Friday, March 14, 2014

Talking about the past

We have been talking about the past this week. For today's activity you have to write a story of something that happened to you in the past. For this activity you need to follow these rules:

  1. Use the grammatical forms we have seen, AT LEAST ONCE (present perfect, simple past, past continuous, past perfect, past perfect continuous).
  2. A minimum of 400 words. A maximum of 500 words. NO less, NO more.
  3. Use vocabulary from all the units we have seen.
  4. Be very careful with spelling and grammar.
  5. Save it in a Word document and mail it to as an attachment with the title ThePast_FirstNameLastName [for example, ThePast_RafaelOrtiz].
  6. DO NOT use translators.
  7. I will only grade documents sent by 5 p.m. NOTHING after that time. 
  8. The work counts as your attendance to class. Consequentely, no work means no attendance.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Backpacking versus Flashpacking

How would you like to go backpacking or flashpacking around the world?
You are going to research online in order to build an itinerary for a 2-month backpacking trip, and another one for a two-month flashpacking trip in your designated area. Both itineraries must show the true difference between these concepts.


  1. Every thing has to be in the budget; food, entertainment, transportation (from San Luis Potosí and back) and accomodation.
  2. No clubbing. Take a cultural interest in the cities you are visiting; museums, real restaurants, cultural festivals, sightseeing, and one sporting event if possible.
  3. Include real schedules and fees for transportation.
  4. You can not use translators or copy and paste your text. 
  5. you must explain your choices and decisions.
  6. Your itineraries must be saved in powerpoint presentations saved as Backpacking_team#, and Flashpacking_team#.
  7. Both itineraries have to be mailed by the end of the class to
  8. Look at the Travel Channel and the Food Network for recommendations.
  9. Don't waste your time.
  • Team 1. Australia: Fridé, Luz, Sophie
  • Team 2. England, Scotland & Ireland: Paco, Sandra Rubio
  • Team 3. New Zealand: Lalo Castro, Betzabeth, Alex
  • Team 4. India. Gustavo, Karina, Tony
  • Team 5. Malasya and indonesia: Lalo Mejía, Saide, Dulce
  • Team 6. Vuetnam and Thailand: Jorge, Sandra, Julio
  • Team 7. Russia: Edgardo, Michelle, Victoria
  • Team 8. Finland, Sweeden, Norway: Esther, Vernice

Monday, February 24, 2014

Who has time to read?

I most certainly hope you do.
In college I read voraciously. I frowned upon books on tape, but I didn't really mind having tape on my books, battle scars. I did, however, listen to tons of music on tapes as I read (my faithful Sony Walkman). I wrote notes on the margin. I read on the bus. I read while I ate. I read on park benches. I read on my way to class. I read in classes which I did not find particularly interesting. I read in bed. Hell! I bought a book by Gabriel Zaid "Cómo leer en bicicleta" hoping it would enlighten me or awaken my senses, in order to safely carry out such a hazardous task. In all honesty I should point out that I haven't had a bike since I was 18, and that reading and riding (pun intended) was not the point of book anyway.

I am not a fan of listening to books. We must read, it is the aerobic workout of the brain. Nowadays, reading seems to be more of a challenge (as a result of time constrains for many, but mostly due to plain laziness). There are mp3 files which allow you to get some material in. I want to direct your attention to The New Yorker for downloads. These are short stories that have been published in this fine magazine. This is a way to get to know stories that, otherwise, we might not come in contact with. Having said that, you will go to the archive. Just click on the title "A Head Cold" to LISTEN to the the podcast on your computer. By the end of tonight you will email me ( an essay; a word document (300 to 350 words). If you do not know what an essay is go to . I do NOT want a critic's opinion or something from the internet. I want YOU to write it. The attachment must be saved with the TITLE_your last name. I will only accept the eamils that comply with the criteria and which are sent by 9:00 PM.
  Download it later if you want to listen to listen to it again, and I sincerely hope all of us can find the time to read.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Know what you're talking about!

What we're trying to do here is get you to be an amazing public speaker. So, how do we go about doing that? We do it by getting you to do presentations, and then a few more presentations... and a some more presentations after that. You get the idea.
Let's look at some tips from the Toastmasters website.

