Repaso 2013

Meteor Trail

Meteorito (Photo credit: tonynetone)

Ya llegó el fin del año 2013.  Cada año ponemos aquí una colección de las fotografías más notables de eventos importantes que pasaron en los últimos 12 meses.  ¿Cuál fue el evento más sobresaliente del 2013?

Mira las 10 mejores fotografías del 2013 según Reuters. (Ojo: varias muestran violencia y destrucción.)

Si quieres un poco más levedad, mira las 10 fotos más sorprendentes del 2013, según la revista Time. Son más chistosos pero la última sí es insólita.

Un poco de gramática
Para hablar del año pasado, en español usamos dos tiempos.  Repasa las reglas de gramática del pretérito y el imperfecto antes de practicar con esta actividad de conversación.

Conversación: ¿Qué pasó en el 2013?
Con un compañero, habla de los eventos del 2013.  Mira la lista de eventos en las noticias internacionales en el 2013.  ¿Qué recuerdas de cada situación?

Pope Francis met with media

Papa Francisco (Photo credit: Catholic Church (England and Wales))

Guerra en Siria
Intervención militar de Francia en Mali
Elecciones presidenciales o parlamentares en Paraguay, Italia, Kenia, Venezuela, Irán, Noruega, Chile, Honduras; golpe de estado en Egipto; abdicación del Rey de Bélgica
Avalancha humana que dejó 36 muertos en en una estación de ferrocarril en India
Renuncia del Papa Benedicto, elección del Papa Francisco
Pruebas nucleares en Corea del Norte
Evento meteorítico en Rusia
Inundaciones en Argentina y el centro de Europa, y India; terremotos en Pakistán, la China
Atentado terrorista en el maratón de Boston, Estados Unidos

Derrumbe de un edificio en Daca, Bangladés que deja 2500 muertos
Violencia en el Medio Este
Ex-presidente de Guatemala, Efraín Ríos Montt, culpable de genocidio

Image representing Edward Snowden as depicted ...

Edward Snowden. Imagen por None via CrunchBase.


Se publican las primeras filtraciones de Edward Snowden sobre los sistemas de vigilancia masiva de la Agencia de Seguridad Nacional de los Estados Unidos
Accidentes ferroviarios en Canadá, Suiza, y España
Tiroteos en Estados Unidos, Austria, Kenia, y otros países
Accidentes navales en Italia, Malta, y otros lugares
Tifón Haiyan causa destrucción en las Filipinas
Polémica sobre el tratamento de homosexuales en Rusia antes de los Juegos Olímpicos del 2014
Astronautas chinos van a la luna
Muertes de Hugo Chavez y Nelson Mandela

¿Qué evento te impresionó mucho? ¿Cual fue el mas importante para ti?

Himno nacional estadounidense en español

Maratón musicalHoy es el cuatro de julio: ¡Feliz día de independencia estadounidense!

El cuatro de julio es el día en que los estadounidenses celebran su independencia de Gran Britania.  Se celebra con fuegos artificiales, desfiles, y más.  

El himno nacional estadounidense también se llama “The Star Spangled Banner,” y la letra viene de un poema de Francis Scott Key titulado “Defence of Fort McHenry,” que habla de una batalla en que un fuerte estadounidense es bombardeado, y el poeta busca la bandera estadounidense para averiguar que la fuerte todavía no se ha caído.  Esta canción ha sido el himno nacional estadounidense desde 1931.

Escucha esta versión del himno nacional estadounidense traducido al español:

Sabiendo la letra en inglés, ¿puedes adivinar el significado de algunas palabras en español?

Ahora, otra versión, esta vez con la melodía un poco cambiada, en español, interpretada por Wyclef Jean, Olga Tañón y Carlos Ponce:

American Flag ...item 2.. daylife -- Dover Air...

