Sunday, 28 October 2012

Learning English - Words in the News - Auctioning Marie Antoinette's Clothes

Learning English - Words in the News - Auctioning Marie Antoinette's Clothes

18 October 2012
"A pair of Marie Antoinette's slippers and a garment she wore while in prison were auctioned in Paris to mark the anniversary of her execution. Among the 80 lots on offer were portraits and etchings of the queen and her ill-fated husband King Louis XVI".
Christian Fraser

  • Listen to the report.
  • Read it.
  • Familiarise yourself with new vocabulary using the audio file and an online dictionary if you like.

guillotine, amassed, opulent, execution, goes under the hammer, scaffold, fragment, etchings, artefacts and tyranny.

This Week In History

This Week In History

25 October 1917

Communists Depose Russian Rulers

Communists led by Vladimir Lenin bring down the Russian government.

  • Learn new vocabulary with the word checker - depose, communists, storm, provisional, break out.
  • Watch 2 videos of the event - the secret steps that happened before the revolution and secondly the beginning of the revolution.
  • Do the quiz to find out how much you have understood.

Elementary Podcast Episode 9 - British Council

TEFL Vocabulary, Grammar and Communicative Skills.

If you are a beginner (A2 CEFR level) these British Council Podcasts are excellent for getting you started.  As the week progresses I will post up other related work which will be appropriate for different levels of student ability.  If you are an Intermediate level of student you may want to use this resource to revise and then extend your knowledge.  Advanced students may just want to dip into the additional and other resources added during the week.

Go to:

Find the audio link (MP3) right click and save it so you can listen to it whenever is convenient for you. The podcast comes with a support pack and transcript which is 22 pages long.  Use this link:
Download and do the exercises.

Main Contents of Podcast This Week

  • Talking about plans for the weekend.
  • What famous person would you like to meet and why? Matt Groening, creator of the TV show and film 'The Simpsons'.
  • Vocabulary quiz - topics e.g. things that you play, things that you make.
  • Bridgit Keenan in India talks about Bollywood  films (have lots of singing and dancing in them).  They are very predictable and lively with happy endings. 
  • What would be your favourite holiday?
  • Dialogue of Carolina from Venezuela preparing a special meal for her friends.  She prepares 'guasacaca'.

  • Telling/retelling a joke
Here is a summary of the main language points of the podcast. Try to get more practise with these language points during the week if you can:
  1. The verbs 'make' and 'do'. Make is used when preparing a food dish.
  2. What is a gap year?
  3. What do you call them?  Try to describe what you want to say? (clove of garlic, plantains)
  4. 'Make yourselves at home'  phrase to make people feel comfortable.
I will follow up with work that is related through the week.  This work will be graded for different levels of student ability. The Commonly Confused Words Test The Commonly Confused Words Test

40 questions to test your knowledge of words that are commonly misspelled and confused.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Hallowe'en Scene 2 Language Focus

Hallowe'en Scene 2 Language Focus

Follow up language points from the second video of the Halloween Series from Word on the Street, Learn English. The focus is on personal pronouns and in particular 'it', 'them' and 'they'.  'It' is a subject and an object pronoun whilst 'they' is a subject and 'them' an object pronoun.

Hallowe'en Scene 2

Hallowe'en Scene 2

"Ashlie and Stephen's house is full of witches, wizards, and ghosts... and everyone's having a frighteningly good time!"

Watch the video by clicking on the above link.

Follow up exercises to the second part of this series include rearranging sentences in order, a gap fill exercise and developing phrases with 'so' and 'just'.

Hallowe'en Scene 1 Language Focus

Hallowe'en Scene 1 Language Focus

Language activities designed to follow on from Scene 1 of Halloween. They include learning new expressions with the word 'think', a conversation to fill in the gaps for and finally more common expressions with the word 'way'.

Hallowe'en Scene 1

Hallowe'en Scene 1

Watch and listen to the video and develop your Halloween vocabulary.  Simply click on the title link.

Incorporated into the resource is a description of the practice of 'dressing up' for a special celebration or occasion, cultural vocabulary relevant to the festival and a discussion of various traditions.  

