viernes, 22 de abril de 2016

PRACTISING LISTENING

One of the problems that everyone has when learning a new language is listening, that is to say, the ability to listen and understand what you are listening. Specifically, the problem is that we do not recognise the words. However, if we are reading those same words, we understand everything and know the meaning of what we are reading.

To make the connection between the written word and the spoken word, the best activity that you can do is to listen and, at the same time, read what you are listening. I mean, you should listen reading the transcripts.

One of the best resources is to watch movies or TV show in English with the subtitles in English. When you start doing this, it would be very difficult but as you continue with the activity, it will become easy.  A good webpage to watch TV show is ORORO.TV. You have limited minutes each day. If you pay for the membership, you can watch as many chapters as you want. Anther good thing that this webage has is that you can filter the shows using different criteria. One of those criteria is "difficulty" 

https://ororo.tv/es

(If you click on the image, you will access the webpage)

Another good webpage to practise is BBC 6 MINUTES ENGLISH. Here, you will find lots of 6 minutes conversations in English about a variety of topic. You have different options: you can listen and read online or download to your electronic device both the recording and the transcript. Also, for each of the conversations you have a glossary of vocabulary for each of the conversations.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/english/features/6-minute-english

(If you click on the image, you will access the webpage)

Finally, I have received via email a very useful youtube channel where you can practise to. The channel is called "EnSimplesPalabras" and, among other resources, you have some videos featuring talk by different people. The person making the videos teaches us some words and expressions that are going to appear in the talk and then trnscribes the talk in English, so you can read while you are listening. From this lines, I woul like to thank "EnSimplesPalabras" for his (or her) wonderful job. 

https://www.youtube.com/user/UrStreatWrld/videos

(If you click on the image, you will access the webpage)


I will increase the list of resources when I find more useful resources to practise listening. If you know any, you are most welcome to share them in the comments sections. Thank you for reading! 



*23rd April 2016:  I'm editing the post to add a new listening resource. this webpage is called TED talks and it is also a very good webpage to practise listening. 
You can see a lot of talks related with very different topics subtitled in several languages, English among them. Also, you have the option of downloading the video (subtitled or not) and the audio recording. 

https://www.ted.com/
  (If you click on the image, you will access the webpage)

miércoles, 13 de abril de 2016

Some advice to face TASK 1 - LONG READING task (Trinity Exams)


As you may probably know, Trinity exams have suffered a change since September 2015. Before this date, in the written exam you only had to do two writing tasks. From September 2015, you have to do two reading tasks and two writing tasks.

In this post and the next two ones, I’ll be giving you some advice to do the new exam tasks. In this first post, we are going to see in detail task 1, the long reading activity.

Let’s have a look at the format of this activity and the questions you have to answer. Here you have an example:

As you can see, you have a long text that has a different number of words depending on the level. For ISE I (B1) the text will be approximately 400 words for ISE II (B2) the text will be 500 words and for ISE III (C1) the text will be 700 words long divided into five paragraphs and you have to answer 15 questions. The text is factual and descriptive.

The questions you have to answer are 15, divided in the following way:

Questions 1 to 5: title matching.

In this part, the candidate has to choose the most appropriate title for each paragraph. The text has 5 paragraphs and you are given 6 titles, therefore, you do not need one of the titles. To do successfully this task, you should practice reading to get the general meaning of the text and reading the text quickly to find the information you need.

Questions 6 to 10: selecting the true statements

In this task, you must select the five true statements form a list of eight. Your answers must be based on the text exclusively. Three of them will e false or not mentioned in the text.

To improve in this section, you should practise reading for general comprehension, reading to understand specific information, deducing the meaning word from the context and scanning for information in the text.

Questions 11 to 15: completing sentences

Here, you must complete the sentences with a word or phrase taken from the text. You cannot use more than three words. In this case, you have to demonstrate that you understand specific information at a word level.

Take into account that you will have 2 hours to complete the four tasks of the exam, so the key is to do the reading tasks quickly. Thus, you can spend more time on the writings.

What can you do to fulfil the questions quickly? 

1. It would be a good option to write a short summary of the paragraphs while you are reading the text for the first time. In this way, you will find the information you need for the task in a more efficient way.


