jueves, 31 de enero de 2013

Battle of wine in Spain

This is a two-minute video clip telling us about the celebration of 'Batalla del Vino' or Battle of Wine in the Rioja region in Spain.

Self-study activity:
Watch the clip and answer the questions below. The activity is suitable for Básico 2 and Intermedio 1 students.

1 Where in Spain is Haro?
2 When did the tradition of growing wine start?
3 When is the festival held?
4 Which two colours are mentioned in the clip?
5 When did the dispute between Haro and another village happen?
6 What else is celebrated in Haro during the festival?

You can check the answers by reading the transcript below.

Haro is the capital of northern Spain’s famous La Rioja wine region and boasts a viticultural tradition that dates all the way back to the Roman era. Spain has more land planted in grades than any other country and Haro is home to some of its busiest wineries.

Every June Haro¡s hard-working grape-growers let down their hair for a day and go berserk at a traditional festival in the foothills of nearby Mount Bilivio. The ‘batalla del vino’ or battle of wine is a raucous celebration where the dress code is white and the weapon of choice is ‘vino’. The locals load up their weapons with wine and attack with abandonment.

There’s a march of clean pristine white people going up the hill and an exodus of destroyed but joyous purple people wandering down. Outsiders and foreigners are favorite targets but everyone gets drenched in these hedonistic free for all.

The ‘batalla del vino’ is based loosely on a 10th century land dispute between Haro and a neighboring village but it's also the celebration of the catholic festivals of Saint John, St Peter and St Felix, mashed into one fiesta of bacchanalian debauchery. It’s a carnal release of energy and excess guaranteed to leave a smile on your face and a stain on your shirt.

miércoles, 30 de enero de 2013

Talking point: Homelessness

This week's talking point is Homelessness. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group think about the answers to the questions below, which you can use as a springboard for the discussion.

Do the homeless share some characteristics?
How does a homeless person end up being homeless?
What's a homeless person typical day like?
How do they get food and 'accommodation'?
What roles do families and friends play in the life of a homeless person?
To what extent are governemts to blame for the situation of the homeless?
What should governemts do to reduce the problem?
Can ordinary people help the homeless?

To gain further insight into the topic you can read Susan Saulny's article for The New York Times AFTER RECESSION MORE YOUNG ADULTS ARE LIVING ON THE STREET.

In the video below Susan Saulny  talks with some young people who have been mentioned in her article and who are struggling with homelessness as a result of the recession and the economic crisis.

You may also be interested in the video listening activity Homelessness, which we published in June last year, about the charity Home for Good.

Shelter is a UK charity which provides for the homeless and so is The Big Issue.

martes, 29 de enero de 2013

Real English series: What's your job?

The two videos we are posting today in the Real English series have to do with the topic of work.

In the first video, the people interviewed answer the question What's your job?
Remember that we use the indefinite article in the answer: I'm a teacher; I'm a nurse.

The main difficulty of the video has to do with some of the jobs the passers-by mention, but at the end of the clip there is a quick revision of all the jobs that have come up during the interviews.

You can do an interactive activity on the Real English site here.

Intermediate students also have the option to watch a more complicated version of the video clip on the Real English site here.

In the second video passers-by answer a more elaborate version of the question 'What's your job?' What do you do for a living?

They also answer two follow-up questions:

Is that your dream job?
What would your dream job be if you had one?

Again the main difficulty has to do with the jobs some of the interviewees mention, but you can watch the same video with subtitles on the Real English site here together with some interactive exercises here.

lunes, 28 de enero de 2013

Jessie J on The Voice

The Voice UK is a BBC television show which somehow resembles Factor X. It is a singing talent show where artists are selected in blind auditions by four coaches/judges, who will go on to mentor and train them through a number of stages until one of them is mentioned "The Voice UK".

In the video clip here, Jessie J, one of the coaches/judges, tells us why she has got involved in the programme and some of the ins and outs of the show.

Self-study activity:
Watch the clip and complete the blanks in the transcript with the missing words. The activity is suitable for intermediate students.

The reason I got involved in The Voice is because it’s all in the (1) ... . There are many things that you can do in the industry and many things that the (2) ...   ...  can create but the voice is the main thing for me, always has been and always will be. I like the (3) ... , the idea of it. It’s (4) ... , it’s new, it’s something I think everyone is gonna want to watch and I just like the idea of being behind something that's about the voice. The Voice is about the (5) ... , the technique, you know, the (6) ... , I think that’s the most important thing.

It’s real, it’s not about what you (7) ...   ... or the package or the story, you know, or how many people you bring to the (8) ... or you whether you can do a back flip, it’s about (9) ...   ...   ...  in the moment. And it’s not going to be all just hands, you know, smokes and mirrors, it’s going to be… we didn’t like that, and this is why. There are things that happen that make you (10) ... if you allow them to. I love the fact that the four (11) ... are completely different. I've (12) ...   ... with the three guys and I've learnt so much... So I don’t know how the (13) ... is going… I feel like I'm going to be able to write a book at the end of this (13) ... . I think the UK audience needs something real, whether they're ready for it...who knows?

1 title 2  music world 3 format 4 fresh 5 tone 6 control 7 look like 8 audition 9 there and then 10 stronger 11 coaches 12 hung out 13 series 

domingo, 27 de enero de 2013

Filthy London

In this new post of our Extensive Listening Series, Filthy London, historian Dan Snow shows what 14th century medieval London and its streets were like 700 years ago and recreates what it was like to live and work in the uncleanliness.

The documentary was aired by the BBC in October 2011 as part of the series Filthy Cities.

Watch it and enjoy this remarkable investigative document.

You can read a transcript for the first ten minutes of the programme here.

sábado, 26 de enero de 2013

American English

In mid-December Larry Ferlazzo informed about the fact that the US State Department had launched launched an online game and site for learning English.

The site, American English, offers links to the Voice Of America’s Learning English resources, where students can get books, songs and MP3 downloads to develop their English through the practice of the communicative skills and systems of the language.

In the game, Trace Effects, players interact and solve puzzles in a virtual world filled with diverse English-speaking characters. In the game, students take a dynamic journey through the United States, travelling to cultural locations like Kansas, New Orleans, the Grand Canyon, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

However, you have to download Unity Gameplayer, and also have to register to play it, though it is a very quick process to do so.

viernes, 25 de enero de 2013

Laos elephant festival

This is a Lonely Travel video on an Elephant Festival in Laos.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and answer the questions below. The activity is suitable for Básico 2 and Intermediate 1 students.

