Do you find phonetics useful?

Pros and cons of using phonetics:

PROs:

It helps to differentiate sounds

Some words are pronounced in a very similar way in English, and to some students, it is not always clear exactly which sound is being used, especially in regular and fast speech. Seeing the correct phoneme written as a phonetic transcription may help students to distinguish these similar sounds.

It can be applied to other languages

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) was created in 1886 as a way of ‘romanising’ spoken language and can, supposedly, be applied to any language. Therefore, if you know how to pronounce the letters from this alphabet well enough then you should, in theory, be able to learn the pronunciation of any spoken language if it is accompanied by this system of phonetics.

It can tell us how a new word is pronounced without the need to hear it

Many students will, hopefully, continue to learn and study outside the classroom and may come across a word while reading which they do not know, and since written English is not phonetic, it can be useful to see the word written phonetically. If you look up any word in any good dictionary, you’ll see the word written in this script. (Note: this can be equally useful for native speakers of English looking up new words).

CONs

It can lead to confusion if not understood well enough

As not all of the phonemes resemble any specific letter of the alphabet that we normally use, e.g. /ʌ/, they can easily be confused, causing words to be learned and pronounced incorrectly by learners.

Potentially overwhelming, especially to new students

When students begin learning a new language, especially if it is their first time learning a new language, they can often feel overwhelmed just by the new vocabulary and basic grammar structures. Add a completely new alphabet to this and many students may even begin to feel that this approach is actually slowing down their progress. Some teachers would also say that it is ok for lower-level students to pronounce some words incorrectly in English, as long as the meaning and overall communication is clear.

Not universal – pronunciation varies greatly from one region to another

Look up the word ‘cut’ in the dictionary and you’re most likely to see it written phonetically as /kʌt/ (rhyming with ‘nut’). However, if you go to certain regions of the UK, e.g. the north of England, you’ll hear it pronounced by many people there as /kʊt/ (rhyming with ‘put’). Because spoken English varies so greatly from one region to another, this way of writing English in a standardised phonetic way could be thought of as near impossible to be correct 100 per cent of the time.
If you’d like some tips on how you can improve your English and pronunciation in Madrid, feel free to come and speak with us and our native English teachers at either one of our English academies in La Elipa and La Almudena (Metro line 2) in Madrid. We also offer Cambridge examination preparation classes, as well as other languages, such as French, German, Portuguese and Italian.

We hope to see you soon!

Improve your English with pub quiz in Madrid

A question we often asked in our English classes is “How can I improve my English while living in Madrid?

While there are many activities you can do to improve your English in Madrid (group classes, private classes, penpals, etc), pub quizzes can be an excellent way to improve your listening skills, broaden your range of vocabulary and practice question structures. It can also be a fantastic opportunity to meet new English-speakers in Madrid (both native and non-native English speakers), and get to discover new places, food and drinks.

If you are interested in participating in one of our FREE pub quizzes – a very popular social activity in the UK and Ireland – click here. You’ll be able to find all the necessary information and confirm your attendance.

Also, for information on our English courses, feel free to come to either of our English language academies in La Elipa and García Noblejas where any one of our native teachers will be happy to inform you.

We hope to see you soon!

Reasons to learn English in 2020

Happy New Year, everyone! As always at this time of year, many people will have already made their New Year’s resolutions, and a popular one here in Madrid is to learn English at an academy, or another foreign language. Here are some of the main reasons why someone in Madrid may wish to learn English:

English has the largest number of speakers globally:

One thing that makes English quite unique is the fact that non-native English speakers greatly outnumber native English speakers. The reason for this is due to many factors, such as international trade, Hollywood success and social media. Never before has English been so easily accessible and frequently used, and the number of English speakers around the globe is currently estimated at roughly 2 billion!

300 million native speakers:

Although there is a much greater number of non-native English speakers on Earth, the number of native English speakers is currently estimated at 300 million and is constantly growing. With the number of native English speakers increasing, the number of job opportunities and convenience of English in everyday life also increases.

English at work:

As the world becomes more globalised and international, so do companies and organisations, and many are choosing to use English as their official language to facilitate communication between branches in different countries. Companies such as Microsoft, Nokia and Airbus have already opted to use English as their official language and we can expect many more to follow in the 2020s.

