Showing posts from 2014

An interview with Little Nicolás

Spain's 'high-society scammer' breaks silence
A 20-year-old student who infiltrated the inner circles of Spanish business and politics before being accused of a string of deception charges has claimed that he was arrested because he "knew too much".
Francisco Nicolás Gómez Iglesias, popularly known in Spain as "Little Nicolás", was arrested in October on suspicion of swindling, forging documents and impersonating public officials.

Despite not holding any official public position, he had managed to meet and be photographed with members of the royal family, including King Felipe VI, and politicians in Spain's ruling Popular Party such as former Prime Minister José María Aznar.

Source: The Local Vocabulary:
a scam / a scammer -

a string of stg -

deception / to deceive -

a charge (criminal) -

to claim stg / a claim -

to arrest sb -

to swindle -

to forge stg -

to manage to do stg -

such as -

former (adj) -

brazen (adj) -

a knack for stg -

to broker (agreements) -

The woman with the most titles in the world but ...

Did the Queen of England really have to bow before the Duchess of Alba?
Yes, she was the woman with the most titles in the world. But no, the Queen of England did not have to curtsey to her.

Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, who has died at the age of 88, was a duchess several times over, nearly 20 times a marchioness, another so many times a countess, and, what’s more, she was a viscountess, grand duchess and even a condestablesa. In total, she counted on more than 40 titles and held multiple decorations and honorary titles such as honorary citizen of Andalusia and of Seville. She was also awarded the gold medal of Madrid, and was the honorary mayoress of Liria.

Source: El País English Vocabulary:
to bow -

to curtsey -

several times over -

to hold (a title) -

to award -

for that matter -

as such -

Also read The Duchess of Alba: eight amazing factsSource: The Local 

Poll (6)

Which "ch" word has a /k/ sound?
headache (55%)     /ˈhedeɪk/purchase (0%)       /ˈpɜːtʃəs/chemist's (88%)    /ˈkemɪsts/character (100%)  /ˈkærəktər/chalk       (0%)     /tʃɔːk/stomach  (77%)   /ˈstʌmək/loch*        (44%)   /lɒk/ (English pronunciation - Scottish pronunciation is different - not /k/)chorus    (44%)   /ˈkɔːrəs/* In Scotland lakes are called lochs. So the correct pronunciation is not with /k/.

Which sentence(s) is / are grammatically wrong?

That was by far the best film we have seen this year. ✓ (83%)

by far + superlative + Present Perfect  (big difference with others)

It isn't nearly as warm as it was yesterday.  ✓  (33%)

nearly as + adjective + as     (almost the same)

Her English is a bit better than yours.   ✓   (16%)

a bit + comparative    (small difference)

The north is much expensive than the south.   ✘  (66%)

The north is much more expensive than the south.    ✓

much + comparative    (big difference)

My chocolate cake is just as good that hers.  ✘     (…

CAE vocabulary review

Complete the sentences with words that have come up in class:
I've been making _ n q _ _ r _ _ sinto the cost of train travel in the UK.Have another glass of wine. One more won't do you any h _ _ m.The idea of camping doesn't _ p p _ _ l to me at all. I'd rather pay for a nice hotel.Thirty business leaders will accompany the Prime Minister on his f _ _ _ h c _ _ _ _ g trip to the Far East.Some parents go to great l _ _ g _ _ s to get their children into the best schools.He says he had a pretty conventional _ p _ r _ _ g _ _ g despite having famous parents.Be careful what you say. Your words may come back to _ a u _ _ you.I've never heard such u _ _ _ r rubbish in all my life.She was quite hurt. I think you owe her an apology for that _ _ s _ _ s _ t _ _ e remark. I can't miss an episode. I'll cancel any appointments so that I can watch it. I think you could say that I'm h _ _ _ _ d.I think I need a refresher course. My computing skills have got a bit _ u…

FCE twitter vocabulary

Below are ten tweets that contain words and expressions that have come up in class.

Strange, I am getting a lot of puzzled looks today!
— R. Bowen Loftin (@bowtieger) October 4, 2014
Spain's PM says he took "sensible" decision to abandon hard-line abortion law proposals @ReutersSonyaD
— sarah morris (@sarahmorriseuro) September 23, 2014
I hate it when I can't get on with my work because of all the doughnuts that are on my desk.
— mynameisJimmy (@jimmy_sharpe) October 29, 2014
Look who's here😎💚 he must have finished his bone & worn himself out
— Kitlyne (@C3glz) October 26, 2014
Some lads just don't have a clue, got steak but they'd rather have fish fingers
— Georgia Charles (@geocharles_) October 27, 2014
Take a break: It's Happy No Housework Day! What's your least favorite house chore?
— The News-Press (@TheNewsPress) April 7, 2014
This i…

Good Manners Crossword

All the words in this crossword can be found in the reading "A World Guide to Good Manners".

