Top 10 Tips for Travelling to an English-Speaking Country

Before taking your vacation in an English-speaking country, make sure you’re prepared to use the language! Our tips will help you speak English with ease during your vacation. Safe travels!

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Check out the suggestions that Amanda has for us!

  1. Know the basics of the language. Make sure you know how to function in English by learning the “survival” vocabulary: asking for directions, ordering food and drinks, and asking the price of something. These things will make communication easier, which will make your trip more fun.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the accent. Depending on where you go, the people will speak very differently! Watch YouTube videos or movies so that you are more comfortable with the local accent or dialect.
  3. Learn a little slang. Some Google searches and a few articles will help you learn some of the local vernacular, which is fun to use in conversations!
  4. 700px-MonumentvalleyResearch the place and “must-sees.” Just a little time spent researching the place’s foods, sights, and traditions will help you feel familiar with the area before you even arrive.
  5. Be social. When you’re out, try to start some conversations!
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions. People love to help and give advice. Ask locals where they eat, where they drink their coffee, and where they spend their weekends. You will get an insider’s look into the area that might not be found in guidebooks.
  7. Know the local customs. Knowing customs, such as tipping, will make you more confident while traveling. Research these things before you leave so that you aren’t spending your time on Google during your vacation hours.
  8. descargaLearn the currency. Don’t be confused about the money: this will make paying for things stressful! Make sure you know the bills and coins before you leave.
  9. Buy a guidebook (if possible, in English!). See our recommendations. Study the maps, get the layout of the city, and have a good idea of where your accommodation is before you arrive. But don’t be stuck using it! As mentioned above, the best advice comes from locals.
  10. Research the public transport. Metros, trains, cabs, Uber . . . depending on where you go, the transport will be different. Knowing your options ahead of time will make you more comfortable (and might also save you some money)!

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By Amanda Jones @Sedimentality
http://sedimentality.com/ 

The Girl on the Train: the bestseller everybody is speaking about! by Patricia

Do you like thrillers? If so, The Girl on the Train is the book for you!

Although it is not a page-turner from the beginning, it won’t be long before you are hooked!

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The Plot
The main character, Rachel, is a woman in a very hard situation due to her divorce. First thing in the morning every day, she takes the commuter train to London where she sees a neighbourhood with different houses and different neighbours. While she imagines that life is perfect there, she finds herself involved in a crime which she tries to solve.

Nothing is what it seems in the Girl on the Train …

Why is this book good for learning English?
As well as enjoying the novel, you learn a lot of phrasal verbs and colloquial expressions from the dialogues that allow you to speak much more like a native person.

The book is written in the first person and the chapters are quite short… things that make a book easy to follow.

And finally, once you have finished the novel, you can also watch the film to see how it compares!

Happy reading!

Thanks to our student Patricia for this great review!

The Best Guidebooks for Travelling Abroad

I love to travel, and for me there is nothing more exciting than buying a new travel book before a trip. I spend hours reading the book and learning all about the new place: it’s an excellent way to get really excited for a trip and familiarize yourself with somewhere new! The following are some of the best guidebooks (and corresponding websites) for travelling abroad.

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  • In print: Fodor’s is the largest publisher of English-language travel and guide books in the world. The company is over 80 years old and is known as one of the authorities on travel writing and tips. Fodor’s guide books are excellent because they also provide a history of the region, suggestions for ‘free and cheap’ activities, activities for kids, and information on sporting events.
  • Online: The Fodor’s website has extensive information on travels throughout the world and includes trip itinerary suggestions, hotel discounts, cruises, and a forum where travellers can ask questions. Check it out! http://www.fodors.com/

 

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  • In print: Rather than focusing on entire countries, Time Out guides are focused more on specific cities that you are traveling to. The guidebooks are great resources for the city’s nightlife, foods and drinks, and entertainment. They’re also compact and easy to carry.
  • Online: Time Out’s website provides great lists of ‘101 Things to Do’ in many cities as well as ‘weekend guides’ for short trips. Read these lists here: http://www.timeout.com/city-guides/

 

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  • In print: Fodor’s is the largest English-language publishing company, but Lonely Planet earns the title of the world’s largest travel and guidebook publisher. Local writers create the content for Lonely Planet’s guidebooks, which are not only very informational, but also very well written articles that read more like travel stories.
  • Online: The Lonely Planet website provides information for bookings (insurance, hotels, car rentals, etc.). It also allows you to search for travel ideas using interesting categories, such as ‘Adventure travel’ or ‘Explore every day.‘ Lonely Planet has teamed up with GoPro to produce incredible videos that highlight destinations. See the world from all angles (and even underwater!) on their website. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/video

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  • In print: Frommer’s began in the 1950’s when Arthur Frommer published “Europe on $5 a Day.” Since then, the company has continued to publish guidebooks that are based on budgeting. Travelers who need specific information on the prices of hotels, restaurants, and attractions will enjoy the detailed pricing included in Frommer’s guidebooks.
  • Online: The Frommer’s website is an impressive compilation of articles, a forum, videos, and travel news. http://www.frommers.com/

 

Have you used an exceptionally useful guidebook on your travels?

