The BLC Blog

A forum and learning place for British Language Centre students

Monday, March 30, 2009

Word of the Week - 44


This week's word is an adjective, a noun and a verb.

As a noun it is an object which is made to look real and valuable so as to trick people into thinking that it is the real thing.

Experts revealed that the painting in the musuem was actually a fake.

As an adjective it describes an object which is made to look or seem real.

I can't afford real designer handbags, but they make really good fake ones these days. you can hardly tell the difference.

Some underage people carry fake ID so that they can get into nightclubs and buy alcohol.

As a verb it means to falsify something.

I used to fake my parents' signatures on sick notes so that I didn't have to go to school.

Labels: ,

Saturday, March 28, 2009

British Cuisine - Devonshire Cream Tea

Cream Tea, Devonshire Cream Tea and Cornish Cream Tea are all names for a quintessential English afternoon snack that can be enjoyed in the aforementioned counties or all around England in special tea rooms. (If you are ever in Yorkshire, Bettys Tea Rooms are quite famous in the region and although they are a bit on the expensive side they are lovely for a special treat.) You can even get Cream Teas in the commonwealth countries and the United States. Ideally, this snack should be eaten around 4 o' clock.

A Cream Tea consists of a pot of fresh tea which is taken with a sweet scone served with strawberry jam and clotted cream. (A scone is a bread-type cake of Scottish origin made of flour, sugar, milk and butter. Other ingredients are then added to the mixture for different variations. ) In a Cream Tea the scones are most likely to be sultana scones (con pasas).

For a true Devonshire Cream Tea, you should of course go to Devon itself. Devon is a beautiful county in the South West of England next to Cornwall. It has some lovely beaches and magnificent landscapes. Check out the tourist site for more information!

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Brand Names That Have Become Verbs

Brand names can become generic when they are so commonly used that people associate the brand name for every product of that type regardless of who manufactures it. Some brand names become so generic that people begin to use them as verbs describing the action that is carried out with the product. Let's look at the most common examples of this in English.

First of all, we have the verb 'to hoover' or 'do the hoovering'. In the UK this verb means to 'vacuum clean' or 'do the vacuuming' and comes from the well-known vacuum cleaner trademark, Hoover.

Another brand verb is 'to xerox' (pronounced 'zeerocks') which in American English is used to mean 'to photocopy'. The noun 'a xerox' also exists to talk about a photocopy. It doesn't matter if you use a Canon photocopier or a HP, people in the States still say 'I need to xerox this report'.

One of the newest and most common brand verbs is 'to google'. This of course means to search for something on the internet. Since most people use Google as their search engine this is the verb that caught on and not 'to Yahoo' or to 'MSN'. One of my hobbies is doing cryptic crosswords and if I am not sure of a word, I always google it!

Now, although this might seem like positive and free advertising for the companies involved, over the years most of these giant corporations have paid their lawyers a lot of money to help them fight against it! You can read this article from the BBC news, which despite being old, is still relevant.

Labels: , ,

Monday, March 23, 2009

Word of the Week - 43


According to the internet, today is Toast Day. I'm not sure exactly why anybody would want to celebrate Toast Day but it did give me today's word of the week. Now, I'm sure you all know what toast is and you most probably eat it every morning with olive oil and fresh tomato. Being English, I eat mine with butter and jam or marmalade or sometimes honey. But today's word of the week is not that kind of toast. (Just remember that 'toast' the food is an uncountable noun! We talk about pieces of toast if we wish to count them)

Today's 'toast' is a drink. Well, it's not really the drink, but more of the expression of congratulations and good wishes that goes along with an alcoholic drink, usually wine or champagne. The word can be used as a noun or a verb.

Now, if you'd all please raise your glasses, I'd like to propose a toast to the bride and groom.

Champagne corks popped as the guests drank a toast to the happy couple.

We all toasted the happy couple after the speech.

Labels: ,

Sunday, March 22, 2009

British Cuisine - Sunday Roast

Sunday Roast, Sunday Lunch or Sunday Dinner is, as one might have guessed, a meal which is eaten on Sundays. It is usually eaten in the early afternoon and consists of a roasted joint of meat, roast potatoes, and an assortment of vegetables. Gravy made from the meat juices is also a must for this meal.

The traditional Sunday roast has been traced back to Yorkshire during the Industrial Revolution. It is believed this tradition arose because the meat could be left in the oven to cook before the family went to church on Sunday morning, and it would be ready when they arrived home at lunchtime.

The most common joint of meat for Sunday Roast is beef, which is most commonly served with Yorkshire Pudding and either English or Horseradish mustard. Other choices are lamb served with mint sauce, pork served with sage and onion stuffing, crackling (la corteza) and apple sauce or chicken served with redcurrant jelly.

Obviously one of the best places for you to try this meal is in somebody's home, but if you don't know anyone who is willing to invite you to Sunday Lunch, then you could go to a carvery. The advantage of a carvery is that you can usually try a bit of every joint they have on offer! And many carvery pubs and restaurants allow you to eat as much as you can for the same price!

Labels: ,

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Expression of the Fortnight - 6


This is an expression that means to spend less money than before because you have less money, you aren't working as much or because you are feeling the effects of an economic crisis. It means to economise.

I've had to tighten my belt since I stopped working full-time.

We need to tighten our belts at the moment and stop spending so much on unnecessary items.

Have you had to tighten your belt this year?

The expression comes from the idea that when we haven't had enough to eat, perhaps because we can't afford, we lose weight and therefore have to pull our belt more around our waist to stop our trousers from falling down. Another variation of this expression is 'to tighten the purse strings' which literally means that it is harder to get money out of your purse!

