Posted by: Eva Suárez | August 25, 2010

Please Visit English in Guía

Hello everybody. This is going to be the last blogpost of this blog so far. From now on, we’ll be pleased to receive you at English in Guía, the blog where we will be concentrating the articles of all levels.

See you soon!!!

Once more, we have a guest post written by Karen Schweitzer. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

“Integrating the web into the classroom or encouraging students to take advantage of online self-learning materials can be a great way to supplement current lesson plans. The following e-learning resources would serve as a nice addition to almost any curriculum.

FreeRice – Created by the United Nations World Food Program, FreeRice is a revolutionary site that allows visitors to practice English vocabulary and end world hunger in the process. For every question that is answered correctly in the FreeRice trivia game, ten grains of rice are donated to hungry people.

VerbaLearn – This vocabulary learning site allows users to review English words and quiz themselves online for free. Questions that are answered incorrectly on quizzes are automatically placed on handy study lists.

Popling – Popling is a desktop application that makes it easy to learn English (or anything else) with flashcards that pop up on your computer screen. The app gives users the option of studying existing flashcards or creating original Popling cards.

Fit Brains – Fit Brains is a free gaming website that allows users to play free brain-training games and puzzles. The most useful games on the site for English students include Paradise Island 2 and Wildword Garden, both of which teach English vocabulary.

LingQ – LingQ is a popular language learning site that combines lessons with social networking. Teachers and students who sign up for a free membership can practice LingQ lessons, make friends in the community, join live conversations, and have writing corrected by native speakers.

ESL Fast Robot – In addition to offering resources for the classroom and independent learning, ESL Fast also provides two online robots that can be used to practice English conversations. The robots are programmed to chat about more than 2,000 different things.

ESL Tower – ESL Tower provides students and teachers with a wide range of grammar and vocabulary exercises that can be printed or studied online.

Project Gutenberg – Project Gutenberg produces and links to free print and audio books that can be found online. These books provide great reading and listening practice for English students.

Yugma – Yugma is web conferencing software that makes it easy for teachers and students to share screens and communicate with a built-in instant messaging feature. The free version of Yugma supports up to 20 attendees.

LectureTools – This site provides a unique set of educational tools that can be used to share slides and learning objects, upload podcasts, manage lectures, and monitor student understanding. LectureTools is free for instructors at any U.S. or Canadian college or university.

Guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the Guide to Business School. She also writes about online degree programs for”

Posted by: laurainguia | May 4, 2010

Funny news

Hi there!

Who said reading news is boring? I’ve been browsing through different websites which may make you laugh and also help you understand English better.

A couple of examples are Orange news quirkies (includes videos too!) and Oddly Enough news from Reuters.

For those who enjoy this sort of reading, here you are a website which compiles links to a great number of newspapers all around the world. The good thing about the list is it forwards you straight to the “weird news” section, so that you don’t have to look for it.

Finally, you might also need to have a look at the language of headlines. Headlines in English are not too easy at first sight, but once you understand the basics, you’ll be fine. I recommend you this summary on ESLabout, a very useful website on different topics.

Picture by Littel Image

Posted by: laurainguia | April 26, 2010

Extra listening practice

Hi there,

Taken by Simon Crowley

I imagine you would all like to do some listening practice these days, while I’m away. Thanks to a colleague, I’ve discovered a website which contains 6 listening exercises of different levels. They are taken from authentic sources, so they’re bound to be good exam practice too.

Please click here to do the exercises. If you subscribe, they’ll give you access to more.

The website itself is called Instant Ideas and it contains lots of authentic teaching materials.

Thanks to Mónica for sharing it. She writes “El blog para aprender inglés“, which is also worth a visit. If you want some quality advice to learn English, this blog is a must.


Posted by: laurainguia | April 24, 2010

How to write a formal letter

writingYou’ve been studying English for a while now. You’ve done your homework, you’ve written lots of formal letters. But still there are some issues you’d like to solve. You know one of the “typical” writing tasks of the final exam. Why not visit the following sites?

