I know it is completely wrong to copy somebody else's work, but a post by Jeffrey Hill in late December in his The English Blog perfectly explained what reciprocal pronouns are and the difference in usage between each other and one another. I don't think anyone could explain this grammar point so precisely in such a short space.
This is what Jeffrey wrote at the time:
We use the reciprocal each other and one another when two or more people do the same thing.
Traditionally, each other refers to two people and one another refers to more than two people, but this distinction is disappearing in modern English.
• Peter and Mary helped one another.
= Peter helped Mary and Mary helped Peter.
• We sent each other Christmas cards.
= We sent them a Christmas card and they sent us a Christmas card.
• They didn’t look at one another.
= He didn't look at her and she didn't look at him.
We also use the possessive forms each other’s and one another’s:
They helped to look after each other’s children.
We often stayed in one another’s houses.
NOTE: We do not use reciprocal pronouns as the subject of a clause.
And this is the cartoon by Gary Barker from The Sun who brought about Jeffrey's explanation of reciprocal pronouns.
In the next series of posts in our writing workshop we are going to make emphasis on the structure of the different types of writing formats we can come across. This way, we will be getting familiar with both the tasks (or instructions or rubrics) and the layout or structure our piece of writing can have.
Read the task below: You have been given the email address of an English-speaking person who is looking for a contact in your country. Write an email about you and your family, and suggest meeting at some time in the future. Write your email in 140-160 words.
A suggested structure for this email can be:
Paragraph 1: Opening remark and reason for writing
Paragraph 2: Information about you
Paragraph 3: Information about your family
Paragraph 4: Suggestions for meeting at some time in the future and closing remarks
Other factors you should consider in an informal email:
The style: Informal or neutral style
Greeting: Dear Lee, Hi Lee, Hi there
Opening remark: I thought I'd write and let you know; I'm writing because; Just a quick note to let you know...
Closing remark: That's all from me for now; I'm looking forward to hearing from you soon; Write back and tell me what you think about my plan
Farewell formula: Take care; Best wishes; Bye for now; Lots of love
Another example of an informal email: You recently moved to a big city and have decided to write to a friend from your old neighbourhood. Write an email describing life in your new city and your feelings about the change. Write your email in 140-160 words.
A suggested structure for this email can be:
Paragraph 1: Opening remark and reason for writing
Paragraph 2: Life in the new city
Paragraph 3: Writer's feelings about the change
Paragraph 4: Closing remarks
One more example of an informal email: You've got two tickets for a week's cruise in the Mediterranean. Write a letter/email to your friend, inviting him/her to join you, giving details of which places you are going to visit and suggestions as to what he/she will need to take with him/her.
For composition samples corrected and explained you can visit Flo-Joe.
With information from Successful Writing Intermediate, Express Publishing and First Certificate Expert, Longman
The post office has long been a core part of almost every community in America, yet the future looks bleak for the United States Postal Service as USPS is considering shutting more than 3,500 post offices.
Evan Kalish, a 25-year-old graduate student, is trying to visit as many as possible before they disappear. Self-study activity:
Watch this BBC video clip and answer the questions below.
1 When did Evan get his degree?
2 How did he travel?
3 How many states has he visited so far?
4 Complete this sentence: ... are a way of documenting time and place
5 What does Evan say about the 1600s?
6 What are Evan's favourite post offices as far as architecture is concerned?
7 What does the post office symbolise?
8 How does Evan feel he's helping with his project?
Key: 1 2008 2 by road 3 twenty-nine 4 postmarks 5 postmarks have been around since then 6 those of the depression era, in the 1930s 7 the (embodiment of the) community 8 To preserve history (through the postmarks, the photographs he takes and making other people aware of the post offices in their area)
KidsHealth is more than just facts about health. As part of The Nemours Foundation's Center for Children's Health Media, KidsHealth also provides families with perspective, advice, and comfort about a wide range of physical, emotional, and behavioral issues that affect children and teens.
Some of the topics on the site include health issues, feelings, injuries, cooking and many more. You can listen to most of the texts while you read them, and there are also a number of videos related to health problems and procedures.
This song and video clip were made to help the military wives raise money for two charities who work to support the armed forces and their families. The single has made it to No 1 this Christmas in Britain.
'Wherever You Are' is a moving love song written by Paul Mealor for the choir to sing at The Royal British Legion's Festival of Remembrance.
The music is set to a poem compiled from letters to and from the servicemen and their wives on a 6-month tour of duty in Afghanistan. It is the emotion of the song that has touched so many of the British public.
The YouTube video clip is subtitled.
This video from Reuters explains how big their success is.
When 100 military wives formed a choir and wrote a song based on correspondences with their husbands in Afghanistan, they never dreamed it would become a UK top music chart contender. The group's single "Wherever You Are" sold over 240,000 copies in two-days - a rate poised to make it the fastest-selling single in six years. Abbey Staff says the attention is a far cry from her duties as a mother.
(SOUNDBITE) Abbey Staff, military wife, saying (English): "The weirdest thing is when you sort of sat at home, we are just so ordinary and you'll be dealing with homework or packed lunches and suddenly you're singing on Radio 2 in your own kitchen and you just think 'That's me'."
But these wives will have to battle it out with X Factor winners Little Mix. Official Charts Managing Director Martin Talbot says the other top five contenders will include Alex Day, Lou Monte and a Nirvana re-issue.
(SOUNDBITE) Martin Talbot, Managing Director, Official Charts Company, saying (English): "The reality is though, although there's a lot of competition in the top five and there'll be some very big sales amongst those top five, in fact I think you know you might even get to number five by selling a hundred thousand units which will be very high indeed. The winner is almost certainly going to be Military Wives at this stage."
