Writing part 2. Book review (C1)

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve had a good end of the year and have had a strong start to 2021. We won’t dare say “this is going to be my year” but it’ll sure outdo its predecessor! 🙂

Today we bring you the second part of the post series on how to write a review. On this occasion, we’ll be focusing on C1 students so the review will be slightly longer than the previous one. First of all, look at the task, what differences can you see when comparing it with the B2 First task we studied here?

REVIEWS WANTED

Have you read a book that has a central character whose life is affected by an event or decision they make early in the story?

What did you learn about the person’s character? Did the book help you to understand how the person was affected by this event or decision?

Send us your review for our next issue

As you can see, whereas the B2 review task focused on summarising the plot and writing a recommendation, in this case we don’t need to do the latter, but rather focus on one of the characters of the book and talk about their development in the story and their evolution as a character.

This is an example of how a review on Javier Castillo’s “Snow Girl” would look like for this task:

Iris and the Snow Girl

Last year I read a book that had quite an impact on me; it’s called Snow Girl, by the Spanish writer Javier Castillo.

The book starts with the 1998 Thanksgiving parade in New York City. Thousands of people wait for the enormous inflatable turkey and amongst them Aaron, Grace and her 3-year-old daughter Kiera Templeton. Aaron takes Kara to get a balloon and she gets lost in the crowd, at that point in the story, a nightmare begins for the Templetons but also for William and Iris.

As Will was walking around Macy’s enjoying the show and surrounding himself from the happiness that his own house was lacking, he saw Kiera: alone, scared and crying. He simple could not take it. He approached her, changed her clothes and cut her hair to make her look like a boy and took her home. After Iris’s initial refusal, Kiera stayed with them, for over 12 years.

What drove Iris to do such thing? We learn the simple but painful truth: she had been trying to have a baby for years and that every month she had to face the disappointment of finding out she was, yet again, not with child. During the first months of Kiera’s kidnapping, she did struggle to live with herself having taken someone else’s child but after the first time Kiera called her “mom”, the first time Kiera hugged her and asked for her protection, she was made.

Iris’s decision of accepting Kiera into her house marked not only her life but also her psychological evolution. She had clearly committed a crime and, yet, the reader will struggle to blame her for it because, in the end, all Iris ever wanted was a child to love and sometimes, that need, simply doesn’t attend to reason.

What do you think of this review? Has it answered all the questions? What differences in language can you see when comparing it to the B2 First one?

Take a look and let us know in the comments! We’ll see you next time to discuss the answers!

Stay safe everyone!

Happy December!

Hello everyone!

December is already here and with it comes winter, the festive season and (finally) the end of 2020!

Have you answered the questions from the previous blog post? I hope so! Today we’re going to discuss the answers.

These were the questions to be answered:

  1. Has the writer answered the questions fully?
  2. Was the text easy to read?
  3. Was it well organised both in paragraphs and using connectors?
  4. Look for adjectives and adverbs in the text, what sort of information do they give you? Why are they important?
  5. How does the reviewer describe the action in the book? Have you learned about main characters and plot twists?

The answer to questions 1, 2, 3 and 5 is “YES” but, how about question 4? Were you able to find the adjectives used and identify why they were important? Let’s take a look at the text again, but this time you’ll find the adjectives (or words functioning as adjectives) highlighted in yellow:

The words in yellow are used to describe the nouns that accompany them. For example “enormous” and “inflatable” describe the noun “turkey”, not only clarifying that we’re talking about a plastic one but also conveying the idea that it’s floating in the air. But, what about the words in green?

As you have probably guessed, they are not adjectives but different parts of the speech (especially nouns) that give us extra information and help us draw the appropriate picture in our heads. This is called descriptive language. Let’s take a look at it!

Thousands of people indicates the amount of people at the parade. It is used instead of “There were a lot of people at the parade”

Spiral of anxiety, pain and blame. This series of nouns (spiral, anxiety, pain and blame) could have easily been omitted or replaced by adjectives like “the father becomes nervous and scared”. However, our first option seems, not only more natural but it also provides a clearer image of what the situation was like while letting on to the idea that the nightmare the main characters are living won’t end any time soon.

Many. We can also use quantifiers to indicate amount but not a specific number.

