Friday, 28 May 2010

All Worthy Winners

I would just like to say many congratulations to all the members of my fabulous PLN who have been voted in the Top 100 Blogs by Lexiophiles. You can find out the results from here.

Talk To Me In Korean has been voted the number one blog for 2010. Well done!

A blog on the Italian language and culture I mentioned in an earlier post has also been included in the Top 100- "Diario di una Studentessa Matta", by Melissa Muldoon. It is a great way for me to brush up my language, because the blog contains a rich variety of different topics and language points.
The lovely wordle below shows the Top 10 in the Language Teaching category blogs and it is great to see people I know via blogging, Beltfree Ning and Twitter.

It was a thrill to be included in the 495 nominations, and I would like to thank everyone who voted for me this year. It was a great experience.

Coming Soon!
Book review of Moodle 1.9 Theme Design: Beginner's Guide
Wine review of the divine "Anima Petri".

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Let Sleeping "Cat" Lie

Although Joey is indeed fast asleep inside my Rosemary Plantation, the actual idiom I had in mind was "Let sleeping dogs lie", which refers more to the picture below. The lesson was one I had written a while back, but was lying buried beneath my more recent posts. I published the following Picture Phrasr post at the beginning of my blogging days!

Picture Phrasr

Can you guess the idiom depicted by Kelly, Sofia and Isabella above?

I have just been looking through the archives of Nik's Learning Technology Teacher Development Blog and have come across "Phrasr" by PimPamPum, which was highlighted in the blog in February 2008. I decided to have a play and I wrote the answer to my question above. Please see this sentence. Did you guess the idiom? It looks like a fun site and great tool for exploiting the huge array of pictures available on flickr. Have a go at creating a picture sentence or paragraph yourself!
2nd December 2008

CATaloguing Idioms
Idioms have always held a fascination for me and finding pictures to go with them to make them stand out, has invariably been a quest of mine. I will focus on Cat idioms and show you a few images which can be used to create some effective and memorable lessons. Using your own images whenever possible, adds an extra element to motivate and engage your learners.

Feeding the Fat Cat
The image below of a "fat cat" was found while I was hunting for hidden gems from "The English Blog" by Jeffrey Hill. I can always count on this fantastic blog to come up with brilliant cartoons from newspapers based on topical news of the day. Other lovely examples of "Fat Cat" can also be found in the English Blog's archives here.

Has the Cat got your Tongue?

This was a question I was actually asked by a teacher when I failed to respond to a rather tricky question. I have never forgotten this as I was indeed lost for words, and could not for the life of me reply to the question. I was 18 at the time, and it was a question to do with my Latin A level. What is the meaning of this idiom? Choose one of the 3 answers below:
  1. You can't remember something
  2. You don't know the answer to a question
  3. You are not saying anything
Like the Cat that got the Cream

This expression means one of the following. Can you guess which one is true?
  1. Someone who looks very pleased with themselves, because of something good that they have done
  2. Someone who makes other people happy by always complimenting them
Original cartoon source from Google image search.

You can view a lesson plan of mine based on this idiom below. This section has been updated today.

Let the Cat out of the Bag

This is an idiom which crops up a lot. If you let the cat out of the bag, you accidentally reveal a secret or a surprise. I once let the cat out of the bag when I told a friend I would see her on Saturday night. She looked surprised. I then realised I had almost spilled the beans. A surprise party had been arranged for her on the Saturday night. I immediately backtracked as soon as I realised I had almost given the game away. Luckily, it was forgotten, my friend didn't notice, and the cat stayed firmly in the bag!

You can view a lovely painting of this idiom from Image © Ben Killen Rosenberg / Getty Images by viewing this page here. I have removed the image I had here, as I wasn't sure of copyright.

LinkLike a Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Well, in fact Vicki is on top of a terracotta roof, but you get the gist.
Does she look a) pleased to have her photo taken? or b) nervous and unable to keep still?

The following sentence should give you an idea:
What's the matter with Victoria today? She's like a cat on a tin roof. Normally she's very calm and laid-back.

It's raining Cats and Dogs

Yes, I admit, this idiom is a little bit "old hat", but you can still hear it being used when it's bucketing down with rain! I love this image. I found it via a Google cartoon search.

