Archive | March 2016

WEP 250216 – Watching films in Spain: to dub or not to dub?

Click on the image to download the pdf


Around 70% of films shown in Spanish cinemas are made in Hollywood. 100% of them are dubbed into Spanish. What are the consequences of this policy? (asks ECP coach John)

Vocabulary. Read and check you understand this before you read and listen to the article:

dub (v): to put different voices to actors in films – usually a different language

brownie (n): an American biscuit

notorious (adj): something that is well known for typically negative reasons

have a go at someone (v): to criticise someone strongly

censorship (n): the practice of censoring books, movies, letters, etc

tantamount (adj): equal to something in value, meaning, effect


Once in one of my English classes we were talking about films and favourite actors and a student commented about what a great actress Julia Roberts was.

I laughed and mentioned the scene in Notting Hill in which Roberts, playing an actress who falls in love with an ‘ordinary English guy’ tries to win the last brownie at a dinner party by telling a sad story about herself. She says the line: “One day they will discover I can’t really act.”

It is as if the script writer was having a go an Robert’s notoriously wooden acting style and limited range.

However, the student was adamant that Roberts was a great actor until I asked: “How do you know? You’ve never seen or heard her act!”

For over fifty years since the time of the Franco dictatorship, Spanish cinema audiences have merely listened to interpretations of Hollywood actors’ performances.

Dubbing actors such as Constantino Romero (who dubbed Clint Eastwood, Darth Vader and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator) and Óscar Muñoz have achieved great fame.

Spain became a dubbing country due to economic, political, cultural and ideological factors. Censorship offices – the Junta Superior de Censura – were established in Seville and Salamanca in 1937, and later in 1941 obligatory dubbing made the showing of original versions of foreign films illegal unless they were first dubbed in Spanish studios.

Franco’s regime claimed they wanted to ‘protect Spanish’ but in reality it was a form of censorship in that they wanted to prevent the importation of ‘foreign’ ideas through movies.

However, the prohibition had the opposite effect and thousands of Hollywood films were imported, acting as an impulse to the dubbing industry in Spain, which today is one of the biggest in the world.

Dubbing as censorship had some amusing and ironic side effects. In the John Ford classic  Mogambo the change of a lovers’ relationship between an unmarried man and a married woman to a relationship between brother and sister, meant the censors appeared to prefer incest to adultery!

Nowadays, the dubbing industry is still strong but more people are watching VO. Perhaps new technologies like e-mail, and mobile phone texting are getting people used to reading short messages. Also, DVD and TDT makes it possible to see films in both dubbed and subtitled versions.

I would never watch an Almodóvar dubbed into English which in my opinion would be tantamount to a cultural crime! Would the comedy ‘Ocho Apellidos Vascos’ be as funny in English?

So why oh why do we watch all those dubbed Hollywood films and series?

A Spanish Affair 

When Spanish film-makers exhibit their films in international festivals they need to create subtitles in English so that the audience understands. You can download these typically excellent subtitles and use them to study English vocabulary and expressions. 

Here is one ECP coach Rob has prepared with ‘A Spanish Affair’ (8 Apellidos Vascos)

“Let’s chat about that!”

  • Would you be prepared to pay to watch subtitled films in the cinema?
  • Do you regularly watch series and films at home in VO?
  • Do you feel you are ‘missing something’ by watching dubbed films?
  • What is the future for dubbing?

Write your answers and send them by email to your ECP coach. Why not record your voice too? Listen to yourself speak and identify what you have to improve on 🙂



WEP 180216 – Spanish civil servant skips work for years

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WEP180216 Cover

Joaquín García failed to show up for his job at the water board for at least six years

Vocabulary. Read and check you understand this before you read and listen to the article:

skip work (informal): to fail to attend; to miss

to be posted: to send (someone) to a place to take up an appointment

waste: unwanted or unusable material(s), substances or by-products

on the payroll: a list of a company’s employees and the amount of money they are to be paid

to fine s.b. (for s.t): punish (someone) for an illegal or illicit act by making them pay a sum of money

to turn up: to attend

to be sidelined: to be removed from the centre of activity or attention; to be placed in a less influential position

to make the most of s.t.: to use s.t. to your best advantage


Only when Joaquín García, a Spanish civil servant, was due to collect an award for two decades of loyal and dedicated service did anyone realise that he had not, in fact, shown up to work for at least six years – and possibly as many as 14.

