Monday, 19 December 2016

An American New Year's Eve

While Christmas is around the corner, New Year's Eve is also a special night coming up! New Year's Eve is the last night of the year and ushers in the new year. Like in Spain, Americans have traditions that they closely follow.

In New York City, thousands of people gather in Times Square to watch a crystal ball drop at midnight. Even if you aren't in the Big Apple, millions of Americans tune into the event on their televisions.

This is crystal ball!

This is Times Square when the clock strikes midnight. The streets are packed and fireworks surround the square. 

After midnight, Americans sing the song Auld Lang Syne, which is an old Scottish song that has become an integral part of American culture. 

On New Year's Eve, most families attend parties with other family members and friends. They are out until very early in the morning! 

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Holidays Far and Wide: A New Mexican Christmas

As all of you may know, the United States is a huge country with various cultures and traditions. New Mexico, where I am from, is among one of the most unique states because we have specific Christmas traditions that are not seen anywhere else.

New Mexican Christmases are a mixture of Hispanic, Native American and American-European customs. 

New Mexicans decorate their houses and streets with luminarias, which are lanterns that are created with placing candles in scoops (piles) of sand in paper bags. Luminarias are traditionally from Mexico. 

In addition to decorating homes, city governments and businesses decorate public spaces, such as parks, shopping districts and churches. Luminarias are lit for a few weeks in December, so families walk around at night to enjoy them. 

From Christmas Day (December 25th) until New Years Day (January 1st), many people watch Native American dances. There are dozens of different Native American tribes in New Mexico and each has their own distinct culture.

The following link are pictures from the Matachine Dances at Ohkay Owingeh, which is also known as San Juan Pueblo (like here)! These dances are held on Christmas day.

Christmases in the United States are very different. It's not green pine trees and Santa Claus for everyone!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Unique Thanksgiving Foods

While Thanksgiving is a traditional holiday in the United States, people are crafting alternative foods.

Among some of the strangest, a handful of residents from Louisiana (a Southern state that borders Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico) make Coke Salad. The bundt-like cake is made of cherries, crushed pineapple, cream cheese, milk, cherry Jell-O, coca-cola, and chopped pecans.

coke salad

In 2004, Jones Soda Company released a series of Thanksgiving-themed sodas--Green Bean Casserole Soda, Mashed Potato and Butter Soda, Cranberry Soda, and Turkey & Gravy Soda. None of these are my cup of team, or they don't suit my tastes.

Turkey & Gravy Soda et al.

In Idaho, a Western state straddled between Washington and Montana, a small sushi restaurant has crafted a popular sushi roll. At Bonsai Bistro, chefs reuse leftover Thanksgiving food to make the "Left Over Roll," which is comprised of smoked turkey breast, stuffing, dried cranberries, green beans, cream cheese, tempura, cranberry wasabi, red wine soy demi-glace.

The Left Over Roll

Thanksgiving is generally a very traditional holiday, but more and more Americans are experimenting with different types of food. Because American families come from all over the world and have unique backgrounds, we are always willing to try something different!

Monday, 21 November 2016

Thanksgiving Food

In the United States, Thanksgiving is a popular holiday at the end of November. It is a day where people are thankful for everything they have. For example, people can express thanks for their family, friends, and pets.

Thanksgiving entails a big, traditional feast with family and friends. There are several types of typical foods:

Turkey with stuffing and gravy: Generally, turkey is roasted in an oven with stuffing inside. Stuffing is a mixture of bread, carrots, celery, onions, and butter. Gravy is made from the remaining liquids of the roasted turkey. When the turkey is done, gravy is drizzled over the turkey to make it more tender.

Mashed potatoes: Mashed potatoes are, literally, mashed potatoes. You usually add milk, butter, and other spices.

Cranberry Sauce: Cranberries are mixed, or pureed, with sugar. It is eaten with the turkey.

Dinner rolls

Pecan pie: This is one of my favorite dishes! Pecan pie is made of pecans (a type of nut), sugar, flour, milk, butter, eggs, and many other ingredients.


1. What do Americans do on Thanksgiving?
2. What is stuffing made of?
3. What does "mashed" mean?
4. What is my favorite Thanksgiving dish?

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Fun Halloween Costumes

As some of you may know, Halloween is on October 31st. It is a time for people, all ages alike, to dress as someone else for the night. Although there are typical costumes that people wear, a greater number of people are becoming more creative.

