Friday, 30 May 2008

The Passive Voice

The passive voice is normally used when we are interested in the person or thing affected by the action rather than in the performer of the action. It is also used when the performer of the action is unknown. Passive sentences can only be formed from active ones containing an object. Consider these sentences:

Active: Sir Isaac Newton discovered the law of gravity.

Passive: The law of gravity was discovered by Sir Isaac Newton.

Form of Passive Sentences:
(Passive) Subject + finite form of to be + Past Participle (Verb + -ed or 3rd column of irregular verbs) + (Agent = by-phrase)

Active: Mary wrote a letter.
Passive: A letter was written by Mary.

When rewriting active sentences in passive voice, note the following:

- the object of the active sentence becomes the subject of the passive sentence
- the finite form of the verb is changed (to be + past participle)
- the subject of the active sentence becomes the agent of the passive sentence (or is dropped)

To have a complete review on this topic, click on these links:

Explanation and activities. (Spanish).
Explanation and activities. (Beginners).
Explanation and activities. (Intermediate).
Explanation and activities. (Advanced).
Active or Passive Test.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Congratulations Russia! Congratulations Dima Bilan!

In this video you can watch and listen to the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 winner song "Believe", by Dima Bilan from Russia! Congratulations again!

Thursday, 22 May 2008

MANCHESTER UNITED'S heroes are returning home in glory today

Alex Ferguson's Double winners are set to touch down after winning the European Cup in Moscow last night.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Co are basking in the spotlight after their epic victory over arch rivals Chelsea in the Champions League final.

United edged the Blues in a dramatic penalty shoot-out 6-5, leaving skipper John Terry and his players to fly back empty-handed into Gatwick today.

For more information, click here.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

European week: Eurovision Song Contest 2008 and UEFA Champions League Final

This week we have two significant events in Europe: the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 and the UEFA Champions League Final. I have devoted a post to each of them, but today a colleague has given me some interesting information about the Contest and I want to share it with you.

What is the European Broadcasting Union?
The European Broadcasting Union is the largest association of national broadcasters in the world. It promotes cooperation between broadcasters and facilitates the exchange of audiovisual content. The EBU works to ensure that the crucial role of public service broadcasters is recognised and taken into consideration by decision-makers. It was founded in 1950, it has got 75 active members, from 56 countries in and around Europe. It counts on with 45 associate members around the world. Member broadcasters reach an audience of 650 million weekly!

The EBU helps its members to access high quality programming for radio and television, and works with them to develop content for new platforms. Radio activities are wide-ranging, from news and sport, to drama and classical music. They have obtained the radio broadcast rights for the entire season of the New York Metropolitan Opera (20 operas to 20 countries). Their television co-productions include, animation: Tom, drama: Henry Dunant – Red on the Cross, documentary: Democracy and of course they also run the Eurovision Song Contest, and its website. The EBU acquires sports rights on behalf of its Members, including the Olympic Games, the Football World Cup and the World Championships in Athletics.

The Eurovision Song Contest is one of the longest running television shows in the world. It was on the 24th of May, 1956, that Europe saw the first ever Eurovision Song Contest. After 52 runnings, the contest is one of the most typical European traditions.

For the history of the Eurovision Song Contest, click on this link.

More information: EBU and Wikipedia.

And here you have one of my favourite songs from the European Song Contest. The song title is "Everyway that I can" and the singer is Sertab Erener, from Turkey. She was the winner of the 2003 Contest.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Andy Warhol

Andrew Warhola (August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987), better known as Andy Warhol, was an American artist and a central figure in the movement known as Pop art. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became famous worldwide for his work as a painter, an avant-garde filmmaker, a record producer, an author, and a public figure known for his membership in wildly diverse social circles that included bohemian street people, distinguished intellectuals, Hollywood celebrities and wealthy aristocrats. A controversial figure during his lifetime (his work was often derided by critics as a hoax, or "put-on"), Warhol has been the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions, books, feature and documentary films since his death in 1987.

