Showing posts from January, 2014

Cowboys and phantoms

Two questions that arose from our MOJ class were:
Why are spaghetti westerns so called?Was Phantom of the Opera based on a true story?
What Are Spaghetti Westerns and Where Did The Name Come From
By the second half of the twentieth century, spaghetti had become so well known throughout the world as an Italian food, that the word spaghetti itself came to be a sort of metaphor for anything Italian. So it is not surprising that when Italian film companies began to produce western movies in the 1960’s, they quickly came to be referred to as spaghetti westerns.

Source: Vocabulary: a putdown - lone (adj) - alongside - vastly superiour - broadly recognised - highly acclaimed - achievement (n) - so much so - a label - endearment - rather than - to tend to - fare (n) - first and foremost - readily available - to blur the lines - to give rise to stg - to starkly contrast - evil to the core - interestingly enough - to eventually begin - to come up (a topic) - to star (in a film) - world-renown…

Pre-Int Revision File 5

Each sentence has a missing word. Identify it and rewrite the sentences.

eg A: Where you from? B: Scotland.

answer: Where are you from? B: Scotland.

A: How long do you to get work?     B: About 40 minutes.A: I bought this designer jacket years ago but I've never worn it.   B: What a of money. Today is warmer yesterday.I have the same car my brother.The Spanish don't dress as well the French.What's the most interesting country you've been?I got 90% in the exam. It was by my best mark.Burgos is famous its cathedral.Santander is a town the north coast of Spain.My son spends too time playing video games.A: How people were at the party?     B: Around twenty.A: Why you take her to Paris for your anniversary?     B: That's a great idea.

Correct the sentences that have mistakes:
I can save half an hour if I drive to work.I speak much better than I did a year ago.She doesn't cook as good as her sister.I think I am a bit tidier than my girlfriend.He isn't lazy. …

Meteorites, Sir Francis Drake and submarines

Source: Wikipedia (Navicore)
What's the difference between a meteor and a meteorite?

I asked this question on arriving at my MOJ class. I had seen a bright light falling through the sky (it wasn't 8am yet and so it was still dark). It was too big and too close to be a shooting star. It must have been a meteor. Or maybe a meteorite.

José, the boffin in our class, gave an explanation; but I did a little research myself.

I found this question:

What is the difference between a meteor, a meteoroid, a meteorite, an asteroid and a comet? Most of us probably have seen meteors or shooting stars. A meteor is the flash of light that we see in the night sky when a small chunk of interplanetary debris burns up as it passes through our atmosphere. "Meteor" refers to the flash of light caused by the debris, not the debris itself. The debris is called a meteoroid. A meteoroid is a piece of interplanetary matter that is smaller than a kilometer and frequently only millimeters in size. Mo…

Shall we dance? / Let's dance

Source: You Tube (Rodgers and Hammerstein) Key Words: Shall we dance King and I

Shall We Dance? - The King and I

(Anna sings)
We've just been introduced
I do not know you well
But when the music started something drew me to your side
So many men and girls are in each others arms
It made me think we might be similarly occupied

Shall we dance, on a bright cloud of music
Shall we fly
Shall we dance
Shall we then say goodnight and mean goodbye
Or per chance, when the last little star has left the sky
Shall we still be together with our arms about each other
And shall you be my new romance
On the clear understanding that this kind of thing can happen
Shall we dance, shall we dance, shall we dance


Shall we dance, on a bright cloud of music
Shall we fly
Shall we dance
Shall we then say goodnight and mean goodbye

(The King Sings)
Or per chance, when the last little star has leave the sky

(Anna Sings)
Shall we still be together with our arms about each other
And shall you be …

False Friends - notorious and eventually

I discovered two more False Friends the other day.

FF are words that sound similar but have different meanings (embarrassed - embarazoso, constipado - constipated, actually - actualmente, library - librería and so on).

Notorious means famous for something bad.
Jack the Ripper is one of Britain's most notorious serial killers.Spain has become notorious for corruption.The King is a notorious womanizer.That company is notorious for paying low wages to its staff.It's a notoriously difficult exam to pass.She gained notoriety for being a difficult person to work with.
I looked up "notorio" and I see - well-known, famous, obvious, evident and noticeable.

