A good dictionary to work with.

Hello to all the visitors of this website!

To start with, I want here to give the answer to a question that my students quite often make me.

For me, a very useful online dictionary is Word Reference. You can also download the app in your smartphone. It provides information and examples, as well as translations of those examples, that all students can find interesting and useful.


Molletes for the Irish “Extranjero”

For some time, an Irish “Extranjero” called Oisin Gregorian was living in Marchena. He worked as a teacher of English at Aulaforum. At the same time he wrote some articles for TheJournal.ie where he also uploaded some videos telling his experiences living as an inmigrant in Spain. They can be watched on Youtube. http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/emigrating-alone-to-spain-1721704-Oct2014/

It is interesting to know what foreigners think about us and this one writes, among other things, about how he saw Marchena, the village, its people, culture and customs. Well, he does not only write about Marchena, since now he is living and working in Seville, but it is worth reading and listening to his experiences.

A very funny video is about his search for Marchena’s best mollete called Discovering Molletes. In his blog called The Irish Extranjero you can find this and some more videos that he has recorded and uploaded so far. http://theirishextranjero.blogspot.com.es/2016/07/an-ode-to-marchenas-molletes.html

And recently, last 11th April, 2017, he came back to Marchena and yesterday, the 2nd May, he uploaded a new video called In Search of Molletes. Here you have the link too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWL81AksTLw

The images that are used here are screenshots from his videos. Have a look at them and it is a good exercise for students to listen to these authentic graphic documents.

Words of Introduction from Jade Takimoto

Castles, tapas, flamenco and churros are reasons enough to attract anyone to the beautiful country that is Spain. For me, my first interest in Spain began when I first visited it as a child, enchanted by its unique culture, incredible history and delicious food.

My name is Jade Takimoto and I have had the privilege of being this years language auxiliar at instituto Lopez de Arenas. Encantada! In the past five months, I’ve assisted both students and teachers of the bilingual program. By preparing visuals and activities, I hope to have enhanced students’ engagement and overall comprehension of the English language. 

Though originally from Sacramento, California, I received my Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Humboldt State University. There is where I developed the skills needed to apply to any classroom setting, but especially abroad. However, nothing could have prepared me for the challenges I have faced of teaching a foreign language in foreign county —but I will save that story for next time. I simply wish to convey my overall excitement and appreciation to be living and teaching in the beautiful region that is Andalucía, and look forward to the rest of this year with the incredibly smart and talented students of Lopez de Arenas. Gracias! 

Pay it forward or Cadena de Favores


I still find students from bilingual groups reluctant to use and work with the English language out of the classes included within the bilingual program. Needless to say that this mustn’t be that way.

In Valores Éticos, a 2º ESO subject, in a bilingual group, we are working with the film “Cadena de Favores”. I told my students that the title of the film in English was Pay it Forward. I tried to explain them that there is an expression, pay back, that means devolver, and the title was based on pay back but making a pun. In the film favours are not paid back, but paid forward, favours are done to people who need help but not in return for something they previously did. The people that help others only expect that the latter help some other people, they don’t expect to get anything for themselves.

To understand the film better, I thought that it was interesting to know this. However, a student protested and said that we were not in English or in a bilingual class. Obviously, I told him that his attitude towards English shouldn’t be that, mainly taking into account that he belonged to the bilingual program.

I am writing this to drive all the students’ attention, and not only the bilingual ones, to the fact that in today’s world English is a necessary tool if we want to get fully integrated in this globalized world and if we want to get the most of what we are offered and what we can get.

Students must understand that it is not relevant the language in which the source of information or knowledge is, but what matters is the knowledge or information transmitted itself. And their attitude towards any source must be the same, regardless of the language used to transmit it. They must be critical and sensible but they can’t be reluctant because of the language used.

Languages are Alive!!! by Jessie

The cool thing about languages is that they are always changing—obviously the English that Shakespeare spoke is not the same as the English we speak today! Every year we find new words in the English language, and many of them become popular with people your age and my age. Here are some expressions you might hear (some common ones and some that are “new”) and that you might like to use yourself.

Have a one-track mind: when you only think about one thing

Example: “Thomas only thinks about football, he has a one-track mind.”

Walk the walk: to act according to the words you say (some people say a lot but do not act the same way!)

Example: “Carly says that she really wants to go to university, but she never studies. She needs to walk the walk.”

A piece of cake: something that is really easy

Example: “That English exam was a piece of cake, I got a 10!”

FOMO: “Fear Of Missing Out”—when you go somewhere because you don’t want to miss anything fun.

Example: “It was so rainy this weekend and I wanted to stay home, but then my friends invited me to a party. I had FOMO so I ended up going.”


basic: someone who is very boring/plain/does everything that is popular at the moment that everyone else is doing it

Example: “Allyson is wearing her white Converse sneakers with jeans and a short shirt. She’s so basic.”

