martes, 30 de noviembre de 2010

Best of the year photos

Reuters publishes hundreds of thousands of photographs each year. Although 2010 hasn't finished yet, they have already selected the 55 best pictures of 2010.

All in all, they have a great aesthetic value and are good reading practice.

Self-study activity:
Get together with an English-speaking friend and watch the slideshow. Discuss what you know or remember about the news item each picture shows before reading the caption, and your opinion about the different issues. There are 55 photos in total, so there is lots of stuff to choose from.

Game to practise irregular verbs

From Many Things comes this game to practise irregular verbs in English. It has a fast pace and it's good revision. Don't forget, though, to make a note of the verbs whose pronunciation you are not sure of, and check it out with the English Pronunciation Dictionary on the left-hand side of this blog.

lunes, 29 de noviembre de 2010

Can versus can't

The pronunciation of can and can't is probably the best example of the difficulties of English pronunciation for Spanish people. The pronunciation of this (modal-auxiliary) verb presents these features:

- Pronunciation of  difficult individual sounds / æ / and /ə/ in can, /ɑ:/ in can't.

- Variations in the way the verbs are pronounced, depending on their position in the sentence: We only pronounce can as / kæn / in short answers, or at the end of a sentence or before a pause, or for emphasis:
A: Can you swim? B: Yes, I can. / kæn / (short answer)
A: Can you have it for Friday? B: I think I can, but I need ... / kæn / (before a pause)
A: Sue can't swim, she's too young. B: Of course she can swim. / kæn / (emphasis)
Can you come at six? /kən/
I can run faster than you. /kən/

- Ellision of sounds: the "t" in can't is very often not pronounced; the "a" in can is very often not pronounced when it is pronounced /ə/ .

- Stress: can't is always stressed, so speakers know if a sentence is affirmative or negative because of the stress on can't, not because they hear "t": I can't go (both "can't" and "go" take the stress)
When can is pronounced /kən/ is always unstressed, and the stress falls on the main verb: I can go. (only "go" takes the stress).

For Spanish speakers it is very difficult not to give stress to any words in a sentence, as our language gives the same stress to all the words. Consequently, when we use can in conversation it is sometimes very difficult for listeners to know if the sentence is affirmative (can) or negative (can't).

There are two tricks we can use to pronounce can in an unstressed position:
1) Omit the vowel sound and pronounce can quickly: I can go to the cinema  / ai kn 'gəu /
2) Make can part of the subject, as if they were the same word: I can go to the cinema / aikn 'gəu /

To complete the study of this difficult pronunciation point, you can watch these two videos from The first one is about the pronunciation of can, and the second about the pronunciation of can't.

If you're still uncertain about this point, Jennifer ESL also has some videos with explanations and examples.
Part 1
Part 2

Wife goes shopping

Self-study activity:
Watch this funny ad and answer these questions:

1. Where's the man?
2. Where's his wife?
3. What are the three items the woman would like to buy?
4. How much do they cost?

1. at the club   2. at the mall   3. a leather coat, a Mercedes car and a house   4. 1,000 (coat); a hundred and twenty (thousand) (car); 1.5 (million) (house)

domingo, 28 de noviembre de 2010

How grateful are you?

It turns out that giving thanks is good for you. Read this The Wall Street Journal article to find out more.

Bono, charity worker

Self-study activity:
Watch this NBC News video, which shows a report of the charity work Irish singer Bono is carrying out in Africa, and answer the questions that follow.

Correct the mistakes in the sentences if there are any.
1. More than 3,000 people die from disease or poverty every day.
2. The trip covers several African countries.
3. Bono’s 56 years old.
4. He’s treated as a head of state.
5. Bono dislikes America.
6. He seems to like former US-president, Bush.

You can self-correct the activity by reading the script here.

sábado, 27 de noviembre de 2010

Phrasal verbs glogster

From The Machines goes on (who else!) comes this glogster with practice in the use of phrasal verbs for intermediate students.

