Archive for the ‘Useful Language’ Category


C1 Resource Pack!!

January 10, 2017

I just published / I’ve just published my notes to help advanced students learn to learn to become independent and resourcesful lifelong learners!

Check it all out on!

Direct link


Beginning of the learning year – some tips for learning English

September 3, 2013

A two-page document I’ve written for my students



Books. Rosa Parks: My Story (edited)

August 31, 2013

rosaparksmystoryIn our next 2013-14 school year one of my Reading proposals (in state-run adult language learning) will be this autobiography by Rosa Parks, the US American Civil Rights activist. I hope you can relate this to the 15M movement and all the (pragmatic, meaning nonreligious) nonviolent struggle happening today in the world. I have created three webpages on for this book.

  1. The first one includes links to the other two and a listening activity, where you will hear Rosa Parks’s voice, and find a little thought about nonviolence and violence, among other things. I should include links to a few places and some videos, and I will. Check the homepage out.
  2. Then I have selected some excerpts so students get a feel of the English used in the book, and the stories told in it! But I have also written an introduction aimed at helping students notice things they might miss. Please, let me know what you think. As you know, I’m very much into dialog and critical thinking! 🙂 Check out the excerpts.
  3. The third webpage is a Glossary of Legal Terms in Context: English/Spanish. Check the Glossary out.  I have to say I have just brainstormed a bit for the other Glossary I would like to include (see page 1), which is one on social/nonviolent struggle, perhaps even beyond the historic events depicted in this book.

Anyway, here are the links. Hope it’s useful and enjoyable!



June 14, 2013

These days, total exposure to English (listenings) and as much LISTEN & REPEAT AS YOU CAN. IT’ll help you a lot!

The most important thing: avoid making mistakes you know you can avoid making! And if you make them, yes, relax, it’s ok if you… FIX THEM! Practice Useful language for that, in case you make a mistake. “Sorry, I mean…” (corrected version)

Communicative Strategies: Useful language
audios to listen & repeat – do Part 1 Part 2 and Part 3
Listen to the audios for Interactions, too

Learning to monitor your production as you speak
Watch the videos with my corrections, and repeat out loud the corrected sentence. By watching videos os this kind, you’ll learn unconsciously to fix your mistakes when you make them as you speak. Here are some audios too with corrections on the webpage:
Here, I didn’t do the Intermedios, but I did the Básicos and Avanzados (click on their Reproduction List and watch the ones with my comments)

More, here: including a mon on bullfighting for Avanzado (by me) and some ideas for potential problems during the interaction, so you can prepare useful language to be fluent and accurate (grammatically) while doing something to fix the problem!


This has been the first year when the Avanzado 2 Reading and Listening Tests were at the B2 level, with no C1 questions. As people did their Writing test some teachers corrected the Reading and Listening of one of my groups (because I don’t have enough days to do all the work I have this week – even though I’ll be spending this weekend checking Writing Tests), and everybody has passed those two parts (Avanzado 2 Tuesday).

Anyway, when people see their marks, if they have failed some part, they should come to revisión. Check the time and the date for that, and come, if you fail any part. I could be late for Revisión because I’ll be part of an Oral Examining Board the hours before, so wait for me keeping quiet if you are in the corridor.


Screenplay to work on your English!

June 13, 2013

best_exotic_marigold_hotel_ver2At last!!! Finished preparing the screenplay of the movie called The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel!

It’s taken me two months because I did it whenever I had some free time!

I’ve prepared this screenplay for me to use in class next year with Upper Intermediate and Advanced students. Teachers are welcome to use it, of course. And if you are a lifelong learner, you might want to use at home to work on your English.

the-best-exotic-marigold-hotel-bk13 (44 pdf pages – the two last are ideas for activities!)


Writing Tests

June 8, 2013

In Writing Tests, like the ones that are given at Spanish EOI’s (standardized in Europe — A2, B1 and B2 CEFR certificates), you are required to respect the TOPIC you are given and the KIND of text (e.g. a letter or email, an article, etc.) and the WORD LIMIT (non-complying pieces cannot be checked by examiners). About the three points you need to mention, whenever required to do so, if you don’t mention one, for instance, that lowers your mark, but examiners can proceed to check your work. In any case, ALWAYS mention the three points, even if you don’t know how to develop one properly.

All EFL textbooks from Britain have wonderful explanations and exercises on how to write each kind of text, and with Useful Language for formal and semiformal letters, for instance. So browse through your textbooks, just to consolidate a few ideas about what you are expected to write for each kind.

Here are some of the notes I give my students, especially at the Upper Intermediate (B2) and Advanced levels (C1).


Speaking Tests (B2): Brainstorming on Topics and Language Functions

June 8, 2013

When you have to speak about a topic, it is generally expected you fulfill certain communicative aims and you perform certain language functions, too. Have a look at this and see what I mean:

You will find more ideas for working on your Speaking here:

But remember: listening to English is key. When you listen to English, you learn to speak, you consequently learn “grammar”, and you get used to understanding people, while developing comprehension strategies unconsciously too!


Useful Language (+audios)

May 29, 2013

Some with audios to listen and repeat


Speaking Activity – Spain on holidays – Audio

April 24, 2013

We recorded the Listen & Repeat of useful language at the Intermedio 2 group, so you can practice sentences about planning a holiday in Madrid, Spain for English-speaking people.


Speaking Activity (visiting Madrid, Spain)

April 22, 2013

In class, we’ll only have classroom copies (15! to share in pairs), so you can print it if you want to have your own copy! Thanks! And sorry about that. Cuts are getting inbelievable!

speaking-activity-Spain (2 pages)

Remember that English-speaking friends can come from different countries! Canada / Canadians (French Canadians / English-speaking Canadians), US Americans, Hawaians, people from Trinidad & Tobago /tobeigo/, Australians (Aussies) and New Zealanders (Kiwis), Irish people, British people (Scottish, from Wales, English), Indian people, South Africans…

If you think it’d be useful, I can record a Listen & Repeat episode.


Phrasals – audio to L&R

April 18, 2013

Here is a listen & repeat exercise so you can learn a few phrasals in context! (language in use). This web page is located in the Useful Language section on — Sentences for your Grammar!

A warm thank you to the Intermedio 2 students who allowed us to record this lesson.

Irene, “But CAN WE USE…?” 🙂 (not “We can use…?”)


Oral tasks by students

April 17, 2013

with teacher’s feedback:

I’ve almost finished, just 2 recordings more by Avanzado 2 students and 1 by Lara, I think.

