Education

Lost in Translation

V - Espanol

I’m two weeks in to my intermediate Spanish course. So far I have been on time for each lesson, so well done me, it’s after I arrive that it goes downhill.  We’ve been spending a lot of our lessons talking about things that we did in the past to learn how to use the past tense in verbs. That’s all good if there were only one past tense to choose from, but there are two I can describe and another two that I am not sure of yet. That makes FOUR!! Don’t you think that’s just greedy?

I had to get this explanation from the internet (thanks to http://www.spanish.about.com) as I don’t want to give you the wrong information and lead you down the same rabbit hole I’m in.

“What’s past is past, but in Spanish what’s past may be either preterite or imperfect. Unlike English, Spanish has two simple past tenses, known as the preterite (often called the preterit) and the imperfect indicative. (As in English, they are known as simple tenses to distinguish them from verb forms that use an auxiliary verb, such as “has left” in English and ha salido in Spanish.)

Although the English simple past in a sentence such as “he ate” can be conveyed in Spanish using either the preterite (comió) or the imperfect indicative (comía), the two tenses are not interchangeable.”

I know this is true because of the amount of times I’ve managed to get it wrong in class and everyone else has sniggered at me. There are some very smart people in my group, which is not intimidating at all, no, no, really. No.

I’m also fairly certain now that even though the famous languages teacher, Michel Tomas, who up to now has been a bit of a hero in my house, is great for starting to speak a language you shouldn’t rely on him for. He teaches that you make sentences together by translating directly from one language to another, this just isn’t possible.

V Espanol Book

In Spanish, verb tenses are formed by changing the endings of verbs, a process known as conjugation. Present tense, imperfect, preterite, future, conditional, the present perfect, the pluperfect, the past perfect, the preterite perfect, future perfect and the conditional perfect conjugation. So, we should have that all under control by next week.

What I am learning from learning Spanish is how little I understand the English language. I must have missed out on the grammar lessons at my (don’t laugh) Grammar School because I don’t understand the terms, I am literally starting from scratch.

Anyone who has studied Spanish is aware of the troublesome relationship between the pretérito and imperfecto. The imperfecto (yo hablaba) translates to the English imperfect (I was talking) while the pretérito (yo hablé) literally translates to the English simple past (I talked) but can also be translated as the English present perfect (I have talked) or the emphatic past (I did talk). And when a person asks you in Spanish what you did before they will ask you using the present tense. (Example: “Desde cuando vives aqui ?” translates to “From when you live here?”) Confuso? Si. Thanks for asking.  

Of course I have been searching the internet for “easy ways to remember the different Spanish verb tenses”.  That brings up almost a million and a half results, so I guess there’s still some work to be done there. Hang on in there McLeod.

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Difficult lessons to learn

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We’re worrying about a lot of things right now. We’re probably right to. This week I saw that an American company called Pro Techt had started selling something called a “Bulletproof Blanket” which is being bought specifically by parents for their children to shield them from bullets at school. My response? It made my blood run cold: how terrible for children around the world that they should not be able to even study and learn without threat or danger.  The Bodyguard Blanket, according to its website, ‘is made of the same materials U.S. soldiers wear while in battle, and is equal to or exceeds the protection used by police departments. After extensive research, it is estimated that Bodyguard™ blanket provides bullet resistant protection against 90% of all weapons that have been used in school shootings in the United States.’

