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100 YEARS OF ESCUELAS OFICIALES DE IDIOMAS

Have you heard about the celebrations the educational authorities are preparing to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of EEOOII (Official Schools of Languages)? You haven't? Well, no wonder you haven't since nothing is being done. Actually, that's not completely true. Something is being done by the schools themselves, EOI teachers and students but what I mean is that nothing is being done by the people who should do it, taking into account the importance of the event.

Think about it: 1911, that's the year the first school was opened, I mean, in 1911 Spain thought it was important to create an institution where everybody could learn languages no matter their social background. It was a unique institution at the time and it continues being a unique institution at present. Spain is the only country where you can learn languages (and a lot of them) in a public institution, meaning low prices (being state-run) and excellent quality.
Anyway, I don't intend to complain…

CHRISTMAS, YOU'D BETTER ENJOY IT!!!

Well, well, ready or not, Christmas is here. If you have some time after all the Christmas celebrations and preparation, here you have some activities to improve your English.
1. December, 18th 2009 post 2. January, 8th 2010 post

I always tend to avoid Christmas carols but after reading Dickens's Christmas Carol and the important role of carolers there, I think that for this year's post you are going to get one. Aren't you excited? The Chosen One is Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I'm sure you've heard it a lot and you might have noticed the use of the structure 'You'd better do something' which is used as a warning or a piece of advice.

Here you have a video with the carol and the lyrics so that you can see this language structure in context and then you can do some of the exercises below.





Had better: explanation + exercises
Had better: additional explanation + more exercises
Had better: more practice, if you aren't tired yet.

Mariah Carey's Santa Clau…

A CHRISTMAS CAROL, a good read

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: read online (and free download) from Project Gutenberg, a site that offers hundreds of books that can be read online and downloaded free of charge because their copyright has expired. A Christmas Carol: audio version A Christmas Carol: online quiz Remember that you should have finished reading this wonderful book by the second week of December in order to enjoy the different activities we, the Avanzado 2 teachers, are preparing for you (a lecture, film viewing and more). A lot different adaptations have been made of this classic, not only films but also one-off episodes from popular TV series such as Doctor Who or Blackadder. Doctor Who A Christmas Carol Official Trailer: 2010 Christmas special
Doctor Who: Official Website and Classic SeriesBlackadder's parody of A Christmas Carol (Pleasant Ebenezer Blackadder is turned into a cruel and witty miser after seeing visions of his ancestors and descendants). Narrated by Hugh Laurie, here you can see an e…

MEMORY IMPROVEMENT

In order to avoid frustrating memory loss and retain and recall more information you can click on the following links:

Memory improvement techniques
Memory improvement tips
Tips and techniques for memory enhancement
Boost your brain power: free brain games
Top 10 mysteries of the mind
Featured memory stories


Dominic O'Brien, aka memory man, has won the Memory World Championship eight times so I think it might be useful to listen to him, don't you?

THANKSGIVING

How much do you really know about Thanksgiving in spite of the American TV series invasion? Try this Thanksgiving quiz, if you dare. If you want to know more, you can click here so that you can visit the November 26th, 2009 post I wrote about Thanksgiving last year.

GERUNDS AND INFINITIVES PRACTICE

Hi, just a couple of links with some exercises that'll help you with this grammatical point.


Nov. 4th, 2009 EnglishWithoutEnd post
My Avanzado 2 colleague's blog

I hope you use this and make the most of it.

CONNECTED SPEECH

As you all know, connected speech is a very important feature of the English language. I have happened to come across this wonderful song with clear examples such as:

Picture perfect memories scattered all around the floor.
It's a quater after one, I'm all alone and I need you now.
I said I wouldn't call but I lost all control.
It's quarter after one, I'm alittle drunk and I need you now.

Now, listen carefully and then sing along. I'm sure you can do it!

