domingo, 25 de diciembre de 2011

Do lectures

Do lectures is an impressive site Russell Stannard informed about in his November newsletter.

This is what Do lectures say about their site:

The idea is a simple one— that people who Do things can inspire the rest of us to go and Do things, too. So each year Do lectures invite a group of people who have stood out in a field to talk about what they do. They can be small Do’s or big Do’s or just extraordinary Do’s. But when you listen to their stories, they light a fire in your belly to go and Do your thing, your passion, the thing that sits in the back of your head each day, just waiting, and waiting for you to follow your heart.

To go find your cause to fight, your company to start, your invention to invent, your book to write, your mountain to climb. The one thing the Doers of the world Do, apart from Do amazing things, is to inspire the rest of us to go and Do amazing things too. They are fire-starters.

domingo, 18 de diciembre de 2011


The National Film Board of Canada is a website where you can watch films about arts, the world, biographies, history.

Many of the films are only available under subscription or registration, but there are also dozens of films open to everybody, some of which include a CC option.

domingo, 11 de diciembre de 2011

Occupy Wall Street

This is a video on the Wall Street protests that I found on ESL Writing.

Rob White suggests some activities for us to do with the video, as you can try them if you wish:

1. Describe some of the daily life activities that you saw.

2. Make a list of the verbs that you see in action.
3. Why are people protesting on the street?
4. Summarize the story.

Anyway, the video gives us a fresh insight into what's going on in these protests and has a value of its own that you will appreciate just by watching it.

Right Here All Over (Occupy Wall St.) from Alex Mallis on Vimeo.

sábado, 3 de diciembre de 2011

Experimental school

Read this The New York Times lengthy article by Clifford J. Levy, who is a deputy metro editor of the Times. He won a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting for his coverage of Russia in 2011.

For four years three American siblings attended an experimental school in Moscow where instruction is only in Russian and classes are videotaped to improve teaching.

You can watch a video showing some of the highlights of the experience embedded in the newspaper article or by clicking here.

domingo, 27 de noviembre de 2011

Pronunciation poem

This is an anonymous poem about how strange English spelling is. Joanne Rudling commented on it on one of her recent blogs posts.

Self-study activity:
Read the poem aloud to find out for yourself how well you manage with the poem.
Then download and listen to the recording that Joanne has made, compare and work on the words that might have caused you some difficulty.

Finally, make a point of dropping by Joanne Rudling's blog on a regular basis to get further insight on the intricacies of English spelling.

I take it you already know

Of tough and cough and dough?
But what about, hiccough, thorough and through?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird,

And dead: it's said like bed, not bead --
For goodness sake don't call it 'deed'!

Watch out for meat and great and threat...
They rhyme with suite and straight and debt.
(meat-suite, great-straight, threat-debt.)

There isn't a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, or broth in brother,

And here is not in there
But ear is in dear and fear
But not in bear and pear;

And then there's dose and rose
But lose, goose and choose,

And cork and work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword,

And do and go and thwart and cart --
Come, come, I've hardly made a start!

A dreadful language? Man alive!
I'd learned to speak it when I was five!

But will I write it before I die?
I hope so, I say with a sigh!

domingo, 20 de noviembre de 2011

Steve Job's legacy

Technology editor from The Guardian Charles Arthur looks back at the career of the driving force behind Apple, Steve Jobs.

Jobs was the single-minded visionary who revolutionised three industries: computers, film and music. He simplified complicated things by making the customer's needs paramount, bringing cutting edge technology into globally popular consumer products.

You can find a video embedded here, but by clicking on the link above you will gain access to eight more Jobs-related videos.

H/T to Janet Abruzzo.

domingo, 13 de noviembre de 2011

The spelling bee

This is a demanding game from EFL Classroom 2.0, where our spelling and listening and vocabulary skills will be put to the test.

The way you play is really straightforward and it is explained in the picture below. Click on it to be directed to the game.

domingo, 6 de noviembre de 2011

Why You Can't Work at Work

Why You Can’t Work at Work is a presentation by Jason Fried, co-founder of  Big Think, a forum where top experts explore big ideas for the 21st century.

