The Present is never Perfect

July 14, 2014

10,000 hours may be necessary to master the violin according to a recent Economist article. Nevertheless, while it can be argued that with enough practice anything is possible, research may prove otherwise. Unless you have a musical ear, years of practice may just not be enough!


As teachers I think we must agree that the same applies to language learning: practice will certainly help and, indeed, is essential but it may not make you perfect. Twenty some years on I still speak (pretty good) Spanish with an awful foreign accent, and it is not from a lack of practice.

It is humbling to realise I may never be perfect and gratifying, encouraging even to realise many of our students won’t be either. But that is no reason to stop teaching or learning. 10,000 hours can never go to waste, can they? That would be too ironic: even Alanis Morissette might agree.

Original article at



Thanks for all the phishing

September 19, 2013

Hi all and welcome back to a new teaching year after the summer. For those of you who may be slightly paranoid about internet security the Economist has an in-dept survey on the issue and an interesting debate about whether or not security agencies should be allowed pervert the flow of information as it were. If you don’t want to read the complete article scroll down to the fun section on Panoramic paranoia where the newspaper gives some tips on being really safe electronically (ie keep your mobile safe from interference by switching it off, taking out the battery and storing it in the fridge when not in use).

This blog is, of course, about technology and teaching but maybe the security issues remain the same. At what point should we shut technology out and store it in the fridge just in case it corrupts our classrooms? My daughter has just started secondary school and has been told that all mobile devices have to be turned off and locked away during school hours. A recent talk by a work-mate encouraged me to get my teenagers to take our their mobile phones and use them creatively in class last night. There is always a back door when it comes to technology. The trick may not be finding it but using it productively, creatively and in a way that stimulates the teaching and learning process. Technology is not an automatic virus. It can be, but in education that probably depends on the teacher.

That has always been the intention of this blog: learning about and using technology in the best pedagogical way possible. I have just re-read the aims of this blog stated in the WHY section and I hope to some extent they have been fulfilled.

Time moves on and technologically things change ever quicker than time does. After nearly 300 posts I think this blog may have reached an end. Three years is a long time in the history of internet. Things have moved on. I may return here or on a new blog when I have found a new angle: at the moment I feel that it is time for an upgrade, and they always take time to de-bug.

Meanwhile thanks for all the phising! Let me leave you with one final clip which does what we try to do every class: put a humanistic layer on intelligence, artificial or not.

Double trouble?

March 20, 2012

Not a lot new perhaps in this article on bilingualism but it does touch on all the issues involved. It is also interesting to compare this view from Madrid with other areas of Spain. Madrid may be in the center but, for lots of logical reasonos, Andalucia is certainly not the same as the Basque country when it comes to forms, means and attitudes to bilingual education.

Word perfect

January 30, 2012

Have just found this Trinity College page with lots of worksheets if you are preparing Trinity oral exams.

It’s English Jim, but not as we know it …

October 31, 2011

You may have seen this before but it is new to me: gibberish … how to speak English without making a sound, or rather, without making sense.

And more on the theme from this great blog post:

Testing Times?

April 13, 2010

For those of you who prepare students for the Cambridge Main Suite Exams (KET, PET, FCE, CAE, CPE) Cambridge ESOL has finally placed some sample oral exams on it’s website at They are not graded but they do provide samples of “typical” pass students and some comments on their performance. Useful for teacher training for the level or for use in class with students preparing for these exams. The navegation bar on the right provides further links of interest including information and insights into how Cambridge exam development works.