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January 31, 2010

Making logical comparisons

You can find the exercises about "Making logical comparisons" here. We read that in class some days ago. Once you've worked on it, you can check the aswers in this link.

January 28, 2010

Monday 28th

For those who were not in class the last day, you can find the text ("Look for the latest victim of Spain's overheated economy: the ham") we'll be dealing with here. And the questions here.

January 27, 2010

Key to Salman Rushdie's speech

Eventually, I'm posting the key to the fill-in-the-blank activity on Salman Rushdie. Click here to correct your notes.

January 22, 2010

Jan 22 and 24

Dear all,

I'm afraid I won't be able to attend class on Monday and Wednesday. My dad has been operated again and he needs a lot of help.
In the meanwhile, I suggest you work on the book on the following activities and we will go over them in class:
- Narrative tenses, p. 40, ex. 2 and 3
- P. 41, ex. 1
- Powerful Adjectives, p. 44, ex. 1,2,3 and 4 and Speaking, prepare exercise 5 Persuade another student to read a book you know.
- Emphasis with what, all and it, p. 44, ex 1, 2, 3, 4 and prepare exercise 5.
Prepare a talk about things that irritate you; your perfect weekend; a frustrating day; your views on television; the worst film/book you have ever seen/read.
- P. 46 ex. 1,2,3 and 4

January 21, 2010

Inviting people to talk

As we said yesterday in class, it's a good to allow and even invite other people to talk, specially if you are in a party of three. Here you can learn useful expressions to carry out this function:
Inviting People to Speak
So what do you think?
Do you like that?
Do you agree with that?
Are you OK? Are you alright?
Would you like to say something? (Using "anything" would be less welcoming)

We're running out of time and X hasn't had the chance to speak yet.
Listen to X, please.
Are you following?
Would you like something to drink?
What's wrong?
Anything wrong?
Hey, we're not allowing X to speak! Come on...
Did you ever have this experience?
Did you ever go through something similar?

Dialogue Strategies

Dear all,
After our dialogue in class yesterday, I think it would be a good idea to use strategies such as how to keep a conversation going and keep it lively!

Don't forget to check out the gestures and facial expressions we can also use to continue a conversation:

- If you breathe in really sharply, that shows that you're really surprised or you're really shocked at what you've been told.
- If you smile from time to time, that can be encouraging.
- Give a little nod sometimes, as though you're saying 'yes' to show that you do understand what's being said and want to hear more.
- If you shake your head slowly, as if you're saying 'no' when somebody is telling you something sad, that makes it look as though you're sympathetic.
- If you make your mouth look like a large 'O' – you can show great surprise or even shock.
- If you shake your head and smile just a little bit at the same time, that shows that you're amazed by what you hear or a little bit shocked.

Now, listen to this podcast. You'll find it very useful!

January 19, 2010

Desiree's Baby

Here you can read Raquel's continuation of Desiree's Baby story.
At that moment, Armand’s heart almost stopped. He couldn’t believe what he was reading and he had a mixture of feelings. On one hand, he felt a big distaste of himself and his family and was shamed of his own behavior when he realized that his son was a quadroon. But on the other hand, he was so proud of himself and so coward, that he didn’t want to bear a public dishonor. So, after thinking of the advantages and disadvantages of revealing his own origins, despite the fact that he was really in love with her wife, he burnt the letter in the bonfire.
In the meanwhile, nobody had seen Desiree nor her baby anymore. Madame Valmonde didn’t know about her daughter’s leaving until the rumors were spread by the servants all around the area. And she started a big search. But it was too late… because when Desiree left her husband’s house she decided that if her blood wasn’t pure enough and it was a shame for any good family, her beloved mother wasn’t going to stand such a humiliation. As a result she decided to finish with the pain throwing herself into the river with the baby in her arms.

An urban myth


Annalisa bought a new address book. As she was writing the names from the old book, she noticed her friend's name. Linda had died several months ago. She felt silly transferring the name to the new book, but she felt a little strange to just ignore it. She knew she was being a bit morbid, but something was telling her to dial that number. Maybe to know and hear that it didn't belong to her friend anymore might bring some closure to her. She was having trouble dealing with the grief that was with her almost daily.