Undergraduate. By using this word we are letting the readers know that Miren has not finished her degree and, maybe even making them curious about why that is relevant.

Real page-turner. This is more of an expression than a part of speech in itself but it perfectly transmits the desired image to the reader: one of a person turning page after page trying to figure out what happened to Kiera Templeton.

As you can see, sometimes nouns are more important than adjectives when we are writing a review or article, do you dare give it a go? We invite you to write your review following the instructions given on the previous post and hand it to your ES teacher!

I really hope you have enjoyed this post. Leave us a comment or pay us a visit to learn more about any area of the English language!

Have a great december!

Writing part 2. Book review.

Hello everyone! I hope October has treated you well and you have received November with open arms!

Today, we are starting a series of posts about writing. One of the most common questions when using descriptive language is how to do so, what words and parts of the speech to use and how to organise it.

Hello everyone! I hope October has treated you well and you have received November with open arms!

Today, we are starting a series of posts about writing. One of the most common questions when using descriptive language is how to do so, what words and parts of the speech to use and how to organise it.

Well, we think that it is always better to work hands-on so here I bring you my review about Snow Girl, by Javier Castillo. I have chosen it because I know that it is a book that many of you have read and so you’ll be able to relate to this piece of writing.

There will be four posts in total divided in two blocks: B2 and C1 level. This first one will show a sample of the book review for first certificate and you’ll be asked to read it and give your opinion of the review answering a series of questions, which will be answered and highighted in the text for the second post. The second block will do the same but with a change of focus towards C1.

Let’s go for it! This is the task:

You must answer this question.

An international arts website is looking for reviews of novels for a new section called ‘A Reader Writes’. You have decided to write a review of a novel you’ve recently read for this section. Describe the novel and say what you think about it. Would you recommend this novel to other people?

Write your review in 140- 190 words in an appropriate style on the separate answer sheet.

B2 Sample review task

And this is the sample answer:

Snow Girl

I really liked The Day Sanity Was Lost, by Javier Castillo but with his latest book, Snow Girl, he has surely outdone himself.

The book starts with the 1998 Thanksgiving parade in New York City. Thousands of people wait for the enormous inflatable turkey and amongst them is the Templeton family. Aaron, Grace and her 3-year-old daughter Kiera enjoy the parade before her brother comes along in a few months. Aaron takes Kara to get a balloon she gets lost in the crowd, which leads to a spiral of anxiety, pain and blame, changing their lives forever.

Many journalists become interested in the case, including the undergraduate Miren Giggs, but as years go by without new leads, people lose interest and many in the police department think that Kiera is no longer to be found. However, five years after Kiera’s kidnapping, the Templeton’s receive a VHS film with recent footage of their daughter, who is now eight years old, playing in an unknown room and it won’t be the last one.

I really loved this book, it’s a real page-turner, engaging from the very beginning and keeping you engrossed chapter after chapter. If you like mystery and noir novel, I’d recommend this book as Javier Castillo never disappoints.

So, what did you think of it? Would this get a 5 out of 5 in the B2 First Exam?

Think about the following:

  1. Has the writer answered the questions fully?
  2. Was the text easy to read?
  3. Was it well organised both in paragraphs and using connectors?
  4. Look for adjectives and adverbs in the text, what sort of information do they give you? Why are they important?
  5. How does the reviewer describe the action in the book? Have you learned about main characters and plot twists?

Read the review again and answer these questions, the answers will be discussed in our next post.

Until then, as usual, #staysafe !

Photo by Koshevaya_k from Pexels

Syncopation for the nation (Part 1)

Hello everyone!

As you may know, we’re back on our feet and feeling stronger than ever! At the beginning of the month we launched an online learning platform that has proven really successful and that we combine with our improved online classes.

With our mind towards the summer season, we encourage you to get information before we get all our spots filled up, both face to face and online! Continue reading “Syncopation for the nation (Part 1)”

Job Hunting Part 3: The Interview

Hello everyone and happy May 1st!

To celebrate international workers’ day we’re posting the long overdue final part of our job interview special. If you missed them here are the links for the first two parts:

Part 1

Part 2

Now we are ready to start. Scroll down for part 3!