Shark versus octopus

This is a shocking part of a science documentary in which we witness the fight between an octopus and a shark. It gives us the perfect excuse to say that Básico2 students can start doing activities with authentic material. Give it a go, please.

Self-study activity:
Watch the documentary and say whether the sentences below are true or false.

1. The fight happens in the Pacific Ocean.
2. The sharks and the octopus had lived together for a long time.
3. Three or four sharks died every week.
4. Someone stayed up to see what was happening with the sharks.

1. F (in an aquarium) 2. F (they were moved in the same tank recently) 3. F (three to four-foot sharks, that's the size of the sharks, but they don't mention the numbers) 4. T

viernes, 26 de noviembre de 2010

The art of travel

The German Spotlight online has very many attractions for English students: A language section (vocabulary, grammar, tests), podcasts, news... and a travel section. A lot of these features are available to us for free, so why not benefit from this extraordinary team of teachers that publish updated material every week?

The travel section, for one, offers a funny combination of both reading and videos which is within the grasp of most intermediate students.

Check the travel section of Spotlight online by reading the article and watching the videos under the title The Art of Travel.

Checking grammar and collocations can be a really interesting site that allows us to check two different ways of saying the same thing, so that we can decide which is most likely to be right.

If you type the two different ways of expressing something into the two fields, the site checks these through Google and shows you which is the most popular. This is a great way to check, for example, paired sentences with common mistakes. Also it is great to check collocations and find out whether you have the correct combinations of words or how popular different collocations are.

On top of that, it shows you the context in which it found the examples, so you can reinforce their learning by seeing some examples of the phrase used correctly in context.

So if you aren't sure whether to say 'do my bed' or 'make my bed', or you don't remember whether it is 'housework' or 'houseworks', is the online collocation dictionary for you.

I found this site through Nik Peachy's QuickShout.

jueves, 25 de noviembre de 2010

Funny stories

From David Deubel comes this presentation where we can listen to and read some funny anecdotes to spice up our day. Be patient, it may take a few seconds to load.

Apple's first ever computer

The Guardian online article about the first Apple computer which has been recently sold at an auction.

miércoles, 24 de noviembre de 2010

How to talk about the past

How to talk about the past seems like the perfect place to learn and revise everything which has to do with the past simple: grammar, pronunciation, activities, revision activities, written practice, regular and irregular verbs. I don't think you can include a more comprehensive practice in a single presentation. The place is a must for all language students!

I learnt about this site through The English you Need blog.

VOA online learning activities

Voice of America, which has had a section for English students for years, has released a new feature which has to do with online learning activities: VOA News The Classroom.

It seems like the ideal place for Básico 2 and Intermediate students to visit regularly to get familiar with world and everyday news, improve reading, listening and vocabulary skills and get acquainted with an American accent.

martes, 23 de noviembre de 2010

What's your name?

Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie famous hilarious sketch at a police station. The clip is perfect for Básico1 and Básico2 students to deal with authentic English.

Self-study activity:
Watch the clip and note down the three questions the policeman asks the man at the police station. Also, note down the answers you can understand.

To self-correct the activity and watch the clip with English subtitles, double click on this link:´
(You may need to activate them in the CC window.) 

Changing the balance

There are a lot of resources on the web for learning about climate change, but Changing the balance uses a unique approach. It is a website that allows us to explore climate change through looking at its impact on mosquitos, malaria and the West Nile virus.

There are interactive displays, podcasts and videos, whose subtitles you can activate if you want to do so.

All in all, Changing the balance presents a fresh angle to study the environment while we improve our English.

lunes, 22 de noviembre de 2010

Birdsong and human speech

Read this The Independent article about the connections between the tweetering of birds and human speech.

History of Thanksgiving video

In a three-minute video the Channel History gives us a very comprehensive history of Thanksgiving.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and say whether the statements below are true or false.

