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Letter from the editors

Dear Work in Progress readers,

Here is the first issue of Work in Progress. This magazine came about as a result of the collaboration of a group of students from the School of Languages at the Universidad Veracruzana.It has the intention of providing a space where students can share their thoughts and experiences with others while putting their language knowledge into practice.

In this issue you will find a variety of articles and stories which reflect on different aspects of life. We hope you find this issue interesting and join us in our dialogue. Also, we would like to take this opportunity to invite you to participate with us in upcoming issues.

Enjoy the read The editors


The Importance Of Culture In Language Learning I still remember the first sentence my culture

society and its language has words to describe

professor told me: “Learning another language means learning another culture.” This shows the

those thoughts (Leveridge, 2007).

importance of teaching culture and why it has been included in the curriculum of many

Having defined culture and language, we should

language courses. The main aim of the following article is to demonstrate the importance of

set up the relationship between both concepts so that it is understood that they cannot be

culture in language learning.

separated

from each other, as they are intertwined. Culture is a vital part of the communication process while language represents cultural identity (Önalan, 2005:216-7). 2005:216 Gannon (2001:7) states that language students need cultural information to reach out to people better. In languagelanguage learning processes, students require a cultural context to avoid being affected by the elements artificially imposed by their learning (Önalan, 2005:2162005:216 7). In other words, the cultural context defines the language patterns atterns used by a particular group of people and reflects

cultural patterns such as the way of life and codes. If learners interact according to Culture is defined as a system of shared values,

the cultural context, they will be able to culturally differentiate between the target language and

norms, knowledge, thoughts, ideas, feelings, beliefs and behaviours which are manifested by

their motherr tongue. Moreover, culture has been included in language learning and teaching

artefacts and transmitted through forms of communication that are learnt through experience and change over time (Demen, 1987:37). It is reflected in social interaction with relatives, peers and members of other er social groups because it identifies with or gives a sense of belonging to them. Language is a set of symbols which defines the meaning of something and describes life experience (Miyara, 2004). According to Sapir-Whorf, Whorf, thoughts are related to the complexity exity of a


curricula

because

modes

of

modified by this transference information (Isik, 2003).

thinking of

are

cultural Studying culture in a language class should be aimed at understanding why people behave the way they do. It should also let students identify similarities and differences between cultures and analyse new perspectives of life and behaviours. In this way, language la students will be able to comprehend social structures, promote an acceptance of cultural differences, repeat and change behaviours and avoid xenophilia and xenophobia. To sum up, if you really want to be successful in the target language, having cultural ultural knowledge of that foreign language should help you in doing so. In this way, you will not become a fluent fool who does not understand the social

The study of culture in a language class cla should focus on understanding and explaining the

and philosophical content of a language, as Bennett (1993) stated. Language schools must

patterns of societies’ behaviours, determining which cultural aspects are universally shared

include culture re courses in their curriculum to raise their students’ awareness about the

and why they differ from one culture to another. Furthermore, it helps to specify which symbols,

differences between cultures and develop ad hoc communication skills to circumvent culture

artefacts and language establish and recognise culture as a form of identity (Leveridge, 2007).

clashes and cross-cultural cultural misunderstandings.

by Samuel GLOSSARY Curriculum: the subjects comprising a course of study in a school or college Peer: a person of the same age, status, or ability as another specified person Xenophobia: intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries Clash: be incompatible Reference Bennett, M. (1993). How not to be a fluent fool: Understanding the cultural dimesion of language. The Language Teacher , 27. Demen, L. (1987). Culture Learning: The Fifth Dimension on the Language Classroom. Addison-Wesley, Addison Wesley, 37. Gannon, M. (2001). Understanding Global Cultures: Metaphorical journeys throught 23 nations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Isik, A. (2003). Linguistic imperialism and its reflection in foreign/second language teaching. FLED 308 Lecture Notes. Istanbul: Bogazici University. Leveridge, A. N. (n.d.). Teaching English as Foreign Language. Retrieved May 2007, from Language Teaching: Language and Culture: http://edition.tefl.net/articles/teacher-technique/language-culture/ http://edition.tefl.net/articles/teacher Miyara, F. (2004). La Voz Humana. mana. Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Argentina, 2. Önalan, O. (2005). EFL Teachers’ Perceptions of the Place of Culture in ELT: A Survey Study at Four Universities in Ankara, Turkey. Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies Vol. 1, No.2.


