lunes, 16 de diciembre de 2013

Nelson Mandela: Courage and Dignity

I can't help offering my little tribute to a man who was able to overcome the anger he felt against those people who had tried to do away with him just because he had a great goal in mind: to help his country and his people.
I don't know whether I'd be able to do so but I do admire his courage and cleverness.
This is part of an interview he did in Oprah Winfrey's program in 2000. Watch it and do the fill-in-the-gap activity to practise your listening but above all, enjoy it.

miércoles, 30 de octubre de 2013

The right to know

Wikileaks and Julian Assange were just the beginning of an issue that's been causing a huge fuss all over the world, with Edward Snowden in the spotlight right now: Our right to know.
How far should we go in requiring our governments to hand over any information, no matter what about?
And how far should governments go to guarantee national security?
It's not that easy to set limits but we are all getting the feeling that everything we do is public whereas we know less and less about what politicians and powerful groups do.
I've chosen part of an interview with Julian Assange, confined in the Equadorian Embassy, to go a little bit further into this matter. Watch the video and do the multiple choice exercise below. You can get the whole interview transcript by clicking 'TRANSCRIPT' on the toolbar of the activity.

sábado, 26 de octubre de 2013

Sing a song

Spanish students usually find it difficult to pronounce the spellings 'ng' and 'nk' correctly as they tend to do so like our Spanish /n/ and not like the English sound /ŋ/.
/ŋ/ is a nasal sound, which means you have to pronounce it letting the air go out through your nose and not your mouth. You have to raise the back of your tongue against the palate while making this sound. 
Here you are a picture that shows the position of the tongue and a video which will help you identify and pronounce this consonant sound correctly.

Now, watch the video and do the fill-in-the-gap activity. All the missing words contain the consonant sound /ŋ/ and you can use the phonetic transcription in the 'Clue' to help you. You can check your answers clicking the KEY.

domingo, 5 de mayo de 2013

For or against?

The need to control people's right to own a gun has been an open debate in the US for years but since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December, in which 20 kids and 6 educators were killed, it has been raging.
Barack Obama announced an initiative to reduce gun violence and has been backed up, among many others, by the mother of one of those fatally shot children. 
I've chosen her touching speech to introduce voiced consonants. These consonants are produced with the vibration of our vocal chords. You can feel this vibration by putting your fingers on your throat while producing the words 'zoo/zuː/ and 'river/ˈrɪvə/.
If you want to learn which  consonants are voiced and what they sound like, click this link.
Then, watch the video and do the fill-in-the-gap activity. All the missing words contain voiced consonants and you can use the phonetic transcription in the 'Clue' to help you. You can check your answers clicking the KEY.

domingo, 7 de abril de 2013

Sick and tired of the crisis?

The word 'crisis' has been present somehow or other every single day for some years now and I guess we're all fed up with it, if not worried sick about all the unwelcome changes it's brought into our lives. But I'm one of those people who believes that making fun of trouble helps to lighten the burden so here you are a really ironic video that explains what we all should know by now: those who caused the crisis will not pay for it!
Have a few laughs doing the fill-in-the-gap activity below, and learn some useful vocabulary. You can click here to get the KEY.

domingo, 3 de marzo de 2013

Lincoln's Acceptance Speech

Yeah I know, he's not Lincoln but his performance was so awesome that he might be the reincarnation of his soul. 
I must admit it, I have a soft spot for Daniel Day-Lewis and I'm always at his feet, no matter what he does! 
I hope you enjoy his acceptance speech once you've completed the gap-fill activity below. This time I've created two versions, an activity for the elementary students and a more difficult one for the intermediate ones.
If you can't understand any word and finally give up, click KEY in the toolbar to get the correct answers.

Elementary Activity

Intermediate Activity

martes, 19 de febrero de 2013

Do your best and make the most of this song

If you've ever wondered why it's 'do the ironing' but 'make the bed', the answer is COLLOCATIONS.
English is full of these words that usually go together and which you should learn as a whole and not separately: 'make an effort', 'tell a joke', 'conduct a survey'...
I've chosen a very popular song by Police in which you'll find several of these collocations. Do the gap-fill activity below and then click the link on the toolbar to learn some more verb and noun collocations. 
You can check your answers by clicking KEY

domingo, 10 de febrero de 2013

Who am I?

A workmate and friend of mine sent me this really unusual and thought-provoking video I'd like to share with you.
First, listen carefully and try to guess who it is. It's not hard to do! Then, listen again and do the fill-in-the-gap activity below.
I hope you'll enjoy it!

domingo, 27 de enero de 2013

A great liar

Last week we enjoyed a presentation about the benefits and dangers of sport in which Lance Armstrong was pictured as an example of the kind of risky and illegal practices some sportspeople are able to engage in to improve their performance.
I guess you all have heard of the interview Armstrong granted Oprah Winfrey a few days ago and though he didn't sound really truthful or regretful to me, I decided to use part of it to get a listening task ready for you. Watch the video and do the fill-in-the-gap activity below. If you want to get the key, click the link on the toolbar.
You can read the whole transcript of the interview here.

domingo, 13 de enero de 2013

What does the future hold?

Happy New Year! I guess it's about time to come back to work, isn't it? And, why not, the perfect time to think of our future plans and dreams. 
In their song 'I'm gonna be', really popular thanks to movies such as 'Benny & Joon', the sitcom 'How I met your mother' and TV advertisements, the Scottish group The Proclaimers makes use of four different tenses (present simple, present continuous, 'will' and 'be going to') to talk about the future. 
Now, paying attention to these tenses, listen to the song and do the gap-fill activity below. Get the key clicking the link on the toolbar.
By the way, why don't you try to find out the meaning of the Scottish word 'haver' (L.7)?