TV and cinema:

While almost all countries in the modern age have their own TV and/or film industry, there is no denying that some of the most popular and successful films in the 21st century have come from Hollywood. They can be watched in other languages if they have been dubbed, but much of the humour and cultural aspects are lost in translation and can never compare to the original version. The good news is that even if you don’t have a sufficiently high level of English to understand everything, English subtitles can usually be added and, if you are watching at home, scenes can be paused and re-watched in order to try to understand more.

Job opportunities:

Whether working abroad or in your own country, having the English language under your belt will undoubtedly give you a competitive advantage and open a world of opportunities in a whole host of industries such as travel, science, communications and technology.

If you’re interested in learning English in Madrid with native English teachers in small groups, come to one of our language academies in Madrid and ask any one of our native English teachers (or native French, Italian, and German teachers) for more information.

We hope to see you soon!

It’s getting chilly in Madrid!

It’s getting cold chilly in Madrid!

As the temperature begins to fall in Madrid, people are commenting on how cold it is getting. We hear the word cold a lot in our English classes in Madrid, which is not incorrect, but at the same time not very descriptive. As a way of instantly improving your level of spoken English, try using some of these words instead of the word ‘cold’:

  • Chilly /ˈtʃɪli/ : This word isn’t used for extremely low temperatures, more for that slightly uncomfortable feeling of being cold – “You should take a jacket, it’s getting a bit chilly outside.”
  • Nippy /ˈnɪpi/ : This word is basically the same as ‘chilly’, but is a slightly older, colloquial British expression – “It’s a bit nippy outside today!”
  • Freezing /ˈfriː.zɪŋ/ : The word ‘freezing’ literally means that water (or any liquid) is turning into ice, but you can use this word, as we often do, to exaggerate how cold it is – “I didn’t bring my coat and now I’m freezing!”
  • Wintry /ˈwɪnt(ə)ri/: This word doesn’t just refer to the temperature, you can also use it to describe a landscape or the weather in general, as it is the adjective form of the word ‘winter’ – “It looks very wintry outside today.”
  • Frosty /ˈfrɒsti/: the word ‘frosty’ can be used when the temperature is very low and a thin layer of ice has formed on everything outside – “It was very frosty here in Madrid this morning.”
  • Baltic /ˈbɒltɪk/: ‘Baltic’ literally refers to the Baltic region, which is one of the coldest regions of Europe, and is another way of exaggerating how cold the weather is – “It’s absolutely baltic outside today!”

So those are some words that you can add to your vocabulary to instantly improve your level of English. If you’d like some more tips on how to improve your English in Madrid, feel free to come and speak with us and our native English teachers at either one of our English academies in La Elipa and La Almudena (Metro line 2) in Madrid. We also offer Cambridge examination preparation classes, as well as other languages, such as French, German, Portuguese and Italian.

We hope to see you soon!

 

English Activities in Madrid

Are you looking for ideas on how to improve your English in your own city? Even in Madrid, you will find a lot of interesting English activities in order to practice and improve your English.

How about taking part in an English trivia, watching English movies or going to language exchanges? Intercambios or language exchanges take place in several bars and restaurants. This way you get to know new people and at the same time, you can practice your English.

Some pubs and bars offer English trivia. If you like quizzes and trivia and if your level of English is already high, this is a fun way to still improve your vocabulary and your knowledge in general.
There are many cinemas that offer the option to watch movies in their original language. With the help of subtitles, you can already watch English movies even if your level is not that advanced yet.

In addition to this, there are many classes and activities offered in English. Why not join an English-taught yoga or dance class? Or maybe cooking classes or city tours? Madrid offers plenty of sight-seeing tours – many of them are even free!

3 EXCELLENT HORROR MOVIES TO PRACTISE YOUR ENGLISH THIS HALLOWEEN

Many places around the world celebrate Halloween on October 31st. There are many things you can do to have a great time, and if you’re in Madrid there are lots of events and activities to celebrate it and maybe even practise your English very cheaply.

It’s also a great excuse to rewatch (or perhaps watch for the first time!) some very good movies. Watching movies can be a great way to improve your mastery over a language. So we thought that this could be an especially convenient time to talk about three really fun (and sometimes scary) movies.