FLA in Manchester U.K. On September 19th I took the plane from Mexico city straight to Heathrow, London. I wasn’t feeling that nervous: rather, I was curious about what I would find in the U.K. and also how very rainy the weather could be there. As it turns out, very! It rains a lot but somehow I have learnt to live with it after after five or six broken or lost umbrellas, which are an everyday item to carry here.

way the English language stuck to me. After all this time here, though, I have found the British accent not as exaggerated as I used to think, after all, and my little fake British accent is not that little, nor fake anymore. Butt accents do play an important role around here. You can have all different kinds from one city to another: It is interesting to see how small England is compared to Mexico, and yet how many accents you can find. I live in Manchester, the second biggest and most important city after London, and the accent here doesn’t sound so nice to me. It seems like they like to go up in the last syllable. Personally, I prefer the accent from London: I just think it is the clearest one, or as they like to say, the proper pro one. But they all have something special once you are able to recognize them. At the beginning, my very first impressions of England were that every single house looked the same. Maybe around 95% of them are built I was, however, worried about the accent: but it

with red bricks, so at the beginning you can’t really notice the difference from one to another,

hasn’t been a problem, either. Ever since I got here, I have been able to understand any

but I was sure I was going to be able to distinguish different designs later on.

conversation, but there have been times where I have had to think twice about some vocabulary I

Eventually I did, although there are only around 7 different kinds. Some houses are really pretty,

am not quite familiar with. But, besides that, every British person I have met has told me

especially the e ones in the countryside. They look like the ones from the stories we used to read

something about my ‘Americanish’ accent. It is not something I chose se to have; it was just the

when we were little.


I decided to add to my activities there and I started making a poster about Mexico, with pictures and facts that I didn’t even know. The idea came to me because I want them to see a different Mexico from om the one they see on the news, which I must say is kind of sad. The only news here about Mexico is related to drug cartels, and the only good Mexican example they know of is Javier Hernandez Chicharito. It really feels good when you see some other Mexicans icans doing great here. Right after I finished the poster, the other teachers saw it and they If you have heard about weather being nasty around here, well it is. There are lots of showers

liked it so much that they decided to include a Mexican Module for which I have to work a little

almost everyday, and the rest of the time there are just gray skies, which I quite like, even when

extra, making presentations about history, tourism, culture, food d and traditions from my

I used to live in Xalapa. I liked it when there were very snowy wy days. Now, of course,

country.

we also get some hot days, like 17 C degrees, which means it is really a hot day and everyone starts feeling quite summery. I must say that I do miss the sun, but just sometimes, and as weird as it might sound, I prefer gray days. Although from time to time I do enjoy the sun, especially when I go to the beach. Being a FLA (Foreign Language Assistant) has been my first job in my life and I couldn’t have asked for a better one. From the first day at the school, they were really welcoming oming and the pupils were also excited to have someone new working with them. The work you get to do is not very hard, although it kind of depends on the person. From my experience, I can say that I did work a lot, but I was the one who chose it that way. Basically, what you get to do is encourage the pupils and give them confidence to speak in Spanish. You should also share your culture and let them know a bit about where you are from. I was given some groups, around 12, and then you need to plan all the activities related to the topic they are working on.


