Friday, 30 March 2012

Jonathan Swift brightens up Gulliver's Travels Press Conference

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Cheese pudding


·         4 oz grated cheese
·         2 eggs
·         ½ pint milk
·         3oz fresh breadcrumbs (we could also use 250g of white wheat flour instead)
·         1 oz butter (we could use 250cl of oil)
·         Salt and pepper
·         Pinch of dry mustard


Grate the hard cheese and before you begin with the rest of the recipe, pre-heat the oven to 350ºF (190ºC)/gas 4. In the meanwhile you can prepare the rest of the recipe.
Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Lightly beat the yolks together in a mixing bowl. Slightly warm the milk, and add it to the beaten eggs along with the butter and mustard until you get an egg custard flavored with mustard. Mix well, and during the mixing, add the breadcrumbs or the flour, the grated cheese and some seasoning.
Whip the eggs whites until stiff, and fold it gently into the mixture, retaining as much of the fluffiness as possible.
Pour the mix into a pre-buttered dish (or pre-oiled dish). Cover the surface of the mix with more grated cheese and cook for approx 40 minutes. It is ready when the pudding has risen well, is golden brown in colour and is set in the middle.
By Mercedes Martín. Advanced Level. Year 2
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Thursday, 29 March 2012

Lucky escape

What's a lucky escape?

Have you ever been through one? Can you tell us about it?

Now, watch this lucky escape from a collapsing water tank and answer the comprehension questions below.

1. What was the reporter focusing on?
2. What did he do when he heard the screams?
3. How does he describe the moment?
4. When was the fear instantly replaced with sorrow?
5. Where, on the tower, were the employees?
6. Why did the reporter think one of the employees was dead?
7. How did Bill, one of the employees, manage to save his life? Give as many details as possible.

When you feel ready, check your work using these notes.
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Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Ireland Dos and Don’ts

Before reading
What does this title suggest to you? What do you think the text is going to be about?

While reading
Read the text below and answer these questions: What type of text is it? Where do you think it comes from? 
Next, read the text once again, attentively this time, and answer the comprehension questions below.

Text by Clifton Wilkinson.

As long as there’s conviviality in the air, and a “round” on its way, the Irish will forgive almost any faux pas. The weather, however, is less forgiving. Here are our staff’s tips for making your trip to Ireland unforgettable (in a good way).

Get off the beaten track. For every site attracting throngs of visitors, such as the Cliffs of Moher, there’s an equally impressive one, like Slieve League, Donegal, with just the wind and/or rain for company.
Get a round in at the pub - even if your fellow drinkers haven’t finished the one they’re on. The easiest way to lose new friends in Ireland is to be tightfisted at the pub.
Take waterproof clothing. Umbrellas are pretty useless when you’re battling against horizontal rain.
Reuse your plastic bags. The Republic’s hugely successful scheme has cut plastic bag consumption by 90% since 2002.
Learn a couple of words of Gaeilge (Irish) – dia duit (dee-ah gwit; hello) is always useful, as is Ní ólfaidh mé go brách arís (knee ohl-hee mey gu brawkh u-reeshch; I’m never ever drinking again).

Be offended if people start gently making fun of you. “Slagging”, as it’s known, is almost a national pastime and the more someone likes you the more slagging you should expect.
Ask people if they’ve ever seen a leprechaun - they won’t have. Don’t say “begorrah” - they’ll just shake their heads. And be sure not to say “to be sure”.
Worry about your liver too much. Alcohol oils the famous sociability of the Irish and refusing a drink will have the same effect as asking about leprechauns.
Criticise Ireland. The Irish can find something or other wrong with just about every aspect of their country (the Church, the economy and politicians being the biggest bugbears) but don’t appreciate outsiders doing the same.
Look horrified at the prices of things in the South. Eating out in particular can be very expensive but quality has improved massively in recent years and now dishes generally offer value-for-(a lot of)-money. However many restaurants are trying to ride these tricky economic times by offering cheaper deals on weekdays, so be on the lookout.

The Lonely Planet Ireland guidebook can send you off the beaten track or into the finest pub. Its full-colour sections on Irish culture, food and drink, and outdoor activities will have you itching to make your way to the Emerald Isle.
Think you can manage a tongue-twister or two? The Lonely Planet Irish Language & Culture travel guide will challenge and entertain - to be sure!

