Archivo de la etiqueta: English

Learning History through Skype

This activity is designed for an English History class in Spain.

The aim of the project is to connect students with a History scholar through skype. That way the students will have the opportunity to practice not only their English skills but also their History knowledge. Before the meeting, the students would have studied the area of the talk. For example, imagine that the students are learning the French Revolution during two weeks. At the end of the lesson they would have a videoconference with the scholar. Before the videoconference, students prepare a list of questions they are going to ask the professor. The day of the talk, the students listen and take notes. They will also have time to ask the questions they have prepared. For homework, they will have to edit several posts in their personal blogs about the talk and also do some homework that the teacher would prepare based on the talk.

This is only a brief description of the project. The following posts will establish the profile of the group, the language skills and evaluation criteria etc. I will also clarify the tasks to be performed by the students, the integration in the syllabus etc. Please, go to Footprints in the sand for more information.

*This is part of The Master en Formación del Profesorado de la UNED.


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Essay on Romeo and Juliet.

Topic: Act III, scene 1 marks a turning point on the novel, discuss.

“The tragic ending is announced in no uncertain terms, but for most readers and spectators it is the beginning of act 3 that makes the decisive turning point”. (Mehl). We know from the very beginning of the play that we are dealing with a tragical love story. In the Chorus, Romeo and Juliet’s love is characterised as “star crossed” and “death marked”. “Star crossed” has a very negative meaning. Their love has been born under the wrong star. These lovers have this doom meaning. At the same time, the love is “death marked” which clearly connects the play and the lovers with death. This connection love-death, described in the beginning of the play, is one of the themes of the tragedy.

However, in the first half of the play there are no signs of tragedy. The play stars like a comedy. We have an introduction to the family feud but in a comic style with crude and coarse jokes.

“Sampson: Gregory, o’ my word, we’ll not carry coals.

Gregory: No, for then we should be colliers.

Sampson: I mean, an we be in choler, we’ll draw.

Gregory: Ay, while you live, draw your neck out o’ the collar.”

The play continuous with good humour and peaceful harmony with the servant who has to deliver the invitations (John Mehl’s points out that in the first versions of Romeo and Juliet he was simply called clown) and also, with the nurse and Mercutio.

Mercutio: Good Peter, to hide her face, for her fan’s the fairer face”.

Mercutio: Tis no less, I tell you, for the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon”

As we are saying, in the first part of the play there are no elements of tragedy apart from the great chorus. Act 3 scene 1: Mercutio’s death is the turning point of the play; from here we know that this is a tragedy. The comedy of the other acts disappears, now all is a tragedy, and the worst of the tragedies: the death of young people. The murder of Mercutio is accidental, in a way Romeo is responsible for the death but accidentally. After the fight, it is impossible for Romeo and Juliet to be together.

Although they try to live their love in peace, Romeo has chosen. “The only thing that seems to be really indispensable for Elizabethan tragedy is a marked turn of fate, ending in the hero’s destruction” (Mehl). Unlike classical tragedies where the will of Gods move men in Elizabethan tragedies is the man, Romeo’s will, who changes the action. It’s Romeo who chooses. This is a very important element: the hero chooses, very often wrongly and that error brings on his fault. In a way, Romeo is responsible for his own fault and for turning the story in a tragedy.

Romeo: Oh I’m a fortune’s fool” says Romeo expressing the idea of fortune, fate and destiny playing with him like a puppet. This sentence said exactly after killing Tybalt brings on the idea of the importance of fortune and fate. After this turning point: Tybalt and Mercutio’s death and Romeo’s banishment, all the action happens very quickly. Romeo and Juliet, with Friar Laurence’s help, will fight for their love and prove that the play is a comedy. But, the prologue says that their love is “death-marked” and the play finishes as a tragedy.

In conclusion, the prologue announces a tragical love story. There is, if we omit the chorus, no evidence of an inevitable tragedy during the first few scenes until we get to Mercutio and Tybalt’s death and Romeo banishment which clearly is the turning point of the play. “The deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt are irreversible acts of violence that no comic can solution can gloss over”. (Mehl)


  • CLEMEN, W: The development of Shakespeare’s imaginery Methuen, London 1977
  • MEHL, Dieter: Shakespeare’s Tragedies: An introduction. Cambridge University Press, UK 1986.


