Here are some notes based on language that we studied in Friday’s first session:
Activity one: Interview your teacher / interview each other.
The topics you interviewed me and each other about were:
- tastes (likes and dislikes)
- background (where from, previous jobs, education, family etc.)
- hobbies, interests, free time activities
- work / studies
- future plans / ambitions
- personal life (relationships / friendships etc.)
- going out (socialising etc.)
- opinions on hot topics (current affairs (news) etc.
Some of these topics are often the basis for the FCE speaking exam part 1 questions.
Homework: take the paper conversation sheet for your group and write a summary of the information you found out about me or write some answers for yourself about the questions you asked.
Vocabulary recycling / extension: Here are some answers to questions about the topics above. Can you match the answer to the topic? What do you think the question was?
- Yes, we’ve been through a few ups and downs but it’s going really well at the moment.
- When I first got to Madrid I used to go out around Huertas a lot but I haven’t been out around there for ages. It’s a bit pricey, you know?
- These days I’d rather go to a quiet bar or restaurant and chat than go clubbing until the early hours of the morning.
- I was born down in the South of England but I grew up near Birmingham where my family are from.
- Well, after leaving school I got a degree in English Literature and History before moving to London to work and play in a band.
- I do a bit of sport but not as much as I should, I guess. I play football almost every weekend and play ping-pong and petanque from time to time.
- To be honest, I haven’t got a clue about the economy apart from what I read in the papers. I reckon it’s tough in the UK as well as Spain at the moment but Spain’s problems seem to be in the news much more.
- I pick it up now and then but I’m afraid I hardly ever play it these days.
- Well, they seem a long way away right now but I’m looking forward to heading down South in August for a few weeks of doing absolutely nothing and seeing my family in the UK.
- Well, ideally, I wouldn’t mind living six months of the year in Spain and six months of the year in the UK. That would suit me fine!
- Find a structure in the examples above that talks about habitual, repeated action in the past.
- Find 3 expressions / structures that express personal preference.
- Find a word that means ‘difficult.’
- Find a word that means ‘expensive.’
- Find some examples of “fillers” – short expressions that are used in spoken (or spoken-like) texts – e.g. “…to be honest…” or “pues” in Castellano – that are not crucial to the overall meaning of the sentence they appear in.
- Find two comparative structures – one means “not enough” and other means “in addition to.”
- Find a phrase that means “I have no idea…” or “I don’t know anything about…”
- Find a phrase that means study and receive a university qualification.
- Find an expression that refers to 4a.m. – 7a.m. – “the _____ _______”
- Find an expression that means “experience problems or difficulties as well as good times” – go ____ a few ____ and _____.
- Find a phrase that means “go out dancing.”
- Find phrases that are used to talk about the frequency of actions.
Vocabulary – Expressing discontentment / frustration:
1 – Fed up (with) – adjective – informal. Used to talk about feeling annoyed or bored: He was exhausted and a bit fed up. Also used to talk about a situation you want to change: He was fed up with his boss taking the credit for all his hard work. Examples: (1) “The jobless rate for the whole population is over 20% – the highest in Europe. And not only are they (“los indignados”) fed up with their economic situation, they are also calling for an end to domination of the political system by the two main parties.” (BBC News 21st May 2011 – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13481592) (2) Barcelona fed up with bikini: The municipality of Barcelona is fed up with tourists wandering the streets in their bikinis and swimwear. They are preparing a massive campaign to convince them to put on clothes when they leave the beach.” (Dutch Daily News, 22nd May 2010 – http://www.dutchdailynews.com/barcelona-bikini/)
2 – had enough of – informal – usually used in the present/past perfect pattern: I have had enough of… / I had had enough of… Used to talk about a situation you can’t tolerate any more: I have had enough of the noise at night outside my house so we’re looking for a new flat in a quieter area. In spoken situations where you are talking directly to the person who has frustrated you, the expression is often made more emphatic with “just about” (I have just about had enough of…) – for example – a teacher talking to a disobedient student: I have just about had enough of your stupid behaviour – if you do it again, I’m going to send you to the head teacher.
3 – sick (and tired) + of + (d0ing) something / I’m sick to death of… – informal – I’m sick and tired of doing all the cleaning in this house. You never do anything. / I’m sick to death of your lies – our marriage is over!
4 – get(s) me down – informal – a way of talking about a situation that you find depressing or frustrating. Usually used in the patterns X gets me down / It gets me down when…
5 – Structures with “wish” and “if only” to talk about present situations we would like to be different if we had the power to change them. Look at these examples…
- “I wish my neighbours wouldn’t watch action films every Sunday night with the sound on the TV so loud when I’m trying to sleep.”
