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

16 December 2011

CHRISTMAS TIME: LOL?














MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR BEAN!, by maria elena sabadini
Find this and other christmas exercises in English Exercises .org


UPPER INTERMEDIATE AND ADVANCED LEVEL:
More Christmas activities

Christmas in Britain: reading

Christmas webquest

Santa Claus is coming to town, by Maria Jose Garcia
Find this and other christmas exercises in English Exercises .org



BASIC LEVEL:

Christmas carols

Christmas Vocabulary, by Zora
Find this and other christmas exercises in English Exercises .org
Christmas, by Edite Tentere
Find this and other christmas exercises in English Exercises .org



And now for everyone, sing along!!!



06 June 2011

There's a fire starting in my heart....

Sounds familiar? This is the beginning of one of the most popular songs nowadays. I'm sure you've heard of Adele, haven't you? Well, I really love this song. As a matter of fact, I love all Adele's songs but I'm going to show you 'Rolling in the Deep' just for teaching purposes, ok?

While you are listening to the song, please do notice the way she says 'we could have had it all', 'remind me of us' and 'you played it to the beat'. Also, don't miss the expression "reap just what you sow".

Well, without further ado, here you have this marvellous song. Enjoy and sing along!!


NPR Music: Adele, in concert (you can listen to the entire radio show here)
YouTube mix for Adele

20 May 2011

EL HORMIGUERO TV SHOW: CAN THEY SPEAK ENGLISH?

You see, I was watching TV yesterday and, as usual, there was nothing on. I was just about to turn it off when I came across a programme from AprendeInglés TV . It was about one of the most popular shows on Spanish television nowadays. Maybe you are fans of "El Hormiguero", too. Would you like to know how some of the famous people working there get by in speaking English?





Learning English enemy: dubbing

18 May 2011

SPEAKING EXAM PREPARATION

Hello, guys, here you have a link to a video about telling an anecdote, which is good practice for the monologue part of the speaking exam you are going to take in June. The girl is speaking about a time she did something personally challenging.

I want you to focus on how she structures the information, how she moves on from one idea to another one, how she stops to think, how she uses topic-related vocabulary and so on and so forth. Use the play and pause buttons to listen to her and then to repeat after her, trying to imitate her, actually.

Come on! You can do it!Emoticono Animo

10 May 2011

NEW ZEALAND SUSTAINABLE TOURISM


As I promised, here you can see the video about New Zealand tourism again.


Need some help?
  • green and pristine environment
  • the kiwi way of life
  • the main reason visitors come to NZ is for our environment so looking after it is not only vital for tourism but also the country's economy.
  • gross domestic product
  • environmental protection and sustainability measures
  • Real Journeys (700,000 tourists a year). The possible environmental effect to that volume of people could have is daunting but the company is well aware of its responsabilities.
  • Real Journeys achieve being environmentally responsible in a number of ways:
- we support conservation causes
- we invest in technology
- we ensure we are operting modern low emission top equipment
- we get into recycling
- we do whatever we can to ensure that we operate in the most environmentally sustainable manner
- we also support a number of organisations
  • Real Journeys like many other operators works closely with the Department of Conservation (DOC)
  • DOC's job is to protect and preserve our natural resources and with 30% of NZ set aside on reserves is a big job.
  • With many business operating within our National Parks, this relationship between conservation and tourism needs to be symbiotic.
  • We've learnt to live together because we have a common objective. DOC is essentially focused on making sure that our natural places are healthy and that they are there for people to enjoy.
  • A good example of using natural resources to re-energize a failing economy is Whale Watch Kaikotours.
  • The primary aim was to create employment. Unemployment was very very high, especially among the Maori and we needed to find a way to create a future here for our people. We didn't have the option to move to another part of the country. This is where we have our roots.
  • We are looking after you, visitors, sharing with you, visitors, and the natural resources that we have here but doing it in such a way that they'll be here for tomorrow.
  • I believe in the idea of conservation but I believe whole-heartedly in the idea or the concept of restoration, restoring the natural resources we used to have a hundred years back.
  • Another marine enterprise working hard to deliver a quality and sutainable tourism experience is Dive Tutukaka, located just off the north east coast of NZ, one of the ten top diving spots in the world.
  • A fantastic environment, subtropical waters, lots of fish life, tunnels and sea caves ... the spirituality of the place, the Maori history.
  • Education is actually one of the biggest returns we give to our customers besides having a good time and really enjoying the marine environment. They come back with a lot of knowledge about the marine environment here in NZ and they start to see the benefits of marine reserves and the practice of using marine reserves in a sustainable manner.
  • Around 2,500,000 visitors come to NZ every year. Managing those numbers is key to the survival of the country and the tourism industry. While NZ's strategy is to promote travel off-peak, it also encourages visitors to travel to most of the country's regions.
  • With transport, one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions, NZ's largest transport network, InterCity, recognizes its obligations to the environment.
  • The Carbon Zero programme allows us to do that at the moment.
  • Our goal is to use technology ultimately to get to a point where we actually have zero emission coming out.
  • NZ geographic isolation and long period without human habitation have resulted in a unique natural environment.
  • A bird sanctuary roaming with rare and endangered flora and fauna.
  • It's the most important reason why tourists come to NZ because of the image that we portray.
  • NZ is a unique and extraordinary place. It may be a small country but it's big on the environmental pledge.
  • We touch visitors in a certain way when they come here. They go away feeling enriched and with a different attitude to the world and I'll sum it up by saying that we perhaps could change the world, one visitor at a time.

