Gravitational waves explained

Work on this video.

  • First, watch it with subtitles in your mother tongue in order to make sure you understand it all.
  • Next, watch it with English subtitles stopping now and then and imitating the pronunciation. Repeat this step as many times as necessary until you think you don’t need the subtitles any longer.
  • Finally, sit back and relax. Play it again non-stop while enjoying the fact that now you can understand it just as if you were a native speaker!

Comparing & describing flats (UK) / apartments (US)


Romanian photographer Bogdan Gîrbovan selected one typical ten-storey apartment block in Bucharest at random for a photography project. It’s inhabitants live in identical apartments one on top of the other. But that’s not to say they lived in the same home as all their neighbours — each one was absolutely unique.

Through Bogdan’s photos, we catch a glimpse of the vastly different ways in which people live in modern society, even when they’re right next to each other.

Activity 1: Practise comparisons: Use comparative and superlative forms at least for all the following adjectives:

messy, boring, traditional, cool (guay), good

For example:

“The 10th floor is messier than the 9th floor. The 8th floor is more boring than the 10th floor. The 9th floor is more traditional than the 10th floor. The 6th floor is cooler than the 3rd floor.  The  xxxxxth floor is the messiest, …. is the most boring, …is  the most traditional, … is the coolest and … is the best

Activity 2: Describe a room using the following place prepositions:

on, above, in, under, next to, in front of, near, far from, behind and between

Use the words in bold at least once. For example:

“On the 10th floor there are a lot of objects in the room. A helicopter lamp is above the man. A briefcase is on the floor. Some books are under the table. The table is between the man and the bed. There is a tripod behind the man. There is a hat near the curtain. There is a bag in front of the window. The bed is far from the window”


10th floor

9th floor

8th floor

7th floor

6th floor

5th floor

4th floor

3rd floor

2nd floor

1st floor



Stop bullfighting!

Bullfighting is a disgrace for our country, period. Fortunately, according to the latest surveys, in present Spain there are more people who are either indifferent or against than in favour. And we are on the increase. For sure it depends on regions: the “antitaurino” movement is very strong in Catalonia (56 towns -53 in Catalonia- are officially against) and perhaps weaker in regions where it’s identified with some kind of Spanish essence, whatever it means.

Just google the word “antitaurino” and you’ll run into a quite different Spain. For example, you can visit, or .

If you are a foreigner, I ask you not to support this crime. Don’t attend a corrida as part of your visit. On the contrary, do give publicity to Spanish antitaurino movements.

Yes we can!

Finally a new hope for  America and the world: Obama has become the new president of the USA. If you want to listen to his most famous speech, click here for the words and watch this video, especially from 9:06, where the line “We know the battle ahead will be long…” starts.

And to listen to the song they made with it, here you are:

But what does Obama refers to? Of course, he’s referring to the values stated in the Declaration of Independence. If you want to read its most famous excerpt, click here


You can fool all the people…

“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”   Abraham Lincoln


The Generalitat Valenciana has spent lots of money on propaganda – not just advertising – to disguise its boycott of the subject Educación para la Ciudadanía as a defence of trilingualism. But you can see what they are up to (= se les ve el plumero) comparing the evolution of the money spent on Eurocursos:



Available places






You can draw your own conclusions.

And as usual, its application period (periode de sol.licitud)  nearly (quasi) overlaps (coincideix) the school Christmas holidays, so that we have little time to encourage the students to apply (sol.licitar) and to solve all the necessary paperwork (paperassa).

Eurocursos 2009

Would you like to study next summer in Ireland or the UK? English lessons, cultural trips, sports, 4 weeks full board stay in an Irish/British family, return airplane ticket… all this for just €450! If you are a Batxillerat student you can apply for an Eurocursos grant. Click  here for information about Eurocursos grants to spend a month in either the Republic of Ireland or the UK.


Hungry Hungary .

Well, this post is not about famine in a central European country, but about the American version of the amusing TV contest ¿Sabes más que un niño de primaria? (Are you smarter than a 5th grader?) For a learner it is interesting to see the funny confusions with Turkey (the country and the animal) and the similar pronunciation of Hungary (the country) and hungry (the adjective).

“I have a Dream”.

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Day, a United States holiday marking the birthdate of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., observed on the third Monday of January each year. He fought for racial equality in the USA and was murdered in 1968, although his powerful message became his legacy to the world to remind us that we all are part of a big brotherhood. Here’s a moving homage to him:

Click here to read his most famous speech I Have A Dream delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963 or watch it here:

Singing Irregular Verbs.



