domingo, 31 de octubre de 2010

Even more Halloween!

Again from EFL Classroom 2.0 comes this video on Halloween, where all the traditions around this celebration are explained in a funny slideshow.

A universal translator

With a global economy and flights that can take you all over the world in hours, why is it that we still struggle with a language barrier that technology is finding hard to break down?

Read this article from the BBC site and watch the short accompanying video in which a Japanese linguist explains to us how we can get by in Japanese with just one word!

sábado, 30 de octubre de 2010

Road to grammar

Road to grammar has some really good resources for both students and teachers, yet also seems to be something of a well-kept secret.

As the name suggests the main focus of the site is on grammar, with 365 grammar quizzes linked to explanations. But there's plenty of other useful stuff such as games and downloads. The Flash-based game Fluent, for example, allows 2 students to play.

The Downloads section has some great PDFs including an e-book with 25 factoids for EFL teachers and another with 100 conversation questions that students can use to practise their oral English.

10x10 Time capsule

Ten by Ten simply means you have 100 pics on news and events that are happening (or have happened) in the world.  Using Ten by Ten gives people the chance to explore the current news as well as the news of the past few years. All you need is 5 minutes to read at least the headlines.

Self-study activity:
If you wish, and you are studying with an English-speaking friend, you can discuss what the article is going to be about after reading the headline. You also have the option of reading the news items in full.

viernes, 29 de octubre de 2010

Google instant

Watch this video about the way the new Google search machine works.

If you have difficulties or want to understand everything that is said on the video, you can read the transcript here.

Learning chocolate

Learning chocolate is designed for English language learners to gain basic vocabulary through many interactive activities. It includes a recording of all the words, so students learn vocabulary and its pronunciation.

jueves, 28 de octubre de 2010

The past

From Kalinago English comes this presentation about how to use the past in English (past simple, past continuous, past perfect simple, past perfect continuous).

Click on the title (The Dark Past) if the slideshow doesn't load.

The Dark Past

miércoles, 27 de octubre de 2010

Preparing a Halloween party

Halloween is round the corner now. In Halloween Howl you'll find lots of spooky ideas to prepare the ideal Halloween party.

100 most mispronounced words

Some years ago, in the 1990s, the extinct Practical English Magazine published this activity especially designed for Spanish speakers. A teacher, whose name I've been unable to track down, compiled the list of the 100 most mispronounced English words by Spanish speakers.

Have a go at pronouncing the words below. To check how accurate your pronunciation is, use Howjsay, the online pronunciation dictionary. You can also download a copy of the words in PDF format together with their phonemic transcription from here.

dining roomearlyEgyptianelectricianengineerequipment

martes, 26 de octubre de 2010


Some well-known celebrities have all teamed up with ONE for the fight against global poverty. Will you join them?

If you want to read what the actors actually say you can read it here.

Self-study activity:
Get together with an English-speaking friend and try to identify the actors on the video. Have you seen the series or films they have taken part in? What do you know about their current projects? And about their personal life? Why is it important for celebrities to do charity work?

Calculations, numbers and maths

Math TV can be an interesting site for English learners as it can show us how to say some terminology in English, from easy calculations to really complicated ones.

On top of that, there are lots of videos for us to practise our listening skills.

lunes, 25 de octubre de 2010

Present simple and frequency adverbs

From English can be fun comes this presentation about the use of the present simple. It is a good revision of a basic grammar point.

Top five destinations of the USA

Self-study activity:
Watch this short video on the most outstanding destinations in the USA and complete the gaps in the sentences below with the missing words.

Number 5: Boston.
One of the most historic cities of the United States, it has some of the finest academic institutions and many quaint charming __________.

Number 4: Los Angeles
See the famous Hollywood landmarks, shop alongside the rich and famous, and hang out with the locals at pristine __________.

Number 3: Las Vegas
It’s the entertainment capital of the world. On the famous strip amidst the glitzy lights, you will find the exciting casinos, dining, shows and __________.