In his talk, which comes complete with transcript, Jason Fried holds that with its constant commotion, unnecessary meetings, and infuriating wastes of time, the modern workplace makes us all work longer, less focused hours. Jason Fried explains how we can change all of this.

domingo, 30 de octubre de 2011


Tribute is the best-known cinema magazine is Canada. If you visit their website, you will find a throve of cinema-related stuff that might be of interest for the advanced English learner in search of authentic material: trailers, interviews, news, and so on.

domingo, 23 de octubre de 2011

The commercial campus

Corporations are hiring students to promote their brand on campus. At the University of North Carolina, American Eagle helps first-year students move-in, while Target hosts the inaugural party.

Watch this The New York Times video to find out more about this business practice which might be a bit unusual for us and judge for yourself.

You can also read the related newspaper article here.

The New York Times also presents a slideshow with the most general ideas of the scheme.

domingo, 16 de octubre de 2011

PISA -Measuring student success around the world

A test the whole world can take...

It's a breathtaking concept -- but for the OECD, it's a very real way of finding out how well-prepared today's students are to participate in society. If you're not quite sure what PISA is or does, and you've got about 12 minutes to spare, grab a comfortable chair. This video will help you to understand why the OECD's number-crunchers trigger such intense debate about the state of education around the world every time they release the results of the latest PISA survey.

I couldn't get hold of a transcript, so for comprehension purposes you will have to rely on YouTube's (inaccurate) CC, the powerful effect of the images and, best of all, your own skills.

domingo, 9 de octubre de 2011


Frontline is a website that develops investigative journalism. Contains extended interviews, videos, transcripts, teacher's resources, and additional material related to its weekly documentaries.

Frontline has been broadcasting over 28 seasons each week through incisive documentaries covering the scope and complexity of the human experience, with topics ranging from biographies, to politics, crime, education, religion, the environment, sports and so on.

As an example, here's the documentary The Atomic Artist, about a group of Japanese artists who are challenging Japan's faith in nuclear power. You can read the transcript here. Bear in mind, however, that most of Frontline's documentaries are on the long side, so our biggest difficulty might just be finding the time to watch whichever programme we wish to watch.

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

domingo, 2 de octubre de 2011

Great Questions

Great Questions is an interesting site for advanced English students to develop their listening and speaking skills. It is a section of Story Corps, a site whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of their lives.

The Great Questions Lists and Great Questions Generator provide you with excellent questions that you can use when interviewing people about their lives or about the lives of others. The Great Questions Lists is just a list of questions that you can select on your own. The Great Questions Generator will help you select the best questions for the person or people you're planning to interview.

You can listen to lots of stories in the section Listen to stories of the site, and some of the stories have a transcript and can be downloaded. Simply click on More Stories, and then click on Read more... whenever the stories allow you to do so. On the right-hand side you will be able to check whether there is a transcript, if the story can be downloaded as a podcast, related stories and so on.

As an example, I have included the story submitted by Frank Kovac, who explains how he built a planetarium in his garden. Frank's story is perfect for us, as it illustrates everything we can get from Great Questions.

H/T to Free Technology for Teachers.

domingo, 25 de septiembre de 2011

Merriam-Webster on YouTube

This is a real find for advanced English students which I discovered through Random Idea English.

Merriam-Webster has a YouTube channel with very short (two minutes or less) videos on various aspects of English.

Check out Merriam-Webster's YouTube channel or find the list of videos at Merriam-Webster itself.

There you will find videos on controversial topics (who vs whom; fewer vs less), on general problems (a vs an; adverbs without -ly), and on interesting topics (the origin of posh).

Watch this short video that explains the term hat-trick, so commonly used in football and sports in general.

domingo, 18 de septiembre de 2011

Teacher of teachers

What should teachers be like? Finne Cherian, a teacher in Canada, explains. Take a listen as he talks about the essential things a teacher should do in the classroom. Especially a teacher of teachers.

You may also wish to watch Finney Cherian in action while delivering his award-winning lecture Unbinding Baby Elephants.

Explore your memory

Stretch your memory with fun challenges like Explore your Memory. Your answers will help University of Edinburgh experimental psychologists with their research.

Most people will not be able to get everything right. People with normal memories can have low scores.

Duration: about 20 minutes
Professor Robert Logie of the University of Edinburgh helped design this test. Please note, you will need Flash 7.