Labels: , ,

Monday, March 16, 2009

Word of the Week - 42


This week's word has also been inspired by the current economic crisis that we are going through. I'm sorry to seem so pessimistic, but perhaps the words will be useful to you in your English conversations and classes.

The phrasal verb 'to lay somebody off' means to stop employing someone, usually because there isn't any work for them to do or because the company can not afford to keep them.

The company has been forced to lay off over fifty workers due to a drop in sales.
John got laid off last week. He is really worried that he won't be able to find another job.

A more formal way of expressing this idea is to 'make somebody redundant'. Companies usually make redundancy payments, if they have the money, to the staff they lay off.

The verbs 'to sack' and 'to fire' can also be used but they have the added connotation that the person being dismissed has done something wrong, such as turning up late for work on a regular basis or breaking a company rule.

John was fired when his boss discovered that he had been stealing money from the till.

Penelope was sacked from her job for poor performance.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Red Nose Day

Comic Relief is a British charity which was founded in 1985 by the comedy scriptwriter, Richard Curtis, in response to famine in Ethiopia. All money raised by the association is spent on charitable projects. One of Comic Relief's main fundraising activities is Red Nose Day. In the time running up to this day people can buy plastic red noses to wear over their own noses. The money that is raised from the sales of these and other related merchandise goes to help people in need. The BBC, who is one of charity's main supporters, broadcasts a show on Red Nose Day (which this year is on Friday the 13th of March) which begins in the early afternoon and lasts until late at night. Many celebrities take part in the show, entertaining the public at home watching on TV and trying to encourage people to phone in and donate money. Regular people also carry out lots of fund-raising and sponsored events among their friends and local communities to try and raise money for the charity. In schools, organised charity events often take place. The only guideline is that whatever you do to raise money, it needs to be funny!

To find out more about the charity you can check out their website. >> > > >

Labels: , ,

Monday, March 9, 2009

Word of the Week - 41.


This week's words of the week are related to the crisis we find ourselves in at the moment. A credit crunch colloquially refers to a period of economic difficulty during which it is difficult to borrow money from banks or investors. We can also refer to this as a credit crisis or a credit squeeze. Literally when you crunch something (usually food with your mouth and teeth) or squeeze it, (imagine a tube of toothpaste or a lemon) you are reducing it in size, breaking it down or removing something from it. This is where the idea of a credit crunch probably comes from. The banks are reducing the amount of money they lend or invest.

How have you been affected by the current credit crunch and the rise in unemployment? If you want some advice on how to survive in this current economic climate, MSN have a survival guide with lots of tips!

Show me the survival guide > > > >

Labels: ,

Saturday, March 7, 2009

British Cuisine - Bangers and Mash

A typical and traditional meal in Britain is Bangers and Mash. The word 'banger' is colloquial for sausage, and 'mash' refers to mashed potatoes. It is important that the mash be made from real potatoes with butter and milk or cream and not be from a packet like Maggi! The dish is often served with onion gravy and some form of vegetable.

There are believed to be about 470 types of sausage in the United Kingdom, where this particular item is very popular. Simple forms of Bangers and Mash use simple varieties of sausage made from pork or beef. This is common fare in British pubs, but in restaurants or gastropubs serving traditional food with a twist (something special added or changed), you are likely to find more interesting types of sausage. These can include flavours like pork and apple or lamb and mint or venison sausage. Sometimes restaurants like to liven up the mashed potato by adding horseradish (rábano picante) or wholegrain mustard or sweet garlic among other ingredients.

The two most well know varieties of English sausage are Cumberland and Lincolnshire which originated in the counties of the same name. These sausages can be bought in long coils (spirals) or in the shape of ordinary sausages.

For me, this dish is a real comfort food, I love making it and I enjoy eating it even more. Thankfully, I can buy both Cumberland and Lincolnshire sausages in my supermarket here in Madrid so I often make Bangers and Mash for my Spanish husband and he loves them!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Another Student Story

A few months ago, back in December I posted a story which one of my student's had written as practice for the First Certificate Exam. I had promised to post another story but I got side-tracked. However, finally, here is that other story from one of my student's.

Emma could not believe what she saw in front of her. She had been waiting for that moment for a long time and the time had come. Her father was in front of her holding a bunch of keys, it was her birthday present!!!. They have bought a car for me!, she thought. She was really excited and she started to shout and jump. Since she was eighteen she had been thinking about all the things that she could do with a car; go to the beach, drive around Europe, run her brother over... Having a car was her biggest desire. When she stopped shouting and jumping, her father, who had been watching that incredible show, walked up to her and said "Emma take these keys and go downstairs, you have to help us to bring in the shopping from the car".

(Javier Perez)

Personally, I thought this story was really funny! I hope you enjoyed it too. Come on guys! Feel inspired and send in a story of your own for the blog!

Labels: , ,

Monday, March 2, 2009

British Cuisine

This is going to be a regular entry on the Blc Blog. I am going to try to bring to you lots of recipes and pictures of food and drink and eating practices that are typically British. I hope to teach you a little bit and open your minds towards the food that is eaten in Great Britain. Some of this food will be traditionally British using quality local ingredients and some of this food will show influences from many countries far and wide, which is to be expected from a country with a long history of colonisation and immigration.

I really hope that you will find this interesting and useful as I am sure many of you travel to Britain for work and pleasure and struggle to find good, healthy food. So watch this space!

Labels: , ,

Word of the Week -40


I discovered this week's word while reading the BBC Online News this morning. A curfew is a rule that is imposed by somebody in authority. This could be the government in times of war or political trouble, our parents or in the case of the newspaper article I was reading, our football manager! A curfew is the time that you must be back home and it is usually at night.

If I don't get home before curfew my parents will punish me!

You can read the article on the BBC website to see what happened to Ronaldo for breaking his curfew.

Go to the article > > > >

Labels: , ,