Wednesday, 22 December 2010

It's Only Christmas - Kate Ceberano & Ronan Keating

Christmas Story: Is There A Santa Claus? Extra Reading

In 1897, Dr. Philip O'Hanlon, a coroner's assistant on Manhattan's Upper West Side, was asked by his then eight-year-old daughter, Virginia O'Hanlon (1889–1971) whether Santa Claus really existed.

O'Hanlon suggested she write to The Sun, a prominent New York City newspaper at the time, assuring her that "If you see it in The Sun, it's so."
He unwittingly gave one of the paper's editors, Francis Pharcellus Church, an opportunity to rise above the simple question and address the philosophy of the question and the |philosophical issues behind it.

Virginia’s letter (and Church’s editorial reply) have passed into Christmas legend. 

In 1897, the eight-year-old girl named Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to The New York Sun asking: "Please tell me the truth: is there a Santa Claus?" The answer she received--"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus"--is one of the most widely reprinted newspaper editorials of all time, appearing in dozens of languages, and in books, movies, posters, and greeting cards. The author of "Yes, Virginia," veteran newsman and Sun editorial writer Francis Pharcellus Church, turned out a 500-word reply, printed on September 21, 1897.

Editorial Page, New York Sun, September 21, 1897:

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Virginia O'Hanlon wrote:

Dear Editor,
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O'Hanlon
The Editor replied as follows:

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You can tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else so real and abiding.
No Santa Claus? Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Virginia O’Hanlon  circa 1895

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Reading List 2010-2011

Readers Advanced 2

Your assignments are:

A) You will choose a book to read. Tell your teacher which book you have chosen. (Deadline: 31 Oct.). You will then read the book.

B) You will prepare a short presentation about it. You can also include your favourite quotes from the book and add some explanations. You can also try to convince the class that the book you have chosen should (not) be on the Reading List next year. (February)

Reading List 2010-2011 (suggestions)

1. Life of Pi is a 2001 fantasy adventure novel written by Yann Martel. After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild, blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orangutan - and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. The scene is set for one of the most extraordinary and best-loved works of fiction in recent years. 348 pages.

2. The Brooklyn Follies is a 2005 novel by Paul Auster. The 60-year-old Nathan Glass returns to Brooklyn after his wife has left him. He is recovering from lung cancer and is looking for "a quiet place to die". In Brooklyn he meets his nephew, Tom, whom he has not seen in several years. Tom has seemingly given up on life and has resigned himself to a string of meaningless jobs as he waits for his life to change. They develop a close friendship, entertaining each other in their misery, as they both try to avoid taking part in life. 320 pages

3. A Thousand Splendid Suns is a 2007 novel by Afghan author Khaled Hosseini, his second, following his bestselling 2003 debut, The Kite Runner. It focuses on the tumultuous lives of two Afghan women and how their lives cross each other, spanning from the 1960s to 2003. 384 pages.

4. Disgrace is a 1999 Booker Prize-winning novel by South African-born author J. M. Coetzee who won the Nobel Prize in Literature four years after its publication. David Lurie is a South African professor of English who loses everything: his reputation, his job, his peace of mind, his good looks, his dreams of artistic success, and finally even his ability to protect his own daughter. He is twice-divorced and dissatisfied with his job as a Communications professor, teaching one specialized class in Romantic literature at a technical university in Cape Town in post-apartheid South Africa. His "disgrace" comes when he seduces one of his students and he does nothing to protect himself from its consequences. 220 pages.

5. The Road is a 2006 novel by American writer Cormac McCarthy. It is a post-apocalyptic tale of a journey taken by a father and his young son over a period of several months, across a landscape blasted by an unnamed cataclysm that destroyed all civilization and, apparently, almost all life on earth. The novel was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. 256 pages.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Our Students' Blogs and Websites

If you have a blog or a website that can be useful for other students to improve their English, please leave the link and a comment below. Also, if you want to recommend one, you are welcome to leave a comment with the link.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

English Radio on Mallorca

English Radio Mallorca will bring you all the latest news and events. It is on air on Radio Marratxi Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 1pm. Listen on air in Mallorca 92.9fm, online worldwide at
Presenter:Laura Penn

You can also join them on Facebook.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010



ABC News

Al Jazeera

Bbc News

CNN site

Euronews site


France 24

free tv (download for free to watch English TV: BBC iplayer, Channel 4,)

NBC Chicago

PBS: Tavis Smiley


USA Today




Newspapers and Magazines

British Media Online

Google News UK

Mallorca Life and Style



The Daily Express

The Daily Mail

The Daily Mirror

The Daily Telegraph

The Euroweekly

The Guardian

The Herald

The Idependent

The International Herald Tribune

The Majorca Daily Bulletin

The Morning Star

The Observer

The Sun

The Times

The Washington Post

This is London


USA Today

Willy's Weekly

Friday, 21 May 2010

Exam Techniques

Useful tips on exam techniques, targeted at GCSE but applicable to any exams you might be taking.


