lunes, 24 de junio de 2024

English with Rachel

Hi,

The topic for the next class is called ´Food and social connections´. and the relationship between eating meals together as a social event such as ´The Valencian paella´.

Therefore, I would like you to write a 200 word essay on this topic, here is some vocabulary to help you:

The writting exercise:

Cooking paella in a group

Cooking in a group is a really wonderful thing to do, because it is fun and creates bonds with family, friends and your local community. It does not really matter the "cooking result": the process will give you satisfaction, communion with the people involved and a feeling of "belonging", not to mention a strong sense of togetherness and well-being.

We could say that these feelings are all due to the oxytocin that our brain creates during the process of this social cooking gathering, but that is only one scientific explanation, not the only one. By nature, we are social beings and we need others to survive and also to be happy and content, despite our current lifestyles, which unfortunately do not help us much in this respect. It is therefore an intelligent social aim, as I see it.

Therefore, cooking a good paella (I prefer 'Valencian') is a great way to foster those bonds with co-workers, family or friends.T he process of cooking is a lot of fun, although, sometimes stressful. It's a perfect excuse for a good social gathering, with a nutritious and delicious result. 

Eating and drinking (perhaps sometimes too much) a traditional dish like Paella Valenciana will surely connect you with your childhood and remembrances. Above all, being in good company and sharing time and special moments with your loved ones is really a luxury in these times of speed, competitiveness and lack of social bonds. So try it!


More links related to:

- Breaking Bread: the Functions of Social Eating - https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40750-017-0061-4






Posted on lunes, junio 24, 2024 by Guillermo Beltrán

lunes, 10 de junio de 2024

English with Rachel. Another writing about Terry Pratchett


Although I have already spoken about this British writer, specifically English, who died in 2015, Rachel asked me why I am ‘fascinated’ by this craftsman of words. And these are my views, personal, but opinions nonetheless:

  • He is a writer who is both serious and funny, and his imagination and cunning are world-renowned, even if that is not what I care most about...

  • Although his invented Discworld is ‘somewhat’ strange, you can see and ‘touch’ the connections to our own world, our own history and society, throughout time and space

  • His plots are wonderfully psychological and social; he describes our behaviour and our interrelationships with a competent understanding of humans and pseudo-human...

  • Laughter and knowledge go hand in hand in his dramaturgies, in his plays

  • Prattchet makes you laugh, think and doubt. But, above all, it offers you a sceptical approach to the facts of our societies over time. However, one can see, discover a glimmer of hope, at least in some of its characters. Not everything and everyone is 'fucking' selfish or a complete disaster: good things and good deeds will always be there, even if not many people are able to recognise them... 

Well, I could say more, but it would only be words, it's much better to read it and discover this writer and the fantastic and ‘almost real’ world he managed to create for our enjoyment, and reflection...

Give Terry Pratchett works a chance, you won't regret it!

Some links you may like:

Discworld (Wikipedia)
- Home Terry Pratchett
50 Entertaining Terry Pratchett Quotes: Wit and Wisdom from a Literary Legend 

Some examples:

“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” – Terry Pratchett.

“Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.” – Terry Pratchett

“Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.” – Terry Pratchett

“Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.” – Terry Pratchett 

“Inside every sane person, there's a madman struggling to get out.” – Terry Pratchett

Posted on lunes, junio 10, 2024 by Guillermo Beltrán

lunes, 27 de mayo de 2024

English with Rachel: A writing exercise about Dénia


In the heart of the Mediterranean lies Dénia (Alicante), a city where time continues to whisper stories of ancient civilisations. From the Iberians to the Greeks, from the Romans to the Arabs, each era has woven its thread into the rich fabric of Dénia. The town's Moorish castle stands as a guardian of history, while the Ethnological Museum houses the cultural jewels of bygone eras. But there is more, much more...

A climate kissed by the sea

Dénia enjoys the embrace of a Mediterranean climate, where the winters are a soft caress and the summers, a passionate embrace, perhaps too passionate for me... With an annual temperature of around 18°C, the city dances in the rain during the autumn showers. I am a ‘witness’ to this climatic condition...

