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

21 December 2016


James Corden's Carpool Karaoke is going viral. I just love this segment from The Late Late Show with James Corden. Who would've thought that a British talk show host driving around L.A. and having a bit of a sing-song would become such an internet sensation? My favourite ones are Adele's and Chris Martin's from Coldplay. Hilarious!! And now, what a surprise! He has even arranged for a special Christmas carpool with Mariah Carey and her famous 'All I want for Christmas is you' with some of his carpoolers. I just loved the bit with Red Hot Chili Peppers clapping to the beat. Absolutely fantastic! I take my hat off to Mr. Corden.

If you liked it and want to see more, here you have the carpool karaoke YouTube channel. Automatic subtitles seem to work fine in most of them, which is a plus.

Christmas Ad Round Up 2016

The battle for the most popular Christmas advert is underway

For older posts about Christmas, click here.

30 November 2016


Can you name the European Cities by their name in phonetic alphabet form? Quiz

I say tomato, you say tomeito

From the film Shall We Dance (1937)

29 November 2016


Past tense pronunciation post

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 a little drunk and I need you now.

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

More songs sharing this feature:

 Does it ring any bells? Ally McBeal

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


21 November 2016

MOOC: Reading tools

MOOC /mu:k/ stands for Massive Open Online Course. They are distance-learning courses run online by many universities worldwide. Usually, they are open to anyone who registers. One single course may admit even thousands of students. It is possible to study almost any subject through this method, and dozens of famous universities worldwide are now offering MOOCs. They can be treated as A standalone study for individuals interested in a particular subject matter, or consolidation study for a course you are already following.

Massive open online courses (BBC news video)

A course you might be interesting in taking:

17 November 2016


The importance of attitude: How changing your attitude will change your life.

The importance of your attitude on learning

Attitude problem?: Victor Kuppers at TEDxAndorralaVella
"Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play is free will."
Even though in Spanish, I really wanted you to listen to what he has to say: Never ever will we be able to change the hand we are dealt but we can ALWAYS choose our attitude, our ultimate freedom. So true!

Ordinary Day song by Great Big Sea (a group from Newfoundland, "Terranova")
I'm free to be whatever I, whatever I choose song by Oasis
Unwritten song by Natasha Bedingfield

"That's the attitude!", Ellen says to Michael J. Fox who talks about staying positive through Parkinson's, a disease he has been suffering from for 20 years but which hasn't prevented him from appearing on tv shows. One of them is The Good Wife in which he plays the role of Louis Canning, an opposing counsel whom Alicia Florrick faces in court many times. He has tardive dyskinesia, a condition which gives him visual tremors and which he has no shame about using to his advantage to elicit sympathy in court.

The Good Wife: Beware, binge watching alert!

Michael J. Fox, my memory lane:

16 November 2016


Why does Leonard Cohen owe it all to Spain?
Acceptance speech for the 2011 Prince of Asturias Award for Arts & Letters. 
From minute 5:34 onwards he tells the story of how he got his song and why he owes it all to Spain. A must-see!

Leonard Cohen on Federico García Lorca: The lyrics of the song "Take This Waltz" derive from Pequeño Vals Vienés  (“Little Viennese Waltz”), a poem written in Spanish by Lorca. Compare:
       Take This Waltz lyrics
       Pequeño vals vienés poem

Your teacher's choice:

12 November 2016


A walk down memory lane:
Pay It Forward (2000):
 "Call it generosity between two strangers"

11 November 2016


The episode's writer said that the fictional Trump presidency was a warning to America: "It was consistent with the vision of America going insane". Read the article here.

A prediction yet to come is Hillary Clinton presidency after Trump:

Ten times The Simpsons predicted the future (from the ebola outbreak to 9/11).

