Author Archives: Dan

Reading Resources

Last week, here at The Language Corner, we brought you some of our favourite Listening resources to help you improve your comprehension skills. This week we’ll be looking at Reading. We’ll look at some interesting and useful websites to help you not only practise but also improve your reading skills. These kind of websites and mobile apps are a great add-on to English classes in both our academies here in La Elipa and Calle Gandhi. Whether you spend 5 minutes or 20 minutes reading, every little helps when it comes to improving your overall language ability. Reading in English is by far the best way to pick up new vocabulary. You might occasionally have to reach for your dictionary, but after a while, you should get used to figuring out the meaning through the context, a valuable skill to perfect if you intend taking the First Certificate or Cambridge Advanced exam.

If you’re studying for Cambridge Exams like the FCE or CAE, these websites will definitely come in handy for increasing your vocabulary as well as exposing you to idiomatic expressions and phrasal verbs.

First on the list is Read Theory. This website has a vast library of short texts which accompanying questions which range from purely comprehensible to deducing the writer’s opinion and tone. To start, you do a short test which determines your reading level. Then after each quiz, the program decides if you should move up or down a level or simply remain where you are. The great thing about this site is when you give an incorrect response, you’ll get an explanation justifying the correct and incorrect answers. It’s especially useful for Cambridge exam practice

National Geographic also has a dedicated interactive reading website for English language learners. It’s divided into three levels so you can choose the one which best suits. After you’ve read the text there are some comprehension questions to answer.

Another great free resource is ESOL Courses which along with other skills you can practise reading for information, and also learn new vocabulary along the way.

Really Learn English has a great section of graded short stories. The offer a wealth of vocabulary with interactive quizzes to check you remember it so you can enjoy the story without worrying about having to have your dictionary on hand.

These are just some great websites you can use to brush up on your reading skills outside class. Do you know of or use any others? Let us know which one is your favourite! And don’t forget, sometimes when you learn a new word by reading it, you may not be sure of the pronunciation; this happens to native speakers too so don’t fret. Just ask your native teacher at The Language Corner the next time you have class in our academies in La Elipa and Garcia Noblejas and they’ll be delighted to help.

Listening Resources

In order to improve our English, it’s important to practise all the skills; Speaking, Reading, Writing and Listening. While Speaking, Reading, and Writing can be practised easily enough Listening, on the other hand, can be a bit trickier especially here in Madrid. Although Madrid is an international city with scores of nationalities to get to know, even if you do use English as a means of communication, it’s likely to be with other non-native speakers. This, of course, is great for your Speaking skills but have you ever tried to listen to a group of native speakers talking and felt completely lost? Even though last week you and your Brazilian and French housemates had a perfectly intelligible conversation last week! However good it is to practise your English with non-natives, and of course it is, in order to improve your comprehension level, it’s much more beneficial to listen to natives whether they are having natural conversations on the street or on television. There are tonnes of free resources online with which you can practise to your heart’s content.

English Central is a site where you can watch short subtitled videos divided into seven levels. You listen, fill in the gaps and then practise pronunciation.

English Club has a dictation site where you can listen to recordings at full or slowed down speed and then write what you hear.

Playphrase is an interesting site where you can type in an English phrase and listen to different renderings of it from a catalogue of hundreds of films. A fun way to waste hours online

Elllo is another great site that has audio and video clips divided by levels for English learners to practise. With vocabulary explanations as well as a comprehension quiz this page is a great resource.

Podcasts in English is another great resource where the creators have divided different podcasts by level.

VOA is a news website which has current events in English and also a dedicated learning English broadcast. It’s very useful for those preparing for the Cambridge exams.

ISL Collective is another great website where teachers have uploaded interactive quizzes to go with an array of videos. Great to practise with kids and adults alike.

try using these websites at least once a week to improve your listening skills outside of class. Download a podcast for your metro journey or spend half an hour taking an interactive quiz instead of mindlessly watching tv in the evening.

Christmas Offer

Christmas is coming up (yes, I know it’s stilll November, but it does start earlier every year) with its inevitable rise in expenses and engagements to accompany the good cheer and festive spirit. All the same, among all the parties, Christmas plays and shopping, it’s still worth trying to make time for the English lessons we’ve been working so hard at all term. To help with that, here at The Language Corner we’re launching a special offer: if you pay for your December and January lessons together, you will earn a mouth-watering 25% discount!

