B2 · Listening

Santa Forgot

This beautiful and touching ad aims to raise charity towards Alzheimer’s disease research. It tells the story of Santa in an imaginative country suffering from dementia. The advertisement was banned from being shown on the telly before 19:30 to avoid upsetting children and some parents felt that it was too children targeted, although, as I see it, I believe the intentions are to put in perspective what the reality is for people who live with this illness.

Although it’s a Christmas advertisement, I thought it would be a good video to watch as it is related to the topics of Health and Social issues. You’ll see the text at the bottom of the video so there wasn’t much point in turning it to a listening activity.

One recommendation, don’t watch it with kids because it certainly is disturbing.

What do you think?

B1 · B2 · culture · Grammar activity

Where did Christmas crackers come from?

crackers
Photo from Getty

In Britain not pulling a cracker means that something is missing! Both children and adults love them and they add more fun and laughter to Christmas dinner and parties. But where did this tradition come from? I came across this article and found it such a sweet story that I just couldn’t help not using it, so this one is to help you go over past tenses (active and passive ) and some  present tenses too.

The source is Metro.co.uk

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B1 · B2 · culture

How much do you know about British Christmas?

 

Trafalgar_Square_Christmas_tree8
Picture from Wikipedia

I say British because Christmas is celebrated almost all over the world and obviously, everybody has their way of doing this. If you’re from a country but you live in another one (like me), you will most probably blend both traditions which means that on Christmas Day you might eat a typical Majorcan soup for starters and have turkey as main dish, just to set an example. It might also mean that you have to behave extra-well if you want both, Santa and the Three Kings to call round, but it will also sound a bit awkward for relatives back in England when you tell them that you are still feasting and celebrating when they have already got back to their daily routine at the workplace and have probably been on a diet for the last fortnight (getting rid of those extra Christmas calories). Anyway, whatever you do and whatever your beliefs are, I think Christmas is a lovely moment to enjoy time with your loved ones and to reach out to those you haven’t seen for some time just to remind them how much you love and care for them. That for me is what really matters at Christmas, don’t you agree?

Here you have a Christmas quiz on some cultural aspects from British Christmas. I hope you enjoy it.

Ho, ho, ho!!!!

B2 · Idioms

To go bananas

bunch of bananas1

 

In the next activity on word formation, you may notice  that I use the expression ‘to go bananas’. Well, that’s another one of those food idioms. Can you guess what this idiom means? If I went bananas one of those days in which many of  my students didn’t do their homework, what do you think happened to me? Did I go all yellow as if I were suffering from jaundice? Did I sort of peel? Just for the sake of learning a little more English and having some fun, you might want to make a guess on the link below.

B2 · C1 · C2 · culture · Word formation

Why do Brits talk about the weather so much?

People walikng in the rain with umbrellas, UK: Wet and windy weekend for Britain
Photo from The Telegraph

Is it actually true that the British spend a lot of their time talking about the weather, or this just another one of those beliefs like ‘we have to have tea at five on the dot or we’ll go bananas ’,  sort of stuff ?  And, if it is true, is this feature shared by other cultures?

Well, I must say that we are particularly fond of talking about the weather, although I would also say that  it’s  a common topic of conversation in Spain too. However, what I do seem to notice is that people from these countries have a different way to approach this subject even when both typically use it as an icebreaker.

Where I live, people usually make exclamations about it. Sort of like ‘Vaya frio! Where a Brit would most probably make a tactfully brief statement of one or two words and polish it off with a question tag, ‘Cold, isn’t it?

Looking into this aspect of British culture, I found this really interesting article  that I’ve used to create a word formation activity for higher levels of English (C1 more or less).

The  article is from the BBC by Linda Geddes

Read the text and focus on each blank  using the words in brackets. The missing words are either adjectives or adverbs as the focus here is to practise with the different types of prefixes (yes, there are a couple of negative ones), and suffixes used to form these words.

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A1 · A2 · B1 · Grammar activity · Vocabulary

Do, go, play or nothing?

Which option should we use? Here are a couple of tips. After, click on the activity button for some practice.

Go + place

  • for when we go to a specific place to do it. For example: We go to the gym.

Go + -ing (activity noun)

  • Go + activity usually before words that end in -ing and especially if we have to go somewhere to do this activity. Here’s an example:

‘Where do you usually go on Saturdays?’  On Saturdays I go dancing (here the person goes somewhere to do this).

Do + noun 

  • Recreational activities that are not in teams and not played on a board. For example: Do aerobics or or do sport (we can also say play sport).

Play + noun

  • Play + noun not ending in -ing. When it refers to a team game (football, basketball, etc),  or a board game (chess, ludo, etc).

Play + the name of instrument

  • Play + the+ name of an instrument.

I play the piano. What instrument do you play?

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