For number one album, Michael Buble is caroling his way to the top with his holiday album "Christmas."
(SOUNDBITE) Martin Talbot, Managing Director, Official Charts Company, saying (English): "There are the usual contenders but this year it's looking like Amy Winehouse is gonna do very well, I think we're gonna see Olly Murs doing very well but the winner of Christmas it seems it's probably gonna be Michael Buble." The coveted Christmas number one spot will no doubt be an honor for this year's winner, dubbing them a commercial success for the 2011 holiday season. Kilmeny Duchardt, Reuters
Nobelprize.org's educational section consists of 46 productions. Of these, 29 are interactive learning games of various sorts and degrees of difficulties. The subjects include Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature, Peace, Economics. Most of them also include a "Read more" about the subject.
I know these resources will be mainly be of interest to those English students who have an academic or professional link with the subjects mentioned above, but the interactive learning games make an interesting read in English for everyone who is keen on developing their general knowledge, and the content is not too specialized.
You can also grab the opportunity to surf Nobelprize.org and find out more about the history of the prizes, Alfred Nobel and some other resources on the site.
Watch another video from the series SeeBritain through my eyes, this time featuring Andre Camara, a Brazilian photojournalist, who talks about the British sense of justice.
1 How long has he been in London?
2 What four professions does Andre mention when he touches on the British sense of equality?
3 What does Andre say about escalators in Britain?
4 Who built the Albert Memorial? Why?
5 What does the monument represent?
6 What symbolism does the monument have now?
You can read the transcript here. For the past 20 years in London, I've seen Britain through my eyes as a photojournalist. Just about everything that happened: the 7/7 bombings, the IRA bombing in the city kind of showed me a lot of the resilience, of the stoicism, of how the British react in these adversities. And it taught me a lot. Another thing I love about the British society is that it treats everybody with equality. You know, we are all human beings, we are equal. Here, I spent hours, days, weeks, months of my life outside here, covering some of the biggest justice stories this country has ever had. Justice is the root of this equality. It's so strong in this culture and society where the bus driver is as important, as equal as a chief executive of a big company; where the dustman is as equal as a doctor. In this culture, it doesn't matter which culture you are from or where you were born; everyone is equal under the law. There's a respect, there's a politeness in this country that I've never seen anywhere else in the world. I love it. I've completely swallowed it in my life. So, one of the things that really amazed me when I first got here is how people who stand and calmly relax as they go down the escalator or up. They stay on the right. And people who want to move or are in a hurry go on the left. And it works. It's like this British respect for each other; respect for the rules. I don't see this working anywhere else in the world. My work took me all over the planet. And every time I come back to London, I feel we are in the epicenter of this new multicultural world that we live in nowadays. The Albert Memorial was made by Queen Victoria to celebrate her beloved dead husband Prince Albert. And it was at the height of the empire and it celebrated colonialism; it celebrated the whole world in one power. So, you have the four continents; each continent represented in each corner and so as the whole world represented in one monument being the power of the empire. And now, as a kind of reversal of that, it seems to me now the symbol of London's multiculturalism as in the whole world here, in one city.
Key: 1 twenty years 2 bus driver, chief executive, dustman doctor 3 Everybody is relaxed in them. Those who are just standing, stay on the right; those who are in a hurry, go on the left.4 Queen Victoria, to celebrate her beloved dead husband 5 each continent is represented in one corner, and the whole world is represented in one monument, which is the power of the (British) empire 6 London's multiculturalism
Lower level students (Básico 1 and Básico 2) can greatly benefit from The British Council's new Speak and Spell slot, where you can learn how to speak and spell English words, or improve your English pronunciation through songs, stories and games and discover spelling rules and practise your English spelling.
In Sounds, listen, watch, sing and dance with Sam and Pam. Discover English phonemes with fun and interactive action songs. All of the songs are based on the UK phonics programme Letters and Sounds. Have fun while you learn to read and speak in English.
In Speak, learn how to speak English. Listen and watch adventure stories and try to hear all the English phonemes.
In Spell, learn how to spell English words. Listen and watch the adventure stories and learn how to spell. Each story has a new spelling rule so try and learn all the rules to become a good speller.
In Tricky Words, play games to practise spelling English words and print weekly spelling tests too. See how many you get right then try again! There is a special comments corner too. You can write comments and tell someone if you spot a spelling mistake in their comment!
Some of the interactive activities in Speak and Spell may require that you register with the British Council, but it is a quick process that is worth all the while.
Almost one year ago we published the post Learning English in Cambridge, about the experience of foreign students who have made up their mind to stay with a host family in Cambridge to learn English. Here comes the full video, this time with some activities, which I have taken from English Club.
How does homestay help learners with their English?
1. In what ways does James think that homestay helps learners with their English?
2. How does Silvia think the homestay family can help learners?
3. What does Carol say about students who stay in a dormitory?
4. In what ways does Christina think her host family helps her?
5. In what situation does Joy think a lot of learning takes place?
What advice do you have for future homestay students?
1. David says it is important to give as much ...................... as possible.
2. Carolina says it's important to .................... to different situations.
3. Silvia says it's not necessary to be ................... because the family know how to deal with you.
4. Michaela says the two worst things are to be too ............. and too ......................... .
5. Michaela says you should always have a ............................ in your pocket.
6. Joy says it is a great experience, not only in terms of learning English, but in learning about ....... .
Here's the same video with English subtitles.
