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December 28, 2013

The technical toys on children's Christmas wish lists


This is an interesting BBC video about the latest trends in toys selected by your classmate Sole. You may find useful to try to define the words below.
And you? have you made your wish list yet?
must-have toys
interactive toys
digital native

December 18, 2013

December 16, 2013


These are wonderful links Alicia talked to us about today. They are all related to jobsearching so you may find very good tips on them:
  1. Video-  Are job fairs the best route to findingemployment?
  2. Video-  Botox your CV and online profile
  3. Video- Six steps to abetter job interview

Peter O'toole


Peter O'Toole, the Hollywood legend who was made famous in his title role in Lawrence of Arabia, died on Saturday in a London hospital

Listen to this BBC video and try to understand. There are new words you may not know:  
hell-raiser: A rowdy, troublesome, or unruly person.
booze, n. informal word for alchool 

December 13, 2013

Grammar Practice

You may get extra practice on these grammar aspects in the New English File links below:
Grammar Aquarium:

F. Pienaar's momories of Madiva


This is the interview Silvia talked to us about in class. You may read the full article in this link to BBC sport.

The image of Nelson Mandela handing South Africa captain Francois Pienaar the Rugby World Cup after the Springboks' 15-12 victory over New Zealand in 1995 is an iconic image of sport and politics combined.

December 10, 2013

6 Q's about the Farewell to Nelson Mandela

The questions below are based on this video from The New York Times:

  1. HOW did Nelson Mandela first come to the world’s attention?
  2. WHAT was apartheid?
  3. WHAT is the African National Congress?
  4. WHAT did Mr. Mandela say in his courtroom speech when he was arrested in the 1960s, a speech this video calls “one of the most eloquent of his life”?
  5. WHERE did he spend 18 years in prison?
  6. WHAT was “one of the most momentous decisions of his life,” made without consulting his comrades in the African National Congress because he knew they would resist?
  7. WHEN was he released from prison?
  8. WHAT was South Africa like at the time he was freed?
  9. WHO is F. W. de Klerk?
  10. HOW does this video depict and describe Mr. Mandela’s political campaign and the elections of 1994?
  11. HOW did he use rugby to win over white South Africans when he was president?
  12. HOW, according to the video, did Mr. Mandela fall short as president?
  13. HOW did Mr. Mandela spend his life after he left the presidency?
  14. According to Bill Keller, for WHAT will he be remembered first and foremost?

December 06, 2013

Nelson Mandela, 1964: 'I am prepared to die'

Dear students,

This is an extract from a Mandela's famous speech. Let's remember his words today in his honour. 
Extracts from Nelson Mandela's statement from the dock at the opening of his trial on charges of sabotage at the supreme court of South Africa in Pretoria on 20 April 1964. Mandela, leader of the African National Congress and of the struggle against the racist apartheid regime, was given a life sentence, of which he served 27 years, most of which was in the prison on Robben Island.
Find out more about the speech

Rodriguez - I Wonder

Remember that on Monday it is the school's Cultural Day. At 16:30 we will be watching Searching for Sugar Man. Enjoy the song we heard in class again!

Let's complain!


As we agreed in class, you are going to work on complaint letters this long weekend. If the assignment on page 123 of your Coursebook does not inspire you, find more complain situations below:
  1. You buy a toy truck as a Christmas present for a child. On Christmas Day, the child hurts him or herself badly when on finger is trapped between the wheels and body of the truck. You write to the manufacturer.
  2. You find out that the Council plans to chop down all the trees in your street, build a supermarket next to your house, put "No Parking" signs all along your street. You wish to protest and so decide to write a letter.
  3. You share a small 2-bedroom flat with one other person. You receive a notice saying your rent will rise by 20euros per week. You feel the rent rise is unfair for the following reasons - the flat is in great need of repair   - the last rent rise was 3 months ago  - you are very good tenant  - the rise will mean you have to get a third tenant

Let's talk about Spain


This is just a reminder of what we will be doing next week. You have to read ONE of these articles according to the assignment in class, and then present it to your four-member group on Tuesday or Wednesday:

This is an idea that my colleague Cristina suggested to me. Thanks!

December 04, 2013

Melilla's Border Stories


Listen to this BBC Assignment podcast on Melilla that José Luis talked to you about. 

Melilla is one of Europe’s most southerly land borders with Africa, a town under intense pressure from migration, Linda Pressly investigates.
Download 13MB (right click & "save target as / link as")
Duration: 27 mins 
Date: 31st Oct 2013 

December 03, 2013

A complaint-letter assignment

Dear NI2 students,

You have to write a complaint letter at the weekend. Apart from p, 122-123 on your coursebook, you can find extra info on complaint letters in the doc below.