Well I hope my experience could encourage

a lot: you gain lots of experience and also get

someone to apply and become an FLA. It is really a great experience and I can say you learn

the chance to meet great people and travel.

by

Olaf Montiel Escandon Spanish FLA 2011 Manchester England United Kingdom

GLOSSARY Fake: not genuine Shower: a brief and usually light fall of rain or snow


To my Friend David on the Future of his Children I am writing you a letter in a language that you cannot read, but I promise for the sake of our friendship that I will translate it for you. First of all, I must tell you that this letter you are about to read, my dearest friend, springs from my sincere feelings for you and your loved ones. The argumentation I am about to present is aimed at the individual that you are; however, by writing to you, I’m aiming it at you all.

(Mills: 1959), as they call it, can help you to map your position in this story. You need “sociological imagination” to understand that we are not isolated either from the structure of our society or from the place where you stand in history. Only then, you will see that the collapse ahead, due to what global warming, pollution, overpopulation and famine will produce, will sooner or later reach you and your children. You are my friend, and I know your assumptions very well. It Your children’s future is in terrible danger. Humanity is going to suffer the consequences of

may seem very superficial to worry about social matters when life is so difficult for you. But, you

our past and present wrong decisions. We have come to a point in which the model that mass

will see that when I address our social problems, I am asking you to pay attention to matters

media has been training us to follow will collapse. As it is still possible for us to change

affecting you and that are beyond any isolated solution.

the course of this story, I ask you to pay attention to what follows.

In our times, we try to dismiss what is happening. We comfortably disregard that our

Each individual in humanity has a very strong relationship with the social systems to which

economic model cannot be sustained. For instance, some months ago, when you were

he/she belongs. This linkage involves troubles that affect our immediate environment and

facing unemployment, you though it was your single trouble. The same can be said about

issues regarding public matters (Mills: 1959). The two elements cannot be understood

bankers treating our economy as a personal enterprise, ignoring the social responsibility that

separately. Combined, they form a holistic vision of how we modify our surrounding conditions

it implies. Such de-contextualized visions have no other impact than making us feel uneasy with

and how our situations are determined by these same conditions. “Sociological imagination”

our situation and hindering from solving our troubles and our society’s issues (Mills: 1959).


Our lives are full of de-contextualized ualized situations.

conditions are not a matter of individuals but of

In fact, I would say that our whole social structure is de-contextualized. contextualized. We live within a

social justice. I know; who cares about social justice when you need your mone money for your sick

system that has been exported all around the world by a small elite who has decided how we

child? But it would be more important to know why it has to be like this.

should rule our lives (The Century of the Self. Part 1). They influence the governments’ policies

Indeed, you need to sustain your family, as do many heads of family in the world. It is

and take decisions for all humans as if that public issue was their own business. You and I

imperative that you provide your family with what can satisfy its needs, that range from the more

have gladly accepted their rules (The Century of the Self. Part 1).

basic goods to self-actualization actualization (Maslow: 1946). However, the system in which we live is a

Pollution and contamination are other examples of how we transform a public issue into a simple

factory of inequality that will never allow the whole human population to satisfy those needs.

trouble. You, the same as I, have naively assumed that the consumption of whatever

Our current system has convinced society that it needs more than what it actually does. This

product is a personal decision. We are consuming products –related related to personal

scheme ensures its survival by inducing us to follow the trends of fashion and innovation. Our

hygiene, for instance– that can damage our health th (Rubber Duck: Slow death) and we do not

system demands us to become good consumers; this means we must find safety,

question those who produce them. We have though

love, esteem, etc., in the things we buy. buy Few people

that the worst they

know

that this

will do is just to

structure is not in itself

damage us. The

natural. Our economic

reality that,

is in

system was built in the

order to produce

postSecond

these products,

World War period in the

companies can

United States. The

release up to 600 million different pollutants pollutan and 1,000

main goal was to “convert consumption into the way of life”

contaminants (Ten Americans) per year into the environment, and they even affect those who are

of Americans (Story of Our Stuff). To make ma it possible, Edward Bernays used his uncle,

not consuming them. We must learn to recognize when problems are

Sigmund Freud’s ideas on human behavior (The Century of the Self. Part 1 ). What he thought

beyond us as individuals. You may say that I have not yet experienced what it is like li not to

was that he could help control people’s actions by controlling their desires. The rest is history.

