Trying to get back on track…

I haven’t been posting anything in the last couple of days… Looks like I have to improve myself as a blogger, he he. The good thing is that I have a bunch of ideas to play with and I hope they will soon make it to an actual post.

Yesterday for instance, I had my second preparation class for the FCE exam. We had a mock exam and some funny things (mistakes actually) happened during it. Can you believe that my teacher told me that if I put Organization with “z” instead of “s” I will loose points? “Because it’s Cambridge, not an American exam”. It may sound obvious for someone that have been used to British English, but I’ve been learning American English since a kid. Anyway, lesson learned.

Another funny thing that happened (mistake apparently) occurred in the writing task. I had to write a short story beginning with the words “He was staring at the window waiting for the phone to ring.”. What happened here is that I came up with a bad ending (according to my teacher) and, in her own words “You killed the mood, you can loose points for that. You totally killed the mood.” Is that possible? Well, what I’m going to do is to transcript my short story in a post and hopefully, I will have at least a couple of comments about it. I really need to know if I were that flipped.

P.d.: My Iron Man 3 movie review has a lot of mistakes, I have to re-post it…

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Phrasal Verb of The Day – Keep up

Hi everyone, today’s phrasal verb is keep up. Basically, it means to remain at the same standard or position as someone or something else; to maintain a necessary pace or level.

E.g.:

  • You need to keep up with the metronome’s rhythm, otherwise it will sound awful.
  • The teacher told me to keep up the good work.

 

 

 

 

Phrasal Verb of The Day – Drop off

Drop off is a phrasal verb that has a lot of meanings. We’ll see two of those today.

1. If we want to say that we’ll be leaving someone in a specific place:

  • I’ll drop you off at the airport at 7:30 am. Is that OK for you?

2.  If we want to say something is diminishing:

  • Because the rains this year have been scarce, there’s been a great drop off of the water level in the river.

Hope it helps!

Iron Man 3 Movie Review (part of my FCE writing task)

I had to write a movie review as a part of my FCE writing tasks.  Since I had the chance to watch Iron Man 3 almost two weeks ago, and because I enjoyed the film, I decided to write a review about it. My teacher hadn’t had the chance to correct it yet, so feel free to leave a comment if you find mistakes (or if you didn’t like the film!).

Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3, as the name states, is the third installment of this super hero series. The events of the movie develops after those occurred on The Avengers film (which you don’t necessarily have to see to understand what’s going on), and as before, the movie stars Robert Downey Jr. in the role of Tony Stark, Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts), Don Cheadle (Colonel James Rhodes) and some new faces as Guy Pearce (Aldrich Killian) and Ben Kingsley (The Mandarin).

A series of events led Tony Stark to face this new terrorist called “The Mandarin” who is tearing apart his personal world. After a major attack received in his own place, he finds himself alone, with no hi-tech gadgets anymore and equipped only with his wits and engineering knowledge, he sets out on a quest to put things back in their place one more time.

On the plus side, the visual effects of the movie are great. The CGI are out of this world and the fact that you constantly watch Stark putting on and off his suit makes it more believable. The sounds effects are also great, and because the movie features a new director, the soundtrack is more orchestrated this time than the last two films, which had more heavy rock music. I consider this a good twist, but I can imagine people complaining about that.

On the other hand, if you’re not very keen to this super hero stuff, it might not be that enjoyable, and at times, you will find the plot not very consistent.

Overall the movie is entertaining, and definitely, better than it last predecessor; the actors did a great job and at the end, if you like this kind of films, you will not be disappointed.

Stark on his own...

Phrasal Verb of The Day – Come across

My FCE4 course finally started.  We have classes again and new classmates, which for me, is exciting, considering the fact that only three of us made it through the last course. Anyway, let’s move on to the phrasal verbs. This is what happened yesterday.

One of the five FCE  papers consists on Use of English, in which you have four different types of tasks. Again, one of those tasks is called Open Cloze, which is about thinking of a single word to complete the missing gap in the text given. We have several of those type of exercises in the Student’s Book and yesterday  we had a text about the Post-it® notes. The two initial paragraphs went like this: “I had not realised quite how many inventions and discoveries had come about by chance until fairly recently when I was given a book on the subject. I came _______ some very interesting facts indeed. Did you know, for example, that Post-it notes, those small, yellow, sticky […]”. I have to admit the word across didn’t come to my mind (looks like I need to invest more time on phrasal verbs with come, he he he) , instead, I picked the word with. As you already know, it was wrong. The thing is that come across in this context means to find something by chance, to find it unexpectedly.

E.g.:

  • I came across with the solution to that math problem fooling around with some basic formulas.

Hope it helps!

It began long ago…

the-hobbit

Yesterday I was watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  I have to admit that I expected at least additional scenes for the DVD version, but anyway, for what it matters, the movie is fantastic.

