YESNYOU – Happy New Year 2016!

Welcome everyone!

Balloons and star shaped confetti
          Balloons: poppable joy bubbles

A new year is a time of fresh starts, renewed promises and future plans! What are you going to do this year? What changes will you make? How will your life be different?!

Or maybe you’re perfectly happy just the way you are, which is also fine.

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Did you buy a Christmas lottery ticket?

I buy a lottery ticket every year, but I never win! I don’t even win my money back. The Spanish Christmas lottery is the biggest lottery in the world with a total prize pot of over €2.5 billion. One of the prizes, ‘el gordo’ (or ‘the fat one’ in English), was worth €400 million in 2015! Normally the most expensive tickets in the Spanish lottery are bought by groups of people, or syndicates, so the prize money is often shared. More recently three individual winners in the US shared the largest single prize in history, in the national Powerball lottery.

They shared $1.58 billion (€1.45 billion)! That’s $1,580,000,000. Silly money.

So what can you buy with that kind of money?

The world’s most expensive house, that’s what! Antilia in Mumbai = $1bn.

Antilia

Or you could purchase your favourite sports team…

Manchester city will cost you $1.39bn.

Manchester city stadium

Or maybe you’d prefer the Ferrari F1 team for a cool $1.35bn?

Ferrari

 

 

 

 

 

Want to travel in style with 1700 of your closest friends?

You could by 3 Airbus A380s, at $400m each.

Airbus A380

 

Star wars imageOr you could make 7 Star Wars movies ($200m a piece)…

 

Pirates

 

 

…or remake Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 3 times ($410m, the most expensive film ever made!). Though I have no idea why you would want to do that. It’s rubbish.

 

 

 

 

Whatever you choose to do with your lottery win,

just promise me you won’t do what these people did.

                

Happy New Year, everybody!

Till next time,

Al

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YESNYOU – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas!

Hi everyone!

christmas-spainChristmas is nearly here, so it’s time for a blog that will help you to make the most of every opportunity to learn English over the festive period. Since September we’ve given you some general tips on how to study better in The Love of Learning,  talked about how reading articles and watching videos on the Internet can help your comprehension in Is your glass half full or half empty? and even examined the function and uses of memory in Remember me?. We’ve been busy!

Well, as a little gift from us to you this Christmas, here are 8 of our favourite songs from here in the office. Some are fun, some are sad, but all of them remind us of Christmas.

Do you like Christmas carols? A Christmas carol is a song or hymn whose lyrics are on the theme of Christmas and which is traditionally sung during the holiday season. The most famous example for children is probably Jingle Bells.

Did you sing along? If not, why not?!

I know the song’s a bit silly, but songs like this help in language learning because they are repetitive. They also make learning vocabulary easier because they talk about themes, like relationships, family, going out, different seasons, etc.

Next up is one of my favourites, made even more famous by the fact that Vaughn Monroe’s version appears at the end of the best Christmas movie ever made: Die Hard.

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! (Click here for lyrics)

In Die Hard some terrorists/thieves led by the excellent Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber blow the roof off the Nakatomi Plaza in LA. Now, I’m not a religious person, but for me, the best hymn for blowing the roof off a church is Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, here performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (which is just nice to say out loud), a full orchestra…and an organ. Amazing. (Click here for lyrics)

Okay, so perhaps that’s not the best song for learning English (it is a tiny bit archaic), but it really captures Christmas for me.

If you’re feeling a bit elated after listening to that, how about something to bring the mood down? In 1971 John Lennon and Yoko Ono released Happy Xmas (War Is Over) in protest of the Vietnam War. It’s a haunting, unfulfilled promise and a reminder of how far we still have to go. (Click here for lyrics)

One of the most popular songs every Christmas is Slade’s Merry X’mas Everybody, released in 1973 (and every single decade since then). The costumes they’re wearing in the video are indicative of the height of the Glam Rock period in British music. Thank god that’s over. (Click here for lyrics)

Motown fans were enjoying the Jackson 5s’ Christmas album entitled the Jackson 5 Christmas Album in 1970, which featured this often-covered hit, I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, a strange song about a young boy coming to terms with his mother’s infidelity. Or something. (Click here for lyrics)

