Saturday, 27 December 2008

The Google-isation of our lives??

Today, I came across a thought-provoking article written by Susie Dent, which asks intriguing questions about where our lives are heading. She states that we are entering a universe where people are increasingly "turning to public broadcasts to express their private thoughts" . New words have gained prominance in 2008 such as
Are these words above indeed a reflection of our times? I ask myself -is the Internet taking over our lives???

At the beginning of this year I would never have imagined that I would be writing a blog and that to date, over 130 people from all over the world, mostly complete strangers, would be reading my innermost thoughts regarding ELT and my new life in Abruzzo. (Information gained from "Clustr" maps). This is both a bit scary and also quite exciting in a way. My life has changed forever. Have I finally digitally come of age after half a century of blissful digital ignorance?? Is it a positive thing or not??

I invite you to join in a debate regarding this topic and please feel free to post a comment.
I feel that I am sometimes writing in a void with no feedback so your comments and opinions regarding the "Google-isation" of our lives would be very welcome.

Canis Lupus Italicus

One of the most interesting places I have been to is the Wolf Conservation Centre in the National Park of Abruzzo. There I saw many wolves roaming around in their natural habitat within a huge conservation area in the mountains. The Centre is run by "Il Bosso" Cooperative group and volunteers lead visitors on a three-hour guided tour around the parts where the wolves can be seen going about their daily business. Walking boots are strongly recommended! The guides are very enthusiastic and care deeply about the welfare of the wolves which are in danger of dying out. The guided tour is preceded by a very informative talk and multimedia exhibition of different types of wolves and the various cries they make. Not many visitors to Abruzzo know about this fantastic place. I say it's definitely worth a visit!

This is the entrance to the Wolf Centre.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Buon Natale

Happy Christmas to everyone viewing my blog today. Hope you have a lovely day!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Boaring news

The hunters are out again on this beautiful, sunny day. They are out looking for wild boar which roam around our parts very freely. I have yet to have a personal experience with any of these said creatures, but they obviously must be lurking about as otherwise so many hunters wouldn't be waiting all day (and night) for them. It is indeed a small world. There is a "wild boar"link between Abruzzo and Oxford, where I was born and grew up. Queen's College in Oxford has a tradition linked to the Boar's Head Feast.

Have a look if you wish at my hubby's blog posting "The Moon's such a Boar!". It adds another dimension to this topic.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Fairy tale Abruzzo village

This is a lovely view of Castel del Monte, a small village in Abruzzo. The picture was taken a while ago but I think it represents a lovely Christmas scene.
Picture taken by LLJB

Friday, 19 December 2008

Christmas stories

Edible Christmas card

I have just read a very interesting article in BBC News Uk website about a company based in Devon which has produced Christmas cards which can be eaten. The idea of an "eco card" is certainly a good one and it's definitely a way of making a difference to the environment!

Another seasonal article in the same site refers to a conifer tree shaped in the form of a Christmas plum pudding.

I love the innovative nature of the two quirky stories above as I feel they sum up characteristics which are quintessentially English , don't you think?

"Techie" Queen to air Christmas Message 2008 on Youtube

Have a look at this video from Youtube that I have just seen in Jeffrey Hill's excellent and very informative "The English Blog". The video's a spoof version of the Queen's annual Christmas speech and it's actually an advert for PG Tips, a very popular English brand of tea. The Queen is drinking a lot of sherry and you can see traditional mince pies on the table behind her.

The real Queen of England is apparently going to air her 2008 Christmas speech on Youtube for the first time ever. I take my hat off to her
! For an octogenerian, I admire her amazing dedication and willingness to keep up with the latest trends in modern technology - she is into podcasting and sends regular emails to friends and relatives. I feel in doing this, Queen Elizabeth will definitely reach out to a huge amount of people, especially youngsters, this year.

The information regarding the link to the Queen of England was taken from the "Woodlands Junior School's" fantastic website, full of amazing stuff all written by school children. It's an incredible source of information about Britain and its culture. I first read about this particular school in this article from the Daily Mail.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Odd Word Out

I had fun devising a little vocabulary quiz today. Some words are acronyms that have entered the English language recently, others are newish compound words, some are blend words and some abbreviations. A lot of them have a connection with technology. I have used Word Spy - Top Hundred as my source of information and also wikipedia.

