lunes, 9 de diciembre de 2013


NELSON MANDELA ( MADIBA)  18-7-1918 / 5-12-2013

People around the world are deeply shocked by the sad news that a man of dignity and honesty has passed away at he age of 95.  

As a lawyer, politician and social activist, he struggled against apartheid in South Africa, Nelson Mandela saw and experienced injustice and tried to make a difference.
During his 1964 trial, where he was referred to as “The First Accused"  he told the Court about the strength of his convictions:

"During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

He stayed in prison in Robben Island for 27 years with the number 46664. Released in 1990, he served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999 and got the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
William Ernest Henley (1849-1903), the author of "Invictus" - a poem which sustained Nelson Mandela  through his decades of imprisonment - was himself no stranger to life’s difficulties as he had serious illnesses. 

Invictus : Read and listen the poem which inspired a leader, a nation and a film.


Complete: " I'm the ________ of my ________, I'm the _________ of my ________"


Invictus is also the title of a famous film directed by Clint Eastwood in 2009, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon and  based on the book " Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation" by John Carlin. The poem plays an important part in this film too.

The film shows the events in South Africa before and during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, which was hosted in that country following the dismantling of apartheid. Freeman and Damon play, respectively, South African President Nelson Mandela and François Pienaar, the captain of the South Africa rugby union team, the Springboks. 
It describes the founding of a new nation ("One team, one nation" was the slogan) which joined afrikaaners (white people) and black people and the start of a lasting friendship. 

“Look around you,” he told his weary troops.  “See those flags?  Play for those people.  This is one chance.  We have to do this for South Africa.  Let’s be world champions.  (Carlin, page 237.) Pienaar to his conrades in the team.

I was with Nelson Mandela for five years, the whole of his presidency, and I never saw him happier.  He was so thrilled, so ecstatic.  When the final whistle blew the whole suite erupted.  If people think we bodyguards are robots, well, they should have seen us when the final whistle went.  We too were hugging, and some of us were crying. (Carlin, page 239.) Linga Moonsami

Watch the trailer of the film
Watch Mandela's speech in the film

After reading about Mandela and watching the videos, do the following activities


Answer the following questions

  1.       How old was he when he died?
    2.   When was his trial?
    3.   Write three Present perfect verbs in his speech at his trial
    4.   What is the name of the prison he stayed at?
    5.   How many years was he in prison?
    6.   When did he get the Nobel Peace Prize?

    Complete the sentences
    1.   ___________________ was the author of the famous poem.
    2.   ______________ and ________________ were the leading actors in the film and __________________ was the director.
    3.   The film was based on the book _________________ and its author was _________________
    4.   The sport championship shown in the film is ______________________________
    5.   _______________ was the name of the African team and they fought against a team from ___________________

Nelson Mandela: The Pursuit of Unity : video of his speech at the USA Congress on getting the Congressional Gold Medal



viernes, 22 de noviembre de 2013


John Fitzgerald Kennedy ( 1917-1963) 

" ....And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."

These were the famous words John Fitzgerald Kennedy pronunced during his inaugural address on  January 20, 1961 as 35th President of the USA.
Almost three years later he was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswall in a visit to Dallas.  

Follow the links to know more about it. 
Inaugural speech
His assassination 

J F Kennedy was a popular President in USA and all over the world but his term of office was full of lights and shadows like the Cuban missile crisis,  Bay of Pigs Invasion , start of Vietnam War and others. 
Coming from a family with political ambitions (with Irish ancestors, his father and some of his brothers were also politicians), he was a democrat Congressman and Senator. 
His family life ( married to Jacqueline Bouvier)  was a model for families in USA at the time. 
All women followed the First Lady's fashion. There were programmes devoted to her and their family on TV. Jackie even opened the White House to the public.

  His death was a shock all over the world, he was buried at Arlington Cemetery
 (Washington)  where there is an eternal flame burning. His wife and two children are buried right beside him. 

There was a controversy over his assassination. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested and shot by Jack Ruby shortly afterwards. Some thought it had been a conspiracy and others that there was a second or third gunman. We'll never know. 

Lots of documentaries, films and books have been shot or written about the President and his death. It is said that the song " The sounds of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel was composed to show the feelings after JFK's death. 

