The theme of today's crossword is business and the level is advanced. Click here to do the interactive online version of the crossword or download the PDF. And if you sign up for the daily newsletter, you can receive a new crossword by email every day!
The newspapers are full of tributes to Muhammad Ali, who died last Friday. But how much do you know about the legendary boxer? Test your knowledge by doing this special Muhammad Ali crossword. You may also pick up some useful vocabulary as well.
Regular readers of this blog will perhaps have noticed that the posts have become less frequent over the past few weeks. That's because I've been working on other projects. First, there was the SmartEnglish by EM Normandie app released in May. This was followed by the publication of my PDF e-book 101 Thematic Crosswords for Learners of English. And now, I'm pleased to announce the launch of a brand new website: Crossword English, where you'll find a new crossword every day to do online or download as a PDF. So whether you're a learner who wants to improve your English vocabulary in a fun but effective way, or a teacher looking for vocabulary-building activities for your students, be sure to check it out. And if you sign up for the Crossword English newsletter, you will receive a brand new crossword by email every day of the week — for free! Happy puzzling!
To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, Barclaycard, credit card arm of Barclays Bank, has produced this amusingly tongue-in-cheek ad. You should also check out the interactive display on this dedicated page, and this excellent Barclaycard timeline, which shows how shopping has changed over the past five decades.
TRANSCRIPT Napoleon famously called us 'a nation of shopkeepers', but what did he know? We're a nation of shopkeepers because we're a nation of shoppers, unbeatable, world-class shoppers, Monsieur Bonaparte. We invented the queue for heaven's sake. We're bargain-hunting, savvy-shopping champions of the world. We have the professionals, the amateurs, the optimists, the patient partners. And then there are the shopkeepers, the heroic helpers, and the proud proprietors. At Barclaycard we have been supporting this great British pastime since 1966, and in the UK one pound in every three is spent through us. So on our fiftieth birthday, we're celebrating you — the great British shopkeepers and shoppers, and the millions of little transactions that keep us all going — every day.
GRAMMAR Note the example of the present perfect continous plus 'since' to talk about an action that began in the past and continues into the present: We have been supporting this great British pastime since 1966. Also note that if we replace '1966' with '50 years', we also have to replace 'since' with 'for': We have been supporting this great British pastime for 50 years.
COMMENT Of course, 1966 is famous for something else as well — it's the last (and only) time England won the World Cup. That's an anniversary English football fans will not be celebrating!
Strikes and industrial action in protest at a new labour law (see earlier post) have led to petrol shortages all over France. In this cartoon from The Daily Mail, Mac imagines how it might affect British motorists going to France for the Bank Holiday weekend.
THE CARTOON An elderly British motorist is distracted by a sexy French woman, while her partner in crime siphons petrol from the car's fuel tank. The man's wife does not look amused. Across the road, a sign outside the petrol station reads, "No Petrol".
COMMENTS Old stereotypes die hard — especially where the French are concerned. So, we've got the berets, striped jersey, moustache, dark glasses ... no baguette or string of onions though!
LANGUAGE The dropped aitches ('oliday for 'holiday', and 'ow for 'how') are supposed to represent the way French people speak English. As does the elongated 'e' in 'Eenglish'
VOCABULARY 1. In Britain, bank holiday is a public holiday in the United Kingdom. The first official bank holidays were the four days named in the Bank Holidays Act 1871, but today the term is colloquially used for Good Friday and Christmas Day which were already public holidays under common law and therefore not official bank holidays in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 2. There are two main types of fuel for cars: diesel and petrol. All petrol is unleaded these days. Petrol is a false friend for French learners, since the French word 'pétrole' means petroleum or crude oil.
SPELLING Did you spot the spelling mistake? Yes, Calais should not have an 'e' on the end. However, some French towns do have an anglicised version of their name. For example, Marseilles for Marseille, Lyons for Lyon, Dunkirk for Dunkerque, and Rheims for Reims.
France is currently in the throes of an ongoing confrontation between the government and hard-line left-wing unions (and students) over the Socialist government's new labour law, with street protests (some violent), strikes, blockades, and, of course, the obligatory burning of tyres. At the moment, neither side looks like backing down, and with petrol in short supply and the prospect of more industrial action (not to mention the ever-present terrorist threat), things are not looking good for the Euro 2016 football tournament due to start in a couple of weeks.
THE CARTOON This cartoon by Chappatte from Le Temps, Switzerland, shows French president François Hollande looking out of the window of the Elysée presidential palace at the protesting crowds below. Behind him stands the ghost of iconic French war hero and later president Charles de Gaulle, who tells Hollande: "There's only one thing to do in France: abolish the month of May".