If you did a recording in class and want to see it published on Talking People, send me an email to get the recording, then take it down as a dictation, send it back to me with the transcript and I’ll work with the transcript and publish it on the web. You see, the doctor says I have to cut down on the amount of hours I work at home! 🙂


Example Brainstorming for Language (Unit 7, C1) – Productive Skills

April 14, 2013

When learning a language, you should collect useful language based on the language items you are learning. I did this with the language items in the Grammar Bank of Unit 7 (New English File Advanced – the textbook being used by Avanzado 2 students) to show you what I mean. The “brainstorming” part comes in when you pick the sentence which will remind you of the structure. So, yes, it’s not a true brainstorming exercise — words just do what they can! 🙂 Most of the times, it’s useless to jot down words in isolation equalled to a single word in your own language. Useless and misleading and unreal. You should write down the word in English you want to learn, and then look for sentences where it is used and you understand its use (underline the word so it stands out). You should not depend on dictionaries for this, for in real life (and in exams) you cannot use them, and you have to have developed enough skills to work things out in spite of unknown words, at least for many of the times.

When students have to do a writing assignment or when they have a few minutes to think about what they are going to say on a given topic what I recommend they do is that they brainstorm for language: what tenses can I use?, what kind of clauses? (if– clauses, because, although, time clauses: before + –ing, while past cont. then past simple, relative clauses without the relative pronoun…), infinitive / gerund / participle structures, what about modals? A little Saxon Genitive here, other possessives, –ing/-ed adjectives, comparatives, superlatives, “It” subjects, indirect questions preceded by “I don’t know”, “I can’t remember”… Of course, then you have expressions, vocabulary, to make your range rich, but you should also consider morphosyntaxis = grammar.

Two Intermedio 2 students who did this very well in an oral performance are Laura and Isabel, so check out their work! And adapt it to your level! More oral performances by students + videos by Avanzado 2 students with teacher’s written feedback. More videos by Avanzado 2 students: Pedimos el C1

So here’s the example of Brainstorming for Language at a C1 or Advanced level with the items learned in a unit. Once you know how to pronounce it well, you could record it saying each sentence twice, so that you automatize production and achieve fluency and accuracy!

Unit7_Brainstormingforlanguageitems_c1 (1 Word page)


Talking about the crisis

April 9, 2013

EFL students should not say

The main responsible for the crisis is the government

The responsible is…

Also the responsible are business people / multinationals / the wealthy (“the wealthy” is correct, yes)

This is WRONG in English

What can we say?

Post freely! We’ll appreciate! 🙂 And you could also be helping us improve this section on Talking People. Thanks!

Apart from this I have a question:  There’s widespread corruption among politicians, apparently. Well, that should be fixed, and we should fight to get that fixed. And get the money back. Then the political system needs relevant improvements. Consequently, we should put pressure so that this happens. But if we discard Politics as our way of organizing societies, which are the options? Should we go back to the military organizing our society (dictatorships)? Or further back to having religious leaders organizing society (they still have too much a say considering we are meant to respect women’s human rights. Anyway)?


Prepositions of Place & Movement (C1)

April 9, 2013

This is a listening and repeat exercise recorded in class and dedicated to Pablo, who wanted to avoid consolidating fossilized mistakes. The best way to avoid this is to create a section in your notebook where you can collect phrases where prepositions are used, or even complete sentences, like in this exercise. You can fish those from your audio transcripts in the textbooks. In this way, you will also have the chance to listen and repeat or consolidate.

Path: Talking People – Useful Language – Sentences for your Grammar – Prepositions of Place & Movement (1)


Closing down the house and coming back

April 8, 2013

Today Irene Gu. (Av2) asked about how to name the things we do when we close down (or close up) our houses before leaving for a holiday, and then when we get back. I’ve been surfing a few websites to fish some Useful Language, in case it helps! Let me know what you think, and also feel free to post more sentences!

Turn off – Turn on, Unplug – plug…

Prevent water damage while you’re away.

  • Shut off the water: Shut off the water supply to your entire home when you leave for overnight or longer.
  • Turn off individual valves: Turn off valves for water-using appliances like dishwashers, washing machines and icemakers.
  • Shut off the water to exterior faucets

Save Energy While You’re Away

  • Unplug appliances that consume electricity even when they’re not in use such as DVD players, microwaves, coffeemakers and computers (also make sure to disconnect the computer from the Internet). This is both a cost savings and a safety issue. It’s not unheard of to have a cat tiptoe across a counter and unwittingly turn on the coffeemaker.
  • Turn the water heater down to the “vacation,” “low” or “pilot” setting.
  • If you’ll be gone for an extended period, clean out the fridge (and freezer) completely, shut it off and leave the door propped open.


  • Arrange with a neighbour, relative or friend – someone you trust – to check your house from time to time. Leave them a set of house keys. Give them the telephone number and address of where you’re staying abroad in case they have to contact you urgently.
  • Pull out all electric plugs for safety reasons.
  • Make sure all windows are closed and the front and back doors are securely locked before you leave.

More, source:

  • Turn off the main water supply to your home.
  • Turn off the water heater.
  • Unplug and defrost your refrigerator.

Read more: How to Close Down a House for Winter |


A 5-min monolog on Mainstream Medicine & Alternative Treatments

April 2, 2013

for learners taking tests at the B2 and C1 levels – Upper Intermediate and Advanced. With final comments on how to work on your speaking tasks at home.


New episode to help Intermediate/Advanced students in conversations!

April 1, 2013

Just recorded a little episode (listen & repeat) which will be particularly useful to English learners who may have to take part in (timed or real) conversations with any of these communicative aims: Organizing Events, Helping People, and Pros & Cons on Options. I have to say I kind of improvised the collection of sentences. Any English learner out there, if you want me to record whatever, you can post your own collection! 🙂

dowhatyouwantThis episode is found on the Talking People website, too. If you ENTER and then click USEFUL LANGUAGE and then USEFUL LANGUAGE FOR CONVERSATIONS, there you’ll be!

If you have any ideas on how I can tidy up the site, they’ll be welcome, too. The site wasn’t thought out but built as my own work as an EFL teacher developed, this is, all inspired in students’ needs! Hopefully, when I move south I’ll have more free time!


Women have human minds

March 31, 2013

So here’s the poster in English. We need to stop this nonsense explaining human intelligence in terms of our sexual organs! 0_0 How can this have been so popular? It’s a crime against humanity, some profound damage to human intelligence.

womenhavehumanminds_poster (1 doc page)

Recommended reading: Delusions of Gender, by Cordelia Fine but just looking around in societies where women are free to develop their minds and lives can do.

And in case you want to repost and stuff, here’s the text — the “wimmin” is to help EFL students to remember how to pronounce the plural of “woman” /woomn/, but it’san actual alternative spelling of th word too:

are reproductive and sexual organs
unfit to measure our intelligence
establish our emotional & social functions
or our dreams & ambitions

women thinkers, artists, activists, explorers, inventors, adventurers…
in the history of HUMANKIND?

The history of Man is not the history of Humankind

Patriarchy to court
for Crimes against Humanity



March 26, 2013

😀 Can you read it? It’s fun! (and funny!)



