lunes, 31 de enero de 2011

Online level test

Test your grasp of English with the online level test that Spotlight Verlag and GmbH telc bring to us.

It is a a fifteen-minute test that measures our command of grammar, vocabulary, reading and listening skills. We are presented with 13 tasks with a variety of activities (true/false, multiple choice, fill in the blanks, headline matching) that we must do in a limited period of time each.

We are immediately given the results of the test, which will place us in one of the levels of the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). However, if we wish to know how we have done in each of the tasks, we must give an email address and our performance, together with the right answers, will be immeditately forwarded to us.

The test is free. But if you make up your mind to do it, make sure that you have 15 minutes to spare, as it demands concentration.

Barclays Cycle Hire

London finally has its own cycle hire system, which follows the wake of the Parisean Velib system. Watch this promotional video with TV and radio presenter Edith Bowman and make a note of this travelling option for your next trip to London.

The video comes complete with subtitles. Turn them off the first time you watch it, and activate them later on for checking comprehension.

A World of 100

A World of 100 is an interactive slideshow from Portland Free School which gives us an insight of what the world is like in terms of welfare distribution by showing statistics which correlate all data to 100. That way it is far easier for everyone to fathom out the way resources and well-being are distributed around the world.

Self-study activity:
Use the slideshow to practise second conditional sentences.
If the world were a village of 100, 52% of the population would be women and 48% would be men.

You may like to vist this blog entry about the 100 people project.
H/T to DDeubel.

domingo, 30 de enero de 2011

The best performances of the decade

I know this The New York Times video may pose some problems for most students, as we'll be watching some of our favourite actors commenting on the best perfomance of the decade for them. However, I have made up my mind to publish the video clip for a number of reasons: We are all well acquainted with most of the celebrities that appear here; they seem to express their opinion in a 'natural' unscripted way; most of them talk about films and actors we are fairly familiar with; the great visual impact of the video.

So don't get discouraged by the difficulty and give this video a go.

Self-study idea:
Why not get together with an English speaking friend or relative for a conversation session around the topic of cinema? Before you watch the video, discuss the actors who are going to feature in it. Do you like them? Have you seen any of their films? Do any of the films stand out in your memory? Are there any actors whose films you never watch or who you think make poor actors?

Now watch the video and try to note down which performance each actor talks about.

You can read the answers here.

Online TPR excercises

Henny Jellema’s Online TPR (Total Physical Response) Exercises give us the chance to practise commands in English through reading and listening.

However, as he cautions, 'all the actions in the exercises below should have been physically DONE  first.  It has no sense to let a student  click-click-click with a computer mouse without experience of the physical action.  For a student the exercises should not be a surprise of something new, but a surprise of recognition!'

All in all the site is ideal for Básico 1 and Básico 2 (elementary) students who are working on commands (imperative forms), as it allows them to reinforce this structure through the skills of listening and reading while consolidating basic everyday vocabulary.

Great site.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

Meet me at midnight

Meet Me At Midnight is an online art adventure produced by the Smithsonian Museum. The purpose of Meet Me At Midnight is to introduce younger students  to types of art and art vocabulary. On this game, students go on three adventures within a museum to find artworks to put in a treasure chest, which will give them the opportunity to come across information about different types of artwork.

On Meet Me At Midnight we have to read the captions in each scene,  which will allow us to develop our reading skills, especially for lower level students.

There is a kids' guide and an educators' guide with a lesson plan based on the Meet Me At Midnight adventures.

sábado, 29 de enero de 2011

Learning English in Cambridge

This video from English Club came to me through Speak English and it shows a number of students talking about their experience of learning English in Britain.

Self-study activity:
Get together with an English speaking friend or relative and predict what the students' opinions are going to be, both in terms of learning English and as far as their personal experience is concerned.

100 Ways to celebrate 100 School Days

I found this article from The New York Times Learning Blogs really interesting. We are all about halfway throughout the school year, and while we find ourselves in the dead of winter, feeling some kind slump in our spirits and dismayed when contemplating the long road ahead,  The New York Times Learning Blogs find a cause for celebration.

Self-study activity:
Before you read the article with the 100 ideas put forward, brainstorm different ways you can think of to celebrate 100 days since the beginning of the school year.

viernes, 28 de enero de 2011

Fun in learning, fun in life

The Fun Theory is a site dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s changed for the better.

A few days ago, and through Teaching Village, I could watch the video below on You Tube. Just watch it and enjoy it.

