Monday, August 29, 2011

An English Breakfast

Have you ever been to a hotel and been asked if you want an English or continental breakfast? If you’re hungry, you should order an English Breakfast, it is much more complete than the continental option. So let’s see what a typical English breakfast consists of, so you can make an informed decision next time!

A traditional breakfast is a very big meal. You start with cereal. Then You have sausages, bacon and eggs. And then you have toast with marmalade, jam or honey. The traditional drink is tea, but some people drink coffee, too.

The English jams and marmalades are really delicious. Marmalade is made from citric fruit, like oranges and lemons, while jam is made from other fruit, like: strawberries, raspberries or apricots. In addition, there is lemon curd, a very typical product made with milk.
Although coffee in the United Kingdom and the United States has a bad reputation (considered to be black water!), more and more places nowadays serve coffee Mediterranean-style. On the other hand, English tea is really good. There are different types of tea. The best known are Earl Grey, Ceylon and Darjeeling. These teas come from plantations in the former British colonies of India and Sri Lanka.

Rather than using tea bags (
bolsitas de te), proper tea is prepared in a teapot (tetera). To prepare tea, first, warm the teapot, then take one teaspoon of tea per cup and an additional one for the pot. Next, pour freshly boiled water on and brew (dejar reposar) for five minutes. Then, it’s Tea Time!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Everything is bigger in Texas !

A man flew from New York City to spend some time with friends in Texas. Being from New York, he thought he had seen the biggest of everything there was to see, but his Texas friends soon proved him wrong (le demostraron que estaba equivocado). First they took him to the biggest cattle ranch in the world.They flew in an aeroplane all day long and never reached the end of the ranch, it was so big.Then they took him to lunch and ate the biggest steak in the world at the biggest steak restaurant in the world.And with the steak, he drank the biggest glass of whisky he had ever drunk in his life.After the meal, he had to go to the men's room (toilet). He was a little drunk from the whisky,so he had trouble walking across the biggest dance hall in the world and down the longest hall in the world. And he didn't notice the biggest indoor swimming pool in the world till he had fallen in the water. He was swimming around when a waiter came in and asked him if he needed any help."No," he told the waiter." I'm Ok. Just don't flush it."(tirar de la cadena) He thought he had fallen into the biggest toilet in the world !

1519 Texas claimed for Spain by Alonso de Pineda.
1682 First permanent settlement near El Paso (Spanish).
1690 First Catholic Mission.
1821 Texas becomes part of Mexico.The first Anglo-American colonists arrive under the leadership of Stephen F. Austin.
1835 Texas rebels against mexico.
1836 Texas declares independence.
1837 The United States recognizes the Republic of Texas.
1845 Texas becomes the 28th state of the United States.
1861 Texas secedes from the United States and joins the Confederacy
1870 Texas returns to the Union.

Monday, August 22, 2011


You've heard of the amount of tea that the British come to drink throughout the day. It's almost a ritual. Typically, tea is accompanied by scones, round pastries (pastelitos) that are eaten with jam (mermelada). Both in Britain and North America, pastries, pies (tartas) and cakes (pasteles) are a fundamental element of culture. So that you can have a little taste for Anglo-Saxon culture, here’s a simple recipe for scones!
Serves 12 people

225 gr. flour (harina)
40 gr. butter
1.5 tablespoons sugar
salt to taste
150 ml milk

Oven temperature: 220 º C

First,  mix the flour and butter.
Second, add sugar, salt and milk and mix.
Third, knead (
amasar) the mixture until it becomes a thin crust.
After, place the dough on a floured surface and roll to pass a thickness of 2 cm.
Then, use a 4-to-5 cm pastry cutter to cut the scones.
Next, place the scones on a greased cookie sheet and put it in the oven for 12-15 minutes until golden.
Finally, serve cut in half and spread with butter or cream and jam.

Enjoy your scones!

NOTE: There are two important aspects to keep in mind, when giving instructions. First, we use sequence words (like first, next, then, finally, etc.) help us organize the information. Second, the verbs are n the imperative tense (the infinitive without the subject “you”) because we are giving orders. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Writing a letter

Mr García is writing a letter to a friend telling him about his holiday in England.He is writing the letter in a pub. There is a lot of noise in the pub and he has had three pints of bitter.His letter isn't quite correct. In fact there are six mistakes in the information in it. 

Dear John,

After passing through the lovely Cheviot Hills where we had our lovely accident, we went to York. The bus took us  through Darlington where they opened the first public bus service. I think England's buses are the loveliest in the world. Then I wanted to go directly to Stratford-on-Avon  that lovely little town on the River Thames where Robin Hood was born. I think Robin Hood was one of England's loveliest Prime ministers.  I think his plays are lovely.
But we didn't go directly to Shakespeare -on-Avon because María wanted to come to Ilkley first . We are now in Ilkley.We are in a lovely pub now. There are a lot of lovely people singing a lovely song and I think I am writing a lovely letter. The beer is quite lovely here.



María, José's wife ,says the letter is a little silly and that her husband uses "lovely" too much. Rewrite the letter for her . Below are some words to use instead of "lovely" .You can also use  "very" and "rather" before these words to make it sound more interesting. 

(the most) famous-interesting-beautiful-horrible-important-comfortable-delicious-pleasant-historic-unusual-efficient-wonderful-fantastic--incredible-marvellous.
(the _old_est) old-fast-friendly-tasty-great-nice.