December 01, 2013

How to complain in English


As we are going to deal with complaints in class this week, why not read this dialogue and expressions from Hot English Magazine at home? Listen to the dialogue in this link.


Cultural Day Program


As you already know, our school cultural day will take place on December 9th. We will be able to watch and comment afterwards on a very recommendable movie, Searching for Sugar Man at 16:30 at the High School Hall next door. I vividly recommend you to come over and see it.

Right after that, at 19h, a German teacher will teach us how to dance Waltz. It'll be fun!

At the same time the cooking contest will take place in rooms 13 and 15 at our school. You may take your sweet dishes to room 13 and savoury ones to room 15.

Prizes for the mini saga contest will be given at 19:45 at the High School hall as well as the prizes for the gastronomic contest.
You'll be able to taste everything in rooms 13 and 14 at the end of the day.

For a full program, click here.

Have a great day

November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving:

As you can see, Americans are also having weather trouble these days to visit their loved ones on Thanksgiving. Watch this CNN video and try to answer the questions below.

  1. What is the weather like this morning in the USA?
  2. What happened  in Wisconsin?
  3. How deep is snow in Pensylvannia?
  4. What happens in Arkansas?
  5. What happened to the young lady talking on the video?
  6. Why is air travel so important today?

November 27, 2013

Cultural Day

Dear students,

On December 9th the school is celebrating a Cultural Day. There will be an international gastronomic contest. Would you like to take part of the jury? 
If that is so, you just have to provide your data at the caretaker office

November 26, 2013

Eyes on the Stars

Dear NI2 students, 

You may watch the video we saw in class again. Try to answer the questions below after that.
Eyes on the Stars from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

1.       What time did the story of the library take place?
2.       What happened when he entered the library? What names was he called?
3.       How was the problem solved?
4.       How did the librarian give Ronald his book?
5.       What was special about Star trek?
6.       How did a coloured boy from South Carolina become an astronaut?
7.       How old would he be today?

November 25, 2013

Two reporters recall Kennedy's assassination

NPR Social Tools
On President Kennedy's assassination anniversary we may listen to two reporters who were there recalling the shooting. 

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy was a news event covered unlike any before it.

November 24, 2013

Business English: Using technology at work

"I'm sorry, my phone isn't working"
A man using an old mobile phone from the 1980sUsing technology is part of everyday working life for many people around the world. But even the best technology breaks down from time to time - and that often means making a phone call to get help.

In this programme, Feifei and Neil practise dealing with technology-related problems. What should you say when you're on the phone to IT support?

Listen to Business English: Using technology at work

November 22, 2013

Mini Sagas

As commented in class, a mini saga is a short story told in 50 words. With some discipline and creativity, you can say a lot in 50 words. Find an example from below:
Love at first sight

John was a regular in that train. Today seemed different, probably because of Sally who was in New York for work. They started the conversation casually but both became very close in less than thirty minutes. They exchanged phone numbers, of course. John promptly called a day later – “Wrong number!”
This one is from one of my students last year:
José Vicente said...
We had known each other for a long time. I always knew I didn´t like him. He never smiled or had a kind word to me. A casual fact made him fall. I now miss him. Perhaps I should buy me another mirror.
I'd like you to be inventive and ingenious! Don't be shy!

Mississipi Goddam

You can listen to Nina Simone's Mississipi Goddam again. Lyrics are below. 

November 21, 2013

Rosa Parks


Listen to Rosa Parks' bio and try to answer the questions below:

1. What did Rosa Parks do for a living?
2. Why did she give up school?
3. When did she get her school diploma?
4. How did she become a role model?
5. How old was she when she became a leader?
6. Can you explain the meaning of “quiet eloquence”?
7. How long did the strike last? Who was the leader?
8. Why did she move to Michigan?
9. When did she die?
10. What’s Rosa Parks’ legacy?

News Report Schedule


This is the news report that will take place throughout the year. We'll comment on it in class.
Have a good one!

Minisaga competition

Dear NI2 students: 

There is a Minisaga competition going on at our school. I'd like you all to take part on it as it will be a great experience to write this type of short stories. Besides, there will be a little prize for the winners which will be awarded on December 9th, the date of our Cultural Day.
You can check the requirements in these links:

It'll be fun!

November 18, 2013

Film reviews


These are some of your colleagues' film reviews. 

News Report Project

Dear NI2 students,

As agreed in class, we are going to make a news report project for you to present individually in 10 minutes in class. Find the requirements below. 
If you have any doubts, just let me know!