FIRST DAY EXPERIENCES

Hey, everyone. As we are dealing with first day experiences, major changes and huge leaps, in this post you can find the first episode from The Inbetweeners, a British sitcom about a suburban teenager and his friends at a Comprehensive School. "First day" is the title of episode 1, in which Will (the main character), who previously attended a private school, has been relocated to a state school because of money problems. The episode is divided into three parts and English subtitles are included. Have fun! Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 If you are in the mood for more, here you have a direct link to Martín's blog where you can find more videos on first days. VAGUE LANGUAGE So, after the fun part, let's move on to the exercise part, shall we? You all know we use vague language or approximating expressions when we don't want to or cannot be accurate. In order to practise this specific speech feature a bit more, click on the following direct links: Using vague language Vague language q…

I WANT YOU TO READ THIS

NOTE!!!

I want to helpyou.
I want youto help me.
So don't you dare say something like *I want that you help me which is totally wrong.

Check some examples here. We use this structure when the wish is for somebody else to do the activity. It happens with other verbs such as would like, expect, need, etc. Well, here you have a direct link for a list of verbs you can use this way plus an exercise.

Finally, I think that after listening to this song, you'll never forget how to use these verbs.



If you want to know more about this band, click here.

A FRESH START

Unit 1A: A fresh start. This is the first unit from the book we are going to use this year. It deals with the changes people may go through in their lives such as living abroad, for instance.
The English-speaking country we can learn about is South Africa, very popular recently because of the film Invictus directed by Clint Eastwood. It is based on the book Invictus by John Carlin. Here, Nelson Mandela, in his first term as the South African President, initiates a unique venture to unite the apartheid-torn land: enlist the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup. If you haven't read it yet, I strongly recommend that you do it. It's really outstanding.

Anyway, as a complementary exercise, here you have a direct link to Martín's blog (one of the Avanzado 2 teachers) where you can watch a video on South Africa and try to answer some questions we will discuss in class. Note: I will use my blog as a complementary tool as much as possible so get used to…

USE THE SCHOOL LIBRARY

I am writing this post just to remind you that our school boasts a fantastic library with lots of books (both abridged and original) and dvds (both films and TV series) in the five languages you can learn here (English, French, German, Italian and Spanish). Besides, there are five computers with Internet access that any student can use. There were almost 3,000 loans last year and this number increases every year. Apart from that, new material is added throughout the course on students' demand or by the teachers' choice. Our "mediateca" is well worth a visit. Even if you are no longer a student here ("antiguos alumnos") you can continue borrowing. Not only can you find books and dvds in other languages which are very difficult to find in your town library but also it will only take you five minutes before or after your class. Isn't it great? Anyway, here you have a direct link to the EOI Alcalá Library Catalogue, if you wish you check what you can find th…

U-SING?

One of the most useful resources that we can find when learning a second language is music. Songs are part of our lives. Certain songs make us remember certain people, places or important/unimportant moments. In a way, we can say that we have our own life soundtrack. So, my point is, if music plays such an important role and we are able to remember and repeat songs forever after, why don't we use them to our own advantage? If you are not using songs in English as a learning tool by now, what are waiting for? To make this task easier for you, here you have a list of incredibly useful websites that you can use. So, u-sing? Lyrics training Subingles Agendaweb songs Allphonetics Saber inglés songs Tune into English Musical English lessons Sing your English Learn English with The Beatles Learn English through Song Learn English A-Z

MAYDAY, WE ARE SINKING!!!

Hey, everyone! Here I am again, looking forward to starting our new course and full of ideas in order to help you to improve your English. So, welcome on board!! When I started thinking about what my first post for this new beginning should be, I immediately started looking for something easy and fun but impressive at the same time. What I came across was a funny commercial about the importance of improving your English. I have to say that I couldn't help laughing the first time I saw it. The background is the following: there is a new German coast guard on post. When he is on duty there is an emergency call from a sinking ship and if you want to know what happened...