Bandera estadounidense (Photo credit: marsmet523)

¿Amenece, lo veis?, a la luz de la aurora? 
Lo que tanto aclamamos la noche caer? 
Sus estrellas sus franjas 
flotaban ayer 
En el fiero combate 
en señal de victoria, 
Fulgor de lucha, al paso de la libertada, 
Por la noche decían: “!Se va defendiendo!”

Coro: 
¡Oh decid! ¿Despliega aún 
Voz a su hermosura estrellada, 
Sobre tierra de libres, 
la bandera sagrada?

Fourth of July, Springfield PA

Fourth of July, Springfield PA (Photo credit: Jim, the Photographer)

Vocabulario del himno nacional estadounidense en español

amanecer
aurora
bandera
desplegar
estrellas
franjas, barras
fulgor

Preguntas para conversación:
En el poema, ¿por qué es importante saber si la bandera todavía vuela?
¿Cuál es la importancia de la bandera? ¿Cuál es la importancia del himno nacional?
No todos los países celebran un Día de la Independencia, porque no todos fueron colonias en el pasado. ¿Qué otras fiestas nacionales existen?
¿Cuál es el himno nacional de tu país?  ¿De qué habla?
En tu opinión, ¿el himno nacional es fácil o difícil cantar? ¿Por qué?
El acto de traducir el himno a otros idiomas es controversial en los Estados Unidos de América.  ¿Qué opinas? ¿Qué son las ventajas de escuchar el himno en otros idiomas? ¿Qué son las desventajas?
¿Dónde o cuando debemos cantar o escuchar el himno nacional?

Objetivos: escuchar, tener una conversación Maratón musicalsobre la traducción y la cultura de los Estados Unidos de América
Título: Nuestro Himno  Artista: tradicional estadounidense, interpretada por Wyclef Jean, Olga Tañon y Carlos Ponce
Genero: tradicional  Tema: Día de independencia estadounidense, los latinos y hispanohablantes en EUA  

Gramática: vocabulario patriótico
Este post es parte de nuestro Maratón musical de julio. Publicamos una nueva canción y actividad para practicar el español cada martes y jueves durante el mes de julio.
Para más actividades de escuchar, busca aquí y aquí.

Una casa en Washington, DC, decorada para el 4 de julio

Una casa en Washington, DC, decorada para el 4 de julio

How to fake an American accent

Do you want to speak English like an American? You’re going to have to be more specific.

English: A sensor based automated drinking fou...

Water fountain, drinking fountain, or bubbler? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Americans speak differently in different parts of the country. Some words, like “crayon,” “route,” and “pecan,” have different pronunciations in different regions. “Lawyer” is pronounced “loy-er” in most parts of the country except the South, which says “law-yer” (rhymes with saw-yer).  Syllables are added or dropped as you move from state to state; some parts of the country say “mayonnaise” with three syllables (ma-yo-nnaise) and some say it with two (may-nnaise).  Other words are used differently depending on where you are; the best example is the plural pronoun “you.”  People in the South famously say “y’all,” while the North says “you guys,” the dividing line says simply “you,” and the states of Florida and Kentucky have their own ways of doing things. And, to top it off, regions differ about what to call common objects, like a carbonated drink (soda, pop, coke, or tonic), a circular intersection (traffic circle, roundabout, or rotary), and a water dispenser (drinking fountain, water fountain, or, in select areas, bubbler). Now you can see all these differences illustrated on U.S. maps, a project of Joshua Katz and the Department of Statistics at North Carolina State University. If you want to fake an authentic American accent, these maps are your study guide.  Click here to see all the maps.  Or, see the data in poster form.

If that wasn’t complex enough for you, there is also a map of North American English dialects, based on pronunciation patterns, created by Rick Aschmann. It includes Canada as well as the United States, and shows many different English dialects and explains how they are related to each other. Not only is this map extremely detailed, it’s interactive: you can click on states or provinces to hear audio or see video for real-life examples illustrating different dialects. Want to know the difference between a Boston accent and a New York accent? Want to know how Alaskans talk differently from Canadians? This map will tell you.

