The BLC Blog

A forum and learning place for British Language Centre students

Monday, February 23, 2009

Penelope did it!

It was Javier Bardem's turn last year and this year Pé managed to do it too, bringing home the Oscar for best supporting actress. Here you can watch her heart-warming speech in English (without the Spanish commentators babbling over the top!)

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Word of the Week- 39

In honour of the British film that took the Oscars by storm, this week's word is ....


This word is a noun that is used to describe a very poor and crowded part of a city. It can also be used disapprovingly to describe a place that is dirty and very untidy.

There is an episode of the Simpsons where the family go to Brazil in search of a little orphan boy from the slums of Rio.

The film Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of a poor boy from the slums of Mumbai.

This house would be a complete slum if I was not here to clean up after everybody!

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Oscars

The biggest movie event of the year is upon us, yes folks I'm talking about the Oscars. Why not prepare yourself for Sunday's ceremony by checking out the official website. You can read about the stars and films that have been nominated this year and watch videos as Hollywood prepares to award the famous gold statues to members of the movie industry.

Perhaps you have seen some of the films that are up for awards this year. If so, I would love to hear what you thought about them. Why not leave a comment at the end of the entry, or even better, email me a film review to post on the blog. You can send it to! To help you look at the entry on film reviews I posted in February 2008 (in the archives).

Go to the Oscars Website > > > >

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Word of the Week -38


This week's word is related to cinema since the Oscar ceremony is on this coming Saturday. It is a noun and it is the word that refers to the story of a book, film or play (theatre production). Many Spanish students directly translate the word 'argumento' into English as 'argument', but a film does not have an argument, it has a plot.

The film has a very interesting plot with lots of unexpected twists.

I don't like his books, the plot is always the same. So predictable.

Remember that an argument is a disagreement or a heated discussion between two people.
You also need to remember that a discussion is not an angry conversation between people, it's just an exchange of ideas and opinions. These are false friends in English.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Hope you have a day filled with love and laughter. Even if you don't believe in this special day set aside for love and romance, you could still go to History.Com and find out more about why we celebrate the 14th of February. Although today it is mainly a commercial holiday, it wasn't always that way.
Go to > > > and read all about it, watch videos, play games and learn English at the same time.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

It must be love, love, love ...

Valentine's Day is just around the corner and I am back with more 'heart' vocabulary for all you love-birds out there! Today we are going to look at compound nouns and adjectives.

To start off let's talk about heartthrobs (heart-throbs). A heartthrob is a famous man, usually an actor or a singer, who is attractive to many women. Brad Pitt is an example of a long-standing heartthrob. It appears, from what I have heard in class from my female students, that in Spain 'El Duque' is the latest heartthrob.

Perhaps you have been lucky enough to go out with a Hollywood heartthrob, but as most relationships in Hollywood last about five-minutes you may have been left broken-hearted and extrememly sad.

Dating Hollywood heartthrobs could be seen as a risky thing to do and not something for the faint-hearted to take on! ( Someone who is faint-hearted is not very brave and confident and doesn't like taking unnecessary risks.) However, on Valentine's Day it is a good idea to take a risk and tell that secret someone that you love them very much. Perhaps you could send an anonymous card to your sweetheart to let them know how much they mean to you.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Love is in the Air....

With Valentine's Day on its way I thought it would be a nice idea to look at some idioms using the word 'heart'.

One expression is 'to wear your heart on your sleeve', which means to openly show your feelings and opinions and not to hide the way you really feel about something.

John always has his heart on his sleeve so that everyone knows how he feels.

A second expression is 'to learn something (off) by heart' which is when you learn something in a way that you can say it from memory.

I can still recite off by heart the extracts of Romeo and Juliet that I learnt at school.

Tom has seen that film so many times he knows all the lines off by heart!

Another expression is 'to have a heart of stone' which is used to describe a person who is unkind and cruel. Scrooge from Dickens' A Christmas Carol is a famous example of someone with a heart of stone. This is of course the opposite to having 'a heart of gold'.
The fourth and final expression for today is 'to set your heart on something'. When you do this it means that you really, really want to get something or achieve something.
Sarah has really set her heart on having a puppy.
Of course, there are many, many more idioms and expressions using the word heart in English. Too many for this entry. Perhaps you would like to discover some more by yourself on the Online Cambridge Dictionary. If you find one you particularly like, why not post it in the comments box!

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Word of the Week - 37

This week's word is a verb which means to say sorry for doing something wrong or for causing someone unhappiness and inconvenience. I thought this was an appropriate word this week because I would like to apologise (apologize [Ame]) for not having published anything on the blog over the last four weeks. In my defence I have been feeling rather unwell this past month and have not felt much like blogging. However, I am back now and promise to update the blog as often as possible.

Notice that this verb follows the pattern + preposition (FOR) + gerund (ING) when used with another verb.

I must apologise to John for taking his car without asking.
You should apologise for not coming to class last week.

Notice that we apologise TO someone-

I always apologise to the teacher if I arrive late.

Notice how other parts of speech are formed from this verb: (especially important to those of you doing Cambridge exams!)

The chairman sends his apologies, he's otherwise engaged so I will be chairing the meeting.
The newspaper sent me a letter of apology.
Jane was so apologetic about forgetting my birthday, I felt bad for her.
He handed me back my broken umbrella smiling apologetically.

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