1 The relationship between the colonists and the indians was good.
2 Turkey was part of the menu in the 1621 meal of colonists and Indians.
3 New England days of Thanksgiving were mainly a religious celebration.
4 All the States celebrated Thanksgiving on the same day in mid 19th century.
5 The movement to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday was started by a politician.
6 Football has played an important role in Thanksgiving since 19th century.
7 Thanksgiving has been part of Christmas since1924.
8 American families get together to celebrate Thanksgiving.

You can self-correct the activity by reading the script here.

domingo, 21 de noviembre de 2010

Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows

I know, I know that this activity can be a bit difficult, even for 2NI students, but let's give it a try, as the latest Harry Potter instalment has just been released.

Self-study activity:
1) Watch the clip from the film with the sound off, and try to describe what you are seeing.
2) Watch the clip and listen to the film dialogues.
3) Watch and listen to the director's comments in voice-over.

The most outstanding women of last century

This is a slideshow from Time Magazine which shows their choice of the most outstanding women of last century.

Guidelines for composition writing

Richard, the mastermind behind Grammar.About, has very helpful tutorials to guide us in the process of writing a composition. They are really uncomplicated and provide us with lots of examples and guidelines. The site can come in really handy to get to grips with the art of composition writing.

sábado, 20 de noviembre de 2010

Our twist words

This is a British TV Channel Four digital game I learnt through Digital Play. You click on the words and make sentences. The sentence you are making will appear on the bottom left-hand corner. You can edit your sentence, remove words and add new ones.

When you've finished making your sentence, the press the play button just after the sentence you've just made. You'll then see varios British personalities saying the sentence one word at a time. You can see some video samples here.

The Thanksgiving that Jack Built

Self-study idea:
Thanksgiving is just around the corner. To learn a bit more about this tradition, watch this subtitled video. Try to improve your pronunciation by reading at the same speed as the voice-over.

viernes, 19 de noviembre de 2010

World's simplest mobile phone

From the Mail online comes this funny article about the world's simplest mobile phone.

English for all

English for all is a project subsidised by the United States Department of Education with the aim of helping adult English students and adults with some basic education needs. It consists of five stories divided in four episodes. Each one comes with audio, video and grammar activities.

You can sign in to have your progress resgistered or enter the course as a visitor and you will not need to register at all.

Columbus Egg

Self-study idea:
Listen to the story of Columbus Egg. I said 'listen', as the YouTube video comes complete with subtitles, so if you 'watch' it first, you'll be letting the cat out of the bag and will be unable to put your listening ability to the test.

So listen to the story of Columbus Egg once or twice. After that, watch the video to work out whatever problems may have come up.

Finally, get together with an English-speaking friend or record yourself retelling the story.

jueves, 18 de noviembre de 2010

Short / u / versus long / u: /

From A Clil to Climb comes another game on their pronunciation series, this time contrasting / u / vs / u: /. You must find the picture which rhymes with the word in the box in the top right-hand corner.

To make sure how to pronounce each word, remember that you can use, an extraoridinary online pronunciation dictionary.

miércoles, 17 de noviembre de 2010

Simple past glogster

We are greatly indebted to The Machine goes on for the great number of poster presentations (glogsters) they come up with, and for the quality of their material. Here it is one of the latest lessons by these two Italian teachers, this time about the past.

As usual, the presentation comes complete with everything -videos, explanations and activities. It is a good way of studying or revising the past for students in the Básico levels.

A language has been discovered

Read this online article from The Independent about the discovery of a language unheard of until now.

The Great Dictator -Final speech scene

This is the famous final speech of The Great Dictator. Although there are some difficult vocabulary items, I think it is within the grasp of intermediate students.

Self-study activity:
Watch the scene for a couple of times and try to understand as much as possible. Then you can read the script here and deal with whatever difficulties you have come across.