Language is powerful! (audio)

March 18, 2013

Listen to this at Talking People Podcast episode

Here is the transcript


Language is powerful! Metaphors we live by: Argument is war

March 17, 2013

Listen to this at Talking People Podcast episode

Feminists are people who have been able to question their own conceptual system, the language they use to express it and the way they relate to their own selves and other people. We have actually noticed how our minds liberated and expanded as we realized for instance the importance of language in conditioning our understanding. On top of that, many of us have read and listened to people doing all kinds of research, more theoretical research but essential for human knowledge. Still, the value of feminist work on language is astounding. Unfortunately, most people, unaware of how their own conceptual systems are built and how language works to construct culture — mostly tradition — being unable to develop any feminist curiosity or feminist intelligence, feel entitled to despise and criticize what they are totally ignorant of.

I’m excerpting some thinking by a non-feminist around language, which offers the same rich ground of thought and action feminists offer when we analyze language. I find these ideas really interesting and they bring about the resources of feminism and nonviolent struggle, too — sources we should all be exploring to learn to build a better world.

EFL students will also find value in these ideas for improving their oral work at speaking tests and their ability to hold rational discussions. (You can read my notes on Holding Rational Discussions on the Speaking – Discussions section on Defending a position just means explaining your reasons to say something. Not agreeing should not mean fighting and repeating the same things over and over again. Agreeing on something is not One Winning The Other Losing, but both finding some constructive joint future action. If you collaborate, if you work together in your interaction or conversation, you will all win, so to say! If you don’t, you might all lose, to keep using this kind of violent language that has made us so violent when holding discussions!

It was not violence, but collaboration that developed the best in humanity in PreThemstory!

Metaphors We Live By, by George Lakoff & Mark Johnson (The University of Chicago Press, 1980)

Concepts We Live By. Chapter 1. Pages 3, 4, 5 [With my underlinings and comments]

Metaphor is for most people a device of the poetic imagination … a matter of extraordinary rather than ordinary language. Moreover, metaphor is typically viewed as characteristic of language alone, a matter of words rather than thought or action. For this reason, most people think they can get along perfectly well without metaphor. We have found, on the contrary, that metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature.

The concepts that govern our thought are not just matters of the intellect. They also govern our everyday functioning, down to the most mundane details. Our concepts structure what we perceive, how we get around in the world, and how we relate to other people. Our conceptual system thus plays a central role in defining our everyday realities. If we are right in suggesting that our conceptual system is largely metaphorical, then the way we think, what we experience, and what we do every day is very much a matter of metaphor.

But our conceptual system is not something we are normally aware of. In most of the little things we do every day, we simply think and act more or less automatically along certain lines. Just what these lines are is by no means obvious. One way to find out is by looking at language. Since communication is based on the same conceptual system that we use in thinking and acting, language is an important source of evidence for what the system is like.

Primarily on the basis of linguistic evidence, we have found that most of our ordinary conceptual system is metaphorical in nature. And we have found a way to begin to identify in detail just what the metaphors are that structure how we perceive, how we think, and what we do.

To give some idea of what it could mean for a concept to be metaphorical and for such a concept to structure an everyday activity, let us start with the concept ARGUMENT and the conceptual metaphor ARGUMENT IS WAR. This metaphor is reflected in our everyday language by a wide variety of expresssions:


[Notice how language has always used the masculine. Why was that? Women were banned from thinking and education. Traditionally, they’ve been considered unfit for rational thinking. Of course, this is not true. We should all be unfit now for exerting patriarchal reasoning and we should all be finding ways to think beyond the patriarchal frame of mind, so solidly based on violence and misogyny (considering women inferior in everything). We’re developing Empathetic Rationality, reasoning which includes love or solidarity, a concern for life, and this is kinder, wiser, and better for our living together!]

Your claims are indefensible.He attacked every weak point in my argument.His  criticisms were right on target.I demolished his argument.I’ve never won an argument with him.You disagree? OK, shoot!If you use that strategy, he’ll wipe you out.He shot down all of my arguments.

It is important to see that we do not just talk about arguments in terms of war. We can actually win or lose arguments. We see the person we are arguying with as an opponent. We attack his [sic] positions and defend our own. We gain and lose ground. We plan and use strategies. If we find a position indefensible, we can abandon it and take a new line of attack. Many of the things we DO in arguying are partially structured by the concept of war. Though there is no physical battle, there is a verbal battle, and the structure of an argument — attack, defend, counterattack, etc. — reflects this. It is in this sense that the ARGUMENT IS WAR metaphor is one that we live by in this culture; it structures the actions we perform in arguying.

Try to imagine a culture were arguments are not viewed in terms of war [but in terms of collaborating in joint thinking, or to learn, to know, to solve problems], where no one wins or loses [but everybody learns a bit more about itself, people and/or the world], where there is no sense of attacking or defending, gaining or losing ground [but a sense of contributing ideas for joint analyses, and contributing experience for joint reflection]. …

Chapter 3. Page 10

… in the midst of a heated argument, when we are intent on attacking our opponent’s position and defending our own, we may lose sight of the cooperative aspects of arguing. Someone who is arguing with you can be viewed as giving you his [sic] time, a valued commodity, in an effort at mutual understanding [or joint pursuing of more knowledge and wisdom, or at problem-solving]. But when we are preoccupied with the battle aspects, we often lose sight of the cooperativeaspects [& knowledge building, problem-solving].

Well, I hope that you mull over all of these ideas, because we should really improve our way of viewing and performing discussions! In the same way we should learn to stop connecting love to obligation, for the latter degrades and distorts love!


15 Things Feminism Has Done For Men

March 16, 2013

Katherine Klaus lists fifteen reasons men should be downright enthusiastic about the feminist movement.


May I present, then, 15 upsides of feminism – for dudes. (And no, not one of them is ‘basic fairness’, although you can have that as a bonus #16 if you want.)


At work

#1. Did you know that the minimum wage for men was originally set with reference to the fact that he was expected to support a wife and three children? That sounds like a lot of responsibility and stress. With equal pay resulting from feminism, your partner can support herself, and together you could have six children, or, more likely, buy a plasma screen!

#2. Hate opening doors for people, or standing awkwardly at the front of the lift while you wait for the women from the back (always so slow in their high heels) to exit? Feminism says you don’t have to because we’re all generally able to handle the strength of a door. I open doors when it’s convenient for others, and I’m grateful when others hold it open for me. With feminism, courtesy can be a thing for both/all sexes.

#3. With feminism, you earned that promotion by being the best person for the job, not because of societal oppression of others. Hello to a clear conscience! And getting the best people for the job is better for business, which is ultimately better for keeping you employed, or so the capitalists tell me.

#4. More women in the workplace means more of them to check out, while being treated as equals means the ladies may be checking you out too, instead of worrying that a lecherous boss is going to feel them up in the lift.

#5. Don’t want to work? Feminism says that your partner can be the breadwinner while you embrace your inner domestic god.

In the world at large

#6. Feminism doesn’t buy into the silly gender stereotyping of alcoholic drinks, so go ahead and buy that pink cocktail with an umbrella that you have always secretly wanted to try.

