Vocabulary: work and coronavirus (2)- working from home

Listen to this clip from an interview on how to keep productivity when working from home:

Click here to download the transcript (relevant expressions highlighted)

Vocabulary: Work and coronavirus (1)

Listen to this clip about the effect of coronavirus on the night-time industry. You can find some of the expressions related to the field of work we have discussed in class in context:

Click here to download the highlighted transcript.


Words in the news: coronavirus, inversions, work

The coronavirus crisis is making headlines worldwide. Some of the language used to report it refers back to aspects we have discussed in class at some point in the year:

  1. Italy locked down to slow the spread of coronavirus- as mentioned in the report, documents allowing citizens to travel within Italy are now needed: 

The new reality is dawning in Italy. The heart of Europe has been quarantined with a blanket ban on gatherings and public venues closed, the toughest confinement measures since the war. Travel is prohibited without filling in a document showing urgent need or a return home, which we as everyone have to complete. We’d need to produce it if asked.

Well, this form will now allow me to be able to drive back to Rome. And it says here that falsifying this document could lead to prosecution. Never could people in Italy have conceived of the idea that they’d need this to be able to move within their own country.

2. Airlines cancel thousands of flights:

The extent to which airlines are struggling is becoming clear. B.A. has emailed all of its staff asking people to volunteer for unpaid leave. Norwegian Air has said it will cut 15 percent of its global schedule for a month, while some staff will be temporarily laid off. The German giant Lufthansa has already said it will cut up to half of its flights during the coming weeks. Anyone booked on a flight which is canceled is eligible for a full refund.


Tools to check whether language sounds natural or not, and to improve the level of a production

  • Dictionaries: some of the dictionaries I tend to recommend at B2 level and upwards are the Cambridge Dictionary (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/) and the Oxford Thesaurus (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/, choose ‘Thesaurus’ in the dropdown menu). Ideas on how to use a dictionary here to improve writing tasks here: https://natalialzam.wordpress.com/2016/12/06/how-to-improve-your-writing-tasks-b2-c1/  
  • Grammarly (https://www.grammarly.com):  Add-on which checks for spelling mistakes, and suggests possible grammar mistakes through Artificial Intelligence. Its suggestions tend to be accurate/useful. 
  • Fraze.it (https://fraze.it): A database of online newspapers and magazines which may come in handy when trying to make sure that a given collocation sounds natural. Type your collocation into the search box, and if it can find those words, it will yield real examples where this expression appears. Once there, you can also click for more context. If your collocation exists, you will find a list of examples; if it does not, or is not very frequent, no or very few examples will appear.
  • Flax (http://flax.nzdl.org/greenstone3/flax?a=fp&sa=collAbout&c=collocations): enter a word, and how words form into collocational patterns will be revealed by looking across different academic and social corpora.

The following links provide further ideas and resources on how to check whether the language produced sounds natural, or to widen the range of vocabulary used to meet the requirements of B2-C1-C2 levels:

Words in the news- Come what may, do or die

Listen to this clip from a news report about Boris Johnson’s take on Brexit. It contains some interesting expressions you may want to use:


You can find the transcript to the clip below. Click on the links to find dictionary definitions or explanations for the words and expressions:

Come what may, do or die, and nothing ruled out in order to achieve it. Boris Johnson has been forthright in his promise to deliver Brexit by the deadline of October 31st, with or without a deal, should he become Prime Minister. And in recent days, Philip Hammond, who has long spoken of the risks of a no-deal Brexit, has become increasingly vocal [2nd meaning] in his warnings to a potential Boris Johnson government.

You can watch the interview where Boris Johnson makes these claims here (00’40”):

The first two expressions (‘come what may’ and ‘do or die’) are actually coming up regularly in the past few days in the media, in reference to Boris Johnson’s approach.

The Guardian

If you want a nicer context than politics to help you remember these expressions, you can also find the expression ‘come what may’ in the song by the same name featured in the film Moulin Rouge (2001):

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: 

  • forvo.com: 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:
  • http://fraze.it/: 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: 
  • http://polyglotclub.com/: 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.

  • http://lang-8.com/ (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 fraze.it, por ejemplo (ver explicación más abajo). 


online collocation dictionaries

What do we mean by ‘collocation’? Collocation refers to how words go together in real language use. For example, you can say in English that you take a picture/photo, but you don’t *do* a picture/ photo. Maybe theoretically you could say that, but real speakers don’t. (More information and examples here).

What tends to happen with students of English at an advanced level is that they look words up in the dictionary for their writing tasks, or even look for synonyms in a thesaurus (excellent, that’s what they should do); and yet, sometimes they may end up producing certain combinations of verb + noun, or adjective + noun…that sound unnatural, because they don’t collocate together. Maybe they should, but the resulting expression is not in actual use.

To avoid this, what you can do is to check whether this expression exists or not by using one/some of these resources below. Teachers can also use them, to decide whether this collocation they find unnatural or unheard of in their students’ writing actually exists or not:

Database of online newspapers, magazines…type your collocation into the search box, and if it can find those words, it will show you real examples where this expression appears. Once there, you can also click for more context.

If your collocation exists, you will find a list of examples, like this:

As you can see, there are many examples showcasing “take a photo” together.

However, if the words do not collocate, you will find something like this:

You do find the words, but in different parts of the sentence, not together, which means it’s not a collocation. Some other times the search may yield no results whatsoever, which makes your collocation even more unlikely.

Fraze.it is also connected to YouGlish, (click on ‘pronunciations’), so it also provides you with videos featuring the pronunciation of the word/collocation (as well as giving further evidence that the collocation actually exists).

Type a word in the search box, and the database will suggest adjectives, verbs, nouns… that are usually found ‘collocating together’ with that term, as well as some examples. You can also find suggestions for similar words.

enter a word, and how words form into collocational patterns will be revealed by looking across different academic and social corpora.

Look up a noun / verb/ adjective… The website will suggest nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, that tend to go either before or after your word.

Works in a very similar way to ProWriting Aid.

Describing words and Related words (via @onthesamepagelt)

You can also read: