Showing posts from 2007


Spaniards tip too much - minister In cases, tips make up half the product's value
Spaniards still have not fully got to grips with the value of the euro and often tip too much, according to Economy Minister Pedro Solbes.
Over-tipping had added to the sense among Spanish consumers that the cost of living is higher since the euro's introduction in 2002, he said.
"People haven't taken on board the value of a euro," Mr Solbes told a political rally in Madrid.
Spain's inflation is higher than other eurozone states - at 4.1% last month.
"I see people having a couple of coffees and calmly leaving a euro tip," Mr Solbes told a Socialist Party economic forum in the Spanish capital.
"That's 50% of the value of the product."
Before the euro hit the streets five years ago, leaving a 25 peseta tip was the norm. One euro was then worth 166 pesetas.

Source: BBC News

Do you agree with the minister? What's your opinion on tips? When and who do…

Last Christmas - Wham

Source: WhamVEVO (You Tube) Key words: Wham Last Christmas


Last Christmas,
I gave you my heart But the very next day, You gave it away This year, to save me from tears I'll give it to someone special
Once bitten and twice shy I keep my distance but you still catch my eye Tell me baby do you recognise me? Well it's been a year, it doesn't surprise me
(Happy Christmas!) I wrapped it up and sent it With a note saying "I Love You" I meant it Now I know what a fool I've been But if you kissed me now I know you'd fool me again

(Oooh. Oooh Baby) A crowded room, friends with tired eyes I'm hiding from you and your soul of ice My God I thought you were someone to rely on Me? I guess I was a shoulder to cry on
A face on a lover with a fire in his heart A man undercover but you tore me apart Oooh Oooh Now I've found a real love you'll never fool me again

I'll give it to someone special who'll give me something in…

Subject Questions

Subject Questions are an example of where practice is much easier than the theory. Let me try to keep the explanation short and simple.

The majority of questions are Object questions and they follow this form no matter what the tense:

Question - Auxillary - Subject - Infinitive (QuASI)

What do you do? I am a teacher.

Wheredoes he live? He lives inLondon.

Whenare they coming? They're comingon Monday.

Whodid you see there? I sawmy old teacher.

How will you get there? We'll gobycar.

Can you see the Question Words are the object of the verb?

But in some questions the Question Word (who, what, which, how many) is the subject of the verb. Look at the following examples:

Who teaches you? Graham (teaches us).

What happens at the end of the film? They fall in love.

Which teams reached the final? Real Madrid and Valencia (reached the final).

How many went to the meeting? Only 3 of us (went to the meeting).

Note that Subject Questions don't use an auxillary. The question word is followed by the v…

Tennent's Lager Advert

Source: tenentsteam (You Tube) Key words: tennents advert

This is the advert for a popular lager made in Scotland.

The song, a popular one in Scotland, is called "Caledonia" (see the lyrics below)

The man in the advert is a Scot who lives and works in London.

He returns to Scotland.

Can you tell the story of what happens to the man? How does he feel? Why do you think he leaves London? Describe all that you see in the advert.

Caledonia - Lyrics

I don't know if you can see
The changes that have come over me
In these last few days
I've been afraid
That I might drift away

So I've been telling old stories, singing songs
That make me think about where I came from
And that's the reason why I seem
So far away today

Oh, but let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia you're calling me
And now I'm going home
If I should become a stranger
You know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia's been everythingI've ever had

My Worst Journey

My worst journey was last Christmas when it took me 50 hours (without much sleep) to get from Madrid to my hometown in Scotland. But it is too long a story to tell here.

My worst car journey was from Madrid to Bilbao in February four years ago. A friend of mine was going to Bilbao on a business trip and invited me to join him there at the weekend. He flew there during the week and lent me his car to drive up to meet him.

I don't like driving much as I often get stressed outbehind the wheel. However, I thought the journey would be worth it because I had never been to Bilbao before. I was lookingforward to the weekend.

I began to worry after seeing the weather forecast for that weekend. It warned there was going to be heavy snow in the north of the country and advisedagainst travelling. But my friend was already in Bilbao so I felt I had to go.

I set off, quite apprehensively, early on Saturday morning. The motorway was empty as most people had heeded the warning not to travel. It t…

Boomtown Rats - I don't like Mondays

Source:Musiclife32294 (You Tube) Key words: boomtown monday live aid
Boomtown Rats: I don't like Mondays

(When) The silicon chip inside her head
Gets switched tooverload
And nobody’s gonna go to school today
She’s gonna make them stay at home
And daddy doesn’t understand it
He always said she was good as gold
And he can see no reasons
'Cos there are no reasons
What reason do you need to be show-ow-ow-ow-own?