#7. Sick of men being normalised as nonstop horndogs (oh god, how dated does that sound) who will sleep with anything in a skirt? In an equal society, your sexuality has no bearing on your perceived “manliness”, whether you are gay, straight, bi, questioning, lacking libido or any combination of the above.

#8. Ever been denied entry to a bar because they “need” more women, even though you’re just trying to have a drink with your friends? When women aren’t used as a tool to sell more drinks, bouncers won’t be tools to you.

#9. As friend of the blog Jacky puts it, “The patriarchy is bad for EVERYONE – men, women and children. It robs women of their autonomy and humanity; devalues the lives and wellbeing of men; and places unnecessary stress on everyone in the process.” With feminism, it’s cool for you to be whoever you want to be, without having to try and perform your gender “correctly” 100% of the time. (That sound you can hear is a collective sigh of relief from every dude who doesn’t know how to change a tyre.)

In sex & relationships & everything in between

#10. Women who don’t believe in feminism can be so frustrating to date, amirite? While they may make the effort to look stunning on dates, they also have this idea that they need to be treated like princesses, which largely translates to “spend a lot of money on me and you might get laid”. Given, pre-marriage, these women often earn much the same as you, this might seem unfair. Feminists, on the other hand, will split the bill with you (or take turns paying) and will sleep with you when they god damn feels like it, not because you’ve approached some magical monetary figure. And this could very well be on the first date/a one night stand, because (sex-positive) feminists understand that sex isn’t shameful, or a transaction, or somehow devalues them.

#11. Feminism means better relationships for all – as proven by science! (via)

#12. Do you find your girlfriend sexy as hell, but find your mates are dicks about it because she doesn’t look like (Google’s “sexiest woman on earth”) Miranda Kerr? Maybe she complains about her looks, too, and whines that no one could ever find her attractive. Not only does that make you seem like a terrible judge of partner, but it means you have to have sex with the lights off. With feminism, your mates and your girlfriend would be exposed to a more diverse range of shapes and colours and levels of hairiness and even, god forbid, personality traits that are portrayed as “attractive”, giving your woman lights-on confidence, and stopping your mates from trying to make you feel as if your attraction to non-Miranda Kerrs is abnormal.

#13. A feminist girlfriend will go buy beers for both of you at a soccer match (see above re: not needing to be treated like a princess) and you will be the envy of other soccer-goers. (This has actually happened.)

#14. She will also teach herself the offside rule while you get to concentrate on the game.

#15. Finally, even if you’re a more traditional guy who wants his wife to stay at home, and have dinner on the table when you get there, you can still have that. It’s just with feminism, you’ll be able to find a woman who actually wants to do it, instead of one who resentfully does so because she wasn’t allowed to be an astronaut.


So there you have it, a bunch of little reasons why feminism can make men’s lives more awesome. Sure, none of them are as groundbreaking as the movement can be for women, but I hope you will take away that feminism doesn’t hate you and won’t actually bring about the end of your sex life/career advancement/bro-ness as you know it.  Turns out, when everyone gets treated like people, everyone wins.

RESULT: Come over to the dark side. Actually, we’re definitely the Jedi, but regardless, you should come over because this side has drinks and I’m buying.


I do try!

March 15, 2013


An adorable friend gave me this present today!


“I keep trying my best to ‘normal’ but… it’s SO boring!”


A little respect!

March 8, 2013

The bad thing about default ideologies — those which condition thought and language, and consequently, human relationships, the cultural default ideology people have without being aware that they have it — is that they expose its carriers’ inability to think freely and to look at the world around them with inocence.

These people who are unable to think independently feel annoyed, irritable, angry because we are celebrating on a particular date the existence of women on the planet. These people have never missed women as thinkers, artists, activists, in all those centuries in which male Historians deprived them of existence, and Men — the group ruling on human societies — had them locked up, exploited, and the rest, which is frightening and deserves attention.


Just a little respect, please!

This year’s Mujer Palabra cyberpostcard says:

March 8
we are
celebrating feminism
burying patriarchal violence
planting the seeds of intelligent life!



“I want” or “I’d like”?

March 5, 2013

If you have to ask your teacher for your recording with feedback, you cannot say “I want my recording” because it sounds brutal!! If you need to do this, you are doing a REQUEST, this is, you are asking someone to do something for you, so you cannot use “I want” — you need to use “I’d like” or “Please, send me…” or “Could I have…?” or “Would you please send me …?” If you use “I want” it sounds exactly the same AS “Give me my recording!!”

You can use “I want” when you are not “wanting someone to do something for you,” as in, “I want to travel the world.” Of course, here, you can also use “I’d like” — it sounds a bit more like a wish, but also simply like a polite statement — but if you use “I want” it’s OK because you are not imposing anything on anyone!

So the key word and idea is IS IT A REQUEST? Or are you just informing about your preferences.

What about “want/like” with “you”?

What do you think?


The World of AS & LIKE (3)

March 3, 2013

Common wording with AS

  • as + prep phrases: as in movies, as on Mondays
  • (examples) such as / like westerns
  • as well as (and this too / and also this)
  • the same AS
  • as you know
  • as I said before (informal: like I said before, right?)
  • as needed / required (often, formal, semiformal)
  • as agreed / as we agreed (idem)
  • as suggested / as you suggested (idem)
  • As a matter of fact, / In fact, / Actually,
  • As far as I’m concerned / As for me (informal),
  • As for (+ topic) / About (topic) / (Semi/formal:) With regard to (topic) / In regard to (topic) 
  • As long as I live! As long as you (still) like it!
  • As soon as we get there! As soon as we finish!

The World of AS & LIKE (2)

March 3, 2013


Traditionally, we EFL teachers in Spain have explained when to use “as” or “like” in the following way:

  • “LIKE” when what follows is a noun phrase (including pronouns and –ing nouns, of course). Examples: I’m like you! I’m as you are!
  • “AS” when what follows is a clause, meaning a Subject + Verb. Examples: I do the same(not so much: I do like you). I behave exactly as you do! Me, exactly like you! Exactly as you said!

However, in today’s English – because languages are ALIVE, never forget this, meaning They are constantly changing — native speakers have started to use “like + S + V” in informal spoken or written English. Examples: I’m like you are! I behave exactly like you behave!

What should you do in exams? (written or spoken). Well, if the situation or context for your task allows the use of informal language, you can use either of the two, but if the language you produce requires a more formal register, stick to what you always learned/learnt!

So — more on this last point:

British and US American Englishes

You can keep to the theoretical guideline explained here under “Comparing”, if you take the “like” below as part of the verb, “look like” (not “look” + “like”).
(And yes, there is another meaning to “look like” for both US and UK Englishes:
The girl looks like her sister. The girl and her sister look alike.)


