lunes, 19 de mayo de 2014

Reported Speech and Conditionals

Reported speech is when you explain what other people say so there are some typical changes, related to pronouns, verbs and time/place references. I think it's much more natural than what you could expect and that's the reason why you should use it in your own speech. Let's see an example:
"Yesterday I phoned my mother and she told me she didn't feel well and she asked me to go with her the following day to visit the doctor. I told her I had an important meeting at 9,30 but I was free after that time and I said I was picking her up at 10. She said she was going to make the appointment at that moment to be sure we could have the right time".
You must pay attention to the difference between TELL and SAY: the first one is used with personal complement while the second goes without it as you can see in these examples:
  • Tom told her/Susan he had to work until late
  • Tom said he had to work until late
Here you are some exercises to work with this: exercise 1   exercise 2    exercise 3
Remember the exception with TELL without personal pronoun: to tell the truth, to tell a lie, to tell a story/a tale, to tell a joke.

Indirect speech is related to conditionals: let's see these examples:

  • she asked: Do you smoke?  ----  she asked me if I smoked
  • he said: If you need money, I'll lend you some  --- he told me if I needed money he would lend some  (first conditional into second conditional)

jueves, 15 de mayo de 2014

Using First and Second Conditioal Sentences

There are several ways of conditional sentences in English. Here you have a diagram

Type 0 or
General truth; you can substitute if for when

If you boil water
it evaporates
Type 1 or 
Possible condition; it is likely to happen

If I have time
if you have finished your homework
I’ll go to the cinema
I`ll give you a present/you can play with the computer
Type 2 or
Improbable condition; it is very hypothetical that this could happen

Simple past
If I could buy a new car
If I had the money
Simple conditional
I’d take a van
I wouldn't buy a Ferrari

Let's work with some exercises:
There is another link which is not explained in the book but it's imortant to know: UNLESS
This form is the same as if...not; for example: I won't go unless you invite me or You'll have problems unless you do it carefully. If you want to practise, you can use this exercise; click here

Although the second conditional (hypothetical) is mentioned above, we are not going to use them now but in a higher level unless you use it in this way: If I were you, I'd stay at home or If I were Peter, I wouldn't tell her the truth. 

To finish with, here you have the song When a Man Loves a Woman to see examples of what it's been explainded here; click here

martes, 13 de mayo de 2014

Using ALREADY, YET and JUST with present perfect.

We've ALREADY seen present perfect this course but we haven't practised with some adverbs YET. I've JUST explained the use of these adverbs in class and I think we're ready to use them. Generally speaking, we use these adverbs in this way:
  • JUST: the action has been done short time ago. I've just seen Peter downstairs; he looks great.
  • ALREADY: it indicates the action is finished, and before than expected. My teacher has already corrected the exams.
  • YET: this shows that the action is not finished or you don't know if it's finished. I haven't seen Susan yet. Has she called you yet?
For a further explanation you can go to these links: the British Council; this one is with "ever" and "never" included, click hereNevertheless, if you have problems to understand the difference you can use this webpage in Spanish; click here
As usual, the best way it to do some exercises to practise:

I hope this will be helpful.

Coming back form Finland!

Hi! I've just come back from Finland and I'm delighted. It's a wonderful country, with a lot of things to see, to learn and to enjoy; but the most surprising thing has been the people. They were extremely kind to us and we had a great time there thanks to them. I really recommend you to visit that country... but avoid going there in winter!
Here you are a very interesting link about facts in Finland, the one we saw in class; click here

martes, 6 de mayo de 2014

Preparing the final exam

We are nearly finishing the course and we should think of the final exam. Remember you must pass an exam for every skill: reading, listening, writing and speaking. Let's practice with this type of exams. There are some sample (examples) on the internet and we must start with the one given by Madrid. Here you are the exams of Comunidad de Madrid; clikc here
If you want to see more examples, here you are the one from Valencia; click here and then choose English. And this site has a lot of information about this type of exams; clikc here
See you next week!

miércoles, 23 de abril de 2014

The use of article

Although I've already talked about this many times, I'd rather explain it one more time. Apart from the explanation in your text book (p.91) you can use these simple rules.

