A little bird told me …

It is an idiomatic expression that means “someone told me, but I’m not telling you who it is”. This phrase is often used more comically than seriously, especially when the source of the information is obvious to both parties but neither is willing to say.

Various authors over the centuries, including Shakespeare, have made reference to birds, feathered or otherwise, giving messages. I have found an earlier version of this phrase: “A little bird has whispered a secret to me,” from 1833 on www.phrases.org.uk

Idioms are fixed combinations of words whose meaning is difficult to guess from the meaning of each individual word. For instance, If two people are birds of a feather, they are very similar in many ways, so they naturally spend time together and join together. That is not the same as the separate meanings of their individual words.

“Do not complain about your friends. Remember, birds of a feather flock together. Your friends are just like you.”  These are examples of idioms, they cannot be taken literally.

Sometimes we use the features and cliches based on birds as a short way of expressing a more complicated idea. For example if “the student learned about the birds and the bees in his health education class at school” is a way of saying that he or she has learned the facts about sex and birth and life, the facts of life.

Also idioms help to make English a more colourful language: “An early bird” is someone who arrives someplace early or starts something early

“I am an early bird and I like to arrive early at work every morning.” If you wake up and get to work early, you will succeed, in this case we can say the proverb: “The early bird catches the worm”

Similes are expressions which compare two things, they always include the words as or like. You can use similes to make a description more emphatic or vivid, e.g. “as free as a bird” completely free, carefree. “Eat like a bird” to eat very little. The opposite would be “Eat like a horse”, and if he eats very unpleasantly and greedily with no table manners he “eats like a pig”.

Idioms are used to catch the reader’s eye, particularly those with strong images, e.g.: “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. This expression means that it is better to have an advantage or opportunity that is certain than having one that is worth more but is not so certain. The ‘bird’ we already possess is far more valuable than the ‘two’ we could possibly get. In essence, don’t be greedy and a “bird brain”, stick with what good things you already have, instead of going after something you’ll probably never get.

The Teacher, a very interesting and intelligent person, not a “birdbrain”, introduces us to three idioms connected with birds:

  • Birdbrain.
  • To have a bird’s eye view. (a general view from above)
  • A little bird told me.

The phrase “to kill two birds with one stoneIdiom 68 Kill two birds with one stone 2I do use it by habit, but I catch myself every time I say it. The expression is rarely used literally, no one really goes around throwing stones at birds these days. Again, because these examples are idioms, they cannot be taken literally. The Oxford English Dictionary describes the usage as a proverbial phrase meaning “to accomplish two different purposes by the same act or proceeding.” Or in other words: “to use only one action to complete two tasks”.

And this is what I hope I have done with this post, learn about idioms and expressions and about bird features.

Another video about birds idioms by  JamesESL English Lessons (engVid)

To learn more about Bird Idioms:

About idioms in general:

 

 

Making Music Matters

The Chinese philosopher Confucius said long ago that “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.”  Learning to play a musical instrument is great for developing brains. Playing a musical instrument has many benefits and can bring pleasure to those around them.

Quotefancy-28004-3840x2160.jpg

More qualitative benefits than only listening to music. Passively listening to Mozart, or indeed any other music you enjoy, does not make you smarter. The so-called “Mozart effect” is  now a debunked myth: just listening to certain types of music does not improve intelligence, like you’re not going to become physically fit just by watching sports. It’s important to engage with the music in order to reap the benefits and see changes in your learning. Because it is only through the active generation and manipulation of sound that music can rewire the brain.

Moreover, people with little or no musical training, who represent the vast majority of the listening audience, perceive music in a totally different way than the actual musicians who play or create the music. Each person who hears music is influenced by his or her own individual personality, knowledge, and life experiences that have molded their minds.

This short animation from TED-Ed, written by Anita Collins and animated by Sharon Colman Graham, explains why playing music benefits the brain more than any other activity.


Extract from the video:

When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout

Playing a musical instrument engages practically every area of the brain at once, especially the visual, auditory, and motor cortices. As with any other workout, disciplined, structured practice in playing music strengthens those brains functions, allowing us to apply that strengh to other activities.

The most obvious difference between listening to music and playing it is that the latter requires fine motor skills, which are controlled in both hemispheres of the brain. It also combines the linguistic and mathematical precision, in which the left hemisphere is more involved, with the novel and creative content that the right excels in.

– See more at: 

Benefits-playing-an-instrument MerceCardus

Anita Collins Music.com/films/

The Two Sides of Music

This Is How Music Can Change Your Brain – TIME

Mozart doesn’t make you clever – NATURE

English is Fun with Sitcoms

English teachers have been using videos in the classroom for decades and, more recently online video clips from Youtube. A situation comedy, often shortened to sitcom, is a genre of comedy that features characters sharing the same common environment, such as a home or workplace, with often humorous dialogue. Such programs originated in radio, but today, sitcoms are found mostly on television. Sitcoms are an excellent classroom resource for a number of reasons:

  • Watching TV shows and films in English is a wonderful way of improving your listening skills and pronunciation.
  • Sitcoms provide us with authentic English in all its guises. The situations that the “sit” refers to are often situations that are universal.
  • Sitcoms are full of cultural references.
  • Students love watching videos that reflect Britishness. They like to see how British people live, what they eat, how they spend their free time. They love seeing typical British homes and institutions, British countryside and British weather. Our students like to confirm their perceptions of British stereotypes and they like to be surprised by aspects of British culture that they didn’t know about before.
  • Sitcoms are funny and everybody enjoys laughing. Watching a humorous video clip in class can be rewarding for students and helps to create a positive classroom atmosphere. After all, English is fun especially through films and TV shows.

