Posted by: laurainguia | November 17, 2009

Extremely short stories

Did you enjoy reading and writing the mini sagas? I hope so. Please click here for advice on how to write them. You’ll be able to read samples written by students from all over the world too.

Would you like to know “how to get simple quick writing practice and how to give and receive feedback and criticism of your written work“? Go to Nick Peachey’s blog and follow the instructions to write a very short story based on five pictures.

Your classmate Carlos also told me about the following short stories competitions: SMS contest: Write a story in no more than 154 characters.  SMS contest in Spanish: max. 160 characters.  Twitter competition: max. 140 characters! Could you accomplish such a challenge?

For those brave enough to try, feel free to use the comments section as a playground. Good luck!

Posted by: laurainguia | November 3, 2009

Dressed to kill

Yesterday in class we had a look at the world of clothes. Would you like to expand your vocabulary? Choose from this list of different activities:

fashion

By Dheeraj Harjani

1- Vocabulary:

  • Idioms: what does “dressed to kill” mean? What about “putting on your thinking cap”?  What’s a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”? Click here to find out.
  • Verbs: wear or dress? Check out this list to enlarge your vocabulary on verb phrases.

2- British fashion: Is there such a thing? Read a nice article here (taken from Visit Britain) . If you are interested in the national dress of each country, click here.

Do have a look at the following websites: (taken from Learning English) “For Mens and Ladies clothes – urban wear and designer wear try The Clothes Store. Two of the most famous (or infamous) designers in the UK are Zandra Rhodes and, slightly less controversial; Paul Smith, check out their web sites and see what you think“.

3- Feel like watching some videos instead? Why not start with a piece of advice on Fashion Fundamentals and move on to Fashion Rules and (your favourite section, I’m sure!) to other videos categorized under “All About Shoes“.

4- Clothes quiz: Please browse through the following shops and answer these questions:

1- What’s a hoodie?
2- What’s a duffle coat?
3- What’s a waistcoat?
4- Why do we end these words with “wear”?: swimwear, knitwear, leisurewear, nightwear, footwear…

Men’s catalogues
Burton
Marks & Spencer
JcPenney
Saks Fifth Avenue
Bhs

Women’s catalogues
Debenhams
Top Shop
Saks Fifth Avenue
Dorothy Perkins
Next

Posted by: laurainguia | October 21, 2009

The “other” medicine

I’ve found an interesting blog that gives readers advice on healthy habits.

Taken from Zen Habits

Taken from Zen Habits

The different thing about it is that they’re not “medical” recommendations, but “alternative” ones (getting organized, breathing, simplifying your life, focusing, meditating, etc). Go and check it out here: Zen habits.

I have some questions for you guys.

  • To what extent do you care about your health?
  • Do you believe in alternative medicine? (acupunture, homeopathy, etc.)
  • What’s your opinion about the Zen Habits blog? All sorts of opinions are welcome.

Thanks for your participation.

Posted by: laurainguia | September 30, 2009

20 Places to Practice and Learn English Vocabulary

My dear students,

These days we’re looking at new vocabulary on different topics. Ever wondered how to do to expand your English vocabulary? Guest blogger Karen Schweitzer tells where to go in her post, kindly written for us. Hope you like it!

20 Places to Practice and Learn English Vocabulary

There are a wide variety of tools that English learners can use, such as virtual flashcards, dictionaries, translators, and chats, to practice and learn English vocabulary online. Here are 20 tools that can make study sessions fun and effective:

WordAhead – WordAhead is a free online vocabulary video site that can be used to practice and learn English vocabulary. Videos can be viewed in a study room or through a word list.

VerbaLearn – Students who want to save time studying vocabulary words will enjoy VerbaLearn. This online vocabulary flashcard site provides virtual flashcards in audio, video, and text for maximum retention.

Cramberry – Cramberry is a flashcard site that allows users to create and study vocabulary word lists online. With this site, students can track progress, view troublesome words more often, and choose from thousands of pre-made flashcard sets.

EnglishPage.com – This site allows English learners to study more advanced vocabulary lessons. EnglishPage.com also provides weekly lessons, a grammar book, vocabulary lists, verb tense practice, and more.

