B1, B2, vocabulary

Science verbs

How many science verbs do you know in English? Learn new science vocabulary by following two simple steps.

Step 1: Watch the video

While you watch listen and repeat after me. I recommend taking notes of each new word to practice spelling. In this video you will learn 19 science verbs in English.

Step 2: Do the exercises

Now is time to test your knowledge. Do this 10-question quiz and see how much you’ve learned. How many did you get right?

Try going back to this quiz in a week or so to see how many words you remember. When I was an English student I would go back to the content I’d learned in the past and test myself again and that’s how I memorized vocabulary. It worked for me, try it and see if it works for you too!

B2, Blog, story

Beto, the pot-headed crazy chef

Level: B1-B2

One night in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

  • Let’s call Beto!
  • I texted him but he didn’t reply.
  • This guy… he’s playing with our feelings.
  • I know… he’s turned us into pasta addicts and then he ghosts us.

Who is Beto? Beto is this guy who makes amazing pasta dishes and lives around the corner from our apartment.

One Saturday evening…

Hungry and desperate Chris and I were walking down the road looking for a restaurant. We’d seen Beto’s restaurant before but it was closed then. The guy living next door said “take a brochure, he cooks Italian food and also delivers!” We put the brochure away and decided to call him the next day.

And so we did. We texted him and ordered an Amatriciana (a tomato-based pasta dish with bacon, onions and chilies) and a Four-cheese pasta (I think there’s no need to explain this one). The food was mouthwatering, it smelled and tasted delicious. We made a promise to ourselves to have it at least 3 times a week, I mean, $4 dollars for home-made, fresh pasta? Why in the world would I cook ever again?

Three days later…

We texted Beto. He didn’t reply. I insisted and texted again, called him twice, I was acting like a drug addict desperate for a fix. He didn’t reply until the following day “I apologize, I had to handle some family matters and couldn’t work yesterday. I’ll open again tomorrow”, it turns out he was lying! He didn’t open the day after, either.

The following Thursday…

Trying not to keep our hopes up, we texted him again but this time he was cooking! We got Amatriciana and Carbonara this time. Again, he had lived up to our expectations. Happy that he was back, we decided to fulfill the plan of getting his food delivered every day I had to teach back to back with no time to prepare dinner.

The Thursday after that…

We texted him again. Fifteen, thirty, forty-five minutes later, no reply. Hopeless, we left the house and embarked ourselves on a journey to get good food for a reasonable price, which wasn’t tacos or anything with a tortilla in it. As we were walking past Beto’s house, we saw him smoking weed with his friends in the living room of his house—doors and windows wide open. I stopped and demanded my pasta.

  • Why haven’t you replied to my messages? (with a sense of entitlement)
  • I’m sorry, you really don’t want me to cook right now. (holding on to a lamppost to keep his balance)
  • How about tomorrow? Will you open tomorrow?
  • Tomorrow I’ll definitely open. Sorry again!
  • Ok, Beto. I’ll text you tomorrow!

So, he was busy smoking weed, I get it, the guy has his own business and works when he wants to… I guess it’s his right. You should have seen me demanding my pasta from a guy that was totally high. Never in my wildest dream did I imagine I would be begging for food from a pothead. A very humbling experience, I have to say. I couldn’t help it, though. It’s like he gave us heroine to get us addicted and then left us wanting more (I’ve never tried heroine but I’m pretty sure it’s like that)

The following day…

  • Text him.
  • I just did.
  • (10 minutes later…) He hasn’t even seen the message.
  • I’ll try texting from a different number.

I had been texting Beto from Chris’s phone, thinking maybe he was overwhelmed by us, I tried contacting him from a different number. The message got through but he never replied.

The next day he had seen both our messages, two blue checks, yet, no response from him.

We’d been totally ignored, but we didn’t care, we were hungry and wanted his pasta. I swallowed my pride and called him again, he didn’t pick up the phone.

Three days later the brochure had been removed from the door… Why, Beto! why did you have to go? To this day we still dream of Beto’s pasta. I’m sure we’ll be reminded of this when we go back to the US and fail to find reasonably priced, fresh Italian food.

We’ll miss you, Beto the pot-headed crazy chef.