Self-study activity:
Get together with an English-speaking friend or relative and discuss the way that the fun theory can be applied in your English lessons.

You can watch more similar videos on the Fun Theory site.

Lessons for Living Well

Lessons for Living Well - Fast Food: Healthy Choices has been developed by the San Diego Community College District. It is the online component of an adult English as a Second Language health-related programme. The aim of the lessons is to show us how to keep our body healthy: how much sugar, fat and salt we should eat, for instance. 

We'll also learn key vocabulary related to food through an opening video and additional practice with reading and quiz activities. The videos are subtitled, so that we can gain a full understanding of everything which is said. 

All in all, Lessons for Living Well is a motivating site for lower level students and will help us improve our English through gaining some insight into practical lessons for life.

Azar Grammar

Azar Grammar is a global community of English teachers based in the USA. English teachers, and students for that matter, have at their disposal lots of classroom materials and guides to help them in everything connected with grammar in their everyday job.

The Grammar Speaks section of the site is specially relevant for English students, where talking heads speak directly to them and give short, succint explanations about all grammar points.

This grammar explanations are divided into two parts: Fundamentals of English Grammar Interactive, for the lower levels, and Understanding and Using English Grammar Interactive, for higher levels.

The site is a must for English teachers, and so is the Grammar Speaks section for English learners.

jueves, 27 de enero de 2011

Making Perfect Popcorn

Jamie Oliver is a well-known chef the world over. You can visit his site and get acquainted with all his ideas and tricks to improve your cooking.

Our English can also benefit from Jamie Oliver's cooking lessons, although, I must admit, this is not easy at all, and I think that even advanced students will have to fight hard to get a full understanding of what Jamie says. He talks so fast, he says so many things in such a short time, he uses so much specific vocabulary that it is really hard to think of him as the perfect native speaker to improve our English.

Anyway, for the sake of variety, let's give it try.

Self-study activity:
Watch this short video in which Jamie Oliver shows how to make popcorn, perfect popcorn. Just note down the ingredients and kitchen utensils he mentions, simply that.

You can read an approximate transcript of what Jamie says here, and judge for yourself.

Air Travel Vocabulary

From A Clil to Climb comes this interactive vocabulary activity where we can revise vocabulary which has to do with air travel.

Just click on the image below on the A Clic to Climb site and click on play on the ensuing page.

miércoles, 26 de enero de 2011

Kim Cattrall on The Hour

Self-study activity:
Watch this interview with Kim Cattrall, one of the actresses on Sex and the City. The first part of the interview has some interesting news about Kim's private life and you have to say whether the statements below are true or false.

The second part of the clip deals with the 2/20 section of the programme. Kim is asked twenty questions in which she has to choose between two options. See if you can understand the questions that are put to Kim.

1 Kim Cattrall dated the Canadian Prime Minister.
2 Everybody loves the Canadian Prime Minister.
3 She met him while watching a movie.
4 She was living in Ottawa at the time.
5 The Prime Minister himself phoned her.

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

Testing improves learning

From AolNews comes this online article which may bad news for some people and very good news for other people.

As a teacher, I had always regarded exams as a necessary evil. It seems I'm not the only one who holds this view.

H/T to It's Magazines.

martes, 25 de enero de 2011

If it were my home

If it were my home is an interactive that compares our standard of living with other parts of the world. You can choose the country in the world you want to compare Spain with.

The parameters the site compares are employment, oil consume, electricity use, chance of dying in infancy, number of babies, money spent on health care, experience of class divide, likelihood of having AIDS, life expectancy, number of hours worked per day, and salary.

The site also gives us some background information about the country we are comparing Spain with, and we can also read users' posts commenting on the question 'Does XXXX seem like a nice place to live?

Self-study activity:
Get together with an English speaking friend or relative and before choosing a country, make predictions about the way Spain compares to that country bearing in mind the parameters above.

Do not forget to use a second conditional to make your hypothesis about what your life would be like if you lived in that country.
Example: If I lived in the UK my life would be shorter than in Spain.

The exercise can also help us revise comparatives and how to say some figures in English.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

A listening companion

A listening companion is part of the Resources for English Language Improvement from the Canadian Collegial Centre for Educational Material Development (CCDMD) and was brought to our attention by Larry Ferlazzo some days ago.

All in all the materials on the site seem far more suitable for advanced students than for lower levels. However, I think that the listening companion of the site, featured here, is well within the grasp of Intermediate 2 students who are preparing for the end-of-year test, as it shows a number of videos where native speakers answer questions about everyday topics. Authentic material is guaranteed here.

