Teaching English with Art: make your online lessons stand out

Ideal for online lessons!!

If you are having any of the following problems, we can help you…

a. Are your students often bored during the English class? b. Don’t they know what to say when you set up speaking activities? c. Do you spend the weekend correcting writing assignments that don’t seem to help them improve? d. Is it hard to personalize productive skills and link the English lesson to the other subjects in the school curriculum? e. The students know nothing about Art and high culture in general. 

Click on each of the pictures below to get your copy from the KINDLE STORE:

Click on the image above to go to Amazon.com

Click on the image above to go to Amazon.com

Click on the image above to get your copy from the KINDLE STO

Click on the image above to get your copy from the KINDLE STORE.

Click on the picture above to get your copy.

Click on the picture above to get your copy.

Teaching English with Art: Norman Rockwell

Click on the image above to download the eBook.

Teaching English with Art

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Teaching English with Art: Picasso

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Click on the image to download the eBook

Click on the image to download the eBook

Teaching English with Art: Monet.

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Teaching English with Art is the series for you! This eBook series is a wonderful supplement to any coursebook or extra materials your students may already be using in the English class. Each volume contains 30 speaking and writing activities for classroom use based on some of the most striking works by famous artists: for now we have MATISSE, PICASSO, CARAVAGGIO, MONET, NORMAN ROCKWELL, WINSLOW HOMER, a special three-in-one volume of MONET + PICASSO + MATISSE (90 activities), and we’ve just launched VAN GOGH.


PERSONALIZATION: if you wish to change the cover of any of the ebooks, add your school logo, negotiate a special price for a determined number of students, or make other suggestions of customization, do not hesitate to talk to us. We are VERY FLEXIBLE. Make your ebook UNIQUE!

The objective of these eBooks is to expose the students to high art while having them practice English, fulfilling, therefore, one of the tenets of effective language acquisition: providing a realistic context for the language to be learned and practiced as a means to an end. Your students will love to practice their English discussing  and doing writing  tasks based on the works of these great artists.  The activities are highly personalized, so the students can express their own opinions and feelings. This is a proven way to make language acquisition fun and effective by creating in the classroom an atmosphere of interest, motivation and personalization. Each activity is clearly correlated to the COMMON EUROPEAN FRAMEWORK OF REFERENCE (CEFR), and the level is stated next to it. Ideally both you and your students should purchase the material.  For heads up activities, project the images on a white wall. Chose your favorite artist and click on the corresponding  image below to go to AMAZON.COM and get your e-book:

If you need more instructions on how to purchase the eBooks, please click here: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1Cz

Jorge Sette.

Should you have a blog as a marketer?

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Ernest Hemingway

As we all bloggers know, Hemingway did nail the writing process in his quote above. Yes, it’s hard; yes, it’s time-consuming; no, it’s never right the first time around. Writing is rewriting. For a 1000-word blog post, I would say the average blogger would write at least 10 drafts before he is reasonably satisfied with the result. He is lucky if he has an editor to help with the polishing, but that is not usually the case.

However, in this day and age of content marketing, you would be crazy as a marketer if you did not sit down at least once a week to create or repurpose some  written content to post on the Internet. Let me highlight in this post the features of good blog posts and how your business could benefit from them.

Figure Writing Reflected in a Mirror by Bacon, Francis, 1976

Figure Writing Reflected in a Mirror by Bacon, Francis, 1976

1. Search engine optimization: provided you offer useful and original content, employing the relevant key words, blogging will help your business show up on the SERPs (search engine results pages) of your prospective clients. I don’t know many people today who will not go to Google at some point during the buying cycle to do a search before actually purchasing a product or service. So, to be available, to show up, it will help to have a carefully SEOed (search engine optimized) blog to pop up on the first page.

