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

19 December 2012

SEA: Stories of European Adults

Hi, everyone. Your lovely teacher, together with other EOI Alcalá teachers, takes part in a Grundtvig Project called SEA: Stories of European Adults. This project focuses on storytelling (I'll tell you all the particulars after Christmas) and it will enable you, my dear, dear students, to communicate with other students of English from Czech Republic, Denmark and Finland (our European associates).

Tomorrow, before our Christmas celebration party (so please, don't be late), I'll give you all the details about your username and password to enter WIGGIO (www.wiggio.com). Wiggio allows group members to share and edit files, manage a group calendar, poll your group, post links, set up conference calls, chat online and send mass text, voice and email messages. Each group member can define how they want to keep informed of group activity. Wiggio groups are private groups used solely for personal, academic, extracurricular, commercial, political, or charitable purposes.

If you are unable to come to class tomorrow, please contact your classmates so that you can get the password and use wiggio during the Christmas holidays.

18 December 2012


Christmas traditions: Santa Claus, Christmas tree, Mistletoe, the Candy Cane, etc.
Christmas around the world (or here).

By the way, do you know that Santa Claus is known as Father Christmas in the UK? And have you ever heard of Christmas crackers?
If any of you is planning on talking about Christmas crackers on Thursday's speeches, you should know that I'll take one to the school so that you can show other students how it works.

For previous posts about Christmas, click here.

Now, check part of an episode about Christmas from Are you being served?, a 1970s British comedy. You'll find all the British Christmas traditions here.

Snow is falling
all around me
children playing
having fun
it's the season
love and understanding
merry christmas everyone

Time for parties and celebration
people dancing
all night long
time for presents and exchanging kisses
time for singing christmas songs

We're gonna have a party tonight
I'm gonna find that girl underneath the misteltoe,
we'll kissed by candlelight

Room is swaying,
records playing
all the songs,
we love to hear
All I wish that everyday was christmas
What a nice way to spend the year

We're gonna have a party tonight
I'm gonna find that girl Underneath the mistletoe,
we'll kiss by candle light

Snow is falling
all around me
Children playing,
having fun
It's the season,
love and understanding
Merry christmas everyone
Merry christmas everyone
Oah merry cristmas everyone

12 December 2012


Hey, check this out:


How do you pronounce words like NIKE, LEVI'S, IKEA, LEICESTER, NORWICH or VAUXHALL? What about MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY?

How you say... actors and actresses post

28 November 2012


Blooming English: My blackberry is not working listening and vocabulary exercise.


("Dos hombres y un destino" in Spanish)
Do you remember the scene in which Paul Newman and Fay Dunaway are sharing a bike with herself on the crossbar and Newman steering? Absolutely lovely!
Raindrops keep falling on my head 
And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed 
Nothin' seems to fit 
Those raindrops are falling on my head, they keep falling 
So I just did me some talkin' to the sun 
And I said I didn't like the way he' got things done 
Sleepin' on the job 
Those raindrops are falling on my, head they keep falling 
But there's one thing I know 
The blues he sends to meet me won't defeat me 
It won't be long till happiness steps up to greet me 
 Raindrops keep falling on my head 
But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turnin' red 
Crying's not for me 
Cause I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin' 
Because I'm free 
Nothing's worrying me.

Fancy knowing a bit more about the real man behind this legend? Click here.

And what about the use of bicycles nowadays? It's a fact that the bicycle is still having trouble imposing itself in some European cities. Here you can watch a video about this up-to-date topic.

27 November 2012


After Patrick shows up at Sally's apartment to "save" her from an imaginary spider at three in the morning, they both remember how they first met at a Susan's office party. Their versions differ slightly, as Sally's memory ends with her in Patrick's arms and Patrick's memory ending with a drunk Sally and him kissing to the Spiderman theme. At the end, Sally and Patrick decide to stop spending so much time together, as nothing will come of it. (Sorry about the subtitles)

Coupling post on Nov. 2009

25 November 2012


A bit late, though.

For previous Thanksgiving posts, click here.
And this year's Thanksgiving post is... 