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When I was a child we used to have to do fire drills. Do you remember? The worst was if you were in the middle of PE, once it happened when we were swimming and we had to line up in on the playground in our swimming costumes with our goose bumps grew much bigger than any other burgeoning bumps  whilst Mrs McCann slowly read our names out (I knew she was a sadist before I even knew the meaning of the word). A fire drill was something you did to appease the Health and Safety monitor and it was a pain, nothing more. Now children are being taught how to react in the event of a shooting in their school.  Will this new practise extend to our schools? Can we even imagine our world like this? Have you worked out yet how you can make a difference? It seems to me that we have to communicate more and more with each other, not less. We have to find ways to understand and respect differences, but stand up to and stop intimidation. In our current world situation do we really know that much about the politics and motivations or are we just reading what someone else is posting on Facebook? Could be time to get an education and start really learning about other people’s cultures. I’m privileged that I can write this short article from the perspective of complete horror rather than being with a world weary sigh as I pull out my credit card and buy one of the blankets (priced at a thousand dollars) for my daughter. The manufacturers say that they originally designed the blankets as a portable way to shelter in tornadoes or other natural phenomenon. The whirlwind that is rushing through our lives now is a manmade disaster, and one we need to find ways to halt.  Malala Yousafzai said “Let us pick up our books and pencils. They are our most powerful weapon”. Let’s start there.

Back to School!

 

Blog Photo - Back to School.

As our children’s long holidays come to an end and summer winds down, it’s time to get ready for a new school year. Hooray!

As with any new or potentially unsettling situation — like starting school for the first time or entering a new year or new school — allow kids time to adjust. Remind them that everyone feels a little nervous about the first day of school and that it will all become an everyday routine in no time.

Emphasize the positive things about going back to school, such as playing with old friends, meeting new classmates, buying cool school supplies, and getting involved in sports and other activities.

It’s also important to talk to kids about what worries them and offer reassurance: Are they afraid they won’t make new friends or get along with their teachers? Is the thought of schoolwork stressing them out? Are they worried about the bully from last year?

Consider adjusting your own schedule to make the transition smoother. If possible, it’s especially beneficial for parents to be home at the end of the school day for the first week. But many working parents just don’t have that flexibility. Instead, try to arrange your evenings so you can give kids as much time as they need, especially during those first few days.

To help ease back-to-school butterflies, try to transition kids into a consistent school-night routine a few weeks before school starts. Also make sure that they: get enough sleep (establish a reasonable bedtime so that they’ll be well-rested and ready to learn in the morning) eat a healthy breakfast (they’re more alert and do better in school if they eat a good breakfast every day) have them organize and set out what they need the night before (homework and books should be put intheir backpacks by the door and clothes should be laid out in their bedrooms)

 

Here’s some more ideas to make a smooth transition back into the school timetable and get you and your children ready for the new school  year. 

Happy School Children

  1. Take your kids shopping with you. Your kids will be more excited to use their back-to-school supplies if they picked them out. Doing so will help them feel prepared and will also provide an opportunity to talk about how the new supplies might be used in the coming year.
  1. Re-Establish School Routines

Use the last couple of weeks of summer to get into a school-day rhythm. Have your child practice getting up and getting dressed at the same time every morning.  Start eating breakfast, lunch, and snacks around the times your child will eat when school is in session.

It’s also important to get your child used to leaving the house in the morning, so plan morning activities outside the house in the week or two before school. When the school rush comes, hustling your child out the door will be less painful if she has broken summer habits like relaxing in her PJ’s after breakfast.Light Bulb 2.png

  1. Nurture Independence

Once the classroom door shuts, your child will need to manage a lot of things on his own. Get him ready for independence by talking ahead of time about responsibilities he’s old enough to shoulder. This might include organising his school materials, writing down assignments, and bringing home homework.

Even if your child is young, you can instill skills that will build confidence and independence at school. Have your young child practice writing her name and tying her own shoes. The transition to school will be easier for everyone if your child can manage basic needs without relying on an adult.

  1. backpack-309936_960_720Create a Launch Pad

At home, you can designate a spot where school things like backpacks and lunch boxes always go to avoid last-minute scrambles in the morning. You might also have your child make a list of things to bring to school and post it by the front door.

5. Set Up a Time and Place for Homework

Head off daily battles by making homework part of your child’s everyday routine. Establish a time and a place for studying at home. As much as possible, plan to make yourself available during homework time, especially with younger kids. You might be reading the paper or cooking dinner, but be around to check in on your child’s progress.

