Archive | November 2014

27/11/14 How Christmas Adverts Play With Our Emotions

Click on the image to download this week’s Weekly English Practice from English Coaching Projects.Cover WEP271114

Rather than relying on TV to get their message across, the ads are also shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media.

Read and check you understand this vocabulary before you read and listen to the text:

mistletoe (n): a European plant, Viscum album, having yellowish flowers and white berries, growing parasitically on various trees, used in Christmas decorations

carol (n): a Christmas song or hymn

rely (v): to depend confidently; put trust in (usually followed by on or upon)

brand (n): kind, grade, or make, as indicated by a stamp, trademark, or the like

trench (n): fortification. a long, narrow excavation in the ground, the earth from which is thrown up in front to serve as a shelter from enemy fire or attack

tagline (n): a phrase or catchword that becomes identified or associated with a person, group, product, etc., through repetition

tearjerker (n): A book, film, play, etc. that has a sad story intended to make people cry or be sad

down on his luck (idiom): not lucky lately, not happy or positive with no money and no job

Listen to the audio and read the text (refresh the page if it’s not visible).

Christmas TV adverts are now playing with consumers’ emotions rather than just telling them to buy their products. Commercials by retailers such as Sainsbury’s, a large supermarket chain in the UK and The Christmas Lottery in Spain, know as El Gordo (The Fat One in English) have become as much a festive tradition as turkeys, mistletoe and carols.

They sometimes cost millions of Euros to put together but rather than relying on television to get their message across, the ads are also shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media.

One of the most well-known commercials this Christmas in Britain has been John Lewis’ seasonal offering featuring a little boy called Sam and his friend Monty the Penguin. The video has had more than 750,000 shares on social media and the campaign also included a wealth of merchandise including the “Monty” toy which sold out on the firm’s website.

Advertising director Christopher Nicholson told Sky News: “Instead of it just being ‘buy this – it’s great’, now we’re playing with emotions and tying in that emotion with the brand”.

Sainsbury’s advert is set in the World War One trenches and focuses on the famous Christmas truce of 1914. It features British soldier Jim and German Otto who meet in No Man’s Land. They swap stories and play football before going back to their trenches and Otto discovers Jim put a chocolate bar into his jacket as a gift.

The ad, which has the tagline “Christmas is for sharing”, has been viewed more than 10 million times on Youtube and shared almost 400,000 times.

El Gordo, an annual institution in Spain, with the total prize fund on offer a massive €2.2bn, The Fat One is billed as the world’s biggest lottery prize and this years add is undoubtedly a real tearjerker.

Filmed in Madrid, the advert tells the story of a down-on-his-luck man who forgets to buy his usual lottery ticket from his local bar, only to have that number win the top prize that year – and what happens when he goes down for a cup of coffee, practically in tears. It’s part of a series of interconnected stories all under the slogan “The best prize is sharing it”.

Something to chat about

  • Can you explain what happens next when the man goes to the bar for a cup of coffee?
  • What do you think of the El Gordo advert this year? Are you more likely to buy a lottery ticket this year as a result?
  • What company in your opinion always produce good adverts? Please give an example describing the ad.
  • Do you like the slogan on the John Lewis ad “give someone the Christmas they’ve been dreaming of”? Does it inspire you to go shopping?
  • Have you bought a product recently due to a good advertising campaign?
  • When do you start your Christmas shopping? Do you enjoy shopping for presents or is it a stressful exercise?

Watch the videos here:

Spanish Christmas Lottery ad 2014

John Lewis Christmas ad

Sainsbury’s Christmas ad & The story behind the Sainsbury’s ad

20/11/14 Living in a multilingual family

Click on the image to download this week’s Weekly English Practice from English Coaching Projects.Cover WEP201114

Coach John’s kids speak four languages. How did that happen?

Read and check you understand this vocabulary before you read and listen to the text:

to attend: to be present at

nevertheless: in spite of that, however, yet

to argue: to disagree

glad: feeling of joy or pleasure

twang: sounds which identify accents and dialects

posh: upper class and exclusive

to keep it real: to maintain normality and reality

Listen to the audio and read the text (refresh the page if it’s not visible).