The videos can complete with exercises, so that we can test our listening comprehension ability. On top of that, students have the opportunity to answer the same question the speaker is going to deal with, which allows for good oral practice, especially if students can manage to get together to do the tasks.

On the minus side it should be pointed out that no transcripts are available. But do not be discouraged by it. I found the listening activities motivating, realistic and about topics students can easily relate to.

430 English accents

The Speech Accent Archive shows 430 examples of native speakers of English from different parts of the world. They all read out the same text, so we can hear the differences in pronunciation and accent among them.

The site may give us some insight to raise awareness about the different Englishes around the world.

lunes, 24 de enero de 2011

The use of the Present Perfect

I have been meaning to write an entry about the use of the present perfect in English for a long time. Finally I came across the video below which summarizes both the main uses and problems learners may find in using this tense.

The teacher on the video refers to two general uses of the present perfect:

1) When we talk about a finished action in a general way and we do not give a specific time, we don’t say when the action happened, although the action is connected to the present somehow. In this use the present perfect is used to talk about changes, to give news, to talk about experiences, to refer to things we have completed. This use of the present perfect in English is similar to the present perfect in Spanish.

2) When we refer to actions or situations which started in the past and continue up to now (3’ 52” on the video). This use is completely different in Spanish, as we tend to use a present simple + gerund structure.

The teacher also draws our attention to the use of adverbials, which may help us to know when to use the present perfect or the past simple and, consequently, avoid mistakes.

Typical expressions with present perfect are recently, lately, many times, several times, often, sometimes, just, ever? never, already, yet, for and since.

With present perfect you cannot use specific time expressions that say when something happened: last month/week/year, ago, when (I was a child), during my childhood, yesterday, at 10, on Monday, in 2001. With specific time expressions we use the past simple.

These interactive activities from English Grammar Secrets may help us to discriminate between present perfect and past simple, and pay careful attention to the adverbials when using one tense or another.

Justin Bieber : I owe everything to the fans

Self-study activity:
This clip is not easy to understand by any means, but I think that Intermedio 2 students can have a go at it and just try to understand the general ideas Justin Bieber touches on.

Watch the video and order the topics in the order they are mentioned.
A How he was discovered as a singer.
B Where he usually performs.
C Advantages of owning a bus.
D Travelling the world.

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

domingo, 23 de enero de 2011

Advice for people who are studying English

Self-study activity:
Answer these questions about yourself, or rather, get together with an English speaking friend or relative and have a nice conversation in English while answering the questions below.

Why are you studying English?
When did you start learning?
What are the most difficult aspects of English for you?
Which aspects of English learning do you find easier?
How do you usually study English?
How much time do you spend every day?
Do you do anything special before an English exam?
What advice would you give to study English?

Now watch this video and see the advice you get from other students from around the world.

You can read the transcript of the video here.

Cat ordered to do jury service

This news item from The Telegraph is absolutely true.

Self-study activity:
Read the short article and use modal verbs of speculation and deduction (must/may/might/can't) to try and come up with a sensible explanation which accounts for it.

The story might be false.
Someone must have mixed up names.

H/T to It's Magazines.

Feel this day

Nikon has created a site called  Feel This Day. It’s a multimedia interactive showing what events have happened on each day in history.

Feel This Day makes nice reading while we refresh or learn about historical events we may be unaware of.

sábado, 22 de enero de 2011

Flu or Cold?

Self-study activity:
Get together with an English-speaking friend or relative and discuss these questions:

What’s the difference between suffering from a cold and flu?
How do we get a cold or flu?
What are their symptoms?
How should we treat flu?
What complications can arise with flu?
Which groups are more likely to run the risk of complications?
How can the people in the risk groups prevent flu?

Now watch this video from Explania and find the answer to the above questions. Make a note of them, please, as you will need to be familiar with all the medical terms that come up on the video to go over the questions again.

What is ‘flu? - Explania

Now that we have learnt all the details about flu, go over the questions again and try to answer them.

H/T to Free Technology for Teachers.

Top 20 Passwords of All Time

This is a really interesting infographic from Column Five Multimedia which might give us some useful background information about the dangers lurking out there on the net.

