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Archive for the ‘Listening’ Category

The listening test is knocking on your door.

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under Listening
Do you feel you need further practice for your listening test, why don’t you try this site? What you’ll find is an interview with a teacher nearing retirement age with all the wisdom and experience gathered in all these years of teaching people. Very interesting from my point of view .
Related links:

Food for Thought

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under General, Listening
I have just received this email from a colleague and I have felt the urge to share it with you although you have probably seen it or heard about it. It has certainly made a deep impression on me… suffice to say that I couldn’t help crying. I am not ashamed of it but I would be  if it hadn’t stirred me in some way or other.
We live in the First World surrounded by luxury and superfluous things. We only care about our present even though we are  all well aware of the consequences of all our excesses but we feel no remorse by thinking that all these hot issues should be discussed and dealt with somewhere else and by politicians . We always think we can do nothing and we keep on living , putting the blame on others when we see wars, famine and  destruction  and then , we listen to this 13-year-old girl and realize that we could do something only if we wanted to.  Watch the 7:53 minutes ; it is worth it.
I want a world for my children and for my grandchildren but also for my great-great…and all the generations to come. Don’t you want the same?

Memories to Share

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under Listening, Music
Good memories , bad memories but memories anyway.

Only this week I asked my students to reminisce about the past and ,because we are on the lucky side of the world, all their memories were great. Most of them remembered their childhood with nostalgia , which is a good thing to do.
They remembered and talked about memories they will always cherish : about fighting with siblings, wonderful holidays when the family used to stick together, inventing tall stories to tell your parents so as not to be grounded, giggling with your classmates after mocking the teacher… you have given me lots of material to bribe you with.
We  all have memories that are  persistent throughout most of our life. Sharing them provides others a precious window to who we are.

Now, I have found and done with my students this song by James Morrison , food for thought I should say, which both fits the grammar we have been studying to refer to the past, namely : “would” and “used to” and also the topic “Memories”.
I hope you enjoy it!. If you want to see the Lesson Plan , click here
Have you got any memories to share?  So, come on , send them

Karaoke on line

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under Listening, Resources
 Throughout all these years of teaching I have come to realise the importance of music when learning a language, especially when it comes to pronunciation matters. I have seen and heard students, not even  knowing the verb “to be” and with amazingly  good pronunciation. When asked , they , more often  than not, attribute it to music.
And yes, singing songs is an excellent way of improving your pronunciation. How could it be any other way when you sing your favourite songs over and over again.
So I have found this excellent karaoke site . It is called Karaoke Party
and the great thing is that if you register you can actually get a score for your singing when you hit the right notes.
No excuses . Get singing right now and start practising for our great karaoke party next 19th Feb.

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

New Year’s Resolutions

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under Funny Stuff, Listening, Music
It is the time of the year when you start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions.
But what is a New Year’s Resolution ? It is our determination to accomplish something over the next year such as enjoy life more, quit smoking, lose weight, do exercise.

I always try and think of some New Year’s Resolutions to accomplish next year but ,let’s face it , I don’t have enough fingers or toes to count the number of times I have broken them and then I think why bother? Do you know anyone who keeps their New Year’s resolutions? Or even remembers them after January 15? I sure don’t.
Anyway, this is how you can express your Resolutions , being number 1 the weakest and 10 the strongest. So, depending on how  willing you are to keep your promise , use one or the other.
Ten expressions to use in speaking and writing
1. I guess I’d better stop overspending..
2. I suppose I really ought to go to the gym
3. I really should diet, but then again…
4. There’s nothing for it. I’ll have to do it
5. I promise I’ll try harder to arrive early
6. I have every intention of passing the test
7. Never again will you catch me snoring..
8. Nothing is going to stop me finishing..
9. No matter what happens, I’m going to win..
10. Come hell or high water, I’ll pay it back
Now , you are going to listen to a funny song about resolutions .This is what you can do:

1. Before you listen .Predict some of the promises you might hear
2. Then, write down at least three of the ones you hear
3. Check here

I think we all feel very much the same about oral tests, they are really stressful. I m not that old to have forgotten the ones I did while training to become a teacher  facing ,more often than not, a three member board of unsympathetic professors jumping at their chance to make you feel utterly miserable.They were my personal crossing of the Rubicon or, at least, this is how they are stored in my memory.
Having said that much, you all have to see the necessity of these tests or rather you don’t , but this is, I am afraid, not open to discussion.