This commercial illustrates the differences in American accents by poking fun at New England accents– the premise is that actors in Los Angeles butcher the New England or Boston accent because “you can’t fake” it. The announcer is the one with a supposedly authentic accent.

And, for a little linguistic difference in song:

Five snarky cinco de mayo pictures

You know that cinco de mayo is not Mexican Independance Day,* right? And you know that, in Mexico, cinco de mayo is not really a big deal?

If you didn’t know that, here’s a refresher. Cinco de mayo commemorates a military victory against the French in a war that Mexico ultimately lost. It is celebrated in the state of Puebla with a parade and a state fair. Outside of Puebla, the holiday is not terribly exciting: no parades, no fireworks, and (contrary to popular belief), not an excuse to drink or eat tacos. Cinco de mayo in the US, however, is often interpreted by those who don’t know better (or don’t care) as an excuse to indulge in tequila.  This handy infografic breaks it down for you: A US Citizen’s Guide to Cinco de Mayo,“a big deal for people who like to get drunk and make racist jokes on Twitter.”

*FYI, Mexican Independence Day is celebrated in September. If you’re confused about that, too, here’s a quick guide to Mexican Independence Day explained.

In the spirit of cinco de mayo and cultural exchange, here are five funny pictures that capture the spirit of epic US cinco de mayo fails.

Calendar fail. From cheezburger.com

Calendar fail. From cheezburger.com

From someecards.com

From someecards.com

From cheezburger.com

From cheezburger.com

Let's be honest. From someecards.com

Let’s be honest. From someecards.com

When you can't beat em, join em. From buzzfeed.com

When you can’t beat em, join em. From buzzfeed.com

Repaso 2012

Costa Concordia

Costa Concordia (Photo credit: andrius.lt)

El año 2012 se está terminando.  Mira las fotografías de abajo.  ¿Cuál fue el evento más notable del 2012?

Mira la galería de fotografías ganadoras del premio World Press Photo 2012.

Fue un año de triunfos y tragedias. El clima estaba malo, y la política peor. Pero 2012 tuvo sus momentos chistosos- ¿quién puede olvidar del video más visto del mundo?

Un poco de gramática
Para hablar del año pasado, en español usamos dos tensos.  Repasa las reglas de gramática del pretérito y el imperfecto antes de practicar con esta actividad de conversación.

Conversación: ¿Qué pasó en el 2012?
Con un compañero, habla de los eventos del 2012.  Mira la lista de eventos en las noticias internacionales en el 2012.  ¿Qué recuerdas de cada situación?

Lance Armstrong at the team presentation of th...

Lance Armstrong en el Tour de France en 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Disastre del crucero Costa Concordia en Italia
Protestas en contra del Stop Online Piracy Act
Elecciones presidenciales en China, Yemen, Rusia, México, Estados Unidos de América, y Venezuela
Pruebas de cohetes de larga distancia en Corea del Sur
Problemas económicos en todo el mundo, y preocupaciones del futuro de la Unión Europea
Japon apaga reactores nucleares
El tránsito de Venus ocurre
Atletas de todo el mundo compiten en los Juegos Olímpicos en Londres, Inglaterra
Tiroteos en masa en el cine, en un templo, y en escuelas en Estados Unidos
Violencia en el Medio Este
Guerra Civil en Syria
Disastres climáticos en todo el mundo (inundaciones, sismos, y tormentas)
Lance Armstrong pierde sus medallas del Tour de Francia
Asesinato del embajador estadounidense en Libya
La Union Europea gana el Premio Nobel de la Paz

¿Qué evento te impresionó mucho? ¿Cual fue el mas importante para ti?

Teaching Thanksgiving in an EFL class

What do turkeys, travel, family, (American) football games, giant balloons, indigenous rights, cooking, shopping, school vacations, traditional costumes and thankfulness have in common?