  1. General tips on how to write a formal letter: layout, rules, content, abbreviations, etc.
  2. Saro’s post on how to write a formal letter: it’s aimed at intermediate students, but it can remind you of interesting stuff. You have a useful presentation plus some exercises to practice.
  3. Travel plans + seeking employment: samples on how to request information, offering a house exchange, booking a campsite, making enquiries + applying for a job.
  4. Here you have samples of letters related to jobs: resignation, thank you, reference, salary history and cover letters. Here you are another website which is plenty of cover letters.

I hope these were helpful. Enjoy writing!

Posted by: laurainguia | April 6, 2010

Men and Women: the differences

Men’s and women’s brains: what’s the difference?

Here you are a funny video that explains it all. It’s taken from Mark Gungor’s great marriage seminars- they are not “the usual thing”: the tone is humorous and humane; you can also visit his website here, and listen to his radio show here.

Do you agree with the statements posed in the video?

Related websites:

Posted by: laurainguia | March 30, 2010

Ted Talks: learn English and enjoy listening

Dear all,

Those who are in Facebook might already have had a look at the latest link I’ve shared on my profile. Those who aren’t are invited to join us there, or just visit this other wonderful site we like: it’s called TED TALKS and it contains lots and lots of interesting and inspiring talks in English by well-known (and not so well-known) people from all over the world.

The good news is most of these talks include the option of subtitles (in English- good for you! or Spanish- a bit easier but not so productive).

Where to start? It’s hard, but here are a couple of tips:

1. They are categorized by topics on the left-hand side bottom corner:

  • the most persuasive
  • the most coragoeus
  • the most fascinating
  • the most funny
  • the most beautiful
  • etc

2. Or you could start by these suggestions of talks I personally enjoyed a lot:


Hi everyone,

It’s my pleasure to announce that we’re participating in this national blogs’ competition again. It’s an event where educational blogs from all over the country can sign in. I’d appreciate some feedback from you all:

  • Do you like the design of this blog?
  • Is it easy to find what you’re looking for?
  • What content would you expect to find here?
  • How could we improve it?

You can answer here (in the comments section), by email (you know where I am) or in class.

If you want to leave a support message in the Espiral’s website, you can do so by clicking here.

Thanks for your help!

Posted by: pina | March 8, 2010

Get your tongue in a twist

I hope you´ve enjoyed the tongue twisters we practiced in class.  They´re an excellent and fun way of improving your pronunciation and fluency

Practice makes perfect, so to keep practicing here are some websites where you can get more, or you can listen to people reciting them.  Try to emulate them:

  • This one claims to be the world´s  largest collection of tongue twisters and it offers 414 in English!
  • Here you can find five tongue twisters with audio
  • In this page you can find three very popular tongue twisters with audio, but it also offers specific ones devised for ESL/EFL students of different languages.  For Spanish speakers, for example, there are tongue twisters to practice the sound pairs /s/ /z/ or /b/ /v/.  Scroll down to the bottom of the page for an amazing rendition of the Woodchuck tongue twister.  See if you can match that!

    Photo by Giles Douglas

Posted by: laurainguia | March 1, 2010

How to write a paragraph

I hope you are enjoying the writing workshops we’re developing in class these days.

There is a tool I would really like you to try: it’s called Paragraph Punch and it takes you, step by step, through the whole process of paragraph writing.

There is one free demo (topic one). All you have to do is click here and follow the instructions up to the very end. When you’re ready, copy and paste the text and forward it to me; I’ll be happy to give you feedback on it.

Please feel free to use the comments section here to tell me what you think of the tool.

Photo by Martin Kingsley

Posted by: laurainguia | February 15, 2010

We’re in Facebook!

We have created a group for students, teachers and anyone who wants to share our news, links and participate in the school’s life in a different way.

Come and join us here.

We are waiting for you!

Posted by: laurainguia | January 28, 2010

Climate change debate

Hi everyone!

