On your next trip to London how would you react if someone asked you, “Do you want some Rosie Lee?” or said to you, “That’s a fine jam jar you´ve got there”, or someone else exclaimed, “They’re telling you pork pies!” These expressions contain examples of the famous Cockney Rhyming Slang. Read on to find out what these particular expressions really mean, but first you’ll need some background information.

Cockney Rhyming Slang’s Origins

Cockneys were originally working-class people from the East End of central London (from within the sound of Bow Church bells for the purists) with a culture and a way of speaking English all of their own. Since the mid-19th century they started introducing into their already distinct dialect the use of rhyming slang. Some say as a secretive code to evade police control or to dupe unwary clients in many of London’s street markets, but nobody really knows. There are few authentic cockneys left in the centre of London now. Many of them having migrated from their poorer origins, as their fortunes presumably prospered, to settle in regions surrounding London, like Essex; taking their distinct manner of speaking with them. In this way, as well as through a number of popular T.V. programmes (see Stepstoe & Son, Til Death Do Us Part, Minder or Eastenders for example) their rhyming slang has become quite widespread in the English language, being heard often today, not just in London and the surrounding areas.


More About The Lingo

In Cockney Rhyming Slang a pair of words are collocated such that the last word in the pair rhymes with another word actually being referred to. Let’s see this in practice using our previous quotes:

Rosie Lee = tea                Do you want some Rosie Lee* (tea)?                       ¿Quieres algo de té?

jam jar = car                    That’s a nice jam jar (car) you’ve got there.          Ese es un bonito coche que tienes ahí.

pork(y) pies = lies           They’re telling you pork pies (lies)!                       ¡Te están contando mentiras!

*Rosie Lee was a popular 1920´s exotic dancer

To further confound the general public, cockney speakers will tend to drop the second, rhyming word in the pair. So, it’s quite common to hear, “Would you like some Rosie?” or perhaps, “You’re telling me porkies!”.

Try translating the following cockney phrases still in common use today (the answers are at the end):

How are you, my old china?

There’s something in your barnet.

Can you lend me some bread?

Take a butcher´s at that!

Try using your loaf!

I don’t Adam & Eve it!

We haven’t seen you in donkey´s.

Do you fancy a Ruby?

Modern Developments

In modern times new rhyming slang expressions have been composed, tending to focus mainly on the names of famous people, known in the U.K. or internationally. This shows that this cultural phenomenon isn’t ready to disappear just yet. Look at some examples below:

Ayrton Senna = tenner (£10 pounds)                      The famous 1970’s Brazilian Formula 1 driver.

Lee Marvin = starvin´                                                 The very popular U.S 1960´s actor.

Britney Spears = beers                                                The famous U.S girl pop-singer.

Pete Tong = wrong                                                       A popular U.K rave D.J.

Calvin Klein = wine                                                      The well-known clothes designer.

So, are you ready to rabbit like a cockney?             rabbit & pork = talk   (in English pork & talk sound the same)

You can find lots more cockney expressions at www.cockneyrhymingslang.co.uk

china plate = mate ( friend)

Barnet Fair = hair

bread & honey = money

butcher´s hook = look

loaf of bread = head

Adam & Eve = believe

donkey´s ears = years

Ruby Murray = curry  (a popular Irish singer in the 1950’s)

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.


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


  • 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.



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.




Conditionals are of the most common structures used in English or most languages. They are simple to use, and in addition they are exactly the same in usage and meaning to the Spanish equivalents. But they are also much more flexible than the basic grammar suggests.

If you are going to take the FCE or the CAE, then conditionals are a must. You should use them in both the writing and speaking tasks, and you will also see them in the universally dreaded Use of English paper 4. So here are some tips on how to make them even better and get you points in the exam.


Modal verbs – All of the usual 3 types of conditional have the auxiliaries will or would. These can be easily change for other auxiliaries, modal auxiliaries.


1st Conditional

If it’s sunny tomorrow, we can go to the beach.

If he arrives on time, we might get to see the start of the film.

If you can’t stop, you should at least cut down.

If you must watch it, you could turn down the volume


2nd conditional

If I won the lottery I could travel around the world.

If I had a better job, I may be able to afford a car.


3rd Conditional

If I had seen him, I might have told him.

If you had known, you should have warned him.


Mixed Conditionals – Another way to make your conditional more sophisticated is to use mixed conditionals. These are generally a mixture of the second and third conditional.


If I hadn’t seen it, we wouldn’t be here now.