  • US: The girl looks like she’s going to cry
  • UK: The girl looks as if she’s going to cry / The girl looks like she’s going to cry

However, we can use “like” like this, instead of “as if,” with other verbs: it sounds, it feels, they talk…

  • He’s acting as if he is in charge / like he’s in charge (informal)
  • He’s acting as if he was/were in charge (more unreal) like he was in charge (informal)
  • It sounds as if you were really upset about it (guessing = more unreal/tentative) / It sounds like you are really upset about it (more real, informal)
  • It feels as if it’s going to snow / as if it were going to snow (less real) / It feels like it’s going to snow…

The World of AS & LIKE (1)

March 3, 2013

In class, I’ve been clarifying a few things about “as” and “like” in Intermedio 2. I’m posting them now in case they’re of use to more people!

AS for roles

  • I earn a living as a teacher
  • Uma Thurman as Sissy Hankshaw in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues!
  • She worked as a neuroscience researcher in Greece for two years
  • When I was very poor, I used to use a sock as a percolator! To filter my coffee!
  • As your best friend, I think you should quit relationships that do not treat you well.
  • It was amazing – they were using pens and lids and things like that as musical instruments!

Useful Language around Discussions!

March 1, 2013

In case it’s useful!

Language for Discussions, by michelle (2011)

Who facilitates? – ¿Quién modera? – A facilitator is the person who by a low-profile intervention eases the path for the discussion to reach a good end. A facilitator can: give speaking turns, present the discussion, re-word opinions to clarify points or reduce tension, summarize what has been said to clarify points and/or help the discussion move on…
Do you need a time-keeper? – Necesitáis que alguien controle los tiempos?

  • A heated debate – The other day there was a heated debate in class. Really interesting!
  • A controversial topic – I would like to address this controversial topic because…
  • A biased opinion (prejudiced) – I believe that’s a biased opinion. The generalization is based just on one case!
  • An opinionated person (dogmatic, intolerant, narrow-minded… ?)
  • To try to agree on some point / measure – OK, then, but we’re running out of time and we should try to agree on something now. What should we do, then? Ask people to bring a euro each or try to fundraise in some other way?
  • To reach an agreement – They haven’t been able to reach an agreement yet.
  • To reach a dead end – OK, we’ve reached a dead end. Why don’t we take a break and meet again in half an hour?
  • To reach a consensus – We need to reach a consensus in this, so — you do not share P’s analysis but would you be OK with his/her answer to the problem provided we kept in mind what you say?
  • To exchange views – I love discussions. You learn a lot when you listen to people exchanging views!
  • A position / A stand point – So what’s your point? / standpoint / position?
  • To make a point – I would like to make a point.
  • To hold a discussion – Why don’t we hold a discussion on the pros and cons of social networks?
  • To end a discussion
  • To take a break
  • To move on to the next/following point
  • To go back to a point: Going back to the reasons why we use the Internet, I’d like to mention…
  • To do a recap(itulation)

A Language Function which is common in this kind of event (towards the end) is:

Making a proposal/suggestion…

  • to move on in terms of analysis: OK. Can we move on now (to the next point in our agenda)?
  • to move on in terms of time: We’re running out of time. Could we tackle the issue of who to invite?
  • to ease tensions: OK, there, people. Why don’t we take a break now? We could go out for a nice cup of coffee!
  • to solve the problem discussed: To avoid reaching a standstill, why don’t we try to find small things each of us could do to solve the problem?

Find others. (Review the Communicative Strategies 1 – 3 episodes on the TP Podcast)

More Useful Language (read them aloud! repeat them as many times as you can!)

  • I’ve got mixed feelings about this topic. On the one hand, I feel that… On the other, I can’t understand why…
  • Shall I start? / Go ahead, please. / I’d like to start by saying that …
  • My stand in this topic is: I’m for/against /… What’s your point?
  • That’s interesting. / What interesting insight.
  • I forgot what I was going to say. / Where was I?
  • OK, sorry, I didn’t mean it that way. What I wanted to say was/is…
  • Let me explain this. / Allow me to explain further. / I don’t know how to explain this. Let me think… / Let me try again. It’s complicated. / That’s a tricky question.
  • I’m confused. /I think that is confusing. / I don’t quite understand your point. / I don’t get your point. Can you give an example? / Can you expand further? / Can you develop that?
  • Allow me to clarify. What I actually wanted to say / what I meant was…
  • Hold on (a minute). / Wait a sec(ond). / Please, let me finish / Hold on — Let me say something / Let me reply to that./ Allow me to reply to that, if you will.
  • Can we find some common ground? / Can we agree on that? / We’re running out of time.
  • I cannot possibly agree with that. I’m sorry. / Well, I wish we could. Why don’t we take a break? / How about coming back to this later on?
  • Why is that (so)? / Can you explain that?
  • Please, don’t get upset. It’s just my view. I can’t help it! 😉

Learning to notice “Useful Language” – technology & awards

March 1, 2013

When you read texts in English, use that to collect Useful Language, too, remembering to pronounce out loud the sentences or chunks of language you jot down!

Below, I have underlined some Useful Language for topics like awards, or technology, in a news article found on the PoA Awards website (formal English):

Prince of Asturias Awards: Technical & Scientific Research 2009

Oviedo, 17th June 2009. At its meeting in Oviedo, the Jury for the 2009 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research, made up of (members of Jury), chaired by (chairperson) and with (secretary) acting as secretary, has unanimously decided to bestow the 2009 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research on the U.S. researchers, Martin Cooper and Raymond Samuel Tomlinson, respectively considered the fathers of the mobile phone and e-mail.

These two discoveries are among the greatest technological innovations of our time, revolutionizing the way that thousands of millions of people communicate worldwide and contributing decisively to the advancement of knowledge. In particular, they are key elements for achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals that will enable every citizen on the planet to exercise their right to communicate.

Their impact on society is reflected by the more than 4,000 million mobile subscribers and the 1,500 million users of e-mail and other Internet services. All this constitutes an important aid to the Developing Countries, for which it supposes a source of equality and opportunities, bringing nearer basic services such as health and education.

With this Award, the Jury also wishes to recognize the effort and work of all those people who have contributed to fostering and developing the mobile phone and e-mail services, forms of communication that give rise to a connected world, free from geographical or temporal barriers.


Brainstorming on Language: ability

February 28, 2013

When you are asked to speak about a certain topic, you should try to brainstorm on which language items you can use to make your language range richer!

Here are some examples:

If you are asked to speak about your own experience with food, some of the language items you could use could be those meaning, expressing ability:

  • to be good/bad/… at …-ing: I’m not very good at cooking, but
  • can / can’t or cannot – I can make salad, and I can heat stuff in the microwave! I can fry an egg and boil rice, or spaghetti. But I can’t make potato omelette! 😦
  • know how to / don’t know how to – (you can then use the synonyms of “can/can’t”, just to show you also know them!) I know how to use the oven, so I can roast chicken, but I don’t know how to make quiche!

Well, these are just a few silly examples. But do you see my point? This IS brainstorming on language.

This technique is also useful when you are asked to write!


Clauses. Result (so = así que, por tanto…)

February 22, 2013

Part 1: so… (for result)

  • It is pouring rain, so take your umbrella if you don’t want to get wet!
  • The talk was really interesting, so there were lots of questions!
  • The train leaves at 6pm so we should get there by 5.30pm!
  • I’ll get home at 9pm, so give me a ring then!