How many languages do you speak in your family?

Four. When we are all together we speak Spanish. Our two daughters attend Ikastolas. I speak English to the kids and my partner communicates to the the oldest one in Serbo-Croat.

How well do your children speak the various languages?

Well, I would say that they are both native Spanish speakers which seems unusual as both their parents are not but Spanish is everywhere around us and they have learned the language from their friends and in the street. They both speak Basque like everyone who attends an Ikastola. They also speak English fluently and don’t have much of a Spanish accent. The older one speaks Serbo-Croat ‘like a foreigner’ according to her mother but nevertheless they speak it everyday together especially when they are arguing!

Did you have to take any special measures to ensure your children learned all the languages?

When Julene, our first daughter, was born 17 years ago I made a conscious effort to make sure she learned four languages. It would have been easy not to send her to an Ikastola but I thought it was important she learned the language spoken here. I wasn’t really worried about Spanish as I thought if I can learn Spanish my kids aren’t going to have any problems! I had to convince my partner that it was important to pass on Serbo-Croat to our daughter and I’m glad I did.

With English I used videos, songs and story telling when she was young. As she got older she felt great that she was way ahead of her classmates in English.

The younger one who is nearly seven understands Serbo-Croat but doesn’t speak it yet which is down to laziness on our part unfortunately. Interestingly her English accent is different to her sister’s which has a bit of a northern English twang like mine whereas the younger one has a posher accent and she even comes out with some American English phrases at times. This is because of her access to the internet and YouTube videos.

What advice would you give to parents here who want their children to learn different languages?

Definitely take advantage of the Ikastolas. Bilingual education gives many cultural and academic advantages to children. If you live in an area which has a trilingual school with English even better! Children have unlimited potential. The more languages the better in my opinion.

I’m not convinced that sending very young children to academies is a great idea. Kids want to play and have fun. They could be turned off English if they feel they are being forced to learn English especially if the methodology is grammar based. As a parent and learner of English you could get similar results reading to your kids in English, playing games and watching kid’s TV with them. Music and singing songs is vitally important as well.

At the end of the day you have to keep it real. Children and adults learn languages better and faster in real life communicative situations. Perhaps you could make friends with native speakers of English who have kids……

“Something to chat about”

  • What advantages does multilingual education have over monolingual education?
  • Why do children seem to learn languages quicker and easier than adults?
  • Do adults and children learn languages differently? How?
  • Would you consider bringing up your children in a multilingual environment?


13/11/14 ‘Band Aid 30’ to record “Do They Know It’s Xmas” again!

Click on the image to download this week’s Weekly English Practice from English Coaching Projects.Cover WEP131114

Another version of this song is to be made. Do you want to hear it?

Read and check you understand this vocabulary before you read and listen to the text:

take part in: to participate in an activity

be released: to make s.t. available to buy

feature: to have or show (in this context)

mastermind (v): to make a complex plan

advocate (v): to recommend or support

in due course: at the appropriate time

landscape: countryside

filthy: very unpleasant (in this context)

drought-stricken: affected by low rainfall

Listen to the audio and read the text (refresh the page if it’s not visible).

One Direction, Ed Sheeran and Elbow are among the acts who will take part in a fourth version of the Band Aid charity single, Do They Know It’s Christmas.

Announcing the project, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure said the song’s lyrics would be changed to reflect the Ebola crisis.The original was released in 1984. It sold 3.7 million copies and raised £8m for famine relief in Ethiopia.

The new version will be recorded this Saturday and should be available for download on Monday morning. A physical version of the song will be released three weeks later and will feature cover artwork designed by artist Tracey Emin.

The record is being produced by Paul Epworth, who has masterminded hits by the likes of Adele and One Direction. The download will cost 99p, while the CD single will retail for £4. The song will not be made available on Spotify and other music streaming services until January.

Geldof and Ure, who masterminded the first version, said the project was nothing to do with nostalgia. “We should gather the pop crowd together to do our thing,” said Geldof at a press conference on Monday. He added that decisions about which artist will sing which lines are not going to be taken until Saturday’s recording session in London, while both musicians advocated purchasing the physical format.

