Category Archives: profesor nativo inglés Madrid

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 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!

 

british, la elipa, madrid

10 Very British Foods!

  1. Sunday Roast & Yorkshire Pudding
    Sundays in England are mostly spent with your family. Relatives gather around the table for a ´late lunch´around 2pm arguing over the last roast potato because there can never be too many roast potatoes! Every plate in my household has at least six. A roast beef joint or leg of lamb has usually been prepared for hours in the oven and the meat of choice, is accompanied by a delicious green sauce called Mint Sauce. Chicken is now also a popular choice for many families as red meat has become less popular in Britain. The Yorkshire Pudding is the pride and joy at these dinners and can now be bought frozen from the supermarket for those who are not so brave!
  2. Eton Mess
    As delightful as it sounds, this desert literally is a mess of cream and fruit! This traditional desert dates back to 1893 as a dish served at Eton College, a famous upper class college for boys in the South of England. Ask your teacher if they love this summer pudding or maybe they have a different favourite? If they are native, they must have eaten this every summer in England!
  3. Pie and Mash
    A staple plate in most households, ´Pie and Mash´ is a family favourite, especially with fussy children! Unlike the upper class merengue desert above, Pie and Mash started as a more working-class dish served in Central London. Originally they contained eels or fish!
  4. Bangers and Mash
    Similar to the Pie and Mash above, Bangers is a very colloquial British term for sausages! Using very thick, pork sausages covered in enough gravy to sink a boat! If you want to try this in Madrid, The James Joyce near Retiro offers a pretty ´bang on´version. (bang on = collaquial slang for éxact´)
  5. Full English Breakfast
    What is a visit to England without a good ´fry up´? Usually eaten in a small cafe affectionately called ´greasy spoons´ by locals due to the oil and fat used in the cooking process.
  6. Sticky Toffee Pudding
    This is definitely my mothers favourite, although you will certainly never find it in my lunch box at the academy! This is often served at weddings, parties or celebrations as a desert option.
  7. Afternoon Tea
    If you have been to England, you must have tried the Afternoon Tea. Made famous by Royalty as a snack between lunch and dinner, tiny ¨finger sandwiches¨ and cakes are the centre of the table with pots of tea in fine china crockery. Nowadays, this has grown in popularity for celebrations as opposed to a daily snack. We can tell our profesores are nativos because they can be found munching on cucumber sandwiches in between lessons!
  8. Fish & Chips
    Traditionally served in a paper packet in a seaside town, this Friday Favourite is enjoyed amongst many families in Britain, but what is better, mayonnaise or ketchup?  Here at La Elipa we vote mayonnaise with our chips, but our teachers in our sister academy at La Almudena on Calle Gandhi vote Ketchup!
  9. Beef Wellington
    This dish is traditionally made of beef, mushrooms and pâté, cooked in a pastry crust with a gravy encompassing a Madeira wine. A staple at the local pub, I haven´t seen any in La Elipa or around Ventas, but let us know if you find a version near our language academy for us to try!
  10. Spotted Dick
    Although not as common, most households have heard of this very British dish, even if they do not consume it often. Made from a flat sheet of pastry and dried fruit, it is rolled up before cooking which gives it the round appearance. If only we had a kitchen at The Language Corner…

Want to know more? We at The Language Corner would love to hear about your experiences  with British cuisine. Maybe you have a favourite we can add to the list!

Aptis Speaking Test Part 1 & 2

The Aptis by British Council is a relatively new exam but it is quickly gaining popularity among English language learners. This is due to it becoming more widely accepted both here in Spain and around the world, it being cheaper than other exams like Cambridge, and being able to get the results more quickly.

Knowing exactly what an exam entails is half the battle when preparing for it. Today we’re going to look at the Speaking exam. The entire exam is done on a computer, so for the speaking part, you have to record your answers within a given time limit. This means preparation is key. Knowing what to expect and being ready to show off your language skills will help achieve your goal.

Part One

In the first part, you have to answer questions about yourself. There are three questions and you must talk for thirty seconds for each question. Possible topics you could talk about include Family, Your Job, Hobbies and Interests, Future Plans, Films and Books, The Weather, Daily Routine etc. This means four or five clear sentences. If for example you are asked, “What’s the weather like today?” You might think it impossible to have your answer last a full thirty seconds. This is why it’s important to brainstorm things related to the weather. What do you like to do when it’s hot outside? What clothes are you wearing for the current season? Is it typical weather for this time of year? Is it unusually hot or cold? So a typical answer to “What’s the weather like today?” doesn’t have to be difficult to elaborate on. Instead of just replying “It’s cold but sunny” you can add “but this is normal for Madrid in winter. People usually wear hats, scarves, winter coats and boots to stay warm. A typical winter snack is roasted chestnuts which you can buy from street vendors.” Instead of talking solely about the weather, we can incorporate other related vocabulary like in this instance; clothes. But we could also talk about what people generally do in when the weather is hot/cold etc. The questions in part one of the Aptis lend themselves to elaboration. You should keep talking, adding relevant sentences until your time is up.

