jueves, 31 de marzo de 2011

April Fool's Day

Tomorrow is April Fool's Day. The BBC has a feature called Weekender, which is part of their Learning English section. On this podcast, we are explained some details about this celebration, together with some funny practical jokes people usually play on this day.

Listen to the BBC podcast and learn some details about April Fool's Day. Unfortunately, a transcript is not available, but the narrator talks quite slowly and he does a lot of repetition.

The 1957 video about the trees were spaghetti grows can be watched here.

Capello just needs 100 words to communicate with players

Capello's job as English coach is said to be on the line due to his poor command of English after three years. He denies any communication problems with the players and claims that he only needs 100 words to explain his tactics.

Read all the details in this article from The Independent.

H/T to It's Magazines.

Earth Hour TV clip

This is another promotional video for Earth Hour, which was celebrated on March 26th. The person on the video has an Australian accent we are not familiar with in this part of the world, but I think lower level students can give it a go with a dictation-like activity.

Self-study activity:
Watch this one-minute clip and complete the blanks in the transcript with the missing word.

One (1) ... has the power to make change, but when we all come (2) ..., we can change the (3) ...  . It starts on March 26th when we (4) ... off our lights for Earth Hour and send a powerful message of hope. Now imagine (5) ... we could achieve if we go beyond the hour. If we all (6) ... action in our daily (7) ..., we can make our (8) ... a better place. (9) ... our actions add up. On March 26th, (10) ... off your lights for Earth Hour.

1 person 2 together 3 world 4 turn 5 what 6 take 7 lives 8 world 9 Together 10 turn

miércoles, 30 de marzo de 2011

Lives of Lions

Self-study activity:
Watch this National Geographic clip about the life of lions and say whether the statements below are true or false.

1 Lions live in America, Africa, Asia and Europe.
2 We can find up to 40 lions together.
3 Females hunt and look after the babies.
4 80% of lions cubs do not reach their third year of life.
5 Lions sleep about 4-5 hours every day.
6 Lions are not under threat of extinction any more.

You can read the transcript here.

1F 2T 3T 4T 5F 6F

Beat the clock -British Council online games

Beat the clock is a great section of the British Council site, which is part of their quizzes and games section and which I learnt about through David Deubel.

Here we can find lots of games about grammar, vocabulary, and everyday topics (tourism, schools, Christmas, means of transport). The games are on the short side and we get instant feedback, and they are suitable for students of all levels, although we have to explore the tens of games to find those suitable for us.

Ten myths about job interviews.

This is a very interesting article from the CNN economic programme CNN Money and deals with assumptions we take for granted at job interviews. They mention the following:

1. The most qualified person gets the job.
2. If you are invited to an interview, that means the job is still open.
3. When asked how you see yourself in five years, you should show tremendous ambition.
4. If you've got great qualifications, your appearance doesn't matter.
5. You should always keep your answers short.
6. There's a right answer to every question an interviewer asks.
7. Interviewers' expect you to hand over references immediately.
8. It's only polite to accept an interviewer's offer of refreshment.
9. Most interviewers have been trained to conduct job interviews.
10. The interviewer is prepared.

You can also watch this embedded video on the importance of business etiquette.

martes, 29 de marzo de 2011

Jennifer Aniston goes viral

Going viral is the latest marketing trend, where Internet users spread the word about a funny video, usually with a celebrity in it. Millions of people end up watching the video, which is always arguably funny. What we can really be certain of is that the advertising message will reach everybody at a very low cost.

Watch the Smartwater ad featuring Jennifer Aniston and enjoy it.

You can read the transcript here.

Interactive book: Must vs mustn't

Collège Marc Chagall offers another more than interesting interactive book, this time to explain the use of must and mustn't to introduce the difference between obligations and prohibitions.

We are presented with some vocabulary in the first place to learn about everyday activities and rules at school. As usual, the vocabulary is presented in writing and through audio files. We also have some vocabulary activities before we use it to practise obligation (must) and prohibition (mustn't).

Rules at a park, at a museum and when driving are also introduced before practising them with must/mustn't.

Once again, the Collège Marc Chagall interactive books can help us to develop our English in more ways than one: grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, listening, writing.

Going green quiz

Test your knowledge about being eco-friendly with this National Geographic quiz.

lunes, 28 de marzo de 2011

Penélope Cruz on the Jimmy Kimmel Show

Late last week Penélope Cruz made an appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show to promote her forthcoming film "Pirates of the Caribbean". Here you can find the whole interview, divided into three clips.

Self-study activity:
No activity this time. Simply enjoy the interview and try to understand as much as possible.

Penélope Cruz is a good example of what our aims as language learners should be: She is Spanish, but her English accent is more than acceptable, she makes no pronunciation or grammar mistakes, and while we could rate her English as 'uncomplicated', she expresses her ideas clearly and to the point.

You can read the transcript of part 1 here.

