Talk About… Positive Thinking

Positive Thinking was the title of the latest Talk About session which was held for our Ziggurat followers on 15th November.  “Are you an optimist, a pessimist, a realist or a mix of all three?”  was the question which opened the talk led by Matthew Ray. The group of 10 participants was mostly made up of optimists and realists although as one pessimist pointed out: “A pessimist is an optimist with experience “. 

Participants discussed the numerous resources available which promote Positive Thinking and whether this way of thinking can really help us or in fact be dangerous as it could make us lose all sense of reality. The Secret became the focus here.

Matthew then showed participants three short videos, one of which was the Spanish crisis from a different point of view, a now infamous video by Grant Thornton. Can positive thinking really get us out of the crisis?


Finally, Matthew gave participants some tips on how to use Positive Thinking to improve their English: instead of saying “I can’t do that in English”, say “I can’t do that in English YET”! 🙂

In the next session of Talk About in January (to be announced), the topic will be New Year Resolutions. If you want to participate, write to zigclub@ziggurat.es

Hope to see you there!

Talk About… The Secret to Learning English

The Secret to Learning English’ fue el título de la última sesión del Talk About que Ziggurat programó para sus seguidores. En la sesión liderada por Matthew Ray, con 11 asistentes a pesar de la fuerte lluvia de aquella tarde, se debatieron temas relacionados con el aprendizaje del inglés y se ofrecieron algunos recursos útiles para mejorar el idioma.

Después de visualizar un video introductorio, y siendo conscientes de que el inglés —nos guste o no tal y como comentó Matthew— se ha convertido en la lingua franca del mundo, los asistentes se dividieron en grupos de 3-4 personas para compartir su experiencia con el inglés.

Los españoles no tienen un defecto genético para aprender inglés, si no que la situación del país y su historial con el idioma, por ejemplo con las películas dobladas, ha dificultado el aprendizaje. Los participantes dieron su punto de vista —en inglés, of course— , Matthew repaso algunos de los puntos que también trata cuando imparte la First Class a los alumnos de Ziggurat y ofreció nuevos recursos que los estudiantes de inglés pueden utilizar para mejorar el idioma.

Hoy 15 de noviembre tendremos la siguiente sesión del Talk About. Esta vez, hablaremos sobre el Positive Thinking. Si quieres participar, escribe a zigclub@ziggurat.es

¡Te esperamos!

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.

The secret to learning English

El martes 22 de mayo volvimos a reunirnos en  la librería +bernat para compartir un nuevo Talk About. El tema de este mes, The secret to learning English, convocó a un numeroso público: alumnos de Ziggurat, muchos seguidores de la Daily Vitamin y los clientes habituales de la +bernat.

Me gustaría destacar la presencia de 2 personas en especial: Tona y Nil, su nieto de 14 años. Nos hizo una especial ilusión contar con un asistente tan joven al lado de su abuela, una mujer extraordinaria con muchas ganas de aprender.

Después de ver el vídeo de Jay Walker,  Mathew Ray, director de Ziggurat, nos explicó por qué fracasamos con el inglés y nos hizo reír al contarnos experiencias de aprendizaje con las que muchos nos sentimos identificados.

Al final del evento, Matthew reveló el secreto para aprender inglés u otros idiomas que no es otro que buscar momentos, si puede ser cada día, para estar en contacto con el idioma, seleccionando actividades que sean de nuestro interés (leer un libro, un artículo, escuchar un podcast, ver un capítulo de una serie, entrar en los links que encontrareis en el Zigspace,  escuchar la DV…)

Y recordad que si necesitáis apoyo u orientación contáis con nosotros!

¡Nos vemos en el próximo Talk About!

Relaxing Work: Testimony of an Immersion

Last Sunday, May 13th, at 7:00 in the morning, I headed up to the Sant Bernat Hotel in Montseny to begin a three-day English immersion course with four managers from Azucarera. In Ziggurat we have done dozens of English immersion courses and I was accompanied by two experienced Ziggurat teachers, Jenny and Peter, but I have to admit that I was a little nervous since it was the first time we would hold an English immersion in the Sant Bernat Hotel, and Azucarera was a new client.

Thanks to Peter and Jenny’s professionalism, the excellent service offered by the Sant Bernat staff, the delicious food and, above all, the students’ enthusiasm and sense of humour, the course turned out to be one of the most enjoyable that I have ever coordinated or taught on. I was very impressed by the students’ progress and their understanding of an English-learning reality: no one can teach you English, you have to learn it! When these managers return to work, they know that they will have to continue to maintain what they have learned, making English a part of their daily routine by making an effort to increase their daily contact with English.

An English immersion is a very effective, albeit intense, way to improve your English quickly. The Ziggurat immersions vary from 2 days to a week. Immersions do not cause miracles, but if they are done as part of an overall long-term English-training programme, the results can be spectacular. I think that’s why I enjoy participating in them so much. In 48 or 72 hours you can observe lots of progress in the students. And although it’s work (for both teachers and students), it is quite relaxing and both staff and students tend to forget about their problems and stresses waiting for them back home and back at the office.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Peter, Jenny, Joan, Angeles, Carlos and Marcel for their dedication and enthusiasm during the course! I also want to thank Ramon and Carol and the rest of the staff at Sant Bernat (Rocío, Raquel, etc. etc.) for their hospitality. I can’t wait for the next course.