Explore your Memory gives you feedback which is for demonstration purposes only and cannot diagnose memory disorders.

domingo, 11 de septiembre de 2011

Business Innovation Factory

The Business Information Factory has an annual conference where they invite creative thinkers and, like TED Talks, they put the videos online for viewing. They look pretty interesting.

For example, here’s one from Daniel Pink, What Motivates Us?

Dan Pink is author of several bestselling books about the changing world of work. He is also a crazy-cool, insightful provocateur whose latest book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, uses 40 years of behavioral science to overturn the conventional wisdom about human motivation and offer a more effective path to high performance. Dan is also the author of A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future and Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself.

Dan joined the BIF community on March 29, 2010 for a unique opportunity to talk about the his newest book and his many adventures pushing against anecdotal and outdated wisdom about why we humans do what we do.

domingo, 4 de septiembre de 2011

Sixty-second lectures

Every spring and fall, SAS (University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences) faculty take a minute out on Locust Walk to share their perspectives on topics ranging from human history and the knowable universe, to fractions and fly-fishing. They are the sixty-second lectures.

You can watch and listen to dozens of sixty-second lectureds in the archive, many of which have a transcript at your disposal.

domingo, 28 de agosto de 2011

The story of Scrabble

This is the story of Scrabble narrated by Liz Dubelman. Just click on the picture below and click on click here to play on the ensuing screen.

domingo, 21 de agosto de 2011

My favourite place to study

The Indiana University of Pennsylvania YouTube Channel has tons of videos about both academic and students' everyday life on campus, which can provide endless hours of listening material for advanced English students.

As you may well image, the videos are unscripted, and the sound is live, which is sometimes an obstacle for comprehension, but all in all, the videos give us the opportunity to get to know what university life in the US is like while listening to native speakers of English.

I have selected a few videos here from season 1. I hope you enjoy them. If you do, why not subscribe to the IUP YouTube Channel?

My day by the hour

My favourite place to eat on campus

domingo, 14 de agosto de 2011

Our motivations

What drives us to do the things we do?
Do you feel more motivated by reward or by punishment?
Which factors contribute to a better performance in the workplace?

This RSAnimate, adapted from Dan Pink's talk at the RSA, illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and in the workplace.

You can read a transcript of the talk here.

domingo, 7 de agosto de 2011

Top 10 quotable movies

To mark the 25th anniversary of the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which was a 1986 box office hit starring Matthew Broderick, and famous for its memorable quotes, TIME has grabbed the opportunity to publish a special and look at other movies with eminently memorable lines.

Here's the list of the ten films TIME has selected:

10. Napoleon Dynamite
9. Clueless
8. Glengarry Glen Ross
7. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
6. The Wizard of Oz
5. Top Gun
4. The Godfather
3. Casablanca
2. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
1. The Big Lebowski

Visit the TIME website and watch extracts of the ten films, together with some explanations for their quotes.

domingo, 31 de julio de 2011

Rebuilding Titanic

Titanic: one of the greatest maritime legends in history. When she set sail in April 1912, she was the largest, heaviest, most expensive, and most luxurious manmade moving object on the planet.

This is a really interesting infographic from the National Geographic I have learnt about through Larry Ferlazzo.

The National Geographic has recreated everything which had to do with this formidable ship.

You can find one of the embedded video below, but you can gain access to all the Titanic infographic by clicking on any of the links on this post entry or on the picture above.

domingo, 24 de julio de 2011


You can listen to examples of British regional accents at BBC's Voices.

Go to Voices and choose one of the recordings by clicking on a dot on the map you can find in Voices Recordings, in the top left-hand corner, right under the banners, and then do the following:

1 Click on the name of one of the speakers under 'More clips from this interview'.
2 Read 'About the interviewee'.
3 Read the transcript.
4 Listen to the recording and read the transcript.
5 Some clips have a section on 'More about the speech in this clip'. Read this focusing in particular on information about pronunciation. Some dialect words, which you may not find in the dictionary, are explained here.
6 Do the same with any other 'More clips from the interview'.
7 Go back and listen to the 'Voice clip(s)'. These don't have transcripts.
8 Do the same with accents from other parts of the UK by clicking on other dots on the map.

Activity suggested by English Pronunciation in Use Advanced, Cambridge University Press

sábado, 16 de julio de 2011

Try something new for 30 days

Is there something you've always meant to do, wanted to do, but just ... haven't? Matt Cutts suggests: Try it for 30 days. This short, lighthearted talk offers a neat way to think about setting and achieving goals.

