Monday, 7 December 2009

Sigourney Weaver Interview

Practice your English by reading an interview with the most excellent Sigourney Weaver.

In the article, Sigourney talks about career in movies, her passion for the environment and, of course, her role in the up-coming uber-blockbuster Avatar.

For more Avatar related posts, you can read about James Cameron talking about his own movies here and you can watch the trailer for Avatar here.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Twilight: Promoting Abusive Relationships and Female Submission

Practice your English by reading this interesting article - Twilight: Promoting abusive relationships and female submission.

This thought-provoking article uses a check list provided by The National Domestic Violence Hotline (of America), to critique the relationship between Bella and her vampire boyfriend.

The check list is designed to help you determine if you are in an abusive relationship.  There are 15 questions on the check list.  If you answer 'yes' to any one of them, you may be in an abusive relationship.  Bella's relationship answers 'yes' to all of them.

The article's author suggests that the girls who watch this movie (and presumably read the book), will get "the idea that a seriously unhealthy relationship is somehow the equivalent of love".

I can honestly say, and I'm a little ashamed to admit, that these observations had never occurred to me.  I am particularly surprised, as the story is so popular with girls.

If you want to read the original article, you can find it here.

Interview with Snoop Dogg

Practice your English by reading a Q&A Session with Snoop Dogg.

Q&A stands for Question & Answer.

It's a great idea to experience every type of English.  My most favorite thing about English is the range of creativity within it.

But don't let it confuse you.  Remember if you're not sure, don't say it.  Keep your English simple and clear.

Friday, 27 November 2009

The 99 Most Jaw-Dropping Movie Moments

Practice your English with the 99 most jaw-dropping movie moments.

You get a mixture of video and text from 99 different movies of different genres, so surely something for everyone here.

If you haven't seen one of the films listed; and intend to, it's probably best to miss that video out.  It might spoil your enjoyment of the movie, when you do see it.

Monday, 23 November 2009

30 Killer Movie Closing Lines

Practice your English by watching this collection of 30 Killer Movie Closing Lines.

I love the ending to Sunset Boulevard:  'All right, Mr De Mille, I'm ready for my close-up'.  Wonderful, insane, haunting end to a fantastic piece of classic old Hollywood.

Interview with the Director of Twilight Saga: Full Moon

Practice your English by watching an interview with the director of Twilight Saga: Full Moon.

In the video, you get a mixture of 'face to face' interview with the director and clips from the movie.

I'm not the biggest fan of these movies; though I do admit, the lead vampire is a sassy guy.

James Cameron Interview: On his own Movies

Practice your English by reading what James Cameron has to say about his movies!

If you'd like to see the trailer for James Cameron's newest film Avatar, you can find it here.

I don't know why, but they've missed out True Lies.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Top Gear Test a Toyota Pick-Up Truck

Practice your English by watching the BBC's Top Gear program test how strong a Toyota Pick-Up Truck is.

Top Gear is a great way to practice your English: all three presenters speak quite clearly (although a little fast at times).  They are very careful to explain things, before they do them.  The show is also very visual so, even if you don't understand every that is being said, it's still very enjoyable.

I love Top Gear's mix of genuine enthusiasm for all things car related, surprisingly bang on social commentary and totally & utter stupidity.  As the presenters themselves put it: the usual mix of fast cars and middle aged men falling over.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

NME's 'Top 50 Albums of the Noughties'

Practice your English with 'NME's Top 50 Albums of the Noughties'.

My favorite album of the noughties (2000 - 2009) is William Shatner's album 'Has Been'.  I don't see it in the list... I wonder why?

Ok, so really my favorite album is probably Snow Patrol's 'Eyes Open', but Shatner's album will always have a special place in my heart.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

New Avatar Trailer

Practice your English by watching the new trailer for James Cameron's latest 'Avatar'.

There is also some written text about the trailer, which you can read.  See if it matches you're understanding of what you saw.

Love him or hate him, you've got to admit: James Cameron knows how to make a blockbuster movie.  I think 'Aliens' lines up as my favorite, followed closely by the original 'Terminator'.

Mariah Carey Quotes

Practice your English with some Mariah Carey quotes.

Not the biggest fan of Miss Carey, if I'm perfectly honest.  She is though, no doubt, a proper diva.  Never been a fan of celebrities, who know what planet their on. 