Fire and sea festivals

When the March breeze brings the smell of gunpowder, Dénia lights up with Las Fallas Festival (like in Valencia), painting the sky with flames of joy. In July, the Bous a la Mar celebrate the goodness of the sea. Since 2015, the town's culinary artistry has earned it the title of UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, home to the 3 Michelin-starred delights of chef Quique Dacosta.

Discovering Dénia

Dénia invites you to stroll along the beach of Les Marines, where the blue line of the sea beckons you. Climb up to the historic castle to enjoy a marvellous view of the town, the mountains and the coast. Stroll through the Montgó Natural Park, a mosaic of flora and fauna. Travel back in time at the Ethnological Museum. Taste the Dénia prawns, a treasure of the sea (although I don't like seafood, sorry...). And immerse yourself in the local spirit of its lively fiestas. And don't forget ‘Las rotas’, a magical, if increasingly crowded, natural space...

The bad news: Dénia is becoming more and more overcrowded with tourists every year. It's a pity, because the flavour of this marvellous small Mediterranean town fades with the passing of time. In any case, it is worth to visit Dénia, and maybe, to live there...

And here you have more pictures of Dénia:
























And now, some links about holidays and Dénia:

Holidays: https://esldiscussions.com/h/holidays.html
Dénia, wikipedia: https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denia
Living in Dénia, Spain: My Expat Experince + Pros and Cons: https://manymoremaps.com/living-in-denia-spain/









Posted on lunes, mayo 27, 2024 by Guillermo Beltrán

lunes, 13 de mayo de 2024

English with Rachel

Hi,

The topic for the next class will be about ´stress´. So I would like you write a 200 word essay about this topic, how it manifests itself and ways of reducing it.

Here is some vocabulary and a listening to help you:

The writing exercise

Every day we are confronted with a series of feelings and thoughts that lead to an unbalanced state of mind, which consequently leads to what is known as stress. Stress is a mental and physical state that leads to a nervous breakdown and eventually to physical damage (hypertension, organ damage, etc.).

That said, there is a good kind of stress, because it is in fact a natural response to a dangerous situation, a situation in which a living being has to react quickly to cope with an immediate danger and avoid it. But in our societies we tend to react to social situations, work situations, etc., as if it were a matter of survival, of real and immediate danger. This can lead to a stressful state of mind.

And what can we do to avoid stress or stressful situations? If these situations are self-imposed or "invented", made up by our mind, we should try to become observers of the situation we are experiencing at that very moment. This is, in my opinion, a valid starting point to avoid an agitated and escalating state of mind. 

Here are some tips:

- Take things as they come, don't expect too much
- Try to do what you really like; live your life (no matter what others say...)
- Avoid thinking all the time about what people think of you or what you do. Don't judge yourself or others, at least not all the time
- Walk alone or in good company as much as you can; natural places are the best for your walks
- Breath, relax and meditate if you can, just for the pleasure of doing these activities
- Sleep and eat healthy and well. Mind and body go hand in hand...
- Live your life as simply as possible. Do not worry too much
- Try to improve yourself every day, but be easy with yourself and others failures
- Take seriously that your life and others lives are important, and that we are not in this world "forever"
- Enjoy life as much as you can, and try if possible to help others

Some more resources about stress:

Posted on lunes, mayo 13, 2024 by Guillermo Beltrán

domingo, 5 de mayo de 2024

English with Rachel

For next weeks topic, I want you talk about different architectural buildings. You could pick 2/3 to discuss in class and also write an 150 word essay on this topic.

Here is some vocabulary to help you:

- Architecture Vocabulary List: Top 100 Common Words Used
- 16 edificios para visitar (y enamorarse) de la Comunidad Valenciana

The writing:

Valencia city is rich in wonderful and iconic buildings and monuments, both "ancient" and contemporary. And one of the most well-known architectural complexes is the City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia.

Built on the old bed of the Turia River, this architectural complex is a must-visit for tourists and Valencians. It was designed by the famous architects Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela. Calatrava has some "dark holes" or controversial issues regarding his effectiveness, from a practical point of view.

