Make vs Do

I know. We repeat ourselves. We write about collocations over and over again. Our excuse? Time goes in circles. It’s a new year, a new circle. Let’s face the sad truth: collocations are unavoidable, just like new years and just like the doubts we have about correct collocations!

Most learners of English, here in Spain, get frustrated when having to use “do” or “make”, as both words have the same translation into Spanish. So today we are going to study one specific collocation:  TO MAKE A LIST.

“That one is easy”, you’d say, “It’s one of the first studied at elementary school or sometimes even at pre-school”.  Good. So we’ve got that. It’s easy. The collocation is easy, but what about the actual list writing?

One of the most frequent activities at the end of one and the beginning of another year is to resume and plan. Lists are made on the most watched movies of the past year, the most widely read books, the most seen YouTube videos, the classiest hotel rooms, the craziest stunts, the best holiday destinations , etc.

These are just some of the lists made and published, exclusively focusing on THE BEST, as the worst of our world shouldn’t yet be mentioned.  After all, we are still digesting the holiday season.

For the same reason (holidays), we don’t question much the objectivity of these opinions. After all, the glass of red wine in our hand makes the year  we’ve left behind seem a pretty blurred.

After browsing through and often laughing out loud at the best of what’s over,  we  can then decide on our hopes and dreams for the future. MAKING PLANS involves making another list, the well-known  “New Year’s Resolution list 2016”.

As a teacher , I usually make this list in September. Doesn’t really make any difference. One has the freedom to choose when to make a new start , at least mentally. Feel free to make yourself happy or disappoint yourself whenever you please.

So, most of us just “copy” our last year’s list, and some decide to finally take action, but the sad truth is that  resolutions are  made, but not kept. The fact that we haven’t managed to change at all or have made very few or insignificant changes, will never ever discourage us from making a new list  at the end of the year.

Here, at Idiomestarradellas, we hope that learning and improving  your level of English will always stay on your  New year’s resolution list.

Cheers!

Resultat d'imatges de cheers

Don’t forget to check out these lists!

http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2015/dec/29/best-read-travel-stories-of-2015

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/top/bestofrt/?year=2015

 

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Inspiration or Nostalgia?

For some time now, I’ve been trying to get inspired, but whenever I think I’ve come upon an exciting or at least mildly interesting idea for our language blog, I google it and find at least 1.0000000000 similar entries (approximate estimation). It’s a turnoff.

There’s no doubt : we are all caught in a matrix, a spiderweb interconnecting our minds, and same ideas seem to be flowing around eternally, no matter the topic, our geographical location,  our cultural background or even the age we are living in. We are defined by our human condition.

Nothing new. It’s just that  this fact has been  blatantly shoved into my face time and again. Unfortunately, neither this feeling of despair is unique.

Anyway,  when I  googled “phrasal verbs in comics”, I was faced with numerous funny images and , surprisingly, they triggered my inspiration, or was it nostalgia? No matter what it was, I’m starting off this blog`post, without checking out if anything similar has been written. I’ll leave that investigation to you!

Let’s start.

I still remember telling my students to write letters to a pen friend  in a foreign country. At that time i.e.century,  mostly snail mail was used, as Internet connections were costly, and teachers had to do lots of work before connecting students with their peers in The States or Britain, which were usually our first options. If one out of twenty students kept writing for at least one school year, we thought it was worthwhile. Yes, we were  young and enthusiastic.Nostalgia again!

Nowadays, keeping in touch is much easier. Teenagers travel more and connect faster and easier with people from other parts of the world. They don’t need a ball pen  and, sadly, many don’t even learn how to hold one properly…

Resultat d'imatges de photos of holding a ballpen.

…not to mention that they don’t even bother to write (type), but just send a selfie and their geo-position marked on a map. However, I still keep telling my teenage students  TO WRITE  emails to their friends abroad in order to practice their English.

Mind you, how do you say  PEN PAL  nowadays? Does this concept exist anymore?

Next:

Yes, it  used to cheer many generations up. And now? Does downloading a song have the same effect? For me it doesn’t, but then, I was young in the last century. Millennials, you are missing out on holding the  OBJECT, a RECORD in your hands, having to take care it doesn’t get scratched when your younger brother learns how to work a RECORD PLAYER  and having to save up for the new record of your favourite band. For those  of you who are to young to remember – a record player:

Resultat d'imatges de photos of a recor player

And the last nostalgic image:

Yes, today even though a child can’t talk or walk or read, they will already be holding and smart phone or tablet, staring at pictures. Judging by the look on this toddler’s face, he might be “reading” the news Lucy’s talking about!

Resultat d'imatges de babies with smartphones

There it is, a post inspired by nostalgia. It was fun looking back. As long as I don’t check out what others have written on this topic, I’ll be fine. Thank you Peanuts for the memories.

Have a nice weekend!

Time flies

It’s September again. School has begun. Holidays are over.The saddest of sad facts-time flies.

No matter who I ask about their holidays these days, they unmistakably answer; ” What holiday?”” or ” I can’t even remember it !” or ” It’s so long ago.”

“Ok. Just try to remember so I can see how you’re using the past tenses.”Soon I give up wanting to chat away the first class of the new school year with my students and just focus on the practical.They think hard and get started. A task is a task after all and they want to get their money’s worth. There’s no way out.

Some have more to say and others really seem to have suffered from amnesia and just summarise their holidays  in  a few words: ” It was fine”,  I enjoyed myself” or “They were too short”.

It made me think. Time is relative, as we all know, from school or from life, but after  summer holidays it just seems to be even more so!

Before leaving we are full of expectations, counting down the days that will lead us to freedom; freedom from work ,study, our  daily chores. Then , all of a sudden we’re back again and  in the blink of an eye  routine sinks in, memories of the time spent away become blurred, details too difficult to remember and a deep post- vacation depression sinks  in.

