A sheer pleasure to have YOU as a reader of my blog. At present my main teaching area is English so you will find that most of my posts are in English -my second language of communication. I promise to publish posts related to Spanish eventually; in the meantime, those of you interested in Spanish will find some interesting links regarding my native language. Truly hope you will visit my blog now and then; will try not to disappoint you!


Mi foto
GÄVLE, Sweden
I am an English/Spanish language trainer who thinks communication is a key issue in human interaction. Good sensible communication is needed whatever the language. On the personal side I strive for happiness by keeping love, respect and honesty as main ingredients. Last but not least, my smile is my trademark :O)

19 de septiembre de 2009

APRENDIENDO ESPAÑOL (1): Artículos (Articles)

Artículos indefinidos (indefinite articles)

un (masculine, singular) a/an unos (masculine, plural) some as equivalent
una (femenine, singular) a/an unas (feminine, plural) some as equivalent

We use the indefinite article to refer to a person or an object for the first time:

Es una casa. It’s a house.
Son unos libros de inglés. They’re some English books.
Un hombre vino a verte ayer. A man came to see you yesterday.

In English the indefinite article has only a singular form a (an when the next word starts with a vowel sound –note: vowel sound not vowel letter). We use either zero article or the determiner some (if we want to express indefinite quantity) when referring to either uncountable nouns or plural countable nouns. In Spanish we have a plural form of the indefinite article: unos/unas, which is used with plural countable nouns but we do not have an equivalent to some for uncountable nouns.

Son (unos) libros para el colegio. They’re some books for the school.
Hay leche en el frigorífico. There’s (some) milk in the fridge.
Hay (unos) huevos en el armario. There are some eggs in the cupboard.

Artículos definidos (definite articles)

el (masculine, singular) the los (masculine, plural) the
la (feminine, singular) the las (feminine, plural) the

We use the definite article to refer to someone or something that has been previously mentioned or it refers to a defined one:

Es un libro de español. Es el libro del alumno. It's a book of Spanish. It's the pupil's book.
El profesor no está en la clase. The teacher is not in the classroom.

The use of los, las when referring to things or people in general has the equivalent of zero article in English. Thus,

Me gustan las manzanas. I like apples.
Los elefantes son animales muy grandes.
Elephants are very big animals.


Contracciones: A + EL = AL

The preposition A (to as its equivalent) and the article EL are contracted as AL:

Vayamos al supermercado. Let's go to the supermarket.
Vayamos a la playa. Let's go to the beach.

The preposition DE (of/from as its equivalent) and the article EL are contracted as DEL:

Es del norte. He's from the north.
Es el perro del vecino. It's the neighbour's dog.

APRENDIENDO ESPAÑOL (1): Sustantivos o nombres (nouns)

Nouns in Spanish can be masculine or feminine and there is no fixed rule to know whether they are one or the other; unlike English in which nouns referring to male are he, nouns referring to female are she, and things and animals are considered neuter, it.

Therefore, un libro (a book) is masculine and una mesa (a table) is feminine.

In principle, all nouns ending in –o are masculine and all nouns ending in –a are feminine:

el libro (the book)
la casa (the house)
un abogado (a lawyer)

una abogada (a lawyer)

Unfortunately, the rule does not always apply, so:

un sofa (a sofa)

una mano (a hand)

Uncountable nouns starting with a- are made masculine, mainly because of pronunciation reasons:

el arroz (rice)
el aceite (oil)
el agua (water)

Nouns ending in –e and in consonant can be either masculine or feminine, or even both:

el coche (the car)

la leche (the milk)
el camión (the lorry)
la pared (the wall)
el/la cantante (the singer)

Nouns ending in –ista are both masculine and feminine:

el/la artista (the artist)
el/la periodista (the journalist)

So the student needs to learn this by heart and it is advisable to check the gender when we learn new nouns.

13 de septiembre de 2009

APRENDIENDO ESPAÑOL (1): Presente simple del verbo SER. Preguntar y negar.

Presente simple del verbo SER (verb to be, present simple tense)

Yo soy = I am
eres = You are
Él es =
He is
Ella es = She is
*Ello es =
It is
Usted es = You are (formal, addressing one person)

Nosotros, nosotras somos = We are
Vosotros, vosotras sois = You are
Ellos, ellas son = They are
Ustedes son = You are (formal, addressing more than one person)

Pronombres sujeto (Subject pronouns):

>> Subject pronouns are not obligatory when using a verb form. The ending of the verb form tells us what person we are talking about.

>> The subject pronoun forms of the second person are different as singular and vosotros, vosotras as plural.

>> When we address someone formally we use usted (singular) and ustedes (plural) but the verb form is that of the third person singular (es) or plural (son), respectively.

>> The subject pronoun ello corresponds to a neuter form but we hardly use it in Spanish together with the verb form.

>> The subject pronouns and él are written with a graphic accent (acento) so that we distinguish them from tu casa (possessive adjective) and el libro (definite article).

Usos del verbo SER (uses of the verb to be).

The verb BE has two different meanings in Spanish: ser o estar, which consequently complicates its learning by any Anglo-Saxon student. It is an irregular verb and as the verb ser it is used:

-> To identify yourself or other people:

Soy Begoña. I’m Begoña.
Él es Juan. He’s Juan.
Ustedes son los nuevos inquilinos.
You are the new tenants.

-> To say your occupation (no use of “a/an” in Spanish):

Soy profesora de inglés. I’m an English teacher.
Juan es mecánico.
John is a mechanic.

-> To say what it is or to talk about something or someone for the first time; we use the indefinite article –un, una, (a/an) unos, unas (which corresponds to the indefinite form some in English):

Es un libro. It is a book.
Son unos estudiantes muy buenos.
They are very good students.
Son unos zapatos para María.
They are some shoes for María.
Es una carta para Juan.
It is a letter for John.