Tell me why I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why I don’t like Mondays
I wanna shoo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oot the whole day down

The Telex machine is kept so clean
And it types to a waiting world
And mother feels so shocked
Father’s world is rockedAnd their thoughts turn to their own little girl
Sweet 16 ain’t that peachykeenNow that ain’t so neatto admit defeat
They can see no reasons
'Cos there are no reasons
What reasons do you need?
Oh Oh Oh Oh

Tell me why I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why I don’t like Mondays
I wann…

False Friends

Source: Wikipedia"die" (Dutch) - "that one" False Friends are words that look similar but have different meanings. They can lead to confusion and embarrassment. Take for example - actual:

Actually there are 100 people on the staff but the company hopes to expand in the near future. (This is incorrect - "actualmente" doesnt translate as " actually") The sentence should read:
Currently there are 100 people on the staff but the company hopes to expand in the near future.
Depending on the context "actually" can translate as "now", "at present" or "nowadays".
"Actually" is used in a few different ways:
Student: This is my teacher, Graham and he's from England. Graham: Actually, I'm from Scotland.

Here is anA - Z Listof some other False Friends. And here is a list ofFickle Friends; words that are sometimes used similarly, other times not.

Look at this list of sentences that I have created. Can you…

Famous People but who are they?

Photo Sources:
Caltagirone Group (Wikipedia)
Michael Vadon (Wikipedia)
Dmitry Rozhkov (Wikipedia)
Mark Freeman (Wikipedia)
VisitCopenhagen (Wikipedia)
Malta Today

I bet you don't know anything about the people above but they are in fact famous in their country.

Describe their appearance. What do they look like?

Can you guess their nationalities? There is an American, an Australian, a Russian, an Italian, an Englishman, an English woman and a Frenchman or woman.

How old do they look?

What do they do? Among them there is a businessman or woman, a princess, a writer, a politician, a journalist, an actor or actress and a chef.

Also three of them have relatives who are much more famous than they are - do you see any resemblance?

eg The woman in the centre is very pretty. She's got long, dark hair and dark brown eyes. She has a pale complexion. I think she looks French. She looks in her late twenties. She looks like an actress. She looks friendly.

eg The man in the top left looks like an E…


Ancient Origins Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvestand the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition tocausing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, tomake predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction duri…

The Flatmates

The BBC has created a soap-opera to help English language learners. It's called "The Flatmates" and is updated weekly. Here is episode 37 -"The Interview".

There is a short conversation which you can read or hide and listen to.

There is a Language Point, which in this episode is the Present Perfect Continuous, followed by a quiz which tests your ability to use the tense correctly.

In the Talk section, you have the chance to discuss with other language learners a topic related to the episode.

This week is episode 115 but you can review all the episodes in the Archives.

Also in this week'sGrammar Challenge you have the chance to practice thePPC!

Catherine Tate - Translator

Source: butku5 (You Tube) Key words: Catherine Tate offensive translator A bit of humour.

Can such humour be offensive?

What languages do you find funny?

Catch Me If You Can - synopsis

Image source: Wikipedia

Catch Me If You Can is a 2002 motion picture set in the 1960s. It was co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg and adapted by Jeff Nathanson loosely from the book by Frank Abagnale Jr. and Stan Redding. ItstarsLeonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.


The film begins with an FBI agent, Carl Hanratty Jr. (Tom Hanks), arriving at a French jail in 1969 to meet an imprisoned and sick Frank, who attempts to escape. The scene flashes back six years earlier. Frank's father, Frank Sr. consa woman to lend him a suit for Frank Jr., who later guises as a driver for Frank Sr. to get a loanfrom Chase Manhattan Bank. When the loan is denied(due to IRS tax evasions by Frank Sr.), the family is forced to move from their grand home to a small apartment, with tension building between the family; it also appears that his mother is having an adulterous affair with the bank agent as well. Frank Jr., feeling he will not fit in at his new school, poses as a substitute teacher in …


I found this article about a liar who has made headlines recently:

Suspected bogus 9/11 survivor from Barcelona

The sacked head of a 9/11 survivors network alleged to have invented her experience of the attacks on New York's World Trade Center is of Spanish origin, a newspaper reported Saturday, quoting acquaintances as saying she always sought to be the centre of attention.

The Catalonian daily La Vanguardia said Tania Head was better known in Barcelona as Alicia Esteve Head, publishing a photograph of her with colleagues taken when she worked as a management secretary in the city between 1998 and 2000.

