Thursday, May 19, 2016

NB 2 - At the restaurant

Dear students & readers of this blog,

In the last few weeks, in our classroom, we have been revising the vocabulary of food, and the concepts of 'countable' & 'uncountable', the use of 'some' & 'any' and also, some more vocabulary related to the use of partitive expressions ('a piece of') and of containers ('a bottle of'). The time comes to practice all that. And is there a better occasion than when we eat out at a restaurant?
Any of us might be thinking of going to an English-speaking country, so we will need some help to be successful when we need to go somewhere to have a nice meal. Here are some tips that might help you complete what you can find in your textbooks:

The WAITER will say things like:
  • Can I help you?
  • Do you have a reservation?
  • How many are you?
  • Follow me, please.
  • Can I take your order, sir/madam?
  • What would you like to start with/to drink/ for main course/ for dessert?
  • Excellent choice!
  • Enjoy your meal!
  • Is everything all right? 
  • Did you enjoy your meal?
  • Are you paying together or separate?
 The CUSTOMER will say things like:
  • A table for two, please.
  • Can we sit at this table, please? / Can I have a table by the window, please?
  • Can I have the menu, please?
  • What can you recommend?
  • We're not ready yet.
  • I'll have the steak / I'd like the steak / the steak for me, please.
  • I'll have the same / the same for me, please.
  • Just water, please.
  • That's all, thank you.
  • It's delicious, thank you.
  • Can I have the bill, please?
  • This is on me.
  • Can I pay by credit card?

W: Good afternoon sir/madam. Do you have a reservation?
C1: Good afternoon. Yes. My name is Martin.
W: Very well, sir. A reservation for two, right?
C1: Yes, that's right. Can we have a table by the window?
W: I'll see what I can do. (After a few minutes) Follow me, please.
C1: Can we have the menu, please?
W: Of course, sir. Here you are.
W: What would you like to drink.
C1: I'll have some wine. And you?
C2: Just water for me, please

W: Are you ready to order?
C1: Can we have a minute, please? We're not ready yet.
W: Of course, sir.

W: Are you ready to order now?
C1: Yes. For starters, we'll have the salad, please.
W: And for the main course?
C1: I'll have the seafood spaghetti, and my wife the mushroom ravioli with cream sauce.
W: Very well, sir.

W: Here is your food. Enjoy your meal!
C1 & 2: Thank you!

W: Would you like anything for dessert?C1: Nothing for me, thank you.
C2: The strawberry cheescake for me, please.
W: Excellent choice, madam.

W: How was everything?
C1: Delicious, thank you. Can we have the bill, please?
W: Yes sir. Here you are.
C1: Can I pay by credit card?
W: Yes, sir. Thank you very much.
C1&2: Thank you.

And to finish, some humour with...MR BEAN!

Enjoy your meal!!!

Monday, April 25, 2016


Dear students & readers of this blog,

Unit 8 of our book deals with the vocabulary of the house, and its rooms and furniture. Why don't you take some time to have a look at this? You will surely find it useful.

First of all, we need to practise THERE IS/ARE a little bit, don't we?

Now read the description a 10-year old English boy makes of his house:

1. The kitchen
2. The living room
3. The bathroom
4. The bedroom
5. The garden

Why don't you visit our VIRTUAL HOUSE ?

We also talked about haunted houses. A haunted house is a place inhabited, visited or appeared to by a ghost or other supernatural being. We used this as an excuse to refresh our knowledge of prepositions of  place and there was / were. 
  • THERE WAS / WERE: exercises
  • Prepositions of place: see photo below.


NB 2 - Have you ever heard of something called the PRESENT PERFECT?

Dear students & readers of this blog,

Are you, by any chance, studying the PRESENT PERFECT in class? Are you a bit lost? Would you like some extra help?

You've come to the right place!!
Click here for some theory and exercises on the present perfect tense. Here you will find an explanation of the formation and the different uses of this tense.
In class, we faced a dilemma when talking about past participles: GONE or BEEN? Click on each word below to get a brief explanation on when to use one or the other, together with some exercises to practise:

Did you know that you can practise your English with a soap opera? Yes, you have read well, a soap opera, The Flatmates. Click on the picture to meet them.

Now that you know them, listen to episode 18: EMERGENCY. Thanks to The Flatmates you can:
  • Listen to the episode with or without the text
  • Download this or any episode in your computer
    Check the language point of the episode for more info (in this case, on the present perfect)
  • Take the quiz.
Now listen to some present perfect. We are the champions, by Queen. A classic!!