- “I wish the builders who are renovating the house next door didn’t start making noise at 8 a.m.”
- “I wish that I could see you soon.” (Song of the summer?) (Warning – link contains graphic scenes of beer consumption)
- “If only there weren’t so many advert breaks on TV when I’m trying to watch a film.”
For more info on how these structures are used, check out the grammar reference for Unit 14 in the coursebook.
6 – It’s time + subject + past simple – neutral – used to talk about a present situation you would like to change. Notice how the past simple is used to express these opinions even though the it is a present situation that is refered to.
- It’s time the President left his job.
- You’re 35, isn’t it time you started looking for your own house and moved out of your parents’ place?
- It’s time Madrid introduced a traffic congestion charge to stop so many people driving in the city centre.
- It’s time Real Madrid won the Champions League again – it’s been ages since they even got to a final!
Notice how the situations above are often things the speaker thinks are late happening – the mentality is something like: “I want this to happen in the future and I think it should have already happened.” This expression is often made more emphatic by putting “high” or “about” before “time”.
Here is someone talking about his frustrations with the London underground and comparing it to the Madrid metro and the New York subway:
It’s high time London not only took lessons from Madrid, but also from New York – which runs 3-5 lines on every underground route in order to prevent major disruptions. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/mindthegap/2010/12/el_undergound_tube_upgrades_es.html
…and here is someone complaining who was frustrated at the lack of options for travelling from the centre of Madrid to Barajas airport:
It’s about time Madrid got it together with a smooth ride to the airport. http://www.damesuzy.com/2010/09/
Which brings us to…
Expressions with ‘get’:
In the sentence above the writer uses ‘got it together’ to mean ‘organised.’ English is full of high frequency expressions with ‘get.’
In class we looked at ‘get used to + verb+ing / noun’ as a way of talking about things which might be new for you, things that you have to become accustomed to. Here were some examples of things that were new for me when I first moved to Spain:
- When I first came to Spain I had to get used to the strong Spanish coffee.
- In London, it’s not so usual to stay out so late into the night as it is in Spain so I had to get used to the timetable here.
- As far as food goes, when I came to Spain I was a vegetarian. There are lots of veggie resturants in London and in Mallorca I quickly had to get used to not having so many options to chose from in bars and restaurants.
- I had no problems at all getting used to the better weather in Spain.
- When I started working in Spain I worked until 21:45 so it wasn’t hard for me to get used to eating later in the evening than in the UK.
One of the important things to remember is how flexible this structure is – you can change the grammar around it to talk about past, present, future or hypothetical situations or with modal verbs. Try completing the sentences below with your own ideas…
- When I started studying at University / working full-time I found it difficult to get used to…
- If I moved to New York, I think I would have to get used to…
- I haven’t got used to …. yet.
- Next year I’m probably going to need to get used to …
- I just started …….. so I’m still getting used to…
- When I first started driving the hardest thing to get used to was…
In the context of ‘get used to something new’ – get is like a process, it means ‘become.’
This is a common feature of ‘get’ in expressions like ‘get lost’ or ‘get wet.’ Even the expression that we looked at for expressing frustration for a situation (‘It gets me down when…’) has this idea of transition from one state to another. In contrast, another expression for talking about things that bother or frustrate you, ‘it gets on my nerves when I see drivers turn without indicating’, doesn’t have this idea of process or transition.
Have a look at the examples below. In which expressions do you think ‘get’ communicates the idea of ‘becoming’/’process?
- Even though we’re very different, my best friend an I get on really well. (get on well = have a good relationship)
- I got a bit sunburnt in the park the other day because I didn’t put any cream on.
- It took me quite a long time to get to know my new colleagues because they were’nt very sociable at first but I’ve made some good friends now. (get to know someone = beging to know)
- What shall we get him for his birthday?
- Since the Cercanias station opened in Sol it doesn’t take me so long to get from my house to work.
For more examples of expressions with ‘get’, look at the coursebook in Unit 1.
to reckon (verb) – to think, give an opinion – I reckon Rayo Vallecano are going to surprise a few people next season and finish fairly high in La Liga.
deep (adjective) / depth (noun) / deeply (adverb). Collocations: deep feelings, deep water, deep trouble, deep end of a swimming pool, deep sleep, an in-depth course, the depth of the water, deeply in debt, deeply in love.