School refusers- listening comprehension

Listen to this clip from Woman’s Hour about children and teenagers who refuse to go to school. Then answer the questions on the google form below. You can listen to the clip twice:



Open form in a new tab

Pay attention to the feedback given to both right and wrong answers.

You can finally listen again and read the transcript:

Help!- recursos online para sonar más “natural” en una lengua extranjera

Publicado 2.5.2014, actualizado 20.07.2019

Todos los profesores de/en lengua extranjera, así como los alumnos, en algún momento desearíamos tener a algún hablante nativo al lado para poder preguntar algo que no sabemos decir, o que quizás podemos expresar de una manera gramaticalmente correcta, pero no sabemos si suena “natural” para los hablantes nativos. Para intentar paliar este problema, os propongo varias herramientas lingüísticas online gratuitas:

Diccionarios online: 

  • diccionario “vivo” de pronunciación. Busca una palabra, nombre propio, marca, nombre de lugar…hablantes nativos se han grabado pronunciando ese término. Permite oír a alguien real pronunciando (no a un ordenador), y además, se puede mostrar a los alumnos (confiere cierta autoridad a lo que ha dicho el profesor: “¿no me creéis? Escuchadlo”. Acentos de diversas variedades geográficas y sociales.
  • YouGlish: busca términos en videos de YouTube. Ese video, además, aparece con subtítulos. Ideal para oír la pronunciación de términos, expresiones…y para buscar videos relativos a un tema. Disponible en inglés y francés.

Click en el idioma para cambiar inglés / francés

Expresiones en contexto:
  • permite encontrar expresiones, frases hechas, en contextos reales online (fundamentalmente periódicos, revistas…), para asegurarnos de su uso,  qué preposición va con qué verbo, ejemplificar nuevo vocabulario…Disponible en varios idiomas (click en el idioma para seleccionar).

Inglés- online collocation dictionaries:

Intercambio de idiomas: 
  • registro gratuito. Puedes escribir textos, o hacer preguntas a la comunidad. Hablantes nativos corregirán ese texto, o te dirán qué suena más natural. A cambio se solicita que tú, como hablante nativo de tu idioma, también corrijas a otros miembros que aprenden tu idioma materno como lengua extranjera. MUY ÚTIL

Así, por ejemplo, si queréis practicar la expresión escrita, podéis copiar vuestras redacciones, y hablantes nativos os las corregirán, no solo desde un punto de vista gramatical, sino que lo harán desde el punto de vista de “qué suena natural”. De este modo además tendréis varias posibilidades, ya que es un foro abierto. Y en muchas ocasiones tendréis comentarios de por qué os cambian vuestro texto original.

Para acceder a esta opción, pinchad en vuestro nombre de usuario, y allí os saldrá la opción “mis correcciones”. Allí podréis escribir vuestro texto, o corregir el de otras personas que aprenden español.



Además, la comunidad de polyglot club organiza reuniones en ciudades, así que de vez en cuando podéis ver que hay un “polyglot club meeting” en vuestra ciudad, por si queréis practicar la lengua extranjera que aprendéis con otras personas que también están aprendiendo.

  • (similar a polyglotclub).
  • https://hinative.comEs un servicio derivado de lang-8 (puedes usar la misma cuenta, registro gratuito). Permite hacer preguntas sobre el idioma, cultura, o cualquier cosa que quieras preguntarle a un hablante nativo de un idioma de cualquier parte del mundo. Tú también puedes enseñar cosas de tu lengua o tu cultura. Aunque no preguntes, también es interesante leer lo que otros han preguntado. 


* Aviso: en alguna ocasión, si planteáis estructuras gramaticales poco frecuentes, demasiado académicas…puede que la solución que os planteen estos hablantes nativos sea que digáis algo mucho más sencillo. No porque vuestra opción sea incorrecta, sino porque les suene demasiado “academicista”, poco frecuente…y en ese caso esa recomendación no os sería de gran ayuda. Es algo que os puede pasar, especialmente en niveles C1-C2. Probad a encontrar algún ejemplo similar al vuestro en, por ejemplo (ver explicación más abajo). 


Red Nose Day in the classroom

Comic relief is a British charity created in 1985 by British comedians. Their aim is to raise money for people in need, both in the UK and abroad, through entertainment and comedy.