5 Simpsons predictions yet to come true.

Don't move to Canada just yet (Late Show with Stephen Colbert)

09 November 2016


Please, do notice the collocations: 
    growing number
    announce a release
    opening time
    to spark a backlash
   alleviate the stress
    large retailers

07 November 2016


What I like about it: 
  - Level is specified
 - Idioms and phrasal verbs related to the word

What I like about it: 
  - More examples available
  - Synonyms

What I like about it: 
  - Top spoken and written words code
  - Examples with pronunciation
  - Grammar patterns
  - Thesaurus

What I like about it: 
  - Activator-like
  - Explore Thesaurus available
  - Synomyms and related words
  - Phrases and phrasal verbs
  - Red words and stars for frequency of use:

Lots and lots of games and resources

02 November 2016


Bonfire Night 2016: Who was Guy Fawkes and why do we celebrate with firework displays?

The Gunpowder Plot on Horrible Histories (2009)

To find out more: Bonfire night webquest

Play the Gunpowder plot game

Guy Fawkes Day: Remembering The Fifth Of November With V For Vendetta.

For older posts about Bonfire Night, click here.

26 October 2016


Learn English with songs: This is Halloween
Learn English with songs: Thriller

Halloween vocabulary: Spooky idioms and ghostly phrases
Idioms and proverbs for Halloween quiz
Guess the Halloween idiom powerpoint

Seriously scary TV shows to watch this Halloween:
The Walking Dead (more than just zombies)
Buffy, the vampire slayer (more than just vampires)
Stranger Things (I want more...)
The X-Files (a classic)
Twin Peaks (who killed Laura Palmer?)
Black Mirror (British accent)
Fringe (binge watch alert)

For bookworms:
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (yes, The Treasure Island guy)
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier (remember Rebecca?)

For older posts on Halloween, click here.


Can't quit saying 'um' and 'uh'? 
Just learn how to use them better

The Obama 'uh' count video:

18 October 2016

Macmillan REAL SERIES: Grammar, Vocabulary and Real World English

Do you have a couple of minutes a day to spare? I'm sure you do. That's what'll take you to practise grammar, vocabulary and real world English using the Macmillan Real Video series:

06 October 2016


The leap to the C1 level is no small feat. If you really want to get there, there are important habits you must consider. Just coming to an English class is not going to be enough. Having a B2 level is quite good already, though. You might choose to remain there (I hope you don't).

• Communication depends upon mutual intelligibility. That is to say that it is only possible if the language forms produced by the speaker are identified and understood by the listener. It is, therefore, the responsibility of speakers to pronounce them as intelligibly as possible (pronunciation and stress patterns).

• A considerable enlargement of concrete vocabulary.

• The refinement of functional and general notional categories.

• Recognition and limited control of important register varieties avoiding excessive formality on the one hand and colloquial or familiar usage on the other.

• Increased ability to understand and produce longer and more complex utterances. 

• Interaction is less constrained and both partners can act in a more flexible and natural way, following basic goal-directed conversation strategies rather than adhering as closely as possible to fixed verbal exchange patterns. 

Greater sociocultural and sociolinguistic competence. The everyday use of any language is impregnated with the culture of the community that uses it to organise its communication. 

• Improved reading skills applied to a wider range of texts.

14 September 2016

17 May 2016


Making a presentation like Steve Jobs.

BBC Skillwise website: giving a presentation
BBC Tallking Business: Presentations: Language Expert

How to make your presentations better without opening your mouth. Body language and voice tone account for 63% of communication (according to this article).

Tips for effective presentations

Tips on making presentations (by University of Kent, the UK's European University). 
Worth checking out the part "Advanced Presention Tips: the Art of Rhetoric": 

  • tricolon effect or the rule of three (The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth)
  • use of contrast (A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to tear down, and a time to build up. Margaret Thatcher)
  • use of similes and metaphors (A beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion. J.F.Kennedy)
  • alliteration (Let it be our cause to give that child a happy home, a healthy family, and a hopeful future. Bill Clinton)
  • quotations (An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind. Gandhi