Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Freindly News B2 +

Invasion Friendly News

Ever thought of having a career in tourism? This could be your opportunity to start one!

Dear bloggers, facebook users, twitters and students,

I would like to tell you all about an exciting course I will be teaching next Wednesday 6th of October 2014.
The course will be held in Toledo (Spain), at the Escuela Superior de Gastronomia y Hostaleria. The course, is a BA(Hons) in Travel and Tourism Management.  After two years students will receive a diploma, but if they continue on to year three, upon graduation they will be awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree.

In Britain we pay at least 5000 pounds sterling per year for a degree course, but this course will cost a mere 1500 per year! Also accommodation and food is a lot cheaper in Toledo, this will lower the amount of debt which some students can accumulate over the course of three years.

Here is a bit about the course;

Travel and tourism management is an in-depth study of the knowledge and skills that are essential to work in, and to succeed in one of the world's thriving and most fast emerging industries. The industry has developed and diversified impressively over recent years in five key sectors: accommodation, transport, travel organisation, attractions and destination organisation. This means that the industry demands skilled managers and one of the best ways to get onto the career ladder is to undertake a specialist diploma, with the opportunity to turn this into a degree at university.

The course has been carefully designed to include modules/units that not only make you more employable but also enable you to progress academically.

We hope that the Higher National Diploma in Travel &Tourism Management course will provide an enjoyable, stimulating and ultimately rewarding two years of study. The course will be extremely challenging and we expect students to set themselves high standards of work and achievement.

In Britain we pay at least 5000 pounds sterling per year for a degree course. The course is 9 hrs a week, taught in 3 hour slots. Students must complete assignments in their own time, and there will be some reading to do and group work too.

For more information, take a look at the website www.tourismschooltoledo.com

Who is this course for?

If you have a good level of English, and an interest in Tourism, then contact us to arrange an interview.

Monday, 22 September 2014

How much money is swallowed up by our homes? (Upper-intermediate)

How much of your hard earned cash goes towards your home?

 For Skype English classes Contact Lisa by email lis.j.grant@gmail.com or Whatsapp 0034
645424237. Skype friendlyteacher14.
Speaking as a person who has never lived in one house for more than 5 years as a child and as an adult even less (about 2 years).  I have thrown away or given away tonnes and tonnes of stuff! By stuff I'm referring to furniture, books, bits and bobs,  etc.  This is why I don't tend to spend a lot on these items, a comfortable pad is all that I require. I simply can't understand it when someone tells me that they can't afford to travel or even go out for a drink because their accommodation swallows up most of their wages!! Or that they can't move into a room because their wardrobe won't fit, even though they get on with the other tenants like a house on fire, only to move into a bigger room but find that your housemates are loony and you are miserable! (true story).

I read this article in the Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/sep/20/sophie-heawood-housing-crisis-costs. An English man's home is his prison, stating that even though you are considered rich, you are stuck in an expensive city, having to trek across it everyday, finding that you spend your evenings and weekends at home recovering! I don't know about you, but that's no way to live!

Why don't we spend less on our houses? Make our home comfortable enough for us to sleep, eat and relax and then spend the rest of our income on living our lives! The most I've spent on a piece of furniture was a table for 70 euros, which stops me from writing my blogs from my sofa, thus saving my back from inevitable pain!

Let's cut back the money we spend on our homes and spend it on enjoying our lives. I do know what its like, I am often tempted by the lure of a plasma screen television, or the latest ipad, or a high tech blender for my kitchen, but these items don't really improve our lives, they just eat up all our cash, so that we end up stuck at home... This just makes me sad.

Vocabulary builder

bits and bobs - Things.
swallows up - Phrasal verb meaning to make something disappear.
cut back - Phrasal verb meaning to reduce expenditure.
thus - (adv) in this or that manner or way.
eat up - Phrasal verb meaning to consume.
end up - Phrasal verb meaning to finally be in a particular place or situation.

Tip for students:

When learning phrasal verbs, why not list the phrases under the preposition.  The preposition often describes which direction the verb is moving.  Phrasal verbs with the same preposition often have a similar meaning. Listing the phrases in this order makes them easier to understand and learn.

