Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Chinese Horoscopes

The Chinese Zodiac, like the Western Zodiac, has twelve signs, but each one lasts (dura) a year, not a month, and each year represents a different animal. According to popular legend, when Lord Buddha was dying he called all the animals to visit him to say goodbye to them. However,(Sin embargo) only twelve of them came, so as a reward (como recompensa) he decided to name a year after them, in the order of their arrival.

The Twelve Animals of the Zodiac 

The first to arrive was the rat, then the ox,(buey) the tiger, the rabbit,(conejo) the dragon, the snake,(serpiente), the horse, the sheep,(oveja) the monkey,(mono) the rooster,(gallo) the dog and finally the pig. The Chinese say that the animal of the year you were born has a big influence on your life and call it “the animal that hides in your heart”. Let’s look briefly (brevemente) at the characteristics of each animal and which years correspond to each one. Remember, however, that the Chinese New Year is based on the lunar year and not the solar one, and begins in late January or February.

The Rat : intelligent, charming (encantador) and ambitious, rats are often successful (exitoso) business people. They are also creative and are excellent organisers. Career options often include sales, and accountancy.

The Ox: honest, gentle and reliable,(digno de confianza) an ox is patient and hard-working but prefers to work alone. They are often very good at working with their hands, and can be found in careers related to the earth such as farming. (agricultura) and are usually good cooks. They are also usually excellent cooks.

The Tiger: determined,(decidido) enthusiastic and positive, tigers sometimes have a sense of superiority. They like to see everything finished and rarely abandon a project. They are born leaders and are successful in careers such as politics and the army.

The Rabbit: generous, friendly and calm, rabbits dislike taking risks. They like an easy, relaxed life. Since they pay attention to detail, good career choices are in literature, art and design.

The Dragon: energetic, enthusiastic and self-confident,(seguro de si mismo) dragons enjoy being the centre of attention. They can also be serious and dignified, and are good at solving problems. They are often found in professions such as law, acting, management and the arts.

The Snake: charming, calculating and often conservative, snakes like to be in control of a situation. They are alert and often perceptive and intuitive. Good career options are public relations, philosophy and law.

The Horse: independent, confident, strong and ambitious, horses are usually devoted (dedicados) to their work, family and home. They are also honest and loyal (leal) and always try to do their best. Horses usually make good politicians, explorers or artists.

The Sheep: patient, moderate and cautious, a sheep is calm under pressure. They are hard workers and work well but do not like to be the centre of attention. A Sheep usually chooses professions such as research,(investigación) outdoor work or librarianship.(biblioteconomía) 

The Monkey: intelligent, adaptable and ambitious, monkeys learn very quickly and have good ideas. They also like playing tricks (bromas) on people. They are good in careers such as design, media management, public relations and planning.

The Rooster: brave, wise, (sabio) imaginative and creative, a rooster also enjoys singing and music and is a persuasive talker. They usually know exactly what they want. For this reason they are very good in the fields of politics, public relations, and creative and scientific work.

The Dog: honest, friendly and sincere, a dog is also brave and loyal and a good team worker. They are interested in the welfare (bienestar) of other people and are good listeners. Their choice of careers include teaching, social work, counselling,(asesoramiento) medicine and research.

The Pig: tolerant, generous, virtuous and peaceful,(tranquilo) pigs are liked for their honesty and warm natures. A pig is not materialistic or critical of others and rarely has enemies. They like simple pleasures and are found in careers connected with food, writing or social work.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Thank God for tea !

Tea ...the " National Drink".

If there is a typical British drink, that is tea. Known as the ‘National Drink’, it is consumed daily by a majority of people across the country. Teas can be divided into categories depending on how they are processed: white, yellow, green, oolong, black and postfermented. In Britain, tea is usually black tea served with milk.
The tea plant is native to East and South Asia. It was imported to Europe during the Portuguese expansion of the 16th century. Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II, took the tea habit to Great Britain around 1660. It became a widely consumed drink in the 19th century when the British started importing tea from China.The world’s largest producers of tea are China and India.

Did you know  ?

The first tea bag was marketed in 1904. American Thomas Sullivan from New York was the first to distribute samples of his tea in small bags with a drawstring. This method became widely used during World War II, when tea was rationed. Tetley was the first brand to sell tea bags in the UK, in 1953. They became an immediate success12.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Trip to the Theatre

Do you always go to the cinema instead of (en vez de) the theatre? If the answer is yes, you don’t know what you are missing. Theatre gives you the opportunity to see talented actors and actresses live (en directo) Today, we take a special look at theatre in Wales –the world-famous International Festival of Musical Theatre in Cardiff, the world of pantomime, including the Jack and the Beanstalk story, and contemporary Welsh theatre.

Musical Theatre
The most popular form of theatre in Wales is musical theatre. This became fashionable during the 1940s with the playwrights (escritores) Ivor Novello and Harry Davies. The latter (el último) produced Full Swing, and The Lisbon Story, with its songs Red Sails In The Sunset and Pedro The Fisherman, which are still being shown to large audiences. In the sixties Julian More wrote the memorable hits Grab Me A Gondola, Expresso Bongo, and The Golden Touch.

