When people ask me how they can improve their English, especially their listening, I am surprised by the question. Twenty years ago you would have to buy the listening material, on CD or cassette, but a lot has changed since then.

Firstly most TV’s now have a dual option, this means you can see a film or a series in the original language.

In addition you (obviously!) have the Internet. The obvious place to start is Youtube. Here you can find videos on almost any subject and with subtitles. But with a bit of searching other channels can be found that can be just as useful, for instance TED. Here you will find videos on every type of academic topic given by people at the forefront of their field.

Here is an example of one on creativity, which everyone should watch, regardless of their language. There are subtitle for lower levels.

https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity

To improve your readings there is even more material online. Newspapers and articles on everything imaginable.

Tips

  • Short and Continuous

It is not recommendable to try and watch films or long programmes if you have a low level. If you try to watch Lord Of The Rings you will probably get very frustrated and demotivated. It’s too long for lower levels. So try to watch shorter programmes. A series like the very popular The Big Bang Theory lasts about twenty minutes, this is far more digestible. If it is a reading you want, choose a short article. You tube videos can be five minutes, very manageable.

However try to make your use of these things continuous, for example twenty minutes every day is better than three hours on Saturday morning.

  • Fun

Whatever you read or watch, try to choose something you have an interest in or enjoy. You are far more likely to keep on watching or reading.

  • Work It

As you are watching or reading note down vocab or structures that you did not know or find interesting and then study it. This means you will take advantage of your time and get clear and defined benefits. Try using Spanish subtitles if you have a low level. Then as you get better switch to English subtitles.

In conclusion use the English that surrounds you all the time to your benefit.

There comes a point in English language learning that you run into the confusing world of gerunds and infinitives. When you put 2 verbs together the second verb will be in the infinitive or in the gerund.

I want to play football.                         I enjoy playing football.

How can I know in which form to put the verb in? Well….. that depends on the first verb. “Want” needs you to put the second verb in the infinitive and “enjoy” needs the gerund.

Does this mean that I have to learn each verb individually? Thankfully no. The vast majority require the infinite, therefore you only need to learn the verbs that use the gerund. So here is a list of common verbs that use the gerund.

 

VERBS WITH GERUNDS

Like Finish Look forward to Insist/depend on
Appreciate Admit Can’t stand Be worth
Avoid Can’t help Consider Get used to/Be used to
Deny Enjoy Delay Give up
Forgive Imagine Involve Feel like
Keep Mind Miss Loathe
Postpone Put off Prevent Detest
Report Resist Risk Fancy
Suggest Hate/Love Object to Adore

 

Finally there is also a rule that is important to remember, you use the gerund form after all prepositions except “to”.

 

I forgave him for not calling

I am interested in working here.

She is afraid of driving at night.

 

EXCEPTIONS TO THIS RULE LOOK FORWARD TO/OBJECT TO/BE USED TO/GET USED TO BECAUSE THE PREPOSITION IS PART OF THE VERB

 

A principio de cada curso escolar muchos padres dudan si deberían apuntar a sus hijos en algún tipo de actividad extraescolar, o qué actividad es la más adecuada para ellos. Las actividades extraescolares suponen un pequeño esfuerzo económico para las familias y una inversión de tiempo y esfuerzo, tanto físico como intelectual, de los alumnos. Existe una amplia oferta de actividades extraescolares de diferentes tipos; idiomas, deportivas, académicas, artísticas, nuevas tecnologías, etc. Todas ellas adaptadas a las necesidades de la sociedad actual.

Para responder a la cuestión planteada en el presente artículo, nos basaremos en diferentes estudios relacionados con el efecto que tienen las actividades extraescolares sobre al rendimiento escolar. El estudio realizado por Clandellas y clos (2013) muestra que, en un grupo de alumnos de primaria, presentan mejores calificaciones los alumnos que llevan a cabo alguna actividad extraescolar respecto a aquellos que no realizan ninguna, destacando que los alumnos que realizan actividades deportivas muestran  calificaciones más altas.

Los mismos resultados obtuvo el estudio realizado por Capdevila y cols (2014), el cual indica que existe una correlación positiva entre la práctica de actividad deportiva y el rendimiento académico de los alumnos. Se ha demostrado que las actividades deportivas en alumnos tienen un efecto muy positivo en el desarrollo tanto físico como intelectual de los alumnos, siempre que se realicen fuera de un nivel de exigencia demasiado alto.

