September 5, 2006 at 8:42 pm | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment
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The two-headed dog of the Lochend Pond is taking you back home to where I came from.


September 5, 2006 at 8:22 pm | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment
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In random order (i.e.: the order in which blogger spits out the code which is always jumbled)


Silvia and Alex









Here’s to goodbye

September 3, 2006 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment
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That’s it. The course has finished, all twelve trainees have passed the course and will, if Cambridge doesn’t object upon inspection of our portfolios, be awarded the CELTA certificate. Here are some final pictures.

The trainee bunch, from left to right: Neil (Aberdeen, Scotland, and Barcelona, Spain, as of Tuesday, c’rect?), me, Natasha (Rostov, Russia, one of our birthday girls on the course; she must already be back on her way home by now, bye, Natasha), Philip or flippant Phil, Phil who’s got ants in his pants, our endearing tutor (currently London, England), Sophie (North Berwick, Scotland, who taught kids in Thailand for a year before she began to study though she’s only 21), Paul (Edinburgh, Scotland, who is also heading to Spain soon, good luck for both you future Spaniards), Tom (currently based somewhere 1.5 hours away from Edinburgh, but has recently returned from seven year ‘stint’ in Japan, wow ), Sarah (currently Edinburgh, Scotland, but she’s been about everywhere doing everything, including being a chef in Zambia), Alex (from England, based in Edinburgh, another birthday and the brave person who went on the deep fried mars bar excursion with me, thank you Alex!) and Silvia (originally from Sao Paulo in Brasil, but now based in the North of Scotland, a natural as a language teacher AND a former olympic athlete, whew).

Missing in this picture: Steve (Mr. Capoeira who had a fifteen pages lesson plan for his final TP and does not want to have his picture published on a blog), Gianna (who I’d like to dub Goldilocks and who I sadly missed on this last gettogether), and David (who will by now be on his way to Rome, his new home, best of luck!), and Mark, our other incredibily efficient tutor.

Some of our students:

The tall guy in the middle is Pavel, “my” case study. I wrote my second assignment about his language skills and needs, and he wrote on essay for me about the impact of open source software on the IT market. While he’s still at intermediate stage (and has come to Scotland from Russia about 2 months ago), he is (to my and other people’s judgment) incredibly smart and able to make witty jokes in English. And he’s two meters tall, although he’s only 17, as you can probably see in this picture. The guy next to him is Omar from Senegal,an aspiring engineer, and also another rough diamond on the course. Props, guys! The one on the left I don’t know, must be an arb stranger or somebody who joined the intermediate group after I had changed to elementary.

The two guys on the left are Faustino (and if everybody in Galicia is like Tino, like Tino said, then I don’t think I want to go to Galicia, certainly not without hearing protection) and Adam, originally from Poland, who is a triathlete, wow. To the right: Sophie and Natasha.

Deep fried Mars bar 2

September 2, 2006 at 1:43 pm | Posted in Scotland | 1 Comment
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And a few pics to document the feast…

Finally, the deep fried mars bar

September 2, 2006 at 1:40 pm | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment
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Tapping into the mother lode of Scottish delights…

Seagulls in Prince’s Garden

August 30, 2006 at 8:51 pm | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment
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…pretending not to see me, but actually lying in ambush to get a piece of my marmite sandwich…

…and another shot of Edinburgh castle, overseeing the garden with all its countless luncheoners, me being one of them, for one of the very last times in probably a long time.

Final TP tomorrow

August 29, 2006 at 10:49 pm | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment
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Dear World,

You won’t believe how happy I am to be able to say that my FINAL teaching practice unit is coming up tomorrow. Last TP was tough, Philip (Dale, our tutor) meant to be “pushing me a bit harder” to work on my “missing link”, pronunciation drill. Am unable to say right now whether I’ll be able to meet the demands and to outperform all my previous TPs (not even sure whether this is what I want), but at least I can say that I am well prepared.

Am a bit worried about my fellow trainee Steven whose final TP covers a language point, and for an unknown reason this has never appeared on his lesson plan up to this point. Needless to say that this is unfair, as the expectation generally is that your last TP is to be your masterpiece. EDIT: I was actually wrong in assuming that this was Steve’s first language point. As a matter of fact, it was his third. S’pose the reason for this is that Steve managed to make all his language lessons appear like a skills lesson to me – must be his innate gift to establish rapport with complete strangers. He’s been known as “Mr Instant Rapport” in all the intermediate lessons – the very low proficiency level of the elementary group might have scared him a bit. Dunno, am thinking about what I could do to help him through the final TP – timewise this is going to be tough as Stefanie is coming up to EDI tomorrow (yay!).