So, whenever you think about a password, try to avoid using personal information and common words.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

viernes, 21 de enero de 2011

Exam preparation -Reading comprehension for Basic EOI exam

Esl-bits offers this extraordinary resource to practice reading comprehension in exam format. There are different kinds of activities you can do: comprehension of signs; true/false questions; matching people with the most suitable situation for them; fill in the gaps with the missing words; and general comprehension of a text.

All in all students of A2-early B1 level (Básico 2 for EOI standards)  can find 19 activities at their disposal to develop their reading skills and prepare for their exams.

Wikipedia 10th anniversary

Wikipedia has just celebrated its 10th anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, a video was made, and is narrated by Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and choose the two topics on the list below which are not mentioned in the narration.

Challenges for Wikipedia for the next decade.
New projects resulting from Wikipedia.
Obstacles Wikipedia had to overcome initially.
Statistics about the use of Wikipedia.
The expansion of Wikipedia around the world.
The Wikipedia foundation.
Who edits Wikipedia.
Why its founder decided to create a free online Encyclopedia.
Why Wikipedia took a key role in the project.
Wikipedia as part of another project.

You can read the transcript of the video here.

Obstacles Wikipedia had to overcome intially.
Why its founder decided to create a free online Encyclopedia.

H/T to Jeffrey Hill.

Test your English in five minutes

From The New York Times Learning Blogs comes this ingenious reading comprehension test. It takes very little time to put the three sentences of a paragraph in the correct order, but beware! the task is more demanding than it seems at first, and it may really frustrating not to get it right at the first go. Good luck!

jueves, 20 de enero de 2011

CNN News Pulse

CNN News Pulse is a new and sophisticated section of the CNN website, where you can identify what stories are the most popular.

That kind of feature isn’t new, but at News Pulse you can identify the criteria to choose stories you want — subject area and period of time, for instance.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

Google highlights the differences between men and women

If we want to discuss the way culture views men and women differently, the answers will probably make reference to cultural factors and literature rather than science. But Google may be changing that.

Read this short Infographic from Fastcodesign and you'll find out some revealing information that Google presents about this topic.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

Anne Hathaway's job interview

Self-study activity:
Discuss these questions with an English-speaking friend or relative:
Which factors are important to get a job? Choose the seven most important ones from the list below:
age/sex     -     appearance     -     astrological sign     -     contacts & connections     -     experience     -     family background    -    handwriting     -    hobbies    -    intelligence    -    marital status    -    personality    -    qualifications    -    references    -    sickness record    -    blood group

Have you ever done a job interview?
What was it like?
What questions were you asked?

Watch this clip from the film The Devil Wears Prada. Anne Hathaway's being interviewed for a job as the editor's assistant of Runway, in the film one of the leading fashion magazines in the world, with Glenn Close playing the role of the powerful and intimidating editor.

On the interview, Glenn Close gets straight to the point from the very beginning. Note down the four questions she asks Anne Hathaway.

You can self-correct the activity and read a full transcript of the clip here.

miércoles, 19 de enero de 2011

USA Learns

USA Learns is a site for Básico 1 and Básico 2 (Elementary) students. Here students will find lots of videos to watch together with comprehension activities, vocabulary and pronunciation practice, grammar, writing and even life skills, that is, practical advice for situations that might present themselves if you are living in the States. Great site!

Make it a habit to visit USA Learns regularly as you will come across an enjoyable systematic stress-free learning area.

Ad Slogans

On Ad Slogans we can come across endless advertisement slogans, which can help us come to terms with the world of publicity and gain a better understanding of it.

To top it all the site offers lots of ad videos to show the company's expertise in the publicity world. They are really enjoyable and will help us enhance our listening skills with authentic material.

H/T to ICTeacher. On this link teachers can find a lesson plan which revolves around the ads on Ad Slogans.

Growing up and old

From The New York Times through It's Magazines comes this article about New Yorkers who have spent all their life in the same neighbourhood. It is a very emotional article which was brought to my attention, as it focuses on one of the cities with the highest population turnover in the world.

martes, 18 de enero de 2011

Possessive Case (Possessive Nouns or Saxon Genitive)

Bob Wilson, from AutoEnglish, offers a very clear explanation of how to use the possessive case in English.

This slideshow by teacher Henry Kleber offers more complex aspects of the Saxon Genetive:
- The importance of discriminating possessive ‘s with the contracted ‘s (is from the verb to be).
- The apostrophe in nouns ending in –s (two options are possible).
- Biblical names in -s do not take the possessive (the laws of Moses, the life of Jesus).
- The possessive in plural nouns.
- The possessive when it refers to each individual in a group or when it refers to the whole group of people.