It was during the 1960s that Warhol began to make paintings of famous American products such as "Campbell's Soup Cans" from the Campbell Soup Company and Coca-Cola, as well as paintings of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Troy Donahue, and Elizabeth Taylor. He founded "The Factory", his studio during these years and gathered around himself a wide range of artists, writers, musicians, and underground celebrities. He switched to silkscreen prints which he produced serially, seeking not only to make art of mass-produced items but to mass produce the art itself. By minimizing the role of his own hand in the production of his work and declaring that he wanted to be "a machine", Warhol sparked a revolution in art. His work quickly became very controversial and popular.

More information, here.

If you want to test your knowledge on Warhol and Pop Art, click here and take the quiz.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

2008 UEFA Champions League Final: Manchester United versus Chelsea

Calling all football fans! It's time to get ready to watch the UEFA Champions League Final taking place in Moscow, Russia, on 21st May at the impressive Luzhniki Stadium, which once hosted the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

The Champions League is the most important and the most prestigious European football cup arresting millions of football fans to their TV screens and drawing thousands of supporters at the stadiums. Scores of clubs from 53 UEFA associations fight for the right to play in the Champions League, but only 32 teams reach the main stage. It's a seasonal tournament - it starts in the end of summer and ends in the end of spring.

The 2007–08 UEFA Champions League is the 16th season of UEFA's premier European club football tournament, the UEFA Champions League, since it was rebranded in 1992, and the 53rd tournament overall. The Final will be played on 21st May 2008 and, unlike the other knockout rounds, it is played in only one match with extra time in case of a draw after 90 minutes. If the teams are still level following the extra time, a penalty shoot-out will determine the winner. For the first time in the history of the European Cup, the final will feature two teams from England: Manchester United will play against Chelsea, making it an all-English club final.

UEFA made football history when they announced earlier on in the year that they plan to hold club football's most prestigious event in Moscow, the furthest East the cup final has ever been played. What a chance then for Moscow and Russia to showcase not just the two best teams of 2008 playing for glory, but also this vast and beautiful metropolis we know as Moscow.

Enjoy the match and may the best one win!

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Leona Lewis: "Bleeding Love"

Leona Louise Lewis is a British singer and winner of the third series of The X Factor UK television talent show. Her UK debut single, "A Moment like This", was released in December 2006, breaking a world record after it was downloaded over 50,000 times within 30 minutes.

Her second single, "Bleeding Love", was the biggest-selling single of 2007 in the United Kingdom, topped over thirty national singles charts and became a number one single on the first week in France on March 22 and number one in the US on April 5, 2008.

Her debut album, Spirit, was released in Europe in November 2007, and became the fastest-selling debut album ever in both the United Kingdom and Ireland. Released in North America in April 2008, Spirit debuted at number one in the US Billboard 200 chart and made Lewis the first British artist to top the chart with a debut album.

With her album reaching number one in at least three continents and nine countries, Lewis has had the most successful launch of any television talent show contestant ever.

For more information on Leona Lewis, click here.

Friday, 16 May 2008


This is Oxford, a famous city in England. If you do the following exercises, you will find more information about this wonderful city.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Fun Facts, Numbers, and Figures!

Below, you'll find tons of fun facts and figures so valuable and important you'll wonder how you managed without them! Enjoy!

Did you know that ...

It is impossible to lick your elbow.

A crocodile can't stick its tongue out.

A shrimp's heart is in their head.

When you sneeze, your heart stops for a millisecond.

In a study of 200,000 ostriches over a period of 80 years, no one reported a single case where an ostrich buried its head in the sand or attempted to do so.

In the United States alone, there is a lawsuit every 30 seconds.

It is physically impossible for pigs to look up into the sky.

More than 50% of the people in the world have never made or received a telephone call.

Rats and horses can't vomit.
The "sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick" is said to be the toughest tongue twister in the English language.

If you sneeze too hard, you can fracture a rib. If you try to suppress a sneeze, you can rupture a blood vessel in your head or neck and die. If you keep your eyes open by force, they can pop out.

Rats multiply so quickly that in 18 months, two rats could have over a million descendants.

Wearing headphones for just an hour will increase the bacteria in your ear by 700 times.

If the U.S. government has no knowledge of aliens, then why does Title 14, Section 1211 of the Code of Federal Regulations, implemented on July 16, 1969, make it illegal for US citizens to have any contact with extraterrestrials or their vehicles?

Forty percent of all people who come to a party in your home snoop in your medicine cabinet.

The electric chair was invented by a dentist.

The cigarette lighter was invented before the match.

100% of all lottery winners gain weight.

Thirty-five percent of the people who use personal ads for dating are already married.

A duck's quack doesn't echo, and no one knows why.

23% of all photocopier faults worldwide are caused by people sitting on them and photocopying their buttocks.

In the course of an average lifetime you will, while sleeping, eat 70 assorted insects and 10 spiders.

160 cars can drive side by side on the Monumental Axis in Brazil, the world's widest road.

Most lipstick contains fish scales.

Cat's urine glows under a black-light.

A hummingbird weighs less than a penny.

Like fingerprints, everyone's tongue print is different.

and last but not least...

Over 75% of people who read this will try to lick their elbows!

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Technological advances

Now technology controls every move you make ...

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Thank you for your visits!

Hello everybody!
I want to thank you all for your visits and comments.
You are really welcome to leave comments or suggestions.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Manchester United wins the Premier League

CRISTIANO RONALDO has set his sights on the Double after Manchester United wrapped up the title.

The Red Devils pipped Chelsea to the Premier League crown by winning at Wigan yesterday.
And they have now turned their attentions to facing the Blues in the Champions League final in Moscow in nine days's time.

Ronaldo, who opened the scoring in the 2-0 win at the JJB Stadium, said: "This season has been good for me because I've scored many goals, the team have played fantastically to win the Premier League and we're in the final of the Champions League.

"It's going to be fantastic if we win the Champions League. The feeling is going to be amazing if we win."

"In the final you never know, it is 50-50. I'm very happy and proud to play in the final, this is my first time."

"I feel very excited, the lads have belief and it is a great opportunity for all of the players."

For more information, read today's article of THE SUN.

By the way, congratulations to Manchester United supporters!!!

Task: Turn Ronaldo's statements into Reported Speech.

"O Captain! My Captain!" by Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman was one of the most influential American poets of the 19th century. Completely self-educated, Whitman read the works of Homer, Shakespeare and Dante as a child. At age 16 he became a school teacher and founded a newspaper at the age of 19. In 1840, Whitman had his first novel published and several short stories. In 1855, Whitman published Leaves of Grass - the work for which he is certainly best known for. The collection of poems in Leaves of Grass are celebrations of the harmony between the human body, spirit, and senses, in combination with the natural world. "Song of Myself", "I sing the Body Electric", and "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" are among the most highly regarded of the poems in Leaves of Grass.

Walt Whitman had great admiration for Abraham Lincoln and dedicated the poem made famous in the movie Dead Poets Society, "O Captain, My Captain", to the fallen president in Leaves of Grass. Today, Whitman remains inspirational to modern day poets not just in America, but in Latin America and France as well. Below is Whitman's famous poem inspired by Abraham Lincoln, O Captain! My Captain!

Source and more information.

O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! My Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up-for you the flag is flung-for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths-for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse or will;
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Walt Whitman wrote the poem after Abraham Lincoln's assassination. He admired Abraham Lincoln and was saddened by his death. In the poem, Lincoln is represented by the captain and the United States of America is the ship. The ship has endured obstacles such as Civil War; everything is over, and there is peace. The speaker is feeling bittersweet about the victory.

The poem begins with an image of a ship returning safely to port. Crying out for his captain, the speaker realizes the captain has died at sea. The onlookers onshore celebrate the ship's safe return, but the speaker mourns the death of his captain. As the voyage ends, so does the captain's life.

With a conventional meter and rhyme scheme that is unusual for Whitman, it was also the only poem anthologized during Whitman's lifetime. Whitman later said, "Damn My Captain... I'm almost sorry I ever wrote the poem."

Source and listening (the poem recited).

This is a fragment of the film Dead Poets Society. It alludes to the poem by Whitman, "O Captain! My Captain". It is a very touching scene and definitely a wonderful movie.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Text messages harm written language?

The spread of text messages is causing great alarm to educational authorities all over the world. More and more often, we find sms language on projects, written work or tests. Students have to be conscious that this type of language is just for mobile phone use. Here we have a description of this kind of language, together with some news on the effects of sms language on standard written language and a glosary on mobile phone texting terms.

SMS language (also known as chatspeak, txt, txtspk, texting language or txt talk) is the English language slang used in mobile phone SMS. It is an abbreviated form of English. This type of language has been alleged to not obey or follow standard English grammar; furthermore, the words used in the writing system can't be found in standard dictionaries. The invention of mobile phone messages may be considered as its source, although elliptical styles of writing dating back to at least the days of telegraphese. There are no standard rules for writing SMS languages. The objective of txt is to use the fewest number of characters needed to convey a comprehensible message. Hence, punctuation, grammar, and capitalization are largely ignored. Source and more information.

DUBLIN (Reuters) - The rising popularity of text messaging on cell phones poses a threat to writing standards among Irish schoolchildren, an education commission says. The frequency of errors in grammar and punctuation has become a serious concern, the State Examination Commission said in a report after reviewing last year's exam performance by 15-year-olds.

"The emergence of the mobile phone and the rise of text messaging as a popular means of communication would appear to have impacted on standards of writing as evidenced in the responses of candidates," the report said, according to Wednesday's Irish Times. "Text messaging, with its use of phonetic spelling and little or no punctuation, seems to pose a threat to traditional conventions in writing."
For the complete news and source, click here.

Mobile phone texting glosary.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

How healthy is your diet?

Do you want to know how healthy your diet is? Click on this link to guess.

The following picture displays "world obesity". It has been created by the Wellington Grey blog . There has been so much interest that the author has even made the picture into a poster that can be purchased.

Obesity is a condition in which the natural energy reserve, stored in the fatty tissue of humans and other mammals, exceeds healthy limits. It is commonly defined as a body mass index (weight divided by height squared) of 30 kg/m2 or higher.
Although obesity is an individual clinical condition, some authorities view it as a serious and growing public health problem. Some studies show that excessive body weight has been shown to predispose to various diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus type 2, sleep apnea and osteoarthritis. (For more information, click here).

How much do I need to eat to lead a healthy diet?
Everyone wants to know how much they should eat to stay healthy. It's a tricky question, though. It depends on your age, gender, and how active you are. People who are more active burn more calories, so they need more calories. But in this picture, "the eatwell plate", and the following link, you have some estimates for how much you need of each food group.

Click on the pictures to enlarge.
And finally, if you want to play a nutrition game, click here.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Brain teasers

Can you solve these riddles?

A man is looking at a photograph when someone asks him "Whose picture is that?"
The man replies "I have no brothers or sisters, but this man's father is my father's son"
Whose photo is the man looking at?

Mr. Jones and his son Alfred are travelling together when therir aeroplane crashes.
The father is killed, and Alfred is seriously injured. Arriving at the hospital emergency room, the head surgeon cries "I cannot operate on this patient, he's my son Alfred!"
How can you explain this?

If you want to see the solutions or try to solve more brain teasers, click
on the links.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

How to protect your shop from thieves

A witty way of keeping thieves away ...

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Happy Birthday, Mr. President by Marilyn Monroe

"Happy Birthday, Mr. President" was a short song sung by actress Marilyn Monroe on May 19, 1962 for then-President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, at a celebration for his forty-fifth birthday.

Marilyn Monroe sang the traditional "Happy Birthday to You" lyrics, with "Mr. President" inserted as Kennedy's name.

Afterwards, President Kennedy came on stage and joked about the song, saying, "I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way".

Click on the picture to watch and learn English with
Marilyn's performance.

Now, you can watch a funny video for wishing somebody a Happy Birthday. Both videos are available in, a web which provides a lot of tools for improving your English.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Gomaespuminglish III

Gomaespuminglish, Lechón Trí (3)

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Real Madrid wins the Spanish Football League 2007-2008

Congratulations to Real Madrid and its supporters!!!

With three games remaining, Real Madrid has won its 31st Spanish league title.
As usual when winning a title, the club will celebrate it with captain Raúl González set to tie the club's scarf around the downtown
statue of the goddess "Cibeles", the traditional scene of Madrid's triumphs.

