I can!


First cities

Well, here I am again, at the publand. I`ll try to be short, because I don't want to spend neither time or money online, once both can be converted in Guinness.


Clonmacnoise is the perfect example of the expression 'in the middle of nowhere'. It is a 7 km road sided by farms. What brings lots of people there is the ruins of a monastery from the X century.

the 'city'

the bed and breakfast we stayed in Clonmacnoise

 the monastery ruins - breath-taking


the monastery cemetery ruins

Then, there is Shannobridge, at the end of the road which Irish like to call a city. It's not a 7 km road; it's a 3km street which shelters 3 pubs..    
the other 'city'

the Shanon river and the bridge

the pub - 100 years standing.
Well, I have to go. Hope to post more photos soon!