This lot should not be confused with “so that” indicating purpose (finalidad; para…).

Part 2: so … that; such (a) … that.

Then you have these structures, related to (adv +) adjectives and quantity + nouns:

so (+ (adv.) adjective or quantifier + noun) … (that) + S + V”

I was so (very) tired (that) I fell asleep in class!
The trip was so (very) tiring that I slept for 23 hours!!
Their performances were so stunning that the movie was a great success worldwide!

quant. + n.
There were so many people that some had to stand up at the back.
There were so few projects we had to cancel the contest.
There was so much rain that we had to find shelter.
There was so little time we had to do it all in a rush

“such  (+ a, for sing., no determiner for plurals + (adj.) + noun) … (that) + S + V”

It was such a thick book that it took me a month to read!
They were such heavy boxes that we had to ask for help.
I went into such a whole lot of trouble that in the end I felt it had not been worth it.
There was such a lot of noise that we had to move to the third floor.

Part 3: As a result, As a result of , Consequently, Therefore, Thus, For this/that reason, In consequence.

There was heavy rain for the whole day. As a result, numerous areas were flooded.
As a result of heavy rain, numerous areas were flooded.
We hadn’t turned off our mobiles. As a result of that, we were asked to leave the room. It was very embarrassing.
The estimated budget for this project is €10,000 and we are €2,000 short. Consequently,/Therefore,  we need to do some urgent fundraising.


Clauses. Purpose (finalidad) – one or two subjects, and about the “so” confusion

February 22, 2013

CEFR B2 level and above. Think about these examples and how they work (function) in language (what they mean). Then, look for an example you can easily remember, and do some Oral Drilling with that structure.

We have various ways in which we can express purpose:

  • The Purpose Infinitive: “Why are you learning English? To travel the world!” “I am writing to suggest ways in which we can improve our fluency while speaking.” With this very common way to indicate purpose we need to have the same subject (“I”) for the two verbs (“learn”, “travel”).
  • So that” (not “So” = result!,* although it is true native speakers may be heard omitting the “that” in “so that”!) “We developed this project so that students could learn/were able to learn how to interact constructively.” This structure allows us to have two different subjects: If instead of two different subjects (“we”, “students”) for the two different tenses (“developed”, “could learn how to/were able to”) we had a same subject (“we”), we could also say: “We developed this project to learn / so as to learn how to interact constructively.”
  • So as to“: this is just like the Purpose Infinitive. “I’m learning English so as to (be able to) travel the world.” Here, again, we need the same subject in both sentences (I learn, I’ll travel).
  • Formal writing: in order to. “We are conducting this survey in order to assess the issue of happiness at work / at the workplace.”

* So = result. Example: It’s raining, so don’t forget to take your umbrella!

There are two other structures indicating purpose you could do some oral drilling on!

  • For + Object + Full Infinitive: This technique is good for us to improve our fluency.
  • For + –ing verb: This tecnique is good for improving fluency.

Compare with:

  • So that + Subject + Verb: She gave us these notes so that we could (possibility) improve our fluency / so that we were able to (ability) improve our fluency.

Speaking about The Internet

February 21, 2013

Stephen Fry


Speaking about Elderly People

February 21, 2013

At the CEFR B2 level people may be asked to speak about The elderly / Elderly people.

Old people’s homes can be nursing homes or retirement homes. From wikipedia: “A nursing home provides a type of residential care. Residents include the elderly and younger adults with physical or mental disabilities”, “A retirement home is a multi-residence housing facility intended for senior citizens” (another way to call elderly people).  Now — retirement communities and retirement villages are further options (see below). Then — younger generations can take care of their elderly, too. Finally, some elderly people want to live in their own houses while they manage, and even when they don’t! There are personal care aides /aids/. Some more useful vocabulary: retirement benefit / (old-age) pension; pensioner(s).

About opening sentences connecting the issue of elderly people and the economic crisis, here is an example: “Due to the rising rates of unemployment and the consequent economic crisis, the elderly in Spain are actually providing food, shelter, or money for their younger relatives — children and even grandchildren!”

  • Article: Pro’s and Con’s of Living in a Retirement Village (Australian English: spelling like in the UK). Two interesting points they make: Security. Elderly people are particularly vulnerable to home invasion and if they do not feel safe in their home or neighbourhood, it can cause a great deal of stress. Social life. Retirement communities are full of like-minded people who generally want the same things out of life that you do. This can make for a busy social life, if that’s what you want!
  • Brochure, 2 pdf pages, great read /riid/ to pick up vocabulary and practice “timed scanning”) in Canadian English (UK spelling, too).
  • Video, 1 min., British English. Social care worker working with the elderly, 3 min.
  • Video Personal and Home Care Aides Job Description, 2min, US American English

grannywantedOnce I was given this topic in a Writing exam. We were asked to write about pros and cons of having elderly people in an elderly people’s home or in their children’s home. Examinees wrote an argumentative essay. I thought of something different: I wrote a news story about an elderly woman who had gone into hiding because her children wanted to take her to their home, or take her to an old people’s home, and she refused to accept any of those two options. She wanted to be left alone! I had lots of fun writing the piece, and examiners checking it too! 🙂 The headline was: GRANNY WANTED, and I quoted her like journalists do! (a good journalist would never disclose its sources!)


Weeks 3 & 4 February: moving on in Exam Format Practice Month

February 18, 2013

The agenda of weeks 1, 2 and 3 that is on the Bulletin Board in class is also here.

The new items are that today and tomorrow I’m explaining how we will proceed with the Speaking and Writing tests on the Educamadrid site.

Week 3 – Update

AT THE END OF THIS WEEK, you should have consolidated a knowledge of the kinds of Reading & Listening tasks (and Writing tasks, for the groups getting feedback in class about Politeness et al.) and you should have reduced your fears, developed your confidence in terms of Exam Format. Hopefully, you will have been using the underlining technique, notetaking including skeleton of meaning, some phonemic transcription, skimming and scanning, proofreading your work…


Get your copies of the sample tasks on the Educamadrid site. You will have time in class to prepare them with your classmates: practice/practise speaking about those topics freely, brainstorm on language, and then practice timed speaking at home. Meanwhile I’ll be calling out people’s names to come to Exam Area. YOU SHOULD NOT WRITE DOWN YOUR MONOLOGUES OR DIALOGUES. You should practice SPEAKING on the same topic over and over again, till you feel confident, using your detailed outline and your jottings from brainstorming on language.

Then, after you have done it again in Exam Area, when I call your name (I’ll use your list numbers), you can record your sample monologues, so that you can listen to them again throughout the rest of this course.

So now you have two areas of Speaking activities to work on in class and at home: the ones based on units 1-5, so that you use the language learned/learnt from using your textbook audios and other exercises; and the timed tasks covering all of the sample cards you have (work on one a week, for instance).