Leave your suggestion in the comments!

By Amanda Jones @Sedimentality
http://sedimentality.com/ 

The Alphabet Game

Estrenamos Alphabet Game para 2017. Los que seguís la Daily Vitamin desde hace años seguramente ya habréis vivido más de un Alphabet Game de los que hacemos en verano.

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Mañana empieza una nueva edición. Del 25 de mayo al 30 de junio jugaremos a este concurso con el objetivo de aprender nuevo vocabulario y repasar las Daily Vitamins de este año académico. Y, por supuesto, también os vamos a dar la oportunidad de ganar un premio:

PREMIOS

  • 1r premio: Kindle Fire Tablet
  • 2º premio: cheque regalo de Amazon valorado en 25€
  • 3r premio: 2 entradas de cine para ver la película que tu quieras

Cada día daremos una definición o pista para una palabra o expresión que empieza con una letra específica del abecedario. Empezaremos con la letra A, luego la B, la C… hasta que completemos las 26 letras del alfabeto inglés.

Enviaremos la pista en la Daily Vitamin y la compartiremos en Facebook y Twitter.

IMPORTANTE: para participar (y ganar uno de los premios) deberéis:

  1. Ser seguidor de alguna de las siguientes redes sociales (Facebook o Twitter)
  2. Compartir el post inicial (del 24 de mayo) en una de las redes sociales
  3. Postear la respuesta correcta en una de nuestras redes sociales cada día. Al final de las 26 lecciones, la persona con más puntos ganará.

CÓMO CONSEGUIR PUNTOS Y GANAR

Por publicar una respuesta correcta en nuestras redes sociales, cada participante del Alphabet Game recibe automáticamente un punto. Entre los participantes que posteen respuestas correctas cada día, el primer participante recibe 10 puntos adicionales, el segundo participante recibe 9 puntos adicionales, el tercero recibe 8 puntos adicionales, etc. Por lo tanto, las primeras 10 personas que publiquen obtienen 1 punto más los puntos adicionales según su posición (de la 1ª a la 10ª).

Si tienes alguna pregunta, contacta con nosotros (didactic@ziggurat.es).

¡Esperamos vuestra participación!

A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter (Mark Bezos)

Aquí tenéis un nuevo pack de actividades TED. Esta vez, Mark Bezos, bombero, nos da una lección de vida. Si queréis practicar vuestras habilidades de listening mientras escucháis su historia en menos de 5 minutos, visionad su vídeo y después, ¡a poner a prueba vuestra capacidad de comprensión auditiva! Descargar actividades

Volunteer firefighter Mark Bezos tells a story of an act of heroism that didn’t go quite as expected — but that taught him a big lesson: Don’t wait to be a hero.

And the Oscar goes to…

La semana pasada os habíamos avanzado algunos vídeos y vocabulario para que os empezarais a familiarizar con la Gala de los Oscars. ¿Qué tal ha ido? ¿Habéis visto ya alguno de los vídeos que circulan por Internet? Aquí os dejamos el más polémico:

¿Y conocéis a los ganadores?

  • Best Picture. Moonlight

 

  • Actor in a Leading Role. Casey Affleck

 

  • Actress in a Leading Role. Emma Stone

 

  • Actor in a Supporting Role. Mahershala Ali
  • Actress in a Supporting Role. Viola Davis
  • Animated Feature Film. Zootopia
  • La La Land

 

  • Costume Design. Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them
  • La La Land
  • Documentary (Feature). J. Made in America
  • Documentary (Short Subject). The White Helmets
  • Film Editing. Hacksaw Ridge
  • Foreign Language Film. The Salesman
  • Makeup and Hairstyling. Suicide Squad
  • Music (Original Score). La La Land
  • Music (Original Song). ‘City of Stars’ from La La Land
  • Production Design. La La Land
  • Short Film (Animated): Piper
  • Short Film (Live Action).  Sing
  • Sound Editing. Arrival
  • Sound Mixing. Hacksaw Ridge
  • Visual Effects. The Jungle Book
  • Writing (Adapted Screenplay). Moonlight
  • Writing (Original Screenplay). Manchester by the Sea

Esperamos que hayáis disfrutado de la gala. Y, si no habéis visto estas películas, os recomendamos aprovechar la oportunidad para verlas en versión original.

English Daily Vitamin (January ‘17)

Hello!

¿Te perdiste alguna de las lecciones de enero? Aquí tienes el listado de nuestras publicaciones. Haz clic en el título para acceder a la lección que quieras leer.