Watch this four-minute video clip from National Geographic about the Great Barrier Reef and answer the questions about it.
1 How long is the Great Barrier Reef?
2 How many sharks can be seen?
3 What three things is the Great Barrier Reef compared to?
4 Why are corals important for other forms of life?
5 How many kinds of mollusks live in the reef?
6 Which animals travel thousands of miles to lay their egs there?
7 When was the Great Barrief Reef appointed as a world heritage sight?
8 How old is the Great Barrier Reef?
Key: 1 2,000 kms 2 Very few, only occasionally 3 An underwater city , a rainforest and a mosaic 4 They provide shelter and food 5 4,000 6 Green sea turtles 7 In 1981 8 From 20,000 years to half a million years old
The Break-Up is about the relationship between an advertiser and a consumer. They've agreed to meet in a restaurant. The man's feeling perfectly happy, until the woman makes the announcement that she wants a divorce. In the course of their conversation she makes it clear to him why she is leaving him. And he makes it very clear that he doesn't care much.
To be honest, I didn't know what to make of this short film beyond the analogy of a couple's break-up and that of a consumer and an advertiser, so I have decided to keep it to a simple activity: Just watch the video clip and try to understand as much as possible. Then complete the gaps in the transcript below.
-Hi there, long time no see looking good.
-Yeah. Let's just keep this simple. I want a (1) ... .
- I think you heard me just fine.
-Come on, this is me. What's wrong?
- We don't talk any more.
-I just put down a mill on a TV commercial just to talk to you.
-Exactly. You do all the talking. I never get a (2) ... to...
-You can have a look at the website, can't you?
- Sure. If I want to say "Order this product".
- It's not exactly a dialogue.
-What about the print campaign, hmm? You can't tell me you missed the (3) ... in Times Square. That was like a 200 (4) ... tall declaration of love.
-You're saying you love me but you're not behaving like you love me. It's not genuine.
-I don't know. The agency said that I was genuinely being funny, genuinely being charming. They said you would love everything I did.
-Would you keep your voice down? You're not doing a radio commercial. Look, whether you're funny or not, it's just, I've changed. And you haven't. I mean, we don't even (5) ... ... the same places any more.
- And you're not even listening, are you?
-(6) ... . You want (6) ..., don't you? Look, come by the store, I've got two words for you: Loyalty, production. Am I right? That was it, wasn't it? Let' just (7) ... .
-If you knew me, you'd know I don't care about that.
- Know you? Sweetheart, I know everything about you. You're 28 to 34, your online interests include music, movies and (8) ... ... ... . You have a modest but (9) ... ... income. Am I the only one not getting a problem here?
-I'd better be going.
- Oh come on, don't be like that! I tell you what, come back here tomorrow, I'll give you the (2) ... to win a Bahamas vacation. There's a small (2) ... , minuscule, but technically still a (2) ... . I want it to be like the old days.
Key: 1 divorce 2 chance 3 billboard 4 foot 5 hang out 6 coupons 7 hug 8 laser hair removal 9 dependable disposable
I came across Kindness Boomerang through Larry Ferlazzo in late December. Larry already warned us of the oversentimentality of the video, but he considered it was full of learning opportunities for the English student. He suggested two: Describing the everyday actions the clip portraits, something which language students of all levels find really demanding, and discussing the message in the video.
I think Kindness Boomerang gives us the chance of revising/learning conditional sentences of all kinds.
I would suggest the following steps in the lesson:
Students watch the video and make a note of the chain of actions in it: the builder helps the skateboarder to get up > the skateboarder helps the old woman cross the street > the old woman gives the girl change for the parking meter > The girl picks up the envelope the man in the suit has inadvertently dropped > The man in the suit helps a man unload the luggage from the car boot > The car man buys a hot dog for the beggar > The vendor gives the beggar water > The beggar gives the girl the mobile she had forgotten > The mobile phone girl buys some flowers for the woman sitting at the cafe > The woman at the flower stall gives a flower to the mobile phone girl > The woman sitting at the cafe leaves a generous tip > The waitress gives a drink of water to the builder.
From here, students repeat the chain of events
First conditional: If the builder helps the skateboarder to get up, the skateboarder will help the old woman cross the street > If the skateboarder helps the old woman, she will give the girl change for the parking meter > ...
Second conditional: If the parking meter girl picked up the envelope, the man in a suit would help the man unload the car > If the man in a suit helped the man unload, the car man would buy a hotdog for the beggar > ...
Third conditional: If the beggar had given the mobile to the girl, she would have bought flowers for the woman > If the mobile phone girl had bought flowers for the woman at the cafe, the woman would have left a generous tip > ...
The topic of the environment is of regular appearance in the English classes and in English exams at intermediate levels. Most students dislike the topic, especially in exams, because they find it difficult to talk or write about it in a structured way. They know a lot of information about the subject but somehow they are lacking in the ability to adapt their theoretical knowledge of the topic to their English level.
A few weeks ago I came across this poster on Global Warming from Early Learning and I was surprised by its sheer simplicity and thought it might be really helpful for exam classes to prepare the topic of the environment.
By clicking on the picture below you should be able to download the poster in an A-4 pdf. As I am writing this post I am not fully aware whether you need to be registered on the site to do so.
Read the information in the poster and then explain global warming and its effects in your own words.
As we are dealing with the topic of the environment here, if you want to gain some more insight into the topic, why don't you drop by this The Science Musuem interactive which Larry Ferlazzo informed about in late December?