We use the article in this way:
  • A / AN = one (1)    meaning one in a general way, like in these examples:
                                 I'm a student; I saw a cat; Can I have a biscuit?
  • THE = this / these , that is, to express this person, animal or thing is determinate, specific:
                                I took the book back to the library   (the book=that book)

  • NO ARTICLE = when it's used in a general plural or uncountable; let's see the examples:
                                I love animals   Sam doesn't like sugar very much

As I've told you this is a brief summary of all the rules connected to the use of articles; if you want to know more about this and do some practice go to these links:
  • a good but long explanation is here or this shorter one with exercises; click here
  • exercise 0 (very simple)    exercise 1    exercise 2     exercise 3    and if you want a list of exercises click here
  • as you have problems with the last/last and the next/next, go to this exercise to parctise.

martes, 22 de abril de 2014

The day of the Earth

Today it's the day to think about environment and what to do to protect our planet. This is a topic which is present in our book, in lesson 9.2. Let's work with this topic using some links:

  • this link is the one we've just used in class, with vocabulary and listening; click here
  • this link is about vocabulary but you have some other links at the end; click here
  • this is a blog with an entry on enviromental issues; there are exercises at the end and it's quite interesting; click here
Exercises about environment, especially about vocabulary: exercise 1    exercise 2    exercise 3

jueves, 10 de abril de 2014

Comparative and Superlative forms

There is an old post from 2011 about this grammar topic so click here if you want to see it and do exercises. Nevertheless, this is a short summary of what we saw in class. try to use comparatives to express preferences, give reasons, explain something or your opinion.

Comparing qualities
This is waht you do when you compare 2 things or people; you use an adjective and you should use the comparative form. Look at this chart:

1 syllable
2 syllable
3 or more syllable
You add -ER THAN

Clean = cleaner than
Big = bigger than yours
dry = drier than
Ending in -y = -IER THAN

easy = easier
friendly = friendlier
lovely = lovelier
You use MORE --- THAN

expensive = more expensive than
beautiful = more beautiful than

bored = more bored than
Ending in consonat = MORE --- THAN
careful = more careful than
boring = more boring than
Adverbs ending in -LY =
easily = more easily than

Comparing quantities
Uncountable (singular)
Countable (plural)
There is more water than ice
There are more people than I thought
There is less sugar than the amount I need
There are more places to visit than expected

Subordinate sentences:
  • SO + adjective + THAT = she's so nice that everybody likes her
  • SUCH + (modifier) noun + THAT = she's such a nice person that everybody likes her
    • Notice the changes for singular/plural and countable/uncountable: they are such nice boys; he is such a nice boy; it's such nice bread a = 1 (not 2,3,4...)

The meaning is very similar in both sentences, but the grammar form changes. 
If you want to practise eith this grammar point, go to these exercises:

martes, 1 de abril de 2014

Using intensifiers

An intensifier is an adverb which you use to give more emphasis to adjectives or other parts of speech. When we use a noun is called quantifier. Have a look to the examples:
  • Bill Gates is extremely rich (intenisfier: EXTREMELY)
  • Bill Gates has so much money that he can buy whatever he wants (quantifier: MUCH)
If you want to know more about intensifiers you can go to this link
Remember we have worked in class with the problem with TOO + adjective and TOO MUCH + singular  and TOO MANY + plural, as you can see in the example:

  • There were TOO MANY people, TOO MUCH noise and the music was TOO loud.

The other problem is the use of ENOUGH: you must use adjective + ENOUGH but ENOUGH + noun. Let's see the example:

  • There aren't ENOUGH books for everybody but there is ENOUGH time to find them if we are fast ENOUGH to bring them from the library.
I hope you won't have no more problems with these similar words. See you in class!

Multi-word verbs

MULTI-WORD VERBS are those verbs formed by 2 or more words. Here you have some examples:
  • I look forward to seeing you (3 words)
We should distinguish between two different verbs:
  • PREPOSITIONAL verbs: verbs followed by a preposition
    • Look at Peter! ---- Look at HIM!
  • PHRASAL verbs: verbs followed by an adverb
    • Look up the word in the dictionary ---- Look IT up in a dictionary
But what is important to know is the way they function, that is, if you must split the verb and the particle to introduce the pronoun, as you can see in the second example. The best way to learn them is in context and then keep in mind the verb used with a pronoun as you have seen above.

