The Alphabet Game

Estrenamos Alphabet Game para 2017. Los que seguís la Daily Vitamin desde hace años seguramente ya habréis vivido más de un Alphabet Game de los que hacemos en verano.

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Mañana empieza una nueva edición. Del 25 de mayo al 30 de junio jugaremos a este concurso con el objetivo de aprender nuevo vocabulario y repasar las Daily Vitamins de este año académico. Y, por supuesto, también os vamos a dar la oportunidad de ganar un premio:

PREMIOS

  • 1r premio: Kindle Fire Tablet
  • 2º premio: cheque regalo de Amazon valorado en 25€
  • 3r premio: 2 entradas de cine para ver la película que tu quieras

Cada día daremos una definición o pista para una palabra o expresión que empieza con una letra específica del abecedario. Empezaremos con la letra A, luego la B, la C… hasta que completemos las 26 letras del alfabeto inglés.

Enviaremos la pista en la Daily Vitamin y la compartiremos en Facebook y Twitter.

IMPORTANTE: para participar (y ganar uno de los premios) deberéis:

  1. Ser seguidor de alguna de las siguientes redes sociales (Facebook o Twitter)
  2. Compartir el post inicial (del 24 de mayo) en una de las redes sociales
  3. Postear la respuesta correcta en una de nuestras redes sociales cada día. Al final de las 26 lecciones, la persona con más puntos ganará.

CÓMO CONSEGUIR PUNTOS Y GANAR

Por publicar una respuesta correcta en nuestras redes sociales, cada participante del Alphabet Game recibe automáticamente un punto. Entre los participantes que posteen respuestas correctas cada día, el primer participante recibe 10 puntos adicionales, el segundo participante recibe 9 puntos adicionales, el tercero recibe 8 puntos adicionales, etc. Por lo tanto, las primeras 10 personas que publiquen obtienen 1 punto más los puntos adicionales según su posición (de la 1ª a la 10ª).

Si tienes alguna pregunta, contacta con nosotros (didactic@ziggurat.es).

¡Esperamos vuestra participación!

TEACHER INTERVIEW. Let’s meet Steve Roberts

We have a lot of musicians and artists on the team! Today, we’re interviewing Steve Roberts, who’s not only a singer and musician but also one of our most experienced English teachers.

Steve was born in Northampton (England). He’s been working as an English teacher for 23 years and working for Ziggurat since 2006. Apart from teaching, Steve has also written books and articles about teaching and training methodology and he’s trained as a coach. He also plays music and loves walking in the mountains or on the beach. Now let’s meet him!

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Photo: Àlex Fernandez

Hi Steve! Glad to interview you. First of all, let’s talk a little bit about you.

Q: You’ve been living in Barcelona for a while. When did you decide to move here and why?
A; Well, it’s a long story, but it was in 1994, and basically because I loved the city and had the feeling that I could make a life here.

Q: What is your favourite thing about Barcelona?
A: Now it’s become really cosmopolitan, so there are a lot of fantastic places to eat, for example Indian food, Japanese, etc. But there are lots of other things…

Q: Tell us something about your background…
A: I studied English literature at University College London and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, then spent ten years trying to make a living as a writer. Because this is virtually impossible if you don’t already have a job as a journalist or academic, in the end I decided to teach English, which is when I moved to Barcelona.

Q: You’ve been working for Ziggurat for more than 10 years and you teach a lot of English telephone classes. Let’s focus on these.
A: Why would you recommend this type of classes? They’re basically one-to-one classes, so you get personalised attention from your teacher throughout the class. Also, because of the format, you have to concentrate very hard on listening, so it develops your comprehension quickly in this essential skill. Finally, it’s very flexible, and can easily be adapted to your work schedule.

Q: What type of learning activities do you most like to emphasise in your classes?
A: A bit of everything is necessary, but I specially emphasise speaking, since that’s most people’s main priority, and it’s the most powerful way to learn new language in general.

Q: What aspect of the Ziggurat classes or methodology would you like to highlight?
A: I don’t know, there are a lot of positive things… Perhaps the way that we do our best to adapt the classes to the specific needs of the students. And the communicative focus, so that we’re teaching people to communicate effectively from day one.

Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Again, there are a lot of things, but I particularly like the social side of meeting a wide range of people from many walks of life and helping them to communicate in English.

Steve

Photo: Àlex Fernandez

Apart from teaching, you’re also a singer. You have recently launched a new CD, ‘The Loss and the Gain’

Q: What music do you play and sing?
A: It ranges from folk to acoustic pop and rock.

Q: Do you write the lyrics? If so, what inspires you to write?
A: Yes, I write both the lyrics and the music. I never know what’s inspiring me until I get an idea!

Q: When is your next gig?
A: At the moment I don’t have any lined up because I’m recording a couple of new albums. But I expect I’ll play one again soon. If you know of any good places to play, tell me!

Q: Where can we see you?
A: I play a lot in venues in Sant Boi, where I live. Apart from that I’ve also played often in La Contra, an art space in Poble Sec. That’s the type of venue I like. But when I have a gig lined up I’ll let you know!

Q: And finally, how does your musician side influence you as an English teacher?
A: I use music in my classes, but most teachers do! Also I try to help my students as much as possible with their pronunciation, and having a musician’s ear really helps in this respect.

It was great to know more about you! Thank you very much for the interview, Steve! 🙂

You’re very welcome! All the best!

You can follow Steve on his Facebook page, the page of his band Grog. And you can also listen to him on this Bandcamp links: Steve Roberts and Grog.

Steve was also interviewed by Olga Merino (El Periódico) on April the 3rd. Check it out! STEVE BRUCE ROBERTS_elPeriodico_3apr17

The Secret to Learning a Second Language (by Matthew Ray)

Since the launch of Ziggurat Language Services SL, back in 2003, I have been offering our new students, whenever possible, the First Class.

The First Class is a session that is done before the language training begins in a company; the presentation has the objective of making students aware of the “secrets” to learning a foreign language. Those secrets are a mix of “reality checks” about what one really needs to do to learn and maintain their second (or third) language, as well as some common-sense strategies to guarantee successful learning.images

REALITY CHECK
Before you can successfully learn a language, you need to accept the following truths/realities.

  1. No one can teach you a foreign language, you have to learn it.
  2. You are the only one who can guarantee your success.
  3. It is very important to maintain what you have learned in your second-language, which will require daily contact with the language, for the rest of your life!

These three reality checks bring us to a clear conclusion: unless you develop the habit of including daily contact with the language you are learning, you will not progress very much or, worse yet, you will lose any progress that you have made.

THE THREE FACTORS THAT EXPLAIN MOST STUDENTS’ “FAILURE”
There are three factors that most affect whether or not you learn your second language:

1. The Psychological Factor
2. The Contact-Time Factor
3. The Listening Factor

1- The Psychological Factor: you become what you think about all day long
I have met thousands of people over the years that think they have some sort of inherent problem that inhibits them from learning another language (a genetic defect?). They say things like “I’ll never learn English”, “I’m a disaster with languages” or “I’m going to die without knowing English“. Thinking these thoughts is very dangerous, since you will eventually believe them and they will negatively affect your ability to learn.

Your mind is the “muscle” that you use to learn a language, and you can greatly increase the rate of learning by speaking positively (and honestly) to yourself. So rather than thinking that you will die before learning English (or Russian, or French, or German…), tell yourself that you can learn the language, that you will overcome obstacles and that you are determined to be successful. And remember this… all of my students have been much better than they thought they were. Think about that before you start criticizing yourself.

2- The Contact-Time Factor: 120 hours of class is the equivalent of a weekend of practice
How can someone living in Paris, for example, expect to learn English if the only contact time they have with English are the 90 minutes of class they have each week? If you want to learn, you must increase your contact time with the target language.

Imagine doing a 120-hour language course perfectly, without missing a single day. In reality, that’s only the equivalent of about one week of contact (as the following calculations show):

1 day = 24 hours – Sleep (8 hours) = 16 hours per day awake (24 – 8 = 16)
Total -> 120 hours ÷ 16 hours = 7.5 days

To increase contact time, you need to incorporate the target language into your daily routine. If you dedicate 5 to 15 minutes per day, that’s around 6 more days of annual contact time; but more importantly, by maintaining constant contact with the language, you are avoiding losing progress, which will further motivate you to keep learning.