Once I’ve given you back your Practice Writing (Intermedio 2’s), work on your List of Mistakes, and start working on Task 1 of the Sample Writing test on Educamadrid. You should be handing it in in the second week in March. Once you get it back, work on your LoM and then do Task 2.

As unit 5 depends on your work at home, remember that you can also hand in your Writing corresponding to unit 5, but only once you have learned to do that kind of writing from your textbook. Considering dates, both Task 2 of the Sample Writing Test and Writing 5 will probably have their deadline just after the spring holidays, perhaps just before them! We’ll see.

Week 4 – Finishing Exam Format Practice Month

We’ll continue doing orals in class, I’ll comment on people’s mistakes, so we can learn to put grammar into use. And we’ll pay special attention to pronunciation, too.


Speaking Tasks for B2 level students!

February 8, 2013

Femen_anorexic_models_3I have finally finished a two-page list of Speaking Tasks. It’s useful for people using the mentioned textbook, but it might be useful for more people, to get some sort of idea of topics dealt with at this level.


For my Intermedio 2 students: these topics are B2 topics, and your exam will be a B1 exam, so this is kind of esquizo!!! Anyway, you will be picking one to do in March at Plenary. There are three types. Have a look. Please, spread the word, so students never checking this out and never looking at the Bulleting Board in class get the news! If you people don’t do this activity in March, I’ll quit. With this, I feel more like your mother!! EEK!!! (I’m a teacher in adult language education!!)


Next week: Feb 13, 14 – Taking a break to open a space!

February 5, 2013

iamrisingA teacher (public/state-run adult language education) kindly scanned the stories we will read in class on Feb 13 and 14, because we will be rising to strive for a better world, without all that “invisible” violence against women. People who have the book or the script “I am an emotional creature” are welcome to bring it to class. The cut-n-paste work here comes from copies of the book. I will take 15 classroom copies (you cannot keep them, because I’ll be using them with the 4 groups) so that two people can share one, in case people don’t have their own copies. It’s 10 pages in all (5 sheets of paper if they’re printed on both sides).

EC1 + EC2 + EC3 + EC4 + EC5 + EC6 + EC7 + EC8 + EC9 + EC10

It seems Val, an English teacher who was a student of mine years ago, will visit the Intermedio 2 group on the 14th I think, to present One Billion Rising. This means we might have a guest speaker who won’t be charging anything for her contribution!


Don’t missed calls give you the creeps?

January 24, 2013

What gives you the creeps?

  • Missed calls
  • Buttons (forchristssake, what’s wrong with velcro and zippers?!)
  • People chewing with their mouth open — the noise!
  • The guy on Vaugham radio!!!! (he’s SOOOO creepy!!) (But you’re a teacher, don’t say that, he’s really good!) (Oh yes, he is. Like many of us, really good! 😀 But he, in his case, he’s really clever, grabbing money intended for public education and boasting about it. He’s so convinced he’s great in every way. I hope he becomes a super mega millionaire. That’ll serve him right! 😀 Anyway, regardless, whatever, wherever — it’s him, beyond anything else, his He, that gives me the creeps!)

I’m pasting the lyrics below. Enjoy!



January 23, 2013

A few years ago a friend of mine from London came for a visit, and he was really kind and came along with me to work, which means, he spent time with people in all of the groups I teach, and told them about London and about Cockney. On top of it all, he allowed us to videoshoot him! So now anyone interested can check Martin’s lovely contribution to our knowledge of London!


Subjunctive (1): suggest

January 21, 2013

The subjunctive mood existed in English as we have it in Spanish. However, English grammar underwent massive simplification processes, and that’s why it’s a language easy to learn. (English at the Advanced level is not that easy, but learning to manage in English is easy.) The same happened with noun declensions. And today, we just have the remains of Subject Pronouns (I) versus Object Pronouns (me), the possessives (my / mine) and of course, the Saxon Genitive (María’s).

When you study Conditional Sentences Type 2, you learn one of the remains of the Subjunctive mood: If I were rich, I’d travel the world. However, increasingly we hear the Indicative here (was), so in textbooks you will find the option was/were. In any case, certain sentences, like “If I were rich” are so often said, that they tend to fossilize in this state! to put it dramatically!! 😀

Another issue this pops up in is “suggest” and “recommend”. That they are followed by a subject and a verb in the subjunctive means that the verb can only look like the bare infinitive: I suggest we be early. The good news is that in some cases you might not know but you’ll still be correct!!: I suggest WE leave early.

Proponer que nos marchemos / lleguemos pronto

  • I suggested we leave / be early (subj)
  • I suggested we should leave early
  • I suggested we left* early

*The use of the indicative here results from the tendency in the use of English to “make language regular and avoid the irregular”. Decades ago, this was considered unacceptable, but nowadays it is standard, which means, native speakers are using the past increasingly.

Proponer que se marchara pronto + the Possessive Adjective / Object Pronoun + -ing structure. This is often found in literature, but it is also possible in spoken English.

  • I suggest our leaving / being early (possessive adjective “our”, or “his”, “her”…)
  • I suggest us leaving / being early (object pronoun “us”, or “him”, “her”…)
  • She suggested our/his/her leaving / being early
  • She suggested us/him/her leaving / being early

Oh my! I need a secretary!!! I’ve got notes on this on Talking People, but I should review those to include the “be” and the “she” examples… Anyway, no more time for this. Feel free to post more Useful Language or questions.


This is the section of Useful Language on Talking People

January 17, 2013

It’s full of sentences you can use in different kinds of Language Functions. Some of those have got an audio version, too. But some haven’t. If you have more sentences to add to any of the webpages on this, or if you would like me to record any of the non-recorded pages, feel free to send me a post. Write “For TP” in the subject line, and then remember to tell me in which group you are or something!


Are you sure you know how to spell your name?

January 17, 2013

I know this is the kind of lesson we never give because everybody is meant to know how to spell. But then — just because of this, the fact is people never practice / practise, and then it is likely they can’t spell when they have to, in real life, I mean. So — Would you like to listen to this episode, just in case? I explain a little about names in different languages, including of course Spanish. I forgot to mention that (descriptive phrase) “the complete name” is called “full name” in forms you need to fill in (UK) / fill out (US).


Toni Morrison – thinker, artist and activist

January 3, 2013

😉 😀 😀

Yesterday I was really lucky. I found an interview to Toni Morrison on TV! I’ve been googling to find it, and just got to this: a little video on a much longer interview and then an article. I’d like to say that I consider Toni Morrison one of the most intelligent earthlings I’ve ever listened to. Just in case you were going to skip this post and I’ve managed to make you curious about it! 😀

This one’s a must, people! Thanks to Google I’ve found a wonderful video to watch: Angela Davis and Toni Morrison, having a truly good time together (unlike in the interview above).