Read More…

Posted by: laurainguia | September 21, 2009

Questions and Answers

Hi there! I’m glad to have met you all and start working already.

mike

Photo by el_davo

The first Internet site I’d like to suggest today is Q&A, a series of interviews published weekly in The Guardian. There you’ll find public figures supplying interesting answers to very particular questions. Why not check it out? You’ll find people such as Bruce Willis, Pamela Anderson, Amy Winehouse, Marilyn Manson, Lily Allen, Annie Lennox, David Hasselhoff (The Knight Rider)…

Another series that caught my attention was the one called “This much I know“, in which “Celebrities share the lessons life has taught them“. A different style of interview altogether.

Tired of reading? Do you feel like listening to a different sort of famous people then? There’s a website on the BBC called Audio Interviews; it’s no longer updated but it still contains a whole load of audio interviews of people of all times (dead and alive!). No transcriptions are available, but the interviews are worth listening to (Coppola, Bob Marley, Dalai Lama, Alfred Hitchcock, Agatha Christie…)

Which of the three series do you prefer? Are you interested in the lives (or at least in the opinions) of celebrities? What kind of well-known people catch your eye? (writers, pop singers, politicians, actors…)

Posted by: laurainguia | September 7, 2009

Welcome back! Lessons begin next week.

Hello everyone and welcome back!

Did you have a nice summer? I hope so.

I’m very glad to remind you that we’re meeting next week: for those who have signed up for a Monday-Wednesday class, lessons will start on Monday 14th.

For those belonging to the Tuesday-Thursday class, lessons will start on Tuesday 15th.

Are you happy to be back? Me too!

See you next week.

Posted by: laurainguia | June 10, 2009

Have a nice English summer

Hi my dear students,

Than you all for making it up to the very end. These days we’re having our exams and we’ll soon be done. The summer is here already, and I’m sure you will miss the school (won’t you?). I’d like to write the last post of the year, recommending you some sites you can try and visit to keep your English up to date.

I firstly recommend you to read this post: “Cómo aprender inglés sin dinero para cursos“. The teacher here suggests interesting things for a linguistic immersion. For example, she talks about language exchanges. Why not start one now? We can do that on the Internet, without having to travel! She and her readers suggest the following (I know this is not the first time we talk about this):

Busuu
Shared Talk
My Language Exchange
Language Exchanges
There you can practice your the 4 skills!

I do agree with her opinion on Listening everyday. If you try and listen at least 5 minutes, you’ll get used to the sounds of English and it’ll become easier and easier. My recommendation here is for you to download i-Tunes (it’s free!) and subscribe to podcasts (that you can later transfer to your MP3 player and take your English with you to the gym, to the supermarket, to the beach..!). All you have to do is (once you get the program) click on i-Tunes Store, later on Podcasts and then browse according to your interests: you can select the language, the channel or the topic you are interested in. Then you subscribe to the podcasts that you like: their updates will be downloaded immediately everytime you connect to i-Tunes again. Isn’t it wonderful?

You can also visit the wonderful site of TED Talks; it’s an “annual conference that brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).” The topics are on various subjects: technology, education, entertainment, design… And many videos have subtitles in different languages (please choose English!) at the bottom, on the left-hand corner. Certainly worth a look!

More ideas on Writing: apart from checking the websites checklisted in this blog, you could also start a journal in English or even a blog yourself! (Try blogger) If you write on a regular basis, you’ll need to use a dictionary and thus will learn new things everyday.

Finally, what about Reading? Are you thinking of taking some English book to the beach with you? Good idea. Why not visit the library? You can borrow books for the whole summer now. Otherwise, you can buy them online; Amazon is quite fast with deliveries and they also offer you the possibility of buying second-hand books for really reasonable prices! Short of ideas?

Here you are some suggestions (light and fun reads, I think):

White Teeth by Zadie Smithwhite teeth
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend
Sushi for Beginners by Marian Keyes
Completely Unexpected Tales by Roald Dahl
Eureka Street by Robert McLiam Wilson
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Have a great summer you all!

