The UK and the poppy

Hello everyone!

Have you seen people wearing poppies on their clothes lately? Even though we’re in November it has nothing to do with Thanksgiving but with World War I.

Our teacher Stephen Murphy has written an article so that you can know more about the origin of this tradition. Read on! Continue reading “The UK and the poppy”

Question tags (Part I)

Hi there everyone!

I can see that our last post (Internet slang) really caught your attention, didn´t it? I wanna say a big thank you for all the visits, pings and trackbacks we’ve been getting for the last couple of weeks. It’s just been amazing!

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But I reckon you really want the answers for the Internet Slang challenge, don’t you? Well, here they are:  Continue reading “Question tags (Part I)”

Internet slang

Hello eveybody!

HRU? What do you think our renewed website and blog? Judging by your hits on the site it must be pretty cool, eh?

Well, FYI, pretty cool new things are going on at Euroschool! Everybody is B2W and I promise you will soon know about them but, meanwhile, let’s take a look at some internet abbreviations, shall we? 🙂 Continue reading “Internet slang”

Improving your Listening skills

Hi there!

As the summer holidays come closer some students frequently ask us how they can improve their listening results. Well, the answer seems straightforward: come to class in summer! The truth is that three months is a really long time and if students stop coming to class, their listening and speaking is affected.

So here is my first tip, whether you choose a summer camp, some weeks in the UK or coming to classes, do not interrupt your learning process for more than four weeks.

Having said this, there are a few things students can do at home to refresh and/or improve their receptive skills (reading and listening):

  1. Speak up magazines:I always advise my students, especially the ones who struggle with Listening, to take them home.They are great practice for both Reading and Listening as the magazine includes articles categorised by level that you can either read and listen to before answering some questions.
  2. Watch series and videos:Nowadays, the Internet provides a huge number of choices. If you like travelling, we suggest you check out the “BBC Coast” videos, on YouTube’s BBC 1 channel. It’s good practice and great fun!
  3. Read the news:But in English, of course. Again, the Internet is our best friend here. Follow newpapers from the UK and the US on Twitter (for example) and you will get your daily practice while being informed. Remember that if you are more traditional and prefer paper format, El País issues a daily international newspaper called “Herald Tribune” (if you live in A Coruña, you can buy it in the kiosk in “Plaza de Mina”)
  4. Skype lessons:Last but not least, remember that, even if you don’t feel like coming to the school in summer, or if you don’t live in A Coruña, you can have Skype lessons with us (All levels, all areas covered) so there’s actually no excuse! 😉

So! Have you already chosen? Contact us for more info or more ideas! Happy San Juán and happy summer solstice to all you guys! 😀

Deconstructing sentence transformation

Hello everyone!!!!

Today we have a very special post prepared by our Director of Studies about sentence transformation but, before that, you need the answers for the passives exercises, don’t you?  How do you think you did? Let’s take a look! 😉

Exercise 1:

1.- The game has been won by Manchester United

2.- The last piece of cake was had/taken by Mark and Kevin

3.- An umbrella is being carried by Jane

4.- My book has been stolen (we omit the agent)

5.- The police are being phoned by my neighbours.

Exercise 2:

1.- A message will be sent…

2.- … ball was kicked over the…

3.- … had clearly been broken…

4.- … have been met by…

5.- … being repaired by the technician…

And now… Welcome to the world of sentence transformations!!! Enjoy!!! 🙂

Deconstructing Transformations

Transformations can be found in various different Cambridge examinations and, for many students and candidates, they represent one of the greatest challenges in Use of English. One reason for this is that many transformations test not only a particular grammar point, but also vocabulary. Although the word limit differs, the same basic technique can be applied to FCE, CAE, CPE and to some extent, PET.

Technique: Deconstructing a transformation

Steps:

1. Read the instructions. Across the levels, the instructions are the same; complete the second sentence so that it has a similar meaning to the first, using the word given (except PET, where no word is given). What changes is the word limit:

PET 1 – 3 words

FCE 2 – 5 words

CAE 3 – 6 words

CPE 3 – 8 words

Remember, a contraction (e.g don’t / he’s) counts as 2 words.

2. Read the original sentence in this example.

What is the time reference (past / present /future)?

Example: They are building a new supermarket in the town centre

(FCE) BEING (word given)

A ………………………………………………………….. in the town centre.

Answer: present.

3. Compare the 2 sentences. Underline the words which appear in both.

They are building a new supermarket in the town centre

BEING (word given)

A ………………………………………………………….. in the town centre.

By doing this, you focus on what exactly needs to be changed, ‘..are building a new supermarket..’

4. Compare the order of the words in both sentences. If the order differs, why do you think this is? In the example, the transformation does not begin with the subject pronoun ‘They’, but with the article ‘A’. This would suggest a passive form.

5. Look carefully at the word given. What kind of word is it?

BEING (_ing form of the verb ‘be’)

Could this be the first word you need to write? ‘A BEING……..’

No. This would not make sense in the context of this transformation, but why not?

The article ‘A’… means a countable noun is probably required. Is there a countable noun in the original sentence?

Yes: ‘…a new supermarket..?

Is the adjective ‘new’ necessary?

In any transformation, if you are not sure whether to include the adjective or not, check the word limit. If it can be used without exceeding the word limit, use it. Remember step one: the second sentence must as similar as possible as the first sentence.

A new supermarket …………………………………. In the town centre

6. Look again at the word given: BEING. Can this word be used next? No, but why not?

Which auxiliary verb is needed to form a continuous tense?

Answer: is/are was/were

Remember step 2: time reference (in this case, present) = is/are

Is there a singular or plural reference? (in this case singular; ‘A new supermarket…) = is

A NEW SUPERMARKET IS BEING………………..in the town centre

By this point, 4 words have been used. If you have managed to get this far, you will know that this is a passive sentence so what is missing is a past participle. The original sentence uses the verb in its continuous form ‘building’. Is the verb ‘build’ a regular or an irregular verb?

Answer: irregular = BUILT

A NEW SUPERMARKET IS BEING BUILT in the town centre

This answer would receive 2 marks.

At FCE / CAE / CPE, each transformation is worth up to 2 marks. This means that if you have part of the transformation correct, you can still receive 1 mark. You do not lose marks for writing an incorrect answer, so always write something, using the word given, after all, 1 mark is better than 0!

Good Luck.

Andy (DOS)

Are you going to London? (Odd English laws)

Hello everyone!!!

Merry Christmas!!!!! I hope you are having a great time and a good rest this holiday.

Today we are going to talk about London. Many of our students go to the capital to check their English skills and absorb some of the amazing, and sometimes quite surprising, British Culture and we think it is an awesome idea, specially this time of the year as it is so beutiful. However, did you know that Spanish and British laws are sometimes different? That’s right! And sometimes you have to be very careful not to break them.

Don’t worry though, no need to panic! We are going to detail three situations in which you may be breaking the law without even realizing. Take a look!

  1. Gambling in the library: Yeah, yeah, I know what you are thinking. There’s nothing more appealing than going to the British Museum Library and take a break from walking while playing a good game of “mus”, not in England though.. Sorry about that! 😀
  2. Having a whale as a pet: I know, I know… Truly sorry about that you will have to find a Spanish one if you want a pet whale as all of those in England are property of the Queen. 😮
  3. Being drunk… in a pub!: Now, you can get drunk in a pub but you have to leave your drink and go outside the moment you’re drunk! So remember that if you are spending New Year’s Eve in one!

Well, I hope you liked our post/warning about going to the UK! And remember, if you have any doubt whether something is legal, better ask a bobby!!!! 😉

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2016!!! 🙂

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There's always something to be thankful for, happy Thanksgiving!

…and happy Black Friday, of course!!!

I am sure most of you are familiar with the Thanksgiving celebration; celebrated mainly in the USA, every November we can see movies and even our favourite series celebrating this festivity. But where does it come from, and more importantly, how is it related to Black Friday?

Well, in 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians celebrated autumn harvest by getting together and sharing the food every family had obtained during the summer-autum season. However, it wasn’t until 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November. The celebration as we know it today started when Abraham Lincoln finally called all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation” as the Civil War came to an end.

He scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression.


So we could say that, in a way, Roosevelt started what we know today as “Black Friday” but it wasn’t until the 1960s when the term stuck to mark of the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season.

What I´ve always wondered is, why Black Friday? After all, the colour black isn’t something people associate with good things, is it? Well, as usual, we found an explanation for it. Apparently, at the time shops, and specially retail shops, had a colour code on their accounting records that went from red (to indicate loss) to black (to indicate profit). And so Black Friday was expected to become the date when the shops made most of their profit for the month, the name couldn’t have been more appropiate and it seems to have worked out really well because ever since the start of the modern Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the Friday after Thanksgiving has been known as the unofficial start to a bustling holiday shopping season which, although not an official holiday, is a day off for most employees except, of course, for those working in retail.

