Idiom in J – Je ne sais quoi

 

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Yes, that’s French! A lot of French expressions are used in English actually!

What it means:

“Je ne sais quoi” means that something is good but for a reason that is difficult to explain.

When to use it:

Use it when you can’t quite say what is that little thing that makes it how it is. This expression will also make you sound a little fancy.

Imagine that both Gordon and you have each made a cake. You both followed the instructions correctly but for some reason Gordon’s is better. You could say that his cake has a je ne sais quoi.

Other Interesting Idioms in J:

Just what the doctor ordered – It means that it is just what you need.

Justice is blind – It means that justice is impartial.

 

Keep on learning!

Xoxo

 

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Expression – Take a Shortcut

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What it means:

It is an easier, quicker or shorter way to go somewhere or do something.

How to use it:

It is more often used to get somewhere a quicker way. e.g. Take the shortcut on the right, it is much quicker than the main road.

To take the easy way out is also a similar expression to take a shortcut, meaning an easier way to do something.

 

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Expression – Treat Yourself

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What it means:

It is to spend money on something that makes you happy at that moment. It could be a piece of cake after a long day at work, or even an item of clothing that you buy yourself for your birthay.

When to treat yourself:

As often as possible of course!

 

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Exam Record Sheets for Cambridge and Trinity

 

Use these exam record sheets to keep track of your students’ progress in Reading, Use of English and Listening. They were created to follow the tests in the Succeed and Successful series (B1, B2, C1) by GlobalELT.

 

Record Sheets for B1:

 

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exam-record-sheet-pet-and-ise-1

 

Record Sheet for B2:

 

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Record Sheets for C1:

 

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You could either give an exam record sheet to each of your students or keep one for each of them. I chose the second option that way I can see where they are at whenever I need to. I of course gave one to the students that asked me for one.

 

Your students will love them… well, as long as they’re improving that is!

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Cambridge Exams – Speaking Part 1 Activity

14570499_10153691732262396_8256139764729811039_nHi there!

Here is a little board that I created to help your students practice Speaking Part 1 of the Cambridge exams. I created it because any time I say “we are now going to do some speaking like in the exam”, half of the class shuts down and starts whining. Students just panic when they know they have to practice the speaking exam and this why I love this exercise. The students don’t always realise that it is exactly what they have to do in the exam, and once they have done it, their mouths drop open when I tell them that they just practiced speaking part 1!

It could be used for PET, FCE or even CAE (you might have to make it a little more difficult for that last level by forcing them to give 3 minute answers for example).

How to play it:

Give a board to each of the students. If you have a lot of time (speaking day for example) tell them to talk to every single person in the class and write the answers to all the questions they have asked their classmates. If you have less time, tell them to only ask 3 of the 7 questions.

Then tell your students to present by saying 2-3 things (again, depending on how much time you have) that they have learnt about a student.

That is a very good exercise to get to know each other better, practice speaking of course, but also listening and writing!

So here is the board: speaking-part-1-board

I hope it comes in handy and that you can successfully trick your student into doing speaking exam tasks with it.

 

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Phrasal Battleship

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Here we go again…Those stupid phrasal verbs that we all hate! This time, I have created the phrasal battleship for one of my Skype students. After 2-3 hours straight of planning, my brain was completely out of ideas. So I asked myself…What can two people play that doesn’t require face to face interaction? Battleship is the first thing that came to mind. But this game can be played perfectly in class as well (that’s the version I will explain in this post).

Here are the 3 boards I created:

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battleship-board-2

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How to play it:

I suggest you use this game to reinforce the phrasal verbs you have already taught your students. Here is a list of all the phrasal verbs covered in this game: phrasal-verb-list

Pair up your students. Give a board to each student (make sure they don’t get the same one). The students have to hide their board from their partner. Then have them take turns creating phrasal verbs using a verb from the vertical line and an adverbial particle for the horizontal line. They must form a sentence with the verb each time. The partner looks through his board and crosses out the verb on his board. If it is  box that has a boat on it, the student informs his partner by saying “hit”, otherwise he says “miss”.

If an entire boat has been hit, the student should say “you´ve sunk my battleship”. There are 4 boats to sink on each board. I suggest you have your students use the list of phrasal verb from above to make sure they don’t “invent” new phrasal verbs.

It took me quite a while to create the game and several drafts to make sure the combinations worked. So I hope your students enjoy this activity and stop hating phrasal verbs (we are all dreamers right?!).

 

That’s it for today guys…Keep on learning! Xoxo

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The Best Way to Improve Your Pronunciation Alone!

It can be quite difficult to learn and practice English on your own, and even more if you are studying at home and not in a school or an academy. And I would say that the most difficult thing to improve on your own is pronunciation!

But there is a solution that I think you will like because it’s easy and convenient!

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What you need:

  • A smartphone
  • words/sentences to practice pronunciation with (tongue twisters for example)

How to do it:

Basically you need Siri or the alternative versions that you find for Microsoft or Android phones. You have to set it to English though, otherwise it just doesn’t work.

Once it is set in English, just practice reading and saying things to Siri. The advantage is that it shows what you said on the screen and if you say it incorrectly Siri will tell you that he/she didn’t understand and you will be able to see what words are problematic for you when it comes to pronunciation.

And that’s it! Of course, a proper teacher that can personally correct your mistakes is always better but this is the closest alternative I have found so far.

 

You should also check this Youtube channel English With Lucy. It’s run by a friend of mine, who is also a teacher and she creates great videos for English learners. The videos are short, funny and you can usually add subtitles! Go check out her channel and tell her I sent you.