In English you can say - It's a well-known fact that... Can you say - Es un hecho notorio que... ??

In English you can say - He told a blatant (= obvious) lie. Can you say - Ha dicho una mentira notoria ? I think it sounds strange.

In English you can say - It was an obvious mistake. Can you say - ha sido un error notario

San Antón - yet more animal cruelty

Horses leap bonfires in controversial festival
More than 100 horses and riders leapt the flames of roaring bonfires in a small Spanish town in a centuries-old festival that has raised the ire of animal rights activists.

Smoke and flames filled the night in San Bartolomé de Pinares, a central Spanish town of some 600 inhabitants, in the annual festival held on Thursday, the eve of Saint Anthony's Day for the patron saint of animals.

One by one, horses and their riders jumped the flames of large bonfires lit in the narrow, paved streets of the town, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) northwest of Madrid.

Source: Thelocal Vocabulary:
to leap (jump) -

a bonfire -

roaring (adj) -

a flame -

the eve of -

narrow -

lit -

paved -

to sit astride -

fiercely -

to date back -

concerned (worried) -

welfare -

to no avail -

to bless -

a mane -

a tail -

plaited -

to catch fire -

to sprinkle -

evil -

to ride  (rode, ridden) -

to engulf -

indeed -

to sting -

a youngster -

to pass down -

a helmet -

checkered -


Dragon's Den

Source: You Tube (MagicWandTVRemote) Vocabulary: a stake (in a company) - huge (adj) - a (magic) wand - a wizard - to rotate - a flick - to fast forward - to rewind - a ceiling - a fan - revenue (n) - within (prep) - a business partner - to spot - a brand -

an electronic display - a mark-up - a wholesaler - blended (adj) -

to stand up to scrutiny -

retail (n) -

(to make) a net profit -

to require -

a forecast -

appeal (n) -

equity -

to break cover -

ratchet (n) -

a deal -

to end up -

a share -

a sliding scale -

a canny move -

an outline -

an entrepreneur -

tricky (adj) -

Here is an article about the inventor of the Snowbone, who appeared in the first series of Dragon's Den:

Extreme entrepreneur Extreme sports like parasailing, bungee jumping and abseiling have always attracted people in search of the ultimate adrenaline rush. Cranfield MBA graduate Paddy Radcliffe, 35, saw a business opportunity that would transform winter sports: the Snowbone, a customised snowboard capable of high jumps and somersaul…

What a cheat!

We heard today about a runner who cheated in a marathon by swappingkit mid-race with his twin brother.

It reminded me of another story about a runner who cheated in a race.

Read and watch the video about what happened.

Kielder run organisers: Rob Sloan 'admitted cheating'
A runner who was disqualified from a marathon after being accused of cheating admitted he had made a mistake, event organisers have said.
Sunderland Harrier Rob Sloan came third during Sunday's Kielder Marathon but was stripped of the title over a claim he travelled part of the way by bus.

Source: BBC News Vocabulary:

to d_________ - to stop sb from being in a competition because they did stg wrong

to c____ - to behave in a dishonest way in order to win or get stg

to s____ sb of stg - to take stg important away from sb because they have done stg bad

a c____ - stg that sb says is true but hasn't been proved

to f___ to do stg - to not do what is necessary or expected

to a________ - to tell sb that you are…

Who is it? It's me

"It"- a little word that can cause big problems for the Spanish.

Many of you start your comment:

Hi Graham! I'm + "your name".

This would be fine if we had never met:

A: Hello. My name is Graham.
B: Hi Graham. I'm José.
A: Nice to meet you.
B: Nice to meet you.

But in situations where you don't see the person who is speaking and you know the person already eg on the phone, buzzing to get into a flat or saying hello on the blog; we use it:

Buzzzzzzzzz buzzzzzzzz
A: Who is it? (¿Quién es?)
B: It's me - Graham (Soy yo)
A: Oh, hi Graham. Come on in.

So next time when you write a comment, use "it":

Hi Graham! It's + "your name".

Students, of all levels, often omit "it" in sentences:

A: Is Tuesday?     B: No, is Wednesday.

A:Is it Tuesday?     B: No, it's Wednesday.