What I wanted to show you is that everybody gets nervous when they have to answer a question in public; moreover, if they cannot use their native language, which would be your case , But.. Miss South Carolina is American, isn’t she?
Well, she did what some students do when they are not very confident. She learnt ,by heart ,an answer she thought might suit every possible question and so, when asked one that didn’t quite fit in with this answer she struggled to make it fit. Unfortunately , ….
The only two coherent utterances are:

1. The judge’s question : Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the US on a world map. Why do you think this is?
2. Miss south Carolina’s final sentence: …so we’ll be able to build up our future for our children.
Fancy watching it?

And now the hilarious explanation Jimmy Kimmel gives analysing her words on a blackboard.

Linking Words

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under Listening, Music, The English Language
There are many differences between Spanish and English pronunciation. English is a time stressed language, as opposed to Spanish , which is a syllabic language.
This is important because we, as Spanish, try to give equal importance to each syllable but in English, only some words in a sentence are considered important and therefore pronounced with more emphasis (Content words) while others are quickly spoken (Function words) some would say ,swallowed.
Look at these two sentences. Although the first has 7 words and the second 12 , it should take you the same amount of time to read both sentences. Why? Because as English is a time stressed language there is always the same distance between two stressed words.
Peter said horrible things about your mother.
He left after dinner taking most of his books in his suitcase.

Another thing to take into consideration is Linking .Words , when they are pronounced in isolation do not sound the same as when pronounced in a sentence. Why? Because of this linking.
Linking occurs in English in these situations:
Consonant+ vowel : when a word ends with a consonant sound and the next one starts with a     vowel sound , we , very often , link them
  Ex: Liked it /laiktit/
         And I /∂nai/
Vowel+ Vowel : when one word ends with a vowel sound and the next word begins with a vowel sound, we link the words with a sort of W or Y sound.
To simplify :
♥ If our lips are round at the end of the first word, we insert a W sound:
   Ex: do it /du:wit/
♥ If our lips are wide at the end of the first word, we insert a Y sound:
   Ex: Ray is /reiyiz/
And then we have the Linking “r” for example, the “r” in “here” would not be pronounced in “Here they are ” (because it is followed by a consonant), but it would be pronounced in “Here I am”. Likewise, the “r” at the end of “far” would only be pronounced if the next word begins with a vowel, as in “far away” /fa:r∂wei/ or” far off”. /fa:rof/

Listen to these sentences and repeat after them paying attention to the linkings.
Not at all
Isn’t it a pity Ian’s wearing odd socks?
Was ever a bride so pretty?
Here is a song to practise linking. Pay special attention to the chorus where linkings are much more noticeable. If you want to to an exercise with this song click here.

Obama’s Victory Speech

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under Listening
Barack  Obama  is President-elect of the United States of America.He is expected to take office as the forty-fourth President of the United States  on January 20, 2009.  Obama is the first non-white politician to be elected President of the United States, the first African-American to sit in the Oval Office . I only hope he doesn’t like wars as much as Bush.
If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference. Read the rest of this entry »

Monty Python :Silly Job Interview

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under Funny Stuff, Listening
The thing is ,this time I was looking for the real thing, I mean  , a proper job interview but when I saw this sketch from  Monty Python I just couldn’t help myself . I wanted you to watch it and have a big laugh. . I am going to keep on searching the Net for a serious job interview, I promise.
 Watch the hilarious interview from this English comedy troupe , one of the best , in my opinion and answer this question.
Did he get the job? Why (not)? Click here to see the answer.
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