Friday, October 30, 2009

Grammar, Vocabulary and 6 Minute English

Good day everybody.
First, a message to this year's Levels 2 and 3 students. If you are not in these categories, please do stay with me because I try to include everyone in this blog.

Level 2. We have recently been studying Defining Relative Clauses. It's well worth doing some extra practice on this, and this link will take you straight to a simple test. When you have finished, go on to the second test, in which you have to put the words in the right order.

When you have finished further practice on Relative Clauses, try some vocabulary. Here's an exercise revising body vocabulary, which we studied last week.

These are all exercises to be found in your book's official web site.

Level 3. We have been studying Conditionals, both 'real' and 'unreal'. This link takes you straight to some further practice on the book's web site. As for vocabulary, how about some extra practice on the language of education?

These exercises are from the book's official web site. These links are also to be found in the list down the right-hand column of this blog. For more grammar and vocabulary sites, check out the 'Practising and Learning English' section.

Please do leave a comment or a message on the Tag Board to say what you thought of these exercises. Were they easy, difficult or Elementary?

Let me remind you that even if you are not one of my Level 2 or Level 3 students, you are warmly encouraged to participate in this Blog by doing the exercises and leaving messages and comments.

Now for Six Minute English. This time it's about Shopaholics and how to control your spending habits. Before you listen, read these questions:

1) Official question: According to some sources, what percentage of the population are shopaholics? Is it:
(a) 1%  (b) 10% (c) 50% ?

2) Complete this definition: "Shopaholics are ........." [use a relative pronoun in your definition.]

3) Listen to shopaholic Helen. What kind of things did she spend money on? Choose from these:
  • cars
  • furniture
  • holidays
  • jewellery
  • shoes
 4) Why did Helen buy so many things?

5) How, according to the expert, can we stop spending money uncontrollably?

Now, listen to Six Minute English. When you have finished, send your answers to this Blog in a comment.

I look forward to hearing from you!
More very soon,
 - Mike

Thursday, October 22, 2009


My friends,
Sorry for my recent absence from The Blog. I am back now and will be posting more exercises and pointers to help you optimise your use of the WWW to help you learn and practise your English.
For the moment, let me give you the answers to the recent quiz questions on Spider Invasion. They are:

1) The answer is (c) - forty thousand, much to the horror of one of the speakers. And there may be thousands more undiscovered species.
2) Harmless!
3) A combination of environmental factors: last year's wet autumn and this year's temperate summer.
4) He went 'cold turkey' using a technique called 'flooding'. In other words, he cured himself instantly by putting a very large spider on his hand.
5) Within three hours, using hypnosis.
6) Over eighty per cent.

Many thanks to former student Serena and current student Flavia of level 3B who got the right answers. Now listen again and compare the answers with what you hear.

And if you like wildlife, have a look at the winning photos in a recent competition organised by the BBC. I very much liked the winner, which shows a Spanish wolf.

What techniques did the photographers use to capture each image?
More soon,
 - Mike

Friday, October 16, 2009

Welcome To All Students

   Hello everyone. This is the first general message of the new academic year at the British Council Rome.
   But I am also addressing anyone who is visiting this Blog. It does not matter whether or not you are studying English at The British Council. You are all equally welcome to explore this Blog and contribute to it.
   The aim of this Blog is to encourage people to maintain their contact with English in their spare time, between lessons or even during holidays. The Blog displays links to many web sites of great use to you, as a student.
   The sites are listed down the right-hand column and are organised in various categories. Do please take time to check out the listening and video category. This Blog emphasises the importance of listening. Many students complain they do not get enough practice in this area. This Blog attempts to correct this problem.
   Right now, you can go to the second posting on the Blog, dated October 15, and answer the questions on 'Spider Invasion' after listening to the programme.
   If you are a current student at The British Council, scroll down to "Web sites for New English File". Look for your book, and click on the appropriate link. You will find a large collection of practice exercises for your level.
   I will be posting regular messages, at least once a week, so please return to this space regularly. Don't forget to add this site to your favorites.
   More very soon,

   - Mike

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spider Invasion - this week's Six Minute English topic

Hello. And a warm welcome to all new students visiting this Blog. I'd like to remind the world that this Blog is open to everyone, but especially to anyone learning English as a foreign language. You are all encouraged to make this Blog interactive by sending your feedback, either to the Comments section at the end of each posting, or to the Tag Board at the top of the right-hand column.

There's great emphasis here on Listening, as many students find this to be one of the most difficult aspects of learning a new language. So we will start off with an exercise from Six Minute English. Today it is about Spiders and Arachnophobia.

Read the questions first, then click on the link to the BBC's Learning English web site, listen, and try to answer the questions. Send your answers to the Comments section or, if your answers are very short, to the Tag Board.

Question 1 (official): How many known spider species are there in the world today? Is it:
(a) 2000; (b) 20,000; (c) 40,000 ?

Question 2: Are most spiders in the UK dangerous or harmless ?

3. Why are there more spiders than usual in the UK this autumn?

4. How did arachnophobe Dave Clark cure his fear of spiders?

Dave now works at the London Zoo where he runs course to help people cure their arachnophobia.

5. How long, according to Dave, does it take someone to get rid of their fear of spiders?

6. What is Dave's success rate?

Now listen to the programme. Then post your answers to the comments section or the Tag Board.

Coming soon: "How To Use This Blog" for new students.
More soon!
 - Mike

Friday, October 02, 2009

A new academic year starts...

... at the British Council Rome. As before, this Blog will continue to provide you with ideas on how to exploit the Internet in ways which will help you improve your English.

The emphasis at the moment is on Listening. And if you'd like to see the correct answers to the listening exercise about the young Dutch sailor, read the Comments section at the end of the posting about her.

Now here's a further exercise, from Six Minute English, on "The Digital Divide". Read the questions first:

1. (Official question):
How many people over the age of 15 in Britain today are not online? Is it
a) 7 million?
b) 17 million?
c) 30 million?

2. The "Digital Divide" means .... [write a few words to complete the definition].

3. For what reasons do some people not want to use the Internet?

4. Why, according to Martha Lane Fox, is it important for people to get online?

listen to the programme. Then give your answers by posting them on the Tag Board or by putting them in a comment - preferable, as there is more space.

Finally, how do you like the Blog's new look? Let us know in a post on the Tag Board, or, if you write a longer message, post it in a comment below this message - just click on the word Comments.

Note that when you leave a comment, you do not need to log in with a user name and password. You can write your comment directly.Then you have to type the special letters you see into a small wondow; this is a device to prevent Spammers leaving comments. Then, choose either the Name/URL option, or the Anonymous option. But if you choose Anonymous, then please leave your name at the end of your message. This will help us to appreciate your contribution fully.

More soon,
- Mike