Monthly Archives: July 2011

B2.2 – Vocabulary – Word Formation – Prefix ‘over-‘ (2)

overeat – overbook – overcrowded – overweight…The prefix ‘over-‘ often adds the meaning of ‘too much’ to words. It talks about excess. If someone eats too much, they overeat. If an airline sells more tickets than there are seats on a plane, the flight is overbooked. If there are too many people in a bar, it is overcrowded. If you cook something for too long, it is overcooked. If someone is obese, they might be described as overweight.

Here are some more examples of words which use the prefix ‘over-‘. Which of them follow the meaning of the examples above?

      1. What most people miss at Machu Picchu – One hundred years after it was discovered, some architectural treasures are still overlooked.
      2. Train drivers work 35 hours a week on a shift system, plus paid overtime when required. This means that sometimes they start work very early in the morning and at other times finish late at night. They also work some weekends and bank holidays.
      3. The Indian Ocean is the third largest body of water on Earth at more than 6,000 miles wide and covering 13% of the world’s surface. It is home to 5,000 species of fish, many of which only exist in the Indian Ocean. But it is also an ocean under threat from global issues such as over-fishing and climate change, which make this an ocean on the edge.
      4. Christmas can put an extra strain on the finances of most families and it’s usually women who take on the responsibility of buying presents and managing the household budget. Many are tempted to overspend on credit and store cards, forgetting about the true cost until the bills arrive in January.
      5. Cheap cigarettes containing rat poison, battery acid and dead flies are being sold to children as young as seven in Middlesbrough, says Trading Standards.  Middlesbrough Trading Standards says there are 50 “Tab houses” in the town selling illegal cigarettes at half the price of legitimate shops.  Organised criminal gangs oversee the production of some cigarettes in factories in China and Eastern Europe.
      6.  Chances are you’ve heard that a little alcohol – especially wine – is good for the heart and for health generally.  We look at the facts and find a little wine is probably fine – just don’t overdo it.
      7. Air travel has been growing at a rate of 10% a year and an upgrade in the country’s main airports is long overdue

For more on word formation with the pre-fix ‘over’, click here


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Topic – Travel – Is Barcelona being spoilt by tourists?

Video link:  BBC fast:track – Is Barcelona being spoilt by tourists?

The report linked above investigates the impact of tourism on Barcelona.  It explores some of the negative effects for a city that popularity can bring.

Before watching

Before you watch, think about the following points…

  • What have you read in the newspapers in the last few years about tourism in Barcelona?  Can you remember any stories about the negative effects of tourism on the city?
  • Have you visited Barcelona?  What was your impression?  Was it a pleasant place to visit?  What 5 words best describe your visit?
  • Can you think of another place that you would say has been spoilt (ruined, damaged) by tourism?
  • What do you know about Barcelona before the 1992 Olympics?  How has the city changed since it hosted the games?

Now watch the video.  Were any of the points you thought about mentioned in the report?

After watching

What’s your overall impression of the report?  To what extent do you think it is true to say that BCN is being spoilt by tourists? 

Which interviewees’ point of view did you have the most sympathy with?  The politician, the hotel manager, the tourist board representative, the shop owner, the resident (author), the photographer, the tourists.

Are any of the points made true for Madrid or another place you know well? Do you think the effects of the successful Olympics in 1992 will follow if Madrid’s latest bid to host the games is accepted?

Watch again – extracting key information:

Why were the following numbers important in the report?

  • 80,000
  • 15%
  • 80-100,000
  • 1 in 10
  • 10 million
  • 2.5 million
  • 60-70%

Language points

Look at the following extracts from the text.  What do the words in bold have in common? 

This avenue, The Ramblas, used to be a river but the water ran out and now Barcelona is overflowing with tourists and the locals say they are drowning.

…the tourist dollars (are) flooding in…

The words are all associated with water – a common vocabulary group for metaphors.  By using ‘overflowing’, ‘drowning’ and ‘flooding’, the reporter creates a sense of quantities being out of control.  Here are some other examples that work in a similar way.  Who do you think the speaker might be in each case?  What situation are they facing?

  • I’m drowning in all this paper!
  • Our phone lines have been flooded with calls from people entering the competition.
  • The streets are overflowing with people who have come to protest about the cuts.
  • I broke down and was in floods of tears when I heard the news.
  • People poured out onto the streets to celebrate at the end of the match.