have anything to provide my family with, like you have. Will it help if I tell you that many more in

Now we are the heirs rs of an expanding consumerist society that seeks happiness in

the world are in worse conditions? Thousands of workers are exploited in sweatshops, or

perishable goods. We continue to flow with the same tendencies of

dismantling electronic waste in squalid and hazardous conditions ditions (Electronic wasteland).

wasting goods that we do not possess. Our planet is finite. In the future, we will not have

They are happy to at least have a job. From this perspective, we have forgotten that good work

more resources to survive. To assumption may seem too fatalistic;

you,

this


nonetheless,, it has been experienced before, by

Island–whose whose

people like you and I, more frequently than you can imagine. Jared Diamond refers to this

disappeared– (Diamond: 2005), we are chopping down every single tree on the surface

peoples

have

already

phenomenon in his book Collapse. How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005). He

of our territories for similar reasons to them; that is, in order for you and I to have a piece of land

shows the tendency of how peoples and empires have disappeared in the past. We are definitely

to build a dwelling, and more land to feed our families.

following the same pattern.

The problem is that there are too many of us, and we are causing extensive deforestation and impoverishment of the soil. Trees are the “pinnacle in the chain of species” (Home). Their

In his five-point point framework, Diamond explains what has lead past societies to their own destruction: a) “The damage that people inadvertently inflict in their

grow crops, but without them

2005: 11); b) Climate

we would not survive either .

C)

Still, we say we cannot stop.

neighbors; D) Decreased support friendly

Great extensions of

by

soil have been uncovered –

neighbors, and E) “The ubiquitous question of the society’s responses to its problems, whether those problems environmental or not” (Diamond, 2005: 14).

are

Nowadays, days, at the beginning of the 21th century, we have learnt how to combine the whole fivefive points in a synergistic and deathly fusion. Our present population is calculated about nearly seven thousand million people, and increasing by eighty million people each ch year (How Many People can Live in the Planet Earth?).The necessities of these people, which includes us, require the resources.

and produce about 30% of our oxygen (Home). Those trees occupy lands that we need to

environment” (Diamond,

change; Hostile

many functions tions are to transform solar power and store it, to form soil with their leaves and wood,

exploitation

of

more

natural

Every day, we need more and more soil, more water, more wood, more minerals, more energy, etc. Exactly xactly as the inhabitants of the Easter

about one half of the surface of the land on our planet (Home)–. (Home) They have now been submitted to the forces of nature that erode them and make them infertile. This is how we lose cultivable soils, wood resources and the oxygen from which, otherwise, we would benefit from. On the island of Hispaniola, we can see an illustration of how our woodland resources can make a huge difference. While the Dominican Republic has only 23% of its woodland left, Haiti only has 1%. Both countries face serious problems regarding the impoverishment of their soils, and they have lost the protection trees provide against heavy rain falls; however, these issues are more severe in Haiti than in


years (Weisman: 2007). There are other elements that threaten our existence, but they are less evident than our short supplies of water or the increasing temperature and all that probably imply. They are

will the

pollutants and contaminants that we are continuously ntinuously releasing into the environment. Many of them, in the form of aerosols, flow around the Earth for weeks (Atmospheric Aerosols: Health, Environment and Climate Effects). Moreover, against any reasonable basis, the fact that chemicals are damaging us does not mean that they will be banned the Dominican Republic (Diamond: 2005). Closer to us, look at the stony lands around our

(Steingraber: May/June 2009) It does not matter where we live, we will always be affected.

hometown, the once fertile grandparents remember.

our

“Population growth? Good for the economy”, “Land shortages? Try fusion energy to power the

What about the droughts that we endure each Easter season? Our ancestors did not know that

desalting of seawater”, “Specie “Species going extinct? Not to worry. That is nature’s way” (Wilson:

another important function of forests was to store water, and they carelessly cut most of