You can read the transcript of part 2 here.

You can read the transcript of part 3 here.

A new Ken doll

The toy maker Mattel is revamping its best-selling Barbie franchise by emphasing her long time beau Ken.

Fill in the blanks in the paragraphs from this The New York Times article. You can use your own words or choose from the scrambled list of words and phrases removed from the article that you can see below the paragraphs after clicking on this picture.

For the answers, you can read the original article here.

Scrabble on line

This is an online version of the popular game Scrabble that I learnt this morning through DDeubel.

To play the game, just click on the adjoining tiles to make a word. When you think you have completed the word, click on the last letter for a second time.

Scrabble is good fun and a nice way of putting our wits to the test on this Monday morning.

domingo, 27 de marzo de 2011

Cities go dark for earth hour

This is an old MSNBC footage about the celebration of Earth hour in 2008 round the world, but the content is even more valid because as time has gone by, more and more cities have taken part in this initiative, which was held yesterday.

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

1 The first Earth hour is being held this year. 2 From eight to nine million switches will be turned off this year. 3 The Earth hour doesn’t really save energy. 4 400 buildings will go dark in Atlanta’s city centre. 5 Atlanta is suffering a drought. You can read a transcript here.   Key: 1F 2F 3F 4T 5T

Practice makes perfect

Proofreading makes perfect is an online activity that allows us to practise our spelling, capitalization and punctuation. We must correct each sentence by following the instructions above it.

The first few sentences start off by giving you some help, but the difficult increases as the game progresses. You have to click 'Check answer' after each sentence, and only have to type in your name to get started.

H/T to MacMillan English Campus.

Global gestures

When you're far from home, even what you'd assume to be the most universal gesture might mean something completely different than you'd expect. It's a concept explored in the book Don't Get Me Wrong! The Global Gestures Guide (http://www.dontgetmewrong.co.uk/), with pictures by Florian Bong-Kil Grosse.

For example, in Turkey this gesture is a positive, upbeat physical expression that means "beautiful" or "good".

Explore this Life slideshow and find out more about global gestures.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

sábado, 26 de marzo de 2011

Changing the time video

Here's an animated CBS explanation for moving our clock forwards and backwards in spring and autumn.

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

1 We change the time to save energy.
2 Daylight Saving Time was first used in the US.
3 Daylight Saving Time was also useful in the 1960s oil crisis.
4 The use of heating and air-conditioning systems means that we use more energy than we save.
5 People in Indiana were happy with changing their clocks.
6 People are healthier with more sun light.

You can read a transcript here.

1T 2F 3F 4T 5F 6T

Can daylight savings time affect your health?

Experts say that losing one hour of sleep may affect our health in different ways. We will be putting the clock forward one hour tonight, so this The Independent article comes handy to find out what there is to us with changing the time.

Worst song on the net

This is Rebecca Black's song Friday. Allegedly, Friday is the worst song on the net. You can see it for yourself, but the melody is really catchy and there's a lot of vocabulary reinforcement for English students of all levels.

If you want to read the lyrics as you watch the YouTube video, remember Insta Lyrics can do the job for you.

viernes, 25 de marzo de 2011

Going Golfing

Going golfing is a hilarious ad by FedEx, a logistics services company based in the US.

Self-study activity:
This is the one-sided part of the telephone conversation that the PA holds with her boss.

Before watching the ad, try to put the lines in the correct order.

And you’ll be stopping in to pick it up.
Absolutely. I’ll have them conference you away from home.
Oh, you’ll stop in tomorrow.
Oh, hello Mr Delaney, you’re not feeling well?
Mr Delaney’s office.
Yes, I can have it ready for you.
I’m sorry.
Ok, feel better, Mr Delaney.
And what about the big presentation today at two o’clock?

Now watch the ad and check whether you got the order right.

You may have to watch it straight from YouTube if you have problems with the sound.

How to learn English vocabulary

How to learn English vocabulary is a slideshow compiled by Karenne Joy Sylvester, who hosts the wonderful Kalinago English blog.

Vocabulary learning is a key issue in language learning. Students' worries seem to focus on the development of the skills, especially the oral ones, listening and speaking. However, there is a time in the learning process of any student, from intermediate level upwards, where substantial progress can only be made through vocabulary learning.

Karenne Joy Sylvester gives us a lesson about what knowing a word really means.

Do not forget to press the F5 key on your PC to view the slideshow on a full screen.

Learning about your name

A few weeks ago, Larry Ferlazzo published an entry on his blog with a number of resurces to find out information about our name.

Top of the list came What a Lovely Name, where we can just type in our first name to learn about its meaning and origin. The site also gives us the opportunity to create a logo for our name.

As language learners What a Lovely Name can help us increase our English vocabulary and develop our reading skills while having a good time.

Another site to find out about our name that Larry Ferlazzo recommends is Public Profiler, which will allow us to trace the origin of our surname and see how fast it spread around the world.