...the first public bus  train service... on the River Thames  Avon ...where Robin Hood  Shakespeare was born ....Robin Hood.Shakespeare...  Prime Minister.. writers....  directly to Shakespeare Stratford -on Avon.

Monday, August 15, 2011


When do English or American people eat?  What seems like an irrelevant question is a matter of vital importance to survive in the Anglo-Saxon world.

An example: in Britain or America, lunch (almuerzo) takes place around noon (12:00). As lunch is earlier, so is dinner (cena), which takes place between 6:00 and 8:00 pm. Unlike Spain, in the UK and the USA, dinner is the most important meal of the day, so it is the biggest. Lunch is considered a kind of snack (tentempié) to keep working. A sandwich or a simple salad is enough to keep going until the end of the workday. Breakfast (desayuno) is also considered to be an important meal; it’s important to start the day with energy! Breakfast could be toast or cereal, with fruit and juice, coffee or tea.

Here’s a table summarizing the eating habits:

part of the day     meal                       time
morning                  breakfast                 7:00-8:00
midday                   lunch                        12:00-1:00
evening                  dinner / supper        6:00-8:00

Monday, August 8, 2011

English Surnames

When studying a foreign language, one of the first things we learn to do is introduce ourselves. So it would be useful to look at English surnames (apellidos).

In English-speaking countries, it is common for women to take the surname of their husbands after getting married. For example, when Janet Sanders married Michael Burton, her name became Janet Burton. However it is becoming more common for women to put a hyphen between their maiden name and married name. So, Janet could also be called Janet Sanders-Burton. In fewer cases, women keep their maiden name after marriage.

Still, people tend to have only one surname, usually the father’s. So if Michael and Janet Burton have a daughter called Anne and a son called Andrew, their full names would be Anne Burton and Andrew Burton. And if we want to talk about the entire family, we could refer to them as "the Burtons."

In English-speaking, it is also very common to use a middle name (segundo nombre). Obviously, the middle name is placed between the name and surname. Sometimes, the middle name is a name that has been used by some family members for generations. Do you remember the full name of the U.S. President Kennedy? His name was John F. Kennedy. The "F" stands for Fitzgerald, which was the middle name in this case.

Now let’s look at forms of address (tratamiento). When we address (dirigirse a) a man in formal situations, we use Mr. (pronounced mis-ter) before his surname. For example, when Michael goes to his bank, the employees call him "Mr. Burton. " It is very simple because there is only one form used in all cases.

However, when addressing women, we use different forms depending on their marital status (estado civil). If we talk to a single woman in a formal situation, put Miss before her name, and if married, use Mrs. (pronounced mis-es). When Janet was single (soltera), her employees called her "Miss Sanders," but after getting married, they call her "Mrs.Burton." Nowadays, you can use the alternative Ms. (pronouncd miz), which we use if we don’t know the marital status of the woman we’re talking to, or if a woman doesn’t want to reveal her marital status.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Who are you ? Where do you come from ? What are your roots (raíces)? Alex Haley , a black American writer, wrote a book about his family.The book was called "Roots".  When he was a boy , his grandmother, aunts and uncles told him about their family.  Alex's great -great-great-great-grandfather lived in a village in Africa. His name was Kunta Kinte. One day when he was sixteen ,four men captured him.They took him to America in a ship and they sold him as a slave. Kunta Kinte never saw his home or his family again.Two hundred years later , in 1967 Alex went to Africa  and found the village and his long lost African relatives again.

Haley's novel Roots, and the television drama  based on the novel were a phenomenal success and  led to(condujeron a)  a world wide interest in genealogy, particularly among African-Americans.

Listen to the memorable  opening theme to the TV series Roots .

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fahrenheit 451

In the US, we measure temperature using the Fahrenheit scale. Fahrenheit = 9/5Celsius + 32. That means that water freezes at 32ºF and boils at 212ºF. Body temperature is 96.8ºF. To give you a general idea of average seasonal temperatures, in New York City, the average high in July is 84ºF (29ºC) while the average low in January is  25ºF (-4ºC).

And paper burns at 451ºF, inspiring the name of Ray Bradbury’s futuristic dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451If you click on the poster below, you can watch a video montage of the movie based on the book. Further below is the dialog that appears in the video.
Woman: Is it true that a long time ago, firemen put out fires and not burn books.

Fireman 1: Oh really! Your uncle is right, you are light in the head! Put fires out! Who told you that?
Woman: Oh, I don’t know, someone. But is it true? Did they?
Fireman 1: What a strange idea!

Woman: Tell me, that number you all wear, what’s it mean?
Fireman 1: Oh, Fahrenheit 4-5-1
Woman: Why 4-5-1 rather than 8-1-3…
Fireman 1: Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which book paper catches fire and starts to burn.

Fireman 2: There’s nothing there. The books have nothing to say! All those people that never existed. People that read them, it makes them unhappy with their own lives, it makes them want to live in other ways that can never really be.

Fireman 2: All this philosophy, let’s get rid of it. It’s even worse than the novels. Thinkers, philosophers, all of them saying exactly the same thing, “Only I am right! The others are all idiots!”

Fireman 2: It’s no good, we’ve all got to be alike. The only way to be happy is for everybody to made equal. So, we must burn the books. All the books!

Woman: You ever read the books you burn?
Fireman 1: Why should I? First, I’m not into it. And second, I’ve got better things to do. And third, it is forbidden.

Fireman 1: You’re nothing but zombies, all of you! Just like those husbands of yours, you don’t know anymore. You’re not living, you’re just killing time!

Fireman 2: What do you think you’re doing?! There’s no need for that!