Thursday, 29 May 2008

Shakespeare's Tomb Curse

The tomb of William Shakespeare reportedly is being restored as part of extensive repairs at Holy Trinity Church in England's Stratford-on-Avon.
The BBC said the stone marking the author's grave is etched with the warning:
"Blessed be the man that spares these stones/ And cursed be he who moves my bones"
Neither the stones nor the bones will be moved during the restoration, the report said.
"We're avoiding the curse," Ian Stainburn, of Stainburn Taylor architects and historic buildings consultants, told the BBC.
"Over the years, the 400 years, (the stones have) started to laminate, the surfaces are coming off, and with people walking over them, clergy during the communion services and so on, the surfaces are getting eroded."
Shakespeare was baptized at Holy Trinity in April 1564 and buried there 52 years later.
His grave slab in the chancel and a memorial to him are popular tourist attractions, the BBC said.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Why Save Worms?

Many beautiful animals, such as pandas and whales, are in danger of being killed off by human activity. Some people are working to save these creatures... but what about the less pretty species? We hear from an environmental expert who argues that we should put more effort into saving worms than pandas! Find out why, with Jackie and Elena.

This week's question: According the IUCN - The World Conservation Union, how many species of plant and animal are in danger of becoming extinct?
a) 207
b) 1,082
c) 16,306
Listen out for the answer at the end of the BBC programme!

Vocabulary from the programme

species: a group of plants or animals whose members are similar and can breed together to produce young animals or plants
conservation:protection of natural things such as plants or animals
Example: Some people think the government should put more effort into conservation.
in danger of extinction:at risk of disappearing altogether
Example: Thousands of species are in danger of extinction.
beneficial:good, it does something that helps
habitat:the place where the animals live naturally
an ecosystem: all the animals and plants in an area and the way in which they are related to each other and their environment
invertebrates :a living creature without a spine/backbone, such as a worm

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Slips of the Ear

Three old guys are out walking. First one says, "Windy, isn't it?"
Second one says, "No, its Thursday!"
Third one says, "So am I. Let's go get a beer."

A man was telling his neighbour, "I just bought a new hearing aid. It cost me four thousand dollars, but it's state of the art. It's perfect."
"Really," answered the neighbour. "What kind is it?"
"Twelve thirty."

Monday, 26 May 2008

How to Be Suave

Click on the image to enlarge.
"Basic Instructions" is a comic strip. Any advice contained herein is intended as humor, and should not be followed as actual instructions or advice.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Wildcat: Is It a Fast Car or False Money?

Americans use the names of animals in many ways: now, the VOA Special English program, Words and Their Stories. Today, we talk about the word wildcat.

Humans have always depended on animals. From the beginning of human history, wild animals provided food, clothing and sometimes medicine.

We may not depend as much on wild animals now. But we hear about them every day. Americans use the names of animals in many ways.

Many companies use animals to make us want to buy their goods. Automobile companies, for example, love to show fast horses when they are trying to sell their cars. They also name their cars for other fast powerful animals.

Automobile manufacturers and gasoline companies especially like to use big cats to sell their products. They like lions, tigers and wildcats.

When Americans say wildcat, they usually mean a lynx, an ocelot or a bobcat. All these cats attack quickly and fiercely. So wildcats represent something fast and fierce.

What better way is there to sell a car than to say it is as fast as a wildcat. Or, what better way is there to sell gasoline than to say that using it is like putting a tiger in your tank....

Friday, 23 May 2008

Cornwall. Another Land's End

Think of Cornwall and immediately there springs to mind a vision of Atlantic rollers tumbling over jagged rocks to lash against towering cliffs. This is Cornwall's northern coast, which for centuries has taken a pounding from the turbulence of a 3,000 mile ocean. This part of Cornwall is dominated by Celtic mystery, tales and legends of King Arthur and his dramatic legendry castle perched on a rocky outcrop above Tintagel...
Visit online this Land's End so similar to our Finisterra!

Thursday, 22 May 2008

6-Word Story

The American writer, Ernest Hemingway bet ten dollars that he could write a complete story in just six words. He wrote:
"For Sale: baby shoes, never worn." He won the bet.

Could you tell the story of your life in just six words? Join Jackie and Callum as they share theirs.