Posted by: piliguia2 | May 24, 2009

Reported speech

There are lots of pages where you can practise, although they’re no great fun, but at least they’re useful! You can practise questions ,  see the changes , a bit of it all together, introductory verbs, or an explanation with exercises. Elblogdeinglés has a long clear explanation.For grammar practice, go here , here , here or here

Or you can always play football…Good luck!

Posted by: laurainguia | May 17, 2009

Grammar Girl: “if” and “whether”

ggirl

We’ve talked about this girl before, remember?

Just in case you weren’t in class that day (or you’ve forgotten), here you are a reminder of this wonderful online help. The website is called Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing and you can visit them whenever you want to solve your grammar doubts and improve your writing and vocabulary. You can also listen to her if you click on the PLAY button. Do you want to take it away with you to the gym (or wherever)? Then click on the DOWNLOAD button. It’s all free!

For example: What’s the difference between “if” and “whether”? She tells you here. Further explanation on the BBC website (of course!) + a quick one here.

Would you like to receive daily tips from her? Then click here to fill in the form.

Hope you like it.

Posted by: laurainguia | May 6, 2009

No more doubts… ever!

Did you know that there’s a crowd of experts out there, willing to help you with your English grammar doubts?colors

Yes! From now on, you’ll have instant answers to your questions. There are several websites that can help you, but today we’ll focus on BBC Learning English, one of the most interesting and complete.

How to use the site? I’d suggest 3 ways:

1- If you have a grammar doubt, there are chances someone else has had that doubt before. Why not check their list of question categories? All the doubts are neatly classified into different categories, so that you can find yours easily. You can either read or listen to the answers. Nice, isn’t it?

2- Can’t you find your own doubt solved? No problem! At the very bottom of the same page, you have an application form under the heading “Send us a question”. All you have to do is send your own question and- hopefully- it’ll be solved in a few days.

3- Are you in a hurry and can’t wait for a few days? Then, why don’t you ask your question to the Learning English community? All you have to do is become a member here and start a new discussion in the message boards. The answer will come within minutes!

For example… What’s the difference between “as” and “like”. You can find an explanation here . Would you like to do some exercises? Then Mr. Google can help you out:

Enjoy!

Posted by: piliguia2 | May 5, 2009

structuring a short talk

Listen to some advice from Splendid Speaking here.

Posted by: laurainguia | April 27, 2009

Money makes the world go round

Hi there all!

This week we’re going to start with the topic of Money on Module 6, so I’d like you to have a look at some fantastic interactive exercises Carmen López (a teacher from Asturias) has created, namely:

– Why not start with a song by The Beatles? Watch the video, listen to the lyrics and ty to fill the gaps.
– Revise some of the vocabulary of the Module here and here. Give it a go!
– Watch a news report about four big supermarkets in Britain, fill the gaps and check your answers. Click here to watch the first part of the report, and here for the second.
– Finally, would you like to play “Who wants to be a Millionaire”? She suggests this link to play online. It’s very exciting!

Other possible TV games you can play are The Weakest Link and Maryland Television money games.

To finish with, this is the beginning of a TV show. Do you recognize the celebrities taking part?

Posted by: piliguia2 | April 23, 2009

DEAR MR PRESIDENT

I’ve just found a very politically-committed video which I’d like to share with you. It’s a song by Pink, addressed to the ex-president of the US… What’s your opinion about it?

Posted by: laurainguia | April 23, 2009

The Wide World of Words

Hi everyone! Having seen the success of the post about the funny signs (which wasn’t even mine by the way!), today I’d like to recommend you a very interesting blog: it’s called Wordsplosion and it’s described as a showcase of “the best of the worst of the wide world of words“. Everytime someone spots a sign which has some sort of mistakes in it (grammar, vocabulary, spelling, punctuation, etc.) , they send it to the blog so that the rest of the world can try to guess what the mistake is and how to make it right.

Why don’t you give it a go? Let’s start with this photo, taken from that blog. Where is/are the mistake/s? To find out, click here to access the post. Once there, all you need to do is click on the underline sentence “Wait, I don’t see the problem with this!” and the mistery will be revealed. Good luck!

mistake

Posted by: laurainguia | April 14, 2009

The importance of learning a second language

You are all learning a second language. But have you ever wondered how important it really is? Watch this video and find out. Via Becoming a Better EFL Teacher Blog.