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Shaun of the Dead (2004)

A veritable classic in the zombie genre. Shaun of the Dead both pays tribute to and makes fun of some of the best movies that deal with the undead. It’s a hillarious comedy starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, directed by Edgar Wright.

Shaun (Pegg) is a thirty-year-old man whose life isn’t going anywhere. He wakes up one day and to realise that the world is now full of zombies. Along with his roommate Ed (Frost), he’ll embark on a path to put his life back together, get his girlfriend back, and not be eaten by his neighbours.

 

 

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The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

Five young adults decide to spend a weekend in a far-off cabin deep into the woods… and then find out that things are not what they seem. Even though the beats that make the story in the beginning are extremely well-trodden and tropey, The Cabin in the Woods masterfully uses those same beats and tropes to upend expectations.

Starring, among others, Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly, and Sigourney Weaver, and directed by Drew Goddard and co-written by Joss Whedon, The Cabin in the Woods is a thrilling experience that you won’t regret.

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The Blair Witch Project (1999)

And last but not least The Blair Witch Project. With less comedic elements than the previous movies though not because of this less entertaining, it marked a turning point in the genre upon its release.

Directed and written by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, The Blair Witch Project does not need any fancy CGI or terrifying monsters to make you want to jump out of your skin. It reminds the viewer how scary a noise in the dark can truly be.

And there we have it, three excellent movies to enjoy this Halloween. The best way to experience them would be of course in their original version, with or without subtitles. And if you really want to make the most of them, you could focus on the following to learn even more:

  • What accent or intonation do the characters employ?
  • What idioms, phrasal verbs, and vocabulary do they use?
  • Are there any memorable lines that you particularly liked?

And if you’re in Madrid, and you’d like to talk about more ways of practising your English (or German, French, or Italian!), just drop by any of our academies in La Elipa and Calle Gandhi for information. Our native teachers will be delighted to give you a hand.

Happy Halloween!

How to motivate yourself to learn English this Autumn

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WATCH A FILM

Watching a film (or TV series) that you already know you enjoy can keep you motivated as you’ll already have an idea of what they’re talking about and the kinds of things that are being said, which means you won’t need to concentrate as much on the storyline and you can pay more attention to the language being used. If necessary, try turning on the subtitles IN ENGLISH so that you can read and listen at the same time (but be aware that sometimes the text doesn’t always match the audio 100%)

SPEAK TO FOREIGNERS

Here in Spain, there are so many English-speaking foreigners that you won’t have to look hard to find native English speakers in Madrid to practise with. Something as simple as giving someone directions on the metro in English, or even having an in-depth conversation about local history, can be enough to show that you know more than you think you do, as is the case with many English students in Madrid, and can be enough to give you that much-needed confidence boost and keep you motivated to continue learning and improving your English in Madrid.

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TAKE CLASSES AT AN ACADEMY

Although it can sometimes be hard to find the motivation to get started, once you’ve had that first English class in an English academy, you’ll find that your level of motivation will also increase. Here at our language academies in La Elipa and García Noblejas, we often find that our English students are a bit unsure at the beginning but with time and more English classes both their motivation and their confidence increases.

SUBSCRIBE TO A YOUTUBE CHANNEL

With the same benefits of watching films on TV series in English, but in a much shorter length of time, watching YouTube videos in English can be a great way of staying motivated. Most of us in 2019 probably have a YouTube account and watch videos on the platform regularly, so why not give it a try?

PLAN A TRIP

What better way to motivate yourself (or scaring yourself!) into learning more English could there be than knowing than you will soon be in an English-speaking country, surrounded by people who only speak English and not being able to reply on your native language? Having a specific goal like this in mind can be the perfect way to motivate yourself to improve your English quickly.

SET GOALS AND REMINDERS FOR YOURSELF

As previously mentioned, whether it’s the FCE or CAE exam, or an upcoming trip to an English-speaking country, having a specific goal in mind can be an excellent way of maintaining your level of motivation. If you set reminders for yourself, such as leaving post-its around the house or having weekly meet-ups or English classes to prepare for, you’ll be less likely to forget about these your goals and you’ll be surprised by just how quickly you’re able to advance.