Arlo Guthrie - Alices's Restaurant song: Lyrics here.

Every Thanksgiving radio stations all over the country play the song “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” (Alice’s Restaurant for short) off the album “Alice’s Restaurant” from singer/songwriter Arlo Guthrie. The song was released in 1967, and it’s been tradition ever since then to play it each and every Thanksgiving.

But what’s the story behind it? Why do people love this song? “Alice’s Restaurant” recounts Guthrie’s true Thanksgiving Day adventure as a satirical, deadpan protest against the Vietnam War draft. On November 25, 1965, the 18-year-old Guthrie and his friend Richard Robbins, 19, were arrested by Stockbridge police officer William “Obie” Obanhein for illegally dumping some of Alice’s garbage after discovering that the town dump was closed for the holiday. Two days later, they pled guilty in court. 

For more information, click here.

21 November 2012


If you have tickets for A Christmas Carol pantomime in Madrid, this information might come in handy. Here you'll learn about pantomimes: what they are, what the essential elements are, type of characters (the goodies and the baddie) and so on. Naturally, A Christmas Carol baddie is ... Ebenezer Scrooge ("Bah! Humbug!")

Nov. 26th, 2010 post about A Christmas Carol

19 November 2012


Forget Me Nots
I Remember (please, do note the pronunciation of -ed endings)
The Way We Were (from The Way We Were film)

Memory Lane (Tim McGraw)

Lyrics here

Memory (Elaine Paige, Cats musical)

14 November 2012


Hi, everyone. Here goes the first ad for Tuesday's discussion of symbols and images in advertising. You can post your links in the comments section below.

By the way, this ad is also a reminder of what happens when you change just one sound in a word. IT'S NOT THE SAME! Do you remember the "Patética Fonética" video?
You see? I just killed two birds with one stone:))



Linking words list

How to begin a new paragraph: linking words and phrases

Sentence-combining skills

Writing skills

Connecting words: loads of exercises

Linking words quiz

Guide to Grammar and Writing (amazing website, don't miss it!)

Hence, Thus and Therefore
They fell in love and hence they married.
She was early and therefore had to wait out in the cold.
- Many governments intend to develop new energy-efficient transportation technology and thus reduce their reliance on imported oil.

Learning English: The Flatmates
Episode 64: listen to the episode, use the 'hide the text' option, check the language point (linking words) and do the quiz.

12 November 2012


The Hobbit: an unexpected journey (2012)

Air New Zealand, the airline to Middle-earth: Hobbit safety video

Transcript here.

The Hobbit: What has made the book such an enduring success?

The Hobbit trailer:


1. Rite (Michael Pearce, 2010. UK. 17 min.)

Mike takes his estranged son out for his birthday; a man desperate to prove he’s changed. But drink and the simmering violence of match day in London brings out the worst in him over a long, difficult afternoon for father and son.

Michael Pearce, BAFTA nominated for Rite.

2. Fixing Luka (Jessica Ashman, 2011. UK. 12 min.)

In a ramshackle cottage beside a forest, Lucy and Luka live with their parents. Every day, Luka drives his sister mad as he happily performs obsessive, nonsensical routines with sugar cubes and thimbles. Watching his antics, Lucy thinks her brother is broken but when she’s given the chance to fix him, will she take it?

Fixing Luka - Jessica Ashman (Winner Best Animation, Best Visual and Film Of The Night 2011)

3. Sunny Boy (Jane Gull, 2011. UK. 11 min.)

Danny and his overprotected father live in a world of darkness due to his rare skin condition. He longs to be a regular teenager playing football out in the sun. When Danny receives some news about his medical condition he decides to stand up to his dad and take control of his own life.

Jane Gull

4. PS your Mystery Sender (Benjamin Wigley, 2010. UK. 10 min.)

For the past 20 years Paul Smith the world renowned fashion designer from Nottingham has been receiving an avalanche of odd and quirky unwrapped objects which have had a remarkable effect on his life, and all have been sent from a Mystery Person. 


 5. Jade (Daniel Elliott, 2009. UK. 16 min.)

Jade, caught in a dilemma of her own making, struggles to choose the right path.  It becomes apparent to her, though, that she may have no choice at all.

