Monthly Archives: March 2011

“Live” Reading – follow a traveller as he visits Madrid

Today you can follow a traveller as he makes his way around Madrid.  The places he visits will be determined by recommendation messages he receives from Twitter.  You can follow his progress at: and

You can see the recommendations he gets here:

You could try collecting any new vocabulary as the trip progresses or useful structures for describing, asking for suggestions, responding to ideas etc.


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Filed under Topic - Travel

B2.2 – When it comes to the exam, you had better be ready!

Tonight we came across a structure/expression in an FCE test that I can’t ever remember having seen in a course book.

To familiarise you more with the structure, here are some examples from the web…

1)  “When it comes to choosing the ideal holiday destination, Spain has cemented itself as one of the top locations.”

2)  “However, when it comes to choosing an appropriate family holiday, many of us can become unsure as to where the best holiday destinations are.”

3)  “When it comes to Spain, many of us will automatically think of its beautiful weather and sandy beaches.  However, those of us…”

4)  “When it comes to Spain however, there is plenty to satisfy all families, no matter what kind of holidays you may be used to.”

5)  “When it comes to living in Spain, the country is a great place and has many things to offer.  Here you will find a range of beautiful range of luxury villas…”

6)  “I’ve never been to Spain before, but I’ve heard a lot about the Spanish holiday reports.  I know they are really popular for British tourists, as well as German and Scandanavians.  I’m considering a trip to Spain, and I’ll be visiting some of the bigger cities and other places of interest in Spain, but I don’t know where to start when it comes to choosing which resort(s) to go to.  Can anyone give me advice about Spanish holiday resorts.”

7)  “When it comes to shopping, Madrid is at the top of the list of unmissable destinations.  Home to the most exclusive brands, the city offers visitors Luxury with a capital L.”

8)  “There really is a wide variety to choose from when it comes to eating out in Madrid. From grabbing a quick bite when you’re visiting the fantastic landmarks of the city to some fine dining by top Michelin-starred chefs, Madrid has something for everyone.”

9)  “Our Local Expert picks the best Things to Do in Madrid: “Madrid isn’t a major trendsetter like New York or London, but the city is rightly famous for its social atmosphere and simply knowing how to have a good time. So when it comes to the coolest things to do in Madrid, just follow the city’s urban trail or join the crowds in the city’s plazas and squares. ”

10)  “…some Muslims feel anchorless and marginalized.  “A proper mosque would act as a focus, a reference point for Islam here,” said Mohammed Halhoul, spokesman for the Catalan Islamic Council. A quarter of Spain’s Muslims live in Catalonia, the northeastern region that is home to Lleida, but the area has no real mosques.  “I feel like a Catalan,” Halhoul added, “except when it comes to the question of the mosque.”


The examples above illustrate the following patterns:  when it comes to + noun / when it comes to + adjective (comparative / superlative) / when it comes to + verb+ing / (idea + exception) (idea…) except + when it comes to…)

The examples also illustrate how “when it comes to” is used as an alternative linking expression to regarding / with regard(s) to / with respect to / as far as X is concerned but is perhaps slightly less formal.

The it in “when it comes to (something)/verb+ing is empty – it doesn’t refer to anything.

The fixed expression “when it comes to” is very frequent:  + 496 million results in a google search (with regards to = around 41 million / with regard to = 76 million / “regarding” = 388 million).


Examples 1, 2, 3 and 4:

Example 5:

Example 6:

Example 7:

Example 8:

Example 9:

Example 10:

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Filed under B2.2 - Grammar, B2.2 - Vocabulary recycling

B2.2 – Vocabulary (link)

Here’s an experiment with some technology from another site: – flashcards.
In today’s class we listened to people talking about relationships and describing both personality and physical appearance.

If you follow the link, you’ll get to a page where you can play 4 different games with some vocabulary related to describing physical appearance.  This is something we’ll be studying in class later this week.

The instructions for the games should be easy to follow.  The main problem with the technology is that the definitions are quite complex.

Here’s the link:

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C2.2 – CPE exam practice – Use of English (part 3) (3)

Number three in an ongoing series of posts to practise the one word fits three sentences activity in the CPE.

I’ll put more than three examples so you can see how the featured word(s) are used in more contexts.  Remember, in the exam, there are only three sentences.

Tip:  Try to contextualise each sentence by thinking of the type of text it comes from.  This might help generate words associated with the context/genre.

Language notes to come.

For the sentences below think of one word only which can be used appropriately in all three sentences.

  1. The next step is to gradually _______ in the sugar to the mix.  Then, add the rest of the flour and milk.
  2. I _______ my brains out for ages trying to finish the essay.
  3. With a bit of creative accountancy, there are plenty of ways to _______ the system.
  4. The fight spilled out of the nightclub into the street but the two gangs ______ a hasty retreat when the police riot van arrived on the scene.
  5. Andre obviously didn’t want to talk about what had happened and ______ about the bush for a few minutes before making his excuses and leaving the room.
  6. If you’re looking for an exciting new way to exercise, you can’t ______ ‘Spinning’ – it’s the perfect cardio-vascular workout.
  7. The auction was a tense affair but in the end the secret telephone bidder _______ off the competition to secure the painting.
  8. The sun _______ down on the players and they had to take drinks as often as pauses in play would allow.

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