Learn to speak New Zealand
New Zealand pronunciation

28 April 2011

IRELAND IS GRAND!!!

This year our school trip took us to Ireland. What can I say about it? It was absolutely grand!!!! A great crack!!! (notice the use of Irish English slang). We saw amazing scenery, the weather was fantastic (really, it was sunny all the time, can you believe it?) and the students overcame their shyness and took every opportunity they had to practise English.


Well, in this post you can do some exercises to know a bit more about Ireland and Irish English. Plus, I'll show some of the places we visited. I hope you 'll be able to see them in person one day. Maybe, you already have.





























Cliffs of Moher



The Giant's Causeway





The Ha'penny bridge (Dublin)



31 March 2011

A FAREWELL TO ALARMS

If you want to see this episode from My Family again, here you have a direct link. Enjoy!!

21 March 2011

LAW AND ORDER


'Crime and punishment' old entries

Crime vocabulary exercise 1
Crime vocabulary exercise 2

Law and Order vocabulary exercises

Crime and punishment and related topics with lots of exercises (vocabulary, reading, listening, games, ...)

Learn English with music: crime vocabulary
Bob Dylan, Hurricane

Learn English with American television: crime vocabulary
Law and Order

Look out for cyclists ad

Whodunnit: who killed Lord Smithe?

Great literature? NY Times
The ingredients for a great Whodunnit
Midsomer Murders (TV series)

My favourite Whodunnit writers:
Agatha Christi
PD James
Ian Rankin
Caroline Graham
Charlaine Harris
Sue Grafton
Camilla Läckberg
Henning Mankell

08 March 2011

COMPULSIVE EXERCISE

Compulsive exercise or gymorexia (a kind of new anorexia) is a new mental disorder where people get obsessed with working out so, the question is: how much exercise is too much?

LISTENING ACTIVITY.
Watch this video and do the fill in the gaps exercise below.



-Some men feel the need to look __________________ and for more and more men their ___________ is turning into an obsession.

- Asked about whether he is addicted, David Moore admits he is a _______________ and worries about calories whenever he misses a day in the gym.

-According to the reporter, gymorexia is due to ___________________ and the _________________ on young men.

-According to sport psychologist, what happens physiologically when you exercise is that the endorphins _________________ and if you miss a day your body feels it’s missing something.

-As the reporter says, the key is finding a balance. Some people like Mark , in fact, have no problems ___________________. He says that if he misses one day or two it’s not the _____________________

Vocabulary question: Can you remember all the expressions used in the report to refer to gymorexia?