After that, watch it again without reading the script. Finally you can practise the pronunciation of some words by reading the script and listening at the same time.

martes, 16 de noviembre de 2010

El blog para aprender inglés

El blog para aprender inglés is the ideal site for That's English! students to visit, especially at lower levels. It comes complete with videos, grammar, pronunciation, the lot.

This elaborate blog has been created by a group of bilingual teachers, who offer lots of explanations in Spanish, something which may reduce our anxiety to grasp it all. It is also very easy to navigate, especially if you go to the 'Indice' and 'All lessons' sections.

As an example, here's the explanation they give about the use of haven't, haven't got and don't have.

Becoming human

Thanks to ICTeacher I came across the Becoming Human site, where we can engage in a surprising explanation of the origins of humankind while we practise our listening and reading skills. On top of that, we can download the documentary, trancript, and lots of ideas to use the material with.

lunes, 15 de noviembre de 2010

Preparing for the exam?

The exam is still a long way off, but I don't think we should neglect preparing for it from the very start, especially at an intermediate level, where there seems to be such a different philosophy between the textbook and the exam activities.

Here it is a web page that can be really helpful for you, especially as far as listening comprehension is concerned: News English lessons.


Make it a habit to do a lesson on a regular basis. You can download everything you need, from audio files, to exercises, to transcripts to answers. On top of that, you can subscribe to the feed for free.

Alphabet revisited

This is a really beautiful presentation by Weef. He must be an English teacher who teaches children, but we are extremely grateful to him for coming up with this wonderful slideshow.

Self-study idea:
The presentation can help us to revise the alphabet, that's its main purpose. But we can make the best of it by pronouncing the alphabet letters as we 'turn the pages' of the e-book:
A is pronounced / ei /
B is pronounced / bi: /
C is pronounced / si: /, etc.

To revise the pronunciation of the alphabet letters you can visit this entry

At the same time, we can get familiar with some basic vocabulary (bike, elephant, etc.) and with the expression 'get from one place to another' (get in this context means 'go'), which is studies in Module 2 unit 2.

French waiter

This famous clip by the Monthy Pythons can help us with our English in several ways.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and note down the instructions the water gives viewers when he wants them to follow him. The language he uses can be useful in real life situations when we want to show someone how to get somewhere.

At the end of the video he comes up with some impolite language because we don't seem to react the way he was expecting. The swear word he uses (the famous f-word) is also part of English, and although we might disapprove of its use, we are likely to hear it at some stage. Again, note down the swear words you can hear at the end.

Self-study activity:
The video also allows us to develop our oral skills, especially at an intermediate level. Get together with an English speaking friend or record yourself while answering the questions the French waiter talks about:

Where (what specific place -a house, a hospital) were you born? Is the building still standing?
Do you remember any advice your parents gave you when you were little?
What made you choose your profession (i.e., why are you a teacher, a doctor, a shop assistant)?
What's your philosophy in life?

come with me; come on; this way; come on, don't be shy!; mind the stairs, all right?; come along; over here; nearly there now
fuck off! fuck you!

domingo, 14 de noviembre de 2010

Bridge over troubled water

To brighten up Sunday, here it is a beautiful presentation from EFL Classroom 2.0 on the famous Simon and Garfunkel's song Bridge over troubled water.

As well as enjoying the melody, the slideshow helps us understand all the vocabulary in the song. Enjoy!

Present continuous

From the Italian The Machine goes on blog a new poster presentation, this time about the present continuous.

sábado, 13 de noviembre de 2010

Working as a language assistant

From The Independent comes this article about the writer's experience in Paris as an English language assistant for one year.

English Grammar

English Grammar is a site where we can review English grammar rules, do exercises, watch a few videos with explanations and find tips and guidelines for composition writing. On top of that, you can download lots of exercises in PDF format.

Assassin's Creed

Self-study activity:
This is the trailer to Assassin's 2 video game. Watch the clip and fill in the missing words in the transcript below with just one word.

