Saturday, January 28, 2012

Foam Party at School-yard Many Years ago

End of Course Foam Party in the School-yard

This is a very old picture I just found by chance from many years ago. We were just celebrating the end of a hard school year, and I wonder whether the activity could have further didactic applications from the point of view of bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence like, for example, illustrating the cultural revolution of the sixties, the French May of 1968, the Oil Crisis of 1973.

Any other suggestion?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Physical Education in FLT - Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence

Rochelle is our Conversational Assistant from California. One of our last classes was about Health Issues, and since she is an expert on diets and exercises, she did not hesitate to bring her own devices to our language class and invite everybody to give it a shot. My students were delighted with the experience and so was I. Rochelle, you are wonderful!

This is a summary of bodily-Kalisthenic activities and proposals, hope you enjoy them:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lindy Hop Dancing

Hi again,

Mingo asked me to provide you with some caving story or to explain what my dancing is about. Although right now I do feel like telling a story, it's not going to be one about caves but about the latter topic: for the last year I've been taking dancing lessons for a dance called Lindy Hop.

As you might have guessed, dancing is something that never had crossed my mind, until more or less a year ago, when my girlfriend casually mentioned, that she had appointed us for some dancing lessons. I was shocked. Me dancing?
Since she made clear that the decision already had been taken and the lessons paid, there was nothing I could do about it except to hope that by some twist of fate I still could escape from it. No miracle happened and D-day arrived far too early.

In the meantime I had been told that the dance in question was called Lindy Hop and that it's danced to Jazz music - not the contemporanian one but rather that of bigbands from the thirties, of Ella Fitzgerald and so one. In short, it’s one of various styles of dancing to Swing music. Since I don’t dislike that kind of music at all, I came to the conclusion, that it could have been worse.

The day of our first lesson I was so nervous that I even felt sick. At the beginning of the class everything was apparently under control, but soon disaster struck. It came in the form of the order to switch partners. I couldn't believe it. I was forced to stay close to women totally strange to me and I not only had to touch but even grab them! Furthermore I was told to keep on moving as awkwardly as I had been taught before, trying to remember a most complex pattern of steps and twists, while standing emberassingly close to my everchanging partners. What in name of other's gods had I done to deserve that? (I'm an atheist, by the way.)

But once I accepted the new situation like a kind of divine punishment for the sins somebody else had committed in my name, it soon turned out to be real fun. During the rest of the class (and every class since then) the partner switching went on on a 2-to-3-minutes-base, interrupted by further instructions given, so that by the end of the class I rejoined my girlfriend and for the first time in my life actually danced with her. With the passing of some time and more lessons, both of us got slowly hooked to Lindy Hop.

By now you might ask yourself what exactly Lindy Hop is and what the differences to other dances are. I’ll try to enlighten you as well as I can, but please have in mind, that I’m absolutely no expert at all at this. The following is only what I believe to remember of the information I gathered together during the last year. I haven’t consulted any sources of information in order to write this for you.

It’s said that the name Lindy Hop has to do with Charles Lindberg’s “hop” across the Atlantic that took place in the twenties. Lindy first evolved in US-cities and was exclusively danced by black people, especially in Harlem, New York. And that’s why it’s less stiff and more elastic compared to other dances like waltz or cha cha cha. Lindy’s godfather was a lad called Frank Manning who invented most of the steps and inspired most of the later dancers who then figured out the rest of them. After the Second World War Lindy disappeared and got kind of forgotten until in the eighties (again, please don’t nail me down on the numbers) it started to regain popularity. Some Swedish dancers then contacted Mr. Manning in order to ask him to teach them how to hop properly. Despite of his age he taught them, giving the spark for a new Lindy community to grow. It’s still Sweden where the popularity of this dance is highest, but during the last twenty years it also started to appear in more and more cities around the world. Today a large number of annual Lindy festivals take place, the most important in a Swedish village called Herräng, but also in most big European, North-American and South-East-Asian cities Lindy happenings take place and lessons can be taken.

