Blog de Cristina

a new language means a new vision of life

Archive for January, 2009

I am feeling generous

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under The English Language
So… feeling brave today? Here is a poem about English pronunciation. If you manage to read it aloud in class without making a single mistake (Ok. I said ,I was feeling generous…let’s say one mistake) you won’t have to take the oral test at the end of this term. Ready?????Wink
English is Tough Stuff
Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.     
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,                     
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Read the rest of this entry »

Word of the Day: Dead

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under Word of the Day
Everyone knows that the most common meaning of the adjective dead is “not alive”, “deprived of life ; of an emotion (now that Valentine’s day is coming) ” no longer felt” : a dead passion, dead affections.

The word is used in a couple of other interesting ways, though… For instance, you can say “dead tired” to mean “extremely tired” - (EX: “Jim was dead tired after driving for 20 hours straight“). “Dead wrong” means “completely wrong”. In this usage, you can see that the word has the meaning of “very”, “completely”, “extremely”, etc. To be dead on means to be “completely right/correct”. Another expression that uses “dead” is “the dead center of (something)”, which means “the very center of (something)”.

by Nancy Heiges an ESOL Instructor
There’s an old joke about a missionary’s wife. She and her husband recently arrived at their new church in a South American country. The congregation held a dinner to welcome them, and the local pastor invited them to speak. The wife was reluctant because her Spanish was rudimentary, but after much encouragement, she went up to the podium and began apologetically, “Estoy muy embarazada, y él” - she indicated the local pastor - “tiene la culpa.” Instead of friendly laughter, she was met with stunned silence because, of course, what the congregation understood was, “I am very pregnant, and it’s his fault.”

“Embarrassed” and “embarazada” are examples of ‘false friends’ between Spanish and English: words that look or sound like they should mean the same thing in both languages but really don’t. As a student of Spanish and teacher of English, I’ve run across a few ‘false friends’ which have caused some pretty amusing mistakes. The following examples are real cases of confusion I’ve had with students and friends. The definitions of the Spanish words represent the particular usage I learned in each case.
1. Spanish “molestar” (to bother or annoy) and English “molest.” Imagine my shock when a student told me, “I no finish my homework because my brother molest me.”
2. Spanish “constipado” (congested) and English “constipated.” My Spanish friend was really confused when I urged him to eat prunes for a stuffy nose.
3. Spanish “coraje” (anger) and English “cour-age.” My class looked worried when I bragged I had “coraje” after I killed a spider.
4. Spanish “Tengo frío” (I’m cold) and English “I have a cold.” I told some students I’d missed class the other day because “tuve frío” and they looked at me like, “You big baby, it’s 65 degrees.”
5. Spanish “papa” (potato) and English “Papa.” I thought my Mexican friend was bringing her father over for dinner, so I was puzzled, but nonetheless pleased, when she gave me a dish of mashed potatoes instead.
6. Spanish “sopa” (soup) and English “soap.” I still make the mistake of asking the Hispanic children I work with to please wash their hands with soup.
7. Spanish “sensible” (sensitive) and English “sensible.” My class watched a movie together and several of us were quite misty-eyed by the end of it. I was really pleased when one of the Hispanic students praised us for being “sensible.”
8. Spanish “carrera” (major subject in school) and English “career.” When my 18-year-old Colombian student told me about his career in business, I was amazed that he’d gotten such an early start.
Fortunately for language students, Spanish and English are very friendly languages; most words that sound the same do have similar meanings. ‘False friends’ like these are exceptions, and it comes in handy to know them.

