Monday, 30 December 2013

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS (intermediate)



"Everything needs to change so everything can stay the same"




Who doesn't expect the best when a new year starts?

A new year is a fresh beginning, and many of us are often carried away by the spirit of the season and our desires of change, of taking up new habits and doing away with negative customs. That's why we make New Year's resolutions, promises to ourselves that we'll do our best to change for the better. We are aware of the fact that we are far from perfect, but know it is up to us to make change possible: we have the key!

It's not so easy to carry your goals out, mind you. Change is difficult and we have learned to live with certain habits that have become part of us and are tough to give up: indulging ourselves, certain addictions, attitudes and (what's worse!) all those tasks we've been putting off till tomorrow. 


These are some popular resolutions for a new year:



Do they sound familiar?

Let me tell you that New Year's resolutions are not new. The Romans and even the ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year. Of course, resolutions have changed with times: medieval knights made vows to renew their commitment to chivalry; one of the most frequent promises nowadays involves fitness and well-being (eating less, going to the gym, giving up cigarettes, etc.).

So much for all those resolutions made in times past!

(Source of information: Wikipedia)

Oh, well...
Click on the poster to enlarge it.


Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.



Let's hear an expert's opinion:



I meant YOUR opinion! What can you say about New Year's Resolutions?
What is your experience and your thoughts?


Take a look at the list of the ten most commonly broken New Year's Resolutions. Click below.

 


Well, it's New Year's Eve again.

Oh, no! Tomorrow is here! It has come to remind us that it is high time we did something positive for ourselves and for those around us.


Here is the best part:

If you failed to accomplish your goals LAST year, remember that you have a new opportunity THIS year. And, what's even better, you can always make new, firmer resolutions NEXT year!





Since we are at it, how about finally learning some English? (Got you there!)
Could you explain the meaning of the highlighted expressions?

New Year Comments Pictures





Thursday, 26 December 2013

THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY (all levels)

For those of you who enjoy Christmas music, here is a beautiful performance of a classic song by Faith Hill.

Click on the image to watch the video on YouTube.









Saturday, 21 December 2013

FOOD MATTERS (intermediate)

Move your cursor over the interactive poster to discover all the different activities it contains.



Take a look at this cloud of words and do the following exercises:
(Click on the cloud to enlarge it).



  1. Make a list with all the words for edible products.
  2. Make a second list with the words that are related to food.
  3. Select all the words that refer to the effects of food on our mind and body.
  4. Finally, can you guess the main point of the text where the words belong?

Read it or listen to it and see if your guess was correct.
Click on the picture.


Do the activities you'll find after the text.



Friday, 20 December 2013

ENGLISH QUIZZES (intermediate)

Take a look at this wonderful site created by Tereza Neves. You'll find lots of vocabulary and grammar quizzes rated according to their difficulty level (easy, medium or difficult).

There are different topics to choose from, too: parts of the body, numbers, food, animals, etc.

Click on the image to get started!




These are some of the vocabulary activities you'll find.
 (Click on each image for quick access)



Here's another one:



Click here to see the grammar section:


Enjoy!




Wednesday, 18 December 2013

CHRISTMAS GAME FOR KIDS (beginners)



Spot the Christmas object. 
How quick are you?

But REMEMBER: You must name it before going on!





Monday, 16 December 2013

SANTACON. Who said there is no Santa Claus?! (intermediate)



Do you know the meaning of "SantaCon"?


I'll show you a video, let's see if you can guess!



Yes! It is a mass gathering of people dressed in Santa Claus costumes, hundreds and hundreds of Santas determined to celebrate the holiday season and have fun. It all started in San Francisco in 1994 and since then it has spread to over forty countries.

They even have their official site with information about dates and locations!


Just click on Santa to visit it. 
(Your own city might be in the list, who knows?)



Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

The problem is, though, that all those Santas are usually much too thirsty. They fill the nearby bars and pubs and often end up quarrelling and originating rows (believe it or not!).


This video shows some of the people gathered at SantaCon in New York in 2,012.



This is the "wish list" of some neighbours to Santa:



I'd love to read your comments!




BASIC VOCABULARY (elementary)

A great guide for you to learn or revise basic English words.


BASIC VOCABULARY

Saturday, 14 December 2013

CHRISTMAS CAROLS (for all)




Are you ready for some Christmas carols? 
Let's start!


A lively Christmas song to sing along:



Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.




Merry Christmas!




My favourite.



(You can activate the subtitles in English by clicking on Choose Language)






Thursday, 12 December 2013

A CHRISTMAS CAROL flipbook (intermediate)




Click on the following image and read a Christmas classic story by Charles Dickens.
You can also listen to it.


