Monday, December 24, 2012

Oppa Santa Style

I wish all my followers and visitors a Merry Xmas! T@PT is taking a short break to enjoy the Holidays season but I shall be back in January. In the meantime, enjoy your Christmas and celebrate the arrival of the New Year dancing the 'Oppa Santa Style'!...

Click HERE
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Friday, December 21, 2012

The Winter solstice & Doomsday

In 2012, the earliest winter since 1896 arrives with the solstice at 6:12 a.m. on December 21 (EST). Here’s more about the first day of winter:

Photo via winter desktop wallpapers
There's an English proverb that says: A fair day in winter is the mother of a storm. Winter inspires both joy and woe. Some people can't wait for the cooler weather, snow, skiing and ice skating, curling up by a fire, and the holiday spirit. Other people dislike the frigid temperatures, blizzards, and wild weather. The word solstice comes from the Latin words for 'sun' and 'to stand still.' In the Northern Hemisphere, as summer advances to winter, the points on the horizon where the Sun rises and sets advance southward each day; the high point in the Sun’s daily path across the sky, which occurs at local noon, also moves southward each day. At the winter solstice, the Sun’s path has reached its southernmost position. The next day, the path will advance northward. However, a few days before and after the winter solstice, the change is so slight that the Sun’s path seems to stay the same, or stand still. The Sun is directly overhead at 'high-noon' on Winter Solstice at the latitude called the Tropic of Capricorn. In the Northern Hemisphere, the solstice days are the days with the fewest hours of sunlight during the whole year.
Source: The Old Farmer's Almanac (abridged and adapted)

What about the end of the world?
CartoonStock
The Mayan calendar finishes one of its great cycles in December 2012, which has fueled countless theories about the end of the world on December 21, 2012 at 11:11(UTC). One theory suggests a galactic alignment which would create chaos on Earth because of the gravitational effect between the Sun and the Black hole called Sagittarius A, which is located at the center of our galaxy. Another theory involves a 'polar shift', which means a reversal of the north and south magnetic poles. Scientists believe that the Earth is overdue for a geomagnetic reversal. However, this can take up to 5,000 years to complete and does not start on any particular date. NASA scientists have thoroughly studied and analyzed the possibility of the Earth ending in 2012, and have concluded that 21st December 2012 will be nothing more than a normal December solstice. There is simply no scientific evidence to support any claims of an apocalypse on Earth on December 21, 2012. Yet, if you want to know more about this alleged end of the world, check out these best prophecies of doomsday prophecies in history!
Source: timeanddate.com (abridged and adapted)
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Thursday, December 20, 2012

UK Christmas Cooking Customs

MINCE PIES
Photo Elaine Lemm
Mince pies are the first sign of Christmas in the UK. These tiny tartlets, often served with mulled wine, start popping up everywhere, from workplace canteens and coffee corners to the local Starbucks. Shops advertise late opening hours and fashion shows accompanied by mince pies and mulled wine, Every pre-Christmas gathering, cocktail party and tea party will have a supply. Newspapers usually have features rating this year's supermarket and packaged variations. It's supposed to be good luck to eat a mince pie every day of December and most people don't turn them down when offered. So, by the time the holiday season is over, most people are well fed-up with mince pies. But whether they like deep or shallow mince pies, or simply can't stand them, most Brits know it's Christmas from their first mince pie of the season. 

TURKEY
Photo via Britain on View
Smoked salmon, served with buttered brown bread and a slice of lemon, or wrapped around some prawns, is a typical festive starter. Turkey long ago replaced goose as the most popular main course. But it is what the turkey comes to the table with that make it especially British. The accompaniments include: chipolatas (small sausages) wrapped in bacon; roasted root vegetables, especially roasted parsnips which are sweet and moist; brussels sprouts, often with chestnuts or bacon or both; bread sauce, a mixture of bread crumbs, milk, cream, onions and seasonings. 

CHRISTMAS PUDDING
Photo: RFB Photography
The traditional British Christmas pudding is a bit like a cannonball made of dried fruit,nuts, flour, eggs, suet or butter, spices and loads and loads of alcohol. It comes to the table sprigged with holly or winter cherries and flaming with brandy. Rich and heavy, a little bit of Christmas pudding goes a long way. A good Christmas pudding is started months before Christmas, steamed for several hours, then tightly wrapped and left to age. Whisky or brandy are used to plump up the dried fruit and are added to the cooked pudding from time to time. On the day, the pudding is once again steamed for a few hours. Then hot brandy is poured over it and set alight. Traditionally, a three-penny (thruppence) or six-penny (sixpence) coin, both long out of circulation, is baked in the pudding. Finding it is considered good luck. In some families, silver or porcelain charms are kept for this purpose.

