Friday, September 25, 2015

The amazing Malala

Malala Yousafzai's story is anything but conventional. When she was only 11, in 2009, she started writing a blog in her own language, Urdu, explaining to people what life under the Taliban was like. She defended the right of children, especially girls, to receive an education. The blog was translated into English and it became so popular that the Taliban felt threatened by it. Three years later, in 2012, a gunman shot her in the head. Two of her friends were shot, too. She had to go through many operations in her country, Pakistan, and later in the UK. She moved there to continue her recovery and study.

2013 was a very active year for her. She made a speech at headquarters of the United Nations in New York. She spoke vehemently of the power of educating girls and women and against intolerance and extremism. She was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and she published her story in a book.

Finally, in 2014, Yousafazi won  the Nobel Peace Prize. However, all of this activity never stopped her from studying. She has just finished her A Level exams with excellent grades, and now she's planning to go to the university at Oxford or Stanford.   

You can watch her speech at the UN here (Spanish subtitles).

You can also read more about her story and do some exercises at Guardian News Lessons. 

News resources for intermediate students (update)

These are some of the resources for reading news that you can use if you are at an intermediate level (I will update this  if I find more) Monthly topical news lessons from The Guardian.  These are reading exercises based on news adapted from the UK newspaper The Guardian. They have three different levels: elementary (B1), intermediat e (B2), and upper intermediate (C1). There are teacher's notes and answers.

[Inside Out e-lessons used to offer reading e-lessons  which were often based on current news as well. The level was different every week. You can still find them in the archive, with teacher notes, answers and a glossary. These days they are publishing video lessons on everyday topics, which are also great but not about current news.]

Despite the old-fashioned design, has very complete lessons based on current events, complete with an MP3 file that you can use for listening practice.

BBC Learning English is also nice for current topics, particularly the section called 6 minute English. In this section you can find downloadable podcasts with transcripts and solutions on many different issues. 

There are three apps you can use if you want to listen to international radio online. The first one is Podcast Addict , which allows you to subscribe and listen to many different podcasts in many languages. You have the option of downloading them so you can listen to them offline. On the other hand,  gives you a wide variety of online radio stations from many different countries to listen to. Be careful because there is no offline option, so make sure you have a Wi-Fi connection if you want to save data.

Finally, you can listen to the BBC via BBC Media Player . There is no offline option but the programmes there are really useful. You can also download podcasts to listen to offline at BBC podcasts.

That's all for now! Again, I'll update this if I find more info.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Scottish independence referendum 2014 explained

It's been a year since Scotland voted "No" in its referendum for independence. This weekend we'll have elections in Catalonia that could lead to a similar referendum, so we are discussing these issues in our Second Year of Bachillerato.