Number 2: San Francisco
The beautiful city is set in spectacular natural __________. World-famous landmarks, scenic vistas, and wonderful __________ define San Francisco.

And number 1: New York
Among the world’s greatest cities, visitors rave about its _________ energy. Everyone should experience New York in their lifetime.

neighbourhoods / beaches / nightlife / settings / climate / unbelievable

domingo, 24 de octubre de 2010

Job interview

Monster's UK site has an excellent interactive virtual job interview which can help you train for the big thing. There are 10 questions for you to practise.

Irregular verbs again!

The Spanish educational system gives too much importance to the printed letter. Consequently, when we learn a foreign language we sometimes show a tendency to simplify pronunciation issues and, if in doubt, we pronounce new words as we would do in Spanish.

It is always a good idea to make sure what the right pronunciation of a new word is.

Talking of pronunciation, when learning irregular verbs we are more than happy if we can remember the spelling of the verbs, but we neglect their pronunciation, which can lead to serious communication problems. This video can help us learn how to pronounce irregular verbs in English.

You can also check this entry to revise the pronunciation of irregular verbs.

sábado, 23 de octubre de 2010

Lunch line redesign

Lunch line redesign is a New York Times interactive that highlights ways that school cafeterias are using to encourage students to eat healthier foods.

Plurals revisted -Theory and games

From One clil to climb comes this detailed revision of the spelling rules for plurals in English together with a number of games to practise.

viernes, 22 de octubre de 2010

Ten photographs that changed the world forever

This exhibition from Brainz is well worth a visit. We are all familiar with the photos but we will be reminded of their importance in history while we practise our reading skills.

Conditional sentences revisited

Beatiful presentation of the three types of conditional sentences by IES teacher Agusti Lloberas. All the types of conditional sentences are clearly explained at the same time.

Agusti's Place is also worth a visit as he has lots of interesting resources for everybody.


jueves, 21 de octubre de 2010

My immigration story

My immigration story is a site that presents us with short stories (200-word maximum) of immigrants in the United States. This government-run site tries to raise people's awareness to this widespread experience in the first world countries.

Read and enjoy. You'll find lots of food for thought.

Self-study idea:
In order to practise your speaking skills you can try the following tip: Once you have read one of the stories, try to repeat the story in your own words without reading the text. That way you will have an excuse to 'speak English to yourself'. You can even try to record yourself.

British Council Podcasts

The British Council offers podcasts that you can download on your computer to practise your listening skills. On top of that, they come with activities that you can also download and print. Great stuff to learn English for Basic and Intermediate students.

miércoles, 20 de octubre de 2010

Beyonce biography

Self-study activity:
Watch this short biographical  video on Beyonce and answer the questions that follow.

1) When was she born?
2) Where was she born?
3) When was her singing ability noticed? 
4) How old was she when she entered her first talent show? 
5) What was the name of the group Beyonce was in before Destiny's Child? 
6) Who designed the clothes for Destiny's Child? 
7) Which title did Beyonce become the first African-American to win? 
8) What was the name of the album released by Destiny's Child in 2001? 
9) When did Beyonce release her first solo album? 
10) How long did her first solo album top the charts for? 
11) How many Grammy Awards did Beyonce's first solo album win? 
12) When did Destiny's Child release their last album? 
13) Which 2006 musical did Beyonce star in?

Self-study idea:
You can find similar short biography videos on famous people  in You Tube. Just type 'Biography' or 'Biography: Need to know' and you will come across lots of them.

Why don't you get together with an English-speaking friend and decide to prepare a short comprehension activity for each other? Make sure you choose a different video to start with. Then prepare a few questions on the video about information you have actually understood. You don't need to understand everything to do that. Simply prepare questions on information you are confident you have the answer for. Make sure the answers are short, or true/false. Then exchange the questions and do the listening activity your friend has created for you.

This way you can greatly benefit from your own skills and those of your friend's while you do activities that are sometimes difficult to find.