CHRISTMAS CAKE
Photo via Sainsbury's
Like the Christmas pudding, the traditional British Christmas Cake is started months before the holiday. It is a very rich fruit cake which is 'fed' with brandy or whisky - a few spoonfuls at a time, every few days for weeks. Before Christmas, the cake is wrapped in a rolled layer of marzipan and topped by a thick layer of rolled white icing. Then the whole thing is neatly wrapped in a red ribbon and topped with a holiday motif. In effect, the cake is sealed, airtight, in all that marzipan and icing. That, plus the amount of alcohol it has absorbed, should make it last a very long time. And, kept in a biscuit tin or a plastic food box with a sealable lid, Christmas cakes have been known to be edible for months, even years. The Christmas cake is not usually part of Christmas dinner but is kept to be offered at tea time and for snacks during the holidays.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Make Everything OK

One last entry on The Students' Corner in 2012, by Joana Silva, 10th form student.

Make everything ok
Dealing with some problems? 
Feeling like everything is going wrong? 
What if there was a magic button to make everything ok?
Hum, I think I might have found one… Give it a try, make everything ok!
And just for the fun of the animated cartoon, Joana also suggests you: LOLZ

Click HERE
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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ice skating in London

Britain’s seasonal ice rinks welcome everyone from experts to absolute beginners and those with two left feet and a fear of the cold. Here are 4 of the most beautifully located in London, from November 2012 to January 2013.
Skate in the shadow of the show-stopping Victorian Natural History Museum in London’s Kensington, one of the capital’s most elegant districts. If you’re not keen on skating, lounge on the viewing platform with a mulled wine or warming hot chocolate. Afterwards, don’t miss a visit to this huge museum celebrating the natural world with dinosaurs, interactive exhibits and more.
Get your skates on and head to London and one of Britain’s most famous icons. Skate beneath the ramparts, towers and battlements of this spectacular Norman fortress, home of the crown jewels, historic arms and armour and nearly 1,000 years of British history.
Somerset House
visitbritain.com
One of the most beautiful skating backdrops in Britain, Somerset House is the neoclassical arts venue sitting between the Thames and the Strand in London. This year you can enjoy spiced mulled wine in the cool and cosy Tom’s Skate Lounge, lunchtime workouts and even winter-themed club nights.
Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park
Weekends at Winter Wonderland are very busy. During peak times we may have to control the crowd flow, putting in place a staged entry procedure. Ticket-holders for the pre-bookable attractions will be fast-tracked through the gates. For families with young children and those who prefer a more relaxed experience of Winter Wonderland, come along in the mornings and during the week. We open at 10am daily.


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Friday, December 14, 2012

Yo!santa@pole

                      A cartoon by Dave Granlund

To all my students, I wish you enjoy the most of this school break!... As for us, teachers, we still have hard work ahead! Yet, time will come to wish my peers Merry Xmas! See you next week!...
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Thursday, December 13, 2012

End of the term resources

Having all the assessments done, these two videos by Zeitgeist might be an interesting choice for a conversation activity at our last lesson before the winter break. I'd suggest this activity for older students. We could check their general knowledge of the world they live in, inducing them to talk about 2012 major events. I would ask them to identify the public figures that appear in the video and their relevance for the year that is about to end. To finish the activity, I suggest showing the video about 2011 and ask the students to make comparisons between the two years, which one they prefer and why, and their predictions for 2013





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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12-12-12

And then there was the 12th day, on the 12th month in the 12th year of the new millennium. 12-12-12 is not just a triple date sequence on the calendar, it's the last one we'll see in our lifetimes. Easy to remember for an anniversary, the date means luck and good energy for some South Floridians who are penciling in the rare numerical lineup for special events from weddings to holiday parties. 'That date resonates with the vibration and characteristics of beauty, love, laughter and fun,' said Marcy Heller, a numerologist in Delray Beach . 'Twelve is the energy of creativity, artistic beauty, harmony, celebration.' In that spirit, county clerks are expecting a wedding rush this Wednesday. 'It's a historic kind of day since there's not going to be a 13-13-13,'' said Jackie Halderman, communications manager for the Clerk's Office. 'We are offering the Historic Courthouse for folks who want to mark this wedding day in a historic way.'

photo credit: Daniel*1977 via photopin cc
Non-wedding events are also taking place including '12.12.12: The Concert for Sandy Relief,' a music fundraiser at Madison Square Garden in New York City. And Dec. 12 is also World Hoop Day, an international event that raises money to buy hula-hoops for needy kids. That event has been held on previous sequential dates such as Nov. 11, 2011 and Oct. 10, 2010.

It's funny that such a special date takes place before 'the end of the world', which will happen on December 21, 2012, according to the Mayan prophecy. Nevertheless, 12-12-12 is very popular among lovebirds, who are counting on the date to be ever-lasting.
Source:NewsChannel5 (abridged and adapted)
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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Conversation activities

BusyTeacher presents the following as '7 Great Go To Activities for Conversation Class'. These tips might be useful when the time comes for our students' oral assessments. They need to practise, and practise, until they're ready for the moment in which they show how much they master the English speaking skills. And for us, teachers, it's great to have a reminder of how to vary our activities in class!