I told you. Clever, isn't it? Well, you know that making a new a language your own is neither easy nor fast. You can choose either to keep your head above water (to do just enough to keep going) or to work your heart out (to make the most of it) so what do you prefer sinking or floating and swimming? Need help?How…

READING FOR PLEASURE

ODE TO WORKI AM TIRED BECAUSE I AM OVERWORKED The population of Britain is 51 million. 21 million are retired. That leaves 30 million to do the work. There are 19 million in school. That leaves 11 million to do the work. Of this total, 2 million are unemployed and 4 million are employed by the government. That leaves 5 million to do the work. 1 million are in the armed forces which leaves 4 million to do the work! From that total 3 million are employed by the County and Borough Councils leaving 1 million to do the work! There are 620,000 people in hospitals and 379,998 in prison. That leaves 2 people to do the work! You and me. And you are sitting doing nothing reading this ... NO WONDER I AM TIRED!!!
THE WORK SONG



Well, I swing this hammer from 9 to 5
Been workin' for the man just to stay alive
W-O-R-K is how I spell work

Feel depressed, I miss my family
Maybe if I work long then I'll feel just fine
Haven't smoked in a week
My back is kinda tweaked
Give me work, give me pride, give me loads of o…

IMPROVE YOUR ENGLISH NOW!!!!

I've just come across this wonderful blog which will help you to improve your English. The difference is that it focuses on the typical mistakes made by Spanish learners of English so that you can improve your English, not by learning new grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation, but by correcting the mistakes you make in the grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation you already know. I think hablar mejor inglés is a great idea.
Besides, here you have a direct link to a pdf file about the art of learning English. I hope you find it useful. Fancy reading? "Finding a lost language: the Rosetta Stone" and Timesonline. What about listening? A history of the world: the Rosetta Stone by the BBC and the British Museum.

TO SPEAK OR NOT TO SPEAK

Pronunciation practice
Game: odd sound out


To speak or not to speak: is that the question? Well, I'm pretty sure that your speaking skill can be improved by listening to music, but not just for fun (which is also great, though), but paying attention to the actual pronunciation of words, how words are linked to each other, and stuff like that. Why don't you try the following song? Focus on the pronunciation of I'm a and the way it's linked (it's all over the chorus) and SING ALONG, of course!


IT'S WORTH KEEPING AN EYE ON THAT BLOG

Guess what? English Without End has been awarded with ‘Vale a pena ficar de olho nesse blog’ award by Ángel Gonzalez, a teacher of English and Science and author of a fascinating blog called Colonial Nuggets. I think you will find this blog really interesting for your kids and also for those of you interested in science. I just remember a couple of weeks ago when one of you was so kind as to share with us the book 'The Complete History of the Universe' by Brian May (former Queen guitarist). A conversation about science followed and other titles were mentioned such as 'A Brief History of Nearly Everything' by Bill Bryson. Make sure you keep an eye on this blog. You won't regret it.
This award is part of an initiative that seeks to highlight the blogs of other teachers and students. The chosen blog has to copy the picture (the one on the left), with a link to the blog from which it has received the award. Then you have to write ten more links to the blogs which are w…

ELLIPSIS PRACTICE

Exercise 1Exercise 2 Lots of exercises
Listening and grammar (here you can listen to speeches from important political figures)


Nelson Mandela Day, Madrid 2010 Nelson Mandela Day was first celebrated in New York in 2009. The second Nelson Mandela Day will be celebrated in Madrid on 18th July, 2010. Throughout the month Madrilians will enjoy the performances of different artists who also think that changing the world is 'in our hands'. If you want to know more about this special celebration, click here or here. Also you can find information in Cadena 100.
If you haven't seen Invictus yet, now it's probably a very good moment. Reading the book by John Carlin, which the film is based on is also a great option.
Reviews: Philadelphia Weekly The Guardian The Telegraph Newsweek In spite of Mandela's legacy, problems still arise in South Africa what some claim is threatening this year's Football World Cup which will be held in Mandela's country: News item 1 News item 2 News item…

I WAS MUGGED BY A MONKEY!!!

Today's post:


Vocabulary: crime and criminals

Violence
Police, detectives and prison
Words in the news: listeningChinese electronics tycoon in court
Parisian shop sues crime writer
Goa's tourism hit by attacks on visitors

As for TV series, I recommend you to see episode 20, season 5 from How I met your mother, where Marshall was mugged ... by a monkey! Absolutely hilarious:)

HAVING SAID THAT, ....

Exercise 1
Exercise 2
Exercise 3
Exercise 4

Examples of participle sentences in use can be found anywhere but I particularly remember a TV series called Pushing Daisies. The story being told by a narrator makes the use of participle clauses a common device. I'm afraid I don't remember any extract so that you can see participle clauses in context but here you have a video which will help you make up your mind about this TV series. I warn you, it is a bit odd but I like it, anyway.