You can also read this BBC news article about it.

jueves, 24 de marzo de 2011

Facebook, a gold mine of information

Self-study activity:
Watch this short YouTube video on Facebook, which explains the way Facebook makes their money, and complete the gaps in the transcript below.

Today, even with the most (1) … systems that exist, they only have estimates of what someone’s (2) … might be or what someone’s (3) … might be or what they might be interested in. But on Facebook we know exactly what someone’s (2) … exactly is. And exactly how old they area, and exactly what they are interested in.

At a presentation to advertisers in 2007 Mark Zuckerberg pitched the benefits of Facebook’s vast database.

When you run ads on Facebook, you’re also gonna learn a lot about the (4) … that you’re reaching. And a lot of this you’re gonna be able to do directly to the (5) … that you send to them and the content that they upload. But the rest we’re gonna do by aggregating non-personal (6) … information about the users that you’re reaching.

Facebook’s lifeblood and the (7) … of its revenue model is the accumulation of data its users volunteer , including their interests or likes. Advertisers, who helped boost Facebook’s revenue to an estimated (8) … billion dollars in 2010, buy access to that gold mine of anonymous demographic information, (9) … them to reach a remarkably specific and well (10) … .

1. advertising 2. gender 3. age 4. audience 5. messages 6. identifiable 7. heart 8. 1.4 9. enabling 10. targeted

Elizabeth Taylor

The New York Times Learning Blog presents a reading activity on Elizabeth Taylor.

Read the main article on the actress here and answer these questions:

WHO is described in a March 24 obituary as “the actress who dazzled generations of moviegoers with her stunning beauty and whose name was synonymous with Hollywood glamour”?

WHEN did she first appear onscreen?

WHEN did she win her two Academy Awards?

WHEN did she become known as a social activist?

For WHAT films is she especially well-known?

WHAT “emotional and physical setbacks, life-threatening illnesses and accidents” and “near-death experiences” did Ms. Taylor survive?

WHAT did Richard Burton, who was her husband on two occasions, say about her famous beauty?

WHERE did she first meet Richard Burton?

HOW did the critic James Agee react to her performance, at age 12, in “National Velvet”?

The main article also has embedded videos on the actress.

You may also be interested in a slideshow and a timeline about the actress also available in The New York Times.

Janis's ESL Home Page

Janis's ESL Home Page is a real find. Here you can find a collection of resources from the Internet to help you study English.

I would say that there are materials for all the levels, but most of them fall within the Básico (elementary) and Intermediate scale.

Janis has devised a very basic choice of eight general topics (people, work, everyday activities, home, community, our world, food, health), which later on are divided in subtopics. For example, in the general topic of people you can find the following subtopics: clothes, culture, dating, appearance, personality, family, feelings, friends, heroes, immigration, marriage, small talk, superstitions.

If you click on any of the subtopics, you find a menu which includes activities to practise the four skills, grammar, vocabulary and further links to explore the topic.

Janis's ESL Home Page may take a while to get to know in depth, but the wealth of materials shouldn't be dismissed at all either by teachers and students alike.

miércoles, 23 de marzo de 2011

Hallmark commercial

Hallmark Cards is an American company who is the largest manufacturer of greeting cards in the US. Here it is their latest commercial.

Self-study activity:
Watch the commercial and enjoy it, as it is really funny.

Then complete the gaps in the text below with the missing information. The extract corresponds to the second part of the commercial, when the bride's brother makes a speech during the reception.

Can I have your attention? Can I have everyone’s attention, please? I’d like to say a few words about my sister.

Oh, no.

Well, I’m not really very good at this kind of thing but here it goes.

Oh, this is gonna be good.

Angie, you’ve been blessed to find someone you can (1) ... with. Together you’ve learned that love just doesn’t just (2) ... . You have to (3) ... it, craft it, nurture it. It can be even better when it’s been (4) ... in the palm of the hand and cradled (5) ... . You’ve (6) ... a love that is enduring, stunning in its (7) ... . Congratulations on your wedding and continuing to create your lives together.
I didn’t actually write those words, but I do mean them. I love you, Angie.

That was beautiful, Chris.

Now, you eat up everyone. My mum paid like (8) ...  for that cake.

You can check the answers by reading the full transcription of the ad here.

Insta Lyrics

Insta Lyrics is a new site that allows us to search for the lyrics to a song (almost) instantly, together with the video clip that goes along with it.

Insta Lyrics lives up to its name and will find you the lyrics to a song very, very quickly.

The search engine will allow you to spot a song through the singer, the song or the lyrics.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

Water Wasters

22nd March was World Water Day, a UN initiative that started off in 1992.

Self-study activity:
It sounds like a stale topic now, but what can we do to save water? Get together with an English-speaking friend or relative and discuss.

Then you can check your ideas against this Scientific American article.

