Sunday, 11 June 2017

I write in the most distressingly slow way in terms of punctuation and grammar. (Maurice Saatchi)

All you need to know about apostrophes here. The rules for commas here. Excellent overall punctuation guide here. So what are you waiting for? Time to get started; and of course, the more you read, ...

Sunday, 7 May 2017

The only people who care about advertising are the people who work in advertising. (George Parker)

Thank you so much RR for sharing this. It is absolutely mind-boggling, and, as you say, very pertinent to what we have been looking at in class. Here also are some of the worst marketing blunders ever.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company. (Mark Twain)

Thank you P/J for this very interesting read from National Geographic on climate. Many thanks also to E for bringing this video and lesson  to our attention. 

Saturday, 25 February 2017

For a gallant spirit there can never be defeat. (Wallis Simpson)

Well done, I, on a magnificent win of the first Just a Minute Final. J too, who, against all the odds, beat her opponent fairly and squarely. A round of applause as well for CR who won Thursday's cookery competition with her Chocolate Guinness cake which was absolutely delicious! The rest of us will have to take solace in the knowledge that we tried.  As Michael Jordan said, I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying. In any case, What is defeat? Nothing but education. Nothing but the first step to something better. (Wendell Phillips).
More practice on plurals hereSend me your answers.

Monday, 20 February 2017

I think it depends from where your background is. (Nicholas Parsons) Iran (Shappi Khorsandi )

Includes interesting exchange on the pronunciation of often and people's origins.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

With real estate, it's location, location, location. In public speaking, it's acoustics, acoustics, acoustics. (Christopher Buckley)

Rising tensions in the English Department
Here is an example of a speech on the topic winning arguments which lasted for a full minute without being challenged.
Well it varies according to the person that you are arguing with. Should it be a child that you are having a contretemps with, the ideal is deviation tactics. For instance Lola Lupin who I mentioned before won't eat her dinner. So what I do is say, "yes it is rotten food, let us sing a song", making sure that the particular chanson has a few vowels in it that require her to open her mouth! During which I pop the spoon in and I have won the argument. However if it is an argument with a person that knows their subject, what I do is nod sagely and smile superciliosly, let them ramble on, and at the end I say "well I'm sorry, I think you're completely wrong", turn on my heels and leave. I ... [Episode 633 Just a Minute Season 50 2005-07-25]
You can time yourselves with this example to get an idea of what speed would be acceptable.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. (Winston Churchill)

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!
Here are members of the English Department rehearsing for the big day. If there is a big enough audience at the beginning, we might even venture to have a go and show you how it's done! Anything you could possibly want to know about Just a Minute, including transcripts, here.  

Monday, 6 February 2017

Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through. (Jonathan Swift)

Have a look at a very brief lesson on criminal and civil law. Hopefully you can now tell the difference and be more law-abiding citizens as a result! You may find some of these podcasts, care of J's students, well worth your time.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Sometimes those who challenge you most teach you best. (Anonymous)

Here are two extra activities on signs and notices for you to work on. The second parts in both are far more difficult. Are you up to the challenge? You should also find time to read through this explanation on paragraphs and paragraphing and this one on establishing arguments.
Here is another challenge: the 7-step listening one!

Monday, 2 January 2017

If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. (Stephen King)

Read this and this and this carefully. Everything, absolutely everything, should ring a bell. Here is an example with feedback and here is another one. Of course, if I were to give you any tips, the key words would be: read, think, read, plan, read, ...

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. (Saint Augustine)

And another for you to check out. Voting will take place soon. We are clearly running out of time but nothing makes a person more productive than the last minute! 
See you this afternoon for tests on reading and listening, and feedback on all those Christmas texts. Don't forget the self-assessment checklist either; and this is just the calm before the storm.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world. (Gustave Flaubert)

Here is another proposal for our Christmas trip. I should have received all of them by now :( At this rate, we will be voting for the best trip for Christmas 2017! 
How to improve your writing here and here.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The real goal of classroom assessment is to improve student performance, not merely audit it. (Sousa and Tomlinson)

The festive season is approaching fast and so is the first term assessment! You are asked to grade your performance during the first term by completing this checklist. You should hand it in by 20th December at the very latest!
Meanwhile take a look at this. Hopefully it will ring a bell!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

If you worried about falling off the bike, you'd never get on. (Lance Armstrong)

Here is the first proposal for our Christmas trip to London. It is definitely not for the faint of heart! Fortunately, the Peter Pan Race is a spectator event and we are not expected to take our swimsuits with us for Christmas Day! We should be grateful for small mercies because we still have to walk, bike and skate. I'm still not sure where my Christmas Day dinner is coming from though.

Monday, 14 November 2016

To enjoy the glow of good health, you must exercise. (Gene Tunney)

Thank you so much S for sharing this incredible ad on just how good sport is for you. On the other hand, check out how a stressful workplace could take 33 years off your life expectancy here! Both sources provide us with plenty of food for thought.

Monday, 7 November 2016

The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one. (Oscar Wilde)

If you fancy a laugh, read this. It is an actual job application a 17 year old boy submitted at a McDonald's fast food establishment in Florida ... and they hired him because he was so honest and funny! Listen to your fellow countryman's English on busy being unemployed in southern Spain. If this were his monologue for the C1 oral test, would you pass him?Why/why not? Be prepared to give your opinion in class. 