Los efectos positivos de las actividades extraescolares no son exclusivamente a nivel académico. Estas actividades cumplen un papel importante a nivel social, ya que favorece las interacciones sociales entre el alumnado, desarrollando sus habilidades sociales y alejándolos de un sedentarismo o inactividad que podría tener efectos negativos a largo plazo.

En conclusión, las actividades extraescolares son un recurso muy útil que en términos generales, favorecen el desarrollo cognitivo, físico y social de los alumnos Siempre que se lleven a cabo dentro de un horario y nivel de exigencia adecuado.

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Every English teachers has used music in class, but generally after the first few years of primary school, listenings tend to change to the more conversation orientated listenings. So for adults we never tend to see music as a way of language learning. This is a pity, as everyone likes music and it still can be a productive way of improving as the melodies usually ingrain the words quicker and more permanently than just basic repetition.

First for A2/B1 students, I would suggest someone like Frank Sinatra. He is very clear in his diction, and the song writing uses English correctly, unlike some more modern styles. A song like the one below can help your speaking, pronunciation and it uses common English words, “get along with”, modal verbs- should, gerunds after prepositions – thrill of being, expressions – break my heart in two, and the ubiquitous “I do”.

I Get Along Without You Very Well – Frank Sinatra

I get along without you very well

Of course I do

Except when soft rains fall

And drip from leaves, then I recall

The thrill of being sheltered in your arms

Of course, I do

But I get along without you very well

 

I’ve forgotten you just like I should

Of course I have

Except to hear your name

Or someone’s laugh that is the same

But I’ve forgotten you just like I should

 

What a guy, what a fool am I

To think my breaking heart could kid the moon

What’s in store? should I phone once more?

No, it’s best that I stick to my tune

 

I get along without you very well

Of course I do

Except perhaps in spring

But I should never think of spring

For that would surely break my heart in two

 

For higher levels B2/C1, Bob Dylan can be great for vocabulary, his singing is sometimes unclear, but with the lyrics we can find some great vocab e.g:

Chimes of Freedom

Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll

We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing

As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds

 

Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream

I think I’ll call it America. I said as we hit land.

I took a deep breath. I fell down, I could not stand.

Captain Arab he starting writing out some deeds

He said let’s build us a fort and start buying the place with beads.

Just then a cop come down the street crazy as a loon

They throws us all in jail for carryin’ harpoons

 

When the Ship Comes In

Oh the seas will split

And the ship will hit

And the sands on the shoreline will be shaking.

Then the tide will sound

And the wind will pound

And the morning will be breaking.

 

Of course everyone has different tastes in music. You may not like the above artists. However, whatever your preference you will be able to find the lyrics to practically any song. Furthermore, in this day and age you will probably find most songs on youtube with the lyrics or even in a karaoke style, where you can sing to your heart’s desire.

 

So in conclusion, if you are a teacher, never forget the value of music for adults, and if you are studying English, then listening (and reading the lyrics) to songs can improve your pronunciation, vocab, and understanding in a fun way. Better than doing a gap fill.

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Este año hay más alumnos que necesiten demostrar su nivel de inglés, bien para la universidad, para estudiar en el extranjero, trabajar en una empresa internacional o buscar trabajo en el extranjero.  Hoy en día no se puede negar que el inglés es una necesidad para todo aquel que pretenda ser un ciudadano del mundo.

Por eso educamos a nuestros alumnos en que el inglés no sea un idioma sino una manera de acceder al mundo.  Ayuda cuando una está estudiando, investigando cosas por internet, viajando en cualquier país del mundo o simplemente haciendo amigos internacionales.

Actualmente, ofrecemos preparación para los exámenes de Cambridge para ayudar a los alumno a satisfacer los requisitos universitarios.

Sin embargo, hay otra posibilidad: Los exámenes TOEFL y TOEIC.  Tienen muchas ventajas, pero vamos a ver a sólo 3 de ellas:

  1. Estos exámenes no son de sólo un nivel, ni se pueden “suspender”

Todo el mundo hace un esfuerzo tremendo para preparar los exámenes de inglés y no deberían ser “castigados” si no aprueban.  Hemos visto alumnos que no han obtenido un título de B2 por un solo punto y se han quedado sin nada que les pueda ayudar, ni justificar el esfuerzo hecho.  Eso no ocurre con el TOEFL ni el TOEIC.  Cuando haces estos exámenes estás demostrando el nivel que tienes en una escala y esa escala refleja tu nivel de inglés.  Hay sólo UN examen para todo el mundo con preguntas que se van complicando a lo largo de la prueba.  Cuando llegas a las preguntas demasiadas difíciles o te cuesta demasiado tiempo completar una parte, significa que has encontrado tu nivel y eso se refleja en la puntuación.