This way you’ll be able to keep up your progress with your native teacher in La Elipa and Ciudad Lineal, and you’ll be ready to hit the ground running come January. Also, if you or anyone in your family is thinking about sitting one of Cambridge’s English Certificates, either the Advanced (CAE) or the First Certificate (FCE), what better Christmas present can you give, than a couple of months’

worth of lessons with our highly-qualified native English teachers, to get them started on the path towards their goal?

As November draws to a close, please do come and see us at our schools in Ciudad Lineal and García Noblejas, (very close to the La Elipa and La Almudena Line 2 Metro stops) so you can try a free class, to see for yourself why our Christmas offer is such a good deal!

Cambridge Exams

The Cambridge exams like The First Certificate (FCE) and The Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) are world renowned and accepted by universities and employers alike. These exams measure your linguistic ability over four exams; Reading and Use of English, in which you are expected to be knowledgeable about varying grammar and lexical structures as well as reading comprehension. Writing, where you have to write two compositions, Listening, a four part testing your ability to pick out relevant information from a variety of conversations and monologues, and Speaking, a fifteen minute exam done with a partner.

Image result for cambridge

At The Language Corner, our experienced native teachers can help you succeed in passing either The First Certificate or The Certificate in Advanced English. With specific classes dedicated to the preparation of The Cambridge Exams, our native teachers will help you improve not only your exam technique, but also your Use of English, Speaking, Reading, Writing, and Listening. Using Cambridge certified material and exam style exercises, the Cambridge Exam preparation classes at The Language Corner in La Elipa and Garcia Noblejas will assist you in reaching your English language goals be they personal, to improve your job prospects or to further your academic studies.

Whether you need a Cambridge Certificate in English or not, the FCE and CAE preparation classes are ideal for any student wishing to improve all aspects of their English, including the dreaded Writing! So why not come to our English academies located in La Elipa and García Noblejas to try a free class with our native teachers and see how much you enjoy it?

Present Perfect

 

Listen to the verses of Queen’s classic song We Are the Champions. What sort of actions are they referring to?

They all refer to actions and states that occurred at an indefinite time in the past. To describe these concepts we use the Present Perfect tense.

We construct this tense by using the present simple form of the auxiliary verb to have together with the past participle form of the verb that describes our action.

I + [to have] + [to pay] ===> I have paid my dues, time after time

I + [to have] + [to do] ===> I have done my sentence

But [Ì’ve] committed no crime

And bad mistakes: I’ve made a few.

I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face

But I’ve come through

Remember that you cannot use the Present Perfect if you want to be specific about when this action happened – we have the Past Simple for that:

“Have you had lunch yet?” Present Perfect – we’re talking about an unspecified time in the past.

“Yes, I ate a sandwich at 2 o’clock” Past Simple – we’re talking about the exact time that the sandwich was eaten.

 

We also use the Present Perfect to refer to states that began in the past, and continue to be true today:

“I have lived in Madrid for three years”.

“I haven’t slept for days… I’m exhausted!”

The song We Are The Champions is reproduced for educational purposes only, and is the property of Queen and Sony/ATV

Welcome Back

Summer is sadly over, but with the changing of the seasons (not yet though – phew, it’s hot here in Madrid!), here in our language schools in La Elipa and La Almudena, the new academic year is already getting going. We’ve already nearly finished our first full week of English, French and German classes.

But fear not, there are still slots available for you to take advantage of our team of native teachers, and vastly improve your language skills.

We have classes available for all levels and age groups in our schools in La Elipa (Gerardo Cordón, 51) and La Almudena (Gandhi, 19), from 10 in the morning to 10 at night, Monday to Friday, and on Saturday mornings.

Whether you’re looking for a chance to practise your conversation skills, brush up on your grammar, or prepare for one of those important official exams, such as CAE or First Certificate, we have a native teacher and a class for you!

Please come and see us in La Elipa or Gandhi any time from 4.30 to 9.30 in the evening, and 10.30 to 13.30 on Tuesday and Thursday, and we’ll find your ideal class.

Don’t forget we also have French and German classes available.

SPORTS IDIOMS

LIKE phrasal verbs- there are many idiomatic phrases in English that can be quite difficult for non-native speakers.

For example what does this phrase mean and what sport does it refer to?

 

The run-up to the election was neck and neck.  It was very close. 

Image result for neck and neck

 

Guessed it?

