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Although I can’t say I’m a music junkie I spend a lot of my time listening to music. The kind of music I listen to largely depends on my mood .Normally, on my way to work I’m full of energy and anticipation so the songs I like listening to are of that kind … but when I am coming back home I need something a bit more relaxing , so I go for classical music , ballads, chill out … and all that jazz. And sometimes if my day’s been crap and I have to think about the best way to face the music , then I appreciate the silence.
Anyway, what I want to say is that I like this chick. I think she’s got a very nice voice , powerful but sweet at the same time .. When I first listened to her , her voice kind of struck a chord ; she is somewhere between Amy Winehouse and  Kate Perry with a touch of Dufy. Her first album has just been released and I anticipate it’s going to sell like hot cakes.
Her debut single ‘Mama Do (Uh Oh Uh Oh)’ was a success but ,in my humble opinion, there are other very good tracks. By the way , her album is called Turn it Up.

Want to see what these idioms mean ? 

What on earth is a palindrome?

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under The English Language
What’s a palindrome?
Although you might not have realized yet what a palindrome is what you cannot deny is that the word is beautiful. It comes from the Greek “palin”= return and “dromes”= path; but this won’t probably enlighten you as regards its real meaning.

All right, I know you are all on tenterhooks waiting for me to tell you but first of all ,I’m going to give you an example … or several to make you rack your brains. I know, I know  you’ve nearly finished exams and they have been hard enough  but we don’t want you to put your mind at rest just yet, do we? Enough of beating about the bush …here’s the example: “no lemon no melon”.

Can’t see it? Not a clue? Really? Ok, I’m going to give you another example. It is said that the first sentence uttered by a human being was a palindrome. First and second human being? Adam and Eve. So when they met for the first time the gentleman in Adam said to Eve: “Madam, I’m Adam”. Although some people think that Adam was more talkative than this and that what he actually said was “Madam in Eden, I’m Adam”.
Now the penny’s dropped and you know! A palindrome is a word or a phrase which is the same when read from the start or the end, Mystery solved!!
Can you think of any palindromes? Please do and then send me a post … you can even write a song. You think this is far-fetched? Have a look at this video

Now that you have a certain skill at mastering new structures it’s time to improve your vocabulary. There is no point in learning a new word unless you know how to use it and it is also important to understand how words are used.
So here is a cool site you can enjoy. It is called WORDIA. What is this and what are they? I quote “We’re a team of language enthusiasts and general word nuts who have joined forces to create a new kind of dictionary - a democratic ‘visual dictionary’. A place where anyone with a video, webcam or mobile phone can define the words that matter to them in their life.”
As anyone can record words , it goes without saying that I accept no  responsibility for anything incorrect, improper, wrong  … you name it.
Click on the image and try it.
You can also get  a new video sent to you everyday, just by adding your email address to the subscription field and each day you will be sent a link to the newest word.
Related links:
Confusing Words
Converting Text into Speech
From London with Love

A Book Review

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under Resources, The English Language
You have been reading your books for a while now and I sincerely hope you are enjoying it. But… hurry up if you haven’t finished because your writing test is coming… sorry to give you bad news. I have already made up my mind to do it on  Wednesday April  29 in class.
Here are some considerations and tips about writing book reviews . I hope you find them useful.
What is the difference between a book report and a book review? A book report is completely factual. It includes information on the author, title, place and year of publication as well as a summary of the content of the book. A book review, on the other hand, is much more personal. It is really an expression of the reader’s opinion of the work, or of specific aspects of the work. The review will probably include much of the same factual content as the report, but it is the reader’s personal opinions that are most important. 
You have read your book. Your next step will be to organize what you are going to say about it in your report. Writing the basic elements down in an outline format will help you to organize your thoughts.What will you include in the outline? 
The description should include such elements as: 
  • The setting—where does the story take place? 
  • The time period—is the story set in the present day or in an earlier time period? Perhaps it is even set in the future! 
  • The main character(s)—who is the story mostly about? Give a brief description. Often, one character can be singled out as the main character, but some books will have more than one 
  • The plot—what happens to the main character? WARNING! Be careful here. Do not fall into the boring trap of reporting every single thing that happens in the story. Pick only the most important events. Here are some hints on how to do that. First, explain the situation of the main character as the story opens. Next, identify the basic plot element of the story–is the main character trying to achieve something or overcome a particular problem? Thirdly, describe a few of the more important things that happen to the main character as he/she works toward that goal or solution. Finally, you might hint at the story’s conclusion without completely giving away the ending.   
Read the rest of this entry »

How do you say 2010?