Associates told the newspaper she often recounted unlikelystories which put herself at the centre of the action, notably one of a high-speed car crash in which she was badly hurt.

Tania Head wassacked from the prominent survivors' group on Wednesday, a day before the New York Times ran a front-page story that said "the pieces just didn'tfit" in the repeated tale o…

New Vocabulary

Do you remember these words from last week's class?
to spotto give awayto get away withto fidget / fidgetyto sweat / sweatyto mess around to live offto chat upto date (someone) / to have a date with (someone)to slow downto cheer upto cheatto be in charge ofto stumblea liar/ to tell a lierudeunusuala colleaguea spokespersona neighbourhoodlikelyThis is just some of the vocabulary that you came across during lessons last week. I encourage you to organize your notes well, think how you would use the words and create some sentences with them. Get into a routine of reviewing the vocabulary regularly and send the example sentences to me.

Complete the following sentences I have created with a word from above in the correct form.
________! Surely things aren't that bad.Stop _________ and sit _____!It's really _______ weather for this time of year. Normally it's much cooler.They ________________ for about a year now but I doubt they'll ever marry.He's very stubborn; he isn&…

Classroom mistakes

Here are some mistakes that I heard in the classroom this week. Can you spot them?

I won't be here next week. I am going on a travel to Paris for work.I thought about it but I decided not to go at the end.You shouldn't lie. You should always say the true.Richard works in the informatic department.Now he's in charge of maintenance. He used to working in a different area.I'm afraid I'm not agree with you.I have a new about Sarah - she's going to get married.How many were here on Monday? We were three.It's inpolite to ask people how much they earn.People say that the Scots are mean but that is just a topic.Both of my fathers were born in Madrid.The trip to Bilbao by car takes about 4 hours.I don't like my actual job. I preferred my old one.People hasn't much time to study languages.I can't remember; could you say me again, please?

BBC Learning English / Pronunciation: "-ed" endings

Take a look at BBC Learning English. I can'tpraisethis site enough; it's great! I suggest you make good use ofit. The site is divided into various sections. There are many articles to read, and clips to listen to and watch. There are loads ofgrammar and vocabulary exercises to do. There is a series called "The Flatmates" to keep up to date with.There are quizzes and even a blog (needless to say, not as good as ours is going to be!). Every section is updated regularly but also has a large store of archives.

Have a lookatthe latestaddition to theGrammar Challengesection. It is another chance to practice the pronunciation of thetricky"-ed" endings. It is divided into 4 parts. First listen to the Grammar Challenge programme and refresh your memory of the rules. Then do Practice Quizzes 1 and 2. Finally, go to the Use the Grammar section and read the work of other students.

Once you have done all that; I'd like you to start exploring all the sections contained…

The Loch Ness Monster

When I tell anybody who hasn't toured Scotland I am from Inverness, they reply with a blank look. As soon as I say it is the town next to Loch Ness, there is instant recognition and interest. More often than not, the question that follows is "And have you ever seen the monster...". If only I had a pound for every time I was asked....

And what is my answer to the much repeated question? "Well, one day a few years ago now I ..."

Here is an article about the recent lack of sightings of the elusive monster:

Has scepticism done for the Loch Ness Monster? Not so long ago it was impossible to visit Loch Ness withouttripping oversomebody who claimed to have intimate knowledge of Nessie.
But in the twilight zone of Britain’s deepest freshwater loch, a strange sanity is suddenly prevailing. There have been only two reported sightingsso farthis year and there were only three in 2006. A decade ago the numbers were consistently in the high teens.
It is now six years since t…

Introducing Juan Antonio!

Hi people! My name is Juan Antonio and I suppose I'm the laziest and shyest student that (1) ever Graham had . But he was kind enough to offer me the opportunity to write something about me. I couldn't refuse his offer. (2)Ask about to him...

I was born in Madrid, the best capital of Europe. If you don't think so, how can you explain all these foreigners that come to Madrid just to teach us English? Even when they “do miss the Italian food.” Oohh Mamma mia! With the (3) kitchens that we have in Spain. It's a pity that they don't have a Spanish mother to teach them to eat all our marvellous food; like I did.

This is why I love Spanish food and I miss it(4) the most of the times that I travel around the world. When you are more than 4 days eating the same foreign food, all the meals have the same taste. Don’t you think so? Even in India or Turkey, where I ate the most (5) original and made food, a long way from Spain.

Thank God, in ten days I travel to Japan. And (6)…