Vocabulary:

  • mouthwatering:food that is mouth-watering looks or smells extremely good
  • pothead: a person who smokes marijuana, especially habitually
  • demand: to ask for something very firmly, especially because you think you have a right to do this
  • entitlement: the official right to have or do something, or the amount that you have a right to receive
  • get through: to succed in speaking to someone on the telephone
B1, B2, Podcast

Condiments around the world – Condimentos alrededor del mundo

Hi English/Spanish Learners! Ayleen here, your teacher from wespeakidiomas.com

In today’s episode Chris and I talk about condiments around the world. Not only will this episode help you improve your listening skills, but it will also help you learn a few new words since we’ll be using different words to describe condiments and sauces in English and Spanish.

Episode 4: Condiments around the world – Condimentos alrededor del mundo

We discussed different types of sauces:

  • Brown sauce
  • Apple sauce
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Mint sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Chilli sauce
  • Sweet and sour sauce

In this podcast Chris used different adjectives to describes sauces:

Word in English Definition in English Spanish translation
thick almost solid, and therefore flowing very slowly, or not flowing at all espeso
mild not very strong or hot-tasting suave
smooth a liquid mixture that is smooth has no big pieces in it OPP lumpy sin grumos
spicy food that is spicy has a pleasantly strong taste, and gives you a pleasant burning feeling in your mouth SYN hot picante

 

I used a couple of words that might be new for you:

Word in Spanish Definition in Spanish English translation
empalagoso demasiado dulce (no en un buen sentido) overly sweet
paladar gusto con que se percibe el sabor de los alimentos palate
arándano rojo arbusto de la familia de las ericáceas que mide entre 10 y 40 cm de altura, con hojas alternas, aovadas y aserradas, flores solitarias de color blanco verdoso o rosado y frutos en bayas negruzcas o azuladas cranberry
arándano azul blueberry
icónico representativo de la cultura iconic

These are the condiments in Thailand I mentioned in the podcast.

The one on the left corner is known as chilli flakes. Next to it, you can see the white sugar. At the front, fish sauce and chili and vinegar and chili.

condiments

Oh! and of course, the peanuts!

padthai peanuts

Then I asked Chris a question he didn’t understand:

  • ¿A qué crees que se deba eso? ó ¿cuál crees que sea el motivo por el que…? The translation to English is very simple, Why do you think…?

Now you know different words in English and Spanish to describe your favorite sauce!

By the way, what’s your favorite sauce?

B1, B2, Podcast

Back to Thailand – De regreso en Tailandia

Hi English/Spanish Learners! Ayleen here, your teacher from wespeakidiomas.com

Today I want to share my happiness with you. I’m back in Thailand! Yayy!

In this episode Chris and I talk about what we missed the most from this beautiful country. Tune in to practice your listening skills and learn some new vocabulary related to foods and the grammar point of the day-using “although” and “even though”.

Episode 3: Back to Thailand – De regreso en Tailandia

You can learn more about the new vocabulary used in this conversation below:

  • Consecutivos, seguidos: in a row
  • Row: fila
  • Readily available: a tu disposición
  • Watermelon: sandía
  • Mango: mango
  • Guava: guava o guayaba
  • Papaya: papaya
  • Dragon fruit: pitaya
  • Lime: limón o lima

*La traducción depende de tu proveniencia. Si eres de Perú, se va a traducir como limón, lime significa limón. Si eres de Argentina, se va a traducir como lima, lima significa lima. Recuerden la descripción de la fruta, lime hace referencia a la fruta verde, pequeña y más agria. Si esa fruta verde pequeña y agria en tu país se llama lima, entonces lime significa lima. Si a un peruano le dices la palabra lima, va a imaginar una fruta totalmente diferente. Nosotros le llamamos limón, uno de los ingredientes para preparar ceviche es jugo de limón.

  • Aunque: although, even though
  • Servilletas de papel: paper napkins
  • Rubbish: (AmE) Garbage, basura
  • Turquesa: turquoise
  • Dañar: hurt
  • Pebbles: piedritas
B1, B2, Podcast

Episode 2: Interesting facts on Gili Air – Cosas curiosas en Gili Air

Hi English/Spanish Learners! Ayleen here, your teacher from wespeakidiomas.com

Today Chris and I come to you from Gili Air, and we’ll talk about the interesting facts we found on this Indonesian island.

