Comment on Swansea 1 Tottenham 1 on Spurscommunity

31 12 2011


Every game’s a huge game when you’re challenging for the title. Man Utd’s defeat today shows we are challenging for the title. Not picking up three points today would show we’re not – ain’t football weird. 

Great to see both JD and Daws on the bench. We need to have a stronger bench than we have had recently over the second half of the season. 

Come on you Spurs!

Post Game

Don’t be fooled into thinking a draw at Swansea isn’t a good result – it is. Especially for a team running on empty. 

We were certainly outthought today, they freshened up their team, they crowded the middle of the pitch, they used their substitutes wisely…

We were outplayed today, they passed the ball better, they ran twice as far as us I’d imagine, they fought for every ball and throughout the whole match. We had a lot of players, particularly in the midfield (understandably) having little rests, or pressing uncommittedly or giving up on a ball easily. 

And yet we still came away with a solid away point. And four points from the last two games is a very good return. It’s just frustrating that it wasn’t six, since if we could have found some more energy from somewhere, or Harry had had the guts to play a few younger, fresher legs (I’d have liked to see Townsend, what’s happened to him since the Shamrock game, or is he not in the 25?) we could have ground out a gutsy, dirty away win. 

As for those blaming BAE and Brad for the goal, if Bale had bothered to pressure the midfielder he wouldn’t have been able to beat BAE with his ball out to the wing – I think he was more at fault than either of the others, who both had bad luck to contend with as well as good play. Bale just let his man do what he wanted. 

So not the victory that makes us title challengers, but neither a defeat to knock us of form or start the doubters. Three home games to come and then we’ll really see where we’re at. But definitely Champions League here we come, more because of rather than despite today’s result.


Originally Posted by Sweetsman View Post
Can’t get away from feeling gutted. January is going to be very important. I don’t know what to make of these Tevez rumours: Mabbutt mentioned it on BBC Sport.

Tevez won’t happen for three rock-solid reasons:
1) We can’t afford him
2) Man City won’t give us a player who would make us serious title contenders
3) I’d love to see Tevez play for Tottenham more than any other non-Tottenham player, having watched him break into the Boca team as a season ticket holder.


Comment on Norwich 0 Tottenham 2 on Spurscommunity

31 12 2011

Having not watched the first 28 minutes live for relationship reasons, I was surprised when rewatching the match last night in anticipation of similar fare being served up today against Swnasea, that Spurs completely controlled the whole match, not just the last hour of it.  Many Spurscommunity posters had lead me to believe that things were rather even for the first half hour, something that clearly wasn’t the case on watching the game in cold blood. 

In the first half hour we had 8 shots at goal to Norwich’s three.  In fact, Norwich managed to get the ball in our box three times in the first half hour – once every ten minutes – we had 60% of the possession as well, some of it exquisite and Norwich could easily have had Holt sent off and given away a penalty in the first half.  And if Bale’s shot hadn’t been saved by Ruddy it would have been up there for goal of the season, the build up play being superb one-touch team passing.  And what a hat trick it would have presaged.

We played a great game of football today with an excellent result.  A real statement that we could be challenging for the title this season, especially if we do it again against Swansea and the others around us continue to drop points. 

3 Xmas runs, 2 lingering injuries and a target for the New Year

30 12 2011

Three runs over Xmas including a pretty decent 7.5km today (relatively speaking).  The new insoles are treating my feet well, although they strain the knee muscles a little as they get used to them.  Heel blisters are the new enemy, since my feet are in different places in the shoe with the new insoles, need to re-break them in – actually buying new shoes would be a good move.  But then what to buy – now they say that the cushioned shoes of today aren’t as good for running as flat feet – Zola Budd had it right apparently…

The back is the second lingering injury – think that’s down to too much time on the sofa in the fortnight leading up to xmas (working of course) but it doesn’t affect the running at least, just got to be careful when stretching not to do it any further harm.

Thinking has unfortunately taken a big back seat recently.  My mind on these runs has been on nothing, concentrating on moving the body well and enjoying the view of the lake and the Portenos accompanying me on their evening exercise.  Well and a little savouring of the current situation Tottenham find themselves in, playing sublime football and keeping themselves in contention for the league while cementing themselves solidly into the top four and Champions League qualification.  It’s good to empty the mind every now and then, and I’ll need it fully rested for the challenge of the Delta Modules Intensive starting in ten days time.  Eek!