Colin Firth's Cause Celebre

With the Golden Globe Awards still fresh on our mind this clip with the actors on The King's Speech comes in handy to practise our listening comprehension skills.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and complete the script with the missing information in the blanks.

It was a story that ha- had to…it had to be judged well… the humor – humor is…is never an (1) ______ to – to judge perfectly. You always feel like you’re treading…treading a very (2) _______. Uhmm… cliches, stereotypes, you know…stereotypical uhm…repressed member of the Royal Family… stereotypical Australian…ahh, we ha- we…sort of avoid those sorts of things. I didn’t want it to be, uhm, a self-pitying…uhm, (3) _______ of a man. And so there were  there were  there were an awful lot of things I think I think, we…we worked very hard on...on being (4) _______ about.

I feel really…I have to take (5) ______  seriously…uhh, and, you know… shed a light on this condition in a way that I’m pleased to stay and **** what the film says very accurate… and I had been (6) _______  at how Colin Fi- Firth portrays it.

1 easy thing 2 narrow line 3 portrayal 4 precise 5 stammering 6 amazed

Financial Wizard

Intuit’s and Scholastic have joined together to offer a free online programme to teach finance to school students.

On this lesson  a financial wizard will help impart the importance of saving money. Through a hypothetical job-based comprehension exercise, key concepts discussed in Lesson 1 will include income, taxes, and costs. You can download the reading text, comprehension questions and task here.

All in all the tasks put our financial skills to the tests while helping us with our reading comprehension abilities.

You can read the answers to the tasks here.

The follow-up to the story (part 2) can be found here together with the answers.

lunes, 17 de enero de 2011

The Big Challenge

The Big Challenge is primarily a European language contest for students between the ages of 11 and 16 which is held in spring every year. The contest has become so successful among European schools that a webpage was created so that students could train for the big thing.

The language level revolves around A1- early B1 level of the Common European Framework, but students of all ages and all levels can also greatly benefit from the site, as it not only tests our grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and cultural knowledge, but also our mental speed.  For this reason, The Big Challenge is an ideal place for everyone who wants to put their English knowledge to the test and have fun at the same time.

There are four levels of difficulty, and users can choose between training mode or normal/fast to gauge their level of proficiency.

Press on the yellow The Big Challenge Quiz area of the home page to get started.

Colete Paris -Tour of the Store

Self-study activity:
Go over this short clip of Colete, the Parisean store, and say whether the statements below are true or false.

1 All the visitors to Colette buy something.
2 The idea for Colette was a family thing.
3 At Colette you can find everything.
4 Only famous brands are on show at Collete.
5 Each item is expensive.
6 Collete is the temple of fashion.

You can read the transcript of the video here.

1 F (want to buy something)  2 T 3 T 4 F 5 F (has a big value) 6 F (much more than that. They help people understand style).

domingo, 16 de enero de 2011

100 people

100 people is a global project that tries to draw students' attention to global issues (water, food, economy, health, education, energy, war, and so on). To do so, they have come up with a clever idea: Everything they deal with, each problem, each data is correlated to the number 100. That way it is far easier for everybody to figure out the real dimensions of the topics under discussion.

100 people invites schools and educators from all over the world to join their project. Here it is the trailer, where the objectives and the how-to are clearly stated.

Self-study activity:
Get together with an English speaking friend or relative and before watching the clip, try to predict what the statistics for the information below might be.

You can revise the pronunciation of would on this blog entry.

If the World were 100 people, there would be ...
___ females / ___ males / ___ children / ___ adults / ___ Asians /  ___ Europeans / ___ Africans / ___ Christians / ___ Muslims / ___ Hindus / ___ Buddhist / ___ speak Chinese / ___ speak English / ___ speak Spanish / ___ would not be able to read or write / ___ would own a computer / ___ would be dying of starvation / ___ would be overweight

You can also watch Carolyn Jones introducing the project on 100 People: Video Lesson Plan.

And remember there are lots of video for you to watch on the 100 people site.

H/T to DDeubel.

Comparatives and school subjects

The French teacher Mrs Haquet from Frenchfrog's Little English Pond has created this interactive book that can help us study and revise comparatives.