From the list of words below find one which is different and ask yourself why is it different from the other three? Please note- I had to invent something which didn't fit so hopefully you will be able to work out which one differs. Please do post a comment if you feel some of the words are a bit ambiguous and I will modify as necessary!

1) facebook digg youtube

2) netizen netiquette nethead networker

3) avatar second life island blog

4) wikipedia nibipedia voki encyclopedia

5) ple cpd pln vle

6) recession-chic silver-surfer empty-nester helicopter-parent

7) nimby wag bogof imby

8) cyberchondriac cyberpet cyberbully cyberstalker

9) webzine ezine fanzine magazine

10) clog splog vlog flog

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Fun Craftwork in Pescara

The big DIY store in Pescara Sambuceto called Castorama runs free bricolage courses every Saturday and I have been attending the lessons for the past few weeks. Castorama is owned by the Kingfisher group which is based in England and also runs the UK DIY company B&Q. It's a small world! These courses are great fun and the teacher is extremely patient and kind. The heart box above was created today in the "decopatch" session. This is a blend word from "decoupage" + "patchwork". I had never done this before and I enjoyed following the very clear instructions and having enough time to put all the necessary pieces of fine paper over the heart-shaped box which I had chosen to cover.

Running such courses is a brilliant idea and they have been very popular and fully subscribed to. Today was the last session of 2008. I'm looking forward to participating in more courses in 2009. It's been a great way to practise my very rusty Italian and to meet some lovely new people as well.

Thank you my teacher Rossano!!

Friday, 12 December 2008

Christmas party at the Lake School of English, Oxford, via Skype to Abruzzo

Today I joined in the Christmas party that The Lake School of English, Oxford invited me to. It was an honour to attend from the wilds of Abruzzo and we were able to connect via Skype. I had the most fabulous time and it was wonderful to see and hear so many of my lovely colleagues and former students. I worked for the Lake School for over 20 years and it was a real wrench to leave them on June 12th this year when I moved to Italy to begin a new life. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make in my professional life to leave such a wonderful, permanent job, especially right in the midst of the "credit crunch", but coming to Abruzzo was also a fantastic opportunity to experience something completely different and I have no regrets. I am "living the dream" and my life is indeed a total "open book" at the moment!!

Today was the second time I had linked up with the school via Skype. The first occasion was when I was invited to attend an Academic Meeting in November and that was a great technological success. I do so miss the buzz of being with such a fantastic, dynamic, creative and friendly, warm bunch of directors and teachers and they were the happiest teaching times of my life, but the door has been kindly left open for me to teach in the future and I have been booked to do a Teacher Refresher Course in July 2009 and that should be great fun. The school runs courses for Primary school teachers as well. I love doing Teacher Refresher courses as they certainly keep me on my toes!! (Can you spot me in the picture with some of the teachers in the Lake School Home page?) If you are interested in one of the Teacher Refresher courses in 2009, please hurry and book soon as these courses are highly popular. If you would like to ask me any questions regarding the courses, I would be more than happy to answer. Just leave a message in a posting and I will get back to you as soon as I can. I can guarantee that you will have the time of your life at the school. I certainly did!!

At some stage soon, I am going to write a post specially about my happy times at the Lake School of English, Oxford. So keep your eye open for more details and information regarding one of the most formative and inspiring teaching years of my whole career.

If any of the Lake School directors (Susan, Carmel, Lilly), teachers, staff and students are reading this, I'd like to say thank you so much for today and have a very happy Christmas!! See you in 2009.xxxx

NB I am wearing a hat from a traditional English "Christmas cracker" and I have some red "tinsel" draped around me. I really enjoyed singing traditional Christmas carols today such as "Silent Night", "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and of course, the ever popular "Jingle Bells".

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

"Word Cloud" Abruzzo news update

This morning I was reading an interesting article in the local Abruzzo paper "Il Centro". Can you guess what it was about from the Word Cloud above?