Filed under B2.2 - Speaking skills July 2011, Topic - City Life, Topic - Travel

B2.2 – July 2011 – Notes from class 14/7/11

Notes from today’s class, 14/7/11…

Word formation

Follow-up on some problematic words from today’s class…

Complete the following sentences by using the word in capitals to form a word that fits the gap…

  1. The hotel was a shabby building in a dirty, dangerous part of the city so if I were you, I’d stay _________.  ELSE  (for the answer and more examples – look at comment box 1 below)
  2. ___________ for this job should have a B2.2 level of English as well as a clean driving license.  APPLY  (see comment box 2
  3. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has come under __________ from the EU, The International Monetary Fund and President Obama to take bold action and prevent a Greek-style debt crisis which would further hurt the euro. PRESS (See comment box 3)


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B2.2 – July – Notes from class 11/7/11

Notes from class 11/7/11…modals follow-up…

Focus on modal verbs

Multiple-matching with songs

Read the summaries of 6 songs (a-e) and match them to the song title.  If the title doesn’t help you can click the links and listen to/watch the clip (warning – these songs were not necessarily chosen for their musical qualities!) 

(a)  This is a lament.  A song of regret.  The songs’ speaker talks about mistakes made in the past.  It’s a break up song, directed to a lover the speaker is about to lose as a result of his/her own actions.

(b)  What is this song?  Is it a lover setting down the rules of a relationship?  Is it a lover trying to reassure his/her partner that they should just be themselves and not pretend to be something they are not?  Is it just an expression of the singers’ own personal, private preferences?

(c)  I’m not sure about this one either.  Is this speaker saying he/she loves his/her partner so much that whatever he/she  does is okay – there are no rules or obligations in the relationship?  Or, is this a lover telling the one he/she loves that he/she knows their relationship is impossible but that they will both always know that the relationship is important to both of them even though they can’t be open about it or continue with it?  Or, is this a lover talking to an ex who has left and begging them to still show they care even if they don’t express it in words?

(d)  Okay, this one is easy.  This song is a promise.  A promise from the speaker in the song to themself about their relationships in the future.  They won’t repeat the mistakes of the past and they won’t let themselves get involved with someone who isn’t right for them.

(e)  This song is a deduction.  The speaker in the song has only just realised the true nature of his/her feelings and has finally decided how they really feel about the person the song is directed to.

(f)  This is another deduction song but unfortunately the realisation has come too late so it’s also another break-up song.

Song 1:  Fairground Attraction – Perfect

Song 2:  Dusty Springfield – You don’t have to say you love me

Song 3:  Roxette – It must have been love

Song 4:  Prince – Kiss (link likely to break so here is Tom Jones…

Song 5:  George Michael / Wham – Careless Whisper

Song 6:  Madness – It must be love

Did the modal verbs in the song titles / lyrics help you decide which interpretation matched the songs?  Did you notice the form of the modals in the two break-up songs?  They used modals in the past…

I should have known better than to cheat a friend…We could have been so good together…

It must have been love but it is over now…

(George Michael / Roxette)

What about the Fairground Attraction song, Perfect?  Is there any difference in meaning between:  “It has got to be perfect” and “It has to be perfect”?

The Madness song, It must be love, was described in the interpretation as being a ‘deduction,’ a ‘realisation’ of the truth.  Which of these song titles with ‘must’ are deductions and which talk about obligation / prohibition?

  • Queen – The show must go on
  • Eurythmics – There must be an angel (playing with my heart)
  • Tavares – Heaven must be missing an angel
  • Simple Plan – God must hate me
  • Talking Heads – This must be the place
  • Bob Dylan – One of us must know
  • Nina Simone – Everything must change
  • Tony Bennet – We mustn’t say goodbye
  • D’Angelo – Heaven must be like this
  • Betty Driver – We mustn’t miss the last bus home
  • John Mayall and the bluesbreakers – The laws must change
  • Ice Tea – I must stand
  • Billie Holiday – I must have that man (or Liza Minnelli)
  • Tata Young – I must not chase the boys

Looking at your answers, what do all the song titles with ‘mustn’t’ have in common?

Finally, did you agree with my interpretations of the songs?  Do you have an alternative interpretation?  What about other songs with modal verbs in the titles / lyrics – can you think of any others?