Neck and neck means to have an equal chance in winning  a race or a competition.  It comes from horse racing!

Synonyms are: equal, tied, level, side by side

 

ALOT OF IDIOMS in English are based around SPORTS.

Match the following idioms with the sport it originates from ( you will use one sport twice)

tennis                      boxing

hunting                       cards

  1. She´s always had the upper hand in the relationship.
  2. His career was on the ropes once he was embroiled in the scandal.
  3. ¨You´re barking up the wrong tree , mate.  I´m not interested!¨
  4. ¨I´ve done everything I could- the ball is in your court now.  It´s up to you.¨
  5.  Your comment was a bit below the belt.  Not only is it irrelevant to what we are talking about, but it also hurt my feelings!

  1. cards
  2. boxing
  3. hunting (is it a sport these days or just cruel?!)
  4. tennis
  5. boxing

 

NOW match the meanings to the idioms:

  1. to have the upper hand
  2. to be on the ropes
  3. to bark up the wrong tree
  4. the ball is in your court
  5. to hit below the belt

a.  to do or say something that is unfair or cruel, and usually irrelevant

b. to have a better chance at winning

c. it´s your responsibility to do something

d. on the verge of defeat or collapse

e. you´ve got the wrong person or idea

 

  1. to hit below the belt
  2. to have the upper hand
  3. the ball is in your court
  4. to be on the ropes
  5. to bark up the wrong tree

LINKING WORDS practice

Today we are looking at different types of conjunctions, or linking words.  We use these words to connect ideas.  Today we will focus on 4 types of connecting words and their functions.

 

Look at these 4 sentences and put them into the correct category:

CONTRAST      REASON AND RESULT     TIME     CONDITION

  1.  I went to the shop,  because I wanted to buy some coffee.
  2.  I won´t speak to him  unless he apologizes first.
  3.  Hilary Clinton won the popular vote, however she lost the election.
  4. While vacationing in Fiji, they adopted a pet iguana!

Image result for connectors english

  1. reason and result
  2. condition
  3. contrast
  4. time

NOW put the following conjunctions into the 4 categories:

however           such…that           while              depite           even though            as long as

           although          until           so…that           unless         so          in case           as

  1. Reason and Result

2. Condition

3. Time

4. Contrast

 

Image result for connectors english

  1. Reason and Result : such…that, so, so…that, as
  2. Condition: as long as, unless, in case
  3. Contrast: however, although , despite, even though
  4. Time: until, while               
  5.  

PRACTICE:

Fill in the gaps with an appropriate conjunction. (more than one answer may be possible!)

  1.  Wear your hat _______  it´s sunny.  (in case/until)
  2. My Spanish has been improving ________ I´ve been studying! (however/ because)
  3. ____________ studying my Spanish, it´s not improving! (Even though/ Despite)
  4. We won´t know anything more  ____ the results are back. (so/until)
  5. I´d love to come to your party, _________ I´ve already made plans. (however, despite)
  6. She´s _____ a nasty person ______ no one likes her.  (so…that/such…that)

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  1. in case
  2. because
  3. despite
  4. until
  5. however
  6. such…that

 

EASILY CONFUSED WORDS

              Today we are looking at…

                         CONFUSING WORDS IN ENGLISH     

 SO / SUCH                                 ITS / IT´S                                   FOR / SINCE

 

                                   So and Such…When and how do I use them?

 

We use so to modify adjectives.      so + adjective        Don´t be so foolish!

We use such to modify nouns.         such + noun         Don´t be such a fool!    

                   

 

                                                 Its and It´s…What is the difference?

 

When you see it´s with an apostrophe, it is a contraction.     It´s = it is or it has

When you see its with no apostrophe , it shows possesion.

 

Look at how its and it´s are used:

                                    I´m thinking of an animal.  Its stripes are black and it´s from Africa.  It´s got                                         four legs and its diet is vegetarian.

 

For and since are words used to describe time, but used differently.

We use for when we are talking about a length of time.      for + a period of time

I´ve been living in Madrid for two years.

We use since when we are talking a specific point in time.      since + a point in time

I´ve been living in Madrid since 2015.

Both are most often used with the present perfect.  Here are some commonly used words with for and since:

for: a long time, two weeks, 3 months, years, most of my life, ten minutes, many hours…

since: last Tuesday, I was young, last summer, May 20th, this morning, I last saw you, 8 o´clock…