Sunday, 25 April 2010

Ready for CAE p 197. Writing an Essay. The San Francisco School Perspectives. Extra Listening

Sixth graders in Ruth Corley's class at The San Francisco School have taken on a challenging assignment. They've written personal essays in the style of KQED Radio's Perspectives series. Now, some of those perspectives are airing on KQED. On Forum they talked with Corley and several of the students about their essays and the writing process.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Ready for CAE p 192. The Shape of A Story: Writing Tips from Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut was not only a great author. He was also an inspiration for anyone who aspires to write fiction – see for example his 8 rules for writing fiction, which starts with the so-obvious-it’s-often-forgotten reminder never to waste your reader’s time.

In this video, Vonnegut follows his own advice and sketches some brilliant blueprints for envisioning the “shape” of a story, all in less than 4 minutes and 37 seconds.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Ready for CAE p 190. Review. Vocabulary

Stud: a small piece of jewellery with a part that is pushed through a hole in your ear, nose, etc. E.g. diamond studs.

Slave-driver: a person who makes people work extremely hard. E.g. my boss is a real slave-driver.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Ready for CAE p 188. The Gennitive. Extra Grammar

  • With the name of animals the genitive is morel likely to occur with domestic animals or with those that are credited with some intelligence. E.g. A cat's tail, a dog's bark, an elephant's trunk.
  • The genitive of nouns ending in -s is often formed adding 's -/ɪz/ to the noun. E.g. Mr Jones's cousin / ˈdʒəʊnzɪz/. But we sometimes find only an apostrophe, with or without the extra syllable -/ɪz/. E.g. Keats' poetry /kiːts/or /kiːtsɪz/. An apostrophe with no extra syllable is normal after Greek names, especially if they are long. E.g. Archimedes' Law /ˌɑːkɪˈmiːdiːz/
  • The genitive 's is added to the last element of a compound. E.g. My brother-in-law's car. My brothers-in-law's property. The king of Spain's daughter.
  • Note that you can use -'s after more than one noun. E.g. Jack and Karen's wedding. Mr and Mrs Carter's house.
  • The genitive with 's is optional with inanimate nouns that refer to a group of people, to places where people live, to human institutions, etc. E.g. Africa's future. America's resources. The committee's business. The club's finances. The country's needs. The earth's surface. London's traffic. The nation's affairs.
  • Apostrophe s is obligatory with nouns that refer to the length of duration of an event. E.g. A day's rest. A month (or two)'s time. A week's holiday. Julia has got three weeks' holiday. An hour (and a half)'s drive. I live near the station- it's only about ten minutes' walk.  Today's programme. A year's work.
  • With time expressions you can also use the genitive. E.g. Do you still have yesterday's newspapers? Next week's meeting has been cancelled
  • Apostrophe s is also obligatory in a number of fixed expressions. E.g. The ship's company. The ship's doctor. Have something at one's fingers' end (to be thoroughly familiar with). Keep someone at arm's length (to avoid having a close relationship with somebody. E.g. He keeps all his clients at arm's length.) Keep out of harm's way (in a safe place where somebody/something cannot be hurt or injured or do any damage to somebody/something. E.g. She put the knife in a drawer, out of harm's way. I prefer the children to play in the garden where they're out of harm's way.) Do something to one's heart's content (as much as you want. E.g. a supervised play area where children can run around to their heart's content). Be only a stone's throw away. Be at one's wits' end (to be so worried by a problem that you do not know what to do next. E.g. She was at her wits' end wondering how she'd manage it all in the time. The authorities are at their wits' end about juvenile delinquency.) Be at death's door (so ill/sick that you may die. E.g. I suppose you won't be coming to the party if you're at death's door!). For goodness' sake (for Christ's, God's, goodness', heaven's, pity's, etc. sake: used to emphasize that it is important to do something or when you are annoyed about something. E.g. Do be careful, for goodness' sake. Oh, for heaven's sake! For pity's sake, help me!)
  • The double genitive occurs in examples like: e.g. a friend of my father's (one of the friends that my father has). That dog of Robert's (that dog that Robert has) 
  • The genitive is not normally used when the noun is postmodified by a phrase or relative clause. E.g. The name of the man who came yesterday. The name of the man over there. The name of the man in the corner. What was the name of the man who phoned you?
  • Classifying genitive: the genitive specifies or describes the head noun. The genitive is inseparable from the head noun. They form a unity and cannot be replaced by an of-adjunct. The genitive has the main stress. If you place an adjective or qualifying word, it refers to the group. E.g. A beautiful summer's day (describes a kind of day, even in the winter); a giant's task (a kind of task, i.e. difficult, hard);be child's play (to be very easy to do, so not even a child would find it difficult); a child's face (looks like a child); a wolf in sheep's clothing (a person who seems to be friendly or harmless but is really an enemy); a bird's eye view (a view of something from a high position looking down. E.g. From the plane we had a bird's eye view of Manhattan); a busman's holiday ( is a holiday spent by a bus driver travelling on a bus: it is no break from his usual routine. A holiday that is spent doing the same thing that you do at work.); a stone's throw (a very short distance away. E.g. We live just a stone's throw from here. The hotel is within a stone's throw of the beach.); Craftsman (a skilled person, especially one who makes beautiful things by hand. E.g. rugs handmade by local craftsmen. It is clearly the work of a master craftsman); salesman; tradesman; bridesmaid; Tuesday (Tiu: god of war and the sky); Wednesday (Woden: king of the gods); Thursday (Thor: god of thunder); a men's club; a women's college; at death's door (so ill/sick that you may dieI suppose you won't be coming to the party if you're at death's door!); hair's breadth (a very small amount or distance. E.g. We won by a hair's breadth. They were within a hair's breadth of being killed); out of harm's way (in a safe place where somebody/something cannot be hurt or injured or do any damage to somebody/something. E.g. She put the knife in a drawer, out of harm's way. I prefer the children to play in the garden where they're out of harm's way).