-> To describe something or someone by using adjectives to give information about the subject:

Es blanco y muy grande. It’s white and very big.
Somos grandes amigos. We are great friends.
Son holandeses.
They are Dutch.
Es de madera.
It’s made of wood.
Es tarde. It’s late.
Estos estudiantes son muy altos.
These students are very tall.

-> To give more specific information about a subject, which or who has already been mentioned:

Es el libro de matemáticas. It’s the maths book.
Son unos zapatos; son los zapatos de María. They're some shoes; they're María’s shoes.
¿Qué es esto? Es el vestido para la boda. ¿Qué es esto? It’s the wedding dress.
Somos los padres de David.
We are David’s parents.
¿Es usted el nuevo profesor? Are you the new teacher?

→ Hacer preguntas en español (making questions in Spanish).

In Spanish we must write an opening question mark (¿) at the beginning of the question so as to indicate that we are making a question. This is mainly because there are no markers to show that what comes next is a question as we do in English by using auxiliaries –do, does, did-, or inverting subject and verb when using auxiliaries be and have.

¿Eres español? Are you Spanish?
¿Vienes conmigo? Are you coming with me?
¿Qué hora es? What time is it?
¿Cómo estás? ¿Qué tal? How are you?
¿Cuánto cuesta? How much does it cost?

The intonation of questions is the same as in English. We make a rising intonation for questions in which we want to confirm information, i.e. the answer will be or No; but we make a falling intonation for questions in which we are requesting information, i.e. starting with a wh-pronoun.

The wh-pronouns
(los pronombres interrogativos) in Spanish are:

¿Qué? What?
¿Quién? ¿Quiénes? Who? (singular and plural)
¿Dónde? Where?
¿Cuándo? When?
¿Cómo? How?
¿Por qué? Why? (*no interrogative Because… Porque…)
¿Cuánto, cuánta?
How much?
¿Cuántos, cuántas? How many?
¿De quién? Whose?

Notice that as interrogative pronouns they have a graphic accent; this is done to distinguish them from functioning as relative pronouns.

→ Hacer respuestas negativas o negar el verbo (making negative answers).

In Spanish we make the negative form of verbs by simply placing the negation no before the verb:

Él no es español. He isn’t Spanish.
No vamos a trabajar en coche. We don’t go to work by car.
No tienen coche. They don’t have a car.

7 de julio de 2009

Resuming blogging: ME & time ;O)

Hi, everyone!

It's a month since my last entry on my blog, and though blogging shouldn't feel like an obligatory task or a duty, I believe that once I've decided to engage myself in this blogging adventure I should be consistent with it whatsoever. I also feel I have silently undertook a commitment with my present readers as well as any potential or future readers. It goes without saying that I truly appreciate the interest they have shown in my blog, which, of course, makes the adventure of writing a more engaging and rewarding task.

One of the secondary reasons for me to start blogging was the fact that I was out of work and, consequently, with lots of "free" time ahead of me. But, let's rephrase this last sentence: being out of work allowed me to have more free time to do things I seemed not to have time for when working full time. (Wow, what a tricky word "time" is, I've just managed to use it three "times" in one sentence!!!)

ME and this precious word "time" ;O) A sly smile just gets drawn on my face when I think of it, as I have a peculiar way of perceiving the concept of time in my life. Time is not simply a measurable concept; a very needed one in our lives, but can also be a damning one. I wonder how often the word "time" crops up in our discourse. I don't know about you, but it surely comes to my mind or sneaks in my discourse more than it should. One friend of mine once said I was very ambitious with time, and I feel he managed to define me quite well. There are so many things in life that lure my interest that I have reached a point in which I need to be more realistic and disciplined when it comes to engaging myself in present or new activites.

At present, I'm back teaching a full-time course of English for Information Technology experts. This in part explains why I've been so neglectful with my blog. I have been giving it quite a lot of thought lately and have decided to gear my blog to my working needs. So, I intend to write about grammar points that can be useful not only to my present students but anyone else who happens to read my blog.

Well, yes, I take your point: "What's the point of writing about grammar and giving more grammar explanations?!" Surely, there is plenty of this on the Internet already. I myself have listed some websites I have found of interest for this purpose. My intention has a two-fold aim. I intend to write about grammar points but contrasting both languages: English and Spanish. Hopefully, this way I can engage the interest of both native speakers of any language learning Spanish and native Spanish speakers learning English.

So, keep visiting my blog, and see if you think this new stage is worth a reading: I TRULY HOPE SO!


7 de junio de 2009

Listening activities for all levels

I've added a new website in the USEFUL LINKS list for all those who are interested in doing activities to improve their listening skills:


The activities cater for all levels ranked as EASY / MEDIUM / DIFFICULT / VERY DIFFICULT so it makes it easy for the student to know where to start or which listening to pick. Besides, they are sorted out in different headings:
  • General Listening Quizzes (the longest list)
  • Basic Listening Quizzes
  • Listening Quizzes For Academic Purposes
  • 20-minute ESL Vocabulary Lessons
  • Language Learning and Life Tips
  • Long Conversations with RealVideo

The multiple-choice exercises designed for listening comprehension are user-friendly and dynamic with immediate feedback to check your performance. You can also read the script of the listening activity for further study.

5 de junio de 2009

The well-worn "brotes verdes" phrase in Spanish politics

I don't know about you but I'm getting sick and tired of the latest linguistic coinage in the Spanish discourse of politicians, political analysts and journalists in general these days. The well-worn phrase: brotes verdes can be heard or read almost anywhere, to the extent that it's becoming a cliché or a source of mockery depending on who words the phrase.

I've just googled the Spanish phrase now and I've been given 1,560,000 results, so the figure just speaks by itself.

I was chatting via twitter with Juanma Roca (please click on http://www.elreinodelahumildad.com/ if you want to know more about him and his latest book) and asked him if he knew the original English phrase, as I had already tried the literal translation from Spanish and it didn't match. I did my own research on the Internet and, bingo!!!