Here is one of her videos on pronunciation (I though that would be pretty appropriate right!?).

 

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Intermediate Crossword on Food

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I created an intermediate crossword for you all today!

Here is the crossword itself: food-vocabulary

And here are the answers: food-vocabulary-answer-key

There is a little hidden word in the exercise. Actually it is two hidden words. Once you have finished the crossword, take the first letter of all the words you wrote. Those letters need to be organised in the correct order to create 2 words. Those words are what I like doing best on Friday night!

 

Let’s see who gets it…

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Original things to do in Seville

If like me, you are an expat that has been living in Seville for a bit, you have done all of the touristy-typical things to do in Seville. The Cathedral, the Jardines de Murillo, the Real Alcázar, parque Maria Luisa or Plaza de España are things you must visit or see if you live in Seville.

Which I did. But then, whenever you look for new ideas of things to do in Seville, it’s always the same that is suggested.

So I have come up with a little list of nice/fun/cheap/expensive/romantic/original things to do in Seville. Oh, and by the way. Nothing in this post is sponsored, I just loved those activities so much that I decided to share them with you.

1 – Cubiqum – Do you know escape games? There is a place in Seville (very close to Nervion Plaza) that has 2 escape games waiting for you! I tried it last  weekend and it was really fun. Basically you accept to be locked inside a room for exactly 1 hour. The goal is to escape and accomplish your mission at the same time. You have to act like a true detective, follow clues and rely on team work. This really is a fun activity to do with friends but also family as kids as young as 9 can participate. It is not scary and everything is designed to require only brain power (vs physical). It’s 50 euros for the hour but it’s worth it!

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2 – Regina – This cookie place on calle Regina near the Setas is definitely somewhere you need to go if you haven’t been there yet. The shop assistant is nice and foreigner friendly but even more, the cookies are to die for. And even more is they are right out of the oven.

3 – Aire Sevilla – Arab baths…sounds relaxing right? Well it is. It’s situated in a little street near the cathedral. They have many treatments you can book with the regular baths circuit. You can enjoy different bath temperatures, Jacuzzi and salty water while appreciating the atypical interior of the place. It is VERY clean (they provide showers, little slippers, bath robes and hairdryers!). It’s also mixed so you can go with a group of friends, you partner or even your parents when they are visiting (did that). I strongly recommend the 30 minute massage as it comes with an additional bath stop on the rooftop of the building with amazing view of the Giralda.

4 – La Torre de los Perdigones – A little bit of culture is nice too…even more when it is cheap. This is situated in Macarena, not too far from the river. It used to be a pellet factory but it is now a darkroom. It is 4 euros and you get to see the city in a way you never have before. The dark room mechanism (which is manual by the way) is explained to you before the guide takes you on a “virtual” tour of the city. And there is a bar at the bottom of the tower in case you need to wait 30 minutes for the next session.

5 – Moon Korean Restaurant – That’s quite yummy! We usually think of Chinese or Japanese restaurants but Korean should definitely be an option to consider. Moon is situated in Avenida Mendez Pelayo, near the Jardines de Muriño. First, the food was just great. Second the staff were very nice and helpful when it came to explaining how to eat certain dishes. And finally the price is absolutely decent.

6 – ARCA Sevilla – Let’s give back to the world through puppy love! This is an animal rescue centre that welcomes volunteers everyday. A lot of the work consists of playing with puppies and kittens. They also need host families for short periods of time, while the animals wait to be sent to their final family (usually in Germany). You can just say how long you can host the little fur ball and host it for that period of time. It’s win-win right? You get puppy love and it gets human love, food and shelter.

7 – No Veas – That was great. It’s a restaurant where you eat in total darkness. You cannot see a thing and therefore have to guess what you are eating and drinking. The waiters and the chefs are blind so they really know how to guide you and give nice little tips to manoevre in the dark. The staff are also very foreigner friendly. There are 3 different menu options ranging from 35 to 75 euros, depending on how adventurous you are. It is indeed a little pricey but the experience really is unique and fun. I won’t tell you anymore than that because the fun part is to discover it yourself.

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8 – Tiger – Not as thrilling as the other suggestions, Tiger is still a great shop to have a look at when you are bored. I know of 2 shops, one in calle San Eloy in the centre and one in Nervion Plaza. You can find everything and anything in there. I found many little presents to fill my Christmas stockings and materials to use in class at Tiger. And also…it’s super cheap!

9 – Re-read library – Situated on calle Amor de Dios, that library sells second hand books for peanuts. You can find books in Spanish, English, French, German, Italian as well as a few other languages. The Re-read library is a nice place to kill time.

10 – “The cheese place” (is what I call it) – Unfortunately I do not remember what it is called but it is situated on Calle Arrayan. It’s a fairly small shop that sells French cheese as well as a nice selection of other French specialties. You can either buy the cheese to take it home or accompany your cheese with a nice glass of French wine while sitting in one of the booths. And the staff are really nice despite (I am French so I am allowed to say it!) being French!

 

I have tried all of those activities except from the animal rescue centre which was mentioned to me by a friend of mine.

Tell me which of those 10 ideas you have tried and which ones you preferred!

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Idiom in H – Hit the Nail on the Head

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Here is a new idiom that could come in handy.

What it means:

It means to do something correctly and efficiently.

When to use it:

Use it whenever you want to point out that somebody did something right or made a relevant, funny comment. For example, imagine that you are learning how to play chess. You make a very good move. Your chess partner could say that you hit the nail on the head with that move.

Other idioms in H:

To have a go – to try something

To hit the road – to leave a place to go somewhere else

Hot potato – a controversial topic that nobody wants to deal with