Monday, 30 March 2009

Cooking for All!

Would you like to cook by yourself?
Are you tired of the same meals day by day? Could you prepare specialities from other cultures?
Food and eating habits are a big issue in Britain at the moment, the same happens in Spain too!
Find out more about British government plans as you practise your listening comprehension skills!


Friday, 27 March 2009

If You Had a Million Dollars....

Listen to this hip hop and follow the instructions.
Remember to click on the images when you listen to them

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Cutting down, Eating up

On BBC 6 minute English Jackie and Neil look at how the economic slowdown is affecting what we eat and talk about the language of money and economics.
This week's question: The word 'economy' comes from the Ancient Greek word, 'oikonomia'. What, literally, did the term 'oikonomia' mean? Was it:

a) the practice of making money and wealth move around
b) management of a household
c) saving as much money as possible

Vocabulary from the programme:

a recession= a period of significantly reduced economic activity
an economic slowdown / a slump in the economy= a time when the economy isn't doing very well (usually not as serious as a recession)
to cut down= to do less of something e.g. I want to cut down on smoking
‘recession beating’ companies= firms that aren't actually suffering from the recession
budget= low cost e.g. a budget airline, budget food retailers
to expand= to get bigger

Tapescript for reading after listening (click on the link at the beginning as I can't download the audio)

Wednesday, 25 March 2009


Do you use any of the social networking websites which are so popular these days? You know - the places where you can connect up with friends and relatives and meet people who share the same interests as you?

If you're younger you may use MySpace, young adults are more likely to be found on Facebook and busy professionals may prefer something like LinkedIn. But at least two of these sites have one thing in common: apart from being social spaces where you can meet and chat to people, share photos and other things, they've all added new verbs and nouns to the language in the past couple of years. Let's take a look at some examples...

I've just facebooked the photos from my summer holiday
[uploaded them to my facebook page]
I facebooked that guy John and it turns out he's an architect
[looked him up in Facebook]
Did you facebook Susan about the party?
[contact Susan through her Facebook page]
Anyway, nice to meet you. Do you mind if I facebook you?
[add you as a Facebook friend]

And while you're 'facebooking' or 'myspacing' you may also find yourself 'commenting' (writing a comment on someone's Facebook or MySpace page), as in this example: 'I commented Dawn that she should come to the pub on Saturday and she commented me that she couldn't because she was going away for the weekend'.
And don't forget to revise safety advise on the net.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Conditionals: The Big If

How good do you think your general knowledge is?
Do you have a good memory for facts and figures or do you always have to look up the same piece of information again and again?
A company is planning to launch a new board game called 'The Big If' that tests people's general knowledge. Players move around a board and answer questions in five categories:

How did you do?

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Conditionals and More: Alternatives to IF

As long as / provided / on condition that / only if

We can use these alternatives to if if we want to emphasize the conditions surrounding the action, i.e. one thing will happen only if another thing happens.

We can also use so long as and providing (that) as alternatives to as long as and provided (that). On condition that is formally very explicit. Provided / providing are more formal than as long as / so long as. Compare the following:

We will lend you the money on condition that it is repaid within 12 months.

We will lend you the money provided (that) you can repay it within 12 months.

I don’t mind talking to the press, but only if my identity is protected.

You can have the day off today providing you agree to work a double shift tomorrow.

You can borrow my DVD player as long as you return it on Monday.

Now try some exercise to test your knowledge about conditional sentences in general:
test one, mixed exercises and tutorial

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Saint Patrick's History

St. Patrick is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. He was born in the fourth century and is famous for bringing Christianity into Ireland. St. Patrick’s Day is a very well known Irish national holiday, which is celebrated not only in Ireland but all around the world. It falls on the 17th of March.

St. Patrick was born to wealthy parents in the late fourth century. Until the age of 16, he thought of himself as a pagan. He was kidnapped and sold as a slave at this age by Irish marauders. It was during this capture that he turned to God.
He managed to escape after being a slave for six years and then studied in a monastery in Gaul for 12 years. This was when he knew that his ‘calling’ was to try and convert all the pagans in Ireland to Christianity.
St. Patrick went around Ireland founding monasteries and successfully converting people to Christianity. The Celtic Druids were very unhappy with him and tried to arrest him several times but he always managed to escape.
After 30 years of being a missionary in Ireland, he finally settled down in a place called County Down. He died on the 17th of March, AD 461.
Go on reading

Try the Ireland Quiz to test if you have understood all the information.

Read about last year's post and other places celebrations thanks to Smithsonian Magazine.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Truth of Troy: Trojan War Story

Take a closer look at the fictional story of the Trojan War written by Homer. Was there any truth in the myth? Is it possible that there was an ancient war fought for love? Did Helen really have a face that launched a thousand ships?

Do you want to know more about The World of The Aeneid?