The English phrase is green shoots and it was Ben Bernake who used this term some time at the beginning of April. I got this info via Paul Krugman as he has a post in his blog dated, April, 16th commenting on B. Bernake's words at the time. Click on: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/17/opinion/17krugman.html?_r=1 if you are interested in reading more about it. You can also further your interest by clicking on:

Furthermore, you will be able to listen to the direct source here:

Since I wondered if it was really B Bernake who firstly coined the phrase "green shoots", I went on with my net research and AskOxford.com supplies the precise information on http://www.askoxford.com/quotations/393?view=uk

The green shoots of economic spring are appearing once again. Norman Lamont 1942- : speech at Conservative Party Conference, 9 October 1991; often quoted 'the green shoots of recovery'

So it was politician Norman Lamont who coined the phrase in 1942:

Asked at his first appearance as chancellor at the Treasury Select Committee whether he agreed with his predecessor's view on the depth and duration of the recession and not wishing to contradict Major, Lamont replied that "there are reasons why one could believe that it will be relatively short-lived and relatively shallow."[11] In October 1991, based on CBI and Institute of Directors business surveys, said "what we are seeing is the return of that vital ingredient - confidence. The green shoots of economic spring are appearing once again."[12] Early in 1992 one of the Sunday newspapers ran a "Green Shoots Index" of signs of recovery, only to have to drop it when few such signs could be found. However Gavyn Davies, then chief economist at Goldman Sachs, wrote in a newspaper article at the time of Lamont's removal from the Treasury that the "green shoots" speech had turned out to be "remarkably prescient. From that moment onwards, output stopped declining, and within a few months, it started to rise.[13] Estimates of Gross Domestic Product show the trough of the recession occurring in the fourth quarter of 1991, with sustained growth resuming in the third quarter of 1992, when GDP grew 0.4% compared to the second quarter.[14]

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Lamont

2 de junio de 2009

Free online library

Just added this magnificent website that offers free books online (essays, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, short-stories, plays); simply a jewel!!!


My recommendation to get started is Chejov's short-story The Lady With The Dog http://www.readprint.com/work-386/The-Lady-With-The-Dog-Anton-Chekhov

And Fitzgerald's short novel The Great Gatsby http://www.readprint.com/work-679/The-Great-Gatsby-F-Scott-Fitzgerald


Apart from the fact that they are very good pieces of writing, they are not too long, so if you are a learner of English and not so used to reading unabridged versions, you will feel quite encouraged to tackle the reading without feeling put off because of its length.

I guess reading online is still not at all appealing if you're a classic reader who likes to feel the book in their hands, but you can set yourself to the task by reading a chapter periodically while having www.wordreference.com open online to check vocabulary.

30 de mayo de 2009

Susan Boyle's Final Performance

Remember Susan Boyle on Britain's Got Talent?! (see past entry of 17th April)

(Unfortunately, she didn't win; I got to see who the winner was "thanks" to a guy who was actually recording it from his TV set live and broadcasting it via his blog: http://www.blogtv.com/People/gerarduk Guess, he's totally oblivious of the fact that he was breaking the law)

Latest news: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/05/30/arts/AP-EU-Britain-Boyle.html?_r=1&src=twt&twt=nytimes

Odd Bits here&there

Making a list of links with "odd bits here&there" I get twittered or emailed:

1) Sorry, Bill, I'd rather kiss my new boss!

2) Similarities between the assassinations of Kennedy and Lincoln

3) Double-click as many times as you like and you may "spot" someone you know ;O):

Time cartoons

An interesting way of viewing US politics and what's being at a stake:


Courtsey of www.times.com

26 de mayo de 2009

Judge Sonia Sotomayor's Speech

President Obama has nominated the first Hispanic woman for the Supreme Court: Sonia Sotomayor. You can read and listen* to her speech by clicking on the link below:


For those native Spanish speakers who find the text difficult to understand because of the vocabulary, I suggest that you read about it in this article in Spanish: http://www.adn.es/sociedad/20090526/NWS-2752-Sotomayor-Supremo-Obama-Sonia-designa.html and then get back to the full text in English.

A very moving speech full of gratitude to all those that have supported her along these years so as to be who she is. I would like to quote these special words to her mother: "I stand on the shoulders of countless people, yet there is one extraordinary person who is my life aspiration. That person is my mother, Celina Sotomayor. [...] I have often said that I am all I am because of her, and I am only half the woman she is. "

In her speech Sonia Sotomayor portrays herself as a humble and hard-working person who is full aware that any decision she takes has a "real world consequence", be it in the private or the public sector, be it related to either a whole community or the individual, and this makes her a full woman in the extensive sense (if I may say this).

Last but not least, let me extract her last words as her own definition of an individual: "...I am an ordinary person who has been blessed with extraordinary opportunities and experiences."

*The listening starts from paragraph 9 (I chose to be a lawyer...)

24 de mayo de 2009

Ben says THANK YOU :O)

Hi, everyone!!!

I'd like to direct your attention to Notes from Spain 's recent post Thank You, Thank You! Madrid Confessions Reviews in which I am privileged to have been one of the addressees of Ben's gratitude. THANKS to you, Ben, for the "sneak preview" and your high regard for my opinion!

Please, don't miss Graham's video review on Ben's audiobook The Madrid Confessions (The Madrid Confessions: Out Now!), either, as I find it warmly fresh and friendly. If you're interested in knowing more about Graham and what he does just click on the link: http://www.houses-for-sale-in-spain.net/

19 de mayo de 2009


Ben Curtis is an Englishman who's lived in Madrid for over ten years now. He and his wife, Marina, have a website Notes from Spain: http://www.notesfromspain.com/, which I began to follow very soon after starting up my blog.

I find this website a jewel when it comes to provide English input for any Spanish-speaking learner of English. Why? Well, when one learns a second language in their own country, it's very likely that the topics one tends to talk about are topics related to their own culture and country, rather than talking about what British people like doing in their free time or how good American people may be at this or that, just to illustrate my point.

