This weekend saw the start of the 103rd edition of the Tour de France, the world's greatest bike race. To mark the occasion, here's a special Tour de France crossword that will test your knowledge of cycling vocabulary.
It's just one week until the UK's EU referendum, which, according to who you believe, will either result in the end of civilization as we know it, or a glorious new future for an independent Britain, finally freed from the overbearing grip of faceless EU bureaucrats in Brussels. Who's right? Only time will tell ...
You've probably heard the term 'Brexit', but do you know what's behind it? You can test your knowledge by doing today's crossword.
It's been a mixed start to the Euro 2016 football tournament for the British teams: Wales won, England drew, and Northern Ireland lost. Of course, there's a lot of vocabulary specific to football and you'll find some of it in today's crossword, which is at intermediate level.
Today's crossword is a General English one at advanced level, so it should be more of a challenge. However, if you're doing the online version, you can get plenty of help by using the Reveal (Word) and Reveal Letter buttons on the left of the grid. Don't give up too easily though! Click here to view the crossword. Have a puzzling good weekend!
Today sees the start of the Euro 2016 football tournament in France, which is taking place under the shadow of the ongoing threat of terrorism. In today's Daily Mail cartoon Mac highlights the plight of 'soccer widows' everywhere.
THE CARTOON An England soccer fan is sitting in his armchair in front of the TV ready for the start of Euro 2016. He's got a good supply of crisps and lager, and hopes that the tournament 'isn't going to be spoilt by any violence' (the newspaper headline refers to a 'terrorist threat warning'). However, the immediate threat comes from his long-suffering wife, who is about to hit him over the head with a saucepan!
VOCABULARY In Britain we use the words football or soccer for 'the beautiful game', but in the US, they just use soccer. Football in the US is American football, another game entirely. Footy is an informal British term for football.
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!
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!
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.
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.
LESSON IDEA 1. Use the video to focus on vocabulary connected with rail travel. My Rail Travel crosswordfeatures a lot of these words. 2. Get your students to talk about their own favourite rail journeys and rail travel experiences. You can find a questionnaire here.
'Travel', 'Trip' and 'Journey' are three words my students often muddle up, which is not surprising since many languages have just one word to cover the concepts ('voyage' in French, for example). So why do we have to have three in English? Here's a great new lesson from Simple English Videos that explains how we use these words including the key meaning distinctions and grammar differences, along with lots of examples. You can also find the video on the Simple English Videos website, where there's a clickable transcript.
Last week I posted a review of VOA's great new video course for beginners: Let's Learn English. There are plenty of other excellent resources on the VOA Learning English website for learners at all levels, but one particularly useful one is VOA's Word Book, a free PDF which lists and defines the 1,500 words used in their Special English programs. In addition to the main list, there is also a 'Special Words and Information' sections, which includes lists of 'Business Terms', 'Organs of the Body', and 'Presidents of the United States', among others.