Ready for CAE p 188. Language Focus: Noun Phrases. Vocabulary

Trip: to catch your foot on something and fall or almost fall. Tropezar. E.g. she tripped and fell. Someone will trip over that cable.

Perch (on something)to be placed on the top or the edge of something. E.g. the hotel perched precariously /prɪˈkeəriəsli/ on a steep hillside.

Height of somethingan extreme example of a particular quality. E.g. Height of luxury.

Net curtain: a very thin curtain that you hang at a window, which allows light to enter but stops people outside from being able to see inside. Visillo.

Flap: to move or to make something move up and down or from side to side, often making a noise. E.g. the sails flapped in the breeze.

Ready for CAE p 187. Listening: Vocabulary

Shock sb into action: stimulate. E.g. shock consumers into changing their ways.

Stunt: something that is done in order to attract people's attention. Montaje. E.g. a publicity stunt.

1. a place for watching from, especially for danger or an enemy coming towards you. Puesto de observación. E.g. a lookout point/tower.
2. a person who has the responsibility of watching for something, especially danger, etc. Guardia, vigía. E.g. one of the men stood at the door to act as a lookout.

Board sth up: to cover a window, door, etc. with wooden boards. Cerras con tablas. E.g. most buildings along the street had been boarded up.

Bring sth about: to make something happen. Cause. Provocar. E.g. what brought about the change in his attitude?

Shopper: a person who buys goods from shops/stores. E.g the streets were full of Christmas shoppers.

One-offmade or happening only once and not regularly. Excepción. E.g. a one-off payment.

Run-up: a period of time leading up to an important event; the preparation for this. Preliminares. E.g. an increase in spending in the run-up to Christmas. During the run-up to the election.

Give sth away: to make known something that somebody wants to keep secret. Revelar. E.g. It was supposed to be a surprise but the children gave the game away. 

Chuckle: a quiet laugh. Risita. E.g. she gave a chuckle of delight.

Word of mouth:  people tell each other and do not read about it. Boca a boca. E.g. the news spread by word of mouth.

Go about sth: to start working on something. Tackle. Emprender. E.g. you're not going about the job in the right way. How should I go about finding a job?

Ready for CAE p 186. Vocabulary 2: Quantifying Nouns. Vocabulary

Drip: to fall in small drops. Gotear. E.g. she was hot and sweat dripped into her eyes. Water was dripping down the walls.

Pool (of something): a small amount of liquid or light lying on a surface. Charco. E.g. the body was lying in a pool of blood. A pool of light (un foco de luz).