Image from

Teo, a fellow teacher, has shown me this page where you can learn irregular verbs while singing along and getting used to the American accent. This page is full of interesting features, that’s why I’ve also added a link at the Listening Practice blogroll on your right. Click either here or on the picture.

All Blacks Haka.

Maori warrior

Picture from

I suppose you know the Six Nations Rugby World Cup is being held in France these days, and if there’s an image that really calls our attention, that’s New Zealand ritual Haka. The team is also known as the All Blacks.

The Maori (native people from New Zealand) ritual dance carried out by the players before a match is called Haka. It is an expression of the passion, strength and identity of their race. It used to be (= solia ser) a war dance, carried out before a battle. These are the words:

Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!

Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!

Tenei te tangata puhuru huru

Nana nei i tiki mai

Whakawhiti te ra

A upa … ne! ka upa … ne!

A upane kaupane whiti te ra!

Hi !!!

English translation

I die! I die! I live! I live!

I die! I die! I live! I live!

This is the hairy man

Who fetched the Sun

And caused it to shine again

One upward step! Another upward step!

An upward step, another.. the Sun shines!

Maori is pronounced like in Spanish, but WH sounds like an F.

Before the Haka, the team leader – usually of Maori descent – encourages his mates with the following words:

Ringa pakia
Uma tiraha
Turi whatia
Hope whai ake
Waewae takahia kia kino hoki

English translation

Slap the hands against the thighs
Puff out the chest
Bend the knees
Let the hip follow
Stamp the feet as hard as you can

(Text translated from

And now, enjoy and sing the Haka!

Voip Operators Comparison.


Many of you are travelling abroad for your summer holidays and wonder about the best way to call home (or get calls from home). Now we have a new option called Voip (Voice Over Internet Protocol), that means using the Internet for phone calls. There are many possibilities. Here you have a comparison of the two operators I use:

From your PC to



PC (anywhere)


(both PCs must have skype)

Not possible

Landline (fixe)US, Europe, etc

Not free


Cellphones(mòbil) in US

Not free


Cellphones in Europe

Not free

Not free


Not free

Not free



-Both companies claim that their paying options are cheaper than traditional local operators. Check rates.

-Calls with Voipbuster automatically finish after one minute, but then you can call again. When it asks you to buy credit, register as a new user.

-Credit for paying options can be bought by credit card or PayPal.

-There are USB handsets (wireless or cable) to speak from your PC, instead of using headphones/earphones+microphone. Some new cellphones also offer this option.

-For PC to PC calls there’s also the Windows Live Messenger or Yahoo Messenger option, the sound quality is not so good as Skype’s , but they let you know when your contacts are connected.


Use Voipbuster to call people with no PC, people that don’t know how to use a PC (older relatives…) and cellphones in the US.

Use Skype to call people with no phone or to call PCs all over the world. (Also videoconference with webcams)

Use any of them for paying options if their rates are cheaper than your traditional phone company.

Finally, this is a fast changing area, so I would be grateful for any updates or feedback.

End of course survey.



The results of the survey are acceptable although those referring to the speaking skills make me think they should be improved, the students have got a point there. With a view to next year, I must consider new activities so that the students become more confident when it comes to speaking, which is what really matters. Some students suggest that I use more songs and roleplaying.

The best results were about the teaching of difficult points, the range of activities and the possibility of falling back on this blog.

A couple of ESO students didn’t agree with the way their grades had been worked out. They think I shouldn’t assess their homework, classwork or attitude: only the marks they get in their exams should be taken into account.

Some other students whose level of English is higher than that of their course missed a bit of special attention, perhaps in the form of more challenging activities.

See all the results here.


And what’s your opinion about the results? Please have a look at them and post here a message with your thoughts.


Wild animals.

If you like wild animals, this is one of the most incredible videos I’ve ever seen, don’t miss any details. You can also practise your English with the comments in the background.

crouching = ajocant-se, ajupint-se.

huge = very big, large.

unbelievable = increïble

it’s too late = és massa tard.

can they have a go? = tenen alguna oportunitat?

drag out = traure fora arrossegant.

the calf’s still alive = el vedell encara està viu .

they’re gonna lose it! = el van a perdre!

surrounded = envoltats .

trying to get away = intentant escapar.

they got him back! = l’han recuperat!

chase = perseguir, acaçar

Valencian conversation guide.

If you are an English speaking person, you may like this guide.


Remember that Valencian is the local name – used for political reasons – for Catalan in Valencia. Therefore, what you learn here will also be useful in places such as Barcelona, Palma or Andorra.