Enjoy it!




Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

CHRISTMAS WORDS (elementary)

Christmas is just round the corner. Are you prepared to welcome it?
Perhaps some revision of essential vocabulary would come in handy, don't you think?

Let's see if you can complete this worksheet with basic Christmas words.


Ok, ok... maybe it was a bit too difficult.
 Click on the arrow to download it with the answer key included!


I bet you'll enjoy a visit to this wonderful site, full of activities for Christmas (games, stories, colouring pages and lots more!)

Click on the image to enter.




But first, let's sing a song!



Let's start the countdown till Christmas!



Monday, 9 December 2013

Is there a Santa Claus?



This is the question that Virginia O'Hanlon, aged 8, asked her father one day in 1897. She had doubts about Santa's existence and wanted to know the truth. Her father's reply was a suggestion: Why don't you write a letter to the Sun? If you find it there, it is so.

Virginia followed her father's advice and this is the answer she could read in the New York Sun on September 21st.

Read and listen to her letter and the newspaper's editorial.




This is the newspaper clipping.



Read the complete text of the editorial the newspaper published.

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.


Since then, Virginia became an icon of the Christmas holidays in the U.S.A. and received thousands of letters until her death in 1971.





Answer these questions:
  • What are your thoughts about the story?
  • Do you think Virginia could still have doubts after reading it?
  • When and why did your own uncertainty begin?
  • Does the real world threaten innocence?

Here 's a trailer of an animated movie made in 2009:




Saturday, 7 December 2013

Films & Music (intermediate)

In this video you'll find a lot of scenes from classic movies. Watch it and say:

  • How many actors can you identify?
  • Can you name the films?
  • Who sings the song?




Read the lyrics of the song:




Nelson Mandela (intermediate)

Nelson Mandela, 1918 - 2013.

A life has ended, the struggle will continue.
Nelson Mandela's battle against discrimination has not died with him.

There were others before him, and more will follow.

He became the first black president of South Africa in 1994.



One year before, he had received the Nobel Peace Prize award.

 


Read some of his thoughts and words:



Visit the Nelson Mandela Center of Memory and learn more facts about the man and the leader.

 



For more biographical information click below.

 


These words are often associated with Nelson Mandela, even though they are not his.
 The message is powerful:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.




Friday, 6 December 2013

SHOP TILL YOU DROP (intermediate)

Shopping, shopping, shopping...

We have to shop now and then, right? A present, some food, clothes, a book, you name it.
And some people keep it at that: they go to a store when they need to buy something. But, is it so for most? Or rather, has shopping become a form of entertainment for many?

Isn't it true that lots of teenagers (and even entire families) can spend a whole day at a shopping mall? 

Imagine the situation:
It's a rainy winter Saturday. Or maybe it's dreadfully hot. Who knows, perhaps we simply are out of ideas on how to spend our free time. Why not go to a shopping area? Actually, there is something for everyone there: bowling alleys, cinemas, restaurants, supermarkets, games and rides for kids, and so on. And then there are shops, and more shops, and bunches of shops. Enough to satisfy everyone's desires. 

It sounds like heaven, doesn't it?

Beware, though! All that convenience is not designed to make your life easier. The purpose of it all is to lure you to make you buy as much as possible, whether you can afford it or not. All those facilities around shops are but baits. The music, the decoration, the colours and even the smells you perceive are carefully selected to transform you into the perfect CUSTOMER, an addict of shopping.

Just take a look at the way a supermarket is organised. Every detail is aimed at getting you to buy even what you don't need!


Infographic: Deceitful Aisles - An Infographic from CouponCabin
Latest Infographic from CouponCabin


Find answers to the following questions:
  1. How often do you go shopping?
  2. What do you normally buy?
  3. How much time can you spend shopping?
  4. Do you make a previous list? If so, do you stick to it?
  5. Do you prefer small stores or big shopping areas?
  6. What is a "shopping spree"?
  7. What does "aroma marketing" refer to?
  8. Find the meaning of  "planned obsolescence".
  9. Do "bargains" exist?








Monday, 2 December 2013

FOOD VOCABULARY / AT THE RESTAURANT (intermediate)

Here are some words for food you'll need at a restaurant:




Aren't you hungry now?
Let's go out for something to eat!
But first, take a look at this video. You'll learn the basic structures needed to order your food at a restaurant:




Perhaps we should practise a little more, shall we?
Try this game. Just click below:

 

Enjoy your meal!