There are plenty of lists of multi-word verbs but I think it's better to learn by heart all those that you need in your daily life and increase your own list little by little. Then you should go through them from time to time to revise. This kind of verbs are really frequent in English and they mark the difference in your level of English.

If you want to start practise you can use the ones in the student's book or you can go to some links on the internet like these ones:

April's Fool Day

Today it's April's Fool so let's know something about it. It's the time for pranks and prankster. Go to this link to know something about this day, specially its history, click here.
But you should know some vocabulary about this day so you could go to this link; click here
I hope there aren't many prankters in my class...

domingo, 23 de marzo de 2014

What to do this week

As I told you in class, this week you should work on the blog in order to prepare the final exam. Here you have a link to practise with the exam of NB2 in Durango; click here. Notice that the writing part is shorter than in Comunidad de Madrid; the composition should be longer: 80 words for the first writing and 125 for the second.
The other model you can do is the one from Comunidad de Canarias; the link is here
Try to work on your own and remember to organise your writing before starting it.
See you soon!

jueves, 20 de marzo de 2014


This is a very typical topic and you've got a lot of vocabulary on the book, as well as the one I gve you in class. Here you are some songs which deal with money:
  • The Beatles: All I want ; click here
  • Cabaret: Money; click here
  • Pink Floyd: Money; click here
  • Mickel Jackson: click here
  • Jessie J: Price Tag; click here
I hope you'll enjoy this but there are more examples, I guess.

miércoles, 19 de marzo de 2014

Using relative pronouns

In lesson 8.1 we are working with relative pronouns WHICH, WHO, THAT and WHERE; we are going to start with  WHOSE as well.

A relative clause is introduced by a relative pronoun and it is used to explain or give detail about something mentioned before (the antecedent). But let's see how it works.
  • This is the flat where I live and Peter is the person who lives with me and whose car is parked outside.
The most difficult part of this grammar point is, as usual, when it isn't the same in Spanish:
  • Kerry is the mate I work with: here the relative pronoun has disappeared, something that/which doesn't happen in Spanish. 
Let's see some pages to work with this grammar point:
  • another example; click here
  • an exercise of rephrasing: use relatives to join clauses; click here
To finish with, here you are the two songs about the lemmon tree:

martes, 18 de marzo de 2014

Healthy Habbits

To keep fit is really important and we all should be very careful with the things we do or we eat. Here you are an article which explains how to keep healthy; click here

lunes, 17 de marzo de 2014

Saint Parick's Day

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! This is the national feast in Ireland but it's an important date for many places where the Irish are present, like the States, the UK or Australia. Here you have some information about this feast; click here or here
But if you want to get a general idea about this typical feast, here you are some videos:

martes, 11 de marzo de 2014

Some very accurate advice to prepare the listening exam

I found a blog with a long answer for a problem that an adult student of an EOI had to pass the certificate exam for NB2. This teacher gives some clues about how to prepare the listening skills and I've cut and pasted her tips here; the comments between brackets are mine:

"Si tienes este nivel (NB2), o un nivel superior, debes seguir la misma estrategia y practicar con los AUDIOS DE TU EOI LOCAL (o con los de otras comunidades autónomas, aunque el nivel no tiene que ser el mismo exactamente, pero sí muy parecido).

Este, por ejemplo, es el examen de comprensión oral del nivel básico de 2011 de la EOI de Oviedo.
Como podrás comprobar, el audio que utilizan está en internet. Es este. 
Lo he encontrado poniendo en Google  "6 minute English Rob Ivonne Families". 
¿Qué hay qué hacer entonces?
Evidentemente, escuchar más audios de este tipo, que además, están en internet. Imagínate que haciendo esto, te sale en el examen precisamente el audio que tú ya has estudiado.