LYRICS TRAINING

Guess what? I've just come across this absolutely amazing website for you to improve your English through songs (if you are learning other languages, songs in French, Italian, German and Spanish are also provided).
Look, there are almost 400 songs divided into three levels (easy, medium and hard) and the most important feature of this website is that, once you've chosen the song you want to listen to, you are asked to select the game mode (beginner, intermediate or expert). Depending on the mode, the exercise will be more or less difficult but the best part is that the song waits for you while you are completing the lines, can you believe that?

Lyrics Training

So, if you like music, games and English, this is one of the website in which you really have fun while you are learning. Great, isn't it?

Two songs I chose for you:

I wish you were here by Pink Floyd
Something stupid by Frank Sinatra

NEW YORK, I love you

This year some teachers from the English department (me included) prepared a trip to New York. What started as an ambitious project, finished with a group of 50 students plus 3 teachers, all of them exploring the Big Apple from the 24th to the 30th of April. And now the time comes when we can't stop telling anecdotes to our families, friends and classmates. Besides, this week we are holding the school's cultural week dedicated to ... New York (difficult to guess, wasn't it?). We are having an exposition of photographs from the trip (there will be a prize for the best photograph), conferences and get-togethers for students so that they can share their travelling experiences in NY at the same time that they practise their English.So, here you have some background music about this utterly incredible city. I hope you enjoy the music and the pictures.

Empire State of Mind (J-Ray and Alicia Keys)


With lyrics


And a classic, New York, New York by Frank Sinatra


Fancy singing?


I found an…

A CATCHY TUNE

I've just come across this wonderful website with lots of songs in order to sing along and practise English pronunciation.

Have fun!

Tune into English: Student's area
Tune into English: Karaoke

I've chosen one song of my own. I love this song =)

HEALTHCARE

Vocabulary exercise 1
Lots of vocabulary exercises
Obesity epidemic (words in the news, listening)
Quiznet: swine flu
Hangman: anatomy and health
Illnesses and medical advice

Multiple choice listening (exam practice)



THE US DEBATE ON HEALTHCARE


In favour...

and against...




Interview to a supporter...




And what Obama is trying to do...




Obama calls for civility in healthcare debate





Healthcare in Spain

And now, the fun part: Bad medicine. Sing along!

A REMINDER: -ed pronunciation

Watch this:




Now some practice:
Exercise 1
Exercise 2
Exercise 3

Exercise 4 (with sounds)
Exercise 5 (Am.E. with sounds)

And now, a song to practise past simple verbs. Enjoy!


Please, do notice the pronunciation of irregular verbs such as SAID /sed/ or BROUGHT /brɔːt/and the pronunciation of regular verb such as BLESSED /blest/ or LOVED /lʌvd/.

Besides, there are other aspects of English pronunciation that you should pay attention to, for instance, when she says "I'M EVERYTHING I AM BECAUSE OF YOU" /ɑɪmevrɪθɪŋ/.

LET'S CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF

British English or American English? Which do you find it easier to understand? There are differences in grammar, spelling, vocabulary and pronunciation so in this post we'll do some practice about this, what does it sound like?

Br.E. vs. Am.E. guideVocabulary differences 1
Vocabulary differences 2
Vocabulary differences with sounds

Spelling differences
Grammar differences
Business English
Pronunciation
Now, are you ready to put everything into practice?

Exercise 1
Exercise 2
Exercise 3
Exercise 4
Exercise 5, listening
Exercise 6, crossword


And, finally, this wonderful song by Louis Amstrong and Ella Fitzgerald:
"Let's call the whole thing off"













Letras de cancionesLetras de canciones de Ella FitzgeraldLetra de Cancion Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off


I have come across this wonderful blog in which you can learn English pronunciation and sounds through songs. Believe me, it's amazing!

