Author Archives: Ruth

About Ruth

We are a language academy that teaches any language you are interested in learning. We offer only native teachers, flexible hours, affordable classes, and experienced staff. We look forward to speaking to you

Pub quiz this Thursday!

Don’t miss out pub quiz this Thursday in El Rincon de Juanca, right by metro La Almudena on C/ de Santurce, 1. We will be having some drinks and enjoying a trivia night from 20:30 this Thursday. Come practise your English with us in a fun way and get to know other English speakers around the neighbourhood.

Looking forward to meeting you!

5 ways to remember new vocabulary

Remembering new vocabulary when learning English can be tricky. When studying any new language we come across new words all the time and it can seem like an impossible task to remember them all. Here at The Language Corner, we’ve made a simple list of tips to help you with this daunting challenge. Remember, at our language academies in Madrid, our native teachers are always willing to help you. So, let’s have a look at some of the best ways to retain that new vocabulary you have learnt.

  1. Visualise what a word or phrase looks like to you. This works especially well for those pesky idioms. While they can’t be translated literally a lot of the time, they often conjure up an image in your mind which can make remembering them a hell of a lot easier. If you are artistically inclined you can draw or sketch something to help you recall a new word or phrase. If not, you can usually rely on google images to turn up something similar. Here’s an example. “To race against the clock.” It means your trying to do something before a certain deadline. Usually a pressured situation where it is really important. 
  2. Put new words into a context that is relevant to you. When we learn new words and expressions if we can’t relate them to our own lives, we have little hope in remembering them at a later date. We need to associate the words we want to remember with something that is important to us. So for example, if you like music and you want to remember the word “soothing” you could say “I find instrumental music very soothing”
  3. Write it down. Keep a notebook for new vocabulary and write down the things you want to remember in a sentence so you can remember the meaning easily. It’s important to go back and look over this from time to time to refresh your memory.
  4. Learn it in chunks. Trying to memorise stand-alone words is pointless, not only do we need context to make sense of it but it also is of great benefit to learn a group of words that go together. THese can be verb/noun collocations or just expressions that are almost always followed by a certain structure or word. This technique comes in very handy when learning phrasal verbs. Take for example the phrasal verb “make up” On its own, it’s difficult to remember it means to invent, but if you always think about making up a story you can instantly recall the meaning.
  5. Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.  It seems obvious but the more you repeat something, the easier it will be to remember it at a later stage. The trick with this, however, is not to repeat ad nauseam the day you discover a new word but to actively try in incremental stages to recall it. This means an hour or so after learning it, trying to use it in a sentence. Again the next day repeating it in that or another sentence. After that every few days should suffice until it is firmly lodged in your long-term memory.

Hopefully with these tips you’ll start to retain the new vocabulary you’ve been learning in your English classes at The Language Corner. Feel free to stop by our academies in La Elipa and Calle Gandhi for information about our classes.

Idioms Explained

Idioms in English can be hard to figure out. Translating them into to your own language is not going to help. But, native speakers throw them into to conversations whenever they feel like it! How can you get your head around them? It’s a tough one we know. Here in our English academies in Madrid we’re always trying to think of ways to help our students remember these useful phrases, be it for exam preparation like Aptis or FCE or just to sound more fluent in everyday conversation.

A good way to learn new idioms is to use images which illustrate their meaning. This post is trying to do just that. We hope it helps!

Back to square one

Having to go back to square one means you have to start whatever process you were doing over again. It’s usually negative since it implies you didn’t make much progress the first time.

The big cheese

Someone who is a big cheese is an important or knowledgeable person in their field. It’s quite an informal expression and means they hold some influence.

A birdseye view

This one is perhaps more literal. It means you have a view of something from a high point…just like a bird would.

To bite your tongue



To bite your tongue means to keep yourself from critizising or insulting someone even if you want to. Someone says something stupid and instead of highlighting it, you say nothing and maybe even smile at them.

To be on cloud nine






Finally, if you are on cloud nine, you are really happy about something. We hope you are too having learnt some new English idioms!


Aptis Exam Explained


Here at The Language Corner in La ELipa and García Noblejas we have been getting many requests for information about Aptis, the latest exam by The British Council. In both our English academies we offer preparation classes for both Aptis General and Aptis Advanced. But before you sign up to English classes in our academy, let’s explain exactly what the Aptis entails.

