#HappyThanksgiving by Amanda Jones

In the last few years, traditions surrounding Thanksgiving have changed significantly. Let’s take a look at the Thanksgiving holiday and shopping traditions surrounding it (and how these holidays and traditions have spread around the world).

thanksgiving.jpgThanksgiving (November the 24th)
Although celebrated in many countries, it’s safe to say this holiday is most often associated with the U.S. and Canada. On Thanksgiving, families (and friends) have a large meal* and give thanks for the good things in their lives. In my family, we go around the table before eating and say what we are thankful for. It’s a nice opportunity to reflect on the positive things in our lives.

Thanksgiving is always held on a Thursday, so many people do not work Friday and instead enjoy a long weekend before the craziness of the Christmas season begins. We don’t call it a ‘puente’ like they do in Spain, but that’s exactly what it is!

After Thanksgiving dinner, you have two options: go into a turkey coma (my personal favorite choice) or partake in this strange new tradition: Black Friday.

video27n-1-webBlack Friday (November the 25th)
The day after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the Christmas season, and with this season comes the holiday shopping craze called Black Friday. Black Friday used to be a day where stores opened early and gave discounts on more expensive items: I remember my mother waking up at 5 am to be at a department store called Mervyn’s by 6. By around 2 pm, all her Christmas shopping was usually done! For my Mom, it was a way to do all of the Christmas shopping at one time (and at a discount). Black Friday was all about efficiency for us!

Today, Black Friday has grown into something much different. Stores now open as early as Thanksgiving night, and people sometimes stand in line for hours to enter the store and buy gifts at a discounted price. Several years ago, we decided not to go Black Friday shopping anymore. Instead, we sleep in late the day after Thanksgiving and worry about the Christmas shopping later. I’d rather avoid the crowds!

17FORAGING1-jumbo.jpgSmall Business Saturday (November the 26th)
An interesting response to Black Friday has been the invention of Small Business Saturday. This “holiday” has only existed since 2010, but it’s already become a staple of many shopping districts. While most people go to larger chain stores on Black Friday, they choose Saturday to shop at locally owned stores. This day promotes shopping at businesses that are owned by community members. It’s a great way to connect with local business owners and promote small business!

Cyber Monday (November the 28th)
The crazy week of post-Thanksgiving shopping continues with Cyber Monday. On this day, e-commerce stores such as Amazon have large sales on many items. Even Kindle books are on sale (which I always take advantage of)! This is great for the person who prefers to stay inside and do their Christmas shopping at home. Compared to waking up in the middle of the night and facing the Black Friday crowds, I think Cyber Monday sounds like a nice alternative!

Which of these have you experienced? Tell us in the comments or on Facebook!

*The meal is typically roasted turkey that is stuffed with a mixture of bread and spices (called stuffing). Side dishes are usually mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh bread with cranberry sauce, green beans and creamy mushrooms topped with fried onions, and roasted sweet potatoes. Pumpkin pie and apple pie are the dessert staples.

By Amanda Jones
@Sedimentality

Learn English with the Media

Internet facilita, hoy en día, miles de recursos con los que se puede aprender inglés. Lo más importante a la hora de mejorar el idioma es mantener contacto diario. Además de mirar programas (o realities) de televisión, series y películas en versión original, leer novelas en inglés o seguir lecciones como la Daily Vitamin también se puede aprender utilizando los medios de comunicación online.

A todos nos gusta saber qué pasa en nuestro país y en el extranjero y muchos utilizamos Internet para ello, por tanto, ¿qué mejor manera de hacerlo que en inglés? De este modo, haremos dos actividades a la vez: informarnos y aprender.

Por la mañana, por ejemplo, puedes visitar algunos de los diarios británicos y/o americanos más leídos. Todos aportan noticias de Europa, ya sean de sociedad, economía o política. Asimismo, es interesante leer qué está ocurriendo en tu país desde el punto de vista extranjero; así verás cómo perciben ellos los hechos.

United Kingdom
• The Times www.thetimes.co.uk
• The Independent www.independent.co.uk
• The Guardian www.guardian.co.uk

United States
• The Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com
• U.S.A. Today www.usatoday.com
• The New York Times www.nytimes.com
• International Herald Tribune  http://global.nytimes.com/
• Los Angeles Times http://www.latimes.com

Y aunque no seas un fanático o fanática de la prensa generalista, puede que encuentres interesante leer algo de prensa rosa y cotilleos. Quizás puedas aprovechar algunos momentos de descanso para ello.

United Kingdom
• The Sun www.thesun.co.uk
• Daily Mail www.dailymail.co.uk

United States
• People www.people.com
• Cosmopolitan www.cosmopolitan.com

Una vez leídos los titulares y contenido de cada uno de los artículos que más atractivos encuentres, te recomendamos que:

  1. escojas diez palabras (no más) que no conozcas
  2. busques su significado en el diccionario
  3. lo incorpores a tu Word Bank
  4. utilices dos de las nuevas palabras durante el día

Si a lo largo de la semana consigues recordar dos palabras diarias, podrás aprender 14 semanales… ¡Imagina el resultado anual si logras crear el hábito de hacerlo cada día!