1 What other name is Laos known as?
2 Where's the Xayabouri province?
3 When did the festival start?
4 Where is the festival held each year?
5 How long do some elephants take to get to the festival?
6 How many people see the festival?
7 How many animals take part in the festival?

For correction, you can read the transcript below.

Laos is known as the land of a million elephants. In Xayabouri province in the country’s northwest is home to it´s largest population of working elephants. In 2007 the province created a festival to celebrate these sacred and endangered animals, and it’s quickly become a popular annual event.

The festival is held in a different location each year, and some of the elephants walk for up to a week to participate in the grand opening parade. The event attracts up to 50,000 elephant enthusiasts from Laos and neighbouring Thailand. They come to see more than seventy animals compete to be crowned “Elephants of the Year”. The animals and their handlers show off their working skills and offer rides to everyone, from elderly monks to young children.

Although still in its infancy, the festival is fast gaining cult status among travellers to south-east Asia.

jueves, 24 de enero de 2013

Sport is Great Britain

Some of the world's top sportmen and women talk about what they think is great about sport in Britain. This is one of the promotional videos in the series THIS IS GREAT BRITAIN used to promote the country before the 2012 Olympics.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and complete the blanks in the transcript with the missing words. The activity is suitable for Intermediate students.

Sport is the most (1) ... international language.
Sports get people together and it just makes you forget about everything.
Sport has an international reach that is (2) ... (3) ... . There are more nations competing in the Olympic Games than there are members of the United Nations.
We may disagree on politics and religion but in (4) ... of sport we agree that this is a beautiful game. But whoever wins wins and whoever loses is ok too.
Britain does have a very special (5) in sport, and in world sport because it was the British who (6) ... most of the rules for most of the games played in the world.
Sport is deep in the (7) ... of every community in all parts of this country. There’s no question about that.
We love any sport. You can’t (8) ... the crowd anywhere, to mean Great Britain.
British fans don’t just go and (9) ... British athletes. They understand that sport at its highest level, which is of course borderless.
Competing in the UK is always a pleasure as an athlete and the events are very well run you´re not gonna have to worry about anything except your (10) ...  .
Tennis at Wimbledon, football at Wembley, we now have an international track and field center, we will have probably the best (11) ... provision for cycling anywhere in the world.
I take a pride in Britain being a strong sporting nation.
Having the Olympics here is just gonna be phenomenal. The way British sport is at the moment in terms of the way they are achieving and the way they (12) ... the last Olympics is really exciting.
We now appreciate winners in a way we never have a (13) ... to a few years back.
We as a nation, we thrive on (14) ... who we are. I think the Games in particular and these next ten years will put the Great back into Britain.

1 powerful 2 beyond 3 compare 4 terms 5 play  6 set 7 DNA 8 beat 9 support 10 performance 11 legacy 12 achieved  13 chance 14 showcasing 

miércoles, 23 de enero de 2013

Talking point: Is a longer school calendar a good idea?

It seems that the changing times for education are not just restricted to Spain. In early December, The New York Times Learning blog published in their Student Opinion feature a thread on this issue for people to post their opinion under the title Do You Think a Longer School Calendar Is a Good Idea?

Some of the questions to prod readers were
  • Do you think adding time to the school year is a good idea?
  • What do you think are the benefits of adding hours to the school calendar? 
  • Do you think it will lead to better academic performance for some students?
  • What do you think are the downsides of adding time to the school calendar?
The accompanying New York Times article “Research on the benefits of adding time to the school day has so far been mixed” by Mokoto Rich adds more background information to the topic.

Michael Gongar on  The New York Times Learning blog cites Luis Ubiñas, the president of the Ford Foundation,  who says the initiative is not “about adding time and doing more of the same.” Instead, he advocates “a total school makeover.” 

What would a total school makeover entail?

Funnily enough in November 2012 we watched a BBC video clip on the Finnish educational system, which is regarded as one of the best, if not the best, educational system in the world.

Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, give a thought to the questions above and, if possible, read Rich's article and watch the BBC video. That will make the discussion more dynamic.

Here are the comprehension questions we used to check understanding:

1 Where has the documentary been filmed?
2 How many children does the Rania family have?
3 Where do the three oldest children study?
4 How do they go to school?
5 What’s the first lesson in a Finnish school?
6 What does everybody do when they arrive?
7 How do students call their teachers?
8 Why does Majana know students so well?
9 How important are foreign languages?
10 What is learning compared to?
11 Are good and bad students separated?
12 Is it normal to give pupils extra help?
13 How many teachers are sometimes in the same class?
14 What qualifications do Finnish teachers need?
15 How many teachers go with the students in their PE class when they go cross-country skiing?
16 How many teaching hours do Finnish students get compared to other countries?
17 What’s the secret for the success in Finnish schools, according to the head teacher?
18 How are schools built in countries like the US or the UK?
19 How different are the results among the Finnish schools?
20 How many foreign delegations visited Finland last year to learn about the educational system?
21 What project has the Ministry of Education has just started?
22 What priorities do the businesses in Finland have for the educational system?
23 When does proper school start in Finland?
24 Who teaches children before they go to school?
25 How important are parents in education?
26 How much immigration is there in Finland?


1 On the outskirts of Helsinki; 2 Four; 3 At the local state school; 4 On foot; 5 Relax; 6 Take off their shoes; 7 By their first name; 8 She has been their teacher for a long time (5 years); 9 Key. French third language for 11-year-olds; some will speak a fourth at thirteen; 10 A game, without winners and losers; 11 No; 12 yes, it’s standard practice; 13 Three; 14 A master’s degree; 15 None; 16 The least, and they get the best results; 17 Nobody tells him what he has to do, not even politicians. Everybody trusts him and the teachers (T-word again); 18 Around the idea of competition; 19 They are all pretty similar; 20 140; 21 a pilot programme to support talented students; 22 Maintain the level in maths, science and technology + mixing talented and not so talented people in the class so that the talented ones teach the less talented, and they learn to work in a group with all kinds of people and accept diversity; 23 At 7; 24 parents; 25 very; 26 Little

martes, 22 de enero de 2013

Real English series: have got and have for possession

In this week's instalment of our Real English series we have a very interesting clip to illustrate the idea of possession in the present tense.

A number of people are asked about the items they have just bought at a supermarket.