H/T to Learn the Net.

martes, 22 de marzo de 2011

Mapping Africa

The In Pictures section of the BBC News website hosts slideshows about a wide range of current and historical topics.

One of the audio slideshows is Mapping Africa, which gives us a five-minute presentation of the changing map of Africa from 14th century to today.

Self-study activity:
Watch and listen to the audio slideshow and say whether the following statements are true or false.

1 The Sahara has always been infertile.
2 A Berber tribe gives its name to the continent.
3 The maps shows a mix of religions in the north of Africa.
4 Some of the kingdoms in the 1625 map are real.
5 The 1625 map was drawn with information from travelers and traders.
6 Ethiopia in Greek means South Atlantic.
7 People at that time showed respect for the boundaries.
8 The map shows places where slaves were kept.
9 The 1898 map shows borders for the first time.
10 The blank areas in the map show that the area is not populated.

You can read a transcript here.

H/T to Free Technology for Teachers.

1F 2T 3T 4T 5T 6F 7F 8T 9F (1889) 10F

Is time running out for the watch

Clocks on mobile phones and computer screens suggest the traditional watch is on its last legs. Read this The Independent article and find out whether the days of the watch are numbered.

Vocabulary games

On English Flash Games lower level students (Básico 1 and Básico 2) can find a few vocabulary activities to learn and revise vocabulary.

You can practise action verbs, clothes, colours, food, animals and family as well as Halloween-related and Christmas-related vocabulary. In addition, there are vocabulary lists where the most basic vocabulary in these lexical fields is presented together with audio files to ensure you get the pronunciation right.

lunes, 21 de marzo de 2011

The miraculous Jimmy K diet

Jessica Alba, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, Rebecca Romijn, January Jones, Emily Blunt, Anna Faris, Zoe Saldana, Amanda Seyfried, Erin Andrews, Neil Patrick Harris, Heidi Klum, Kristen Bell, Kerry Washington, Marisa Miller.

What do all these people have in common? They are all well-known Hollywood celebrities that agreed to take part in the late-night ABC talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live. They appeared in a segment called 'The miracle diet', which tries to ridicule today's obsession with being slim and having a perfect body.

Self-study activity:
There is no task on today's video. Simply watch it and enjoy it. Bear in mind that this is a TV show intended for general viewing, so there will be a lot of language that we will not find easy by any means.

However, we will manage to follow the clip without a problem, and some words will come up on the screen, and others will be frequently repeated.

However much we understand, I am pretty confident that everybody's going to have a good time.

You can read a transcript of the clip here.

Google Art Project

Google Art Project allows us to explore museums around the world and discover their most relevant works of art.

This way art is more accessible to everyone and we can admire more than 1,000 works by over 400 artists in 17 of the most outstanding museums around the world.

Google Art Project has integrated technology like Picassa and Street View to make this project possible.

We can zoom in to admire the artists' work in detail, we can explore the inside of museums, and we can build our own personalised collections.

So what does Google Art Project have in store for the English language learner? Well, basically we can develop our reading skills and improve our (are-related) vocabulary by reading all the captions about the different works of art.

If we click on the 'Visitor guide' we can watch a short video where the project is explained in English with subtitles available.

You can also use it to develop your oral skills by putting into practise the ideas suggested in the entry Art attack on this blog.


We all complain about the difficulty to find good resources for lower level students on the net. This one is suitable for Básico 1 and Básico 2 (elementary) students.

Pocahontas is a nice story that everybody knows because of the Walt Disney production. Here the tale is presented to us through Angles 365.

We only have to click on 'movie' if we just want to listen to and watch the story. If we want to read the subtitles at the same time, click on 'page by page.'

H/T to Samoga en casa.

domingo, 20 de marzo de 2011

Why computers are important

The e-Learning Foundation has released this video to raise awareness of the digital divide in today's world.

The campaign video is deceivingly easy, as we watch this kid explaining all the facts and figures of the access to computers in today's world. He talks really fast and we are presented with lots of visual information that may distract us from what is being said, although we also get the occasional caption to help us along.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video, which is divided into 5 clear cut parts:
Part 1 -Education and Learning.
Part 2 -Understanding Technology.
Part 3 -Opening up the World.
Part 4 -Unlocking Potential.
The Results.

Write some notes about what the boy says in each part. You may have to stop the video so that you have time to jot down some notes.

Then use your notes to orally retell what the boy has said in the ad.

You can read a transcript of the video here.

Read all about it

Read all about it is a very engaging BBC online game for Básico 1 and Básico 2 (elementary) students which focuses on developing students' writing skills and grammar.

In the first place, students have to match a number of newspaper adverts with their corresponding objects. This just has the aim of introducing some vocabulary and get students off an easy start.

In the second part of the game, students work for a local newspaper as reporters and have to edit some information in either personal ads, car ads or news items, by adding adjectives to a basic text so that the final end product looks more appealing.

