Most Clicks this week?

19 December 2011

Error Checklist for First

Error Checklist for FCE Writing:

Compiled in S6 on Monday 19 Dec

Some examples of things you might be able to see before you hand in your work to the teacher:

Contractions in formal English? Exclamation marks in formal English. Eliminate them.

Check double consonants.

Much and many on countable/uncountable nouns.

Avoid direct questions in formal letters.

Word order in non-questions.
Fred asked what time it was
Fred asked what time was it.
Confused plurals

Life >>>> lives.
person >>> people
child >>> children

Does it sound or look good to you?

Have you avoided the same word in adjacent sentences?
Describe differently
Synonym if you can
Use pronouns
Word Order
Put your adverbs in the right places - usually at the end.

Follow us on

24 November 2011

Sentence Transformations...

Sentence Transformation Advice

Some basic things to think about in part 4 of FCE and part 5 of CAE. Questions and comments (and additions) welcome!

18 November 2011

Report Shopping List

What to include in your report.

Article Shopping List

Things to Include in your Article
  • vocabulary connected to the topic
  • grammar to do the action in the question ("give advice" >>> should, if I were you, etc.)
  • stay within 10% of the word limit
  • write sufficient clear paragrpahs
  • connect your sentences
  • try to be interesting
  • show some personality
  • don't forget a title
Follow us on

16 November 2011

First Writing Part 1. Two Samples.

Two First Formal Letters.

Take a look at these two letters answering the same Part 1 question. Decide which you think is better and why. You'll find corrections underneath. 

Letter 1

Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to apply to the [m1] Adrenalin Adventure whichü I have seen the advertisement in a magazine. I am thinking in[m2]  the possibility of surfing or horse-riding. Could it be possible?

 We are a group of seven[m3] . We would like to know ifü |+| is possible to sleep in single rooms, just becauseü |+| is not very confortable[m4]  to share the room with other people. Could you search if there are places avaliable on 12-13 august[m5] ?

I would be grateful if you could tell me ifü the prize [m6] includes meals and hire of equipment[m7] ? We are also worried about the lower age limit since I have a friend who is only 17. Could he come?
I look forward to hearing from you[m8]  ü.
Yours faithfully,

Elizabeth Mark.

You need to add a bit more interest in the language to convince that it deserves the higher mark.

Letter 2

Dear sir/ madam

I am writing to enquire about the üadvertisement I have seen in a magazine. I was consideringü some options to spend an amusing weekend  with my friends and I think the Adrenalin Adventure is the best one.

With regards to our permanence[m9]  there I was wondering if you have single rooms instead of the wooden lodges[m10]  .

Moreoverü we are interested in surfing and mountain-biking since the weather is suposed to be nice those days. Could you clarify if the price includes meals and neccesary equipment such as waterproof swimsuits, surfboards, bicycles, tyres among othersü.

There are seven of usü and we would like to go on 12-13 August. I would be grateful if you could confirm there will be places availableü.

According to the age there [m11] is no problem except for one person. Would be accepted not to be grown up?

It would be appreciated [m12] if you could address these queries as soon as  possible to[m13]  reachü a final decition[m14] . Thank you a lot for your time. I am looking forward to hearing from youü again[m15] .

Yours faithfully.

Alan Partridge.

Good work!

 [m1]I think you’re enquiring for a trip, not applyiong for a job


 [m3]There are..




 [m7]Such as….?

 [m8]And hope you can answer….

 [m9]Good try, but not really english

 [m10]A because  might be good here

 [m11]Regarding not according I think

 [m12]I would appreciate it would be better

 [m13]So we can



11 November 2011

Formal English - 10 points to correct and think about

Extracts from formal writing homework - comments follow below. Note that all of them contain good along with things to work on. Add comments or ask questions as you wish. (To add comments you need to click on the title and open this post in a new window)

2. some points which I think are not true[m2] in your article
3. I would like to draw up your attentionü [to…..] [m3] in order to voiceü my disappointment with the article publishedü in the local newspaper recently
4. must disagree[m4] whith your version of events
Dear Sir,
6. My name is Joseph Martin Smith[m6] and I am a member of the
8. If you want[m8] we are going to be very proud to share with you these information
10. it was really disappointingü the way you critic[m10] our event

[m2]Much too strong

[m3]You need an object.

[m4]OK; as longas you want to sound angry


[m6]Please Ask.

[m7]I think the newspaper is more justified to call their lawyers!


[m9]Not very friendly!

[m10]WO/G – a shame as that’s a very nice first para-

Follow us on

10 November 2011

Advanced Use of English Part 2

If you'd like an extra exercise on filling gaps, have a go at a sample practice of an Open Cloze test here

Follow us on

09 November 2011

Formal in Informal

How does your reader know if your writing is formal or informal? Simple - the very first sentence or two will tell them - often from the vocabulary on its own.
So, take a look at these two first sentences:
My greatest ambition would be to set up a new business
My greatest ambition would be to establish a new business
Only one word different, but one's certainly a bit more formal than the other!