These kids dressed up a washer and dryer, which are very popular in the United States.

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Image result for creative halloween costumes

This girl dressed up as a Roy Lichtenstein cartoon character. Lichtenstein is a famous American pop art artist.

Image result for creative halloween costumes

This boy dressed up as a pennie, which is worth 1 cents in the United States. It has Abraham Lincoln on the front!

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She dressed up a Starbucks coffee drink! Starbucks is very popular in the United States. Particularly, frappucinos, which are made of coffee, milk, and whipped cream.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

About me!


My name is Rachel. I am American. I am from New Mexico, which is a state in the southwest. However, I grew up in many different countries for most of my life.

I lived in Baku, Azerbaijan for two years.

After that, I was in Cairo, Egypt.

From the middle of eighth grade to junior year of high school, I lived in Ankara, Turkey.

Finally, for my last year of high school, I lived in Quito, Ecuador. That's where I started to learn Spanish!

After I graduated from high school, I studied at Macalester College for four years. This small liberal arts college is located in St. Paul, Minnesota. It is home to several famous sports teams -- the Twins (baseball), the Vikings (American football), the Timberwolves (mens' basketball), and the Lynx (womens' basketball).

In college, I studied political science and legal studies. I have always been interested in becoming a civil rights lawyer or being a politician. I care about helping others and I believe that either of these professions strive for those goals.

After I graduated from college, I didn't know what I wanted to do. All I knew is that I was interested in returning to Spain (for the fourth time!), learning more Spanish, and learning more about education. As a result, I applied to be an auxiliar de conversación!

Now, I live in Huelva. It's very nice here!

Note: Although Americans attend universities, it is more common to say "college" instead of "university."

Comprehension Questions:

1. What are the four countries that I grew up in?
2. What did I study in college?
3.  Why did I return to Spain? How many times have I been in Spain?

Monday, 30 May 2016

Solar Energy

Hi there! This is my last post before I finish my time at San Juan Del Puerto and return to my home country, England. Before I post my last activity, I would like to take a moment to thank the Staff and the Students for making me feel so welcome here in San Juan! It has been a pleasure to come in to school on a daily basis and help out the staff as an assistant as well as work with the students helping them out with their English. My own Spanish has improved so I have also learnt a lot from both the staff and students. Here is the last activity I will post. It is a reading exercise complete with questions on Solar Energy. Please read the text slowly and answer as many questions at the end as possible. Thank you very much, I hope you have all enjoyed my time here as I have. Thanks again and I will miss you all! 

Solar energy
The Sun is a renewable energy resource. As long as it exists and continues to shine, it will release energy.
Solar cells

solar cell is a device that converts light energy directly into electrical energy. Some pocket calculators use solar cells, and you may have seen large panels of solar cells on house roofs.

Solar panels on the roof of a modern house
You may have seen solar cells powering road signs in remote areas. Very large arrays are used to power satellites in orbit around Earth.
Solar heating
Do not confuse solar cells with solar panels, which use energy from the Sun to heat up water. These may also be put onto house roofs so that they can absorb the Sun’s energy.
·         Solar energy is a renewable energy resource.
·         There are no fuel costs and no harmful polluting gases are produced.
·         Solar cells can provide electricity in remote locations where there is no mains electricity.
·         Solar cells are expensive and inefficient, so the cost of their electricity is high.
·         Solar cells do not work at night and not as well when it is cloudy.

1.       Solar energy is energy that comes from what?
2.       What is a solar cell and where can you find them?
3.       What is a solar panel and why is it different to a solar cell?
4.       Name 2 advantages and 2 disadvantages of solar energy.
5.       Complete the following sentence:

You may have seen solar cells …………. road signs in remote areas. Very large arrays are used to power ………….  in orbit around Earth.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Geothermal Energy.

Over the past few months I have been setting simple activities for my students in my Science lessons. We have been covering the different types of energy and where they come from, so I have put together a simple text in English on each energy type, and setting 5 simple questions based on the text. Please feel free to have a go, and see how many question you can get correctly and how much of the text you can understand and therefore learn about Energy! The first one I will post, will be on Geothermal Energy. Good luck! 