 

The questions

Once you’re sitting down and the (hopefully great) initial impression has been made, now it’s time to answer some questions. We can divide these into 5 categories, depending on their nature:

 

1. Basic interview questions 

In many interviews, the first question you’ll be asked is “Tell me about yourself”. This is a great opportunity to explain who you are and the value you would bring to the company, albeit you don’t start telling them about your memories of day care or your school friends. Talk about your skills and interests, your achievements and your professional projection being humble and honest.

Other basic interview questions are:

  • What are your strengths / weaknesses?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Where would you like to be in your career in five years from now?
  • What’s your ideal company?
  • What attracted you to this company?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What do you know about this industry?
  • What do you know about our company?

 

2. Behavioural questions

They are designed to learn about your professional life but also to analyse your personality. For example, if asked “What was the last project you headed up? What was the outcome?” the interviewers may be more interested in what image of yourself you’re portraying than in the project itself and if asked “can you describe a time when your work was criticised?” you are being assessed on your self-criticism, on how well you receive others’ opinion and whether you’re able to change your way when things are not going well.

Other behavioural questions are:

  • What is your greatest failure, and what did you learn from it?
  • What irritates you about other people, and how do you deal with it?
  • If I were your supervisor and asked you to do something you disagreed with, what would you do?
  • What’s the most difficult decision you’ve made in the last two years and how did you come to that decision?

 

3. Career development questions

This is the time when you should bring up professional experience and achievements relevant for the position you’re applying for as well as your future projection and ambitions. Some of the questions you may be asked are:

  • What are you looking for in terms of career development?
  • How do you want to improve yourself in the next year?
  • What kind of goals would you have in mind if you got this job?
  • If I were to ask your last supervisor about your training approach, your dedication or commitment, what would they say?

 

4. Salary related questions

This is a tricky area, should you be honest about how much you want to earn? Should you ask for a certain amount? Well, the answer depends on the job application and the description of it. If the salary was part of the job advert you already know what you are going to earn and, supposedly, you agree with that number or you wouldn’t be there. On the other hand, if the ad did not mention anything about salary, make sure you do your research and go to the interview with an estimate of how much people in your position earn. You may want to ask for more but you should offer a good reason for it.

Some questions you may be asked in this area are:

  • What salary are you seeking?
  • What’s your salary history?
  • If I were to give the salary you requested but let you write your job description for the next year, what would it say?

 

5. Other questions

This is a miscellaneous category where the interviewers will find out additional information in any of the areas they feel thay need to and these are some questions to give you a general idea:

  • How would you describe your working style?
  • What would be your ideal working environment?
  • What do you look for in terms of culture – structured or entrepreneurial?
  • If you were interviewing someone for this position, what traits would you look for?
  • List five words that describe your character
  • What is your greatest fear?
  • What is your biggest regret and why?
  • Tell me one thing about yourself that you wouldn’t want me to know

 

After this, all we can do is go home and wait for that phone call or email giving us the answer. Just remember, not all companies reply and if you do not receive any notification from them in 4 weeks, it is understood that you have not been selected. That’s ok, just keep up the good work and you’ll get there! 😉

 

What’s your opinion of our job hunting special? Have you found it useful? Let us know your opinion in the comments section below!

Have a great May!

 

 

I want it all and I want it now (Part 2)

Hello everyone!

Welcome to the second part of the post that topped the charts last week! Continue reading “I want it all and I want it now (Part 2)”

Academic English, what’s that?

Hello everyone!

How’s the week going? This Friday we bring you a website  that we really think  you are going to love: the Cambridge blog on “Academic Perspectives”. Did you even know this exists? Continue reading “Academic English, what’s that?”

I want it all and I want it now

Hello guys!

Today we are very excited to bring you a collaboration post about all of those questions students often ask about exams: Continue reading “I want it all and I want it now”

Spanglish

Hello everyone!

Today we’re going to talk about typical mistakes made by Spanish students. Continue reading “Spanglish”

Sing & Learn and other activities

Hello everybody!

We hope you’ve had a lovely weekend #athome surrounded by your loved ones, and practising English! 😀

Firstly, we would like to thank all of our readers for making us such a popular option for students to find information and activities. We are simply, and truly, honored. Continue reading “Sing & Learn and other activities”