  1. Pay a visit before school restarts

Try to pass by with your child a few days before school starts to pick up books, check timetables, meet the teachers.

  1. Make it a Family Affair

Together, you and your child can plan for success in school. For instance, sit down with your child to create a routine chart. Ask your child what she wants to do first when she first gets home from school: play outside or do homework? Her answers go on the chart. The more kids have ownership in creating a routine for themselves and setting expectations, the more likely they are to follow it.

  1. Talk early and often. It’s never too early to start talking with and listening to your children about the first day of school. Ask them what they think school will be like and see if they have any specific concerns so that you’ll have time to address it over the next couple of weeks. It’s totally normal to have first day jitters.

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Of course, for many parents it’s also a time of celebration as the school routines herald the return of some structured time in the day, but try not to celebrate TOO loudly! Happy days! 

 

What’s in a name?

Mallorca Tutoring Academy, Vicki McLeod

Back in September 2009 Julie Staley and Jay Hirons opened the doors to the Kip McGrath Education Centre in Son Quint Golf in Palma for the first time. It wasn’t long before I got to know and respect them for their professionalism, their standards and their ambitions. They set out to offer a very high standard in educational tutoring for children who either spoke English as their mother tongue and needed help maintaining a good level or children who were learning to speak English as a second language. I’m guessing that the first few years, just like for any new business, were challenging: it’s not easy to establish yourself on this little island, so many people come and go, and you have to keep working hard. But these gals certainly did that as they have just celebrated five years in business and rebranded themselves in the process. Just last week Kip McGrath renamed themselves Mallorca Tutoring Academy, with a fancy new logo and some big new ideas.

“We learnt so much about running a business here on the island”, said Julie. “Together with this knowledge and support from the franchise we have been able to develop the business you see today, and become a well-known part of the Mallorca educational community”.  The business formerly known as “Kip” manages to cater for a diverse range of clients from the age of four and up. Over the years of taking my daughter La Gidge to have educational support sessions there I’ve met kids who hail from all over the world that are now living in Mallorca and coping with its very particular language demands and educational peculiarities. The reason I take my girl to the centre is to get some help with her reading and writing in English, I didn’t want her growing up spelling things phonetically as that’s a difficult habit to get out of. If Gidg needs it in the future she can get help with her maths, her Catalan, Castellano, sciences, study skills, take her SATs and Cambridge language exams or study for “A” levels. MTA are now developing new services which include drama classes, a cinema club, and an expanded Senior Academy with a wide range of exams available for the students to take.  All of this as a support and supplement to normal school activities.

One of the things I really love about this service is that it means Gidge gets the benefits of being part of our local community as she goes to her fantastic local school where she’s taught in Catalan, Castellano and (to a lesser extent) English. She has Spanish mates as well as all the international kids who seem to have gathered in Port Andratx, we also have kids from all over the world studying at her primary school. But because of MTA she gets the benefits of 1:1 tutoring, a personalised approach to learning, and bags and bags of confidence.

They’re celebrating their rebranding this Saturday 17th January from 2pm at their centre when you can meet the MTA team, and loads of other educational specialists from around the island who will be available for free advice and assessments.

YOU CAN GET IN TOUCH WITH THEM HERE:

Mallorca Tutoring Academy

Golf Son Quint

Cami de son Vida 38

Palma de Mallorca

07013

Telephone: +34 971 79 14 10

E-mail: info@mallorcatutoringacademy.com

Web: http://www.mallorcatutoringacademy.com

English speaking volunteers sought by schools

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Last September state school teachers in Mallorca created upset and controversy with their strike tactics over the proposed introduction of English as a third language into the school syllabus. Almost a year on and things have definitely progressed.

Any change is difficult to introduce into such a large machine as the Balearic education system which has 400 schools and approximately 15,000 teachers, and it is for this reason the Regional Ministry of Education Culture and Universities has decided to introduce the role of “voluntario linguistico” to help the teachers and students make the transition.  This process started a few months ago with a meeting between representatives of local English associations and the Secretary General Guillem Estarellas (see photo). Now the unions have signed their agreement to the scheme, and it can go public.

