Video-book to raise awareness about the importance of protecting planet Earth, A Very Bad Day!

Best online tools and applications

Video-libro divertido/educativo para concienciar sobre el calentamiento global: ¡Un día malísimo!

Visual dictionaries

Visual dictionaries with words defined as pictures are also very useful because they help you to think in English.

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An insightful, inspiring read for anyone about quality time with family and friends

Listening Skills II

Are you good at listening? What are your listening styles? There are three main styles:

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply, Stephen R. Covey.

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A caring heart that listens is often more valued than an intelligent mind that talks, Michael Josephson.

This listening style is mainly empathetic. It is about providing a space and time for the other person to be able to talk with confidence, so s/he can bring out their feelings, ideas, and emotions. The speaker should feel that s/he is heard, understood, and accepted.

Although it may seem a waste of time, it is not by any means the case. We are talking about active listening, it is not about being quiet and passive. On the contrary, you should start by showing the speaker that you want to know more (“Tell me more please,” “I am all ears”). Ask him/her open questions to encourage dialogue and let them elaborate (“If so, then what?” “What are your options? What will you do?”)

Then, as dialogue progresses, we will ask him/her more specific questions to explore what obstacles and difficulties s/he is facing, to deepen our understanding on what is going on, to discern alternative choices, what their pros and cons are, and help him/her to find the best option (“If you take this option, what happens?” “What will happen if you don’t take action?”).

Before even hearing him/her saying the first word, an active listener is already gathering information from the body language, for example, how s/he looks, dresses, stands or sits, his/her facial expressions, emotions, and gestures. It is important to discover what is not being said, what has been considered irrelevant or perhaps too painful or uncomfortable to communicate (“I can’t go on like this any longer,” “I am a failure”). It is also about exploring, challenging people’s generalizations (“I should have known better. All women are basically whores”) and possible distortions (“My boss doesn’t care about me as a person, only about my productivity and contribution to the bottom line,” “I am so stupid for this to have happened”).

It is understood that solutions cannot come from outside, but must come from within us. It is about helping people to open up and express their feelings by asking them questions, by repeating and paraphrasing what they have just said so that we also help them to clarify their problems and feelings. Let me illustrate this with two examples where a mother talks to a teacher about her child.

activeListening

Mother: “I have come to this meeting because I don’t know what is wrong with my child. I know he’s a good boy and would never harm anyone. He is very naive and good-natured but he wastes so much time playing violent video games, chatting with friends, and watching TV. My son watches YouTube for hours every day, I can’t get him to turn it off. I know we’re moving to a video/audio, less-text future for our culture. To be honest, I don’t see him reading or studying much. He is very smart but very lazy. I don’t really know how my son is performing in his class.”

Teacher: “If I have understood you correctly, you are very concerned about your child’s academic performance because he is not studying much.”

Mother: “I’m not sure if you can understand what a tough time I’m going through with my son. He goes out with his friends, and has been getting drunk for the last year and a half. He comes back regurgitating everything that he has eaten and drunk. I am desperate, I don’t know what I can or should do. I am afraid every time he goes out. I’m scared that one day I will receive a call either from the hospital or the police.”

Teacher: “I see that you are very worried and distressed about your son. I’m really sorry.”

You can also open and explore new possibilities (“If you tried… what would happen?”). It is about inviting them to draw their own conclusions and making them responsible for their own decisions: “So, what do you think is your best option?” “What are the pros and cons of each option?” “What are you going to do?”

Finally, we can bring new information for further analysis and consideration, for instance, “I would like you to visit the GreenFacts portal to learn more about alcohol and its effects. What do you think?” You may also want to challenge some of the assumptions and generalizations being made: “After listening to you very intently, are you not overreacting a little? Don’t cross the bridge till you come to it.” You may also want to show some blind spots, for example, confirmation bias (“What human beings are best at doing, is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact,” Warren Buffett).

Videolibro entretenido, gratuito y divertido sobre la familia: Odio Los Sabados

Where can you find proverbs?

Different lists of famous proverbs can be found in Wiktionary, the best resource by far, and Quotesmin.com.

Why are proverbs so important?

They teach us wisdom and truth. They are the knowledge passed down for centuries across generations.

Proverbs are useful and powerful, but are not without faults. In particular, they cannot be considered as absolute truths and cannot be interpreted literally.

They are also very important in ESL teaching because they help students to understand the English culture and the way that people in English-speaking cultures (the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia) think about the world.

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