H/T to MacMillan English Campus.

What makes us happy

We have been publishing a number of entries on the issue of happiness. Here it is another one, this time from the The Telegraph.

As you can read in the sub-heading of the article below, the pursuit of happiness has long been a subject of interest for scientists and surverys alike, but what makes us really happy?

Find out by reading this short article.

And do not overlook the links to the happiness-related topics in the article: Happiness is living with your parents; How happily married are you?; Happy teenagers more likely to get divorced; and a few more.

H/T to It's Magazines.

sábado, 19 de marzo de 2011

How to succeed in life

What are the basic ingredients for success? Think about Steve Jobs or Stephen Spielberg or Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. Why did they make it to the very top and others didn't?

Self-study activity:
Watch this short video in which Steve Jobs answers the questions above. Do you both agree? Which are the two main factors leading to success in Steve Jobs' opinion?

You can read a transcript of the video here. If you read the transcript, do not overlook the features of spoken English we can hear:

gonna > going to
wanna  > want to
gotta > got to
'cause > because

Books everyone must read

Books everyone must read is a list compiled by The Guardian after putting together the results of some surveys on reading habits. Here they explain the way they came up with the final list.

The wordcloud makes for a nice speaking session about our reading tastes and habits.

Self-study activity:
Get together with an English-speaking friend or relative and go over the titles in The Guardian list. How many books have you read? Which is your favourite? Which one have you always wanted to read but haven't got round to it?

Then, discuss the questions below about your reading habits.

Which is the last book you have read?
Do you always read in Spanish or do you also read in other languages?
Which book stands out in your memory?
Do you read the classics? / Have you ever read the classics?
Where do you usually read at home?
Which book(s) do you have on your bedside table?
Do you ever read non-fiction books?
When did you last read poetry?
Do you underline books? How?
Do you write quotations from books?
Do you read aloud, in silence, with background music?
Have you ever re-read any books?
How do you order the books you keep at home? Which criterion do you keep to?
How many books do you have at home?
What do you do to get rid of books?
How much do you spend on books every month?
Do you buy electronic books?
Do you lend / borrow books?
Do you like giving books as a present?
Are you a member of a library or book club?
How often do you go to the school library?

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

Checking out of a hotel

To complete this short series about hotel videos for Básico 1 students, here you have two more clips.

Self-study actvity:
Watch the videos below and complete the gaps with only one word.

-This is the front desk. How can I help you?
-We are having some problems in room 321. Can you send someone up right away?
-Certainly. What seems to be the problem?
-Well… my sister spilled some (1) ... on the bed sheets.
-Oh, dear, we’ll send a maid up with fresh linen as soon as possible.
-Well, my sister tried to clean the sheets but the (2) ... wouldn’t stop. Now there’s (2) ... everywhere.
-Oh, no. We’ll send a janitor and a plumber too.
-And then my sister slipped on a wet tile and (3) ... a toe.
-Oh, we’ll also send a (4) ... .
-What’s the matter?
-And send an (5) ... as well. The (6) ... just went out.

-Hello! What can I do for you?
-We’d like to check out of our room. Here are the (7) ... . It’s room number three two one.
-Did you take anything from the (8) ... ?
-Yes, we had two colas. We also ordered (9) ... once.
-Ok. Your five night total comes to (10) ... dollars. Are you paying by (11) ... or credit card?
-Credit card. Here you are. Oh, and can you call an airport (12) ... for us?
-I’ll do that right away. Please sign on the dotted line.
-You bought so much. We can barely carry it all. I’m glad they lost my (13) ... .
-Oh, and I almost forgot. Miss Lee someone dropped this off for you this morning.
-What! Hey! That’s my (14) ... !

1 juice 2 water 3 hurt 4 doctor 5 electrician 6 lights 7 keys 8 refrigerator 9 room service 10 three hundred and ten 11 cash 12 taxi 13 suitcases 14 luggage

viernes, 18 de marzo de 2011

Checking into a hotel

Today's video activity is intended for Básico 1 students.

Self-study activity:
Watch the two videos below and complete the blanks in the transcript with the missing information.

-Woah, I’ve never (1) ... in a place this fancy before!
-Welcome to the Hoola Hoola Hotel. (2) ... can I help you?
-We’d like to (3) ... . Our names are Mary and Lisa Lee. We have a reservation for a (4) ... room.
-Let’s see… yeah. We have a suite for you on the third floor, room (5) ... for five nights.
-Great! Oh, and my sister’s (6) ... was lost. Please tell us if it is delivered to the hotel.
-Of course. I’ll need your (7) ... . And please, sign this guest card.
-Ok, here you are. Oh, what is the (8) ... time?
-(9) ... am, and if you need any assistance, please see our concierges or call the front desk. Here are your (10) ... .