Matt Cutts is an engineer at Google, where he fights linkspam and helps webmasters understand how search works.

domingo, 10 de julio de 2011

BBC Podcasts

This is the BBC podcast home where you can download podcasts on most, if not all, programmes of the radio station.

I would recommend Witness, though. On this programme, history is told by the people who were there. The programme is on five days a week, and they talk to some of the people who lived through moments of history to bring the audience a personal perspective on world events.

sábado, 2 de julio de 2011

The secret power of smiling

From TED comes this talk by Ron Gutman about the importance of smiling in today's world.

Ron Gutman reviews a raft of studies about smiling, and reveals some surprising results. Did you know your smile can be a predictor of how long you'll live -- and that a simple smile has a measurable effect on your overall well-being? Prepare to flex a few facial muscles as you learn more about this evolutionarily contagious behavior.

Ron Gutman is the founder and CEO of HealthTap, a personalized health-info site that's currently in beta. He's also the organizer of TEDxSiliconValley.

sábado, 25 de junio de 2011

Narrative tenses

A few days ago Warsaw Will, from Random Idea English published the post Random Stories -Narrative tenses, with an interactive activitiy where users have to complete the blanks in a story by writing the verb given in the correct tense.

For some reason, English tenses seems to be an elusive grammar point for most English students, regardless of their level.

Warsaw Will's activity gives a chance to put our grasp of narrative tenses to the test, but he does much more than this. The story is a great and entertaining reading activity, and he has collected an extensive glossary of the vocabulary that comes up in the texts.

If this weren't enough, he also provides a list of links where we can read and listen to Roald Dahl's version of the story.

I think that all advanced students, which includes English teachers, should make a habit of visiting Random Idea English to keep their English alive and well.

Thank you, Warsaw Will.

domingo, 19 de junio de 2011

Teens and sleep

This is an oldish PBS Frontline report about the importance of sleep for teenagers, but the ideas expresses are absolutely valid for today's adolescents.

You can read the transcript here.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

jueves, 16 de junio de 2011

Spiderman finally

One of the biggest financial bets in the history of theater, a musical about a comic book hero, was set to officially open Tuesday on Broadway after many high-profile problems in early production. Jeffrey Brown discusses "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" with The New York Times' Patrick Healy on this PBS video.

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

You can read the transcript here.

sábado, 11 de junio de 2011

Language as a Window into Human Nature

In this new RSAnimate Steven Pinker shows us how the mind turns the finite building blocks of language into infinite meanings. Taken from the RSA's free public events programme

It’s a terrific talk, but if you don’t have time to watch the whole 11 minute video, try to watch it from 7 minutes in. He uses a wonderful example from the movie ‘When Harry met Sally’ to illustrate and explain why direct on the record statements can be less comfortable and more awkward than indirect ones. And if you don’t have time to watch any of it, in short he maintains it’s because lack of mutual knowledge helps us to maintain a fiction.

H/T to Learning to speak 'merican.

jueves, 9 de junio de 2011

Summer movies

Listen to his NPR segment, where Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday discusses the films in this year's Cannes Film Festival, which might be expected to be released for general viewing this summer.

sábado, 4 de junio de 2011

Blockbuster game

This is an online version of the famous Blocbuster game. Click on the flashing letter and answer the question that will pop up. If words don't come easy, you can always click on the "answer" button.

Great game for vocabulary revision purposes.

H/T to DDeubel.

martes, 31 de mayo de 2011

Living life conjoined

Watch this video from The New York Times on two US siamese sisters and answer the questions below about it.

WHO are Krista and Tatiana Hogan?
WHERE do they live?
WHERE did a documentary about them in their early years air?
WHEN did their mother discover she was carrying conjoined twins?
HOW do doctors think one twin with her eyes covered is able to “see” what the other twin is looking at?
WHAT is the twins’ relationship like?
WHY did the parents decide early on not to do a surgical separation?
WHY are there concerns about Tatiana’s heart?
WHY do you think their mother is so determined to make their lives “as normal as possible”?

You can read the related article here and a slideshow here.

jueves, 26 de mayo de 2011


After 25 years, leading daytime TV with her talk show, Ophra finally bid her farewell on Wednesday.