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B2.2 – July 2011 – Notes from class 5/7/11

Notes from class, 5/7/11…

Vocabulary – Expressions with ‘get’:

Here are some songs with the word ‘get’ in the title.  Writing challenge:  Can you write a short story which includes as many of these expressions as possible in the text?

Getting over you – David Guetta ft.  Fergie & Chris Williams

Like to get to know you well – Howard Jones

Can’t get you out of my head – Kylie Minouge

Can’t get used to losing you – The Beat

Won’t get fooled again – The Who

Get ready – The Temptations

Get into the groove – Madonna

Get out of my life woman – Lee Dorsey

Just can’t get enough – The Black Eyed Peas

I want to get away – Lenny Kravitz

Get here if you can – Oleta Adams

You can’t always get what you want – The Rolling Stones

Got to get you into my life – The Beatles

It’s getting better – The Beatles

We’ve got to get out of this place – The Animals

Get over you – Sophie Ellis Bextor

Don’t let the man get you down – Fatboy Slim

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B2.2 – July 2011 – Notes from class 8/7/11

Notes from Friday’s class…

Making comparisons

Here are the three statements we discussed in class on Friday.  What was your position?  Did you agree or disagree with the statement?

  • Generally speaking, film adaptations of great books aren’t as good as the original literary text.
  • Most musicians go into decline over the years.  Their first albums are usually much better than work they produce later on.
  • The current FC Barcelona team is the greatest football team in the history of the sport.

A few language points that emerged from the discussions:

During the discussion on the last statement it was necessary for some of the Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid supporters to make concessions before giving their opinion.  Here are some examples of phrases that help you do this…

  • Although I’m a big Real Madrid fan, I have to / must admit that Barca have a better team at the moment.
  • Despite being a Real Madrid fan and although I hate to say it, Barca at the moment are one of the best teams ever.
  • I am biased because I’m an Atletico Madrid fan but it has to be said that Barca have a really good team at the moment.
  • Putting my Real Madrid bias to one side, I would say that the current Barcelona team would be high up on the list of all-time, great teams.

Comparing teams:  There is lots of debate in the sporting press at the moment about whether the current Barça team is the greatest football team of all time:

  • Here is a link to a writer called Jonathan Wilson who has created a fantasy tournament between the greatest teams of all time including the Barça of today and Real Madrid of 1960.  If you are interested, you can find out how the tournament played out here and here.
  • To explore what the English-speaking media thinks of the Barca team and their place in history, here are some links to explore… 1) The Guardian, 2) Champions League Press Reaction, 3)  AP, 4) ESPN Editorial, 5)  Backpage Football

Here are a few corrections and expressions from the group discussions on the statement about musicians…

  • Although older rock stars don’t have as much energy as they used to, in some cases the music improves…for example the leters lyrics get better…
  • Sometimes the older musicians get, the more arrogant and big-headed they become.
  • To launch / release / put out / come up with a new album / record.

Writing follow-up:  Leave a comment in one of the boxes below with your thoughts on one of the topics above.  Remember to try to use some of the more complex comparative structures we were looking at in class.


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B2.2 – July 2011 – Notes from class 4/7/11

Vocabulary notes and recycling activities from Monday’s class:

1)  Categorise these words / phrases according to the event they are related to…

Event categories:  A film premiere, a job interview, a birthday party, a tennis championship, an examination, a wedding.

Words:  a veil (clothing), a red carpet, a time limit, “time is up!”, an invitation, a headband, fancy dress, a star, an umpire, stag party, maximum concentration, a court, hen night, opponents, a bouquet, a groom, a bride, to take someone on (phrasal verb), spectators, guests, a costume, a candidate, to sit, a reception, a bride. 

2)  Phrasal verbs from today’s class:

Talking about the weekend:  Is there much difference in meaning between the two phrasal verbs below?

  • I didn’t do anything really exciting, I just hung out with my friends for a while and watched a few films.
  • I met up with my friends and we chatted about the week we had had.

Talking about job interviews / employment:

  • If we decide to take him on he will have to dress much more smartly than he did in the interview – he arrived wearing an old pair of jeans and shabby trainers.

Talking about “arriving”:

  • In the sentence above we could substitute arrive with “turned up“.  There are three other examples of this phrasal verb in the listening texts that we heard today (Speakers 2, 4 and 5).  Find the examples in the transcript.  How is the grammar pattern of the phrasal verb “turn up” (in this context)  different from “take on” (in the context of giving someone a job)?

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