Black Friday is becoming more and more popular in Spain, up to the point that some shops have already announced that the discounts will last 10 days this year.

There you have it, now: got some money to burn? Then go for it and start your Christmas shopping next Friday! Oh, and by the way: if you shop from the UK online you may get an even bigger discount! 😉

Happy Halloween!

Hello everyone!

Are you ready for the spookiest night of all year? Nowadays we’re all familiar with Halloween and all its traditions such as trick-or-treating, bonfires, costume parties, visiting “haunted houses” and carving jack-o-lanterns. But, where do these festivities come from?

The Origins…

The word Halloween is a shortening of All Hallows’ Evening also known as Hallowe’en or All Hallows’ Eve and it has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced “sah-win” in English and “Samaín” in Galician).

The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. It was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.

The festival would frequently involve bonfires as it was believed that the fires attracted insects to the area which attracted bats. These are additional attributes of the history of Halloween.

Masks and costumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them but, actually, the practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays goes back to the Middle Ages. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of “souling,” when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2).

But then, how come the USA is now the country which celebrates it the most?

Well, Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century and it stuck. Halloween is now popular in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, and due to increased American cultural influence in recent years, imported through exposure to US television and other media, trick-or-treating has started to occur among children in many parts of Europe, and in the Saudi Aramco camps of Dhahran, Akaria compounds and Ras Tanura in Saudi Arabia.

The most significant growth and resistance is in the United Kingdom, where the police have threatened to prosecute parents who allow their children to carry out the “trick” element.


As you can see, Galician, Irish and Scottish people share a very profound bond: The Celtic culture. We share cultural background and traditions which shouldn’t be overlooked! So go ahead and enjoy Halloween or Samhain, because, at the end of the day, the name is the least important thing!

Happy and spooky Halloween and Samhain folks! Watch out for ghosts!!!

Special thank you to our teacher Eoin for contributing to this post. Cheers Eoin!

Royal baby's first month

A couple of months ago the Duchess and Duke of Cambridge (aka Kate Middleton and Prince William) announced the birth of their second child: Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte (Elizabeth Diana) of Cambridge 🙂

But, have you ever wondered how much you actually know about the British Royal family? So, it’s time you found out and that’s why we have prepared a super quiz for you all! How many do you reckon you can get correct?

Have a go on your own or bet with your friends (since we are talking about English people you may as well adopt their customs! 😛 ), the answers will be posted at the very bottom of the page so you can check but no cheating guys!!!

1.  Which of the following is the Queen’s private residence?
a) Balmoral Castle; b) Windsor Castle; c) Buckingham Palace

2. Royal weddings generate souvenirs. What was the first royal wedding commemorated by mass-produced souvenirs?
a) George, Prince of Wales and Princess Caroline of Brunswick in 1795
b) Princess Charlotte of Wales and Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg in 1816
c) Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1840

3. Which is the following is not among Prince William’s given names?
a) Charles
b) Arthur
c) Louis

4. Who once said of Prince Charles, “You can’t possibly be king with ears like that!”
a) No one, it’s a fabrication
b) Prince Philip
c) Lord Louis Mountbatten

5. The Queen famously referred to a difficult year of her reign as her “annus horribilis.” What year was she referring to?
a) 1992, the year Charles and Diana separated
b) 1993, the year she started paying taxes
c) 1997, the year Diana died

6. There is no doubt that the Queen is a wealthy woman, but it is impossible to know precisely how much she is worth. In 1989, Fortune magazine tried to figure it out. What amount did they come up with?
a) £150-million
b) £785-million
c) £7-billion

7. The Royal yacht Britannia has only one double bed. All the other beds are single. Why?
a) By tradition, only the Queen and Philip were entitled to a double bed.
b) Prince Charles ordered the double bed for his honeymoon cruise with Diana.
c) The Queen Mother had it installed after she fell out of a single bed once too often.