This week's question: Who said "Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."

a) William Shakespeare
b) Oscar Wilde
c) Ernest Hemingway

Find out in the programme!

Useful vocabulary for the programme:

Expressions to describe stories/books you like and that make you feel strong emotions:
poignant, moving, touching, powerful,gripping
'I just couldn't put it down' (usually only to describe books)

Expressions to describe stories or books you are not enjoying
boring,dull,slow-moving,difficult to get into

Other words in the programme

a crackhead (very informal!) slang word for someone who uses the drug crack-cocaine

a twist and turn when unexpected things happen
Example: Life has many twists and turns.
'a twist' is often used when talking about a book or a film where something unexpected happens
Example: The film has a very clever twist near the end.

Some anecdotes:
In a boxing match with friend and writer Morley Callaghan, Hemingway's lip was cut. Hemingway spit blood into Callaghan's face and said: "The bullfighters do that when they are injured, it is how they show contempt."
In his will, Shakespeare scarcely mentions his wife. He did make a point, however, of leaving her "my second best bed".
"Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty." (from The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde)

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Face up to Phrasal Verbs. Final

If you didn't follow our advice about phrasal verbs on 9th February, now this is your last option to learn about Betty and Fred:
'Face up to Phrasals'? What's it all about? Who are Fred and Betty?
The first series of 'Face up to Phrasals' is all about Betty and Fred. They've been together for years, but Betty's very upset with Fred right now. She's about to tell him what's made her so angry - listen in to their conversation and practise your phrasal verbs.

Now you can listen to the whole story below with the complete tapescripts or... you can select chapters one by one.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008


Have you been for an interview for a job? Did you enjoy it or were you very nervous? What does this person find difficult?
Find out by doing these four exercises:
Exercise one Pre-listening vocabulary.
Exercise two Click on the words you hear.
Exercise three. Problems?
Exercise four. Listen and match

Monday, 19 May 2008

Stress Power

When I tell my students how important word stress is, they show surprise perhaps it is because of our different stress pattern.
When you are speaking English, the words you stress can change the underlying meaning of a sentence. Have a look at the following sentence:
I don't think he should get the job.
This simple sentence can have many levels of meaning based on the word you stress. Consider the meaning of the following sentences with the stressed word in bold. Read each sentence aloud and give a strong stress to the word in bold:
I don't think he should get the job.
Meaning: Somebody else thinks he should get the job.
I don't think he should get the job.
Meaning: It's not true that I think he should get the job.
I don't think he should get that job.
Meaning: That's not really what I mean. OR I'm not sure he'll get that job.
I don't think he should get that job.
Meaning: Somebody else should get that job.
I don't think he should get that job.
Meaning: In my opinion it's wrong that he's going to get that job.
I don't think he should get that job.
Meaning: He should have to earn (be worthy of, work hard for) that job.
I don't think he should get that job.
Meaning: He should get another job.
I don't think he should get that job.
Meaning: Maybe he should get something else instead.

As you can see, there are many different ways this sentence can be understood. The important point to remember is that the true meaning of the sentence is also expressed through the stressed word or words.

Exercise: Write out a number of sentences. Read each of them stressing a different word each time you read them. Notice how the meaning changes depending on which word you stress. Don't be afraid to exaggerate the stress, in English we often use this device to add meaning to a sentence. It's very possible that when you think you are exaggerating, it will sound quite natural to native speakers.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Who on Earth are we? Part 2

Who on Earth are we? is a series about culture and how it affects us. It explores some of the major differences between cultures and looks at what happens when people from different cultures meet and communicate. The series is presented by Marc Beeby.

What is culture? In this second programme Marc Beeby tries to answer this question and discovers just why culture is so difficult to define and talk about.
Read the tapescript while you listen to it.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Optical Illusions

Do you remember what your philosophy teacher told you about optical illusions?

Friday, 16 May 2008

Mosquitos & Teenagers

Jackie and Callum talk about a new device which some people are using to get rid of gangs of teenagers. The 'mosquito' emits an annoying sound which only young people can hear. Is it a good way of stopping young people from causing trouble?

This week's question: What is a citizen's arrest?

a) when a member of the public is arrested by a police officer
b) when members of the public vote on whether someone should be arrested
c) when a member of the public arrests another member of the public

Listen to the BBC programme for the answer.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Actual School Excuses...