That said, one cannot deny its beautiful, futuristic, and balanced lines. The CAC, as it is known, is a meeting point, a magnificent place for all visitors to this Mediterranean city.

The CAC, a joint name for several buildings, consists of the following architectural elements: Hemisfèric; Museum of Sciences; Palau de les Arts; Oceanogràfic; Umbracle and Ágora. White and blue are the dominant colours of all these creative and futuristic buildings.

Old and historical buildings in Valencia
Valencia is also rich in historical buildings, jewels of a past time. The most important ones are: The Silk Exchange; The Silk Museum; The Serranos Towers; The Quart Towers; The Palace of the Marquis of Dos Aguas; The Cathedral of Valencia, The Basilica of Valencia; The Church of the Santos Juanes; The Miguelete; The Museum of Fine Arts (San Pío V); The IVAM; The Beneficencia; The Central Market, The Colón Market; The Round Square; The North Station; The Principal Theatre; The Post Office Building; The Town Hall of Valencia; The Church of San Nicolás; The Church of Santa Catalina; The City of the Fallero Artist; The Clock Building; Valencia Port; The Royal Gardens (known as Viveros); The Monforte Gardens; El Cento del Carmen...

In conclusion: Valencia is a city where the old and the new go 'hand in hand'...

To know more about Valencia's heritage:
- Popular Valencia Tours and Activities

- Walking tours in Valencia
- The Ultimate Guide to the Best Arquitecture in Valencia

Posted on domingo, mayo 05, 2024 by Guillermo Beltrán

lunes, 22 de abril de 2024


Terry Pratchett
was an English novelist and creator of, among other works, the famous Discworld series. 

Magic and imagination, together with satire, sharp humour and an intelligent understanding of the human mind, are some of the ingredients of his highly successful legacy for us, in my personal opinion.

He started out as a journalist when he left school at the age of 17, and published his first novel in 1971, entitled The Carpet People. He went on to write comic fantasy, satire and science fiction, gaining increasing fame and critical and public acclaim.

His first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic, was published in 1983, after which Pratchett wrote an average of two books a year. His last Discworld novel was The Shepherd's Crown, published in August 2015, five months after his death.

He was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1998 and knighted for services to literature at the 2009 New Year's Day ceremony. Pratcheet died in 2015, after a long illness, I think of Alzheimer's, but he gave us one of the most comic, satirical and intelligent visions of our world and our society, reflected in a fictional world called Discworld

I really can't stop reading and re-reading his novels, especially the Discworld series. I think we have lost one of the best English writers of this century. But I wish that he lives on in our minds and in his personal and fantastic Discworld...

Some useful links related to Terry Pratchett:


Posted on lunes, abril 22, 2024 by Guillermo Beltrán

lunes, 15 de abril de 2024

English with Rachel


Hi,

For the next class we are going to talk about Agriculture in Spain, and what Spain it famous for producing food wise. Please can you write a 150 word essay on this topic, here is some vocabulary to help you:

Food Processing Words - 337 Words Related to Food Processing

The writing:

Food habits and culture in Spain

Spain is (perhaps "was") known for its healthy eating habits and rich gastronomy. The so-called Mediterranean diet is one of the most appreciated worldwide, as experts in the field have so far affirmed. Although the Mediterranean diet is not exclusively Spanish (Italians, Greeks and some other countries of the Mediterranean "belt"), our eating habits are well regarded among nutritionists and health professionals.

But (there is always a "but"...), things are changing and the so-called healthy habits are drifting towards a more global and unhealthy culinary culture; I am referring to the rise of processed food, junk food, so to speak. Globalisation, the food industry's constant "effort" to cut costs, which is in the hands of a few multinational companies (four or five at most), is rapidly changing the old "wise" concept of working for a living and the eating habits of most countries, including our own. 

Unfortunately, nowadays food processing is rapidly gaining ground among the Spanish population, probably due to changing work habits and a failure to consider food as a very important part of our lives.

The solution? I think we should try to maintain our food traditions, taking into account the advantages and discoveries of Food Science. Because, after all, we are what we eat.