Click HERE to view the image in full size

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Friday, December 07, 2012

An announced royal baby

Photo credits: AP
Bob Englehart, from The Hartford Courant, wrote on December, 4th 2012, as I quote: 'Nothing like a new baby on the way to spark paternal and maternal instincts across the globe. The fact that it's being born into the royal family makes it even better. It allows each and every one of us to feel like an aunt, uncle or cousin. Distant maybe, but still involved in an emotional way. We all wish Kate good health and a successful birth because that's what she's chosen. Those of us of a certain age remember like it was yesterday when this baby's father and uncle were born. They were cute little kids and now they're handsome men. There are plenty people alive who remember when this baby's grandfather was born, too.' Due to a severe pregnancy sickness, the Duchess had to receive hospital treatment. Fortunately, she has been discharged from hospital after a three-night stay and has told reporters that she is feeling much better, reports The Telegraph. You can read the full news HERE.


The cartoon above, also by Bob Englehart, is about the announcement made this week related to the Duchess of Cambridge's pregnancy. The cartoon is a comment on the media frenzy surrounding the news on the fact that the Duchess is expecting a baby. The bird which is delivering the royal baby (and being followed by the major U.S. news channels) is a stork. For centuries the stork has been a symbol representing birth, and children were told that babies arrive carried by a stork. If you have ever wondered why a white stork was chosen for this honour, wiseGEEK has an explanation which you can read HERE. I came across this information through The English Blog.

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Thursday, December 06, 2012

Tips on oral presentations

Adressing a large group of people is always a complicated situation, and, when you are a student, and the audience is your teacher and classmates, it is even more complicated. DO NOT PANIC! Here are a few tips to help you prepare a good speech and be successful in your task.
1. Practise makes perfect: the more times you make a speech, the more confident you will become.
2. Always prepare in advance. Do some research work, know your facts and take some notes.
3. Your notes should be built by topics and not a written speech. Use cards, one point to each card.
4. You can also use visual aids (posters, pictures, facts on an overhead projector) to emphasize your points.
5. Make each point clearly. Involve your audience. Use eye contact and gestures.
6. Start with something shocking. Surprise your audience. Make sure you have a strong beginning and ending to your speech.
Source: LINKS 
(10th form courseboook by Porto Editora)

Found picture at Talk Nerdy Blog
These tips might help our students when time has come for oral assessments in each term. Let us not forget that 30% of students' evaluation is about their speaking skills. It's not easy for them, but it isn't easy for teachers either, as most of our students read written notes, instead of speaking when presenting their points. For many, addressing an audience is torture; and they can't simply pronounce a word without looking at their papers. I believe practising is one of the keys. It's like playing the piano: the more you play, the closer you'll reach to perfection.
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Wednesday, December 05, 2012

ELT resoursces for Xmas - part II

Larry Ferlazzo presents on his website an endless list of resources to teach and learn about Christmas. Among his suggestions, I found particularly interesting this slideshow on how Christmas is celebrated around the world, by The New York Times. The Watshington Post presents this fun video on Decorating For Christmas using time lapse photography. Santa Gone Wild is a fun slideshow from Time Magazine that shows peolpe who dress up like Santa Claus and make fools of themselves. MES Games has an online Christmas vocabulary learning activity and game. Oxford University Press has another Christmas vocabulary game. What’s Christmas without music? The British Council has a Christmas Song. And, of course, don’t forget about Jingle Bells! Larry suggests many other resources. You can read the full article HERE.
Busy Teacher has gone wild and has 135 free Christmas worksheets at your disposal. From the story of Rudolph, the red nosed reindeer to the song worksheet Last Christmas by Wham and storytelling the Christmas story 'The Night before Christmas', all these materials are free for download. If you have great worksheet about Christmas, busyteacher.org asks you to tell them about it and become a BusyTeacher contributor. 

Picture via Google Images
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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Have a Hug

Have a hug @ http://www.thenicestplaceontheinter.net/
Another interesting text written by Joana Silva, a 10th form student, attending Science and Technologies studies.

Feeling down? Here, have a hug.
The nicest place on the internet is a website created to spread love and comfort. Everyone has those days when things aren’t so good and all we need is a hug. If you have someone to hug you when you’re feeling down, you should feel very special! There’re plenty of people who don’t have anyone to turn to when they’re sad… This website is a proof that we can still have faith in humanity; it shows us that people care about the others…
In this website, people record themselves hugging their camera or their computer. I know, it sounds silly at first, but when you give it a deeper thought, it makes sense and it’s beautiful gesture. There are nice people out there in the internet after all!

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Monday, December 03, 2012

ELT resources for Xmas

If you teach kids, or simply have them at home, I would suggest you a visit to the North Pole. I mean, to www.northpole.com! 'Enjoy Christmas with Santa Claus at the North Pole' is an award-winning Christmas website, which you can join for free. You can send a letter to Santa Claus or a Christmas card to a friend; chat with some of Santa's elves or read stories about your favourite North Pole elf; enjoy reading children stories about the elves' adventures in the workshop in Santa's Secret Village; choose any of the online games and activities which include checkers with Santa, Trim the Tree, crossword puzzles, word search, concentration, mazes and dragging decorations onto the tree to make the tree beautiful. This website also features yummy recipes, Christmas traditions around the world, activities both for parents, teachers and students, and especially, loads of fun for kids, as there's always something fun to do at the North Pole!...

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