It is so very true that learning a language not only implies learning the linguistic system but we also need to learn about its culture. Language and culture simply go hand-in-hand. English textbooks, which are written and published worldwide, tend to focus on British or American life as these two countries are usually the destination for learners of English.

However, many people in Spain also learn English because it's very useful - it's a lingua franca - and enables them to understand people round the world, do business round the world, surf the Internet, or have a better chance to find a job. Many times Spanish native learners of English find themselves in need of vocabulary to talk about their every day world here in Spain. Many times in my classes I have found myself "racking my brains" so as to provide them with the most accurate linguistic input to talk about topics related to our Spanish culture. That's why I think websites like Notes from Spain can be very practical because they are actually related to our culture, to our lifestyle. Ben and Marina talk about life in Spain, and most often in Madrid where they live, but they also have guests posting their travel journals as well.

Well, when I read on the website about Ben's coming new audiobook, I got in contact with him as I was really interested in having more information about it. Soon he got back to me and offered the priviledge of listening to his audiobook before it was published and see what I thought of it.

This is the pre-launch post he published where you can actually listen to him telling you about it: http://www.notesfromspain.com/2009/05/18/big-day-big-risk/ but I suggest you visit Notes from Spain because you will get more posts related to this important event in his life. In his audiobook you will be able to listen to some other major turning points in his life.

I have now listened to Madrid Confessions and I have truly enjoyed it, a smile drawn in my face now and then when picturing on my mind what he was talking about. It felt as if I was actually sharing a coffee with him and he was telling me all about it. Me as his sole listener of "Ben and the appalling event of Madrid bombings", "Ben and his first Spanish stag night and capea", "Ben at the doc". I actually didn't get to listen to the audiobook all through in one go, but preferred to scatter his narration along a few days, again as if we met now and were having a coffee together.

His voice is clear and friendly, and it is quite easy to follow him even if your level of English is not very high. Actually the fact that he's talking about Spain and our Spanish lifestyle makes it easier for you to follow even if you don't understand every single word. I like his introduction of Spanish phrases or idioms, and by doing this, he also makes a point, i.e. sometimes a translation doesn't get the full meaning of it.

Being a Spaniard myself, I can't help not agreeing entirely with some bits he narrates about Spanish life. I will not tell you about them; this you will have to find out by yourself and see what you think of it. I guess my disagreeing may have a source of unwillingness to admit that his view of Spanish life as an ex-pat should make him unbiased. Still, I feel I have some points to discuss with him about it. On the other hand, by arguing slightly with him on my head as I listen to his narration, I catch myself reflecting on what it means being a Spaniard and what our lifestyle is like.

Finally, I think it's very courageous of him to "expose" himself to us in such open terms. Even if one may like to have their own share of protagonism, it's never easy to assess how much of themselves one wants the others to know. Being out in the open can be very risky, but I still think it is worth the trying and I thank Ben for letting us share these Madrid Confessions.

So, if you're interested in being one of the first ones to listen to him, just click on this link: http://www.notesfromspain.com/shop/madrid-confessions.html

16 de mayo de 2009


You may remember my post on May, 1st, in which I intended to give rightful credit to Alfredo Cuervo Barrero on his poem Queda Prohibido and which keeps circulating on the web under Neruda's authorship.

Well, I contacted him to request permission to publish his poem on my blog with my own translation. After an exchange of e-mails I got his permission and warm thanks for extending his work via my blog. So here is the full poem and my translation:


¿Qué es lo verdaderamente importante?,
busco en mi interior la respuesta,
y me es tan difícil de encontrar.

Falsas ideas invaden mi mente,
acostumbrada a enmascarar lo que no entiende,
aturdida en un mundo de irreales ilusiones,
donde la vanidad, el miedo, la riqueza,
la violencia, el odio, la indiferencia,
se convierten en adorados héroes,
¡no me extraña que exista tanta confusión,
tanta lejanía de todo, tanta desilusión!

Me preguntas cómo se puede ser feliz,
cómo entre tanta mentira puede uno convivir,
cada cual es quien se tiene que responder,
aunque para mí, aquí, ahora y para siempre:

Queda prohibido llorar sin aprender,
levantarme un día sin saber qué hacer,
tener miedo a mis recuerdos,
sentirme sólo alguna vez.

Queda prohibido no sonreír a los problemas,
no luchar por lo que quiero,
abandonarlo todo por tener miedo,
no convertir en realidad mis sueños.

Queda prohibido no demostrarte mi amor,
hacer que pagues mis dudas y mi mal humor,
inventarme cosas que nunca ocurrieron,
recordarte sólo cuando no te tengo.

Queda prohibido dejar a mis amigos,
no intentar comprender lo que vivimos,
llamarles sólo cuando los necesito,
no ver que también nosotros somos distintos.

Queda prohibido no ser yo ante la gente,
fingir ante las personas que no me importan,
hacerme el gracioso con tal de que me recuerden,
olvidar a todos aquellos que me quieren.

Queda prohibido no hacer las cosas por mí mismo,
no creer en mi dios y hallar mi destino,
tener miedo a la vida y a sus castigos,
no vivir cada día como si fuera un último suspiro.

Queda prohibido echarte de menos sin alegrarme,
odiar los momentos que me hicieron quererte,
todo porque nuestros caminos han dejado de abrazarse,
olvidar nuestro pasado y pagarlo con nuestro presente.

Queda prohibido no crear mi historia,
dejar de dar las gracias a mi familia por mi vida,
no tener un momento para la gente que me necesita,
no comprender que lo que la vida nos da, también nos lo quita.

Alfredo Cuervo Barrero

and here's my English tranlation of the poem:


What is truly important for me?
I search the answer inside me,
And I find it so hard to discover.

False ideas invade my mind,
So used to disguise what cannot understand,
Dazed in a world of unreal illusions,
Where vanity, fear, wealth,
Violence, hatred, indifference,
Become worshipped heroes,
I am not surprised that there is so much confusion,
So much remoteness from everything, so much disappointment!