The path to learning a language is not a sprint, but rather a marathon; you need to maintain a steady pace for a long time.

3- The Listening Factor: if you improve your listening skills, the other skills will quickly follow. If your listening (comprehension) skills are limited, then…

  • You will be more nervous and tense when interacting with other speakers, which makes communication (and learning) even more difficult.
  • You won’t be able to learn new vocabulary because you can’t hear new words when you communicate with other speakers.
  • Your pronunciation will be limited too, since the first step to correct pronunciation is hearing the correct pronunciation. If you can’t hear the difference between shit [ʃɪt] and sheet [ʃi:t], for example, then how do you expect to pronounce them correctly.

Students often avoid listening practice because they get frustrated when they only understand a fraction of what they are listening to. However, to get to the point where you can understand 80% of what you listen to in your target language, you must first pass through the stage of understanding 10%, 20%, 30%, etc. The more you listen, the sooner you will reap the benefits of understanding more of your second language. If you improve your listening skills, I promise that the other skills will quickly follow.

Check out our ‘Learning Tips’ section on the blog.

Remember… There is no Shortcut
I once had a coach who often said “no pain no gain”. Learning requires effort; it doesn’t have to be painful, but it does require determination, dedication and consistency. Don’t kid yourself anymore; take responsibility for your language learning. In the end, whether you learn or not is up to you, and it has nothing to do with a genetic defect. 🙂

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Recta final #MagicLine2017

¡A tan sólo 3 días de la #MagicLine2017 hemos superado nuestro objetivo solidario!

Queremos agradecer vuestra participación a todas y cada una de las personas y empresas que lo habéis hecho posible. Muchísimas gracias por colaborar con la #MagicLine2017 y haber ayudado a Ziggurat Team a lograr su reto.

El domingo caminaremos 10 km juntos  por la #MagicLine2017.

¿Sabéis que a las 17:00 horas habrá concierto solidario en la plaza de la Catedral de Barcelona?

¡Nos vemos!

TEACHER INTERVIEW. Let’s meet Scott Riley

Today we are interviewing our English teacher Scott Riley, who is also one of the artists of the team.

nScott was born in New York City, where, as an artist, worked in art-related jobs: teaching, gallery work, scenery painting, etc. He also managed a bar in Brooklyn for a few years before moving abroad, first to Glasgow and Hong Kong and eventually to Barcelona, where he has been living and teaching English for the last 11 years. He spends most of his free time with his wife and two teenage kids; he also enjoys traveling, cooking, reading and playing the bass guitar.

Hi Scott! First of all, let’s talk a little bit about your past.

Q: Where are you from?
A: I was born and raised in New York City. In the 70’s and 80’s New York still had some rough edges, but there was a lot happening in the music and art scenes, and it was an exciting place to be.

Q: What did you study?
A: I studied painting and sculpture at the School of Visual Arts, in Manhattan.

Q: You’ve been living in Barcelona for a while. Why Barcelona?
A: The short answer is that after 6 years in Glasgow I needed some sun! The quality of life in Barcelona is very good. This is due in part to the mild and sunny climate, but also to the mentality of the people, which is less aggressively careerist than in New York. Also it has deep cultural roots, and an increasingly cosmopolitan population, both enriching qualities. The food and the wine are also excellent!

Q: You started working for Ziggurat as an English teacher 3 years ago. What do you like most about your job?
A: Almost all of my students are interesting, well educated, and fun people, who enjoy talking about the crazy world we live in. Being a very social person, I think that’s a great way to spend the day.

Q: But you are also an artist. What do you do?
A: I make photographs that look like paintings.

Q: How and where we can see your work?
A: I rarely show in galleries, but you can follow me on Instagram @scottrileyart, or on the facebook page: Scott Riley Art. I also have books of my art, which I am happy to show anyone on request.

Q: How does your artistic side influence you as an English teacher?
A: I think that creative people generally have a well developed sense of curiosity, and an open mind; two qualities that serve well in other fields. Also, I’m always trying to improve on the last art I did, so I try to bring that idea into everything else.

Q: What type of learning activities do you most like to emphasise in your classes?
A: I like to focus on conversation skills, and teach my students lots of colloquial expressions. Fortunately that is what most of my students enjoy, but if they are looking for something else, I’m flexible.

