Saturday, December 1, 2012

Exchanging conversation in Alcala and Madrid

I was sent this link about exchanging conversations and experiences with other students in Madrid and some student asked me about the topic. I'm not sure they are still in use or active. They have events and some meetings to talk to other people. I don't know much but abut it but you can have a look into it and then you'll tell me how it works.
Another possibility is here in Alcalá but just for university students I gess but I don't know if it works well. The links are:
There are also some places for exchanging conversation in English in Alcala:
  • THE GREEN IRISH PUB  C/ Empecinado nº 7. 
  • WHELAN'S is another Irish pub where you can meet foreigners to exchange conversation and I think they meet on Tuesday evening.
In Madrid there is a group for exchanging conversation called Multilinkual. . They meet on Tuesdays at O'Neill's (c/ Príncipe 12 - metro Sevilla o Sol) and on Thursday at Beer Station (Cuesta de Santo Domingo - metro Callao). The group is open so you can go whenever you want and if you need help you can ask David, the responsible there, to help you. You'll find people from everywhere and you can exchange English or other languages because many people are foreigners.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Peace in the world

A friend of mine sent me this video about a citizen form Israe talking about what Iranian people mean for him. I thought it was very interesting because of the message and because you can see a non-native speaker using English as a foreign language. The link doesn't have subtitles but I think you'll be able to understand it pretty well:

Connected to this topic, I found this other video with the typical speech of Charles Chaplin in the film The Great Dictator. His English is perfect but I've used the link with subtitles because the message is fantastic as well.

To finish with, I'd like to share this link with the song Imagine by J. Lennon. I hope you'll enjoy this post; my intention was to show you that no matter you use to learn English but from my point of view it's much more attractive when you use things that mean something to you.

Monday, October 8, 2012

An example of how to pronounce Perfect Conditional

Some time ago I explained how difficult  it was the ponunciatiion of the perfect conditional due to the contractions, that is, WOULD HAVE DONE is pronounced /wudv/. There is a good example of how to pronounce it in this link of Hablarmejoringles. If you click here you'll revise it.
However, I think it'll be funnier if you listen to Adele'S in song Rolling in the Deep, especially when she says: We could have had it all. You have two links to see what I try to show you but the second link is interesting because you have the lyrics in English and the subtitles in Spanish in the same version, but it's a bit fussy to read both at the same time so here you have both links:

Enjoy this wonderful song! See you at school.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Modal verbs and idioms

Here you are a page with a good explanation of the difference between the most common modals: CAN - COULD - MAY - MIGHT. It's in Spanish and it's also quite clear, with a few examples, so you can have a look to check your knowledge of English modals. There is a list of idioms or common expressions which are quite interesting as well. To go to the link, click HERE. Once you've read this, try to do some exercises like the ones you can find here:

  • exercise 1 : quite easy but it's some practice
  • exercise 2 : some more exercises
  • exercise 3 : this page is to go further in your practice and more modals are included. There is a tutorial and exercises. It's quite useful. 
As you can see the level is not so high but it's worth revising simple things from time to time to check you still do them properly.

See you in short time!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tips for the speaking exam

Remember you are going to take the exam in groups of 2 or 3 people and there are two taks:

  • TASK 1 : a short speech about a given topic. Pay attention to all the points you have to deal with. While preparing the speech, think about what grammar points you should use and revise the vocabulary you need there. Mind the entonation to avoid being boring.
  • TASK 2: you should get an agreement about a topic. Don't be too pushy and let the other people speak. Address to the others to ask for information, explanations, opinions, etc. When you say something try to explain your point of view in different ways, giving examples, talking about your experience and so on.
Take into account not only grammar but entonation and fluency; don't rush but don't be silent, either. Try to use a variety of structures, tenses and vocabulary to enrich your speaking part.

Correcting mistakes

Here you can go to a link where you may see most of the typical mistakes mede by Spanish speakers; they have three levels so you should go to the intermediate or advance level:

If you want to check how similar Chinese is to Spanish, go to this link: 

Practising listening comprehension

Although the format is not the same as the exam you'll sit at school, these exercises of listening comprehension for FCE could help you to practise:
Other exercise:
I hope they'll be useful.