You ask me how one can be happy,
How one can live among so many lies,
It is for everyone individually to answer themselves,
Although for me, here, now and forever:

It is forbidden to cry without learning,
To get up one day without knowing what to do,
To fear my memories,
To ever feel lonely.

It is forbidden not to smile at problems,
Not to fight for what I desire,
To abandon everything because of fear,
Not to make my dreams come true.

It is forbidden not to show you how much I love you,
To make you pay for my insecurity and my bad moods,
To make up stories that never happened,
To remember you only when I miss you.

It is forbidden to leave my friends,
Not to try to understand what we are living,
To call them only when I need them,
Not to see that we are also different.

It is forbidden not to be myself when with people,
To pretend with people that I do not care for,
To play the fool so that I will be remembered,
To forget about all those who love me.

It is forbidden not to do things by myself,
Not to believe in my god and find my destiny,
To fear life and its retribution,
Not to live every day as if it were a last breath.

It is forbidden to miss you without being happy,
To hate the moments that made me love you,
Just because our paths have stopped embracing,
To forget our past and pay for it with our present.

It is forbidden not to try and understand the others,
To think that their lives are worth more than mine,
Not to know that everyone has their own path and happiness,
To feel that without them the world ends.

It is forbidden not to create my story,
To stop thanking my family for my life,
Not to have one moment for the people who need me,
Not to understand that what life gives us, life can also take it away.
Alfredo Cuervo Barrero

8 de mayo de 2009



The first step for a solid presentation is to prepare it thoroughly and rehearse it beforehand. You need to define the purpose of your presentation and how to plan for your strategy. The strategy should cater for ways to generate interest, to explain, to persuade and to entertain. Your message should be clear, informative and brief. To sum up, you need to think about the WHY, WHO, WHERE, WHAT and HOW of your presentation.


We need to know the purpose of our presentation and consider the type of audience we will be addressing. The audience will define the best register (formal, neutral or informal), and their size will tell us what equipment should be used. A flip-chart or a whiteboard will be fine for small audiences, but would do very poorly if the audience is large. In this case, transparencies or a projector will be a much better choice.

Most presentations nowadays are supported by ICT technology and the star, undoubtedly, is the PowerPoint application. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to overuse and/or misuse it. Presentations should make use of ppt as visual support to emphasize main points, or to illustrate some of the content, but must not distract the audience from what the presenter is saying.

Besides, it is advisable to visit the venue (or make enquiries about it if no chance to visit it beforehand) so that we find out about the type of room, seating arragement and the equipment available. You should arrive at the place in time to check that everything works fine regarding the equipment so as to avoid unwanted situations.


Next step is to structure the content of your presentation, so that you don’t digress when delivering it. First of all, you should welcome your audience and introduce yourself as well as say who you work for and your title in the company. Don’t forget to give a brief background of your company focusing on its assets. If you are freelance give a short account of your professional experience, unless this has been done before you start as a way to introduce you and your talk. Then, say why you are there and how long the presentation will take. You can mention how you will deal with questions & answers either at this point or once you have outlined the content of your talk. It is important to outline the main points; the use of sequencers (Firstly, secondly…., next….Finally) will make your audience draw a mental picture of how the content will be developed, and they will also grasp the presentation as a whole.

After this introduction you will start with the main body of your presentation, and the how will definitely play a key role in this part. In other words, how you manage the visual and auditory aspects will keep your audience engaged in what you are saying. Remember the sweet and simple rule: tell the people what you want to say, say it and, then, remind them of what you have just said. A summary at the end and a conclusion will round it up.

The auditory and visual aspects refer to the use of your voice and your non-verbal communication. The way you talk, the pace of your voice, should be natural; if you speak too fast people may not understand you, whereas if you speak too slowly, people may get bored. Vary the tone of your voice to retain the audience’s attention. As English is not your mother tongue, make sure where the stress of long or technical words is. It is advisable that you practise saying these words when rehearsing. Pausing is an effective technique when used correctly. If you pause in the wrong place it sounds like hesitation, whereas a pause in the right place creates expectation in the audience.

All this, of course, needs to be done in a natural way and matching your body language. Don’t stand still or fiddle while speaking as it’s a clear sign of shyness or nervousness. Keep your shoulders straight and avoid crossing your legs or arms. Use your hands to help you emphasize your points and avoid holding something in them as it would draw your audience’s attention to the object. Never turn your back to your audience when speaking and be careful not to stand in front of the visual aids. Keep eye-contact with the audience in all moments. Move around so as to highlight what you are saying not to distract them.

Always address your audience and involve them in what you are saying; be empathetic and make them feel comfortable by being yourself comfortable. Your non-verbal communication gives away whether you feel confident or not.

That’s why it is important to rehearse your presentation in front of a colleague so that you can be given feedback on the do's and don’t's as well as make you feel more confident when the actual day comes.

When dealing with questions set the time allowance and try to satisfy their enquiries, but never misinform. If you can’t provide an adequate answer tell them that you will look into it and get back to them. Don’t let one or two people monopolize this time, and encourage others to participate.

Summarizing what has been said:

· outline the structure of your presentation taking down notes on the key points to follow and to remember;
· take care of both the content and the delivery;
· prepare your visual aids thoroughly and don’t leave things to the last minute;
· act naturally and make the audience feel at ease and interested in what you’re saying.

And last but not least, smile :O), it simply makes everything much easier.


POWEL, M. (2002) Presenting in English: how to give successful presentations. Thomson Heinle.
MASCULL, B. (2002) Business Vocabulary in Use - Intermediate. Cambridge University Press.
Unit 05. Presentations. English PR. Inglés Práctico para profesionales. Telefónica - El País.

6 de mayo de 2009

How about a bit of football??!!!