You can click on the key symbol to get the answers.

If you do the crossword, write me a short comment. Did you get them all?

Little Nicolás - "friend" of the powerful

Exposed: student conman who fooled king

A 20-year-old student from an elite business school who was arrested last week on suspicion of swindling, forging documents and impersonating public officials cozied up to the cream of Spanish society, even managing to attend King Felipe VI’s proclamation.
Who is Francisco Nicolás Gómez Iglesias?

Now millions of people in Spain have heard of the fresh-faced man just out of his teens who in just a few years and without any official position in public life managed to hobnob with leading politicians and business figures, even attempting to negotiate in legal matters on behalf of Spain’s former King Juan Carlos.
Source: The Local Vocabulary:

a conman /  a con / to con sb -

to fool sb -

to arrest sb -

to swindle -

to cozy up to sb -

the cream of society -

to manage to do stg -

to attend (a meeting) -

to hear of sb/stg -

to hobnob with sb -

on behalf of sb -

wunderkind (n) -

charm (n) / charming (adj) -

to back sb -

to smooth away doubts -

to sum up -

slicked b…

Reform, renovate, restore and other re-words

I'm often asked how you say "hacer reformas" or "estar de obras" in English.

In the sense of home improvement, we don't say make reforms.

There are several ways of saying it, depending on the changes that you are going to make.
I'm going to do up my bedroom.  (paper it, paint the ceiling, perhaps buy some new furniture - so it looks fresher) They buy run down homes and renovate them and then sell them at a huge profit. (major works - to make as good as new again)I want to redecorate the living room. (the walls need papered, the ceiling needs painted)They are going to restore the church. (to repair it so it looks as it used to) I'm going to do some DIY this weekend. (Do It Yourself - repair things and make general improvements around the house)They are having building work done next door - it'll be quite a while until the've finished. (They are getting an extension, knocking down walls...)They are refurbishing the restaurant - it'll be clo…

Ebola fears

Ebola is highly contagious … plus seven other myths about the virus
The Ebola outbreak is serious, but the nature of the epidemic is often misunderstood – and inappropriate measures suggested
The Ebola outbreak has been claiming lives in Africa for many months now, but following the first Ebola death from a case diagnosed outside the continent, coverage – and concern – in the west has stepped up yet another notch.

The outbreak is certainly a grave issue for west Africa, a public health priority, and has been exacerbated by a slow response from international bodies and rich nations. It has already claimed more than 3,800 lives, and could claim far more without an appropriate international response.

But it is also not the species-ending disaster some fear it could be. Below are eight Ebola myths, and an attempt to set out the real position.

Source: Guardian


an outbreak / to break out -

to claim lives -

coverage (n) -

concern (n) -

to step up a notch -

to set out a position -


Bad spelling - I'm not alone

Half of Britons can't spell common words Forty per cent of Britons rely on autocorrect, survey reveals as occasionally, rhythm and conscience make it into the top words which stump writersEmbarrassment, occasionally and necessary have been listed among the words Britons have most difficulty spelling. Researchers who studied 2,000 adults found that more than half had problems spelling commonly used words. The list included accommodate, questionnaire and rhythm. Conscience also proved tricky, along with occurrence, restaurant and guarantee. Source: Telegraph
to rely on stg/sb -

a survey -

to stump -

a researcher -

research (UNC) -

to tend to do stg -

to struggle -

to rate stg -

Read this other post about spelling and the tricks to remember how to spell certain words.

This is me

My name is Graham - a name that some Spanish students have difficulty pronouncing.

I'm from Inverness which, unless you've been to Scotland, is a city that you have probably never heard of. It is in the far north of the country and the most famous lake in the world lies next to it.

1. How is Inverness?
It's a pleasant city to visit. It has a castle on a hill with some nice views of the surrounding countryside. There is a river that runs through the centre.

2. How long time are you teacher?
Over twenty years now. I never thought that I'd still be teaching in my forties.

3. What would you do if you don't be a teacher?
I'm not sure but when I was younger I liked the idea of being a journalist.