Firstly, it’s worth noting that the entire Aptis exam is done on a computer. It takes a total of 2hours and 32 minutes with all the skills being tested. It’s a scaled exam so there is no pass or fail mark but your results are given as a CEFR level for A0-C for the Aptis General and B1-C2 for the Aptis Advanced.

The Aptis, as well as being a cheaper and quicker alternative to the Cambridge exams such as The First Certificate and Advanced it is also becoming more widely recognised here in Spain. The Aptis General is valid if you are a student and need to demonstrate you have a B1 or B2 level and the Aptis Advanced is accepted by the Comunidad de Madrid as proof of linguistic competence for teachers.

As with most English language exams, Aptis is split into sections covering Reading, Writing, Speaking Listening and Grammar & Vocabulary. Let’s have a look at each section and how to best approach it.


Part 1

The first part of the Speaking consists of 3 simple questions which you have 30 seconds to respond to.  They are usually related to your life, your hobbies, family or holidays. Each question will usually require you to use a certain tense so be mindful of that when you are answering.

As the test is done on a computer, a good way to practise this particular part is to record yourself answering some basic questions on your phone while using a timer. This will not only help you with time management but also with your pronunciation and intonation.

Being the first part of the test means the questions are simple but it doesn’t mean your answers have to be. I don’t mean that you should try to over-complicate things but it is a good idea to use these short questions to show off some vocabulary you know related to the topic. An example could be to learn an idiom that describes a person such as “He/she is a blast!” (the person is a lot of fun) This way you can use it to describe a friend, family member or someone you work with.

Here are some typical questions from Aptis:

  1. Please tell me about your family.
  2. Where did you go on your last holiday?
  3. What’s the weather like today?

Each answer should be between 4 and 6 sentences long. Speak clearly and at a pace you’re comfortable with and you should have no problem answering the questions from part 1.

Part 2

In the second part of the Speaking Test, you will be asked to describe a picture and then answer two further questions about it. This time you have 45 seconds to respond.

A typical example of this could be the picture on the left.

  1. Describe the picture.
  2. Do you often have to work in a team in work or university?
  3. Why is teamwork important?




To see example answers to these questions and tips on how to describe pictures, check out our previous entry on Aptis Speaking.


Part 3

In this part of the exam, you will be shown two pictures and asked to compare them. This is quite similar to the FCE or CAE and finding examples from those exams will help immensely. Again, there are 3 questions which each have a 45 second limit for answering.

  1. Compare the two pictures.
  2. Why might people choose each type of holiday?
  3. Which of these types of holidays are better for you?

Part 4

The last part of the Speaking test for Aptis, you are once again given a photo with three questions. This time, however, you’ll have one minute to prepare your ideas and two minutes to cover all three questions.

  1. Describe an old person you admire and why.
  2. How do you know them?
  3. What characteristics do they have that you like?

Check out our previous post for ideas and tips on how to answer these parts of the Aptis

Don’t forget you can prepare for the Aptis exam in Madrid in our English academies in Madrid in both La Elipa and Garcia Noblejas. All of our native teachers at our language academies are familiar with not only the Aptis but also all of the Cambridge exams. So if you are looking to prepare for the FCE in Madrid or the CAE in Madrid, make sure you stop by our English academies in Madrid in La Elipa and La Almudena. Looking forward to meeting you!

Aptis Speaking Parts 3 & 4

Today at The language corner we’re going to look at the second part of the Aptis Speaking test, with tips and sample answers to give you an idea of what is needed in this relatively new exam by The British Council.  Of course, here in our English academies, you can prepare for the Aptis as well as The Cambridge exams with our native teachers.

Part 3

In this part of the exam, you will be shown two pictures and asked to compare them. This is quite similar to the FCE or CAE and finding examples from those exams will help immensely. Again, there are 3 questions which each have a 45 second limit for answering.


  1. Compare the two pictures. (45sec)
  2. Why might people choose each type of holiday?  (45sec)
  3. Which of these types of holidays are better for you?  (45sec)

As we saw in our previous post when describing photos we usually use modals of deduction to say what we suppose is happening in the pictures. Let’s have a go at answering these ones 🙂