Mrs Haquet's book starts by introducing school-related vocabulary, which later on she uses as the foundation to introduce the rules of the comparatives and set activities. The excercises include audio files, matching activities and fill-in the blanks.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

sábado, 15 de enero de 2011

Any Given Sunday... Motivational Speech

Any Given Sunday, starring Al Pacino and Dennis Quaid deals with the fight the once-great American football team Miami Sharks has to put up to make it to the playoffs. In the final game Miami manages a comeback against the Dallas Knights, winning the first round of the playoffs.

Although not a master piece, the film is entertaining, and it’s greatly remember for the scene in which Al Pacino, the team’s coach, addresses the players at break time to try and instill in them that little extra they need to put in to win the match.

Just watch the video and enjoy this overemotional scene. And remember, On any given Sunday, anything may happen… and sometimes we are only inches away from our goals.

If you wish to do so, you can activate the subtitles on the You Tube video to fully understand the clip, although you will have to watch it on the You Tube site to be able to activate the English subtitles.

The importance of our name

Self-study activity:
Discuss these questions with an English-speaking friend or record yourself answering them.

Do you like your name?
How did your parents choose your name?
What does your name mean?
Do you have a nickname?
Which are the different names that different people call you by?
Which names do you like best / least?
If you could choose another name for you, which one would you pick out?

Now read this Guardian article on the importance of our names in our lives. If you are studying with a friend, comment on the article afterwards.

H/T It's Magazines for this article.

Vocabulary and Spelling City

Vocabulary and Spelling City is like having an English teacher at home to help you revise your English vocabulary. You 'tell' this teacher vocabulary you have been working on recently or items you would like to revise, and Vocabulary and Spelling City will prepare a variety of online activities for you to practice: Definitions, spelling, matching activities, items in context, and so on.

Self-study activity:
Whenever you read a text or whenever you finish studying a lesson, make it a habit to draw up a list of vocabulary you want to learn or revise. Go to 'Start Here' on the Vocabulary and Spelling City home page and type in some of your words. Then, click on 'Spelling Test' or 'Vocabulary Test' or 'Teach me' or 'Play a Game', and let Vocabulary and Spelling City do the rest for you.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

viernes, 14 de enero de 2011

Seven Billion

Seven billion is a light-hearted video by The National Geographic which tries to raise awareness about the problems of overpopulation on earth.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and say what the following figures refer to:

seven billion / two or three / six / 1,500 / 500

You can check the answers to the activity with the transcript here.

You can complement the information with this other clip.

Self-study activity for Básico 1 and Básico 2 students:
Go over the video below and freeze the screen whenever a figure comes us. How do you say that figure in English?

Remember that in English, 1 billion = 1,000 million.

H/T to Free Technology for Teachers.

The California Distance Learning Project

The California Distance Learning Project is a great site to develop our listening skills, especially at an intermediate level.

Here we can find lots of listening material about a variety of topics (work, family, school, health, money, the house, travelling, nature). Some videos are also available. All the listening activities come complete with their transcript and comprehension and vocabulary tasks.

California Distance Learning Project is a great resource for both learners and teachers whose prioritiy is listening.

H/P to DDeubel.


Akinator looks like the perfect pastime for all-level students to relax while keeping in touch with their English. Lower-level students can even consolidate Yes-no questions by paying careful attention to all the questions the genius keeping asking you. You will also have the opportunity to revise lots of job-related vocabulary.

Self-study idea:
Get together with an English speaking friend or relative and play Akinator two or three times to learn the mechanics of the game. Then you play Akinator yourselves. Think about a famous person, or celebrity, or sports personality, or politician and get your friend to find out the person you have in mind by just asking yes-no questions. This the famous Twenty Questions game we have often done in the classroom.

H/T to DDeubel.

jueves, 13 de enero de 2011

Passengers ordered off a plane

From The Telegraph comes this article about a nightmare flight.

Self-study activity:
Get together with an English speaking friend or relative and discuss nightmare journeys you have experienced or you have heard about.

H/T to It's Magazines.

Knocking and pulling

Knocking and pulling is a video version of a track from Touchable Dreams, by Jeremy Harmer and Steve Bingham.

The first adjective that comes to mind when you watch the video is beautiful.

Self-study idea:
Watch the video clip and note down or discuss your feelings after watching the video.
Then complete the gaps in the poem with the missing words.