I have written a short summary of the article in a previous posting re Abruzzo news. A big clue to the content is the word "centenarians". Good luck!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Xtranormal Slang Dialogue


Sadly this post is no longer current, as Xtranormal ceased to exist in 2013, so no videos are available. They are all lost! What a shame!!

New Words Quiz
I am fascinated by the new words which are entering the English language at such a fast rate. I only took "my eye off the ball" for a short while during the summer (to get down to composting, bricklaying, making a huge haystack, learning how to cook Italian dishes and many other gentle pursuits) for me to re-enter the world of teaching English only to come across such strange sounding words as "twitter" and "Plurk". What on earth did these words mean? Where did they come from? Who was using them? Did I need to know them? If yes, why did I need to know them? I asked myself these questions from a pedagogical point of view. Being of an inquisitive nature, of course I had to find out what these words meant.... If you are not sure of the meaning just press on the words. I have actually become a "Twitterer" and I have joined a Wiki for fellow Twitterers. Where it will lead me to will be an adventure!!

In the middle of writing this post I took a short break and I couldn't help looking at my sidebar and I saw the word "smeet" in Larry Ferlazzo's blog. This is a totally new word for me today and it's "hot off the press"!!! Larry Felazzo's site is excellent and I learn a lot from it.

A brilliant site for teachers and students to keep up to date with new words is One of my favourite words of all time is "bling" and this lesson click here is dedicated entirely to this word!

Another one of my favourite sites for keeping up with the meaning of new expressions which come into the English language is WordSpy  Recently I had to look up the following words as they were new for me and I thought it would be good to create a little quiz to test you! Have a go and see how you get on!

A "fakeaway" is
a) something which you know is fake but looks genuine
b) a homemade meal that is similar to a takeaway meal purchased from a restaurant
c) something not worth the price you have paid

" recession chic" is
a) style and elegance on a tight budget
b) living beyond one's means during a recession
c) trying to look chic but not succeeding

"adorkable" means
a) adorable and cuddly
b) delightful and charming in a sociably akward way
c) an adorable young lady from Dorking

Friday, 5 December 2008

Abruzzo news update

Italian Minister "hit" 36,000 times
This morning I went to the local village of Catignano to post my Xmas mail to the Uk and then stopped by for a nice Cappucino in a local bar. I was reading through "il Centro", the local Abruzzo paper when this article caught my eye. Mariastella Gelmini, the Italian Minister for Education, has set up a Youtube site at in order to create a "dialogue" between her and school pupils / university students to promote an exchange of ideas. Her reason for deciding to use Youtube was because "The Internet is what interests young people nowadays and they are more likely to pay attention to Youtube than any other form of communication." So far, 36,000 students have "hit" her site in a matter of hours since yesterday to voice their opinions! I find this is quite incredible and it is a good example of modern technology being utilised in a pro-active way.

Crucifix Furore
Another interesting story I read concerning the theme of Education is about a teacher in Terni, Abruzzo, who removed the Crucifix hanging up in the classroom during his History lesson. His students protested and went to complain to the headmaster. The Italian Ministry of Education is now looking into the matter.

Migrating Starlings
The photo below shows thousands of starlings travelling through our area on their way to hotter climes. They have recently landed in Rome and are causing havoc there with their eternal droppings. When I saw these birds flying past it was the most awesome sight as they were all flying in perfect formation.

Photo taken by KRB

"Word Cloud" article (10/12/08)
I read an article about a small village of only 2,000 inhabitants in the Abruzzo mountains called Civitella Casanova. There are 5 centenarians in this village and a lot of 80 and 90 year-olds. The secret to a long and happy life according to these elderly villagers is apart from food, water, love and air, the "aneto" (dill - herb) they put in their ravioli!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Picture Phrasr

Can you guess the idiom depicted by Kelly, Sofia and Isabella above?

I have just been looking through the archives of Learning Technology Teacher Development Blog and have come across "Phrasr" by PimPamPum, which was highlighted in the blog in February 2008. I decided to have a play and I wrote the answer to my question above. Please see this sentence. Did you guess the idiom? It looks like a fun site and great tool for exploiting the huge array of pictures available on flickr. Have a go at creating a picture sentence or paragraph yourself!