Showing posts from March, 2011

Rocky relationship

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Spanish Crown Prince stirs Gibraltar controversy with Prince of Wales

The Spanish heir to thronewaded into the centuries old row over the disputed territory at the foot of the Iberian Peninsula at a gala dinner to welcome the Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall on their first official visit together to Spain.

"I express my hope that our authorities make progress towards a solution to our historic bilateral dispute which is yet to be resolved," said the 43-year-old Prince of Asturias in a speech at the Palacio Real in Madrid.

Although he did not mention Gibraltar by name it was clear he was referring to the tiny peninsula on Spain's southwestern tip, which Madrid ceded to London under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.

Spain still claims sovereignty over the Rock, home to 28,000 Gibraltarians, who in a 2002 referendum overwhelmingly rejected a deal to shared sovereignty between the two nations and demanded to remain a part of Britain.

The royal couple have avoided …

'Yes, very well fandango!'

The visit of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall to Spain continued on Thursday with a visit to meet both the Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and the Mayor of Madrid, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón.

The Spanish Press has noted how the Royal Visit has highlighted the Prime Minister’s lack of English. Zapatero is reported to have said to Prince Charles ‘Yes, very well fandango’. The press contrast the Prime Minister’s lack of linguistic skill with that of Prince Felipe, and that of Esperanza Aguirre, the regional PP President of Madrid.

However interpreters were on hand for Zapatero and Charles to talk about the world economic crisis, the fight against climate change, and the creation of low carbon economy. El País reports that other subjects raised were inter-religious dialogue, support for youngsters in business, and the relationship between the two countries. No political mattes were talked about and there was no mention of Gibraltar, which had however been raised by P…

Most Brits in Spain say no gracias to integration

George Orwell wrote in 1938: "The only way I could get along was to carry everywhere a small dictionary which I whipped out of my pocket at moments of crisis. But I would sooner be a foreigner in Spain than in most countries. How easy it is to make friends in Spain!"

More than 70 years after the publication of Homage to Catalonia, a million of Orwell's fellow countrymen have followed his lead, although their motivation for coming to Spain may be different. What Orwell would make of this vast diaspora – the largest contingent of foreigners in Spain and 2% of the population – would certainly merit a book in itself, although it might not be a homage.

The popular image of British expats here is of either reclusive retirees watching EastEnders on satellite TV, a Daily Mail on their lap, glass of cheap wine at their elbow and a full English breakfast in their belly or of boozed-up, drugged-up, football-loving young ravers.

The annual report by all of Britain's consulates a…

Headlines from Spain

The Guardian has a series about four countries, that form part of what they call The new Europe.

The series expores every aspect of their cultures, economies and day-to-day lives.

This week the focus is onSpain.

Look through the many interesting articles.

Here they look at what is making the headlines:

Spanish politicians' last-minute dash for photo opportunities In the headlines: politicians rush to open unfinished airports, while revelations of Eta negotiations cause a storm
A marathon of tape-cutting and airport opening photo opportunities for Spanish politicians ended this week as rules on electioneering meant nothing new could be inaugurated until after regional and municipal elections on 22 May.

The rush to produce appealing photos means many facilities have been inaugurated before they are finished. El País lists everything from a non-functioning airport at Castellón to a metro line in Seville.

The government was still negotiating with Eta after the Basque separatist group br…

Pre Int File 4 Vocabulary

Complete the sentences with a word in the correct form:
It was very hot so I t____ o__ my jumper.H&M is one of the most s_________ clothes stores in the world.I bought these jeans ages ago but I haven't w____ them yet.My boss is very m_____ - sometimes he's happy and the next moment he is shouting at you.Her husband d_____ her mad. Every time there is a football match on TV, he watches it.I am w______ my time here. I have more important things to do.H_____ up or you will be late.A: You look sad. B: I had an a________ with my girlfriend this morning.People in Edinburgh are very h_______. If you ask them for directions, they will take you there themselves.I am so busy that I never have e______ time to do everything.Can you tidy your room, please? It is in such a m____.He has a shower, g___ d_______ and then he goes to work without breakfast.How long does your journey to work t____?She is always c_________ about something. She is never happy.I hate wearing s_____. I prefer a c…

Pre-Int File 4 Grammar

Correct the sentences that have mistakes:
Have you ever been in Scotland?What have you done in class yesterday?When did you last see Mrs Connor?She's never eaten paella.A: Where's Steve? B: He's just been.A: Have you finished the homework yet? B: No yet.We've already heard this song.David is taller that his brother now.I am more stressed in my new job.He isn't as funnier as the teacher we had before.Women is better at languages than men.She is the ugliest woman I have ever met.London is one of the most expensive city in the world.Moscow is the second more dangerous city in Europe.A: What is like the weather? B: It's raining.
Don't forget to use the English File website when revising.

