A sheer pleasure to have YOU as a reader of my blog. At present my main teaching area is English so you will find that most of my posts are in English -my second language of communication. I promise to publish posts related to Spanish eventually; in the meantime, those of you interested in Spanish will find some interesting links regarding my native language. Truly hope you will visit my blog now and then; will try not to disappoint you!


Mi foto
GÄVLE, Sweden
I am an English/Spanish language trainer who thinks communication is a key issue in human interaction. Good sensible communication is needed whatever the language. On the personal side I strive for happiness by keeping love, respect and honesty as main ingredients. Last but not least, my smile is my trademark :O)

30 de mayo de 2009

Susan Boyle's Final Performance

Remember Susan Boyle on Britain's Got Talent?! (see past entry of 17th April)

(Unfortunately, she didn't win; I got to see who the winner was "thanks" to a guy who was actually recording it from his TV set live and broadcasting it via his blog: http://www.blogtv.com/People/gerarduk Guess, he's totally oblivious of the fact that he was breaking the law)

Latest news: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/05/30/arts/AP-EU-Britain-Boyle.html?_r=1&src=twt&twt=nytimes

Odd Bits here&there

Making a list of links with "odd bits here&there" I get twittered or emailed:

1) Sorry, Bill, I'd rather kiss my new boss!

2) Similarities between the assassinations of Kennedy and Lincoln

3) Double-click as many times as you like and you may "spot" someone you know ;O):

Time cartoons

An interesting way of viewing US politics and what's being at a stake:


Courtsey of www.times.com

26 de mayo de 2009

Judge Sonia Sotomayor's Speech

President Obama has nominated the first Hispanic woman for the Supreme Court: Sonia Sotomayor. You can read and listen* to her speech by clicking on the link below:


For those native Spanish speakers who find the text difficult to understand because of the vocabulary, I suggest that you read about it in this article in Spanish: http://www.adn.es/sociedad/20090526/NWS-2752-Sotomayor-Supremo-Obama-Sonia-designa.html and then get back to the full text in English.

A very moving speech full of gratitude to all those that have supported her along these years so as to be who she is. I would like to quote these special words to her mother: "I stand on the shoulders of countless people, yet there is one extraordinary person who is my life aspiration. That person is my mother, Celina Sotomayor. [...] I have often said that I am all I am because of her, and I am only half the woman she is. "

In her speech Sonia Sotomayor portrays herself as a humble and hard-working person who is full aware that any decision she takes has a "real world consequence", be it in the private or the public sector, be it related to either a whole community or the individual, and this makes her a full woman in the extensive sense (if I may say this).

Last but not least, let me extract her last words as her own definition of an individual: "...I am an ordinary person who has been blessed with extraordinary opportunities and experiences."

*The listening starts from paragraph 9 (I chose to be a lawyer...)

24 de mayo de 2009

Ben says THANK YOU :O)

Hi, everyone!!!

I'd like to direct your attention to Notes from Spain 's recent post Thank You, Thank You! Madrid Confessions Reviews in which I am privileged to have been one of the addressees of Ben's gratitude. THANKS to you, Ben, for the "sneak preview" and your high regard for my opinion!

Please, don't miss Graham's video review on Ben's audiobook The Madrid Confessions (The Madrid Confessions: Out Now!), either, as I find it warmly fresh and friendly. If you're interested in knowing more about Graham and what he does just click on the link: http://www.houses-for-sale-in-spain.net/

19 de mayo de 2009


Ben Curtis is an Englishman who's lived in Madrid for over ten years now. He and his wife, Marina, have a website Notes from Spain: http://www.notesfromspain.com/, which I began to follow very soon after starting up my blog.

I find this website a jewel when it comes to provide English input for any Spanish-speaking learner of English. Why? Well, when one learns a second language in their own country, it's very likely that the topics one tends to talk about are topics related to their own culture and country, rather than talking about what British people like doing in their free time or how good American people may be at this or that, just to illustrate my point.

It is so very true that learning a language not only implies learning the linguistic system but we also need to learn about its culture. Language and culture simply go hand-in-hand. English textbooks, which are written and published worldwide, tend to focus on British or American life as these two countries are usually the destination for learners of English.