EXPLANATION De Gaulle is referring to the events of May 1968, when, during his presidency, there was an even more serious period of civil unrest with demonstrations and massive general strikes as well as the occupation of universities and factories across France.
COMMENT One irony of the current row is that the economic plans of popular figures such as Alain Juppé, who is bidding to represent the mainstream right in the 2017 presidential election, are much more business-orientated and free-market than those for which Hollande is currently under fire. Still, if the current government can make it through to the beginning of July, it might just survive, since the whole of France goes on holiday for two months then ...
You have to look carefully at today's cartoon by Mac from the Daily Mail to 'get' the joke. Do you? (Click on the image to enlarge.)
THE CARTOON A couple are working in their garden. The husband is mowing the lawn (or cutting the grass) with a lawnmower, and his wife is trimming the hedge with a pair of shears. Suddenly, the house next door collapses and disappears into the ground. The woman comments, "Cameron must be getting desperate. Is he going to do that to all Brexit supporters?"
EXPLANATION The people in the collapsed house are in favour of Brexit (i.e., Britain leaving the EU). David Cameron is the UK prime minister, who wants Britain to remain in the EU. The woman imagines that Cameron has somehow caused the house to collapse to reduce the Brexit vote in the upcoming EU referendum, which takes place on 23rd June.
COMMENTS At first, I thought the cartoon was connected to a story about a house that collapsed in North London as a result of a botched basement extension, but then I looked more closely and saw the sign "UK Fracking Co." in the background. In fact, the cartoon relates to the landmark planning decision in Yorkshire, which has opened the way for drilling projects across Britain. Many people are opposed to fracking because they claim it poses a threat to the countryside. In fact, fracking was suspended in Britain in 2011 after a drilling operation in Lancashire was blamed for causing two small earthquakes. You can read more about the issue here.
GRAMMAR Note the use of the modal verb 'must' to indicate that one is sure something is true, even is it's not proven. He must live near here because he comes to work on foot. We don’t know where he lives but we’re sure it’s not far away. See here for more on this grammar point.
BACKGROUND Tourists could soon be blasting off for the stars from a Cornish spaceport. Plans to open Britain’s first commercial rocket launch site will be unveiled this week and Newquay is tipped to host it. Five more potential sites have been identified for the £150million spaceport — four in Scotland and one in Wales — but the Cornwall resort is favourite to become the first facility of its kind outside America. Wealthy space tourists could soon be blasting off from the futuristic new complex within four years – providing they can afford the tickets. Read more >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon shows an elderly Cornish couple. The man is sitting in an armchair drinking a beer and reading the newspaper, the front page of which features the spaceport story. His wife, who is wearing a spacesuit and is carrying a shopping bag, asks him, 'I'm just popping out m'dear. Is there anything you want in Australia?' A nice touch is that the dog is also wearing a spacesuit!
EXPLANATION With the spaceport, the woman is able to travel long distances in a short time, e.g., to Australia and back.
LANGUAGE 1. If someone pops out, they leave their current location for a brief time. • I'm just going to pop out for some coffee. 2. M'dear is the Cornish way of saying 'my dear'.
The big advantage of the PDF format over print is that the crosswords are easy to photocopy, and I've also been able to link each crossword to an interactive online version that can be done on a computer, tablet or phone! Click hereto download some free sample pages.
The normal price for this crossword collection is 7 euros, but readers of The English Blog can download it for only 5 euros by using the coupon code BLOG. So if you've always wanted to support this blog in some way, now's the time! Click here to purchase (and don't forget to apply that coupon code before you check out).
DESCRIPTION Tired of learning long lists of words? Fed up with memorizing flashcards? Then you should try 101 Thematic Crossword Puzzles — a fun but effective way to expand your English vocabulary.
The crosswords in this collection are suitable for learners of English at intermediate level and above, but can also be used with younger learners whose first language is English. Each crossword features 25-40 words relating to an everyday theme – perfect for improving your TOEIC vocabulary!
A complete list of all 2,500 words used in the puzzles is provided, as is an individual word list for each puzzle. The notes for teachers include original ideas for using crosswords in the classroom as well as links to online crossword resources.
A special feature of this collection is that each crossword is linked to an interactive online version which can be done on a computer or mobile device.
I'm very pleased to announce that the EM Normandie, the school where I work, has just launched a new app for learning English. It's called SmartEnglish and you can download it FOR FREE (no in-app payments either). Click here for the iOS version (iPhone, iPad) and here for the Google Android version.
DESCRIPTION Learn English for free with the amazing SmartEnglish by EM Normandie app. And yes, our app is completely, 100% free! With this app you will find a new video lesson unlocked EVERY WEEK.
the right words and phrases to use
what English speakers really say
how to speak more clearly
what mistakes you are making
Videos, interactive speaking, plenty of practice, tests, prizes and more. This app has it all! And it’s more than just a learning app - it’s a digital phrasebook, too! All completely free! The creators of this app have written English course books that have sold many millions of copies all around the world. Try the SmartEnglish by EM Normandie app now.
DESCRIPTION EnglishWaves est une radio généraliste, comme les grandes radios françaises d’information, mais… elle parle anglais, 100% anglais ! Avec EnglishWaves gagnez du temps, écoutez les infos françaises ainsi que les magazines d’actualité sur vos thèmes préférés et… progressez en anglais ! …et "icing on the cake", EnglishWaves est une radio positive qui parle aussi des bonnes nouvelles !
Il est facile aujourd’hui d’écouter des radios anglophones sur Internet, sur Smartphone, sur les écrans TV… Ces radios sont britanniques ou américaines, elles parlent très peu de la France et les présentateurs parlent un peu trop vite pour un auditoire français… EnglishWaves traitent des sujets qui intéressent les personnes résidant en France. L’élocution des animateurs est adaptée à des auditeurs non anglophones pour faciliter la compréhension et le perfectionnement de l’anglais.
COMMENT EnglishWaves is a great resource for any English learners interested in what's happening in France. A whole range of subjects are covered in programmes dealing with topics such as news, cooking, tech, and health. The live radio and the latest weekly shows are free as are the apps available for iOS, Android and Windows. Howver, there is a subscription option which offers older programmes with transcripts and different accents, and a business section. The overall quality is excellent and this is definitely a site worth checking out.
Today's cartoon by Mac from The Daily Mail relates to a government report published on Monday that says tips in restaurants, hotels and bars should go to workers and not their employers. After an eight-month review of tipping practices, the government said charges imposed on staff tips by employers should be scrapped or limited. Service charges on customers’ bills should also be clear and voluntary, the proposals said. Full story >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon shows a man being rushed into the Accident and Emergency Department of a hospital on a trolley surrounded by doctors and nurses. He seems to be in a bad way, and is connected to a drip. His wife whispers in his ear, "The restaurant, Gerald. Where you got food poisoning ... did you leave a tip?" A displeased-looking waiter is following them. The newspaper headline "New Laws on Tipping" gives us a clue as to what the cartoon is about.
EXPLANATION We are supposed to deduce that the man did not leave a tip at the restaurant, as a result of which, the angry waiter served him something that gave him food poisoning. This doesn't really make sense, since you normally leave a tip at the end of the meal. And the government report doesn't recommend abolishing tipping — quite the opposite, in fact. However, as usual with Mac, the execution is excellent.
DISCUSSION • Do you leave a tip when you go to the restaurant? How much? • Why do people leave tips? • What's the tipping etiquette in your country? • In what other situations besides restaurants do people leave tips? • Should tipping be abolished altogether?
VOCABULARY Tip can be a verb or a noun. • Don't forget to tip the waiter. Shall we leave a tip?
I know it's got nothing to do with learning English (though it does have English subtitles!), but I thought I would post the EM Normandie's latest promotional video all the same, as I think it's pretty impressive. I wasn't responsible for translating the subtitles, by the way, so don't complain to me!
If you're a teacher, you probably use classroom quizzes with your students from time to time. Of course, you can always create a quiz using PowerPoint, but there are several online solutions available. The best one I've come across is FlipQuiz, which I've mentioned before on this blog. I find that my students really like the competitive element and it's a good way to review vocabulary or promote discussion. You can see some of the quizzes I've created here. Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to get in touch with FlipQuiz creator Marcus Burnette to find out more about the site, and he kindly agreed to answer my questions. And that's not all! Go ahead and check out FlipQuiz at FlipQuiz.me and they’ll take 20% off ANY FlipQuiz PRO plan upgrade when you use the code "englishblog" at checkout!
Marcus Burnette, founder of FlipQuiz
EB: Can you tell us a bit about your background?
MB: Well, my name is Marcus Burnette and I am the Founder of FlipQuiz™. I am also the Sr. Front-End Developer for an advertising agency in Orlando, Florida. I’ve been designing and developing websites for small-to-medium-sized companies for the last 10+ years and have a genuine passion for helping people and creating stellar user experiences online. I have a beautiful wife (who I’ll talk more about in a minute) and two wonderful daughters for whom I do all this work.