Ok, nuf said for today. Some pics from the bee hive:

Short reflection on CELTA

August 27, 2006 at 12:14 pm | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment
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Today is Sunday. Tomorrow the final week of my four weeks teacher training course is to begin. Right now, I am busy writing my fourth assignment. Looking at our time table, I wonder how we actually managed to crank out four assignmengts in between morning sessions, teaching practice and feedback sessions in the afternoon and lesson planning in the evenings. Well, actually, I know how: Through sacrificing our weekends, sacrificing sleep and being incredibly disciplined when it cam eto meeting deadlines.

The principal said last week that week three would be the toughest. I strongly disagree. Week three was a piece of cake in comparison to this final week where everything has begun to hurt. You’re fed up with assignments, fed up with rushing to the study centre at a quarter past eight to get your lesson material and/or assignments printed, fed up with struggling with the photo copy machine, fed up with the smell of the trainee room, fed up with eating sandwiches, … FED UP describes my attitude toward anything related to the course right now.

Of course I have learned a lot. Professionally, this has been the most rewarding experience ever, and there is a ginormous amount of things I am intending to change about my teaching. Personally, it was very rewarding, getting to know the other trainees which seem to come from all walks of life, but yet there seem to be a few common traits which bring them together, the two most important being a) extended experience with living abroad b) having studied unmarketable disciplines, in particular philosophy and literature. Isn’t it a weird concidence that three out of only 12 people have been to Zambia, for instance? How often do you meet people who would even vaguely know where to put Zambia on the map?

Etc. pp. Need to turn to my assignment again. In the meantime, for those who are considering joining the world of ELT and CELTA, have a look at the English droid page. This might ward you off eventually, ’cause there is a grain of truth in everything s/he says…

Begin here, if you don’t know how to make sense of the navigation:
CELTA without tears

N.B.: CELTA is the course I am currently taking: Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults, monitored by Cambridge university. And the Cambridge assessor is going to come to OBSERVE us tomorrow. There was a 50% chance that I wouldn’t be teaching tomorrow, but of course: I’ve drawn the shorter straw.

Forget Trainspotting

August 27, 2006 at 11:40 am | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment
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Remember Trainspotting? Remember the worst toilet in Scotland? Well, what you haven’t seen yet is:

The Evilest Toilet in Scotland

Believe me, it’s not haunted, and that has nothing to do with the Turkish Eye on the wall. Ghosts would leave this place with burning corneas if they ever stumbled into it, and humans would do the same if not mother nature forced them to stay a little while. Towel or bin? Who needs it…

Muse gig, in concert

August 24, 2006 at 11:44 pm | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment
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Ok, I haven’t actually found out yet whether the youtube embed object tags works or not because it takes a whiles for their content supervisers to give their green light. I’ll upload it anyway and check whether its up tomorrow morning.

G’night folks! And who ever called me today from a +4179xxx number – please text me! I won’t answer calles while I am here! First reason: costs. Second reason: I don’t accept calls from unknown numbers after office hours cause they smell like work – and I spent all my office hours from 08:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Basil Paterson. You called at 6:20 p.m.! +41, ist that Switzerland or the Netherlands?

Muse gig, pre-concert

August 24, 2006 at 11:31 pm | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment

This is also a test to see whether the youtube embed object tag works:

Treat from a chippy

August 23, 2006 at 10:44 pm | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment

This is how the cookie crumbles! A layer of white paper:

A layer of brown paper:

And a layer of batter.


Use your fingers,

grab a bite, and then:

Dig in!

The remnants of the feast (probably worth a full afternoon snack on a weight watchers diet…)

My next project: the deep fried battered Mars bar. Stay tuned!


August 23, 2006 at 10:30 pm | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment

Today was a real stinker. Resubmission of second assignment (tiny resubmission: need to provide an illustration, i.e. photocopy of a minimal pair exercise – showing that one is able to master and apply the concept of minimal pairs in analysis wasn’t enough), easy as pie, but still another thing to think about. Lack of sleep.