Much to her shock, LINDA ANSWERED. Taken aback, she stuttered the beginning of a conversation. In no time, they were talking like the old friends they were. The last several months were especially hard for Annalisa. In addition to losing Linda, her fiancee left her, so she used the opportunity to pour her heart out to Linda. In doing so, the bitterness and hurt she felt lifted from her soul.
Linda asked why Annalisa hadn't called in so long. "Why hasn't Bruce Called?" Linda cried. "He promised to always be there for me."
Bruce was the driver of the car that took Linda's life. He was driving her home after her bridal shower and the shower gifts were packed not only in the trunk but high in the back seat, blocking the back windows. They were to be married in just three short weeks. Bruce was injured in the accident and had been in a deep coma since that day. He knew nothing about Linda's death.
Annalisa was thrown off guard. How do you answer such a question? Linda continued, "Why haven't you called all these long months? Why hasn't Bruce called?" She asked this over and over.
Not knowing what else to say, she gasped "BECAUSE YOU DIED." Annalisa heard no reply. All she heard was the DIAL TONE! Her heart was pounding in her ears, as she hurriedly dialed the number again. "Pizza Hut Pizza" announced the voice on the other end.

Creepy, isn't? You can have access to more urban legends here!

January 17, 2010

The Reader

This movie starred by Kate Winslet and David Kross raises a lot of questions about morality. Do you think that Hanna Schmitz was guilty of killing 200 women in the church? to what extend?
Do you think that Michael Berg's information at the trial could have saved Hanna from life sentence? Why didn't he do anything then?
How did Michael's relation with Hanna affect his whole life?
Why did Hanna always leave Michael?

January 15, 2010

Who on earth are we?

How important is culture to language?
Today Friday 15th, I'm going to pass around a series on culture and how it affects us. It explores some of the major differences between cultures and looks at what happens when people from different cultures meet and communicate.

Hope you listened to "Better Speaking" during the Christmas Holidays and gave you good strategies to improve your speech.

Speaking in tongues

In this link, you can listen to different interviews and programs in a radio series about languages. Some of the topics they talk about are:
  1. The origins of language
  2. Some of the mistakes we make as language learners
  3. Language Variability
  4. Second Language Aquisition (SLA)
  5. Talking to English teachers
  6. Online learning
  7. English as a global language
  8. Do language teachers make good language learners?
  9. Business English
  10. The effect of globalisation on the languages of the world
  11. Favourite words

The Present Perfect

A brief note on the expressions we found yesterday (Jan 13th) on the exercises. They're used in British English!!
They've made it! (=They've succeeded)
I've had enough (I'm fed up. I don't want to do it any more)
You've had it! (You're in trouble)
That's torn it! (You, we, they... have done something that someone else will strongly complain about)
Now you've done it! (You've done something seriously wrong)
She's arrived (She's achieved fame success, acceptance, etc, at last)
He's lost it (He's lost his patience or self-control)
You've got me there! (Good point: I've no idea what the solution is)

1. Helen is bound to have forgotten that tomorrow is my birthday.
2. Having got/ become hopelessly lost more than once.
3. by the time we get round to having / booking a holiday.
4. is / was felt to have been less than satisfactory
5. ought to have phoned by now, surely?
6. will have forgotten all about it by the time you see them again.
1. (that) they had
2. checked /made sure that the electricity had
3. realized / remembered (that) we had
4. will /shall/ 'll have finished
5. to have
6. will have left / will be heading
7. to have
8 had no alternative / option/ choice
I had recently > I have recently
I went > I have/ I've been
I have once spent > I once spent
I had loved > I loved
I returned > I have returned
to had been > to have been
have been delayed > were delayed
we have expected > we expected / we had expected

January 14, 2010

The Globe Theater

In this link you can listen to the recording about the Globe Theater we did yesterday in class. Mind that our listening was 3minutes 15 seconds long, not 9 minutes.
Questions are in the "Comentarios"

- wadding: any soft material used for filling a space, especially in order to protect something or to give something shape
- boning: corsets and some dresses are boned, meaning that they are made with strips of plastic or metal boning inside them to give them structure and shape. (armado)

You can have a panoramic look from the Globe Theater area by the River Themes in London. Isn't it a nice place to visit?

January 11, 2010


As we are going to start a lesson related to stories, I'd like you to listen to Salman Rushdie's words about writing and autobiographical aspects in narration. I'll give you an activity for the weekend about this video ;)

January 08, 2010

Overheard in New York

Hey! how about a joke?
Drunk guy to drunk girls hailing a cab: Hey there, ladies. Happy Halloween!
Drunk girl #1: Sorry, I'm not drunk enough to go home with you.
Drunk girl #2: I am!

Another one:
Hobo (vagabond): Hey! Spare some change for an old hippie to buy some pot!
Old lady, dropping in some change: At least someone is honest these days...

Do you know any to start the New Year having a laugh?

January 02, 2010

Speaking naturally

Happy New Year to you all!
May all your 2010 Resolutions be fulfilled!!

I thought of starting the new year with a useful video.
Here you can learn how to sound natural when reading and consequently, when speaking.
And while we're at it, why not reviewing the past tense in -ed pronunciation as well?
Take a few minutes to watch it!