Advanced English Vocabulary

Find a word or an expression in the article below on British Politics which mean the following:

a) In debt
b) Currently holding a post or position
c) It became clear or obvious; people understood
d) Refusing to believe or accept something
e) To ridicule
f) Hard bargaining or negotiating
g) To hate each other
h) To have to make a very difficult choice
i) To win affection/seduce into marriage
j) The result
k) Something that everyone knows although the information is private
l) Make a decision
m) Promises
n) Backwards & forwards
o) To be disapproving but saying nothing
p) A sudden amount of movement/agitation/bustling
q) To formally agree to a law or contract
r) Small format newspaper written in an informal style

Answers next Friday (21st May)

A postcard from Miami

Student article by Jean-Michel studying at B1

Hello from Miami...

During the Easter holidays, we went to Florida. Why Miami? Several reasons: First, I have an old friend who has lived there since 2000, he works in Fort Lauderdale just near Miami, and I haven’t seen him for 10 years.
Second: after this cold and very long winter all the family wanted to be warm and have sun and beaches ... and the last reason is because we have another friend (American) who lives in Sarasota on the Gulf Coast.

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Fort Lauderdale beach

Florida is a pleasant place, because the landscapes are very different between the cities, the Everglades, the Keys, the Gulf Coast. The distances are very great and we travelled many miles.
Miami is a dynamic city. It's a holiday destination, for many people in USA and also in the world. There are a lot of cafés, restaurants, beautiful hotels, clubs etc. The nightlife is very intense!

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A traditional “Baywatch” on the Miami beach;

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Key West, the town where Ernest Hemingway lived.

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Our car (a beautiful Ford Mustang ...) near two trucks on the Everglades road between Miami and Naples on the Gulf Coast

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Ocean Blvd, Miami's historical district

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From our appartment in South Beach

As you can see we went to Miami to have sun and we got clouds and rain ... but happily not all the time.

Next destination San Francisco ...

Best regards,

Jean-Michel

A postcard from Brittany

We have started to get visitors to our site from many different countries so "hello, hi, how are you?" to new friends from all around the world!

Wherever you are from and whether you are learning English or are a native English speaker, you are most welcome to read our blog where you will find articles written by the students and teachers at English Connection.

A Postcard from Brittany is going to be a regular spot especially for you to show you a little bit of Breton life. So, please, do come back and visit us again some time.

A postcard from Brittany 1

Hello from Brittany in North West France!
Here, when you go shopping on a Saturday afternoon, you just never know who or what you might see.

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I’ll send you another card from Brittany soon!

Love from Bronwen xxx

La Cirque du Soleil

La Cirque du Soleil - Une nouvelle forme d’art du cirque et une nouvelle expression artistique.
by Alexander studying at level B1

The “Cirque du Soleil” is a new form of circus art that was invented in Canada in 1982. Since the beginning the artists have looked for a new circus art form and a new expression.
Last week, they were in Nantes in the Zenith Metropolitan for three days only. The “Circus of the Sun” thinks up special shows which resembles a piece of theatre with special wardrobe, sets, choreography and numbers.
They have 12 pieces in their repertoire and they perform around the world with great success.

In Nantes, they decided to show the “piece” called “Saltimbinco” which was created in 1992. The event was absolutely riveting.

This show was entirely dancing and every number was choreographed. The set was decorated in such a way that the audience had the impression of watching a never-ending show. The movement was continuous and the wardrobe matched the decoration for every number.

There were traditional numbers that reminded me of a street circus. For example: juggling, trapezes, acrobats, clowns… but one difference was there also was a singer and a rock band that played throughout the show. A second difference is that there are no animals in the numbers, no dogs, cats, horses and naturally no lions or tigers.

It was a very exciting experience to see this new form of circus and the night was very nice.

How to pass FCE ... WRITING

The writing paper consists of two parts: There is a compulsory question in Part 1
and one question from a choice of 5 in Part 2. Each question carries equal marks.
You have 1 hour 20 minutes to complete the task.
The aim of the exam is to establish that you are able to write in different styles and that you understand the concept of “register”. (If you don’t know what this is – see below.)
You should start to practice the different tasks as soon as you have decided to take the exam and it is a good idea to create a writing file.
In the writing file you should keep all the writing work you have done yourself as well as examples of good English, such as model letters or reports. You could also add magazine articles or a short stories.

