What`s happening? - English Center Basel
JAN-FEB 2013, ISSUE 25
‘Trial by jury’
The Christmas Apéro at English Center Basel School of English
'Trial by Jury' is a comic 'courtroom drama' in which
a susceptible judge and an obviously biased jury
hear the case of a broken engagement. The judge
and male jury side with the pretty, ditched fiancée,
not with the two-timing defendant. For info, see:
A ‘Speaking practice’ Apéro with a difference
Although this popular one-act operetta was first
performed in 1875, the plan is to give it a modern
twist by setting it one century later, in the Flower
Power era of the 1960s and 70s, around the time
when the English law of ‘Breach of Promise of
Marriage’ was repealed. Characters will be a mix of
liberal, tie-dyed, long-haired, headband-wearing
hippies and WASP conservative types. The
performance will have a piano accompaniment. The
stage will set the scene of a courtroom.
The performances will take place on the following
dates: 8th & 9th June 2013 (Alfa Hotel Theatre,
Birsfelden); 16th June 2013
(Christengemeindschaft, Langen Gasse, Basel).
The cast and production team are working hard to
make this show a success. There are still vacancies
on the production team for a Stage & Technical
Manager and a Publicity / Sponsorship Manager(s).
In addition, volunteers for other activities are also
very welcome (eg assistants for back stage, stage
set, makeup, costumes, props, front of house, etc).
If you, or friends, are interested in getting involved,
either in the production team, in the back-stage
crew or as a volunteer helper, please contact
Words of personal wisdom
It is very difficult to give some advice about such
important things. Everybody should know what
they want to do in the future. For me, it depends on
whether someone wants children or not. When not,
it is no problem today to live together without
marriage. There are no disadvantages. But, if you
want children, it is better when you are married. I
think it is more “family-friendly”.
Stay yourself and do things together but do things
alone, too. Have friends together but also, friends
for each person.
Once a month, English Center Basel has a Speaking Practice Apéro to give students and their friends a chance to speak English in an informal,
sociable way. A teacher is there to help everyone “mix and mingle” and to suggest conversation topics and/or appropriate language, but in
December, the school’s Christmas Apéro was held instead. Most of the staff as well as a good number of students and friends were there. A very
pleasant time was had by all! If you were not able to come to the Christmas 2012 Apéro, we hope you can make it to the next Speaking Practice
Apéro on Thursday, 24 January, from 6 to 8 PM. If you’d like to come, please sign up at reception or call 061 269 41 41.
Just a chat with Henry Fresneda – English teacher at English Center Basel School of English
Henry joined English Center Basel School of English in December 2012.
Before he started here, Henry had been living in Spain for 14 years,
where he had been teaching English for much of that time.
What did you do when you first arrived in Spain?
I worked for a cosmetics company, a natural
cosmetics company from Northern Ireland. I
don’t think they are still rolling, because they
were Body Shop’s competitor. They set up the
business in Spain and I did the franchises, the
translations, the pamphlets, all the labels.
What did you do in Australia before Spain?
I’d just finished university. I had worked for a
year in Australia, for the Spanish pavilion at
the international exhibition, the Expo, in
Brisbane. I’d just finished my first degree. I
took a year off. I worked at Expo in 1988.
After the Expo, I went to the Australian
National University in Canberra.
How did you start teaching English?
When you learn a new word, study how the word is
used in the sentence you found it in. If it’s a noun,
like “traffic” look for the adjective that came before
it. Maybe it will be “light” or “heavy”. While you’re at
it, check if the noun is countable or uncountable.
(Traffic is uncountable.)
If it’s a verb, check to see if another verb follows it
and, if so, what form it is in. For example, “finish” is
followed by a verb with “-ing”, like “She finished
working at 5pm.” Use internet dictionaries to check
on how words are used in combination with other
ones. One website I particularly like is
www.macmillandictionary.com but there are
many others. What’s your favourite one?
d oi ng
tell a true or fictional story ~ share
your opinion ~ describe a recent event
~ give a learning tip ~ review a book,
film, play, restaurant or hotel ~ tell a
joke ~ present an app or website
E-mail your text to the editor. You will receive
an amended version of your text. You can
compare your text with the amended version
and thus learn how to improve your writing.
21 Feb 2013
Please e-mail the editor:
Spain is great to visit; yeah, it’s great to eat;
yeah, it’s great to drink wine; but socially, at a
working level, it’s never been a great place.