Posted by: laurainguia | April 12, 2009

Free writing practice (and more)

Hi again! I juitestsst came up with this website by Longman in which you can do lots of exam practice. There are some activities you have to pay for, but still there are many which can be tried for free. These are some of the things you could do:

– Register here, so that you can have access to some free reading and listening tests.

– Take a placement test to see what Cambridge exam would be right for you.

– Have a look at their list of some of the common errors they’ve found in written tasks.

– Read some useful exam taking tips so that you get ready for your incoming tests.

– And, why not? Submit a written task to them: they will mark it for you. All you have to do is click here and you will get this message: “Do you want to do FREE writing practice for PET, FCE, CAE or IELTS and have it marked by an experienced exam marker? Just log into the site, choose and write the essay you want to try, and we will email your results to you.

Hope you like it! Please tell me if it works for you.

Posted by: laurainguia | April 8, 2009

Speaking tests online for advanced students

talkIn the last post you could find examples about all sorts of exams. You could self-assess online in the reading and writing tests, and I also told you that I would give you some feedback on the writing test in case you wanted to try. But what about the speaking test? How can we practice that? How can we get ourselves in a real “exam” situation?

Splendid Speaking gave me a solution last week. Here is the text of the email they sent me:

Are you preparing for an advanced English exam like BEC Higher, CAE, CPE or IELTS (Grade 6.5 and upwards) and need to practise for the Speaking paper? Perhaps there’s a particular part of the exam that you’d like to try and get feedback on such as making introductions, discussing, negotiating or making long turns. The Splendid Speaking team invite our users to contact us to arrange a free interview through Skype. Interviews last about 15 minutes and if your request is successful you’ll be interviewed on your own or in pairs.”

Interesting, isn’t it? Would you like to try? For more information, click here. Good luck!

Posted by: laurainguia | April 8, 2009

Test yourself online

Hi there all!

Photo by ccarlstead

Photo by ccarlstead

Long time no write… I’ve been away and trying to relax a little bit. But here I am, back with all my energy again! I promised you a couple of posts and I’ll try to have them ready in a few hours. The first one is about some EOI tests that you can do yourself at home.

They were published by the EOIs from Catalunya, and they consist of the following tests:

  • Listening comprehension
  • Reading comprehension
  • Writing
  • Speaking (the format of this particular test differs from the sort of tests that have been done in the previous years, of which you have already had some samples in class, remember?)
  • and finally, Use of English (remember that this sort of test is no longer present in the current system of exams. Still, it’s interesting to have a go)

You can get instant feedback in some of the tests, clicking on the “Your Results” button. If you feel like trying the writing tests, all you have to do is send me an email and attach your written work. I’ll be happy to comment on it as soon as we’re back in class.

Posted by: laurainguia | March 22, 2009

Listen to students of different levels

Hi there all!

Some teachers from the EOI in Málaga have developed a very interesting project: it´s called “Escuchar el Marco Común Europeo de Referencia para las Lenguas“.

They’ve gathered recordings of native speakers and students of different levels talking about the same picture. This way we can observe the evolution of students through the different stages of the learning process! Really nice, isn’t it?

You know you’re expected to achieve level B2 at the end of “Avanzado 2“; I’d encourage you to listen to the examples of the different levels and check the differences. Click here to access the website.

Did you find it useful?

Posted by: laurainguia | March 16, 2009

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

The big Irish party is taking place tomorrow, 17th March. It’s St. Patrick’s, stpatricthe day of the patron saint of Ireland. All around the world people feast this event.

Are you interested in the origins of the party? Then click here to read a bit about it, or here to watch a video that explains some amusing facts.

Some parades were already happening yesterday. Chicago is famous for its St. Patrick’s celebrations, did you know that? They even dye the river green! Click here for a great photo gallery of the event.

The Simpsons go green too! Click here to watch the clip.

Finally, to take a quiz on “All things Irish”, click here.

Are you going to any St. Patrick’s party yourselves? Have you ever been to any? Tell us about it!

parade

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