Verb Patterns - tricky ones

Some verbs can be followed by either the infinitive or -ing form.

Take the verb "to start":
She started crying when he shouted at her. RIGHTShe started to cry when he shouted at her. RIGHTThe bells start ringing at twelve. RIGHTThe bells start to ring at twelve. RIGHTThere is no difference in meaning between the sentences.

We don't use two -ing verbs together. So:
Look! It is starting raining. WRONGLook! It is starting to rain. RIGHTI was just starting falling asleep when the phone rang. WRONGI was just starting to fall asleep when the phone rang. RIGHT

Be careful with the verb "to stop". Consider the following sentences:
Stop laughing at me! RIGHTStop to laugh at me! WRONGWe stopped putting petrol in the car. WRONGWe stopped to put petrol in the car. RIGHT"Stop" is normally used with the -ing form. The -ing verb is the action that stops.

When "stop" is followed by the infinitive, it gives the reason for stopping.

Think about the examples I ga…

Demo in London

Click on main title to see video.
went on well into the nightagainst the backdrop of some of London’s biggest landmarkspolice and protestors injuredthe amount of messa huge clean up operation is underwayhad hoped it would be their message making the headlinescampaign against the government’s cutbacksthat isn’t clouded by reporting on whatever else has been happening in other parts of Londonjust one of the buildings on their hitlistthe door was smashedlight bulbs with ammonium in themmeant to be a last resortafter running scuffles broke out between …so keen to try to avoid

Cuts March Clean-Up After Night Of Arrests

Central London businesses are cleaning up and repairing damage after a night of violence that overshadowed a massive anti-government cuts demonstration.

Up to 200 rioters wearing masks and hooded tops attacked banks and hotels in Piccadilly as up to 500,000 people staged a peaceful rally in nearby Hyde Park.

The windows and doors of banks were smashed and paint was daubed i…

Past Perfect: had + participle

She gave me a DVD for my birthday but I had already seen it.

hadn't heard of the actress until I read about her death in the newspaper.

By the time he arrived, I had finished all the work.

They had never eaten paella until they came to Spain.

The teacher corrected all the homework that his pupils had given him.

My grandmother went to hospital because she had hurt her arm in a fall.

I bumped into a friend in the town centre who I hadn't seen for ages.

A: Had you ever been to Paris before then? B: Yes; I had been there once before.

I had just finished cleaning the floor when the kids came in.

You can see from the above examples that we use the Past Perfect to express an action which happened before a certain time in the past (emphasis is put only on the fact and *not the duration). So the first verb uses Past Perfect and the second Past Simple (they are distinct actions).

* Only with state verbs can we express the duration:
She had been in London for five years before she met he…

Kids with mobiles: beware!

NASUWT teaching union attacks school phone powers

Plans to allow teachers in England to search pupils for mobile phones and examine the phones' content have been called "reckless" by a teaching union.

The measures in the new Education Bill are designed to combat cyber-bullying.

But the NASUWT says it will create conflict between teachers and pupils and their parents.

The government insists the measures help assert the authority of teachers and will allow them to deal with problems in schools more effectively.

Schools have developed different policies on pupils using mobile phones.

Many teachers have found themselves challenged by students and parents when they try to confiscate them.

'Disproportionate powers'

The Education Bill for England will give the teachers a legal right to search pupils and take their phones - and also look at and delete any messages and pictures they deem necessary.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates says the powers are disproportionate…

Have you ever ego-surfed?

Heart symbol enters Oxford English Dictionary

The heart sign has entered the Oxford English Dictionary as the first graphical symbol to signify a word in the reference work's 127-year history.

Readers looking up the word “heart” will find the symbol listed as an entirely new usage, as a verb meaning “to love”.