Posted on lunes, abril 15, 2024 by Guillermo Beltrán

lunes, 8 de abril de 2024

English with Rachel


In the next class we will be talking about personal values, where they come from and they are integrated into our every day life's. 

I would like you to write a 150 word essay on your personal values and attitude to values. Here is some vocabulary and a video to help you:

- Social Value synonyms - 105 Words and Phrases for Social Value

The writing exercise

A personal approach to social values

Today, although social values are present in almost every speech of our political and social leaders, their real meaning, their real outcome, is up in the air in our western societies, perhaps in all societies of the world...

Morality, honesty, truthfulness, trustworthiness, trust and any other abstract concept related to goodness in personal values are really in decline, as I see it. Why? Because the human race is selfish, capable of destroying everything in order to achieve an "ephemeral" goal, aimed at one's own benefit.

Have we changed over time, over the ages, in terms of our moral concept and our approach to justice in this world we share? Sadly, I think not, at least not at the higher levels of our societies, which, in theory, seek to correct our mistakes, errors and failures inherited from our survival instincts.

Anyway, one must try to be optimistic in these strange (always strange...) days and put one's little effort just to reverse our natural inclination to complete selfishness and love for destruction...

I really hope we keep trying to redefine our status, our attitude in this small and unique world in which we are trying to live and let live, at least...

Posted on lunes, abril 08, 2024 by Guillermo Beltrán

viernes, 22 de marzo de 2024

English with Rachel

Hi,
The topic for the next class is religion, so please can you write a 150 word essay on the positives and negatives of religion in your opinion.

The writing exercise:

 

What about religion?


Religion is an important and, at the same time, quite a controversial subject. If you don't want to quarrel with your friends, colleagues or acquaintances, you should talk about this topic as little as possible, at least in public. Perhaps, as the song says, we are losing our religion, nowadays...

Since the dawn of time, when human beings became sentient, religion has had an enormous weight in our societies, behaviours and minds. Some organisations or ruling groups have adopted religion as a way to control our lives, dreams, minds and hopes. And why? Because of the fear of death and suffering are actually present in our "mental schemas", as human beings. 

The idea of the permanence of life, beyond the physical world, is one of the most important human hopes and dreams. However, religion also has benefits for us and our societies: it is a form of morality and an attempt to achieve good in our lives. But everything has a dark side, as we have mentioned before; the use of religion as a means of control is this dark, obscure, side of the coin.

In short, I believe that religion should be treated with respect, consideration and relativity. But be aware: this is just my point of view!

And which religion should I choose? The one that I believe is not a religion 'per se', but a good way of living: Zen...

Posted on viernes, marzo 22, 2024 by Guillermo Beltrán

sábado, 9 de marzo de 2024

English with Rachel

Hi,
The topic for the next class will be artificial intelligence, so I would like you to write a 100 word essay on what you think the future holds for AI and how that might/might not effect you. Here is some vocabulary to help you:

Image created by Copilot using the following promt: "Please, act as a graphic designer with vast knowledge of Data Science and build me an image which resumes the artificial intelligence. Thank you very much in advance!" 

The writing exercise:

Some thoughts on artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence, or A.I., is a hot and trending topic these days. Well, more than a topic: an imminent reality! While it has good, practical, wonderful and beneficial uses, applied to health, science, learning and improving our societies, it also has a dark side, in my opinion.

Most of us do not know exactly what Artificial Intelligence really means and how it will change our lives. We use it for simplistic purposes, but big companies are using AI for more complicated, perhaps "dark" purposes. In fact, I believe that we humans are not prepared for the outcome of AI's success in the natural path of evolution. We have not yet been able to end hunger, violence, injustice, war, the destruction of our own home - the Earth - disease, etc. So how can we move forward into the unknown with our eyes closed?

And why this point of view, why these dystopian thoughts? Because, as a race, we have more than proved that we are not capable of living a sustainable life with our environment, our fellow human beings and the living beings on our little blue planet, the only one we have.

When artificial intelligence becomes sentient, aware of its own reality, we will probably regret having played at being superficial, adolescent little gods. I wish I was wrong, completely wrong....

