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April 30, 2015

Film reviews

These are some of you classmates' reviews:

other words for LIKE and DON'T LIKE

I find this video especially useful when expressing linkings and dislikings. Try to put these in use. Think of a personal context! Test your knowledge with this quiz.

April 29, 2015

Rescuers struggle to reach victims of Nepal earthquake

Some news in English about this sad event in Nepal:

Struggle: to try very hard to do, achieve, or deal with something that is difficult or that causes problems
Rubble: broken pieces of stone, brick, etc., from walls or buildings that have fallen
Death toll: number of dead people
Relief: things (such as food, money, or medicine) that are given to help people who are victims of a war, earthquake, flood, etc.
Warehouse: a large building used for storing goods
Rescue teams: people in charge of recueing people trapped

April 28, 2015

10 mistakes Spanish speakers make

Let's review some common mistakes Spanish speakers make. You may take a quiz. Did you find them useful? Does it help you to improve your oral skills?

April 24, 2015

9 easy ways to improve your listening skills!

Listening is one of the most important skills in learning a language. Once you can identify sounds, words and expressions, you’ll start learning a lot faster. Here are 9 top tips for improving your listening skills.

Source: Lear HotEnglish

 1. Comprehension!First of all, you need to accept the fact that you aren’t going to understand everything. Experts have shown that we only actually hear or fully understand about 40% of the words during a conversation… even in our own language.

2. Keep calm!
While you’re listening, the most important thing is to stay calm. You won’t understand everything, so don’t let that upset you. The aim is to get a general idea of what the other person is saying. Never try to listen out for every word. Listen for the gist of the conversation – go for the main ideas.

3. Help!
If you’re having problems during the conversation, ask the other person to speak more slowly. Also, ask people to repeat things if you didn’t understand. Again, the speaker is trying to have a conversation and will do what they can to help you.

4. Don’t translate!
While you’re listening, don’t try to translate. If you do, you’ll start concentrating on translating and not on processing the information. And then you’ll lose track of the conversation.

5. Keywords!
The most important thing is to listen out for the key words – the important, stressed words. Basically, English is a stress-timed language. This means that when we speak, we focus on specific stressed words while quickly gliding over the rest. Those stressed words are usually nouns (“dog / table), verbs (“sit / run”), adjectives (“beautiful / wonderful”) and adverbs (“quickly / slowly”). Most of the other words (determiners, auxiliary verbs, pronouns, etc.) are weak sounds. The great thing is that you only really need to understand the key words in order to follow the conversation. For example, if you heard the following key words, “saw / film /cinema / last night”, you’d understand that the other person is probably saying, “I saw a film at the cinema last night.”

6. Think “context”!
The other really important thing is to think about the context. If you know what the main topic is, you’ll be able to guess what the people are talking about. For example, if you know the topic is “the weather”, you can be sure that they’re going to mention things about the rain, the snow, the wind, the temperature… and so on.

7. Guess!
If you know what the context of the conversation is, you should be able to guess a lot of what the other person is saying… even if you don’t hear or understand all the words. The trick is to use your imagination, to guess and to follow your intuition. It isn’t an exact science, but it works!

8. Pronunciation!
Finally, you need to learn about English pronunciation, and above all, connected speech. This occurs when sounds merge together to form new sounds – often when a consonant sound at the end of a word is followed by a vowel sound in the following word. For example, “She lived in New York” would be “She liv din New York” with connected speech. And we don’t usually say, “Look / out” (with separate sounds), we say, “Loo kout” (with the final consonant “k” combining with the vowel sound “ow” of the second word).

9. Practise!
So, what can you do to improve your listening skills? There are three main things:
1. Listen to recordings that are specifically targeted at your level.
2. Listen to native speaker conversations and recordings (from films, the news, TV series, songs, etc.) in order to develop your ear for the language.
3. Listen to recorded material and read the audio script at the same time so you can see how the words and sounds fit together.

Start listening, start learning!