Answers:
1- Lean and muscular
2- Workout
3- Slave to the scale
4- The spread of the fitness club culture /increasing pressure
5- Kick in
6- Stepping off the treadmill
7- End of the world

Vocabulary question:
Gymorexia, exercise dependency, gym junkie, being obsessed, pushing their workout to the extreme, slave to the scale, exercise compulsion.

Funky phrasals: health
Health vocabulary and lingo challenge
Feeling healthy quiz
Health quiz
How to... health

House MD about vaccination


House-ism


For March, 4th 2010 post on healthcare, click here.

02 March 2011

IF YOU HADN'T BUT YOU DID...

Listen to this song about regrets and do notice the effort to make words rhyme with 'if', like when she says 'what's the diff?' meaning 'what's the difference?'
The song is quite fast, so the lyrics are provided in case you might need them.
Have fun and sing along, if you can!



Lyrics | If You Hadn't But You Did (From Two On The Aisle 1951) lyrics

Kristin Chenoweth appeared in the popular TV series Pushing Daisies. Have you ever heard about it? It is sometimes referred to as a forensic fairy tale. It centers on the life of Ned, a pie-maker gifted with the mysterious ability to bring dead things back to life by touching them. There are some conditions to this talent. Ned quickly learns that if something is revived for more than exactly one minute, something of similar "life value" in the vicinity drops dead, as a form of balance. Additionally, if he touches the revived person or thing a second time, it falls dead again, this time permanently.

24 February 2011

I WISH I COULD...





Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true. Or as The Dalai Lama said "Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck". Other famous quotes about this are "If a man could have half his wishes, he would double his troubles" by Benjamin Franklin, or "When the gods want to punish us, they answer our prayers" by Oscar Wilde.


Anyway, let's forget about philosophical issues and focus on language learning, shall we?

May 12th 2009 post on wishes and regrets

Exercise 1
Exercise 2
Exercise 3

BBC Learning English listening: Three wishes
BBC Learning English, The Flatmates episode 67: Wish (language point and quiz too!!!)
BBC Learning English, The Flatmates episode 177: Third conditional

14 February 2011

VALENTINE'S DAY







Valentine's Day History and things
Videos on the history of VD and the science of love
Valentine's Day crafts and recipes
Valentine's Day crossword
Valentine's Day quiz

Every Breath You Take by The Police

10 February 2011

EXAM PRACTICE

Listening exam: multiple choice and multiple matching

YOU SHOULD'VE...

More practice about modal verbs in the past?

You should've said no by Taylor Swift (thanks, Silvia, for the tip)


Modal verbs online exercises, click here.

Click here, if you want to read the post I wrote about the song 'Nothing suits me like suit' from the TV series How I met your mother last year. You'll be able to listen to the song again while reading the lyrics at the same time.

01 February 2011

BRITISH ACCENTS


Now, here you have a website where you can listen to people with different accents. Have fun! Accents
What else? Well, Recently, I've watched a TV series called Gavin and Stacey, you might have heard about it. Anyway, it is about a nice boy from Essex (England) and a sweet girl from Barry (Wales) who fell in love and got married. Now their families and friends have to deal with this new situation and I assure you the consequences of this new life for all of them are hilarious. Besides, you can really notice the difference between English and Welsh accents and expressions. For example, Nessa, Stacey's friend, always says "what's ocurring?" instead of "what's the matter?".
Listening exercise: South East Wales voices



The awkward breakfast: Stacey's uncle makes fun of American accent:


Gavin's friends go to Barry: nobody speaks Welsh here, you slag!!!


Check this out, you can even make the Gavin&Stacey tour. They have a special tour for Valentine's Day. What do you make of that?

CONFUSING VERBS


In this post you are going to find a bit of everything, such as:


REPORTING VERBS:

31st January, 2010 post on special reporting verbs, click here.