What is “register”?
Register is the correct style of writing (and speaking) for the situation. You don’t speak to your boss or your bank manager in the same way as you speak to your friend, do you? You use different words for different people: “I apologise” to your boss, and “I’m sorry” to your friend.
We do the same thing when we are writing. You write an e-mail to a friend in a very different way to writing a covering letter for a job.
So the “register” is the choice of vocabulary plus the style of writing (formal or informal).

When you are writing your letter or report, you should think about the person who is READING it. The exam question will tell you to write to a friend, or to your teacher or for a school magazine (so the readers will be students in this case).
The examiner will consider himself as the reader (your friend, your colleague, a magazine reader or the Director who asked for the report.)
So, don’t think, “Oh, I’ve got to write 120 – 180 words for an exam.”
Think: “I have to write a 120 – 180 word report for my boss.” Or, “I’m writing a magazine article for teenagers.”
Imagine that the situation is REAL.
Before writing you should brainstorm your ideas & organize your answer. When you are satisfied with your ideas write your answer as clearly as possible. You will get zero points if the examiner can’t read your writing.

The exam:
Part 1: This compulsory question asks you to write a letter or an e-mail. You will be given information (from an advert, a letter, an e-mail, a schedule etc) and other notes which you need to read carefully before you start to answer the question.
Use all the information you are given but do not simply recopy it. Add some ideas of your own.
Don’t write any addresses for letters & e-mails.

Formal letter: Do not use contractions. Use a formal register : Dear Mr & Mrs Smith (not “Mister” & “Missus”)
I am writing for further information about…
I look forward to hearing from you,
Yours sincerely,

Informal letter, for example to a friend: use contractions and a bit of chit-chat to make the letter seem real (Hi, how are you? How’s your family? I haven’t seen them for ages!) but get to the point of the letter quickly.
Be natural : Just thought I’d drop you a line to tell you that…/ to ask if you could…../ to see what you think about…./
Finish with an expression such as: Hope to hear from you soon/ I’ll be in touch/ Can you let me know as soon as possible? Then: Love, (if you are a girl or VERY good friends) or Best regards, (men)
Don’t write “kisses”. If you want to express a kiss, do it like this: Love from Jenny, XXX

E-mails are semi-formal, somewhere between the two, even if it is about business. Start with Dear --- & finish with Best regards or Kind regards. You can use contractions, but don’t use “text” language. For example, don’t write “C U L8TER” (see you later).

Part 2 The options may include: an article, a story, a report, a review, an essay or another letter.
Letter: If you choose this option, read the instructions carefully. It will tell you to write “in the appropriate style”. If the compulsory letter was informal, this one will probably be formal & vice-versa. Make sure you get the style & register right.

Story: You are often given a sentence to start or finish your story. Eg: “It was midnight and I was all alone in the house. Suddenly someone knocked loudly on the door.”
Or “Without saying a word, John got up and walked out of the room.”
If you enjoy telling stories, then this is a good choice for you. If you have no imagination and you have never practised writing a story before, choose another option.
You should be able to use the story telling tenses: simple past; past continuous; past perfect; past perfect continuous.
There should also be plenty of descriptive adjectives .Use absolute adjectives where possible. For example, don’t say “big”, say “enormous”; don’t say “dirty” say “absolutely filthy”.
You should also use adverbs: suddenly, amazingly, unbelievably…

Click on the link below to go to an American website which has short stories which have been written by amateur (but native speaker) writers. It might give you some ideas.

http://www.writersarea.com/adults/ss.shtml

Essay: This is the classic piece of writing demanded by schools everywhere. It should have an introduction, a clear development or discussion of the subject and a conclusion which gives your opinion. The essay should include your reasons for your opinion and you should give examples which can be from your own experience, from historical or scientific facts, from current affairs etc. Use a formal style, good linking words, make sure there is a logical progression and don’t repeat yourself.

If you do not know what linking words are, ask me for a list of them.

Article: If you enjoy reading magazines & newspapers and you have noticed the journalistic style of writing, then this could be a good choice, but it is quite difficult to do well. Magazine articles use journalistic headlines and sub-headings. They often use rhetorical questions. You must get the reader’s full attention and give some opinion or comment.

Review: This is to describe and give a personal opinion of a book, a film, a restaurant, a holiday, a website… Use your own experience and conclude with your recommendation. There are examples of book, film & restaurant reviews on this blog which I suggest you have a look at. Keep the register formal or semi formal.

