Sunday, February 27, 2011


Labor Students and/or Mac users,

What kind of consumers are you? What factors do you consider when you buy something? Are you a fashion victim? Read this advertisement carefully (click on the image to enlarge and/or read the full story here) and look for the irony in it. Don't you know what 'irony' means? This is the definition:

The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning and a literary style employing deliberate contrasts between apparent and intended meaning for humorous or rhetorical effect

No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non commercial purposes only.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Labor Students,

As all of you should know by now, no form of violence is allowed at Labor School, whether it is physical, verbal, mental, digital, financial, theft, vandalism or any other possible kind of abuse.

It is everybody's task to stop violence. Sometimes violence is right in front of us and we are not able to see it. If you don't agree, watch the opening credits for the Dexter series and you will understand what we mean: In this seemingly innocuous trailer you will find violence in its purest form.

No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non-commercial purposes only.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Penalty for Being Late

Labor Students,

At Labor School you are expected to:

  • Arrive on time
  • Take off your coat
  • Come prepared to learn
  • Bring all the correct equipment
  • Do exactly as the teacher asks of you first time
  • Respect others and their property
  • Put up your hand to ask and answer questions

The aim of these and other rules is to prepare you for real, professional life. Punctuality, for example, is very important at work, especially when you do not work alone, as in a school. If you do not agree with us that these rules are important, read the following piece of news from a golf tournament and the serious direct and indirect consequences the late player had to face:

Dustin Johnson was involved in a Rules infraction in the first round of the PGA Northern Trust Open in California. Johnson was in the middle of his warm-up routine on the range, thinking that he had 30 minutes before his tee-off time, when a PGA Tour official ran over to tell him he was supposed to be on the first tee, located up a 100-foot slope next to the historic clubhouse. He ran up the hill, arriving 4 minutes and fifty seconds after his official tee time of 7.32 am.

Rule 6-1 states;
The player must start at the time established by the Committee.
Penalty for Breach of Rule 6-3: Disqualification.
However, there is a Note to this Rule;
The Committee may provide, in the conditions of a competition (Rule 33-1), that if the player arrives at his starting point, ready to play, within five minutes after his starting time, in the absence of circumstances that warrant waiving the penalty of disqualification as provided in Rule 33-7, the penalty for failure to start on time is loss of the first hole in match play or two strokes at the first hole in stroke play instead of disqualification.
Apparently, the PGA Tour invokes this Condition of Competition and so Johnson was only penalised two strokes, turning his par 5 for the first hole to a double bogey 7. He then went on to bogey the second hole and double bogey the 4th, demonstrating what many of us have experienced ourselves, that it doesn’t help your game when you rush on to the first tee. It later transpired that Johnson routinely leaves his starting times to his caddy, Bobby Brown, who did take total blame for the mix-up that led to the penalty.

It is easy to criticise Dustin Johnson, a high-profile career golfer, for being late on the first tee; I am sure that not all the professionals leave it to their caddies to get them there on time. However, perhaps we can benefit by scrutinising our own habits in this regard. There are many good reasons to arrive at the course well in advance of your tee time and disqualification from the competition is just one of them. Apart from the fact that we are more likely to find our A-game if we do some stretches, practice putting and swinging, read the Local Rules and arrive on the first tee in a relaxed state, we also owe it to our fellow competitors not to delay their game in any way.

At LEZ we are sure that there are a few lessons to be learnt from learn Dustin Johnson's experience.

No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non-commercial purposes only.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Feature at LEZ: Podcasts


Labor Students,
As of Thursday 4th February you can subscribe to our podcast and/or download in an MP3 format the files for every article we have posted on Labor English Zone. 
Just click on the icon on the right-hand column, under the "Search this blog" window, and you will find a list of all the posts ready to listen, download, link or stream. And note that the text content is embedded into the audio file and can be viewed through the lyrics option of your iPod and on some other mp3 players:

Or you can listen to a post while you are reading it simply by clicking on the icon at the beginning of each article:

Go to our Podcast Page and click "subscribe" so you can listen to our content on the go on your iPod, MP3 player or mobile phone. It is great listening & speaking practise. You'll love it!
No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non-commercial purposes only.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Do you tell lies?

ESO Students,

Do you tell any lies? Don't be afraid the tell the truth. We all do. It is a common human characteristic. In fact, it is  one essential feature of intelligence.We could even state that lying is one of the characteristics which makes us, humans, the 'superior' species ruling the Earth... although first we would have to define 'superior' and consider seriously if the Earth is actually 'ruled' by humans. And if you take a few moments to think about it, how successful would present social networks (Tuenti, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) be if we did not have the faculty to lie?