There are two possible questions:
1) have: What do you have in your bag?
2) have got: What have you got in your bag?

In the first question, have functions as any other ordinary verb. It takes auxiliaries do/does to make the questions in the present simple. We studied this structure in the introduction to the present simple last week.

What do you have in your bag? I have tomatoes.
What does she have in her bag?
She has tomatoes. (we use has with the third person singular, he/she/it only in the present).

The second question has the same meaning as the first, but the structure is special. There is no other verb like this in English. Have got doesn't need an auxiliary verb. For the questions and negatives have functions as an auxiliary.

What have you got in your bag?
I have got tomatoes or I've got tomatoes.

What has she got in her bag?
She has got tomatoes or She's got tomatoes.

You can watch the same clip with subtitles on the Real English site here.
You can watch an interactive activity on the Real English site here.
You can watch a longer version of the same clip, with more demanding vocabulary, on the Real English site here.

lunes, 21 de enero de 2013

Why do the Americans celebrate Columbus day?

I know, I know, I know. I know Columbus Day was celebrated long ago in US and Canada and anywhere else in the world. However, I have just happened to bump into the clip I had prepared for the occasion last October but I couldn't complete on time, so here it is. Better late than never, as they say.

The truth is that I really liked the clip from the very beginning, as it adds a funny slant to the view we have both about the character and the celebration.

Self-study activity:
Watch this six-minute CBS clip and say whether the statements below are true or false. The activity is suitable for intermediate 2 students.

1 Many people in New York know there is a statue in Columbus Circle.
2 The main problem with the place where the statue is shown is that there is no elevator.
3 More and more states in US are not celebrating the holiday any more.
4 Lief Eriksinson discovered America a few years before than Columbus.
5 Columbus never accepted he had discovered a new world.
6 Columbus's skills as a navigator are doubted today.
7 Columbus brought tobacco to Europe.
8 Columbus Day started in 1947 in US.
9 The main controversy about Columbus Day lies on the fact that Columbus didn't actually discover North America.
10 Columbus and his men killed thousands of Indians.
11 Karl Frank's suggestion for renaming the holiday is Exportation Day.

You can check the answers below and read the transcript here.

Something curious is happening above New York City’s Columbus Circle. Tourists and New Yorkers alike are rediscovering the statue that stands above it. Would you believe it? It’s Christopher Columbus.
Very nice!
Yeah, thank you.
I have for many New Yorker friends that they didn’t even know that the statue of Columbus is here.
Thanks to the art installation of Tasumisi.
I love what you’ve done with the place, but don’t you think you should have moved the statue off to the side?
To reach the 13 foot statue visitors climb six flights of stairs to an 800 square foot deluxe apartment in the sky. Columbus has his own flat-screen TV, views of Central Park, even hard wood floors.
The problem is that there’s no bathroom up here.
There’s no bathroom! How did you leave that out?
Tomorrow, if you are a federal employee or a school kid chances are you’ll celebrate Columbus Day, but more and more states are leaving it off the official calendar. States like Alaska, Arkansas, California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa,  Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Does Columbus deserve his own holiday?
Well, that’s a good question because, you know, he actually didn’t discover North America. He never set foot in North America and never even knew it existed and he wasn’t the first person to discover the American continent from Europe.
Lief Eriksinson made landfall in North America centuries earlier, ancest historian Laurence Bergreen, who strolled with me through New York City’s Hispanic Society. There were plenty of explorers sailing the seas in Colombus’s era.
It’s kind of like space exploration. If it hadn’t been John Glenn to be the first person to circle the world it would have been another astronaut at that time because the moment was right.
But there are no didis about Americo Vespucci and not just because it is hard to write Vespucci, you try it.
Columbus came along and with his outsized ego and his sense of destiny and his also passion for recording what he did, he put his stamp on that error.
Ironic since every school kid knows Columbus was actually looking for a route to China when La Nina, Pinta and Santamaria set sail. But even after four voyages, when many of his own shipmates were convinced that they had discovered a new world, Columbus refused to acknowledge it.
These sailors are saying, hey, this is not China, this is a whole different thing.
That’s right, that’s right. So with each voyage, you know in a sense he disproved his hypothesis but didn’t want to realize it, so with a certain sense of Quixotic , tragic heroism about his misguidedness, we now looked at it with the benefit of hindsight as the New World. He would have been astounded at his posthumous reputation, it would have made no sense to him.
Make no mistake. Columbus was a brilliant navigator who sailed across the Atlantic in five weeks, fast even by today’s standards, and with almost no loss of life on board he would introduce Europe to the potato, the pineapple, the tomato and a very bad habit.
He saw Indians walking by with burning leaves in their mouth, well, that was tobacco.
That’s not why he got his own national holiday. That happened when a US president discovered the Italian-American vote.
Columbus Day started in 1937, as recently as that by President Roosevelt, largely as a political move for a federal holiday and he wanted to incorporate the Italian-American vote in the Democratic Party.
But even a day off and spectacular discounts can’t quiet the storms that from the beginning has clouded Columbus’s legacy.
Columbus was always controversial because it was not just the political correctness or something that started in the 1970s. This goes back to his voyages, and the brutality was the main reason. Stories of the way he treated the Indians, the fact the he hemmed them up or killed them got back to Spain, even Ferdinand and Isabella, who were not really known as apostles of humanitarism, were appalled.
When the Taino Indians of Española realized that Columbus’s men were stained, they saw no way out.
They felt that their homelands and their women were being taken away by Columbus’s men and that Columbus’s men were stealing the future of their people and they responded by mass suicide. Columbus and others writes about this, thousands of Indians poisoning themselves or jumping off cliffs to their deaths because they felt they had no future left.
That’s one reason why Karl Frank Junior, an IT consultant in St Louis wants to rename the holiday.
We feel like instead of having a federal holiday that divides us, we need a federal holiday that unites us.
Frank wants to call it Exploration Day.
It would be unique as a federal holiday in a sense that it celebrates the past, and the past explorers, the thousands of them the unnamed as well as the well-named, and also what’s possible for America if we kind of put our heads together and work towards a common goal.
But before we say ‘Good-bye Columbus’ enjoy the day, that is, if you have it at all.

1F 2F 3T 4F 5T 6F 7T 8F 9F 10F 11F

domingo, 20 de enero de 2013

Drought -VOA documentary

Today's Sunday, which means it's time for our extensive listening slot.