Having to cancel dinner with Sarah, Natasha and Cider due to deadline pressure: classes tomorrow, muse gig tomorrow, submission of third assignment on Friday –> everything must be ready to rumble as of tonight! No class observation this afternoon –> another afternoon and evening in the study centre. Creating new material, adjusting lesson plan. Adjusting vocab analysis. Adjusting material to vocab analysis, adjusting lesson plan.

Completing assignment three, print. proof-read. You need a another weakness in pt. 1. ok, another weakness. Add. Print. How is this going to affect your future as a teacher? Dammit. I forget. Expand. Print. Proof-read. Typo. Correct. Word count! Word count. Too high. Doctor the text. Mmh. Word count. Doctor the word count. Print. Proof-read. Done! Arf.

Photocopier. Photocopier is calibrating. Wait. Copy. Reverse. Page two. Cut up illustrations. Splice together with blue tack. Put on machine. Please no paper jam! 10 pages. Done! Leave BP. Bus late, weird people on the streets. Should mentally disabled people be allowed to have children? Mmm. Bus 19. Ok, finally, some minutes to myself to relax….

Sam had already told me she wouldn’t be there, meaning: nobody to be silent with while I’m having my dinner (I am not too chatty after such a day, as you can imagine; apparently things are better when I had an ‘Above standard’ on the TP of that day, but that has only happened once so far;-) I decided that I needed some comfort food and went to ANGELO’s, our local chippy. Single fish, please (i.e. without chips), with salt and vinegar. Hmmmm. The fish is endearingly warm on my hands as I carry it home, and my soul is sighing with relief…


August 20, 2006 at 10:23 am | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment

This is utfolt: a useful thing for language teachers. Cabin fever is beginning to take its toll amongst us. After having debated with Natasha from Russia, she speaks German as well, whether the s in “Scheiße” voived or unvoiced,

(ASIDE: we found out that non-natives, in particular British folks, tend to use a voiced s while they should be using an unvoiced s – and that, in general, it can be conisdered fairly surprising that German managed to squeeze an unvoiced s between two vowels; we have decided that this can only achieved because the ß, sz, respectively, is articulated unusually sharp – a sound that many Brits are unable to articulate anyway)

we continued to examine the L1 interference that can be observed when natives of Russian learn English, using Pavel, my casestudy, as an example. We thought that maybe he uses the same sound as in the German “Loch”, but meanwhile I have found out that we were wrong. The actual effect is palatalization, which is common in Russian and used to distinguish two sounds. Palatalization occurs when the body of the tongue is raised toward the hard palate during the articulation of the consonant.

Think of anyone from Russia who you know and imagine him her saying: “We have to have”. I cannnot include a piece of phonemic script here, but it would sound something like (transcription for Germans only): Uii chaev tu chaev (ch almost as harsh as in “Loch).

Now, why is this a useful thing to know you might wonder? It isn’t. I was have been digressing from what I meant to say for a moment, that’s all. I had wanted to show you the Kinesthetic vowel wheel, but then realized that I cannot make the soundfile that comes with it work…..

But I’m sure another utfolt will come up sooner or later…

Dirleton Castle

August 19, 2006 at 12:37 pm | Posted in Scotland | Leave a comment

The most impressive castle I have ever been to. Dirleton Castle. It breathes history (and I wouldn’t be surprised if it were haunted, like most of the places here in Scotland). When we got there, a wedding ceremony inside the court yard had just finished, with a strings trio playing while we explored the castle: magnificent!

Here is a bit of history from Wikipedia:

“Dirleton Castle (56°02′45″N, 2°46′42″W) is a medieval fortress in the village of Dirleton, East Lothian, Scotland. Built in the 13th century by John De Vaux and altered through various phases of conquest and rebuilding throughout the years, today the castle is partially ruined but is maintained as a tourist attraction by Historic Scotland. The name De Vaux also lives on in the village as the nearby Open Arms Hotel has named their brasserie “De Vaux’s”.

After being used as a base by Oliver Cromwell, the castle was partly destroyed in 1651 when attacked by cannon. It was soon acquired by a local family who lived at the nearby Archerfield Estate. After becoming renowned for its gardens it became state property in 1923.”

A few views of/from the gardens which “are home to the world’s longest herbaceous border, as certified by the Guinness World Records and are a popular setting for weddings and other summer events.”

The perfect enchanted little cottage…

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