Every two years, they hold a big event which takes place nationwide: Red Nose Day (RND). Apart from a big telethon on BBC, and a series of shows, the whole country is invited to take part, by doing something funny for money, either at home, school, or at work. These may include wearing a red nose (hence the name), or simply coming up with something silly / funny that you wouldn’t normally do, and then get sponsored for doing so.


Click on the image to watch Mr. Bean’s Red Nose Day. It’s one of the earliest sketches to have been written for the event. It gives you an idea of what RND is all about.

Over the years, such comedians as Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean), Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie (House M.D.), or Ricky Gervais (The Office), among many others, have contributed to the shows. In 2019 Red Nose Day will be on Friday, March 15th.

A very special feature has been prepared for RND 2019: to mark the 25th anniversary of the release of Four Weddings and a Funeral, the cast have reunited to show what the characters’ lives are like 25 years later.

Would you like some ideas to celebrate Red Nose Day in your school? Here are some fundraising (fun) ideas:

Wear something:

  1. Get sponsored to wear a fancy dress for 24 hours.
  2. Get sponsored to wear your PJs (pyjamas) all day at work or in school.
  3. Hold a fashion show and sell tickets for the big event.

Eat something:

  1. Get sponsored to eat nothing but red food for a whole 24 hours.
  2. Get sponsored to give up chocolate, biscuits or crisps.
  3. Hold a bake-off and ask for donations to taste your cakes or biscuits.

Stage something:

  1. Get all your friends together for a quiz night where everyone pays to play.
  2. Hold a talent show and sell tickets to watch all the acts.
  3. Have a karaoke night and get friends to chip in a donation to be allowed to sing.

Hair-do something:

  1. Get colleagues or classmates to sponsor you to wear a red wig for 24 hours.
  2. Give your friends a hairstyle makeover and charge a donation for your stylistic services.
  3. Get sponsored to have a hairstyle like Marge Simpson’s.

Dare something

  1. Get sponsored to be handcuffed to a friend or work colleague for 24 hours.
  2. Do a sponsored silence – a quiet classic.
  3. Can’t live without your laptop or smartphone? Get sponsored to ditch little luxuries for a week.
  4. Get active – get sponsored to walk to work for a week or give the lift the heave-ho and take the stairs.

Ideas from the Comic Relief website:

Pinterest board with ideas

Many of the materials (packs) they produce can be used in the classroom, either in isolation, as a part of a unit about RND, or to raise awareness about social issues and poverty…

If you’d like to see how it works:

(to download the video and English subtitles, you may use, for example. Copy the youtube link, and then download both the video file and the .srt file. Then, if you give the same name to both the video and the subtitle file, and you play the video with VLC player, the subtitles will play automatically, and you won’t depend on -sometimes unreliable-internet connections).

Sometimes, artists record covers of oldies especially for the occasion, as One Direction did some years ago:

One Direction: One Way or Another (Comic Relief 2013)

(if you use Musixmatch you will get the subtitles for the song)

If you’d like to see how some schools in the UK have participated, you may have a look at, for example, Buxton School in Leytonstone, London.

Pupils of Buxton School in Leytonstone dress in red for Red Nose Day


More examples of RND in schools across the UK:

Alternatively, you may also have a look at the official RND / Comic Relief twitter accounts

More on RND- possible reading comprehension exercises:

How could you use Red Nose Day in your classroom / in your school? Would you wear your red nose for school? 

(Updated 8th March 2019)

easy video tools for the language / CLIL classroom

This is a list of easy video tools I tend to use to prepare my classes and training sessions: : Many times, YouTube videos include advertisements before (or even during) the video. Aside from being tiresome, they may sometimes be inappropriate for students.

To prevent ads from playing, copy the link to the video you want to share, then paste it on the search box. It will create a ‘purified’ link, sharing the video and the video alone.

On top of that, if you click on the settings button you can also select a start time and an end time; create customised links; or even, if necessary, create a password for the link. To download YouTube videos (whole videos, or clips, selecting start and end times). It’s rather reliable. It doesn’t work with music videos, though.