Perhaps the most famous example, which is included in the latest edition of the dictionary, is the New York tourism advertising slogan: I [heart] NY.

Its earliest recorded use is on a car bumper sticker printed in the US in 1984, which read: “I [heart] my dog’s head.”

Researchers believe the use of the heart symbol in this way is the first time a typographical innovation developed through such bumper stickers and tee-shirts has entered mainstream language use.

The symbol is among 45,437 new words and meanings added to the latest revision of the dictionary, which is held to be the most authoritative and comprehensive record of the English language in the world.

Among the…

Where have all the iconic movie stars gone?

Paparazzi stalking, reality TV and pre-packaged pop-tarts. That’s who the media’s blaming for an end of an era. With the death of Elizabeth Taylor, people are asking, where have all the iconic movie stars gone?

The resounding chorus seems to agree -- Angelina Jolie’s the closest thing America has to an old-fashioned, Hollywood starlet. Rumors are swirling Jolie will headline an Elizabeth Taylor biopic, as well as tackle Taylor’s most iconic role, Cleopatra, in a blockbuster remake. (NBC)

But a writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer wonders, is she good enough?

“Taylor was a MOVIE STAR when being a movie star meant something. She was also a serious actress, strikingly beautiful and catnip to men. Oh, you youngsters say, she’s just like Angelina Jolie. Talk to us in 2050.”

While Jolie and Taylor share some off-screen similarities, a blogger for CNN argues, there’s only one place a movie star can be made, and it ain’t between the pages of a magazine.

“When people call Elizabeth Taylor th…

Heartwarming stories from Japan

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With an energetic, hardwired bust, Atticus charges into the rubble, bouncing around a fallen roof. He's focused on one thing: finding a living, breathing human amid the sprawling wreckage of the tsunami. It might seem an unfair request of a German shepherd, but Atticus and more than a dozen other dogs working with U.S. and British rescue teams here are more than equal to it.

How important are these dogs to these operations?

ROB FURNISS, BRITISH CANINE SEARCH SPECIALIST: Very. There's a lot of technical gear. Obviously, the listening devices, the cameras. There's all that stuff, all that stuff for locating people. But at the end of the day, you can't beat a dog for hitting the scent of a human being.

TODD: Like most canine specialists, Rob Furnace has a tight bond with his Border Collie Byron.

FURNISS: Good boy!

TODD: The dogs are so highly trained, they're able to block out the scent of a deceased person and pick up only on someone w…

"You are prettier when you keep quiet"

Mexico advises workers on sexist language

Mexico's interior ministry has published a guide on how to reduce the use of sexist language in a nation renowned for its machismo.

The Manual for the Non-sexist Use of Language is being distributed to government offices across Mexico.

It seeks to reduce comments that enforce gender stereotypes, as well as the default use of the masculine form in the Spanish language.

The manual was written by a body that tackles violence against women.

In its introduction, the manual describes itself as "a tool to familiarize federal public workers with the use of non-sexist strategies in the Spanish language".

It discourages the use of phrases such as: "If you want to work, why did you have children," and: "You are prettier when you keep quiet".

It also advises against referring to women as possessions, as in phrases such as "Pedro's woman".


The manual says workers should avoid using the masculine …

Elizabeth Taylor - a true star

Source: NothingZombie (You Tube) Transcript

ET: Why are you looking at me like that?

PN: Like what?

ET: Like you were just looking.

PN: I wasn't conscious of looking at you, Maggie.

ET: I was conscious of it.

ET: If you were thinking the same thing I was...

PN: No, Maggie!

ET: Why not?

PN: Will you please keep your voice down?

ET: No!

ET: I know you better than you think.

ET: I've seen that look before...

ET: ...and I know what it used to mean.

ET:  And it still means the same thing now.

PN: You're not the same woman now, Maggie.

ET: Don't you think I know that?

ET: Don't you think I know...

PN: Know what, Maggie?

ET: That I've gone through this horrible transformation.

ET: I've become hard and frantic and cruel.

PN: Are you planning on meeting Big Daddy's plane?

ET: Oh, Brick! I get so lonely.

PN: Everybody gets that.

ET: Living with somebody you love can be...

ET: ...lonelier than living entirely alone...

ET: ...when the one you love doesn't love y…