Monday, April 11, 2016

NB - Learn English through stories

Dear students & readers of this blog,

Here I am to present you something I'm sure you're going to love. It is a great resource to practise your listening comprehension skills through stories, thanks to Youtube. 

Thanks to Charo, a student of NB2, who showed this to me!!

Here you have an example. Enjoy!!

This resource will be permanently linked to the sidebar, under the heading 'LISTENING WEBSITE'. Go and search the stories you like!!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

NB1/2 - Past simple revisited: regular e irregular verbs

Dear students & readers of this blog,

The past tense is always a challenge for us. We have to learn a lot of things, like how to form and pronounce the regular -ed forms, a long list of irregular verbs...Let's see if I can help you from here. Have a look at the resources below:

Regular past tense

Past simple negative

  Questions in the past simple

Form full questions from the following prompts, and click on COMMENTS to write your answers.

What / your friends / do / yesterday?
Where / your parents / go / on holiday?
When / you / go to bed / last night?
You / were / happy / yesterday?
you / like / this lesson / last night?

Irregular past tense

There is also another link to practise your irregular verbs in an easy and fun way. Would you like to find out? Click on IRREGULAR VERBS.

It will be permanently linked to this blog on the sidebar, under the heading "Vocabulary & grammar".

If you want to pronounce regular -ed forms of the past correctly, watch the video below:

Some practice:
(Sources:, & MacMillan)

Did you enjoy this post?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

It's St Patrick's Day 2016!!!

Dear students and readers of this blog,

Saint Patrick's Day (Irish: Lá ’le Pádraig or Lá Fhéile Pádraig), colloquially St. Paddy's Day or simply Paddy's Day, is an annual feast day which celebrates Saint Patrick (circa AD 385–461), one of the patron saints of Ireland, and is generally celebrated on March 17.
The day is the national holiday of Ireland. It is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland and a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland and Montserrat. In Canada, Great Britain, Australia, the United States, and New Zealand, it is widely celebrated but is not an official holiday. (Source: wikipedia)

First of all, don't miss the video just below if you want to know something more about the History of St Patrick's Day.

For Basic level students, here's some info on St. Patrick's Day.

What if you were walking around your town one day, and people suddenly started dancing? Watch the Riverdance Flashmob at Sydney's Central Station on Saint Patrick's Day 2012:

Now, some Irish songs that are perfect for a good St Patrick's day celebration.

Star of the County Down  (Irish Rovers)

Star Of The County Down Lyrics

Near Banbridge Town in the County Down
One morning last July,
Down a boreen (=path) green came a sweet colleen (=girl)
And she smiled as she passed me by.
She looked so sweet from her two bare feet
To the sheen (= brillo) of her nut brown hair.
Such a winsome (=adorable) elf, I'm ashamed of myself
For to see I was starin' (=looking) there.

From Bantry Bay up to Derry's Quay
From Galway to Dublin Town,
No maid I've seen like the fair colleen
That I met in the County Down.

As she onward sped, sure I scratched my head,
And I looked with a feelin' rare,
And I say's, say's I, (=I asked) to a passer-by,
"Whose the maid with the nut brown hair"?
Well he looked at me and he said to me,
"That's the gem of Ireland's crown.
Young Rosie McCann from the banks of the Bann,
She's the star of the County Down".


She'd soft brown eyes with a look so shy
and a smile like a rose in June.
And she sang so sweet what a lovely treat,
as she lilted (=sang)  an Irish tune.
At the Lambuth dance I was in the trance
As she whirled (=danced) with the lads (=men) of the town.
And it broke my heart just to be apart,
From the star of the County Down.


At the Harvest Fair she'll be surely there
So I'll dress in my Sunday clothes,
With my shoes shone bright and my hat cocked
Right for a smile from the nut brown rose.
No pipe I'll smoke, no horse I'll yoke
Till my plough was a rust coloured brown.
And a smiling bride, by my own fireside
Sits the star of the County Down.

Lyrics from <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>
Spancil Hill, by The Corrs

St. Patrick's Day is also widely celebrated in the US, especially in the cities like New York and  Chicago. We have learnt that, in Chicago, the river turns green (the colour of the festivity, the colour of Ireland) every 17 March. Watch this video to see how:

Have a happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit !!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

NB 2 - File 7A: Visiting the National Portrait Gallery

Dear students & readers of this blog,

We know that London has many museums, but now we are going to talk about one of the most interesting, yet least known of all: the National Portrait Gallery. 