However, many people in Spain also learn English because it's very useful - it's a lingua franca - and enables them to understand people round the world, do business round the world, surf the Internet, or have a better chance to find a job. Many times Spanish native learners of English find themselves in need of vocabulary to talk about their every day world here in Spain. Many times in my classes I have found myself "racking my brains" so as to provide them with the most accurate linguistic input to talk about topics related to our Spanish culture. That's why I think websites like Notes from Spain can be very practical because they are actually related to our culture, to our lifestyle. Ben and Marina talk about life in Spain, and most often in Madrid where they live, but they also have guests posting their travel journals as well.

Well, when I read on the website about Ben's coming new audiobook, I got in contact with him as I was really interested in having more information about it. Soon he got back to me and offered the priviledge of listening to his audiobook before it was published and see what I thought of it.

This is the pre-launch post he published where you can actually listen to him telling you about it: http://www.notesfromspain.com/2009/05/18/big-day-big-risk/ but I suggest you visit Notes from Spain because you will get more posts related to this important event in his life. In his audiobook you will be able to listen to some other major turning points in his life.

I have now listened to Madrid Confessions and I have truly enjoyed it, a smile drawn in my face now and then when picturing on my mind what he was talking about. It felt as if I was actually sharing a coffee with him and he was telling me all about it. Me as his sole listener of "Ben and the appalling event of Madrid bombings", "Ben and his first Spanish stag night and capea", "Ben at the doc". I actually didn't get to listen to the audiobook all through in one go, but preferred to scatter his narration along a few days, again as if we met now and were having a coffee together.

His voice is clear and friendly, and it is quite easy to follow him even if your level of English is not very high. Actually the fact that he's talking about Spain and our Spanish lifestyle makes it easier for you to follow even if you don't understand every single word. I like his introduction of Spanish phrases or idioms, and by doing this, he also makes a point, i.e. sometimes a translation doesn't get the full meaning of it.

Being a Spaniard myself, I can't help not agreeing entirely with some bits he narrates about Spanish life. I will not tell you about them; this you will have to find out by yourself and see what you think of it. I guess my disagreeing may have a source of unwillingness to admit that his view of Spanish life as an ex-pat should make him unbiased. Still, I feel I have some points to discuss with him about it. On the other hand, by arguing slightly with him on my head as I listen to his narration, I catch myself reflecting on what it means being a Spaniard and what our lifestyle is like.

Finally, I think it's very courageous of him to "expose" himself to us in such open terms. Even if one may like to have their own share of protagonism, it's never easy to assess how much of themselves one wants the others to know. Being out in the open can be very risky, but I still think it is worth the trying and I thank Ben for letting us share these Madrid Confessions.

So, if you're interested in being one of the first ones to listen to him, just click on this link: http://www.notesfromspain.com/shop/madrid-confessions.html

16 de mayo de 2009


You may remember my post on May, 1st, in which I intended to give rightful credit to Alfredo Cuervo Barrero on his poem Queda Prohibido and which keeps circulating on the web under Neruda's authorship.

Well, I contacted him to request permission to publish his poem on my blog with my own translation. After an exchange of e-mails I got his permission and warm thanks for extending his work via my blog. So here is the full poem and my translation:


¿Qué es lo verdaderamente importante?,
busco en mi interior la respuesta,
y me es tan difícil de encontrar.

Falsas ideas invaden mi mente,
acostumbrada a enmascarar lo que no entiende,
aturdida en un mundo de irreales ilusiones,
donde la vanidad, el miedo, la riqueza,
la violencia, el odio, la indiferencia,
se convierten en adorados héroes,
¡no me extraña que exista tanta confusión,
tanta lejanía de todo, tanta desilusión!

Me preguntas cómo se puede ser feliz,
cómo entre tanta mentira puede uno convivir,
cada cual es quien se tiene que responder,
aunque para mí, aquí, ahora y para siempre:

Queda prohibido llorar sin aprender,
levantarme un día sin saber qué hacer,
tener miedo a mis recuerdos,
sentirme sólo alguna vez.

Queda prohibido no sonreír a los problemas,
no luchar por lo que quiero,
abandonarlo todo por tener miedo,
no convertir en realidad mis sueños.

Queda prohibido no demostrarte mi amor,
hacer que pagues mis dudas y mi mal humor,
inventarme cosas que nunca ocurrieron,
recordarte sólo cuando no te tengo.