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under The English Language, Word of the Day
Lately I’ve stumbling about how to say 2010. If you think for a while you’ll see that ,so far, we have been saying 1900 as nineteen hundred and 1908 as nineteen oh eight or eighteen hundred and eight.
The question, then, is: if the year 1800 is eighteen hundred, how do you account for the year 2000 being two thousand and not twenty hundred? (Ok, let’s say that some people say twenty hundred but the vast majority don’t and we’re certainly sticking with the majority,)
So, what about 2010? Even though it is coming soon, it is still somewhat unclear whether the English speaking world will tend to call it twenty ten or two thousand ten.
I’ve done some research and found that people say different things:
2010= twenty ten
2010= two thousand (and) ten
2010 = oh ten
Some of the people favouring twenty ten argue that it sounds more natural and others even say that people are lazy so, as twenty ten has only three syllables, this is certainly the favourite one.

But let’s see what the experts have to say: According to David Crystal, author of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, the change of pronunciation to “twenty X” will occur in 2011, as “twenty eleven”, explaining that the way people pronounce years depends on rhythm, rather than logic. Crystal claims that the rhythm or “flow” of “two thousand (and) ten”, beats that of “twenty ten”, but the flow of “twenty eleven” beats “two thousand (and) eleven”.Alternatively, Ian Brookes, editor-in-chief of Chambers Dictionary, suggests the change will occur in 2013 (as 2012 is often referred to as “two thousand and twelve”).
It seems we’ll have to wait and see.
Related Entries
The English language does  not have a Real Academia de la Lengua
¿Du yu espic inglish?
Córcholis or it is raining cats and dogs
False friends: embarrassed or embarazada?

Word of the Day: Ditto

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under The English Language, Word of the Day
I bumped into this word  and my first thought was: Gosh!! I have so many things to learn. So, here it is. I wouldn’t dare not sharing it with you.
“Ditto”, what a strange word to be used in English!. In fact, you can use so many other expressions with the same meaning as Ditto , that that must have been the reason why I’ve never felt the need to use it.
But let’s not ramble and get to the point, the point being the meaning of this word .
You use it ,informally, to agree with what someone has just said.
A: What a nice teacher!  B: Ditto
Or as stated in the cartoon to avoid repetition.
It is said that the English language has more words than any other language in the world and it seems it might be true .According to the editors of the Oxford Dictionary there are at the very least, a quarter of a million distinct English words, excluding inflections, and words from technical and regional vocabulary , but have you ever wondered how a word gets into a dictionary?
The British do not have a Real Academia de la Lengua to be proud of , so how do they choose the words they need to include in a dictionary? The answer is simple: people need to use it. Basically editors watch the word for several years to see how it is used in both spoken and written English. They check to see that the word is used to express an idea clearly, and that the idea is understood. Then when the word is seen in writing and speech regularly, it can go in the dictionary.
That was the way for new words such as “pescatarian” ( a person who eats fish but not meat) or “infinity pool” to refer to a type of swimming pool with an edge that makes the water appear to flow into the horizon.
The English language is constantly growing, developing and changing. Nowhere is this more true than on the Internet. There are new words phrases and acronyms being invented all of the time. Many of these disappear very quickly, but other stay and become part of the language, so it can be really useful to know some of them.
Have you ever tried reading the posts on My Space and had such a hard time understanding it that you had to stop after only a few sentences? Not anymore, just go to this site and copy and paste  what  you cannot understand into No and they’ll tell you what the heck they’re talking about.

Now, things such as f@ or n1 won’t be a mystery to you anymore.

¿ Du yu espic inglish ?

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under Funny Stuff, The English Language

Esto es la carta que escribió una señora al programa de Luis del Olmo para que la leyeran en directo:

Desde que las insignias se llaman pins, los maricones gays, las comidas frías lunchs, y los repartos de cine castings, este país no es el mismo: ahora es mucho, muchísimo más moderno.
Antaño los niños leían tebeos en vez de comics, los estudiantes pegaban posters creyendo que eran carteles, los empresarios hacían negocios en vez de business, y los obreros, tan ordinarios ellos, sacaban la fiambrera al mediodía en vez del tupper-ware.
Yo, en el colegio, hice aeróbic muchas veces, pero, tonta de mi, creía que hacía gimnasia. Nadie es realmente moderno si no dice cada día cien palabras en inglés. Las cosas, en otro idioma, nos suenan mucho mejor.
Evidentemente, no es lo mismo decir bacon que panceta, aunque tengan la misma grasa, ni vestíbulo que hall, ni inconveniente que handicap… Desde ese punto de vista, los españoles somos modernísimos.
Ya no decimos bizcocho, sino plum-cake, ni tenemos sentimientos, sino feelings. Sacamos tickets, compramos compacts, comemos sandwiches, vamos al pub, practicamos el rappel y el raffting; en lugar de acampar, hacemos camping y, cuando vienen los fríos, nos limpiamos los mocos con kleenex.
Esos cambios de lenguaje han influido en nuestras costumbres y han mejorado mucho nuestro aspecto. Las mujeres no usan medias, sino pantys y los hombres no utilizan calzoncillos, sino slips, y después de afeitarse se echan after shave, que deja la cara mucho más fresca que el masaje.
El español moderno ya no corre, porque correr es de cobardes, pero hace footing; no estudia, pero hace masters y nunca consigue aparcar pero siempre encuentra un parking. El mercado ahora es el marketing; el autoservicio, el self-service; el escalafón, el ranking y el representante, el manager.
Los importantes son vips, los auriculares walkman, los puestos de venta stands, los ejecutivos yuppies; las niñeras baby-sitters, y hasta nannies, cuando el hablante moderno es, además, un pijo irredento.
En la oficina, el jefe está siempre en meetings o brain storms ¡casi siempre con la public-relations!, mientras la assistant envía mailings y organiza trainings; luego se irá al gimnasio a hacer gim-jazz, y se encontrará con todas las de la jet, que vienen de hacerse liftings, y con alguna top-model amante del yogurt light y el body-fitness.
El arcaico aperitivo ha dado paso a los cocktails, donde se jartan a bitter y a roast-beef que, aunque parezca lo mismo, engorda mucho menos que la carne.Ustedes, sin ir más lejos trabajan en un magazine, no en un programa. En la tele, cuando el presentador dice varias veces la palabra O.K. y baila como un trompo por el escenario la cosa se llama show, bien distinto,como saben ustedes, del anticuado espectáculo; si el show es heavy es que contiene carnaza y si es reality parece el difunto diario “El Caso”, pero en moderno. Entre medias, por supuesto, ya no ponen anuncios, sino spots que, aparte de ser mejores, te permiten hacer zapping.

Estas cosas enriquecen mucho. Para ser ricos del todo, y quitarnos el complejo tercermundista que tuvimos en otros tiempos, sólo nos queda decir con acento americano la única palabra que el español ha exportado al mundo: la palabra “SIESTA.”
Espero que os haya gustado… yo antes de leerlo no sabía si tenía stress o es que estaba hasta los cojones”.
Comment:In English you never go footing or puenting , you go jogging or bungee jumping

Putting the emphasis on Emilia

Posted by CRISTINA CABAL DIAZ under Music, The English Language
Have you never heard about her? I’m sure you have .But even if you haven’t ,if  I  hum the words” I’m a big, big girl…”  you’ll probably think,” Yeah ,I know this song or , at least, this small verse but not  the singer”.
Why this song today? Well, the only reason is because I’ve been teaching Emphasis and it’s a good song to illustrate this point. I’m afraid that’s my only reason as she is not one of my favourites.”Sorry , Emilia ! I’ve heard  you are on your way to the European Song Contest and I wish you well, you are just too soft  for me”
Anyway, it is very good for students to see how the emphasis is placed on some words (actually, they can find three different ways).
But, why don’t you go to my website and do the exercises ? or alternatively ,if you are up to your eyes with homework , just enjoy it.
First option, click here.
Are you learning Old-Fashioned English? 
Only this week I asked my advanced students to write a diary entry, telling them that this was the right time to use non-grammatical structures and any informal expressions they could think of .It was only when one of my most advanced students handed in her paper that I realized my mistake..I caught a glimpse of the expression ” it was raining cats and dogs” and I thought  well,well… how are they supposed to know that this expression would sound to a native speaker as “córcholis or “cáspitas” to us?
So, this funny expression “It is raining cats and dogs”is memorable but unfortunatelyit stopped being current in the 1950s.
But there are some others:
Bobbies- The British have not called their policemen “bobbies” for decades.
Whom -Only pedants under 50 will ever use this possessive pronoun.
Gay with the meaning of “happy”- I don’t think a straight happy man would like to be described as “gay”.
 If you  have little or no contact with British speaking culture, be careful when using colloquial expressions. Probably you’ll be understood  only by an English -speaking grandmother.
The good thing is that sometimes words “bounce back”. So maybe in 10 or 20 years’ time we will be using expressions such as “truenos y relámpagos” , “pánfilo” or “botarate” . So ,language can always catch up with us and not the other way round.
Where does that leave us? Well, one of the reasons that native speakers don’t comment when they hear learner say “it is raining cats and dogs” is that learners always look so happy to have been able to use an idiomatic phrase  that it seems uncharitable to correct them. Make it clear to the native speakers you interact with that you want them to tell you when your English sounds quaint.
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