2. Answer your customers questions: the buying process – the cycle your prospects go through before committing to a purchase –  consists of the the following phases: first, the prospect needs to identify a need or problem; second, they will try to learn about possible solutions; third, they will start shopping for the ideal solution; afterwards, when they are ready, they will look for directions to actually buy it (online or offline); finally, when they start using the product, they might have problems or questions about it, so you need to offer them prompt customer service. Your blog needs to account for each one of these phases and provide the appropriate answers to help them at the stage they are, moving them along the sales funnel. It takes close communication between Marketing, Sales and Customer Service to identify the customers most frequently asked questions and issues, and try to solve them through your blog content. So it’s time to cooperate (there’s no need to tell me how hard this can be, but it’s worth trying): salespeople and customer service professionals need to develop their marketing skills, while marketers should learn more about the customers from sales and customer service so they can provide qualified leads.

3. Thought leadership: by covering content that speaks to the different needs of your customers at the different stages of the buying process you will soon develop a reputation of an expert in the field. Even if you don’t get conversions in terms of sales at the first moment, your customers will grow to trust your opinions and respect your points of view. When the time comes for them to make a buying decision, who do you think they will turn to?

4. Style: your blog is not supposed to be a work of art if you are a marketer. So write as simply and elegantly as possible, as if you were actually “talking” to the prospect. A marketer’s blog is not a piece of literature, so tone down your message, and be objective and direct. Of course it would help to be aware of the reading level of your audience, but “according to many reports (including the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics’ 1992 Adult Literacy survey), the average reading level is the 7th or 8th grade. Combine that with reports of increasingly low-attention spans of Internet users who require even milder language and you’re looking at a reading level of the 6th or 7th grade”  (http://blog.ezinearticles.com/2013/10/ezinearticles-asks-what-reading-level-should-you-target.html) . If you really wish to fine tune your text’s level of difficulty, there are some tools on the Internet (try the Readability Test Tool, for example, http://read-able.com) that will allow you to measure it.

5. The title: the importance of a catchy title to crown your blog post cannot be underestimated. This is the first impression you will make on the reader, and you only have a couple of seconds to entice them. So think carefully about it. Putting yourself in the shoes of a journalist may help, after all, this is your headline. Research says that questions are a good way to go, as they tease the reader into looking for the answer in the text.

6. Promoting and Repurposing: to make the most of all the effort you put into writing your piece, promoting your blog is a must. Use your social media channels with this objective. Putting links to your blog post repeatedly, however,  may not be the solution (although you’ll have to do it occasionally). Be careful not to make your audience feel spammed. Another solution is to repurpose your content and distribute it in different formats to suit the different social media channels: write a summary of the content as an image (for Instagram); use the photos you put in your blog post with a link to it (Instagram, Facebook); write a headline for your blog with a link to it (Twitter); turn it into an infographics poster (Pinterest); use the main points for a slide presentation (slideshare), etc.

As with most things in life, practice makes perfect. Some people say they blog everyday so they can improve.  Research indicates that to be excellent at a skill you need to have spent at least 10,000 hours at it (read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”  for a deeper explanation on this). Maybe you don’t have that  amount of time available anymore, but I would say it’s never too late to get started. What you can’t afford to do as a marketer is NOT to have a blog. How about starting today?

Au revoir

Jorge Sette

Why We Love Gabo (Gabriel García Márquez) and You Should too

Of course the first thing I did after “hearing” about the death of Gabriel García Márquez on Facebook (where else?) was to access my Kindle app and download a full collection of his short stories and his biography (Vivir para Contarla). I have the print version of the biography at home, but, as I was away, I felt the need to reread parts of it immediately. The prices were astoundingly low on Amazon.com, and I figured they may not remain so for very long, as the hype brought about by the death of any celebrity is bound to push up prices of anything related to them.

It was very comforting going to bed that night with those two books safely stored on my iPad. It felt like I had somehow beaten and transcended death. I could keep Gabo with me for as long as I wished. And this is something I needed to do.

Gabriel García Márquez

Gabriel García Márquez

When I first read ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE, I was in college. I had a close group of friends, all taking different majors, who spent most of the free time together. Beaches, bars, weekend trips. At some point, some of us decided to read that book and we all agreed to read it at the same time. We became a kind of informal reading club, without a facilitator or much structure to it. However, it was a lot of fun discussing the most improbable passages, sitting for hours on the beach in Boa Viagem, unafraid of death by shark in those young times.