November 15, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan: Destruction in the Philippines

Homes destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan
Officials estimate up to 10,000 people have died in Tacloban city and elsewhere in the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. Many other people are now struggling to survive without food, shelter or clean drinking water.  
11 November 2013

Reporter: Jon Donnison

This is Word-in-the-News Programme from the BBC Learning English
For a fill-in-the-blanks activity, click here 

This aerial photo shows destroyed houses in Tacloban, in the Philippines

Someone like you

Listen to the song again and check the lyrics below:

November 13, 2013

Film review feedback


After reading your reviews, I've detected some general problems that you might tackle by having a look at these remarks.


November 12, 2013

The Curious Incident

Dear NI2 students,

I hope you are taking advantage to read "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" these days. I think it would be a good idea to research on these issues whether you have already started reading the book or not. We will comment on them in class.


  • Find information about the writer Mark Haddon.
  • What is Asperger’s syndrome?  
  • What are the signs of Asperger’s syndrome? 
  • How is Asperger’s syndrome different from other autism spectrum disorders?
Try to find that info in English!

Town and city Vocabulary

Dear NI2 students,

This is a nice post on how to showcase your expressions referring to Town and City. Although the dialogues of the IELTS exam is not the same as our school exam, it might inspire you to talk to your partner or to elaborate your monologues.
Examiner: What is it like where you live?

Christiane: I live in a residential area of a busy town in the south of Spain … we have all the facilities you need … good public transport … a good shopping centre … it’s nice …

Examiner: Do you like living in the city?
Andrea: Yes I do … I like going out with my friends and there are lots of lively bars and restaurants within walking distance of my apartment … I’m a bit of a culture vulture as well so it’s great to have access to art exhibitions and that kind of thing …

Examiner: Do you get many tourists visiting your area?
Mandy: Not really no … I live in the inner-city and the area is a little run down … it’s basically a lot of high-rise flats and many of the shops are boarded up … so nothing to interest tourists really …
For more expressions on IELTS Vocabulary practice for Speaking click here

November 09, 2013

Vocabulary to talk about education

At your speaking exam, you're likely to have to provide info about your studies. In this link you will find info to talk about a class, a teacher or a school memory and give your opinions on education. Being able to call on a wide range of vocabulary to talk about education is very important. 

Use the ‘Definitions’ section at the bottom of the page to check the meaning of any phrases you don’t understand.

Source: IELTS Education Vocabulary

November 07, 2013

Eleven new Alzheimer's 'risk genes'

DNADear NI2 students,

Find the news we listened to in class in Words in the News BBC Learning English programme. 

Scientists have identified 11 new genes linked to the onset of Alzheimer's disease. The discovery was brought about by the largest study into the disease, and has used information gathered from more than 50,000 people across 15 different countries. 
For more practice, fill-in-the-blanks exercise.

November 05, 2013

Pronunciation Quizzes

Why don't you go over othese quizzes which will help you to improve your speech?
Source: BBC Learning English

Hairy toe

Can you retell the story we read in class? Why don't you try? 
For more stories, remember to visit this web


November 01, 2013

Madrid, Spain

Dear all,

As we talked about interesting places in our town, have a look at this BBC news. What do you think? Is there any other place in the city you think it's worth a visit?


October 31, 2013

Word of the Day


As today is Halloween, the word of the day at the online Cambridge Dictionary is....


noun [U] 
An activity in which children dress up in frightening or strange clothes on Halloween (= 31 October ) and visit people's homes to demand sweets or a small amount of money go trick or treating 

If children go trick or treating, they visit people's houses on Halloween to ask for sweets.

October 30, 2013

Ghost Stories


I'd like you to prepare a story to tell in our next class. Go to the following website and find a list of titles of scary ghost stories: 

Choose one that interests you. 
You may need to use a dictionary or ask me for help with the vocabulary. Once you’ve completed your notes, share the story with your classmates. Will you manage to scare them with your tale?

October 28, 2013

My life is dominated by chocolate

broken pieces of milk chocolate

A mother who steals her kids' chocolate feels unable to stop herself eating. Mariella Frostrup says she needs to put herself out of temptation's way

The dilemma I am 45 next week, married with three children, nice house, part-time job, but life is dominated, rather embarrassingly, by… diet. I am no idiot, yet stealing my kids' chocolate, eating in secret, defining good and bad days by the amount I have eaten is the norm.  So boring, so superficial – I am not vain, believe me, but I'm 2st overweight and it rules my life – help!
 Jump to comments (145)

Source: The Guardian/Observer, Sunday 20 October 2013

Lou Reed, Walk on the Wild Side

One of rock's most beloved and contrarian figures has died. Lou Reed epitomized New York City's artistic underbelly in the 1970s, with his songs about hookers and junkies. He was 71. Source:

October 27, 2013

News, Language Tip of the week

This week’s language tip from Mcmillan gives advice on the noun news:

Although the word news has an -s on the end, it is an uncountable noun, so:
  •   it is never used in the plural
  •   it does not follow a
✗ She now lives in exile, but the good news are that her words are heard over the world.
✓ She now lives in exile, but the good news is that her words are heard over the world.
✗ For too long we have ignored these news.
✓ For too long we have ignored this news.
✗ In 2007 Hong Kong banned smoking in restaurants. This was a good news for non-smokers.
✓ In 2007 Hong Kong banned smoking in restaurants. This was good news for non-smokers.