1) September 4th 1981   2)  Houston (Texas)   3) While singing for the church choir   4) About 7 (she entered a town competition)   5)  Girls’ Time   6) Beyonce’s mum, Tina   7) One-song writer of the year   8) Survivor   9) 2003 (Dangerously in love)   10) 8 weeks (Crazy in love)   11) 5   12) 2005 (Number ones)   13) Dream Girls

martes, 19 de octubre de 2010

Road education

Although Think! is primarily a British government website aimed at teens concerning road education, I think the contents will be interesting for everyone. You can play a game showing you are smart enough to manage time and attitude to reach a place safely, investigate an accident and find out what shouldn’t have been done. On top of that, if you visit the site with an English-speaking friend you can engage in conversation and discuss all the issues there. There's also room for writing your own suggestions. If you work on your own, the main skill you will be practising will be reading, but in the 'Media and advertising' section there are some ads with which you can practise your listening skills. Overall, Think! is an excellent site for language intermediate learners which also provides great education for life.

lunes, 18 de octubre de 2010

24 accents

Just watch this video in which a kid manages to produce 24 different English accents. What he says is really unimportant. I have just posted this video to make you realise the difficulty in understanding native speakers we sometimes have. Source: The Huffington Post.

A, E, I, O, U

From a Clil to Climb comes this mini-presentation that can help students in Básico1 level pronounce the vowel letters in English.

domingo, 17 de octubre de 2010

BBC How to

How to is a couse on the BBC Learning English site where you can practise lots of phrases and expressions that you can use in all kinds of situations of everyday life, from ordering a drink to giving some advice to seeing a doctor.

Each unit has audio and texts you can download, and you can subscribe to an audio podcast.

Wonderful tool to learn!

Thanks Jeffrey Hill for bringing my attention to How to .


Siesta is one of the Spanish words that have made it into English, together with fiesta. Anyway, it seems to me that Spaniards are not the only ones to give some thought to this habit.

Read the infographic below about the topic, and I hope you enjoy this scientific approach to this tradition.

You may need to zoom out the picture to be able to read the information clearly.

sábado, 16 de octubre de 2010

Pronunciation of regular past (-ed)

Another activity to practise the pronunciation of regular verbs in English. It comes from A clil to climb . It has no sound, though, but we can make it up by doing the activity slowly the first time and paying careful attention to the pronunciation of the past forms of the verbs.


15th October (yesterday) was Blog Action Day. This year´s topic was about water.
To calculate your water footprint you can visit the National Geographic site and follow the instructions there.

viernes, 15 de octubre de 2010

British cuppa

From the Mail online comes this newspaper article about the typical British cup of tea (cuppa).

Present simple glogster

Another great example of glogster (interactive poster), this time coming from Italy and made by teacher Daniela Tomatis.

Do not forget that in order to see the videos and slideshows properly, you must double click on them.

miércoles, 13 de octubre de 2010

Spot the differences

From Digital Play comes this game that can help us practise our oral English at home, either alone or with English-speaking company.

Self-study activity:
First identify the vocabulary: There's a pumpkin on the table, there's a cat on the sofa, there's a sofa on the right, etc. Look up any words you don't know.

Then spot the nine differences between the two pictures: The yellow dog is happy in the first picture, but it's sad in the second.

Finally you can test your memory by trying to remember the nine differences without looking at the pictures.

The yellow dog on the left isn’t happy/ smiling.
The blue dog’s collar is red (not yellow).
A square/ tile on the wall is yellow (not orange)
The candle has got lines.
The pumpkin is sad / scary (not happy/ friendly).
(part of) the curtain is green (not orange).
The table hasn’t got a leg.
The cat’s tail is yellow (not black),
The sofa hasn’t got a line (a line/ crease on the bottom right arm is missing).

Writing fun

Writing fun is a gem. This is an interactive site that helps students in the process of writing. It also offers text organisers to make the writing task easier and explains in detail some common composition tasks. Writing fun also allows users to see samples and download templates.