In Barcelona for example, several dance-schools and associations offer Lindy lessons and so does one in Terrassa, which is called the Terrassa Hoppers. That’s the one my girlfriend and me attend on a weekly base.

As I mentioned before, Lindy is a more elastic and less strict dance when compared to the commonly known partner dances. At our level that might not be important, since we usually stick to our memorised patterns and soon get lost if something doesn't turn out properly but more advanced dancers, by contrast, give space to each other while dancing and they often encourage their partners to improvise. The best way to understand Lindy is by watching an advanced couple on the dancefloor. If you ignore their footwork for a moment and just look at their bodies, they seem to be connected by a rubber band and constantly stretch apart only to almost bounce together a moment after, preventing this by twisting around each other or passing under the partner’s arm. To reach a point of fluid dancing, though, an important amount of time spent into practicing is required, because hopping well is a quite difficult task.

This summer my girlfirend and me participated in the Herräng Dance Camp, the Swedish festival I've mentioned before, in order to boost our dancing skills. We inscribed to a week of classes in the intermediate course. At that moment we didn't know that Herräng was the world's cathedral of Lindy Hop with both, dancers and teachers coming from all over the world. During our week there we were tought by six different couples of teachers, all of them considered to be world class hoppers and we even had a master class given by an old Lady called Dawn Hampton who back in the golden age of Lindy Hop was Frank Manning's dancing partner. Herräng was a very interesting experience to us and quite a different way to make vacations. Furthermore we got to know interesting people from all over the world and we're already keen on returning there in 2012.

Dirk Hamdorf - October 2011

Come on Guys, a Little Bit of Common Sense!

Welcome to our school,

we share with you the thrill of breaking linguistic barriers and sharing our experiences with the rest of the world,
there's nothing more challenging and enriching than getting to know other cultures, their social and even working conditions.

We only hope you students don't expect to learn a foreign language
just by coming to class,
that'd be totally unrealistic and immature!

In a way, a language school's like a music school,
you NEED TO PRACTICE your instrument -that is, your voice- outside so

is essential to complete your learning process; otherwise, please forget it, don't waste your time and ours.

READING out loud and SPEAKING must be part of it, not for too long, but at least five or ten minutes of your daily homework routine:

Read the transcripts of any LISTENING activity while playing it; then, tape your voice. Wait for a few days, and replay both your own recording and the listening track. Can you recall most of the message?

are usually the keys to keep up these challenges, so try to enjoy the ride with someone else:
Read lyrics, Listen to songs, Sing along and Learn them.
Read movie transcripts and watch them, then memorize a few sentences, play with pronunciation and entonation.

Review the upcoming lesson beforehand, complete the new VOCABULARY & GRAMMAR activities on your workbook and check it out with the answer key. Then, make a point of practicing the new stuff in the SPEAKING activities of the next class.

Keep in mind that we're all competent speakers of our mother tongue without any grammar explanation whatsoever, and so are speakers from other languages,

Which, of course, doesn't release us teachers from the resposibility to explain GRAMMAR or answer your doubts, but it gives you enough autonomy to practice SPEAKING in the classroom with limited supervision for
both purposes: accuracy and fluency.

Remember that understanding, completing and checking any activity from the student's book, workbook or grammar book is only half of your assignment, the other extremely important half is to transform those examples into personal statements with an emotional load and the commitment to verbalize them right away.

Being repeatedly exposed to the new code and using it is obviously the best way to increase your active vocabulary and language structures -particularly in advanced courses.

If you follow these instructions, you can rest assured that your real command of a foreign language and your self-esteem will increase dramatically; were you visiting or working in another country, your linguistic adaptation should be fast and smooth; otherwise, you might pass a certificate exam, but you won't experience the deep satisfaction of sharing your music, that is, using a language with ease and fluency.