The BLC Blog

A forum and learning place for British Language Centre students

Tuesday, December 25, 2007



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Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Number One

The Number one spot in the British Charts is very prestigious and many bands and solo artists battle it out around Christmas to climb to the top of the charts and claim that much coveted prize! In recent years the Christmas Number One has been winners of pop-talent shows such as the X-Factor and Popstars and most of the songs have very little to do with Christmas. In fact only five Christmas Number Ones actually have the word Christmas in the title. Here you can read all about it and listen to some past winning songs.

This year old songs from the 70´s and 80´s such as Wham's Last Christmas have found their way back into the charts thanks to places like itunes who allow people to download older music.

Meanwhile here is this year's Christmas Number One, When you Believe, by Leon, winner of this year's X Factor.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Are you a Santa or a Scrooge?

Everyone always talks about Santa Claus, Father Christmas , The Three Kings or Saint Nicholas at this time of year. But what about the other famous characters that are not so full of Christmas cheer? Do you know Scrooge, the character made famous by Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol ? And what about Mr Grinch from the Dr Seuss Books? Not everyone is so happy at this time of year and some people would prefer to say Bah! Humbug! For a taste of Mr Grinch watch the video below or maybe you would prefer to read the lyrics. Who do you think you are more like? A Santa, a Scrooge or a Grinch? Leave your comments!

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas is coming

Christmas is getting nearer and nearer and we are beginning to wind down for the Christmas holidays. Something I love to do in my spare time is a good crossword, I find it relaxing and I feel really proud when I manage to finish one! Here is a link to Bogglesworld where there is a fun Christmas crossword to test your Yuletide vocabulary and if you scroll down onto the next page, you can check your answers. Try to do it first without peeking though!!!

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Acrostics

An acrostic is type of poem, although it doesn't have to rhyme, which utilises the letters of a word to begin each line. The poem then explains the word or the topic throughout. Here is an example of an acrostic I have written about Santa Claus.

Slowly he creeps down the chimney
And leaves gifts under the tree.
Next, he has a sip of whisky
That was left out by you and me
And then he fills up our stockings and
Calling Ho, Ho , Ho,
Leaps back up the chimney
And away he goes.
Usually we wait a while before waking up out parents,
Shouting "Santa has been, come on, come on, lets open up our presents!

Why don't you try to write an acrostic about something Christmassy, we would love to read it!

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Avoid Christmas Consumerism

Christmas can be a very expensive time of year, what with buying Christmas cards and expensive presents for all our friends and family. Many people believe that we have lost sight of the real reason for celebrating the Christmas period and that we spend too much time and money on the consumer side of the holiday and don't pay enough attention to the spiritual side.

Back in 2001 an initiative was started in a bid to combat growing consumerism and the commercialisation of Christmas. A group of Canadian Mennonites began this initiative and named it Buy Nothing Christmas. To find out more about this movement, the history, the aims and objectives and what you can do to participate, check out their website.

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Present Perfect Christmas

We haven't looked at any grammar in a while so I thought we could combine a little Present Perfect with yet, already and still with the topic of Christmas.

The Christmas period can be a very hectic one because we have to get a lot of things ready before the big day on the 25th of December. Look at this check-list. What have you already done? What haven't you done yet? What do you still need to do?

  • Buy a turkey
  • Buy presents
  • Send Christmas cards
  • Wrap presents
  • Make a Christmas cake
  • Decorate the tree
  1. I haven't bought a turkey yet, but I'm going to get one next weekend.
  2. I have already bought the presents, they cost me a fortune!
  3. I have already sent Christmas cards. I took them to the post office last week.
  4. I haven't wrapped the presents yet, I'm still looking for some gold wrapping paper.
  5. I haven't made a Christmas cake yet, because I still haven't bought the dried fruit.
  6. I have already decorated the tree. It looks beautiful!
Notice the position of the adverbs in the sentences. Yet always comes at the end in negative or interrogative sentences. Already always comes between the auxiliary verb 'have' and the past participle. Still comes after the subject of the sentence and before the auxiliary verb. It can be used to mean the same as yet (sentence 5) or to emphasise that an action remains in progress (sentence 4).

Now practise.

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Father Christmas Facts

In many countries Children go to bed on Christmas Eve (the 24th of December) awaiting the arrival of Father Christmas and their gifts.

Father Christmas is known by different names in different countries and the tradition and folklore surrounding this figure differs from place to place. Other names include Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas and Kris Kringle.

Father Christmas is often depicted in red clothes with black boots and a black belt but that has not always been the case. Before 1931, Santa had always been shown in black and white, green and white or an array of other colours. It was only when Coca Cola created an image (see picture on the left) of Father Christmas in red and white as part of an advertising campaign that he became known as the man in red with a white beard!

have some interesting information on the origins of Father Christmas in different countries and here there are some old pictures depicting him in colours other than red.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Christmas in America

In the last post I linked to a great online advent calendar where you could find out about Christmas in a different country every day. As the countdown to Christmas continues, don't forget to click on that calendar and learn something new!

If Christmas is something that you enjoy finding out about, you should link to this Christmas Listening Quiz. In this particular recording you can hear an American talking about their traditions in the festive period. The website has lots of other listening quizzes for you to try out too, so why not practice a little in your own home or when you have a spare minute at work and choose something that interests you!

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Monday, December 3, 2007

Advent Calendars

As the countdown to Christmas begins many children ( and some adults) will be opening the doors on their Advent calendars. The origins of the Advent calendar come from German Lutherans who, at least as early as the beginning of the 19th century, would count the days of Advent physically. Some people marked their doors with chalk each day and some lit a new candle every day.

Nowadays, Advent calendars come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The most common form is made up of two sheets of cardboard with 24 little doors which, when opened, reveal little pictures depicting the Nativity or other common Christmas paraphernalia such as holly or reindeer. Some calendars contain chocolates for each day and some are made of cloth and contain little figures. In a town in Germany they even have a real-life giant advent calendar!

If you haven't managed to find an Advent calendar yet, or if perhaps you think you are too old for such a thing, why don't you check out this online version! You won't find chocolates or little gifts inside it, but on each day you will find a link to some interesting information about Christmas in other countries around the globe.

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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Feeling Festive?

The first of December has arrived and we begin the countdown to Christmas. The lights have all been put up and turned on in the city centre and people are beginning to get into the festive spirit.

I spent Saturday putting up my Christmas tree and adorning it with lots of Christmas ornaments. If you haven't decorated your tree yet, you could visit videojug to find out how to decorate it in various styles. Videojug is a great place to find out how to do absolutely everything that anyone could ever want to do, from making an angel for the top of your Christmas tree to how to kiss your partner passionately or even how to remove a bra with one hand. What more could you want this Christmas?!

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