My all time favourite Christmas song, and that of David (and probably Kate although she’d never admit it!) is the Fairytale of New York, by The Pogues. It’s an unlikely Christmas hit, dealing with alcoholism, gambling and a difficult relationship, and is probably the most popular song ever to feature the accordian. But turn it up and it’ll knock your festive socks off. (Click here for lyrics…you’re going to need them)

Last up is the big daddy of them all, White Christmas. According to the Guinness World Records the version sung by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single of all time, with estimated sales in excess of 100 million copies worldwide. That means that if you listened to every copy of the song ever sold, one after another, it would take you 571 glorious years to finish the job. (Click here for lyrics)

So that’s it for our countdown to Christmas. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing this holiday we all wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Until next year,

Al and everyone in the YESNYOU team

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YESNYOU – Top 250 – What’s your score?

Top-250-IMDB.jpg~originalHi everyone,

It’s nearly December and I have great news! I am only 12 steps away from achieving one of my biggest goals! I am only 12 movies away from finishing the IMDb Top 250 movie list!

That’s right. I have watched 238 out of 250 of the movies on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) Top 250 list (click on the picture on the left to go directly to the page). I have seen films from every genre of cinema: comedies, thrillers, epics, westerns, cartoons, horror movies, suspense flicks, disaster movies, musicals, romantic movies and documentaries. I’ve explored world cinema; seen films from Argentina, India, Sweden, Russia, New Zealand, Brazil, France, Iran and many more countries and cultures. I’ve travelled to the very edges of the universe and to the dark heart of the soul! It’s been a wonderful ride! And I invite you to join me!

I listen to a film podcast called Film Fandango, and on this podcast they play a game using the IMDb Top 250. It is very simple.

Your IMDb score is the number of films you have seen on the list before the first film that you have not seen. For example:

IMDb game

So, you’ve seen the Shawshank Redemption, The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II and The Dark Knight. But you haven’t seen 12 Angry Men.

Your IMDb score would be 4. Now, imagine you watch 12 Angry Men, and you’ve already seen Schindler’s List, Pulp Fiction and a few others.

IMDb game 2

Now your IMDb score is 9! Isn’t that great!

You can even login to the IMDb website and rate the movies that to keep a record of your progress. This is important, because the list changes almost every day. New films that receive more than 25,000 votes appear, so other films have to go! Yesterday, my IMDb score was 194, but today, because Sunrise (1927) just received its 25,000th vote, my score is only 117!

David here in the office hasn’t seen Fight Club, so his IMDb score is 9!

Kate has never seen Schindler’s List (because she says the book was excellent, so why see the film?) so her IMDb score is 5!

What’s your IMDb score? Let us know at the bottom of this page, write on our facebook wall (YES ‘N’ You Spain), or send us a message on twitter (@YESNYOU_es).

Until next time!

Al

UPDATE! Since writing this blog I have been a busy boy, and have increased my score to 245. Until the next change…

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YESNYOU – Remember me?

Hi everyone,

What was the topic of the last blog? Do you remember? Possibly not. Do you remember what you had for dinner last night? Probably, yes. Do you remember what you had for dinner on the same day last week? I certainly don’t! This week’s blog is all about memory – what it’s for, how it works, and how to make the best use of it in your learning.

What it’s for

Memory is essential for our functioning as human beings. It is at the centre of our personal identity. Without memory we would have no concept of having a past and no way to reflect upon our relationships with other people. Without it we wouldn’t be able to retain the information that we need to make future decisions.

How it works

Memory consists of three processes: registration, retention and recall.

Memory function

How to make the best use of it in your learning

How do you learn vocabulary? Do you keep a personal dictionary of the new words that you learn? How much do you read in English outside of work? Here are 5 quick tips to help you to register, retain and recall all those wonderful new words!

number1Repeat, repeat, repeat! It takes between 10 and 20 repetitions to really make a word part of your vocabulary. And that doesn’t mean just saying it out loud 20 times! Write the word in emails, say the word to friends and colleagues, use the word whenever you can!