Italy, (1) ......... century, the age of Renaissance. A time considered to be the rebirth of (2) .......... Yet, behind humanity’s expanding consciousness, a (3) .........was taking place. A conspiracy by a corrupt (4) overthrow the powerful Medici dynasty and destroy a (5) .........Italy. But, there were still some who (6) .........for justice, and followed an ancient creed. And it was with them that our (7) .........begins.

Apparently the computer game has been a success, and the story line sounds really interesting and intriguing: The Duke of Millan is brutally murdered and Assassin Giovanni is dispatched to investigate the crime. What he finds out implicates Italy's most powerful families. But as Giovanni get closer to the truth, he becomes hunted himself. He must expose the conspirators before he also becomes a victim.

1. 15th   2. man   3. movement   4. family   5. unified   6. fought   7. story

viernes, 12 de noviembre de 2010

The most beautiful English words

The most beautiful English words is a post from The Alta Blog which tells us what native and non-native speakers of English think the most beautiful English words for them are.

Self-study activity:
Individually or with an English-speaking friend draw up a list of up to 10 English words you like. If you are working with a friend, tell him or her why you like these words. If you are working on your own, just write out a sentence for each of the words you have listed.

Then, compare your words with those shown on The Alta Blog. Are there many similarities or differences between the lists, especially with that of non-native speakers of English?

Repeat after us

Repeat after us is an online library with lots of texts and audio recordings of free access. The site aims to provide English learners with a kind of virtual online language laboratory where to read and pronounce English words. Recordings can be listened to online or downloaded, and there's material on a variety of topics for all levels, from elementary to advanced.

jueves, 11 de noviembre de 2010

On Learning

From David Deubel comes this motivational slideshow about the art of learning. Here you will find some food for thought while you practise your reading skills. Be patient, the presentation may take a few seconds to come up on your screen.

What should I do?

LeBron James keeps asking us for advice. 'What should I do?' in the Nike commercial. The ad is a good opportunity to learn and revise the pronunciation of the modal verb should /ʃʊd/, which we sometimes have difficulties with. Similarly, it shows the main use of the modal verb: Giving advice.

So, what should LeBron do? Should he admit that he has made mistakes? Should he give us a history lesson? Should he try acting? Watch the video and give LeBron some advice afterwards.

Self-study activity:
Count the times should is mentioned in the video. You can check it out and read a transcript of the clip here.

miércoles, 10 de noviembre de 2010

'A/an' and 'the'

From The machine goes on comes (once again!) an interactive poster (glogster) to show the use of both indefinite and definite articles to lower level students.

What would a native speaker say?

From Hungary comes this really interesteting project where some students filmed native speakers of English answering questions about everyday topics. 100+ short unscripted videos of varying quality which give us the opportunity to listen to native speakers.

Self-study activity:
Get together with an English-speaking friend and in the first place discuss one of the questions in Tarnar's project, like 'Do you think tattoos can be beautiful?', 'Describe a typical day at your current job', 'Are there any kind of movies do you dislike?', etc. Then watch the corresponding clip and compare your ideas with those of the native person in the clip.

martes, 9 de noviembre de 2010

Tales of London

Tales of 20th Century London gives us 100 years of London history. You can travel back to four different periods of 20th century London and learn how young people lived.

First of all, you have to select the period you want to travel to, then you will learn about life, leisure, food, clothes and history.

lunes, 8 de noviembre de 2010

Rhyming words

From A clil to climb comes this interactive pronunciation activity about pairs of rhyming words.

Out of my window

Incredible interactive video about highrises. It's just a delight to see.

domingo, 7 de noviembre de 2010


From The Machine goes on blog comes another beautful presentation, this time about the use of plurals in English. I hope you enjoy it.