But, why learn Valencian when everybody in Spain speaks Spanish and many also English? Well, any Catalan speaker will really appreciate your interest – especially coming from a foreigner. Just a bon dia with an exotic English accent will smash many cliches and can open many doors. It’s exactly what happened to me when I learnt – and used! – a couple of Welsh phrases when visiting Cymru (Wales).

You can also find many other related documents here.

British and American schoolmates.

united_kingdom.gif escanear00012.jpg united-states-of-america-lh.gif

We’ve entered the home stretch of the course and many of you have had the opportunity to put your English into practice with some of your British or American schoolmates. Last October Bob Yareham from Costa Levante published an article about them. Click on the article  to learn more about Casey Lynch, Ryan Sheen, Rhys and Ashley Cogan, Shanna Joe McCabe, Georgina Sawyers, Chloe Morgan and Joe Howard Willis. Once you open the article, click again on it, in order to magnify it.

Defence of bullfighting.

One of your batxillerat schoolmates, Álvaro González from 1B, has just published an interesting article in today’s Costa Levante newspaper. What do you think about it? Do you agree? You can comment on it here, or even better, write to the newspaper! Read it here:


Defence of bullfighting

Carpe Diem

Every morning, some minutes before 8 am, I drive by a girl who takes her time to enjoy the sunrise. She must be on her way to school (she’s carrying a satchel) but doesn’t care “wasting” about 15 sleep minutes. In exchange for that she must certainly start the day in a quite different mood from the rest of us! The picture is not very good since I took it driving from my car. You can see her in the bottom right corner sitting and watching the sunrise.


Spanish teacher in Liverpool

I thought you might like this picture. I worked as a Spanish language assistant in three different high schools in the Liverpool area (Sept.1995-June 1995). Living and working in a foreign country is something I really recommend. First your learn different ways of living and working, you can make friends from distant places too, then you really learn another language, finally you find out your own country is not so special – and also appreciate things from your country you hadn’t considered before.

birkenhead.jpgPark High School, Birkenhead.

… and that’s another reason why Liverpool FC is so special to me!

“This is Anfield”

Liverpool FC, why is it so special?

First, it’s the most successful team in English football history. But LFC glory is not about titles.

The most important difference a Spanish football fan should understand is that people do not go to football to be pleased by a show of their liking as we do in Spain. In Spain people go to watch football, and if they’re not pleased with what they see they whistle and boo their players.

Going to Anfield is not about going to a theater, even in the dark nineties, with a team with so much titles in his pocket placed in the 8th place, Anfield sang YNWA as loud as when they were a winning team. English crowd and especially Anfield crowd support their team most when they need it most, ie, bad place in the league, or a goal conceded. In Spain it’s often seen how the crowd goes impatient when the oposition scores. That’s a huge difference.

Also, although the two local teams – Everton and Liverpool – are rivals, it’s very usual to see supporters from both teams sharing the same pubs while watching on TV – in a friendly way – their teams play against each other. Actually, that match is called the Merseyside Derby or The Friendly Derby. Even their official club shops are together!

Last thing the players read just before entering the pitch is a notice reminding them who they are and where they are:

this-is-anfield1 Picture from

There’s a sense of belonging, also in the bad times. You can notice it in the welcoming words at the entrance of the stadium:

Shankly Gates

Picture from

And, last but not least, the team is very popular in Spain thanks to his beloved manager Rafa Benítez and five more Spanish players.

And now, if you want to feel like a scouser (a person from Liverpool), read their anthem, play the video and feel like one of them in the big family singing at the Kop (grada dels supporters)!

When you walk through a storm,
Hold your head up high,
And don’t be afraid of the dark.
At the end of a storm,
There’s a golden sky,
And the sweet silver song of a lark.
Walk on through the wind, Walk on through the rain,
Though your dreams be tossed and blown..

Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart,
And you’ll never walk alone…….
You’ll never walk alone.

Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart,
And you’ll never walk alone…….
You’ll never walk alone.

They start singing at 0:30. By the way, don’t worry if you don’t understand the commentator: he doesn’t speak English!

…if you have problems understanding English, you may start with this subtitled version:

Sherlock Holmes Pub


You don’t have to travel abroad to speak English! There is a nice pub in Valencia (Barri del Carme) where you can enjoy a beer in an Irish environment, meet native English speakers and have fun at a “quiz night”. For further information, click here, and to get there Sherlock Holmes Pub

Next “quiz night”: Thursday 22nd March, from 8.30 p.m.