Some material to go on practising

Here you have some links whicha can helpl you to prepare the exam, but they are not aimed for examination exactly:

From a blog for intermedio 2 student I've found this entry: 

Now, this is a fantastic link. On this website you can watch short videos tagged with their difficulty level (easy, medium, hard) and they are subtitled in English. So far, so good. But the great thing about it all is:
  • the audio is divided into chunks that you can listen to again and again.
  • the chunks can be listened to at a lower speed. Just click on the icon of the snail on the left hand bar.
  • you can record yourself copying what they say on the video, listen to your own recording and get a grade (how close to the original you got). To do this you just need a microphone connected to your computer. Then, you have to activate it and that´s all. Click on the icon of the microphone on the left, talk, get your grade and listen to the recording of your voice just by clicking on the icon of the hand.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Practising for reading exams

Here you have some cloze tests to work with:

For the exercise of True and False you have this one:
To practise with reading tests in general here you have a page with graded exercises:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Improving your speaking

To improve the way you speak you should practise as much as possible but we can't count on native speakers to work with so try to do it with your mates, friends and so on. The other way is to practise on your own; in that case use a recorder and speak for at least 3 minutes about the topic. Once you've finished, listen to what you've just done and then correct your performance by yourself: entonation, speed, blanks, vocabuary, structures, richeness and variety and so on.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Improving your writing

Here you have some links to improve your writing. The most typical mistakes are connected to spelling, structures and even the lay-out:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A video about pronunciation

In this domestic video you can see a girl who "teaches" tyou haow to sound British. Quite interesting but a bit long but it deals wth the principal differences comparing English accents. Go to this link:

Preparing the certificate exmans

Here you have all the sites you can use to prepare the exams. You should look for the language and your level within the page. I hope this will help you a little:

Web pages for learning or practising English

The following are some websites that may help you with your process of learning English in a more autonomous manner. I found them at EOI Salamanca and I think they could be useful for you. Let me encourage to check them out in order to see which ones are best for you, althoygh there are many you've already known because we've use them in class or on the blog.
National Public Radio (US)
CBC (Canada)
Dave’s ESL Café
English for Internet
The Internet Public Library
Grammar and Writing
Agenda Web
English at Home
E.L. Easton’s Page
Learn English – British Council
BBC Skills Wise
Curso inglés
World English
English learner
Auto English
English exercises online
Vaughan radio station
Online dictionary
Videos and games

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Revision of prepositions + ---ing form

Here you have some exercises to work with preposition  + -ing form:

If you want to revise more prepositions, go to these links which work on adjective + preposition:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Official exams in Asturias

These are the certificate exams of Asturias. Have a look and try to practise with them but remember they could be differente from the ones we've got in Madrid.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Relative clauses

It's very important for intermediate students to use relative clauses properly so here you have some links to help you to revise this grammar point. You can go to:

See you in class

Crime and punishment

Here you have some exercises to work with this topic, just in case you want to practise some more:
Let me remind you the vocabulary you have in your own textbook and about the grammar point of this lesson you can use th entry of gerund and infinitive.

Indirect speech

This is a point of grammar that many students understand as an exercise to translate direct speech into indirect speech. Although this is a good way of learning I must say it's useless if you don't understand that it's much more frequent in our common language than we could think and not just a grammar exercise.
We use indirect speech to rephrase what you or other people have said before, especially in sentences or situations such as this one:
Yesterday I phoned my mother to ask her what she wanted to do for her birthday and she said she didn't fancy doing anything special but I suggested going to a new African restaurant. She accepted the suggestion and asked me if I could organise everything and I said I'd do it as soon as I could. She reminded me to call my brother Peter but I asked her to do it herself. She agreed and said she'd do it that afternoon. 
If you want to work with this grammar point you can use these websites:

Remember you can find some more exercises on your own on the internet. See you in class.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Complaining about shopping - complaint letters

When you go shopping sometimes you've got problems what you've bought so you should complain about your purchase. Here you have a video explaining what you should do in Great Britain: : a listening about what to do when you buy something and you have a problem: how to complain, what to do, etc.