If you’d like to know more and are interested in our English classes in Madrid, feel free to contact us or drop by either of our English academies in La Elipa and La Almudena, where any one of our native English teachers will be able to give you more information on our highly economical English classes in Madrid this autumn.

We hope to see you soon!

 

INTENSIVE CAMBRIDGE FIRST CERTIFICATE (FCE B2) SUMMER COURSES

Here at The Language Corner, we are constantly adapting to the demands of our students. This year we have been asked a lot about the possibility of an intensive summer course to prepare for the First Certificate de Cambridge (FCE, or now known as the B2 First) in July. For this reason, we have decided to offer intensive FCE courses this summer to help you prepare for your FCE exam in Madrid.

The course focus on the 4 different parts of the FCE exam: Reading and Use of English, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. We also focus on exam technique and ways of improving your grade and increasing your chance of passing the FCE exam, as well as increasing your level of comprehension, writing production, listening skills, grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary. All this with our native English teachers with a high level of experience in preparation of Cambridge examinations.
A moderately intensive course of four hours per week costs just 144 € for the entire month, and if you’d prefer an even more intensive course of 8 hours per week, then the course costs just 266 €. In addition to this, if it is your first time studying at The Language Corner
then you will receive a 50% percent discount on the enrollment fee.
To reserve your place on our intensive FCE summer course, don’t hesitate to call us as soon as possible on 91 001 42 81 while places are still available, or write to us and we will get back to you as soon as possible. If you have any questions or doubts, we will be more than happy to provide any information necessary.
What are you waiting for?

12 phrasal verbs with ‘get’

What are phrasal verbs? What does get actually mean? These are two questions that our students very commonly ask us during our English classes.

The word ‘get’ on its own has several different meanings in English; here are just three of many different uses of the verb ‘get’:

  • I went to the shop to get some bread – buy.
  • I don’t get maths – understand.
  • She got a new job last week – obtain.

These are just a few examples of how we use the verb ‘to get’ on its own. Add a preposition and you completely change its meaning (get on, get up, get over, etc). This is called a phrasal verb. In English we certainly seem to love our phrasal verbs and they are quite characteristic of, although not limited to, the Germanic languages.

Here are 12 commonly used phrasal verbs with the verb ‘get’:

  1. Get to (arrive or have an opportunity) – I get to work at around 8:45.
  2. Get up (out of bed or to ascend) – I get up at 7:00.
  3. Get down (to descend) – The cat climbed up the tree and couldn’t get down!
  4. Get back (return) – First, I’ll go to the supermarket and when I get back, I’ll make lunch.
  5. Get out (to exit) – I went for a swim but had to get out of the pool because the sun was so strong!
  6. Get on with (have a good rapport or continue) – I get on with all of my work colleagues. I have to get on with my homework because it’s due tomorrow.
  7. Get along with (have a good rapport) – I get along with all of my work colleagues.
  8. Get about (travel to lots of places) – She’s been to four different countries already this year – she really does get about!
  9. Get over (recover) – I had quite a bad cold this week, but I’ve gotten over it now.
  10. Get through (pass through a difficult time) – Last year was very difficult for us, but we managed to get through it!
  11. Get on (embark) – Which bus do we need to get on?
  12. Get off (disembark) – We have to get off the bus at the next stop.

As we tend to use the word ‘get’ quite a lot in English conversations, you should have plenty of opportunities to use these phrasal verbs in many real-life situations.

If you’d like to know more and are interested in our English classes in Madrid, feel free to contact us or drop by either of our English academies in La Elipa and La Almudena, where any one of our native English teachers will be able to give you more information on our highly economical English classes in Madrid this summer.

We hope to see you soon!

German classes in Madrid

Are you interested in learning German in Madrid but not sure where to start?

Do you need to start from zero?

Are you completely new to German?

NO PROBLEM!

Here at The Language Corner, we will be starting our new German course for complete beginners and with native German teachers, which gives a complete introduction to the German language in the evenings during the week.

If you are interested in the beginners’ German course in Madrid, or any other of our courses, feel free to contact us or to drop in to either one of our language academies in Madrid for more information.

We hope to see you soon!