Having said that, Mariah does know what planet she's on: Planet Mariah.

I Hate You Day

I think negative emotions are not recognized enough by modern society.  I think one of the reasons so many of us suffer from depression, is because we are under so much pressure to be nice and positive all the time. 

For example: they are lots of days in the calender when you can tell someone how much you love them, but there are no days when you can tell someone how much you hate them.

I think we need a 'I Hate You Day': a day when it is socially acceptable to tell someone how much you hate them.

We could have 'I hate you' cards.  We could have chocolates in the shape of a hand 'flipping you the bird'.  We could create an entire new economy based on 'I hate you' products.

One day a year to release all our negative feelings about each other:  that person who bullied you at school, the ex boyfriend or girlfriend who just stopped calling, the boss who never took any of your ideas seriously. 

We all have people in our past who, for one reason or another, hurt us deeply; but, because it's so long ago, we no longer feel it is socially acceptable to keep telling them.  We need a day for that.

Ok.. so it probably wouldn't work so well for people who are presently in our lives, but for those past people: imagine how therapeutic it would be to have one day, when it was ok to tell someone you hate them.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Practice your English & Kick Ass!

Practice your English and kick ass: The Trailer for the movie 'Kick Ass' is here.

Watching movies is a great way to practice your English: you get to hear the language as it is spoken by native speakers, you get to hear a lot of idiom and expression, and it's a lot more interesting than your average text book!

If you're worried about your English level being too low to watch movies yet, try watching the film with English subtitles: hearing and reading the language at the same time will make it easier for you to understand.

Another trick is not to be too hard on yourself.  When I watch films in French (Oui, Je parle un peu de fran├žais), I don't worry about understanding every detail.  As long as I understand the general story, I'm happy.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Get Ski Fit!

Practice your English and get fit with the Guardian's guide 'Get Ski Fit'.

Reading instruction and explanation is a good way to improve your English.  A lot of the vocabulary you read here will help you to explain yourself in many different situations.

Doing something else at the same time as practicing your English can really make it easier to practice regularly!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Gordon Ramsay's World Kitchen

Practice your English with this video of Gordon Ramsay cooking a Greek White Bean & Vegetable Soup.

The video is followed by a small collection of different recipes you can try: Garlic Prawns, Meatballs in Tomato Sauce, Spinach & Feta Filo Rolls, Buffalo Chicken Wings with Sour Cream & Chive Dip, Courgette, Feta & Herb Fritters, Dolmades, Tabbouleh and Baba Ganoush.

This is a great example of how you can practice your English with, really, anything!  You don't need to stick to academic practice or business publications, if you don't want to.  A lot of the 'connecting & explaining' language you find here, is just as applicable in business as it is in recipes.

The most important thing is to enjoy your English! 

Friday, 6 November 2009

40 Years of Sesame Street

The excellent American TV show Sesame Street is 40 years old.  You can check out the BBC article and video here.

For a different take on the anniversary, Ricky Gervais interviewing Elmo.

40 years of entertaining children, helping them to read and write is a thing to celebrated.  Personally, my favorite character was always The Count: One!  Ha Ha Ha!  Two!  Ha Ha Ha!

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

As I have already posted on my facebook pages and explained on my blogs in the sidebar, I'll now be posting English culture links here on my TobytheTeacher blog.

If you want General & Business English and English @nswers, you can easily visit the other blogs by clicking on the links in the sidebar.

Let's start today with a list of quotes from one of my favorite movies:  Sergio Leone's 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly'.

You can check out the trailer for the movie here on youtube.  I have to say, I've never liked the trailers for Sergio's films.  They never do the films justice, but you do get a sense of the scope of the movie.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

An Egyptian Living in London


As with the Blog, I'm trying something new:  instead of linking sites on my 'TobytheTeacher Facebook Page', I'm going to start linking them here.

This will make the links more assessable to all.  The links will still appear on the Facebook page, but as a page on this blog rather than a stand alone link.

As I've already said on my TobytheTeacher Facebook page, from now on General English links will be posted here.  Business English links will be posted on the Blog.

For today:  An Egyptian living in London from the excellent BBC World Service website - long live the Beeb!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Business English Listening Comprehensions Are Boring

Business English listening comprehensions are so boooring:

Listen to the recording and choose the best response a), b) or c) for each phrase.