The Science Musuem poses a number of questions related to the climate like What's a carbon footprint?, What's the difference between weather and climate? How is climate change predicted? Could the world emit less carbond dioxide? and many more. The great thing about the interactive is that each of the questions is answered in a short video with subtitles available. Great resource for English learners and for those students interested in science and in environmental issues.
This is the 16th post of our writing workshop and I think it is a good time to look back on what we have been publishing so far, so that we can collect our ideas and gain some straightforward framework in the technque of composition writing.
Here are the main ideas that we have been touching on so far.
Presentation Your composition will always be neatly presented, written in blue or black ink, and with no corrections or insertions. You must leave a margin at the top, bottom, on the right and on the left. If you are word processing your composition, remember to double-space it, so that the teacher can insert their comments in-between the lines.
• Read the task carefully so that it is clear to you. Remember: ALWAYS DO THE TASK. • Planning your writing in advance will help you organize your ideas in the most logical way and save you time.
• Brainstorm for ideas to add to the information you are given in the task. Choose the ideas you can best write in English about and have more vocabulary for.
• Make a paragraph plan. Your article will definitely have 3 clear parts: Introduction+body+conclusion, and we will be writing a four-paragraph or five-paragraph composition: With the word limit we are given (around 180 words), there is no room for more paragraphs.
• A short, catchy TITLE is essential in all types of compositions except in letters and emails.
• All writing tasks demand an INTRODUCTION which gives a summary of the topic in the task.
• The composition will usually have two or three main paragraphs, which will make up the BODY of the composition. In the body, we will develop our ideas and opinions. Basic rule for writing paragraphs: Each new paragraph has ONE MAIN IDEA. The main idea is stated in the TOPIC SENTENCE. The topic sentence is usually the FIRST SENTENCE in the paragraph.
• The main idea, the TOPIC SENTENCE, is supported and developed by RELEVANT DETAILS in the paragraph. The sentences which develop the topic sentence are called SUPPORTING SENTENCES. We cannot write more than three or four supporting sentences in a paragraph. The supporting sentences will usually consist of an EXAMPLE or ILLUSTRATION (a very short anecdote or example); and/or REASONS/RESULTS (causes or consequences) of the idea in the topic sentence. We can also close a paragraph by MAKING SUGGESTIONS to improve the problem or situation dealt with.
• A CONCLUSION -brief and to the point- that rounds off the text. We must be careful not to introduce new arguments in the conclusion and we have to try and refer back to the main ideas we have defended in the article but USING DIFFERENT WORDS.
• The sentences within a paragraph are often connected by LINKING DEVICES/CONNECTORS.
• The different paragraphs are also connected by LINKING DEVICES/CONNECTORS.
We must always allow time to check and revise our composition.
Watch this short clip where Ellen DeGeneres interviews Paris Jackson, Michael Jackson's daughter, and complete the gaps in the transcript with the missing words.
How are you enjoying school?
I love it, it’s it’s definitely a different experience.
Hum Hum are people there – do they (1) ... you differently? Or do they, do you feel like you have a regular (2) ...?
I do have a regular (2) ..., I mean I’m (3) ... the same, when I came to Buckley, they didn’t know who I was: Yes. I have a (4) ... to be normal.
And they didn’t know who you were because you used to wear (5) ... .
(5) ... .
All the time – and when you wear the (5) ... do you remember thinking – cause you obviously, your dad did that to protect you so nobody would know who you are and you can go out and have a regular life. But do you remember wearing a (5) ... , going this is kind of (6) ...?
Ya, I’m like – this is stupid, why am I wearing a (5) ...?
But ya, I kind of realized the older I got, he only tried to protect us and he explained that to us too.
The most (7) ... thing your dad said to you was?
He said, if I (8) ... tomorrow always remember what I told you. And I took his advice and I remembered everything he told me.
That’s amazing that he would say that to you. Yup, so you remember everything.
Watch this BBC News clip on the consequences of raising the age at which workers can retire and answer the questions below.
1 How old is Sigfrid Viola, the first BMW worker we can see on the clip?
2 What is the average age of a BMW worker now?
3 In what ways is the German factory in Dingolfing, Munich, different from others?
4 Will children retire at a younger age than their parents?
Subject/verb agreement is a grammar point that poses some difficulties to English students of all levels. On the surface, it is quite easy to grasp the fact that a singular subject demands a singular verb, and a plural subject needs a plural verbs, as in these examples:
The boy is crying (singular subject / singular verb) The boys are crying (plural subject /plural verb)
Unilearning, an Australian webpage designed for overseas foreign students, has created an online activity where students are tested on the subject/object concord.
The activity is suitable for intermediate students.
If you are interested in this topic, A clil to climb published two posts about it recently:
Watch this short BBC video which tells us about the way Prince Harry helped a friend who had just been robbed and answer the questions below.
1 Where did Prince Harry meet Thomas van Straubenzee?
2 When was the date, day of week and time events happened?
3 How did Prince Harry get to the place where his friend was?
4 Where did he go when he was unable to find his friend?
5 What did he have to do there?
6 Has anyone been arrested for the crime?
7 What did the thief steal from Thomas van Straubenzee?
Key: 1 At prep school. 2 Wednesday 30 Nov 8.30 in the evening. 3 Driving his own car. 4 To (Battersea) police station. 5 He gave a statement as a witness. 6 Yes, a man in his twenties. 7 A Blackberry mobile phone.
I think it is only fair to let everybody know about this site by Caroline and Pearson Brown. Below you will find the grammar topics which are dealt with on the site. There is a theoretical introduction to each point with some examples. Then a number of interactive exercises of varying difficulty follow. We are always provided with an answer to the different tasks.
