28 Nov 2011

Listening "going shopping"

Good morning everyone!

Last week we revised the past continuous: you had to write 5 times and ask your partner what s/he was doing at that time.
  • - What were you doing at 8.45 in the morning yesterday?
  • - I was going to work.
After that we watched a video from the BBC where a journalist visited Barcelona. It was an original video (not adapted), but you did the activities very well! Congratulations! :)


Reporting verbs / newspaper articles

Hello everyone!

Last week we finished correcting the handout on Reported Speech and we learnt the use of some reporting verbs. Remember that each verb is different, so you have to learn them separately.

I found this document from the University of Adelaide (Australia), where you have a wide array of verbs classified according to their meaning and whether they're weak, neutral or strong. On the second page they tell you which ones are followed by a preposition, -ing or a that-clause:
Reporting Verbs


20 Nov 2011

Strange jobs; /g/ vs. /d3/

Hello everyone!

How's the weekend going? Last week we had three days of class: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Monday we did a short activity to guess the meaning of some jobs (midwife, masseuse, tailor, plumber and trashman) and then we did a listening about some people with some very strange jobs! Then we did an exercise about word-formation with the suffixes -ion, -or, -ant, -er and -ment.

Finally, we listened to three different conversations where people had to apologise, give reasons and finally make a promise: I'm sorry I can't meet you tonight because I have to work, but I'll see you next Saturday. You practised these expressions with Leah on Wednesday.


Some learning tips...!


  • How many English words can I learn per day?
    10 English words or phrases per day aren’t too many, are they? Just give it a try. You will find that you can learn them in next to no time.
    So why not take a little time each day (Monday to Friday) to learn 10 new words?
    Use the weekend to revise what you have learned during the past week(s). This way you’ll enrich your English vocabulary by 50 new words per week. (That’s 200 new English words after a month!)
    Little strokes fell big oaks

    Read English texts as often as you can.
    This could be the news, short stories or novels, texts from your textbook or ego4u. Choose an interesting text that is not too difficult for you (otherwise it wouldn’t be fun).
    Don’t look up every word which is new to you – even without a dictionary you will understand a lot. Just concentrate on what you do understand and try to find out the rest by intelligent guessing. That works rather well, especially if you are interested in the topic. If you are a football fanatic for example, you probably won’t have problems understanding an English text about football. On the other hand, someone who is better in English than you but not interested in football will have more problems understanding the same text.
    Do also watch the news in your native language and try to find English news to some of the topics. Even if you don't understand every word in the English text, you will get the message as you already know what the text is about.
    Read between the lines

    English and American English

    Hi everyone,

    How's your Sunday going? Here you have the usual summary after each week, plus some extra material. On Tuesday we corrected the unit on Indirect Speech -only two exercises left to correct-, and we worked with a handout about the differences between British (BrE) and American (AmE) English. We saw two different phenomena:

    • Two words, same meaning: underground vs. subway
    • One word, different meaning: bill exists both in AmE and BrE, but the meaning is different. 
    Finally, I gave you a copy on the use of punctuation. Make sure you read it carefully at home, and, most importantly, check it if you have a doubt when writing a composition.


    15 Nov 2011

    Using monolingual and collocations dictionaries

    When we corrected the homework last week, some people "complained" that the dictionary wasn't useful because it gave the same translation for different words, e.g. gain/win - "ganar"; lose/miss - "perder".

    That happened because you were using a bilingual dictionary, which provides you with little more than a mere translation of the word. As you advance in your English, you should start using other types of dictionaries, such as a monolingual dictionary. There you have a lot more information, such as:

    • the contexts where each word is used (very helpful for the words mentioned above);
    • if a verb is transitive or intransive;
    • which is the verb pattern (is it followed by infinitive or -ing?);
    • if a particular noun is countable or uncountable.

    Monolingual dictionary
    I've been surfing the net and I've found the online version of the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary (monolingual), so now you don't have any excuse for not using it!

    Another extremely useful dictionary, especially for advanced levels, is the collocations dictionary which, as the name indicates, tells you which words collocate with which. To have an idea of what in consists of, here you have part of the entry for the word "awareness". It's taken from the Oxford Collocations Dictionary online!

