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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.

October 02, 2013


Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the age of 71

Footballers do it in their 30s while most of us have to wait until our 60s. When is the right time to stop your job and retire? Perhaps when you're too old to carry on working, or maybe when you've just had enough?

This week's question:
What is the official retirement age in Japan?
a) 60
b) 65
c) 70

Listen to the 6-minute-English programme to find out the answer.
Don't miss the script with great vocab!!