BBC Learning English site
I love the BBC Learning English videos based on teaching idioms. Here is one of my favourite episodes below, which includes 3 cat idioms and their explanation. The lesson with Teacher's Homework from students can be found here.

Funky Cat
Reading through Shaun Wilden's lovely blog I came across this great post on Playing with "photo" type programs again.. I learned about BeFunky and how to turn your images into funky cartoons and other great fun alternatives. I had a little play and below you can see how Joey turned out!

Cool for cats or what? This nifty little tool is free, quick and easy to use and does not involve registration. Students would have great fun making their projects with images more fun and gives a funky twist to the usual.

Here is the original photo taken in the garden. Joe looks like a cat on a mission, doesn't he? I also think Joe has well and truly had his 15 minutes of fame in this post!

I would love to hear how you exploit idioms of any sort. There are many ways to make them more fun. Please do add your tips!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Inspirational Posters

What do you think? Are all teachers Natural Born Actors?? Circle which applies to your style of teaching from the list of statements below. Please do add your own statement in the comments box.

  • I usually act a word for the students to guess the meaning
  • I'm a budding theatrical diva/divo
  • I'm an aspiring poet and I encourage my students to create their own poems
  • I always wanted to be a comedian or comedienne, so teaching is a nice alternative
  • I am always cracking jokes in class
  • I usually enter my classroom with a flourish
  • I am prone to using wild gesticulations to emphasize a point
  • I often change the tone of my voice to accentuate a particular point
  • I sometimes throw in random quotes from books/films to grab my students' attention
  • I sometimes feign anger when students don't hand in their homework
  • I always act out dialogues as examples for my students
  • I encourage my students to do role play at every given opportunity
  • I love watching Youtube clips of me and my lessons
  • I give Oscar-worthy performances when I feel like it
  • I can act happy and teach when I am feeling miserable inside
  • The show must always go on - that is my personal motto
There is a very interesting post from the BBC British Council website which asks this precise question "A good teacher is a good actor?"

There is no doubt at all that using drama skills in the classroom is an excellent way to motivate and engage students. This article by James Hanley from School Zone Resources goes into this question in great depth.

I personally believe that every teacher has a little bit of an acting side in them if it is nurtured properly. Teach with passion. Perform with passion. Teach + perform= perfect lesson =engaged teacher = happy students? What do you think about my simple theory?

Hidden Gems Homework
Poster Street was discovered on Alex Francisco's excellent Tool of the Day blog post entitled Poster Street. Have fun using the posters with your classes. No registration is required and you can adapt the posters to suit your needs, as I have done for this particular post. Cheers, Alex!

Monday, 24 May 2010

Lexiophiles:TheTop 100 Blogs - Voting Ends Today

Create your own Animation

Have you voted for your favourite blog on the Lexiophiles Top 100 Language Blogs ? If not, you have until midnight tonight to do so. I have been busy looking through some of the blogs on the lists and the following are just a few which have caught my eye today. Have fun looking through them and make sure you press for a blog in each of the 4 categories.

Language Teaching
English Spark by Neal Chambers; provides excellent examples for lesson ideas
A Journey in TEFL by Eva Buyuksimkesyan- always full of wonderful topics

Language Technology
Teach42 by Nick Dembo - I learned a lot from this site when I first started blogging
Box of Tricks by Jose Picardo - the title says it all

Language Professionals
An A-Z of ELT by Scott Thornbury - everything you need to know about ELT in alphabetical order
Word Spy - this is where I learn about all the new words that are being formed in the English language

Language Learning
Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day - always guaranteed to come up with brilliant lists
Diario di una Studentessa Matta by Melissa Muldoon - looks like a great blog to learn Italian

Breaking news from Catignano from correspondant JB

Friday, 21 May 2010

The Joy of Homework

In Little Tibet -picture by KRB

Coming up with new initiatives to highlight blog posts and bloggers is something which has spurred Darren Elliot of the Lives of Teachers in his recent post "Blog Archives: A vast pool of human knowledge, neglected". There is a huge array of amazing posts, just waiting to be re-discovered. Where does one begin? Well, I decided I would start off in a blog's archive, find an interesting post and then find another blog via the comments or the sidebar of said blog. Seems like a lot of fun to me! So,what better way to kick off than by delving into the recesses of Darren's very own blog and seeing what happens? I limited myself by time factor, otherwise I could easily have spent all afternoon doing this lovely "homework" instead of dutifully moving furniture in rooms at home.