If you want to know more about it, do some research and answer the following questions: 

1. What was the President's academic and military background? 
2. How old was he when he became President?
3. What other people in his family were politicians?
4. Kennedy was a great defender of the civil rights movement, What did he do? 
5. There were lots of new projects during his Presidency, one of them was related to space? What did he do? 
6. He won an important prize for writing? Which? What did he write?  
7. There were many tragedies in JFK life, which ones? 
8. In spite of having an idilic family life, he had a double life. What kind of relationships did he have?
9.  Who became President after Kennedy's death?
10. Who is the only surviving child of JFK? What does he/ she do?  

Follow the anniversary in the Press: The Guardian 

lunes, 4 de noviembre de 2013



November 5th marks the anniversary of the famous Gunpowder Plot when Guy Fawkes and his catholic conspirators attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London in 1605. The protestant King James I, who had survived the attempt on his life, celebrated it with fireworks.  From that night on, Bonfire Night is celebrated throughout Britain on the evening of the 5th of November with firework displays, It's a special celebration that includes setting bonfires burning effigies of Guy Fawkes or eating special treats such as "Bonfire tofee", jacked potatoes, ginger bread, soups, toffee apples etc.

  To prepare recipes : Bonfire night food 

There are lots of films following this topic, one of the most famous is " V for Vendetta"  is a worth watching film whose trailer you can see here. 

Discuss the following questions:

  • Which festivals in your country remember historical events?
  • Do you have any festivals that are similar to Bonfire Night in your country?
  • When do you have firework displays in your country?
  • Do you think you would like Bonfire Night? Why/ why not?
  • Do you think festivals are a good way to remember historical events?  

 If you feel like it, you can sing what Kids in Britain sing that night: Bonfire Rhyme  

                                        “Remember, remember the fifth of November”
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, guy, t’was his intent
To blow up king and parliament.
Three score barrels were laid below
To prove old England’s overthrow.
By God’s mercy he was catch’d
With a darkened lantern and burning match.
So, holler boys, holler boys, Let the bells ring.
Holler boys, holler boys, God save the king.
And what shall we do with him?
Burn him!


Work in pairs, A and B. You are going to each read a text about the history of Bonfire Night. Ask your partner questions to find the missing information. 

jueves, 31 de octubre de 2013

Halloween is here again


Are you tired of trick or treating? Can't you find an ideal costume for your Halloween party? 
Have you had so much candy? 
We have explained much information about it, we've sung "This is Halloween" lots of times, done lots of crosswords in our classes. 
So, If you want to see different things click on the following

Halloween Trivia
Halloween trivia 2
Idioms with a Halloween theme
Spooky Quotes from Literature
Spooky webquest

And finally, if you feel like becoming a witch or wizard and use a magic cauldron and a magic spell, here it is.

“Bubble, blubber, squirm and gloop,
Boiling broth of bat’s tail soup.
Wobble, slobber, liquid goo,
Add the sole of one old shoe.
Spooky shadows dance around,
Of frogs and rats and snarling hounds.
Steam swirls rising to the roof,
Add one small ear and one old tooth.
Gnarly, scratchy, tickle and itch,
Stir round and round to make it rich.
Mushy, sticky, sizzle and stew,
They’re making mischief just for you”

By Gareth Lancaster

jueves, 5 de septiembre de 2013

Martin Luther King: 50th anniversary " I Have a Dream"

Martin Luther King was one of the most famous activists for civil rights. He raised his voice in the 1950s to fight for social equality and peace with nonviolence and civil disobedience.
He was assassinated in 1968 by James Earl Ray on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee

If you want to know more about his biography, click on this link by the BBC

In August 1963 after leading a peaceful march, he gave one of the most outstanding speeches in history, known as "I have a dream" right in the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC in front of a crowd of 250,000 demonstrators. He and other leaders then met with President John F. Kennedy. They asked for many things including an end to segregation in public schools, greater protections for African-Americans, and more effective civil rights legislation.

M L King was honored as the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. He was awarded this on December 10, 1964 at the age of thirty-five. He gave the entire amount of the prize money to help the Civil Rights movement.

He didn't live to see that  all his fight for civil rights for black people was successful. In 2009 Barack Obama, the first black President, was elected.
On August 28th, 2013 the 50th anniversary of the famous speech was commemorated and Obama wanted to pay tribute to him with King's family and former Presidents in the same place.

Read the full speech here


In USA legislation was signed in 1983 creating a federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service  taking place each year on the third Monday in January.
Read more about it

Martin Luther king's speech and his whole life have had a big influence on people.