Q: And finally, what do you like doing in your free time?
A: In the little free time that I have, I like to make art, play music, cook, read books, swim in the sea… Also to sit around a table eating good food and drinking nice wine with my family and friends. Clearly there are not enough days in the week!

It was great to know a little bit more about you!
Thank you very much for the interview, Scott!

TEACHER INTERVIEW. Let’s meet Rebecca Sweet!

Today we are interviewing Rebecca Sweet, one of our most popular English teachers.

Rebecca was born in Atherston (England). She’s been working for Ziggurat for 8 years and before teaching she worked in the hospitality industry. After qualifying as an English teacher she decided to move to Barcelona and has been teaching here ever since. If you can’t find her teaching around the city, you might bump into her walking her dog in Guinardó or snowboarding in the mountains. Now let’s meet her!

meHi Rebecca! Glad to interview you. First of all, let’s talk a little bit about your past.

Q: Where are you from?
A: I was born and raised in Atherstone, which is a small picturesque town situated in Warwickshire, England. Atherstone has a long history dating back to Roman times and is steeped in history.

Q: What did you study?
A: I studied Tourism and American studies at Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent and after I graduated I got a job as a Holiday Representative for Thompson Holidays, which led to a placement on the beautiful Island of Ibiza, where I worked in the hospitality industry for 10 years.

Q:You’ve been living in Barcelona for a while. Why Barcelona?
A: After 10 years of working in Ibiza I needed a career change, I’m a peoples person and I couldn’t bear the idea of returning to England and working a desk job, so in 2007 I decided to do my TEFL course. My teacher training was in Barcelona and I just fell in love with the city, there is so much to do and so much to see, I’m still discovering new places and things to do even after being here for 9 years, it’s a beautiful city.

Q: So a few years later you started working for Ziggurat as an English teacher. What do you like most about your job?
A: Honestly I love students who are motivated to learn English, that motivates me to make their learning experience enjoyable fun and worthwhile. Also there is the benefit of meeting a wide variety of people, every day is different and they do say, “Variety is the spice of life”.

Q: You’re very popular among our students. As an English teacher, what type of learning activities do you most like to emphasise in your classes?
A:I tend to try and adapt my activities to my students needs, I think every aspect of learning English is important and I focus on trying to get my students to achieve their goals so I like to find out what activities they enjoy doing and apply it to their classes.

Q: And finally, what do you like doing in your free time?
A: I don’t get a lot of free time because I’m a dog owner and most of my time is taken up walking him, we usually walk about 3-4 hours a day, fortunately I live near park Guinardó so it’s a pleasure to get a little out of the city so to speak and enjoy the spectacular views of Barcelona.

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When I do get a little time to myself I love to sew, I make my own clothes and I really enjoy the satisfaction of wearing something I have created. In the winter I snowboard when I can there is nothing quite like speeding down a mountain and getting that adrenaline rush. And of course I love having a couple of wines and a good gossip with my friends on a terrace in the evening.

It was great to know a little bit more about you! Thank you very much for the interview, Rebecca!

¿Sabes qué es un plan de estudios SMART? (Parte II)

Si leíste el post del martes, seguramente ya hayas estado pensando cómo crear un plan de estudios SMART y cómo llevarlo a cabo. Hoy te contamos cómo hacerlo tomando como ejemplo el idioma inglés (pero podríais aplicarlo a cualquier otro idioma):

Specific (Específico)
Measurable (Medible)
Attainable (Alcanzable)
Relevant (Relevante)
Time-oriented (Orientado en el tiempo)

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SPECIFIC

En primer lugar, necesitas pensar por qué quieres aprender inglés. ¿Quieres ser capaz de entender a los proveedores en la India por teléfono? ¿Está buscando un nuevo trabajo y quieres estar preparado para responder preguntas de la entrevista en inglés? ¿Quieres participar más en las reuniones? Todos estos son objetivos específicos.