This week we are coming back to the topic of the environment through a Voice of America (VOA) documentary which explores the most damaging effect of the changes in the weather in 2012, drought.

"2012 has been the warmest year on record in the United States and the driest since 1988. Nearly two-thirds of the country was in drought as of October. The extreme weather has hit some of the nation’s most fertile farmland. As the world’s largest corn and soybean exporter, the impacts have been global. Prices for these crops have set new records on international markets, raising the cost of feeding livestock in particular."

You can watch the thirty-minute documentary here and, if you wish, activate the YouTube CC subtitles, which give an accurate transcription of the script in the programme. The transcript is also available on the VOA site here.

You can also download the documentary from the VOA site here.

sábado, 19 de enero de 2013

BBC Learning for adults

It was Larry Ferlazzo (who else?) who reminded me of BBC Learning for adults just before the Christmas break. So I decided to have a fresh look at the BBC's good old site.

First of all, I was reminded that BBC Learning for adults is not exclusively for language learners, but as the name of the site proclaims, for adults who want to learn, which comprises both native and non-native English speakers.

Having made that clear, I think that  BBC Learning for adults offers numberless options for the English language learner to benefit from, including those resources intended for native speakers:

Webwise gives courses on getting familiar with all Internet-related issues. The videos are accompanied by a transcript.

Other courses include First Aid, Skillswise words (for adults who want to improve their literacy skills), Skillwise numbers (for those who want to improve their grasp of numbers), Job skills (for people who want to find out more about job-related practical skills).

Some other general courses include Gardening, Cooking, History, Ethics and language courses (Spanish, French, German, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Chinese and 33 more langauges).

For the language learner, the most attractive section will be BBC Learning English. After revisiting the section I got the feeling that a language learner needs no other internet resource to keep up with English.

The systems of the language (pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar) are dealt with in a specific area. And both General English and Business English are cared for.

There are quizzes, video series, and a download section.

In short, a wealth of resources to keep you busy for a lifetime.

But don't take my word for it. Drop by BBC Learning for adults and judge for yourself.

viernes, 18 de enero de 2013

Five facts you don't know about London

This is an NBC news report on London that was aired just before the Games started last summer informing travellers on key unknown facts about life in London.

The video clip is suitable for good Intermediate students.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and note down the five facts about London that are under discussion.

Watch the video a second time and try to get the general idea about what it is that we must know about these five facts on London. Don't bother about detail, just getting the general idea will do.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking newsworld news, and news about the economy

For correction, you can read a very approximate trasncript taken from the NBC site here or you may decide to watch the clip on the NBC site, where you will also have the option to read this transcript or activate the CC subtitles.

jueves, 17 de enero de 2013

Climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge

Lonely Planet meets a guide who leads people up one of Australia's most iconic structures: the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and say whether the statements below are true or false. The activity is suitable for Intermediate 2 students.

1 Being a climb leader is one of the best jobs in the world.
2 There are 52,800 tons of iron in the structure of the bridge.
3 People usually feel anxiety and fear when climbing the bridge.
4 People climbing the bridge have radios which give them information.
5 The bridge opened in 1942.
6 Climbing the bridge is an example of awe-therapy.

For more information about the climb drop by Bridge Climb.

I’m Phil Roach. I’m a climb leader here in beautiful Sydney. I take people up the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s one of the best jobs in the world, absolutely, I mean. Look at this, what a stunning office.
The bridge is the… arguably the international symbol of Australia. It’s 52,800 tons of steel in the structure, held together by more than 6 million rivets. To climb to the top of the bridge is just a (...) experience, it’s so thrilling, I mean, you know you are up close with all of the steel and you’re climbing up all of these steps holding on the handrails, looking out over the edges, large things become smaller and smaller and smaller and all of the traffic streaming across the bridge.
A lot of people I suppose they have a certain amount of anxiety or fear initially about climbing the bridge but when you climb you wear a climber belt and that has a lead on it and a latch that connects you to a safety line that runs all the way around the climb bridge. You are always inside the handrails that have radios so that you climb and can share safety information but it also tells some incredible stories about the bridge’s history.
Of course, the opening day ceremony was marred by controversy. Who knows the story of Francis de Groot?
When it opened in 1932 the Premier Jack Lang had his thunder stolen when Francis de Groot the Irish ex captain army captain rode in on his horse and slashed the ribbon with his saber declaring the bridge opened in the name of the good citizens of New South Wales.
Is this true?
It’s a true story. It’s an absolutely true story.
I think the ultimate feeling is awe, and joy and happiness. It’s a celebration to climb the bridge. It really is.
Well done everyone!
You’re standing above one of the world’s most magnificent harbours, Sydney harbor is truly a joy. I read an article just recently  about awe therapy. The psychologists want people to experience awe therapy. Well, climbing the bridge is awe-therapy. It’s exhilarating to be up there.

1T 2F (steel not iron) 3T 4T 5 F (1932) 6 T

miércoles, 16 de enero de 2013

Talking point: Daily stress

This week's talking point is stress and comes from a lesson by Katherine Schulten in The New York Times learning blog, How stressed are you?

Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, read the questions below and think of the answers so that ideas flow more easily the day you get together with your friends.

On a typical weekday, are you normally pushed for time?
How stressed are you these days?
How stressed are you in general?
When are you likely to be most stressful?
Why do you think that is?
Are you someone whose life is limited by stress, or do you feel you are able to manage stress well?
What has worked for you to combat stress in the past?
Look at these strategies for better managing time. Do you think they would work for you?
  • say ‘no’ more often
  • make lists of things to do
  • throw things away
  • keep a record of how long each task takes you
  • simply do fewer things
  • check e-mail at specific times of the day
  • delegate more
  • plan ahead
  • maximise your ‘uptime’
  • do ‘nasty’ jobs first
Read JANE E. BRODY's article for The New York Times When Daily Stress Gets in the Way of Life. What tips in this article might you try? Why? Discuss the ideas in the article with the members of  the conversation group.

You can also watch this video on stress from the British National Health Service. A transcript is available if you watch the video on the NHS site.

martes, 15 de enero de 2013

Real English series: Present continuous and present simple

Two new videos today in the Real English series. The first one is an introduction to the present continuous tense through the structure going to.

The interviewers asks all passers-by the same question:

Excuse, where are you going?

Watch the video and note down the answer each person gives.

You can watch the same video with subtitles on the Real English site here.
And  you can do an interactive activity on the Real English site here.