I’d like to write these post on behalf of Carlos, Cristina and Jesús, who have contributed these days to the climate change debate with videos, links and all sorts of information.

1. Everything started with this video suggested by Carlos, which was the trigger of a highly interesting discussion. There had been a related post in the past, in the intermedio’s blog.

2. Later, Cristina suggested these online articles for us to read:

3. And last but not least, Jesús has written this article plus some graphics:

First of all, from the robbed e-mails to a Climate Research Unit (University of East Anglia) by a hacker, I don´t see that the scientists are lying or a global conspiration. If  you read the emails, you will see different opinions about the conclusions about the results (they are trying to explain us the results as better as possible). Moreover, you will read that they have had technical problems with electronics device or the personal relationships among scientists. There are problems in all jobs. Here you are the link:

Secondly, what would happen if the temperature rises 4ºC? here you are a link showed by the British government:

Thirdly, here you are more links:

Finally, I attach a pdf file and the link from Nature Magazine, one of the most prestigious scientific magazine, about the research on climatic change in 2009:

Futhermore, a link of NOOA about CO2 in the atmosphere:

Thanks for your interest and participation in the debate, guys!

Posted by: pina | January 25, 2010

Pruebas de certificación

Hello guys. As you know the mid-year exams are around the corner.  They will have the same format as the Pruebas de Certificación that you will have to pass at the end of the level (this June for the Avanzado 2 students).  So here are some links where you can find samples from different Autonomous Communities around Spain.  Keep in mind that the exams here might be somewhat different, but you can get an idea of what to expect.

  • Madrid
  • Catalunya  These ones include a grammar exam (Ús de la llengua), which is not part of our Pruebas de Certificación
  • Euskadi
  • Asturias You will need to download the publication in PDF format.  Obviously the audio files for the Listening Comprehension part are not included, but the sources where you can find those files are listed.

This is a start-up list for you to start sampling.  Feel free to include more links to other webpages with exam samples that you find by posting a comment to this entry.  This way we´ll have an updated list for everybody.

Posted by: laurainguia | January 24, 2010

The Earth: our home

Thank you for all the interest and debate you brought to class around this topic, guys. It was really fruitful!

I’ve been talking about it to some friends and they recommended me two films: one is 8 minute long and the other is 1hour 30 minutes- don’t be discouraged by the length, since it’s really captivating.

Here you are the long one: HOME. It’s been released in youtube in High Definition. If you watch it in full screen, it’s got great quality.

This is the description they wrote in their website: “We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth’s climate. The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort, and HOME has been conceived to take a message of mobilization out to every human being. For this purpose, HOME needs to be free. A patron, the PPR Group, made this possible. EuropaCorp, the distributor, also pledged not to make any profit because Home is a non-profit film. HOME has been made for you : share it! And act for the planet.”

(How to activate the subtitles: click on the arrow located on the right-hand side corner, at the bottom of the little screen. Then click on “Activar títulos”.)

On the other hand, we have Venus, the city of the future. It’s an interesting project introduced like this: “Imagine a world where war is outdated, there is no shortage of resources, and every human being enjoys a high standard of living.”

I hope you have the chance to watch them and give me your opinion about them.

Good luck in your exams next week!

Posted by: laurainguia | January 15, 2010

Authentic listening practice

Hi there!

You know that you’ll probably have an excerpt taken from the news in your Listening exams, don’t you? The news is an example of what we call “authentic” texts, i.e. they haven’t been adapted or modified for students of English.

Then, why not visit this amazing site? It’s called VOA News and you have tons of current news with the audio or video enclosed.

All you have to do is access the website and select a piece of news. Pay attention to the symbols beside the headline: they’ll show you whether the news is on audio or video format. If you have the audio, you can listen to the news and read the transcript at the same time.

Here you are an example about the dangers of Swine Flu being exaggerated:

Finally, you can also access the Going Green section, with videos exploring “new trends and technologies in environmental science”. It will be interesting to check out this site before next class, since we’ll be talking about the Climate Change.