The Pulling Factor
For me the title of a post is the pulling factor. I'm a sucker for eyecatching titles when flicking through blogs. So browsing through the innermost archives of the Lives of Teachers I spotted September 2009. I immediately went for this title "the land of do as you please". It certainly didn't disappoint. One question written four times for dramatic effect. A reflection on the best way to teach and also some great follow-up comments. Wonderful stuff!

"Does Hitchcock direct your lessons" was a post I was compelled to read via The Tesla Coil blog. It certainly lived up to expectations. The quote "that strange phenonemum known as the student who happily does their homework" caught my eye. This is what I am doing now, happily doing my "homework".

Reading through the comments on that post led me to Vicki Hollet's lovely "Learning to speak 'Merican" blog. Browsing through the archives I found "Sorry, I'm English" from April 2009. I enjoyed reading about experiments carried out on the "English sorry reflex". I looked at the comments section and hey presto!! I came across one of my favourite blogs "Bits'n'Bobs, Show and Tell"! Now Chris is a Master Title Organiser and each one of his posts comes with an unusual title which compels you to read further.

We have come full circle twice in just 5 clicks. "Final Warnings? written yesterday contains a reference to Janet's Abruzzo Edublog and a comment from Vicki. It is indeed a small world!! From Chris' sidebar I linked to Mike Harrison's blog, which contains this "Got to do some research today" post. In turn I had originally found this link via Twitter this morning and I duly tweeted "will be following suit today!". So here it all is.

Final Delves of the Day
Delving into my very own sidebar my penultimate link is to Zarco English Tool of the Day. I love reading through Alex Francisco's informative posts written in Portuguese. I went straight for the archive posts in December 2009. I picked on Pixuffle.
I learned about a very interesting tool which allows you to alter photos. The photo at the top is what was created in seconds following from Alex's excellent link and tutorial. I will finish off with another Pixuffled photo below. Cheers, Alex!

All Credit Due
It is impossible to go through and highlight all the blogs I like. I would just like to say that each and every blog is amazing per se. To write a blog means to give up a part of oneself. Sometimes one's body and soul can go into a post. It's what makes each blog unique. Let me finish off with a totally NEW blog for me. One which had me totally engrossed in a gap fill activity. Listening to a song in Greek and filling in the gaps to the missing words. I loved it because I was doing the activity from a student's point of view. I wanted to listen to it again (and again) in order to
  • listen to the pronunciation
  • read the words
  • guess the meaning
  • think of how to spell the missing words
  • predict what the missing words meant
  • brush up my rusty Greek
The blog is called Istologio and the song which I enjoyed listening to is "Vosporos". It was a challenging activity and many thanks to the blog owner. This blog is for students of the Greek language, culture and history.

In Little Tibet

The majestic grandeur of Italy's Little Tibet which just happens to be very conveniently located within an hour away from home, here in Abruzzo, has cast its magic spell over me yet again. I love being immersed in its wild spectacular beauty. We set off on Wednesday, eager to explore what surrounds us, looking for unspoilt beauty, peace and atmosphere. K and I travelled for miles on end, with nobody in sight. Just us and awe-inspiring nature. We headed towards Campo Imperatore. This stupendous landscape is within the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park, which is one of the largest protected areas in the whole of Europe.

We passed huge caves carved within the mountains, probably providing shelter for the shepherds that pass over the tracks. Five million sheep used to traverse the plains many years ago.

The Park is home to a huge variety of flora. Click on the link to see the fabulous display of photos from the Park's Photo Gallery.

Below are some of the photos that K took. Thousands of beautiful wild poppies swaying in the gentle breeze.

Many different types of wild flowers have their home in the park.

Photo opportunities abound. The National Park of Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga is a photographer's paradise!

We walked and walked to our heart's content. Campo Imperatore has been the backdrop to a number of films shot in Abruzzo. The excellent AboutAbruzzo Blog has a very informative post on this subject and you can read about it here. There is a very nice follow-up posting here.

A Hidden Gem
We came to the signpost which said Santo Stefano di Sessanio - 5 kilometres. The medieval village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio is a hidden jewel within the National Park. I loved it the first time I saw it, tucked away in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately, the earthquake on 6th April destroyed some of the beautiful and historical structures in the village. Renovation work is being carried out, and slowly but surely, the village is coming back to life again. Below, you can see the old tower, which is being painstakingly re-constructed.