Este el examen del nivel básico de 2012 de la EOI de Oviedo. 
El primer audio es este.- Yo lo he encontrado poniendo en Google "We British love tea", que es la primera frase que dice el "speaker".
El segundo audio es el número 76 de esta lista. Lo he encontrado poniendo en Google "Podcast Penela". Fíjate como en el examen está la referencia de la página. Así que más fácil no puede ser.
El tercer audio es este. Lo he encontrado poniendo en Google "podcast favourite time of the day was night adam rob"
Taken from:

Practising listening skills

Alghough this level is higher than the one you have, I think it's more accurate to the one you could find in the official exam of certificate. Use them to prepare your exams but don't get panic if you aren't as good as you thought at doing these listening exercises.

Remember that there are many pages on the internet to practice listening skills. Here you are some of them taken from a page which gives you examples of two types of exams: PET and IELTS. The ones we need to prepare our exams are these but maybe the level is a bit too high:
Hope it'll help you, guys!

martes, 4 de marzo de 2014

Carnival and Shrove Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday, also called Mardi Gras or fat Tuesday is a famous festivity in Carnival time.
It's on the day before Ash Wednesday and it represents the end of the carnivals because the following day is when Lent starts. It will last 40 days.
Here you are some curious videos about carnival in different places:
 Happy Shrove Tuesday! Enjoy the last day of carnivall because tomorrow it's over.
See you in class.

lunes, 3 de marzo de 2014

Purpose, Cause and Reason clauses

As the own name indicates, these clauses are used to express the purpose, why the action is done.
  • I went to the market to buy some fruit
There are some possible forms to introduce purpose clauses:
  • TO + infinitive / IN ORDER TO + infinitive (SO AS TO + infinitive)
  • IN ORDER NOT TO + inifinitive / SO AS NOT TO + infinitive
  • SO THAT + Subject + Verb
Look at these examples:
  • I visited the doctor to lose weight
  • I visited the doctor in order to lose weight
  • I visited the doctor in order not to have health probles for losing weight
  • I visited the doctor so that he could give me some advice to lose weight
Notice that FOR+ -ing form is also possible but the infinitve form is much more common. 
If you want to get a further explanation you can go to this link; click here
For practising, you can do these exercises:
In unit 7.2 the book deals with purpose, cause and result clauses so you can go to this link to see a long explanation and an exercise at the end but it's of a much higher level; click here
Remember there is a link between the three kinds of clauses and it depends on you and what you want to say to use one or another.

  • I went to the pub to meet my friends
  • I went to the pub because I wanted to meet my friends
  • I wanted to see my friends so I went to the pub
To finish with, let's see the different forms and meanings of SO:
  • SO + adjective: She's so nice
  • SO MUCH + singular/uncountable nouns  and   SO MANY + plural: I don't have so much money but I have so many coins
  • SO THAT+S+V: I bought some medicine so that she could have it
  • SO .... THAT .... : She was so tired that she went to bed
  • Some expressions: and SO on; I think/hope SO; Do you like it? SO,SO
  • You can also go to this link; click here
To finish with, here you have this song to see the use of infinitive of purpose: what can I do to make you love me?

miércoles, 26 de febrero de 2014

Verbs followed by preposition

There are verbs which are followed by prepositions like in Spanish but sometimes it's different:
  • I work with my computer      but      I listen to the news every morning
These prepositions may be dependant (you usually find them with that verb) or not as you could see in the previous examples. To see more details about this point you can go to this link. But if you want to see the main differnces between prepositional and phasal verbs, these are:
  • I gave up smoking - I gave it up        I looked after the children - I looked after them
In the first example you use an adverb, the meaning is really different to just GIVE and the pronoun must be between the verb and the particle; in the other example the meaning is very similar (you look after the children to check they are OK) and you can't separate the particle from the verb. If you need more information, go to this link.

Most of these prepositions are fixed and there are no clear reasons for using one or another so the best way is to learn them by heart. You should practise a lot with exercise to learn them. Here you are some links to do exercises:
Apart from doing exercises you should practise these forms orally, that is, say aloud 2 or 3 examples of each of the verbs with preposition; for example, THINK ABOUT: Have you thought about what I told you yesterday? I'm thinking about going on holiday to Mallorca.

