Spelling Bee 2018

Spelling Bee 2013Last Friday our students and teachers took part in a new edition of our Madrid Sur Spelling Bee / Bilingual Day together with students, language assistants and teachers from other nine bilingual Secondary schools in the Region of Madrid.

It has been a long road since we launched the idea at our school back in 2012. It started as an activity to reinforce vocabulary specific to some subjects taught in English. We wanted to agree on a common set of lexical items all students had to know and use in Technology, Biology, Geography and History, Music, Arts, Physical Education, Physics & Chemistry, English and Advanced English lessons. The first edition was a success so the following year the other four bilingual schools from our town, Móstoles, were invited. Three schools accepted so we decided not only to hold the spelling bee contest but also to organise workshops in English for the participating students with the help of our teachers and language assistants. These four schools (our Clara Campoamor, IES Velázquez, IES Juan Gris and Antonio de Nebrija) have become ten (the above mentioned plus IES Antonio Gala, IES La Serna, IES Dionisio Aguado, IES Barrio Loranca, IES Neil Armstrong and IES El Pinar) and other schools have also launched a second Spelling Bee in the region.

This is a list of the different editions of our contest and the venues:CartelSpellingBEE.indd

2012 – IES Clara Campoamor (Móstoles)
2013 – IES Clara Campoamor (Móstoles)
2014 – IES Velázquez (Móstoles)
2015 – IES La Serna (Fuenlabrada)
2016 – IES Juan Gris (Móstoles)
2017 – IES Neil Armstrong (Valdemoro)
2018 – IES Barrio de Loranca (Fuenlabrada)

By the way, congratulations to all our students and especially to Diego (winner in 2nd year CSE), Sylvia and Mariel (both got a special mention)!

Spelling Bee - 27 de abril 2018 - Facebook copia


Book Day – 23rd April 2018

After a long pause this blog is back. The reason is Book Day. Can you think of a better reason? I cannot. Books are great, they tell us stories and help us discover other people’s experiences and visions.

Why do you read? Do you read for fun, for school, for information? Whatever the reason, never forget how important it is to read and how reading makes us free:

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” (Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451)

This term we are studying Post-colonial Literature and some famous writers. My students have prepared the following slides to commemorate Book Day.

Post colonial Literature & Book Day

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However, the study of Literature is much more than the history of Literature and writers. It includes reading and writing Literature too. That is the reason why they have also written the book review of one of their favourite books and some ‘telescopic‘ texts starting from this single sentence: ‘The old lady bought a bicycle’. Later they were given some extra words which had to appear in the stories. Can you guess which ones?

Here you have their texts…


The old lady bought the bicycle
The policeman was holding the gun. He was waiting in front of an old house.  It was a very cold day, everybody was at home. Suddenly, a light switched on on the first floor of the house. The policeman started to tremble. The silhouette of a lady appeared behind the curtains. There she was.
Inside the house, the lady went to the wardrobe and hid the gun she had used to commit the murder. She was wearing a purple dress she had bought from her last travel to Istanbul. Maybe the blood wouldn’t be noticed in that dress. She heard a sound downstairs and went to find out what it was. It was only a rodent climbing over the corpse. She looked away and began to clean the crime scene.
Outside, the policeman decided to get inside the house. However, when he had made the first step, he sneezed, that damn flu. The lady heard it and run to the main door. She didn’t know if attacking the man outside would be a good idea. Therefore, she took the Snow White bicycle of her grandson. The policeman heard the bell of the bike and shot. The bullets came out like a geyser. She managed to avoid them and passed over the policeman. He was hurt but ran onto his car to follow the lady, who was heading down the street.
Despite being over sixty years old, the lady was riding quite fast. Unfortunately, she didn’t notice she was heading directly into the big lake of the city. She couldn’t avoid it and fell into it.
“Police, stay right where you are” shouted the policeman.
“Wait…” the lady was shaking, afraid.
Waves started to appear on the surface of the lake. A big shadow appeared and was approaching to the lady.
“I can’t swim! Help me” she screamed.
The policeman jumped into the lake and swam to reach her.
However, by the time he reached her, the shadow was above them. A massive hungry killer whale.
A shout broke the night and then, all silence.