Walter Oppenheimer is a journalist that has been writing for El País since 1982 and at the moment he works as their correspondent in Britain. I like to read his articles. So here's one on football, and his preference is certainly not hidden, after all he worked in the Barcelona office ;O)


1 de mayo de 2009

A poem attributed to Neruda gets circulated in cyberspace

Yesterday I got via email a lovely and inspiring poem stating Pablo Neruda's authorship. I browsed on the Internet to find the English version as I thought it would make a nice inspiring entry for May, 1st -a festivity in many countries as well as in Spain. This is the link to the poem, both in English and Spanish, that I found:

Well, just now when browsing for more information about it I have come across an article titled Fake Pablo Neruda's Poem Spreads on Internet in the Latin American Herald Tribune. It has been published today and states that three poems which are kept circulating on the Internet are falsely attributed to Neruda as their genuine author; and one of these poems happens to be It's forbidden (Queda prohibido) as you can read at the top of the poem.

Delving into the whole affair I browsed Neruda's official website, Fundación Pablo Neruda, and it backs what's being said in the above article. The author is Alfredo Cuervo Barrero and he has registered its authorship in the registry office Propiedad Intelectual de Vizcaya, numbered BI-13-03. He says that this is an amputated version of the original one. The news also says that there are 20,000 attributions of this poem on the Internet.

Yet, I personally think it's a beautiful piece of writing, and I want to give full voice and praise to the genuine author of the lines.

ps. I intend to contact him for permission to translate his poem and post it in my blog.

30 de abril de 2009

Writing your own obituary

Let me direct your interest to the post published on 29th April by South of Watford (one of the blogs I'm following) about Javier Ortiz's decease, a Spanish jounalist.


The obituary was written by the deceased himself. One can't help shivering when reading and realising that this person has already passed away. His wit and sense of humour simply honour him.

My apologies to those that cannot read Spanish.

How about sharing a coffee while practising English

It simply sounds a great idea: http://www.leafcup.com/english/index.htm

A cosy welcoming place where you can have a coffee, or a tea, while having a chance to practise English with other people.

It may not have been your aim at first, but I'm sure getting to know people from other countries will become an even more rewarding experience.

It's a pity this coffee place is in Japan :o(

News featured in main Spanish newspapers

Just a reminder!!!

If you want to read about what's been featured in the main Spanish newspapers, don't forget to click on the site Typically SPANISH.com (also found in my Useful links list.

Allow me to direct you :O)


28 de abril de 2009

Swine flu case confirmed in Spain

My 17-year-old son (well, almost!, his birthday is tomorrow ;O) spent the whole afternoon/evening yesterday browsing on the Internet for more news on this flu outbreak. He even contacted an old school Mexican friend, who's now living in Mexico, and was glad to know that he was doing fine. I am happy to know, too!

If you want to read more:


Learning is fun with RAW Skills for everyday life :O)

RAW Skills for everyday life http://www.bbc.co.uk/raw/ is a brilliant website that teaches you how to move around in everyday issues like Money, Bills, Family, Computers, work, etc., the list is long: http://www.bbc.co.uk/raw/help/topics_list.shtml

The explanations are clear, humorous and illustrative plus the added feature of subtitles for those of you who would like to do some extra listening focusing on vocabulary.

I've been watching Computer basics http://www.bbc.co.uk/raw/computers/yourcomputer/computerbasics.shtml

and Baby's arrival http://www.bbc.co.uk/raw/money/family/index.shtml

They are fun and instructive.

Have a go!!!

24 de abril de 2009

How about a toast this weekend?!

The news on unemployment in Spain are rather gloomy, to say the least, so surely not many people would feel like celebrating. Still, it's spring time and the warm sun here in Madrid feeds us with optimism and nice plans for the weekend.

Although this wine report on Spanish wine phrases and proverbs is addressed to English speakers to help them mix at ease in Spanish bars, as a learner of English, you can certainly reverse it and impress your "guiri" friends when performing as a cicerone (or impress your English teacher and fellow students ;O)


DON'T miss the first link suggested at the end of the report:

Learn To Interpret The Spanish Wine Label, at Catavino.net:

18 de abril de 2009

The art of reading & publishing in Roman times doesn't sound that far from ours -so to speak!

Just read this interesting article on writing and publishing in Roman times, and as the author states, the essence of writing, publishing and retailing doesn't seem to have changed that much. The similarities are really striking, so I have cut and pasted some excerpts that have especially caught my attention below the link.

The author of the article is Mary Beard, professor of classics at the University of Cambridge and classics editor of The Times Literary Supplement. Her latest book is “The Fires of Vesuvius.”


“My book is thumbed by our soldiers posted overseas, and even in Britain people quote my words. What’s the point? I don’t make a penny from it.” This is not the complaint of some young American author who has suddenly discovered that his contract pays him nothing for foreign sales. These are the words of the Roman poet Martial, first-century satirist and defender of authors’ rights.
The books they read were not “books” in our sense but, at least up to the second century, “book rolls” — long strips of papyrus, rolled up on two wooden rods at either end. To read the work in question, you unrolled the papyrus from the left-hand rod, onto the right, leaving a “page” stretched between the two. It was considered the height of bad manners to leave the text on the right- hand rod when you had finished reading, so that the next reader had to rewind back to the beginning to find the title page. Bad manners — but a common fault, no doubt. Some scribes helpfully repeated the title of the book at the very end, with just this problem in mind.
All the same, there’s a lot in the Roman literary world that seems quite familiar two millenniums later: money-­making booksellers, exploited and impoverished authors, celebrity book launches and career-making prizes.
For those who did go in [bookstores], there was usually a place to sit and read. With slaves on hand to summon up refreshments, it would have been not unlike the coffee shop in a modern Borders. For collectors, there were occasionally secondhand treasures to be picked up, at a price.
They may not have made much money during their lifetimes, but I can imagine them smiling with satisfaction in the Elysian Fields as they work out what their 2,000 years of royalties might have added up to.

17 de abril de 2009

Appearances can be deceptive or just the opposite!!!!

Watch this youtube clip and you'll see for yourself:


She's awesome!!!!