April 23, 2015

10 idioms about books

On the book day, let's go over 10 idiomatic expressions related to books. Which one is your favourite?
Source: Macmillan

April 21, 2015

Modern Taste: Art Deco in Paris, 1910- 1935


We are going to this Art Deco exhibition at Juan March Institution on May 6th at 11am. Would you like to attend?

The exhibition Modern Taste: Art Deco in Paris, 1910–1935 aims to offer visitors an opportunity to appreciate, examine, assess and enjoy an artistic movement that defies easy definition but which has been described as "the last of the total styles": Art Deco.

It is organized chronologically and thematically into eight sections that trace the evolution of a fascinating yet little-known phenomenon. Featuring over 350 paintings, sculptures, pieces of furniture, fashion garments, items of jewelry, perfumery, cinema-related material, images of architecture, glass, ceramics, lacquerwork and goldsmithery, not to mention fabrics, book-bindings, photographs, drawings, plans, models, advertising posters and magazines from more than fifty public and private collections in both Europe and the United States, Modern Taste: Art Deco in Paris, 1910–1935 is vividly evocative of the Zeitgeist of a time that is as difficult to capture as it is deeply-rooted in our contemporary culture.

April 20, 2015

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Wallace Stevens, "The Snow Man" from The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. Copyright © 1954 by Wallace Stevens and renewed 1982 by Holly Stevens. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. 

April 19, 2015

Percy and Books

As it is National Poetry Month in USA, I thought it would interesting to enjoy some poetry.

Percy and Books, by Mary Oliver

Percy does not like it when I read a book.
He puts his face over the top of it, and moans.
He rolls his eyes, sometimes he sneezes.
The sun is up, he says, and the wind is down.
The tide is out, and the neighbor’s dogs are playing.
But Percy, I say, Ideas! The elegance of language!
The insights, the funniness, the beautiful stories
that rise and fall and turn into strength, or courage.
Books? says Percy. I ate one once, and it was enough. Let’s go.

The Uses of Sorrow

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

April 15, 2015

Talk about a film you've recently seen


It would be a good idea to prepare a speech on a film you've seen this year and be ready to speak about the following:

  • What kind of film is it?
  • Is it based on a book or a real event?
  • Where and when is it set?
  • Who's in it? Who is it directed by?
  • Does it have a good plot?
  • Does it have a good soundtrack?
  • Why did you like it?

April 14, 2015

Technology at the Winter Olympics

A view of Sochi through the Olympic rings

A view of Sochi through the Olympic rings

The 2014 Winter Olympics took place in Sochi, Russia. It's the most expensive Olympic Games ever.
For world-class athletes it's a chance to perform to the best of their ability and win that gold medal for their country. And many of them are choosing new technology to help them improve their speed. Rob and Finn discuss the role of new technology at the Sochi Olympics and explain some sports-related vocabulary.

This week's question:
One winter sport event in this Olympics is the biathlon. It involves competitors doing two things but what are they? Are they:

a) Cross-country skiing and rifle shooting
b) Downhill skiing and rifle shooting
c) Cross-country skiing and swimming

Listen to the BBC learning English programme to find out the answer.

April 12, 2015

Cinema language
In this BBC webpage you can listen to a dialogue about two people going to the cinema.

Review the expressions used and more in the Language point.

Try you knowledge on vocabulary learnt at esl lounge.

April 09, 2015

Three little pigs

This is an old post that I would like to use again.  
You may already know the story of the three little pigs, how about in English? Do you know how to tell it in English? Why don't you give it a try after watching this video? How do you start a tale? How do you finish it?

After listening to the old tale, why not watching the real end of the story of The Three Little Pigs? is it fair what happened to them? is it always right to kill the intruder? The Guardian, Open Journalism.

April 04, 2015

4 easy languages for you to learn

Do you agree with this article from Hot English magazine? You can also listen to it.
Which language are you going to learn next?

April 02, 2015

Food revolution day


James Oliver, the popular British cook, has launched this petition to support his message. May 15th has been named food revolution day. Listen to it, and if you agree, sign it!