September 2005); all of them false reasoning refuted by our daily life. The truth: Nine billion

them down, not making sure to replace them. Those trees that belonged to us protected the

people will inhabit the world by 2050, all of them with the same needs your children and your

soil against erosion and absorbed the humidity in rainy seasons, easons, releasing it during the dry

grand d children will have. They will require food from this fading soil, they will need water from

seasons. Without forests, water has become limited. This is a worldwide problem, from our

these boiled away rivers; how much will there be for your children and grandchildren?

own country –with with states like Guanajuato losing about 2 meters or more from the water table per

We cannot escape a terrible truth from which we do not want to be a solution.. We need a change

year– to India – where “half of […] [ traditional hand-dug dug wells and millions of shallower tube

in our behavior, reverse the conceptions of our minds.

wells have already dried up” (Brown, 2009: 40, 41).

The way we think of personal property and

I do not need to tell you that our climate has changed. I miss the dense mist of our childhood, and those times when winters were humid and cold, and summers rainy and hot. Although, it is not likely that they will come back . We have changed our atmosphere so much that even if we disappeared tomorrow, we will leave behind an atmosphere whose high levels of CO2 will keep it warm for over 100, 000

soil

that


alone will not give the final answer to our current freedom, and the basis of our economy is directing us to destruction (Hardin: 1968). We must stop over-reproducing ourselves based on those illusory liberties. We must stop regarding the world’s resources as our private property. We must strive to become more conscious of the limitations of our planet and our species. The future of your children is in danger. Yet, we still have a shot. For example, according to Lester R. Brown (2009), even if it will be very difficult, we can achieve a transition to renewable sources of energy by 2020; and the UN had planned to reduce poverty by half by 2015… until we had our economic crisis. And

issues. As long as we do not change our mindset about this way of consumption –that is so linked to the economic crisis (Etzioni: June 17, 2009)–, about the public propriety, the personal liberties, and our position in society, it will not be possible to prevent the dangers causing unnecessary suffering for all humanity. If I am addressing you instead of addressing a figurative reader, David, it is because the problems we are about to face are as real as you are. And all these ideas that I have shared with you will always be useful as long as they pervade your conscience and move you, for the sake of the people you love the most: your family.

here is the main point of discussion. Technology José Roberto Viveros Castillo

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

GLOSSARY Spring from: originate Holistic: chiefly Philosophy characterized by the belief that the parts of something are explicable only by reference to the whole Uneasy: anxious or uncomfortable. Hinder: make it difficult for (someone) to do soothing or for (something) to happen. Naïve: lacking experience, wisdom, or judgement Sweatshop: a factory or workshop employing sweated labour. Hazardous: risky, dangerous Perishable: likely to rot quickly Synergy: interaction or cooperation of two or more organization, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separable effects Water table: the level below which the ground is saturated with water Sources Brown, Lester R. (2009) Plan B. Mobilizing to save civilization. W. W. Norton & Company: United States of America. Retrieved from [http://www.earth-policy.org/images/uploads/book_files/pb4book.pdf] Diamond, Jared (2005) Collapse. How societies choose to fail or succeed. Penguin Books: United States of America Etzioni, Amitai (June 17, 2009). Spent. America after consumerism. The New Republic. Retrieved from [http://www.gwu.edu/~ccps/etzioni/documents/B508%20Spent,%20America%20after%20consumerism.pdf] Hardin, Garrett (1968). “The tragedy of the commons”. Science. Retrieved from [http://bcaabroad.mrooms.net/file.php/23/Garrett_Hardin_-_The_Tragedy_of_the_Commons.pdf] Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Retrieved from [http://www.altruists.org/f62] Mills, C. Wright (1959). The sociological imagination. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from [http://www.bcaabroad.com/documents/TheSociologicalImagination.pdf] Steingraber, Sandra (May/June, 2009) 3 bets. “On ecology, economy and human health”. Orion. Retrieved from [http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/4678/] Weisman, Alan (2007) El mundo sin nosotros. Debate: México Wilson, O. Edward (September, 2005) “Is humanity suicidal?” Cosmos. Retrieved from[http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/node/1298/full]