That morning, the whole family arrived to a holiday home in the countryside not far from Istanbul. They were five: the parents, a pair of twins and a baby. As the holiday home was old, they could hear the rodents. They were bored as they sat in the sofa watching Snow White when, suddenly, someone knocked on the door. As they were alone, because their little sister had the flu and their parents had taken her to the doctor, they opened the door thinking it was their family. What happened then was really strange, they saw what seemed like a lady dressed with a purple dress running away from their house and shouting. The boys started to run after her with their bicycle. After 200 or 300 meters, she sttoped in a shop, bought a can of soda and then she went out and continued running. Finally, the strange woman and the boys arrived in the beach. When the girl saw the boys going after them she went into the water and immediately what seemed like a hungry killer whale ate her, then the whale breathed (looking like a geyser). Luke, who was one of the twins, shouted at his brother, Nick, to wake him up. Nick had fallen asleep while he was seeing Snow White and he was having a nightmare.


After all the day in the auction of old objects wasting my time and being very tired, I found an object that caught my attention. I googled it and realized it was highly valued. Then I sat in the room where it was going to be auctioned, with the intention of buying it. There were lots of people in the room, including a woman that looked like Snow White and a man that reminded me of a hungry killer whale. It took the auction almost one hour to start, I began to get nervous because the person next to me seemed to have the flu and was always bleeding. Finally the event took place. I did my best to buy it, but when I looked in my pockets, I only had 200 £ so unfortunately I couldn’t buy it. I had not gone to the ATM bank since my return from Istanbul. I was very furious. Instead, an old lady, with a purple scarf bought the bicycle. I didn’t give up, so I followed the lady to her home because I wanted to rob it. She left it in the garage and I could enter too. That garage was disgusting, I saw a rodent. Finally I took the bicycle, and when I was going to leave the garage, a geyser exploded next to me, just out of the ground where I had put the stolen bicycle and… bye bye bicycle.


The other day I was walking down the street and I saw a hungry dog eating a burger. The burger was from McDonald’s, a Big Mac, with a lot of fries. It looked delicious. However, there was also a rodent trying to eat it. Suddenly, an old lady saw it and with huge kindness she bought the rodent a taco.

“Why a taco?” I thought, but the taco looked even more delicious than the burger. I was just looking at the food when a killer whale abruptly appeared and ate everything. With the scare on my body I woke up and I realised it was the strangest dream I have ever had.

I didn’t know why that happened but I was really hungry, I needed to buy something. As I didn’t have a car, I took my purple bicycle and I went to a famous pizza’s restaurant of Istanbul. That restaurant had always intrigued me, I didn’t know why they had so many pictures of geysers.

Never mind, I got my slice of pizza and I sat on a bench in front of the park. I decided to turn my head right and my heart almost stopped. I saw the same image as in my dream: the dog, the rodent and the lady. One second later, I just wanted to run away from there, the killer whale was missing and I didn’t want to find it.

I started bicycling as fast as I can to return home, but after 5 minutes I was exhausted. With the adventure I had forgotten I had the flu, so it took me a bit longer to get home. While I was opening the door to enter and relax, I saw a flash coming out of the room. Dear me, more adventures… but no, it was just the Snow White’s film that I had forgotten to turn it off.


After going to the cinema the old lady was walking back home. She was looking at a lot of diffeent shops. It was nine o’clock on 21st January. She was walking along the streets of Istanbul when she noticed that there was a small rodent behind her. When she looked back, not only did she watch only the rodent, but also a mysterious boy.
She did not give much importance to the boy but some minutes later the old lady realised that the boy was following her. She started to run and also the boy. After some minutes running she found a lit shop window where she could see a Snow White doll, everything was happening as fast as a geyser. The lady entered the shop but it was difficult to talk to the people of the shop because they were suffering a terrible flu and sneezing all the time.
She wanted a bike to escape from the boy faster. However, the people of the shop only had one bike that they couldn’t sell because it was in a terrible condition. It was a terrible purple color with an enormous drawing of a killer whale. In that moment the lady didn’t mind so she bought the bycicle. Finally, she distracted the mysterious boy and arrived home safely.