    As you can see, it provides a comprehensive list of the adjectives and verbs that collocate with that word. Use this dictionary to polish your compositions and you'll see how your writing improves considerably!

    So... the next time you write a composition, make sure you combine different dictionaries, each for a different purpose!

    For more information on collocations dictionaries, please check "There is life outside wordreference!"

    14 Nov 2011

    Collocations dictionary; tipping in the US; Guy Fawkes

    Hello everyone!

    First of all, I'm awfully sorry I haven't updated the blog before, but I've been up to my eyes with work during the whole weekend. At any rate, better late than never! :)

    On Tuesday we corrected the text on pages 34 and 35, where we learnt some vocabulary and idioms (make a big deal of sth, come to terms with sth, etc). After that, in groups we worked on a handout about collocations and how to use a collocations dictionary. We saw a few examples, and you looked up quite a few words, so I hope it was useful for you!


    8 Nov 2011

    A better way to learn phrasal verbs

    Hi everyone,

    These days we've been working with phrasal verbs (or multi-word verbs). Below I post a mind-map that can help you remember them. The phrasal verbs thereby included are somewhat easy, but what I want you to see is a possible organisation for the new phrasal verbs you learn. Remember that the way you organise your vocabulary is as important as the time you spend studying it.

    See you tomorrow in class!

    6 Nov 2011

    The Statue of Liberty Anniversary - 125 years

    Lady Liberty, whose full name is “Liberty Enlightening the World,” was a gift from France to the United States on October 28th 1886, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Independence.

    "The statue has evolved in meaning since she first graced our shores 125 years ago," said David Luchsinger, superintendent of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, in a release. “She began as a symbol of friendship between France and the United States, evolved into a symbol of our great country, and is known today as an international symbol of freedom for people everywhere. This coming Friday is an opportunity to celebrate her complete legacy.”

    The Statue of Liberty was of special importance to all the immigrants sailing to the New World during the end of the 19th century. The European ships would arrive in Ellis Island, only a few miles away from the Statue of Liberty. After several months of voyage in extremely poor conditions, with people falling ill and dying around you, the sight of the Statue of Liberty made everyone jump of joy, for it meant the journey was over and a whole world of opportunities was open before your eyes.

    Seeing the Statue of Liberty meant leaving behind the famine and the political and religious persecution in Europe; in short, it meant the start of a new life.

    (A boy was screaming with joy, "wake up, wake up you can see the Statue of Liberty - you can see the Statue of Liberty"). Picture of a letter by a witness to people arriving at Ellis Island. Picture taken at Liberty Island Museum.

    On the day of Lady Liberty's 125th Anniversary, the CNN decided to interview several immigrants and recall the passage from Europe to the New World. Click here to watch the video and read the item of news. Extremely chilling!!
    To celebrate the anniversary, five webcams have been installed around its famous torch, giving people around the world outstanding views previously off-limits to even the statue’s in-person visitors. The cameras will stream live video footage 24-hours a day, seven days a week of vistas of the New York City skyline, New York Harbor, Ellis Island, Governors Island, Liberty Island and the Freedom Tower.

    Here you have a video explaining the installation of the cameras. And... wait for it! You can see the live web cameras clicking here! Absolutely amazing!

    video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

    Seeing the Statue of Liberty from the ferry sends a shiver down one's spine, especially thinking about the feelings, dreams and hopes of the people that travelled for months and months yearning for a better life. The sight of the Lady Liberty meant their effort had been worth it, and their suffering would for once and for all come to an end.

    Halloween; language learning strategies; vocabulary for films

    Good afternoon everyone!

    Here you have a summary of last week. Due to the bank holiday we didn't have class on Tuesday, but we still had two sessions: Thursday and Friday - thanks to all the people that came on Friday; I truly appreciate your effort.

    On Thursday we had an hour with Leah and we watched the Halloween video form National Geographic (this time it worked!!). I post it here in case you want to watch it again.


    3 Nov 2011

    Two documents

    Hello everyone,

    Here you have the two documents I was commenting on in class.

    The first one is about Leah's extra tutoring sessions. Make sure you write the days for Basic Level 2 in your notebook and try to make an effort to come. It's an opportunity to talk for one hour in English, so make the most of it.

    Leah’s extra tutoring sessions