The Pantomime 
At Christmas time, theatres in Wales and the rest of Britain perform their annual pantomime. This is family entertainment that is extremely popular with young children. This theatre genre brings a mixture of song, dance, slapstick (bufonada) and satire to storylines (argumentos) loosely (libremente) based on traditional children’s stories. It traditionally has some conventions unique to theatre, where the main male character (personaje malvado masculino) is performed by a young woman, and the part of an older woman is acted by a man in drag.(vestido de mujer) There is also pantomime cow or horse consisting of two actors in a single costume. One is the head and front legs, while the other is the body and hind legs.(patas traseras) The actors on stage encourage audience participation, who often shout “he's behind you!”, "oh yes it is!" or "oh no it isn't!". Below are some popular Pantomime shows that are regularly performed at Christmas time throughout (por todo) Britain.
Sleeping Beauty 
Dick Whittington 
Goldilocks and the Three Bears 
Jack and the Beanstalk 
Snow White 
Mother Goose 
Peter Pan 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Sayings !

A  saying (dicho)  is  a well-known and wise statement, which often has a meaning that is different from the simple meanings of the words it contains. Here are  a few  examples: 

Too many chiefs and not enough Indians

If everybody wants to be the boss and nobody wants to work, then there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians.

When the cat’s away the mice will play.

When the authority figure is away, the subordinates are free to do what they want.

No pain, no gain

If you don’t make an effort and a sacrifice, you won’t achieve anything.

To see red

If you see red, you become angry; lose self-control.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

US vs UK

Americans speak English but it’s not quite the same as in England! Some of the words are different, some of the spelling is different and the accent is different too. Let’s have a look at some examples.

Call me a cab!

In America they use the word "cab" instead of "taxi", or the word "check" instead of "bill" when you want to pay in a restaurant. Well, these are just some of the different words they have in America. When they talk about “going up in the elevator”, it’s the same as the lift. Americans put gasoline in their cars, not petrol, and they drive on highways or freeways, not motorways. They stand in line at a drugstore while the British queue (hacen cola) at a chemist’s and they wear pants, not trousers. They use zip codes (códigos postales), not postcodes. How many more differences can you find while you’re in America?

How do you spell it?

In America, they spell harbour without a “u” – harbor. This is very common with words like colour, neighbour and labour –or color, neighbor and labor. Britain has a Ministry of Defence, the Americans a Department of Defense. Something else to notice in America!


Real New Yorkers have a very strong accent. In fact, the voice of the cartoon character Bugs Bunny is based on (basados en) a Brooklyn accent. They speak very quickly and sometimes British people can’t understand them! If you go South, to New Orleans, the accent there is softer (más suave) and more open, and in the west they speak with a John Wayne drawl!(manera de hablar lenta) But don’t worry – Americans are very polite (educado) and will always repeat what they have said. Oh, and if you’re wondering, “Howdy!” is American for “How do you do?”!

Friday, January 9, 2015

My and mine

Possessive adjectives (my, your, etc) are used with a noun:
My name is John. What is your name?
I lost my keys in the bar.
Peter broke his arm when he fell off a tree.
Possessive pronouns (mine, yours, etc) are used when we do not want to repeat the same noun because it is clear what we are talking about. They can always be substituted by a possessive adjective + a noun:
My name is John. What is yours? [=What is your name?]
My father and I both have a Renault, but mine is bigger than his [=my Renault is bigger than his Renault].
Alice’s dog is not as tall as mine [as my dog].

BE CAREFUL: We normally add –s to the possessive adjective to make a possessive pronoun (her → hers; our → ours). This –s does not mean plural.

Study the following table.

Possessive adjectives
Possessive pronouns

Complete the sentences with the right possessive. Use mine / my (2) / yours /her.
Mary broke (a) __________ leg last week when she went skiing. I’ve never broken (b) __________, but I broke (c) ___________ arm once when I fell down the stairs.
(d) __________ cat is called “Pussy”. What is (e) __________ called?

Answer key:
Practice : (a) her; (b) mine; (c) my; (d) my; (e) yours

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Newspapers and TV

The British love reading newspapers! We buy millions of them every day. There are basically two types of newspapers: broadsheets (periodico de gran formato) and tabloid (tabloide).

Broadsheets are larger and more serious and prestigious. Some of the most well-known ones are The Times, The Independent, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph.   

Tabloids, on the other hand, have a smaller format, and are often criticised because they publish sensationalist pieces of news. Some of the most popular tabloids are The Sun, The Mirror and The Star.
There are different sections in a newspaper. The first page is called the front page,(página de portada) and you can find the most important headlines (titulares) there. You can read the articles and the editorial in the inside pages. Most newspapers have got other sections, such as film and book reviews,(críticas de pelis y libros) fashion pages and a TV guide. Crosswords (crucigramas) are usually on the back page (la última página). Do you like crosswords? I love them!

What types of programmes do you watch? I like films and TV series, and I also watch lots of game shows (concursos) and documentaries. Do you watch documentaries? Some people think they’re boring, but I think they can be very interesting. I always watch the 6 o’clock news while I’m having dinner, but my daughter complains (se queja) because she wants to watch cartoons.(dibujos animados) My friends say I watch too much TV. What do you think?

TV Channels
Have you ever watched a British television programme? The British Broadcasting Corporation, better known as the BBC, is the state television channel and some of their best programmes are seen all over the world. Did you know that on the BBC channels there aren’t any advertisements?(anuncios) So go to the toilet before the film starts!

Some other British TV channels are ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. But in the UK, there are no free channels (canales gratuítos) because when you buy a television you have to buy a TV licence (licencia para tener televisión)

Of course, these aren’t the only TV channels in Britain. If you have a satellite dish (antena parabólica) or cable TV, you can also pick up (recibir) a wider variety of programmes from local or international TV stations.(canales de TV)