Thursday, 29 October 2009

Advanced II. The World of Sounds

I've found a wonderful sound library on the Net at where you can do a search to find examples of the sounds listed below. It is a very long list (and there are many more I've left out), but do try with some of them:

person bawling
bells chiming/tolling
bee buzzing
donkey braying
door creaking
mew (meow)
horse neighing
rain pattering
cat purring
duck quacking
blowing a raspberry

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Intermediate II: Biography and Tale

Here is some listening practice with two typical instances of the use of the past tenses: a biography and a children's tale. As for the biography, the narrator is obviously an extremely proficient non-native speaker; everything he says is correct but for a couple of minor details, among them the way he pronounces "honourable", and "national" and its derivates (correct pronunciation:/ˈɒnərəbl/ and /ˈnæʃnəl/ but careful, nation = "neIʃn").

Intermediate II: Regular Past Tense Pronunciation Revisited

As she says: "Do not leave off the final sounds"

Remember, 3 different cases to consider when pronouncing regular pasts:

1) Pataca, chouzas, xefe (unvoiced/voiceless sounds). "t" (an unvoiced consonant) is an exception when it comes to these voiceless consonants affecting the pronunciation of the past tense of regular verbs.

2) Voiced sounds, vowels and all other consonants. "d" (a voiced consonant) is an exception for the pronunciation of past tenses.

3) verbs ending in "t" or "d".

It is all very clearly explained on this video and on the one I posted on this same matter earlier on this month (October 2009).

Intermediate II. Past Tenses

As they say "practice makes perfect", quite a convenient saying in this case. Practise past tenses through the following online exercises:

Simple past or present perfect?

Past perfect contrasted with other past tenses.

Irregular verbs:

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Advanced II Disagreement 2

When Harry met Sally. Beginning of the film with dialogues containing expressions of agreement and disagreement. These sequences complete the other video you will find below from the same film.

Should you have any trouble to understand any of the lines and want to find out what they were saying, here is a link with the film script:

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Advanced II Personality adjectives

Below you will find a couple of links containing exercises with personality adjectives. Enjoy!

Advanced II. Personality and star signs

It is not that I am a great fan of astrology. In fact, I think it is all a load of old mythological gibberish. But it can actually be as good an excuse as any other to start up a conversation on people's personality. Here is the activity I suggest: go to and do a search with your star sign with the words :

"All about astrology: the sign (here you must key in your zodiac sign) in astrology."

In case you cannot remember the spelling, the list is: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces.

Listen to the 2 to 3-minute long video and then post a comment on which things from your sign description could be used to define you and those which are a far shot (not characteristic of you by far). Here is my own sign as an appetiser.

Intermediate II. Link with food vocabulary

Through the following link you will be able to practice with and/or acquire vocabulary connected with food and cooking. Do try some of the exercises from the section food and drink!

Advanced II Disagreement

This is a sequence from a classic 90s film, "When Harry Met Sally" (with Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal); a perfect example of how to express disagreement in English. I will be posting more on it shortly.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Intermediate II. How not to cook a Spanish tortilla.

Let's benevolently credit Anne Mooney with being full of good intentions, but she's obviously cooking something no true Spaniard would recognise as a tortilla. Watch the video and make comments about what she should have done instead.

Intermediate II. Galician-style octopus

Fill in the missing words in the video script.

We are now going to ______ a Galician-style octopus with paprika ________ flakes.
First, we cut the octopus in large ________ and we lay them down on the cooked potatoes we have previously __________ .

We _________ a touch of _________ parsley, olive oil and the paprika sea salt _____ . And ________ to ________ .

And remember: "octopus to the party" (free translation of "polbo á feira")is an octopus feeling festive, not a cooked one.

Intermediate II. Explain Galician cuisine


Write an informal letter in answer to the following lines from a foreign friend (150-180 words, post it as a comment to this entry):

I'm looking forward to our trip to Galicia. I've heard so much about its fantastic cuisine! But Anne and the girls are a little bit worried that, being as unadventurous as they are, they will find it strange and unappetising. They have this notion that Galician food will probably be too hot and spicy to their liking. Could you perhaps send us a few reassuring lines explaining the main traditional dishes, the way they are cooked and the quality of the produce used. And do not forget to mention the ones you like most!

We cannot wait to see you again!

All the best,


Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Linking words


Positive addition
  • both... and...+ plural agreement. E.g.: “Both Mikel and George like football.”
  • not only... but also. E.g.: “Not only is Michael a nice guy, but also very hardworking.”
  • Too. E.g.: “It is very expensive, but very good quality too.”
  • As well. E.g.: “As well as hardworking, Michael is very nice. Michael is very nice and very hardworking as well.”
  • Moreover (formal). E.g.: “The cellar was dark. Moreover, mice nested there.”
  • Furthermore (formal). E.g.: “computer games are getting cheaper. Furthermore, their quality is improving.”
  • In addition to (very formal). E.g.: “In addition to directing the play, she designed most of the scenery.”
Negative addition
  • Neither... nor. E.g.: “This opinion is neither right nor fair.”
  • Neither. E.g..: “Just as you would not complain, neither should he”
  • Either. E.g.: “He isn't stupid, but he isn't a genius either.”
  • Not... but... E.g.: “He is not Spanish, but Mexican.”
  • Although. E.g..: “Although I have been to France several times, I cannot claim I know the country very well”.
  • Though. E.g..: “Though I have been to France several times, I cannot claim I know the country very well” or “I have been to France several times, I cannot claim I know the country very well, though.”
  • While. E.g.: “while the grandparents love the children, they are strict with them.”
  • Whereas. E.g.: “I like fish, whereas my mother loves meat.”
  • Despite. E.g.: “Despite being a foreigner, he has adapted very well to our culture.”
  • In spite of. E.g.: “In spite of being a foreigner, he has adapted very well to our culture.”
  • Even though. E.g.: “Even though he is a foreigner, he has adapted very well to our culture.”
  • However. E.g.: “He is a foreigner. However, he has adapted very well to our culture.”
  • In contrast. E.g.: “Engineering is a very difficult subject. In contrast, few students have problems with physical education.
  • Yet. E.g.: “I usually find you very reasonable, yet this time I cannot understand you.”
NOTE: E.g. = Exempli gratia (for example)