Daniel Elliott

06 November 2012


To Kill a Mockingbird is a coming-of-age story of Scout Finch and her brother, Jem, in 1930's Alabama. Through their neighborhood meanderings and the example of their father, they grow to understand that the world isn't always fair and that prejudice is a very real aspect of their world no matter how subtle it seems.

Movie Trailer (1962)

To Kill a Mockingbird audiobook

05 November 2012


Remember, Remember the 5th of November
The Gun powder, Treason and Plot
I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason 
should ever be forgot
What's Guy Fawkes Night (Bonfire Night)? Now, explained by Horrible Histories: Bonfire Safety Tips: Bonfire Night with the fire brigade in North Wales: If you want to know more, click here. And for a bit of history with humour: HORRIBLE HISTORIES - The Tudors Song HORRIBLE HISTORIES - The Wives of Henry VIII HORRIBLE HISTORIES - Mary Tudor Song

29 October 2012


Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas 

2009 Halloween post

Finally, don't miss Lenore, the cute little dead girl, episode 2

24 October 2012


A fresh start

Invictus soundtrack from Paul Kelly's Peace

Invictus Trailer

Although South Africa had been torn apart by apartheid for decades and Mandela himself had been imprisoned for more than 25 years, he came to power with a hope for peace and unity for his country. With the 1995 Rugby World Cup set to take place in South Africa, Mandela seized upon the opportunity to use the Springboks, a team synonymous with the old separatist South Africa, to achieve unity through sport.
“Using rugby to try to unite South Africa was a huge political gamble on Mandela’s part. Along with gaining the trust of the whites, Mandela also had to have the support of the blacks,” says Nauright. “Part of what he was trying to do was based on the belief that the Springboks would be successful in the World Cup. He took a risk and it paid off. “
(taken from Mason Media Blog)

Francois Pienaar was born on Jan. 2, 1967 in Vereeniging, South Africa. In 1993, he joined the national rugby team, the Springboks (The South Africa national rugby union team). The country was in a state of unrest. Nelson Mandela was navigating away from apartheid and saw rugby as a way to unite South Africans behind a common cause. Pienaar helped leading the Springboks to victory in the 1995 World Cup.

Invictus - Francois Pienaar: "This is it! This is our destiny!"

Invictus - poem by William Ernest Henley

Afrikaans language

Afrikaneran Afrikaans-speaking white person in South Africa, especially one descended from the Dutch and Huguenot settlers of the 17th century 

18 October 2012

PATETICA FONETICA: it's not the same

Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de Laredo, thank you for the Patética Fonética videocasts. Keep up the good work! And you are absolutely right: IT'S NOT THE SAME:
Ship or sheep?
60 minimal pairs (listen and repeat)

MORE AT http://www.eoilaredo.org/videocast.php
Patética fonética 1.1
Patética fonética 1.2
Patética fonética 1.3
Patética fonética 1.4 Part 1
Patética fonética 1.4 Part 2
Patética fonética 1.5 Part 1
Patética fonética 1.5 Part 2
Patética fonética 1.6

Last but not least, previous posts dealing with pronunciation practice. Enjoy!

17 October 2012


Thank you, a nonymous, for this brilliant suggestion. Just what you, my dear Avanzado 2 students, needed in order to practise inversion. Keep up sharing ideas, a nonymous!!!

Here you can listen to the song and read the lyrics at the same time:

If you prefer the official music video, click here.

10 October 2012


Dear students,
welcome to the 2012/13 Avanzado 2 course at EOI Alcalá de Henares. I hope you are all ready to work hard and have fun too. So, fasten your seatbelts and enjoy your journey!

Textbook, bibliography and links

26 July 2012


HORRIBLE HISTORIES is a historical sketch show, based on the successful books by Terry Deary.