It’s changed a lot since I was first there and
has gotten a lot worse. The job contracts were
always six months long. If you worked for the
same company for three contracts in a row,
they had to make you a permanent worker,
but after the three contracts, you were often
told, “We are not going to hire you again,” and
that’s what happened. Employers can save
lots of money doing this, because after you
are made permanent, you have different
working conditions: your pay goes up; they
have to pay more money, as well, to the State
in social security and taxes. That’s how I got
Do you think that’s partly why there is such a high
unemployment rate in Spain at the moment?
They need to redress their entire
employment system. It just doesn’t work.
Did you stay with the same school the whole time?
No, I started with the American Institute and
stayed for two years and then I moved on to a
place called The Canadian Centre, run by a
Canadian woman called Terry. I stayed with
them for seven years, but I also worked their
summer camps: six weeks of summer camps
with kids out in the woods, out in the sticks,
out in the mountains with kids from 6 to 17,
so yeah imagine! I was great. But then, Terry
sold the Canadian Centre and I didn’t stay on
with the new owner.
After that, I worked for Opening School of
English in Spain. They were a massive
organization: 188 schools all over Spain;
88,000 students. I stayed with them until
2001 when they folded for some strange and
It was a great set up. It was the first time that
a school was actually set up for teachers in
Spain, so we had great hours, great pay, and
paid vacations. It was exactly like English
Center Basel: we had group lessons and
group activities; and I was, in fact, Head of
Studies of two of the centres.
And then everything went pear-shaped.
Yeah. In 2001, they disappeared. They closed.
It was set up with a mother company and
some of the centres belonged to this company
and then what they did were franchises. The
schools I worked for were actually franchises.
The mother company was asking for a lot of
money each month for the franchise and for
the material. The owners, my bosses, were
quite on the ball about things and said, “Let’s
put an end to it. Let’s change the name. Let’s
go on our own,” and that’s what we did.
I stayed on until 2003 and then I said I’d had
enough of Spain and decided to leave Spain
forever and go off to London, which I did.
What did you do in London?
I spent about 3 or 4 months doing nothing in
London. The problem was that, two weeks
before leaving Spain, I met my partner, and
we’re still together, so I returned to Spain.
Why the change to Switzerland?
Because my partner works for EasyJet which
has just closed in Spain. The base in Madrid
closed in November. The crews and the pilots
had two choices: transfer to another base in
the network or go into unemployment, which
was never an option. Basel was the best
choice, really. To tell you the truth, I’ve
always wanted to live in France, as well. So,
this is a great
How did you end up
at English Center Basel?
At first, we were
going to commute:
my partner would
come out here and I would stay in Madrid,
commuting until the end of the school term,
because I didn’t want to leave my school in
the lurch. At that time, I was working in
Madrid for EF, the world’s largest English
I sent out some CVs, although I wasn't
expecting to get too many replies to my CV,
because of the time of year, with Christmas
around the corner, and all, Nza got in contact
and after a series of interviews, she said, “Do
you want to start?” and I said, “Yeah, sure, not
a problem,” or, as we say in Australia, “No
worries.” I was delighted to start working at
English Center Basel.
Do you like teaching children or adults?
They’re all the same, but I think it’s more of a
challenge to teach an adult than a kid. With
kids, you need to be on your toes, and the
lessons just go wherever they want to take
Do you have a motto or a special saying?
Not really. I believe in happiness. I always say
that. I don’t know. I have lots of friends who
are always glum, glum, glum. They’re always
sad. They always have all these incredible
things happen to them. They don’t believe in
love and they don’t believe in happiness and
everything’s miserable. Well, I’m completely
Do you have a favourite word or expression?
In Spanish, a lot of people say “¡qué fuerte!”
which means, “That’s really heavy!” I only use
it because it’s really annoying: it’s an
expression used by teenagers, so it’s not
really something that should come out of an
adult’s mouth. Yeah, when somebody says
something to me and I don’t know what to
say to them, I say, “¡qué fuerte!”
In the chat with Henry, a number of idioms were used: keep the ball rolling, be on the ball, go pear-shaped, be left in the lurch, be on one’s toes.
What do you think they mean? Look them up at www.phrases.org.uk or http://esl-bits.net/idioms/index.htm
Incidentally, the website, http://esl-bits.net offers a wonderful range of texts and listening opportunities for learners. Check it out!