Report: This option usually demands factual information which you should present in a clear, logical way. Use subheadings, don’t use contractions and make sure you control your tenses. Is the report about something which happened in the past or which is going to happen at some future date? You can invent some data or statistics to make the report seem real (eg: the vast majority of students (85%) were in favour of ….). Your personal recommendation can be given throughout the report or in conclusion at the end of the report.

Finally, there is a question about a set text (a book). Do not answer this question unless you have studied the book with your English teacher. English Connection students should never choose this option as we do NOT study for it.

Marking system:
When you understand how the exam is marked, you can get a better result.

There are 5 bands. I have written a simplified version of what the examiners are looking for. The University of Cambridge examiners have a much more detailed list which is too long to publish here.

Band 1:Lack of organization, lack of vocabulary, lack of control of grammar, irrelevant answer, question not understood, no understanding of register.
Band 2: Although the task is attempted, communication is limited, many errors make it difficult to understand, poorly organized, register inconsistent.
Band 3: All content points are included, ideas are properly organized, linking words used, correct register is attempted, errors will be present but will not stop the reader from understanding.
Band 4: Ideas are clearly organized & linked together. All points are included, shows good range of vocabulary & structure, an understanding of the appropriate register is demonstrated and is consistent. Grammatical or spelling mistakes do not stop the reader from understanding.
Band 5: The candidate’s writing full achieves the task. All points are included and expanded. Synonyms are used showing a wide range of structures and a rich vocabulary. Errors are few, do not stop understanding & are probably due to ambitious attempts at difficult structures. The register is consistent and appropriate to task.

One more thing. Have you noticed that throughout this article on FCE writing (which is about 1,500 words, by the way) I have only used an exclamation mark once and I have not found it necessary to use the word “indeed” at all.
Would all lycée students please note that we do not want to see “indeed” used four times in 180 words and we don’t want to see more than two exclamation marks in your text either.

I hope this information will help you to achieve a Band 4 or Band 5 result.

There will soon be examples of reports, stories, essays and articles at FCE (B2) level on this blog, as well as a writing competition, so come and visit it often.

Twenty ten or two thousand and ten?

Well,well,well!

All over the native English speaking world there is a huge debate going on.

The big question is: How do we say 2010?

I've looked at sites and blogs from the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and it seems that the younger generation want to say "twenty-ten", whereas some older people want to continue with "two thousand and ten". The Americans say "two thousand ten" (no "and") just to add to the confusion.

But, on the whole, when I have seen opinion polls, every one of them prefers to say: TWENTY TEN!

This could be because the younger generation are more likely to use the internet to state their preference. Perhaps an opinion poll held in a shopping centre and asking a wider range of ages would give a different result.

But I feel that "twenty ten" will eventually become the most popular choice.

So, in British English, we write the date like this: 2nd January 2010 ( or 2/1/10)

And we say:

It's Saturday the second of January, twenty-ten.

What's more, people are already saying that the London Olympics will take place in "twenty twelve" (2012).

However, there is another problem. Perhaps you've noticed it as you' ve been reading. Should that be twenty twelve (no hyphen) or twenty-twelve (with a hyphen)?

Again, at the moment, I just don't know. (But with a hyphen looks better to me.)

Plus facile à dire "deux mille dix", n'est- ce pas?

I think this is an interesting example of how the English language changes and develops according to popular opinion.

We will, of course, continue to watch and listen to see the correct way of pronouncing the date, and we will keep you informed.

***************************************************************************

Where to eat in Lyon

Restaurant review by Igor (studying at level B2)

LA DIVINA

Those two words are truly right because "La Divina" is divine. Indeed, you can find it in the ninth "arrondissement" of the city.

I was in Lyon last June to listen to pupils from the CNSM (conservatoire national supérieur de musique).

It is an Italian restaurant and obviously, you'll find pizzas, but unique pizzas.
Why unique? Perhaps it’s because the cook is Italian.

Unfortunately, when I was over there, the street was a building site, so the atmosphere was not as good as it could be. However, we feel a very nice atmosphere of the south as the decoration, which is typical Italian, is like a small Italian village with green plants and a false orange wall.

Well, I was with my mum and I went twice actually due to such delicious food. We can eat outside or inside, everybody can afford a "Divina" dinner.

I made a special order as usual because I'm vegetarian. I ordered a complete salad with their lovely olive oil from Italia, a pizza (anchovies) and a Tiramisu combined with a very fine fizzy Italian wine (shared with my mother of course ;-)).