One of my favourite TV Shows is Friends. I’m sure many of you have heard of and watched the American sitcom. It ran in the US from 1994 until 2004. My favourite characters was Joey Tribbiani played by Matt Le Blanc. He always played the slightly stupid guy, but he also had some fabulous sketches. Here is one of my favourites:

In this sketch, Joey (a native English speaker) follows a beautiful woman into a beginner’s ESL class (English as a Second Language), and tells the teacher he is in the right place. Trying to impress the girl, he competes with beginning English learners to prove that his English is the best. Enjoy!
Funny! Basil gives Manuel a language lesson – Fawlty Towers – BBC. Basil and Manuel have a conversation about how to dress the breakfast trays. 

Go to http://uktv.co.uk/gold/homepage/sid/5527 and click on a sitcom

For a comprehensive list of UK sitcoms go to http://www.sitcom.co.uk/list_top.shtml

What is “Fawlty Towers: The sitcom”?

Extract from: English is Fun Especially with Friends

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/articles/sitcoms-a-tool-elt

 

Educate, engage and inspire your students with video!

YouTube’s educational section, YouTube EDU, is a valuable resource for schools. Now, It’s launching YouTube for Schools, an easy way for schools to access educational videos while restricting access to other content. YouTube for Schools is:

  • Comprehensive: Access over 500,000 free videos from over 700 YouTube EDU partners. These partners range from well-known educational organizations like StanfordTED and PBS to up-and-coming YouTube partners with millions of views, like Khan AcademySteve Spangler Science, andNumberphile.
  • School-appropriate: Students can only access YouTube EDU videos. Related videos and comments are disabled.
  • Customizable: Administrators and teachers can log-in and get full access to YouTube. They can also add videos that will be viewable only within your school’s network.
Visit YouTube.com/Schools today!

YouTube for Schools: Join the Global Classroom Today!

Youtube para centros educativos

Youtube es el portal de mayor difusión de vídeos de breve duración, de gran popularidad a nivel general y de utilidad en el aula tras la selección previa por parte del docente.

Desde hace unos meses, el propio servicio ofrece una sección para centros educativos, http://www.youtube.com/schools, por la que se accede a miles de vídeos educativos de canales diseñados al efecto para diversas materias, como PBS, TED o Khan Academy, en un entorno en el que los contenidos son controlados en todo momento por el profesor. De esta forma, se pueden evitar vídeos inapropiados y centrar las búsquedas.

Youtube cuenta también con un canal específico para profesores: http://www.youtube.com/teachers, que presenta las ventajas del uso de vídeos en las diferentes asignaturas y ofrece la consulta y creación de listas de reproducción por parte de profesores y alumnos. Está organizado en cuatro áreas de conocimiento para varios niveles educativos, si bien la búsqueda de contenidos por materias se puede vehicular de forma más extensiva a través de http://www.youtube.com/education.  Este canal de educación abarca diversos ámbitos académicos, distribuidos en enseñanza primaria y secundaria, nivel universitario y formación continua, así como en disciplinas específicas. Asimismo, se pueden consultar variados vídeos relativos a metodología didáctica a través del canal http://www.youtube.com/teachingchannel. Otra herramienta para la selección de vídeos, que contiene mayoritariamente grabaciones de Youtube aunque también de otras fuentes, es http://www.watchknowlearn.org. A través de este portal se accede a gran cantidad de vídeos exclusivamente educativos que están clasificados en un directorio temático muy práctico. Así, para la enseñanza de lenguas extranjeras, el profesor puede escoger entre varios idiomas y, a continuación, explorar las diversas categorías de estudio: vídeos de conversación, lecciones de gramática, dibujos para niños o canciones, entre otras. En la elección de vídeos de Youtube cuentan los tiempos, ya que una duración más breve puede facilitar la explicación y el debate en clase, así como la realización de más actividades complementarias en el laboratorio de idiomas. Las ventajas para los alumnos no son solo de tipo motivacional, dado que están acostumbrados a consultar todo tipo de contenido audiovisual; está demostrado que una correcta secuenciación de este material favorece el estudio de la asignatura. En efecto, el trabajo con vídeos educativos suele generar un mayor compromiso del alumno con los contenidos de la materia, así como un aprendizaje más exhaustivo y duradero.

http://www.youtube.com/teachers

http://www.youtube.com/schools

http://www.watchknowlearn.org/