Queda prohibido dejar a mis amigos,
no intentar comprender lo que vivimos,
llamarles sólo cuando los necesito,
no ver que también nosotros somos distintos.

Queda prohibido no ser yo ante la gente,
fingir ante las personas que no me importan,
hacerme el gracioso con tal de que me recuerden,
olvidar a todos aquellos que me quieren.

Queda prohibido no hacer las cosas por mí mismo,
no creer en mi dios y hallar mi destino,
tener miedo a la vida y a sus castigos,
no vivir cada día como si fuera un último suspiro.

Queda prohibido echarte de menos sin alegrarme,
odiar los momentos que me hicieron quererte,
todo porque nuestros caminos han dejado de abrazarse,
olvidar nuestro pasado y pagarlo con nuestro presente.

Queda prohibido no crear mi historia,
dejar de dar las gracias a mi familia por mi vida,
no tener un momento para la gente que me necesita,
no comprender que lo que la vida nos da, también nos lo quita.

Alfredo Cuervo Barrero

and here's my English tranlation of the poem:


What is truly important for me?
I search the answer inside me,
And I find it so hard to discover.

False ideas invade my mind,
So used to disguise what cannot understand,
Dazed in a world of unreal illusions,
Where vanity, fear, wealth,
Violence, hatred, indifference,
Become worshipped heroes,
I am not surprised that there is so much confusion,
So much remoteness from everything, so much disappointment!

You ask me how one can be happy,
How one can live among so many lies,
It is for everyone individually to answer themselves,
Although for me, here, now and forever:

It is forbidden to cry without learning,
To get up one day without knowing what to do,
To fear my memories,
To ever feel lonely.

It is forbidden not to smile at problems,
Not to fight for what I desire,
To abandon everything because of fear,
Not to make my dreams come true.

It is forbidden not to show you how much I love you,
To make you pay for my insecurity and my bad moods,
To make up stories that never happened,
To remember you only when I miss you.

It is forbidden to leave my friends,
Not to try to understand what we are living,
To call them only when I need them,
Not to see that we are also different.

It is forbidden not to be myself when with people,
To pretend with people that I do not care for,
To play the fool so that I will be remembered,
To forget about all those who love me.

It is forbidden not to do things by myself,
Not to believe in my god and find my destiny,
To fear life and its retribution,
Not to live every day as if it were a last breath.

It is forbidden to miss you without being happy,
To hate the moments that made me love you,
Just because our paths have stopped embracing,
To forget our past and pay for it with our present.

It is forbidden not to try and understand the others,
To think that their lives are worth more than mine,
Not to know that everyone has their own path and happiness,
To feel that without them the world ends.

It is forbidden not to create my story,
To stop thanking my family for my life,
Not to have one moment for the people who need me,
Not to understand that what life gives us, life can also take it away.
Alfredo Cuervo Barrero

8 de mayo de 2009



The first step for a solid presentation is to prepare it thoroughly and rehearse it beforehand. You need to define the purpose of your presentation and how to plan for your strategy. The strategy should cater for ways to generate interest, to explain, to persuade and to entertain. Your message should be clear, informative and brief. To sum up, you need to think about the WHY, WHO, WHERE, WHAT and HOW of your presentation.


We need to know the purpose of our presentation and consider the type of audience we will be addressing. The audience will define the best register (formal, neutral or informal), and their size will tell us what equipment should be used. A flip-chart or a whiteboard will be fine for small audiences, but would do very poorly if the audience is large. In this case, transparencies or a projector will be a much better choice.

Most presentations nowadays are supported by ICT technology and the star, undoubtedly, is the PowerPoint application. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to overuse and/or misuse it. Presentations should make use of ppt as visual support to emphasize main points, or to illustrate some of the content, but must not distract the audience from what the presenter is saying.

Besides, it is advisable to visit the venue (or make enquiries about it if no chance to visit it beforehand) so that we find out about the type of room, seating arragement and the equipment available. You should arrive at the place in time to check that everything works fine regarding the equipment so as to avoid unwanted situations.


Next step is to structure the content of your presentation, so that you don’t digress when delivering it. First of all, you should welcome your audience and introduce yourself as well as say who you work for and your title in the company. Don’t forget to give a brief background of your company focusing on its assets. If you are freelance give a short account of your professional experience, unless this has been done before you start as a way to introduce you and your talk. Then, say why you are there and how long the presentation will take. You can mention how you will deal with questions & answers either at this point or once you have outlined the content of your talk. It is important to outline the main points; the use of sequencers (Firstly, secondly…., next….Finally) will make your audience draw a mental picture of how the content will be developed, and they will also grasp the presentation as a whole.