To be honest, I can't recommend a menu which is better than another because everything is wonderful!
I think we paid 20 Euros more or less for each person.

It is not necessary to book for, just maybe only the week-end, it could be busy. Animals are allowed, there is an access for disabled people and children's menus as well.

So, don't forget this restaurant if you go to Lyon, it is the best restaurant I've ever eaten in!

They don't have website but have a look on the following link:

http://www.resto.fr/restaurant.cfm?appguide=0&appresto=11656&langue=uk

Restaurant La Divina, 21 Rue Fraternelle - 69009 Lyon 9th

Where to eat in Rennes

A restaurant review by A.L studying at level C1

L'EAU A LA BOUCHE

When Bronwen asked us to do a review on a restaurant, I knew exactly and directly which restaurant I was going to describe: Laëtitia and Stéphane’s restaurant, my friends who run an excellent fusion restaurant in Rennes.

They have called it “l’eau à la bouche”, you know what it means…when you smell or hear about a nice meal and that makes you hungry. That’s what I might do with this review….

As I said they merge food and especially the European and Asian cuisine. It’s Stéphane who cooks and Laëtitia who welcomes you with her natural big smile. It’s quite a small room, 20 tables, but very charming and calm with a fireplace, white beams and with these original tables which are tear shaped.

It’s a restaurant where the cuisine is truly honoured. Each dish is cooked precisely to give full flavour and mix well with the other dishes.

Also, the products come from the market or bio distributors, which add a lot to the taste sensations. Stéphane knows, just right, the mix of quality ingredients for innovative flavours! The pan fried duck breast is delicious and the home-made foie gras makes you ask for more and more of it! Plus, the menu is constantly renewed … “L’eau à la bouche” is creativity with no limits!! You can indulge in the chef's surprise, Stéphane chooses for you!

Moreover, the presentations of the dishes are original and neat.

You will understand the whole concept is of wellbeing ... even the CDs are specially selected for you to escape.

This is also valid for their dessert ...you will melt for them, I’m sure you will sell your soul for this excellent “forêt noire, half cooked with Tanzanian chocolate.

I can recommend it a thousand times! Feel free to go there; you will leave it a changed person!

A word of advice: book your table before going!!!

And have a look at their website!

www.restaurant-leaualabouche.com

L'eau à la Bouche, 12 rue de l'Arsenal, 35000 Rennes tel: 02 23 40 27 95

Where to eat in Spain

A restaurant review by DR JJ, studying at level C1

EL ESTABLIMENT

If you ever go for a holiday in Spain on the Mediterranean coast near Valencia make sure you go to the restaurant called El Establiment.

It is located on the edge of a natural lagoon, La Albufera, which is about 30 ha large. La Albufera takes its name from the Arabic Al-Buhayra meaning « the little sea ». It’s a natural park dedicated to the cultivation of rice.

L’Establiment is about 10 km south of Valencia.To get there you must leave the bustling city and travel south through orange-groves and rice plantations. Here you will find some old « Baraquettas » (typical little houses with white walls and thatched roofs and a cross on the top).

The restaurant clientele is mostly represented by couples, families or business groups and you’d better book in advance.

It offers a large choice of typical Valencian food. First of all you can taste
« Tapas »: fried squid or cod, home-made bread with olive oil, mixed salad, but don’t eat too much of it! Later you can order all kind of rice preparations; of course « paella valenciana » but if you don’t like shell-fish you can order « arroz a banda », a sort of paella without fish.

The rice has a special flavour because it is cooked with local salt water. And don’t miss the delicious « cortados », coffee and milk served in a tiny glass.

If you can spend a few more hours of your time you must afterwards rent a little boat and row over the channels along La Albufera. You will not regret it!

How to write a ... Restaurant Review

B2/C1

When you write a restaurant review, think about the following elements:

1. Name & place of the restaurant
2. Type of food
3. Atmosphere/ decoration
4. When do you go there? Who with? Is it for special occasions only? Is it suitable for children?
5. Is there a special dish that you would recommend?
6. Do you need to book?
7. Price
8. Address, phone number, website address

Try to use a rich vocabulary to describe the restaurant and the food.

For example: mouth watering, delicious, exquisite, home-made, tempting, savoury, pricey, crowded, packed, in the middle of nowhere, good value for money…

I look forward to receiving your reviews and trying out your recommendations!