Read the transcript, learn about the different uses of 'get' and complete a gap fill activity based on the video.

A Spelling Game for Halloween


A spelling game for a bit of fun.  

How quickly can you identify the incorrectly spelt word from the pair!

BBC One - Human Planet, Human Planet - Nitin Sawhney

BBC One - Human Planet - Nitin Sawhney

Suitable for Upper Intermediate/Advanced TEFL students.

Nitin Sawhney is a British Indian producer, musician and composer. He explores music from all cultures and traditions. Listen to him describe his musical work for the BBC Series the Human Planet.

1.  Check out what a 'composer' and a 'musician' and a 'producer' are if you are not sure.

2.  Find out what 'score' means.
How many different definitions can you find in the Macmillan English Online Dictionary? 
We are talking about a musician in this article so which definition do you think is the correct one here.
Can you also find phrasal verbs and a phrase? 
Make notes in your vocabulary book. 
Add your own words if you can think of them.

3.  Nitin's language and phrasing is very descriptive. Click on the title link above and listen out for the following phrases:-

  • 'panorama of human emotion'  

What is a 'a panorama' and what do you think Nitin means by the whole phrase?

  • 'vocabulary (appropriate sounds) to connect up a common narrative'  

Find out what 'narrative' means and then try to interpret the whole phrase

  • 'musical motifs'  

Find another word or synonym for 'motif'? Try to interpret the whole phrase.

  • Finally, Nitin describes his music for the Human Planet series as 'a unique sound with a feeling of timelessness'  

Break down the word 'timelessness'. 'Time' you probably know and 'less' also so what do they mean together: 'Timeless' literally means without time. It is a quality something has; it never changes as time passes by.  We can say ' the music had a timeless feeling'. If we rephrase this and change the word order of the phrase around. We can also say ' the music had a feeling of timelessness'.  Another associated word with this particular word family is 'timelessly'.

Which is the adjective, which is the adverb and which is the uncountable noun?

Define the word 'unique'?

'Unique' is another adjective.  Can you derive the adverb and the uncountable noun as described above (hint do not get confused and put the word 'less' in).

BBC One - Nature's Miracle Babies, Episode 1, Mimicking mum

BBC One - Nature's Miracle Babies, Episode 1, Mimicking mum

Series Producer:  Annie Heather
Presenter:  Martin Hughes-Games
Executive Producer:  Sara Ford

Watch the baby panda's in incubators that ensure they get the best possible start to life.

  • How many times a day do the pandas go into the incubator?
  • Why are they put in incubators?
  • What 2 conditions are closely monitored while the baby panda is in the incubator?.
  • How else is the baby panda's progress monitored?
  • Where do the babies spend most of the day?
  • What is 'mimicking' mum in the video?

Thursday, 25 October 2012


Food and Hunger

Brainstorm and collect any food and hunger vocabulary you already know!

      e.g      malnutrition
                 essential nutrients
                 a nutritious meal      

These programmes are from the BBC Worldclass website and look at the issues of hunger and poverty in two different parts of the world.

Watch the programmes and add any new vocabulary you learn to your vocabulary book.

'Mummy is Hungry But Feeds Us Before Her'

10 October 2012 Last updated at 16:32
"The charity Save the Children, best known for international poverty relief, says the UK's poorest children are bearing the brunt of the recession, with some missing out on regular hot meals, new shoes or warm clothes.
BBC Newsnight has spoken to one eight-year-old girl about her experiences of poverty, which sees her mother skipping meals to ensure that the children eat.
In order to protect the girl's identity her words have been voiced by an actor.
This film was broadcast during Newsnight on Wednesday 5 September 2012 at 10.30pm on BBC Two".

'Recipe for Success from Nepal'

13 July 2012 Last updated at 16:33
"Nepal is one of the hilliest countries in the world. The Nepalese people say that if it was flat it would be almost the same size as the USA!
Most of the population live in remote areas, hours from the nearest town or shop so many grow their own food. But growing enough to live on is a real challenge.
Ben Thompson travelled to the western Nepal with World Class to find out what life is like for young people, and why school lunches make a huge difference to these children's futures".
Schools World Service is a BBC British Council co-production