Watch this PBS video, where Ophra's impact on TV and American culture is analysed.

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

You can read a transcript here.

lunes, 23 de mayo de 2011

Why do we believe in luck

Is there such a thing as a lucky person or a lucky streak? And does belief in good and bad luck play a part in whether we are prepared to take chances, asks Megan Lane.

I won a pair of cinema tickets recently. Then a free haircut. While sceptical about luck, I couldn't help but wonder if it might run in threes.

This is the way Megan Lane starts her article on luck on the BBC website. Read the article to find out more about it, and don't miss the three-minute video by Professors Mike Aitken and David Spiegelhalter on how to measure risk and on the real existence of luck.

martes, 17 de mayo de 2011

Why we do what we do

Tony Robbins discusses the "invisible forces" that motivate everyone's actions. He makes it his business to know why we do the things we do. This pioneering life coach has spoken to millions of people through his best-selling books and three-day seminars.

domingo, 15 de mayo de 2011

Shakira at Oxford Union

Watch the speech Shakira gave at Oxford Union about the work of her charity, Barefoot.

martes, 10 de mayo de 2011

Sex and the City Kristin Davies on Letterman

Watch this extract of the interview to Kristin Davies on the David Letterman show some way back and try to understand what she says about the following items:

Solar-powered housed
Building a house

You can read the transcript here.

sábado, 7 de mayo de 2011

Language is a precious gift

Language is what makes us human. It is a precious thing, worth all our senses and more combined. We should treasure each and every one.

However, languages are disappearing and the human “ethnosphere” or may I say, “linguasphere” is eroding. Our planet is worse for this lack of linguistic diversity.

In this amazing talk, anthropologist and National Geographic spokesman, Wade Davis, passionately outlines where we need protect and nurture each and every language. A must watch!

martes, 3 de mayo de 2011

Negative inversion

We have been studying inversion in the last few days in class. Chance has it that Warsaw Will, from Random Idea English, published some online activities on inversion just yesterday.

If you need to brush up your knowledge of inversion, you can read this other blog entry  in Warsaw's blog.

If you'd rather jump in at the deep end, simply do the online exercises that will come up after clicking on the image below.

sábado, 30 de abril de 2011

Motivational speech

Today and through EC Learn English I came across the speech Randy Pausch, an American professor, gave for his university some time ago.

At an advanced level I think you will be able to understand it without a problem, but I decided to recommend it to you for its inspirational value in the first place, and because EC Learn English has also desgined an online activity that you can do here.

EC Learn English also recommends Randy's lecture 'Achieving your childhood dreams' that you will be able to watch on YouTube here. The talk is closed caption, in case you wish to read the subtitles.

Thank you, Caroline Devane

martes, 26 de abril de 2011

Royal weddings past and present

Watch this video on British royal weddings to gain some background information on the forthcoming wedding of William and Kate.

sábado, 23 de abril de 2011

Patricia Ryan, the gift of languages

At TEDxDubai, longtime English teacher Patricia Ryan asks a provocative question: Is the world's focus on English preventing the spread of great ideas in other languages? (For instance: what if Einstein had to pass the TOEFL?) It's a passionate defense of translating and sharing ideas.

Patricia Ryan has spent the past three-plus decades teaching English in Arabic countries -- where she has seen vast cultural (and linguistic) change.

viernes, 22 de abril de 2011

The Test Tube

The Test Tube looks like the perfect video to reflect on the Earth Day.

H/T to DDeubel.

martes, 19 de abril de 2011

Ellen Pompeo on the David Letterman show

Watch this segment from the interview to Ellen Pompeo on the David Letterman show.

It is a bit dated, from 2008, but one can only wonder at the emptiness and vacuum of the stories these famous people tell.

Very good practice for our English, though.

You can read a transcript here.

sábado, 16 de abril de 2011

The history of stuff

22nd of April was Earth Day. Let's take a look at what this day commemorate by watching this lengthy documentary (upwards of twenty minutes), The Story of Stuff.

This is the way their makers describe it:

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world.

