Learning Languages with Famous Quotes

Reading and listening to famous quotes is a fantastic way of learning languages. They are evocative and meaningful on their own. They don’t need a context, but still make perfect sense. That’s probably why they are so popular in social media: short bits of language, with clear messages and that we can easily relate to.

As we are approaching the Oscars, you are likely to come across many movie quotes like the ones in these images.

(You can click here for extra reading about the Oscars)

So, what can you learn in famous movie quotes?

  • Collocations
  • Verb patterns (like worth +ing / it’s supposed to be …)
  • Conditional sentences
  • Adjectives describing character.
  • Inversions for emphasis and other similar structures.
  • Comparisons
  • The different functions of modal verbs




These are just some examples. Don’t miss this opportunity to revise some English with famous quotes: language learning and some everyday inspiration.

Which are your favourite movie quotes? Would you like to share some of your own?



Sparks of Humanity


In this article from 2008, Amnesty International claims that “world leaders should apologise for 60 years of human rights failures since the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.” This idea is still timely and I wonder how much longer it will be.

It’s upsetting to know that despite the existence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one of the most relevant documents of our time, there are still numerous communities which still lack basic rights. Not to mention the staggering high number of countries where child abuse, slavery or human trafficking are an everyday issue; children are obviously the most vulnerable part of society and often their chances of a life full of hope and opportunities are buried under insufficient support by the authorities.

But just when we start to lose our hope in humanity, and one can only see examples of actions triggered by greed and economic interest, a spark amidst the dark appears somewhere in the world, like a match that slowly ligthens up to shed some light and make people aware of where humanity is missing. With their actions they are making sure that human rights are promoted, protected and have some chances of becoming a reality.

I’m thinking of Malala, an example of inspiration for all of us. But before her, many others like Martin Luther King or Gandhi sought peaceful ways to make life more bearable and dignified for millions of people around the world.

Sparks of Humanity


And this is what we are up to in class these days. We are learning how to express obligations and duties, but we are also talking about ways of protest and movements that have led to real social transformation, like the Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s.

Would you like to join us generate small sparks of humanity in the world? 

Generosity, positive feelings and purely human driven actions are everywhere, so why not make them more visible?

Voice your concerns

Express your wishes

Share stories of humanity around you

I invite you to reply on this blog post, and also on twitter. Be sure to include the hashtag #sparksofhumanity to create a thread of positive ideas and examples so we can eventually ignite some hope in the human race.


Living In A Wired-Wide World

These days we have been talking about digital technologies and, inevitably, how connectivity is affecting our relationships and lifestyle. We are constantly engaged in many different ways, from texting, to producing and sharing our own media.

This urge to keep our eyes on a digital display is particularly powerful among young people, as this article from New York Time mentions. Yet, adults are also falling for the digital trap very quickly. And I feel we are all still in the process of adapting to the frenzy of being wired 24/7.

The following short film, directed my Miles Crawford, is amazingly revealing. How do you feel after watching this two-minute film?

Gary Turk is the man behind “Look Up”, another powerful short film that became viral last Spring.

There is obviously a heavy irony in this film becoming viral, as explained on this blog post by Jez Kemp. I recommned reading it. Do you agree with the point he makes?

Irony aside, it is definitely food for thought. And, I am quite sure it is an aspect of our lives that you have all ended up talking about with friends and relatives, decribing the downsides of digital technologies. But what about the advantages?

Digital and social technologies are here to stay. Why? What do we really get from being connected? What are the main advantages for you? In which areas of your life have you experienced greater benefits from having a social media profile?

As an English teacher,  I  see wonderful learning opportunities for anyone who wants to improve their linguistic and communicative skills.  I am an advocate for using digital technologies to be exposed to learning experiences, which were unavailable only ten years ago.

Effective language learning, in my view, may not possible without face-to-face interaction, but learners empowered to make the most of everything out there, can make a difference in their learning journey. It requires support, learning to filter content, rehearsing and, also, discipline (knowing when to switch off). But I think it is worth it.


Would you like to share your views on this topic? All you have to do is post a comment expressing your ideas and experiences of living in a wired-wide world.

The discussion can go on on Twitter, too.

All you have to do is post a tweet and use the hashtag #occeoic

A Question of Motivation

Embed from Getty Images

A new school year has just started. It’s time to get ready for an exciting new journey until summer comes again.