Walking through the old cobbled alleyways was like taking a walk back in time.

Breaking Bread in Aquila
Last Sunday was the official launch of the new cookbook "Breaking Bread in L'Aquila"by New York-based Maria Filici. You can view a video of Maria talking about her new book via her fabulous Food and Fate Blog. The function was held at the Sextantio Albergo Diffuso in Santo Stefano. Here is a great review of the book from Life in Abruzzo Blog. The author has generously donated the net profits of her book to the Aquila Earthquake.

Links to Santo Stefano di Sessanio
Find out about Santo Stefano in wikipedia.
Read about Santo Stefano in Italy Magazine.
Santo Stefano also features in this article taken from the New York Times.
Here is a link to the recipe for the famous "lenticchie" (lentils) of Santo Stefano, found via Inside Abruzzo Blog.

Janet's Top Ten Adjectives
I wrote a review post on Abruzzo in May last year. Can you guess the 10 adjectives I used to describe Abruzzo? You can find out and read my post here.
How many did you guess?

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

You do NOT want to read any further

"With all due respect," so goes one of my favourite lines in the "A Series of Unfortunate Events" books by Lemony Snicket, which have enthralled me as an adult. I was hooked, all line and sinker from the moment I read the following banner which had the fateful words:

Well, human nature being what it is, of course I fell for that one, and so I did read further and I was so gripped, that I went out and bought the first book "The Bad Beginning" immediately. It told an unhappy tale about three extremely unlucky children, the Baudelaire siblings, Violet, Klaus and Sunny, the baby. The first book was so bad, nay dreadful, that I had to rush out and buy the second one called The Reptile Room. That was even worse, so of course I bought the third book The Wide Window, which was even more depressing and lugubrious. I was a sucker for punishment. And so it went over the years until I had read and collected all unlucky 13 of them. The last one was aptly called "The End" Although the series is aimed at 8+ years of age (very clever 8-year-olds me thinks!), the stories are in fact written in such a beguiling and grown-up manner, with so many long words, such as "herpetologist", that as an adult, I found the stories very entertaining and yes, in a way, brilliant and frightfully amusing.

The Elusive Lemony Snicket
Harper Collins Publishers have published an interview with the enigmatic author Lemony Snicket here.

Below is a video of the author on Youtube talking about the new free online edition of The Bad Beginning.

You can browse inside "The Bad Beginning" and all the books via HarperCollins the publishers.. Be prepared, as it makes for extremely unpleasant reading!

All Our Yesterdays
Yesterday I revealed the series which got me into trouble at school. Today, I have openly revealed what has gripped me as an adult. How about you? Which series of books do you enjoy reading? I would love to know. Please do tell!

Monday, 17 May 2010

The Famous Five

The time is nigh. I have always wanted to write a post using this title and I have been inspired by a post on Karenne Sylvester's excellent beltfree Ning on the topic of writer's block. I have had this title in my notebook for quite a while now and I have decided to give my grey cells a twirl by challenging myself to write a post within the next hour or so, including research and ideas for a lesson. Sometimes it is the only way to be inspired and to beat a blockage. To actively begin to write something as soon as it comes to you and then not stop until the seeds have been sown. By then, you will find that the rest is easy. Your mind will be buzzing with ideas just itching to be vented forth by your creativity. So here goes!

The Age of InnocenceEnid Blyton was my favourite author of all time as a child in the 1960s. I devoured her books. In particular, I loved the Famous Five series about a group of children who were always getting into scraps and adventures during their summer holidays. I loved reading about all the amazing adventures that Julian, Dick, Ann, George and Timmy, the dog, would have. I used to get into trouble for reading these books at school, the book under the desk, while I was supposed to be doing my sums, for example. Until the day I got caught in flagrante, but that's another title for a future blog post! Yes, I know, that was very naughty, but that was the power of Enid Blyton's books.
I was hooked from the first book in the series called Five on a Treasure Island. I and my sisters read all the 21 stories from cover to cover. The expression "lashings of ginger beer" will forever be associated with her books. Yes, those were the days!