HORRIBLE HISTORIES - The wives of Henry VIII (Terrible Tudors)
You may know that Henry VIII's first wife was Catherine of Aragon. Catherine was born at the Archbishop's Palace in Alcalá de Henares near Madrid, on the night of 16 December 1485. She was the youngest surviving child of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile, the so-called Catholic Monarchs. Mary I (AKA Bloody Mary) was Henry and Catherine's only surviving daughter who became Queen of England and Ireland in 1553. Guess who she married? Philip II of Spain, the king who asked the architects Juan Baustista de Toledo and Juan de Herrera to build the Escorial Palace in Madrid. That's why if you visit the Houses of Parliament in London, you can see a picture of Philip II in the Royal Gallery.  If you go to London, don't miss the opportunity to visit the Palace's interiors and Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament. It's really worth it. 

Here you have a preview. Isn't it amazing?

"Westminster Hall is the oldest building on the Parliamentary estate. What makes it such an astonishing building is not simply its great size and the magnificence of its roof, but its central role in British history. In and around the Hall, grew up the major institutions of the British state: Parliament, the law courts and various government offices. Closely involved in the life of the nation since the 11th century, a journey through the Hall's past is a journey through 900 fascinating years of our history."
If you are not visiting London soon...Online tours
Trinity College in Cambridge, founded by Henry VIII and an example of Tudor architecture

More horrible histories?

25 July 2012


After the death of his father King George V (Michael Gambon) and the scandalous abdication of King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), Bertie (Colin Firth) who has suffered from a debilitating speech impediment all his life, is suddenly crowned King George VI of England. With his country on the brink of war and in desperate need of a leader, his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), the future Queen Mother, arranges for her husband to see an eccentric speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). After a rough start, the two delve into an unorthodox course of treatment and eventually form an unbreakable bond. With the support of Logue, his family, his government and Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall), the King will overcome his stammer and deliver a radio-address that inspires his people and unites them in battle.
Based on the true story of King George VI, THE KING'S SPEECH follows the Royal Monarch's quest to find his voice.
The King's Speech movie trailer

Colin Firth on Ellen: (just before he won the academy award, the Oscar):
 Colin Firth winning Best Actor:  
"I have a feeling my career has just peaked. My deepest thanks to the Academy. I'm afraid I have to warn you that I'm experiencing stirrings. Somewhere in the upper abdominals which are threatening to form themselves into dance moves. Joyous as they may be for me, it would be extremely problematic if they make it to my legs before I get off stage.

So I'm going to do my best to be brief with my gratitude first for being on this extraordinary list of fellow nominees. Something quite formidable and possibly the greatest honor of this. All the crew and my fellow cast members, those who are not here, and those who are, Geoffrey, Helena, and Guy, whose virtuosity made it very very difficult for me to be as bad as I was planning to be. And David Seidler whose own struggles have given so many people the benefit of his very beautiful voice and Tom Hooper for the immense courage and clear sightedness with which he interpreted that. The men who finessed this to the screen, Gareth, Emile, Iain, Xavier, and of course, Harvey, who first took me on 20 years ago when I was a mere child sensation.

And all the people who have been rooting for me back home. Also Jessica Kolstad, my friend, Paul Lyon-Maris, and Chris Andrews for bearing with me through some of the less fortunate moments as well as the good ones and my very fortunate friendship with Tom Ford who to whom I owe a very big piece of this. And to the Anglo-Italian-American-Canadian axis, which makes up my family and Livia for putting up with my fleeting delusions of royalty and who I hold responsible for this and for really everything that's good that's happened since I met her. Now if you'll all excuse me, I have some impulses I have to tend to backstage. Thank you very much."

Colin Firth surprises Ellen with his Oscar:

20 July 2012


According to BPS Research Digest, as sighted in the May 2008 addition of PSYCHOLOGIES Magazine, the answer to the age old question of learning a language, "might lie in a song...The researchers concluded that we find it easier to remember words if they're set to music, partly because it's more emotionally engaging, but also because the words are structured in a way that makes it easier for us to 'segment' the information and store it in our memories". 