A very common way of complaining is by writing a letter or sending an email. Here you have very good pages to teach you how to write it with templates or samples:

How to write a complaint letter: very good page with the structure of the letter and some examples of each part and of the whole letter.
Official complaint letter: page of the USA government to help you to write a complaint letter. Quite interesting but you should take into account this is target to American people.
The Australian complaint letter simple: the same as the previous one but related to Australia.
Printable complaint letter: this page is a page where you can subscribe for free to get models of complaint letters depending on the topic (buying, restaurant, holidays, services, etc.) The problem is you have to subscribe but it’s supposed to be free.
Curso de escritura en inglés - cartas de queja: this is a course to learn how to write in English. The problem (or not) is, it’s in Spanish but it has quite a lot of useful sentences and some examples. It helps pretty well.
Complaint letter templates: this is a British page to show you templates to write a complaint letter. The problem is, it’s very difficult to read unless you do a couple of examples but it’s quite useful.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Passive voice

The passive voice in English is formed in this way:
TO BE (tense)   +   PAST PARTICIPLE (meaning)
We've seen in class that this form is much more frequent in English than in Spanish because it's used instead of impersonal sentences in Spanish. Take into account it's not possible to have a verb without its subject in English so when this subject is not important, not known or not said we should use passive voice. Have a look at these examples:
  • Most people say...   =   It is said ...     (Se dice que....)
  • We can speak English here   =   English is spoken here   (Aquí se habla inglés)
  • They opened a new exhibition yesterday  =  A new exhibition was opened yesterday (Ayer se abrió una nueva exposición)
  • Someone sent an email yesterday   =   An email was sent yesterday   (Se envió un email ayer)
  • Someone has sent a letter to Susan   =   Susan has been sent a letter  (A Susan le han enviado una carta)
Some other typical expressions or examples of passive voice are:
  • This book was published in the UK 
  • The conversations are being held in secret (Las conversaciones se están llevando en secreto)
  • America was discovered in 1492 (América fue descubierta / se descubrió en 1492)
  • The film is directed and starred by G. Clooney 
  • I've been told you're getting married next Monday (Me han dicho que te casas el lunes que viene)
  • John was given the job after the interview (A John le dieron el trabajo después de la entrevista)
Here you have a very easy page which explains the use of passive. If you want to have a look go to this link:

To finish with here you are some exercises to practise:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Infinitive or Gerund? (NI1 y NI2)

The use of gerund or infinitive is rather hard for Spanish speakers although we have a similar construction. Pay attention to the difference in meaning between these two sentences:

Vi a tu hermano jugar al futbol           ------            Vi a tu hermano jugando al futbol

The problem is that after certain verbs we use infinitive (with or without TO) or gerund. And there are some which can be followed by both, with or without change of meaning. 

It’s difficult to explain the rules for using one or the other but in general you might say that infinitive has a certain idea of future, potential action while gerund is usually referred to present or past ; e. g.: Remember to buy some bread but I remember buying some bread at the baker’s when I was a child.

Here you have a link which is quite useful to understand how to use these two no personal verbal forms: and then you should see this; but if you want to have a larger explanation you can go to 

Apart from the links above, there are many lists of verbs you can find on grammar books or on the internet. This page is another example :

It’s hard and difficult to learn ths list by heart so you’d better do some exercises with a context to practice with this. Some possible exercises are about filling in the gaps or multiple choice. There are quite a lot if you use the internet like these ones:

If you want to do something different to learn this prompt of grammar, go to : you have two videos about the use of infinitive or gerund.

Someone like you

One of my students asked me about this song and I must say it's one of my favourite ones so here you have an exercise to practise:
"There's nothing quite like the ___________________ when you listen to the song ___________ by someone you don't know, you've never met but ______________ she's managed to _______________ exactly how you've felt in a _______________ moment in your ____________ -
This next artist has __________ able to do this ___________ after ___________. And it's for that ______________ she's carrying number one in astonishingly ________ counties. If you've ________ had a broken heart, ..... (sorry, but I don't understand the last sentence)
I hope you'll have a good time with this exercise.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Exams of Comunidad de Madrid

This is the last therm and we should take into account how short time we've got left before the exams so let's practise with them. Here you have the link to the official sample for the exams. You can take the exams on your own and remember the key is within the document so you can correct almost everything by yourself. The link is:;jsessionid=694AA4E350AC057E102A0B86D440B147
Nevertheless I'd like you to do the first task of writing ( the short one) on the official sheet you can find on this link. Please print it and give it to me as a class exercise of writing. I'll mark it as if I were in the exam so do it in the recommended time and pay attention to what you're asked to do.
Bring it to class for the following week, please. See you!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Quantifiers (NI2)