4. How long are you living in Madrid?
Thirteen years.

5. Do you enjoy to live here?
Not as much as I used to but I still think Madrid is a great city.

6. Have you lived in other country besides Spain?
I lived in Rome for nearly eight years.

7. Where did you go on holidays the last summ…

Another v other v others (Part 2)

It's been ages since I posted Part 1 about another. Here in Part 2 we will focus on other and others.

While another is used with singular countable nouns, other goes before plural countable nouns and uncountable nouns.
Some people drive while other people (/others) prefer to cycle.I didn't help her because I had other more important things to do.Have you got any other trainers (/any others) or are these your only ones?He's not just a chemistry teacher. He teaches other sciences too.Don't you like any other music apart from rock?

When followed by a noun, other does not form a plural.
We have othersother colours if you'd like to see them.He has othersother cousins who live in Australia.

We can use other before singular nouns (when we specify something) but we need to use another determiner before it.
I like this restaurant but I prefer the other one.María lives in Madrid but his other sister has been living in London for ten years.There's one other thing I want to m…

5 loves and hates about ...

Source: Youtube (woltersworld)
Try to predict the five things that he loves and hates about Spain, from the point of view of an American tourist, before listening to the video.

What are the five things that he loves and hates? Were your predictions correct? Do you agree with him?

Listen as many times as necessary. Check the word list below - can you hear them in the video?

Vocabulary: *Hi guys! - whether - *awesome (adj) -

tons to love -

to dislike - to end on a high note - funny = (adj) - downright hot -

Southern (adj) - *you'd better... - oppressively hot -

heat (n) -

a mild irritation - the lack of ... -
to take a nap - actually - tourist stuff - might not - supplies (n) - to purchase - annoying (adj) - a fool - to rip sb off (v/n) -

to turn out - to get drunk - a pickpocket - cool (Spanish students) - to warn sb - to watch out for stg - to lock (a door) - a bag snatcher - the sights - the landscape - a fair - the beauty - to keep up with sb -
to have a blast - no matter if ... -
to …

Now it's the turn of the Catalans - or is it?

Catalan parliament approves independence vote
Catalonia's parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favour of giving its regional president the power to call an independence "consultation".
Spain's government opposes the Catalan "consultation" vote and is taking the dispute to the Constitutional Court.

The move comes a day after Scotland voted against independence from the United Kingdom.

Catalan President Artur Mas said Scotland's referendum had "shown the way" for Catalonian independence.


overwhelmingly / overwhelming (adj) / to overwhelm -

a dispute -

large-scale -

support (n) -

to expect -

rejection (n) / to reject

a setback -

legal frameworks -

to welcome stg -

painful (adj) -

a surge in stg -

resentment (n) / to resent

to count on stg /sb -

to go ahead -

main (adj) -

to call for stg -

Post Scottish referendum speeches

Alex Salmond - First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the Scottish National Party

Listen to the speech. - *it starts here.

Can I say thank-you for that reception but above all thank-you to Scotland for 1.6 million votes for Scottish independence. Our friends in the Highlands of Scotland are still to speak so the final results aren't in, but we know there is going to be a majority for the No campaign.

It is important to say that our referendum was an agreed and consented process *and Scotland has by a majority decided not, at this stage, to become an independent country. I accept that verdict of the people and I call onall of Scotlandtofollow suit in accepting the democratic verdict of the people of Scotland.

I think all of us in this campaign will say that 45%, that 1.6 million votes, is a substantial vote for Scottish independence and the future of this country. Let us say something which I hope unites all campaigns and all Scots. I think the process by which we have made our d…

Tordesillas - the shameful side of Spain

Protestors and supporters clash at annual Toro de la Vega bull hunt
Elegido, the 596-kilo bull at the center of this year’s Toro de la Vega bull hunt in the Valladolid town of Tordesillas, got to live a half-hour longer thanks to the efforts of around 300 protestors who joined together to stop the 45 registered participants from setting out on their expedition.

“We’ve come to prevent a murder!” said Daniel, who had journeyed from Mallorca to try to stop the controversial annual event. Much reviled by animal rights groups for its cruelty, the Toro de la Vega involves hunters on foot and horseback chasing a bull through a pine forest before spearing it to death.

Source: El País Vocabulary: a protestor / to protest - a supporter / to support - a hunt (v/n) - to clash (v/n) - to set out on (an expedition) - to revile - on horseback - to chase - to spear (v/n) - to remove - to drag - nevertheless - to cheat (v/n) - to threaten / a threat - to file a report for stg / to report sb for stg - a breath / …