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Project: College Interview

This was a project we did with American students last year. The aim of the project was communication and cultural exchange. We had several meetings along the semester in which, apart from knowing each other, we exchanged information on different topics about our habits, hobbies, food, parties, holidays and so. In the end, we had to represent a role play in front of our class mates, on a topic we had choosen from the US’ culture.

Here you have the final result.

The college application process is very stressful for many students in America. There is pressure for the students to recieve good grades all four years of high school, be involved in clubs and activities in their school, and perform service for the community.. The application for univerisities is very complex. Students have to provide information about all of their accomplishments, and activities. Also, they are asked to provide multiple letters of recomendation, from teachers, bosses, or other adults. They will be asked to write at least one essay, if not more. Many times, an interview is not required by the university to be accepted. However, for more prestigious colleges, it is required. For the universities that do not require it, applicants can ask for an interview to help them be accepted.

What has been your biggest achievment?

Well, I was president of the debate team the last two years, and this year we won the state championships. I really enjoyed leading the team to accomplish a common goal, a victory.

Why do you want to attend our college?

Attending this university has been my dream for the past four years. My mother went here and these were the best four years of her life. Additionally, I would love to pledge the same sorority as my mom, Alpha Chi Omega. She made friends for life, and I want to share the same experience. Also, I like the location of this university. I want to get far away from home for a while, and experience a new city.

What do you like to do outside of school?

I am on the varsity volleyball team. We have practice everyday after school, and sometimes games during the week, so i don´t really have time to do much else.

Have you had a job before?

Yes. On the weekends I am a waitress at the local country club. I have been working there for three years, and recently won the employee of the month award.

What kind of benefit have you been to your community?

Three times a week I volunteer at the nursing home where my grandma lives. I love getting to spend time with her, as well as play bingo with all of her friends. Some of the people living there never get visits from their family, so I like having the opportunity to cheer them up.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years, I hope to have graduated at the top of my class from Harvard law school, and have a job with a prestigious law firm.

What do you plan to major in, and why?

I plan to major in English and history. These subjects are very interesting to me and they will give me a strong background when I apply for law school. I also want to take some Spanish classes, because it is important to learn about other cultures and countries.

What would teachers say are your best and worst characteristics?

My teachers…..would say that my best characteristic is that I always put all my effort into my work. I take pride in every assignment that I turn in. However, sometimes I try to do too many things at once, and as a result, I have no free time and I am stressed.

What would you like to gain from attending our college?

As I have said, I wish to go to law school after this, and your university can help me gain valuable knowledge about this career, and develop a sense of independence away from my parents. This is a well known school, and I feel I am more likely to be accepted to law school if I have graduated from here.

What has been the most important person or event in your own self-development?

I think that my parents are the most important people in my life. They have always told me I can be anything that I want. They have supported me in everything that I want to do. They always believe in me, and help me accomplish my dreams

Do you consider yourself a “team player”?

Yes. I feel that team work is one of my strengths. When there is a mix of opinions, then the work is better. I always listen to everyone´s views, and try to include all of them.

Ok, I think that’s enough, do you have any questions?

Yes, How does the school treat AP scores? (AP, advanced placement, scores are the scores of certain classes that are offered in high school. At the end of the year the students take and exam and recieve a score from 1 to 5. Many schools accept scores 3 and higher, but some only 4 and higher. These scores allow students to be exempt for certain general education classes. For example, a score of a 4 on an AP U.S. History Class could give the student credit for a class of history. Every university is a little different in how this system works for them, and it is very important to students)

INTERVIEWER: Well, we accept the scores from advanced placement English, Literature, Statistics, Calculus, and U.S. history classes. For any other AP classes, the credits will be accepted only as electives, nothing more.

What is the system for matching roommates? (Freshman year, almost everyone is placed into a dorm room with a person they don´t know. Universities normally have some questions you must answer about yourself. Some universities ask alot of questions, such as if you smoke, do you like to go out, are you messy or clean, do you have any allergies, what are your hobbies, things like this. And some only ask one or two questions. Many people end up living with a roommate that is very different from them, and they do not get along well.)

INTERVIEWER: We have a questionnaire of twenty five questions for every person to complete. And, if there are problems, then after the first semester you can request to change roommates and we will do the best we can to find someone better for you. Anything else?

No, thank you

Ok, you’ll hear from us soon. Bye bye.

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