Find more videos like this on EFL CLASSROOM 2.0

If you want to read the subtitles, they are closed-captioned in YouTube here. Just click on the CC tag, select Transcribe, and choose from the language options, but bear in mind that the English subtitles are by far the most reliable, despite the fact that the transcription is not 100% correct.

jueves, 14 de abril de 2011

Nicole Kidman

This is an  oldish interview of Nicole Kidman with Ellen Degeneres. Anyway, it gives us a good chance to get to know the person behind her public image while we practise our listening skills.

You can read a transcript of the interview here.

martes, 12 de abril de 2011

Plastic bags

Watch this The New York Times video clip on the ban of plastic bags in the US and try to make sense of what is said.

Then repeat the main ideas in the video in your own words.

You can read a transcript here.

sábado, 9 de abril de 2011

Loudlit is committed to delivering public domain literature paired with high quality audio performances. They put together great literature and accompanying audio.

By putting the text and audio together, readers can learn spelling, punctuation and paragraph structure while listening and reading masterpieces of the written word. Read and listen via your web browser or on your mp3 player. Regardless of how you enjoy the audiobooks (audio books), they are free.

jueves, 7 de abril de 2011

The Beauty of Maps

The Beauty of Maps is an amazing twelve-part BBC series that is now availabe on YouTube.

I have tried to get hold of the transcripts, but I have been unable to track them down on the net, so please do let me know if you are luckier than me.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

martes, 5 de abril de 2011

TeaTime Mag

Yesterday we informed on My That's English! about TeaTime Mag, a free online English language magazine which Jeffrey Hill told us about. I am going to draw your attention to this online publication today, as I think it is more than interesting for advanced English students.

The focus of TeaTime Mag is improving students language skills (reading, listening, pronunciation and vocabulary, mainly) while learning about the life and culture of the English-speaking world.

You can download the articles in PDF as well as the audio files. On top of that, all articles have vocabulary help and activities.

The articles are intended for intermediate and advanced students. TeaTime Mag is available in three languages for learning purposes: Spanish, German and French.

There is also a Teacher Edition with extra resources.

As it was said before, the publication is completely free.

Here is a video that explains all the details of TeaTime Mag.

sábado, 2 de abril de 2011

The surprising science of motivation

In this TED talk, career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don't: Traditional rewards aren't always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories... and maybe, a way forward.

Remember you can always activate the English subtitles if you want to fully understand Dan Pink.

jueves, 31 de marzo de 2011

KeyMaba -Vocabulary game

KeyMaba challenges you to make associations between everyday words.

Each game begins with a teaser clue followed by 10 clues. The goal is to connect the one word that links the 10 clues.

The quicker you guess your answers, the more points you gain.

Spend only one minute reading the instructions for the game and be ready to put your grasp of English vocabulary to the test.

KeyMaba is a challenging and motivating game for advanced students of English.

martes, 29 de marzo de 2011

A brief history of time

A brief history of time is a BBC interactive which tries to explain the world's time zones through slideshows and videos.

sábado, 26 de marzo de 2011

Jennifer Beals on the Late Late Show

Jennifer Beals, famous for her role in Flashdance and more recently on the drama series The L World, was a guest on CBS The Late Late Show.

Watch this nine-minute clip of the interview. No task. Simply enjoy the interview and Jennifer's down-to-earth personality.

You can read a transcript of the interview here.

jueves, 24 de marzo de 2011

In praise of slowness

Journalist Carl Honore believes the Western world's emphasis on speed erodes health, productivity and quality of life. But there's a backlash brewing, as everyday people start putting the brakes on their all-too-modern lives.

Watch his TED talk here about the topic. Remember that you can activate the English subtitles if you want to do so.

martes, 22 de marzo de 2011

The English Pub

Watch this report about the English pub. Then answer the questions about each of the different sections in the clip.

Section 1 Outside the pub (start to 1.09)
Listen to section 1 and choose the correct answer.
a The pub is in Hertford / Salisbury / London.
b Richard gives 2 / 3 / 4 examples of why the pub is typical.
c It’s named after a person / town / coat.
d The pub was built in 1800 / 1400 / 1570.

Section 2 Inside the pub (1.09 to 2.10)
Try to match the beginnings and endings of these sentences
A new popular place to drink is…       …the public bar.
Drinks may be more expensive in…      …the beer garden.
You can’t smoke anywhere in…      …the lounge bar.
Working men prefer…      …the pub.