No more James Dean /james dean/

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under General, Listening
The problem with English names  is that you can never be sure how to pronounce them unless you have heard them before.
The thing is that I always find myself under great pressure when I have to figure out how to pronounce an English name. People assume that just because you have some knowledge of English you are supposed to know how to pronounce every single name they come across. What they don’t seem to know is that there are no pronunciation rules ,in English , you can rely on and  that there are lots of English personal and place names whose pronunciations are counter-intuitive to their spelling.
How are you supposed to guess that  a name such as Happisburgh, is pronounced /heizbr∂/, for God’s sake! I would  have never guessed it!
I remember some years ago I took a course in a place called Hastings (like the battle) in South West England . Before leaving for England I carefully checked how to pronounce the name   /heistinz/  but when I took  a taxi to take me to this vilage, to my dismay , the taxi driver pronounced the name as  /hi:stinz/  and then after some time in the village I realised that the name could be pronounced in several different ways.
Anyway, here is a list of film stars whose names are frequently mispronounced: no more James Dean  /james dean/,  if avoidable.
Fred Astaire
Richard Attenborough
Dan Aykroyd
Lauren Bacall
Sean Bean
Warren Beatty
Kenneth Branagh
Richard Burton
Sean Connery
Russell Crowe
Tom Cruise
Jamie Lee Curtis
Tonny Curtis
Matt Damon
Bette Davis
Daniel Day-Lewis

Johnny Depp
Kirk Douglas
Faye Dunnaway
Kirsten Dunst
Mia Farrow
Ralph Fiennes
Lawrence Fishburn
Clark Gable
Ava Gardner
Richard Gere
James Mason
Walter Matthau
Victor Mature
Ian Mckellen
Marilyn Monroe
Eddie Murphy
Bill Murray
Clive Owen
Gwyneth Paltrow

Sean Penn
Brad Pitt
Keanu Reeves
Susan Sarandon
Patrick Swayze
Charlize Theron
Sigourney Weaver
Mae West
Elijah Wood
Renée Zellweger
Adapted from Think

A Man’s Best Friend

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under Students' Corner
Sent by Maria Pardo
A species of animals I’m interested in are dogs.I love all kinds of dogs. When I go out and meet a dog we both usually connect immediately. Dogs don’t speak but we look at each other and we communicate just by means of a look . I prefer dogs to cats. Cats are usually selfish and dogs are very generous. When a family moves, cats prefer to stay at the old house whereas dogs prefer to leave with the family.

Sometimes we can see homeless people in the cities with the only company of a dog. This animal never abandons his owner even if the owner has got nothing, not even food. They are absolutely faithful. People say that the dog is a man’s best friend and I completely agree with that. They help people that feel very isolated especially the elderly and sick . I totally disagree with people who abandon animals mainly in summer when they go on holidays.

I have had four dogs in my life. The last one was Pinky. I adored him. He wasn’t a pedigree animal but he was for me the most beautiful animal in the world. He had a lot of white fur and a silky coat. He was small and had enormous brown eyes. He was slow and a little bit quiet. When someone arrived home, Pinky used to bark with strength to let us know and used to move his tail.
Unfortunately, Pinky died last year in July because of his age. He was thirteen years old.

To you, Dad

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under General
´cause I miss u

Confusing Words

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under Resources
Here is a nice tool I have found which might help you when doing homework.

Confusing Words is a collection of 3210 words that are troublesome to readers and writers. Words are grouped according to the way they are most often confused ormisused.
Some of these words are homonyms (words that sound alike but are spelled differently) and some are just commonly confused such as “affect/effect”

Blame it on the snow

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under Students' Corner
Hello dear students:
I know most of you haven’t been able to make it to the school due to severe weather conditions.
Just this time I am going to  tell you what we did in class so you can do your homework and work on some of the activities done in class.
Task 1. Warm-up. Guided speaking  about Christmas, traditions related to it commercialization of this season. (photocopy available at request)
Task 2. Vocabulary: materials, adjectives describing materials… done with slips of paper on the blackboard ,more motivating than in your textbook but you can also find it there. Page : 37
Task3. Listening  from page 37
Task 4. Verb phrases with “take”. Textbook page 42 (ex.11 and 12)
Homework: You are to prepare a short speech of not less than 2 minutes about one of the topics you’ll find on your books, page 39, ex 12.
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