MISSING MONDAY

TENSE TUESDAY

WORDY WEDNESDAY

THEME THRUSDAY. Idioms with “Cold”

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PHRASAL VERB FRIDAY

7 alternativas para practicar con el idioma este verano

¿Has acabado ya el curso académico y no volverás a retomar tus clases hasta septiembre u octubre? ¡No dejes aparcado el idioma!

Ya sabes que la mayor dificultad de aprender un idioma es mantener lo aprendido. La mayoría de los estudiantes olvidan, durante los meses de verano, mucho de lo que han estudiado durante el año. ¡No cometas el mismo error!

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Si continuas haciendo pequeñas cosas con el idioma durante esta pausa, en septiembre notarás una gran diferencia y podrás retomar tus clases donde las dejaste. No intentes hacer demasiado porque te ‘quemarás’ y acabarás sin hacer nada.

¡El truco es hacer un poco cada día!

Aquí tienes una lista de 7 cosas que puedes ‘meter en tu maleta’ para mantener lo aprendido:

  1. Recursos turísticos en VO. Si aún estás planificando tu viaje, estás a tiempo para comprar una guía en el idioma que estás aprendiendo, buscar mapas, participar en foros, etc.
  2. TV en versión original. Tanto si viajas a un país extranjero como si tu destino es nacional, seguro que tendrás la posibilidad de acceder a canales de televisión internacionales. Aprovecha para mirar el telenoticias o alguna película en versión original.
  3. Novelas extranjeras. Si te apasiona la lectura, un buen libro será tu aliado para esos momentos de relax o en los trayectos. Opta por una novela en inglés, francés, italiano… en función del idioma que estés aprendiendo. Recuerda que si tu nivel es principiante, también hay libros específicos y sencillos.
  4. Periódicos y revistas. En la mayoría de destinos turísticos encontrarás quioscos con periódicos y revistas extranjeras. ¡Cómpralas! Infórmate sobre lo qué pasa en otras partes del mundo y/o cotillea sobre la vida de los celebrities.
  5. ¡Habla! Busca la más mínima oportunidad para conversar con nativos: pidiendo la comida en el restaurante, orientando a extranjeros perdidos, solicitando indicaciones, etc.
  6. MeetUp. ¿Conoces http://www.meetup.com/? Busca alguna actividad que te resulte interesante y comparte la experiencia practicando otro idioma.
  7.  Postcard. Envía una postal de vacaciones a tus familiares y amigos escrita en el idioma que estudias o envíanosla a nosotros ¡Nos apasionaría saber dónde habéis estado y cómo habéis puesto en práctica el idioma! A la vuelta de vacaciones nos encantaría compartir vuestras experiencias con el resto de la comunidad.

¿Os animáis a enviarnos una postal? Escribidnos a:
Ziggurat Language Services
Calle Nicaragua 48, 1-6
08029 Barcelona
Spain

Doodlers, Unite! (A video talk by Sunni Brown)

Hoy queremos compartir con vosotros una de nuestras lecciones para mejorar vuestras habilidades de listening. Después de visionar el vídeo TED ‘Doodlers, Unite!’ podéis descargar nuestro pack de actividades y contestar a las preguntas. Descargar actividades

Studies show that sketching and doodling improve our comprehension — and our creative thinking. So why do we still feel embarrassed when we’re caught doodling in a meeting? Sunni Brown says: Doodlers, unite! She makes the case for unlocking your brain via pad and pen.

Review of Speak Up Magazine by Raúl Millan

Raúl Millan, one of our English students, has written a review about Speak Up. Thanks a lot Raúl!

pjev51gtINTRODUCTION
When learning English it’s very useful to have access to resources of authentic written and spoken language. Nowadays the Internet provides countless resources online. However, for those of us who still enjoy reading on good old-fashioned paper, I would recommend the Speak Up magazine.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Speak Up is a monthly magazine designed for Spanish speakers who are learning English. It first came out 25 years ago and since then has been adapting and renewing its content and style to keep up-to-date.

The magazine’s articles cover different topics; current affairs and news, English-speaking travel destinations, music and literature releases and short fiction stories. Colourful pictures bring light to the topics and the magazine’s CD provides authentic spoken English.

WHY IS THE MAGAZINE GOOD FOR ENGLISH LEARNERS?
I would personally recommend this magazine for English learners for the following reasons:

  • It is easy to acquire. You can purchase each issue for less than €6. However, if you don’t want to
  • It covers almost all English-learning levels, from pre-intermediate to advanced. As each article is identified by its language level you can focus on the articles that fit your language capabilities or on those that you are more interested in.
  • The topics covered are interesting and up-to-date so you don’t have the feeling that you’re reading old English material.
  • The magazine’s CD helps you to improve your listening skills, especially if you try to understand it before reading the transcript. You can even purchase or borrow a DVD option where an English film is provided together with the magazine as well as a short booklet in which the film and its language is explained in detail.
  • Key words and fixed expressions are explained and translated into Spanish.
  • Finally, I would like to point out that the magazine has a smart and attractive design.