Crate: a large wooden container for transporting goods. Caja. E.g. a crate of bananas.
Gang: a group of young people who spend a lot of time together and often cause trouble or fight against other groups. Pandilla. E.g. a gang of youths. A street gang. All the local boys are members of gangs.
The seabed: the floor of the sea/ocean. Fondo del mar.
Mouthful: an amount of food or drink that you put in your mouth at one time. Bocado. E.g. she took a mouthful of water. Thank you, but I couldn't eat another mouthful. He talked eagerly between mouthfuls of salad. 
Bunch of something: a number of things of the same type which are growing or fastened together. E.g. a bunch of bananas/grapes (racimo), etc. A bunch of keys (manojo). She picked me a bunch of flowers (ramo). 
Set (of something): a group of similar things that belong together in some way. Juego, colección, serie. E.g. A set of six chairs. A complete set of her novels. A set of false teeth. A new set of rules to learn. You can borrow my keys—I have a spare set.
Guidelines: rules or instructions that are given by an official organization telling you how to do something, especially something difficult. Pautas, directrices. E.g. the government has drawn up guidelines on the treatment of the mentally ill.
1. a set of cards used for playing card games. Baraja E.g. Do you have a pack of cards?  
2. a number of things that are wrapped or tied together, especially for carrying. Fardo. E.g. donkeys carrying packs of wool. (Figurative) Everything she told us is a pack of lies (= a story that is completely false). 
3. a group of animals that hunt together or are kept for hunting. Manada. E.g. packs of savage dogs. Wolves hunting in packs. A pack of hounds (hunting dogs)
1. a group of sheep (rebaño), goats or birds (bandada) of the same type.
2.  a large group of people, especially of the same type. Multitud. E.g. a flock of children/reporters. They came in flocks to see the procession.

Swarm: /swɔːm/  
1. a large group of insects, especially bees, moving together in the same direction. Enjambre. E.g. a swarm of bees/locusts /'ləʊkəst/ (langosta)/flies.
2. a large group of people, especially when they are all moving quickly in the same direction. Multitud

1. a small number of people or things. Puñado. E.g. only a handful of people came. They cannot hope to win more than a handful of seats at the next election.
2. the amount of something that can be held in one hand. Puñado. E.g. a handful of rice.

1. a small piece of something, especially paper, cloth, etc. Trocito. She scribbled (wrote quickly and carelessly) his phone number on a scrap of paper. (Figurative) scraps of information.
2. a small amount of something. E.g. it won't make a scrap of difference. There's not a scrap of evidence to support his claim. A barren landscape without a scrap of vegetation.
3. Scraps: food left after a meal. Sobras. Give the scraps to the dog. 

Material: cloth used for making clothes, curtains, etc. Tela.

Lump: a piece of something hard or solid, usually without a particular shape. Pedazo. A lump of coal/cheese/wood/sugar (terrón). This sauce has lumps in it. 

1. a small hard piece of particular substances.Grano. E.g. a grain of salt/sand/sugar
2. a very small amount. Pizca. There isn't a grain of truth in those rumours. If he had a grain of sensitivity he wouldn't have asked her about her divorce. 

1. a narrow line of light, heat or other energy. E.g. the sun's rays. Ultraviolet rays. The windows were shining in the reflected rays of the setting sun.
2. Ray of sth: a small amount of something good or of something that you are hoping for. e.g. there was just one small ray of hope.

Ready for CAE p 184. Reading: Vocabulary

High street: the main street of a town, where most shops/stores, banks, etc. are. Calle mayor. E.g. Peckham High Street. 106 High Street, Peckham. High-street banks/shops.

Spree: a short period of time that you spend doing one particular activity that you enjoy, but often too much of it. Juerga. Hacer algo desenfrenadamente. E.g. a shopping/spending spree. He's out on a spree. They went on a spending spree (salieron a gastarse lo que no está escrito).

Fall apart: to be in very bad condition so that parts are breaking off. Caerse a pedazos. E.g. my car is falling apart.

Clear-out: a process of getting rid of things or people that you no longer want. Limpieza a fondo. E.g. have a clear-out. A staff clear-out is being planned at party headquarters (= people are going to lose their jobs).

Heap: an untidy pile of something. Montón. E.g. the building was reduced to a heap of rubble. Worn-out car tyres were stacked in heaps.

Pull: Attraction. The fact of something attracting you or having a strong effect on you. Atracción, fuerza. E.g. the magnetic pull of the city was hard to resist. He felt the pull of paternal love.

Voracious: /vəˈreɪʃəs/ Having an insatiable appetite for an activity; greedy. Insaciable. E.g. a voracious reader.

Frugality: /fruˈɡæləti/ the fact of using only as much money or food as is necessary. Austeridad. E.g When I was growing up, frugality was a way of life.

Source: to get something from a particular place. Obtener. E.g. we source all the meat sold in our stores from British farms.

Sweatshop: a place where people work for low wages in poor conditions. Fábrica donde se explota a los obreros.

Sound: sensible; that you can rely on and that will probably give good results. Sensato. E.g. a person of sound judgement He gave me some very sound advice.

Code: a set of moral principles or rules of behaviour that are generally accepted by society or a social group. E.g. a strict code of conduct.

Patch sth up:to repair sth especially in a temporary way by adding a new piece of material or a patch: E.g.Just to patch the boat up will cost £10 000.

Odd: occasional

Vintage: /ˈvɪntɪdʒ/ typical of a period in the past and of high quality. De época

Chuck sth away/Chuck sth out: to throw something away. Tirar. E.g. those old clothes can be chucked out.