What does this mean to us? It’s an opportunity for native English speakers with a couple of hours to spare every week to volunteer in their local school. Volunteers will be asked to give verbal support to teachers in the class; it will not require any preparation or even a good level of spoken Spanish or Catalan. The initial goal is to have volunteers starting in a limited number of schools across the island at the beginning of October. This is a fantastic opportunity to get involved in your local community and really help children to develop their communication skills.

If you would like to be put yourself forward then please email Kate Mentink as soon as possible on info@kate.es

It’s been ‘The “J” word’.

Vicki McLeod, Gold medal award winning blogger!

Yes, people do employ this face.

When I was at school I didn’t consider myself to be one of the smart kids. Neither did my teachers.  I went to two different primary schools (was expelled from the first one for having the wrong dinner money, it’s a long story) and then went to the local single sex grammar school. I didn’t get in on the strength of my academic promise, or on any sort of recommendations from my teachers about the glittering future they could see for me. No, I got in because my mum wrote an essay in the application form which seemed to sway the admissions secretary. To this day I don’t know what it said.

I didn’t like school, and school didn’t like me either. I asked the wrong questions, or didn’t pay attention or didn’t show up. By the time I was fifteen my hormones had completely taken over and I was a typical teenage girl, all random hair and spots and lumps sprouting out of strange places. I left school with a good enough haul of O levels, but a very poor result in my A levels. By this time I already knew that what I wanted to do wouldn’t have anything at all to do with universities because: a) we couldn’t afford it and b) there wasn’t a cat`s chance in hell of getting in anywhere worth going. So I went into the world and started from the bottom. I worked my way up through a variety of theatre jobs until I hit the West End and international theatre tours as a Company Manager. Then I started again and did the same with disability and community work. Then I started again and did the same with holistic therapies and health. Then I moved to Mallorca, to add another dimension of difficulty, and did it all over again. I like change, and I like challenges.

Back at the beginning my best friend at school, Catherine, was destined to be a writer. From day one she was the clever one of our partnership, and I was the gobby one. Things came extraordinarily easily to Catherine, whilst I had to work for it. And in order to work for it I had to be convinced that it was going to be worth the effort. So often enough I didn’t bother. Becoming a writer didn’t look as if it would ever be within my reach, I decided that only the most intelligent people could possibly do that.

Throughout my various careers I had the opportunity to write reports for presentation and I began to realise that perhaps I might be able to string a sentence together. Other people would have trouble writing words down in an understandable reading order, whilst I found it simple. Perhaps, after all, school had done something somewhere along the way. But I also think that another thing that changed was my belief in myself. As I worked my way through jobs to more jobs, forever moving upwards, my confidence grew and with that my voice and my opinions strengthened. I took a night school course in Journalism at the London School of Economics and as I developed so did the opportunities, and the technology to get my ideas and thoughts out into the world, firstly via blogs. When I started blogging back in 2004 I didn’t really think that I would now write professionally, but I do. It is now the thing which I earn the majority of my living from: copywriting for businesses, doing their brochures, emails, websites, and teaching them how to express themselves in the written form in social media.

When I heard that I had won the Expat Blog Gold Award for my blog www.familymattersmallorca.com and for my article “The Mallorca Expat Commandments” I felt an incredible sense of achievement. It’s a wonderful end to a brilliant 2013 for me: it’s been a (the “J” word) journey…. in the best X Factor fashion.  My article, about the Dos and Don’ts for anyone moving to the island, was the most commented on article in the entire competition and beat the other 170 entries from around the world to the top spot. Thank you to everyone who supported me and commented on the article. And thanks to Mrs McClaire who was the careers advisor at school back in 1987: she told me not to bother trying to work in the theatre as I’d never do it. Well I did it and many more things as well. And that’s my New Year’s Resolution for 2014: Don’t let anyone ever tell you can’t.