This conversation features lots new vocabulary for intermediate students, and is a good example of a spontaneous, authentic English-Spanish conversation between two travelers.

Episode 2: Interesting facts in Gili Air – Cosas curiosas en Gili Air

You can learn more about the new vocabulary used in this conversation below:

  • mosque: a building in which Muslims worship / In Spanish: mezquita
  • acera: orilla de la vía pública por donde caminan los peatones /  In English: sidewalk
  • agonizar: be near death. I said Pensé que alguien estaba agonizando…
  • straw: a thin tube of paper or plastic for sucking up liquid from a bottle or a cup / In spanish: cañita, popote, pajilla.
  • malcriar: ceder a los caprichos de alguien. I said Asia nos está malcriando. / In English: Asia is spoiling us.
  • chant: to sing or say a religious song or prayer in a way that involves using only one note or tone / In Spanish: cántico
B1, B2, Podcast

Episode 1: Shopping in Indonesia – Compras en Indonesia

This podcast presents everyday conversations in English and Spanish and is hosted by myself, Ayleen, and Chris, from London. What is different about this podcast is that you will listen to a conversation in both languages, I will be speaking Spanish and Chris, English.

Our content will help you improve your listening skills in the language you are currently studying. This podcast is for you if:
a) You are an English speaker learning Spanish
b) You are a Spanish speaker learning English
c) You have a different native language but are studying English and Spanish.

In this episode Chris and I talk about our impressions on shopping in Indonesia. Tune in to learn about the tactics Indonesian people use when trying to sell an item and how we feel about it.

Episode 1: Shopping in Indonesia – Compras en Indonesia.

B1, B2, grammar

The passive voice in Spain

Level: Upper basic, intermediate

If you don’t love grammar but love traveling, this lesson is for you. Why? Well, I used to be a student like you and as a student I got bored reading textbook examples that were neither memorable nor related to my life at all; thus, they didn’t stick in my mind and by the next day I’d forgotten everything I’d learned. Today I bring you a lesson based on my trip to Spain. All the examples you will see here are from the notes I took while I was going on walking tours in Barcelona and Granada, so they are all real examples you can relate to if you have been there, plan to visit these cities or are just curious about historic buildings! I hope you like this explanation of “The passive voice”.

City: Barcelona

On my first day in Barcelona I went on a free walking tour where I learned about the old, impressive buildings located downtown, which were ideal to teach a grammar lesson. So pay attention to how the following buildings are described. Do you recognize the grammar being used?

La plaza real or “Royal square”

This square is in the Gothic neighborhood; however, the architecture isn’t Gothic but Neo – classical.
If you take a look at the photo you’ll see Palm trees in the background. A few are originally from the area but most palm trees were imported from California and Florida.

The passive voice – Use

Let’s analyze this sentence:

Most palm trees in the Royal square were imported from California and Florida.

This structure is called “The Passive Voice”. The Passive voice is used when the focus is on the action. It is not important or not known, however, who or what is performing the action.

Do you know who imported the palm trees? No                                                                          Is it important? Not really.

In the example above, the focus is on the fact that the palm trees were imported. I do not know, however, who did it.

Active voice: The Spanish imported palm trees from California and Florida.                Passive voice: Palm trees were imported from California and Florida.

The passive voice – Form

How do you form the passive voice?

the passive voice

When rewriting active sentences in passive voice, note the following:

  • the object of the active sentence becomes the subject of the passive sentence
  • the finite form of the verb is changed (to be+ past participle).
  • the subject of the active sentence becomes the object of the passive sentence (or is dropped)

Regular verbs in the passive voice

Remember that the past participle of regular verbs is the same as the simple past.

regular verbs

La Sagrada Familia

The most amazing building I saw in Barcelona was La Sagrada Familia and the fact that caught my attention is that this church is still being built! When I went there, I saw the construction workers and machinery. It has been 137 years since its construction began and they’re still building it! Being in an old historic city, I expected to see old churches that were started and finished hundreds of years ago but never did I imagine I would see an old church that is still being built.