Friday, 13 March 2009

"Oh no, it's Friday the 13th!"

Thanks to Greg Williams and Wikiworld
Click on the image to enlarge

Does the phrase "Oh no, it's Friday the 13th!" mean anything to you? Does this date fill you with fear, anxiety and foreboding - or is it simply another day on the calendar? Whether you're superstitious or not, join us as we try to find out why Friday the 13th is such an infamous date.

First listen to the BBC radio programme.
Then try to do the Unlucky Day Quiz

Words and expressions from the programme:

to be superstitious: to believe that certain things are lucky or unlucky, or can cause certain events to happen - based on old magic
anxiety/to feel anxious: to feel worried and nervous
utter dread: very great fear
bad luck/to be unlucky: when bad things seem to happen to you without any real reason
a coincidence: when two or more things happen at the same time by chance in a surprising way
to tempt fate: to do or say something that might make it easier for bad things to happen
potency/potent: powerful, influential

And if you've got any doubt read the tapescript.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Homer's Evolution

Homer evolves from a single cell organism into a couch potato.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

BBC Downloads

As you really know, apart from surfing on BBC web pages on
..., you can download the last seven days' audio, video and text to take away.
What else do you need to improve your learning?

Monday, 9 March 2009

Languages, Languages...

When learning another language we try to translate the new words to our own instead of learning how the new language works. Sometimes the translations are quite funny as you can see from the list above.
Have fun reading funny English signs and if you have any doubt you can solve them with the key-explanation.

There are many words in English which come from other languages, try to revise this list from Learning English British Council's page

Sunday, 8 March 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

A friend of mine presented this title on her web page Bloggin' away, and it is a good moment to let you know about its author, his works and his time, one of my favourite American writers.
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is a short story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and now released as a film starred by Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. The screen play differs greatly from the book. Only the title, Benjamin's name, and most aspects of the aging process described in the book were retained in the screen play.

Beginning with the death bed scene of an old woman in New Orleans, the story is revealed quite differently. In the film, Benjamin, born a wrinkled and arthritic infant whose mother died at his birth, was abandoned by his father and lived in a nursing home for seniors with a young African-American named Queenie, whom he called Momma. When he was twelve years of age, he met a girl named Daisy who believed him when he said that he was aging in reverse. They fell in love and after many changing events in their lives, had a child. The child never had the opportunity to know her father because he left the household and she was raised by her mother and a step dad whom Daisy married some time after Benjamin left. The film ends with Daisy relating to their daughter how as an older woman, she cradled the baby Benjamin in her arms as he ceased to live. Benjamin also becomes plagued with the illnesses of old age while looking younger.
Click on the link of the University of Virginia read it , or watch its trailer... pay atention to the film poster and tell me what is wrong with it, if there is something, of course!

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Computer Games and Girls

Computer games have been criticised for quite some time over a whole range of issues. Some people say they are overly violent and encourage violent behaviour particularly in children. Others say that they make children hyperactive, unsociable and are bad for their eyes. Some have even attributed falling standards of literacy and a lack of interest in reading on them. Now, however, it seems that computer games have also become a feminist issue...
Go on reading while you listen.

After the comprehension questions read about other people's opinions on computer and children.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

44 Presidents of US

A long way to catch a dream, enter the White House web page , or its blog and find out about the history the administration, the house, the presidents, pets... facts and fun for all ages.

Did you know that....?
- Before he became president, Lyndon Johnson was a teacher at a small school in South Texas.
- The President's personal office is called the oval office. Any plane he flies on is called Air Force One, and any helicopter is called Marine One.
- In the early part of the 19th century, a network called the Underground Railroad, which received its name in 1831, helped escaped slaves gain freedom. As a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman helped 300 slaves gain freedom during the 1800s.
- The Statue of Liberty was a gift of friendship resulting from the diplomatic relationship between the United States and France.
- President John F. Kennedy won a Pulitzer Prize in 1957 for his collection of essays, Profiles in Courage.
- President Richard M. Nixon was offered a position as a player's representative to the Major League Baseball Players Association in 1965. He declined, stating that he was needed in politics. Nixon served as President from 1969 to 1974.
- Before he became president, Barack Obama was a U.S. Senator. Before that, he was an Illinois State Senator, and before that he was a community organizer in Chicago.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Throwaway Society

Do you remember the Buy Nothing Day from last week?...
Saturday November 29h 2008 is Buy Nothing Day, It's a day where you challenge yourself to switch off from shopping and tune into life.
The rules are simple, for 24 hours you will detox from consumerism and live without shopping. Anyone can take part provided they spend a day without spending!
Buy Nothing Day is the biggest 24-hour moratorium against consumerism. People around the world will make a pact to take a break from shopping as a personal experiment or public statement and the best thing is - IT'S FREE!!!
Now we'll learn more about this Throwaway Society reading and listening to Gareth Rees talking about this topic.


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