In those days, we were more interested in how funny and unfamiliar some of the magic realism sounded to us, without really devoting much time to interpreting metaphors or sensing how painfully poetic the whole thing was. Macondo, the imaginary  Caribbean town featured in the the book, with its heat and rain, its underdevelopment and desolation, its ghosts and backwardness was not very different from what we experienced in Recife in the mid-1980s. It was not as if we were trying to figure out Márquez from the coldness of a damp London night, reading by the fireplace, with a cup of tea. We might as well be characters in Gabo’s books, so close our realities were. Nobody would look very surprised if we all started to ascend into the sky like Remedios, the beauty, one of the strangest characters in the book.

Macondo is Latin America, and it’s Recife, Brazil,  more than anywhere else.

Only years later, though, did I come across my favorite Márquez: LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA. I liked it even more than “One Hundred Years…”  Less magical realism and more poetry. The story of the determination of a man who waits for a woman for 50 years before finally having her deeply resonated with me. It was a metaphor standing for everything I valued as ideals in life: crystal clear objectives, passion, a steely tenacity, patience and the understanding that the journey  and its pleasures should be as important as the goal: after all, Firmino Ariza, the main character, had led a fully satisfactory life while patiently waiting for the love of his life to become a widow, before finally resuming and strenghtening their relationship during a beautiful boat trip down an infinite river. Meanwhile, the journey, the life of Ariza, is packed with funny and interesting anecdotes, lived to the full, which makes the book a rare delight and a great lesson.

In between these two masterpieces, I read most of the other stories, and remember being deeply impressed by the strange tale of the unfortunate life of Eréndira, who had to work as a prostitute to pay for an unextinguishable debt towards her wicked “abuela” (grandmother). Because of the movie based on the story that came out at the time, I can only picture Eréndira as the dark wild beauty Claudia Ohana, the Brazilian actress who played the leading role. Irena Pappas played the crazy grandma in an unforgettable performance.

Not long ago I read another amazing and disturbing Márquez’s story. It told of a boy who liked to spend the nights on the beach staring at the sea. One night he begins to see a huge ghostly transatlantic ship passing by, which, with all its lights off,  silently crashes against the reefs near the entrance to the harbor. Despite the fact that, from then on  the vision happened once every March, year after year, his mother never believed him, as no traces of the shipwreck could ever be found in the daylight. Until one day when, already as an adult, with a little torch, her son manages to lead the ship past the rocks into the canal towards the beach, only to have it crash magnifically right in front of the local church. They all believed him then.

This is what makes us love Gabo: his Spanish fills the world with a unique combination of magic, colors, rhythms and smells (in one of his stories, for example, a strange smell of roses takes over a little village by the sea, heralding great changes to come), which makes us see reality in a totally new light. And finally get it.

Au revoir

Jorge Sette.





Storytelling with Norman Rockwell

Storytelling with Norman Rockwell

Click on the picture to access the SlideShare presentation.

Note: you might want to check out our new book TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: MATISSE   available  from AMAZON.COM as an ebook.  Click here for more info: 


Interviewing Philip Roth – the movie

Based on some of my previous posts on Facebook, Twitter and this blog, many of you will already know that Philip Roth is one of my favorite writers. At 81, he is considered by many the greatest living American writer. I can’t get enough of his books. They usually investigate the depths of the human soul, are packed with painful truths, but also convey a dark sense of humor, which makes them irresistible.

Although I have already reread many of his novels, the good news is he’s so prolific that I haven’t been able to cover the whole list yet. So there is a lot to look forward to. I don’t think I will ever have an opportunity to talk to him in person, as he is very reclusive and private. And, to be quite honest, I would not like that to happen, as I want to preserve the idealized image I have of him – so I imagined what an interview with him would be like. His answers are known quotes.

Teaching English with Picasso

Teaching English with Picasso

Suggested writing activities based on these Picasso paintings are meant as a guideline for revision of grammar, vocabulary and functions, and also as practice of Process Writing. We indicate the language level based on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).