After this introduction you will start with the main body of your presentation, and the how will definitely play a key role in this part. In other words, how you manage the visual and auditory aspects will keep your audience engaged in what you are saying. Remember the sweet and simple rule: tell the people what you want to say, say it and, then, remind them of what you have just said. A summary at the end and a conclusion will round it up.

The auditory and visual aspects refer to the use of your voice and your non-verbal communication. The way you talk, the pace of your voice, should be natural; if you speak too fast people may not understand you, whereas if you speak too slowly, people may get bored. Vary the tone of your voice to retain the audience’s attention. As English is not your mother tongue, make sure where the stress of long or technical words is. It is advisable that you practise saying these words when rehearsing. Pausing is an effective technique when used correctly. If you pause in the wrong place it sounds like hesitation, whereas a pause in the right place creates expectation in the audience.

All this, of course, needs to be done in a natural way and matching your body language. Don’t stand still or fiddle while speaking as it’s a clear sign of shyness or nervousness. Keep your shoulders straight and avoid crossing your legs or arms. Use your hands to help you emphasize your points and avoid holding something in them as it would draw your audience’s attention to the object. Never turn your back to your audience when speaking and be careful not to stand in front of the visual aids. Keep eye-contact with the audience in all moments. Move around so as to highlight what you are saying not to distract them.

Always address your audience and involve them in what you are saying; be empathetic and make them feel comfortable by being yourself comfortable. Your non-verbal communication gives away whether you feel confident or not.

That’s why it is important to rehearse your presentation in front of a colleague so that you can be given feedback on the do's and don’t's as well as make you feel more confident when the actual day comes.

When dealing with questions set the time allowance and try to satisfy their enquiries, but never misinform. If you can’t provide an adequate answer tell them that you will look into it and get back to them. Don’t let one or two people monopolize this time, and encourage others to participate.

Summarizing what has been said:

· outline the structure of your presentation taking down notes on the key points to follow and to remember;
· take care of both the content and the delivery;
· prepare your visual aids thoroughly and don’t leave things to the last minute;
· act naturally and make the audience feel at ease and interested in what you’re saying.

And last but not least, smile :O), it simply makes everything much easier.


POWEL, M. (2002) Presenting in English: how to give successful presentations. Thomson Heinle.
MASCULL, B. (2002) Business Vocabulary in Use - Intermediate. Cambridge University Press.
Unit 05. Presentations. English PR. Inglés Práctico para profesionales. Telefónica - El País.

6 de mayo de 2009

How about a bit of football??!!!

Walter Oppenheimer is a journalist that has been writing for El País since 1982 and at the moment he works as their correspondent in Britain. I like to read his articles. So here's one on football, and his preference is certainly not hidden, after all he worked in the Barcelona office ;O)


1 de mayo de 2009

A poem attributed to Neruda gets circulated in cyberspace

Yesterday I got via email a lovely and inspiring poem stating Pablo Neruda's authorship. I browsed on the Internet to find the English version as I thought it would make a nice inspiring entry for May, 1st -a festivity in many countries as well as in Spain. This is the link to the poem, both in English and Spanish, that I found:

Well, just now when browsing for more information about it I have come across an article titled Fake Pablo Neruda's Poem Spreads on Internet in the Latin American Herald Tribune. It has been published today and states that three poems which are kept circulating on the Internet are falsely attributed to Neruda as their genuine author; and one of these poems happens to be It's forbidden (Queda prohibido) as you can read at the top of the poem.

Delving into the whole affair I browsed Neruda's official website, Fundación Pablo Neruda, and it backs what's being said in the above article. The author is Alfredo Cuervo Barrero and he has registered its authorship in the registry office Propiedad Intelectual de Vizcaya, numbered BI-13-03. He says that this is an amputated version of the original one. The news also says that there are 20,000 attributions of this poem on the Internet.

Yet, I personally think it's a beautiful piece of writing, and I want to give full voice and praise to the genuine author of the lines.

ps. I intend to contact him for permission to translate his poem and post it in my blog.