Geothermal energy
You should be able to outline how electricity is generated from geothermal energy.
Volcanic areas
Several types of rock contain radioactive substances such as uranium. Radioactive decay of these substances releases heat energy, which warms up the rocks. In volcanic areas, the rocks may heat water so that it rises to the surface naturally as hot water and steam. Here the steam can be used to drive turbines and electricity generators. This type of geothermal power station exists in places such as Iceland, California and Italy.
Hot rocks
In some places, the rocks are hot, but no hot water or steam rises to the surface. In this situation, deep wells can be drilled down to the hot rocks and cold water pumped down. The water runs through fractures in the rocks and is heated up. It returns to the surface as hot water and steam, where its energy can be used to drive turbines and electricity generators. The diagram below shows how this works.

Credit level:
Geothermal energy is a renewable energy resource and there are no fuel costs. No harmful polluting gases are produced.

Most parts of the world do not have suitable areas where geothermal energy can be exploited.
1: What countries can you find Geothermal Power stations?

2: What do these countries have in common?

3: How do geothermal power stations collect hot water, when the hot water does not rise to the surface?

4: What are the advantages and disadvantages of Geothermal energy?

5: Fill in the missing words:
In volcanic areas, the rocks may heat water so that it rises to the surface naturally as …… water and …... Here the steam can be used to drive ………. and electricity generators. This type of ………. power station exists in places such as ……….., California and Italy.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Music around the world!

Welcome back! The past week in Music, we have been looking at Music around the world!
This has included looking at the origins of music, when it music began, where it came from, as well as how the origins of music has shaped our music today. We will also look at the different genres of music and see where they may have originated from. 
Thanks, and please enjoy the presentation! Keep coming back for more!

Music around the World!

Origins of music!
Music is found in EVERY known culture, past and present!

All people across the world have their own form of music, even the most isolated tribes have their own form of music.
It is said that music may have been present during our ancestral population before humans dispersed across the world.

Music is therefore said to have existed 55,000 years ago, was invented in AFRICA and since has become a fundamental part of human life.

Musical Culture!
A culture’s music is influenced by ALL other aspects of that culture, including social and economic organisation, experience, climate and access to technology.

The emotions and ideas that music expresses, the situation it is played in and listened to, and attitudes toward musicians all vary between regions and periods.

African music!
Sub-Saharan African music is characterised by a strong rhythmic interest, which is a common characteristic in all regions of Sub-Sahara.
West African rhythmic techniques that have migrated across the Atlantic have become very important to the various music styles of the Americas: Samba, Forro, Maracatu and Coco in Brazil, Afro-Cuban music and Afro-American musical genres such as blues, jazz, R&B, funk, soul, reggae, hip-hop and rock n roll.

Therefore African music has had enormous impact on 20th century music around the world.

Indian music!
Indian music is one of the oldest musical traditions in the world!
Traditional Indian music incudes sculptures which show ancient dances as well as ancient instruments, such as the 7 holed flute, and various string and drum instruments.
India’s classical music tradition still remains important to the lives of Indians as a source of religious inspiration, cultural expression and entertainment.
The classical music of India includes two major traditions: the southern Carnatic music and the northern Hindustani classical music.

Carnatic music, emphasises love and other social issues, whilst Hindustani music influenced by ancient Hindu musical traditions. 

Chinese music!
Chinese classical music is the traditional art of China!
It has a long history, stretching back to more than 3,000 years!
Chinese music has its own unique systems of musical notation, as well as musical tuning and pitch, musical instruments and musical genres.
Chinese music has a scale of 12 notes to an octave, and has influenced European music.

Kouji is a Chinese vocal mimicry performance art which uses human speech organs to mimic every day sounds of life, and is commonly used to perform sounds of animals. 

Now, let’s listen to some African influenced music!
Here is some rhythmic African tribal music-
Here is some samba music. Can you notice any similarities to the previous video?
Now lets listen to some African American music genres. Can you notice any similarities between the videos on this page?
How about listening to some soul/blues..

Now, let’s listen to some Indian influenced music!  Here is some traditional Indian instrumental music. Have a listen and see if you can notice the different instruments and the rhythm. Here is some more modern Indian music. Can you hear the traditional instruments being used, and notice how the beat has changed slightly.

Now, let’s listen to some Chinese influenced music! Here is some traditional Chinese instrumental music. Can you notice how the rhythm is slightly different to African and Indian music. What instruments can you here? Here is some traditional Kouji. This is people making animal noises using their voices.