Part Two

In the second part of the Aptis speaking exam, you are given a picture which you have forty-five seconds to describe. You then have to answer to related questions with a limit of forty-five seconds for each.

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?

 

Describing a photo is a question that comes up in many exams. With this type of question, you should take as much time as possible to gather your thoughts. Then use all of the time given to talk about it.  Below are some useful phrases to describe the position of things within a picture.

When talking about what people are doing or wearing in a photo we must use the present continuous. Subject + is/are + verb in ING It is also important to speculate about what the subjects of the picture might be doing using expressions like:

It seems as if…

They might/may/could be …

It makes me think of …

I think …

Let’s try to answer the questions above. Remember you have 45 seconds for each answer which should be approximately 5 to 7 clear sentences.

  1. In this photo, I can see a group of people sitting around a table. In the background, there is a large window and the room is bright. There are posters on the wall behind them. They seem to be working on something together.  In the middle of the table, there is a model of something which they are pointing to and discussing. Maybe it’s a building. They might be doing a project together for a university class. Maybe they are engineering students and they are doing a project on town planning.
  2. When I was at university, I often had to give presentations with other students. We would be given a project to discuss and research and would have to present it together in front of the rest of our class. I enjoyed working with my classmates on these projects as it gave me a different perspective on the topic. However, I also got very nervous having to speak in front of so many people. I used to practise as much as I could beforehand to feel more relaxed about it.
  3. Teamwork is very important, not only in university but also in the working world. As I mentioned before, having more than one person working on a project allows for more input and different points of view to be considered. Being able to work in a team is beneficial as it reduces the workload for everyone involved and means projects can be finished more efficiently.

As you can see, each answer has clear, concise sentences. I hope this helps you in your preparation for Aptis or indeed any English exam in which you are asked to describe a picture. In the next part of this series, we will look at parts 3 and 4 of the Aptis speaking exam. Don’t forget to check back soon.

In our English academies in La Elipa and Garcia Noblejas, you can prepare for Aptis as well as the Cambridge First Certificate and Advanced.

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.

New French classes this June!

francesenmadridciudadlineal

This June in the language academy in San Blas/Ascao we are starting a new French class for beginners. As usual, this will be with one of our native teachers.

The class will start Wednedsay 15th june at 6.30pm.

Please call us now on 673340106 or 910014281, or visit us in the langauge academies on Calle Gandhi or in La Elipa.

We look forward to seeing you!

Christmas Gift Ideas pt. 3

eggsinbasket

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!

undertheweather

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.

Intensive English Classes in La Elipa in July

Brit flipflopsKeep up your English this summer with intensive classes at The Language Corner! As always all our classes are with native English teachers, who will correct your grammar and pronunciation mistakes. All while you improve your English speaking and listening through interesting conversation activities.

Intensive classes in July run from Monday to Thursday, and cost 44€/week. Save money when you book between two and four weeks of classes at the same time. 

10-11h Upper Intermediate Level
11-12h Children Fun Activities for 7-9years
17-18h Beginner Level
19-21h Intermediate Level

Contact us for information on other levels and ages.

The school in La Elipa is near to both La Elipa and El Carmen Metro stations, within walking distance from Avenida Marqués de Corbera, Avenida de Daroca and Calle de Alcalá. The number 28 bus that runs from Puerta de Alcalá to Canillejas stops 2 minutes from the academy.

Meet Sarah!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAName: Sarah

Where are you from? I’m originally from the North of England but I grew up in Scotland

How long have you been working at the Language Corner? About a year and a half. Before that I taught English in various companies around Madrid

What do you like most about teaching? It’s lovely to meet lots of different people from La Elipa and see the students improve

What hobbies or talents do you have? I like reading, watching films and photography

What kind of music do you like? I like pretty much all kinds of music, except for reggaeton!

What is your favourite movie? It’s difficult to say as I love all types of cinema, so I’m glad there are several cinemas that show films in English in Madrid

What book are you reading right now? Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Where is your favourite place in Madrid? El Retiro on a sunny day!

Tell me something interesting about yourself: I can do traditional Scottish dancing

Top tip for learning English: Make sure you practice listening to English as much as you can. There’s no better way to improve your listening than by listening!