domingo, 2 de diciembre de 2012

Watch out your vowels!

I'm sure you sometimes think I'm making a fuss about nothing whenever I insist on you paying attention to the way you pronounce long and short vowels but, take my word for it, it may cause you real trouble to pronounce a short vowel instead of a long one, as you can see in the funny video below.
Click here to see some useful videos that'll help you learn the difference between /ɪ/ and /iː/, /ɒ/ and /ɔː/, or /ʊ/ and /uː/.

A hamburger?

I know! It's sometimes exasperating when there seems to be no improvement in our pronunciation, no matter what we do. That's why I'd like you to watch this video and realize that you're doing much better than him. However, don't forget to practise saying 'would' in front of a mirror as I told you !

lunes, 5 de noviembre de 2012

I need your help!

I'd like to think my students feel they can share with me their opinions, suggestions and complaints about the way our classes develop as I do believe their views are essential for me to improve as a teacher. But I may be too optimistic 
In case you're too shy or just don't want to tell me face to face, take a minute to complete a totally anonymous survey that'll help make any necessary changes. 
Thanks a million!

domingo, 4 de noviembre de 2012

Are we so different?

Men and women, and the everlasting question: Are we the same or different? Last week I was discussing with my students whether our brains are really different or it's just the result of the cultural biases imposed on us since we're born, and the thing is although at the beginning I was much more in favour of the latter, I was told that there's been a lot of scientific research on this issue which has proved that in fact, WE ARE different in several aspects.
I know stereotypes are usually unfair but, if they're not taken too seriously, commonplaces can also be fun. I hope you'll enjoy this stand-up monologue which show us how different our brains are.
First watch the video and then try to do the fill-in-the-gap activity below. I'd also like you to write a short comment giving your own point of view.

viernes, 12 de octubre de 2012

Somebody that I used to know

Here we are, one more year, and I think it's about time to start working, isn't it? I'm glad to share the news with you all : I was lucky and got a part-time post in EOI Villaverde, a new school with new workmates among whom I've felt really welcome as they've been really nice to me.
To open this school year I've chosen a song I love and that I hope you'll enjoy too. Through it, we'll practise two English vowel sounds, /æ/ and /ʌ/, that Spanish students sometimes find difficult to recognize and produce.
  • To pronounce /æ/ make a Spanish /a/ and in the middle change it to /e/ while keeping the front part of your tongue in the lower part of your mouth.Click the arrow in the audio reproducer to listen to this sound and some words containing it.

  • To pronounce /ʌ/ make a short Spanish /a/ with the middle part of your tongue in the centre part of your mouth. Click the arrow in the audio reproducer to listen to this sound and some words containing it.

jueves, 7 de junio de 2012

Kindness Boomerang

We are about to finish this school year full of hard work, disappointments, uncertainty and fight, but also of fun and unforgettable moments. I want to say goodbye to all my students and workmates raising my voice and asking for a ray of hope with a song and a video that we'll let you believe in the power of kindness and solidarity, even though it's just for five minutes. 
But as I can't help thinking as a teacher, I'll take advantage of this song to work on nasal consonants /m/, /n/and /ŋ/ which are pronounced letting the air go out through the nose with your mouth closed. 
  • Spanish students find it especially difficult to produce the nasal sound  /ŋ/ which is represented by the spellings 'ng' as in 'sing' and 'nk' as in 'sink'. To produce this sound you have to stop the air flow through the mouth by pressing the back of your tongue against the soft palate. You can click here to see a short video that'll help you pronounce this sound correctly.
  • Paying attention to these sounds, listen to the song "One day" by the American reggae singer Matisyahu.
  • Now, listen again and do the gap-fill activity. 

domingo, 13 de mayo de 2012


Feeling stressed and a little bit down has become commonplace for many of us in these times. 
We can't avoid worrying about the world around us which seems to be falling apart and we experience a feeling of defeat; but do we realize what are the things that really matter in life? I guess we need to be reminded of. 

MiniaturaWhen I saw this video filmed at Seattle Children's Hospital, I felt so moved and touched! They are the true heroes, the ones who struggle no matter what life brings them! So this is a tribute to all those who keep putting up a fight with a smile on their faces and teach us a lesson of hope and courage.

"Stronger",by Kelly Clarkson, is not only a heartening song but also a perfect way to practise the weak vowel sound schwa /ə/ that we find in unstressed words (auxiliary verbs, prepositions and articles) and unstressed syllables.
Here are some examples:
He was feeling down                 /wəz/  
I can do much better                /kən/      /ˈbetə/ 
You have to put up a fight       /həv/    /tə/   /əp/     /ə/

Listen to the song and do the gap-fill activity. Click the key to get all the answers. 

miércoles, 25 de abril de 2012

If I were a boy...

Have you ever wondered how different your life would be if you were a boy and not a girl or the other way round?
Beyoncé has in this song which I'm going to use to make you think of the variety of sounds that can correspond with the letter 'o' in English. Do you pronounce the 'o' in  'broke' and 'shot' in the same way? If you want to know, see this short presentation before doing the listening task below.
You can check your answers with the key.

miércoles, 4 de abril de 2012

Definitely, he's not just handsome!

After hearing George Clooney addressing the Senate over Sudan crisis, I couldn't help feeling relieved to realize that some celebrities  use their popularity not just to get a table at the most exclusive restaurant or a room in the most luxurious hotel for free.
He seems to be aware that, unfortunately, the world will pay more attention to his words than to any activist's, so he's making the most of this fact.
In my view, that turns him into something else than a mere "pretty face".
This is part of an interview he did for the PBS Newshour. Watch it and complete the transcript below by clicking the arrow in each box and choosing the right option to fill in the gap. Then, click "CHECK" at the bottom.

sábado, 24 de marzo de 2012

I'm tired of using technology!

I can't deny it! I'm hooked on new technology though I'm not an expert.
Milow whinged "I'm tired of using technology" in his song (do you remember?) but even though I sometimes feel overwhelmed by so many innovations, the wonder of this new world has won me over.
A colleague and friend of mine sent me this killing sketch that makes fun of technology using plays on words (double meanings and homophones). Try to fill in the gaps to complete the transcription and then click in the link above to learn some vocabulary. This is the key with all the answers.
I hope you'll enjoy it!

viernes, 17 de febrero de 2012

I wish, I wish...

I must admit I'm not prone to making wishes as I've promised myself to enjoy what I do have and stop dreaming. Wishes make us hopeful, though, and that's why I want you to learn how to make them.
In this song by Pearl Jam you'll learn about all their wishes by filling in the gaps with one word to complete the lyrics. Check your answers here.
Then, if you're interested enough, you can click the link in the upper or lower bar and find an amusing presentation that I hope will help you understand the use of "I wish..." just a little bit better.

sábado, 14 de enero de 2012

Start with yourself

Consonant clusters (a combination of two or three consonant sounds) may be difficult to pronounce, especially if it is a combination that is not common in our language.
Three-consonant clusters at the beginning of words always begin with s, e.g. scream /skriːm/.
Three-consonant clusters at the end of words are often plurals (girls /ɡɜːlz/), third person singular verbs (wants /wɒnts/) or regular past tenses ( asked /ɑːskt/).
To practise this combination of consonant sounds I've chosen a song that reminds us that the real change is inside ourselves, that we can't close our eyes and only see misery and poverty at Christmas time. Listen to it and do the gap-filling exercise while listening. All the missing words  contain a consonant cluster. Then, you can check the answers clicking the link KEY on the activity.