Questions for Mississippi Diana

Mississipi Diana talks about friendship

1. Before listening, you will need to get acquainted with the following vocabulary.

Through thick and thin
To give someone a helping hand
To ponder
depend on someone
a southern bell
geared up

2. While listening. Say whether the following statements are true or false (mark T or F):

Mississipi Diana thinks some friends might be thick and some others thin.
She thinks friends just accept you the way you are.
She thinks friends are people who like us and who we like in return.
Her mother moved away to another state two years ago.
She most misses the last years she enjoyed her mother's company.
She met her husband through the Internet.
Sabrina taught her how to look after her plants outside.
Sabrina taught her how to cook unusual dishes.
She has lots of things in common with Mary who is about her same age.
Both like talking about the Titanic.

3. Complete the missing words (one or two per gap)

Mary lives in __________ and Sabrina lives in ____________ and I am here in Mississippi.
So the one that I have to _________ is my husband.

Dolores and Paula. They are great girls. And I kind of __________ in the future them being true personal friends.

They are polar opposites from one another, so what did that tell you about how ________ I am...

Don't expect everybody that you meet will become __________ or a close _________ friend.

Debate on friendship

Here is an entry to continue with the work we've been doing in class (advanced II). I want you to start posting comments to demonstrate that you are actually using the blog, something I have no evidence of, so far. So, here is the question I expect you to start a debate about: "ARE PURELY ALTRUISTIC FRIENDSHIPS POSSIBLE OR IS THERE ALWAYS AN ELEMENT OF SELF-INTEREST IN THEM?"

Come on, start giving your opinions!!!!

Punch on the face

I know, I know, this is an educational blog... You are all a big puzzled by this video link. If you watch it, you will understand why I have posted it. It is part of an Internet campaign intended to spit on the face of those abominable sexual predators who through their Web searches take part in the destruction of the lives of vulnerable children. They typically search for words that make anyone's stomach turn, and which -forgive me for it- I will list next as a lure: angels, lolitas, preteens, boylover, pedolover, fetishboy. Paedophiles: STOP THE ABUSE OF POWER AS A SEXUAL AROUSER, ACCEPT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY: YOUR ACTIONS MARK CHILDREN FOR LIFE.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Pronunciation of the past tense of regular verbs

The video below explains very clearly how to pronounce the "-ed/-d" endings of the simple past and past participle of regular verbs.

Before you watch it, remember:

1) "-ed" is pronounced /t/ when the infinitive/present tense form of the verb ends in a voiceles/ unvoiced (i.e. to articulate which your vocal cords do not vibrate) sound, with the exception of /t/. This is the mnemonic list that I always use to illustrate what these voiceless consonant sound are: the sounds contained in the sequence of Galician words: "Patacas chouza xefe" (/pˌ tˌ kˌ ʧˌ θˌ sˌ ʃˌ f/. I INSIST THAT THE "/t/" SOUND IS AN EXCEPTION. SEE RULE 3.

2) "-ed" is pronounced "d" after all other consonants and vowel sounds (voiced sounds). THE SOUND /d/ IS AN EXCEPTION. SEE RULE 3.

3) "-ed" is pronounced /ɪd/ when the infinitive form of the verb ends in the sounds /t/ or /d/.

The sounds of English

For those of you who are either starting from scratch with phonetics or need to brush up on it, here are three video links with basic instruction as to what the consonant and vowel sounds are in English associated with their IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) symbols, plus one link with easy exercises.

As you probably know, phonetics as such is no longer included as a part of the EOI exams in Galicia. However, it remains an invaluable tool for correct pronunciation. I constantly use phonetic transcription in class to explain those words I consider you may find problematic. Also, when you work on your own at home, any decent dictionary will accompany entries with an IPA transcription of the word you are looking up; that is the only way you can make sure you learn the word correctly. In short, not only does it make you aware of the need for correct pronunciation, but it also helps you develop your listening skills.

My advice is that you should concentrate on two aspects mainly: those sounds which do not exist in Spanish/Galician and those symbols which are totally different from the letters that commonly represent their sounds.

So, without further ado, here are the promised links.

Online exercises:

And, finally, a program you can download for free and use to transcribe into phonetic script any words or sentences:

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Here is a video link with plenty of vocabulary and expressions about friendship by a woman called Diana from Mississippi. She speaks slowly with a clear southern USA accent. I hope you enjoy it. You'll probably need to put your headphones on, as the sound quality is quite poor.

And, just in case you were a little bit puzzled by the Eddie
Izzard video we saw in class, here it is for you to go over.
Read the handout with the exercises first.

As you are in the confort of your own homes, you can
listen to it as often as you can. Try using headphones.

Monday, 5 October 2009

First tentative entry

Caveat: his blog is intended for the use of students of years Intermediate II and Advanced II in my classes at the Carballo Languages School (EOI), Galicia, Spain. Having said that, anyone else wishing to post a constructive comment, feel welcome to!

A warm welcome to you all!

Here you have one more tool to expand your language skills. I hope it helps. As I become more familiar with the intricacies of blogging, and how to use the various applications, I will start uploading things and letting you know about how to take part. For the time being, bear with me!

See you around!

Carlos Aradas.