10 July 2012


Conditional sentences practice:

Exercise 1
Exercise 2
Exercise 3
Exercise 4
Exercise 5
Now, doing grammatical exercises is all right but it's much more fun to practise conditional sentences in a different way:

Conditional sentences in The Big Bang Theory
Conditionals: examples in songs If you had a million dollars song + game A parody of "If I had a million dollars": If we had some global warming

Some lyrics extracts:
If we had some global warming we wouldn't be 20 below
If we had some global warming I wouldn't be shovelling snow
If we had some global warming I wouldn't have to drive this giant truck
If we had some global warming we wouldn't have any cares
If we had some global warming we'd have some nice greenhouse effect 
If we had some global warming maybe we'd have some palm trees 
If we had some global warming maybe we'd have aligators 
If we had some global warming we could throw our windshield scrapers away
If we had some global warming maybe we'd use less fuel
If we had some global warming we'd have a longer growing season which could stop world hunger

04 July 2012


This is a wonderful website where you can find everything you need to learn about the American Revolution. There are 9 webisodes plus an introduction, just choose a segment from the webisode menu and read the text. Do notice that there three icons. If you click on the 'see it now' icon, you can see real documents from that time. If you click on the 'hear it now' icon, you can listen to some of the things the protagonists said.

And much more at http://www.michellehenry.fr/july.htm

CNN article and video: America celebrates Independence Day (July 4th, 2012)

Saratoga's All-American celebration sounds like a lot of fun:

Now, here you have the song we listened to in class this morning:

29 June 2012

01 June 2012


What is an idiom?

Dictionary of English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions
Self-study idioms quizzes
Idioms in music (Lady Gaga)

Why don't you listen to these songs and try to point out the idioms you hear?

give or take a few

working like a dog, sleeping like a log

And what do you make of this one? I find it hilarious!!!

Lyrics here.
call a spade a spade
How does the singer pronounce 'vegetable'?

23 May 2012














Listening: http://www.esl-lab.com/

English Listening Lesson Library Online: http://www.elllo.org/

Essential functions: http://www.english-online.org.uk/course.htm

More functions: http://www.audioenglish.net/english-learning/type_dialogue.htm

Intermediate level online courses: http://www.ompersonal.com.ar/INTERMEDIATE/presentacion.htm

Pre-intermediate English course: http://www.autoenglish.org/preintermediate.htm

Topics, videos and exercises: http://www.esolcourses.com/content/topicsmenu/intermediate.html

Videos: http://english-conversation-course.com/english-intermediate-videos.html

Lingu@net World Wide: http://www.linguanet-worldwide.org/lnetww/es/home.jsp

The flatmates: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/flatmates/

Guide to grammar and writing: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/index.htm

Talk about English (BBC radio programme for ESL): http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/general/talkaboutenglish/

17 May 2012

/Ә/ or schwa

I thought love was
Only true in fairy tales
Meant for someone else
But not for me
Love was out to get to me
That's the way it seems
Disappointment haunted
All my dreams

And then I saw her face
Now I'm a believer
Not a trace
Of doubt in my mind
I'm in love
I'm a believer
I couldn't leave her
If I tried

I thought love was
More or less a given thing
The more I gave the less
I got, oh yeah
What's the use in trying
All you get is pain
When I wanted sunshine
I got rain

And then I saw her face
Now I'm a believer
Not a trace
Of doubt in my mind
I'm in love
I'm a believer
I couldn't leave her
If I tried

What's the use in trying
All you get is pain
When I wanted sunshine
I got rain

And then I saw her face
Now I'm a believer
Not a trace
Of doubt in my mind
I'm in love
I'm a believer
I couldn't leave her
If I tried

Then I saw her face
Now I'm a believer
Not a trace
Of doubt in my mind
Now I'm a believer
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
I'm a believer
Then I saw her face
I'm a believer
Not a trace
Of doubt in my mind
I'm a believer
The more, the merrier: EXERCISE


Be honest, how do you pronounce Sean Connery, Gwyneth Paltrow or Tyrone Power?

And what about fashion brands? How do you say Nike, Levi's or Chanel?

What conclusion have you reached? Is English language chaotic? Read and listen to the following poem "The Chaos of the English Language" and then you tell me.
It's not so bad, isn't it? Just joking!!

16 May 2012


Fancy revising comparatives and superlatives? Well, all you have to do is ...