The second video is an introduction to the present simple tense through the question

What does he do?
What does she do?

Remember we use the auxiliary do/does to make questions about the present simple with most verbs (the lexical verbs, that is, the normal verbs, those which have a meaning). Do is used with all the persons except with  he / she / it (third person singular), with which we use does  instead.

As usual, the interviewer revises some other questions that have come up in previous video clips:

Can you introduce me to your friend?
Can you spell your name, please?
Can you tell me something about your friend?
Can you give me two adjectives to describe your friend?
How old is he?

You can watch the same video with subtitles on the Real English site here.
And  you can do an interactive activity on the Real English site here.

lunes, 14 de enero de 2013

The making of the best soccer team in history

Early in January this year CBS  published a news report under the title Youth Academy Nurtures Top Soccer stars.

It is really short, just upwards of 2 minutes, and in the clip we learn some facts about Barca's soccer school, La Masia. One of the best-known Barca players, Cesc Fabregas, is also interviewed.

The listening activity is suitable for Básico 2 students.

Self-study activity:
Watch the news clip and complete the blanks in the transcript with the missing information.

What has made this Barca team so extraordinary? It all started in this (1) ... century farm house called La Masia. In the (2) ... it was transformed into a soccer training camp for children. Barca scouts looked everywhere for (3) ... kids. Any boy over the age of 11 was eligible. The lucky came here, got a free education and soccer training. The dream of every kid was to cross the street, just a minute away to the Barca stadium. Today, 17 of the 25 players on Barca’s first team came through this system.
La Masia moved to its sparkling new (4) ... one year ago and now looks like any other international prep school. (5) ...   ... , lots of carbohydrates and after a long day at school, there’s homework with tutors, and training, and more training, and then a little recreation of a sort. They don’t (6) ...   ... bed before 11.
Cesc Fabregas also came to La Masia when he was 10 years old.

What was it like to be a 10-year-old at this place?
I was very lucky and not just talking about the football. I’m talking about manners, (7) ... , education at school. The only thing is that you have to study a lot…
Very strict, eh?
Yes, they are very strict, but it’s (8) ... it.
What if you really liked to have a good time, go out in downtown and…
You'll be out very, very quick.

But look at these kids when they are doing what they came here to do. These tykes are 10 years old. They do not mess around. They’ve been (9) ... the Barca doctrine, keep passing the ball, caress it, learn to love it. They are (10) ... in the making. Here’s a future goalie. Always scores of soccer senioras in the stands.

1 eighteenth 2 1970s 3 talented 4 facilities 5 Communal living 6 get to 7 values 8 worth 9 taught 10 magicians

domingo, 13 de enero de 2013

How Venice works: Extensive listening

How Venice works: Venice Backstage is a documentary I discovered through Free Technology for Teachers.

The eighteen-minute film tells us all the ins and outs of the city:
How the “Venice system” works.
How the tides in the lagoon behave.
How the canals are  formed .
How the embankments are formed.
What there is under the buildings.

Unfortunately, no transcript or subtitles are available, but the speed of delivery is on the slow side, and the spectator gets lots of on-screen visual clues, which help them understand the main ideas in the film. There is also a short glossary in English available here, where the main vocabulary items are explained.

Venice Backstage. How does Venice work? from Insula spa on Vimeo.

sábado, 12 de enero de 2013

Extra English: The ideal TV series for intermediate students

Extr@ is a thirty-episode Channel 4 sit-com specifically designed for language learners. This is the description they make about the series:

"Extr@ is the story of Bridget and Annie, Hector and Nick, four good-looking 19-22 year olds who are thrown together to play out their romances, life crises and contrasting interests in a familiar sitcom setting.

The two girls share a flat in London and Nick is their neighbour. When Hector, with only a very basic grasp of English, comes to visit, everything starts to go wrong. Or right! His efforts to get to grips with the language provide the central dynamic for the series and its language learning content.

What makes Extr@ different is that the scripts have been carefully written so that the language is simple and accessible at all levels. They combine wit, strong character identification and a good dose of physical humour, making instant connections with the target age group of 14-19."

Extr@ sounds like the ideal TV series for intermediate-to-advanced English students.

On the first episode, Bridget, a fitness enthusiast, receives a letter from her old penfriend in Argentina, Hector, saying that he plans to visit her. When Hector arrives, at first he doesn't look very attractive and the girls decide that Hector can't stay with them. That is, until he emerges from the shower!  Nick discovers that Hector comes from 'one of the richest families in Argentina', but Hector is determined to keep it a secret. Now, both Nick and the girls are very keen for him to stay!

You can find the full transcripts for the episodes here, and a quick summary of each of the episodes here.

viernes, 11 de enero de 2013

CNN explains: Cyclones

CNN explains is a feature of the CNN network that focuses on a specific current affairs issue and presents it in a pedagogic and user-friendly way. Most of the footage is taken from the CNN student news, which makes it perfect for intermediate-to-advanced English students.

This segment from CNN explains is devoted to cyclones. The level of the activity is suitable for intermediate students, but as the full transcript of the video clip is provided below, Básico 2 students should be able to complete most of the blanks in the activity.

Self-study activity:
Watch the CNN video and complete the blanks in the transcript with the missing words.


A tropical cyclone is an area of low pressure that forms in the tropical regions of the world. Cyclones are actually very important, even though, of course, they can be (1) ...  . They help essentially balance out the (2) ... across the globe. They are an equalizer, so they take the heat energy from the tropics and they translate that where we need it into the colder climates.
The generic term for it is a tropical cyclone. That can refer to any cyclone that has a closed center of circulation, anywhere in the world, like in the Atlantic, when they get strong enough, to a certain wind (3) ... , we call them hurricanes. But if you`re in the western Pacific, a hurricane is called a typhoon. There's no difference between a hurricane and a typhoon except in the name. They're both tropical cyclones.
The naming system is based on the World Meteorological Organization. There's a list of names. Depending on the basin, in the Atlantic Basin we recycle the names every six years. If a storm become particularly intense or is (4) ... for a coastline, or has a lot of casualties associated with it, we retire the name and don't use it again, for example, Hurricane Katrina, that name will never be used again.
Once a tropical storm becomes a hurricane, we use what we call the Saffi-Simpson scale. Saffi-Simpson scale categorizes the hurricane from category one, which is the (5) ... to a category five. A category one minimal hurricane has to have winds in its center of (6) ... miles an hour.
As the storm continues to gather (7) ... and becomes more intense, if it reaches 96 miles an hour, that's a category two. A category 3 has winds of (8) ... miles an hour. If it continues to intensify, that is a deadly category four storm. And then the strongest of hurricanes, category five. That is pretty devastating stuff.
Definitely heed the (9) ... and get yourself a preparedness kit. Know what you're going to do in the event of a cyclone. Are you going to evacuate, when do you evacuate, and again, heed those warnings.