Be careful after verbs like "think":

A: What's Madrid like?      B: I thinkis a fun city to live in.

A: What's Madrid like?      B: I thi…

Alan Turing and the poisoned apple

Alan Turing, code-breaker castrated for homosexuality, receives royal pardon
Alan Turing, a British code-breaker during World War II who was later subjected to chemical castration for homosexual activity, has received a royal pardon nearly 60 years after he committed suicide.

Turing was best known for developing the Bombe, a code-breaking machine that deciphered messages encoded by German machines. His work is considered by many to have saved thousands of lives and helped change the course of the war. Source: CNN Vocabulary: a pardon - to deserve - a statement - a fitting tribute - to repeal (a law) - to lace - cyanide - a supporter - acknowledgement - to draw (signatures) - appalling (adj) - headquarters - to come up with (a solution) - countless (adj) - remarkable (adj) - This was a story that I didn't pay much attention to over the Christmas holidays. José and Lucía reminded me about it in class today. Lucía told us that the logo for Apple is related to the life of Alan Turing. Read…

2013 Review of Spanish news (Oct-Dec)

2013 Review of Spanish news (July - Sept)

6 minute English - "showrooming"

Today is the start of the sales in Spain. Are you going to look fora bargainor like me, youcan't facethecrowds?

Did you spend too much money on presents?

Do you know what "showrooming" is? Listen to 6 minute English to find out. If you find it too difficult, read the transcript as you listen. Take a note of the new expressions.

Then you can read  about the peril of showrooming.

Resolutions, predictions, plans...

Look at the following examples that express hopes, plans and so on for the New Year. Then write some of your own ideas for the year ahead.


I hope (that) I'll have more free time to do sport.

I hope to visit my uncle in London this year. I haven't seen him for years.

I wouldn't mind changing job. I'm not happy with the one I have.

I'd love to set up my own business but I don't know if I have the determination to succeed.

I'd like to go to the theatre more. I only went once last year.

Resolutions / promises:

I'll try to go to the gym three times a week.

I won't drink so much.                               (See post on will for promises, offers...)

Future plans / arrangements:

I'm going to get married in May.

I'm having my summer holidays in September this year.    (See post on future forms)


I mightto go skiing next month.      (See post on might)

Personal obligations / necessities:

I must to improve my English. My colleagues …

Crossword - New Year resolutions

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?

2013 Review of Spanish news (Apr-Jun)

Read some of these news stories. In your comments, tell me the new expressions that you have discovered.

Which of these stories interested you most?

Spain's Princess Christina named as suspect in corruption case vía @guardian
— Graham Mad Teacher (@madteacher72) April 3, 2013
"Nobody elected the King": Thousands protest monarchy in Spain

King of Spain is now 'less popular than tax inspectors' - vía @Independent Never liked the man...
— Graham Mad Teacher (@madteacher72) April 7, 2013
Queen Sofia wins apology from online adultery agency

Margaret Thatcher to have a Madrid street in her name
— Graham Mad Teacher (@madteacher72) April 12, 2013

"Escraches" have been in the news a lot recently. = doorstep demonstration. Do you think they should be allowed?
— Graham Mad Teacher (@madteacher72) April 15, 2013

Expat goodbyes bring down Spanish population -…

2013 Review of Spanish news (Jan-Mar)

Which of the following stories interested you most? Read at least one article and in your comment tell me any new words or expressions that you discover.

Spain: The pain of austerity deepens

Spain healthcare bosses quit over Madrid privatisation

Here Comes The Sun flashmob cheers Spanish unemployment office

Spain's El País apologises for false Hugo Chavez photo

Government faces corruption allegations

Operation Puerto doctor admits footballers came to his clinic

BBC News - Spanish apathy turns to anger at corruption 'epidemic'
— Graham Mad Teacher (@madteacher72) February 12, 2013
Rajoy as a Romanian BEGGAR. Just heard this sketch described as xenophobe. Where's your sense of humour????
— Graham Mad Teacher (@madteacher72) February 23, 2013Spain moves to give bullfighting special cultural status

Spain police arrest 45 in Madrid after protest

Spanish have highest healthy life expectancy in Europe

Spanish spy chief denies sending German …