Comment on Tottenham 1 Sunderland 0 on Spurs Community

18 12 2011

A hard won win which showed why we just might be title contenders this year, but also why we might just fall short.  However, if anyone still had any doubts that we’ll finish in the top four by the end of the season, today’s performance will have definitely made them think again. 

Rocked by injuries to Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe before the game, two key ingredients in the eleven game unbeaten run, and having to cope with the unjust suspension of our most consistent central defender this season, we were at least able to welcome back club captain Ledley King to the centre of defence. 

The early loss of Aaron Lennon to a hamstring injury and a customary slow start didn’t bode well for kick-starting our Christmas run of games after that travesty of justice that was the loss to Stoke last weekend.  But we kept patient, we kept plugging away, we didn’t lose hope or composure, even when substitute Super Pav made a hash of his first handful of touches of the ball.  Instead of the blistering pace of a winger (neither of whom were on the pitch) or the intricate trickery of Modric or VDV, it was the ball-winning solidity of Sandro and Parker in the middle of the park which kept the spirits up and the shape strong and drove us stubbornly forward until the goal came.  And what a moral boosting goal it was in many respects.  Just after Sunderland had built up a head of steam and fashioned the odd half chance after the break, Parker wins the ball, feeds in Modric who plays it quickly and precisely up to VDV who puts in Pav.  Up until this point Roman’s performance had been nothing short of woeful, but his run off the defender was well-timed and well-angled to give him the space he needed for a precise first time finish across the keeper. 

It was a goal to blow out our chests and to burst Sunderland’s inflating balloon.  They knew they were unlikely to score now, we knew we could play the game out.  Our new found confidence at knocking the ball around to protect a lead was quickly on show, even if Modders really should have put us two up, although Ade gets some blame for not squaring it to him initially.  We held on rather comfortably, unlike Tottenham of old, to demonstrate the new found mental fortitude of this team.  

The win also showed how strong our squad is and how ready everyone is to contribute crucial performances.  Pavlyuchenko was rusty and his weaknesses holding up the ball, a heavy first touch and inability to win headers were exposed on many occasions, but when it really counted his supreme strength won us the game.  Sandro came in and made numerous interceptions and kept the ball moving quickly throughout the game.  And Gallas looked a much better defender alongside King, as do all of our centre halves.

Due to Roman’s goal we didn’t need to resort to 3-5-3 again, but it might serve us well at times in games over the holiday period if Lennon and Bale are out for long.  Let’s hope Andros Townsend can come in and do a job after his sterling performance against Shamrock on Thursday, or Niko Krancjar can provide some width on the right side.  Although the midfield diamond we played second half today will cause problems for most teams and provides one of the most solid midfields around perhaps. 

On to Chelsea on Thursday.  Every game is a big game when you’re trying to qualify for the Champion’s League, let alone win the title, but a positive result today has really set us up for consolidating our place in the top three and looking up North towards Manchester rather than around us at the other London clubs. 

Comment on Stoke 2 Spurs 1 on Spurs Community

11 12 2011

For all of the genius that was Harry switching to 3-5-2 at halftime, I really think he missed a trick not starting with Sandro instead of VDV. Reason being we have started games slowly recently and Stoke were always going to come out all guns blazing and trying to rough us up. It was imperative we start solidly and not give away an early goal. To score twice here was always going to be difficult, even without an atrocious referee, so we needed to be strong and solid defensively for the first half. Surely playing Sandro and Parker together in front of the back four with Modric being much more adept at linking them and the widemen to Ade that VDV would have given us a much more solid platform from which to beat both Stoke and the referee. I hope the referee gets suspended for at least as long as Younes will. 

We had to lose at some point and losing away to Stoke is something league champions can easily do, so no need to overdo the pessimism, and the second half performance showed the mental attitude that this year’s team has shown before, we just didn’t have the luck today in any shape or form and took too long to get going in the first half.


Originally Posted by Sarsipius View Post
On another note the pitch looked awful which I’m sure the groundsmen are very proud of. Something that lumpy prevents slick passing and doesn’t affect the headers and volleys game that Stoke pride themselves on.