García, a 69-year-old engineer, began working for the local authority in the south-western city of Cádiz in 1990, according to el Mundo, and in 1996 was posted to the municipal water board, Agua de Cadiz, where his job was to supervise a waste water treatment plant.

In 2010, when García – who has now retired – was due to collect his long-service medal, the man who had hired him, deputy mayor Jorge Blas Fernández, wondered where he was: “He was still on the payroll,” he told the paper. “I thought, where is this man? Is he still there? Has he retired? Has he died?”

After the former manager of the water board, who had the office opposite Garcia’s, told Fernández he had not seen his employee for several years, the deputy mayor called the engineer in. “I asked him: what are you doing?” Fernández said. “What did you do yesterday? And the previous month? He could not answer.”

A court this week fined Garcia €27,000 (£21,000), the equivalent after tax of one year of his annual salary, having earlier found that the engineer did not appear to have occupied his office for “at least six years” and had done “absolutely no work” between 2007 and 2010, the year before he retired.

to skive (a skiver): to avoid work or a duty by staying away or leaving early.

“She used to skive (off) lessons.” 

“You are such a skiver! You’re always taking cigarette breaks!”

García told the court that he had turned up to the office, although he admitted he may not have kept regular business hours. He said he was the victim of workplace bullying because of his family’s socialist politics and had been deliberately sidelined at the water board.

The tribunal concluded that the water board had believed García was the responsibility of the city council for most of the period of his employment, while the city council thought he was working for the water board.

The engineer made the most of the confusion, becoming an avid reader of philosophy and an expert on the works of Spinoza, the Dutch philosopher credited with laying the foundations of the Enlightenment.

“Let’s chat about that!”

  • What is your opinion of Joaquin Garcia?
    Is he clever/lazy/crafty? All three?
  • What is your opinion of his bosses and colleagues? And the companies involved?
  • What do you think of the punishment he was given? Was it fair/lenient/harsh?
  • If you had the possibility of doing the same as Joaquin, would you? Why (not)?
  • What would you do if you didn’t have to work?

Write your answers and send them by email to your ECP coach. Why not record your voice too? Listen to yourself speak and identify what you have to improve on 🙂


Read the original article from the Guardian here

WEP 110216 – How a bad taste in music really CAN ruin a relationship

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WEP110216 Cover

Why do some relationships fail? Scientists believe that it could be our taste in music.

Vocabulary. Read and check you understand this before you read and listen to the article:

click (informal): if two people click, they realize immediately that they like each other and understand each other

belong (v): to feel happy and comfortable in a particular place or with a particular group of people

pick (v):to choose someone or something from a group

genre (n):a particular style used in cinema, writing, or art, which can be recognized by certain features

outcast (n):someone who other people will not accept as a member of society or of a particular group

awareness (n): knowledge or understanding of a subject, issue, or situation

a date (n): a social or romantic appointment or engagement. Also the person you go on the date with.

enhanced (adj): made better, especially by artificial methods

detrimental (adj): harmful or damaging

appeal (n): a quality that something has that makes people like it or want it


According to a new study music actually predicts sexual attraction. The most recent issue of Psychology of Music takes a close look at the connection between identity, music and what makes people ‘click‘.

This led the LA Weekly blog to explore what it is about why we like, what we like, and perhaps more importantly, how this can make or break a relationship. During adolescence, music becomes a symbol of your identity to help you belong.

Research duo North and Hargraves say that music functions as a ‘badge’ which people use to not only judge others but at the same time, to express their own ideas. For example the child who wants to appear rebellious picks music that seems like it’s made by people who rebel.

This symbol of identity also helps you strike a balance between belonging but also being original. You do this by liking a genre that your friends like, but to try and stand out while not becoming a total outcast, you find a performer within that genre which no-one else knows about. Eventually however, you get into music that reflects your values.

Researchers believe that rock is associated with social awareness and rebelliousness while pop is connected to values about gender roles and conformity. Scholars Rentfrow and Gosling discovered that people who like blues, jazz, classical, and folk are liberal and more open to experiences.

The blog also points to a study which found that a woman’s devotion to country music diminishes her attractiveness to a potential male mate and a man’s interest in country music make him less attractive to women. But devotion to classical music and heavy metal rock has a different effect depending on if you’re a man or a woman.