CONFUSING VERBS EXERCISES:
look/see/watch I
look/see/watch II
remember/remind
lend/borrow
let/leave
do/make I
do/make II
take/bring
talk/speak
Confusing verbs
More confusing verbs
Pairs of confusing verbs: pdf files here and here
BBC quiznet (confusing verbs)
BBC quiznet (expressions with take)

Well, you know there are many others such as threat and warn. This morning we had a bit of a problem telling one from the other, but remember, a threat is a warning that something unpleasant is imminent while a warning is a message informing of danger.


FEELING ANGRY:



TALKING ABOUT FILMS:

BBC quiznet (collocations)


REASON AND RESULT:

BBC quiznet (cause and effect)

BBC quiznet (reason and result)


COMMON ENGLISH MISTAKES


20 January 2011

PARADISE LOST: Nauru

As ABBA said, 'money, money, money, always sunny in a rich man's world'. Why is money so important? Can't we just live with bare necessities? Well, money doesn't buy happiness (but does it help you to be happy?)

In this post, you are going to do some revision exercises about cleft sentences (Exercise 1, Exercise 2 and Exercise 3) and learn more things about Nauru (Nauru's natural phosphate reserves once made millionaires of the entire population. Now they're among the world's poorest countries). Some recommendations about films dealing with this issue will be provided.

Nauru: lonely planet

Nauru Official Tourism Website


video


Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books. The poem concerns the Christian story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

Now, when thinking about this, there were several films and TV series that came into my mind. We have the film You can't take it with you by Frank Capra (for movie clips, click here) and the TV series Arrested Development. Of course, we can't forget the meanest character in the history of English literature, Scrooge, from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.


Now, time for a joke, don't you think?
Lying on his deathbed, the rich, miserly old man calls to his long-suffering wife. "I want to take all my money with me," he tells her. "So promise me you'll put it in the casket." After the man dies, his widow attends the memorial service with her best friend. Just before the undertaker closes the coffin, she places a small metal box inside. Her friend looks at her in horror. "Surely," she says, "you didn't put the money in there." "I did promise him I would," the widow answers. "So I got it all together, deposited every penny in my account, and wrote him a check. If he can cash it, he can spend it."

18 January 2011

THE PLASTIC BAG BAN

The future of the Earth is in our hands, literally. Our planet seems to depend on the way we choose to carry our groceries home, which leads us to one of the most controversial topics nowadays: the plastic debate.

Well, I've prepared a listening exercise for you to do. I took a news item from NPR about the plastic bag ban in San Francisco. Listen to the story and complete the following sentences. When you finish, check the answers at the end of this post and listen once more, now reading the transcript at the same time.

1. A year ago politician Ross Mirkarimi couldn’t imagine __________ he was going to cause.

2. Roplast Industries in Oroville is one of the manufacturers of plastic bags who got a __________ after the plastic ban was passed.

3. A new bag containing more plastic will hold five or six times as much as the standard disposable bag with the advantage of being _________.

4. The best thing about the ChicoBag folds up into a tiny ________ sack.

5. The bag ban was abandoned in Fairfax because of the ________ by the plastic bag industry.

6. The plastic industry threatened to sue on __________.


This issue is the talk of town in the USA now because one supermarket chain, Whole Foods, has decided to stop offering disposable plastic bags to customers. You can read about this in this article from USA Today and, if you have time, you can also watch this video or this video, both covering this piece of news. However, some people claim that with this measure, there is more than meets the eye. Watch this video about Whole Foods Whole Fraud if you want to know more:




KEY TO THE LISTENING EXERCISE:
1. what a stir
2. boost in business
3. reusable
4. wallet-sized stuff
5. threat of a lawsuit
6. environmental grounds

13 January 2011

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY


March, 17th 2010 post on the economic crisis: The Last Laugh

November, 20th 2009 post on consumer society: Buy Nothing Day

Multiple choice listening exercise on Adsense: Making Money Online + vocabulary exercises.

Article on the new consumerism by the BBC.

Article on the history of consumerism: industry, consumerism and social change.

Radio programme on consumerism (click on the links at the left-hand side of the page).

Video on how to get rid of debt faster (Martín's blog).

Top Ten songs about money (with videos).

Selling unwanted Christmas gifts on eBay: top tips