YOLO: “You Only Live Once”—an expression used to motivate us to do something, because life is short

Example: “I was super nervous to go skydiving, but hey—YOLO!”yolocatsilver_fullpic

babe: a name for a really attractive person, also a name we use for boyfriends/girlfriends

Example: “The actor from The Hunger Games is such a babe, I love him.”

busted: when you get in trouble

Example: “Stephanie had a party in her house when her parents were gone, but they came home early and were so mad. She was busted.”

geek: a name for someone who is a little strange and likes things that are less popular (stereotypically they do not have a lot of friends, do not dress well, and are very intelligent—look for Steve Urkel on Google and he is the perfect example!)

Example: “That kid over there with the huge glasses and white socks is always on the computer alone. He’s kind of a geek.”

Hope to hear some of these in class with me this week and next! 🙂

Do dogs say “GUAU” in English?


     A funny question that I have sometimes heard from the youngest students is “Do dogs say ‘Guau’ in English?”, or “How do dogs bark in English?”. It may sound naive or childish but it is not so stupid to make that question as most people think.

     To begin with let me show you this illustration that provides the onomatopoeia used in many languages of the sound dogs make. This will show you that we are dealing with a cultural aspect radically different from one language to another. 


     It is funny to notice the amount of onomatopoeias that there are in English.  There are lots of words that imitate sounds and whose meanings are related to the sounds they evoke. Crash, crack, splash, zip, twank, boo, flip, knock, hiss, jingle, twinkle, boom, … and many more, are good examples.

      When it comes to animal sounds, and in spite of a few similarities, it is funny to notice how different animals sound in English, that is, how different the word used to reproduce the sound of an animal in English is from the one used in Spanish. This is a very interesting cultural aspect.

If a cow says “moo” in English, what does she say in Spanish? Mu, of course. But when we’re talking about sounds that animals make, it isn’t always that simple.

That shouldn’t be surprising — after all, in English words such as “bark,” “bow-wow,” “ruff-ruff” and “arf” are used to imitate the sound of a dog.

The following list shows the sounds made by various “Spanish-speaking” animals and the equivalent word or sound used by the “English-speaking” animals.

  • abeja(bee):bzzz (zumbar)— buzz
  • búho(owl):uu uu (ulular)— who, hoo, hoot
  • burro(donkey):iii-aah (rebuznar)— heehaw
  • caballo(horse):jiiiiiii, iiiiou (relinchar)— neigh, n-a-a-a-y
  • cabra(goat):bee bee (balar)—baa, b-a-a-a-a
  • cerdo(pig):oink-oink, oinc-oinc (gruñir)— oink
  • gallina(hen):coc co co coc (cacarear), kara-kara-kara-kara— cluck
  • gallo(rooster):kikirikí, ki-kiri-ki (cantar)— cock-a-doodle-doo
  • gato(cat):miau (maullar)— meow
  • león(lion):grrrr, grgrgr (rugir)— roar, growl
  • oveja(sheep):bee, mee (balar)— baa, b-a-a-a-h
  • paloma(dove):cu-curru-cu-cú (arrullar))— coo
  • pato(duck):cuac cuac— quack
  • pavo(turkey):gluglú— gobble
  • perro(dog):guau guau, guau (ladrar)— bark, bow-wow, arf, ruff
  • pollito(chick):pío pío— chirp, tweet (That’s why Tweety is Piolín in Spanish)
  • rana(frog):cruá cruá, berp, croac (croar)— ribbit, croak
  • vaca(cow):mu, muuu (mugir)— moo
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Some Advice from Jessie

“At this point I have been in Lopez de Arenas almost seven months! The time has flown by, and I have just one month left. It has been great seeing the students’ English improve and I am continuously impressed by how much they understand. One thing we could work on more, however, is RESPONDING in English. Students are quick to let me know they understand, but when it comes to forming their own sentences they tend to be much quieter. Here are some pieces of advice I have for students to help them improve their vocabulary and fluency:

Even if you feel silly, always TRY to speak in English in class. Even if it is not perfect, mistakes are the only way to learn what is correct and what is not. I remember making lots of mistakes while learning Spanish, but I learned far more from making myself speak than I ever did from a book. Besides, what is the point of learning another language if you never use it?
When you watch American/British movies or television, listen to the original version with Spanish subtitles. It’s an easy way to get used to hearing how different words sound pronounced by a native speaker without being bored! I really like the shows Modern Family and The Voice. If you ever go to Seville center, there is a movie theater that plays new movies in the original version with Spanish subtitles (Avenida 5). On Wednesdays they are cheaper too!
315subtitlesIf you don’t know the word for something, it’s ok! Just use words that you do know. For example, if you don’t know how to say “granja” in English (farm), you could say “the place where there are animals and land.”
Look up the song lyrics (letras) in English to American songs that you like. A lot of popular songs in Spain come from the United States or England, and it is an easy way to learn vocabulary that you can actually use (when you sing you will know what you are saying).
Keep up the good work in class, and talk to you soon!”
By Jessica Gibian