The Velocity of Procrastination

At the last minute, George decided not to go to the party. He just felt too weary to get dressed up and try to persuade his father to lend him the family car, just to attend a sort of gathering that, after all, they used to do almost every weekend. The idea of staying home, watching TV, drinking soda and eating popcorn instead of showing up at Peter’s sounded far more appealing. The truth was, he did not want to meet Elise

upon rounds of exhausting job interviews to

there, since it would seem unavoidable to talk about their situation. That afternoon, at school,

finally get a placement and independence from their parents’ homes. Only then could one take a

Elise asked him to commit himself. Not in a pushing manner but in a sweet one. She just

breath and think of planning a life. Almost without it being noticed, all those things

wanted some sign of commitment from George, in their own teenager-light-soft level. Both of

broke out one after another and were happening faster than any written list of resolutions. When

them were nineteen. George was convinced Elise’s request was just

university times came to an end, George found Elise packing suitcases and other stuff to move

a way to make him keep the matter in mind but that she would not be so eager to bring the

to a northern city in search of both postgraduate courses and job opportunities. Their sentimental

subject up in the middle of a crowd of boys, girls, drinks and noise, and shrouded in a big, dense

situation was never resolved. Somehow he never found the right time to fix it and always

cloud of cigarette smoke. Patience was the strongest of Elise’s virtues;

found the right reasons to skip it. In his own pursuit, George perceived job

definitely the main reason to ever consider marrying her. But they had yet to finish

interviewers as rigid, inexpressive machines who wanted to extract all the possible information

University, obtain their degrees and embark


about him to determine how eligible he may be.

That night, in bed, George pondered on the

George chose to relax and decided to pretend to be serious, and to boast about his skills while

encounter and discovered that it had been much more enjoyable for Peter than for him. George

laughing inside. In the end, he got a modest position in a rather small company. Although he

could not help feeling that his old classmate was conceited about his musical lifestyle, to the point

could keep on searching for what he himself called ‘the right big chair’, he preferred to leave it

of making George’s office work appear less significant. He pondered on the matter once

for a more convenient time. He felt secure. His arrival injected an air of freshness to the

again, now devoid of prejudice and assumptions, and then concluded that Peter just acted and

office. His male co-workers, older guys, were pleased with his jovial and naïve manners.

expressed himself out of passion. Peter had always been passionate even about getting

Flattering remarks about his blond hair and his good looks by the female staff indulged his ego

people together in a disorganized meeting to do nothing remarkable.

so badly. However, he did not want to pick up one of the girls for a lasting relationship. He felt

Passion was an element George lacked in his life, he concluded. He liked his job as a means

more than satisfied getting all of the girls’ attention with no commitment at all, although he

to get a decent survival, nothing more than that. He liked a lot of girls, but did not love anyone.

knew he should go steady with someone someday.

His co-workers were nice people, but he knew nothing more than generalizations about their

Plans of moving on were promptly left aside. Administrative work was not complicated, neither

lives. His determination had been so fragile… He

was it too demanding nor too tiring, and the wages were fairly paid. He was comfortable with

knew he should be committed; those who thought him a brilliant guy were expecting his

the office environment. Assumptions that there would be plenty of chances of climbing to higher

talents to explode. Passion would not be hard to get. Simply, he should be attached to something,

positions eventually proved to be true, and he became a manager in two years time.

a hobby, a dream. Had he ever had a dream? Old Peter had told him sincerely to come over to