The amazing thing isn’t the state of the pitch, but the size of it. The aesthetically hideous refusing-to-fade lines of the previous pitch size served to remind us throughout the game that Stoke were at liberty to shrink the pitch to suit their rugby football. 

When neither the surface nor the officiating team are giving you the space to express your obvious footballing advantage over the opposition what hope is there?

A Taxonomy of Authentic Reading Tasks

3 12 2011

I would love to develop a list of useful classroom texts (I mean texts that learners would find engaging / motivating / beneficial to read inside the language classroom) and think of authentic but also classroom friendly ways of reading / processing / ‘attacking’ them.   BTW, unlike most of his readers, I’m not a fan of Scott Thornbury’s text-attack terminology, since if there’s anything in this world that should be kept apart from the brutalities of war and suffering, then reading be it.

So, simply put, here goes.  A list of readable texts and authentic tasks that can be used with them in the classroom.  Please do help add to the list of texts or tasks or comment on those already proffered – I’m going to need a lot of help to make this list even half decent…

Updating this post for the first time with some extra ideas for gist tasks and generic text ideas.  I think this may be the way to go rather than producing specific examples of texts, although I might come up with a few once I start teaching / watching teachers again in January.

Gist reading

General Gist tasks

Read the first paragraph, shall we bother continuing?

Read the title of a text – what do you think it is about?  Continue reading all of it until it’s no longer relevant to you as a reader.

You’re on a long plane ride and this text is in the in-flight magazine.  Would you read it?

Is the title engaging?  Keep reading the text until you find the title is no longer engaging.

Genre Specific Gist Tasks

Read the report of a football match – which team does the author prefer?

Read the report of a football match you’ve seen – do you agree with the author’s representation of the game?

Read the review of a pop concert – would you like to have gone and seen it?

Read the review of a restaurant – would you take your partner / kids / parents / siblings / a first date / best friend there?

Read a recipe – could you make this dish?

Read a recipe – would your  partner / kids / parents / siblings / a first date / best friend like this dish?

Read a discursive essay – is the author for or against?

Read a discursive essay – do you agree with the author’s overall opinion?

Detailed Reading

General Detailed Tasks

This text is about something you’re interested in.  What does it add to your knowledge of the subject?

This text was written yesterday/today.  How does it change your knowledge of the content?

Do you believe everything in this text is true?

Underline all of the facts in this text.  Cirlce the author’s unsubstantiated opinions.

Which points do you agree with the author about?  which do you disagree with?  Why?

Genre Specific Detailed Tasks

Read the report of a football match you’ve seen – do you agree with the author’s opinion of each controversial incident?

Read the review of a pop concert – note some / five things that make you wish you’d been there.

Read the review of a pop concert – note things described that support your opinion of the band.

Read a recipe – what will you need to buy in order to make it?  What parts of the process will you find most difficult?  What things haven’t you done before?

Read a discursive essay – which arguments do you find convincing?

Read a discursive essay – which opinions expressed would you argue with?

Read the review of a restaurant – in how many ways is your favourite restaurant better?

Scan reading

Classifieds Page – Find a xmas present for your teacher

Classifieds page – Find a new job for your teacher / classmates / family

Classifieds page – You have 200 000 pounds. Find three houses to go and look at this weekend.

Choose a restaurant for your teacher to visit tonight with their partner / visiting parents / visiting sibling / best friend from school they haven’t seen for five years / a first date from your country

Find the best film for you / your teacher to see this weekend

Comment on Jeremy Harmer’s blog post ‘Multi-tasking, uni-tasking, myths – and language learning?’

3 12 2011

I think, Jeremy, having read quickly through this thread with a film on in the background and unanswered emails awaiting me while enjoying an Argentine Bonarda, that your last utterance holds the key. I think I’m going crazy. All through this thread I’ve been lead back to your talk at the IHWO DoS conference 2010 on HMS Belfast about the need to get our students to think.
I really like the idea of focus and am thinking we should rename controlled practice activities as focused practice activities (would freer practice then become the more honest unfocused practice activities?). I’ve just spent the last month with a fabulous group of Celta trainees who had real challenges describing what kind of controlled practice they were providing. They struggled to see the distinction between an activity designed to focus on spoken practice of question forms or written practice of negatives and short answers…it was all just practice to them.
Perhaps our students need more focused focus? An activity on spoken positive statements, then negatives, then questions, then written questions, negatives, positives or more likely the complete reverse? Either way, more focused focus. And most of all they probably need to be provided with the opportunity for focused thinking rather than speaking or writing.
The reason you think you’re probably going crazy is because focusing someone else’s thinking is a near impossible challenge, or perhaps the world’s great political leaders (and some of the shabbier purveyors of the cult of personality) would have made great language teachers?