Present Simple or Continuous
Past Simple or Continuous
Present Perfect Continuous
Present Perfect or Present Perfect Continuous
Present Perfect or Past Simple
Past Perfect Continuous
Past Review 1
Past Review 2
The Future - Going to
The Future - Will
Will or Going to
The Future - present forms
Will - other uses
The -ing form
Must /Have to
Reported speech 2
Have something done
Can have / could have
Will be doing
Will have done
Watch this video, which might help you to improve your listening ability for numbers, and complete the gaps in the transcript with the missing numbers.
One day consists of (1) ... seconds, each one containing countless options, possibilities and decisions of which only one can emerge. (1) ... seconds. This is one of them.
One week consists of (2) ... . One month, (3) ... seconds. One year, (4) ... seconds.
One lifetime (5) ... seconds, each one containing countless options, possibilities and decisions of which only one can emerge, each with the ability to create one life and erase another.
One day consists of (1) ... seconds. This is one of them.
Now that we have all our seconds right, perhaps we could think about the video more carefully. Try and give an answer to these questions:
What happens in the supermarket?
What does the man decide to do in a single second?
In the house, what is the couple eating?
How does the couple’s relationship change?
What happens at the end of the story?
What is the main idea of the video?
On 17th January Martin Luther King Day was celebrated.
Watch this short video from the National Geographic and complete the blanks in the transcript with the missing words.
He began his career as a Baptist (1) ... but went on to lead a sweeping grassroots effort to end racial discrimination, known as the Civil Rights Movement. Along the way, Martin Luther King Junior made history and emerged as one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century.
Before the Civil Rights Movement began, segregation (2) ... known as Jim Crow laws kept African-Americans in a separate and generally inferior world from whites. African-Americans went to separate public schools, ate in separate restaurants, and even had to use separate public restrooms. They had to sit in the back of buses, and give up their seats to any white people standing. But in 1954, Jim Crow suffered a (3) ... defeat. The Supreme Court declared that separate schools for blacks and whites were inherently unequal in a case called Brown versus (4) ... of education.
The following year, in Montgomery, Alabama, a (5) ... assistant, named Rosa Parks, refused to give up her bus seat for a white passenger. Parks was arrested, but Martin Luther King organized a full-fledged boycott of the Montgomery city bus system. 13 months later, the buses integrated.
The Montgomery boycott inspired more efforts to end segregation. In 1963, King and other civil rights leaders organized the March on Washington. More than (6) ... people came to the nation's capital to demand equality for blacks and urge Congress to pass (7) ... civil rights laws. Standing at the base of the Lincoln Memorial, King spoke the words "I have a dream today", describing his hope for a future in which all men would be brothers.
The Civil Rights Movement was changing the nation. In 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, which made racial discrimination in public places illegal. The same year, King was (8) ... the Nobel Peace Prize.
On April 4th, 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. But the movement he helped to lead lived on, inspiring other groups such as Hispanics, women and the (9) ... to fight for equal treatment under the law, and completing King's legacy of greater social justice for all Americans.
This talking robot is a great tool for English learners, especially at lower levels, to practise question-writing in English.
The talking robot will answer the questions you type in the box, either Wh- questions (Who?, What?, When?) or Yes/No questions (questions starting with an auxiliary). Try to type in gramatically-correct questions and not to overdo it, that is, ask reasonable questions.
In this Foreign Office 'See Britain Through my Eyes' film, playwright, novelist and social commentator Bonnie Greer talks about uncovering her true heritage at the British Museum.
Watch the video clip and answer the questions below.
1 How long has she lived in Britain?
2 How many objects are there in the British Museum?
3 Why does Bonnie refer to the British Museum as the Tower of Babel?
4 What can the collection in the middle of the museum (the hub) teach us?
5 Where and when was the Ashanti drum discovered?
6 What was Bonnie told at school in the 60s?
7 What did Bonnie's dad do?
You can self-correct the activity by reading the transcript here. Hi, I'm Bonnie Greer. I'm a playwright, novelist, commentator and I was born on the south side of Chicago. I've lived here since 1986 and I'm Deputy Chair of the British Museum. This is See Britain Through My Eyes. The British Museum is the ultimate Enlightenment institution. We hold a collection of seven million - plus objects and we hold them for all of the world, free to all of the world. So you walk through this dark aperture, this kind of classical Greek temple, the 18th century idea of the Enlightenment. It's dark and tiny. And suddenly the museum opens up, full of light, full of movement where you see people of all colors and nations. This is like a Tower of Babel in a sense. There's so many languages represented here. This museum embodies the notion that we better learn about our own culture in relation to other cultures. And so the colonial era actually turned London into what it still is today: a hub city. So that the notion of globalization, in its good sense, actually you could say began at this place where all the peoples of the world have left behind their story. And so it is right that this collection in this museum sits in the middle of that hub. These objects actually help us to understand how to live together when they are together. So many objects speak to me in this museum. But the one that really talks to me particularly is the Ashanti drum. It was discovered in Virginia in the middle of the 18th Century and is believed to have been brought there by a captain on a slaver ship. It looks like a tiny little thing here amidst all the other wonderful objects and you know, you may think, "Well, what's the big deal about this?" I was a young school girl in the beginning of the 60s. And we were told, as black kids, that we had no links to anything and Africa was a savage, crazy, brutal, inhuman place. This drum puts the lie to this idea that there was no such thing as culture in Africa. And the beauty of it, it is here in the British Museum that I'm able to begin to weave that story together for myself. My dad, he was a factory worker. He would buy the Encyclopedia Britannica door-to-door. And of course, the Encyclopedia Britannica had the drawings of the British Museum in it. And so, I became acquainted with the Museum when I was very, very young. So now, to be a part of an institution that my dad read about and talked about to us which was started by an heiress who got a fortune through slavery. And now, at this point where I am here, an immigrant, a foreigner, Deputy Chair of the British Museum. I think it could only happen here.