After a busy working day, the guys used to go for cold drinks somewhere in the surrounding

the bar whenever he wanted, but he preferred to wait for the right moment to arrive with different,

streets. That sunny afternoon, no one happened to be available and George decided to go on his

interesting news about changes. The vision of a timeline of Peter’s progressions to reach his

own. Bars made no difference to him whatsoever so he walked with the intention of

dreams affected him for days. One evening, he fell down the stairs while

entering the first local his eyes met. He kept on walking though, and ended up in an unexplored

leaving the office and broke his left leg. He had it in plaster for weeks. The incident gave him

street and crossed the gates of ‘Old Peter’s’. Much to his surprise, he found out it was

plenty of time to meditate on all his preoccupations and to come up with some

precisely that same old Peter of those parties. A rush of memories of university times came to

possible solutions. His limbs were becoming rigid out of pure inactivity. He remembered he

mind. George smiled about the fact of how much he disliked Peter’s guitar and how now he was

once wanted to practice some yoga, but he never started because… he did not remember

singing and playing, accompanied by a band in the center of the room, to cheer up a small but

why. The day the plaster was taken off he needed the

enthusiastic audience. As soon as Peter finished his performance and identified George at one of

help of a walking stick. It was to be expected, the doctor said. He had to practice walking, little

the tables, he reacted with delight and went over to greet him. An enjoyable conversation took

by little. The streets outside were lit up and the warm remains of summer days invaded his

place and it lasted the rest of the afternoon, with numerous intervals to allow Peter to perform

apartment. He went to the bathroom to put some water on his face. He stopped before his own

more songs.

image in the mirror, looking at the drops running down his cheeks and chin. All of a sudden, he


thought of Peter again and concluded that the

Now, for the first time, he was totally aware of

timeless appearance in each of them came from two different sources. He kept looking at his own

something that the calendars insisted on telling him a long time ago. Right now, there was no

image in the mirror and went closer to discover half a dozen blotches of white hair on his head,

way to ignore it any longer because an unveiled and shining image was supporting and

intermingled with the blond ones.

confirming the inescapable truth. George was fifty-three years of age.

GLOSSARY Weary: tired Flatter: cause to feel honoured and pleased Ponder : consider carefully Timeline: a graphical representation of a period, on which important events are marked.


My Trip to China My name is Karen; I’m twenty years old and I’m studying English language and also Chinese. One year ago I won a scholarship to go to study Chinese at Beijing International Studies University, which has an agreement with the Universidad Veracruzana. I got it because I was one of the best students in the class.

Chinese students are studying Spanish so they My experience started on May 6th 2010. I was really nervous and excited at the same time. When I first went to my new university I couldn’t believe how huge it was; it had a campus with foreign and Chinese student’s dormitories , restaurants, a supermarket, a canteen, a post office, a sports ground: almost everything that a student needs. I had the chance to meet people from other countries, such as Japan, Korea, Canada, France, Italy, Costa Rica, Sweden and so on … it was multicultural! I felt I made real friends. My Chinese teachers were excellent people; they were very patient with us – most people know that Chinese isn’t an easy language. On the campus, some


used to seek native people who they could

The food is exquisite, although at the beginning I

practice with; we called them our ChineseChinese partners. It was very useful for us because we

didn`t know what kind of reaction I would have because I had heard that Chinese food is a little

could practice our Chinese more, as well as make friends.

bit weird. But as soon as I tasted it, I loved it: moreover, it’s very cheap.In In the summer two

Beijing is a metropolis: it is growing quickly, and

friends and I travelled in some provinces of China. We went to Pingyao, Xi’an, Huashang

it is already a city ity with approximately 22.000.000 people. Sometimes it was hard to take the

and Leshan. I really learnt about their culture, and the beauty of China’s places.

subway or the bus because there were a lot of people on them. The streets of Beijing are quite

I love Chinese, I love English, and more than anything I love to learn languages. I really want

interesting: one of the most popular is Wangfujin. This street is famous because it has

to go back to China to continue studying Chinese and enjoy its landscape again.

stalls where they sell exotic food.

By Karen Diaz Bello

GLOSSARY Landscape: all the landscape features of an area of land.