Allphonetics


Fancy knowing Louis Amstrong better?
Biography
Videos
New York Museum

GENDER GAP

There are a lot references to this issue in several TV series. Here you have an example from Life with Derek, a Canadian TV series. This episode is called 'Slacker Mom'. Casey's Mom, Nora, decides to quit her job for a while to spend more time with her family who she assumes she's been neglecting.
Part 1

Part 2





FANCY SOME READING PRACTICE?

SPLENDID SPEAKING

Hey, everyone. Guess what? I've just come across an awesome website for you to improve speaking. It's called Splendid Speaking and it gives examples and teaches strategies for English speaking exams all over the world. Just what you needed, didn't you?

Practise your English exam video


SPECIAL REPORTING VERBS

Hello again. If you thought that you were going to get rid of reported speech so easily, you were clearly mistaken :-)

To start with:
list of reporting verbs 1list of reporting verbs 2referring to sources when writingHe admitted that he hadn't studied for the test.To continue with:Exercise 1Exercise 2Exercise 3Exercise 4Exercise 5
Video explanation (from minute 3:30, approx.)



To finish with, it occurred to me that there is no better way to assimilate structures than to hear them in context. That's why I have chosen this episode from the remarkable TV series Murder, she wrote. In this episode from Season 11, School for Murder, you have the opportunity to listen to reported speech in context because the adorable Jessica Fletcher is always telling the sheriff what other people said or did. Some examples are:

- Besides, Collin promised that the society would completely protect us, didn’t he?
- Why did Mike and Sarah say they saw it on the floor?
- Mike and Sarah remember that this was o…

THE CULTURE OF FEAR

Fear plays a key role in 21st century consciousness. Last century was frequently described as an "Age of Anxiety" but in recent decades, it has become more and better defined as the "culture of fear". Apart from being associated with catastrophic threats such as terrorist attacks, global warming, AIDS or a potential flu pandemic, there are also quiet fears of everyday life. In addition, since fear has become a powerful force that dominates the public imagination, the amplification of fear through the media has become a paramount tool.
According to some experts, American society is a clear example of this tendency. The questions 'why do Americans have the constitutional right to own a gun? and, what's more, why are they using their guns to kill fellow citizens?" haven't got a simple answer. Obviously, this is a complex issue to deal with in a few words but in this post you'll find some direct links to articles related to it and the video 'A …

HOW TO WRITE AN ESSAY

Your next writing task will be an essay. I intend to teach how to do it in class but I think it would be a good idea if you do some preparation exercises on your own. Essay writing, or writing in general, is not an easy task. Some students feel that they are bad at writing and that there is nothing they can do about it. However, they are quite wrong. You can learn some techniques in order to improve your writing. I hope that the next links will help you to get a clear picture of what you are supposed to do when writing an essay: Essay writing Essay tips How to write an essay
Video explanation:
Argument essay, part 1


Argument essay, part 2

NOTHING SUITS ME LIKE A SUIT!!

You know I'll never get tired of telling you about the benefits of V.O films and TV series. There are so many things you can learn just by watching TV in English! For example, a while ago, I was watching one of the latest episodes from one of my favourite TV series, How I met your Mother, and when they started singing in a kind of musical style I couldn't but take some notes of the different aspects of the English language that a teacher can develop in a lesson. I can't see a film without thinking of the possible uses in a language class and honestly, I don't know if this is a blessing or a curse but I can't help it.
Anyway, How I met your mother is a love story in reverse. It's the year 2030 and Ted Mosby is telling his kids how he met their mother at the end of the first decade of the 21st century. The story starts in the year 2005 and by 2009 (season 5) we still don't know who his wife will be but, in the meantime, we are witnesses of incredibly hilario…

CLASSES ARE HERE!! WELCOME BACK

Hey, everybody!! Welcome back. Here we are again after the Christmas excesses that we have to try to burn off now. I can't help you with that but what I can do is help you to get off to a good start on Monday (with a big smile, if possible).

What have you been up to during the holidays? Well, apart from the usual Chistmassy things, I've been reading a lot, visiting museums and expositions, going to the cinema and such. I've also seen some Michael Moore documentaries and I have some ideas for our classes, you'll find out soon.
For now, here you have an episode from Father Ted ("A Christmassy Ted") which is something from the bright side of life. Enjoy!
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6