pythons and performance art

After the end of the winter holiday we have started a new lesson today in our first English class this year 2009 at Escuela Oficial de Idiomas. The matter is Art. Grammar subjects in lesson 5 are narrative tenses and past perfect continuous. Functional language subject is evaluating. We are going to learn vocabulary about Art -ever words and phrasal verbs. We are going to learn the pronunciation of long vowels. And to write a review.

But before that we’ve watched a National Geographic video clip about pythons. I haven’t found any reference to the documentary in Internet.

However, I’ve found out references about Dr Alexander Graham from Witwatersrand University who is the main character of the video clip. The clip features the research of Prof. Graham within the Thermal Biology & Energetics Research Programme in the ESRG Group at the University. We learned how they did the research in the field about Southern African snakes (i.e Pythons) using high technology devices to collect the physiological information and locate the animals.

Lesson 5A


Word List (from p. 55 Student’s Book)

abstract (adjective)
collection (noun countable)
conceptual (adjective)
dealer (noun countable)
exhibition (noun countable)
figurative (adjective)
landscape (noun countable)
mural (noun countable)
patron (noun countable)
portrait (noun countable)
sculpture (noun countable)
self-portrait (noun countable)
sill life (noun countable)

The words which are underlined are considered the most common basic words. I would add also the word painting as a basic word. And in a dialogue in class where our teacher Gemma asked us about our art preferences another words came up like seascape paintings (i.e marinas)

Exercise 1: Complete the questions with a word from the box:

abstract – collection – dealers – exhibition – landscapes – patrons – sculptures

1 Which gallery or museum in your country has the largest ___collection___ of fine art?

2 Are there any large ___sculptures___ or murals in the streets an squares of your town?

3 Who is the most famous painter in your country? Was he/she a figurative or an ___abstract___ artist?

4 Who are the most famous ___patron__ of the arts in your country?

5 In which part of your town you can find private galleries and art ___dealers?

6 What was the last art ___exhibition___ that you went to?

7 In general, do you prefer ___landscapes___, still lifes or portraits?

Exercise 2 Work in pairs. Ask and answer the questions in exercise 1.

So we did.

1 Museo del Prado in Madrid

2 There are some figurative and landscape paintings in the walls of some buildings I’ve seen recently. There are also a lot of Graffiti in some walls throughout the city.

3 Spain has quite a few famous painters: Goya, Velazquez, Picasso are some of the most known, not only in Spain but in the rest of the World.

4 Financial institutions, national and local governments are the patrons of the arts in Spain.

5 There are few places in Santander where you can go visit exhibitions or sell or buy works of art. The first name I can think of is Galeria Siboney.

6 I can’t even remember the last time I went to an art exhibition. I’m ashamed of myself :(

7 I prefer seascapes. I also like portraits.


1 comentario en “pythons and performance art

  1. After watching the southern African snakes video clip we had to correct some statements written in a piece of paper we were given about the content expressed there:

    1. Pythons can be over 5 metres long, but they are not very thick.

    Pythons can be pretty thick. The documentary’s narrator says that they can be thicker than a man’s thigh.

    2. Their size makes them easy to find.

    The fact is they are not easy to find. The documentary’s narrator says that it’s nearly impossible. That is because of the remote places where the snake lives and the extension of its habitat.

    3. Dr Graham Alexander is experimenting with a tracking device to get some answers about the animals and the prey they feed on.

    It’s true that Dr Graham is using a device to track down the snakes and get some information but it’s false that they’re trying to get some answers about the prey they feed on. They’re rather looking for physiological parameters.

    4. They insert a radio transmitter into the python to identify the snake for life.

    The transmitter is not to identify the snake but to track it down in order to locate it and recover the data logger, which is another device they insert along with the transmitter into the python. Besides the transmitter has a limited power supply so they must find the snake before the battery dies. Unless they are able to do that they’ll loose all the information stored in the data logger.

    5. The ‘data logger’ records snake’s blood pressure.

    The data logger records the snake’s body temperature.

    6. The ‘data logger’ emits a signal that allows them to get the information and download it into a computer.

    It’s the transmitter which emits the signal and allows them to recapture the snake and get the data logger and connect it to a computer to get information.

    7. Dr Graham is developing previous studies with high technology and snakes.

    There are no previous studies about snakes using this high technology devices, This is the first study employing such devices.

    8. It won’t be difficult for them to find the missing snale because they know exactly where it lives.

    It’s true that they know the territory where the southern African snakes live. But that territory cover more than eight countries and it’s mainly desert and marsh areas. A python hides in holes in the soil in the desert part or can be under the water for more than one hour. So their search is very difficult.

    9. Dr Graham has liked pythons for 13 years.

    I couldn’t catch this one myself. The mistake is in the figure: 30 and not 13.

    10. If they don’t locate the snake they won’t be able to tell if the snake is alive or not.

    It’s true. I suppose? :)


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