EB: What is FlipQuiz?
MB: FlipQuiz is a website created for educators to create their own custom test or assessment quizzes that we call quiz boards. You can create better, easier, and prettier Jeopardy-type boards instead of having to use markers/paper or complicated PowerPoint templates. And they’re saved in an account for easy access from anywhere, any time.
EB: How did FlipQuiz originate?
MB: Back to that beautiful wife of mine. Mrs. Burnette (as the students call her) is a middle school Language Arts teacher. Many, many years ago, she asked me to make something that resembled a Jeopardy board that she could project onto her white board in the classroom. As someone who was new to web design, I was delighted to give it a try and I whipped something up pretty quickly that had numbers in columns that she could click on to flip them over. Unfortunately, she ultimately still had to read the questions aloud from a sheet of paper in-hand and keep score on the board.
Fast forward a few years and I had learned to build more sophisticated web applications. With the rise in popularity of content management systems and some schooling under my belt, I set about creating something better for her - something she could manage and update on her own for her classes.
Once I had the foundation laid and she had a way to log in and create these boards, it felt only natural to open it up to everyone who wanted a fun way to create a quiz review, assessment, or trivia game!
It’s always been important to us to keep the site ad-free, so to cover hosting costs and put a few bucks in my family’s pocket to make it worth the time spent away from my wife and daughters, we launched FlipQuiz PRO about three months after our initial launch.
EB: What's the difference between the free version and the 'PRO' version?
MB: The difference is in the feature-set. While the FREE version of the site has plenty of features to make it a great tool on its own, we had some ideas for bonus features that would take time to develop and add costs to our hosting (like for image uploads).
Currently, FlipQuiz PRO offers in-game scorekeeping, private boards, image uploads, student flashcards, priority Support Requests, and more. For more information, readers can check out this page: http://flipquiz.me/pro
We’re always working on additional ways to make FlipQuiz better, both through new FREE and PRO features. There are some neat things on the roadmap for this year, but we’re always open to new ideas and feedback!
EB: How big is the FlipQuiz community now?
MB: Well, we’re still young as far as EdTech companies go, but we’re growing steadily. Within the FlipQuiz website, we have members from 190+ countries and see about 300,000+ pageviews per month. We’ve also seen some nice growth on Twitter (@flipquizme), which is probably our most active social network, though you can also find us on Facebook (facebook.com/flipquizme) and Instagram (@flipquiz)!
EB: What sort of reaction have you had from users?
MB: The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive - and we’re super grateful for the passion our members have, not only for the site but for EdTech in general! We recently sent out a survey for #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay and the comments, feedback, feature requests, and overall ratings blew us away. There are so many people out there that love the site and are excited to see what’s next.. not to mention willing to fill out an online survey for us!
MB: We’ve got some great things planned for both our FREE and PRO members, but our main focus as we wind down this school year is shoring up the site’s performance and mobile-friendliness. We’ve gotten lots of requests for sound effects and board customization and we’ve been working behind the scenes to make some of that a reality, but we want to make sure we can scale the site well and serve everyone with a fast, reliable experience. Again, if any of your readers have any suggestions for the site, we’re all ears! We have a lot of ideas as well, but we love hearing from you.
EB: Thanks Marcus. We look forward to seeing what you come up with.
This ad for Loctite glue may be only 20 seconds long but it has a lot of possibilities for use in the classroom.
TRANSCRIPT PRESENTER: And now, next year's sales forecast. TECHNICIAN: Sorry guys, I need a minute. VOICEOVER: When you have a minute, tackle even big repairs with Loctite's fastest, strongest, all-purpose glue ever. New 60 Seconds all-purpose glue from Loctite.
LESSON IDEAS 1. Show students the ad and get them to transcribe what is said. The ad is short enough to play several times. 2. Pause the ad after six seconds and get the students to guess what the product is. 3. Show the whole ad and see how many of the broken objects they can remember (there's a rocking horse, a guitar, a radio-cassette player, a megaphone, a boot, and the presenter has what looks like a surfboard.)
LANGUAGE The ad plays on the name of the glue, 60 Seconds, and the expressions 'to need a minute' and 'to have a minute', which mean to need/have some time to do something (not literally 60 seconds!) • When you have a minute, can you repair the leaking cistern?
NOTE There are two other ads in this series (see here and here) but I thought this was the best one.