Renowned Gaudí took over the project one year after its construction began and worked on it until he died. According to my tour guide, this church will be finished in 6 years, so I guess I’m going back to this city once it is finished.

Spanish architect Gaudí

The passive voice in different tenses

Look at the chart and see how the passive voice is used in different tenses.

The passive voice - tenses

You must be thinking “Ayleen, you forgot to include the other verb tenses in the chart. Aren’t there other tenses?” And the answer is “Yes, there are”. However, these are the most common tenses used to describe buildings and constructions, so for now I don’t want to mix you up with more grammar that you won’t need to use in this context. As you can see in the descriptions below, I didn’t really need to use the present perfect or past perfect to talk about these constructions.

City: Granada

Santa Ana church

The Church of Santa Ana in Granada was built in 1501 in place of the mosque of Almanzra. This means that Santa Ana Church is located where an ancient mosque once stood. Unlike other Christian churches, this one is made of bricks. It was designed by renowned local architect Diego de Siloe. The church was constructed according to the architect’s specifications. De Siloe wanted to create a heavily decorated, spectacular building which combined elements of Arabic architecture with Christian imagery, that’s what makes this church so unique. An example of Arabic influence in this church is the ceiling. It is made of carved wood. Carved wood in ceilings is representative of the Moorish craftsmen.

The passive voice when you mention the “doer”

Let’s analyze these sentences:

Santa Ana church was designed by renowned local architect Diego de Siloe.

In this sentence we mention the doer of the action, the person who designed the church. If you want to mention the doer, use “by”. Don’t use “for”.

Active voice: Architect Diego de Siloe designed Santa Ana church.

Santa Ana church was designed by renowned local architect Diego de Siloe. (correct)

Santa Ana church was designed for renowned local architect Diego de Siloe (incorrect)

Cathedral of Granada

It is known as the Catedral de Granada, or Santa Iglesia Catedral Metropolitana de la Encarnación de Granada in Spanish. This church was built after acquisition of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada from its Muslim rulers in 1492.This cathedral was built over 181 years between 1523 and 1704. The first collapsed after an earthquake so they didn’t even start the second one, unfortunately, the second tower wasn’t finished. In its place there is a smaller tower, which is called Tower of San Miguel.

In the first and second examples the verbs are irregular, that means they don’t end in “-ed”. To form the passive sentences with these verbs you just have to memorize the verbs.

Irregular verbs in the passive voice

Base form Simple past Past participle
make made made
know knew known
build built built

The Alcaicería Market

Alcaicería is a name which was used all over Moorish Spain and parts of the Middle East. Granada the city with the biggest Arabic influence in Spain and this market is important because it was one of few Moorish traditions to survive the Christian conquest.

In the past this place was bursting with stalls, Arabic silks, spices and other precious goods were sold here. Nowadays the place is half the size it used to be but it is still a rich area with history and local culture, still packed with interesting, exotic things to buy.

Warning: Take care when walking around this area; it is popular with pickpockets and local gitanas (gypsy women) offering to tell your future or read your palm, for a price. I was stopped by a gitana who tried to give me a sort of plant “for free”, but I’d already heard about them and what they do is first give you something “for free”, next take your hand, read your palm, tell you your future and then ask for money.

Asking questions in the passive voice

What was sold in the market?                                                                                                  Arabic silks, spices and other precious goods were sold here.

What name is used to name this kind of markets?                                                       Alcaiceria was used to name this kind of markets.

To watch a short clip of my visit to La Sagrada Familia, click here.

B2, Blog, story

Jamaican me happy – Negril

Conversation one:

A: First time in Jamaica?

B: No, I’ve been here once before.

A: Oh, welcome back! (fist bump) You want some good quality weed? Look for me.

B: We will. Thank you!

Conversation two:

A: Wah Gwaan? Want some Ganja?

B: No, thanks. 

* Wah Gwaan: Jaimaican slang for “What’s going on?”
*Ganja: another name for weed

Conversation three:

A: Where you from?

B: England and Perú.

A: Yeah mon (fist bump). My wife is from Wembley. Here, a little gift for you (handing us a joint).

B: How much is it?

A: Just give me a donation.