2. Read questions 6 to 10 carefully, paying attention to what you are required to do. The important thing to remember here is that you need only 5 true statements out of the eight they have given you. Apart from this, another important thing is that they are usually ordered. What I mean is that the information that you need to know if statement A is true will be in paragraph one and the information that you need to know if statement H s true will be in the last paragraphs. 

Also, it is a good idea to look for key words in the statements. By key words I mean words that you know appear a few times on the text. It will be easier to find the sentences quickly and see if the statement is true or not. 

For instance, let’s take statement A as an example: “Everyone’s need for sleep is different”. As it is the first sentence, the information will be more likely on paragraph one. A possible key word will be “need” or “different”. If we have a look at paragraph one, we observe that there is only a sentence where the word “need” appears “We don’t all need the same amount of sleep.”. Therefore, the information that we need to decide if A is true or false is in this sentence. 

In this case, A is true. If you pay attention to both sentences (the sentence in the text and statement A) they both mean the same, but they have used different words to express them. 


3. Read questions 11 to 15 carefully and remember that you have to use 3 words maximum and that these words have to be taken from the text. This is the most difficult task for students. 

The tips that you can follow are more or less the same that in the previous questions. First, usually these questions are also ordered: the answer to question 1 will be in paragraph 1, the answer to question 2 will be in paragraph 2…etc. This is not always the case, but normally they are ordered. Also, they express the same meaning as the sentences from the text, but they have used different words. Finally, the last useful thing that you can do is to try to identify what type of word you need to complete the gap: a noun, a verb… etc. 

For instance, let’s do question 11 which says “During a lifetime, the average person will be asleep for………….” If we follow the advice, we will look for the information in paragraph one and we will look for a key word, for example “lifetime” or “asleep”. Going back to paragraph 1 of the text, there is only one sentence that contains both words “That means during our life we will spend about twenty-five years asleep”. 

Consequently, the answer to question 11 must be here. Now, let’s look for the type of word or information that we need. It is clear that in this case we will need a number. In this way we know that the correct answer is “25 years”

I hope that this advice is helpful for you. In next post we will o the same for the rest of the tasks of the written exam.

jueves, 21 de enero de 2016

VIRTUAL VISIT TO BUCKINGHAM PALACE

Here you have a video from the official Youtube channel of the British Monarchy. If you press play, you can visit Buckingham Palace with a very special guide. The video has the option of using subtitles and you can also "move" the video 360º to get the whole view.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


miércoles, 30 de diciembre de 2015

MODAL VERBS 1: OBLIGATION, NECESSITY AND LACK OF NECESSITY.


What are modal verbs? They are auxiliary verbs that cannot be used as a main verb. They express modality, that is to say, they can express ability, possibility, necessity or another condition. As auxiliary verbs, they do not work without another verb. This other verb always goes after the model verb in the sentence and it is in the infinitive form (without “to”). They cannot be conjugated.

For Spanish speakers, this is really difficult since they do not have an exact translation into our language. They have a meaning, and sometimes it is very difficult to understand them.

In this post, I will try to summarise some modal verbs to express obligation, necessity and lack of necessity.

MUST/ MUSTN’T: we use it when:
 

1. We decide for ourselves that something is necessary, obligatory or prohibited.
  • For example: I must answer my emails.

2. We express strong opinions. 
  • For example: We must meet more often.

3. We give instructions, especially in writing. 
  •  For example: Mobiles phones must be switched off for take-off and landing.

HAVE TO/ NEED TO: we use them for an obligation, imposed by someone else
  • For example: You have to say where you got the information from/ Yu need to write a report

We also use must, have to and need to to express general necessity.
  • For example: We must try to talk to each other more/ We have to reduce our dependence on technology/ We need to take control of our lives.

Apart from expressing these meanings, must can also be used to give advice and recommendations and to make deductions in the present. We will see these meanings in next posts.

viernes, 11 de septiembre de 2015

Congratulations!!



Congratulations to all my students that have passed their Trinity College London exams!

90% of them have achieved their objective: to have their certificate.