Long in Montevideo

30 11 2011

Long in Montevideo by mcneilmahon at Garmin Connect – Details.

Another late entry and unfortunately it’s going to stop here as far as running roads is concerned for a couple of weeks.  It was a hot, hot afternoon as I plodded up and down the lovely promenade of Montevideo after my morning exertions for Macmillan (Feedback Fiesta and Correction Celebration at IH Montevideo). 

Little did I know that there was a 10km race planned for 5pm so I was surprised to see few if anyone out sharing my run with me and then the police closed the coast road for me to run on.  Having laughed at all the people running last Sunday in Puerto Madero after the Nike 10km (why didn’t they join the rest of us in the race?) I found myself unwittingly in the same boat.  I wanted to be wearing a t-shirt that said ‘I’m flying out of here in an hour otherwise I’d be running with the rest of you’.  

And unfortunately I felt a twinge in my right calf in the last of the 8km which I forgot about as soon as I stopped running but remembered as soon as I tried to go out again the following Tuesday – after a single KM I had to stop for the tightness.  Hopefully I stopped quickly enough and I won’t be resting for long, but I won’t try again until I get back from Sao Paulo to ensure I have a good rest of it before I go again.  Got to keep fit for the summer and make the most of the time I’m going to have to run as well as trying to keep the Christmas kilos at bay.  

Comment on Scott Thornbury’s blog post ‘G is for Gist’

30 11 2011
mcneilmahon (02:57:04) :

Hi all,
Fascinating reading throughout and I find particular resonance in Wily, Simon and Rob’s posts.

The related question that I’ve been meaning to explore recently and haven’t got around to yet, which is part of Patrick’s question, is whether training our CELTA trainees or asking our own students ourselves to approach texts through gist and then detailed tasks (as I do everyday at the moment) is a valid way of teaching reading.

I have long advocated authentic tasks as being more important and relevant than ‘authentic’ texts, but would like to question further how authentic gist tasks are/can be and ditto detailed reading tasks. Shouldn’t we be encouraging our trainees and students to be approaching texts in the way we do in our L1s? And how practical is this within the confines of a course book driven syllabus or a pre-service training course.

Reading the first paragraph of a course book article to decide whether or not we want to read the whole thing would be an authentic gist task (but what do we do when the answer is no?). But reading an article and choosing which is the best title for it wouldn’t be.

The problem with authenticity seems to be the lack of text quantity and therefore choice in course books, which surely leads to the need for more student-selected texts – i.e. they do the gist reading before they come to class, through choosing texts they want to read as a class and deciding what to do with them. This just leaves the other students in the class with an authentic task to do to engage with that text once it’s been selected. But it also creates many problems for training courses such as CELTA. Can anyone help me with my conundrum?


Scott Thornbury (08:36:55) :

Hi Neil, don’t start me on coursebooks (!) but one reason why skimming and scanning tasks are so favoured may be that the texts in textbooks are NOT self-selected, and hence the only way to make them accessible and/or palatable is to treat them in a fairly superficial manner. And, after all, since many coursebook texts are superficial in terms of their content, the most logical approach to them might be that of the reader of the inflight magazine (to which coursebook texts bear an uncanny resemblance), i.e. the most cursory skim and flick.

As for your final question – maybe I’ll leave that one to the many pre-service trainers more experienced than I am who read this blog.

Comment on Ceri Jones guest post on PaulinBCN’s blog – grading your school

28 11 2011

You hit the nail on the head Ceri in the sentence ‘We can take the first steps…’ it seems obvious to me that the recurring theme throughout your posts is that strong students take responsibility for their learning and weak students don’t. As teachers we need to be aware of ignorance and immaturity and insecurity and strive to turn them into awareness and maturity and confidence and so create more strong students and less weak students. But not to necessarily hold ourselves accountable if students fail even if they and their parents do.