Thursday, February 23, 2012

Video: Rosé or pink wine?

(A2) B1, B2, (C1)

France has a reputation for good food and fine wines. When the European Commission in Brussels proposed to change the rules on rosé wine in 2009, it created a big controversy. In this news report from France 24, you will learn more about the proposal and the arguments for and against it. Video time: 3 minutes 9 seconds. Activity time: 10 to 45 minutes.

Task: 1 Watch the video and decide if these sentences are true or false.
a  Rosé wine in France is only made from red grapes.
b  The Australians and Californians mix red and white grapes.
c  Rosé wine is less popular with consumers than before.
d  Red and white wines aren't doing well on the world market.
e  The French Euro-MP thinks the red-white mix should at least have a different name.
f   Wine merchants think the Brussels proposal could help French winemakers increase their stocks. 
g  Rosé wine originates from the Provence region of France.
h  Rosé winemakers are afraid that the Brussels proposal will make their process illegal.
i   The French government supports the proposal.

2 Now read a short newspaper article and see what happened later in 2009.

Go to the video here.
Read the article from the Independent newspaper here.
Check your answers here.



Friday, February 17, 2012

Audio: GM foods

B1, B2, C1

Genetically-modified (GM) foods continue to be the subject of debate around the world. Are they the solution to the problem of food shortage, or are there considerable long-term health risks? In this listening activity from the British Council Learning English site, you will hear two people arguing for and against GM foods. Audio time: 3 minutes 27 seconds. Activity time: 10 to 30 minutes.

Task: 1 Do the initial task (Prediction activity). 2 Listen to the audio  3 Do Task 2 and Task 3, listening to the audio again as necessary. 4 Read the transcript. Listen again and read aloud at the same time to help you with your pronunciation.

 Go to the activity here.





Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Video: hotel and restaurant dialogues

A2, B1

Video replay with subtitles
In these videos from Youtube, you will hear some typical conversations for (a) checking into a hotel and (b) eating in a restaurant. The actors speak in slow but natural English, and you have the chance to note the useful expressions you hear.

Task:  1  Watch the two videos. When the dialogues are replayed with subtitles, repeat the sentences aloud.
2  Complete the Phrasebook below. Decide who is speaking in each case. Is it the guest (G), the hotel receptionist (R) or the restaurant waitress (W)?
3 Watch again to check your answers

PHRASEBOOK - Hotels and Restaurants
I'd like to ______ in, please?
Do you have a _________?
Where can I _____ something to eat?
What time is breakfast ______?
I hope you enjoy your _____.
Is there _______ interesting to see nearby?
Are there any shops in the ______?
Are you ready for me to take your ______?
I'll ______ the T-bone steak.
That was _______. Thank you.
Could I have the ______, please?
_____ you like to pay now or _____ I charge it to your room?
Is service ________?
Here's 40 dollars. You can keep the ______.

Go to the hotel video here.
Go to the restaurant video here.





Monday, February 6, 2012

Phrasal verb: look

(A2), B1, B2, (C1)
 
Phrasal verbs consist of a verb and one or more prepositions. They are often difficult to understand because there isn't always a logical relation between the verb, the preposition and the meaning(s). In Help Yourself to English , we want to show you the most common phrasal verbs and the contexts in which we use them.
In all cases, they are the verbs that English speakers most often use in those conexts.

Today's phrasal verb: look +  for/around/up/into/through/forward to .  Activity time: 5 - 30 minutes

Task: 1 Look at the pictures. Which verb with "look" means

a) examine or investigate  b) read quickly  c)wait for something with a feeling of pleasure
d) try and find something  e) find in a list  f) visit

2 Which verb with "look"  could you use with each pair of expressions?

a) Look ______        the town in your free time/a company
b) Look ______        a new job/a missing document    
c) Look ______        a phone number in the directory/a technical term on Google
d) Look ______        your holidays/meeting somebody
e) Look ______        a problem/the possibility of working together
f) Look ______         a report someone's sent you/a catalogue

3 Now make sentences with "look" to describe your own actions in your professional or personal life. 
e.g. I looked around the art museum last weekend. I'm looking forward to the next post on Help Yourself to English.     

Check your answers here.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Audio: responding to customer complaints

B1, B2, C1

This activity from the BBC Learning English site teaches you some expressions for dealing with complaints from customers. Activity time: 15 to 45 minutes

Task: The activity has four steps:
  • "Think".....about what language you know already and see some typical phrases.
  • "Listen".....to the two conversations and note what phrases you hear.
  • "Check understanding": read the  transcript and listen again
  • "Practise"....with a quiz

Go to the activity here.





Vocabulary: project schedules

A2,  B1

In this activity from the Blair English site, you will learn and practise some expressions for talking about progress on projects. (There are translations of the expressions for Spanish speakers, but the meaning is very clear even if you don't speak Spanish) Activity time: 10 to 30 minutes

Task: 1 Read the extract from the "Business Project Update Meeting" 2 Complete the expressions in the "Project Essentials Quiz" that follows. Then click on the button at the end of the exercise to check your answers.  3 If you want to hear all the expressions, click on the "listen" button after the quiz

Go to the activity here.