 For Skype English classes Contact Lisa by email lis.j.grant@gmail.com or Whatsapp 0034
645424237. Skype friendlyteacher14.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Odd but somewhat funny collective nouns - C2 proficiency English

A few of the best collective nouns

 For English classes via Skype, Contact Lisa by email lis.j.grant@gmail.com or Whatsapp 0034

From a murder of crows to a misbelief of painters, Chloe Rhodes investigates the intriguing origins of her favourite collective nouns

A damning of jurors

This collective noun provides a window on to British history. Before the 13th century the old feudal system of justice prevailed, under which anyone accused of a crime could be charged, tried and sentenced by the lord of the manor. When King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215, he enshrined in law the right to a trial by jury. A "damning" verdict was one that found the plaintiff guilty of the crimes they were charged with. The word comes from the old French word dampner, from the Latin damnāre, meaning to injure or condemn, and in the middle ages it implied that your crimes made you worthy of eternal damnation.

An incredulity of cuckolds

Like most collective nouns, this one is 15th century in origin and shows how much of a game the invention of such terms had become by the mid-1400s. The word "cuckold" comes from the habit of the female cuckoo bird putting her eggs into other birds' nests, and can be applied to any male unwittingly raising a rival's offspring. The term sheds light on attitudes towards female sexuality and morality. This group of husbands is incredulous to discover that their wives have been unfaithful to them. It's not a "fury of cuckolds", or "a weeping" or "a shamefulness", they're not in despair – they're either in denial or they're in the dark.

A murder of crows

While most terms for groups of birds are linked to their song or habitat, this one has its roots in medieval folklore. With their dark feathers and jet-black eyes, crows were regarded by 15th-century peasants as messengers of the devil or witches in disguise. They were suspected of having prophetic powers, and the appearance of a crow on the roof of a house was taken as an omen that someone inside would soon die. There are also accounts of the birds living up to their murderous name by enacting something known as a crow parliament (krÃ¥kriksdag in Swedish), during which up to 500 birds are said to gather together before suddenly setting on one of their number and tearing it to pieces.

A misbelief of painters

We're talking artists here, rather than decorators, and, in particular, painters of portraits. One aim of medieval portraiture was to present the sitter as they hoped to be remembered after their death. Artists, like poets, were dependent on wealthy patrons for their living, so portrait painters had to strike a balance between truth and flattery. Shoulders could be broadened, eyes brightened, paunches flattened and foreheads heightened. Misbelief meant an erroneous belief, rather than an inability or refusal to believe, so the painter's job was to conjure misbelief in those who viewed his work; to create the illusion of beauty even where he found none.

A parliament of owls

This group name has its origins in the 1950s children's classic The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis and is a reference to Chaucer's allegorical poem "The Parliament of Fowls", in which all the birds of the Earth gather together to find a mate. Lewis adapts the title of Chaucer's poem to describe a council of owls who meet at night to discuss the affairs of Narnia. The huge international success of Lewis's books – they've sold more 100m copies in 47 languages – means that the term has become far more widely known than most of the traditional collective nouns and is now recognised by dictionary compliers as the "correct" term for a group of owls.

A promise of tapsters

"Tapster" is now obsolete but can be translated as barman or barmaid – whoever is in charge of the "tap". The tapster's "promise" is something we're all familiar with: that slight inclination of the chin, subtle nod or lift of the eyebrow that says: "You're next". But can it be trusted? There's never been a better embodiment of a false promise than the tapster's. In As You Like It, Celia and Rosalind make the point perfectly in their discussion about the promises of love with the damning line: "… the oath of a lover is no stronger than the word of a tapster."

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/sep/19/ten-best-collective-nouns

Vocabulary Builder 

feudal; (adj) according to, resembling or absurdly outdated or old fashioned.
prevailed; (verb, past tense) prove more powerful or superior.
enshrined; (verb) place in an appropriate receptacle, preserve in a form that it will be protected and respected.
incredulous; (adj) (of a person or their manner) unwilling or unable to believe something.
paunches; (noun) a large protruding belly, (verb) disembowel (an animal).
erroneous; (adj) wrong, incorrect.
conjure; (verb) cause to appear by magical ritual.
allegorical; (adj) constituting or containing allegory. Synonyms; symbolic, metaphorical.

Questions for students

Do you have any collective nouns in your language?
Can you think of any others?
Tell us about your favourite collective noun. 
 For English classes via Skype, Contact Lisa by email lis.j.grant@gmail.com or Whatsapp 0034

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Cats - We love them, but do they love us? B2 + (Upper intermediate)

We love cats...

For English classes via Skype, Contact Lisa by email lis.j.grant@gmail.com or Whatsapp 0034

There are quite a few articles in the press at the moment about cats, saying that we (people) stress them out, that we treat them like dogs, or we simply just irritate them.