8. The Queen is the longest reigning monarch in Europe. Who is in second spot for longevity?
a) King Albert II of Belgium
b) King Juan Carlos of Spain
c) Queen Margrethe II of Denmark

9. Which of the following is not among the charities Prince William supports?
a) The Welsh Rugby Union
b) 100 Women in Hedge Funds’ Philanthropic Initiatives
c) The Royal British Legion

10. Prince Harry is William’s younger brother. Harry, however, is a nickname. What is his real name?
a) Albert
b) Henry
c) Charles

11. Which of the following is the Queen’s official residence?
a) St. James’s Palace
b) Buckingham Palace
c) Windsor Castle

12. How many rooms are there at Buckingham Palace?
a) 775
b) 902
c) 1,066

13. How many Commonwealth countries, other than the U.K., recognize the Queen as head of state?
a) 4
b) 15
c) 26

14. In what language other than English is the Queen fluent?
a) Welsh
b) French
c) German

15. The Queen owns all the sturgeons, porpoises and whales in the waters around the U.K. True or false?

16. Which of the following European monarchs is not directly related to the Queen?
a) King Juan Carlos of Spain
b) Prince Albert II of Monaco
c) King Harald V of Norway

17. Of how many countries is the Queen head of state?
A. Four
B. Eight
C. 16
D. 2

18. How many prime ministers have served under the Queen?
A. 13
B. 10
C. 14
D. 12

19. Who is The Keeper of the Royal Conscience?
A. The Archbishop of Canterbury
B. Prince Philip
C. The Prince of Wales
D. Ken Clarke

20. How old was the Queen when she came to the throne?
A. 55
B. 45
C. 35
D. 25

Have you got your answers? Don’t scroll down if you don’t or you’ll see them and end up the fun! 😉

Hope you’ve liked today’s post! Let us know comments and results in the comment section below!

ANSWERS: 1a 2b 3a 4c 5a 6c 7b 8c 9c 10b 11c 12a 13b 14b 15True 16b 17c 18a 19d 20d

Rugby in Spain

Today we have Daniel Davis’ testimony not only about his first impression of our city, Coruña, but he is also going to tell us about one of his passions: Rugby!

Before you keep reading, take a look at this video to get a better idea about this sport:

What’s rugby about?

Little bit clearer, right? Keep scrolling to find out how a rugby player actually lives here in Coruña!

My name is Daniel, I am a teacher here at the Euroschool of English, what you are about to read is an account of my rugby season here in A Coruña.
Despite living in Gijón four years ago and playing against my current club, Club Rugby Arquitectura Tecnica (CRAT), I knew very little about A Coruña. Like most people from the UK I had heard of Deportivo but, apart from that, I moved to A Coruña with an open mind, ready to learn as much as possible about the city and the people.
One plus point to start with, was the fact that I joined up with the rugby team straight away.

Rugby is a sport unlike any other, where teamwork, discipline and respect are the core values, this means that any team in any country will welcome a new player and treat him like an old friend. This was exacly the treatment I recieved and it helped me settle in to life here in no time.
The season started with an away game to Belenos RC in Aviles, a “short” three – hour bus journey. This was a totally new experience for me, coming from Wales where a 30 minute journey would be considered a long one. Wales as a country is the same size as Galicia, with almost the same population. The difference is that in Wales there are over 200 clubs with 79000 registered players, compare this to Galicia where there are only 14 and the difference in popularity is stark. The travelling situation was highlighted in two journeys that I will mention.

The distances we covered this year were for me truly staggering, if I left my home town in Wales and travelled east on a bus for 8/9 hours I would be somewhere near the Dutch/German border, not preparing for a league game in the same country. Coming from a rugby mad country it is interesting and refreshing to see the comittment that these people put in to play a game of rugby.

One Sunday when we were due to play a regional game in Ourense. I had been on the bus for an hour when I asked (in my broken Spanish) how long the journey would take, “only two more hours” came the reply. 3 hours for a local fixture?! Worse was to follow however.
We have two teams, one team in the national second division along with teams from Asturias and the Basque country. One example of an away trip was early in Feburary and a trip to Eibar. A league game in the Basque country means leaving A Coruña at 12 on a Saturday and arriving in Bilbao 7 hours later. After a night in a hotel and an early morning journey to Eibar the game started 24 hours after leaving A Coruña. After a famous victory (the club’s first in Eibar) the realisation of the 8/9 hour journey back to Galicia sank in.

Our season was a good one, winning as many games as we lost which is very good considering we often had to travel without many players due to work or family commitments.
We, CRAT, play our home games at Acea de Ama and our season runs from October to April. Why not come down, watch a game and enjoy the friendly atmosphere? You’ll be sure to recieve a warm welcome!!

So, doesn’t it sound appealing? 🙂 If so, be sure to watch the rugby World Cup this summer which is being held in Britain!

Remember to leave your rugby comments and questions below!