Eurovision Song Contest 2008 Belgrade

The Eurovision Song Contest 2008 is the 53rd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, which will be hosted by Serbia. The semi-finals will be held on 20 and 22 May respectively and the final on 24 May 2008 in the capital, Belgrade. The Belgrade Arena, venue for the Contest, is among the largest indoor arenas in Europe, with a total capacity of more than 20,000 seats. Serbia gained the right to host the Contest after Marija Šerifović won the 2007 Contest in Helsinki, Finland.

For the first time in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest, two Semi-Finals will be held to decide which 25 countries will be represented in the Final.

The first Semi-Final will take place on Tuesday, 20th of May. Click here to see the 19 countries taking part in the first semi-final.

The second Semi-Final will take place on Thursday, 22nd of May. You can see the 19 participating countries here.

There are five countries which are automatic finalists: Germany, Spain, France, the United Kingdom and Serbia.

For more information on the contest click on these links:
Eurovision TV.

If you click on this button, you can listen to the Spanish song!

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Around the World with Willy Fog

This animated children's series from the 1980s is based on the Jules Verne classic Around the World in Eighty Days --with animals, rather than humans, cast as the main characters. Willy Fog is a lion and a perfect English gentleman who accepts a wager from his men's club to travel around the world in 80 days. Together with his butler Rigadon and the charming rodent Tico, Willy sets out for his globe-trotting adventure, followed by the evil weasel Transfer, who has been hired to sabotage the trio's expedition.

What happens at the end? Does Willy get to travel around the world in eighty days? What is his final destination? Do you know which famous clock is relevant for the development and final outcome of the series?

For more information on Around the World with Willy Fog click here.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Huelva and its English Quarters

Situated at the estuaries of the rivers Odiel and Tinto, Huelva is now the fourth largest port in Spain and the capital of the province. Founded as Onuba by the Phoenicians, the town had its grandest days as a Roman port important in the trade of mineral products. However, the city has found its place in history as a vital element in the discovery of the New World and prospered in the early days of trade with the Americas.

One legacy of the area's mining activity is the curious "Barrio Reina Victoria", made up of typically English style houses built by the Río Tinto Company for its English workforce in the early 20th century. Many Britons came to Huelva to find wealth and a new life. With them they brought two main sporting passions - Golf and Football. The oldest football club in Spain is Recreativo de Huelva and the oldest Golf club is Bellavista in nearby Aljaraque.

In the North of the Province lie "Sierra de Aracena" and "Picos de Aroche". They make up a gently rugged landscape dotted with small villages. The slopes are covered with cork, oak, chestnut and wild olive trees and are cut by rushing streams and mountain roads.

The area was settled in ancient times by the Phoenicians and Romans who mined copper, silver and iron. The open faced mines of Riotinto are still one of the regions attractions. Corta Atalaya is one of the largest opencast mines in the world and from the viewpoint you can see the crater and marvel at the extent of years of excavation.

Situated in the village, the museum explains the history of the mines and of the Río Tinto Company. There is a 250 metre long reproduction of a Roman mine which you can walk round and witness first hand the ancient struggles to retrieve the earth's treasures. Also in the village is the unusual "Barrio de Bella Vista"where English style 19th century terraced houses were built for the English employees of the Río Tinto Company.

Source: Home from Holmes.

If you want more information on this topic, click on this link: ¡Qué de Arte! You will find an accurate comment on their history and their artistic value.

Wanderlust, Bjork

Click here for the lyrics.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Reported Speech

Another grammar lesson in our blog: Reported Speech.

Reported statements: Explanation and exercises.
Reported questions: Explanation and exercises.

Reported speech: Explanation and exercises.
Reported statements: Explanation and exercises.
Reported questions: Explanation and exercises.
Reported requests: Explanation and exercises.
Reported speech: Additional information and exceptions.

Mixed Exercise I
Mixed Exercise II

Labour Day

Labour Day is an annual holiday held all over the world that resulted from efforts of the labour union movement, to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers. Most countries celebrate Labour Day on May 1, known as May Day and International Workers' Day.

In the United States and Canada it is held on the first Monday of September, in Canada. In New Zealand it is celebrated on the fourth Monday in October. In Australia there are several dates, depending on the region: first Monday in October, second Monday in March, first monday in March and first Monday in May. In Ireland it is celebrated on the first Monday in May.

In Spain, today is Labour Day.

Happy Labour Day!!!