It has been a real pleasure teaching you during the course and I hope to see you on the next level!


jueves, 19 de marzo de 2015

ISE II (B2): Examples of the controlled written part of the exam

Here you have some examples of the controlled written part of your exams so you can have a look at them calmly. You only have to click in the following link and save the archive.



lunes, 9 de marzo de 2015

A lot of, many and much. Few and little.

In this post we are going to learn the difference between a lot of, lots of, many and much on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the difference between few and little since it is a very problematic topic for non native speakers of English. I hope my explanation is useful for you.

To speak about large quantities of something we use a lot of, lots of , many and much. All of them mean in Spanish "mucho". So, what's the difference between them? In teh following table you have it summarized:


 As you can see, there are two main differences:
1. A lot of and lots of can be used in affirmatives, interrogatives and negatives while many and many can only be used in negatives and questions
2. A lot of and lots of can be used with countable and uncountable nouns while many is used with countable nouns and much with uncountable nouns.

To speak about small quantities we use few and little and its variations: very few and very little, a few and a little.


The only differencee between these two words, as you can see in the table, is that few is used with countable nouns and little is used with uncountable nouns.

These are the general rules. However, we have to take into account the following notes:

1. We almost never use much and many in positive sentences, we almost always use a lot of or lots of. 
Example: I have much money. (Incorrect because the sentence is positive / affirmative) àI have a lot of money. (Correct)

2. With the word "times" we use many times more than a lot of times / lots of times. It sometimes means frequently or often. Example: That is my favourite book. I've read it many times. 

3. While few and little usually have positive meanings, very few and very little have negative meanings. 
Example: He is sad because he has very few friends. (Countable noun) 
                They have very little knowledge about politics. (Uncountable noun)

martes, 27 de enero de 2015

The superlative form in English


We use superlative adjectives to compare more than two things since they express the extreme or highest degree of a quality. Forming the superlative of an adjective is very similar to the comparative form but we only have one way of forming superlatives.

Generally, we use the or a possessive adjective before the superlative form.

Examples:

           Blue whales are the largest whales
           What was your best subject at school?

The rules for making superlative adjectives are almost identical to the rules for making comparative adjectives. They are:

        A. One syllable words: we add -est to the word. Remember that it is sometimes necessary to double the final consonant, specifically when the word ends in vowel + consonant.


       Examples are: strong to the strongest and big to the biggest.

       B. One syllable words ending with an -e: we only add -st like fine to the finest or rare to the rarest.
 

       C. Two syllable words ending with a -y: we change the -y to an -i and add -est. Two examples are crazy to the craziest and silly to the silliest.

       D. Two and three syllable words: we use most or least. Examples include most desirable and least expensive.

Finally, we also have to take into account that there are three forms that are irregular. In the following table you have them summarized:



Adjective
Superlative
good
the best
bad
the worst
far
the furthest / farthest
  

miércoles, 21 de enero de 2015

How do we compare adjectives in English?


We use comparative to compare things. For this, we use two structures, although the formation of comparatives depends basically on the number of syllables in the adjective.  

      1. As + adjective + as
      2. Adjective + than


In this post, we will revise these two structures and we will also learn how the number of syllables influences the formation of comparatives. Let’s see these two structures separately: 

       1. As…as: 
When comparing with as… as, the adjective that we use in the middle does not change. That is to say, we do not add anything and we do not have to take into account the number of syllables making this form of comparison the easiest one.

Examples:

         She's twice as old as her sister.
         He's not as stupid as he looks!

       2. Adjective + than

When comparing with than, some changes are necessary, depending on the number of syllables of the adjective.

         A. One syllable adjectives: we add –er to the adjective

             My sister is much taller than me.
             It's colder today than it was yesterday.

Note: If the word ends: consonant-vowel-consonant, then the last consonant is usually doubled in the comparative. Examples: big-bigger, fat-fatter, hot-hotter.

       B. Two syllable adjectives ending in -y: we change the -y to –i and then we add -er

            She's looking happier today. 
         This grammar topic is easier than the last one.

   C. Other two syllable adjectives and adjectives with three or more syllables: we use more with the unchanged adjective

          The shops are always more crowded just before Christmas. 
       Is there anything more boring than reading about grammar? 

Finally, we also have to take into account that there are three forms that are irregular. In the following table you have them summarized:


Adjective
Comparative

good
better

bad
worse

far
further / farther












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