Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Costa Concordia disaster

At least 16 people died in the unfortunate incident of a luxurious cruise ship in Italy on Friday, 13th January 2012. The news has been full of stories about the captain, the circumstances of the accident, the rescue operation and the survivors. It can be a good topic for English lessons because everybody heard something about it. 
I also discussed it with my students and I prepared some tasks for them.

After clarifying the basic vocabulary related to the topic, we listened to a text describing the events:
 Costa Concordia disaster mp3

You can see the script here: Listening script in PDF

Topic related vocabulary: 
nouns: lifeboat, manslaughter, house arrest, cruise, crew, passenger, evacuation, island, fuel, hull
verbs: to tilt, to hit, to blame, to rescue, to survive, to flee

We also analyzed some illustrations:

The route of the ship after the collision

The Island of Giglio and the ship at the bottom of the picture taken from a sattelite

Italian people wear T-shirts with a quote from the coast guard talking to the captain: "Get back on board! Damn it!"

The previous routes

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Do you know why English has different names for animals and their meat?

I'm sure everybody knows the famous beef steak? But why is it called beef if the animal it comes from is the cow?

The story goes back to old times. When in 1066, following the battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror began to rule England along with Normandy, most of the aristocracy became Norman (French).

The Norman Flag

The Battle of Hastings 1066 on the Bayeux Tapestry

William the Conqueror

The peasants on the fields spoke old English but the landlords and their chefs in the castles spoke French.

Therefore in the field an animal had an English name but once it got to the kitchen the French name was used.

Norman castle in Portchester, England

Over time, these words passed on to regular people as ingredients used by the royal chefs.
The words have changed a little but you can still see their French origin:

beef – Old French: boef (ox)
pork – Old French: porc, from latin: porcus (pig)
venison – Old French: venaison (meat of large game, boar or deer, in French it means "to hunt")
mutton – Old French: mouton (sheep)
veal - French: veau (calf)

The word "bacon" also comes from French: cured pig's meat.

 Apart from the original farm animals, the ones coming later have still the same animal and meat names, such as turkey etc.

Match the meat names with the pictures. 

venison (2), beef, hen, duck, pork, veal, mutton, turkey, lamb, goose

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

What is your resolution for the New Year?

According to researchers, making resolutions is useful. If you make a resolution you are more likely to attain your goals.

Have you made one for 2012? The most typical intentions are to lose weight or quit smoking, here is a song which gives you more ideas and makes you laugh perhaps:)

Task: Fill in the gaps while listening.

New Year Resolution song
Working out, losing …………… 
maybe using tanning spray
becoming more attractive in general

reading more, watching less
learning all the rules for chess
becoming somewhat ………………. in general
eating fish, not fingernails
……………… to save the whales
becoming a better guy in general
…………… more, spending less
yes I will wax my chest
dating more girls in general

But not this year. No this year is different!
As different as a gazelle. Yes, a gazelle from a deer. (They're actually not that different.)
After all these …………… resolutions.
My future is clear, the future is near!

Just forget those resolutions you
know that you are never gonna do
and adopt a more realistical …………….
by …………….. to things that come easily to you
like eat at least one ………….. meal a week
or put the correct shoes on the correct feet
just "Raise the bar to walk effortlessly underneath!"

Just …………… the fact you've always thought
those resolutions don't mean squat
Settle in to a comfortable spot
embrace all the things you know you are not.
Hit the snooze, roll over, then repeat
Make large ………….., then lose the ……………….
just "Raise the bar to walk effortlessly underneath!"

The best Christmas movies

Watch the best Christmas dvd-s during the holidays!

The Holiday with Cameron Diaz and Jude Law 

Love Actually with Hugh Grant 

Joyeux Noel 

Bad Santa

The old favourite: Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase 

Home Alone 


Holiday in Handcuffs 

We wish you all a Wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!