Comprehension questions
Which sort of place would you be visiting if you heard ‘a round is on its way’? 
Find a synonym in the text for ‘to be mean’: 
If you had to forecast ‘horizontal rain’ for tomorrow , what would your weather forecast sound like? 
Find a synonym in the text for this phrase: ‘Booze makes the Irish even more outgoing’: 

After reading
Finally, and using the tips above as a sample writing, make your own article entitled Spain Dos and Don’ts. When you are ready, read it to the rest of the class; your partners might ask you some questions about your tips, so get ready for conversation!

Text from Lonely Planet
If you need to check your work, use this worksheet.

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Monday, 26 March 2012

We are most amused

To keep on trying to undersand British humour, here you are an excerpt of  We are most amused, where Rowarn Atkinson tells the Gospel of John.


From ITV. 
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Thursday, 22 March 2012

The speech. From Yes, Minister

Yes, Minister was one of the most popular BBC comedy series in the 1970s. 
Politicians particularly found it very funny, even the well-known conservative Prime Minister of the time, Mrs. Thatcher, once said it was her favourite programme.

Watch an excerpt of one the most memorable episodes of the series, called The Speech:

Now, post your comments for the following questions:

Have you enjoyed the clip?
Which blunder does Mr. James Hacker, the Minister, make?
Do you think the clip is a good example of British humour?
How different is it from any Spanish comedy series?
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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Grandparents, from FilmEnglish


Vovô from Luiz Lafayette Stockler on Vimeo.

What is the story the man tells?
What did his grandfather look like?
What do you think his grandfather wanted to show him?
How do you think the man feels?
How does the film make you feel?

Grandparents Discussion Questions

Vovo Transcript

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Eye of the Tiger

The actor Sylvester Stallone asked the American rock band Survivor to write the theme song for the film Rocky III (1982) in which he played the main role.
Eye of the Tiger became a motivational song for anyone facing a challenge.

Listen to the song:

Complete the phrases with a word from the list.

challenge    chances    distance    face    feet    fight    glory    grip    guts    odds    street    top

  1. back on the …
  2. took my …
  3. went the …
  4. back on my …
  5. passion for …
  6. lose your …
  7. the thrill of the …
  8. rising up to the …
  9. face to …
  10. stack the …
  11. straight to the …
  12. have the …

Listen again and read the lyrics. Then, find phrases in the previous exercise that mean the following:

Risin' up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance now I'm back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive
So many times it happens too fast
You trade your passion for glory
Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive

It's the eye of the tiger
It's the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he's watching us all
With the eye of the tiger

Face to face, out in the heat
Hangin' tough, stayin' hungry
They stack the odds still we take to the street
For the kill, with the skill to survive

It's the eye of the tiger
It's the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he's watching us all
With the eye of the tiger

Risin' up, straight to the top
Had the guts, got the glory
Went the distance, now I'm not gonna stop
Just a man and his will to survive
It's the eye of the tiger
It's the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he's watching us all
With the eye of the tiger
The eye of the tiger
The eye of the tiger
The eye of the tiger

  1. to become unable to understand or control a situation
  2. continued playing in a competition or sports contest until the end
  3. showing that you are able to deal with an unexpected problem
  4. to increase the possibilities of somebody losing
  5. be brave enough to do something

Finally, think about the two questions below and post your comments:

Why do you think this has become a motivational song for sportspeople all over the world? What do you think the eye of the tiger means?

When you feel you are done, check your answers using this worksheet.
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Tuesday, 20 March 2012

So and such


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Monday, 19 March 2012

On national stereotypes

My opinion on national stereotypes, by Vicky

National stereotypes in our current world, by J. Modesto

National stereotypesin a globaslised world, by Rosa

What I think about national stereotypes, by Mercedes

My viewpoint on national stereotypes, by Elena

More on national stereotypes, by Mónica

National stereotypes, by Graciela

About national stereotypes, by Javi

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The right way to do a squat

Watch the video about the right way to do a squat and answer the questions below:

1.      Where should your shoulders be placed before starting a squat?
a.      Back
b.     Forward
c.      Straight
2.      How far should your feet be apart?
a.      Widely apart
b.     At a wide distance
c.      At short width
3.      How far should you go when trying out a squat?
a.      parallel
b.     as far as you can go
c.      not beyond parallel
4.      What is the guy doing while coming down? He’s
a.      Moving his hips forward
b.     Powering his legs up
c.      Keeping his hips straight
5.      Why should you be careful with your knees? Because they shouldn’t
a.      be leaning forward
b.     pop up past your toes
c.      be pressured
6.      While down, he’s pressuring his
a.      Glutes
b.     Ankles
c.      Hips
7.      How should you breathe while doing a squat? You should
a.      Inhale on the way up and exhale on the way down
b.     Inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up
c.      Inhale and exhale while you hare down
8.      What is a squat appropriate for?
a.      The lower part of your body
b.     The upper part of your body
c.      Your whole body
9.      If you want to make it harder,
a.      Repeat a squat every week
b.     Place your hands behind your head
c.      Press your hands firmly
10.   If you are an advanced squatter, you may use
a.      dumbbells
b.     heavy rolls
c.      extra kilos

When you feel ready, check your score.
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Saturday, 17 March 2012

Gulliver's Travels

Graciela has already read Gulliver's Travels, and here is her opinion about the book.

Graciela Suárez. Advanced level. Year 2
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Thursday, 15 March 2012

A story of Saint Patrick


Have you ever heard of Saint Patrick?
When and where is Saint Patrick’s Day celebrated?
What do you know about Saint Patrick?

Watch this video clip from Youtube and then do the tasks below.

1.      Write 1, 2, etc., next to each of the sentences below, according to when you hear contents referring to them in the video clip.

a.      Saint Patrick’s mother could hardly recognize him on his return
b.      As a young boy, Saint Patrick was kidnapped and sold as a slave
c.       The Pope allowed him to take a few mates with him
d.      He used to pray while working as a shepherd
e.      After being safe and sound, he openly made the wish to become a priest
f.        God managed to get Saint Patrick back on the ship

2.      Now, watch it again and answer these questions:

a.      Who kidnapped Saint Patrick?
b.      What was Saint Patrick in charge of minding?
c.       Why did he pray to God up in the mountain?
d.      What did God tell him in a dream?
e.      Why couldn’t Saint Patrick get on the ship back home at first?
f.        What made the captain change his mind and allow Saint Patrick on?
g.      How long did it take him to become a priest?
h.      What was the message he heard in his sleep after being made a Bishop?
i.        What would be the most obvious reasons for Saint Patrick not to have accepted the message?
j.        What was the starting point for Saint Patrick once back in Ireland with his best friends?

3.      Now, listen attentively to the conversation between the captain and Saint Patrick, write it word for word and then, put it into Reported Speech.

Saint Patrick: Will …
Captain: W …
Saint Patrick: …
Captain: Well, …

4.      Finally, there is another conversation for you to write literally and then report: the one between the sailor and the captain.

Sailor: That’s …
Captain: Go …

5.      Interested in any further information about Saint Patrick, his special day and celebrations? Well, then visit

Ready to check your answers? OK, then, use this answer key sheet.
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Nouns: compounds and possessive forms


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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Intercultural marriage: pros and cons


Intercultural marriage: pros and cons.

Marriages between people from different countries are rising nowadays. This is the conclusion of a recent Spanish study, which shows that if the tendency goes on, next year one out of five weddings will be between foreigners, which in my view could be mainly due to a higher number of commuters and travelers around the world.

Some people feel uncontrollable attraction to foreigners, who are seen as more glamorous, and attractive than someone from our own country. This feeling is stronger at the beginning of a relationship, when trying to understand the other person and finding out the unknown aspects in her or his life make everything exciting for both parts. Nevertheless, this passion may not last forever and turn into a problem that leads to an end of the couple.

As regards cultural differences in couples, I personally believe that although they both love each other, their particular customs and traditions can be a drawback that may put the relationship in danger. For instance, a specific way of behaving, thinking or doing things in one country could be not accepted in the other and that provoke a clash of cultures. 

Another point in con is that although both can speak same language, if they don’t have a good command of it, many misunderstandings may arise.