1 deadly 2 temperature 3 speed 4 devastating 5 weakest 6 seventy-four 7 strength 8 one hundred and eleven 9 warnings 

jueves, 10 de enero de 2013

Living at the top -video activity

Watch this New York Times video clip on 157, the tallest residential building in New York, whose view extends from Central Park to beyond the Bronx.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and answer the questions below about it.

1 How long does it take to reach the 85th floor?
2 How far from the ground is the living room?
3 When will the building be finished?
4 How tall is the building?
5 Are they having difficulties selling the apartments?
6 How much does a standard apartment in 157 cost?
7 What does 'three years' refer to at the end of the clip?

To check the answers you can read the transcript below.

Bronx right, so you’re seeing deep into the Bronx…
This is Alexei Barrionuevo, I cover the world of high and real estate for The New York Times.
It took six minutes in the construction elevator to reach the 85th floor of New York’s tallest residential building. Standing in the living room of this four-floor apartment, 850 feet from the ground Central Park lays out like a giant green carpet. For now it’s just bare walls and concrete on the inside, but by early 2014 the owners of apartment 85 will stand in their master bathroom with his/her showers and stare out giant windows at the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center and the Empire State Building.
Already several of the world’s billionaires have signed up to live here, including some from the United States as well as China, Russia and the United Kingdom.
Rising to just over 1,000 feet at the top, 157 was built with them in mind. The French architect Christian de Portzamparc designed the shimmering outside. The Danish designer Thomas Johanson is doing the apartment finishes.
Even as the global economy struggles to recover, there seems to be no shortage of millionaires and billionaires willing to pay upwards of 95 million dollars for a chance to live here.
157 once seemed a risky prospect in the dark days after Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008 but now it is set off a tall-building’s arms race. 
157 will hold on to the title of tallest residential building in the city for about three years, when another building at 432 Park Avenue it is expected to soar almost 400 feet higher, but will it have views like this?

miércoles, 9 de enero de 2013

Talking point: How much can people change?

This week's talking point comes from The New York Times Learning blog, How much can people change? 

Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, read the questions below and think of the answers, so that ideas flow more easily on the day you hold your speaking session.

To gain more insight into the topic you can also read David Brooks' article in The New York Times How people change. You may also discuss the ideas in the article with the members of your conversion group.
  • In what areas do people usually want to change?
  • Are there things about yourself you would like to change?
  • Have you ever tried to change something about yourself -a personality trait, a bad habit or some other aspect of your life? 
  • Did it work? 
  • Have you ever tried to get someone else to change? 
  • What happened? 
  • How much, in general, do you believe people can change? Why?
  • What examples, from your own life or the lives of others, can you offer to support your opinions?
  • What do you think are the best ways to help others change?
  • Is it advisible to resort to professional advice -counsellors or psychologists- when we find it difficult to change bad habits or negative aspects of our behaviour?
  • How do you usually adapt to change that is imposed on you, ie, a new boss, a new working method, new rules?  

martes, 8 de enero de 2013

Real English series: Giving directions

In our Real English video series we deal with the topic of giving street directions, a practical grammar and vocabulary point which is difficult to grasp, both from the perspective of the person giving directions and from that of the listener, both in our own mother tongue and, let alone, in English.

It is a fairly short video where the person asking for street directions keeps repeating the same question:

Excuse me, can/could you tell me the way to XXXXX, please?

The answers are fairly straightforward and to the point, and the people giving street directions use the imperative most of the times:

Just go up there and turn left.
Straight up to the traffic lights and then turn left at the traffic lights.
Go down to XXXX and turn left, that’s XXXXX.
It’s just along here and your first on the left.
Up to the lights, and it’s the road on the left.
The cathedral is straight down here.
Straight up the road.
That way!

The video gives us the opportunity to revise how to thank someone:

Thanks / Thanks a lot / Thank you / Thank you very much.

And how to apoligise if we don't know something:

Sorry? Where?
Sorry, I can’t speak English.
I’m sorry, I don’t know, sorry.
I’m afraid I don’t know the way, I’m a stranger here myself.

Drop by the Real English site to watch the same video with subtitles and to do some interactive activities based on the video above.

This blog features a fairly similar video, Around the town, in the Vodcast Series, although this one is a bit more complicated for learners in the Basic level.

lunes, 7 de enero de 2013

Felix Baumgartner’s jump: Video activity

Felix Baumgartner made history on 14 October 2012 by jumping off a balloon more than 39km up in the stratosphere.

This is a CBS report recorded  after his big achievement. It may be a bit difficult for students at an intermediate level, but the questions below will give them a good opportunity to revise numbers and focus their attention while listening and trying to get the main ideas in the interview.

Self-study activity:
Watch the CBS video and answer the questions.

1 How many times has the jump been watched on YouTube?
2 How long did it take him to go up into the sky in a balloon?
3 How long would it take him to die if something went wrong?
4 How old is Felix?
5 How long did Felix have to find a solution when problems started?
6 How fast was he going?
7 When had the old record been set?
8 What was the main problem Felix had to overcome?
9 How long did he have to spend in his suit?
10 Who helped him to overcome his fear?
11 What’s the second problem that they mention?

You can check the answers by reading the transcript below.

Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking space jump has now been watched more than 52m times on YouTube. Well on Sunday the Austrian native became the first skydriver, skydiver I should say, to break the speed of sound. Now only on CBS this morning he tells Ben Tracey what it felt like and why he did it.
[Landing on the parking lot everything has to go real quick.]
Felix Baumgartner has jumped off the tallest buildings in the world, raced an airplane through the sky, and crossed the English Channel with a wing strapped on his back.
[There’s the release!]
But this past Sunday as he spent two and a half hours riding a 55 story balloon 24 miles into the sky, he admits his nickname ‘Fearless Felix’ did not fit. 
People referred to you as fearless Felix. I imagine fear has to creep in at some point.
You would not be human if you would not have fear. And up there, if something goes wrong, you're dead in 15 seconds.
[There’s a world up there…]
When the capsule door opened, 43-year-old Baumgartner was on the biggest high of his life, 128,000 feet in the air. In Los Angeles Thursday, Baumgartner took us through a replay of his jump. 
That door opens up. What does it look like, what does it sound like?
It is overwhelming. I mean, that view, and also the fact that when you're standing there, there's not a single person on the whole planet who have experienced this moment. It's unique.
He uttered four more words: "I'm going home now," and jumped into the stratosphere.
So you jump off and everything looks great and then all of a sudden you start to tumble, right there. What does it feel like?
It starts ramping up, really violent, and then I knew, 'OK, now I have to come up with something,’ and I had to find a solution, and I only had 40 seconds because then it's all over.
All over because he'd hit thicker air and that would slow him down and prevent him from reaching the speed of sound. But instead, he regained control, free falling for four minutes and 20 seconds, hitting Mach 1.24, 834 miles per hour. 
You get to the point where you’re travelling at the speed of sound, but you’re also in this suit. So physically do you have a sense of how fast you’re going?
In the beginning because the air is so thin, you don't have that noise, so you have almost no sensation of speed. You know you're fast, but you don't feel it.
They were feeling it in Mission Control where 84-year-old Joe Kittinger watched Baumgartner break the height and speed records he set back in 1960. 
This three-hour spectacle took five years of planning. It was not a fear of heights that Felix had to overcome, but rather claustrophobia. 
The only way to go up to the altitude is you have to use a pressure suit, otherwise you're gonna die. And just the thought of spending seven hours in the suit, which is pretty much a whole day, starts freaking me out. It's not supersonic speed, it's not the height that was the problem. It was the suit. Nobody anticipated that.
A psychiatrist helped him deal with that. But there was another adjustment: his attitude. 
At one point you had a reputation as a bit of a hot head, how have you changed? 
Well, I think I’ve changed a lot. I think you're changing with age, become more quiet, maybe a little bit smarter. You have to become a little bit more humble.
Even if you create the sonic boom heard round the world. 
It’s the only supersonic boom created from the human person that exists in the whole world.
And what does it mean to you to know you’re a boom?
It means a lot.
Because jumping from the heavens it’s not without being without fear, it’s about diving right into it.

domingo, 6 de enero de 2013

Origin of us

Origin of us is a three-episode BBC documentary released in 2011 about the origins of man presented by Dr Alice Roberts, who explains to us the way our body tells the story of a six-million-year evolution.

The three episodes are entitled Guts, Bones and Brains.

This is the first part of the second episode, Bones, where  Dr Alice Roberts looks at how the human skeleton shows an incredible evolutionary journey.

You can read the transcript here.

You can find the three other parts of this episode here:

Part two.
Part three.
Part four.

sábado, 5 de enero de 2013

Dumb ways to die

This is a public safety warning video published by Australian rail company Metro Trains Melbourne. The video uses music and dark humour to warn people against behaving carelessly on and around trains.

Self-study activity:
What dumb (silly) ways to die can you think of? Make a list as comprehensive as possible. Then watch the video without the lyrics. Does the animated story show any of the methods you came up with?

Now watch the video with the on-screen lyrics so that you can fully understand the song.

H/T It's English Magazines.

viernes, 4 de enero de 2013

How much sleep do you need?

Are you feeling ravenous?
Are you weepy?
Are you forgetful?
Can't you shake that cold?
Are you clumsier than usual?
Have you lost that loving feeling?

If the answer to some of the questions above is 'yes', you may be short of sleep. Read this short Huffington Post article and the accompanying slideshow to find out more about the topic.

You can also watch this video where Dr. Rizan Hajal explains the basics of sleep.

Self-study activity: Watch the video and answer these questions:

1 Does everybody need an eight-hour sleep?
2 What does 20% refer to at the beginning of the interview?
3 Does our brain go into a mini-coma when we sleep?
4 How long is a sleep cycle approximately?
5 Is the REM sleep the deepest cycle of sleep?
6 What happens if we don't get the REM sleep?
7 How long do we spend in the lighter stage of sleep?

You can check the answers by reading the transcript below.

Raena Morgan: Dr. Hajal, basic question. How much sleep do we need to get? The typical eight hours, is that? 
Dr. Rizan Hajal: I don't have a clear scientific answer to tell you. It's still true, what your grandma said, perhaps that you need somewhere between seven and nine hours and majority of the people, almost 80% of the people, require something around that, but which tells you that almost 20% of the people can sleep something different. We're talking about normal sleep, not those who have trouble falling asleep or who cannot fall asleep. We're talking about normal sleep, which means they wake up feeling rested and comfortable. Some people need six hours. Some people need 11 hours, so we don't really know. 
Raena Morgan: What is a sleep cycle?
Dr. Rizan Hajal: A sleep cycle is, it's very important when you're sleeping to know that it is not one stage of sleep, so it's not like our bodies go into a mini-coma at night, through the night, and then you wake up. To the contrary, actually your brain is working on sleep and so it has to be a sequence of events that you go through. We know there are three stages of regular sleep and one stage of REM sleep, rapid eye movement sleep. And then, of course, there's the wake and those stages don't come just randomly at night. You go from one cycle to another and we find that every 90 minutes is almost a cycle and then you keep repeating that and the more cycles you will get, the more restful you will feel the next day and they have to come in this sequence so if you have a sleep disorder that gives you maybe the same number of minutes at the end of the night, but not in the same sequence, you will not feel rested the next day. So, they have to come in this sequence. So it has to be orchestrated. The brain is doing a process, an active process, to actually wake up feeling rested the next day.
Raena Morgan: So the REM sleep, that's the deepest cycle of the sleep?
Dr. Rizan Hajal: It's one of the deepest. There is also the slow wave sleep, which is a different kind of deep sleep that its definitely one of the restful sleep that we should get into.
Raena Morgan: So, if you don't get that sleep, then you're not going to be refreshed.
Dr. Rizan Hajal: That's true and many studies would show that they would start eliminating those parts of sleep on volunteers and they will see what the effect of that is. And most of them end up feeling just completely unable to function just sleepy and the difference was not that much, which stage you would block to make your sleep as a true which tells us that we actually need all stages of sleep to actually wake up feeling refreshed.
Raena Morgan: Even a lighter stage?
Dr. Rizan Hajal: The lighter stage is of course, if you spent too much in the lighter stage, then it's not a refreshing stage so we do need a little bit more of the deeper ones. But it's normal for you to spend 20% of your sleep in lighter stage. That's normal, healthy sleep.
Raena Morgan: Thank you Dr. Hajal.
Dr. Rizan Hajal: Thank you.

jueves, 3 de enero de 2013

New year resolutions the family can share

It's that time of the year again when most of us make up our mind to kick off some bad habits and make small changes in our lifestyle that can be beneficial for ourselves and those around us. Fox News broadcast this interview with pediatrician Mary Ellen Renna, who tells us how to start 2013 on the right path with our children.