Sunday, 6 November 2016

A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That's why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet. (Truman Capote)

You will find some really interesting information about the passive here. It is actually intended for teachers but I think you will find it well worth the read.
Have a look at the BBC's comments on the art of conversation. Then check out how to hesitate like a native English speaker and these hesitation strategies. Finally, what to do when stuck for words.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

A desperate disease requires a dangerous remedy. (Guy Fawkes)

Try this listening on a school report

Here is something for you to think about: is Halloween eclipsing Guy Fawkes Day? See what the New York Times has to say. Check out these thirteen strange facts on why we celebrate Halloween. And here are five things you should know about Guy Fawkes

Saturday, 29 October 2016

'Tis now the very witching time of night, when churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out contagion to this world. (William Shakespeare)

How would you write an essay on the topic of university education? This page includes guidance and a model essay and is well worth spending some time on!  You might also like to take a look at and revise these expressions which you can use to express opinions.
By the way, do you know the history of Halloween?

Thursday, 20 October 2016

I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework. (Lily Tomlin as Edith Ann)

What do you think of this blog post which defines great teachers by saying they don't teach? The writer in fact suggests that they do something else. What is it? What do you think of the blogger's definition of great teachers? Do you agree? Be prepared to argue in favour or against his views this week. Take a look at the education system in the UK and in the USA. Check out thisthis and this as well. Here you will find a wealth of material for your classes.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

You can't teach people everything they need to know. The best you can do is position them where they can find what they need to know when they need to know it. (Seymour Papert)

Using social networks to improve your English is one of the many options open to you in this day and age. There are also many advantages to online and computer-based learning; but there are disadvantages as well. Is there anything you can add to these lists of advantages and disadvantages of eLearning

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Multi-tasking arises out of distraction itself. (Marilyn vos Savant)

Texting while walking accidents!

Friday, 30 September 2016

The thing that we are trying to do at Facebook is just help people connect and communicate more efficiently. (Mark Zuckerberg)

Computers and the internet have changed how people work, communicate and share information but we need to understand the advantages and disadvantages of sharing online. The BBC looks into the pros and cons of email, video conferencing, working online and social networking. 

Monday, 26 September 2016

The greatest obstacle to international understanding is the barrier of language. (Christopher Dawson)

26th September - European Day of Languages and here to celebrate is some Language trivia. Thank you S for this. It is, as you say, relevant to the situation in Spain. Much to discuss in class tomorrow.

Friday, 23 September 2016

The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery. (Mark Van Doren)

I think you should read about parallelism in writing. Here are a few examples to help you understand the concept; and here are some famous examplesYou might find the criteria for assessing written work interesting too. 

Saturday, 17 September 2016

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. (Walt Disney)

Welcome to the new course. As there is no time like the present to get started, let me share with you 35 great tips for really making progress with your English. Here too is something you should listen to in anticipation of a competition we hope to hold this year at the school. People must try to speak for 60 seconds without hesitation, deviation or repetition on a topic they are given. It is not as easy as you may think.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

We hit the sunny beaches where we occupy ourselves keeping the sun off our skin, the saltwater off our bodies, and the sand out of our belongings. (Erma Bombeck)

Check out the BBC's summary of tourism trends. The Telegraph in its section on travel mentions the annoying things tourists do in LondonAlternatively, you could find out who the fifteen most annoying travellers in the world are. Find out about how to complain here and here.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

With the internet, overnight shipping, and being called snail mail; I can't believe the United States Postal Service didn't see it coming. (Sam James)

Here is a post on The Post Office from Jo and team. Try this crossword which is more difficult than it initially seems. Here is a mini-tutorial on the subjunctive in English. The BBC World Service have also put together this excellent explanation of how the subjunctive is used with specific reference to reporting verbs. So, what are you waiting for?

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Ask about your neighbours, then buy the house. (Proverb)

These are my exotic neighbours - and they give me no trouble whatsoever!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

In advertising, not to be different is virtually suicidal. (William Bernbach)

Take a look at Greenpeace's version of the Kit Kat advert Have a Break? You should also watch Volkeswagen "The Force" and Greenpeace parodies here. And in this one, Coca Cola are being criticised for blocking a recycling scheme.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

'I'm glad my mother never knew,' Mary said. 'She'd have killed him.' (John Lanchester)

We meet again on 18th April to discuss Part Four of John Lanchester's Capital. Here are the storylines for you to concentrate on just two or three.
The mystery
94, 102, 103, 104, 106
Roger’s story
92, 107
Shahid’s story
102, 103
Quentina’s story
95, 105
Zbigniew’s story
96, 97, 98, 99, 101
Smitty’s story
94, 103, 104
Freddy’s story
93, 100

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Contemplation of life after retirement and life after death can help you deal with contemporary challenges. (Russell M. Nelson)

Term nearly over!
Here is the second term project. The deadline for sending me your proposed trip is Tuesday 15th March. Presentations will take place on Thursday 17th March.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Your best teacher is your last mistake. (Ralph Nader)

My mistake!
Check out commas in English. Learn how to use before and earlier and when to use the past progressive in English. Can you always use besides for furthermore? What is the difference in use between try and taste? The trick, to avoid making many mistakes when writing, is to always work with chunks of language, chunks of language, chunks of language, chunks of language ...

Monday, 22 February 2016

The contract for parking had been enforced with such lack of sensitivity, such aggressive pursuit of the officially non-existent quotas and bonuses, such a festival of clamped and towed residents, such a bonanza of gotcha! tickets and removals, such an orgy of unjust, malicious, erroneous, and just plain wrong parking tickets, that in local elections it had cost the incumbent council control of the borough not once but twice. (John Lanchester)

If you are running out of time for the meeting on 3rd March to discuss Part Three of John Lanchester’s Capital, here are the storylines for you to concentrate on just two or three. 

The mystery
64, 66, 68, 72, 86
Roger’s story
67, 78, 79, 84, 85, 88, 89
Shahid’s story
64, 65, 68, 69, 70, 71, 75, 76, 80, 81, 82, 86, 90, 91
Quentina’s story
72, 73, 87
Zbigniew’s story
67, 74, 83
Smitty’s story
Freddy’s story
68, 77