If they had won, we would have the trophy.

If you had brought your coat, you wouldn’t be freezing now.




If the team wasn’t winning, we would have been relegated.

If I had a bigger house, everyone could have stayed.

If I didn’t have to work this week, I could have gone to concert.


Unless  – Also you should never forget unless. Unless means IF NOT. So if you are writing a conditional and the first part is negative than you can easily change it to unless, not forgetting to make any other necessary changes.


In conclusion if you use these structures in the official exams they will give you the needed sophistication to score higher marks than with the more normal conditionals.

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.


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.



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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As an examiner for Cambridge I have seen candidates make the same mistakes over and over again on the First Certificate Exam (FCE).  I’d like to talk a little about the most common mistakes so that when you sit down to your exam you get the best mark possible without making silly logistical mistakes.  Let take a look at each paper one at a time:

Young Woman Taking School TestPaper 1 – Use of English and Reading.

This FCE paper is without a doubt the most difficult one to manage.  The changes to the exam (2015) have made the paper shorter both in the number of questions and in the time given to finish it and this has caused a lot of time management problems.  Basically, candidates sometimes run out of time before they can finish.   This leads to lower marks but NOT because of a lack of knowledge.  So some tips:


  1. Start with the reading parts of the paper (parts 5, 6 and 7).  They take longer and are more difficult to answer because you have to find the answer, it doesn’t just come from your head.  This will help you control the clock later.
  2. Control the time for each reading part.  Each reading part should take 12-13 minutes to finish.  15 minutes maximum.  If you take longer, you might run out of time later.  HINT: If you are taking longer, it means you are reading for too much detail.  You aren’t supposed to understand every word.  JUST ANSWER THE QUESTION.Test Taking
  3. Move on to Use of English parts 1-4.  Each one should take about 7-8 minutes.  Some will be quicker and others longer so a total of 28-32 minutes for the Use of English is good.
  4. If you finish early, you have the opportunity to leave early.  DON’T.  Check your answers.  Read things again.  99% of the candidates haven’t answered everything correctly so recheck and maybe you will find a silly mistake.
  5. Don’t leave any answers blank on the answer sheet.  No answer is a wrong answer.  If you’re not sure, guess.  And that’s why doing the Use of English after the Reading is better.  You can guess faster and better on UofE questions than going through a long text.
  6. When you hear the 5 minute warning, start writing your answers on the answer sheet.  I have seen candidates with all of the answers done but who didn’t have time to put them on the answer sheet.  These are all wrong!  That’s a shame.

Paper 2 – Writing

This paper has changed as well in 2015 and your teacher should inform you about it.  But let’s look at a few tips to help you:

  1. The most important thing to remember in part 1 (Essay) is to make sure you have included all of the information.  That means the two ideas they gave you and one of your own ideas.
  2. Structure is very important.  You should be writing 4-5 short paragraphs to keep it simple: 1-Intro, 2- point 1, 3- point 2, 4- point 3 (your point), 5- conclusion
  3. Try to keep each paragraph to 30-40 words or 5-7 sentences.  REMEMBER: Put a blank line between paragraphs or use indents to make the beginning of the paragraphs clear to the reader.
  4. Use linkers and connectors to help the writing flow.
  5. Control your time.  You have 40 minutes for each writing assignment.  This gives you a lot of time to get your ideas on paper, write a first draft, then your final draft on your answer sheet.  You shouldn’t cross out or make changes on your answer sheet.  You cannot use pencil or correction fluid on the answer sheet.  DO A FIRST DRAFT.

Paper 3 – Listening

This paper is the least complicated on the FCE because it starts and finishes in a controlled time.  You have 5 minutes to write your answers on the answer sheet after hearing everything and that is more than enough time.  But there are few tips I can give you:

  1. You will hear everything twice.  So get a GENERAL IDEA the first time and your FINAL ANSWER the second time.
  2. After you have written your final answer FORGET ABOUT IT.  You will NEVER hear that question again in your life so now it’s important to concentrate on the next question.
  3. Make sure you have an answer for everything.  No answer is a wrong answer.

Paper 4 – Speaking

I will write another blog entry about speaking exam tips soon.


I hope these tips will help you on exam day and at least stop you from losing points for logistical reasons.  It’s not good to lose points that don’t reflect your knowledge of English.  Do some mock First Certificate exams with a watch next to you to get a better idea of the timing.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

If you have questions or would like help preparing the First Certificate Exam, please send us an email or call us.

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