Take a look at the image below and tick how many of these lies you hear around you.

No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non-commercial purposes only.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Linguistic Genius of Babies

Patricia Kuhl explains how we learn language as babies, looking at the ways our brains form around language acquisition. She shares amazing information about how babies learn one language over another: by listening to the  humans around them and "taking statistics" on the sounds they need to know. Laboratory experiments show how 6-month-old babies use sophisticated reasoning to understand their world.

Patricia Kuhl is co-director of the Institute for Brain and Learning Sciences at the University of Washington. She's internationally recognized for her research on early language and brain development, and studies that show how young children learn. Kuhl’s work has played a major role in demonstrating how early exposure to language alters the brain. It has implications for critical periods in development, for bilingual education and reading readiness, for developmental disabilities involving language, and for research on computer understanding of speech.

And now watch Mrs Kuhl's video. She speaks very clearly, but if you can't understand her fully, click on the "View subtitles" button just under the screen and choose the subtitles language and/or read the transcript below.

This is the video transcript:

I want you to take a look at this baby. What you're drawn to are her eyes and the skin you love to touch. But today I'm going to talk to you about something you can't see, what's going on up in that little brain of hers. The modern tools of neuroscience are demonstrating to us that what's going on up there is nothing short of rocket science. And what we're learning is going to shed some light on what the romantic writers and poetsdescribed as the "celestial openness" of the child's mind.
What we see here is a mother in India, and she's speaking Koro, which is a newly-discovered language. And she's talking to her baby. What this mother -- and the 800 people who speak Koro in the world -- understand that, to preserve this language, they need to speak it to the babies. And therein lies a critical puzzle. Why is it that you can't preserve a language by speaking to you and I, to the adults? Well, it's got to do with your brain. What we see here is that language has a critical period for learning. The way to read this slide is to look at your age on the horizontal axis. (Laughter) And you'll see on the vertical your skill at acquiring a second language. Babies and children are geniuses until they turn seven, and then there's a systematic decline. After puberty, we fall off the map. No scientists dispute this curve, but laboratories all over the world are trying to figure out why it works this way.
Work in my lab is focused on the first critical period in development -- and that is the period in whichbabies try to master which sounds are used in their language. We think by studying how the sounds are learned, we'll have a model for the rest of language, and perhaps for critical periods that may exist in childhood for social, emotional and cognitive development. So we've been studying the babies using a technique that we're using all over the world and the sounds of all languages. The baby sits on a parent's lap, and we train them to turn their heads when a sound changes -- like from "ah" to "ee". If they do so at the appropriate time, the black box lights up and a panda bear pounds a drum. A six-monther adores the task.
What have we learned? Well, babies all over the world are what I like to describe as citizens of the world; they can discriminate all the sounds of all languages, no matter what country we're testing and what language we're using. And that's remarkable because you and I can't do that. We're culture-bound listeners. We can discriminate the sounds of our own language, but not those of foreign languages. So the question arises, when do those citizens of the world turn into the language-bound listeners that we are? And the answer: before their first birthdays. What you see here is performance on that head turn task for babies tested in Tokyo and the United States, here in Seattle, as they listened to "ra" and "la" --sounds important to English, but not to Japanese.So at six to eight months the babies are totally equivalent. Two months later something incredible occurs. The babies in the United States are getting a lot better, babies in Japan are getting a lot worse, but both of those groups of babies are preparing for exactly the language that they are going to learn.
So the question is, what's happening during this critical two-month period? This is the period for sound development, but what's going on up there? So there are two things going on. The first is that the babies are listening intently to us, and they're taking statistics as they listen to us talk -- they're taking statistics. So listen to two mothers speaking motherese -- the universal language we use when we talk to kids -- first in English and then in Japanese.
(Video) English Mother: Ah, I love your big blue eyes -- so pretty and nice.