-Hello, what can I do for you?
-We’ve just (11) ... at the hotel, can you tell us what restaurants you have?
-The Hoola Hoola Restaurant is open now. There’s also a complementary (12) ... buffet each morning.
-Great! Can we get a wake-up call at (13) ... tomorrow?
-No problem. What’s your (14) ... ?
-We’re in room 321.
-Ok. Be sure to try our gym on the (15) ... floor. There’s also a business lounge on the third floor with (16) ..., copiers and fax (17) ... .
-How about a nice place to relax here?
-The (18) ... is just down the street and out and back we have a (19) ... , jacuzzi and sauna.
-Great! Now we have an excuse to shop to buy some (20) ... .

H/T to I spilled the beans.

1 stayed 2 How 3 check in 4 double 5 three-two-one 6 luggage 7 passport 8 check-out 9 eleven 10 keys 11 arrived 12 breakfast 13 eight 14 room number 15 second 16 computers 17 machine 18 beach 19 swimming-pool 20 swimming suits

What your email address says about you

I bet we are all pleased with our email address and are all too happy to hand it out to whoever happens to ask for it.

Ok, no problem in so doing, but we might have second thoughts after watching this Newsy video clip.

Hunch.com conducted a survey of its users and determined what different webmail providers say about their users' characteristics.

Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by Newsy.com

You can read a transcript of the clip here.

Unveiling the pictures of the year

Lens is the photography blog of The New York Times, presenting the finest and most interesting visual and multimedia reporting — photographs, videos and slide shows. A showcase for Times photographers, it also seeks to highlight the best work of other newspapers, magazines and news and picture agencies; in print, in books, in galleries, in museums and on the Web.

Here we can see the winners of the Pictures of the Year International competition held by the Missouri School of Journalism, which was published late last month.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

jueves, 17 de marzo de 2011

What kind of person are you?

This sounds as a very blunt question to ask, doesn't it? Anyway, what kind of person are you?

Ok, let's define the question a bit further.

In chapter 2 of his book Who's Mark Twain? Mark Twain defined the criteria he used to find out whether his books would be successful or not.

He claimed that the general public could be divided into 14 different groups of people, where we would all fit it.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and note down as many categories as you can.

I think the activity is suitable for Básico 2 students, although they will not be able to understand the fourteen different categories Twain mentions, but they will manage to understand quite a few.

You can self-correct the activity with the transcript here.

Grammar Ninja

Grammar Ninja is an online game that tries to make us aware of the different parts of speech in the language through a number of recognition activities.

It is divided into three levels of difficulty, each of which foucsing on different parts of speech:

Basic: Nouns and verbs
Skilled: Nouns, verbs, pronouns, articles, adjectives and adverbs
Master: All parts of speech

H/T to DDeubel.

Memories, washed away

Enjoy the article Memories, washed away that American-Japanese writer Marie Mutsuki Mockett published in The York Times after the tsunami in Japan.

miércoles, 16 de marzo de 2011

Stocks or bonds

The CBS Fast Draw team Josh Landis and Mitch Butler have created a simple scenario to describe the differences between stocks (acciones, valores) and bonds (bonos, obligaciones).

Most people have great difficulties to come to terms with this economic jargon, so perhaps the Fast Draw team's idea to explain stocks and bonds through a fable may come in handy for us to get clearer concepts.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and see if, afterwards, you can manage to explain the difference between stocks and bonds in your own words.

You can read a transcript of the video here.

Story time for me

Story time for me offers stories that are read aloud. As the stories are read, the words being spoken are highlighted on the screen.

The stories are meant for young children, but English learners of all levels will benefit from the site, as they will revise and learn lots of essential vocabulary and pronunciation as well as greatly enjoy the stories.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

London 2012 tickets go on for sale

Read this BBC News article about the start of the sales of tickets for the 2012 Olympics in London.

Here you will find the latest information about the procedure on how to buy tickets as well as a wealth of links on the event.

H/T to It's Magazines.

martes, 15 de marzo de 2011

1NB and 1NI mock exams

We have just published mock exams for Básico 1 and Intermediate 1 students.

This is a project that we've had in store for quite a long time and which has finally been carried out. We felt that That's English! Básico 1 and Intermediate 1 students were at a disadvantage with the students in the other years as regards mock exams, so by publishing these exams we have tried to right a wrong.

We know that mock exams can be a double-edged sword, as students may find their difficulty well within their grasp and relax and not do as much study as they should.  On the other hand, some other students may find them a bit demanding and feel discouraged.

Either way, we believe that it is a priority that the That's English! exam, or any exam for that matter, should never be an ambush, a kind of trap. Students must know what is expected of them, so that they can prepare accordingly.

We hope you enjoy doing the tasks, we also hope you find the tasks motivating, and we hope these exams help you in your learning process.

Are we equals?

Yesterday we published The Guardian online series Top 100 Women, which brought to us a number of resources that the newspaper had compiled to commemorate Women's Day on 8th March.