Simple Lesson Ideas
Ask your students about their favourite book/series of books.
  • What is so special about the book?
  • Who are the leading characters?
  • Which words sum up the book?
  • Who is your favourite character? Why?
  • What is your favourite story line or part of the book?
  • Invent an alternative ending to the book.
  • Imagine you are a character from the book. Answer questions posed to you, in character.
These ideas are fairly basic and are ones which have come to mind this instance, but have a look at the onestopenglish site on using readers in the EFL/ESL classroom for a more comprehensive and exciting list of activities.

Digital Ideas for Exploiting Books
Ask students to prepare a Glogster on their favourite book.
Ask students to prepare a cartoon showing a dialogue between 2 characters. Sean Banville's Free ESL Materials site has an extensive compilation of cartoon / comics sources and links.
Ask students to compile a Wordle on a section of the book and get students to predict the content of each other's book.
Ask students to complete a Wallwisher with the name of their favourite book and reason why they like it so much.
Set up a wiki for posting book reviews and encouraging collaborative projects.

That's it. This post has taken me approximately one hour to write and I have enjoyed doing it. I must call time now. I would really welcome your ideas. Please feel free to add and share your ideas!

Sunday, 16 May 2010


Marble Halls by Enya is one of my favourite songs. It evokes a romantic image of bygone days. It also reminds me of one of the best days of my whole life, which happened 18 years ago today.

Can you imagine what the song is about from the wordle below?

Marble Halls by Enya
I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls
With vassals and serfs at my side,
And of all who assembled within those walls
That I was the hope and the pride.
I had riches all too great to count
And a high ancestral name.

But I also dreamt which pleased me most
That you loved me still the same,
That you loved me
You loved me still the same,
That you loved me
You loved me still the same.

I dreamt that suitors sought my hand,
That knights upon bended knee
And with vows no maiden's heart could withstand,
They pledged their faith to me.
And I dreamt that one of that noble host
Came forth my hand to claim.

But I also dreamt which charmed me most
That you loved me still the same
That you loved me
You loved me still the same,
That you loved me
You loved me still the same

Do you have a song which evokes powerful memories? I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Facebook Privacy Issues

Facebook downplays privacy crisis meeting was a headline from the BBC News that has caught my eye just now. De-activating my Facebook account took me a fair bit to work out. The decision to do this had been brewing for a while. I simply felt I wasn't really using the service correctly. I would like to state that I have nothing against Facebook, personally. I just feel that the basic premise of keeping in touch with friends and family has been rather swamped by all the other things it consists of. The privacy issue was one which did concern me somewhat. Mashable Blog has just written a thought-provoking post entitled "Facebook Exodus Planned for May 31st;Will you Quit?

Pot calling kettle black?

The idiom above may have sprung to your mind. You are probably thinking "Janet, how come you write a blog and you are on Twitter, so anybody can read what you write?? That is so public! What's the difference between writing on a blog or on Twitter or on Facebook?"

Well, I can choose what to write here, I am responsible for my content. Twitter is used for my professional development and to keep me in contact with the exciting ELT world. On FB, there are too many variables, too many 3rd party applications and it just seemed too confusing and complicated. Facebook's privacy policy has "50 different settings and 170 options". That seems way too many options for someone like me, who just wants a simple life!! This article from BBC News about Managing your privacy on Facebook is also interesting reading.

A Case for Facebook?
This excellent post from Graham Stanley's blog-efl certainly made me reflect on why keeping FB is important in the technology-based world of the 21st century. The article is called Private or Public? Has Facebook changed the privacy game? It certainly provides great food for thought.

As one of the moderators on the IATEFL Learning Technologies forum, I started a topic called "Twitter or Facebook:which one do you prefer? The thread received a lot of comments and it was interesting to read everyone's opinions both for and against these two sites.

Did You Know?
To my friends and acquaintances, who were following me on FB, I am sorry that my page is no longer there. Before I de-activated, you might not be aware that some of your faces (4 )came up saying that you would miss me and asking me if I was really really sure I wanted to opt out. Your profile pictures were urging me to reconsider my decision!! Did you know that this is an emotional tactic to keep me within the community? Four of you should know who you are. If you don't, it means that a random robot must have chosen you ?

Any thoughts and comments would be really appreciated. I am not an expert on social media, but I am fascinated to know where it's all heading... Did I do right? Or have I blotted my chances for gaining a future job? What's your opinion?

