“Any teacher that can be replaced with a computer, deserves to be.” – David Thornburg

31 January 2010


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

To start with:

He admitted that he hadn't studied for the test.

To continue with:

Exercise 1

Exercise 2

Exercise 3

Exercise 4

Exercise 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 on the floor.
- I knew I should not let them talk me into playing.
- And then, after he became headmaster, James Ryerson said he was gonna cut way back on the music department

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

I insist on you doing all the exercises.
I suggest that you do all the exercises.
I urge you to do all the exercises.

27 January 2010


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 short history of the United States of America' (from the documentary 'Bowling for Columbine') by Michael Moore.
Living in a culture of fear (A Bowling for Columbine review)
Capitalism: a love a story (by Michael Moore)
A brief history of the United States of America (according to M. Moore):

26 January 2010


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:

Video explanation:

Argument essay, part 1

Argument essay, part 2

25 January 2010


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 hilarious stories performed by Ted himself and their best friends: Marshall and Lily (already a couple), Robin (Ted's former girlfriend) and Barney (I just can't describe him, you have to see the series because you wouldn't believe me).

Well, for the 100th episode, the series creators decided to make a kind of musical scene. Barney, whose favourite sentences are 'Suit up' and 'Wait for it' is a recognised womaniser. However, in this episode (titled "Suits versus girls") he has to choose between a hot girl and wearing suits. If you want to know how this ended up, you have to watch the following video:

And what can you learn from this song? You have examples of the second conditional, the use of past modal verbs (could've (coulda) gone), the use of I'd rather go, colloquial expressions such as that lady cop who's kinda cute, expressions like casual Friday or it's moot, informal vocabulary such as dude, chick, bro or cuz and the pronunciation of the word "suit" /su:t/ and its two meanings as a noun and as a verb.

Now, the lyrics:

For more online episodes, click here.

08 January 2010


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