The video below starred by Daniel Graig caught my attention. Here we can see James Bond's femenine side. He teams up with Judi Dench to highlight the need for gender equality.

Self-study activity:
Complete the transcript of the video with the missing facts and figures. I think Básico 2 students can give the activity a try.

We're equals, aren't we 007? Yet it is (1) ... and a man is still likely to earn more money than a woman, even one doing the same job. You have a far better chance of entering political office or becoming a company director. As a man you are less likely to be judged for promiscuous behaviour, which is just as well, frankly. And hardly any chance of falling victim to sexual assault.  And unlike the (2) ... women in the UK who lose their jobs annually due to pregnancy, there would be virtually no risk to your career if you chose to become a parent ... or became one accidentally.
For someone with such a fondness for women, I wonder if you have ever considered what it might be like to be one? The world has changed, but the numbers remain stuck against us. Women are responsible for (3) ... of the work done worldwide, yet earn any (4) ... of the total income and own (5) ... of the property. It’s not just about money and power. Every year (6) ... million girls are deprived of even a basic education and a staggering (7) ... million are sexually assaulted on their way to school. We are afraid to walk the streets at night, yet some of us are even more afraid to return to our own homes. At least (8) ... are victims of domestic violence. And every week, (9) ... women in the UK are killed by a current or former partner.
So are we equals? Until the answer is yes we must never stop asking.

(1) 2011 (2) 30,000 (3) 2/3 (4) 10% (5) 1% (6) 70 (7) 60 (8) 1 in 4 (9) 2

Interchange Arcade

It is a fact that it is more difficult to find online material for lower level students (Básico 1 and Básico 2). This is why we should celebrate when we strike lucky and find something that can be useful for our English.

This is the case with Interchange Arcade, which I came across thanks to Leonardo Links.

Interchange is a four-level course published by Cambridge University Press which focuses on international communication and presents its content using real-world topics.

On the online Interchange site we can find lots of activities which are primarily devised for users of the method, but which can also be of interest for everybody, as they are self-contained. The types of activities include matching, fill in the blanks, multiple choice and crosswords, and a lot of them include audio files.

You can also download the audio files used in the books.

So why not explore this site? The menus are user-friendly and give a detailed description of what we can find in each of the books. Básico 1 students can start surfing the Introductory Book and Básico 2, Book 1. Move on from here to find more challenging material or material that suits your needs.

lunes, 14 de marzo de 2011

A hundred and fifteen days and counting

Self-study activity:
Watch this news clip from Sky News, where more details of the wedding of William and Kate emerge, and answer the open-ended questions below.

How will Kate be travelling on her wedding day?
What time will she be arriving at the Abbey?
What will these people’s responsibilities be on that day?
The Dean of Westminster, The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London.

How long ago did Charles and Diana marry?
How many wedding receptions will be held?
Where will the newly weds be honeymooning?

To check your answers, you can read the transcript here.

Lemon Tree

Lemon Tree by Fool's Garden has been illustrated by school children as part of a learning project. Enjoy this beautiful song and admire these children's artistic talent.

Find more videos like this on EFL CLASSROOM 2.0

Thank you David, again.

Top 100 women

The online edition of The Guardian published the series Top 100 Women to commemorate Women's Day on 8th March.

The top 100 women are divided into 10 categories, with 10 representatives for each of them: Activists and campaigners; Art, film, music and fashion; Business and trade unions; Law; Politics; Science and medicine; Sport and adventure; Technology; Television; Writing and academia.

We get a short bio of all the women plus lots of links where we can further explore their work and outstanding merits.

Click on the picture below and scroll down to access the full series.

H/T to It's Magazines.

domingo, 13 de marzo de 2011

The Iditarod Race

Today's listening activity is a bit more difficult than usual, but may be good practice to develop our listening strategies.

We are going to watch and listen to a short video clip from the Discovery Channel on the Iditarod dogsled race across Alaska, which started on 6th March.

On the clip, we'll be hearing three different people: the narrator, a competitor and a spectator. There's some unusual vocabulary and the quality of the sound is less than perfect at times, but the key to doing the activity successfully is just to remain concentrated on the task, as the person who devised the activity will be focusing on the main ideas and on information that can be understood by most students.

Self-study activity:
Watch the clip and complete the gaps in the sentences with the missing information.

1 Alaskan huskies weigh about ...
2 Alaskan huskies are known for ...
3 Siberians need ... food than Alaskans.
4 Siberians have better ... than Alaskans, so they have less injuries.
5 For Carol Preble, the advantage of a team of Syberian huskies is that they ... safe.
6 Eskimos believe that blue-eyed dogs can see ...

You can read a transcript of the clip here.

Can you avoid unemployment

Spent is a wonderful interactive which will keep you busy for a while on Sunday.

You are unemployed, you just have 1,000 dollars left in your bank account, you have just lost your house. These are the starting premises to begin the game. From this moment on, you'll have to make a number of decisions to try and get your life on track again.