Roasted turkey. Photo by M Rehemtulla via Wikipedia

Roasted turkey. Photo by M Rehemtulla via Wikipedia

They are all ideas associated with the American tradition of Thanksgiving, celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November every year.  November is a great time for English classes around the world to learn about this American holiday and pick up some new vocabulary as well.  Here are resources to learn about Thanksgiving and plan your own celebration.

1. Learn the history of Thanksgiving. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 in what is now Massachusetts, United States.  It was a harvest celebration attended by English colonists and Wampanoag indigenous people.  Back then, it wasn’t called “Thanksgiving” and it probably was not celebrated in November!  To learn more about what really happened on Thanksgiving, visit this Interactive Plimoth Plantation Exhibit and become a historian.

2. Read another point of view. Not everyone in the United States agrees about the way Thanksgiving should be observed.  This editorial explains another point of view.

3. Cook some food!  Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated with a big family dinner. It usually includes roast turkey, stuffing, cranberries, potatoes, squash, pumpkin, and other vegetables.  In 1621, the English colonists and the wampanoag ate venison (deer) and pumpkin.  Today, apple pie and popcorn are favorites.  Learn some traditional Wampanoag and English colonial recipes here.  Then, use this application from the New York Times to plan your own Thanksgiving feast according to your personal taste.

4. Be thankful.  Thanksgiving is a time to think about the good things in our lives and express gratitude for them.  Click here to read about an interactive art project called the Look for the Good Project.

Kermit the Frog

Kermit the Frog (Photo credit: MikeMonello)

5. Create your own Thanksgiving Parade float.  Every year on Thanksgiving Day there is a big parade in New York City, New York.  There are celebrities and musical performances, but the parade is most famous for its giant balloons.  They are usually characters from television, comic books, and movies. You can watch a video of the parade here.  Then, follow these instructions to make your own balloon floats.  Your balloon float won’t be as large as the ones in the parade… or will it?

6. Watch American football. The Thanksgiving Day football game is a tradition at the high school, university, and professional level.  Not sure how to play football?  This Goofy cartoon will teach you.

7. Go shopping. The day after Thanksgiving in the United States is called “Black Friday,” and it is traditionally a day for people to start shopping for Christmas gifts.  Stores have big sales and people go shopping very, very early in the morning to get the best deals.  Practice numbers and prices exploring this Black Friday shopping website. Who can find the best deal on a TV?  On clothing? On video games?

Hand Turkey by Kara

Hand Turkey by Kara (Photo credit: Rory Finneren)

8. Do some arts and crafts.  In the United States, most schoolchildren have a small vacation, starting with a half day of school on the day before Thanksgiving and continuing for four days.  It is traditional for families to travel to visit one another and be together for Thanksgiving Dinner.  If you still have school this week, here are some arts and crafts you can do with your class.
Send some e-cards here and here.
Do a variety of educational crafts here.
People in the United States don’t dress up in folkloric costumes as much as many other countries do, but schoolchildren often still wear costumes to represent the colonists and Wompanoag.  You can watch a video about how to make a colonist costume here.
And, no Thanksgiving arts and crafts session would be complete without our favorite craft: make a Thanksgiving hand turkey here.

9. Watch a Thanksgiving video.  Now that you know about American Thanksgiving traditions, sing along with this Thanksgiving song by Nicole Westbrook.  How many Thanksgiving traditions do you see represented in the video?  What do you see in the video that doesn’t make sense?  What traditions is the video missing?  Check your answers in the comments.

I’m wide awake, and I should take
A step and say thank you, thank you,
For the things you’ve done, and what you did
Oh yeah, ooh yeah.
December was Christmas, January was New Year’s.
April was Easter, and the Fourth of July, but now it’s Thanksgiving.
Oh oh oh, it’s Thanksgiving. We we we, we’re gonna have a good time.
Oh oh oh, it’s Thanksgiving. We we we are gonna have a good time.
With the turkey (hey!) And mashed potatoes (hey!)
We we we are gonna have a good time.
We need the turkey (hey!) And mashed potatoes (hey!)

