The BLC Blog

A forum and learning place for British Language Centre students

Monday, June 29, 2009

Word of the Week - 57


This week's word is a noun which came to my attention after a conversation with my mother. She was telling me about how crime is increasing in our home town, especially burglaries. She used this word which refers to an unusually large number of events which happen suddenly and at about the same time.

There has been a spate of burglaries in our neighbourhood recently.

I'm going through a spate of bad luck at the moment.

The government is planning traffic reforms after a spate of deaths on national motorways.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

British Cuisine - Pimm's

Since Wimbledon began this week I thought that I should tell you all about a drink which is commonly taken during the tennis tournament as well as at polo matches, regattas and opera festivals. It is a rather posh drink, a cocktail in fact, which is often enjoyed in the summer months.

Pimm's was first produced by a British farmer's son called James Pimm in 1823. The original blend is called Pimm's No. 1 Cup. It is based on gin and has a dark tea colour with a reddish tint, and tastes subtly of spice and citrus fruit. It is often taken with ginger ale or lemonade and decorated (garnished) with cucumber, strawberries and fresh mint.

So, if you find yourself in Britain this summer, you know what to order at the bar! Yum yum!

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Expression of the Fortnight - 7

Ok - I know we haven't had one of these for a while so I thought it was about time I came up with another expression post!


When someone accuses you of being like a pot calling the kettle black they are saying that you are guilty of the same thing for which you are complaining about another person. For example, if you always arrive late and yet you are complaining about somebody for not being on time, the person who you are complaining to / or about may say 'That's the pot calling the kettle black!" To make it shorter and more sarcastic the person may just say, "Hello, Pot!" or "Hello, Pot. I'm Kettle!"

The equivalents in Spanish are "Apártate que me tiznas, dijo la sarten al cazo" or "El burro hablando de orejas".

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Word of the Week - 56

This week's word is an adjective which will be very useful to you in the coming weeks as the temperature in the capital goes up and up. The adjective means very hot, which is what it is now in Madrid.

It's a scorching summer day!

It's scorching hot in the street.

There are many other adjectives in English that you can use to say that it or something is very hot. Here are a couple more:

I'm boiling, isn't the air conditioning working?

The house was sweltering when we got back from our holidays. We had to open all the windows.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Word of the Week - 55


This week's word is an adjective. It does not mean what you may think it means, since it is a false friend. This adjective is used to describe somebody who thinks that they are more important, more clever or just better than everybody else. It describes somebody who is always boasting about how good they are.

John is so big-headed! He thinks he's the best football player on the team.

The noun big-head can also be used in the same way.

John is such a big-head! He walks around as if he's god's gift to women!

Don't compliment her so much or she'll start getting a big head.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cambridge Exams - June 2009

For those students who will be sitting their Cambridge First Certificate and Advanced exams next week don't forget that you can do some online activities on the Flo-Joe website. The corrections are also available online so you can see how well you are doing.

FCE Practice Test > > >

CAE Practice Test > > >

Happy studying and good luck to you all x x

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Word of the Week - 54

This week's word is a verb which can be used to mean exchange. When you give somebody something in return for something else you can say that you are swapping something.
When you've finished reading that book do you want to swap with me? This book is really good too.
I swapped addresses with a lovely couple who we met on our honeymoon. (I gave them my address and they gave me theirs - we didn't exchange houses!)
They spent all night in the pub swapping stories about university. (telling each other stories)
Ok students, swap sheets with the people sitting next to you.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

British Cuisine - Summer Fruit Pudding

Summer is now upon us, so what better a time to tell you about a typical British summertime dessert. Summer Fruit Pudding is a dessert made from bread and macerated berries. Typical berries that are used can include redcurrants, blackcurrants , raspberries,
blueberries, blackberries, tayberries, and strawberries. Any mixture of these berries would work but most recipes include at least blackcurrants and redcurrants in their mix.
The berries are heated in a saucepan with sugar until their juices begin to run. Some people suggest leaving the fruit and sugar in the fridge for a few hours before heating. The bread is cut into triangles and stips and soaked in the juices from the fruit. These bread shapes are then used to line a deep bowl making sure that there are no gaps for the juice to leak out of. The bread bowl is then filled with the berries, sealed with more bread on top and then weighted down and placed in the fridge overnight to set.
The pudding should be served cold with icecream or cream. Yummy yummy!

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Good Luck

Everyone at the BLC would like to wish those students who are doing their FCE or CAE Speaking Exam over the next few weeks the best of luck. Break a leg! (As they say to actors and the like)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Word of the Week - 53


This week's word is an adjective which is used to describe something that is of poor and cheap quality and is often seen as being in bad taste. The thing being described often tries to give the impression that it is in fact of good quality. It can also be used to describe something that is really common and has been seen or heard many times before, which is the case when we use it to refer to music or films. The meaning is a mixture of hortera, cursi and cutre in Spanish.

I hate cheesy adverts with famous people trying to promote bank accounts or insurance policies.

I love listening to cheesy Christmas music like Last Christmas by Wham and All I Want for Christmas by Mariah carey.

We stayed in a cheesy motel on our way to Tijuana.

Grease 2 is one of the greatest cheesy movies ever, the acting is terrible but I just love watching it again and again!

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