Thursday, January 21, 2016

NI1 - Unit 4A: modals of ability and possibility

This lesson has a very important point of grammar: MODALS. The first thing we have to bear in mind is that a modal is a form used to express the way that the action is done. In this case we work with CAN for ability and possibility, so look at the examples:

  • I can drive quite well  ---  Sé conducir bastante bien (ability)
  • If you are tired, I can drive for a while  ---  Si estás cansada, yo puedo conducir un rato (possibility or offer)
The problem with CAN is that it has other characteristics:
  • it's an auxiliary so you use it for interrogative and negative forms
  • it's a defective verb so it has no infinitive or past participle forms; if you need these tenses, you must used the verb TO BE ABLE TO + infinitive: 
    • I've been able to drive since I was 20 --- Sé conducir desde los 20 años
    • I've never been able to drive  --- Nunca he podido conducir
    • I'd like to be able to ride a bike --- Me encantaría saber montar en moto 
Another important point of grammar is the use of -ING or -ED in adjectives. Remember we said it has a different meaning, sometimes the same as in Spanish:
  • The book is interesting so I'm interested in it: El libro es interesante así que estoy interesada en el. The form -ING is active while the form -ED is passive; other grammars say that -ING is connected to things and situations while -ED deals with people's feelings.
If you want to practise with this or learn more, here you are some exercises with explanations about the topic: exercise 1   exercise 2   exercise 3

Here you are the video about Alex Rawling and why he speaks 11 languages: click here

For the reflexive pronouns, you have this exercise; click here

NA1 (That's English! and official): Preparing the oral exam

The first thing I must say it that the oral exam should be as similar as possible to an ordenary conversation so keep in mind these tips:
  • keep a balanced performance: don't speak too much or too ittle. 
  • be collaborative: if you have a problem (a word, a wrong structure, a gap and so on), ask or give some help. It`s something positive in both ways.
  • make clear you're listening to the other(s) by summarizing the other's point of view. It helps you to introduce new structures like reported speech or conditionals and the other feels more confident and involved into the conversation.
  • sometimes it's good to repeat a question in a different way in order to emphasize, to get to the point or even to help your mate to understand better.
  • use phrases to sound more natural: to express your opinion (As I see, Personally, In my opinion...), accepting the other's opinion (You're right, I haven't thought aobut that before, Sounds interesting, I absolutly agree...) or disagreeing politely (I see what you mean but..., I don`t agree completely with that point, That's right; however,...)
  • start and finish the conversation: you may introduce the topic for starting and you might have a sort of summary to indicate you've finished.
  • pay attention to your pronunciation and the entonation. Be natural but if you tend to be flat it's better to overact just a bit.
Here you are some links to help you with some typical situations dring your oral exam:
  • how to change the topic: click here
  • how to express your opinion: click here
  • how to express agreement/disagreement: click here
To finish with, bear in mind that many of these expressions and tips work perfectly well in writing skills so take them into account when writing your composition.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

That's English! - Module 9 - Unit 10: Exam strategies.

I really recommend you to see this unit in detail as there are plenty of good tips. Nevertheless, remember we'll use the "general questions" we already saw in each unit for the oral exam, especially the task of a monologue. Have a look to the previous lessons in the blog to revise them.

Pay attention to the most difficult skills, the "productive" ones as these are the most remarkable when it comes to write a composition or speak about the topics given.  There is when you show clearly your own level of English.

Try to bear in mind you're in advance level so revise your writing for spelling or grammar mistakes as you are supposed to be able to correct them by yourself. Include vocabulary and variety because richness in vocabulary, structures and connectors is expected.

Regarding speaking skills, take into account the same tips and pay attention to what your partner is saying. Remember this is not a contest to see who is better but a simulated conversation so be collaborative, friendly and help your partner during your performance.

Try to keep calm. I know it's difficult but this is important in order to have a good exam. Nevertheless, good luck to everybody!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

That's English - Module 9 - Unit 9: Beauty is only skin-deep.

This lesson deals with physical appearance and personality. As usual, we'll start with general questions about the topic:
  • Is physical appearance important in our society? Give reasons and give examples if possible.
  • Are you worried about your outlook on life? Are you similar to your friends or quite different?
  • Cosmetic surgery is becoming more and more popular throughout the world. Why do you think this is happening? Would you ever consider it to improve your appearance?
  • Think about a person you know: and describe him/her: What is your friend like? What are the most relevant physical features and in his/her character?
About grammar, we are working with WISH and IF ONLY. These forms can be followed by past simple, past perfect or "would". Apart from the explanation you've got in your gammar section, you can go to these links to see more examples and a further explanation: click here and here

The other topic you have on the grammar section is about compound nouns. Here you have alink which I think it's quite useful: click here

Monday, January 11, 2016

That's English! - Module 9 - Unit 8: Live to tell the tale

Some people love risks but some don't. Nevertheless, sometimes you get involved in dangerous ssituations and you have to sort it out. Here are some general questions to speak about this topic:
  • Think abut something dangerous you've done which was good fun and you're pleased you did it. Give general details and speak about how you felt.
  • Would you leave your job without having another one to go? Give reasons for your answer.
  • Some people are addicted to taking risks. why do you thinkd this happens? Is this your case?
  • What is the greatest risk you've ever taken? Tell us what happened.
  • Have you ever tried expreme sports? If so, which one and tell us about the experience. If not, explain your reasons for not doing it.
In this lesson you're asked to write about the craziest thing you've ever done or "something you feel strongly about". The most improtant thing with these kind of topics is to sound honest but to be balanced as well. Try to express the pros and the cons, give examples and try to be convincing with your personal point of view. Use the part of expressing objection in the grammar reference (p. 139)

Apart from this, pay attention to the use of WOULD to describe a typical behaviour or habit in the past. It's connected to the form USED TO+infinitive. Here you have a link that could hellp you: click here. The rest uses of WOULD are more familiar for you: as a conditional or as past form of WILL.