Laziness vs. Maturity and Responsibility I have heard many complains about the teachers and the school curriculum, but I have never heard a student saying that the educational problems they have are not just linked to those authorities, but also to the student population. So, I would like to talk a little about laziness, lack of responsibility and maturity, which seem to be the most common causes why students think and say they are not learning as much as a they had expected. I would also like to try to make students become more aware of the things I mentioned. These three aspects, laziness, responsibility and maturity, are the most common reasons why students show a poor school performance; the main problem is that students do not accept they are part of it. They always say that the school authorities and the teachers are responsible for their poor school performance. Some people say it is because the school curriculum sometimes etimes offers subjects they think are unnecessary to take because they are irrelevant; and others say it is because some teachers are not as good as others (according to their point of view) because some teachers are not as responsible as they are supposed to be, and because some of them do not attend their classes as they are supposed to. But, do you really think that the school authorities are the only ones that have something to do with your poor school performance? Or are you willing to accept that you, you, as a responsible and mature student, and with all the energy and desire needed to get ahead, have also something to do with it? Whether you are one of those who think the school authorities are the problem or not, I invite you to continue reading this article rticle and think about the three issues I mentioned above a little bit more. I do not think it is necessary to give a definition of each one of these three aspects we have been talking about, since we should know what they mean already, but it is necessary to comment on them in order to make you more conscious and to make you put them into practice or giving up doing so. Since you are studying a Bachelor’s degree, you are supposed to be mature and aware of what being at university means. However, not all of the students have already realized that they are


the best ones, in order not to make any big ig mistakes that could affect yourself or even others. Consequently, you have to be responsible for the outcomes of your decisions, which means that you are becoming mature. Have you got my point? Laziness is one of the most common defects many students have. ave. This aspect affects students’ school performance in a considerable way. It manifests itself in many ways; one of those is when, at the moment of waking up, students decide to take another growing up and that growing up means having more responsibilities to deal with. It is when we

five minutes of slumber, which are not completely five minutes, because they turn into

grow up when both maturity and responsibility have to show up. Not everybody has been

one hour or even more. Another way in which laziness makes itself apparent is when students

raised the same way, so being mature can be easy for some people, but not for everyone.

decide not to do their homework; also when they decide not to study.

Then, when is it that you have to make use of these two aspects of life (maturity and

After having talked a little about maturity, maturity responsibility, and laziness, I would like to make

responsibility) by applying them in school? Well, since you are studying a Bachelor’s chelor’s degree, you

a contrast, using the example given at the beginning of the article, regarding the students

are supposed to be the one

complaining about the

who is responsible

school authorities

for your own actions.

and the teachers. It is

It is necessary to mention the link between being responsible

not new that some teachers are irresponsible; some others are bad at teaching and,

and being mature. I could say maturity is a synonym of responsibility, although their meanings are different, rent, but there is a similarity between them that has to be pointed out. As you are growing up, life becomes more and more difficult, so you have to start taking bigger decisions. These decisions are supposed to be

unfortunately, others are both. It is neither new that the school curriculum is sometimes disorganized, as are school authorities. That is something very important to do with students’ performance at school, just as teachers chers are, but I don’t agree with the classmates who say that all the responsibility


not the only ones in charge of your development falls not on them but on the school authorities and teachers. There has to be teamwork between all the people who are involved in the development of the academic process. So you, as a student, have to make use of your maturity and responsibility in order to overcome your laziness. Only then, will you be able to stop blaming the school authorities and teachers about your school performance. Even though they have a

as a student, since you are the one who is interested in studying. What I am trying to say with all of this is that if teachers do not give their lessons and do not teach you as they are expected to, you should start being responsible and mature, and you should study on your own in order not to miss the things you are supposed to learn during your academic experience. Therefore, you have to fight against your laziness using maturity and responsibility.

lot to do with your academic progress, they are

IvĂĄn Ameca GarcĂ­a

GLOSSARY Slumber: a sleep


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