Posted on sábado, marzo 09, 2024 by Guillermo Beltrán

lunes, 19 de febrero de 2024

English with Rachel

 Hi,

The topic for the next class will be ``Las Fallas¨´

I would like you to write a 150 word essay on the festival, what you like/dislike about it, and what changes you have seen within it over the years.

Here is some vocabulary to help you:



The exercise...

To visit the Fallas in Valencia, yes or no?

Las Fallas in Valencia is probably the most popular festival in the Valencian Community. This famous festivity takes place from the 14th to the 19th of March, coinciding with the beginning of spring. They are held "in honour" of Saint Joseph, patron saint of carpenters.

The Fallas festivities began in the 18th century; the carpenters used to burn their old wood waste on Saint Joseph's day. For the same reason, the famous "cremà", the burning of the Fallas monuments, is celebrated on the same day.

From then until today, the Fallas has been gaining in popularity and intensity, creating a festival known all over the world. But this situation, together with the growing 'notoriety' of Valencia as a must-visit place, has led to a " touristification", which is clearly in detriment to the origins of this popular, original and colourful festival. 

Nowadays it is almost impossible to come and stay in Valencia during the Fallas, due to the large number of tourists who want to enjoy the fireworks, the parades, the Fallas monuments, the street lights, enjoy the traditional costumes, the gastronomy, the weather and the almost-crazy party atmosphere during these notorius spring days. There really is art in the air...

In my opinion, and because I've spent a lot of Fallas in Valencia, I would say that I prefer not to be in Valencia during the Fallas. And why? Because of the crowded streets, the traffic chaos and the 'infernal' noise during these celebrations. But if you haven't seen Valencia during the Fallas festivities, I recommend a visit, at least once in your lifetime. It's really worthwhile!

Posted on lunes, febrero 19, 2024 by Guillermo Beltrán

miércoles, 14 de febrero de 2024


This idiom, "The ball is in your court",  is used to indicate that it's now someone else's move or turn to take action or make a decision. It's often used in situations where one person has done all they can, and now it's time for the other person to do something.

Examples: 

- After I submitted my job application, the recruiter said, "The ball is in our court now. We will review your application and get back to you."

- During a negotiation, one party might say to the other, "We've made our offer, so the ball is in your court."

- After sending my friend a text message, I thought to myself, "The ball is in her court now. I'll wait for her to reply."

- During a tennis match, after a good serve, the player might think, "The ball is in his court now. Let's see how he returns it."

- After proposing a business idea to my boss, I said, "The ball is in your court now. It's up to you whether we proceed with this project or not."

- In a legal dispute, a lawyer might say to the opposing counsel, "We've presented our case. The ball is in your court now."

- After asking someone on a date, you might think, "The ball is in their court now. I'll wait for them to respond."

- During a political debate, a candidate might say to their opponent, "I've stated my position on the issue. The ball is in your court now."

- After submitting a college application, a student might say, "The ball is in the college's court now. I'll wait for their decision."

- In a negotiation, after making an offer, a seller might say to the buyer, "The ball is in your court now. It's your turn to make a counteroffer."

- After sending a manuscript to a publisher, an author might say, "The ball is in the publisher's court now. I'll wait for their feedback."

- During a game of chess, after making a move, a player might say to their opponent, "The ball is in your court now. It's your turn to move."

The Tennis Origins of "The Ball is in Your Court"

The familiar phrase "The ball is in your court" actually started on the tennis court! Back in the 1800s, it was clear whose turn it was: whoever had the ball on their side needed to hit it back. This simple idea became a handy metaphor for responsibility and action.

By the 1960s, the phrase wasn't just for sports anymore. People started using it in everyday life to say: "It's up to you now! Your turn to make a move!" The original image of the ball being hit back and forth stayed with the phrase, even though it wasn't always about a literal ball and court.

Here's a more concise version:
"The ball is in your court" originated in tennis, symbolizing the shift in responsibility when the ball lands on someone's side. By the 1960s, it became a common phrase for indicating whose turn it is to act.


Posted on miércoles, febrero 14, 2024 by Guillermo Beltrán