While I was waking along the street I visited an old grocery store with a strange appearance so I decided to enter inside and have a look. The person attending me was a pretty lady of about 24 years, who told me the story of how her family had bought the store she was in charge of. It all had taken place during her grandfather’s father journey to Istanbul. He was desperate to find a way to get rid of the flu he had, so he got drunk and started to see strange things such as Snow White feeding a hungry killer whale with purple rodemts; by the way he met the major of Istanbul, who offered him a free site for him only if he repaired his bicycle. He agreed to in his suffering because of his flu.. every time he sneezed it looked like geysers were coming out of his nostrils…


I was playing a match of Fortnite on my computer. Suddenly I heard someone inside my house. The door of my room, my old and friendly room was closed. I stepped outside and went to the living room. That was when I saw a lady. Her eyes were covered with blood and she was eating a kind of rodent. I was afraid, so, I went to the kitchen to take the gun that my father had bought last week. Then, I returned to the living room, but the lady wasn’t there. I started running all over the whole house, but I couldn’t see her. I was really scared, so I took the purple bicycle, which was a gift that my mother had brought from Istanbul and had a picture of Snowwhite with the flu and went out of my house. Unfortunately, I lived near a geyser, so, I fell into it and a hungry killer whale ate me.


I remember the day everything happened as a busy one. I had to handle my final project to get my degree, do the physics final exam and make a power point presentation alone about geysers and their features. Apart from that, everything seemed ordinary. The way from home to university always takes me an eternity: I have to take three buses and the underground. While I was waiting at the bus station, all of a sudden I heard a sweet bark coming from behind some shrubs. With quiet steps I got nearer and nearer until I saw a ball of white hair, which, because of the sound it was making, seemed to be a rodent. Finally I pluck up some courage and I started to caress its beautiful hair. It was a cute guinea pig, although at first I thought it was a rabbit similar to the Snow white one called Tambor. I grabbed it and realized that the guinea pig had a badge with its name and a number, so with all the sadness of my heart I telephoned the number in order communicate to his owner that I had their pet. An old lady picked up the telephone, gave me her address and asked me if I could hand over her pet as she was very sick. I accepted and I went to the house that was eight minutes away on foot. When I arrived to her house it was like a mini castle with lot of animals, fountains, sculptures and even her swimming pool was shaped as a killer whale. I knocked the door and a very old lady came out with a purple flashy nightgown…

Which one do you like best?

Enjoy your reading…

How to maintain your English over the summer!

The summer holidays are finally here! While this is a great opportunity to work on your tan, go to the beach or visit family and friends it also means that you probably won’t be practising English for around two months. As two months is a long time without using any English here are some tips and recommendations from the ENglish assistants so that you don’t lose everything over the summer.


  1. Watch TV series/movies in English. I know lots of you already watch English language series and movies so a great way to keep up your English is to take off the Spanish audio and listen to the original English with either Spanish or English subtitles. Lots of series can be found on Netflix or Amazon Prime as well as on YouTube and other free websites. On most TVs there is also the option to watch any dubbed programme in the original language. Don’t get downhearted if you don’t understand every single word, it’s completely normal! In lots of series they speak with very heavy accents or they use a lot of slang which makes it a great way to learn some cool phrases. By watching series/movies you are still surrounded by English every day but it’s probably more fun than sitting in class.
  2. Download an app such as Duolingo. There are some great language learning apps out there such as Duolingo or Babel. In these apps you can set the difficulty level and choose the type of vocabulary or grammar you want to focus on so you make sure that the app is tailor-made to what you are interested in. These apps set you challenges so you can hit a new target every day as well as having some cool games too. It’s a great way to practise English every day even if it’s just while you’re waiting for the bus.
  3. Watching/reading the news in English. If you want to find out more about what is going on in the world, reading online news reports in English is a great way to stay informed and hear new points of view from different parts of the world. BBC News and CNN are free to access online, and will keep you informed about what is happening not just in Britain and the USA, but all around the world. These websites also feature a lot of video content to practice your listening skills too! Use these sites to find out about politics, culture and sports.You could also check out sites like Upworthy and The Daily Dot, which are very popular with young people. These websites have collections of funny and moving opinion pieces and articles that are great for sharing on social media. Finally, Youtube is an amazing language learning resource that you probably already use every day! Dozens of TedTalks videos, which are topical public speeches by well-known people, are available on Youtube with English subtitles and are always fascinating. As well as that, if you are a fan of a certain celebrity, band or TV show, try and find some interviews with them on Youtube and keep up your English in a fun way.

