Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Office ergonomics

Whether you use the computer for working or studying, there are some rules to bear in mind while sitting in front of it. Watch the following video and share your conclusions using the comments option.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Canada vs. USA

I am sure that most of you know something about USA culture, but what about Canada? Watch the following video and read the comments about it on the web. Then, share your opinion with us, commenting on some of the differences between USA and Canada that you have learnt.

Here is some information about Canadian accent.

Learning strategies: vocabulary

Many of you  have probably used cards to learn a foreign language, for instance writing the English word on one side and its translation on the other. The cards below will help you to revise your regular and irregular verbs, but there are many other dealing with adjectives, expressing emotions, and many other searcheable here. Have a look at the games, dictations, spellers, etc. too.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Writing a summary

Writing a good summary is not an easy task to do. You will need to express in few words as much content as you can. Here are some links -most of them thought for English speakers- to help you with this task:

After that, visit TIME Ideas section, choose an article of your interest and try to summarize it using the comments option of this blog.

British vs American English

These links below complete the information that you have in your textbooks about British and American English. As you may know, it is not just a question of vocabulary, but also pronunciation, intonation, grammar and even humour, why not?






Webster (to know more
OED (to know more:

After that, it may be easier for you to understand the following video about American vs. British Slang, an interview from a very well-known TV show:

Did you like it? Use the comments option to express your opinion. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Practice preapositions of place with "Las Meninas" by Velazquez

Learning prepositions with "Las meninas"

Learning prepositions with "Las meninas"

Gap-fill exercise

Fill in all the gaps, then press "Check" to check your answers. Use the "Hint" button to get a free letter if an answer is giving you trouble. You can also click on the "[?]" button to get a clue. Note that you will lose points if you ask for hints or clues! (Don't worry if you don't know some of the prepositions to be suited)

This is a composition of enormous representational impact. The Infanta Margarita stands proudly. Although she is the smallest, she is clearly the central figure; one of the maids is kneeling her, and the other leaning towards her, so that the standing Infanta, with her broad hooped skirt, becomes the fulcrum of the movement. The dwarf, Maribarbola, is about the same size as the Infanta; comparison Margarita seems very delicate.
the left the painting, dark and calm, the painter can be seen standing a vast canvas - it is one of the best self-portraits of Velázquez.

the head of the Infanta, the ruling couple is reflected the mirror, possibly sitting for the painting Velázquez is creating in Las Meninas. A courtier and chamberlain to the queen, José Nieto de Velázquez, stands the doorway the back of the room.[3]

The point of view of the picture is least approximately that of the royal couple. The spatial structure and positioning of the figures is such that the group of maids the Infanta appears to be standing "our" side, opposite Philip and his wife. Not only is the "performance" for their benefit, but the attention of the painter is also concentrated on them, for he appears to be working their portrait. Although they can only be seen the mirror reflection, the distant images of the king and queen occupy a central position, both in terms of composition and content.

As spectators, our position relation to the painting is uncertain. Are we excluded from the scene, with the ruling couple in our place? In this interpretation, the painting is completely hermetic, a hermeticism further intensified the fact that the painting in front of Velázquez is completely hidden from our view. Or are we standing the royal couple, to the real king's (not the reflected one's) right? This would explain the spectator's not appearing in the mirror at the back, but also raises the possibility that the spectator is intimate, at least spatially, with royalty. In 17th century Spain, this would have been a provocative suggestion. The fact that three of the figures - Velázquez, the Infanta and the dwarf - appear to be looking directly the spectator rather than to our left where, presumably, the royal couple is standing, lends weight this interpretation.

In recent years attempts have been made to view the composition in allegorical terms, based the portraits and mythological pictures occupying the background wall. Yet it seems most valid to accept face value, in Michel Foucault's words, "the working painter all his objective realism".

The painting has three focal points: the luminous Infanta Margarita, the self-portrait by Velázquez, and the half-length reflected images of King Philip IV and Queen Mariana. them may be discerned contrasts between the child's charm and her regal bearing, the disparity between the artifice of painting and the nature of reality, and the distance between the ethereal images of a king and queen and their dispirited court.[4]

X-rays have shown that Velázquez made minor alterations in the figures as he worked; first his head inclined to his right, rather than his left.[5] The painting which the artist is working is not shown, and has thus invited speculation that he represented himself painting, variously, the Infanta Margarita, Las Meninas itself, or a portrait the King and Queen. None of these theories is conclusive.[6]

(Text taken from Wikipedia)