Section 3 In the lounge bar (2.10 to 4.06)
a What kind of drink does Richard order?
b What’s the name of the drink that he orders?
c Does Jackie want bitter, lager or cider?
d How much change do they get back?

Section 4 The secret of a successful pub (4.10 to end)
a What is the bartender’s answer to Jackie’s question?
b What is another word for ‘shorts’?
c How old is the malt whisky?
d The trophies in the bar have been won for which sport?

You can self-correct the activity by reading the transcript here.

H/T to Podcast in English.

sábado, 19 de marzo de 2011

Audio files and transcripts galore

A few days ago we published a link to Huffduffer where we can find a wealth of audio files about very different topics without the need to surf the net.

Today let me tell you about an even more interesting site from our perspective as advanced English learners. The American National Public Radio (NPR) hosts a section on their webpage called On the Media.

They upload a choice of their most interesting programmes once a week over the weekend, and every Tuesday the transcripts of the latest programmes are also available.

Besides, if you click on the Archive tag you can choose old programmas dating back to 2001. All of them are ready to download as podcasts and are accompanied by their transcription.

A really good find for everybody.

H/T to colleague Antonio Obis.

jueves, 17 de marzo de 2011

History of the Internet

Have a look at this The Guardian slideshow, which throws some light on the way the Internet started and how it developed to its present day state.

The slideshow is very comprehensive and detailed, and it allows us to choose the year we want to focus on, starting in 1969 until 2009.

There is a short comment in each of the entries, and some of them come together with videos with interviews and lots of links to delve deeply into the topic.

martes, 15 de marzo de 2011

How to fix capitalism

Watch this video where Time Magazine editor Richard Stengel interviews Microsoft founder and philantropist Bill Gates about creative capitalism and answer the questions below.

The activity is taken from El blog para aprender inglés.

1. What is “Creative Capitalism”? (0:20)
2. What two primal human impulses does “Creative Capitalism” mix? (1:16)
3. Why does market failure exist (e.g Malaria and Baldness)? (1:55)
4. When you look at the needs of these poorer consumers, what two things might you discover? (2:20)
5. What is the change that Bill sees with young people today and what they want to think about their company? (3:09)
6. Why would Bill gates rank companies? (3:45)
7. What is the overall balance of capitalism for Bill Gates?
8. How many more people are now working in Clean Energy compared to 10 years ago? (4:22)

1. Creative Capitalism is about using the innovation power and resources of large companies to focus on the needs of the poorest.
2. Self interest and the desire to help others
3. Because those consumers interested in baldness products speak have a louder economic voice than those consumers interested in malaria.
4. Cost breakthroughs and high scale
5. Young people want to work for companies who are socially responsible and are a positive agent for change.
6. So talented young people are more attracted to socially responsible companies.
7. The overall balance has been good in terms of total employment and innovation but it has problems of imbalances.
8. 20 times more people.

sábado, 12 de marzo de 2011

Podcasts for advanced language learners

Huffduffer is a site that collects thousands of podcasts from many different sources.

The topics are really varied and there are helpful tags to lead us in the process of choosing one of our interest.

Unfortunately, transcripts are not available for all the podcasts, but the main interest of the site lies on the fact that they have done the work of finding authentic material to listen to, so we do not have to be surfing the net to spot audio files.

Huffduffer can be really helpful for us to prepare the listening tasks in the exam and to shake off whatever fears to authentic materials we might harbour.

jueves, 10 de marzo de 2011

School food

Read this The New York Times article about the quality of school food in NYC and watch the accompanying video City Critic: School lunches to get to know first hand information about the topic.

martes, 8 de marzo de 2011

Cambridge Ideas

Cambridge Ideas is a collection of 21 short videos from the University of Cambridge about several topics of interest: team work, energy, heroes, space, risk are some of the topics that are touched on in the series.

A lot of authentic listening material about relevant topics.

sábado, 5 de marzo de 2011

Inside the Haiti Earthquake

It is a completely different entry today from what we have been doing so far on the blog. Today, we turn our attention to an online game based on a real life event, Inside the Haiti Earthquake.

The game is only suitable for high level language learners and it is particularly attractive not only because of their high language content but also because its aim is to educate the player in real life skills as well as raising awareness in some important issues.  It is definitely worth a look into even if it’s to have fun and educate yourself.

