Friday, August 31, 2007

Audiobooks: great resource for language learning

This is my response to Audio books - a richer reading experience

hi steve,

i love audio books! specially since i drive at least 1 or 2 hours a day from/to work.

my favorite site for free audio books is:

there are tons of them. now, since these books are recorded by volunteers not all of them are of the best quality. but once you start browsing around you can find which readers have not only good audio quality but also are good readers.

also, once you find a reader that you like, it's possible to find other recording that he/she made.

you can download all audio books here. they are complete free and they offer 3 different formats.

AND MOST IMPORTANT! you can become a volunteer, too!!! i would encourage non-native speakers of english to:

1) listen or download audio books in english from this site.

2) BECOME A VOLUNTEER READER! There are several recordings in languages other than english... but i think there need to be more!

all the information you need is in their website
but if you have any questions don't hesitate to contact me and i'll try to help you. i've been reading/recording for them for while in spanish and english.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How is my driving?

Minneapolis Time Lapse Drive (Hwy 7)

From Excelsior, MN to Franklin Ave. and Harriet St. in Minneapolis. A 30 minutes drive in a 2 minutes video. How is my driving? Driver: Paulino Brener

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Let's teach more languages in schools!

I recently came across this post about teaching languages in schools

Let's stop teaching languages in schools.

Since, like Steve, I am also passionate about language teaching I posted the following response/comment:


As a language teacher myself this article makes me very uncomfortable. Even more coming from someone like you, who promotes language learning and makes a profit from it.

I am grateful to be able to work in a private school where I have total control, flexibility and creation of my curriculum and decision over method(s) of instruction. I just need to follow the guiding principles underlying our school (I work in a Waldorf school). But the rest is totally up to me. In this sense I think I am privileged that I am able to "experiment" different ways to reach my students. I understand that most mainstream or public schools do not have that luxury.

Nevertheless I believe that (at least in US, where I live) public schools still don't have the level of support that the teaching of foreign languages deserves. Despite the many years of research and strong evidence of its advantages and benefits foreign language learning is not regarded as a priority or even considered as a core subject. Some progress is being made at a very slow pace, though.
Posts and comments like yours, especially when titled “Let's stop teaching languages in schools” might lead the general public into miss-informed or wrong directions. I would strongly encourage you avoid such language.
I do agree with you that some reform might need to happen for schools to teach languages more effectively. I also sympathize with your proposed methodology. It’s very radical and innovative. Although I could see some challenges in its implementation. May be we can talk about it some day.

Take and give care,


PS: BTW, I believe that you meant to say “He commented that Canadians who go to Japan learn JAPANASE (not English) better than Japanese who come to Canada.” right?

Posted by: paulino brener | August 16, 2007 at 03:53 PM

Friday, August 10, 2007

Nokia 770 Internet Tablet

During the month of July I have been an avid contributer to the online magazine Every contribution got me Karma points. And since I was the person with most Karma points in July I got the first prize! A Nokia 770 Internet Tablet...
Here is a pic of me with my new box (still in box) in front of the Startribune (producer of

Rough beginning for a great mini-vacation

So my mini-vacation to Chicago ended. I was there from July 31st until August 5th. I had a blast. But the beginning of it seems like it was not going to be a good ride.
First, before leaving home, I locked myself out of my car when I went to look for a few items there. I've done this a few times before but this was definitely the most inconvenient time of all. I call my resident manager and I was very VERY lucky that not only she was in her office but also that she answered the phone. Something that she doesn't usually do in that early in the morning (about 7:30 am). Once she opened my apartment for me to get another car key and retrieve my apartment keys everything was fine.
I took a combination of bus and LRT to the airport. I must say that neglected to double check what terminal my flight (Airtran) was departing from. I got out of the LTR at the Lindberg (main) terminal. Again, I was very lucky that I chose the shortest line for security checks because it wasn't until then that I realized, or that the security person realized, that I need to be at the Humphrey terminal.
The shuttle to the Humphrey terminal was quick and there was not line at the security check there. Now it was time to relax and wait for my flight.

More on Chicago later...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

knitters, bridge and spanish curriculum

Chicago has been hotter and hotter since I arrived. But it's very cool. I've been roaming a little bit and there is live everywhere. A lot of people outside, some small restaurants have musicians on the sidewalk. Chicago definitely comes to life in the summer.
I am enjoying my stay so far. I have met a couple of old friends that live here and a new friend: Franklin. Franklin is a knitter and photographer (I think he also has a day job... but I didn't pay attention to what it was). He has a cool blog about knitting and life. He is very funny and his writting is usually quite witty. Check it out here. He also started a cool project called 1,000 Knitters and I wanted to part of it. I must admit that it was a little weird being photographed while knitting.. but I will survive. Here is a pic of Franklin and I that I took with my cell phone.

Later that night it was Franklin who showed me (on the monitors of the bar where we were in) about the huge bridge catastrophed in Minneapolis. That was horrible. I tried to call a few friends but it was impossible to connect. Luckily txt msg worked much better. All of them are fine. Some of them also confirmed they were fine through email, myspace. etc.

Today (Thursday) and part of Friday I have been working on my 8th grade Spanish curriculum (and more) with Ileana. She is the current Spanish teacher at the Chicago Waldorf School and it has been great to work with an experienced teacher like her.


Wicked is coming soon!!!!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Chicago... Chicago...!

Oh, wait! The song was New York, New York! Oh well. I am having lots of fun in Chicago as if I were in New York City. The weather is super nice (kinda hot). It's kinda nice to get out for Minneapolis for a few days and be in a bigger city. I can always find smaller town or peaceful places in Minnesota :-)
The trip started yesterday morning with a little bit of a nuissance. Right before I was going to leave to take the bus and train to airpot I checked my car for a few item that I needed from there. And I locked myself out of my car! Apartment keys and everything! I just wanted to bang my head on the wall! I was very very lucky that the resident manager was not only still there but that she also answered the phone. I don't think she usually does early in the morning. She was a great help! Thanks Ann!
I got to the airport on time, only that I went to the wrong terminal. I neglected to check that AirTran was leaving fron Humphrey terminal and not Lingberg. But they are very close to each other. The shuttle bus was quick and I went through security very fast. That terminal was so quiet!
The flight was calm and short and the train to the hostel was easy to find.
The plan is to stay a couple of night at the Hostelling International Chicago downtown (to enjoy a little bit of the city life). Thurday and Friday I will be doing some work, yes work! :-) I will be meeting with an experience Spanish teacher in a Waldorf school to work on 8th grade curriculum. Then Friday afternoon and Saturday I will meet my good friend Steve from Rochester, NY. We are getting together here in Chicago to see WICKED!!! I can't wait!
More later... time to have breakfast!