12 May 2012

Please do notice the following expressions that have already appeared in class:
- turn up (phrasal vb.)
- out of the blue (idiom)
- never mind
- stay away (phrasal vb.)
- beg (pronunciation of /g/)

More songs with phrasal verbs and such? Sure! Here you are:

- I won't /wəʊnt/ give up on us
- rough
- tough
- a lot at stake
- we're worth it
- cave in

10 May 2012

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”


1.    Discovering English culture

2.    London webquest

3.    "Who is tired of London is tired of life" (Samuel Johnson)


      1.    Survival English for travellers

      3.    Welcome to London
     4.    Travel English (amazing website)

     5.    Slow London (radio programme)


There are nine million people in a city full of historical landmarks, _________________ can be viewed from a cruise on the River Thames.

Westminster Abbey has been used for all the coronations since the year _____.

The Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the Egyptian Obelisk and Buckingham Palace continue to be on any tourist itinerary.

There is a fascination with Kensington Palace _______________ are still placed for the late Princess Diana.

Harrods is a famous department store with price tags just as fancy.

Double-decker buses and ____________ phone booths are the city trademarks.

Memorabilia of the Royal Family is everywhere including the recognizable ___________ of the Horse Guards.

There are many popular meeting points in London but none more so than Piccadilly Circus, a dynamic area of people, ________, colour and ________. Artists and buskers share central stage hoping to be the next discovery. This is a very ____________. Within a short walking distance from a network of eateries and popular night spots

London _______________ at night when it seems that every tourist in the country is looking for action. There is free entertainment in ­­­­­____________________ areas and the best in live theatre.

Some restaurants have a _______________________ of London Bridge against the romantic midnight sky.

many of which
where flowers
bright red
busy area
comes alive
memorable view

03 May 2012


Get phrasal verbs video (with subtitles)
Phrasal verb rap song:

Phrasal verbs in songs 1:

Phrasal verbs in songs 3:

Phrasal verbs in songs 4:

Phrasal verbs in songs 5:

Phrasal verbs in songs 6:

Phrasal verbs in songs 7:

Phrasal verbs in songs 8:

Phrasal verbs in songs 9:

Phrasal verbs in songs 10:

Phrasal verbs in songs 11:

Phrasal verbs in songs 12:
And now, do listen to this fantastic song:

17 April 2012


Checking guests in and out (with audio)
Hotel reservation (listening and vocabulary exercises)
Hotel check-in (listening and vocabulary exercises)
Hotel dialogues
Booking a hotel room (with audio)
Checking out of the hotel (with audio)
At a hotel (sample conversations with audio)

Learn English: AT THE HOTEL video (with English subtitles)

Checking in at a hotel video (1/4)

Getting hotel information video (2/4)

Having problems with the room video (3/4)

Checking out from a hotel video (4/4)

And now, a bit of fun. Here you can see a 3-minute video from Fawlty Towers. Mrs. Richards, a very annoying guest, checks in and then, the nightmare for Mr. Fawlty starts.

Guess what? Mrs. Richard is not happy with her room so she complains to the manager:

25 March 2012


Video explaning -ed pronunciation:

Here you have another video with a clear explanation too:

And another one:

Fancy some practice?

Irregular verbs pronuciation with sound: http://english-irregular-verbs.blogspot.com.es/

Now, the fun part and you know what that means: SONGS!!!!!

Song 1: The Boy Does Nothing

Notice the way she says: 'Does he brush up?' Never brushed up' /brʌʃtʌp/

Song 2: Because you loved me

Please, do notice the pronunciation of irregular verbs such as SAID /sed/ or BROUGHT /brɔ:t/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/.

Song 3: You are beautiful

I suppose you paid attention to the pronunciation of the past, didn't you?
I saw /sɔ:/ your face in a crowded /kraʊdɪd/ place.
She smiled at /smaɪldət/ me on the subway.
She caught /kɔ:t/ my eye as I walked /wɔ:ktɒn/ on by.

Song 4: This Old Guitar

Lots of examples of both regular and irregular verbs pronunciation.