Remember: the more you listen, the more you’ll understand!

Posted by: laurainguia | January 12, 2010

Wonderful website for self-study

Hi my dear students,

I hope you had a wonderful holiday. I wanted to share this jewel with you: Ángeles Fernández, a teacher in Coruña (sección Culleredo),  is developing a website with resources to help students of English in Avanzado 1 level. They’re using our textbook too, so all the material she suggests is directly related to the vocabulary, grammar and skills we’re studying.

Would you like to have a look? This is her website. How to use it? Go to the section that appeals most to you. You can also go straight to the units we’ve been studying, e.g:

– File 1

– File 2

– File 3

In these links, you’ll find documents explaining the grammar, exercises to practise it, videos about the topics of the lesson, extra texts to read, and the answer key to the tests at the end of the unit.

Thanks for letting us know, Ángeles.

For more videos to improve your English, check the blog written by the English Department in A Coruña.

Posted by: pina | December 8, 2009

Write your autobiography

The Avanzado 2 students have written their autobiographies, and I, the teacher, have been the only person who has been able to enjoy them.  Why don’t you let other people know about your background and your achievements?  There’s a website called The Biographicon where ordinary people like you and me can publish their autobiography. The website helps you create your life story by posing a series of questions that you can elect to answer. Go to this page for detailed instructions.  You can also search for both famous and common people’s biographies, like John Lennon or Rafa Nadal.

Posted by: laurainguia | December 7, 2009

Revision of files 1 and 2 + Listening practice

Hi again!

Just a quick note to let you know how to revise the contents of the course so far. There are many ways, but I’ll only suggest a few:

1- Visit Oxford’s website and explore it. You’ll find grammar exercises, vocabulary, a pronunciation guide and so on.

2- Last day you were concerned about listening. Why not visit the following websites?

* English listening exercises: a website devoted to the practice of this skill.

* For a more realistic approach try English Conversations. Recordings of real everyday conversations.

* The Voices recordings: a BBC project with clips capturing 1,200 people in conversation. “Some of the clips are people talking about language – slang, dialect, taboo words, accents. Other clips cover all sorts of subjects and simply offer a flavour of how we talk today.” NOTE: (you need to install Real Player to listen to these voices).

* In the mood for some fun? Then go to Comedy Clips and Funny stuff, also within the BBC site.

Hope you get more confident when listening…

Posted by: laurainguia | December 3, 2009

Grammar units

Aren’t you sure about the grammar units we’ve been working on this first term?

Here you can access a document where I’ve noted down the correspondence between our textbook (File Upper intermediate, Oxford) and our grammar book (English Grammar in Use, Cambridge). You can click on the option “File” and then on “Download as” and select “Word”, so that you keep a copy in your hard disk, if you want.

I’ll be updating the document online in the same link, as we go through the rest of the book.

Enjoy the grammar experience! : )

Posted by: laurainguia | December 1, 2009

Work abroad and learn English

Hi my dear students,

I was wondering… Would you like to work in Ireland for 10 days next summer? Are you interested in helping ill children? Have you ever done some volunteer work before?

There is this international camp in Ireland I’d like to recommend. The staff recruitment session has just started, and I thought maybe some of you would be interested in applying to work there. There are both paid and volunteer positions.

The one I would apply for if I didn’t have a lot of free time is “volunteer interpreter”. Interpreters are needed to help children understand the activity leaders and also to communicate with children from other countries. If you prefer to work the whole summer, go ahead! It’s a long summer (from June to September), but it’s really worth it.

If you are interested, these are the dates available: look out for those where Spanish children attend the camp.

Want to have a look? Here is the VIDEO section of their website.

Still interested? Then it’s time for a virtual tour.

The first thing you’d need to do is download the application form and send it as soon as possible, along with all the other documents required. If you are selected, they’ll probably want to have a little chat with you.

After that… who knows? Hopefully you may have an unforgettable experience. Good luck!

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