"That was stunning, ...an incredible performance, ....amazing!"

"I'm so thrilled...........and I think that's the biggest wake-up call ever!"

"You can go back to the village with the head held high."

14 de abril de 2009

Back with a FALSE FRIENDS activity ;O)

Hi, everyone!!!

Hope you've had a nice Easter holiday, and the return to work or study has not been that hard. I'd like to resume my blog with a false friends activity.

Many native-speakers of Spanish tend to confuse some English words which are similar to Spanish in form but actually mean something different.

Would you like to have a go and fill in the following sentences with the suitable word? If you doubt just click on the link and find out more about it:


  1. You should be careful when talking to Mary these days as she has failed her driving test and she is very ___________ about it. (sensible/sensitive)
    That’s not a very _____________ remark; I should say it sounds rather stupid. (sensible/sensitive)
  2. After hearing that Mary had broken up with her boyfriend, her boss was very ____________ and overlooked the fact that she had forgotten to send that important letter. (friendly/sympathetic)
    The new student is very _______________ and has already made good friends with his classmates. (friendly/sympathetic)
  3. As it had been requested, all the students _______________ the conference on the new school regulations. (assist/attend)
    The patient was immediately _______________ by an orderly when walking feebly into the hospital. (assist/attend)
  4. Don’t forget your ____________ at the end of the page. (signature/subject)
    The new school _________________ doesn’t seem to interest my students. (signature/subject)
  5. Mary was sure she would ________________ the exam so the news of her failure came as a shock. (approve/pass)
    I didn’t _______________ the way he reacted to the news. (approve of/pass)
  6. Her _______________ was very much applauded by the audience. (representation/performance)
    A ________________ of the whole community was received by the ambassador. (representation/performance)
  7. Because of the road works, we had to pay a lot of attention so that we wouldn’t miss the _________________. (fun/diversion)
    We had lots of _____________ during our stay with Mary. (fun/diversion)
  8. We ______________ that the order had been sent out without checking. (carry out/realize)
    We ________________ the instructions by the book. (carry out/realized)
  9. We got to the ____________________ just on time to get the train. (station/season)
    Most children say that summer is their favourite _____________ (station/season)

ANSWERS: 1. sensitive -- sensible; 2. sympathetic -- friendly; 3. attended -- assisted; 4. signature -- subject; 5. pass -- approve of; 6. performance -- representation; 7. diversion -- fun; 8. realized -- carried out; 9. station -- season

2 de abril de 2009

Don't miss yesterday's South of Watford post!

Actually, just seen it -how could I have missed it yesterday evening ;O))

Click on Esperanza Aguirre Resigns or South of Watford under My blog list for a good laugh.

It nicely illustrates my post on April Fools' Day.

Thanx Graeme!

1 de abril de 2009

Listening&reading to a news review thanx to English Club.com


I like this proposal of reviewing past news at the same time as you practise your listening & reading skills and, consequently, learn more vocabulary. The pieces of news are not very long and the pre-listening vocabulary is certainly a help. There are some comprehension questions to follow for each story, which you can tackle and contrast with the Answer Check given at the end.

The explanatory steps on how to proceed are undoubtedly useful. You can decide to do them all in one go, or one at a time along the week or the month.

I do encourage you to do them, anyhow.

An adding feature is the Guide for teachers; so if you're a teacher don't miss it.

April Fools' Day or All Fools' Day

Just would like to draw your attention to this day, April, 1st, known in many countries as April Fools' Day and it could the equivalent to our December, 28th -Día de los Inocentes-, when jokes or pranks are played to embarrass the gullible.

If you want to find more about it click on:


Even newspapers play along as it is shown in this article published by The Guardian today:


This is how it starts:

"Consolidating its position at the cutting edge of new media technology, the Guardian today announces that it will become the first newspaper in the world to be published exclusively via Twitter, the sensationally popular social networking service that has transformed online communication."


*********** new words*************

fool (a silly person) (un tonto)

prank (joke) (broma)

gullible (credulous) (crédulo)

cutting edge (innovative, pioneering) (de última generación, de vanguardia)

31 de marzo de 2009

Common European Framework of Reference: Learning, Teaching, Assessment

Marco Común Europeo de Referencia para las Lenguas: Aprendizaje, Enseñanza, Evaluación http://cvc.cervantes.es/OBREF/marco/cvc_mer.pdf (pp. 26-39)

Many times my students have asked me "what is my actual level of English?", and as simple as it should be for me to answer this question, I must admit one gets "out of words" when trying to satisfy this query. Students are so familiar with the traditional terms: beginners, elementary, intermediate (low- and upper-), advanced that to them the frontiers are rather blurred.

Yes, ok, there's certainly a difference between beginners and intermediate, but not that easy when finding the precise line between beginners and elementary, or between upper-intermediate and advanced.

To make matters worse, the two most valued institutions to learn English here in Spain: Escuela Oficial de Idiomas (Official Language School) and The British Institute organize the English route in different levels. I suggest clicking on both links if you want to find out more about it:



The Common European Framework of Reference is a document that "provides a basis for the mutual recognition of language qualifications, thus facilitating educational and occupational mobility. It is increasingly used in the reform of national curricula and by international consortia for the comparison of language certificates" (http://www.coe.int/T/DG4/Linguistic/CADRE_EN.asp)

The CEFR divides the learning process into six leves: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2

Basic User = A1 and A2

Independent User = B1 and B2

Proficient User = C1 and C2

If you would like to know how much English "you know" and where you should be aiming at, I recommend that you read the interesting word or pdf documents (depending on the your mother tongue) on the link below:


30 de marzo de 2009

New link under "Useful Links"

Just added a new link to which you can subscribe and get a copy via email:

Cuaderno de inglés

This is the introduction to the site:

En nuestro Cuaderno de inglés mensual encontrarás ejercicios de inglés, actividades, vocabulario, listenings en inglés, podcasts, programas gratuitos para descargar, libros completos gratuitos en inglés para descargar, gramática inglesa y muchos otros recursos para aprender inglés.Nuestro cuaderno gratuito de inglés se publica mensualmente y se remite por e-mail a todos nuestros suscriptores.En esta Web se recogen los cuadernos publicados anteriormente. Si quieres recibir puntualmente nuestro Cuaderno en tu propio email haz click para recibir mensualmente nuestro cuaderno de inglés gratuito.