The four-minute interview is very interesting, as Dr Renna establishes some basic guidelines to give our children.

Dr Renna and the newscaster talk quite fast, I know, but they give lots of examples to illustrate their ideas, which help us understand everything that is being said. In addition, some captions come up on screen with the main ideas conveyed during the interview.

Self-study activity:
Watch the interview and take some notes on what Dr Renna says about the following
  • The four steps to eat healthily
  • Excercise
  • How to imprive the children's emotional life
The activity is suitable for Intermedio 2 students.

You can read an approximate transcript of the interview by dropping by the Fox News site.

You can also find some other 'New Year Resolutions' activities by writing 'New Year Resolutions' on the search box of this blog.

Make your kids eat healthily in four steps:
- Anticipate the right food you need well in advance, not five minutes before dinner. Don't improvise your meals
- Eliminate junk food
- Educate your kids by telling thme why it’s important for them to eat well
- Participate, that is, parents need to be involved and set a good example for their children and do all the things they are asking their children to do

Exercise should be added to the child's daily routine, even if it’s just five or ten minutes three times during the day. It's also a good opportunity for parents to do some activity with their children.

Improve the child's emotional health, that is, parents need to be better disciplinarians. They can’t be their children’s friends, they have to be their parents. They have to give children guidelines, tell them ‘no’ from time to time and be strict at times.

miércoles, 2 de enero de 2013

Talking point: How are you spending the Christmas holidays?

If you are spending the Christmas holidays trying to catch up with your rusty English, this activity from The New York Times learning blog will come in handy to do so: How are you spending your Chritmas holidays?

I know some people may feel a bit slighted, as they do not enjoy the traditional holiday break starting before the 24th December and finishing after Epiphany , 6th January, which are the traditional school holidays here in Spain, but even if we do carry on as usual, the atmosphere around us and in the streets is completely different.

Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, think about the answers to the questions below, so that you are not ideas short when you discuss the topic with your friends:
  • How do you usually spend the Christmas holidays?
  • What family traditions do you have?
  • Do you attend religious ceremonies?
  • Do you spend much on presents?
  • Are you worried about your diet?
  • Do you usually make new year resolutions?
  • Is this year different from others?
  • Are you spending the Christmas holidays the way you want?
  • Is there anywhere you would rather be?
  • Is there anyone you would like to spend the holidays with but can't?
  • What do you think of the people who spend the Christmas holidays away from home?
  • Given the chance, where would you like to travel over the holiday break?
  • Have you ever spent the Christmas holidays working away from home? And anyone in your family?
To get further insight into the topic, you can also read Jan Benzel's post on the Expatriate Life Blog of The New York Times, where he writes about what it is like to be away from home for Christmas.

As for the more 'traditional' side to Christmas, I came across this interesting BBC video through Desginer Lessons, where you can do a listening and speaking activity about shopping at Christmas.

Here's the transcript for the clip.

Whether they raise your spirits or drive you mad, they’ve become the soundtrack to shopping at this time of the year but it seems the science behind background music could be more complicated than we think.
Repeated renditions of Christmas songs like Jingle Bells may seem entertaining but actually they could be enticing you to stay longer and spend more. 
According to a study by Royal Holloway University, slow it down and we’ll relax, stay longer. Speed it up and it’ll improve our mood.
It’s such a subtle trick, it’s such a clever trick, because it kind of makes you, the music does seep into you, and no matter how rank and how awful the song is, you catch yourself humming it and whistling it. I mean, it’s clever, isn’t it?, the way it pervades your consciousness.
But can a song really make you part with your money?

[dark-haired woman] 
Guess more of a festive mood, I suppose, doesn’t it, they´re more inclined to buy Christmas presents well thinking about Christmas.
[blonde woman] 
It gets on your nerves after a bit but generally it’s all part of it, int’it?
[two girls] 
This is great, if you know it, it’s cheerful, it does actually and you need to when you are shopping.
[black woman] 
It sets you in the mood, you know, you are in the Christmas mood, so you want to stay in the shop to buy more.
So  while the shops are wishing it really could be Christmas every day, the bank balance might not thank you.

martes, 1 de enero de 2013

Real English series: A tourist in London and what are the Italians/Germans like?

Today we are posting two new episodes in the Real English series of videos for Básico 1 and Básico 2 (elementary) students.

In the first one Lisa, an American tourist in London, answers some questions about herself and about her impressions of London.

Some parts of the video may be difficult for Básico 1 students, but not definitely for Básico 2 ones. Anyway, the clip is a good opportunity to revise the structure of basic questions in English at this level.

It is advisable to watch the same video with English subtitles on the Real English site here.
Students can also do an interactive excercise on the Real English site here.

Below you can find the questions that Lisa is asked in the interview, which may help you for revision purposes.

What’s your name?
Are you from New York?
When did you get to London?
How do you like it so far?
Why did you come to London?
How long are you going to stay?
How long all together?
Do you like it so far?
Could you introduce this person here?
Are you friends?
Do the French like us much?
Where do you live?
Do you like Americans?
Where are you staying?
Is it expensive?
What do you do in New York?
Where is your shop?
Do you live in Staten Island?

The second video follows up on the study of the question pattern What ... like? to describe people, and that we have studied in the last four weeks. This time it is the Italians that people in the street are asked to describe when answering the question, What are the Italians like?

The main difficulty of the video lies on the vocabulary  as some of the speakers use a few adjectives which students  at elementary and even intermediate level may find difficult to understand.

It is more than advisible to download the transcript from the Real English site here, so that you can look up the words that you don't understand and practise the pronunciation of the vocabulary.
You can also do an interactive exercise on the Real English site here.

The last video on today's post follows up on the practice of the question What are ... like?, this time the question is about the Germans, What are the Germans like?

You can watch a subtitled version of the same video on the Real English site here.