April 04, 2008


María Teresa Fusari was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina from a Spanish mother who loved the sea and the mountains and an Argentine father passionate for nature. She inherited that love for life, the search for our origins, the defence of human values and the respect for all kind of life.

Being a teenager she read “Rimas” (Rhymes) by the romantic Spanish writer Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer. It awakened her to poetry. Since then, she became into the “rhyme writer” for every informal celebration.

Later on, at university, when studying to be a Public Translator she re-discoved her passion for poetry diving into the work of those she calls “our masters” which widened her vision of the world to unknown horizons and so fell in love for life with literature, mainly with poetry.
In that time she had the opportunity of meeting the great Argentine writer, Jorge Luis Borges, for whom she had always felt admiration and whose book “Moneda de Hierro” (Iron Coin) bearing his signature she keeps as one of her her most valuable personal treasures.

She started teaching English when she was sixteen years old, working at different levels, public and private.
Some years later she would combine both activities: teaching and being a translator, but her love for kids and teens and working with them had carved her deeply. Her choice was clear.

Meanwhile she started to discover internet and all the possibilities it offers. She made research and learnt how to design a webpage, building her own. That was the way a well-known Spanish Publishing House – Planeta de Agostini- got in touch with offering her to take over their page on Spanish poetry on the site they were to open, which was later known as “Temalia”. There she carried out tasks like writing articles on literature, answering visitors´ questions, leading a forum and a chat.
She got two awards that year for the tasks she carried out with the page and the chat.
That job was a good opportunity to get in touch with many well-known -and not so much- good poets and, some time later, together with a Spanish writer and critic she opened their own forum on literature.

A year later she was invited to moderate “El Fausto”, other forum of the same kind and in 2006 she was requested to take part in a judge for a literature contest.

As a teacher, she kept attending courses and seminars and trying to keep up to date with everything that could make the teaching process more interesting and dynamic.

The continuous need for new authentic material has found on.the internet an endless source of information and material.
Being very inquisitive she came to listen and enjoy the programme “Spotlight on Jazz and Poetry” so much that she immediately thought of it as a good way to make her students learn a bit more about good music and literature while practicing their English using authentic material.

Spotlight On Jazz And Poetry in the ESL CLASS

“Spotlight on Jazz and Poetry” in the ESL class.

The internet has become into an every day tool for teachers and students of English whenever they have access to it, offering a wide source of authentic material.

Personally I just try to keep a balance between their likes, which I use to the benefit of the language acquisition, and my purpose of showing that there is much more than chatting and games on the net.

Calling myself an “internet squirrel”, I keep searching for new challenging material. It was in this way that I came across “Spotlight on Jazz and Poetry”, the programme hosted by Clayton "Bigtrigger" Corley. I enjoyed it so much that I immediately felt I could use it with my students. It gave me the possibility of exposing them not only to the language but to good poetry and music on a cultural basis.

How do I use the programme?
It is excellent for practising listening comprehension, writing and speaking.
Some of the activities students carry out:

- They have to listen and get the gist which is discussed in pairs or the group.
In some cases they are encouraged to listen again to clear up different ideas.
Lower levels are helped through guides as it could be a set of questions, a true/false exercise or specific vocabulary given in advance.
- They are given a copy of part of the text –poem or biography- with some missing key words. They have to fill in the gaps while listening.
- They are given a set of true/false statements. They have to tick the right ones and correct the false ideas while listening.
- According to the student’s level they are textual sentences or they aim to the general comprehension of the verse/stanza/poem.

- Advanced students may be requested to listen and make a comment on the poem/s and the music and/or to give their opinion on the relation they find between the music as the background to the poems
- They are asked to identify specific vocabulary and explain and/or give synonyms in every day language or other type of English.
- They are encouraged to discuss the message of the poem in context and from a cultural basis.
- They may be challenge to role-play: taking the programme as a model, role-play a similar situation including poems and background music.

Working with this kind of material means a challenge to learners as they can see by themselves how proficient they are.

María Teresa Fusari
Teacher of English in Argentina

ESL: English as a Second Language

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