The following are real school excuses, explaining the reason behind the absence of students. Enjoy! :-)

12. Please excuse my son for being absent yesterday, because there is a river in our house.
11. My son is under a doctor's care and should not take P.E. today. Please execute him.
10. Dear School: Please ekscuse John being absent on Jan. 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, and also 33.
9. Please excuse Roland from P.E. for a few days. He fell out of a tree and misplaced his hip.
8. John has been absent because he had two teeth taken out of his face.
7. Megan could not come to school today because she has been bothered by very close veins.
6. Chris will not be in shcool cus he has an acre in his side.
5. Please excuse Ray Friday from school. He has very loose vowels.
4. Please excuse Tommy for being absent yesterday. He had diarrheea and his boots leak.
3. Please excuse Jennifer for missing school yesterday. We forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch, and when we fouind it Monday, we thought it was Sunday.
2. Sally won't be in school a week from Friday. We have to attend her funeral.

and last but not least...

1. Please excuse Lisa for being absent. She was sick and I had her shot!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Passive Voice V. Do you know when....?

... was the first diving-suit created for under water use?
... were the first matches invented?
...was the washing-machine built?
...were the disc-brakes designed for cars?

Do you want to know the truth? Have a look at some technological inventions and enterprises from 1780 to 1980 and you'll get the answers.

And now your task:
- Find out some of the inventions and enterprises that have been undertaken over the last 20 years.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Cognates and False Friends

Cognates - words that sound similar in different languages - can be very helpful when learning another language. But sometimes they can turn out to be 'false friends' and mean something completely different.
For example it is not the same to say 'embarrased'/'pregnant'; or 'constipated'/'to catch a cold' and in certain context, certain words can be dangerous to get a fluent and accurated speech.
Have a look to this list... and enjoy with some of these tricky words!

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Passive IV: How to Do It: Making Paper by Hand

The earliest process of making paper was done almost five thousand years ago in Egypt and the Nile Valley. In those days, paper was made from strips of the papyrus plant.
Modern paper-making began in China about two thousand years ago. This process produced paper from cloth, straw, wood or the bark of trees...

If you want to learn or listen to more information about it enter Voice Of America, if you want to practice your listening, just click on the audio below before reading the article.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Listening to Jokes: Three Restaurants

There were three restauraunts on the same block. One day one of them put up a sign which said "The Best Restaurant in the City."

The next day, the largest restaurant on the block put up a larger sign which said "The Best Restaurant in the World."

On the third day, the smallest restaurant put up a small sign which said "The Best Restaurant on this Block."

Monday, 5 May 2008

Who on Earth are we? Part 1

Who on Earth are we? is a BBC series about culture and how it affects us. It explores some of the major differences between cultures and looks at what happens when people from different cultures meet and communicate. The series is presented by Marc Beeby.

Part 1
In this first episode of Who on Earth are we? Marc Beeby introduces the topic of culture and inter-cultural communication. We hear some anecdotes relating to cross-cultural surprises and discover that the more we learn about other cultures, the more we learn about ourselves.
Try the tapescript while you listen to the programme.(Remember click on the right mouse button)

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Have/Get something Done. Passive Voice III

In English, unlike some Latin-based languages, we cannot say that we do, did or are going to do something if it is in fact another person who is going to perform the action.
In Galician, for example, you might say:

Vou cortar o pelo (I am going to cut my hair)

and actually mean that you are going to the barber's or hairdresser's, where a professional will actually do the cutting.
In English, if you say "I am going to cut my hair" it means that you will sit down in front of a mirror with the scissors and do it yourself.
When we wish to talk about arranging for things to be done by other people, we use the structure to have something done:

I am going to have my hair cut.
I have my car serviced every two months.
We had the house redecorated over the summer.

It is also possible to use the verb get instead of have:

I am going to get my hair cut.
I get my car serviced every two months.
We got the house redecorated over the summer

Try this multiple choice exercise or this drag and drop practice.

Friday, 2 May 2008

How Much Do You Know About Cats?

Cats have both fascinated and mystified for thousands of years. For at last 4.000 years they have been kept as pets. See how pet smart and cat savvy you are by answering this brain teaser.


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