In lesson 5b we're dealing with quantifiers. You can go to these links to have a further explanation:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Working at computer room

Today we'll work with the computers while I'm testing the oral skills. Here you have some exercises to do and some pages to visit:

Apart from these web pages remember you have the usuful links such as BBC Learning English or you can practise with some other songs. Here you have some of my favorite ones recently:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Grants for students

Last week I told you there was a link to get some grants to learn or to practise English in Europ. Here you are the information I have:
There has been published some news about seminars in English on the noticeboard of the class (you have a copy below). They are partly paid by the European Union and if you want to know more about it you should go to the links or ask at Vicedirección at school:

Personas adultas ( * 18 años) *Consultad bases.
Seminarios Grundtvig sobre cualquier tema: arte, salud, lenguas, etc.

Fecha límite propuesta por el oragnizador.
Entre 5 y 10 días. Fechas según organizador, entre el 1/09/12 y el 31/08/13
La ayuda se ingresa a la institución organizadora, y cubre viajes, alojamiento, manutención y costes del seminario.
 No hay límite en cuanto a número de seminarios o talleres a solicitar.
 No hay que solicitar subvención. Los interesados presentan solicitudes directamente a la institución organizadora.
Prioridad a personas de grupos sociales desfavorecidos.
El Catálogo de talleres y seminarios está por publicar (Catálogo´12) no obstante se puede consultar el del año pasado porque todavía hay talleres que se pueden realizar en el 2012. En el enlace: 
Para más información dirigirse a Vicedirección en esta Escuela Oficial de Idiomas en horario de tarde Miércoles de 18.00 a 18.30 y de mañana Jueves de 11.30 a 12.00 h o al personal de Programas Europeos en la DAT ESTE (Calle Alalpardo s/n).

Another link I wanted to give you is about grants for students who are already becarios to learn foreign languages (English, French and German). If you are interested click HERE

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

To have something done

This is a typical structure which means you need someone to do something for you so you use this structure:

It's a bit different from Spanish so it's difficult to use. Go to these links to practise:

If you think this point of grammar is very complicated, go to this link as it is in Spanish and it could be helpful if you saw the real translation. Click here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

I wish / If only!

In lesson 4b we're working with these two expressions to speak about regrets and complains. Here you Have some links to work with them:

There is a possibility for I wish he would have done that. It's not very usual and it sounds a bit awkward. Nevertheless, here you have a video with the explanaition:
Here you have a well-known song with this structure:
See you in class

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Carnival is wonderful celebration, full of musicand fun. Here you have some activities to enjoy this festival.
Dictionary Activity – CARNIVAL - working with words
1. What are the main ingredients of a pancake?
2. When is Shrove Tuesday?
3. What is another name for Pancake Day?
4. What do people use to throw their pancakes, in a pancake race?
5. A float is a special carnival vehicle. It has other meanings. Which of these people does not use a float:
a. a swimmer                    b. a fisherman                   c. a farmer
6. How do people move in a procession? (an adverb)
7. People wear masks in a carnival. Which of these collocations does not exist?
a. party mask                    b. death mask                   c. oxygen mask                d. face mask
8. How many days does Lent last?
9. What is Ash Wednesday?
10. Is the word carnival pronounced the same in both US English and British English?

Go to this video which talks about British Pancake race and fill in the gaps of the activity (intermediate):
1. Lent is a time for _________________ things.
2. Shrove Tuesdays is the day for cleaning out the _________________________.
3. Pancake races appeal to people’s ___________________ nature!
4. Everyone’s got ‘a ___________________ tooth’!
5. People in Britain have been celebrating Pancake Day for __________________ years.
6. The tradition started in ____________________ when a woman ran to church holding a  _________________!
7. Donald O’Kelly is planning to give up __________________________ for Lent.
8. Pancake Day is a time to _________________________.
The answers for these exercises are below these other exercises of listening

Yoiu can parctise listening with these audios about Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago:

Here you have a listening about Venice; there are a couple of exercises to do with it:

Dictionary Activity – CARNIVAL
1. Flour, eggs and milk. Go to this video to make a pancake: (easy)
Pancakes are thin cakes made from a batter of milk (or milk and water), eggs and flour which is then cooked in a frying pan or on a griddle until golden brown on both sides. You can buy special pancake pans which are shallow and non-stick with curved sides. French pancakes are made slightly thinner and are called crêpes. Scotch pancakes are small and thick, usually cooked on a griddle and sometimes flavoured with sultanas or raisins. American pancakes are normally served at breakfast. They tend to be light and fluffy, served in generous stacks with bacon and maple syrup. There is also the Russian blini, Chinese pancakes served with Peking duck, Italian crespelle and so on. Pancakes are traditionally eaten in the UK on Shrove Tuesday.  ( taken from: )
2. The day before the beginning of Lent.
3. Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras.
What is Mardi Gras?   :   Mardi Gras, also known as Shrove TuesdayCarnival, and even Pancake Day in the UK, is an annual festival which will be celebrated on 21st February in 2012. Falling just before Lent, it traditionally marks the last opportunity for fun and feasting before 40 days of "self-denial". Mardi Gras means "Fat Tuesday" in French (Remember that meat is forbidden during Lent, at least on Friday).
Festivities begin at the beginning of February, leading up to Mardi Gras day, and consist of parades, dancing in the street, costumes and masked balls. The modern Carnival tradition developed in Europe in the Middle ages, and is celebrated mainly in Roman Catholic communities in Europe and the Americas today. Some of the most famous celebrations are held in Nice (France), Cologne (Germany), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and New Orleans (USA)
4. A frying pan. Here you have a Pancake race :
5. (c) a farmer
6. slowly; instead of “procession” it is more usual the word “parade” (desfile)
7. party mask
8. 40 days; Lent means “Cuaresma
9. The first day of Lent
10. No   /ˈkɑːrnəvəl / (American English);   /ˈkɑːnɪvəl/ (British English) But none of them is in plural.

1. giving up           2. fridge                 3. quirky                4. sweet                5. five hundred          6. 1445 / frying pan              
7. pancakes          8. Indulge   (Loolk up the words in a dictionary if necessary)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Working with modals

This lesson 3 deals with modals and perfect modal are rather difficult to use. Here you have plenty of web pages to work with them. I hope it'll be helpful. : a short but practical explanation of the modals with a reference to modals + perfect infinitive : here the perfect infinitive is explained and there is a reference to modals followed by this form. : this is a revision of modals and it has a good exercise to practice. a long list of modals in simple and perfect form with their use and meaning. : a quite extensive page with exercises. Problem: no answers. : explanation of the previous exercises; there is a simple video with some examples. : this exercise is about modals. Some of the examples are followed by prefect infinitive. You can use them for practice.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

First Certificate Exam sample to practise

This exam of Cambridge is quite different from the ones we have in EEOOII but it might help you to practise with our certificate exam. This is supposed to have a higher level so keep in mind this is not what you'll find in your final exam.
Let me warn you this is an on line exam so it'll take you time to do it and I think you can't do it again. To be honest I haven't tried it so you'll be a sort of guinea pigs. Let me know your experience in class!
Click here for the exam

Order of adjectives (NI1)

A student of mine in NI1 asked me the way adjectives should be placed in front of a noun. Here you have some links to help you to understand this subject and to practise with it:

  • link 1: a complete explanation with a quizz at the end
  • link 2: another explanation and you have exercises at the end
  • link 3: you have here the position but you don't have exercises; however, you have a long list of adjectives so you can check and increase your vocabulary.
  • link 4: this is very easy but what it's interesting is if you go to the next page (click "next" at the end) you can revise comparatives and there is an exercise of comparatives. If you can't find it, click here
If the students of NI2 whant to revise this, they'll be welcome to use these links as well.

Preparing your exams for certificate (NI2)

Here you have some links to see the exams for the certificate of "nivel intermedio" in Euskadi. Remember they are not exactly the same as the ones we'll take in the Community of Madrid but they could help you to practise.

A listening about Captain Scott (NI2)

As you remember there is a reading comprehension about Captain Scott on lesson 3B (p. 42-43). Here I've found a link in BBC Learning Englishis with a listening about his journey to the South Pole. Click here

Let me remind you we are dealing with perfect conditional and, apart from the difficulty in grammar. you should take into acccount the way of pronouncing this tense. Maybe I gave you this link but I thjink it's worth another visit so please click here

See you in class!