Before writing your composition you need to understand the task, or the instructions, or the rubric as the task is also called.
We must read the task carefully and make a note of the key words and phrases which tell us what we must write about.
In the task (or composition instructions or rubric) we will usually have to distinguish four different components:
1 The imaginary situation you will write about. This can suggest who you are and what has happened: You are reporter who has to inform about a recent accident or report in your town.
2 The imaginary reader who is going to read your piece of writing: The manager of the company you work for has asked you to write … This will help you decide on the required writing style (formal/neutral/informal). 3 The type of writing, i.e., a letter, an email, an article, and so on. 4 The specific points you should include in your piece of writing (write about the advantages and disadvantages of keeping a pet in a flat).
5 The number of words in your composition.
Examples: (1) You work for a travel magazine. (2) You editor has asked you to write (3) an article discussing (4) the pros and cons of air travel, including factors such as cost and convenience. (5) Write 120-180 words.
(1) Your(2) best friend is (1) spending the summer in Spain and needs advice. (3) Write a letter (4) advising him where to go and what to do and telling him approximately how much money he should bring. (5) Write around 150 words.
(1) You are a writer for an international English-language magazine. (2) Your editor has asked you for (3) a short article about (4) a famous person from the twentieth century that you admire. Write your article about the person, (4) describing his/her personality as well as the reasons why you admire him/her. (5) Write 170 words.
Most of the information on this post comes from Successful Writing Intermediate, Express Publishing.
English Exercises has devised this listening activity about the landmarks visitors can't miss in London. They also give us some tips on how to save money.
Do the quiz in the first place to test your knowledge of London. You will have to click on the image below to be directed there. Then watch the video clip to find out how well you have done.
‘School Portrait’ is a two minute comedy short about a school photography session where a miserable photographer is determined to wipe the smiles off the faces of the children, until he meets his match in an enchanting little girl with long ginger curly hair who just won’t stop smiling.
Fill in the blanks in the transcript with the missing words.
Come on then. Come in and sit down. No. Stop smiling. We’re going to do something different today. It’s called a reality check. I want you to repeat after me. University tuition (1) ... .
University tuition fees.
OK, good. The banking crisis means I’ll never afford a home.
The banking crisis we’ll never…
No, no. Just say crisis.
Yeah. … You filled out your (2) ... ...? Why not?
I don’t want to.
Very good. Is it a koala or an elephant?
Get rid of it.
Next! Climate change. Boom.
Congestion (3) ... .
Who’s in (4) ... ... ? Oh, another thing. You don’t get (5) ... ... . You have to work hard every day.
Will you just stop smiling, please? Alright, fine. I’ll go all day. Alright. Did you know 60% of marriages end in divorce? Tip in me. Don’t go really well. And they start (6) ... ..., and they grow further, further apart until one of them leaves you, takes your stuff, your house, maybe kids. Oh God! You are not just going to stop smiling, are you? Ok, let’s get on with it. Alright, give me your best shot. Oh, I suppose I can always get a new house. Hey, your mum’s single. Ok, keep me posted.
Joanne Rudling published -ible or -able? in her Spellingblog in mid November. She draws our attention to the fact that -ible, -able are common spelling suffixes for adjectives and they usually sound the same.
And she also gives us some guidelines to help us use them correctly.
There are more words ending in -able (about 900) than -ible (less than 200).
Knowing the history of -ible, -able can help:
-able words usually come from French. We can make new adjectives: networkable, childproofable.
A general rule is if we take away the suffix (-able) we are usually left with a root word:
This video clip is part of the episode BBC Panorama devoted to the drinking binge trend in today's Britain.
I know it's not easy, but some extracts of the clip are accessible for intermediate students. Focus on the questions, try to find an answer for most of them and forget about everything else.
Watch the clip and answer the questions below.
1 Where’s the hospital?
2 Where was the first girl found?
3 Who was with her?
4 Who found her?
5 What did she drink?
6 What’s the percentage of the adult population who overdoes it with drink?
7 What’s the percentage of patients treated with alcohol-related problems?
8 What’s the problem with the blonde girl’s (Kelly) brother (David)?
9 What happened to him?
Key: 1 Royal’s A&E in Liverpool 2 Lying on the street 3 Nobody 4 The police 5 At least a bottle of vodka 6 A quarter 7 70% 8 he’s being treated for a cut9 He hit a lamppost and the ground when he fell
Ringing the cinema to check film times, owning an encyclopaedia and dialling 1471 are among 50 things killed off by modern technology, according to a new poll.
This is the introduction to the Telegraph article 50 things killed by technology. You can read the full list below.
Get together with the members of your conversation group and discuss your experience of doing the items listed below in the past and now. To what extent do you think technology is transforming life?
Read the Telegraph article beforehand to gain some insight on the topic.