The main advantage of Spent for us as Englies learners lies on the reading and vocabulary practise we'll be doing. But there's much more to it than that, as our survival skills in today's world are put to the test.

H/T to DDeubel.

English Grammar Lessons

English Grammar Lessons is a site created by Caroline and Pearson Brown where we can learn and revise the basics of English grammar and do a number of interactive activities to practise specific grammar points.

This is a very thorough and very entertaining site to study grammar.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

sábado, 12 de marzo de 2011

Killer Tsunamis

Chance has it that I had this activity in store when the earthquake in Japan hit.

We are all kind of in a shock after watching the pictures of the devastating effects of the worst-ever earthquake in Japan.

This three-minute National Geograpic video will help us understand the way tsunamis form and why they have such damaging effects.

Self-study activity:
No activity this time. Watch the clip and try to understand as much as possible. Then check whatever you understood against the transcript here.

As a follow-up try to explain tsunamis in your own words, without reading the transcript.

Marriage at McDonald's

From The New York Times Learning blogs comes this fill-in the blanks activity.

Read the newspaper article and complete the blanks in the text with one word. You can try and guess what the word is or select one from the list below the article.

This kind of activity can be really helpful to prepare the end-of-course exam as it is likely that you will have to do a similar task in the exam.

You can check your answers by reading the original article here.

Grammar practice park

Grammar Practice Park is a collection of online games to practise grammar at lower levels.

There are three levels of difficulty and grammar is practised at sentence level, with tenses, nouns, pronouns, plurals, prepositions and punctuation.

The games are all very intuitive and load really quickly, so Básico 1 and Básico 2 students can get a quick fun way of reinforcing the grammar they have been learning so far.

H/T to Tech Happy.

viernes, 11 de marzo de 2011

Modern-day slavery

The CNN Freedom Project: Ending Modern-Day Slavery is a really comprehensive multimedia resource on human trafficking these days.

Learn about the news, the main facts, the different forms of slavery in today's world, the traffickers and the solutions through a hoard of videos, articles and slideshows.

There is no transcription for the videos but most of them are suitable for Intermedio 2 students.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

How you can increase your intelligence

Are you interested in increasing your intelligence?
What would you be ready to do to increase your intelligence?

It's not easy, but it's not impossible, either. All you have to do is get down to work and start doing something about it.

Read this article from Scientific American and find out about five ways to maximize your cognitive potential.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

Asking questions in four different tenses

Asking questions in four different tenses is the latest interactive book from Collège Marc Chagall.

Here students at elementary level (Básico 1 and Básico 2) will find a thorough study and revision of wh-questions (subject and object questions) in present simple, present continuous, past simple and present perfect.

The study of the basic question words is also accompanied by audio files.

Congratulations on a well done job and thank you... once again!

jueves, 10 de marzo de 2011

Sport Science: Distractions

Self-study activity:
Have you ever wondered what influence a crowd of fans has on rivals? This is your opportunity to find out.

Watch this short video from NBS Sport Science and say what these figures refer to:

8% / 900,000 / 50 / 85 / 120 / 1% (a single per cent)

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

Gut instinct

Gut Instinct is a game from the BBC. The game has three categories, English, Math and Science, and is accessible to Intermediate English Language Learners, and maybe even strong Básico 2 students. 

The game is excellent for vocabulary practice.

You can create your own virtual rooms for between two-and-thirty people where you can compete with your friends. All you have to do is type in the name of you room (league), choose your avatar and nickname, and the game begins.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

50 ways to improve the way you live

50 ways to improve the way you live is a fun light-hearted slide show about small and not that small things that might make our life easier.

The presentation is fun, it reads quickly and we can learn some interesting vocabulary while casting a critical look at today's life style.

miércoles, 9 de marzo de 2011

Advice on how to save money

Self-study activity:
Watch this CBS Sunday morning video with Nancy Gilles where she gives us some advice on how to save money.

Note down the different ways of saving money she has put in practice throughout her life.

You can check your answers by reading the transcript here.

100 things to do before you die

I remember an activity we used to do in class on the days the Reward resource packs were published. The title was Your last day at home, and we had to imagine we were going away from home for one year and think of different ways we would spend our last day at home.

In the activity, we had to complete the following sentences, in which conditional would to express hypothesis was practised:

I'd go...
I'd eat...
I'd listen to...
I'd watch...
I'd play...
I'd visit...
and I'd put... in my suitcase.

I was reminded of the above activity when I learnt that the creator of the travel guide '100 things to do before you die', Dave Freeman, died this week.

Click on the image below to see his definitive list of life-changing experiences in pictures. You can have a good read in English and think about the exciting world out there which is awaiting us.

Naturally, you may need to rethink your list of things to do on your last day at home.

Remember you can revise the pronunciation of would on this blog entry.