Thursday, 13 May 2010

LexioPhiles:Vote for the Top 100 Language Teaching Blogs 2010

To my great surprise and excitement, Janet's Abruzzo Edublog has been nominated in the Lexiophiles Top 100 Language Teaching Blogs 2010. Voting started yesterday and finishes on May 24th. The other three categories in the nominations are Language Learning, Language Technology and Language Professionals. There are so many fabulous blogs that it will be difficult to choose the winners! You can only vote once in each category.

Please use the tab below to cast your vote in the Language Teaching category.

Vote the Top 100 Language Teaching Blogs 2010

Thank you very much for my nomination!

Eyecatching Nominations
A few new blogs (for me), which have caught my eye in the Language Teaching category nominations are the following:

E-Learning Goddess: focuses on Ubiquitous Learning and Mobile Learning in Italian - perfect topics for me to brush up my Italian in a subject I love!

Russian Word of the Day Blog: I love the cartoons and I was happy I could still read the Russian script. If I have time, I'd like to brush up my very rusty Russian by popping into this lovely blog more often.

The FCE Blog: a delightful blog to bookmark and show to any future FCE students.

It's up to you now to go to the LexioPhiles site and enjoy browsing through all the blogs and then cast your vote. Good luck!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Janet's Motorcycle Diaries

The roar of the engine as the plane took off last week from Stansted Airport brought me back to my Grand Motorbike Odyssey. The urgency to beat the volcanic ash had stemmed from A Natural Born Fighter as well as my duty to begin teaching a two-week slot at the Lake School of English, Oxford.

The End of the Road

All set and raring to zoom off into the distance, just a quick photo call at the end of the track formerly known as a "strada comunale". The Michelin-man-like appearance consists of my trusted Frank Thomas biker's jacket, leathers and biker's boots. Safety is paramount over looking good!!

Lost in Thought
The first couple of hundred kilometres up until Ancona, I was silent, completely lost in my own deep thoughts. Thoughts mainly of my dear mother, lying in hospital after an unexpected setback a few days before my trip to the UK. After her devastating bicycle accident last year which caused considerable brain damage, my mother had been making remarkable progress and was astounding the experts. How would I find her? Would she recognise me? Would she be different to the mother I loved and knew so well? All these thoughts circled round and round like a vulture ready and waiting to feed off my angst. I held on to K for dear life, rigid, tense and apprehensive.

Easy Rider

A quick brew in Ancona and some grub down me, I got onto the Aprilia Caponord Rally Raid 1000 with renewed enthusiasm for life and the adventure that lay ahead. I began to relax. The stunning countryside and being "at one with nature", the wind flying through my hair, all these tried and tested cliches began to work their magic on me. I actually began to speak via the Intercom, whether this was a good thing from K's point of view, I'm not sure. The beauty of the undulating countryside, the olive groves, the vineyards, the old farmhouses, kept me engrossed for hundreds of kilometres. Ever a TEFL teacher, I set myself the objective of focusing on a theme for each section of the journey. I set about imagining how I would restore all the ancient and abandoned country houses (casale) we passed on the way. This reverie took me up until Bologna.

Heating homemade pasta on the Trangia and making a brew with our mini kettle certainly raised a few curious looks. No matter, the weather was lovely and we had fun.

Bella Moto
Now I'm no expert on motorbikes, and I'm certainly no Hell's Angel, as a certain fellow blogger Chris from Bits'n'Bobs keeps hinting I am :), but I was surprised at the amount of admiring glances and complimentary comments the motorbike received from complete strangers whenever we parked up along the motorway stops. K tells me that this version of the Caponord is relatively rare. I have to say, it was very nice to receive such positive vibes along the way.

Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven gently playing over the Intercom system, I spent the next couple of hundred kilometres heading towards Milan thinking of great motorcycling books such as Ted Simon and his Jupiter's Travels, a book I had read and enjoyed many years before I had met K. His second book Riding Home has a dedication from K in 1989 which reads "To Laura Janet, Traveller and friend".