I also feel like my holidays were a very long time ago so I religiously go over my  summer photos, time and again, and  I smile whenever a memory of a trivial but wonderful moment of holiday bliss flashes back  into my memory.Because I completely agree with the following quote, in spite of being a teacher:

The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. - Bertrand Russell

But school is back and I owe you some ideas to practice your English.This time , TIME is our leading idea as you’ve must have assumed, and here’s an oldie to start with:

Our blog can’t do without some idiomatic expressions.Most of our advanced students just love collecting them. Using them is quite a different story.

http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/time

I’ve come across this marvelous animation explaining relativity.

I can go on and on. Time really is an inspiring topic. I might  even spread it over a few more blog posts.

But, I gotta go now! I’ve got some real work to do. It’s September again!  Remember : time flies, but at least it’s relative, so holidays are just around the corner!

Have a nice week!

Romance, is it dead?

It’s summer. Classes are scarce and topics are light. I haven’t been very active writing this blog, but now I switched into summer mode and the few classes I do have are relaxed and easy-going.

I chose a song to do with my 15-year-old student. It’s a song from my teenage years. I loved it then and have discovered that I still like it. However, what really made it my choice for the class was the comment under the exercise which read:

“I’m Gonna Be ( 500 miles)  was originally written and sung by the Scottish group The Proclaimers in 1988. It was the favourite song of Ling Hsueh,who lives in south-east China.When her boyfriend,Liu Peiwen, asked her to marry him in 2011,she accepted. However,she joked that it was on condition that he walked to her door from his home in Henan Province-1000 miles away. To her surprise, he did exactly that.”

( English file 3rd edition Teacher’s Book Intermediate)

I asked her what she thought about the comment,not hiding my delight that a young man would do anything like that in the 21st century. I was quite sure that romance had been buried away together with poetry books and had no place in the time of Internet-based relationships,speed dating and Twitter. Unfortunately, neither the song nor the comment provoked any reaction  from her.So here’s the song and the lyrics:

I was a bit frustrated  by the girl’s lack of interest. Fortunately, I found  a live version of the song from 2014 which proves that romantic songs still have their many admirers. But what do you think, is romance dead? Summer seems to be the right season to ask such a question!

Totally eclipsed

Today I’m sure many of you have remembered this fabulous love song by Bonnie Tyler.

The Greeks believed that the solar eclipse was a sign that the gods were angry and death and destruction were on their way. In fact, eclipse comes from ekleipsis, an ancient Greek word that means obscured, or abandoned. A fragment of a lost poem by Archilochus (c680–645 BCE) depicted a solar eclipse as such:

Nothing there is beyond hope,

nothing that can be sworn impossible,

nothing wonderful since Zeus,

father of the Olympians,

made night from midday,

hiding the light of the shining sun,

and sore fear came upon men.

In addition to the solar eclipse, today we will witness a supermoon and a spring equinox. A supermoon refers to the moment the moon orbits at its closest to the Earth, making it look bigger than it normally does. The spring equinox is the time of the year when night and day are of equal length, mid-way between the longest and shortest days of the year. It is a sign that the Earth’s axis is perpendicular to the sun’s rays.
Some Christian ministers have viewed the rare collision of three celestial events as the beginning of the end of the world.

As you can see, superstition will never die.

P.S. These  excerpts have been taken from The Guardian. You might like to read the whole article:

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/mar/19/solar-eclipse-what-you-need-to-know

 

Past Perfect vs. Future Perfect

The Past Perfect Tense is used for an action that had happened before another past action or point in time. In this case, before these guys were born:

The Future Perfect  Tense is used for an action that will have happened before another future action or point in time. In this case, well, you know, before we kick the bucket.

If you don’t think  this explanation is clear enough, here you can find a more serious approach to the matter:

http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/rules/pastperf.htm

http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/futureperfect.html

http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/kick+the+bucket

http://www.grammar-monster.com/easily_confused/past_passed.htm

On Sleeping and Learning

Among many positive cultural differences you will notice if you move to sunny Spain, there is certainly one shocking revelation  that may be utterly confusing: generally speaking people, meaning adults and children alike, don’t seem to get much sleep!

The first time I saw children playing football at 1 a.m.  while their parents were enjoying their beers on one of the many city squares (“So what? It’s summer!”, they explained), I was left speechless and then, obviously,  I went green with envy : at that age, I had to be in bed by that time, no matter the season!

Then, I still remember my upstairs neighbour some years ago, yelling into her mobile phone on her balcony at 2.00 a.m. ( sharing is one of the most positive  Mediterranean traits , isn’t it?).The same lady would then wake her two young daughters up at 7 am, in the same gentle manner and manage to get them out of the house by 7.30!  I can imagine the state in which these girls went through the school gates!

I guess it isn’t really so bad, as their teachers  must have gone through the same or similar ritual  before coming to work, so it all ends up in some 2 slightly unproductive hours before the first school break and – breakfast  at last!

Irony aside, in this post I’d like to make you aware of the benefits of sleep, help you get rid of the idea that it is a waste of precious time, and help you study in a more productive way. Believe me, I’m a devoted follower of a good night’s sleep and  well as a sympathetic teacher who hates seeing tired children  doing their imposed after school language classes.

Therefore, if you are having problems learning and you thing you might be sleep deprived, here are some tips and explanations from good old TED ed:

 

The following video is one of the many you might want to watch if you just can’t fall asleep easily for whichever reason. I’ve chosen this particular one as the language is simple and the pronunciation very clear:

And then this Russian lady, also from Ted talks, has her own theory on why bad decision are being made worldwide:

Have a good weekend and a good night’s sleep!