Supereasy reading

We all complain about how difficult it is to find listening and reading material for lower level students. If this is the case for you and you are Básico1 or Básico2 student, Supereasy reading may help you to develop your listening and reading skills. 100+ texts with audio, comprehension checks and vocuabulary exercises. A really good find.

sábado, 6 de noviembre de 2010

Lyrics training

Lyrics training is an original site to practise our listening comprehension skills at all levels. Click on a song title and choose the level of the activity on the new screen that will come up. After that, the video will start automatically and... good luck!

Describing people

Describing people is an easy interactive activity to help English language students revise adjectives. Just click on 'play this game.'

viernes, 5 de noviembre de 2010

Guy Fawkes

On 5th November Guy Fawkes is celebrated in Britain. Learn about the history of the Gunpowder plot through this BBC interactive game.

Taylor Swift takes off

Read this article from The New York Times on Taylor Swift and see if you can find the answer to the questions below.

WHO is Taylor Swift?
WHAT is her latest album called?
According to Billboard, HOW many times since 1991 has an artist or group sold a million records in one week ?
HOW has Ms. Swift “transcended the limitations of genre”?
WHY are genuine blockbusters an “endangered species” in the music industry these days?
WHY has it been a notable year for country music?
WHERE has Ms. Swift been recently to promote her album?
WHEN are the next albums that experts expect to dominate the charts due out?

The Social Network trailer

Watch the trailer of the film The Social Network on the life of the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. If you are interested in what is actually said you can read the transcript here.

jueves, 4 de noviembre de 2010


Why not start your day with a few English jokes? I hope you enjoy these ones. Many thanks to David Deubel for this slideshow.

New ESL site

Minnesota Basic Education seems to be a great site for students of all levels. It provides students with grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and skills work for all levels.

miércoles, 3 de noviembre de 2010

What's important in life

From David Deubel comes this lesson that can help us revise some structures to express our preferences.

Self-study activity:
Get together with an English-speaking friend and discuss this question.

What's the key to a great life? Look at the picture and express your ideas. Give reasons for your choice.

In my opinion, the most important thing for me is XXXX because XXXX
In my view ...
Personally speaking ...

To express your preferences you can use these structures.

I prefer having good health to having money because ...
I would prefer to have a confident personality best of all because ...
I'd (I would) rather have a good job than (have) good looks because ...

Listen to Dr. Frankl speak about what is most important to him. Do you agree?  What is your purpose in life? Can you imagine it?

martes, 2 de noviembre de 2010

Places in town

From A clil to climb comes this game that will help lower-level students revise the names of shops and places in town.

Movie clips

Movieclips  has thousands of short video clips from movies. They’re available without registering — except for clips that have “mature” content. That in itself makes it a wonderful resource. What makes it a real winner is that that clips are categorized by theme, character, setting, mood, and more. They’re incredibly detailed.

Give the site a go at listening to English on a regular basis without tasks, without any strain on us. Make it a habit to visit it just for fun.

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at

lunes, 1 de noviembre de 2010

Metro newspaper

The Metro is a subway/transit magazine. As such, it is written in very simple English. Newspapers traditionally have been very hard to read for English students as they are too idiomatic, too filled with colloquialisms and local language and flavor. The Metro is different and very useable by English students.

On top of that, you can download the Metro issues for free, either the whole copy of the newspaper or the pages you select.

Self-study activity:
Get together with an English-speaking friend and choose a different article from the Metro to read. Then, tell each other about what you have read.

Johnny Depp with David Letterman

Self-study activity:
Watch this short funny extract of Johnny Depp in David Letterman's Late Show and answer the questions that follow.

1. What film are they talking about?
2. Has David Letterman seen the film?
3. How many times has Johnny Depp watched it?
4. Why does Johnny Depp have this attitude?
5. How old are Johnny Depp’s children?
6. Do Johnny Depp’s children see his films?
7. Were the Pirates of the Caribbean films shot consecutively?

1. Public enemies   2. Yes, the other night   3. None   4. He doesn’t like watching himself once the movie is made. He has finished his job.   5. Five and seven   6. More than he does   7. No, simultaneously