Summer time in Barcelona

Summer is at our doorstep. Fewer and fewer students come to class and there is an ever-growing crowd on the beach in Barceloneta. Time to take a break, leave our tablets and computers behind and chat with the person next to us, practice  English in a real situation – in the street or on the bus. Cycle down to Barceloneta and  find  some Guiris (Spanish slang for tourists) in the beach bars and have fun – all in English! You will be exposed to various accents: French, Dutch, German as well as American, British and Australian. Let go of your prejudices against tourists and expose yourself to authentic slang and bad language – including grammar mistakes! Take it as an ultimate learning experience.

Here’s a video which will help you to understand  bar language in English. Very useful if you’re planning to earn some extra money as a waiter this summer!

On the other hand, if you can , just travel, travel, travel. The same will happen. You will learn English outside the classroom and away from the Internet.

Again, James has prepared a lesson on travel language for his students. Check it out.

When everything calms down in September we will be back with  fresh learning tips, articles and stories to read and  videos to watch in English. Till then we would appreciate if you took some time to let us know what you would like to see more of in our blog. All suggestions are welcome!

Enjoy the summer!




What exactly is a cliché?

A cliché is a saying or remark that is very often made and is therefore not original and not interesting. Every language has them and I’m sure you will be able to translate some of the clichés below into you own language.


1. Granddaughter: Bye Granny!  Jamie and I are off out for the evening!

Granny: Have a great time! Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!

2. Friend 1: I don’t know whether to apply for that job or not. What do you think?

Friend 2.: Well, I’m not sure. At the end of the day, it’s your decision.

3.  Doctor: You should get a new job, stop smoking, and have a healthy lifestyle.

Patient: Easier said than done!

4.  Businessman: It took me years to build up this business. Nearly killed me!

Wife: Well, you know what they say. No pain,no gain.

5.   Father: I got  a card from Gerry a week after my birthday.

Mother: Oh, well. Better late than never.

6.  Friend 1: Bob’s really weird. Have you heard he’s going to walk across Europe?

Friend 2: It takes all sorts.

7. Holiday maker: It’s been raining for 3 days! We need some sunshine!

Hotel owner: You can say that again!

8. Jane: I need to get back in the house and make sure I’ve turned off the iron.

George: Good idea. Better safe than sorry!

If  we managed to spark your interest, here’s a link to lists of cliché phrases and their origins.

A cliché is an expression, but it can also be a situation. I’m sure you are fed up of movie or advertising clichés.Here’s a choice of 10 action movie clichés.

And a very beautiful  and cynical example of clichéd advertising.



Angry Words

While studying English most students get the wrong idea about how polite this language is. Admittedly, it’s the fault of us teachers who tend to expose them to perfect English, perfect standard pronunciation and works of great writers or poets.We spend hours trying to  teach the differences between  formal and  informal registers, how casual one can be in certain situations and when asked about bad words we usually say: “Look it up in your dictionary”  or ” We don’t have enough class time to spend on that!”.

This post is dedicated to all my students who think that it’s difficult to insult in English. You can spend hours trying to write down or remember some truly imaginative insults, compare them to your own language or just have a good laugh.

Warning: Not appropriate for people who hate strong language, although there are also some quite innocent  insults such as “You look like a blueberry!” and  “Your mother was a hamster.”


After being exposed to some truly imaginative insults, let’s get a bit more serious. Here is a link to idioms used to express anger.

Of course, a list is just a list and using idioms is quite a different ball game. Here’s a little exercise to help you check out just how “angry” you are!

I can’t help but include a scene from one of the best movies made on the topic of rage:” Falling down”