Archive | December 2014

WEP 271114

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

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How Christmas Adverts Play With Our Emotions

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

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


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 for 2014? 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


iLook, iThink, iSpeak – Express yourself better!

iLiTiS WEP271114


Christmas lights, sculptures and statues: 

How does your local council spend your money?

  • Look at the photos and think about how public money has been spent in each case.
  • Imagine you represent the City Council. Explain the reasons public money was spent in each case.
  • Imagine you are a citizen of this city. Do you agree with how the council has spent your money?


WEP 201114

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

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Living in a multilingual family

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

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


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?


iLook, iThink, iSpeak – Express yourself better!

iLiTiS WEP201114


Speaking In Tongues…



  • “With languages, you are at home anywhere.” Edward De Waal
  • “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” Nelson Mandela
  • “To have another language is to possess a second soul.” Charlemagne
  • “Get a dictionary and start at A.” Lenin (When asked by a young socialist the best way to learn a language)
  • “Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.”  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • “To God I speak Spanish, to women Italian, to men French, and to my horse – German.”  Emperor Charles V  
  • “Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.” Rita Mae Brown
  • “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.”  Frank Smith

“UG [universal grammar] may be regarded as a characterization of the genetically determined language faculty. One may think of this faculty as a ‘language acquisition device,’ an innate component of the human mind that yields a particular language through interaction with present experience, a device that converts experience into a system of knowledge attained: knowledge of one or another language.” Noam Chomsky


WEP 131114

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

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Weekly English Practice

Your weekly English practice from English Coaching Projects