Cervantes & Shakespeare

Soon our teachers and students will be celebrating the huge influence both men have exerted on our culture and language. To celebrate their deaths there is no better option than go back to their texts and appreciate their talent, depicted in some of their most famous quotes:

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”(Julius Caesar)
“Go wisely and go slowly. Those who rush stumble and fall.” (Romeo and Juliet)
“Strong reasons make strong actions.”(King John)
“We know what we are but know not what we may be.” (Hamlet)
“Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing.”(Troilus and Cressida)

“La libertad, Sancho, es uno de los más preciados dones que a los hombres dieran los cielos” (El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha)
“La senda de la virtud es muy estrecha, y el camino del vicio, ancho y espacioso” (El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha)
“La verdad adelgaza y no quiebra, y siempre anda sobre la mentira como el aceite sobre el agua.” (El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha)
“Amor y deseo son dos cosas diferentes; que no todo lo que se ama se desea, ni todo lo que se desea se ama.” (La Galatea)

Shakespeare’s words

Shakespeare often behaved less like a writer, and more like a chemist combining elements. He conducted word experiments—smashing words together, combining them. As a result, he invented many new words that had never been used before in print or on stage. Many of these new word combinations stuck and are still used today. Some examples are words like “uncomfortable,” “unreal,” and “eyeball,” as well as phrases like “what’s done is done,” “dead as a doornail,” “it’s Greek to me,” “love is blind,” and the classic joke-starter “knock knock, who’s there.”

Somehow, Shakespeare was able to create new phrases that stick in your mind, and now it seems as if they have always existed.

Check out this video in which Christopher Gaze goes through some of the MANY words and phrases Shakespeare created that live on in modern English. How many of them do you recognize?


The Real Don Quixote

Have you ever wondered if the world you see around you is actually real? What if you and everyone you know are just characters in someone else’s book or movie, and you have no idea? How can you be sure that what you think you are seeing and feeling is actually real? We know from physics and chemistry that our bodies and minds are really just a bunch of atoms and molecules that undergo chemical reactions. So do you, as a person with your own thoughts and feelings and ideas, really exist?

Anne Davis 773/Flickr
Photo Credit: Anne Davis 773/Flickr

One of the first people to play with these questions of what is real was Miguel Cervantes. In 1605, he published his most famous work Don Quixote de la Mancha.

Previously, books generally told a story, and that was it. Everyone knew they were stories and nothing more. But, Miguel Cervantes changed that.

Don Quixote begins with a narrator telling the reader that he is about to tell a story gathered from other authors and historical documents—so he’s not really the author. Right away, the story makes us question what is real. Is this all just a story? Or is the narrator telling us something that happened in history? Furthermore, how can we know whether the story the narrator tells matches what “actually” happened? Or if the multiple historical documents agree with each other? And where does that leave Cervantes in all of this?

To make things even more complicated, Don Quixote, the main character in the book, often mixes up what is real and what is in his mind. His imagination can get the best of him, leading to many misunderstandings between him and the other characters.

RadioLab, a podcast produced by WNYC studios in the United States, explored these questions in an episode about “The Real Don Quixote.” Listen to their conversations to have your mind blown by the literary genius that was Miguel Cervantes and to gain some insight into why Don Quixote, published at the start of the 17th century, remains so popular today.

The Real Don Quixote