*Yeah mon: a phrase commonly used in Jamaica to show confirmation of understanding a statement or approval of an action

Our first interactions with Jamaicans were all conversations in which there was weed being offered. Ironically, marijuana isn’t legal here. Surprised? Maybe the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Jamaica is Bob Marley and weed; nevertheless, it isn’t legal in this country.

Then, why does everyone seem to be dealing? We’ve been offered weed at the beach, at restaurants, at hostels, by taxi drivers, street vendors, food sellers, teens, adults, and even elders! There isn’t a place where “ganja” isn’t sold. Born and raised in Negril, a local taxi driver – “Big Ross”, as he calls himself – was telling us that business isn’t as easy as it used to be now that there are many locals offering rides, tours, and weed. He continued,

People multitask to get an extra income because a regular job isn’t enough to make ends meet.

Weed, ganja, kush

If you are a smoker, welcome to paradise! This must be the most accessible country to buy weed. There’s no need to sneak into a dark alley, you can get it at daylight in plain view of passersby. I mean, you can get it as easily in places like Holland and some states in the USA where it is legal; the funny thing here is that, although in 2015 Drug law amendments partially decriminalized small amounts of pot, the drug is still illegal.

For new readers, this blog intends to show cultural differences between English and Spanish speaking countries. In this case, I can compare the weed situation in Jamaica to that of my country of origin, Perú, since carrying a small amount of ganja (possession of two ounces or less), smoking it, or possessing pipes or other smoking utensils is legal, but selling it or possessing big amounts of it isn’t.

In 2014, we amended our criminal records legislation to provide that personal use would no longer attract a criminal record in Jamaica and to provide for automatic expungement of all processes in the past that had a criminal record for personal use,

declared Mr. Mark Golding at the Marijuana Reform Conference.

If you are more interested about Marijuana Reform, watch Mr. Mark Golding at the Drug Policy Reform Conference in 2015 here.

Unless you are staying at a five-star hotel, you need to know that people will approach you and offer you a number of products or services, weed, other drugs, braids, massage, taxi rides, tours, etc. My boyfriend and I were approached by at least 10 people on our first two days in the coastal town of Negril, located on the west side of the country. If that is something you would be bothered by, it’s best you stay in an all-inclusive hotel and avoid walking around public beaches. That’s going to happen, and you can’t avoid it.

A few tips on how to buy in Jamaica

Always have local currency with you. US dollars are accepted everywhere, but you should know that the exchange rate is the worst in commercial establishments, and if you’re buying from street vendors, you are very likely to get ripped off. We got some street food – jerk chicken – on our first day. The guy said it cost $6.00 US dollars; however, when we gave him $10.00 US dollars, he tried to give us $2.00 US dollars change. Needless to say, we never went back there again.

I can’t generalize and say everybody is the same. On our third night, we bumped into “Mr. Spice”, who is famous for selling the best jerk food on the street at $5.00 dollars the portion. We had $10.00 dollars, but he didn’t have change, so he let us give him the loose change we had: only $4.00 dollars. We even got double bread! If you come to Jamaica, look for him. He follows the crowds and shows up at concerts or other events in Negril. He’s never at the same spot, though, so good luck finding him!

If you appreciate good, local cuisine, you can’t miss Best in the West. There we had the best red snapper and, of course, their signature jerk is amazing, too. Go there for jerk chicken – unless you are lucky enough to find Mr. Spice – or Scovitch fish (it’s funny how this word sounds so similar to escabeche, a typical Peruvian dish which tastes very similar). I can say their fried chicken is even better than Willie Mae’s in New Orleans, which goes down to second place in my ranking now.

My next tip is to bargain. I am Peruvian, so this comes naturally to me. If you come from a country where bargaining isn’t customary, start getting some training. Jamaicans will give you a price based on whether you look like a tourist or not. For example, to get one side of my head braided, I was asked for $10.00 dollars. Two women gave me the same price; it seemed to be standard. However, I was very honest and told the second woman that, in my country, I could get it done for $5.00 dollars. After thinking about it for a while, she agreed. This proves they are ready to lower their prices. So, you just need to bargain!

New vocabulary: amendment, approach, bothered, bump into, decriminalize, expungement, ganja, pot.

Level: B1 – B2