Japanese Mother: [Japanese]
Patricia Kuhl: During the production of speech,when babies listen, what they're doing is taking statistics on the language that they hear. And those distributions grow. And what we've learnedis that babies are sensitive to the statistics, and the statistics of Japanese and English are very, very different. English has a lot of R's and L's the distribution shows. And the distribution of Japanese is totally different, where we see a group of intermediate sounds, which is known as the Japanese R. So babies absorb the statistics of the language and it changes their brains; it changes them from the citizens of the world to the culture-bound listeners that we are. But we as adults are no longer absorbing those statistics. We're governed by the representations in memory that were formed early in development.
So what we're seeing here is changing our models of what the critical period is about. We're arguing from a mathematical standpoint that the learning of language material may slow downwhen our distributions stabilize. It's raising lots of questions about bilingual people. Bilinguals must keep two sets of statistics in mind at once and flip between them, one after the other, depending on who they're speaking to.
So we asked ourselves, can the babies take statistics on a brand new language? And we tested this by exposing American babies who'd never heard a second language to Mandarin for the first time during the critical period. We knew that, when monolinguals were tested in Taipei and Seattle on the Mandarin sounds, they showed the same pattern. Six, eight months, they're totally equivalent. Two months later, something incredible happens. But the Taiwanese babies are getting better, not the American babies. What we did was expose American babies during this period to Mandarin. It was like having Mandarin relatives come and visit for a month and move into your house and talk to the babies for 12 sessions.Here's what it looked like in the laboratory.
(Video) Mandarin Speaker: [Mandarin]
PK: So what have we done to their little brains? (Laughter) We had to run a control group to make sure that just coming into the laboratory didn't improve your Mandarin skills. So a group of babies came in and listened to English. And we can see from the graph that exposure to English didn't improve their Mandarin. But Look at what happened to the babies exposed to Mandarin for 12 sessions. They were as good as the babies in Taiwan who'd been listening for 10 and a half months. What it demonstrated is that babies take statistics on a new language. Whatever you put in front of them, they'll take statistics on.
But we wondered what role the human being played in this learning exercise. So we ran another group of babies in which the kids got the same dosage, the same 12 sessions, but over a television set and another group of babies who had just audio exposure and looked at a teddy bear on the screen. What did we do to their brains? What you see here is the audio result -- no learning whatsoever -- and the video result -- no learning whatsoever. It takes a human being for babies to take their statistics. The social brain is controlling when the babies are taking their statistics.
We want to get inside the brain and see this thing happening as babies are in front of televisions, as opposed to in front of human beings. Thankfully, we have a new machine, magnetoencephalography, that allows us to do this. It looks like a hair dryer from Mars. But it's completely safe, completely non-invasive and silent. We're looking at millimeter accuracy with regard to spacial and millisecond accuracy using 306 SQUIDs -- these are superconductingquantum interference devices -- to pick up the magnetic fields that change as we do our thinking.We're the first in the world to record babies in an MEG machine while they are learning.
So this is little Emma. She's a six-monther. And she's listening to various languages in the earphones that are in her ears. You can see, she can move around. We're tracking her head with little pellets in a cap, so she's free to move completely unconstrained. It's a technical tour de force. What are we seeing? We're seeing the baby brain. As the baby hears a word in her language the auditory areas light up, and then subsequently areas surrounding it that we think are related to coherence, getting the brain coordinated with its different areas, and causality, one brain area causing another to activate.
We are embarking on a grand and golden age of knowledge about child's brain development. We're going to be able to see a child's brain as they experience an emotion, as they learn to speak and read, as they solve a math problem, as they have an idea. And we're going to be able to invent brain-based interventions for children who have difficulty learning. Just as the poets and writers described,we're going to be able to see, I think, that wondrous openness, utter and complete openness, of the mind of a child. In investigating the child's brain, we're going to uncover deep truths about what it means to be human, and in the process, we may be able to help keep our own minds open to learning for our entire lives.
Thank you.