Q: How can I refer to a single item of news?
A: You can use news on its own, or say some news or, less frequently, a piece of news.

  • He was in a meeting when he heard news of the crash.
  • I’ve got some news that may cheer you up.
  • I’ve had a surprising piece of news.

October 25, 2013

Buskers, pimps and plant-lovers beware: This is Madrid's biggest crackdown since General Franco

This is an article that a classmate of yours recommended. Although you may find it a bit difficult, the topic may be familiar to you and help understanding. 
Thanks, Teresa
Source: The Independent, 9th Oct 2013
New anti-social behaviour laws ban everything from carelessly perched pot plants to carpet-beating in public 

In the biggest crackdown on anti-social behaviour in decades, the city of Madrid is to impose new restrictions and fines on everything from soliciting the services of a prostitute to juggling, dog-feeding and carpet-beating in public.

October 23, 2013

Banksy defaced: Graffiti artist's New York project ruined by spiteful rivals

New Yorkers are renowned as lovers of art, but that hasn't stopped them defacing the British artist's work

Source: The Independent, 10 Oct 2013 
Thanks, Teresa!

Getty Images

British graffiti artist Banksy's month-long 'residency' on the streets of New York has already produced some witty, surprising and thoughtful artworks - but almost all of the pieces have been defaced.

Click here or on 'view gallery' to see Banksy's defaced works
A stencil of a heart-shaped balloon, covered in plasters, was designed to show the struggle to mend a broken heart. But now the piece, on a Brooklyn wall, sports an "Omar NYC" tag.
People booed the vandal – who apparently has a history of adding his tag to Banksy pieces – as he ruined the work, according to the New York Post.

Some grammar

Hi again:

To review what we have studied so far, you can work on these New English File sites:

Pronounciation exercises

Don't forget to practice and go over these sites from the BBC.
Similar sounds exercises:
From New English File:
When preparing a speech or working at home if you have a doubt how to pronounce a word, check Cambridge Dictionary.

October 22, 2013



In this presentation you can review vocabulary related to films. Thanks to my colleague Michel. Remember, it might be a nice idea to get together to roleplay excercises in slides 19 & 21.

Vowels and consonants

You can find examples of words containing different sounds studied in class in this link.

Source: New English File, Upper Intermediate, OUP

October 21, 2013

David Hockney

 "My Parents" painted by David Hockney. 

In this work, painted a year before his father's death, Hockney's style has shifted towards a closer study of human behaviour. His mother poses, attentive and graceful, while his father, who fidgeted during sittings, was painted reading Aaron Scharf's book Art and Photography. A book on Chardin draws a parallel with intimate domestic scenes of the past, as do the volumes of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past visible on the shelf.

If you are interested in this British artist, visit Tate's web page.

October 19, 2013

Banksy in New York

And now Banksy in New York.

  • Is Banksy popular in New York? 
  • Would you buy one of Banksy's graffiti if you had the chance?
  • Would you like to have one of his graffitis near your home?

October 17, 2013


This is the the BBC video we watched in class by recommendation of my colleague Michel. Try to answer the following questions. You may drop your answers on the "comment": 

  • What's the news item about? 
  • Why are they removing Banksy's grafitti? What are the Council's arguments? 
  • How long had it been there before? 
  • Do neighbours agree? Are they happy about it?  
  • What does Richard Howard- Griffin think about it? Is he happy about it?
  • What do the authorities say the'll do with the mural?

October 16, 2013

Business English Rules

Clock by skyscraper
Do you have to be at work by a certain time?

Most workplaces have rules that workers have to follow - but do they make life easier?
Are rules and regulations a necessary evil? Feifei and Neil talk about workplace rules - and explore language for talking about rules.
Key phrases when talking about rules and regulations:
  • Smoking in the office is against company policy.
  • Accepting gifts is against company policy.
  • I'm sorry, but we're not allowed to give out personal details.
  • I'm afraid that's a no-no.
Source: bbc 6-minute programme

October 13, 2013

Alice Munro, 'Master' Of The Short Story, Wins Literature Nobel

On Thursday, Alice Munro became the 110th winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, and only the 13th woman to win the award in more than a century. The Canadian writer was hailed by the Swedish Academy as a "master of the contemporary short story." Over a four-decade career, Munro has written 14 collections of stories and one novel.

Listen to All things considered program from

I encourage you to read some of her stories posted by my colleague Cris on her class blog.