Alternatively, you can follow this procedure: if you have a link like this: Before “youtube” insert “ss”. So the result will be This will take you to a website that will allow you to download the video, even if it is a music one. Just bear in mind that it contains lots of advertising: this is exactly where you should click: or There are some videos which are embedded on websites, and they can be rather tricky, time-consuming (or plain impossible) to download. What can be done is to record the part of the screen that we’re interested in, together with the sound coming from the computer (system sound). The free version leaves a watermark in the videos, but that’s fine with me.

  • Subtitles: Some YouTube videos contain subtitles (either uploaded subtitles or automatically generated). To download the subtitle file, copy and paste the link to video in the search box. Warning: the first and second time you click “download”, it will take you to different advertising websites. The third time you click will finally work.

If you’re happy with your subtitles, give the same name to both video and subtitle file, and keep them in the same folder. If you play the video with VLC player, it will play the video with the subtitles automatically. If not, you can always open VLC, then click on “subtitles”>subtitle track, and find the subtitle file you want.

If you want to edit your subtitles, or start subtitling from scratch, you can use one of these websites: Copy and paste the YouTube link. If it already has some sort of subtitles, they will appear on Amara. Them, you can edit those subtitles if needed.

The result is a video which can be played with / without subtitles; a clickable transcription is also available below the video (if you click on it, it will take you to the point in the video where that sentence appears).

See an example here.

Another subtitling platform I really like is The process of subtitling feels natural to me. However, a downside now is that you can only transcribe videos on your connected YouTube or Vimeo accounts.

Finally, you can also try Kapwing. It’s a fast and easy way of subtitling, as it is basically designed for subtitling videos for social media. You can copy a YouTube video link, or upload a video file. Then, as you are transcribing, you can use sliders to select the start and end times. If you happen to have the subtitle file, you can upload it as well and edit it. The end result is a video with embedded subtitles.

You can find an example below (click on the picture):

Calendario de celebraciones y días especiales

Hace tiempo recopilé en un calendario de Google distintas fechas de celebraciones de países de habla inglesa y francesa, así como de días internacionales sobre distintos temas. El objetivo era poder mostrar de una manera visual estos eventos que pueden ser una excusa para trabajar aspectos culturales y de valores en el aula. De este modo, se pueden planificar proyectos y actividades con cierta antelación.

He actualizado las fechas para el año 2019 de este calendario. Además de en esta entrada, podéis acceder al calendario en el menú superior del blog (cultura y lenguas extranjeras>calendario celebraciones).


Cómo grabar “Pasapalabra” con TouchCast Studio para repasar vocabulario

En este video cuento cómo se puede “grabar” un programa de Pasapalabra con los alumnos, para repasar vocabulario, conceptos clave:

Las veces que he realizado esta actividad les he propuesto a los alumnos que concursaran por equipos, y que ellos mismos eligieran las palabras y escribieran las definiciones, para que otro grupo de la clase tuviera que adivinarlas. De ese modo, el repaso es doble, porque al elaborar preguntas también están revisando sus apuntes.

Si tenéis iPad y la aplicación gratuita TouchCast Studio, no os hace falta fondo verde para crear el efecto croma. Resulta muy cómodo, ya que no hay que montar ningún fondo, o llevar a los alumnos a otro aula. Si no, se podría grabar con cualquier otra aplicación de efecto croma (ChromaVid, GreenScreen by Do Ink…más información aquí), pero se perdería la posibilidad de ir marcando sobre el video las respuestas correctas e incorrectas.

random pickers- pick a student at random

Sometimes it can be useful to pick students at random: that way, even if they’re working in cooperative groups, everyone can feel accountable for the group’s work; or if very few / very many students want to participate, they won’t feel that the teacher is always picking the same students (however untrue that might be).

Some of these apps and tools can help you:

Random number generators: Give each student a number. Then, write the number of students you’ve got (from 1 to 25-27…). Let the tool / app choose for you.

Finger pickers: students only need to place one finger on the screen of a tablet /iPad. The apps will pick a finger / student for you at random.

  • Finger chooser (Android): single mode chooses one finger randomly from all fingers touching the screen; ordered mode chooses a random order for all fingers touching the screen; and grouped mode selects a random group for all fingers touching the screen (number of groups can be changed).

Student pickers– you need to have typed the names of your students at some point.

  • iDoceo– spinning wheel- using the students you already have on your register / roster.
  • Classroom screen: type the names of your students, and choose.

  • Wheel Decide: type in your students’ names (or any decision you have to make).