First of all, no two cats are the same, sure they have the same instincts, but cats are individuals... After reading this article, I was worried that maybe I was stressing my cat out and that he was unhappy... but he seems happy even though I don't let him scratch the new sofa or jump off the balcony, he seems pretty content and purrs all the time.  Here is the article, have a read: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2014/sep/16/are-you-stressing-out-your-cat-spot-the-signs

The message behind the article is not to expect too much from your cat!  We all know that cats are independent, so wouldn't their owners be independent people too? I certainly am!

Know the signs
I think most cat owners out there would agree, if your cat starts peeing everywhere, something is definitely up!

Rework the floor plan
Cats are very particular (not mine, he does his business wherever we put the tray down). You just have to accommodate them, they will soon tell you if they are unhappy. Focus on what they like to do; my cat loves helping me make the bed, its our morning ritual!  He loves ping pong balls, as they glide easily along the floor. I made him a toy out of a sock, which he takes everywhere! And he likes to suck on an old scarf of mine... Living in a flat can be difficult for a cat, as they have very little out door space, so make it comfortable for them. If you have two cats, I guess they would have to fight over their territory. I don't think you need to go as far as sectioning your house with cardboard boxes!! We don't need to fuel their "god complex".

Cats don't need pals

Well, I disagree with this one, some cats like the company of other cats or even dogs! And if you bring home a new kitten, then of course your cat will feel threatened. They do love you after all!

Lay off social media???
What?? And allow 

Having our cat around helps me to relax and because I work mostly from home, he's always there to keep me company and he makes me laugh everyday! I love our cat Bosco!

Questions for students

Tell us your cat stories...

For English classes via Skype, Contact Lisa by email lis.j.grant@gmail.com or Whatsapp 0034

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The wine tasting experience! - C1 +

Wine Tasting and Pairing in Valdepeñas

For English classes via Skype, Contact Lisa by email lis.j.grant@gmail.com or Whatsapp 0034645424237.

Highlights from our wine tasting experience!

 On Saturday 6th of September we went along to a wine tasting event in Valdepeñas, Castilla-La-Mancha. This is one of the largest areas of Spain for producing wine... And boy! I was impressed.

For 18 € each, we were treated to 4 bottles of wine (between 4 people) and a large 'tapa' with each glass of wine. All the wines were exquisite, but we have our favourites, which we would like to share with you...

The event was hosted by Chato Grato (www.chatograto.com) and it was held at La Maquina in valdepeñas town centre.  The wine was provided by the winery (bodega) Aruspide (http://www.aruspide.com/).

The presentation and explanation of the wine, was funny, entertaining and informative all at the same time! How he managed to keep us all in our seats for well over two hours, is beyond me... and a credit to him!

The first wine we tried was called Agora Lagrimas (tears), this was a young white wine, with a fruity aromatic intensity, leaving a smooth and crisp sensation in your mouth. (I've just ordered 6 bottles!) This wine was paired with Manchego cheese and 'Membrillo, this is quince jelly.

Our second favourite wine was the Agora Roble, red ruby in colour, with a touch of violet, aromas of oak and fruit. Once you've taken a sip, it leaves a lasting taste, which stays with you for a while. We tried this wine with Manchego cheese accompanied by a dollop of raspberry jam.  The food brought out the flavours in the wine, I would have to say that this was an ideal pairing. (Another 6 bottles please!)

There were two other wines with two dishes, all delicious!

I will definitely be attending another event!

Thank you to Chato Grato, La Maquina and Bodegas Aruspeda, for this delightful experience!

 For English classes via Skype, Contact Lisa by email lis.j.grant@gmail.com or Whatsapp 0034645424237

Friday, 5 September 2014

Customer service across cultures - B1+ English level

 For English classes via Skype, Contact Lisa by email lis.j.grant@gmail.com or Whatsapp 0034645424237.


Customer service... should the customer always be right?

After years of working in the customer service industry in the United Kingdom, I have grown accustomed to the fact that the "Customer" is always right! Without question... even if you know deep down inside that the customer is obviously "barking mad", you cannot say a word! You just have to grit your teeth and give them that 'Slasher smile' which gives the customer an inkling into the fact that you, the shop assistant, knows that they are talking utter rubbish! But when YOU are the customer and you have to return an item which you have paid for using your hard earned money, you appreciate it when the assistant bends over backwards to solve the issue! 