It is situated just off Trafalgar Square, at a 5-minute walk from the National Gallery. It houses portraits, both paintings and photographs, of outstanding British men and women. Here you have some practical info, just in case you are planning to visit London soon:

2 St.Martin's Place

London WC2H 0HE, United Kingdom

020 7306 0055

Nearest tube/railway station
Leicester Square (Northern & Picadilly Lines)
Charing Cross (Norther & Bakerloo lines)


Opening Times
Saturday to Wednesday from 10:00am to 6:00pm 
Thursday and Friday from 10:00am to 9:00pm

As we saw in our textbooks, some of the people featured in the museum are:

HRH the Duke of Windsor and the Duchess of Windsor (aka Edward VII & Mrs Wallis Simpson.

Edward VIII was King for just a few months. As he was in love with Mrs Wallis Simpson, an American woman who was divorced, he abdicated, and became the Duke of Windsor. They were together for the rest of their lives.

Click on their names above if you want to read more about their biographies.

Henry VIII of England 

Henry VIII was the king of England. He was famous for starting the Church of England. He was also married six times. Two of his wives were executed. He was a poet, a singer and a sportsman in his youth, but in his old age he was changeable and tyrannical. He was Mary Tudor (Bloody Mary some people called her), and Elizabeth I's father.
The Brontë Sisters: Charlotte, Emily & Anne.

Charlotte, Emily and Anne were born in Yorkshire. They were all remarkable writers, but only Charlotte was famous during her lifetime. They were the authors of some of the most famous novels of English literature: Jane Eyre (Charlotte), Wuthering Heights (Emily) or The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Anne).

Click on their names above to learn more about their biographies.

She was born in London. She is an actress. Her first significant role was in the film A room with a view. Her partner was film director Tim Burton. They have two children.

Click on her name above to learn more about her biography.

Now let's play a game. I'm going to give you five clues about two famous people, and you are going to say who I'm talking about, okay? Let's go:

Celebrity no. 1

1- He was an English writer
2- He was born in the 16th century.
3- He was married with three children
4- He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon
5- He was the author of plays such as Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet.

And he is...

William Shakespeare

Celebrity no. 2

1- She was born in Los Angeles in 1926.
2- She was a famous actress.
3- She was blonde and very beautiful.
4- Her real name was Norma Jean Baker.
5- She was married to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller.

And she is...

Marilyn Monroe

Now let's see if you guess this one. These are the clues:

- He was born in a city in South Africa.
- He was an anti-apartheid activist.
- He was in prison for many years.
- He was the 1st black president of South Africa.
- He was married three times.

So...who was he? 


For some theory on was / were, click here.

Monday, March 14, 2016

NB 2 - If you love somebody, set them free

Dear students & readers of this blog,

As our classes are usually so packed, we don't have enough time to listen to music with the lyrics. And actually, this is a great way of learning new vocabulary and expressions, as well as of learning about pronunciation. So, with the excuse that, in our Basic 2 class we have studied the INDEFINITE PRONOUNS, we are going to listen to some music.
For some info on indefinite pronouns, click here.

What about Sting?

Here is Sting's song "IF YOU LOVE SOMEBODY, SET THEM FREE", a song included in "The Dream of the Blue Turtles", his first solo album after leaving The Police, and it was released in 1985. Now watch the video, listen to the song, and fill in the gaps in the lyrics below:

"If You Love Somebody Set Them Free"

VERSE (=estrofa) 1
If you need somebody, __________ my name
If you want someone, you can ___________ the same
If you wanna ___________ something precious
You got to lock it up and _____________ away the key
If you want to hold onto your possessions
Don't even ______________ about me

If you love somebody,
If you love someone,
If you love somebody, 
If you love someone
set them free
If it's a mirror you want, just _________ into my eyes
Or a whipping boy, someone to despise
Or a prisoner in the dark
Tied up in chains you just __________ ____________
Or a beast in a gilded cage
That's all some people ever _____________ to be

Chorus: if you love somebody...

You can't ___________ an independent heart
Can't tear the one you _____________ apart (tear someone apart)
Forever conditioned to _____________ that we can't live
We can't live here and be happy with less
So many riches, so many souls
Everything we see that we want to ______________


For the full lyrics, click here