The BLC Blog

A forum and learning place for British Language Centre students

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Science behind Santa

Today is Christmas Eve and many children around the world will be preparing for the arrival of Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, St Nick or whatever they choose to call the magical man with his reindeer and sleigh. But just how does one man deliver gifts to children and adults all over the world in one night? Read this article to find out the scientific theories behind Santa and his sleigh.

Merry Christmas Everyone x

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Monday, December 22, 2008

The Fat One

Today is the draw for the Spanish Christmas Lottery, known as The Fat One. Good luck if you have bought a decimo or two (or ten). You probably know all there is to know about this extra special lottery but why not get some English practice in by reading this website.

Go to the Fat One > > > >


Word of the Week - 35

Today's word of the week is an abbreviation. It is the written abbreviation of Christmas. Some people write 'xmas' to save time and some people prefer it as an alternative to writing the full word.
Everyone at the BLC would like to wish you a very Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.
Other short forms or alternatives to 'Christmas' include 'Crimbo' which is a slang word, or 'Noel' or 'Yule'.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Expression of the Fortnight - 3

to make mincemeat out of somebody

A typical Christmas food in Britain are mince pies. These are pies containing something called mincemeat although in fact they do not have any meat in them at all. Mincemeat is made of dried fruits, apples and nuts. Originally in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries these pies did include a mixture of meat and fruit but modern versions omit the meat completely.

The informal expression 'to make mincemeat out of somebody' means to defeat somebody very easily in an argument, competition or fight. Sometimes it is used to mean utterly destroy.

I can imagine a defence lawyer making mincemeat of him if we ever put him up in court.

If like me you are a big Desperate Housewives fan you may remember an episode where Mrs Huber offers Susan some freshly baked mince pie. She explains to Susan about mincemeat with the intention of letting Susan know that she could make mincemeat out of her. Here is the dialogue:

Mrs. Huber: "I can't wait for you to try this. It's mincemeat."
Susan: "Actually, I just had dinner."
Mrs. Huber: "That's okay. You can save it for later." (she laughs)
Susan: "What's so funny?"
Mrs. Huber: "I was just thinking of that expression: I'll make mincemeat out of you. Mincemeat. It used to be an entree made up of mostly chopped meat, so it was like saying 'I'll chop you up into little bits.' But that was centuries ago. Today, mincemeat is mostly made up of fruit, spices, and rum. There's no meat in it. And still people say I'll make mincemeat out of you."
Susan: "I don't know that people really say that anymore."
Mrs. Huber: "I do."

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Student Story

One of my First Certificate students has very kindly allowed me to publish a story she wrote as practice for Part 2 of the writing exam. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I did and that it inspires you to perhaps send in a story of your own to be published on the blog. The only rule is that the story must begin with ‘Emma could not believe what she saw in front of her” and be no longer than 180 words.

Here is Monica's story.

Emma could not believe what she saw in front of her. For the first time in her life she was afraid. She started to sweat and for a while she stopped breathing.

Come on, Emma. It's impossible, you've never been a fearful person. But, she realized after a few seconds that over the last two weeks strange things had been happening around her.

First, each time she came home the door was open. It was probably her husband's fault, however he doesn't usually forget to lock it. Secondly, why did the lights turn out so often? And it always happened when she was alone. And finally, the most frightening thing, what about this sound (so scary) that she had been hearing lately?

Then she remembered an old story; if someday, somewhere, somehow you see your own vision in front of you, you'd better run because the curse is following you.

(Monica Huerta)

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Word of the Week - 34

This week's word of the week is an adjective which is generally used to describe songs or pieces of musics which are pleasing and easy to remember. It can also refer to a slogan or a product name.
That tune is really catchy, I have had it in my head all day!
The Spanish equivalent of this adjective would be 'pegadizo'.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Secret Santa

Perhaps with the current economic crisis you need to tighten your belt this Christmas. If you are struggling to afford Christmas presents for all your friends, you could agree to do a Secret Santa. This is where each person in the group picks a name from a hat and buys a gift for that person. This way everyone gets a gift and it doesn't cost the earth!
For more information about Secret Santa check out Wikipedia.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Word of the Week - 33

This week's word is a determiner ( a word used before a noun). It is used to mean 'a lot of' or 'many'.
We've been there umpteen times and she still can't remember the way.
I've seen this film umpteen times, can we watch something else.
This is the umpteenth time I've told you how to work this machine.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas Theatre

Stuck for something interesting and cultural to do at the weekend? Why not get together with a group of friends and go to the theatre. The Face to Face Theatre Company are putting on a show of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol in English!!! The show is on Saturdays and Sundays throughout December at the Alcazar Theatre on Calle Alcala and tickets cost about 15 euros. Why not check it out, practise your English listening skills, have fun and get into the Christmas spirit!

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas is coming...

Just like last year there is an online advent calendar to help you count down the days to Christmas while learning about winter celebrations and customs around the globe. Practise your English a little every day by linking to the site and clicking on the window for the day. Have fun!


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Word of the Week - 32

This word can be a verb or a noun. As a verb it meants to shout and go on about something in an angry way because you are annoyed about something. When you are ranting you don't always speak coherently. As a noun this word refers to a long, angry speech.
I thought of this word today because I have been ranting this morning about people who drop chewing gum on the floor. Some idiot had dropped their chewing gum in the corridor and I had sat on it while waiting for the academy to open. To add insult to injury, I am wearing a new pair of trousers that I bought at the weekend!
Is there anything that you would like to have a rant about? Leave your comments in the comment box after this post.

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