Matthew Ray concluye el ciclo del Talk About 2011-12 con una charla sobre Networking in English

El director de Ziggurat English Services estuvo, el pasado 28 de junio, en la Librería +Bernat hablando sobre Networking en el último Talk About del curso 2011-12.

Matthew Ray coordinó la sesión en inglés, donde los participantes visionaron un vídeo con algunas recomendaciones para hacer networking y dos ejemplos de Elevator Pitch. Después de recoger algunos trucos y pautas para participar en una sesión de networking, los asistentes pudieron poner en práctica con el resto de participantes todo lo aprendido durante la charla del director de Ziggurat.

‘Can a Spanish man be pregnant in the UK?’ I put my foot in it too!

Con esta última entrada para el concurso literario cerramos la edición del 2012. Debemos admitir que, desconociendo el motivo, esta edición no ha tenido una gran acogida por nuestros seguidores, por lo que agradeceríamos nuevas sugerencias para afrontar la próxima edición. ¡ Buena suerte a todos los participantes! Pronto publicaremos los resultados.

It was a rainy day in Cambridge –to be honest, that kind of weather made me feel miserable, especially if the season was summer. I had to take the bus to Hurston, a small town in Cambridgeshire, so since I had never took public transport on my own in a foreign country, I have to confess I was really nervous.

When I arrived at the bus stop there was nobody –it was raining cats and dogs and there was no shelter, so I was starting to get wet.

Suddenly an old woman, who was driving an old-fashioned Ford car, stopped in front of me, got out of the vehicle and came up to me slowly.

‘What are you doing all alone?’ inquired me the woman.

‘I’m expecting, madam,’ I answered her with the best pronunciation I could.

‘What?’ asked me surprised.

The woman scrutinized me and asked me: ‘You’re not British, are you?’

‘No, Madam, I’m Spanish,’ I said to her proud of having understood what she told me.

‘Oh, I didn’t know that Spanish men could have babies. That’s very interesting…’

She returned to her car and went away leaving me alone.

When I arrived at my host family’s house, I explained to them the incident and they immediately started laughing. I thought the whole world had become crazy until they said to me that I made a grammar mistake: the verb ‘expect’ must be followed by a complement or a preposition, otherwise it means ‘to be pregnant’.

‘Remember, Enrique, you’re expecting somebody, ok?’ told me in unison.

‘Uppps,’ I muttered.

From that moment on I promised myself not to translate words literally from Spanish into English and, of course, to carry an umbrella everywhere!

E. González

He was Spanish too!

Aquí tenéis la última entrada recibida para el concurso literario.

Además, aprovechamos para comentaros que hemos ampliado el plazo de presentación de relatos hasta el 30 de junio, así os damos más tiempo de escribir vuestras experiencias. Recordad que podréis ganar cursos de inglés para mejorar vuestro nivel.

Many years ago, seven years to be precise, I travelled to London for five days. I went there with my school friends. It was the first time we travelled together, and also my first travel abroad. Like every tourist who travels abroad for the first time, I thought that anyone, except my friends, couldn’t understand me.

One day, when were walking in the city center, laughing and analyzing everything, a boy came to me. He just wanted to give me a pamphlet about a restaurant… a pamphlet in English. At that time, my English was worse than now (although today isn’t as good as I would like) and I supposed that I couldn’t understand the pamphlet. What did I do?

I said to the boy: “No no, thank you”, and I turned to go on my way and I said: “Total, no lo voy a entender”. Suddenly, unexpectedly, I saw the same boy behind me and said to me: Pues dice que hay comida muy buena y muy barata!” Yes! I put my foot on it too!

Effectively, the boy was Spanish too! And I learned that there are people who can understand you everywhere.

M. Torrejón

Excuse me? I put my foot in it too!

 Una de las maneras más fáciles de protagonizar anécdotas divertidas es viviendo en el extranjero. En este artículo encontramos dos historias:

Like many Spaniards, I’ve been studying English for almost all my life. Although I’ve taken English classes all through school and in an academy as well, I’d barely had the chance to have a conversation in English (this is how Spanish education works). This is why I was so excited when I received a MEC grant to study abroad.

My choice was London, a melting pot with a long history and a great variety of leisure activities. However, there was something which took me aback. I had always been told that English people were extremely polite… so when I was first lost looking for the College, I asked a newspaper vendor for help. As I had learned, I started with… «Excuse me, would you mind to telling me how I can…? ». He rudely interrupted me and said «I don’t have time»… «Ok! Thanks» I answered. (He had plenty of time, as he wasn’t doing anything!). From that day on, I started to ask questions like «Camden Town?». Some years later, I can’t deny they are polite… though I didn’t receive a warm welcome.

Another funny anecdote is when one of my new friends was telling me «Your English is terrific», while he was smiling. I thought he was laughing at me… then I got angry: «Excuse me?», «Yeah!» he replied…that was strange… at that point, instead of seeing red, I chose to look up that word in the dictionary… and I realised that he was saying that my spoken English was incredible… just great! So I kindly exclaimed… «Oh, thanks!» 🙂

Despite these anecdotes, it was amazing to be immersed in their culture; above all, because that trip was vital to boost my level.  So I want to finish by saying I’m proud of having put my foot in it!

