20 02 2008



11 02 2008


One type of argumentative essay is that which gives advantages and disadvantages (for and against). It is a formal piece of writing in which a topic is considered from opposing points of view. A good essay of this type should consist of:

  • an introductory paragraph in which you state the topic. This means that you talk generally about the topic without giving your opinion;

  • a main body in which the points for and the points against, along with your justification, appear in two separate paragraphs; and

  • a closing paragraph in which you give either your opinion or a balanced consideration of the topic.

Points to consider

  • Make a list of the points for and against a topic before you start writing.

  • Write well-developed paragraphs in which the points you present are supported with justification, (i.e. reasons or examples).

  • Do not use informal style (e.g. short forms, colloquial language, etc.) or strong language (e.g. I firmly believe, etc.)

Linking words/phrases

  • To introduce points: one major advantage/disadvantage of, one point of view in favour of/against

  • To list points: in the first place, first of all, to start with, secondly, thirdly, finally, last but not least

  • To add more points to the same topic: what is more, furthermore, also, in addition to this/that, besides, apart from this/that, not to mention the fact that

  • To make contrasting points: on the other hand, however, in spite of, while, nevertheless, despite, even though, although, it can be argued that

  • To introduce examples: for example, for instance, like, especially, such as, in particular

  • To conclude: to sum up, all in all, all things considered, in conclusion, on the whole, taking everything into account, as was previously stated


27 10 2007

People migrate for many different reasons. These reasons can be classified as either economic, social, political or environmental:

  • Economic migration may involve moving to find work or follow a particular career path.

  • Social migration may involve moving somewhere for a better quality of life or to be closer to family or friends.

  • If someone is a political migrant they may be moving to escape political persecution or war.

  • Environmental causes of migration include natural disasters such as flooding.

Some people choose to migrate, eg someone who moves to another country to enhance their career opportunities. Some people are forced to migrate, eg someone who moves away from their home region due to war or famine.

Often those who are forced to migrate become refugees. A refugee is someone who has left their home and does not have a new home to go to. Often refugees do not carry many possessions with them and do not have a clear idea of where they may finally settle.

Push and pull factors are often used to explain why people migrate:

  • Push factors are the reasons why people leave an area, ie what pushes them away from their home. Push factors include: lack of services, lack of safety, high crime, crop failure,drought, flooding, poverty and war.

  • Pull factors are the reasons why people move to a particular area, ie what pulls them to a new place. Pull factors include: higher employment, more wealth, better services, good climate, safer, less crime, political stability, more fertile land,
    lower risk from natural hazards.

Migration usually happens as a result of a combination of these factors.


6 10 2007
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The latest buzz word in the continuing debate about the environment is ’sustainable management’ - that means using plants and animals for our own benefit, but ensuring that enough are left alive to guarantee the survival of the species. This sounds good, but is it practical in reality? In spite of years of scientific research, no-one really knows how much damage human beings are doing to their environment. We know that they are responsible for many problems ranging from global warming to ozone depletion, and there is no doubt that they have a devastating effect on animal and plant life on Earth.

About 50,000 animal and plant species are becoming extinct every year. All species depend in some way on one another for survival. If you remove one species from this complex web of interrelationships, we have little idea of the repercussions on the ecosystem in general.
What makes things more complicated is the fact that unlike global warming - which, if the political will was there, could be reduced by cutting gas emissions - preserving bio-diversity remains a difficult dilemma.




13 09 2007



An excellent way for the more advanced learner to increase his or her English proficiency is to read an English-language newspaper on a regular basis. Most people who read a newspaper do so selectively and skim through the pages looking for the most interesting-looking articles to read first. They usually make their choice on the basis of the headlines of the articles. And this is where the difficulty for the non-native speaker of English arises, since newspaper headlines are often extremely difficult to understand. There are two main reasons for this. The first reason is that newspaper headlines have to be brief and consequently use words that are rarely used in everyday speech or indeed in the rest of the article itself. (Probe for investigation, blast for explosion etc.) And the second reason is that headline writers, at least in British newspapers, look for every opportunity to include a pun -juego de palabras- in their headlines. It is this second aspect of newspaper headlines that we want to concentrate on in this article.

Popular British tabloids such as the Sun or the Mirror are notorious for the use of puns in their headlines, but even serious papers such as the Guardian cannot resist the temptation. What makes many of the headline puns even more difficult than the simple wordplay of puns used in jokes is that headline puns very often contain cultural references. Unless you are familiar with popular British TV programmes or advertising, the headline will be diffcult to understand. All the examples which follow were taken from the Guardian. See if you can identify the pun or make any sense of the meaning of the headline.

  • Burning questions on tunnel safety unanswered (About the possibility of fires in the Channel tunnel)

The pun in this case is in the words burning questions. The questions are about fires, hence burning questions, but burning question is another way of saying an important or urgent question.

  • Science friction (About an argument between scientists and the British government on the topic of BSE or mad cow disease)  

Friction is a word used to describe tension or disagreement between people, in this case between scientists and the British government. The obvious reference here is to science fiction; stories that take place in the future or another part of the universe.

  • Return to gender (About a reoccurrence of sexual harassment in London post offices)

The term gender has to do with male and female; and the newspaper article in question deals with the return of tension in the working relationships of men and women in London post offices. The headline is a pun on the instruction Return to sender, which is stamped on letters that cannot be delivered and must be sent back to the people who wrote them.

  • A shot in the dark (About the murder of a Russian politician) 

The Russian politician was killed by a gunman in a dark stairway; hence the headline. But a shot in the dark also means a gamble or a guess.



Click on the link below to visit the “Guardian newspaper” webpage,  choose two of the  headlines and read the articles.



5 09 2007


Learn about the city of Edinburgh. Clicking on the title, you can listen to  someone talking about her trips round Edinburgh and read the tapescript.



Edinburgh is one of the finest, most spectacular cities in the whole of Europe. The Pentland hills lie to its South and a coastal plain stretches north and east, to the Firth of Forth. The city is geographically dramatic, with Arthur’s seat and Castle Rock remnants of volcanic action, together with Carlton Hill  and the Salisbury Crags,
The city has two distinct characters: the Old Town, with its sometimes narrow, crooked  and spooky streets and Edinburgh Castle almost embracing Castle Rock, is juxtaposed against the so-called  New Town, with its well arranged streets and impressive architecture. In 1995 the old and new towns of Edinburgh were designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Edinburgh is not only famous for its Fringe Festival; it is also famous for its spectacular New Year’s Eve. On December 31st, just before midnight the city-folk , and the visitors, climb one of Edinburgh’s seven surrounding hills to see the firework display. Learn more about the city clicking on the title, you can listen and read the tapescript about someone’s trips round Edinburgh.


19 08 2007




Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire. One of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones. Archaeologists believe the standing stones were erected around 2200 BC and the surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC.

At present it is believed that the site could be used to anticipate astronomical phenomena. This has sparked the belief that the site was created to help commemorate the solstices, as the alignment with the sun and moon would seem to indicate.





A virtual world is a computer-based simulated environment intended for its users to inhabit and interact via internet. The world being computer-simulated typically appears similar to the real world.The earliest virtual worlds were not games but generic virtual reality simulators.The first virtual world devoted to the education of children was launched  in 1999.  Virtual worlds represent a powerful new media for instruction and education