  1. In the first picture on the left, a couple can be seen relaxing in deck chairs at the beach. I imagine they are a couple as they are holding hands and the woman seems to be gazing at her partner. There is a bag hanging off one deckchair and a hat hanging off the other. It looks idyllic if I’m honest.  In the second picture, we can see a group, with backpacks on hiking through the mountains. They appear to be following a trail and are properly prepared for the terrain. It reminds me of going trekking with my friends in the mountains outside my city.
  2. I reckon people choose beach holidays to get away from the hustle bustle of the city and to completely switch off. Not only do they get to relax on what seems like a paradise island but they also don’t have to worry about the stresses of their daily life. On the other hand, this type of trip can seem utterly boring to some people which is why they might prefer to do something more active. They also want to escape the fast-paced way of things in the city by getting fresh air in a pristine landscape but obviously lying on the beach for days would just bore them to tears.
  3. Both types of holiday have their benefits. Relaxing on a beautiful beach for a week might do somebody who has a high-stress job or day to day life the world of good as they can just switch off and forget about everything for the time being. However, the hiking holiday is obviously more active and in that way, it’s physically better for you. I suppose it all depends on whether you want to do something active or would benefit just as much from simply taking a break from your daily routine.

Part 4

The last part of the Speaking test for Aptis, you are once again given a photo with three questions. This time, however, you’ll have one minute to prepare your ideas and two minutes to cover all three questions.


  1. Tell me about the first thing you bought online.
  2. How did you feel about the purchasing?
  3. Would you recommend online shopping?

For this question, since you have a minute to prepare it’s a good idea to jot down the points you want to mention without writing full sentences. Be careful not to describe the photo given as this is not the task in this question. The questions are more abstract (e.g a feeling). Make sure you answer all three questions and stay on topic. Doing otherwise will lose you valuable points. You are free to glance at your notes while you speak so it’s really important to practise brainstorming and making the most of this.

Here is an example of how you can brainstorm some ideas in one minute. Notice that as well as answering the questions I’ve also included short structures to include in my answer. This final part of the Aptis speaking exam is aimed at the higher levels so it’s important to incorporate advanced structures into your answer. Think about inversions (not only but also, only if/when), passives, conditionals etc. It’s also good to use any related vocabulary you can think of. Having said that, we also recommend you stick to what you know in the exam. Practise these structures before the exam so you are confident using them. Don’t try to wing it in the exam by throwing in structures you half know and are likely to get wrong. Accuracy is of vital importance in any speaking exam and the Aptis is no different.

Let’s have a go at answering this one:

If I recall correctly, the first thing I bought online was a necklace from eBay. It was being auctioned on the site and I thought it was really beautiful. I remember feeling excited by the bidding process. I would place a bid and wait to see if someone outbid me for the item. In the end, mine was the highest bid and I won the auction. I also remember feeling quite nervous however because of the payment method. Only by giving the website my credit card details could I proceed. I was also worried it wouldn’t arrive even after paying for it. I decided I’d have to take the chance and thankfully my necklace arrived shortly after.

I would definitely recommend shopping online nowadays. There are so many shops and you can buy virtually anything delivered to your doorstep. It’s really handy for people who work a lot or simply don’t enjoy going shopping on the high street, especially around the holidays or sales when bricks and mortar shops are packed. Not only is shopping online faster and more efficient but it’s also cheaper than the high street stores a lot of the time.

As you can see, I used the notes from the spider diagram to shape my answer but also added more information as I thought of it. I hope this helps. Don’t forget you can prepare for the Aptis exam in Madrid in our English academies in Madrid in both La Elipa and Garcia Noblejas. All of our native teachers at our language academies are familiar with not only the Aptis but also all of the Cambridge exams. So if you are looking to prepare for the FCE in Madrid or the CAE in Madrid, make sure you stop by our English academies in Madrid in La Elipa and La Almudena. Looking forward to meeting you!


Christmas Gift Ideas pt. 3


For those people that are not interested in having English classes in Madrid and also are not able to participate in the Saturday workshops we have planned, how about giving The Language Corner’s Idiom calendar as a present. You, or your friends, can spend each month of 2016 learning a new idiom. (Idioms are common English expressions. Learning them will help you speak with more fluency). This calendar was designed by one of our very own native and qualified teachers, Daniel Matthews. Calendars are 10€ and are available for order at either Language School: Calle Gerardo Cordón, 51 Metro: La Elipa (l2) or Calle Gandi, 19 Metro: La Almudena (L2) or Garcia Noblejas (L7).

A beautiful gift for yourself or a friend, this calender will help you improve your English at home. Each month you will have a wonderful idiom on display with an explanation and sample sentence. If you are trying to improve your English in Madrid, this is an excellent idea!


