Writing a formal email: enquiring about a course

As September arrives, we bring you some writing tips for enquiring about a course. You can see the useful expressions in bold (en negrita).


Tips:


  • Remember to use a formal register

  • Do not use contractions and informal expressions

  • If you don’t know the name of the person you are writing to, begin with Dear Sir/Madam, or To whom it may concern, and end with Yours faithfully,

  • Use expressions such as I would like…, I would be grateful if…

 

Example:


To whom it may concern,


I am writing to enquire about the course Photography for Beginners at Brighton College. I have read the course information and it looks like an enjoyable course. I would, therefore, like to ask for further information.


 It says on your website that the course takes place three evenings a week, however it does not specify which days. I would be grateful if you could confirm the exact days so that I can check my availability.


It also says that enrolment takes place in September at the college. Is it necessary to pay the fees in full in September? I would appreciate some more information on what I would need to bring to enrol on the course and how the payment should be made.


Yours faithfully,


Lucy Simons


Vocabulary:


Enrolment= matrícula


Fees = tasas

 

 

 

 

Golden Sun

By Lenore Hetrick


Great, glorious golden sun,


Shine down on me today.


You are the life of all this earth,


You and your magic ray.


You are the life of bird and plant,


All must depend on you.


Shine down, great sun, the whole day long!

 

 

 

 

 

Zebra crossings, Pelican crossings and the lollipop lady

The 17th August is World Pedestrian Day. The first ever pedestrian fatality was Mrs Bridget Driscoll when she was run over on the 17th August 1896 by a car driving at 4 miles per hour – that’s 6.4 kilometres per hour!


At that time there were only around 20 petrol engine cars in existence in the UK and no driving licence was required to be able to drive a car!


Nowadays cars are a part of our daily lives and pedestrians and drivers must be aware of road safety!


Let’s look at some types of pedestrian crossing:


Zebra crossings


A zebra crossing is a path across a road marked with black and white stripes where pedestrians should cross. They have no traffic lights although they do have yellow beacons.


Drivers must stop at zebra crossings to let pedestrians cross the road.


Pelican crossings


A pelican crossing is a pedestrian crossing which is controlled by traffic lights. The pedestrian presses a button if they want to cross the street and must wait for the green man to light up to cross safely. You will see LOOK LEFT or LOOK RIGHT on the road in front of you to indicate which way you should check for cars before crossing.


The lollipop lady


The lollipop lady is, traditionally, a woman (although there are also lollipop men) who helps children to cross the road near a school by standing in the middle of the road with a special sign which is circular on a stick (hence the name lollipop) indicating for cars to stop so that the children can cross safely.


Remember to always look left and right when crossing the street!


 

Vocabulary


World Pedestrian Day = Día mundial del peatón


fatality = muerte


run over = atropellar


driving licence = carnet de conducir


road safety = seguridad vial


pedestrian crossing = cruce de peatones


zebra crossing = paso de cebra


traffic lights = semáforos


beacons = luces al lado de pasos de cebra (también significa faro)


pelican crossing = paso peatonal


the lollipop lady = una señora que ayuda a los niños a cruzar la calle en zonas de colegios

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superstitions around the world

Friday the 13th is an unlucky day in many countries around the world, as is Tuesday the 13th in Spain and Friday the 17th in Italy.


Let’s have a look at some interesting superstitions from around the world…


  • Norway

In Norway it is believed that whistling at the sun will make it rain!


It is also said that if you see a black cat, you should spit on the ground three times to avoid bad luck and if you are in a romantic relationship you should not knit a sweater for your partner as it will bring bad luck to the relationship and the superstition says your partner will leave you!


  • Germany

In Germany, the superstition goes that if you toast someone with water, you are wishing death upon them!


  • Turkey

In Turkey, it is bad luck to start a journey on Friday the 13th. It is also bad luck to chew gum at night – it is said that if you chew gum after dark it becomes the flesh of dead bodies!


  • Russia

In Russia it is bad luck to wish someone “Happy Birthday” before their birthday and giving yellow flowers is a terrible gift – it means that you are cursing your friend with infidelity!


  • Japan

The number 4 is considered very unlucky in Japan so much so that hospitals don’t usually have a fourth floor and this is the case in hotels too!


  • The UK

In the UK, putting new shoes on the table is believed to bring bad luck as is opening an umbrella indoors!


What superstitions exist in your country? Do you believe in them?


Vocabulary


Whistle = silbar


Spit on the ground = escupir al suelo


Knit = tejer


Toast = brindar


Wish death upon (someone) = desear la muerte de (alguien)


Chew gum= masticar chicle


Flesh = carne


Curse = maldecir/maldición


Infidelity = infidelidad


Fourth floor = 4ª planta


Open an umbrella = abrir un paraguas

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget your toothbrush!

According to a survey done in the US the toothbrush is the most forgotten item when people go on holiday!