Although the site greatly focuses on story-writng techniques, it is a must for those students interested in improving their writing skills, as Writing fun emphasises the importance of text organisation, paragraph division, correct development of ideas and neat presentation.

martes, 12 de octubre de 2010

Phrasal verb demon

Impressive site by Juan Antonio Pérez Herrera, a teacher of English in a state language school in The Canaries, which deals with everything to do with phrasal verbs, from their grammar to dictionary to videos and listening. Impressive work!

lunes, 11 de octubre de 2010

Grammar for Graduates

Read this interesting article from the Mail on Line on the poor performance in grammar of many English graduates. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learnt here for everybody.

domingo, 10 de octubre de 2010


Voxy is an interesting approach to helping you learn English.Voxy uses current articles from world news, pop culture, and sports to to help you acquire language. As you read an article you can click on highlighted words and hear them pronounced. Highlighted words when clicked reveal the Spanish translation. Clicking on highlighted words also adds them to a study list. The study lists can be used for quizzes and games. Voxy is available in English and Spanish.

viernes, 8 de octubre de 2010

War of the sexes

Self-study activity:
Discuss with an English-speaking friend: Is housework an issue in your household? Who does what at home? Is it a fair share? How could tasks be distributed more equally?

Watch this video, you may get some ideas to implement at home.

You can read the transcript here.

You can also visit and take part in an interactive game to help you distribute housework more fairly, although you will have to register to start playing.

jueves, 7 de octubre de 2010

The lottery of life

Take some time off to visit this site from Save the Children and reflect on the importance of fate in our lives.

Expect, hope, wait, look forward to

The Spanish verb esperar is a difficult one to translate into English. There are several options.

Expect - to think that something will happen because it has been planned or it seems probable. One can expect good or bad things. Example:
I expect it will rain at the weekend.
I'm expecting John to phone at three.
She's expecting a baby.

Hope - to want something to happen or to be true. One only hopes for good things. Example:
I hope it won't rain during the holidays.
I hope the exam goes well.
She's pregnant. She's hoping it will be a girl.

Wait - We wait when somebody or something is late, or when we are early for something, or when we want time to pass so that something will happen. Example:
We've been waiting for rain for ages.
I waited for her until three, but she didn't arrive.

Look forward to - to think about something that is going to happen with pleasure. Example:
He's looking forward to his birthday.

Look forward to is the verb we use in letters as a farewell formula, always with -ing if another verb follows:
I look forward to hearing from you soon (present simple in formal letters).
I'm looking forward to meeting you (present continuous in informal letters).

Self-study activity: Complete the gaps in the sentences with expect, hope, wait or look forward to.

1. I ... my retirement day to devote all my time to my hobbies.
2. I'm still ... for Harry to pay me back all the money he owes me.
3. She ... him to be angry with her.
4. I ... the employment situation will change one day.

1. look forward to   2. waiting   3. expects/expected   4. hope

miércoles, 6 de octubre de 2010

Paris Hilton and Lady Gaga

Self-study activity:
What do you know about Paris Hilton and Lady Gaga? 
What are they famous for? 
What do you think about them?

On this clip Paris Hilton interviews Lady Gaga. The conversation sounds banal but, anyway, watch the clip through and see if you understand what they are talking about.

Watch the video again. The excerpts below are literal sentences taken out of the conversation exchanges between the two celebrities. Complete each gap with only one word.

1. PH:  Alright. You won’t admit it, but I’m gonna say it to you. You are a ______  icon. I’m impressed. I’m loving your music. What is your ______  for your music?
2. LG:  I’m really, really inspired by my ______  in New York City, the art scene on the Lower East Side, and the 70s, and David Bowie, and Studio 54, and media culture and ______  with fame.
3. PH:  And I read a recent interview where you said that you liked me and my ______  .
4. PH:  Oh, my God, thank you. I’d love to do a ______  with you. I love her!
5. LG:  I had the most impressive go-go ______  on the planet.
6. PH:  Anything we do would be a ______  , so you guys can’t know anything. It’s a secret. 