So far, confirmed artists include U2’s Bono, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Emeli Sande, Underworld, Sinead O’Connor, Paloma Faith, Foals and Bastille, who have given up two arena dates to record their contribution.

Geldof and Ure said that other musicians would be added in due course.The original track featured the voices of George Michael, Bono, Duran Duran and Bananarama, among others.

Geldof said that changes to the lyrics include “burning suns”, due to the fertile landscape of West Africa compared to drought-stricken Ethiopia of 1984. The money raised will go towards the fight against Ebola in numerous West African countries, which Geldof called a “filthy little virus” which renders its victims “untouchable”.

Something to chat about

  • Is the original version of a song always the best?
  • If not, what examples can you give to prove your opinion?
  • Do you think that making a record is a good way of raising money for charity?
  • Can you suggest any other ways that are better?
  • Did you hear about “The Ice Bucket Challenge”? What did you think about it?


This story was adapted from:

06/11/14 9 year old from Teruel is world’s best Young Wildlife Photographer

Click on the image to download this week’s Weekly English Practice from English Coaching Projects.

Cover WEP 061114

He was awarded the prize by the Duchess of Cambridge at the Natural History Museum

Read and check you understand this vocabulary before you read and listen to the text:

to look down on: to think of someone as inferior

to be bound to: something that is certain to happen

to take off: to leave or depart (especially air travel)

awesome: incredible, fantastic, wonderful

under his belt: already completed

to come across: to find or meet by chance or accidentally

to upgrade: to improve or move to a higher standard

Listen to the audio and read the text (refresh the page if it’s not visible)

We often look down on kids and doubt their abilities, we just don’t give them a chance sometimes. In reality they are capable of such extraordinary things. Take the 9-year-old photographer Carlos Perez Naval. At such a young age you might assume this kid doesn’t really know how to take good photos, but think again! Carlos Perez Naval’s beautiful photos are bound to impress you.

For the last 50 years (since 1964), the Natural History Museum in London has been conducting an annual Wildlife Photographer Of The Year contest. This year’s award for ‘Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ went to 9-year old Carlos from Teruel. And he wasn’t just competing against other youngsters his same age. This category’s contestants are aged all the way up to 17 years old. Carlos beat them all to take the general category prize after winning the under 11 years old sub-category.

Carlos’s parents are nonstop world travellers that enjoy taking off around the globe whenever they get the chance. This means Carlos is one lucky boy with a lot of awesome destinations under his belt. But much as he loves travelling to all these places, his real passion is photographing them.

The photo that earned Carlos his first place status is pictured above and is titled “Stinger In The Sun.” This yellow scorpion is common to the rocky area near Carlos’s home, in northeast Spain. He was out looking for reptiles to photograph when he came across this scorpion out in the open, with his tail arched up in the air. He thought this would make a great picture especially as, due to the time of day, the sun was glowing beautifully. Carlos made the decision to try the technique of double exposure for the very first time.

He ended up taking a number of shots as well as being very patient but in the end he not only got a great photo, but a winning photo!

Carlos has been taking photos all around the world since he was only 4-years old. He started off using a little compact camera to capture his images, but when his parents noticed his talent, they soon upgraded him to a professional camera. But the young snapper doesn’t have to be on some fancy vacation to take on the role of photographer; he enjoys photographing anything and everything.

Perhaps the most exciting part for Carlos was dining under the famous skeleton of the Natural History Museum’s Diplodocus, as well as meeting the presenters of the award. BBC legend Sir David Attenborough announced him as the winner and The Duchess of Cambridge, aka Kate Middleton, presented Carlos with his award.

Carlos wasn’t the only winner from Spain on the night, Marc Albiac won the 11-14 year old sub-category.

Something to chat about

  • In your opinion, should parents take very young children with them when travelling around the world?
  • Would you give your children expensive camera equipment? Or let them use yours?
  • Have you ever visited the Natural History Museum in London?
  • Do you like photography? If so, what kind?


Adapted from:



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