To sum up, we live in a global world where borders are crossed everyday and where migration and work reasons are the driving force of a change in our old-fashioned nuclear family concept. In my opinion, leaving aside cultural barriers, many intercultural couples can perfectly survive if they are respectful towards the other’s customs and traditions.
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Marrying someone from a different country will always be more problematic than marrying someone from your own country


As a result of globalization marriages with foreigners have increased in the last years. Although some people argue that such unions will always have problems due to the barriers of prejudice, in my view there are no reasons to think in that way because an international marriage has many positives sides.
It is generally known that people from different countries who get married have to struggle with a variety of special issues including those related to citizenship and culture, which add complexity and challenges to these kinds of relationships.
For example, if you are living outside your country permanently you won’t be able to see your family very often. Moreover, if you have children, they will see their grandparents very little. Learning a foreign language is often another challenge to accept, the customs of your native land, food, dress and other aspects of your original culture might be hard to deal with.
But, before you get married there must have been a period of time since you first met someone until you take the final decision. So before that, how did you manage to live abroad? How did you manage to go out and communicate with him or her? Have you fallen in love with him or her? 
As long as two people of two different countries are in love, that’s all that matters, there is really nothing much to argue about. They should go on with their lives and be happy.
They will develop a deeper understanding of people and things beyond borders, new ways of thinking, new customs, and they will take the better of two worlds and share these with their children if they have any.
The human race is improving and looking better not only because of the advances and improvements in every aspect of our lives, but also because of what we are doing to the genetic diversity.
To sum up, I believe that marriages with foreigners have, on the whole, a positive influence provided that both of them agree with conditions. In my opinion, this is not for purely logical reasons, but because to get together is a part of what being human means.
J. M. Suárez. Advanced Level. Year 2
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Monday, 12 March 2012

Advantages and drawbacks of cross cultural marriages


With the cultural globalization phenomena, cross cultural marriage has become a current issue.  And either it comes from a whirlwind romance or an internet-based relationship, a cultural clash comes to add stress on the already stressing lives of most families nowadays.
Personally, it seems to me that marrying a foreigner could be an exciting adventure, and despite the variety of special, new and strange issues it might arise, it could be though, interesting and challenging. However, it is good to bear in mind that these apparently refreshing traits of challenging relationships may often become a source of frustration, conflict, misunderstanding and hurt.
When it comes to raise children, I entirely agree the influence of another cultural pattern of behavior can be extremely positive, as it might broaden their minds.  Actually, only if both parents try to speak their own native language at home, the children are raised bilingual, which is a great thing nowadays. Although, I strongly believe it involves certain awareness in order to guarantee the success of these long term commitments.
It is often claimed that beside this awesomeness with regard to cross cultural couples, there are certain drawbacks which are difficult to overcome. Firstly and foremost, the cultural gap usually implies not being able to share each other’s humor, which I agree is one of the main foundations of a healthy relationship. Not to mention the way we value time, work ethics, learning styles, eye contact and even ideas about public affection.
On the other hand many people argue that interracial married couples usually have to face the possibility of being prejudiced against or even suffer racial discrimination, which could make life even more difficult. This argument thus may discourage many mixed couples from getting married. I consider there are a number of flaws in this argument as I believe it encourages racism instead of dissuading it.
In spite of the disadvantages above I believe that true love, trust, support and respect for each other are the main ingredients for a cross cultural marriage to success.
In conclusion, what is important to me though, is real love and respect. Marrying a foreigner is a big decision and it is important to stand by each other during difficult times. On the other hand keeping both languages and cultures in the host country, although it might sometimes be hard, it is convenient and worth it.

Mercedes Martín. Advanced level. Year II

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Languages in the world

Languages in the world, by Graciela

Learning languages, by Mercedes

Languages in the world, by Javi

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Compound forms

Have a look at these words:

Wordle: compound forms

Can you think of at least two nouns that collocate to make compound nouns? If you can, post your comments.
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Fortunate Fiona

Read the newspaper story about a lucky lottery winner and answer the questions.

Fortunate Fiona wins big Roll-Over in Mail’s Saturday Lottery

Fiona couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the numbers on the front page of The Mail in her local Co-op. She dashed off home to check her ticket and then, grabbing her mac and umbrella, set off for a swift one in her local to celebrate the big win. The barmaid, on seeing her excited face, asked her if she’d just won the lottery. Fiona beamed, admitted that she had and bought a round of champagne for everyone in the bar. She’s currently sunning herself on the deck of a liner on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise around the Med.

*Source: Inside Out, Level V. Workbook

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About political correctness

You will watch three clips, all of which have something to do with political correctness.

Extract 1Katie Couric, from CBS News, gives her opinion about offensive language used by teenagers.

Extract 2Sesame Street’s early episodes have been released on DVD with warnings saying that they are meant for adults, not children. Below are some of the reasons which led to this decision.

Extract 3. An aged man reflects about political correctness.

For each of the questions below, choose the best option.

Finally, check your score.
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