Now, I live in Spain, and let me start by saying that I adore this country, its food, its people and lifestyle! So imagine my shock when I innocently bought a bag from Desigual (this is a brand of clothing) in Alicante, and the item turned out to be faulty and was told that I couldn't get my money back!!!

Please allow me to indulge you further... I bought a large bag from this shop, this bag even had an extra, longer strap for heavier loads... or so I believed.  When the strap broke after using the bag for a short trip to Madrid, I went straight back to the shop, expecting to get an apology and a refund!  How WRONG I was...

Firstly the shop assistant asked me what I had put in the bag, I said a few items of summer clothing and some make-up.  "oh no, no, no, no" she said, this (gigantic) bag has been designed for carrying just your hair brush, purse and mobile phone! I asked her why it had a larger strap, she said it was just an accessory, not meant to be used!  I said that was ridiculous, who on earth walks around with a huge bag, with 3 items inside??? Apparently lots of women did, this was fashionable at the time!  Still, I wouldn't back down, what was I going to do with a broken bag worth 80 euros???! I was getting quite flustered at this point, as any suggestion I made was greeted with a flat "NO".  In Spain, the word "no" is used more frequently than in Britain, we like to say, "not really" or something less offensive. So, I'm still not used to hearing "No" said with no frills attached.

In the end I asked to speak to her manager, this is when she agreed to give me another bag of the same design, to which I stated that this was not acceptable and asked once more to speak to her manager. She hurried off and came back a few moments later offering that I could exchange the broken bag for some other items, which I did.  Buying a smaller bag, just to prove a point. This was a waste of time, the shop assistant didn't even bat an eyelid...

I must say, I haven't had many bad experiences with customer service in this country, but the ones I have had, made my blood boil, that I will remember them for years to come!  So, in response to my question, should the customer always be right? I say, YES, they bloody should be!!

Related article: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2014/sep/05/food-and-drink2 (B2+)

Vocabulary builder:

inkling;(noun) a slight knowledge or suspicion; a hint

utter; (adj) carried to the utmost point, absolute, total.

back down; (phrasal verb) withdraw a claim or assertion in the face of opposition.

no frills; (adj) offering or providing only essentials, not fancy or elaborate.

Questions for students:

Have you had a similar experience?
Have you ever had to deal with a difficult customer?
Is the customer always right?
Write and tell us about your own customer service experiences?

For English classes via Skype, Contact Lisa by email lis.j.grant@gmail.com or Whatsapp 0034645424237.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The British version- B2 + level

For English classes via Skype, Contact Lisa by email lis.j.grant@gmail.com or Whatsapp 0034645424237.


Food Crimes

Apparently, when pizza was first introduced to Britain in the 1950's, it was sold as "Italian Welsh rarebit", for those of you that don't know what that is... It's basically toasted bread with melted cheese. http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/welsh_rarebit_05821  The British are, contrary to popular belief, quite open-minded when it comes to food and they will try anything with an exotically "foreign" name. So why do we adapt foreign food to look like our everyday cuisine? It's understandable that those who have visited Britain from far and wide are horrified to discover what's been done to their food!

Anyone who has sat through a discussion between two Spanish people about whether or not you should put onion in tortilla might think that this is just the pickiness of a nation who, sadly, lack the iron-stomached British ability to eat absolutely anything. However, it soon becomes clear that he has a point.
Paella in a bag might be convenient, if convenience is the important issue here, but paella in a sandwich?

Even Francis Drake would have called that an unnecessary provocation, even if it was invented as a riposte to the equally delicious-sounding lasagne sandwich. Ruiz reserves most of his ire, though, for the indiscriminate use of chorizo in supermarket "Spanish" dishes. It has long upset many Valencians that Jamie Oliver recommends putting chorizo in paella (it makes the rice turn orange), so you can imagine how Ruiz feels about chorizo soup or the even more inventive "chorizo with waffles". "There hasn't been a Belgian-Spanish conflict like it," he says, "since the last War of Flanders."

But it's not just Spanish food that's been given this treatment. Indian food expert Nisha Katona, who is about to open her first restaurant in Liverpool, says: "I spend my life in a state of grimace at the nuclear slop they call curry." Among other terrible "fusion" cuisines, she lists "cheddar cheese saag paneer", fruit cocktail korma and, best of all, chicken tikka-flavoured Blackpool rock. (this is a stick shaped boiled sweet).