No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non-commercial purposes only.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Good Reason to Learn English

Labor Students,

Watch this video and you will find at least one good reason to learn a foreign language (if you don't want to be the laughing stock...):

No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non-commercial purposes only

How the Internet Works


If you want to know how much you have understood click here and take a quiz.

No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non-commercial purposes only.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Be Happy!

Show up. Follow your heart. Find a new perspective. Have a sense of wonder... Find people you love... Set goals. Help others. Dance. Pamper yourself... Face your fears... Go to a museum. Exercise. Limit television. Get in touch with nature. Lighten up. Get a good night's sleep. Read books. Buy yourself flowers. Don't compare yourself with others. Don't beat yourself up. Be open to new ideas. Don't focus on negative thoughts... Focus on creating what you desire. Make time just to have fun. Keep the romance in your life. Make a gratitute list. Love your Mother Earth. Want what you have. Be true to yourself. 

No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non-commercial purposes only.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Top 10 Rare & Amusing Insults

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has published their Top 10 List of Rare and Amusing Insults in English. Here they are:

1. Cockalorum: a boastful and self-important person; a strutting little fellow (If cockalorum suggests a crowing cock, that's because cockalorum probably comes from kockeloeren – an obsolete Dutch dialect verb meaning "to crow.")

2. Lickspittle: a fawning subordinate; a suck-up (Lick plus spittle says it all: someone who licks another person's spit is pretty low indeed. Incidentally, lickspittle keeps company with bootlicker ("someone who acts obsequiously").)

3. Smellfungus: an excessively faultfinding person (The original Smelfungus was a character in an 18th century novel. Smelfungus, a traveler, satirized the author of Travels through France and Italy, a hypercritical guidebook of that time.)

4. Snollygoster: an unprincipled but shrewd person (The story of its origin remains unknown, but snollygoster was first used in the nasty politics of 19th century America. One definition of the word dates to 1895, when a newspaper editor explained "a snollygoster is a fellow who wants office, regardless of party, platform or principles....")

5. Ninnyhammer: ninny; simpleton, fool (The word ninny is probably a shortening and alteration of "an innocent" (with the "n" from "an" getting transferred to the noun) and "hammer" adds punch. Writers who have used the word include J.R.R. Tolkien in the Lord of the Rings trilogy: "You're nowt but a ninnyhammer, Sam Gamgee.")

6. Mumpsimus: a stubborn person who insists on making an error in spite of being shown that it is wrong (Supposedly, this insult originated with an illiterate priest who said mumpsimus rather than sumpsimus ("we have taken" in Latin) during mass. When he was corrected, the priest replied that he would not change his old mumpsimus for his critic's new sumpsimus.)

7. Milksop: an unmanly man; a mollycoddle (a pampered or effeminate boy or man) (Milksop literally means "bread soaked in milk." Chaucer was among the earliest to use milksop to describe an unmanly man (presumably one whose fiber had softened). By the way, the modern cousin of milksopmilquetoast, comes from Caspar Milquetoast, a timid cartoon character from the 1920s.)

8. Hobbledehoy: an awkward, gawky young man (Hobbledehoy rhymes with boy: that's an easy way to remember whom this 16th century term insults. Its origin is unknown, although theories about its ancestry include hobble and hob (a term for "a clownish lout").)

9. Pettifogger: shyster; a lawyer whose methods are underhanded or disreputable (The petti part of this word comes from petty, meaning "insignificant" (from the French petit, "small"). As for fogger, it once meant "lawyer" in English. According to one theory, it may come from "Fugger," the name of a successful family of 15th and 16th century German merchants and financiers. Germanic variations of "fugger" were used for the wealthy and avaricious, as well as for hucksters.)

10. Mooncalf: a foolish or absentminded person (The original mooncalf was a false pregnancy, a growth in the womb supposedly influenced by a bad moon. Mooncalf then grew a sense outside the womb: simpleton. It also morphed into a literary word for a deformed monster. For instance, in Shakespeare's The Tempest, Stephano entreats Caliban, "Mooncalf, speak once in your life, if thou beest a good mooncalf.")

Now, Labor students, do you happen to know anybody who matches one (or more) of the definitions above?

No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non-commercial purposes only

Decimal(isation) Day

Decimal Day (15 February 1971) was the day the United Kingdom and Ireland decimalised their currencies.

The old system

Under the old currency of pounds, shillings and pence, the pound was made up of 240 pence (denoted by the letter d for Latin denarius and now referred to as "old pence"), with 12 pence in a shilling and 20 shillings (denoted by s for Latin solidus) in a pound. Especially in an era before widespread computer use, monetary calculation, such as adding up sums of money, was more complicated than with a decimal currency. Tourists were also confused by coins such as the 'half-crown' (worth two shillings and sixpence, or one eighth of a pound). The loss of value of the currency meant that the penny, with the same diameter as the U.S. half dollar, was of relatively slight value (the farthing, worth one-quarter of an old penny, had been demonetised in 1960).


Under the new system, the pound was retained but was now divided into 100 "new pence", denoted by the symbol p. New, different coinage was issued alongside the old coins. The 5p and 10p coins were first introduced in April 1968 and were the same size, composition and value as the shillings and florins circulating alongside them. In October 1969 the 50p coin was introduced and the old ten-shilling note was eventually withdrawn, in November 1970. This reduced the number of new coins that had to be introduced on the day and meant that the public was already familiar with three of the six new coins. Small book were made available containing some or all of the new denominations.

Decimal Day itself went smoothly and did not even form the lead story the following day in most national newspapers. Criticisms included the small size of the new halfpenny coin and the fact that some traders had taken advantage of the transition to raise prices. Some used new pennies as sixpences in vending machines.