The study in the Communication Research journal says: A date‘s devotion to country music was found to diminish attraction in respondents of both genders. In contrast, devotion to classical music and to heavy metal rock proved to be gender specific. Fascination with heavy metal rock greatly enhanced the appeal of men, but it proved detrimental to that of women. Adoration of classical music produced the reverse consequences. It tended to facilitate the appeal of women, but to diminish that of men.“

It also found that men were more strongly attracted to women with whom they shared musical tastes. But for women, this had only a ‘negligible effect’ on their attraction to men.

“Let’s chat about that!”

  • According to the article, what does it mean to like Rock music?
  • What music tends to make men feel less attracted to women? And vice versa?
  • Do you agree that music could have such an impact on a relationship?
  • What type of music are you into. What is it you like about this music?
  • Does bad taste in music exist?

Write your answers and send them by email to your ECP coach. Why not record your voice too? Listen to yourself speak and identify what you have to improve on 🙂


Read the original article from the Daily Mail here

WEP 040216 – Why go vegan?

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WEP040216 Cover

The number of reasons some people choose to give up animal products may surprise you…

Vocabulary. Read and check you understand this before you read and listen to the article:

to remain: to continue to be

to be aware of: to know (about)

burden: pressure, weight, difficulty

crops: plants grown and farmed

grain: cereal(s)

to feed: to give food to animals

dairy: products derived from cows’ milk

to take a stand: to oppose sth

calves: baby cows

slaughtered : killed

no matter: regardless of, without taking into account

For the animals

For many, preventing the exploitation of animals remains the key factor in their decision to go and stay vegan. Having emotional attachments with animals may form part of that reason, while many believe that all sentient creatures have a right to life and freedom.

For your health

More and more people are turning to a vegan diet for the increased energy, younger-looking skin and eternal youth it promises. Well-planned plant-based diets are rich in protein, iron, calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals. The plant-based sources of these nutrients tend to be low in saturated fat, high in fibre and packed with antioxidants, helping prevent some of the modern world’s biggest health issues like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

For the environment

From recycling our household rubbish to cycling to work, were all aware of ways to live a greener life. One of the most effective things an individual can do to lower their carbon footprint is to avoid all animal products, since the production of meat and other animal products places a heavy burden on the environment – from crops and water required to feed the animals, to the transport and other processes involved from farm to fork. The vast amount of grain required for meat production is a significant contributor to deforestation, habitat loss and species extinction, and contributes to human malnutrition by driving impoverished populations to grow crops to feed animals, rather than food for themselves.

For people

A plant-based diet requires only one third of the land needed to support a meat and dairy diet. With rising global food and water insecurity due to a myriad of environmental and socio-economic problems, avoiding animal products is one of the simplest ways to adopt a more sustainable way of living and take a stand against inefficient food systems which disproportionately affect the poorest people all over the world.

Because going vegetarian isn’t enough

The production of dairy products necessitates the death of countless male calves that are of no use to the dairy farmer, as well as the premature death of cows slaughtered when their milk production decreases. Similarly, in the egg industry, even ‘ethical’ or ‘free range’ eggs involve the killing of the ‘unnecessary’ male chicks when just a day old.

It’s tempting to want to believe that the meat we eat is ‘ethical’, that the animals we eat have lived full, happy lives and that they have experienced no pain or fear at the slaughterhouse. Yet the sad truth is that all living creatures (including humans) fear death, no matter how they are treated when alive.

“Let’s chat about that!”

  • Do you find these reasons convincing?Which and why (not)?
  • Do you think we can have a balanced diet without animal products?
  • Have you got any vegan or vegetarian friends? What are their reasons?
  • Would you consider reducing the amount of animal products you consume?
  • Do you think we’ll all be vegetarian or vegan in the future?

Write your answers and send them by email to your ECP coach. Why not record your voice too? Listen to yourself speak and identify what you have to improve on 🙂


Adapted from

Inglés para las masas

Comentarios, curiosidades y noticias relacionadas con el mundo del Inglés

Simple English ~ Nicola Prentis

Thoughts on ELT, English and whatever else comes into my head

Zapa iBooks

Creating and publishing enhanced ebooks

Hopeful Tefl

The journey of a hopeful TEFL-er

Weekly English Practice

Your weekly English practice from English Coaching Projects