2You’ve got a smartphone – use it! Look up words that you don’t know. Understanding where a word comes from and how it is used will definitely help you to remember it! Say words that are new to you into the recorder of your phone, or WhatsApp them to other people. Recording yourself lets you feel the words in your mouth, like fine wine!

3Don’t nibble, bite! Spend some of your time learning lexical chunks (there are three words for you to look up!) That means learning common phrases and not individual words. You’ll be ready to use the phrases when you need them, and you’ll be learning the words in context, which will help you to retain them.

4Use mnemonics! Mnemonics are memory tricks that help you to remember things. I remember the colours of the rainbow by saying “Richard Of York Gained Battles In Vain” (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet), and the Spanish word for ‘hole’ (agujero) by thinking A GOO HERO. “A GOO HERO” doesn’t mean anything in English, but it sounds funny to me, so I remember it.

5Play games! There are lots of places online where you can play classic word games like Scrabble, Boggle and crosswords. One of my favourites is www.wordplays.com. If you have a spare five minutes, put your English to the test!

 

Of course, the best way to improve your English and use your vocabulary is to write to us! You can leave a post at the bottom of this page, write on our facebook wall (YES ‘N’ You Spain), or send us a message on twitter (@YESNYOU_es).

Until next time,

Al

 

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YESNYOU – Is your glass half full or half empty?

Hello again everyone!

I hope you have already had a look at last week’s post, and have found some interesting things to read in our blog archive. If you have, then by now you will have found out a lot of information about us here at YESNYOU! This week I thought I’d find out a little bit about you.

halffullvsempty“Is the glass half empty or half full?”

Are you familiar with this phrase? Do you think about the world in this way? Does the way you see the glass make any difference to your life?

It’s a philosophical question about your worldview. If you have a positive worldview, then you are probably quite optimistic. If you have a negative worldview, then you’re probably a bit pessimistic.

Proactive people (who like learning new languages, for example) are more likely to be optimists. A positive attitude is an essential component of success, don’t you think?

Take our quiz and find out what kind of person you are!

 

Glass Half Full or Half Empty Quiz

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Do you get back up when life knocks you down? Take our quiz and find out what you're made of!
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But does it matter? If your glass is half full or half empty, is there any effect on your life? Research suggests that there is. An American psychologist has found that optimistic people make more money than pessimistic people, which is a good reason to keep a smile on your face!

What if you don’t feel particularly optimistic? Here’s Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love with some advice on how to keep yourself moving forward and looking up.

Reading articles and watching videos about topics that you care about is an excellent way to improve your English. And please don’t forget that we are here to respond to any questions or comments that you might have! You can leave a post at the bottom of this page, write on our facebook wall (YES ‘N’ You Spain), or send us a message on twitter (@YESNYOU_es).

Until next time,

Al

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YESNYOU – The Love of Learning

Pablo_Picasso1“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”

Pablo Picasso

Hi everyone!

It’s been a while since we last spoke, so in this blog I want to address an issue that is fundamental to your success in learning English. How do you learn? What is the right way to learn grammar? Is there a best way to learn vocabulary? How much time should you spend every day, week or month learning English?

Ear hand eyeThese are very big questions. They are also almost always subjective. Everybody learns in their own way and modern teaching practices reflect this by being a lot more flexible than they used to be. Blended learning courses (using online resources supported by contact with a trainer either in person or on the phone) put the schedule of study in the hands of the learner. So what is the best use of your time?

Here are 5 little bits of advice:

study everyday1. A little goes a long way!

Doing a little bit of study every day is much better than studying intensively for hours at a time. This is true for both grammar and vocabulary. Studying for 10-20 minutes every day will ‘wake up’ your brain to English, and activating the language on a regular basis will help you to remember what you learn.

 

selection2. Be selective!

It is impossible to imagine that you will be able to remember every word that you ever encounter in English. Start a personal vocabulary dictionary and make a note of the words that you think will be most useful to you in the future. That’s your ‘active’ vocabulary. The other words will form part of your ‘passive’ vocabulary, which means that you recognise and understand them, but don’t use them very often.

context3. Put it in context!

