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.

Click for word formation activity

B1 · B2 · Grammar · Sin categoría

Future perfect simple

If somebody asks you something like the samples below…

  • What will you have achieved by the time you reach forty?
  • How many books will you have read by Christmas?
  • How many English class assignments will I have given you by the end of the term ? 😦

…they are using the future perfect and we’d usually answer this in the following way

  • By the time I reach forty I will have set up my own company.
  • By Christmas I will have read three books.
  • By the end of the term my teacher will have given us tons of English assignments because she is very picky.

 

  • That is: time expression + subject + will + have + past participle

Here’s a fun way to do some language drills.

HOW TO PLAY

  • Pick a partner or ask somebody randomly.
  • Turn the wheel. Say for example you get How many showers (have).
  • Turn the second wheel for time expressions. Say for example you get  ‘in one year’
  • Make a question with these expressions. Example: How many showers will you have had in a year ?
  • Your partner should answer your question.
  • Example: In a year I will have had about ….. showers. (if the partners says he/she has a very low number of showers,  choose another person quickly).

 

In the first wheel you will find expressions related to actions.

Click for action wheel

In this wheel you will find expressions related to time.

Click for time expression wheel

A2 · B1 · B2 · Vocabulary

Confusing words: travel – trip – journey

travel/trip/ journey

travel (uncountable noun) term used to refer to the act or activity of travelling.

travel (verb intransitive transitive)  to go from one place to another. When meaning long distances, we usually use travel instead of trip. We also use this word when we talk about travelling for a reason such as work, etc.

  • I love travelling – I’d love to travel around the world – Tomorrow I have to get up early. I’m travelling.

trip (countable noun) an excursion or a journey somewhere and back, especially for pleasure.

  • We went on a boat trip to the island.

journey (countable noun) the act of travelling from one place and another. Here the focus is placed on talking about what happens between the beginning and ending of these points. For example, if going from Madrid to Paris on a train, you enjoyed it because it was quick, you had a good meal and a nice nap, you would say something like ‘your journey was nice’. But if you had bad weather, the food was horrible and the person on the seat next to you, kept dropping off, snoring almost all the way, you’d probably say that your ‘journey was horrible’.

Click for quiz

A2 · B1 · B2 · Vocabulary

Confusing words: say – tell

say/ tell

Both are verb associated to communication but both are used quite differently. Look at some of the examples of how to use these words.

say

say something/say something to somebody/say  as a reporting verb.

  • Ask him to say something in English.
  • She didn’t say anything to him about the party
  • She said that she liked it very much.

Say in impersonal passive structures

  • It is said that many lost their lives in WWII

Say + what/how/when/why

  • He didn’t say why he had come.

Tell

 tell somebody something / tell somebody to do something

  • She told him a bedtime story
  • They told me to get the job done as soon as possible.

tell somebody about something/tell a joke or a story

  • The company manager told them about the strike.
  • Mike told us this really funny joke.

We don’t  use say to somebody.

  • She said to me that I couldn’t go. She told me that I couldn’t go.

It is much more common to use ‘tell’ for orders

  • The fireman told us to be careful.

Click for quiz

A2 · B1 · B2 · Grammar · Grammar activity

Another way to learn irregular verbs

errorman

One way to learn irregular verbs is to divide them into groups.

According to some grammar books, irrregular English verbs DO seem to have some type of regularity.  Here are some tips along with a couple of activities.

 

 

CLASS 1

In this group, verbs remain nearly the same and change final -d for -t.

For example: build> built > built.

CLASS 1 ACTIVITY

CLASS 2

Verbs are the same in Past Simple and Past Participle, receive an -d/-ed/t suffix but change one or more vowels.

For example: leave > left> left

CLASS 2 ACTIVITY

CLASS 3

In this group the Past Simple usually has -ed but the Past Participle had -(e)n.

This is a small group and I suppose I’ll be adding some more if I can remember any.

For example: show > showed > shown

CLASS 3 ACTIVITY

CLASS 4

The past tense doesn’t have a suffix although it may change a vowel, but the Past Participle has an -(e)n suffix and the base vowel changes or both changes may happen.

For example: give > gave > given

CLASS 4 ACTIVITY

CLASS 5

In this group the vowel changes in one or both. There are no other changes.

For example: begin > began > begun

CLASS 5 ACTIVITY

CLASS 6

All the verbs are the same!

For example: put > put > put

CLASS 6 ACTIVITY

CLASS 7

One or both of the forms is/are completely different.

For example: go > went > gone – Be > was/were > been