1. Ring the cinema to find out times
2. Going into the travel agents to research a holiday
3. Record things using VHS
4. Dial directory enquiries
5. Use public telephones
6. Book tickets for events over the phone
7. Print photos
8. Put a classified ad in the shop window
9. Ring the speaking clock
10. Carry portable CD players
11. Write handwritten letters
12. Buy disposable cameras
13. Take plenty of change for pay phones
14. Make mix tapes
15. Pay bills at the post office
16. Use an address book
17. Check a map before or during car journey
18. Reverse charges in payphones
19. Go into the bank or building society to conduct your business
20. Buy TV listings
21. Own an encyclopaedia
22. Queue to get car tax in Post Office
23. Develop and send off for photographs
24. Read a hard copy of the Yellow Pages
25. Look up something in dictionary
26. Remember phone numbers/ Have a phone book
27. Watch videos
28. Have pen friends
29. Use a telephone directory
30. Use pagers
31. Fax things
32. Buy CD's/ Have a CD collection
33. Pay by cheque
34. Make photo albums
35. Watch programmes at the time they are shown
36. Dial 1471 when you get home
37. Warm milk or other hot drinks on stove
38. Try on lots of pairs of shoes on high street
39. Hand wash clothes
40. Advertise in trading papers
41. Send love letters
42. Hand-write essays / school work
43. Buy flowers from a florist
44. Work out how to spell something yourself
45. Keep a personal diary
46. Send post cards
47. Buy newspapers
48. Hang washing out in winter
49. Keep printed bills or bank statements
50. Visit car boot sales
This listening activity is suitable for Básico 2 students.
Watch the video and complete the gaps in the transcript with the missing information.
If you want to live a life of integrity, please follow these special instructions.
(1) ... when you are wrong.
Be the first to give.
Be the first to stand when everyone else sits down.
Do what it’s right, even when no one (2) … does.
Say no when people are trying to get you do something you know you shouldn’t.
(3) … the truth and (4) … the consequences.
(5) … … … something you believe in, even though it might mean (6) … or ridicule.
Defend someone who is considered unpopular or unacceptable.
When (7) … with a limitation, give your very best, regardless of (8) … or discomfort.
Confront a fear without (9) … away.
Give sacrificially to protect or promote even someone you love, someone who has been wronged or someone in need.
If you follow these special instructions you will be on (10) … to live a life of integrity.
Thank you for listening.
Key: 1 admit 2 else 3 tell 4 accept 5 stand up for 6 rejection 7 faced 8 pain 9 running 10 track
Learning about the Internet can be informative and fun with the short and simple animated videos that Internet Essentials presents.
Be sure to play the interactive games that let you practice what you’ve just learned. Let the whole family watch and play together, so everyone is up to speed on Internet dos and don'ts.
The videos deal with the main internet threats lurking the careless user:
Watch the videos and practise your listening English skills with Internet Essentials. The English they use is not too demanding, but closed captions can be activated in all the videos if we wish to do so.
Sir Laurence Olivier is making a movie in London. Young Colin Clark, an eager film student, wants to be involved and he navigates himself a job on the set. When film star Marilyn Monroe arrives for the start of shooting, all of London is excited to see the blonde bombshell, while Olivier is struggling to meet her many demands and acting ineptness, and Colin is intrigued by her. Colin's intrigue is met when Marilyn invites him into her inner world where she struggles with her fame, her beauty and her desire to be a great actress.
You can watch the trailer below and read the transcript here if you want to understand everything.
These are the two questions people on the street answer on the latest video clip installment of Speakout Elementary, Longman.
Watch the video and note down the answers the speakers give.
Now it's over to you. If possible, get together with an English-speaking friend or relative and answer the same questions about your social life. Try and use some of the expressions you heard on the video.
I know it's an overgeneralization, but I can't be far wrong in saying that speaking is the ultimate goal for most language learners.
One of the most common problems students have is that they have nobody to speak to outside the class, as we all live in Spain. That is why it should be a priority for students to find a speaking partner and get together on a regular basis to speak in English. This is even more important for distance students, who only have an hour's tuition a week.
In addition to developing our oral skill, an English-speaking partner may help us with queries, with our written work and in some of the listening activities on this blog.
But what about if our availability to get together with a classmate is limited? Can a student develop the oral skill on their own?
Dominic Cole suggests a very interesting technique in this respect. He lists some advantages: it helps build your confidence and you learn to think in English. He also gives some suggestions on how you should implement the technique: talk about personal things and things that interests you. That way, he points out, you will also improve your vocabulary, a key element for fluency.
He puts forward two activities:
Time yourself when speaking.
Visit Dominic Cole's webpage and find out a few more details about this technique. Dominic's webpage is one of the most interesting sites for intermediate English learners.
This video activity is suitable for Intermediate 1 students, although strong Básico 2 students can give it a go.
Watch this short ITV news report and say whether the statements below are true or false.
1 Both the shops are the items are fake.
2 The shop was discovered by the American embassy.
3 The boss doesn't really know if the items are fake.
4 The Chinese police do nothing about the situation.
5 The customers know what they are buying.
When we do a writing task we need to express our ideas in the specific type of writing required. This type of writing is like the wrapping paper which gives us the reason to write.
It is essential that we respect the conventions of the specific type of writing required.
The writing task can be in the form of a letter/email, an article, a composition (or essay) and a report.
LETTERS/EMAILS/POSTCARDS are written to a person (your pen friend, a newspaper editor) or a group of people (the students' society, the local football club) for a specific reason (e.g. to give advice, to make a complaint, to thank someone, to apologise, to accept/refuse invitations). They include:
• Informal fetters/emails to people you know well, written in a personal chatty style.
• Formal Ietters/emails to managers/officials etc, written in a polite formal style.
• Semi-formal letters/emails to people you do not know well or people you know but you want to sound polite and respectful e.g. a teacher, your pen friend's parents, and so on, written in a polite and respectful style.