I knock on the (1) ___ / She pulls me in
I stay not long (2) ___ / She dreams of (3) ____
I knock on the (1) ____ / She lets me in
I stay far too (4) ___ / She turns me out
I knock on the (1) ___
She (5) ___ me in / reluctantly
I walk in far too far / She turns me out
I knock on the (1) ___
Again / And again
She denies me (6) ___ / I stumble in
(7) ___ past her / She turns me out
Again / She turns me out
All this knocking and (8) ___ and turning out
Hey carpenter
(9) ___ me a coffin
A small coffin / of perfumed (10) ___
Our dream just (11) ___

H/T to Jason Renshaw. He offers some other activities with this poem on his blog and also presents a lesson plan for teachers.

1. door 2. enough 3. love 4. long 5. allows 6. entry 7. push 8. pulling 9. make 10. wood 11. died

Pronunciation Practice -Minimal Pairs

Ship or sheep is a site that allows us to practise our pronunciation by focusing on the discrimination of pairs of sounds.

There are 29 different minimal pairs for students to practise, mainly vowels and diphthongs, but there are also a few minimal pairs of consonants.

The vocabulary is illustrated through pictures, and we only have to roll the mouse over a word to listen to it. At the end of all the contrasting words, there is a sentence in which the sounds appear in context.

Ship or sheep is a good site to improve our English pronunciation and get to know about phonetics.

miércoles, 12 de enero de 2011

Victoria Beckham, proud to be British

I think this video clip featuring Victoria Beckham in the 2010 British Fashion Awards is really interesting for language learners.

She gives us a great demonstration of a typical feature of spoken English language learners find it difficult to grasp: conversation fillers, that is, short phrases and expressions like um, uh, I mean, you know, well, that speakers use to give themselves thinking time when they are talking, especially if ideas don't come to mind.

Self-study activity:
Watch the clip and count how many conversation fillers Victoria Beckham uses.

You can check your answers with the script here.

Reading Lessons for Adult Learners

Básico 1 and Básico 2 (elementary) students are at a disadvantage when it comes to finding suitable reading material on the net.

The Marshall Adult Education Programme, however, provides some interesting reading lessons for this learning group. The readings are divided into two levels of difficulty, and can be done online or printed by the student. Besides, each reading comes complete with a lesson which includes comprehension questions, vocabulary. You can also listen to stories and some further activities involve speaking practice.

All in all a very comprehensive site for Básico 1 and Básico 2 (elementary) English students.

H/T to DDeubel.

martes, 11 de enero de 2011


Self-study activity:
Discuss these questions with an English-speaking friend or relative.
Have you ever needed to attend a social occasion and found you had nobody to go with?
Have you ever felt uncomfortable because you have been eating out or shopping on your own?
Have you ever had to do some menial jobs you really didn't feel like doing?
Have you ever thought about the possibility of 'renting' a person to stand by you in the above-mentioned situations?
Would you be willing to resort to that type of service?
How much would you be ready to pay a person to keep your company?
Would you be keen on working for a 'rent-a-friend' company?
What prospective problems can this type of worker face?
How much money could you make?

Now watch this Fox video clip and find out how popular this type of business is in the US. You can read a transcript here.

Means of Transport

Through a Clil to Climb comes this interactive game for elementary students to learn/revise some means of transport.

Do not forget to check out the pronunciation of all the words on howjsay or Forvo.

Favourite Music Evokes The Same Feeling as Good Food

Read this The Guardian article on the effect our favourite music can have on us.

lunes, 10 de enero de 2011

Adjective Word Order

Are there any rules for adjective word order in English?
Do we say 'black leather shoes' or 'leather black shoes'?
The answer is OPSHACOM > OP-SH-A-C-O-M
OP (opinion) SH (shape or size) A (age) C (colour) O (origin) M (material)

Watch Professor Grammar giving us all the details about it.

Find more videos like this on EFL CLASSROOM 2.0

Self-study activity:
Put the adjectives in the right position before the noun.

1. Belgian / beautiful / little - city
2. excellent / cold - dinner
3. modern / industrial - buildings
4. French / ski - boots
5. cotton / grey - trousers
6. evening / red / silk - dress

1. beautiful little Belgian city 2. excellent cold dinner 3. modern industrial buildings 4. French ski boots 5. grey cotton trousers 6. red silk evening dress

domingo, 9 de enero de 2011

Award Winning Commercial

Self-study activity:
Watch this funny ad and complete the gaps in the script with the missing information.