Does this happen at your house on Thanksgiving?

It’s Thanksgiving, It’s Thanksgiving.
You know school is out, I can’t wait,
I can shout thank you, thank you, thank you.
No matter what you do, no matter what you say,
This is my favorite day.
December was Christmas,
January was New Year’s.
April was Easter,
and the Fourth of July,
but now it’s Thanksgiving.
Yo, it’s Thanksgiving-givin’ and I’m tryin’ to be forgivin’.
Nothing is forbidden, you know we gotta have it.
I gotta give thanks to you, and you, and you.
Can’t be hateful, gotta be grateful; gotta be grateful, can’t be hateful.
Mashed potatoes on my, on my table, I got ribs smelling’ up my neighbors’ cribs.
Havin’ good times, we be laughin’ ’til we cry.
It’s Thanks, Thanks, Thanksgiving, come on
It’s Thanks, Thanks, Thanksgiving, give ‘em thanks, y’all.
Oh oh oh, it’s Thanksgiving. We we we, we’re gonna have a good time.
Oh oh oh, it’s Thanksgiving. We we we, are gonna have a good time.
With the turkey (hey!) And mashed potatoes (hey!)
We we we, are gonna have a good time.
With the turkey (hey!) And mashed potatoes (hey!)
It’s Thanksgiving, it’s Thanksgiving.

Conversation Questions:

Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in your country?  Do you have another similar holiday?  Which Thanksgiving tradition is your favorite?

Father’s Day Conversation Game

Amsterdam, De Dam, Darth Vader
I am your father! Amsterdam, De Dam, Darth Vader (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Father’s Day!  Today is the day we celebrate the institution of fatherhood in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and many other countries.  Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June in the United States.  Although other countries celebrate on different days, Father’s Day is celebrated annually in every region of the world.

Practice your English skills with this Father’s Day conversation game.  You need at least two people to play, and you can use it to practice questions and answers, adjectives, and the present tense.  This is a good game for beginning English language learners but it can be as complicated as you want and anyone at any level can play it.

1. Warm up. The players introduce themselves and describe their fathers in one word.  My name is Frank and my father is friendly.  My name is Elizabeth and my father is energetic.  My name is Paulo and my father is aggressive.

2. Vocabulary generator: famous fathers. As a group, make a list of famous fathers.  They can be from television, movies, books, pop culture, history, politics, sports, or more, but they must be famous and they must be fathers.  They can be famous for being somebody’s father (like Darth Vader), part of a famous family (like Fred Flinstone) or a famous person who happens to be a mother (like actor Will Smith).  You can even list the fathers of people in the room, as long as all of the players know who they are.

3. Guessing game.  With a partner, think of a famous father and describe him in three sentences to your partner.  Then your partner can ask as many questions as they need in order to guess that person’s identity.  The groups who guess in the fewest number of questions win.

For example:
Ashley: He has a famous family.  He lives in England.  He has red hair.Queen Elizabeth II formally invests Prince Cha...
Hugh: How many children does he have?
Ashley: He has two sons and one daughter-in-law.
Hugh: Are his children famous too?
Ashley: Yes.
Hugh: Is he famous because of his children?
Ashley: No. He is famous because of his mother.
Hugh: Is his work famous also?
Ashley: Not really.  His mother has a very famous job.  When his mother dies, he will have that job, and then he will be more famous.
Hugh: Is he Prince Charles, the son of Queen Elizabeth II of England?
Ashley: Yes!

 5. Global feedback. All of the partners share their conversations with the whole group. Who guessed with the fewest number of questions? Which famous fathers were easy to identify? Which ones were difficult?


Conversation objectives: Build fluency through conversation, ask and answer questions.
Ideal group size: At least two players.
Ideal group level: Beginning English, but can be modified for any level.
Like this game? Check out our March Conversation Marathon for more activities like it.
For more general conversation topics, click here.  For more conversation games, click here.

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