1. Why was Daniel so difficult to work with?

a) blah blah blah
b) blah blah printer software blah
c) blah late for meetings blah blah

If I made listening comprehensions, they would be like this:

1. Why was Daniel so difficult to work with?

a) He was a two thousand year old vampire.
b) He wore 'MC Hammer' pants to meetings.
c) He liked to touch himself.

2. I need support to do my job.

a) Buy more expensive underwear.
b) Have you considered Prozac?
c) Perhaps you should go on a diet?

3. Does Peter give his colleagues any problems?

a) Well, he slept with Bob in accounting's Father.
b) No, just the light of Jesus.
c) He likes to warm their chairs for them.

4. Your staff are off sick all the time. What's the problem?

a) They're drunks.
b) They don't like your face.
c) They're a product of a bankrupt western culture that sets unrealistic Utopian social aspirations & at the same time expects an unparalleled level of disposable income, therefore making happiness in the modern world impossible.

5. There's a lot of work. I really need an assistant.

a) Have you considered doing less of it?
b) Yeah, and I really need a night with a Pussycat Doll, but it's not going to happen!
c) And some deodorant.

6. We simply don't have enough staff.

a) For what?
b) Spare me your Marxist ramblings.
c) Put caffeine in the water cooler.

Friday, 16 October 2009

A Natural Death for Jan Moir?

People of the World! Looking for an excuse to hate the English? Here's one: Jan Moir's hateful article about Stephan Gately's death.

We English
get a lot of justifiable abuse about being a nation of football hooligans with rubbish food, but 'the middle English' seem to escape being stereotyped & abused by other nationalities.

Is it because they're so desperately polite when they come to your countries? Don't be fooled by it, they despise you every bit as much as the hooligan. You should hear the things they say about you, once they've returned to the safety of leafy suburbia. They provide the words for the hooligan's marching tune.

Those passively aggressive polite little village hate-mongers with their faux moralizing. And what do you get when you boil down all the twee suggestion and mock-polite innuendo? Their belief that England would be a lot better of if we were all white, christian, and heterosexual.

But if they're right (excuse the pun), why do they feel the need to disguise their message? Have you ever noticed how it's only the hateful that need to dress their beliefs up in fake polite & pseudo-moral tones? The good simply speak from the heart.

To finish
, here's an excellent response to Jan's dross posted on the Enemies of Reason blog. A very good excuse for the people of the world to not hate the English: we do at least pick ourselves up on our sh*t.

*If you're on Facebook, you can register your complaint here.

Hollywood Vs The Bechdel Test: Public Enemies?

Maybe I'm just getting old; but as much as I enjoyed just watching Michael Mann's 'Public Enemies', do we really need another 'two men set against each other in the arena' movie?

It was very well done, but what exactly is the difference between Depp & Bale in 'Public Enemies' and De Niro & Pacino in 'Heat'? Or Cruise & Foxx in 'Collateral' for that matter?

I'm reminded of The Bechdel Test
, where you should only watch a movie if it satisfies the following three rules:

1. There are at least two named female characters, who...

2. to each other about...

3. ...something other than a man.

I have seen a lot of films and right now, I can honestly say, I can not think of a single one that passes this test. What exactly does that say about Hollywood (or, indeed, my taste in films)?

Should Hollywood really still be making movies that glorify violence when we're in the midst of sending boys off to war? You can't really tell me that they don't look up at that big screen, filled with guns, glory & noise, and not make the connection. However somber the overall tone of 'Public Enemies' may be, you can't help but look at it and think it's cool.

A few months back, I watched Robocop for the first time in years. I remember, as a 13 year old boy, loving the blood, gore and ED209 of this movie. But as a 32 year old man, I was amazed how much the violence shocked me.

I think it might be time for Hollywood to ditch the Macho Fairy Tales, as a genre they have done well and to death. And start to consider a broader world view. Or maybe it's just that I'm getting old.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The Great Silvio Berlusconi?

Forget Jesus, Capernicus was a nobody and Einstein did nothing special: Silvio Berlusconi, aka 'The Pimp of Sardinia', has declared himself inferior to no one in history.