  1. I will make sure you that master these tips not by memory, but by constant work; 
  2. Make the right moves. Don't hold up the wall, it won't fall.. 
  3. Your visual support is vital to your presentation;
  4. Let's avoid this; 
  5. If you lose it and things go wrong, this link will help you; 

And now the rules:

  • Presentation will be about a city in Europe, which begins with the same letter as your first name (what we call you in class).
  • There are a few exceptions. You can not talk about Paris, Madrid, London, Barcelona, Venice, Rome, Amsterdam, or Milan... GET creative talk about something which most people don't talk about.
  • You will leave a comment, mentioning the city you have chosen and why you think it is a unique place to talk about.
  • By the end of the class, you will email me at with the main points of your presentation. That is the order in which you will do your presentation, and the reason why you have chosen the visual support, and where you have obtained the information. With the correct blbliographical references (not just pasting the URL;
  • Presentations will be done as off Thursday February 20th, HOWEVER you MUST email me your complete presentation on Tuesday, February 18th by midnight at the latest. That will give you enough time to practice.

Monday, February 10, 2014

PowerPoint and putting people to sleep.

When was the last time you saw or did an interesting or exciting presentation? Was it creative? Are you creative? You are about to do your first real presentation in class. There is a certain level of expectations, after all, you are in Level 5. However there are a few things that you have to take into account: 

You will do this presentation in PowerPoint. There are so many PowerPoint presentations that are just absolutely boring. 
  1. So don't be boring. Here is a fun video that you can watch to get an idea of what to avoid. 
  2. Speaking in public can be a little scary... or very scary. Here are some tips on how to do it better; 
  3. The other thing is that you have to be as creative as possible. Don't be an immitation of everything you dislike, just because that is so much easier. On, we read:
    "Creativity isn’t hard. You shouldn’t be out there, wondering how to find it. You should be focusing your effort into finding what makes you feel inspired.
    I’ll give you one great reason why you should at least try to be creative:
    Life is boring without creativity. It becomes stale and predictable.
    You don’t want to become stale and predictable do you?
    I’m only talking to you like this, because you need a wake up call. Your creativity is not something you can unlock through a blog (ironically, even though that’s just what this blog is intended to do).
    It’s something inside of you.
    Creativity is a realization, more than something we practice.
    I’m not saying you’ll be able to paint like Rembrandt, because that is art. Art isn’t directly equivalent to creativity."
  4. I expect you to follow all these links in order, read all texts completely:So go to read it
    then to and take the following points into account.

    a. Play

    Feeling the need for speed, Ben Franklin, as a boy, crafted one of the earliest sets of swim fins. Architect Frank Gehry, who designed the gravity-defying Walt Disney Concert Hall, in Los Angeles, has been known to construct model buildings out of crumpled paper instead of using a computer.

    b. Borrow Ideas

    William Shakespeare famously filched plot points for many of his plays, including King Lear. (As French author François-René de Chateaubriand wrote, “The original writer is not he who refrains from imitating others, but he who can be imitated by none.”) Steve Jobs copied the idea of the personal computer from a Xerox prototype and ran with it.

    c. Sleep on It

    Salvador Dalí once said, “All of my best ideas come through my dreams.” Sigmund Freud’s fascination with his own dreams led to a new avenue for exploring psychology.

    d. Collect Every Seed of an Idea

    Martha Graham, grande dame of modern dance, kept copious notebooks scribbled with quotations from Plato and Virgil, alongside choreography notes. Woody Allen stuffs scraps of paper with script ideas (“Man inherits all the magic tricks of a great magician”) in a bedside drawer.

    e. Embrace Constraints

    In 1907 asthma-suffering janitor James Murray Spangler was in search of a dust-free vacuum cleaner, so he concocted a machine from a box fan, a soapbox, a pillowcase, and a broom handle. Theodor Seuss Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, was challenged by his publisher to write a book using only 50 words. Green Eggs and Ham was the result.