A bit 4 everyone to practise English


I'm sure you will find some interesting activities to practise your English on the link above (courtesy of www.mansioningles.com).

Just browse the site and see for yourself!

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!

Listen & read Obama's interview by Financial Times

Click on the following link and you can listen to Obama being interviewed by Financial Times:

Lionel Barber, Chrystia Freeland and Edward Luce of the Financial Times interviewed President Obama in Washington on March 27 2009. This is the transcript of the interview.

It's a 20-minute interview but worth your while. I suggest following these steps as a listening&reading task:

1. Read through the text and note down any words you don't know, then find the meaning by using an online dictionary, e.g. http://www.wordreference.com/
2. Listen to the interview without reading the text; I'm sure you will be able to follow a lot.
3. Listen and read at the same time.

It seems spring weather was a spell here in Madrid

Hard to believe we enjoyed temperatures above 20 dg here in Madrid last week. Now it's turned colder, windy and overcast..............so unpleasant!!! It's ok to bear this as long as nice warm weather is back at Easter. My kids are going camping with scout group from 3rd-6th April, so keeping my fingers crossed.

Here's today's "Spain papers review" for a quick read of main news.


29 de marzo de 2009

Tour of Hercules Lighthouse- A Coruña


Review of Spanish papers from Friday, 27th March

Hi, there!

Did you remember to move your clocks forward an hour last night??? you may be trying to make up for it now sleeping in a little bit more...........tough if you had plans for an early rise today, I know!!!! (http://tinyurl.com/cz4nmv)

Anyway, this is not the subject of my post............sorry to be drifting away ;o)

Click on the link for a review of the main news in the national Spanish newspapers:


28 de marzo de 2009

Learn vocabulary while reading....the story will surely make u smile :O)

Teenager paints 60ft phallus on roof of family home
A teenager got away with painting a 60ft phallus on the roof of his parents' home for a year before his parents found out.

Click on the link below to read the story and look at pic!


Phrasal verbs:

get away with >> not being punished for something wrong you've done
find out >> know about it
own up >> admit, confess
scrub something off >> clean thoroughly

have a joke >> tease, pull someone's leg, say something funny
take the prank >> accept the joke
April's Fool Day >> a day in the calendar "traditionally suitable" for playing jokes or tricks
on a gap year >> usually an academic year taken as a break from education before a student starts university

More words:
spot >> notice
enable >> make possible
zoom in >> camera getting closer
daub >> spread a thick substance on a surface
white spirit >> a colourless liquid used to remove paint

27 de marzo de 2009

Listening tips

Interesting link with tips for you to improve your listening skills:


Furthermore, you can read while you listen ;O)

22 de marzo de 2009

Last review of this site (Churchill House School...): FOR LEARNERS

The section http://www.churchillhouse.com/english/learners.html is addressed to learners and there you can find different interactive activities graded according to levels. These activities focus on grammar exercises so they only involve reading skills. On the other hand they do not imply lots of difficulty but for the fact that you may not know a certain grammar area being tested.

I also recommend that you have a look at the "Exam guide" section if you want to get more information on the different types of English exams.

First Certificate free software (courtesy of Churchill House School of English Language)

On the same site http://www.churchillhouse.com/english/downloads.html you can download a program with some activities to practise for the First Certificate exam (quantifiers, adverbs & prepositions, articles, pronouns, modals and other verb tenses, miscellaneous).

The program is very easy to download and work with, but doesn't go very far in its own aims: "The program is designed to give you special help with Paper 3 of the First Certificate exam, and in particular with the tricky Part 4 - error correction." , as you can read in the introduction.

The "help" button doesn't work so the only type of feedback you can get is whether you have answered the question right or wrong. On the other hand, the practice is dynamic and may help you spot some grammar mistakes you still keep making in these areas. If so, you will need to revise elsewhere.

Free downloads for English teachers (courtesy of Churchill House School of English)

Been neglecting my blog these past days. Doing some research on downloable material for English learners and teachers on the web.

The follwoing site: http://www.churchillhouse.com/english/downloads.html

can be useful for teachers who need (or want) something quick and ready to be used in class so as to break the routinous pace of a textbook. The activities are edited in PDF format files and there is a very handy and informative profile for a quick pre-look at the suitability of the activity. This is the list:

Phonetic crosswords

How to get a first Battleships

Classroom language

Could I borrow...?

Grammar words Irregular verbs

Reading - 10 generalisable techniques


Revision cards

What job ads really mean

The very bad Yorkshire joke

19 de marzo de 2009

Día de San José & Bank Holiday in most of Spain

Hope you're enjoying this festivity day in Madrid, and the best to those that have managed a trip away from the hustle & bustle of city life. Sorry about the long delays on main roads to those who got caught in them:


Staying in Madrid & enjoying the lovely spring temperatures; easy day ahead, going out for a stroll and just lazing around the house ;O))


For a summary of what's been published today in the nationally-read newspapers just click on the following link:



ps. Please take care on the road :o)

16 de marzo de 2009


I was reading this article http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1885451,00.html ,
mostly interested in the fact that these days' controversy concerning the Fine Arts medal awarded to F. Rivera this year should be featured in the Time magazine, when a single word "dashing" just made me scroll up the text to check whether the author was a man or a woman.

Somehow, I sensed it "had" to be a woman. Had the writer been a man, I just don't feel he would've used the word "dashing" to describe Rivera's brother's looks.

This is the entry in the Compact Oxford English Dictionary:

• adjective excitingly attractive and stylish.
— DERIVATIVES dashingly adverb.