Siempre tendrás una cualificación después de hacer el examen.

  1. El precio

 Los precios de TOEFL y TOEIC son inferiores a otros exámenes.  Esto permite poder hacer más exámenes si uno quiere para ver su progreso, ya que no hay que esperar hasta que se consolide un nivel en concreto.  No hay miedo a “suspender” y perder el dinero.  Se puede ver el progreso real sin gastar demasiado.

  1. Más fechas para examinarse

Hay pruebas todos los meses incluso dos al mes.  Esto permite que el alumno pueda hacer el examen cuando quiera o necesita.  No hace falta esperar meses hasta que hay una convocatoria y luego meses para recibir los resultados.  De hecho, se puede recibir los resultados en una semana si hace falta.

Los exámenes de Cambridge tienen sus ventajas para quien los necesite, obviamente, pero seamos claros, no son los únicos en el mundo que van a satisfacer las necesidades de la gente que necesita una cualificación en inglés.  Ven a visitarnos o llámanos y te aconsejaremos sobre el mejor examen para ti y tus necesidades.

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Common mistakes…

Remember vs. Remind

Let’s start with REMEMBER.  REMEMBER has several meanings but we’ll concentrate on the two most common uses: 1) to have in your mind or be able to bring into your mind someone or something from the past and 2) to keep something important in mind (not forget it).

According to the first definition then: I remember her from the other night.  Do you remember me?  He remembers going to church when he was a boy.  All these sentences demonstrate that REMEMBER is bringing someone or something into the mind, whether it be a girl you met at the bar the night, a friend you haven’t seen in a long time or an even that happened when you were a child.  We are thinking about a memory that we have somewhere in our head.  Notice here that for this meaning if we use a verb after REMEMBER it must be the gerund form as we heard in the previous example: He remembers going to church when he was a boy.

According to the second definition then: Remember to pick up some milk before you come home.  I must remember his birthday this year.  She didn’t remember to go to the store after work.  These sentences demonstrate that REMEMBER is not forgetting.  Don’t forget to pick up the milk.  I mustn’t forget his birthday.  She forgot to go to the store.  Notice that for this meaning if we use a verb after REMEMBER it must be in the infinitive form as we hear in the previous example: She didn’t remember to go to the store.

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Now, let’s look at REMIND in two uses: 1) REMIND and 2) REMIND OF

1) REMIND is defined as helping someone to remember something.  Unlike with REMEMBER, REMIND must always be followed by an object in order to satisfy the first definition.  Someone has to receive the help to remember being offered. 

He reminded me to get money out of the bank.  I will remind you tomorrow about what you have to pack for the trip.  Can you remind him that we are leaving the party in 10 minutes?  These examples clearly demonstrate that the subject of the sentences is helping the object remember something or to do something.  I have to get money out of the bank and he helped me remember that.  Tomorrow I will help you remember what to pack.  I think he needs help to remember that we are leaving shortly.  Notice that after the object, if we want to use a verb it must be in the infinitive form as we saw in the example: He reminded me to get money.

2) REMIND OF is when something causes someone to think of something because of a resemblance or similarity.   Again the verb must be followed by the direct object and therefore goes between REMIND and OF. 

He reminds me of my brother.  The smell of fresh flowers reminded him of his holiday in Paris.  Did that song remind you of anything?  These sentences are claiming that something helps us remember something or someone we have memories of or have experienced because of their similarity or relation.  That man tells the same jokes as my brother.  The last time I smelled this flower I was in Paris.  This song was playing the first time we kissed.

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Now that I have explained the difference between REMEMBER and REMIND I am going to give you a little exercise.  Rewrite these sentences using either REMEMBER or REMIND.

Here are your 6 sentences:

Eating prawns makes me think of Christmas eve in Valencia.

The Valencia football club has forgotten how to defend.

If you don’t forget get a pizza before you come home.  I’ll call you later to help you not forget.

He looks really familiar to me but I don’t know why.

You will never forget the first apartment you lived in after moving away from home.

I’m sorry, I don’t remember. (in this sentences you must use remind).

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