Now let's hope some day in the near future traffic signs and capacity measurements (for example in petrol stations) in the UK, Ireland and other English-speaking countries will also be decimalised. Shall our eyes see that change? At LEZ we are afraid we won't...

No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non-commercial purposes only.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Humour: How Many Anchors?

Captain - ¡Marinero! ¿Cuántas anclas tenemos a bordo de este buque?
Sailor - Once, mi capitán.
Captain - ¿Pero qué dice, ignorante? ¿Cómo vamos a tener once anclas, hombre?
Sailor - Pues es lo que usted dice siempre, mi capitán: ¡Eleven anclas!

No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non-commercial purposes only

Friday, February 11, 2011

Grants for Linguistic Immersion - Summer 2011

Labor Students,

The Ministry of Education has announced grants for Linguistic Immersion programmes at summer camps for students of 5th & 6th Primary Education and ESO 1 (or students who have not turned 13 before 31st December 2011).

Find all the information in Thursday 10th February BOE. Don't miss this oportunity!

No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non-commercial purposes only.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Twitter in Plain English

Hi there ESO students,

We are sure many of you have already joined a social network, most probably Tuenti and/or Facebook. Although you are very young, if we had to give you some advice about which one you should join, that would be unquestionably Twitter, a microblogging service where you can share short, byte-sized updates about your life.

If used properly, Twitter can be a very powerful learning tool where you can find plenty of useful resources. And, of course, you can meet lots and lots of interesting people and keep in touch with your friends and contacts.

If you still don't know very much about it, watch this very interesting, easy-to-follow video, Twitter in Plain English.

No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non-commercial purposes only.

ESO 1 - PBL - Mind Maps

ESO 1 Students,

This is your PBL task for the 2nd Term. You have to go through the vocabulary belonging to Unit 6 (Workbook, pages 60-61) and organise it into mind maps. There are 8 sections in that vocabulary and you need to make 3 mind maps.

In these pictures you have examples of mind maps (click to enlarge):


and here you can find many more examples.

You have to hand in your papers (DIN A-4 format) BEFORE THURSDAY 3rd March.

No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non-commercial purposes only.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


ESO 4 Students, 

In connection with Reported Speech (that you have just started to learn in Unit 5), your task is to translate this sentence into Galician:

He said that that that that that man had written was in the wrong place

Sunday 6th - 10.20 pm clue:

He said that that 'that' that that man had written was in the wrong place

Tuesday 8th - 11.10 am clue:

He said (that) that 'that' that that man had written was in the wrong place

Thursday 10th - 10.40 pm ( final) clue:

He said (that) that 'that' (that) that man had written was in the wrong place

The student who sends the 1st correct translation to our mail will be awarded 10 points (valid for the 2nd term). In case no correct answers reach us by Sunday midnight, we will introduce a clue to make it easier.

Answers from ESO 1, 2 or 3 students will be also accepted, but no points will be awarded to them. And no, PARENTS CANNOT send answers! This kind of quizzes is intended strictly for students.

No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non-commercial purposes only.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

2nd February: Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is an annual holiday celebrated on February 2nd in the United States and Canada. A groundhog (Marmota monax) is a rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels.

According to folklore, if a groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day fails to see its shadow, it will leave the burrow, signifying that winter will soon end. If on the other hand, the groundhog sees its shadow, the groundhog will supposedly retreat into its burrow, and winter will continue for six more weeks. 
The holiday, which began as a Pennsylvania German custom in southeastern and central Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, has its origins in ancient European weather folklore, wherein a badger or sacred bearis the prognosticator as opposed to a groundhog. 
The holiday also bears some similarities to the medieval Catholic holiday of Candlemas. It also bears similarities to the Pagan festival of Imbolc, the seasonal turning point of the Celtic calendar, which is celebrated on February 1st and also involves weather prognostication.
Modern customs of the holiday involve celebrations where early morning festivals are held to watch the groundhog emerging from its burrow. In southeastern Pennsylvania, Groundhog Lodges (Grundsow Lodges) celebrate the holiday with fersommlinge, social events in which food is served, speeches are made, and one or more g'spiel (plays or skits) are performed for entertainment. The Pennsylvania German dialect is the only language spoken at the event, and those who speak English pay a penalty, usually in the form of a nickel, dime or quarter, per word spoken, put into a bowl in the center of the table.
The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where crowds as high as 40,000 have gathered to celebrate the holiday since at least 1886. 

Groundhog Day received worldwide attention as a result of the 1993 film of the same name, Groundhog Day, which was set in Punxsutawney (though filmed primarily in Woodstock, Illinois) and featured Punxsutawney Phil.
If you want to learn more: 

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