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

Talk About… Digital Books

El pasado martes 27 de marzo disfrutamos de la primera sesión del 2012 de nuestro Talk About en la en la librería +bernat, un entorno ideal para charlar sobre libros, en este caso libros digitales.

Matthew Ray, director de Ziggurat, introdujo la sesión y antes de visionar parte de la charla que Brewster Kahle ofreció en TED comentó el vocabulario que había seleccionado para la ocasión.

Todos los asistentes (o mejor dicho las asistentes, ya que la mayoría éramos mujeres 😉 participaron activamente y demostraron, como siempre, sus ganas de aprender inglés y compartir opiniones.

A una de las conclusiones que llegamos es que los libros impresos y los libros digitales son complementarios y por el momento, conviven en armonía. Lo importante es que las personas sigan creando, comunicándose y transmitiendo conocimientos y experiencia, independientemente del formato.

¡Gracias a todos por vuestra participación! Esperamos veros en el siguiente Talk About el jueves 19 de abril!

See you soon

 

Breakfast Club

Ziggurat English Services, in conjunction with +Bernat Bookshop, now offers a Breakfast in English on Thursday mornings from 10 – 11 a.m. I have attended the last two breakfasts as a teacher and it has been a fun and positive experience. For the last two weeks we’ve had a fairly stable group of people attending and they’ve brought a lot of enthusiasm to the table.

One of the attendees told us about her experience with house/flat exchanges. What better way to experience another culture than by living in someone else’s home in their own neighbourhood?! This brought up an interesting discussion of the pros and cons of leaving your home in the hands of stranger. It also led us down the road to some other topics related to cross-cultural difficulties and adaptation when living as a foreigner in another country.  One of the other participants talked about how she is preparing to move to the Middle East. We also heard about two different ways to experience India: working with Mother Teresa’s organization in Calcutta as opposed to an organized tour in great comfort.

Our breakfasts discussions are loosely structured around topics for discussion or current events but they really come alive when the participants share their experiences and we are all able to comment and learn a little more about the world and the people in it. I hope you’ll join us for the next one!

Rachel

For more information: info@ziggurat.es / http://www.ziggurat.es/es/eventos_agenda.asp

A Great time in ‘La Coromina’!

By Judit Martos

On July 25th and 26th, 2011, we held our last ‘CommunicACTION! English Immersion’ of the 2010-11 academic year. We stayed at the Xalet la Coromina in Viladrau, where we were treated warmly by the owners Salvador Casaseca and Belen, as usual. The cozy facilities of the hotel helped us to enjoy the English Immersion even more.

Although it was quite cloudy, we had a very good time in Viladrau. Anna, Carlos and Encarna, the students, and Jack, Sissel and Fiona, the Ziggurat teachers, took part in this two-day intensive with enthusiasm. I especially enjoyed the meal times and the introductory presentations the first day.

All of the elementary-level students were very nervous at the beginning and were, of course, afraid to speak in English. However, as the first day ended, they were already feeling more comfortable and relaxed and were able to keep the conversation going more easily. Despite being exhausted, they made a big effort to increase their communication skills during the demanding two-day course; and in my opinion, they achieved their goals.

The immersion started on Monday morning at 10 o’clock. First, we had breakfast together in order to break the ice, and then we did the presentations session to get to know each other better. From that session on, new vocabulary constantly appeared (to commute; cheat sheet; to clarify; vocational training; hug…). After the group activity, students and teachers did a “speed dating” session where they asked each other lots of questions and then we had dinner. During the meal we played 20-questions and students were able to practice the rules for questions and answers; later, they had two more one-to-one sessions in order to concentrate on their particular needs. Finally, after going for a walk around Viladrau, they watched the film Little Miss Sunshine and then had dinner.

At the end of the day, the students were extremely tired, which was proof of their effort and the effectiveness of the total immersion course.

The following day, at 9 o’clock, all of the students were ready to continue their contact with English and to share their experiences from the previous day. After they had eaten breakfast and “charged their batteries”, they took part in another group activity that involved reading and commenting the news. Next, it was time for another one-to-one session and then a telephone-English class together. At 2 o’clock, we did another round of 20-questions, this time it was a bit more challenging.

At the end of the immersion, students had a huge bank of new English words, new expressions to remember and a list of resources to use to maintain what they had learned in Viladrau. Apart from that, they had also got to taste the delicious cuisine prepared by Salvador and they experienced the excellent service in Xalet la Coromina.

The reactions about the course were diverse: one student said that she was “happy and lucky” to have had the opportunity to participate in this immersion. Another said that the course was the equivalent of a year of class in Barcelona, but he also said that the experience was “intense” and demanding.  He added: “now I understand why it’s very important to practice English every day.” Finally, one student declared that it was “the first time that [she] had tried to speak in English.” And the results were impressive.

We hope to see you soon in our next immersion!

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!