The Italians still haven't resigned themselves to the rest of the world's version of pizza, but MasterChef finalist and York-based restaurateur Sara Danesin Medio, says that, for her: "The horror story starts with spaghetti in a tin." Even worse is the misappropriation of words to mean something entirely different. "Pepperoni," she points out, "is actually peppers. Not spicy salami." Luckily, she doesn't seem to be aware of the existence of the lasagne sandwich.

You might think that newer culinary arrivals on British shores would be immune to such "innovations" but Robert Ortiz, head chef at London's Lima restaurant, claims to have witnessed ceviche made using vinegar, mayonnaise and, "possibly the worst, ketchup". However, it's not just the British who do this kind of thing. Caroline Bennett, who introduced the first Kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi restaurant to the UK, Moshi-Moshi, remembers seeing "strawberries and cream cheese" on pizza when she lived in Japan. "So, when foreigners do similar things to their food it only seems fair," she says.

In fact these so-called "atrocities" against food are pretty encouraging. Anyone trying to export food from Spain must be pleased that British supermarkets believe that the word "Spanish" can help flog everything from sandwiches, to soup, quiche and even waffles (although the Belgians might not be so happy about the last one). There's a lot more affection in Europe for different cultures than certain newspapers would have you believe. Seen anything criminal of a culinary nature?

This article has been adapted from the guardian, to suit B2 level learners.
Source: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2014/sep/01/britain-crimes-against-foreign-food

Vocabulary builder:

pickiness; (noun) fussy, choosy.

ire; (noun) anger; wrath.

riposte; (noun) to retort quickly; to make a return thrust. a retaliatory action.

grimace; (noun) a sharp contortion of the face expressive of pain; contempt or disgust.

slop; (noun) soft mud or slush. unappetizing watery food. 

misappropriation; (noun) to appropriate wrongly; to use illegally.

atrocities; (noun, pl) appalling or atrocious condition, quality, or behavior; an appalling atrocious act of unusual or illegal cruelty; behaviour or an action that is wicked or ruthless.

Questions for students;

Did you find this article interesting? What did you like about it?
How has your country adapted foreign foods to suit the tastes of the locals?
Do you believe that it is an insult to change "foreign dishes"?

For English classes via Skype, Contact Lisa by email lis.j.grant@gmail.com or Whatsapp 0034645424237.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Lisa Jane's film review - English B1+

For English classes via Skype, Contact Lisa by email lis.j.grant@gmail.com or Whatsapp 0034645424237.

Hi there! I'd like to share my thoughts on the latest three films I've seen... 

Firstly, the best film I've see all year has to be Chef...
, , , and many more outstanding actors!

What's it about?  Well, in a nutshell... A chef who loses his restaurant job, reluctantly starts up a food truck with his son and a friend in an effort to regain is love for cooking, and to build up a reputation online which was shattered as a result of an argument with a food critic, the argument went viral!

I would recommend eating before you see this film, as it is pure food porn! The film has inspired me to make a number of dishes, like Cuban Sandwiches, made with pork, ham, melted cheese, gherkins and mustard! Delicious! 10/10

The second film I'd like to review is Transformers 4: The Age Extinction. Let me start by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed the first three films, I grew up watching the cartoons and the first three films were superb! However, this one was cheesier than cheese itself!! I mean come on! There were more than 20 cheesy lines in this film, totally cringe worthy!  The film stars , , amongst others. I've seen Mark Wahlberg star in other films, and he's not a bad actor, but the script he had was appalling! Fingers crossed this hasn't ruined his career! 1/10

The third and final film I'd like to review is The Guardians of the Galaxy, starring , , , amongst others.  This film is highly entertaining, funny and is also packed with action and comical one liners.

What's it about? Well, in a galaxy far far away, after being abducted 26 years earlier, Peter Quill has become the target of a manhunt after discovering an orb wanted by the most evil and powerful character in the history of Marvel Comic movies (in my opinion) Ronan the Accuser. 8/10

Vocabulary builder:

In a nutshell; something you say when you are describing something in as few words as possible.

reluctantly; (adverb) unwilling, struggling in opposition.

gherkins; (noun) a small immature fruit of a variety of cucumber, used in pickling.

cheesier (cheesy); (comparative adj) Slang, inferior or cheap.

one liners; (noun) a brief joke, or amusing remark.

Questions for students; 
Have you seen any of these films? What did you think of these films?
Now, you write a review about a recent film, good or bad, it's up to you!

For information about Skype classes, please contact Lisa  by email lis.j.grant@gmail.com or whatsapp 0034645424237.