ARTICLES are usually found in magazines and newspaper, but now with the proliferation of the internet, you may need to write a blog post on an internet forum. The following can be found in the form of an article:
• Descriptions of people, places, buildings, objects, festivals, ceremonies.
• Narratives about real or imaginary events which happened in the past. They can be written in the first person (first-person narratives) when the writer is the main character of the story or in the third person (third-person narratives) when the writer is describing events which happened to another person or group of people.
• News about current/recent events (e.g. fires, accidents) written in impersonal style. News reports present facts objectively and unemotionally.
• Reviews discussing a film, TV programme, book, restaurant, and so on, and recommending it or not to the reader.
The traditional COMPOSITIONS or ESSAYS are sometimes presented with the excuse that you have decided to take part in a composition competition, or your teacher has asked you to do so. These discursive compositions/essays present arguments concerning particular subjects. They include:
• Advantages and disadvantages compositions present the pros and cons on a specific topic.
• Opinion compositions present the writer's personal opinion on a specific topic.
• Solutions and problems compositions present a problem and its causes, making suggestions and mentioning the expected results and consequences.
• A composition/essay is sometimes part of a letter to the editor of a newspaper where the student gives their personal opinion and suggestions on a specific topic. This way, two different forms of writing are included in the same task.
• A variation of the COMPOSITION task is the WRITING A NOTE task, where we have to write a (usually) informal note to someone informing them about something, or giving them instructions on how to do something.
• Another variation is the DIARY ENTRY, where the student writes their feelings on a specific topic or situation.
REPORTS are formal pieces of writing and have a specific format and features. They include:
• Assessment reports discussing the suitability of a person, place, plan, etc for a particular purpose, job.
• Proposals reports discussing suggestions or decisions about future actions.
Before we start doing the writing task, we must be fully aware of the type of writing the task involves, and stick to it and its conventions.
Most of the information on this post comes from Successful Writing, Intermediate, Express Publishing
The new year is now well under way, but why not look back on the main events of 2011? A few weeks ago Larry Ferlazzo published a collection of sites which show pictures with the main events of last year.
I have selected the 45 Most Powerful Images of 2011 from Buzzfeed, don't ask me why. Enjoy the visual and emotional impact of the images and read the captions under each photo.
This is a fun video activity which is suitable for Básico 2 students. It is a promotional video of Turkish Airlines. Some Manchester United players helped the airline deliver the safety information they have wanted to convey with this video.
Complete the gaps in the transcript with the missing words.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome on board. We would like to give you some safety information about our aircraft. The superstars of Manchester United: Wayne Rooney, Darren Fletcher, Fabio and Rafael or the other way around, Nani and Chris Smalling, will help us view this video.
You must place your (1) ... in the overhead bins or under the seat in front of you. Just don't get overexcited. Um, by the way, interesting choice of colors, Nani.
Please make sure your mobile phones and devices with mobile phone capabilities have been set to flight mode and or (2) ... ... . It's okay. Not bad. Um, it's not the place or the time.
Information for emergencies and necessary information about the use of electronic devices on board can be found in the safety instruction cards located in your seat pockets. It seems like they didn't read the cards.
Your seatbelt is fastened, tightened and unfastened as shown. For your safety, keep your seatbelt fastened while you are seated. And don't go this far. Seat your infant with the infant belt that will be provided by the crew. Well, it's just for the babies.
For taxi, takeoff and landing, the backrest of your seat should be upright, window blind open and tray table folded.
If available, make sure that your personal screen and handset are stored properly.
If there is a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop down from the unit above your seat. In this case, (3) ... the mask and place it over your mouth and nose. Attend to yourself first before helping a child.
Do you really think that this will help?
In case of an emergency, loosen your tie and collar, put your seat upright, close your table, open your window blind, remove all (4) ... objects, take off your high-heeled shoes, put the life vest on the infant and inflate immediately.
In an emergency situation, life vest for infants will be provided by the (5) ... . Well, these twins don't know when to stop.
On the command, "brace for impact," (6) ... ... and hold your knees. Now, come on, guys. This is serious.
Our aircraft has eight emergency exits. The emergency lights leading to the exit are located above the emergency exit doors. And the floor markings are through the (7) ... or beside the seats. In case of an emergency, leave the aircraft by the slides located at the exits, which will automatically inflate. Slides may also be used as a raft or flotation (8) ... . They're not quite the same.
Your life vests are located under your seat or in mid consoles between seats. Remove it when you are informed by the (5) ... . Slip the life vest over your head, attach the straps to the connections in front, then (9) ... it by pulling the straps. Well, it's not a toy.
Inflate your life vest when you leave the aircraft. Inflation will be automatic when you pull down these (10) ... or it may also be inflated by blowing through the tube or tubes. The signal lamp will be illuminated automatically when in direct contact with water or the (11) ... on the life vest battery must be pulled down in order to activate the light.
Thank you for your attention. That's all. Have a nice flight. Thank you for listening. We are Turkish Airlines. We are globally yours.
Key: 1 baggage 2 switched off 3 pull 4 sharp 5 crew 6 bend down 7 aisle 8 device 9 tighten 10 handles 11 plug
"How do you say 2012? It was still quite common to hear 'two thousand and eleven' during the past year, but it is my guess that you won't hear 'two thousand and twelve' very much this year. Instead, most people will say 'twenty twelve' - in the UK, anyway."
This is the beginning of the 1st January post by The Virtual Linguist. Click on the link or on the picture below to read his prediction about the way 2012 will be pronounced by most native English speakers.