But few people realise the true extent of Silvio's ambition. He is, quite simply, too big for Italy. As part of the Berlusconi media empire (Silvio bought my blog last year), I can exclusively reveal the next stage of his master plan:

In a similar guise to the Vatican City State, Silvio is going to declare the island of Sardinia his own country. He is yet to decide upon a name for his new country, but favourites include: 'Sil-dinia' and 'Berlusconi-Berg'.

Of course the island itself is far too small to contain Silvio's ego, and an extensive land development plan will begin soon. This will include building out into the sea to reshape the island into an exact scale replica of Silvio's own body.

This will make Silvio's body, along with the Great Wall of China, the only man made objects visible from space*.

*According to this article there are actually many things visible from space, but the joke doesn't work if I list them all.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Taking Chances

Ciao English Learning Chaps & Chappettes,

It has been a while, hasn't it? I hope all is well in your worlds. I must apologise for my absence, but I've been caught up in the act of setting up my new business:

During my absence
, I have learned a number of things: firstly, that I'm much happier having no money & being stressed by a business I believe in, than I was having some money & being stressed by a job I didn't.

Secondly that when using the 'dance exercise' on my Wii's EA Active game, the more stupidly I dance, the more fun I have.

And thirdly that in life it is better to suffer for what you really want, than to suffer for what you only thought was possible.

I actually knew
the third point when I was 19, said 'no' to what was expected of me and decided to try to be a filmmaker.

But I'd forgotten it in the last few years. And had wondered whether middle class expectation was, in fact, best for me. Luckily, the last few years have demonstrated clearly, beyond any sense of doubt, that is not the case.

I have always been an anxious person upon whom failure bore heavy, but it never stopped me from taking chances. Not until recently, that is. It feels good to be taking chances again.

Best of luck to all of you with the chances you are taking in your lives.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

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Save hours of your time when working on Presentations & Speeches, CVs & Cover Letters, School & University Projects.

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Feel free to explore my website to find out more about my services or contact me directly.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Compliments Women Don't Love

Yahoo's back with 5 Compliments Every Woman Loves To Hear.

But what about compliments women don't love to hear?

TobytheTeacher's Top Ten Compliments Women Don't Love

1. I like the shape of your head.

2. You look quite good for your age.

3. For a fat chick, you're not bad.

4. I've seen worse haircuts.

5. You almost look as good as your sister.

6. My mum says that all the time.

7. When I'm drunk, I can't stop thinking of you.

8. It's not just your body I like, I also like what you can do with it.

9. I'm not bored. I yawn because I'm comfortable with you.

10. Wow. You're a much better kisser than your mum.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Top Five Space Mission Odour No No's

Do you want to be a Chinese Astronaut? Not if you have bad breath and / or bad body odour: China search for odour free astronauts.

But bad breath and body odour are not the only things that could 'stink up' a space mission:

TobytheTeacher's Top Five Space Mission Odour No No's

1. Attempting to fart your country's national anthem.

2. Only bringing one pair of socks.

3. Bring a copy of the film 'Pearl Harbor' (because it stinks).

4. A wet dog.

5. French Cheese.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

God Returns to F1

And lo on the twenty ninth day of the seventh month of the year two thousand and nine, did God announce his return to Formula One. The skies darkened to the colour of tyre rubber, and the seas turned red as his Ferrari car: Michael Schumacher is coming back to Formula One.

I am genuinely excited about and happy that Tricky Mickey is returning. I suspect that most people share my opinion. But there are two people who are probably not happy about it: Ferrari test drivers Marc Gene and Luca Badoer.

At this very moment, Marc and Luca are crying their little racing driver eyes out. Tears are rolling down their little racing driver faces. Their puffed up cheeks as red as the apocalyptic seas that heralded Sticky Mickey's return.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Hollywood Blockbuster Stories?

Does anyone remember a simpler time when Hollywood knew how to tell stories? Two of this summer's biggest blockbusters, Transformers 2 and Terminator Salvation were both spectacularly shot collections of exciting set pieces, strung together by an entirely random story structures.

Does Hollywood just write movies by rolling dice? Or perhaps throwing darts while blindfolded? Does this mean anybody could write a Hollywood blockbuster?