The thing is, I thought it would be a good idea to write down some words or expressions that I could pick up from the movie, in order to have a list for future reference or just to add up a bit of vocabulary.  The list is not extensive nor does contain very specific or hard words or phrasal verbs, but as I wrote before, it might help to build up your vocabulary. One last thing, the meanings of the words are those from the context of the film.

  • Stronghold:A place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack.
  • Line: It means ancestry, where you come from, your lineage.
  • Thrive: to prosper, to flourish.
  • Covet: To desire excessively to possess or have something (like Thorin’s grandfather, he coveted gold).
  • Plunder: Steal goods from someone. It also means booty.
  • Abduct: Take (someone) away illegally by force or deception; kidnap.
  • Decay: The state or process of rotting or decomposition (Do you remember when they entered the Trolls cave?).
  • Sap: The fluid that circulates inside the plants.
  • Chamomile: An aromatic European plant of the daisy family, with white and yellow daisylike flowers (Chamomile tea is what one of dwarfs offered Gandalf at Bilbo’s house).
  • Burglar:  A robber, thieve. (“If I say that he is a Burglar, a Burglar he is.” Don’t mess with Gandalf…)
  • Wipe out: To erase or destroy something (or someone) completely.
  • Draw near: To approach,  approximate.
  • Vanquish: To defeat completely.
  • Give up:  Taken someone as lost.
  • Take back: To recover. The dwarf were trying to recover Erebor form Smaug.

Phrasal Verb Of The Day – Break out

Hi everyone, today’s phrasal verb is break out. How do we use it?

Well, you can use it in cases when something happens suddenly or starts abruptly like a fire, a riot, etc. You can also use it for saying that something is ready for action or use.

E.g.:

  • A riot broke out in prison.
  • Break out the guns, we’re going for a hunt!
  • There’s been a fire break out in the city mall. Firefighters are already there.

Active Vocabulary vs. Passive Vocabulary. My experience during an oral exam

On Monday I had my FCE3 exam. No, I didn’t take the FCE exam for the third time.

At the institute I attend, the FCE preparation course lasts four months, and every end of the month we have an exam contemplating most of the actual FCE test: reading comprehension, writing, use of english, listening and the ‘dreadful’ speaking.

I have to admit that speaking is something I really need to improve. It’s not that I’m not being able to communicate myself, but the thing is that I need to be more exposed to having everyday conversations in order to get used to do it more naturally; not having ‘to think’ when it comes to use the language.

Here’s the thing, in your head you have two types of vocabulary: active and passive. This means that there are some words you understand, but for some reason, you don’t use them while speaking, thus, the passive vocabulary. Maybe this isn’t the most accurate explanation, but I hope it makes sense.

That leads to what happened at the exam. Usually you will be given a sheet of paper with two pictures you have to contrast. In picture number one a young couple was deciding how to redecorate their living room (it looked like a living room for me) and the girl was asking him what he thought about… more about this later. In picture number two, a boy was raising his hand to ask the teacher a question. The speaking task in fact was: “You have two pictures in which people are asking questions in different situations. Contrast the pictures and say how they are different”. Ok, those weren’t the exact words but you get the idea.

This is what happened. I started to contrast both of them saying that, asking question in the classroom has more impact, than those regarding esthetics as in picture number one. I continued saying that “in picture number one the girl is asking if this thing that goes on the wall (I don’t know how to call it), looks fine for him and works well for the room”. Yes, as you have spotted, I said “if this thing that goes on the wall”. Can you guess which word should’ve been there?

Wallpaper, the word in fact was wallpaper. I’ve got it after my oral exam finished, and, as if I was speaking out loud my thoughts, I said “wallpaper” and the teacher replied smiling, “Yes, wallpaper, better late than never”.

So, there you have it, even a simple word like that needs to become active in order to use it later during conversations. Just another interesting learning experience.

Let’s carry on!

My FCE Exam Schedule, Ouch!

Today I’ve got an e-mail from someone of the staff from the institute I’m studying on. The e-mail had two attachments. One of them was about the rules for 2013 FCE exam, and the other was the “Confirmation of Entry and Timetable” for the exam day. They’re official documents from the University of Cambridge (they’re PDFs to be honest, but they have the Cambridge logo!).

I have to admit it kinda shook me off! I mean, I’ve already knew about the length of the exam, but to have it timetabled on a piece of paper was something more… scary, maybe? My exam starts at 8.30 in the morning and it going to finish at 2.48 in the afternoon. Wow… It’s going to be a long day…

Anyway, I know this post is pretty random, but I think that this kind of moments are the bits and pieces that in the end, makes the whole picture look complete. It adds to the overall experience if you will.

So, let’s keep going on!

Phrasal Verb of the Day – Set off

What do you think set off means? To turn off something? To end something? Well, what it really means is to leave. It’s usually used when you talk about traveling.

Here’s an example:

  • “We’d better set off early tomorrow. We have a long journey.”
  • “We’d better leave early tomorrow. We have a long journey.”

Another one:

  • “Richard will set off at nine o’clock. That means he will be here at 10.30″

Hope it helps!

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