How GCSE and A-level grades are going to be awarded in 2020

England has already announced how GCSE and A-level grades are going to be awarded this year. Listen to this report to find out more:


Click/tap on the screenshot to open the file


Further info:

Exam regulator unveils GCSE and A-level plans for coronavirus crisis

Speaking points: 

  • How do you feel about this decision? Can you weigh the pros and cons? 
  • In your view, how are grades going to be awarded in Spain to primary school pupils? To secondary students? 
  • Could these measures be applied to students sitting the EBAU/EVAU exams this year? 


Coronavirus in the news

Sadly, we are surrounded by news related to the coronavirus outbreak, which is having an effect on people’s health, obviously, but also on the economy, on jobs, even on the environment. Instead of writing a blog post every time I find something which might be relevant for students in terms of vocabulary, I thought I had better start a Google site. In it you can find extracts from radio shows with their transcripts as well as annotated articles. I will be updating it as the days (and the lockdown) go on.

[I originally started a Padlet, but in the end, for different reasons, I decided to swap to a Google site]

Click on the picture to visit the site

Listening- Bookclub (C2)

Listen to some short extracts from interviews with world-famous writers. Match each extract (1 – 6) with the best heading (A-H) and write the letter in the appropriate box. ONE of the headings does not correspond to any of the extracts. The first extract is an example. You can listen to the clips twice.

WAGOLL- Onward review

Some days ago I shared my analysis of a review of the film Marriage Story, as an example of what a good review looks like. Today I am sharing a similar analysis of a review of Onward, the latest Pixar film. This instance is not a perfect one: it is a bit informal at times, and the conclusion is perhaps not as strong as it should be. The reason why I am using it is that it is shorter-and consequently closer in length to what students are expected to write in an exam; and also because it manages to include some useful, relevant vocabulary.

As with previous WAGOLLs (see Mary Poppins Returns and Marriage Story), click on the image below to open a ThingLink. There you will find links to dictionary definitions and tips on how to structure a review as well as voice comments.

You can read the original review here.

Words in the news: cut-throat

Flybe, a low-cost regional airline in the UK, has collapsed into administration. The coronavirus crisis has apparently added increased pressure to an already precarious financial situation.

In this news report you can hear the expression ‘cut-throat’ world: typically associated with business, where competition is strong, and sometimes, ruthless.

In the cut-throat world of budget airlines, where competition is intense and costs are cut to the bone, Flybe was a relatively small player. It carried around 8 million passengers a year, far fewer than the likes of easyJet or Ryanair. Its importance lay in the routes it served, offering regional connections from airports in places like Newquay, Belfast, Inverness and the Isle of Man.


More information:

Related expressions:

Words in the news: US elections-endorse

Listen to this extract from the news about Super Tuesday 2020, the day when a great number of US states have held primary elections. You can find the verb to endorse and the noun endorsement in the report. To endorse means to make a public statement of your approval or support for something or someone.

You can also pay attention to other interesting expressions:


INTRO: Voting is underway in the United States on Super Tuesday, the most significant day in the race to select a Democratic candidate to take on Donald Trump in November’s presidential election. Polls are taking place in 14 states, the results of which should give greater clarity as to who will win the Democratic nomination. The frontrunner remains the Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders, but as our North America correspondent Nick Bryant reports, the former vice president, Joe Biden, has been given a boost by endorsements from former rivals.

POLITICIAN: It’s time to get Joe Biden, the next president of the United States of America, Joe Biden.

REPORTER: Super Tuesday is when the primary season goes nationwide, with contests from Maine to California, from Texas to Tennessee. The aim is for the candidates to amass delegates to back them. And a third of them are up for grabs today.

A lopsided victory in South Carolina over the weekend for Joe Biden has not just revived his campaign, but reset the race. His moderate rivals, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, have suspended their campaigns and endorsed his candidacy, largely in an attempt to stop Bernie Sanders from winning the presidential nomination.

Words in the news: inversions (Tokyo 2020 and the new coronavirus)

Listen to this extract from the news about the potential impact of the new coronavirus on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games:

Discussions over the coronavirus outbreak dominated the first morning of a scheduled two-day meeting at Olympic headquarters. Japan’s Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto has hinted that the Games could be moved until later in the year. But the IOC president, Thomas Bach, said he was fully committed to staging a successful event, which starts on July the 24th. The IOC is seemingly reluctant to speculate on possible deadlines should the disease continue to spread.

As you will remember, the use of this inversion (should the disease continue to spread) is an alternative to an ordinary second conditional clause (if the disease continued to spread). By using the inversion, the speaker aims to emphasise that remote possibility in the context of the sentence. (More about inversions for emphasis here).