J.B.M.

ENGLISH OR FRENCH? I put my foot in it too!

Otra de las seguidores de Ziggurat nos ha querido divertir con sus anécdotas vividas con el inglés para el concurso literario:

I was working in a mall selling mobile phones two years ago when, one day in Summer, a couple from Switzerland came to the shopping centre to buy a phone. They could speak French and English very well, they could change the language without any problems!

 First, I spoke to them in French because I speak French better than English. But, suddenly, they changed the language and spoke to me in English. So, I began to talk in English… but with French pronunciation! When I realized it I changed the language too, but then speaking in French with English pronunciation!

The couple didn’t know what was happening! They laughed and then I said: “Shit!! Oh no! Excuse-moi…no! Sorry, sorry!” Finally, they understood me and bought a mobile phone.

This is why I can say I put my foot in it too!

A. Spínola

TalkAbout… Jazz

Everybody knows something about Jazz, but each one of you might have a somewhat different idea of what Jazz is.

In this activity Mark Cunningham is going to help us get an overview of the history of this music, how it evolved, what different styles it contains, and who its most important figures are.

All participants will have a chance to share their views and experiences about this now universal music born in New Orleans 100 years ago.

About Mark
Mark Cunningham (New Jersey 1952) has been teaching English in Barcelona for the last 20 years (in Ziggurat since 2006), but has been playing the trumpet since the age of 7. He was originally inspired to play by his uncle, a professional jazz drummer, who taught him the history of this music through his immense record collection, hundreds of vinyl LPs from the 1940s to the ‘70s. Mark then went his own way, experimenting with different, original musical forms, but always maintaining the spirit of jazz improvisation.

What the critics say about Mark:

“Sometimes he can barely manage a breathy rasp, like he was gasping for air, and any movement his music contains is slow and deliberate aside from the occasional darting line suggestive of prey avoiding a predator. The instrumental CD that maps this harsh landscape, bleached of colour save for the crimson sunsets, is called ‘Blood River Dusk’.” (THE WIRE)

“A medio camino entre el no rock y el jazz más libre, su música conmueve e inquieta.” (Josu Olarte – EL CORREO)

For more information about Mark, see the following links. Note that Mark says the Wikipedia information has lots of errors, but he can clear that up in the activity.

Date:  Thursday, May 19th, 2011
Time:  19:30 to 21:30
Where:  +Bernat Bookshop (Buenos Aires 6-8, Barcelona)
Price:  15€ (includes the activity with teachers, materials and sandwich and drink)
Sign up: +Bernat or Ziggurat English Services (didactic@ziggurat.es / 93 363 5478)

All levels welcome!

Chris Pinchen desvela la nueva cara de las relaciones humanas

Chris PinchenEl jueves 17 de marzo, disfrutamos del tercer Talk About del 2011 en la librería +bernat. En esta ocasión, Chris Pinchen nos habló sobre las redes sociales, llegando a la conclusión de que son la nueva cara de algo tan ancestral como las relaciones humanas.

Divididos en grupos, los participantes comentaron diferentes aspectos de Facebook, Twiter o Linkedin y expresaron sus opiniones sobre estos sitios web que están cambiando el mundo.

Muchas de las personas que vinieron se están convirtiendo en habituales del Talk About y esto promueve que la conversación sea más familiar. Aprovechamos para deciros desde aquí que si tenéis sugerencias o queréis enviarnos vuestro feedback lo recibiremos con mucho gusto, ya que nos encanta satisfacer vuestras expectativas.

Para finalizar, damos las gracias a todos por vuestra asistencia y gracias también al profesor/músico Mark Cunningham por acompañarnos. Él será el próximo invitado del Talk About…Jazz que organizamos el 14 de abril. See you soon!

ZIGnews! October 2010

Ya está disponible la última newsletter de Ziggurat (ZIGnews! October 2010). En este número encontrarás variedad de contenidos.

Con motivo de Halloween, os ofrecemos una receta en inglés. Así, además de elaborar nuevos platos podrás aprender (o recordar) vocabulario relacionado con el mundo culinario.

Olga Campoy, Executive Coach de Ziggurat, nos ayuda a buscar el lado positivo de cualquier problema (y por supuesto, también relacionado con el inglés), no dejes de leer este artículo donde además recomienda la lectura del libro ‘La Ley del espejo’ del autor japonés Yoshinori Noguchi.

Además, en esta edición del ZIGnews! hemos querido felicitar a nuestro cliente nanimarquina, quien ha sido galardonado recientemente por la ciudad de Barcelona. Y tampoco hemos querido perder la oportunidad de agradecer a los seguidores de la Daily Vitamin y alumnos la fidelidad mostrada durante todos estos años.

Por último, os sugerimos la lectura del artículo ‘La universidad española suspende en inglés’ publicado en Expansión y Empleo la semana pasada.

LEER ZIGNEWS! OCTOBER 2010