To finish with, here you are the links to practise how to write pargraphs; click here and then here

martes, 25 de febrero de 2014

Used to versus Usually

In unit 7.1 we are working with the form USED TO + infinitive when you talk about a habit in the past you don't do any more. Pay attention to the forms:

  • I used to play with my brothers (but not now)
  • I didn't use to go to the theatre
  • Did you use to have problems with your parents as a teenager?
Remember we use USUALLY for the present tenses: I usually go to the cinema on Sunday.

These links will help you to work with this form:
  • explanation with exercises at the end; click here
  • more examples; click here
If you want to revise what I explained about the other similar forms (to be used to + -ING, to get used to + -ING), you can use this link

lunes, 17 de febrero de 2014

Health Problems

In lesson 6.3 we speak about heath problems. Here you are some links to check and inprove your vocabulary:

  • vocabulary with drawings; click here
  • vocabulary about symptoms; click here
  • vocabulary of problems
  • a general link

jueves, 13 de febrero de 2014

Saint Valentine's Day

I can't help giving you some pages to know something about this special day. Let me remind you that in English speaking countries this is not just a day for lovers but for anyone who loves anybody in one way or another. Here you have some links to read about this day:
Happy Saint Valentin's day!

Next lesson we'll talk about health and you'll need to revise the vocabulary of the body; if you want to use the vieo we saw in class, click here

miércoles, 5 de febrero de 2014

Using FOR and SINCE

The main difference between these two forms is:

  • FOR is used to express a period of time while SINCE is used to indicate the starting point in which the action began; go to this exercise to see it clear; click here
If you go to this link, you'll see a good explanation of these forms and take this sentence to be learnt by heart:
Just remember this sentence "For a period of time, since a point in time."
If you want to practise with some more exercises, here you are some links:
exercise 1      exercise 2       exercise 3     exercise 4 
If you are not sure about the tenses, you should revise the difference between passt simple and present perfect, a previous entry in this blog or go to these links:
exercise 1      use of how long with present perfect or past simple; click here
To finish with, pay attention to the pronunciation of SINCE  /SINS/

lunes, 3 de febrero de 2014

Asking and Giving directions (unit 5.3)

This unit 5.3 deals with directions so let's start with the vocabulary. If you go to this link you'll find the main instructions: verbs and prepositions; click here

Here you are another link of BBC giving you some clues about how to ask for directions: typical questions and useful words.

Here you are some videos to practise. I hope you to enjoy watching them:

viernes, 31 de enero de 2014

Meeting People in Madrid

Here you are the information about Madridbabel, a kind of cultural association to learn languages.
Dear friends:

In February we look forward to meeting you at our usual free international language exchange encounters every Wednesday from20:30 on and every Sunday from 19:00 on at Café Galdós (Los Madrazo 10 – metro Sevilla), which maintains its special offers for the attendees, as well as free canapés for everybodyThere you will practise languageswith people from all over the world, make new friends and have great fun. The coordinators will welcome you and introduce you to nice people in a very friendly and fun atmosphere. Awarded as Best Language Exchange of the Year by the European Vibe Magazine.

Furthermore, this month we will host two very special events: a greatInternational Night at Bernabéu Stadium on Friday 7, whose details you can find below, and a spectacular Wine & Arts Evening on Friday 21, about what we will inform you very soon.



On Friday, February 7th, MadridBabel invites you to its GREAT INTERNATIONAL NIGHT AT THE STADIUM, which will take place from 23:00 to 3:00 at the Real Café – Gate 30 of Bernabéu Stadium (Concha Espina 1 – metro Santiago Bernabéu).

There will be our usual fun and friendly international atmosphere, this time at one of the most famous stadiums in the world!

The entrance will cost €5, which includes a welcome glass of wine.

Reservation is not needed, you can bring all your friends; it’s going to be an unforgettable evening in a very impressive venue.

I hope you'll enjoy, folks!

miércoles, 29 de enero de 2014

Let's Talk about ...

Many students have problems with speaking skills. The only way is to practise as much as possible and you have some possibilities:
  • Have meetings with some other students and talk about a topic: choose a subject and talk about that but it's better if you have prepared the vocabulary in advance. Pay attention to the structures needed (suggestions, invitations, expressing opinion, giving advice and so on)
  • Use skype to speak to other people, not only Spanish but foreigners as well.
  • Try to find conversation groups in the place you live or start one on your own.
If you need topics to talk about you can find some on the internet:
Another possibility is to use a short reading and to comment about it: first you summarize the plot, then you speak about the characters and finally you may explain your point of view and if you've liked the story; maybe you could speak about what you would like to change or imagine a different ending. If you need stories, go to this link.