Christmas Gift Ideas pt. 2

Do you want to improve your English, or know someone who wants to improve his/her English but is not able to make the commitment to attend weekly classes? Looking for an opportunity to interact with native teachers in Madrid? This holiday season why not buy the gift of an English workshop?

The Language Corner is hosting two very fun and exciting workshops in English.

Filming in English is for youths aged 14-17. It will take place Saturday, January 23rd and Saturday, January 30th from 10:30-13:30. The price for the 6 hours of English is only 25€ (20€ if you have a carné joven). During this Saturday of English immersion, students will be creative, make news reports, record a video and upload their project to Youtube. This is an excellent interactive workshop any teen is sure to enjoy. Contact us to save your space now, this workshop has a maximum of 12 participants.

Adults have the Laughter Therapy workshop. This English event will take place Saturday, February 20th from 10:30-13:30. The course is only 10€ (8€ if you have a carné joven) for three hours of English. This course is all about having fun and expressing oneself in English. This workshop includes lots of games, activities, and movement to get you thinking and speaking in English. No books or grammar, this course is about being present in the moment and enjoying. Come have fun in English with The Language Corner. Book early as this workshop also has a maximum of 12 participants.         publicidad 95x61 2.

Christmas Gift Ideas pt. 1

If you are living in Madrid and trying to think up a creative present to give to someone, why not give the gift of English classes?


We, at The Language Corner, would be happy to make a gift certificate for English classes for you, your friend, or your family members. We have Classes for all ages and English levels and we welcome you to come and learn English with us. Our native teachers offer classes during the morning, evening and on Saturdays so that you have flexibility with your timetable.

Know anyone who wishes to learn, or improve, English? This holiday season give a gift certificate for either of our English academies in Madrid. Both English schools are located in Ciudad Lineal. Well connected to the center of Madrid (Metro: Line 2),  you can learn English for as little as 44€ per month.

ingles, both schools


Help Build a school in Tanzania and possibly win a car in Spain!

Jessica, one of the native English teachers at The Language Corner located on Calle Gandhi, 19 28017, spent one year volunteering in Africa. While in Africa, she volunteered teaching students who were learning English. This gave her lot of experience that she uses in her English classes in Madrid.

This experience also let Jessica see first hand what it is like to live in a “third world country”. If you are living in Madrid and would like to help a project in Africa, Born To Learn is a Tanzanian NGO. It helps to fund education for children who cannot afford it.

Born to Learn is an NGO in Tanzania helping children get an education.

Born to Learn is an NGO in Tanzania helping children get an education.

To help raise money for this NGO raffle tickets are being sold. Each ticket is 2,50€.  All money collected will be donated directly to the NGO. Not only are you helping a great organization, but one person will win a car! The draw will take place December 26th.

On Dec 26th on person will win the 1961 "Beetle".

On Dec 26th someone will win this 1961 “Beetle”.

Want to know where you can buy tickets? They are for sale at our English school in Madrid. The Language Corner English Academy has two centers to study English in Ciudad Lineal.
The Language Corner La Elipa Calle Gerardo Cordón, 51 (Metro La Elipa or El Carmen)
The Language Corner Gandhi Calle Gandhi, 19 (Metro La Almudena or Garcia Noblejas)

Want to learn more about Born To Learn check this video:


I Love to Write Day!


November 15, 2015 is the 13th anniversary of I LOVE TO WRITE DAY. Founded November 15, 2002 by author John Riddle this is a great day to practice your English by using your writing skills!

While I LOVE TO WRITE DAY began as an event taking place in the USA, it is not limited to people living in America. This day is an opportunity for students learning English in Madrid to practice writing in English.

Writing is a great tool to help develop English skills. The Native teachers from the Language Corner agree that the ability to write in English will helps with thinking and expressing in English.

Writing is a skill that can really help you with your language learning. This November 15, why not join in on the fun of I LOVE TO WRITE DAY and develop a habit of daily writing. You do not have to write anything long. It can be a short story, a poem, a card, a note, etc.

English classes at The Language Corner can help you start writing. Both of the English Language Schools located in Ciudad Lineal (The Language Corner La Elipa: Calle Gerardo Cordón, 51 and The Language Corner Gandhi: Calle Gandhi, 19) have English classes taught by native teachers. In class, you will learn English by speaking, writing, listening, practising grammar and more!

If you are interested in improving your English, but don’t like the idea of traditional classes, the Language Corner also offers book club. During Book club a reduced group of students will read short stories and discuss content from the book. This creative English class will also encourage students to create their own stories.