Just a word or warning. You'll be exposed to lots of opportunities to develop your English, but also to real disturbing pictures. In this respect, Inside the Haiti Earthquake is not a game, it's life.

H/T to Digital Play.

jueves, 3 de marzo de 2011

A look at Pixar studios

This is a six-minute video from The New York Times about the life and work at Pixar Studios.

Have a look yourself.

martes, 1 de marzo de 2011

One in eight million

One in eight million is a feature of The New York Times where we can learn about the lives of ordinary New Yorkers through a series of videos.

All the videos are unscripted and are intended for general viewing, so we might find the accent of some of the people here a bit hard to understand.

Do not be put off by this. Try and get a general understanding of the topic they are talking about and, more importantly, lose your fears to deal with native speakers of English face to face.

sábado, 26 de febrero de 2011

715 reasons for having sex

People have at least 715 reasons (and 237 relatively distinct reasons) for having sex. Dr. Cindy Meston elaborates on what these are and why they're fascinating, worrisome, perfectly normal, popular, amusing, and more. Here, she provides clearer insight into the important differences between male and female sexuality, what women want, and, of course, the best way to get "over" someone.

Enjoy Dr Cincy Meston's talk at Ideacity.

jueves, 24 de febrero de 2011

Why is it so hard to learn English?

It is pronunciation practice today.

Would you be so kind as to read out loud the sentences below? They summarise the difficulties of English pronunciation for learners, even advanced ones.

1 The bandage was wound around the wound.
2 The farm was used to produce produce.
3 The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4 We must polish the Polish furniture.
5 He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6 The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7 Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8 A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9 When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10 I did not object to the object.
11 The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12 There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13 They were too close to the door to close it.
14 The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15 A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16 To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17 The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18 After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19 Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20 I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21 How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

To check the pronunciation, which on the picture below, which will direct you to the blog Bad English. Here you will find an audio file with the sentences being read out. You can download the file.

martes, 22 de febrero de 2011

Jonas Ridderstrale

Watch business guru Jonas Ridderstrale giving some advice on good management practice and asnwer these questions.

1. What is Dr. Jonas Ridderstrale´s 1st recipe?
2. How did ex- General Electric CEO Jack Welch describe hierarchical?
3. What is EBTS?
4. What is the 2nd recipe?
5. What did he say we (business) should focus all our energy on?
6. What is his definition of management?
7. What do managers spend 80% of their time doing?
8. What is the 3rd recipe?

H/T to El blog para aprender inglés.

1. Companies need to move beyond centralised solutions.
2. Companies show their face towards the CEO and show their ass to clients.
3. Expected time between surprises.
4. Don’t plan or try to predict, try instead to adapt to changes.
5. Focus on being the surprise / Focus on being the change.
6. The art and the science of stamping out (eradicating) deviance or deviants.
7. Managers spend 80% of their time dealing with 20% of products, people and businesses that perform the worst.
8. Look at the changes that are currently happening / Follow the evolution.

H/T This is an activity from El Blog para aprender inglés.

sábado, 19 de febrero de 2011

First Person American

First Person American is a website which is being created with the aim of helping immigrants to the US settling down.

The site will not be fully operative until July this year, but we can already watch a few videos of immigrants telling their personal stories, what they found it difficult to adapt to, and what their current problems are.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

jueves, 17 de febrero de 2011

Job promotion

Watch this job interview where an employee is being interviewed to get a promotion in his company.

Note down the questions the employee is asked.

You can check the questions and the transcript here.

martes, 15 de febrero de 2011

Mixed conditionals

Random Idea English by Warwaw Will is a really interesting blog for advanced learners of English and one you should definitely bookmark.

Here he explains third and mixed conditionals in detail and presents eight interactive activities for you to practise.

sábado, 12 de febrero de 2011

The art of choosing

Sheena Iyengar studies how we make choices -and how we feel about the choices we make. On this TED talk she touches on both trivial choices (Coke v. Pepsi) and profound ones, and shares her groundbreaking research that has uncovered some surprising attitudes about our decisions.

jueves, 10 de febrero de 2011

Change your attitude to men

"If you want to know your grandchildren, have a daughter." Lionel Tiger discusses societal shifts in reproductive strategies and why female affirmative action is damaging to males. Here, ideaCity 10's token male presenter talks about gender roles, Women's Studies, biology, and the importance of changing our toxic attitude towards males.