To finish with you should use English in a natural way such as going shopping, have a drink, talk about your family, your job or use the things you are interested in (sports, reading, art, politics, etc)

lunes, 27 de enero de 2014

Verbs Followed by Infinitive or -ING form

In Unit 5 we are working with verbs followed by infinitive or -ing form. In class, we've seen that there are not many rules to say which verb goes with each form. In general, we have these three big groups:
  • verbs indicating likes and dislikes go with -ING form: like, love, hate, don't mind, fancy, feel like, can't stand...
  • after prepositions: -ING form
  • verbs inidicating desire and/or command go with infinitive: want, hope, decide, expect, need, ask, choose, etc.
There is a general tendency to distinguish between -ing form and infinitive:
  • Infinitives are usually referred to future actions
  • -ing forms are usually connected to past or present actions
Let's have these two sentences:
  • I like playing tennis (first I play then I like it; playing tennis is reffered to a past action which comes up to now)
  • I'd like to play tennis (first I like, I want to do something and then I do it; to play is referred to a future action)
This link gives some clues (pistas) about when you use gerund or infinitive; click here

Here you are a list of adjectives followed by prepositions so you must use -ING like in this example: she is good at playing chess. click here for the list

Another way of learning the verb pattern is to use synonims and the contrary. Let's see an example:
  • finish / stop / give up + -ing form  -----  continue / keep on / go on / start / beguin  + -ing form
But the best way to learn this grammar point is by doing many exercises. You can use these:
exercise 1     exercise 2     exercise 3    exercise 4

To finish with, here you have some videos with songs using gerund or infinitive: click here

lunes, 20 de enero de 2014

Past Simple vs. Past Continuous

We've already seen these two tenses in class and I reminded you that it's similar to Spanish tenses but we have more tenses in our language. Compare these sentences:
  • Llovía cuando llegué a casa: It was raining when I got home
  • Estaba lloviendo cuando llegué a casa: It was raining when I got home
  • Llovió mucho ayer: It rained a lot yesterday
  • Estuvo lloviendo todo el día: It was raining the whole day
If you see the grammar section it's said that it's quite usual to find simple past and past continuous together, especially when you use when or while:
  • She was working at the office when I phoned her
  • While I was watching TV, Susan phoned
However, sometimes you can use it in a different way:
  • While I was cleaning my husband was making dinner
Remember we use past continuous to make the action sound more interesting, more lively.

If you want to practise, use these links with exercises:

martes, 14 de enero de 2014

Revising Present Perfect and Past Simple

Spanish speakers have a lot of problems to distinguish between these two tenses because both are pretérito (past) in Spanish. Let's revise them:

  • PRESENT PERFECT (up to now)
    • we use it with typical questions such as Have you ever been to...?
    • with ever / never
    • with expressions such as once / twice / many times
    • with already (+) and yet (- and ?)
    • with for and since
  • PAST SIMPLE (past reference of time)
    • last _______
    • __________ ago
    • when I was young...
    • in ______ (year)
Here you have some exercises to practise:

lunes, 13 de enero de 2014

Coming back after Christmas+lesson 4

Happy New Year! Here we are again after Christmas holiday. Are you ready to go on with our classes?
We've revised most things in class but we haven't finished yet. There were problems with the difference between BEEN TO and GONE TO so here you have a couple of links:
We've seen how to give advice and we've worked with these forms:
  • should / shouldn't  (ought to+infinitive)
  • need to
  • could
  • I think it's a good idea if ...
  • why don't you ...
If you want to revise this go to this link:
You have a video here to see how to give advice called "What's the matter?" (health problems); click here. Thia is another typical way of using advice.

To finish with, I gave you some suggestions to improve your listeninig and here you are the links we saw in class:

More tips for the exam

Writing: here you are an exa mple of an email with some tips or this one and this example Listening: again go to this link to practise...