Once, I lent Miguel, an Advanced student I met in the first state-run language school I worked in, “Playing in the Dark”, a very think/brief essay, full of interesting ideas. It was hard for Miguel, but he managed to work on some of it. On the little webita on Toni Morrison at Talking People, you’ll find that link too:

And this is a link to Toni Morrison on Mujer Palabra. In Spanish, so sorry about that. I started a little series called “Recensiones raras feministas” (Odd & Feminist Book Reviews).


Practice/Practise speaking about clothes and footwear

December 26, 2012

I put together this webpage,, ages ago, when I was a secondary teacher and I didn’t have a podcast! It was material I designed for 1ºESO students! (the ones just out of primary!) They learned/learnt to use this language because then we would have a catwalk show! That was fun! They were so good at it!! Of course our catwalks had nothing to do with ordinary catwalks: everybody would walk down the corridor and be cheered. Because they were great at it!

Sadly, more on catwalks here:

Look at this picture: someone has deformed these women’s breasts. A dirty mind. Why should they do that?! It’s like when Fb people close down an account because you’ve uploaded a picture of breast-feeding, or one of nudists on a beach. The same people who are so alert on banning pictures of people who freely choose to be naked do not do anything about all the nudes of people who are forced into prostitution, human trade, pornography, or into eating disorders… We’ve even got porn-type “sexy” girls in Family TV programs/ programmes, and everybody seems to be OK about it.

Femen_anorexic_models_3People don’t seem to mind the fact that all our visual life is bombarded with women whose bodies are being used to make money, and perpetuate the equation FEMALE = doll to USE sexually (nothing to do with having sex with someone, which, incidentally, is not about the visual, but about all the other senses!). People tolerating, even defending, this “market freedom” get really upset, better said, outraged, when women strip in actions of their choice. So what does this mean? This speaks about hypocrisy in society, certainly, and mysogyny, too. It’s at the core of the patriarchal social system.

Women deciding when to strip, what to do with their bodies is OUTRAGEOUS, DANGEROUS and won’t be TOLERATED. Throught their silent consent, they do allow this radical visual invasion of naked women when the system is using and abusing them.

My respect to these women! Who are fighting for a better world for women. Dirty, the mind of whoever edited this pic.

Underage models should be banned from catwalks


Selecting podcast episodes from BBC 6-min English

December 17, 2012

I’m posting links to episodes which Intermedio 2 students can listen to. Please, don’t read! Just scroll down a bit and listen! You have to practice learning to listen!

I’m picking episodes where human lexical creativity shows! We’re always creating words, and giving words new uses. Human language is AMAZING AND AWESOME!



The Passive — Crime & Punishment (1)

December 13, 2012

I just remembered there is an episode on this at the TP Pod. In Intermedio 2 we’re using the passive in the unit about crime and punishment. (Hey, if you want to volunteer to read out scripts for the TP Pod, that’d be awesome!)

I should record some more of these, with examples of how to use “rob” and “steal”. In case I don’t get to do that, read out loud the following:

I was robbed (generic) = Me han robado / Me robaron
A horrible guy walked to me and robbed me
*“I was stolen” is very funny!!! It’s wrong, OK? “Something was stolen from me” would be OK.
My wallet was/got stolen from my car = Me robaron la cartera del coche
Someone has stolen my wallet from my car! I can’t believe I just left it there!
A friend of mine got/was mugged the other day = A una amiga mía la atracaron el otro día (en la calle)

-Have you ever been robbed? = ¿Te han robado alguna vez?
-No, I haven’t. But my parents’ house was/got burgled once.
-Oh! And what did they take?

When you rob a bank, there’s people in.
But when thieves steal (money from) banks it’s usually one of those things people plan and do when people are not around. Now there are cyber criminals doing this too.

We were attacked = Nos atacaron

Most women I’ve known have been raped or sexually abused, and not by men they didn’t know. But it’s a taboo topic in society. Possibly, the biggest taboo. And when any of this gets to the news, the taboo is so big that the woman is suspected of having made things up. It’s always scary when you realize. Perhaps that’s why most people would rather not realize. 😦 To cap it all, women are continuously used as objects where “sex” is linked to violence (and that’s what we are taught non-stop, especially men through patriarchal porn): in all kinds of audiovisuals women are raped and murdered. It’s like movie directors “geniuses” can’t shoot a movie without using/abusing women in this terrifying way. There’s nothing “natural” in rape, it’s all cultural. A cultural brainwash. And nowadays we know better because both men and women — regardless their sexual orientation — know that sex is about pleasure, not torture. Rape has been the silenced war against women for centuries. This is one of the reasons why feminists speak of patriarchy, a social system based on a fundamental notion — the gender system as defined in patriarchy, whereby women are second-class human beings. This is still going on in most of the world, including our country. But there might be hope — right? It seems we’re finally starting something different…

What a trip! From the passive to this topic. Boredom, please, rescue me!


Clotilda’s amazing work & other stories

December 5, 2012

Hey, today the Avanzado 2 class was full and I kind of got overexcited when I had to explain the Evacuation Drill, and kind of travelled the world in a non-stop speedy monologue going from haidos /hérdus/ and oiling kinky hair (a kinky hair monologue, & Corinne Bayle Rae has a song, video “I’d like to”, “getting her hair combed and greased”, if you like, we can listen to this and its counterpart, “Butterfly”, to analyze how she sees the world she shares with her mum, white, and with her dad, black, how the music fits what she gets from her mixed cultural background), to low intensity warfare and the new wars — the food (and water) wars — reaching Western Democracy populations, too, by transgenic corporations… 😦 And in that flight, I mentioned seed banks (sorry, I said “food banks” but that’s another project, I meant seed banks) urban orchards (BAH! in Madrid, selling food in Lavapiés – in the squat “CSO – La Tabacalera” you can find out about tons of things happening in this multicultural neighborhood) and guerrilla gardening (listen to an interview on this, in London, in Elephant & Castle!), and well, checking out Clotilda’s weebly site (you can get a weebly site for free, btw! It’s a great resource) I find this:

She’s also got some stuff on money! Money! Eek!!! 🙂 Check it out!

Thanks Clotilda for dropping by! I’ll be reading you for sure! 🙂


Using English to learn other languages!

December 2, 2012

learn GermanOne of the most exciting things you can do with your English (as a Foreign Language, your EFL) is… learn other languages! I’m using the Deutsche Welle (free) Podcast course to learn German while using my English! I like the course because its main aim is to teach us to learn to listen, which is something I try to do in class as an English teacher. In my view — and in theirs — it’s not possible to become a competent user of a foreign language if one doesn’t develop the routine of listening to that language as part of one’s everyday life. One has to do that, and also be patient, especially if people are lucky enough to have professionals backing their learning experience, like professionals in this Learn German course! Enjoy listening to German! And pay attention to the techniques they explain. These are simple and relevant in language learning for communication. “If you try to understand every single word, this will create a barrier for your understanding.” See what I mean? You have to learn to listen, too!

Get Deutsch – warum nicht? as a Podcast – Presentations and explanations are in English, so you will also be consolidating and expanding your level in English!

Bis bald!

PS: Learning by ear in Africa

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