-Why, what’s (1) ___?
-Honey, I can’t sleep.
-What’s the (2) ___?
-I don’t know, I – I worry we’re drifting.
-Drifting? What, like a (3) ___?
-No, you know, apart. I mean, all we ever talk about anymore is the (4) ___, and work, and the kids…
-I know, that’s just natural, you know? That’s just where we are in our (5) ___, that’s all.
-And you never talk to me (6) ___.
-What do you mean, ‘I never talk to you’? I’m talking to you right now.
-No, I mean like you (7) ____.
-Ohh, what do you mean?
-You know, you never talk to me in that special way like you (7) ____.
-I know, but we were younger then…we were in (8) ___!
-See, that’s what I mean. We’re drifting.
-No, we’re not drifting. Just ‘cause…I don’t talk to you in that special way…I love you. I love you very, very much!

1. wrong 2. matter 3. boat 4. bills 5. lives 6. anymore 7. used to 8. college

Learning with IPad

Ipads have been one of the most sought-after presents over Christmas but many people just view them as a fun entertaining gadget.

This article from The New York Times views Ipads from a different angle -education. Read the article and answer these questions taken from The New York Times learning blogs.

HOW is Roslyn High School on Long Island using iPads in a pilot program?
HOW would you feel if your school adopted these devices for the classroom?
WHY are educators, parents and scholars divided about the use of iPads in schools?
WHO is Larry Cuban and what does he think about the use of this technology?
WHO are Elliot Soloway and Cathie Norris, and what do they say about iPads vs. smartphones?
WHO is Alex Curtis and how is he using a $1.99 iPad application in his seminar on Baroque art?
WHAT about the iPad’s physical attributes are appealing to students and teachers?
WHAT can you imagine the iPad, or technology like it, changing about the way you learn in school?
WHERE else besides Roslyn are schools ordering iPads, according to this article?
WHEN did your school most recently receive new technology of some kind?

sábado, 8 de enero de 2011

Audio Lingua

I can't really remember the way  I came across Audio Lingua a few weeks ago, but I am going to definitely recommend it to all my students, irrespective of their level.

In Audio Lingua you can find somewhere in the region of 300 hundred downloadable audio files of varying length contributed by native speakers talking about a topic of their interest. The files are all classified A1 (Básico 1), A2 (Básico 2), B1 (Intermedio 1/2), B2 (Advanced). Besides, users can find audio files in up to ten European languages.

The site is ideal for students who must face an end-of-year examination where listening comprehension plays an important role. On top of that, the growing trend towards authentic material in both teaching and exams makes this web invaluable.

On the minus side it must be said that there are no accompanying tasks or transcriptions and the quality of some of the recording leaves something to be desired.

But do not be put off by any of this. Audio Lingua is a gem for all English learners.

Inspiring Stories

Now that the Christmas spirit is still fresh this presentation from EFL Classroom 2.0 is ideal to find an excuse to read in English while getting some food for thought which might result in some personal improvement.

You may need to register to visualize the slideshow, but it is a very fast process and you'll gain access to the hoard of materials available on the site.

Self-study activity:
Read some stories and repeat them in your own words. If you have the opportunity to work with a friend or classmate, you can also express your opinions.

Fasten Seatbelts!

Fasten Seat Belts is a web created by the European Commission within the programme Life Long Learning aimed at helping travellers to learn the cultural norms of the places they plan to visit, either in Europe or in Asia. You can search for videos by country or by theme (table manners, bar customs, etc). It also offers a small explanation about the origin.

Self-study activity:
a) For Básico 1 and Básico 2 students.
Go over some of the videos and later on write down some of the norms you have read about. In doing so you will have to use the imperative.

b) For Intermedio 1 and Intermedio 2 students.
Go over some of the videos and rephrase the information using must (to express obligation) or mustn't (to express prohibition).

viernes, 7 de enero de 2011

Learning a Second Language

Self-study activity:
If possible, get together with an English speaking friend or relative and discuss the questions below. If you have nobody to talk to, just talk out loud to yourself.

What’s your name?
Where are you from?
What languages can you speak?
How long have you been studying English?
What’s the most difficult part about learning a language?
Do you have any fears when learning another language?
What advice would you give for teachers?

Now watch this video where a number of students answer the questions above. Some of them are students of English, some others are native English speakers who are studying some other languages. All in all is good listening practice, although some speakers are easier to understand and the background music is an obstacle at times.

H/T to The Linguist Blog.


Smories is a video site which shows children reading stories, some classic stories and poems. Those with the tag "read along" checked also have subtitles.

From the language point of view, I think the site can be interesting for intermediate learners, so that they can get used to hearing children's voices which, for some reason, pose problems to non-native speakers of English.