Follow us on

First Use of English Part 1: extra

Go here for information from Cambridge on part 1, and here for a practice exercise from Flo-Joe.

Follow us on

27 October 2011

Advanced: Formal vs Informal Writing

Language for Letters and Emails

Language for Formal and Informal Email and Letters. Take a look at this page on Alex Case's website
Can you do the exercise that Alex Case has designed? You might want to print the page out to look at it more carefully and write notes.

First, decide if the phrases are formal or informal. Make a list of new phrases in your vocabulary section or notebook. You can scroll down the page for Alex’s comments.

Second, think about exactly what they mean. Are you familiar with the phrases like you’re a star, and give me a bell and vocabulary like to pop, to land someone in it and a wee bit tricky?

Third, you can post your guesses, answers or comments here via the comment button on our Facebook page.

Finally, try to use a couple of them in your homework.

18 October 2011

First - Writing Samples: Informal Letter

Informal Letter/Email to Review
Take a look at this letter. We`ve indicated some positives and corrections. What do you think  of it? You might find some language you'd like to use yourself.
Dear Megan:Things are as good as always! Last night I went to a fancy dress party, and I dress up[m1] ü like an Egyptian girl. I will send you all the pictures I tookü that night!! It was one of the best nights ever, you should have been there! üHow are things going there? ü It has been a long time since we haven’t talk[m2] , its good to hear again from [m3] you! So you have to tell me many t[m4] hings, like how Sean and you broke up?
My mother has told me that I can go to your house [m5] on July!! So we have to plan many things that we are going to do thenü and you have to help me [to] choose which clothes I am taking. Oh and my mom have [m6] told me that you can come with us to[m7] a Mediterranean cruise we’re going ^ from the 12th of august[m8] until the 30th of the same month!! Please convince üyour mom to let you come, it will be so much funny[m9] , I count on you!![m10] Lots of love:[m11] Carolina.

You can read the comments and corrections by highlighting the text below.

Comments: (highlight to read)
A safe 6/10. You complete the question well, and manage to put in a few nice expressions. Add more and above all, make sure that the grammar of the verbs is consistently correct to push the level higher.



[m5]wouldn’t “visit you in England” sound better?

[m10]Doesn’t quite work – would be OK in the continuous

03 June 2011

Advanced - reviewing your writing knowledge

Advanced Students - review writing with this lesson plan - there's not going to be time to do it in class, but you can teach yourself!
Follow us!

24 May 2011

First: Assess an article

If you are interested in writing articles, think about this one:

Today's television

"A load of old rubbish" or
"More choice than ever before"?

Is today's television still good value for money?

How would you answer this question? Pay a visit to the flo-joe website to take a look at one student's attempt.

17 May 2011

Advanced Sample - Article on the past

The Times newspaper has asked the public to contribute articles for a series in their Sunday magazine supplement. If we make a concerted effort to conserve energy, could we live without electricity?
They wish to receive your views and opinions on this subject. What do YOU think life would be like with no electricity? Send your articles to us at the address below or use the e-mail number.
Write your article.

Back to the past
Can you conceive your life without electricity? Imagine a complete power cutü. Imagine [m1] your house or your job without any artificial light. Imagine hospitals, commercial centres, even the street`s lights, all gone. And now try to assume that this is the new way of living. It sounds like a terrible nightmare, doesn`t it? üü

If this had happen, it would be necessary a complete change [m2] in our world. First of all, if there was no artificial light, we would need to adapt our timetables to the sun hours=. In additionü, a great amount [m3] of jobs would need to be modifiedF. For example, do you know how many people work with computers every day? How many call phones do we make? In my opinion, people would become lost and disoriented without electricity.

But this would beWO not only about jobs. Almost all our entertainmentsG work v+ [m4] with electricity. What do you normally do at home? Watching a film or playing a videogame? Not anymore! We would need to haveü candles everywhere, and of course, no more leftoversü heated in the microwave!

In conclusion, it seems almost impossible for me to imagine our life without electricity. Nowadays, we are used to have [m5]; lots of comforts, most of them dependant on electrical energy and I don`t think that we are ready, materially and mentally;[m6speakingüü, to change it.

Highlight to rad comments
Certainly a 6/10. A couple of translatey bits and a few grammar points to definitely pay attention to (used to, amount vs number/quantity), but the style and content are great.
A rewrite of this, with some of those points addressed (and perhaps rather fewer questions aimed at the reader) would probably hit 8/10 for me.

[m1] I guess this is a delibérate repitition – I kind of like i ton one level, but wonder if “Think of…” might be a better exam option.
[m2] would to have change completely our world – rearrange to make a natural way to say this!
[m3] Uncountable nouns have amounts
[m4] Rely on
[m5] Be very careful of this – an easy trap to fall into. Used is not a verb here so’s not followed by an inf.
[m6] I think english would use psychologically

Follow us!