You can self-correct the activity and read the full dialogue here.

martes, 5 de octubre de 2010

Friday, I'm in love

Self-study activity:
Get together with an English-speaking friend and discuss these questions:
What's your favourite day of the week? Why?
What day of the week do you dislike most? Why?
What special things do you do on each day of the week? For example, on Mondays and Wednesdays I go to the language school, on Tuesdays and Thursdays I go to the gym.

Now listen to the song Friday, I'm in love, by The Cure. The first time you listen to it, just enjoy this great number. Then listen to it for a second time and try and count how many times each day of the week is mentioned.

Thank you, David (ddeubel) once again.

English, the language of Europe

lunes, 4 de octubre de 2010

10:10 No pressure!

Self-study activty:
I know you are always asked the same questions when discussing environmental issues, so here it is again: What small everyday things can we do to protect the environment? Get together with an English-speaking friend a draw up a list as exhaustive as possible.

Now watch this four-minute long video and check if any of your ideas are mentioned. The clip was filmed in four different settings. For checking your ideas, pay special attention to the first location, a school, and the third one, a football pitch.

I guess you must be in a state of shock now and must have forgotten about checking your list. That's quite understandable, as the video, created by the 10:10 Global organisation, is so controversial and has come in for such severe criticism that the organisation has had to withdraw it from the campaign.

Self-study activity:
Get together with an English-speaking friend and give your opinion about the video. What point was Richard Curtis, the director, trying to make? Did he get his message across? Is it right to withdraw the video?

You can read the transcript of the video here.

Many thanks to Jeffrey Hill for drawing my attention to this video.

domingo, 3 de octubre de 2010

Daily routines

Interactive game created by A Clil to Climb where we can practise and revise this tense and some everyday vocabulary.


Abracadabra is part of a literacy programme of the Canadian government. The main focus of the site is on developing users' reading skills and vocabulary, but all the other skills (speaking, listening, writing) can also be practised while getting lots of fun.

Don´t be misled by how easy all the tasks seem. We can make them as hard as we wish.

sábado, 2 de octubre de 2010

Migrant education

Watch this short video by Elízabeth Suárez where she explains her job with immigrants in the States.

As Elízabeth is Mexican I don't think her English poses great problems for us. Simply I would like to draw your attention to the endless difficulties immigrants face anywhere in the world.

Self-study activity:
Get together with an English-speaking friend and discuss the problems immigrants face when coming to Spain. What help from the public administration do immigrants get? What programmes do Spanish schools have to help immigrant students adapt as quickly as possible?

I learnt about this video in sharon's share: Next Vista for Learning.

viernes, 1 de octubre de 2010

Expressing opinions

Whenever we wish to express our opinion in English, most of the times we use the phrase I think... to introduce our ideas.

Nothing wrong with it. The only problem is that we tend to abuse this expression and, consequently, we sometimes hear people using I think... six, eight, ten times in a very short period of time like the oral exam.

One of the factors that influences the final marks in the oral exam is the variety of structures and richness of vocabulary students use. So why don't you try and learn these other phrases to introduce your opinions?

In my opinion ...
In my view ...
Personally, I think ...
Personally speaking ...
It seems to me that ...
I get the impression that ...

The structure we must avoid is From my point of view. We use From somebody's point of view to express someone's ideas from their position in life (as a student, as a housewife, as a doctor, as a Catholic). But personal opinions are not introduced by this structure. Compare:

In my opinion, war is always wrong.
He wrote about the war from the point of view of an ordinary soldier.
In my view, it's a very good school.
You have to judge a school from the child's point of view.

Self-study activity:
Get together with an English-speaking friend and express your opinions about the billboards that you can see after clicking on the picture below. Do you like the billboards? What products are being advertised? Is the design effective?