Schwa schwa schwa

English pronunciation can lead us a merry dance and the schwa sound (or non-sound) is something that can be perplexing for students in whose language it does not exist.  It should not, however, be feared and I have never met anyone incapable of producing it.

Check out the link to Russian Red’s version of the Cyndi Lauper classic Girls just wanna have fun.  When I first heard her sing Cigarettes I thought she was Scottish or Irish because of the Celtic lilt to her voice, but with a name like Lourdes Hernández that’s unlikely, isn’t it?!

 

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A friend in need is a friend indeed

Indeed is indeed one of those words that can be awkward to use as it has various meanings and it prances about your sentence depending on its meaning in the context you give it.  The Cambridge Dictionary provides you with the various meanings, examples, synonyms and translations.  What more could you ask for?

Well besides that, we have the word besides, which can again be a tricky word to use.  Sometimes students tend to use this word too early on levelwise when our trusty friend also would be more natural.  However, at B2 and C1 besides can be a useful word to master to give more variety and style to your expression. Over at Collins you will find definitions and real life examples from written texts.  You will also find a graph showing that its use is declining, so like I said before, it’s definitely a good one to have in your repetoire, but don’t rely too heavily on it.

And finally, word formation: FRIEND

New Year’s Resolutions: a conversation lesson for adults.

I really liked this lesson on New Year’s resolutions for the nice vocabulary in the article, which in itself was interesting.

ricardo barros elt

I started teaching again this week (on top of working on the Celta course) and at this time of year I like working with New Year’s resolution. That’s a way of using the chit chat we usually have in the first day and turning it into a proper lesson.

This is a lesson  aimed at adult students, but it could easily be adapted for adolescent ones, particularly because of the video at the end.

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Have yourself a musical little Christmas!

Cheesy Christmas tunes are definitely one of my guilty pleasures.  I totally love them provided that they are only played in December.  It is December and Big J’s birthday is fast-approaching so here are some current (ish) covers of some of my favourite festive songs thanks to Radio One’s Live Lounge.

Bombay Bicycle Club’s version of my favourite Christmas carol is awesome.  In the Bleak Midwinter gets me every time.  It makes me emotional (if I were trendy I would say ‘totes emosh’) and it makes you think about the true spirit of Christmas.  Love it.

London Grammar’s version of White Chistmas is not my favourite if I’m honest, but with that band name, they had to get a mention.

Ed Sheeran’s Fairytale of New York  pales in comparison to the original by The Pogues, but it is Chistmas and who doesn’t love a bit of Ed Sheeran?

Last, but by no means least, we have Rita Ora singing Wham’s Last Christmas. I really like the funked up vibe it has and I will never tire of hearing this ultimate cheesy tune.  I am also in awe of her eyeliner wings and the t-shirt homage to Sir George Michael is a nice touch.

 

 

Sweet sorrow

I have been indulging in HBO series of late, namely The Handmaid’s Tale and Big Little Lies.  The former piqued my interest as it is based on a book written by Margaret Atwood that I studied at high school.  The cast of the latter drew me in and the soundtrack is seriously addictive.

Both series are extremely hard-hitting and difficult to watch at times, but well worth it.  The Handmaid’s Tale, with its dystopian vision of the future, juxtaposes elements of the future with outdated ideas taken to the extreme.  Big Little Lies contrasts the public and the private, perception versus portrayal.  The title itself is a contrast; an oxymoron. There are numerous oxymorons that have made it into common language and we don’t even realise.  There is a really good list here.

Mad as a March hare

Yesterday’s CAE class had an activity involving a borderline psycopathic boss.  They completed the activity fabulously as always, but what became evident was a lack of vocabulary to describe this delightful boss character.  English has a wealth of descriptive language for this so let’s crack on with some.

In the title you have the similie to be as mad as a March hare.  March is mating season for hares so they get a little bit more excited than usual.  Have you read or seen Alice in Wonderland?  Notice the hare is a little odd?  Well that’s why.  This story also gives us the similie as mad as a hatter.  The hatter is totally bonkers, nutty, nuts, a nutter, a nut job, crazy, cuckoo, loopy, a fruit loop, a fruit cake… and the list goes on. Continue reading