Una vez que tengas un destino específico, piensa en lo que necesitas para lograrlo. Imagina que deseas poder participar más activamente en las reuniones con tus colegas internacionales. ¿Qué pasos específicos necesitas tomar para lograr esto? ¿Qué te detiene en inglés? Tal vez necesites:

  • Aumentar tus habilidades de listening
  • Mejorar tu fluidez y confianza
  • Aprender vocabulario relacionado con el trabajo y expresiones útiles para reuniones, como por ejemplo: Cómo interrumpir a alguien, cómo expresar tu opinión, cómo no estar de acuerdo.

MEASURABLE
El siguiente paso es decidir cómo puedes medir/supervisar tu progreso. Si tomamos las metas específicas anteriores, sabrás que has progresado cuando:

  • Entiendas más cosas de lo que están diciendo tus colegas.
  • Puedas hablar con confianza en las reuniones.
  • Hayas aprendido el vocabulario y las expresiones que necesitas.

ATTAINABLE / ACHIEVABLE
Ahora necesitas pensar sobre lo realista y alcanzable que es tu objetivo y lo que puedes hacer para lograrlo. Por ejemplo:

  • ¿Tienes tiempo para 2 clases por semana para enfocarte en tus habilidades de speaking?
  • ¿Realmente encontrarás 3 horas para emplear al listening cada semana?
  • ¿Puedes aprender 10 palabras nuevas a la semana?

RELEVANT
A continuación, debes comprobar que lo que estás haciendo en inglés es relevante para lograr tu objetivo. ¿Estás pasando 4 horas haciendo ejercicios de gramática para ayudarte a entender y hablar en una reunión? No pierdas el foco.

TIME-ORIENTED
Establecer límites de tiempo también nos ayuda a planear y estar motivados. En primer lugar, puedes establecer una fecha límite general, por ejemplo, en 6 meses podré participar activamente en la conferencia internacional. Entonces necesitas fijar límites de tiempo al contacto con el inglés y recordar que siempre es mejor dedicar un poco cada día en vez de 3 horas el fin de semana.

Por ejemplo:

  • Listening: Pasaré por lo menos 1 hora escuchando inglés por semana. Voy a ver un episodio de una serie y 10 minutos todos los días viendo las noticias en inglés.
  • Speaking: Pasaré una hora por semana haciendo 2 clases telefónicas para mejorar mi capacidad de hablar.
  • Vocabulary: dedicaré 10 minutos al día para revisar y consolidar vocabulario relacionado con mi trabajo y expresiones útiles para reuniones.

Así que no seas como Alice. Sé honesto/a con tu profesor de Ziggurat sobre a dónde quieres ir y lo que realmente puedes hacer fuera de clase. Así él/ella podrá ayudarte a establecer metas SMART y aseguraros de seguir el ‘mapa’ (plan de estudios) y dirigiros a vuestro destino.

¿Sabes qué es un plan de estudios SMART? (Parte I)

Ahora que ya han pasado unas semanas desde que iniciaste tu curso de idiomas, quizás te hayas preguntado cuánto mejorarás tu nivel o qué serás capaz de hacer una vez acabado el curso académico en 2017.

Veamos esta conversación de Alicia con el Gato Cheshire:

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¿Alguna vez te has sentido como Alicia al estudiar un idioma? Quizás te sientas como si llevaras estudiando inglés (o cualquier otro idioma) desde hace una eternidad, y que todavía estás en el mismo nivel y no haces ningún progreso real.

Bueno, como el Gato Cheshire dice a Alicia, no deberíamos empezar un viaje (¡al menos la mayoría de nosotros no!) Sin saber a dónde vamos. Lo mismo puede decirse de tu aprendizaje de idiomas. Establecer objetivos es una gran manera de mantenerte enfocado y motivado. Es posible que hayas oído hablar de metas SMART en otras áreas de negocio, así que ¿por qué no establecer algunas para tu aprendizaje de idiomas también?

Specific (Específico)
Measurable (Medible)
Attainable (Alcanzable)
Relevant (Relevante)
Time-oriented (Orientado en el tiempo)

Realmente necesitas planear el viaje desde donde estás ahora hasta dónde quieres llegar y es este “mapa” el que te ayudará a desarrollar tus habilidades y mantenerte enfocado. Así que deja que tu profesor de Ziggurat te ayude a crear un plan de estudios SMART.

En el post del viernes, os explicaremos cómo crear un plan de estudios SMART. ¡No os lo perdáis!