Why Learning a Language is More than Translation

Here at Clara Campoamor, our students work hard to improve their language skills. Students study Spanish, English, French, and Greek. And while many words can be directly translated from one language to another, there are other factors involved in mastering a language. For example, different languages have different syntax and grammar, and these factors can change the meaning of a sentence even if all the individual words are directly translated.

For this reason (among others!), learning a language means doing more than just translating word-for-word. It also helps explain why using digital translators, like Google Translate, is not a perfect method for figuring out how to say something in another language.

Check out this cool animated video about how digital translators work. It can help us think about the differences and similarities among languages and brings up some interesting points about multilingualism.


Spelling Bee 2014



I am excited to announce that the 2014 spelling bee will be held at IES Velázquez next May 14th. Thanks to all the other bilingual coordinators and teachers who are preparing the finals and workshops for the participating students.

Please find here the list of words for each year. Only students in the bilingual sections are expected to study the lists for Social Sciences and Biology.

Spelling Bee – 1st year

Spelling Bee – 2nd year

Spelling Bee – 3rd year

Our school finals will be held at our school in the first week of May. Two students will be chosen in each group and five students in total per year will represent the school at IES Velázquez. Have a look at the list and revise the vocabulary items. You may be one of the happy few! 🙂


Optical illusions

This weekend I found this fantastic video via microsiervos:

The author, Brusspup, has been extremely kind and has granted us permission to include the video and his remarks on the video:

“I did 3 anamorphic illusions. Rubiks cube, a roll of tape and a shoe. Which one is your favorite? I like the shoe the best.

Oh and lets not for the kitty cat. Hyder thought she was anamorphic for a bit there.

I’ve included the images in this video for you to download and try yourself. Print them on 8.5 X 14. Cut the paper any way you’d like to add more of an effect.

Rubiks – http://i.imgur.com/ffAnX.jpg
Tape – http://i.imgur.com/GUU2b.jpg
Shoe – http://i.imgur.com/J8VNL.jpg

Have a nice weekend

Terrifying Nature: Hurricanes

Two weeks ago a superstorm hit the East coast of the United States and devastated some areas of New York City and Staten Island. As you know, one of our language assistants, Michael Young, is from Staten Island and feels personally affected by this dramatic event. 42 lives were lost in New York city, almost half of whom came from Staten Island. Thousands of people are still without homes and are living in temporary housing.

This can make us reflect on the terrifying powers of Nature and how natural disasters can damage our modern society more than we like to think. During this week some of the groups will find out more on how hurricanes are formed and act and we will invite some of our students to write support notes to other students at schools on Staten Island.

As a a starter, please feel to watch this video made by David Dilillo, one of Michael’s friends and also of our school (he visited us last year and gave an interesting talk on Geometry in Photography).

Geometry in photography

An American photographer, David Dilillo, a friend of Michael Young’s, visited our school and gave an interesting talk on the relationship between geometry and photography and what it feels like to be a photographer. He assured us that all you need to make good photographs is your imagination and a camera, even the one included in your mobile phone. However, he admitted to having seven! 😉 He also encouraged our students to take up photography and he told us he started this hobby at the same age as our students.

If you are interested, you can also visit websites such as flickr and browse the work of David here, among other interesting artists. You can also look for more examples of vanishing points, parallel lines, and other geometric figures such as triangles, squares, rectangles, etc.

Our students in 1st E & G enjoyed the talk and are likely to use some of David’s suggestions in their pictures.

David Dilillo addressing us in our assembly hall

Please also remember that our photo contest (based on geometrical patterns) will be open until June 4! Here you can check the rules:

  • The photographs (maximum 4 photographs) must be original.
  • Theme: “Geometry in nature and in life”.
  • The photograph should be printed on photographic paper 15.2 x 22 cm.
  • Photographs can be black & white or colour.
  • Don’t forget to save your JPEG file on your computer.
  • You can retouch the photograph with GIMP, Paint or Photoshop.
  • Deadline for submissions: 4 June.

Update: therawedit liked our post, he is a photographer and he recommends two blogs on photography:

I hope you like the pictures

Spelling Bee

Last Friday, May 11, we had the final of our spelling bee contest at our school.
These contests are extremely popular in the USA and children like taking part in them. One of our American language assistants won the spelling bee at his school when he was a bit younger and suggested it to the teachers at our Clara. We thought it would be a perfect excuse to get our students to revise vocabulary of the subjects they are studying in English and we agreed. We prepared a list of words (Spelling Bee final list) and asked our students to master the difficult spellings 😉

Out of 166 students, 18 students managed to win a seat in the final.

The finalists, Michael and the audience
The judges voting

The competition was tough. There could be only ONE winner. Our winner was Antonio (1st-year E) and he got a book as a prize for his skills at spelling. He’s definitely the best spelling bee at our Clara this year. We also gave one special prize to the best spelling bee in each class. They got one homemade bookmark celebrating our first spelling bee contest (thanks to Michael).

The Three R’s

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

These are the three R’s. Our school wants to be greener and this week we are celebrating activities with the objectives of making teachers and students:

  • reduce their water and electricity consumption and the rubbish we produce,
  • reuse objects if that is possible, and
  • recycle as much rubbish as possible.

These objectives are never easy to fulfill but there is much at stake: our Earth.

What is your carbon footprint? Here you can calculate it. There is a version for children here.

There are thousands of things which can be done to reduce our consumption and waste. In this fantastic American website you can explore and read on how to help save our planet.

But maybe you like simulation games too. If so, there are two funny and interesting interactive websites you might like to explore:

Recycle City (http://www.epa.gov/recyclecity/mainmap.htm) – Click on the buildings and you can find out how workers and people recycle a lot of waste.

Dumptown City (http://www.epa.gov/recyclecity/gameintro.htm) – Become the manager of the city and try to recycle without losing your job 😉