    f. Commune With Nature

    Ludwig van Beethoven heard symphonic melodies in the sounds of the countryside. In 1941 Swiss engineer George de Mestral invented Velcro after observing the burrs that stuck to his clothing and his dog’s fur during a walk in the woods.

    g. Compete

    The Beach Boys and the Beatles had a rivalry that led to each band’s greatest albums. Inspired by the Beatles’ Rubber Soul, Brian Wilson created Pet Sounds, which Paul McCartney tried to outdo with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.—Yolanda Wikiel
  5. At the end you will leave a comment (with your name) in the blog describing what your topic will be and saying why it is creative and different, and how all of this information will improve your experience. 
This type of activity is called a webquest. This is designed to help you give a very successful presentation. 

Rules for presentations:

  • Presentations will be given as off Wednesday, February 19th from 4 to 5 PM. So you have enough time to prepare well.
  • You can NOT read you presentation. You MUST show me your notes on Wednesday so I can approve them. No notes = NO presentation.
  • Presentations will be NO shorter than 2 (two) minutes and NO longer than 3 (three) minutes. Time yourself. Practice.
  • Presentations will be graded according to this criteria. So you MUST download this document, in order for you to know and understand what you will be graded on. 
  • If you have questions, talk to me.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

How would you get people like you to visit museums?

As you get ready to present your projects, it is quite important that you get further experience in the world of museums. These are some links to some museums which I love. Also some explinations on how culture is accessed and used in Mexico. Visit every link, take a tour, watch videos, look at pictures, read the posts... and do some serious research.
As you take an extensive tour of the museum sites, take notes and come to your own conclusions. Remember that the objective of your visits and these links is to inspire you to understand the importance of art and museums, in order for you to find a way to motivate young people like you to visit museums. The objective of the presentations is not to describe museums. 

At the end of the class you must show you hand written notes, which will be used for an 800-word essay to be handed in on Monday, December 2nd. Projects will be presented as of that date as well. 

  • You may present with any means you want.
  • Along with your essay you will turn in the evidence of your visit to the museums, and the notes you used for your essay. 
  • Presentations can not be read.
  • Executive uniforms must be worn when you present.
  1. Alejandro and Julio
  2. Jaime and Eduardo Alvarado
  3. Monserrat and Rubi
  4. MaFer and Victor
  5. Sebastian and Max
  6. Jazmin and Tere
  7. Mariana and Ninfa
  8. Yalexia and Sofie
  9. Alejandra and Fernando
  10. Adrian and Eduardo Uriel

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dr. Ralf & His Pupils Battle the Bad Grammar Zombies

As move on with your own blogs, you need to pay lots of attention to your spelling and your grammar. There are many words which are commonly misspelled, but they are spelled as other words, thus your spell checker does not pick up on those mistakes.

As if spelling weren't enough trouble, there is all that punctuation that must be taken care of. Rules here, rules there, rules everywhere.

Now, I'm afraid I have some bad news and some good news for you.

Check SpellingThe bad news is that you MUST apply and follow the rules. The good news is that you have Doctor Ralf on your corner! I know it goes without saying, but having Doctor Ralf on your corner (when facing English Grammar) is like El Santo at your side when facing mommies (from Guanajuato or anywhere else). You know, like having that hot chick when you need to battle Resindent Evil zombies. Chainsaw-wielding, gunshot-toting English-teaching-machine Doctor Ralf is here next to you as you face The Bad Grammar Zombies. Furthermore, we could say that it is like having Gandalf if you are a hobbit going into Mordor. It has been said that it is like knowing Batman is coming as your facing grammar's Joker... I could go on, but I'm sure you get the point by now.

So it is very clear that I am here to help you, but you have to roll up your sleves and join the struggle... do your part. Kill those zombies. As it would be said in a movie "They ain't gonna kill themselves"

Here are some links to help you along the way.
  • Another area of difficulty for many is the correct use of the apostrophe. some people think thay are for plurals... others just don't think about it at all.

  • On a more serious side, The Grammar Book has rules and quizzes to check how well you have learned the rules.
Now you have a chainsaw to start cutting grammar zombies in half. You just need to pull the chain and start shredding. Have fun.