When you learn a new word, always write a phrase next to it that will help you to remember how to use it. This is especially important when learning phrasal verbs because they are often tricky devils with several meanings!

translate4. Try not to translate!

Thinking in English will help you to improve your fluency. Even if you sound like a crazy person, try speaking to yourself when you’re alone. Practice saying the phrases that you have learnt out loud so that they become more natural to you. Use a monolingual dictionary – it will keep you thinking in English and will force you to make connections between related words.

dive in pic5. Dive in!

Immerse yourself in English! Watch English TV shows, go and see English language movies and theatre plays in their original version, listen to the radio in English at home and in the car, make some English friends, sing English songs at your local karaoke bar and read in English!

Reading will give you access to some of the greatest literature ever written! Shakespeare! Stephen King! Dan Brown! Well, maybe not Dan Brown, although I do like some of his stuff. Angels & Demons was a good book but a terrible movie. See? English is great for forming spurious opinions about things that don’t even matter! Embrace it!

To help improve your reading, here are some links to previous blog posts that you might not have seen that will teach you a little bit about English, life and us here in the office.

 

links 2

There are blogs about us!

Part 1 of my three part blog series about myself – fascinating!

Part 2 of my three part blog series about myself – electrifying!

Part 3 of my three part blog series about myself – narcissistic!

An interview with semi-famous telephone trainer, Georgina

Our trainer’s hobbies and interests

An interview with our favourite office face, David

There are free gifts!

The first of two free downloadable pocket guides to English – Social English

The second free downloadable pocket guide to English – British vs American English

There are discussions about music!

Al takes on The Gambler

Vic wants a ticket to anywhere

One of our learners makes a music suggestion

And there’s a lot of other stuff too!

Murphy’s Law – bad luck or bad karma?

Population and the planet – just how many of us are there?

#InternationalDayOfHappiness

 

If you click on any of the above links you’ll be able to navigate forwards and backwards through all of our archived blogs. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed writing them!

One final piece of advice: the best way to learn is by using the language. So why not write to us? You can leave a comment at the bottom of this page or write on our facebook wall (YES ‘N’ You Spain), or send us a message on twitter (@YESNYOU_es). We love to hear from you!

Take care until next time,

Al

 

 

 

 

 

 

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YESNYOU – Welcome back, everybody! What have you been up to lately?

hot-temperature-cartoonIt has been a long, hot summer here in Barcelona but finally September has arrived and we can all breathe a long, hot sigh of relief. What have you been up to? It is traditional here at YESNYOU to kick-off the new academic year with a little catch up with a few of our telephone trainers, and this year will be no different.

But first a little bit of language!What have you been up to

The question, “What have you been up to lately?” covers several questions in one neat, concise package. It asks “What have you been doing recently?”, “Have you done anything out of the ordinary or interesting?” and, if the ‘you’ is stressed, “What mischief have you been creating?”

 

For example, if you asked me what I’ve been up to I could say:

“What have you been up to?”

“My parents have been visiting, so we went out for dinner.”

or…

“You look awful. What have you been up to?”

“I fell down some stairs.”

or finally…

“What have you been up to?”

“I went out for dinner with my parents last night and drank far too much sake! Then I fell down some stairs.”

Page break

I asked three of our favourite telephone trainers, Patrick, Carolyn and Georgina, what they had been up to on their summer holidays. Here’s what they said (and read carefully! There will be a quiz afterwards):

Patrick message

Carolyn message v2

Georgina message

Can you remember what our telephone trainers have been up to lately?

Try your best to remember where they've been and what they've done. Good luck!
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I hope that your summer has been as eventful as ours!

Until next time,

Al

 

 

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Meet Your Tutor; Vic Capriles

Victoria Capriles

Vic

Vic is originally from Venezuela but has spent time in the USA and now resides in Barcelona. She has lived in Barcelona since 2004 but has been teaching English for many more years than that, since 1988. How does Vic remember the year that she started teaching? She was pregnant with her daughter “Mafe” at the time.

She passed her TESOL (Trinity College London) English teaching course in 2004 and has probably forgotten more about English teaching than most of us will ever know.

Vic is a creature of habit, she eats a tuna sandwich and an apple every day for lunch, and when I say every day, I mean every day!