Some of the other items travellers often forget are:


  • Toothpaste

  • Toiletries

  • Chargers

  • Razors

  • Medication

  • Swimwear

  • Flip flops

 Of course you can buy these things in your destination in a local shop but they tend to be more expensive. Some hotels provide toothbrushes, razors and extra toiletries if you ask for them at reception.


Have you ever forgotten anything important when travelling? Do you pack ahead of your holidays or do you do it last-minute and in a rush?


 

Vocabulary:


Toothbrush = cepillo de dientes


Toothpaste = pasta de dientes


Toiletries = artículos de aseo


Chargers = cargadores


Razors = cuchillas de afeitar


Medication = medicamentos


Swimwear = bañadores


Flip flops = chanclas


Pack = hacer la maleta


In a rush = de prisa

 

 

 

 

been vs gone

What is the difference between these two sentences?


Tom’s been on holiday.


Tom’s gone on holiday.


 

Let’s add some more information:


Tom’s been on holiday. He spent two weeks in the Lake District.


Tom’s gone on holiday. He’s in the Lake District.


In the sentence using been, Tom has now returned from his holiday whereas in the sentence using gone Tom is now on holiday.


Here are some more examples:


Lucy has been shopping – look at all those shopping bags!


Lucy has gone shopping, she’s not at home.


Mike has been to the beach, he’s got a lovely suntan.


Mike has gone to the beach to sunbathe.


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Man’s Best Friend

The 21st July marks International Dog Day. This day was set in 2004 to promote the adoption of rescue dogs and to celebrate our love for our loyal companions.


Did you know…?

  • 53% of American households are dog owners

  • Dogs are the most commonly owned pets in the UK

  • 1 in 4 Spanish households have a pet dog

So why are dogs man’s best friend?


“The only, absolute and best friend that a man has, in this selfish world, the only one that will not betray or deny him, is his DOG.” King Frederick of Prussia 1789.


 Dogs make great company and can reduce stress and feelings of loneliness. They are always happy to see us and will do incredible things for their family – there have been many cases of dogs saving humans from fires and medical emergencies.


They really do love their owners unconditionally and are extremely loyal. It is also suggested that owning a dog improves our mental health and keeps our hearts healthy.


 Do you have a dog?


Vocabulario


Loyal = leal/fiel


Companion = compañero


Company = compañía


Loneliness = soledad

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Idioms

Summer days are here, time to enjoy the sunshine! This week we bring you some summer idioms…


Soak up the sun – disfrutar del sol


Let’s go to the pool and soak up the sun, it’s such a nice day!


The dog days of summer – los días más calurosos de verano


It’s sweltering – the dog days of summer are here!


Take it easy – relajarse


This summer I’m going to take it easy at the beach.


Catch some rays – tomar el sol


I’m going to the beach to catch some rays.


Burnt to a crisp – quemado por el sol


He spent all day in the sun and now he’s burnt to a crisp!


 

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for more summer vocabulary.

 

 

 

 

LGBT Pride

June 28th marks the celebration of international LGBT day.


In fact, the whole month of June is LGBT pride month – in 1995 June became LGBT History Month and in 1999 Bill Clinton was the first US President to officially recognise Pride Month.


The New York Pride Parade is one of the largest and well-known with an estimated 2 million people taking part.


The first pride march was held in New York City on the 28th June 1970 a year after the Stonewall Uprising.


The Stonewall Uprising took place on 28th June 1969 when police raided a gay club in New York City named The Stonewall Inn – this lead to a riot as the police roughly threw people and employees out of the bar. This was followed by six days of protests and violent confrontations. As a result, the international gay rights movement was born.


Nowadays International LGBT Pride Day is celebrated with colourful parades, rainbow flags, concerts and cultural events.


The most well-known celebration in Europe is in Madrid with over a million people attending each year.


 Vocabulario


LGBT = Lesbianas, Gays, Bisexuales, Transgénero


Parade = desfile


Take part = participar


March = marcha (manifestación)


Riot = disturbio


Throw (someone) out = echar


Violent confrontations = enfrentamientos violentos


International gay rights movement = movimiento internacional de derechos gay


Flags = banderas

 

 

 

Suffixes: -er vs -ee

Employer or employee, trainer or trainee? What’s the difference?


We often use the suffixes –er and –ee with nouns to describe people and their positions.


An employer is the boss, the person who employs the staff.


An employee is a worker, they are employed by the boss.


A trainer gives training.


A trainee receives training.


If a noun takes the suffix –er it means that the person performs the verb as we have seen in the example of employer (the person employs others).


If a noun takes the suffix –ee it means that the person is the object or beneficiary of the verb as we have seen in the example of employee (the person who is employed).


Here are more examples:


  • Payer

  • Payee

  • Interviewer

  • Interviewee

Can you think of some more examples?