Bob works in an office (I don't know which one). One day his office explodes (I don't know why). On the way to hospital, the ambulance carrying Bob is hijacked by a Megan Fox (for no apparent reason). The ambulance jumps over a moving train, through a helicopter, before crashing into a river (because, why not?).

We think they're both dead, but Megan has her own submarine (yes she does). Then Megan takes a shower (it'll help sell the DVD). An ancient sea-dinosaur attacks the submarine (nothing expensive has happened for a while). But it's OK, because Megan's submarine is also a rocket ship (there's more than meets the eye). However, the sea-dinosaur can also fly (oh my god!). And now the entire - insert generic South American country name here - air force is after Megan and Bob (just because). But it's OK, because Bob works for the CIA (now it makes sense). And the entire American air force arrives to save them (cue gung-ho Michael Bay Pro-American masturbating).

Megan & Bob's submarine rocket ship crashes in a desert (it's topical). They have 'super slo-mo movie sex' (it'll help sell the DVD). Generic Arab terrorists arrive and capture them (topical). Megan & Bob are transported to a super-secret-underground-nuclear-reactor-death-ray-base (the death ray is in space, but the base is underground). The death ray is disguised as a Al Jazeera TV satellite (because the US networks will love it!). We won't call it 'Al Jazeera', we'll call it 'Al Jaz-zoo-roo' (so we don't get sued, but everybody'll know who we're talking about).

The terrorists captured Megan's father (a famous death-ray scientist), and forced him to build the base & satellite (emotional dynamic). Megan uses her super-kung-fu to free her father, while Bob is male, funny and useless (because that's feminism, isn't it?). But stereotypical-crazed Arab terrorist leader (who turns out to be a North Korean General in disguise, who then turns out to be a rich European investment banker in disguise, who turns out to be a former KJB agent in disguise, who turns out to be a Nazi) sets the base to self-destruct, which will start a chain reaction in all the middle Eastern oil (topical) and destroy the planet (maybe?).

Megan's father sacrifices himself (Bob! Take care of my little girl!) and blasts the base into space, destroying the Al Ja-Zoo-Roo death-ray satellite (cue reaaally expensive CGI sequence). As it rains pretty pretty fire balls down onto the desert, the sunsets and Megan & Bob kiss to a retro 70's middle of the road rock tune (that your Dad probably drives to).

Friday, 24 July 2009

Berlusconi & The Ancient Zombie Prostitutes of Sardinia

Beloved Silvio is in trouble again, but this time it's not per say with escorts. This time he's in trouble with archaeologists.

But what would Silvio want with 30 ancient tombs? Has he run out of places to put his money? Or was he just trying to impress the girl he was talking to; and at the age of 72, run out of 'chat up lines'?

No. Few people realise it, but Silvio is actually an expert on ancient European history. And that is why he knows about 'The Legend of the Zombie Prostitutes of Sardinia'.

Legend has it that only the most corrupt man in the world will be able to open the 30 tombs. But before he can open them, he must prove his corruption by a series of ancient trails:

First, he must betray his people. Second, he must betray his family. Third, he must betray his wife. Fourth, he must betray his principles. And finally, he must betray himself. It is in this final challenge, that Silvio is having problems.

Tony Blair, on the other hand, has no such difficulties. Tony just needs to betray his wife & family, and The 30 Ancient Zombie Prostitutes of Sardinia will be his!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Live Tour de France

You can follow a live text description of the Tour de France here with the BBC.

But, excuse me, how interesting is that going to be?

1614 The cyclists are cycling through France. Everybody looks really French.

1619 All of the cyclists are on cycles. Each cycle has two wheels.

1623 The cyclists are cycling on a French road. The road is long and black.

1630 On both sides of the road, we can see the French countryside. It's green. Sometimes there are trees. Sometimes not.

1635 The cyclists are still cycling. This is an up hill stage, so they're going.. up.

1641 Some of the French supporters are carrying baguettes. None of the cyclists are.

1654 Many, if not all, of the cyclists are on some form of steroid.

1659 OH MY GOD! An alien space craft has abducted fifteen of the cyclists. The remaining cyclists were destroyed instantly by some kind of space-death-ray. There are flames and explosions everywhere! French people are running screaming, clutching their baguettes to protect them! Oh the humanity!

1701 Actually, I was just joking. The cyclists are still cycling. God I'm bored.