I think the following exercise can be useful for anyone who is starting something new. But obviously, language learners will easily relate to everything that is mentioned.

Have a look at the presentation A question of motivation and go through the questions.

Stop and think for a minute of the opportunities you have available and what you can do to increase your chances of success.

What skills do you want to improve? How do you think you will achieve it? What help do you need?

Feel free to post your comment and share your ideas with other language learners. All you have to is click on the reply icon just above the post.




The Burning House

shoes-69682_640Have you ever been asked  “If your house was burning, what would you take with you?

A photography website has used this prompt to portray the most important things in life for us.  People from all around the world have taken part. It’s a difficult question. It should be small enough to carry, quick to find, a small amount of things, too… What to go for? Something precious, valuable, practical?

If you are a language learner and would like to explore this topic, I suggest these activities:

1. Before you see the pictures, answer the question yourself. What would you take with you? Why? Next, click on the Photography Blogger website and see if there’s anyone who would have chosen the same things as you. You can also have a look on tumblr http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/the-burning-house

2. Wild guessing. Have a look at the collections. Before you read the owner’s profile try to answer these  questions: Who do you think the owner is? Do the objects say anything about what they might do for a living or their hobbies? Afterwards, find out if you were right.

3. Answer the question yourself. “If your house was burning, what would you take with you? Leave a reply and share your thoughts. I also invite you to share your opinions, videos and articles on Twitter. All you have to do is tweet your opinion followed by #one_click. For more information on how to use twitter and the hashtag #one_click go to: http://wp.me/P3tqiu-7J

Do you need some help with language? For revising conditional sentences go to ESL Test.

 ”The Burning House is an eye-opening pictorial meditation on materialism;

an in-depth, intensely personal interview contained in a single question;

a revealing window into the human heart.”

Quote from Photography Blogger

The Most Beautiful Sounds in the World

If you were to say which was the most beautiful sound in the world, what would you choose?

A baby giggling, or the sound of streams and rivers are just a couple of examples that could be listed among the most beautiful, indeed. If you would like to test your vocabulary of sounds and noises you can have a look at the following two links, which have interesting interactive games to learn verbs that describe sounds that people make: The Sound Monster Interactive GameSounds that people make. Game. Also, you will find extra practice of vocabulary and some grammar that can help you describe more easily how you feel about certain sounds here: Describing Sounds BBC Learning English

To find out which really is the most beautiful sound in the world, sound expert Julian Treasure created a competition where people recorded and submitted what they thought were the most pleasant sounds. The winning entry was the sound of a swamp with frogs singing. Before you listen, can you imagine what that might sound like? Would you say frogs produce a nice sound? Click below to  find out. What do you think?

By clicking on Beautiful Now you will hear samples of some other sounds that were submitted. Which one do you like?

Below you can listen to Julian Treasure interviewing Marc Anderson, who submitted the winning entry. They talk about where the sound was recorded and what makes sound sometimes more reliable than photos. There are four listening comprehension questions below which go from minute 0.00 to minute 4.00.

How does Julian Treasure describe the sound of the swamp? What struck him about it?

Why did Marc choose that sound in particular?

In what ways does he describe sound is more telling than a photo?

Why is sound more truthful at times than a photo?

After listening to these beautiful sounds here is an article which lists the most annoying sounds. The 10 most Annoying Sounds

If you would like to share your feelings and opinions about this, go ahead and post your comment. Is there any sound that you find pleasant or annoying that you hear very often? What do you like to listen to when you need to relax or concentrate?

Also, by using the hashtag #oneclick we can discuss on twitter. Not only can you say what you think, but you can also share links to videos, news items and other blog posts about the topic.

The Beauty of Pollination

I was taken aback by this astonishing video, which I would like to share with you. It reminds us that nature doesn’t need a click or a switch to work, it just does. All its creatures have been moving, and evolving with a magical and even mystical understanding among each other.

All the images we can see are real, they are happening right next to us, so silently and subtly that we hardly ever notice. Are we becoming too unaware of what really matters?

I suggest watching the video. And enjoy. Also, you have a listening comprehension activity below. Please post your comments if you would like to say something about it.

What animals does he mention as taking part in the pollination process?

How long has he been filming?

What event motivated him to make this film?

How much do we depend on pollinators? What do scientists claim?

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