Vic’s also somewhat of a computer whizz (expert), so any technical problems, then she’s the one you should call.

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Meet Your Tutor; David warren

David Warren

David

David was born around the time when the Beatles formed and he (not the Beatles) grew up in the South of England in a beautiful village called Harpenden.

He passed his TESOL (Trinity College London) English teaching course in July 1999 and has been living in Barcelona and working as an English teacher since September 1999. Wow, doesn’t time fly!

David has taught all levels from beginner to super advanced and says that he doesn’t have any preferences of level except that he would never teach children or teenagers.

Teaching English is obviously in his genes as his son has just passed the same English course but with a better pass mark than his father; 97%!

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YES’N’YOU – England is different …

Hullo, everybody!

Whitley Bay

Two weeks ago, I went to England to visit my Mum, in Whitley Bay, a small town on the north-east coast of England, much closer to Scotland than to London. I experienced a lot of differences in comparison with Spain. Here are just a few:

Madrid small

Newcastle airport

The most obvious, at that time, was the weather. I left Madrid where the thermometer stood at 33º and the sun was shining brightly in the sky and arrived in Newcastle where the temperature was 13º and it was drizzling. Brrrrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhh.

 

As I stepped out on to the aeroplane steps (Newcastle is a small airport and doesn’t have covered gangways), I was stunned by the dull greyness surrounding me. In Madrid the sky was bright blue and the light was very strong, but getting out of that plane, I almost needed a torch to see through the drizzle and cloud.

House smallI eventually arrived at my Mum’s house in Newcastle at around 17.00, to find my Mum already cooking dinner. Yes, at 5.00pm! Whereas in Spain some people would just be finishing lunch, my mother was already preparing the evening meal, which we would eat at 18.30. HALF PAST SIX, EATING DINNER? What was I going to do for the rest of the evening? That far north, it’s daylight until 11pm!

noon lunchAnd that’s another big and obvious difference, meal times and the daily schedule in general. Everything happens much earlier in England – a lot of people start work between 08.00 and finish at 17.00. They have one hour for lunch which tends to be from around 12.30 – 13.30 and they have their evening meal around 18.30 – 19.30. And then, they go to the pub! In Spain, it’s the other way round. You have an “aperitif” in the bar at 19.00 and then have dinner at home at 9.00pm.

High street shops too tend to open at 09.00, but then close at 17.30, although big department stores and supermarkets close much later. In fact, some large supermarkets are open 24 hours a day 365 days a year and most city centre stores and shopping centres are open every Sunday too.

One of the luxuries that I enjoyed most in England was the choice of four advert-free television channels, all from the BBC.  But as David pointed out, when do you make a cup of tea or go to the loo?

Whitley bay lighthouse - dawnThe temperatures overnight were unusually cold, going down to around  5º, but even more of a hindrance to sleep was dawn at 4.00am, with the light streaming through the curtains, (in England we don’t tend to have shutters) and birds singing in the trees in the garden.  In June, the days are very long in the north of England, and the nights very short.

But at least the wall-to-wall carpet everywhere in the house helped keep me warm. In my Mum’s house, there is carpet in every room, including the bathroom and the kitchen, whereas in Spain, floors are usually wood or tiled.

Meadow smallEventually the sun did come out and we were able to visit some gardens nearby. They were absolutely beautiful. So full of colour – just like an artist’s palette. That is definitely something that I miss in Spain, the lush green of England, splashed with colour from the abundant flowers, whether they are cultivated or growing wild.

As I said to my Mum when she took me to the airport for me to get my plane back to Spain, despite the cold weather and rain, there is nowhere better to be in June, than England.

Have a lovely summer!

All the best,

Kate

Kate and Sybil

My mummy and I

GLOSSARY

Hullo – Hola
drizzling – llovizna, chirimiri
gangways – pasarela
dull – nublado
loo – WC
hindrance – impedimento
the sun was streaming through the curtains – el sol pasaba a través de las cortinas
shutters – persianas
carpet – moqueta
palette – paleta
lush – exuberante (vegetación)
splashed – salpicado
abundant – abundante

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