Thursday, November 19, 2015

BBC Learning English

BBC Learning English is a fabulous website by the BBC. Among its many resources there is a Youtube Channel  full of explanations about grammar, vocabulary and other aspects of English. The video I'm sharing today, for example, explains how to use some linking words. This should help you with your compositions.


A continent of rubbish

We're learning about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 2nd Year of Bachillerato. It's a huge sea of plastic in the middle of the Pacific ocean and it causes a lot of environmental damage. It's quite unbelievable how polluted this planet is getting!

As a complement, we have also watched a TED conference by Charles Moore, the man who discovered it and who is fighting to make things better for our oceans. You can choose the language of the subtitles.

You can find more information about Charles Moore and his foundation at

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Are we alone?

Many people wonder whether we are alone in the universe. Josh Worth's visualization 78 coins gives you a compelling argument to believe that well, there are probably other intelligent beings out there.

There is actually a scientific way to calculate how many civilizations are out there. It's called the Drake Equation. We need to look at how many stars there are in the galaxy, how many habitable planets there are, etc. The problem, of course, is that we really don't know what numbers to use to solve it... yet.

You can play with the equation itself at BBC Future.

You may ask yourself, then, could we ever see other alien civilizations? The answer is, unfortunately, no. Or at least, it would be very, very unlikely. The universe is simply too large.

How large? Well, light, which is the fastest thing that exists, needs to travel more than 5 hours just to get to Pluto. It takes only 8 minutes to reach Earth. (Again, you can check out another great visualization by Josh Worth to see just how large, and, well, empty, the Solar System really is).  

And that's just the Solar System. If you wanted to travel to the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, it would take you 4.22 years at the speed of light. It's 39,900,000,000,000 kilometres away! 

Friday, October 16, 2015

The lady that never left.

Eleanor Murray has lived in the same building in New York since she was born.

Watch her video interview at  the New York Times and find the answers to the following questions:

1. When was she born?
2. What are the three things that made her stay?
3. What's her personality like, according to her?

Friday, September 25, 2015

The amazing Malala

Malala Yousafzai's story is anything but conventional. When she was only 11, in 2009, she started writing a blog in her own language, Urdu, explaining to people what life under the Taliban was like. She defended the right of children, especially girls, to receive an education. The blog was translated into English and it became so popular that the Taliban felt threatened by it. Three years later, in 2012, a gunman shot her in the head. Two of her friends were shot, too. She had to go through many operations in her country, Pakistan, and later in the UK. She moved there to continue her recovery and study.

2013 was a very active year for her. She made a speech at headquarters of the United Nations in New York. She spoke vehemently of the power of educating girls and women and against intolerance and extremism. She was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and she published her story in a book.

Finally, in 2014, Yousafazi won  the Nobel Peace Prize. However, all of this activity never stopped her from studying. She has just finished her A Level exams with excellent grades, and now she's planning to go to the university at Oxford or Stanford.   

You can watch her speech at the UN here (Spanish subtitles).

You can also read more about her story and do some exercises at Guardian News Lessons. 

News resources for intermediate students (update)

These are some of the resources for reading news that you can use if you are at an intermediate level (I will update this  if I find more) Monthly topical news lessons from The Guardian.  These are reading exercises based on news adapted from the UK newspaper The Guardian. They have three different levels: elementary (B1), intermediat e (B2), and upper intermediate (C1). There are teacher's notes and answers.

[Inside Out e-lessons used to offer reading e-lessons  which were often based on current news as well. The level was different every week. You can still find them in the archive, with teacher notes, answers and a glossary. These days they are publishing video lessons on everyday topics, which are also great but not about current news.]

Despite the old-fashioned design, has very complete lessons based on current events, complete with an MP3 file that you can use for listening practice.

BBC Learning English is also nice for current topics, particularly the section called 6 minute English. In this section you can find downloadable podcasts with transcripts and solutions on many different issues. 

There are three apps you can use if you want to listen to international radio online. The first one is Podcast Addict , which allows you to subscribe and listen to many different podcasts in many languages. You have the option of downloading them so you can listen to them offline. On the other hand,  gives you a wide variety of online radio stations from many different countries to listen to. Be careful because there is no offline option, so make sure you have a Wi-Fi connection if you want to save data.

Finally, you can listen to the BBC via BBC Media Player . There is no offline option but the programmes there are really useful. You can also download podcasts to listen to offline at BBC podcasts.

That's all for now! Again, I'll update this if I find more info.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Scottish independence referendum 2014 explained

It's been a year since Scotland voted "No" in its referendum for independence. This weekend we'll have elections in Catalonia that could lead to a similar referendum, so we are discussing these issues in our Second Year of Bachillerato.