I also thought back to my struggles with "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert M. Pirsig. I found some of the philosophical passages a little bit hard to digest, but overall the epicentre of the book was about the meaning and quality of life rather than facts about how to maintain a motorcycle.
Arabella's Biker Club

Link to original photo

Setting off from Milan heading towards the Alps, my mind began to think of Arabella Cascarino and what I could do with her in Second Life. It struck me that she could form a club of some sort and well, the idea of Arabella's Biker Club struck me as an excellent one. Then the dilemma began. Would this club be open only to EFL teachers with a penchant for motorbikes? Would it be open to all members of Second Life? Would it be open to experienced bikers only? It dawned on me that forming a club or group of any sort wasn't as easy as ABC. Two hours flew past with me debating the pros and cons of Arabella's future club and then suddenly, we came up against a long queue of cars approaching the St Gotthard Tunnel. I woke up from my Second Life reverie and came back to the real world with a start.

The Royal Wave
The St Gotthard Tunnel - 10 kilometres away said the helpful sign. Queue -10 kilometres long, 2 lanes of traffic. K asked me to hold on tight. I knew what this meant. Enter the world of "filtering"!!. This means going through the centre of 2 lanes of traffic often with about 1 or 2 centimetres to spare between cars and said motorbike. The Parting of the Waves like in the Ten Commandments occured naturally and effortlessly. Cars moved to the left and to the right in order to let the Aprilia Caponord pass through their midst. Each car was given a polite wave by K to say thank you. The only thing was that k had to give the Royal Wave for the whole 10 kilometre stretch. That is something I will never forget. In particular, we squeezed past a stunning white Rolls Royce with an elegant and beautifully coiffeured lady in the passenger seat. The amazed look on her face as she looked up as we zipped past her impressive car was absolutely priceless.

Heading for the St Gotthard Tunnel original link to image

The Tunnel
Ever since I read about the descent into a hellish tunnel with no end by the Swiss existentialist author Friedrich Durrenmatt, I have had a slight fear of tunnels. I had read "Der Tunnel" for my German A Level and it had made me reflect on what happens when you enter a tunnel with no end. Anyway, K reassured me we would be out of the tunnel in a jiffy and in 12 minutes of steady cruising at 80 kms per hour, we were out and heading towards Basel in France. Tired and slightly saddlesore, we pulled up outside the Hotel Formula 1 in Basel. It was clean, tidy and just what we needed after a long day on the road. Sleep was divine that night!

Estimated Time of Departure was 5 am the following morning. Up and away, we zoomed off onto the motorway and the gentle whirr of the powerful 1000 cc engine sent me off on another reverie. The music "Born to be Wild" floated into the air and I felt upbeat and eager to see what the day had in store.

Akrapovic Exhaust

"Dearest, are you sure this isn't an Akrapovic exhaust?" I asked in all innocence after a particularly loud revving of the engine had made me curious as to what type of exhaust system was on the Aprilia. "No dearest, it's not an Akrapovic, sadly. Anyway, how on earth do you know about Akrapovic exhausts?" So ran an interesting conversation we had along the way. I had remembered this name vividly from the time when K had one of these exhausts fitted on his Kawasaki ZRX1200 seen below. After many years of having mysterious packages full of bits and various motorbike parts turn up in our previous home in Oxford, I think I have subconsciously picked up a bit of the technical jargon of motorbikes.

Sheepy Hollow
Investing in a set of Sheepy Hollow sheepskin seat covers is something we are considering for the future. Being saddlesore is a bit of a pain, but there is a company in Australia which sells motorcycle accessories made out of sheepskin, designed to make riding more comfortable.

The Real Deal
I would like to thank K for rescuing me in my hour of need. He is indeed my knight in shining armour. Without his support and dedication, I would not have been able to get to Oxford until at least a week later than planned. View the Homecoming . He got me to my family and he got me to my job. For this, I will be most humbly grateful forever.

A Heartfelt Thanks

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Carnival Extravaganza in Prezi by Kalinago English

The much anticipated 46th ELL/ESL/EFL Blog Carnival has just been published by the inimitable Karenne Joy Sylvester from Kalinago English blog. It is presented in the form of an absolutely amazing and interactive PREZI. The post contains 18 lessons, which have been categorized for ease of use. The categories include Young Learners, Teenagers, Business English, General English and English for Specific Purposes. Have a look through them. I guarantee you will find something practical that you can use and adapt for your own classes. You can read the full list of lessons here.

Many thanks to Karenne for such a wonderful collection of lessons. I am thrilled that my Powerpoint lesson on the Power of Images has been included.